Thursday, May 28, 2015

This is all the things Mr F can do with his life right now. (Life With Unicorns)

This is Mr F's "Want Board."  Mr F still doesn't talk much, and only when prompted to do so. So when he wants something, he resorts to creative ways of getting it.  Like bringing you a candy bar for him to open, or pointing your hand towards the computer, or getting his shoes on and trying to 'throw' your hand at the keys up on the shelf.

We used to have a program on our iPad to try to help with this, but that program never worked so well.  For one thing, it was really complicated for him to use -- you had to go through several screens to get to the thing he wanted. If he wanted Cheese Puffs, say, he would have to open the program, then tap "I Want" then "Something To Eat" then "Cheese Puffs."  That's a lot of work for a cheese puff that is in the cupboard right above where the iPad charges.  Plus, if Mr Bunches was using the iPad, the program was unavailable.

Also, the iPad broke when Mr Bunches got frustrated one day and tossed it on the ground.  He got a lecture, and we had to buy a new tablet that wouldn't support the program, which wasn't that good anyway and cost a LOT of money.  The program, called "Proloquo2Go" costs $249.99. 

(That's a side not about autism and other special-needs -isms: things marketed to parents of those kids are almost ALWAYS overpriced. I suspect it's because of the guilt parents feel. A teacher says "Get this Proloquo program and Mr F will learn to communicate," and then you see it's $250 bucks, and you think WOW! but then you think I have to get it or I'm a horrible parent who is going to hell."  Consider this site, which sells 'teethers' for autistic kids. Mr F likes to chew things, and we buy him teething toys to help with that.  That site's "cool" teethers cost $12.99 and up, including an AMAZING $15.99 for silicone bracelets.

Regular baby teething toys -- not marketed as being somehow "cool" and appropriate for special needs kids -- start at $2.96 on Amazon. And you can get a pack of 24 silicone bracelets with inspirational sayings for $6.25.)

So rather than shell out another $250 for a program that wouldn't work well and which wouldn't always be available, we started taking pictures of the things Mr F likes, or which we think he might like.  $15 at the Dollar Store and a couple of hours of printing and gluing later, we had the "I Want" board, featuring such activities as "Go For A Ride In The Big Car."

So far, it has not caught on very well with Mr F, who naturally prefers the old way of doing things.  But we're working on it.

One of the things we keep doing is expanding it; our next task is to take pictures of the playgrounds we take them to, so he can pick a playground if he wants to go play somewhere.  We've got to add "bubbles" to the pictures because sometimes he gets in the mood to have me blow soap bubbles for him -- like yesterday when he watched me do it and popped them for thirty minutes.

At first, I looked at the pictures we had and got sad, because as the headline said, Mr F's world was severely circumscribed by what pictures were available: if he couldn't find a picture to say it and couldn't find a way to pantomime it for us, he couldn't do it.  We take him for rides, for example, and we have several different routes we take, that go by the Capitol or through farms or just around the neighborhood.  Mr Bunches knows how to ask for a particular ride.  Mr F does not.  So he's just stuck with what we choose for him, until we figure out a way to label the rides in a way that he can use.

He's getting more creative at telling us he doesn't like something.  If we put a movie on the TV that he doesn't like, he'll try to turn the TV off, and if he can't do that, he'll go stand behind the TV so he doesn't have to see it (the TV is up against a wall, so that's a bit tricky, which is probably the point: we move quick to change it rather than risk him knocking over the TV.)

After a while, though, I felt less sad for him, because the more pictures we put up, the greater his horizons will be.  Most of us take for granted our ability to communicate what we want, or need.  It's really daunting to realize that Mr F (who gets easily frustrated and we suspect that this is part of it) can't communicate even 1/100th of the things he might want to do in a day.

Try this:

Picture everything you did yesterday.  Now imagine you are an 8-year-old.  What things would you have needed help with, and what things would you have had to ask someone to let you do or do for you?

Now imagine asking for them without using a single word.  How would you do it?

When I think of the sheer number of things Mr F seems to like doing or might want to try -- go play in the yard, go for a walk, get french fries at Dairy Queen instead of McDonald's, find a particular book, go to swim in the lake or the pool or the other pool on the far side of town... -- it seems an almost impossible task to take a representative picture of them all, but, then, it seems worse not to try.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

SEVEN? I have to think of SEVEN things?

