Tuesday, March 27, 2007

30 Months

Our boy is now two-and-a-half years old. Wow! It hardly seems like yesterday that we were holding his head up to protect his delicate neck. We looked at a video the other day from almost a year ago and I'm shocked to see that he couldn't form coherent words with his mouth. So much has changed in such a short amount of time yet it also feels like that time in our lives as parents was so long ago, years even!

Lucas is developing rapidly and everyday we are amazed and frustrated by his growth. Amazed because he reveals impossible talents to us constantly and frustrated because he continuously finds ways to test us. One of the aspects of the terrific twos that give way to the terrible twos syndrome is that he's developed just enough to realize that certain quirks and perks in his behavior will undoubtedly manipulate our parenting behavior. Their little brains pick up on this very quickly and before long you find yourself giving into the little minx whose energy level always seems to outweigh yours. Both Xtina and I are constantly reminding ourselves to stick to our original plan where the parents rule over the child (with love and care first, of course). We are in charge.

But his endearing traits still find their way to the surface most of the time. Tonight we cooked dinner together! We made broccoli beef with pasta shells in a white cheese sauce. I realized that when he is involved in the preparation of the meal that he is much more eager to sample the outcome. He ate every portion like I haven't seen in weeks or like when we go to ponce's. He helped wash the food and put it in the bowl and scatter it all over the floor. He helped with the dishes and after going through his alphabet he went right to bed. A parent has never been happier.

As I tucked him beneath the blankets he tells me that he wants to listen to music tonight, so I put on something mellow so that he'll drift off into slumbering nirvana. He has a stuffed dog that he calls My Big Boi and lately he's required My Big Boi's presence with him whenever he enters dreamland. So tonight I asked him if he wanted to sleep with My Big Boi, which he does of course. Unfortunately I can't find the little canine anywhere.

"He's in my bedroom."

Lucas sends me into the other room and after a quick search I still can't seem to find him. So I go back into the bedroom and start looking under the crib or thinking that maybe he got lost somewhere in the closet, but Lucas is having none of it.

"He's in my bedroom."

And he climbs out of bed and stomps off into the other room. I follow like a dutiful student and Lucas goes right over to his shelf, digs through a cubbyhole where most of his stuffed animals are located (how did I miss that one?).

"There's My Big Boi"

He tells me and calmly walks back into the bedroom with the dog tucked under his arm, climbs back into bed and tells me goodnight. I flick off the light switch with my admiration for him bouncing off the ceiling. Good night my sweet genius.

