Friday, October 24, 2014

Wicket and Chopper with Candy Corn


Short and grumpy, yet still irreverently endearing.

As I needed to paint a lot of straps onto a pair of sweatpants for Archer's costume for today's incredibly important Middle School Halloween Dance last night, I warned Ansel that I might not be able to manage a good drawing for today's napkin. (Hint: there is a tall stack of napkins that have not been to school yet, choose one of those.)

He offered, "Oh, you don't have to do much. Just draw an Ewok."

Ansel told me he has been hoping that Ewoks will turn up on the new "Star Wars Rebels" TV show.  I said something noncommittal about how there are a lot of aliens to choose from in the Star Wars (expanded) universe.  He responded, "Well, they have picked mostly pedestrian aliens for the show so far." 

Ansel had apraxia in his early life (a neurological based speech disorder) and sometimes, even at seven years old, he is not saying what I think he is saying. So I asked somewhat condescendingly, "What do you mean by 'pedestrian?'  That word means someone who is walking.  It can also mean boring or uninspired..." 

He responded, somewhat irritated by my question, "Yes, I know. That is why I used the word."

Alright. I guess an Ewok would not be a pedestrian choice.



Thursday, October 23, 2014

Ewok Halloween


What does the Ewok say on Halloween?
"Yub yub"... or perhaps it is: "Give me candy or I will stab you with a spear and roast you alive over a fire."

Ansel is suddenly interested in Ewoks again.  I am pretty sure that he has never seen "Return of the Jedi," so his enthusiasm is mostly about them being small, cute, furry and reminiscent of the pet dog that his cruel parents have not provided.  One appears in Jeffrey Brown's "Jedi Academy" saying amusing things like "yub yub."  The present Ewok popularity, however,  is due mostly to the latest LEGO catalog which features the highly desirable and painfully expensive "Ewok Village" set. Merely $249 for 1,990 LEGO pieces! The only parts of the set that really interest Ansel of course are the 5 Ewok minifigures.  Spending over two hundred dollars for 5 minifigures makes perfect sense to my seven year old son.

Ansel's helpful older brother reminded him last night that under the right conditions, Ewoks might eat humans. (In the movie, they first try to roast Harrison Ford, and later, the many empty Storm Trooper helmets in use as bongos during the final celebration scene suggest that the men who wore them have met an unpleasant fate.)

Cute is always appealing for my sons.  Cute but deadly is even better.

(There is a actual video spoof entitled "What Does the Ewok Say?"...  In the unlikely event that you were thinking that you haven't seen enough Ewoks lately.) 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Rocket Raccoon with Candy Corn


Halloween is fast approaching, and I am unprepared.

Important costume items that may have been shipped from Asia have not arrived.  Or more precisely, the shipper claims that they have arrived, but yet they have not.  Other elements have not yet been made out of cardboard, tape and spray paint.  I am still nursing the delusion that the wearers of the cardboard accoutrements might actually participate in their manufacture, but I am probably going to have to face reality soon. And we don't even know who is trick or treating with whom or in which neighborhood. Halloween might be actually be a more important holiday than Christmas and Hannukah combined as far as my sons are concerned and I have not pulled it together yet.

But I drew a Halloween themed napkin. So at least we have that.

PS. Rocket is holding an enormous piece of candy instead of the usual giant weapon. That is the best explanation I can offer.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Red Hoods


Under the Little Red Riding Hood:

We came across an oblique mention of Little Red Riding Hood while I was reading "Jinx" by Sage Blackwood to the kids last night. Ansel was delighted to spot the "little girl wearing a red cloak" as the fairy tale character. Fan of DC comics that he is, however, he first identified her as "The Red Hood." This led to some brief chuckling about the comparison between Jason Todd and the girl with the basket.

For those of you who don't spend significant amounts of time reading age inappropriate graphic novels to small boys:  "Under the Red Hood" is an animated movie which also has a couple comic book and graphic novel incarnations.  I
To attempt a brief summary: Jason, the third Robin is brutally murdered by the Joker and then later resurfaces as a mysterious, reanimated and red masked vigilante.  (With cool guns and a stylish jacket!) The story is on the darker, more violent end of the Batman spectrum... but yet, no elderly people are eaten alive by a wolf.