Blagger and Spinner have only
hours to find their
missing equipment,
solve a murder, and
still keep the guests
from realizing
there’s a problem.
Click here for more.
Kate Ressman -- the author of Sugar and Spice, a scifi novel that sounds like China Mieville's best stuff, recently tagged me on her blog Bitter Suites  for a meme in which writers tell their reader(s?) seven things about their writing.

Given that I am in the midst of a publicity tour for my newest, hottest, best-est book ever (CODES), and have been writing about other people's great books and about how other people write scifi stories, it's both a good idea to focus on my writing and finally lets me get back to talking about myself, which is of course my favorite subject.

I'm not sure what the guidelines if any for these meme are, and it doesn't really matter because I never follow the guidelines anyway, so I will simply say the first seven things about how and when and why and etc I write that pop into my head, beginning with

This, for example, inspired me to
lobby for a law prohibiting
anyone from becoming a
'jewelry designer.'
I get inspiration from the weirdest things.  I've mentioned before that I wrote Codes after being inspired by a comment from Andrew Leon, but beyond that, I have had stories inspired by a quote from The Brothers Karamazov , by something author Rusty Carl said he ate for lunch one day (fish tacos), by a review of a book that said it was about a dysfunctional family which caused me to write my own novel about a dysfunctional family, by another thing Rusty Carl said, and by our middle kid, The Boy, saying what if you wrote a story about an astronaut drifting towards... well, I won't say what, that would spoil the surprise but it became this book.

I have way more ideas than I have time to write them.  I have ideas for stories about a human cannonball, about a guy wandering a post-apocalyptic earth, about two women who became pirates in another universe, about an accident at a factory that destroyed a town and left people haunted for years... and those are just the ones I'm planning on working on.  I haven't gone back to finish editing my epic Lesbian Zombies Are Taking Over The World!, I abandoned my plan to update The Odyssey as a steampunk adventure because I got bored with it (even though it was really good, it just wasn't for me), I haven't yet finished the third book in my Nick & Other Sexy Cop series even though it's like 9/10 written... I spend 20-60 minutes a day on writing, and at the pace I am going I will have to live to be 600 to write everything I want to write as of this moment.

I listen to different music depending on what I'm writing.  I've got a whole playlist just for Codes, which I use as I start on the sequel.  It includes songs like Bobby's Spacesuit

As well as more rock-and-roll things like After Hours, by We Are Scientists

to get a good mixture of weird-and-scifi, keeping my mood in that range that fits for Codes. But I listen to spookier music for horror stuff, and I tend towards The New Pornographers for my more literary stuff.  I even have a whole list of 'upbeat' music for when I write lighthearted things.

I am four stories away from completing a project where I wrote a story a day for a year.  I've also mentioned a few times here and there that since a year ago I have been working on a project I call "66,795 words," in which I wrote a story a day for a year, each one with one less word than the one before it.  The first story was 365 words, and actually was published by Yellow Mama back in June, 2014. (It was called No Souls Will Burn In The Sky Tonight).  Tonight I wrote story 5, called, simply, What.  You'll have to wait for the book to be published, one way or the other, to read them all (as well as the interludes, which are a combination memoir/blog/treatise on life, writing, and people. It's truly a phenomenal book) but if you check out the tab at the top of this page on where to find my writing, many of the stories listed there are part of this collection.

My ultimate goal is to one day write a mystery, but not just any mystery: I want to write a mystery in which the detective is also the killer, but he doesn't know it -- and the trick is that he can't have suffered from amnesia, a split personality, or been under the influence of drugs/alcohol when he did the killing.

I love reading my own writing.  I write the kinds of things I like to read, and so I tend to be my own favorite author.  I like to go back and re-read things I wrote years ago, and rediscover how much I liked them.  I tend to write pantser-style, making it up as I go along and ultimately ending up someplace I hadn't usually imagined when I started out, and because I write only a little at a time and hop from project to project, my writing always feel fresh to me.

Almost everything I write is about something I don't really understand.

Back in college I took a creative writing class, and the teacher talked about various quotes from various authors who supposedly said various things.  The quote, as I remember it, is we write the things we will never understand.  I've tried looking up who said that quote, or something close to it, and can't find anything.  But I always liked it, and it really applies to my writing.  Whether it's scientific advances impacting what it means to be human, as in Codes, or what the afterlife might look like, or even more abstract stuff, almost all my writing tends to focus in on areas that I like to think about, but which I either have an imperfect understanding of, or which cannot be understood by us at all.