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Thursday, March 15, 2007

Movie Round-Up for 2006

1. Clean (Olivier Assayas)-Incredible international film about a mother trying to find her way back from collapse, only to discover that a life worth living requires tremendous effort.
2. A Very Long Engagement (Jean-Pierre Jeunet)-Visual stunner from the man who made Amelie. This one about a young woman searching for her lover who vanished on the front during WWI.
3. Punishment Park (Peter Watkins)-Made the year I was born, yet never released in this country until last year. Rather relevant morality tale on the treacherous road we wander when laws like the Patriot Act are enacted. Scary interpretation of fundamentalist right-wing conservative values put into action.
4. You Me & Everyone We Know (Miranda July)-Sweet movie about people struggling to find true human connection, exactly like we all do every day. The type of movie I always imagined making.
5. Primer (Shane Carruth)-Strange, no budget film about two men who accidentally discover a method to move through time, but once they start to use their invention all sense of order collapses.
6. Look At Me (Agnes Jaoui)-Moving story about a young woman whose father is a famous author and all of the people who get sucked into their lives. It's interesting to see the evolution of the heart and how the notion of fame affects people.
7. Manufacturing Consent (Mark Achbar, Peter Wintonick)-Revealing documentary following Noam Chomsky and his views on how the media controls so much of our lives.
8. Searching for the Wrong Eyed Jesus (Andrew Douglas)-Cinematic documentary following musician Jim White and how the South affects Americana music.
9. Being Julia (Istvan Szabo)-Amazing vehicle for Annette Benning to once again show us her fabulous, energetic fluidity that raises her above the general mundane of acting in this day and age.
10. Distant (Nuri Bilge Ceylan)-Turkish film about a quiet photographer who welcomes his jobless cousin into his home for a brief period. A very sparse script that was probably shorter than this review. Photographic perfection.
11. How to Draw a Bunny (John W. Walter)-Obscure Documentary following the life of artist Ray Johnson and the idiosyncrasies that guided him through life and death.
12. Duck Season (Fernadno Eimbcke)-A day in the life of four youngsters living in Mexico City; Two teenage boys who are best friends, their neighbor a teenage girl and the pizza delivery guy.
13. Dave Chappelle's Block Party (Michel Gondry)-Diverse Documentary following Dave Chappelle as he puts on a block party in Brooklyn with a once in a lifetime concert. Acts such as The Roots, Kanye West, Mos Def, Jill Scott, Erykah Badu, The Dead Prez and even The Fugees lend a hand.
14. A Snake of June (Shinya Tsukamoto)-Crazy movie (filmed in blue light to represent water) about a woman who is blackmailed into performing erotic feats of fancy that eventually devolves into total confusion.
15. Art School Confidential (Terry Zwigoff)-Take the art class scenes in Ghost world and expand them into ninety minutes worth of footage, add a plot-line of twisted murder and voila, you have a great movie!
16. The New World (Terrence Malik)-Malik has the ability to create a movie that is more than just the story (in this case the famous story of Pocohontas and James Smith). What comes through the lens is more powerful than any plot he tries to guide the scenery around. A visual masterpiece.
17. 5 Sides of a Coin (Paul Kell)-Riveting Documentary following the rise of Hip-hop and its affect on world culture.
18. Brick (Rian Johnson)-Noirish murder mystery told in the halls of a local american high school that weaves with the cinematic aura of the golden age.
19. Spirit of the Beehive (Victor Erice)- Spanish film from the early seventies about the effects of Spain's civil war on a small village in the countryside, mainly on the life of a young girl with a big imagination.
20. The Squid and the Whale (Noah Baumbach)-I have to admit that this one hit a bit close to home, trying to grow up in the eighties with unhappy parents who didn't love each other. This movie was extremely sad, but it has wonderful performances and a soundtrack by Britta Phillips and Dean Wareham so...you have that.


Wednesday, March 07, 2007


Part Two:

By the time he came out of the void her body was already gone, tucked away inside the darkness of the van up on the road. He remembered that he couldn't move any part of his own body except his eyelids and the first thing that he saw was the broken sun filtering through the leaves on the trees. Not long before she had commented on the way the rays of light separated into streams and ran down through the earth. With a laugh she had wondered if the two of them could find their way down as well so that they might touch the pulsing beating life of the planet the way that the sun did. Later they discovered that they did possess such an ability, aching and wild and carnivorous, both of them tasting the smile on their lips.

His eyes closed again because he couldn't think straight with them open.

Where did they go? What did they find inside that hesitant shiver?

They found her body thirty yards beyond the crumpled steel, where it came to rest. She never liked to wear her seatbelt, no matter how much he mentioned it, and she didn't buckle up when they left their little slice of heaven this time either. He could hear her wispy breathe sliding through the leaves, mingling with the sun and he knew that she was trapped here, that her energy remained and what was lying in that van was only a hollow husk. When he opened his eyes again they were stinging with tears and in the blur he saw her darting above him like a shadow, like the wind. He couldn't move his arm to wipe the tears away. He wanted to see her one more time before they took him from her. He wanted to touch the place where they had found their hearts before they took him back to all the sadness. But he couldn't move. He couldn't even speak to her.

He had held her too long and too hard in order to maintain the momentum of what they'd discovered out here, but due to his lack of haste they went beyond the edge of reason and forgiveness and stumbled into the depths. They found confusion in the whirlwind and gave in to the ghost of nature. He wanted to trade places with her. He didn't want to know the world without her. But what could he do?

