Animated Shorts – This is Where We Stop Entertaining Each Other #2

(or) This way to the Underworld #2

“This is where we stop entertaining each other”
This Way to the Underworld #2
Animated shorts series
12 by 12 inches
J Kearns 2007

Lightbox enlargement

There are two artists in house and one is looking for the “right red”

On the floor in here are all my containers for pencils and pastels as H.o.p. was looking for just the “right red”. Folded sheets of paper are piled a foot high all over his desk and all over the ground around as he was drawing pics for a “book” and kept getting things wrong. There are open packets of claymation clay all over his desk.

Continue reading Animated Shorts – This is Where We Stop Entertaining Each Other #2

Look how you’ve made me feel!

(H.o.p. Stuff) Crying Face
Look how you’ve made me feel!
H.o.p. art, 2007

H.o.p. has been angry with me. Oh, he lets me know in other ways. But this is how he REALLY lets me know. He draws pictures and brandishes them. “Look! Look! This is how you’ve made me feel!” Brought to you by Direct TV wars, as in, “No, you cannot watch television all day and night!”

H.o.p.’s cartoons are…articulate.

3:30 AM and been looking for reports on Honduras to see what’s going on there. Am worried about flooding. Am anxious for morning when I can learn if my sister has heard from her daughter who just moved down there in August to teach for a year. I fully expect her to be all right. But I was also hearing earlier that her area could receive anywhere between 8 and 24 inches of rain. (Update: Things are all right with my niece.)

It’s muggy. Color me disgruntled.

I have a sinus headache. Not unusual. Take some aspirin and it immediately starts to dissolve under my tongue before I’ve a chance to swallow. Color me disgruntled.

Should be writing but am instead working on yet another revision of my art site, never having been satisfied with anything I’ve come up with. This version’s a lot of work and will take a while. And I’m not fully satisfied with it either, but prefer it to previous incarnations. I’ll start loading it up in a couple of days if I make sufficient progress.

Friends of Marty’s were squelching death rumors today. Some years ago a musician with a name vaguely similar to his died and we went through this then. For some reason it was happening again today, connected with the same musician. How weird. No telling how this started. Of course, no one calls here to say, “Are you dead?” We learned because a musician friend called who was getting calls all morning. Color me disgruntled.

I joined Facebook because of several relatives who have joined Facebook who plan to share information that way. I don’t quite get it. Blogs look to me, frankly, like they’re more user friendly/efficient for both reading and posting information. The best I can tell about any preference for something like Facebook or Myspace is you can relate pieces of information on your doings and interests in snack chip sizes and end up being in an extended network with lots of people you don’t know. Anyway, the main reason I joined Facebook was for a relative who had joined, and I told them I’d joined and to add me as a friend as I couldn’t locate them (I guess privacy filter) so I got notification they added me as a friend and they STILL don’t show in my friends area and I still can’t find them to add them to my friends. I tend not to be stupid about stuff like this so I’m mystified, especially if Facebook is supposed to be preferable because of ease in use. Anyway, I currently have two friends. A fresh college-going nephew who’s now out of state and someone who I don’t know who must be a friend of theirs who likely saw I’d been added to my nephew’s friends list and decided to make me a friend of theirs. What’s the etiquette? Are you supposed to then make them a friend of yours? Didn’t they notice from my age that I’m not a teenager looking for college aged friends? Should I not have “friended” my nephew? Is that bad form of me? (I was mildly amused to note my nephew was interested in women but is looking for friends.) Again, anyway, I stared at the options page, as to what you can make public or private, and because I have nothing up there on me and don’t anticipate putting any information on Facebook (I’ve already got a blog and website, right?), I elected to leave it all public rather than fool with it. Color me disgruntled because I really didn’t want to have to deal with options at the moment. Not when I’m still trying to trace ten years’ worth of my Mindspring email address subscriptions etc. and change them all to the new Bellsouth one.

H.o.p. ordered ants today for his ant farm. He’s excited about the prospect of making movies of them.

Other things I should be doing instead of reworking my art website. But it was really annoying me.


The Child Experiments with Selling His Art: "I love my loot from Cafe Press!"
The Child Experiments – H.o.p. as Salesman
Not a promo shot. And no it’s not an apron, it’s a tote bag.