I think that's the most interesting way to write -- spinning out problem after problem, idea after idea, in an effort to make sense of it all.  I rarely do, in the end, understand it -- but at least I get a good story out of it.

I got this! It's
No wait, that's for dentists...
Now I'm supposed to tag someone for this, so I will tag two people and let them accept or decline it.  Andrew Leon, author of (most recently) What Time Is The Tea Kettle? a quirky short entry into a world where cats can talk and objects can come alive and terrible things can happen despite all the quirk.  Read it! It's good.  Andrew blogs at StrangePegs where he mentioned Star Wars today so expect he'll have about a jillion visitors.

And I'll tag Bryan and Brandon at A Beer For The Shower.  They've been answering reader questions, in a frustratingly slow way.  HEY GUYS I REALLY NEED MY QUESTION ANSWERED BECAUSE I CAN'T START MY CAR UNTIL YOU TELL ME WHERE I LEFT MY KEYS. Hopefully they'll answer 7 questions about their writing. I don't know -- like me, they're almost painfull shy when it comes to talking about themselves.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Shameless Self Promotion: "The Thinking Man's Blade Runner," a short story based on the novel I wrote!


(you can also get a copy at the end of the story.
This story is set in the world of Codes, my new book available from Golden Fleece Press; there's a link to it over there on the left.

You can read it without having read Codes, but why WOULD you? Go buy Codes then while you wait for it to download, read this!

There are humans, and there are Codes, who are... human? Or not? What would you call a person who was born of a 28-day-old adult clone and had their personality implanted via computer program? Rick would call that person "Lila," and would be in love with her, maybe. Which is where the problem really begins...

The Thinking Man’s Blade Runner.

Uploading. 9%

The sound of explosions, behind him. He ignored them.

Monday, May 25, 2015

10 Minutes About: Splinter In The Mind's Eye

I finished Splinter In The Mind's Eye the other day.  It took longer than I'd thought it would because I'm reading several books at once these days.  I didn't do that for a long time.  For most of the past few years I had a few rules about reading, like I would only read one book at a time, and I wouldn't re-read old books, but I've slowly abandoned those and now I just read whatever I want.  So for the past few weeks I have been reading Splinter In The Mind's Eye, and also Faithful Place by Tana French (which is a murder mystery that Sweetie and I are reading together.  We formed our own book club, and are now on our third book that we're reading together and discussing with each other, a chapter at a time), and I started reading Perdido Street Station by China Mieville, but I only get digital books for 14 days at a time, and that one expired before I finished and couldn't be renewed.

Splinter In The Mind's Eye was about as good as I remembered it: a sort of slightly-advanced YA novel, not very deep or hard to read but fun in the way a Star Wars book should be.  I'd forgotten a lot of it, and I'd forgotten, too, how fun it can be re-reading an old old book and remembering all the parts that I'd once loved.  In this case, the underground tunnels with the Coway and the battle with the stormtroopers I hadn't remembered at all, and once I got to that part, there was a oh yeah that's right this is okay moment that I enjoyed.

One thing I was surprised by was how much of the book seemed to leak into the later Star Wars movies.  I suppose I shouldn't be, not just because why wouldn't Lucas filch from what was the first official Star Wars tie-in (or so I think it was?) but also because they're sort of tropes of that kind of glossy space opera scifi anyway: the primitive natives joining forces with the technologically advanced rebels, for example: There wasn't much difference between the Coway and the Ewoks, so far as I could tell, except that the latter lived in trees rather than underground.

There was more, though: [SPOILER ALERT!] like Luke slicing off Vader's arm in their battle at the end, or hints about Leia's abilities with the force, too.  Leia, in this one, picks up Luke's saber and begins battling Vader while Luke is trapped, and doesn't do terribly (although it's made clear Vader is just toying with her.)  There's even an older lady who knows about the Force and helps Luke get in touch with it a bit.  Okay, so Yoda was no lady but still.

Overall, what I found myself thinking was why Star Wars seems so expandable where other universes did not.  There's not an expanded universe of Frozen, for example, or E.T., or any number of other Really Big Deal movies.  Star Wars, with only a few other titans of pop culture, has for some reason lent itself to the kind of incredible expansive creativity that literally has spawned an entire universe.

And here's my answer: Star Wars really is a blank slate that people fill in.  If you go back to the original trilogy that this whole shebang was built on, they tell you squat.  I was trying to remember what I learned about the Star Wars universe in the movie itself, and there wasn't a whole lot: there's an Empire, and an academy, and there's Alderaan, and the Kessel Spice Run, and almost none of it is explained.