I thought Little Red should have the upper hand on today's napkin, as she survived a fate arguably worse than being blown up by the Joker.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Skull Brother 2 From "Gladstone's School for World Conquerers"


Ansel insists that we reread this book by Mark Andrew Smith, art by Armand Villavert, at least once every couple of months.

"Gladstone's"  is a story about the kids of super-villains, including Ansel's favorites, the infamous Skull Brothers. Not only do the masked brothers look cool and carry an erxtensive armory of weapons, they are appealing to Ansel because their mother is locked in the super villain prison and they are free of adult authority. And even in the context of the bad guy community, the Skull Bros  are definitely up to no good.

My more realistic version of Skull Brother number two definitely diminished his coolness.
You can see the cooler originals on the Gladstone's Facebook page.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Zombie Horde Brings Fruit and Vegetables


...and one turkey sandwich.

The kids always love a "zombie episode" of any TV show.  They have yet to see an actual zombie apocalypse movie, but are somehow familiar with all of the conventions of the genre and delight in seeing them applied to a sitcom.

This napkin has been laying around the house in varying stages of incompletion since the tosillectomy. Besides having made the mistake of choosing an excessively complex subject matter, I realized early on that I wasn't going to be able to keep it from becoming too creepy and too green.

One cannot stray far from the "Plants vs Zombies" style cute and cartoony treatment of the undead without them looking too scary....or too much like the jolly green giant.

(Those orange things are supposed to be carrot sticks, by the way.
And maybe this is a "Zombie Salad" - title thanks to Frank Baker via Facebook)

Friday, October 17, 2014

Giant Goldfish in Bathtub


A fish at least partially out of water is another giant house pet.

Ansel says he might consider taking the previous napkin with the large kitten on it when he goes back to school next week, but that this one is just too weird.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Watching TV with a Giant Kitten


Ansel is still languishing at home, mourning the loss of his tonsils and in constant need of doses of Tylenol, sympathy and foot massage. He's been mostly parked on the couch, watching TV, and he strongly prefers to have company while viewing dreadful Disney reruns. I've gotten to the point where another 22 minutes of "Jessie" might bring on a cerebral hemorrhage, so I've been fantasizing about a cooperative and soothing pet who would placidly sit on the couch with him while he convalesces.

It seemed like a good time to make another giant pet napkin (previously a Chihuahua and a Rat)
I was also thinking of the photos from 1971 of Tippi Hedren and her family living with Neil the lion that have been circulating recently. Ansel looked at those pictures and said, "I want to live with a lion too."

I somehow managed to make the large kitten look at least as threatening as the lion. Perhaps this somehow reflects my state of mind after spending a week incarcerated in the apartment with my sons.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Trick or Treating Sharks


What kind of candy do you give to a trick or treating shark?

We've had a slow recovery after Ansel's tonsillectomy on Wednesday, complete with regularly applied narcotics (we came home with a disturbingly large bottle of cherry flavored Oxycodone) and excessive viewing of the Disney Channel.

After sitting through  a few episodes of "Dog with a Blog" and "Girl Meets World," while dispensing maternal sympathy and back rubs, I was pretty enthusiastic about watching "Sharknado 2."  And I was pretty certain that watching Syfy pseudo dreck would be less developmentally harmful to my seven year old son than another episode of "Jessie."

After "Sharknado," I seriously considered drawing a flaming shark on a napkin, but decided it was better to get started on Halloween as it is already almost  mid October. I have been shirking so far this season, we had many more Halloween themed napkins last year.

Maybe a flaming shark for Hannuka?

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Waddles From Gravity Falls "Little Shop of Horrors" Episode



"Good Thing I Installed a Dumb Dumb Button"

Since Ansel is scheduled to have his tonsils extracted tomorrow, I indulgently (and foolishly) allowed him and his brother to stay up to watch the latest episode of "Gravity Falls" last night.  

