Our younger son has been slogging along in a very demanding tutoring program this summer. He has done some amazing work and deserves much parental applause... But I know that his accomplishments are due to the unflappable and unflagging support of his tutors.
It takes me five minutes of bartering and bickering to get him to read two lines of a TV program synopsis. But with his tutors, he has been happily reading Beverly Cleary's 1965 book "The Mouse and the Motorcycle" and that is considerably more challenging than cable listings.
It is always impossible to sufficiently thank the people who are endlessly patient with my kids.
When confronted with an unsolvable problem, I often resort to drawing on napkins.
I wanted to add my son into this picture, but did not have the time to pull off a portrait. I was really trying to get at least five hours of sleep last night (The New York Times ran an article recently that said that sustained periods of five hours or less a night result in irrevocable hardening of the arteries....so I am already in big trouble)
I still did not attain the artery saving amount of five hours of sleep...but at least I did not annoy my son by drawing a picture of him.
The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were never really popular with my sons... but we certainly watched some of the original animated TV show and a couple of the movies. We did miss the most recent movie, and no one seems particularly sorry about that.
But they are perfectly happy to encounter a TMNT reference in the Terraria game. I am unclear on the details, but I think there is a Karate Tortoise costume in Terraria, which looks a whole lot like a basic TMNT getup. But while we were discussing this game feature a couple of days ago, it seemed like we needed a related napkin.
The drawing is relatively realistic, so perhaps it should be an "Elderly Unmutated Karate Tortoise".... I had trouble coming up with a replacement for "Mutant." As a parallel term, there is "Deviant," but I didn't really want to draw a deviant tortoise... and as far as I know, there is no antonym for "mutant."
"Elderly" did seem appropriate, however. The franchise started out back in 1984. The turtles are nearly as old as I am.
No one is taking a packed lunch to school or camp at the moment, and this is a rather hypothetical napkin for a potential lunch in the fall, so it couldn't be too weird.
Too many characters ride in the cargo bike:
(Not one of my better drawings, but definitely the most characters on one napkin ever)
We've been taking a cargo bike to school and camp, more or less every day for five years. During that time, the kids have gained something close to 100 pound combined, and I have aged at least 20 years.
Starting in the fall, the kids will no longer be at the same school. One will be traveling beyond reasonable biking distance to the upper east side of Manhattan. Therefore, as we finish up these last weeks of summer, we are making the daily bike trip to downtown Brooklyn for the last few times.
I have mixed feelings. The daily routine of biking has been mostly a good thing. The excessive exercise has probably kept me from completely falling apart physically and mentally. It has certainly kept me from abandoning my misbehaving sons on a subway train. But it has always been a slightly anxiety-inducing daily grind: The weather is most often too hot or too cold. I am rarely not dangerously sleep-deprived. And many pedestrians and motorists seem to hate me for the outrageous decision to bike my kids to school and are happy to shout their opinions at me from their car windows or often, their position standing in front of us in the bike lane.
I am very pleased and overwhelmingly thankful that, besides the frequent verbal hostility, we have made it through thousands of miles without an accident or an interaction that left physical marks.
It is probably time to stop anyway, given the kids' increasing size and heft. If you are one of our few readers who is not my mom, you are probably wondering why my sons are not riding their own bikes to school by now... Well, while I had often fantasized about that happening eventually, the trip is 5 miles, mostly around the very windy Brooklyn Navy Yard, and culminates in a rather nasty stretch of riding in traffic in downtown Brooklyn. And my kids have never been very interested in self locomotion.
At any rate, since we were approaching the end of the cargo bike phase, it seemed like there should be some sort of commemorative napkin. The kids came up with an endless list of characters that have appeared on the napkins over the last five years that they thought should be riding in the bike. They argued over who should get to sit on which character's shoulders. And they berated me this morning for failing to somehow work in Doctor Who's Tardis.
I had to draw the line somewhere.
(You can see a photo of us on the bike on a rainy day in 2012 on this bicycling photography blog: gudphoto.com)
No, it is not a napkin. But it is napkin related I suppose.
Mostly it is a picture of clutter, and an illustration that my husband has thoughtfully left a very large mirror (with a cut out for a switch plate perhaps) in my studio.
Today is the last day of camp, so we have two final indulgent napkins. My younger son requested that I draw ALL of the the Huggables from Battle Bears. There are considerably more than you see here... I missed the one wearing the ugly Christmas sweater and the one wearing a pleather bondage mask as well as the many color variations.
