"This was the greatest Halloween!"

H.o.p. had wanted to be a Dalek. Faced, however, with the formidable challenge of making a Dalek costume, he eventually opted to be a mummy, which only required green, black and white make-up and some time spent tearing a sheet into bandages and then wrapping him up in them.

We returned to the old neighborhood (as we usually do) for Trick or Treat.

Halloween 2007, H.o.p. as mummy

These women were funny. “I’m laughing so hard my bandages are coming off,” H.o.p. said, and they were. But they managed to stay largely intact to the end of the night.

My primary concerns when wrapping were (1) doing the bandages in such a way that he could still use the bathroom easily and (2) allowing full freedom of movement and (3) ensuring none would come undone in such a way that they would pose a hazard when walking (didn’t want him tripping). Marty and I succeeded on all counts, but the result looked like a mummy with a bit of ninja and bedouin crossover. Still good enough that the photos don’t do the costume justice; the wrappings lose definition and blend together so they look like some kind of white garment.

No one confused H.o.p. with being anything but a mummy and he was bombarded with compliments by treaters and trick-or-treaters alike.

He can sure be a little hellion but damn is he sweet and considerate with other kids and one of the sweetest and politest trick-or-treaters you’ll ever meet in your life. “Trick-or-treat!” he says, then yes he does probe the candy for chocolate (if it’s held out for him to fish through) but takes no more candy than he is urged to do. The last thing on his mind is grabbing a handful and making a run for the next house. The special part of the event for him actually is the greeting and meeting. That’s what H.o.p. likes, he enjoys meeting the people. The candy is a nice aside. What he wants to do is meet you and have a pleasant exchange. Then he smiles and crows, “Thank you!” and wishes you, “Have a Happy Halloween!” half a dozen times before he makes it to the bottom of the stairs.

So the women in the above photo had an audience with H.o.p. He was there to entertain and be entertained. And they entertained and laughed uproariously and he loved it.

Though there are no trick-or-treaters around here, we decorated one of our windows with a carved pumpkin (H.o.p. drew the the face) and skeletons and a gravestone and eyeball lights. He was running out and in and out and in, checking the effect.

Halloween cupcakes still rest on the table. “For tomorrow,” says H.o.p. He’s waited all year for Halloween cupcakes.

He pronounced the day, “the greatest”!

Halloween 2007, H.o.p. as mummy
H.o.p. takes a self portrait


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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David, H.o.p. and Amy back stage

The other night, H.o.p. was being a real jerk, and what came out of my mouth was, “Yeah, you better hope you grow up to be Pablo Picasso”. He had no idea I was referring to the song, “Pablo Picasso Was Never Called an Asshole”, my preference being the crazed John Cale version. He having no idea what I was talking about, I chalked one up for me and turned on my heel and left the room. On the very rare occasion he’s left speechless–that was one of them. Marty, sitting by, looked up, took a second then went, “Oh!”

Later, H.o.p. having chilled a bit, hedging toward being conciliatory, had me come in with him and sit and go through one of our Picasso books. He’d gone and looked for it and hunkered down in the bed with it to read some before going to sleep, soon calling me in to ask about one of the fairly intense portraits. It’s been a while since he’s done that with Picasso (when he was five, for months he kept another Picasso book open, referring to it over and over again, one of the acrobat paintings in particular). Next, he decided he wanted to go through the book image by image, asking about each one. And we did. Examining every page. I’d forgotten there were two pages of Picasso’s decidedly erotic drawings stuck in the middle of it all, which made explanations a little more complex. Then we went on through the book, to the very last page. About 1/4 of the way through he asked, “Are there any happy paintings?” And we talked about that, too.

H.o.p. is surrounded by music, literature (he watches us read, hasn’t himself developed a taste for reading books yet, but loves being read to, is read to daily, and knows mom writes), movies (the past few days have been spent watching “the making of” Kung Fu films and wire work), and art. We thought music was what spoke to him first and most when he was a kid and his first words were all musical artists because he wanted to listen to their albums over and over again. As a baby he cried when played lullabies but quieted immediately and listened with rapt attention to the Rolling Stones’ “Paint it Black.” He was saying “Bob Dylan” and “Thelonious Monk” before he said mom. But then one day H..o.p. picked up a crayon and started to draw on the wall. I took him and showed him my paintings. “You know why you paint on canvas or paper or wood,” I said to him. “So you can keep it or sell it. You can’t take a wall with you. But you can carry paper and wood and canvas.” He nodded his head, totally getting it, and he never ever drew on a wall again. Some things, most things, I’ve told him daily, for years, and they’ve never taken. But all I had to do with the crayons is tell him artists paint and draw on paper and canvas so they can keep it, and he understood immediately, and started going through paper like crazy (and wanting to keep all of it). I lined both walls of the hall from top to bottom and end to end with his drawings.