So we, the viewers, are free to make stuff up to fill in those gaps.  It's almost the exact opposite of something like Lord Of The Rings or His Dark Materials or Star Trek; they give you everything, and it's incredible and detailed and well thought out and all, but it's not the same as the way Star Wars felt like you could make it your own.  We didn't have a backstory for Han Solo, had only hints about how Luke and Leia got where they were, knew nothing about Vader or Kenobi or anyone.

Maybe that's why the later sequels were so panned? Not that they were as bad as people said (I liked them all, even Phantom) but because they were more detailed, any by filling in the cracks, they felt closed off and inaccessible?

That's ten minutes.  Consider that your take-home question.

PS: If you didn't come over here from there, check out my What If? post on Liz's Laws Of Gravity blog

Saturday, May 23, 2015

A Memorial Day Weekend Playlist

This weekend will mark the first time I've taken Memorial Day off in 14 years.  Don't cry for me, Argentina -- I usually took a Friday off before it, because what's the point of a Monday off of work? MONDAY IS STILL MONDAY, whether or not you work on it.  (For more on that subject, here's a 2008 post by me on The Best Day To Have Off Of Work.)

But to celebrate a three-day weekend, here's a playlist of songs that seem particularly fit for the kickoff of summer.

Stuck Between Stations: The Hold Steady

There's nothing I love more than a good road trip.  Unfortunately, this weekend does not include a road trip to anyplace more exciting than Best Buy to get printer ink. Or Michael's, to get velcro.  But if I were to head out on the open highway, I would blast this song as loud as I possibly could, because this song sounds like long stretches of countryside punctuated by bathroom breaks necessitated by the 144-ounce soda I bought on the way out of town.  Cars, highways, blue skies, loud music, more sugary liquid in a single cup than one person ought to be allowed to drink... AMERICA!

Unbelievers, Vampire Weekend

The subject may seem grim, but the song feels so uplifting.  I heard this song last summer, which was one of the worst of my life, and it helped me get through that horrible period, giving me a boost whenever I heard it.  I interpret it as sticking to your guns, no matter how uncaring the world seems to be.  It's a great song to have in the background while you and your sons spend a brilliant July afternoon rolling down a grassy hillside over and over.

Dance Dance Dance, Lykke Li

This song is the aural equivalent of taking a walk on one of those summer days that seems too bright to actually be a real day. Not going anywhere or doing anything.  Just walking, for the sake of walking.

Prove My Love, Violent Femmes

THIRD VERSE SAME AS THE FIRST we used to chant, driving around in Bob's white 1968 Chevy Impala in high school, looking for that very particular kind of not-really-threatening-trouble that suburban kids wanted to get into to feel dangerous.  This was the beach rock song for kids like me, who didn't really go to the beach but who wanted to rock out anyway.

Folding Chair, Regina Spektor:

It's about sitting on a beach! And it's so happy and bouncy.  And it makes you feel good about yourself: "I've got a perfect body/but sometimes I forget." Go have a snow cone, you perfect body person you.

I know Sweetie is horrified by this idea, but about 35% of the time, I would gladly get a silver bullet trailer and head out on the road forever.

I Will Live On Islands, Josh Rouse.

There's always the chance that one of those lottery tickets will pay off, or a hundred million people will buy my book, or on one of those lazy walks I will find a bag full of money with a note saying Don't bother returning it, it's yours to keep, signed, A RICH GUY.

And then I will live on islands.

Until then, we're going to a bakery today and for a walk.  Have a great weekend.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

More monkeys, STAT! (Life With Unicorns)

Mr Bunches is a shopaholic, and a movie nut.  And has difficulty expressing his emotions, all of which come together when he is expressing his frustration with my latest scheme to slow down his buying and teach him the value of a dollar, so to speak.

(The value of a dollar, nowadays, is roughly equal to 14 ounces of chocolate. Chocolate is trading at 14 cents per 1/10 of an ounce. That's nearly 3 times the cost of chocolate when I was born. Measuring inflation in chocolate is better than in gold or silver, because we see chocolate all around us all the time, what with this being America and all.  Hershey's bars are 1.55 ounces, so each section of a Hershey's bar is worth roughly 14 cents.)