He clenched his eyes closed and gripped at the darkness again. He called out for her hoping that she might be able to reach him, to give him her hand and take him with her. For a moment he felt himself descending into the nothingness again and his heart soared. Her face began to waver into view and he wanted to scream and grapple for her, to ache for her embrace no matter how dark it became. But his life was not ready to leave him.

“Can you hear me?”

It wasn't her voice, the woman who spoke to him.

“Sir, are you awake?”

He felt the shiver convulse through him and knew that it was immense sadness, the kind that couldn't remain with a heart still beating. But there it was, radiating out cold and empty.

“Sir, I need you to open your eyes if you can hear me.”

And she was no longer with him. Her softness dissipated and swarmed like the wind over the countryside. Hadn't they looked down from above not so long ago, like a hawk circling high, and spotted their jumbled bodies savoring the sweet mesh of skin on skin? How could that be gone forever? Didn't they find it? Didn't they just learn how to keep it and never let go?

But it was fading, the memory already becoming dull and lifeless as he climbed back up into the vision of the real. He was hurting, probably permanently damaged and he suddenly recognized that there truly was very little he could now do. He needed to give up, to the voice of authority that beckoned him.

“Please, open your eyes. I know that you can hear me.”

And even though he knew that it wouldn't be her face that he was going to see, he went ahead and opened them anyway.

(go to Part Three)

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Monday, March 05, 2007

29 Months

Some mornings Lucas will wake up before us (well...actually make that many mornings) and Xtina and I will wallow in our warmth for an hour or two listening closely to the sounds of our dear boy, hoping that the imminent crash isn't one that brings horrible peril into our lives. A couple of weeks ago he climbed out of bed and stomped off to do who knows what. After about fifteen minutes with a head clouded with morning and a full bladder screaming pain I followed his lead. Once I was relieved I noticed that I couldn't hear the little guy at all, the house spoke only silence. Now this often means that Lucas is usually up to something nefarious like climbing various furniture to get at something beyond his little reach. So I began to lurk around the house in order to discover his evil plot and catch him in the act. But instead I found him calmly sitting at his desk reading one of his books. It was a special sight. He was so engrossed in the story that he was completely clueless to his dad secretly keeping an eye on him.

I really enjoy watching these solitary moments. His thoughtful expressions and musings are a joy to behold. Inside each and every one of us is this small island where we go to communicate simply with ourselves. I've always cherished that beautiful place within myself. It is the creative heart of our imagination. It's a place where I always hoped to encourage my children toward discovery. So I'm completely amazed when I see Lucas submerging himself below the surface of reality and immersing himself in this world of magic. He's only two and he's already discovered it.

I don't know if this is a natural process of the developing mind. Does every child know how to find it? Perhaps it's place where imaginary friends are born? It makes sense to me. We begin at this very primal space that has very little influence, maybe a genetic tendency here or there, but our minds are simply open to unlimited possibilities. Then the world begins to descend upon us as we grow and develop at an incredible rate. As we learn it becomes amusingly easy to fill in all the unknown blanks with fantastical ideas and crazy thoughts. It is such a treasure to let the imagination run loose, free from shackles.

But, as we continue to grow, we begin to put limits on all our wonderful ideas. No, there's not really a Santa Claus. You're to old to play with dolls. You can't daydream all of the time. You don't want to grow up to be a starving artist right? Slackers! Most often the discouragement comes from without. I can't imagine we would offer to give up such a wonderful world of our own free will. Yet, we continue to seek it out in music or movies or television or stage performances or even art. But we've become passive, seeking it out as spectators when all we're really trying to find is that active place that once consumed us when we were children.

I've discovered that when I embrace this world of creativity and then approach my daily life using it as my guidepost then the world we inhabit opens up gloriously before my eyes. The relationship with my wife becomes more tender and caring. The atmosphere at work becomes one of ingenuity and efficiency. The conversations that I have with my friends and family are heartfelt and sincere. The world before me fills with limitless possibility. When we bring creativity to our environment we expand our collective consciousness. We grow beyond what we are. It's a beautiful experience.

Plus, I get to share special moments with my child that no corporate dazzle can dispell.

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