This was all back at the old art compound we used to live in, with several of the people H.o.p. got to meet again tonight at the big arena pop concert.

I don’t do art shows. I paint on the computer these days, never print anything out, and he sees me writing on the computer but doesn’t know what I write. So in many ways music is more evidenced around him.

He would be better served with parents who are business people, I think. But you get what you’re born with.

When he was two years of age, at the end of all the road tour days came the invitation for Marty to tour with John Mayer playing keys. And Marty said no. H.o.p. won over John Mayer. Time to stay home, focus on studio engineering and production now, be there on a daily basis for H.o.p. growing up. He didn’t want to miss out on those years. Which he would have. Marty was on the road a lot during H.o.p.’s first two years. Some of the time we were on the road with him. H.o.p. learned how to walk on a tour bus.

Then his dad was home and there began the education of listening to music with a studio ear. Who knows whether or not he’ll later have any use for what he learns growing up around it, but he’s surrounded by music. He goes down to the studio. He experiments with his own little sessions. He is partial to no instrument and studies no instrument in depth, but he takes piano (never practices, he just likes taking piano and making sounds and beats) from a long time friend of Marty’s, and this summer he started taking group percussion lessons (Samba) from another friend of Marty’s, because he loves Samba and Marty knows some great percussionists. When he’s old enough, I imagine he’ll start sitting in on sessions and learning the rudiments of engineering and production, if he likes. Just being around it, it’s funny how much you can learn. The ear becomes educated. If he decides he wants to do something with music, he’s going to have years and years head start over these kids that high schools send to Marty to intern with him.

H.o.p.’s been to lots of small shows and some festivals, but not yet to a large arena event.

A good friend of Marty’s has been touring with Mayer all this time and tonight H.o.p. got to go to his first big arena show. After all, these things are loud and he’s not one for LOUD. Several years ago his uncle was working for Howard Shore and was traveling all the time from venue to venue where “The Lord of the Rings” concerts were being staged, and he arranged for us to go to the performance here and instead we just did rehearsal because I suspected it would be too loud and intense for H.o.p. Indeed, he enjoyed it, and enjoyed meeting Howard Shore as he loved the music and listened to it at home over and over, but he sat with his head buffered by my jacket most of the time at the rehearsal and wasn’t anxious to stay.

But he’s been to lots of festivals this past Spring and Summer. His ears are more hardy. And we decided he was ready for an arena show. Marty was comped two tickets and I couldn’t go as we don’t have a babysitter, and then we decided H.o.p. should go and I didn’t want to bother with bothering for a third ticket.

So they prepared to go. With earplugs. (No reason to be ashamed about earplugs. Musicians wear them.)

And with backstage passes.

I spent two days prepping the nine-year-old for his first big arena show. It’s big. It may be loud. (Earplugs.) He’s going backstage. He’ll see his friend David LaBruyere and meet John Mayer.

Which he didn’t, meet John Mayer afterwards. They were sent to the wrong room back stage with a bunch of other musician friends and after a very loud twenty minutes with lots of commotion going on, they realized it was the wrong room and by then Mayer was gone. But at least it was musicians and relaxed rather than a meet and greet. At first it was all pretty overwhelming to H.o.p. though. Not the concert, that was fine. But the back stage commotion was at first overwhelming for H.o.p. as it was a small room with a lot of people in it.