Mr Bunches, being 8 and autistic, has a hard time understanding money.  That's not so unusual; most people have a hard time understanding money, and Mr Bunches doesn't see money.  I don't use paper money anymore and the only reason we have coins around the house at all is because Sweetie saves them to go vacuum out her car (75 cents for three minutes, coin operated) and Mr F likes to throw coins on the garage floor, as though our garage is a wishing well. Which maybe it is.)  Anyway, it's hard to teach Mr Bunches about money when 'money' is a plastic card in my wallet and he's always been bought everything he ever needs.

A while back, I hit on the idea of giving him dollars for things he was supposed to do, like pick up his toys or take a bath or get dressed, and when he got enough dollars to buy a toy, he could go buy that toy.  That was about 2 years ago, and it petered out mostly because it's very hard to resist buying things for Mr F and Mr Bunches when they want it and we have the money to do so.  Whenever they ask for something, two reactions immediately take place.

The first is the usual parental reaction that demands a no, or at most a maybe.  I used to think that my parents were mean for automatically saying no to everything I asked, until I became a parent myself and realized just how many things kids ask for.  A LOT.  They ask for EVERYTHING.  It begins roughly 15 minutes before they wake up and continues until late into the night, little soft mumbled requests from under the blankets:  Can I get zzzammrrph, PLEASE?  To combat this, at the birth of a child, a gene flips on and parents automatically respond with no to anything that even remotely sounds like a question.  I, like all parents, have that reaction.

The other reaction is a mixture of guilt and pity that I feel for the boys.  They have such a hard life, I think almost immediately, and it's true, they do, even for 8 year olds living in a relatively luxurious lifestyle.  When I sit down to tally up the number of things that trouble 8-year-old boys (lightning and thunder, a parent coming home late, kids picking on them at school, etc.) and then add in the extra stuff that troubles our 8-year-old boys (people who aren't their mom and dad, worries that the bus will be in a different spot after school*, nicknames**, a missing red marker)

* this happened one time; the boys' bus was a minute or two late to the after-school lineup and so was two slots down in the string of busses.  Mr Bunches burst into tears and needed to be walked to the bus by an aide because it was so different.  Now he has nightmares about missing the bus and will sometimes wake up at 3 o'clock in the morning and ask if he can get ready and go outside to wait so he doesn't miss the bus
** sometimes I (used to) pretend that Mr Bunches was a superhero, or Buzz Lightyear, or a monkey, or something silly like that.  I stopped when he got really upset and nearly started crying and saying I am me.  I am a LITTLE BOY. 
One of Mr Bunches' favorite movies is
Kronk's New Groove...
... I end up with this overwhelming feeling of guilt and feel like maybe I should just go get the Lex Luthor Robot Suit With Working Missile Shooter (TM) because it's really a small price to pay to make a little boy happy and possibly make his life easier in the event that a loud truck goes by and makes him think it is thundering out, which will then remind him of the time five years ago the power went out during a thunderstorm and cause him to need to go for a ride in the car to calm him down.***

***a true story that happens every time it thunders.
So to balance those two desires and possibly avoid going bankrupt and having to disclose to the bankruptcy court that I have an extensive collection of Imaginext (TM) airplanes, Sweetie and I have instituted a new system for helping Mr  Bunches earn a toy.
The system is this: We have created lists of things that Mr Bunches can do, and if he does one of them, he gets a star (which we draw on a post-it note and give to him.) If he gets 9 stars, he gets to buy a toy.

It's nine stars because Mr Bunches knows how to bargain.  When I first set up the system, I said he would have to get 10 stars.  "How about 9?" he asked, and I was impressed with his negotiating skills, so I agreed.

... but you probably could've guessed that, if you knew
this picture.

The things that he can do to get a star include watching a new movie on the television.  Mr Bunches gets frightened at times of the TV, specifically if a DVD were to stall or freeze up.  He has been having panic attacks this year, and one of the things that causes a panic attack is the TV freezing up.  So he has for most of this year limited the television to showing only a couple of different DVDs that he feels pretty certain won't freeze.

To help remedy this, we got a Chromecast and set it up to play Netflix on the TV; Netflix rarely freezes, and so Mr Bunches has expanded his movie selection a bit.  We want him to be more open to change (and we want Mr F to get to watch some of his movies) so we've set up a list of movies that we would like Mr Bunches to let us play on the TV, and if he lets us, he gets a star.

Mr Bunches can also do chores, like put soda in the refrigerator or get himself dressed without help or pick up all the toys in the house, and he gets a star for each of those.