The recent haul of vanity H.o.p. loot from Cafepress arrived a several days ago and it looks great. We got a couple of the tote bags, which seem more than a fair price in comparison to others, and I was surprised with how great they look. We’ll probably order several more to keep in the car for grocery store trips. I’ve no idea how well they’re going to wear but we’ll be finding out.

If I have one complaint about the totes, it’s that the printing is not true center. Looks like for it to be true center you need to have an image that is sized 8 inches in width. They state the image is “centered” but in truth they “center” by beginning printing under at the left handle. It is 8 inches from the outside of the left handle to the outside of the right handle. If your image is less than 8 inches in width there is no adjustment made for a true centering. So I will have to do a special tote bag sizing.

Anyway, the totes are proving to be really convenient and much preferred to any grocery tote bags or other tote bags we’ve previously had. They’re nicer. And are fun. H.o.p. loves his (that’s him in his new shirt with his new tote bag). Marty’s enjoying his. I want one! That’s right, I don’t have one yet! Why not? So unfair.

P.S.: Yes, the bags are for our personal enjoyment. But being homeschoolers I look on the continuing Cafepress endeavor as a sort of lesson for H.o.p. in learning to be comfortable with the idea of self promotion etc.

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My act? I’m a super somersaulting frog!

The above is some old H.o.p. art. Love it. A frog that lets you know its “act” is somersaulting, then performs a somersault and promptly barfs. Some people call this performance anxiety. Stress is another good name for it.

Today’s Marty’s birthday and what he wanted for his birthday was this on a t-shirt, and several other H.o.p. images on shirts. So I spent a day priming H.o.p.’s art for Cafe Press (a laborious process), made shops for the new images (already had a couple shops on there, more laborious process), then bought Marty a bunch of t-shirts (fun, not laborious).

Also got the Super Somersaulting Frog as a tote bag, perfect for the consummate professional who doesn’t mind letting the world know how it sometimes feels to be their kind of consummate professional. Not that Marty is one of those musicians who throws up before performing. Lead singers usually do that.

No, I had in mind that awful old “Hang in there!” poster of the kitty dangling by its paw from a rod. Do they still sell those things.

I feel like H.o.p.’s somersaulting, barfing frog is the counterpart of that kitten.

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"This is going to be fantastic!"

I’m ashamed of my son. I shouldn’t be. I should be accepting, I know. But…here he started making this wonderful clay Brachiosaurus and a T Rex last week for another stop animation attempt, and was making backgrounds as well, and stopped. Y’know what he’s spending his time doing?

He knows nothing about IPods and he calls them shuffles. He films PBS’ Arthur in short bits as it’s airing, reframing things and adding in his own dialogue and sound effects, mostly to do with Martians and lots of screaming. And he intercuts these things with other stuff as well.

“Look at my shuffles!” he crows. “Aren’t they great?”

He just threw over one of our chairs. “Pick that chair up!” I call out, thinking he just tossed over the chair for no reason at all.

“Mom! I’m making a movie here! Be quiet! The chair’s supposed to fall over! Great, now I have to reshoot that!”

So I shush. And he throws the chair over again, with accompanying improvised dialogue.

“This is going to be fantastic!” he says, running over.

The Spontaneous Emergence of Captain Beefheart II

Aaaah. My little H.o.p. says that he’s going to “do a comedy musical about a man with a fish head who runs around bumping into stuff”.

And he doesn’t even know about Captain Beefheart.

The above idea followed after his talking about the musical he was going to do about a banshee and a yeti.

As H.o.p. runs screaming from the room

On one of the homeschool groups I’m on, an almost-war popped up over home science. One person had written in something about homeschool and science needs and how they were amazed at the materials some people had at home or had easy access to. The person ended the comment with a smiley, which indicates good will and that they weren’t snarking about it. And the post didn’t read like someone snarking.

Someone responded with a smackdown saying they were stunned by the person’s attitude and progressed to give a list of everything they had stockpiled at home for a good homeschool science program base, including glass metric beakers and different scales and test tubes and syringes and a butane torch from Williams-Sonoma that is for melting sugar on creme brulee (I checked the price, $40.00) and more scales and all kinds of copper wire and clippers and drapery pulleys and all kinds of tapes and jars of different things and magnets (magnets are damn expensive, by the way) and switches and tubings and just about anything you can imagine plus more and a tool chest full of stuff and scrap wood and all kinds of chemicals and a neighbor with a motorized microscope and boxes in the garage filled with boxes and cans and jars and plasticware and anything you’d like to get to dissect ordered special online.