Now, I don’t even like the industry. I hate the big industry end of it all. It sucks. Musicians aren’t the industry. I have always stayed away from parties and from industry people because I hated the industry (I have stood and literally fled the dinner table when seated across from industry PR people–after one sentence out of their mouths I have fled, I can’t handle them) and only liked back stage when it was just musicians and no one but musicians. (Marty, by the way, says the show was great, Mayer did a great job and so did all else, and H.o.p. loved it.) So I wasn’t wanting H.o.p. to meet Mayer for the star quotient. But I had hoped H.o.p. would get to meet Mayer because H.o.p. believes in meeting people. I’ve met Mayer a couple of times but it was years ago, around the time H.o.p. was born, and what I remember of it is Mayer sitting at our table, playing his music on our sound system, and I thought, “Well, he’s going to go places,” because you could see it in his head, that he was going to get there, he was ready to get out and tour 365 days a year, which many people do, travel continually, but you could tell he had the focus and didn’t have anything to detract from that single-minded focus of making it, every step precisely calculated in terms of whether it fit into that big picture of getting his music done, which isn’t easy. And now Mayer’s a star and his image is plastered everywhere. But the reason I wanted H.o.p. to meet Mayer, like I said, is because he’s always wanting to meet people. Every artist and director and musician he likes, he says, “Can I meet them?” He thinks he should be able to meet anyone. And wants to. When I was a kid it never occurred to me to meet someone, just having their work around was enough. But H.o.p., he always says, “Can I meet them? I want to meet them!” He wants to get up close and personal with everyone. The work he likes, he immediately thinks in terms of the person behind it and wanting to meet the person. Which I think is a good thing. He’s not thinking, “That person is a star! I want to meet them!” He thinks, “I like that person’s work. I want to meet them!” I don’t want him to lose that.

He DID get to see David LaBruyere and Chad Franscoviak, which was more important–LaBruyere being an old friend who knew H.o.p. before he was verbal, who’s played bass for Mayer all these years and used to live a couple of doors from us in the old Decatur art compound, and Chad is Mayer’s front of house guy and tour manager and used to live on the other side of our duplex, again, in the old art compound when H.o.p. was pre-verbal. And saw a bunch of other old friends. If they had come home without seeing LaBruyere and Chad, I would have been really pissed.

He got to see again, too, Kevin Leahy, the drummer who was on the tour bus with us when H.o.p. was learning how to walk…

And then H.o.p. saw the WALL MURAL OF THE BIG RED HAWK and THAT was the event of the night and he got a picture of himself standing under that.

And then they got lost trying to get to the car and a Marta cop was real helpful and let them on a train with his pass and they found their way to the right parking lot. And THAT was the first thing H.o.p. talked to me about when he called me, the BIG ADVENTURE of getting lost.

So, H.o.p had a great adventure, and I’m glad he got some back stage pics taken with some old buds from the old art compound.

If you’re more into Country, Marty distinguished himself nicely back stage in that regard. A woman came up to him and gave him a big hug and said, “Marty, it’s great to see you again!” And he stared at her and she said, “I’m Jennifer,” and he said, “I’m sorry, but you’re going to have to help me out, which Jennifer?”

It was Jennifer Nettles. Jennifer’s husband and Marty are friends, and he’s friends with most of the people in her band (Christian and Brandon Bush, Sean O’Rourke and Scott) but he’s only met Jennifer a couple of times.

Brandon is also an ex art compound resident.

Marty says Jennifer was nice as she could be about it, and that he fully confessed to her that he’s an idiot.

P.S. Must get a new keypad. This one keeps dropping letters.

Kevin Leahy’s arm, H.o.p., John Shofner and Chad

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Trying To Feel Like I’m Accomplishing Something While Procrastinating

Georgia, Gas Station, July 22 2007
Georgia, Gas Station, July 22 2007

H.o.p. through the car window.

Light box enlargement

Love the above photo of H.o.p., the subtle color, and he was just so happy waving through the window at me.

* * * * * * * *

I am procrastinating wildly. This is how I procrastinate on getting some writing done, or while I’m thinking about what I’m doing with the writing I’m doing. Instead of moving on from rereading two novels of Philip K. Dick’s to rereading the Nag Hammandi texts, I make changes to the blog and went wild with plug-ins. Next I’ll be doing this to Marty’s music blog and H.o.p’s art blog (which he hasn’t updated in months). But first I’ve got to redo some png images for H.o.p.’s t-shirts (Marty has friends who want some) and I promised a niece I’d do up a t-shirt for her using one of her drawings.

Here are changes I made to the blog yesterday and today.

1.) Comments field. I added WP-Ajax-Edit-Comments Plugin. When one makes a comment it is now editable by the individual for a space of 15 minutes.