One of my more explicit fond childhood memories is of my parents allowing me to watch a Muppet television special despite the fact that it was on after bedtime and I had behaved horribly earlier in the evening.  Now, of course, I wonder just why this generosity stands out so much in my memory.  It seems that my parents gave me a second (or third, or tenth?) chance and let me have something that was important to me at the time, despite my not having remotely deserved it. I am hoping that I remember it clearly because I felt that my parents were really being nice to me, not because I thought I had gotten away with something. 

I have more than once considered this childhood memory in relation to my own sons, who let no parental indulgence go unpunished. They are much the classic case of "give them an inch and"... they will steal your shoes, pee on the floor,  leave the toilet seat up and the water running in the bathroom. Both boys are compulsive envelope pushers by nature.  (Hi Archer sweetheart! I am aware that you will be reading this at some point) 

Envelope pushing is not necessarily a bad tendency in and of itself, but it has made me more careful about being too nice/generous/indulgent of my sons...Particularly as they are boys, and my more youthful angry feminist self is lurking just beneath my premenopausal dry skin, wanting to burst out at any moment and stomp on any lazy, entitled, disrespectful owner of a Y chromosome who lives in my house.  I often find myself complaining to my sons that I want to be nicer to them, but they are not letting me.

All of that said, the Gravity Falls viewing went off without too many repercussions (although I will no doubt pay on next Monday, when the indulgence will be viewed as a new entitlement.)  Archer and Ansel love the weirdness of the show, and are particularly fond of the pig character Waddles

In the middle segment of the episode, Waddles became suddenly super smart and built himself a voice synthesizer which spoke in the mellifluous tones of Neil deGrasse Tyson. At the conclusion, however, Waddles chose to give up the intelligence and the voice, pushing the "dumb dumb button" because he valued his affectionate relationship with Mabel more than his new intelligence.

And here's the pithy wrap-up that ties all this drivel together:  Even though I should be too smart to ever indulge my sons, I feel that I still have to occasionally push the dumb button because I am their mother and I love them despite how they behave. I just have to be careful so their future female friends, teachers, coworkers etc. don't end up cursing me.







Monday, October 6, 2014

Garazeb Orrelios From Star Wars Rebels


Ansel has been resistant to all things Star Wars for so long that his burgeoning enthusiasm for  the new Disney incarnation of the franchise, "Star Wars Rebels," is slightly disconcerting for me.

His older brother was a Star Wars obsessive for several years, but mostly back in his early childhood before I started posting napkins online. There were many, many Clone Wars themed napkins, as Archer was a big fan of the earlier animated series by Genndy Tarakovsky. Those shorts were released on Cartoon Network from 2003-5 back when I was a virtuous new mother and Archer was not watching any television beyond the occasional "Baby Einstein" video. He got to know them later on DVD.

We conscientiously held off on letting Archer see even "A New Hope" (The original 1977 movie, for those who are not within the fold) until he was almost six years old.  This feat of superior parenting was immediately rendered pathetically laughable as Ansel, still a toddler, was in the room for that first viewing. 

During the period while we were admirably sparing Archer's tender young imagination from the overwhelming pressure of the movie itself (and sparing ourselves all of the "pew-pew-pew"-ing and "light saver" slashing that was to come), I worked hard  to find age appropriate books  that would scratch the Star Wars itch and provide Archer with enough information to allow him to keep up with his cool friends who had already seen the whole series of movies by ages 4 or 5.  I found the original manga series based on the first two movies, and we read the near dozen Dark Horse produced Clone Wars graphic novels by the Fillbach brothers until their pages fell out.  Archer knew as much or more about the "expanded universe" than most of his friends who had just been allowed to see the damn movies.  He was able to pick the words "Luke Skywalker" out of a dense block of text long before he officially even began to try to read.