Thus began the discussion on dissections, with others writing in about dissecting foetal pigs and rats and frogs and all kinds of other crap at home, so you begin to get a picture of all these people with dead rats and frogs and foetal pigs in the refrigerator waiting to be taken apart, sitting along side the cheese and carrots and lunch meat.

Then began to trickle in the posts from homeschoolers who live in minuscule apartments (some with less space than ours and more people in them) and people living in minuscule apartments on army bases etc., or in way out of the way places at the edge of the world, going, “Whoa! We hardly have room for ourselves! We can’t stockpile!”

And some of us aren’t crazy about dissecting, either.

We’ve got enough with what H.o.p. stockpiles for his movies (and prospective movies). Our shelves overflow with books and clay, clay, clay and books and boxes filled with clay sculptures from movies past and more books and more books and mountains of stacks of drawings and more books and ten other boxes of sculptures and bins full of legos and nuts and bolts and a bookcase alone devoted to housing scenes and creations for movies on which he’s currently working so we can get a little bit of table room now and then (and most of these movies he doesn’t even finish or save these days, because he gets half-way through them and decides he hasn’t done as well with it as he wants and he scraps the project and starts another). Plus the different musical instruments H.o.p. has begun to accumulate, including the piano (lessons) and a number of different flutes and drums and now he’s always on the look out for percussion instruments to add to his collection which he uses for making sounds in the puppet shows he puts on and which he plans on using for his little “radio” recordings, and yes then there are all the puppets we have, including the puppets H.o.p. buys now with his own money. While he was hunting for another dragon puppet at Ebay we came across some wonderful Chinese dragon puppets I’m considering getting for him as a surprise.

But that’s not the point of the post. What I was thinking about was my dad is a scientist and it’s likely the only vaguely scientific thing his mom had at home was a thermometer, and I doubt he had much in the way of this kind of science in public school, just like I didn’t and I know that my brother who is a highly specialized pediatrics physician, who has the depressing work of trying to save a child here and there from illness that usually means certain death, had nothing in public school in the way of this kind of science, and again in our home the only vaguely scientific thing we had when I was a kid was the thermometer that would occasionally reward us with a day off from school.

Some kids just aren’t built for certain kinds of science. Like dissecting.

Me: H.o.p., what would you think about dissecting a frog?

H.o.p.: Dissecting a frog?

Me: Y’know, where they cut into something and take it apart to see its mechanics…

H.o.p.: Oh, gross! Don’t even say that to me! No! I’m not going to dissect anything!

Me: Ok.

And off I go to the computer to write this post, feeling a bit of relief, as I was the kid in school who got out of the one day science experiment we had in tenth grade of dissecting a frog, because the smell of the formaldehyde was so strong I became ill and literally couldn’t breathe and thought I was going to pass out.

I read about all these kids dissecting things…like foetal pigs… and I kind of wonder why when there are virtual dissections online…and I’m a bad science mom because, like H.o.p., I think, “Oh, gross!” to any of it. Plus…

Several hours later

So I was at the hospital visiting my sister and telling her about the foetal pigs and rats and frogs. “Oh, you can get those vacuum packed,” she said, being a homeschooler herself and her eldest daughter having enjoyed dissecting when about 15.

The baby is beautiful. I stayed several hours and we tried not to laugh too much as she has something like 15 staples in her abdomen. Her doctor dropped by while I was there and, true to everything she’s told me about him, he’s got to be one of the more remarkable doctors I’ve ever met.

Then my sister’s oldest daughter arrived to spend the night and rather than leave right away I was munching on tomato chips with her, when the phone rang.

And speaking of dissection…

It was Marty. “You have to leave now,” he said. “I just sliced my hand open.”

Just what you want to hear from a keyboardist.

He’d cut his hand on a glass while he was washing dishes. He didn’t know it was there in the sink, broken. (Neither did I. I had been looking at that sink of dishes before going to visit my sister in the hospital and thinking I should get them washed but decided I’d wait until I got home.) So there he was washing those dishes while I was visiting my sister and the broken glass found him and sliced open the area between his fourth and fifth fingers on his left hand. Luckily it didn’t slice a tendon. Or a nerve. But man was it nasty. I mean really really very very nasty. The kind of nasty where you get a nice picture of the inner workings of the muscles of the hand as the flesh has been clean sliced away.