2.) Am now trying out Share This so sharing options are displayed at the bottom of posts for emailing etc. Who knows? Someone may one day stumble upon the site who wants to share an article at Digg or some other place. Reminding myself to make a donation for it.

3.) Am going to try to move from depending on categories to tags, implementing site search tags at the bottom of posts, using this. This will be difficult. My desk isn’t piled high with papers and books in this apartment only because lack of room compels me to stuff everything into drawers and bookcases. At our last place I had a big book case right beside the desk creating a kind of nook around the desk and so the way I organized things worked great there as I just made great piles of things on in the bookcase and on the floor behind my desk and next to the case, but it was all at least constrained by that space so though my piles would reach heights of several feet, they didn’t spread out. Here, I don’t have room for that. When I try to categorize/organize/file I get bogged down in multiplying options and eventually lose hope and stop. And if I do carry organization through then within a week or two whatever was organized is likely to be a jumble again. As both Marty and H.o.p. are the same way, our only salvation is that I at least like things to be neat and so organize to the extent that I put stuff away. Anyway, when I try to think about tags, as with categories, my brain goes ??????

May try out the Ultimate Tag Warrior Plug-in but I was reading it can bog a blog down.

4.) Changed the formatting of page titles with the Optimal Title Plug-in so the post title will be followed by the blog name instead of vice versa, which is supposed to be better for Google. Of course, one is supposed to keep post titles short and to the point and use lots of keywords and I tend to be pretty eclectic about things, post titles sometimes having seemingly nothing to do with the post and my posts may be all inferences rather than using appropriate keywords. In OTHER WORDS, not too infrequently what I feel I’m writing about is not ever directly mentioned in the blog.

5.) I am STUCK at trying to work with the permalinks. (This reminds me that I’m stuck with my current novel too, and makes me feel bad.) Looking finally at what’s happening in Google, I find not only am I a virtual nonpresence, stranded in the hinterland, the default WordPress way of doing permalinks is also really messing up the way Google does the indexing on this site and prioritizing. I want to move from the default way of doing permalinks to a pretty permalinks with the post name and ID. So I studied permalink structures last night and thought I found a nice foolproof one. But when I tried it, it didn’t work. Says input file specified. I don’t know if this is because my WordPress installation isn’t in the root directory but a sub. And if I do figure out what’s wrong then will I probably need to install a redirect for all my posts, won’t I? Agh. Do I really want to procrastinate this much?

6.) Made a robots.txt file to cut down on Googlebot finding duplications and further messing up indexing, but for some reason though it’s in the correct directory and done right (I’ve done robot texts before) though Google is finding it, it’s still returning a 404 page on it? I’m confused.

7.) Installed the SEO WordPress plug-in which further cuts down on duplications, optimizing google searches.

8.) Installed the Google Site Map Generator Plug-in (reminder to self, again, make donation) that I’m reluctant to try out until I get the permalink issue straightened out.

9.) Am going to try out another Alex King plug-in which automatically puts designated posts on an Articles page under their selected categories. But all posts that I’ve categorized have multiple categories and there should only be one category for this to work, so I don’t know if I’ll be keeping this.

A number of these ideas I found at Devlounge.

* * * * * * * * * *

Took a break while doing the plug-ins to watch Kung Fu Hustle, directed by Stephen Chow. I’m surprised by the reviews I’ve read thus far, as a number say things like “isn’t emotionally involving” or the characters aren’t fleshed out. OK, so I’m not a Kung Fu movie purist, but I’ve watched a number of them over the past several decades, and I loved this film, everything about it–plot, design, sets, costuming, pacing, acting, cinematography, editing. You name it, I loved it. When I wasn’t laughing, I was running out of the room and peeking around the door, scared a character I loved was about to be deep-sixed. And I loved all the characters except for the villains, and the villains were great villains that are completely loathsome. What wasn’t involving about these characters? Yes, it was a cartoon. But it was a wild and wonderful cartoon. How often is a movie funny enough that I’m up and on the end of the bed, jumping up and down on it, laughing my ass off? Not many. And Bruce! The Beast! He was THE villain and I even loved him! I was mad over Bruce the Beast! I was crazy about the Coolie and the Tailor and the Noodle Maker. I was crazy about the landlady and the landlord (Wah Yuen, played the Vampire in Mr. Vampire, another funny funny Kung Fu film). I was crazy about Sing, the lead, but no more so than those others mentioned. No, there wasn’t a lot of dialogue but it didn’t need a lot of dialogue, every scene drenched with story and character informing visual info. And the acting was insanely fine. So, I loved it. It was all candy, thousands and thousands of pounds of candy.