Generally speaking, the kids are most pleased when I draw something that looks just like the video game. My son was very happy with the quantity of characters here that I more or less copied straight from the source.
So happy in fact, that he was willing to overlook the fact that I had drawn him in the middle.
Too many characters assemble for the last day of camp.
After his brother asked for the "Huggable Army," my older son had to request multiple characters himself just to keep up. I used to have a rule that I would draw no more than one or two characters per napkin....There was a good reason for that rule....
But it was the last day of camp, so I did my best to indulge.
If you are wondering about that pop-tart cart with the rainbow up at the top: Nyan Cat's
video (link to the original video) was one of the top five most viewed videos of 2011. It has the insipidly cute- adult infuriating quality that our older son loves.
kids love the over-the-top randomness of many of the characters and
events in the story. The Doctor's secretary and driver is a large
gorilla named Judy. Gordito, Dr. McNinja's 12 year old moustachioed
sidekick, rides Yoshi the raptor. When we came to an image of Judy the
gorilla giving Yoshi the raptor a piggyback ride while he
imitate Gordito, both kids said, "I want that on my napkin!"
I was just not capable of rendering the exaggerated facial expressions of both characters late last night. The picture is a lot funnier in the comic.
Any picture can be improved by adding a cool explosion.
My older son told me yesterday, "please no more Star Wars and dinosaurs napkins!" He said, "I know they are good drawings, but I don't want any more!" I did note the compliment buried in there. But I am aware that the kids are always happier when I draw cartoon characters exactly the way that they look on the TV show or the video game.
The "Coco Loco" is one of the Battle Bears "skins" for the Huggable. I drew it just the way it looks on the Battle Bears Wiki.
I did nonetheless indulge in some creative license with the background explosion.
Our younger son has been watching the TV show "Total Drama Island" and its various iterations. The Total Drama franchise is an animated parody of "Survivor" where a group of superficial fame seekers are tortured by a smarmy host while they struggle to not be voted off of the island.
I have to admit that my feelings about an 8 year old watching the show are mostly not positive. It is a show about conniving adults and the nasty things they do to one another regarding sex, money and other body functions. The show's Wikipedia entry, however, notes that it was a very popular when it was first released, and that, "Many of the fans viewed the show as one of the best cartoons of its time."
Total Drama has a reoccuring bear character. Our kids often exclaim over his cuteness, which perplexes me.
My son was very pleased with this napkin because I made it look just like the cartoony bear on the show....None of that nasty creative license that I sometimes indulge in on these napkins.
Star Wars Rides Jurassic World Dinosaurs #18:
A Rodian bounty hunter and an obscure dinosaur share a teal color scheme.
Our older son encouraged me to do a couple more Star Wars/Dinosaur napkins because I had missed two dinosaurs that uses in the LEGO Jurassic World game. I don't think the Baryonx actually appears in the movie, It is represented on the Jurassic World website with some pictures that illustrate the very pretty markings on its skin.
I did pick Greedo mostly based on color...And maybe out of motherly perversity, as Greedo was sometimes played by a woman. (Type "Greedo" into Google and it will prompt: "Greedo was a woman")
Yes, I know Greedo the character was not really female. The expanded universe stories and appearances in the prequel "The Phantom Menace" all indicate his maleness. But the old set photograph of the actress Maria de Aragon as Greedo sporting some nice color coordinated pumps while standing next to George Lucas was too much for me to pass up.
Perhaps Greedo would have been able to shoot Han Solo first if he had been wearing more sensible shoes.
The kids' takeaway from seeing the "Ant Man" movie over the weekend was that they need a giant ant for a house pet.
As their father and I pointed out, they are already doing a fine job of feeding many pet ants already. Our apartment has old wooden factory floors with deep gaps between the boards which serve as excellent ant highways. Thus the ants rarely have to reveal themselves on their frequent trips to retrieve the many morsels of food that our kids courteously leave for them on the floor. But make no mistake, they are there in full force.
In one of our kids' favorite scenes in the movie, the hero's cute daughter feeds the accidentally-enlarged dog-sized ant scraps from her plate under the dinner table. Nothing would please our kids more than passing off some brussel sprouts or kale to a cool pet.....except maybe climbing over the couch while riding on an even bigger pet.
Couch climbing is technically forbidden in our apartment, but it would be hard to argue with an ant who is big enough to be a cast member of the movie "THEM!"