He spent from 9:30 until after 1:00 am in the emergency room. It took them 20 minutes to stitch his hand. He has 11 stitches.

They tell him if his hand is unbandaged, it stands a good chance of ripping open. But if it’s bandaged, that part of the body collects water easily, won’t dry out, and he has a good chance of the tissue becoming soft and the stitches ripping open. The nurses didn’t come right out and say it but gave him the feeling that those stitches are going to rip open and he’s going to be back in sooner than he’s supposed to be.

Thus ends today’s science/physiology lesson (an expensive one) which left H.o.p. grossed out and me reading him for a long time tonight a very soothing, funny book before he fell asleep. Sometimes I incorporate him into the plots and it was one of those nights where H.o.p. was an improvised character.

No, H.o.p. didn’t run screaming from the room. I’d titled this post hours before The Big Event, just a kind of humorous remark on H.o.p.’s reaction to dissection.

All our Ikea glasses are now in the trash. We’ve had a major problem with one after another breaking in that sink (an old steel one with a very thin wash of almost vanished porcelain). “I don’t want to see another Ikea glass,” Marty said. So I dumped them. Our next glasses will be plastic.

The Child Experiments – H.o.p. and his Magic Computer

The Child Experiments – H.o.p. and his Magic Computer, 2007

Any excuse for a flying saucer op.

For the blog

H.o.p.’s computer has died. Over the past few days it started shutting down whenever he tried to do anything on it and finally refused to cut on. We ran diagnostics on it beforehand and nothing was helping. We cleaned it out. Last night it completely failed. It’s on its way to the shop and we’re hoping it’s just a power supply thing.

In the meanwhile, a sick computer is an excuse for a get well message because flying saucers must be appended to everything.

I like the smiley computer face. H.o.p. always draws a smiley face on his monitors. Physically, I mean. It’s not a virtual smiley face. It is on his monitor and merrily greets him every time he sits down before it.

The citizens of which nation are semi-obsessed with finding meteors?

Swedish people, for whatever reason, are very interested in whether or not the rock they found on their last hike could be a meteorite. Don’t believe me? Follow the link.

And Washington University in St. Louis is sick of it. They don’t want you contacting them any more and asking if you have a meteorite, especially a lunar meteorite. Don’t believe me? Follow the link.

Now you can guess something of what we’ve been up to today. We *do* have meteorites! Two little chips. We bought them at Meteor Crater in Arizona. They had more impressive size chips but we thought $2 a piece was enough for an almost but not quite, sort of 1/2 inch chip.

H.o.p. is determined to make rust. Thus an assortment of nails and screws in a jar of water. He couldn’t care less the whys of it all. He just wants a rusty creature for his animation that won’t be like George Pal’s “Tulips Shall Bloom”. “My movie will be different!” No doubt.

“It’s gonna be a while before you see the kind of rust you want,” I tell him. He continues carrying the jar around, peering inside now and then, waiting for rust to bloom.

“You could paint some nails so they look like they’ve rusted,” I tell him. This is, after all, for an animation.

“No, I want real rust!”

Go for it. But I think in a day or two he’s going to be asking for the paint, which will be good, because I don’t want him handling rusty nails.

He just bought me a ball bearing to inform me it didn’t have iron because the magnet’s not sticking to it. Nor did it earlier stick to any of the rocks we’ve collected over the years. Then I brought out the meteorite chips. Zing. Sticko.

“Wow! Can I keep it?”

“No. They stay in their bag so they don’t get lost.”

Now he’s back to animating dice.

I’m wondering why Swedes are so interested in finding meteors.

George Pal! War of the Worlds!

The post header. That’s what we’ve been up to around here. The Fantasy Worlds of George Pal! I’d been promising H.o.p. for months a viewing of Pal’s “War of the Worlds” via Flickr. Finally we got it. The DVD played nonstop for two weeks, H.o.p. religiously studying in particular the test shot of the Martian climbing out of the UFO, shown in the documentary of the making of the movie, so I ordered Flights of Fantasy for him and Marty picked up “War of the Worlds” on sale.

So that’s where my brain’s at. Surrounded (as ever) by all the little nuts and bolts of a nine year old and his devotion to film and claymation.

After countless times viewing the original martian (an octopus) climbing from the spaceship, H.o.p. attempted to do his own version. I think it’s his best yet.