Archer was further incited to encyclopedic knowledge of all things Star Wars because his best friend's father plays a not in substantial role in the Star Wars pop culture empire as a successful writer of reference coffee table books and fiction.  Archer could go over for an afternoon playdate and hang out in an apartment that had a life-size storm trooper lurking in the corner and an exhilaratingly extensive selection of action figures thoughtfully curated by an educated adult proponent of the franchise. The two boys had hours long discussions of the minutia of the various powers and fates of obscure characters.  All questions, like the correct pronunciation of the name of the planet "Coruscant" could be answered.

Spectating on years of all of this Star Wars obsession, Ansel decided he wanted absolutely nothing to do with it.  Ansel is usually pulled helplessly along into whatever topic his big brother is focused on this particular week, but apparently he had to make a stand somewhere. Dislike of Star Wars had been his one significant rebellion.

Beaten down by two maniacally contrarian sons and eleven years without a full night of sleep, I have long ago abandoned the parenting high ground of offering edifying age-appropriate books in place of television and movies.  However, I still find myself advocating for Star Wars because we do have several bookshelves of the stuff, and much of it is at a good reading level for a second grader.

Unfortunately, Ansel remains exclusively interested in "Rebels," perhaps because his brother seems completely unmoved by it.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Banzai Blade with Oni



One just never knows when a video game that nobody in the house has thought of, much less played, in months or years is going to suddenly become absolutely necessary for continued existence.

I am not sure what caused the resurgence of "Banzai Blade" yesterday, but suddenly it was back.  It seems to be a fairly straightforward slicing game- Fruit Ninja with running and demons.  While not terribly interested in playing it myself, or even hearing about it, I must admit that it has a nice version of the ever receding single point perspective road and some amusing demon faces.

I briefly had the idea that I would make it look more realistic (the running ninja guy in the game is a very cartoony chibi style big head) but the demon faces really defied realism, and it was all I could do just to put the guy in red on the road.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Fainting Goat


I had lived my entire life in ignorance of the phenomenon of fainting goats until yesterday.  Thank goodness, my sons were able to show me a youtube video in order to fill me in.

I have my suspicions that this is a situation like the videos of Slow Lorises being tickled.  The goats involved don't seem particularly troubled, although I doubt that they find the problem all that funny.

After 90 seconds of extremely casual research, it seems that there is no actual fainting going on, just intense stiffening of the leg muscles when the goat 'experiences panic." Sounds fun, doesn't it?  Obviously this condition, know as myotonia for those who need to know, would not work well in the wild, and has at least been enabled by domestication.

This fall semester I teach on Wednesdays, so the kids actually go three hours after school without my services as transporter, waiter, tutor, masseuse and personal assistant. Thus, I missed the genesis of their interest in fainting goats yesterday afternoon.  I think it may have had something to do with a game titled "Goat Simulator" (a tagline; "You no longer have to fantasize about being a goat") but I cannot say for sure.

I am definitely not fantasizing about being this goat.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Silas and Miss Lupescu from "The Graveyard Book" Offer Lunch


The graphic novel version of Neil Gaiman's "The Graveyard Book," adapted by P. Craig Russell, was obviously appealing for my macabre minded sons.

They were, however,  immediately annoyed that I had not procured Book 2 yet.  (It will be released in a few days)

The story centers on Nobody Owens, a toddler whose entire family has been murdered and is then protected and raised by the inhabitants of an old graveyard. Since ghosts aren't ably to shop for groceries, he has the additional guardians Silas the vampire, and Miss Lupescu, a werewolf. 

Ansel really like the characters- and the idea of being raised by a vampire- but was not impressed with my drawing.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Rocket Raccoon Feeds Chewbacca


Another "Guardians of the Galaxy" and "Star Wars" mashup.

If Groot is the Chewbacca of "Guardians," does that make Rocket the Han Solo?
I based this image on the scene in the recent movie where Rocket perches on Groot's shoulders while blasting away with a gigantic gun.

Blasting enemies with a huge weapon is not so appropriate for Quaker second grade lunch, so here Rocket is offering the Wookie some healthy lunch food.

Since my children are too cool to admit that they often willingly eat broccoli, there is a bit of a sadistic quality to the situation here.