And we have a list of new foods he could try; he's a very picky eater, with only about 10 different foods he will eat, and he tends to fixate on one at a time, so for a whole day straight he might eat only the marshmallows from Lucky Charms, with cheese puffs on the side (he only ever eats those things together, in that combination).  So we've tried to get him to branch out there, too, and he gets a star for trying a new food.

This may not sound like much, but for him, it really is.  He likes getting his stars.  This week, he has been working towards 9 stars because he wants to buy a "My Little Pony Friendship Express Train." (He has discovered My Little Ponies and loves them now.)  So he asked the other day what he could do to get a star.  Since I was trying to get Mr F to eat an Oreo, I gave Mr Bunches a chance to eat a bite of Oreo for a star.

He got a look on his face like I'd offered to let him kiss a spider.  But he gave me a brave little "Ok," and I took a small piece of Oreo out.

He said: "How about just touch it?" and held up his finger.

"You have to eat it," I said.

He eyed the piece and then put it on his tongue.

"Chew it up," I told him, nicely.

He shook his head.

"It tastes good," I said.

He shook his head, but closed his mouth, keeping his eyes on me.

"Can I have some milk?" he asked.

I poured him a glass of milk, and he sipped at it, and then gamely tried to move his mouth in a chewing motion, but then stopped and ran to the garbage can, where he spit it all out before rinsing his mouth with a sip of cold milk.

"I almost blahed," he said, referring to the sound you make when you barf.  "Do I still get a star?"

I gave him his star. He earned it!

So that's this week, and the stars have been slow in coming.  He's up to six with three to go.  Yesterday morning, he was looking at his stars, and asked me if he could get more stars.

"When you come home and do your homework, that'll be worth a star," I said.

He sighed, and I heard him mumbling to himself:  "It's too short! We need more monkeys!" I recognized that as a quote from the movie Toy Story, where the toys are trying to make a chain of monkeys to rescue Buzz from outside the window.  That's something Mr Bunches does more and more often: he substitutes a movie quote to try to describe how he's feeling.  He didn't have words, really, for how it felt to only have six stars and not have a way to get three more right away, and the best thing he could do was relate it to how the toys must have felt, having an insufficient amount of monkeys to rescue Buzz.

He learned from a Youtube video
how to make his Hot Wheels' set
into a volcano.
(Which admittedly was pretty cool)

Which is simultaneously ingenious -- using movie quotes to demonstrate his feelings -- amazing, what with the ability to remember verbatim the right movie quote to use, and heartbreaking, not just because it suddenly hit me that if the need more monkeys emotion was how he was really feeling, then not having enough stars was like losing a new best friend and not being able to help, but also because it's already hard enough for anyone to express an emotion, but to imagine my little boy at 8 years old having trouble expressing frustration AND having to act out a skit from a movie to do it?

He almost got the other three stars right there, but I figured I had to stick to the system.

Mr Bunches does that other times; if he doesn't like what I'm doing, I'm apt to find myself being cast as a particularly villainous character in a scene. One time, when he wanted to go play in our bedroom and Sweetie didn't want him to (because she had to be downstairs watching Mr F), he acted out this scene from Lilo & Stitch:

in full detail, with all the bells and whistles.

I've found it's not actually that unusual for kids with autism to relate in this way; in fact, there was a well-circulated story a little while back about an older kid who used Disney movies to learn to communicate better, and as a model for interactions with other people. (You can read that one here). And as sad as it can be to think about how difficult it is for him to communicate anything, I prefer to focus on the more optimistic, glass-half-full part, which is that he is learning to broaden his communication.  There have been lots of times that I worried that I might never be able to have a full conversation with him.  Now I just have to worry that I'll mess up my lines.

PS: Today I'm guest-posting on J.M. Beal's blog, about the SIX greatest SCIFI novels of all time, plus how they make you a better writer.  Check it out by clicking here.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Children Standing In Front Of Art

We went yesterday to see the exhibition of Chinese art at the Chazen Museum of Art here in Madison, and while that was really interesting to look at (as well as big), it was our stumbling across the 2015 award-winner from an MFA student that made the day.  The two pictures here are part of an installation called "Kill The Idiot, Save The Fan" . It's by an artist who also dresses up as "Darth Chief" to "hunt" offensive Indian mascots at sporting events.

You can tell the boys are thrilled to realize they are standing amidst a modernist assault intended to contrast  American pop culture sensibilities with traditional native cultures to demonstrate how society has co-opted and in some cases completely destroyed those older beliefs. Thrilled.