Wow, H.o.p. combines art and activism (and stands to get his feelings hurt)

Well, this is interesting. Tonight for some reason H.o.p. kept wanting to see an old post I had done on the threat of funding being pulled from PBS and NPR. I’d done a little pic to go with it representing Oscar and Elmo as homeless characters. That post was over a year ago and I don’t know why he was thinking about it, but he was. Then after his examining the post and its pic several times I heard him up front talking with his dad about how PBS had to be saved once and for all and how he wanted to help support it and make people interested in signing a petition to keep it going. Now, he didn’t know about the MoveOn petition. He just knows about petitions and thought this would be a good idea.

I was working on something and didn’t pay much attention when I heard lots of activity with him setting up some scene and taking pics (I thought he was attempting another top animation) then he comes running in and says he’s done a comic and gives me the pics to upload. I uploaded them and then we sat together in my chair and worked both on the pics together in Photoshop, me following his instructions on what to do with the images, while at the same time I was taking the opportunity to give him more Photoshop tips on how to do things.

I thought this was just some Elmo comic he’d come up with, which I thought was kind of odd for him as he doesn’t use Sesame Street characters for telling stories. After we’d uploaded the comic pages to Flickr I helped him make the post of the comic for his blog, and to my surprise he wrote:

Well, I made this incredible comic. It’s called Elmo’s Big Trip! Guess what? It’s about Elmo leaving home and going on a big trip. I did this comic because President Bush keeps trying to get rid of shows like Sesame Street and I made this comic to support it. You won’t believe what happens in this comic! It’s really funny. Bush is the hot rod that’s red and trying to crash into Elmo and get rid of Sesame Street. But Elmo makes it home safe.

If you want to see the little comic he put together, it’s here.

Now, y’know what’s kind of not so hot about this? First, I think this is grand that my beloved, stubborn, recalcitrant, bull-headed, argumentative H.o.p.–who many days drives me crazy 23 hours out of 24 with my trying to raise him to be a thinking human being who will be able to use all that bull-headed determination and argumentativeness to his benefit, with whom I struggle to try to let him know there’s something in the world other than Legos, Legos, monsters, Legos, animation, Legos, PBS, computer games, Legos, Legos, dragons and dinosaurs–well, I think it’s great that he thought this up on his own and came up with this comic which he sees as supporting PBS. But what’s not so hot is he’s got relatives who wouldn’t, in the past, visit my blog to read about what he was up to or look at his art because they don’t like my views on things and don’t want to read what I write, which is one of the reasons I set H.o.p. up with his own blog (plus I’d intended on stopping mine). Now, that’s cool with me that they don’t want to read my blog–I have no problem at all with this. But at the time I really didn’t feel like setting up and maintaining two blogs. Plus I wasn’t entirely aware just how much my blog was considered to be a big thorn, and didn’t know that even the posts about H.o.p. weren’t being visited because they were in the vicinity of my blog, I frankly thought it was simple lack of interest in what he was doing. Then I did become aware that it was because I was posting his activities on my blog which was the reason they weren’t being read about, and I thought, setting up his own blog last month, this is great now that he is old enough to do it all in his own voice. Not only did he need his own blog, but those relatives would now feel free to follow what he was up to. “Wonderful!” I thought. “Now they can enjoy H.o.p. risk free in his own words!”

But if H.o.p. starts spouting off about politics and Bush on his blog?

I should have seen it coming.

Anyway, I was helping H.o.p. put up his post earlier and when I learned what the comic was about and his intention, I thought, uhm, uh-oh. How’s this going to sit? Is he going to lose those cherished readers who felt free to visit his blog because it was dissociated from mine? And, frankly, I felt kind of bad about it. Indeed, he’d had more that he wanted to say on the subject of Bush in the post but I suggested that he keep it on topic, on PBS, and even suggested rewording some of his thoughts because I was thinking, “Oh, dear, he doesn’t have any idea how this might effect his readership.” And I felt guilty suggesting that he keep it on topic in that post, because I! me! I! was surreptitiously restricting his voice, though what I was worrying about was some people he loves would turn cool now to his blog, and might freeze it out altogether if he was more vocal. And I hated the idea of that because he’s been so excited about it.

Whatever. I’m through my first hurdle and having been through it and thought about it next time I won’t interfere with what he has to say. I don’t think. I don’t know. I just hate the idea of any prospective chill falling on him.

No, I won’t interfere again.

I don’t think.