The Child Experiments with being a Comedian, 2007

I’m not a party person so this was an exceptional event for me.

And I loved every minute.

Marty and H.o.p. outdid themselves. And H.o.p. really did help. He went down to the studio with Marty in the afternoon and he washed grapes and cherries and trays and he laid out the grapes and cherries on the trays alongside the other food and filled bowls with pretzels and chips. And he cleared away mic stands etc.

There was great food. Lots of food. Antipasto and tabouli and fruits and vegetables. All prepared by Marty. Except for the cake and the fruits and veggies H.o.p. prepared.

Marty got Sasha in to play. And I was torn. I wanted to listen to the music but instead of course spent the time talking with people, and throughout there were multitudes of children (H.o.p.’s cousins) joyously chasing after balloons and jumping and running and having a great time. And Sue Wilkinson and Marty later did a song together (beautiful, I managed to not cry) while H.o.p. leaned on my shoulder, beaming, and my niece, Elizabeth, leaned on my knee.

Sue and Marty also did an incredible rendition of “Happy Birthday”.

I took almost no pictures. I shouldered the camera a few times and realized I would be getting no good pictures as all I wanted to do was mingle and talk with friends and siblings and enjoy nieces and nephews running up with huge smiles and grabbing me by the knees. I love kids manhandling me, by the way. The endorphins soar when the nieces and nephews throw themselves around me like I’m the greatest thing in the world and yell, “Aunt Juli!” I may not be the greatest thing in the world, but they are and thus the rush.

It was suggested at one point I get a pic of H.o.p. with all his cousins who were there (a couple had to leave by this point).

H.o.p. took the opportunity to flash a peace sign at the camera. Top photo of the bunch. I can be as sappy as the next person and I like it that a peace sign managed to get into my birthday photos, especially one brandished by H.o.p. Despite growing up in the 60s, I’ve never brandished a peace sign, but I like it when H.o.p. does, though I’ve never mentioned it to him.

These are the kids in my life–H.o.p. and his cousins–who grant me a great deal of happiness, ever amazing me.

H.o.p. and my Nieces and Nephews Gather for a Group Pic at my Bday Party

Here’s my oldest niece who’d had to leave with a sibling of hers who wasn’t feeling well. She’s holding her newest sibling, my youngest niece. She’s holding also her new acquisition of a Nikon DSLR.

For the scrapbook (and blog): Niece with her new camera at my party

When the mic was finally free, H.o.p. grabbed it and tried his hand at stand-up comedy.

“You’re a tough crowd!”

Really, growing up with a musician dad and around a studio, he’s far too comfortable with a mic.

For the scrapbook - H.o.p. trying out stand-up comedy at my birthday party

A few people read my blog who were present. And I want to thank them for helping me celebrate my 50th. You don’t know how much it meant to me to have you there.

And for the friends and relatives who live at a distance and couldn’t be there, I thought of you often.

“What did her friend think of me? Why did she make that face at me?”

"What did her friend think of me?  Why did she make that face at me?"
The Gargoyle Guards the Door on His Perch, 2007

H.o.p.’s questions on someone visiting the building, who made a face at him and sighed, it seems, with some contempt when she was passing and he was playing the gargoyle. I hadn’t noticed it but H.o.p. did and asked me about it several times. What I had noticed was that though it is our apartment building, and she was a visitor waiting outside for her friend, she looked at me with such an expression of displeasure, on her approach, seeming to wish me away, that I had H.o.p. follow me down the corner around the building to wait until she’d left. I was wondering if it was my imagination but there was some peculiar enough vibe that it walked me off.

At first he simply said, “What did that woman think of me?” I didn’t understand his concern but realized after a bit he was serious and asked him what was making him wonder. And he mimicked for me her action and how she had puffed out her breath contemptuously at him and asked why she’d done it.

I told him that perhaps she was tired. Perhaps she was.

The woman in the pic is not the woman who made the face.