Thursday, November 27, 2008

Cashed out on Culture

I never get sick of starting a post by apologizing for not posting in such a long time. As stated by the harpy in the comment section of last post, we have had a rather eventful interim. I won't be regaling you with tales of suspense and horror regarding our Hamilton trip this post, as the photos (of which there were certainly many) currently reside on other cameras. Once I get them sent my way I'll give you all the play by play (well, a heavily sanitized version at least.) For now; the events previous to.

On the 15th of November Bean had his first cultural experience that didn't involve movies, comic books, or video games - y'know, proper culture. We attended the opening day of the Finicky art exhibition by one Paul McLeod. While getting a little art up you is a noble endeavour in any instance, this was an especially grand occasion as Paul McLeod just so happens to be known as Uncle Paulie to our whānau.

Paul's work is amazingly cool (yes, that is the depth of my critical lexicon when it comes to this kind of thing) and we were all so unspeakably proud to see it hanging in the gallery (though I'm prouder still to have instances of it sprayed around our neighbourhood.) It's hard to tell just how much Hunter enjoyed the works, but he certainly basked in the attention from those gathered at the event.

I'm really no good at describing art in a way that isn't woefully superficial, so you should just head to Paul's website to get a proper look at his work, it's frightfully wonderful. It would be remiss not to also mention that Mama had something on display at the event; she whipped up an absolutely insane amount of mini-cupcakes to feed the punters. They were a big hit, and we were still snacking on the surplus for days to come.

Once we had been subtly shown the exit by the gallery's staff after having done our best to get through the bottles of free wine on offer we decided to take Bean to the local beach. This was the wee guy's first experience with the ocean and the scope of things left his little mind a tad boggled.

It was a lovely day and the prospect of a quick paddle in the cooling waves was a welcome one. Mama propped Hunter up so that the waves would gently lap at his feet. While he made no immediate protest, the sensation didn't exactly fill him with glee either. Confusion seemed to be the reigning feeling as his little feet sunk from view into the wet sand.

Feeling we had probably blown his mind enough for one day we decided to lug the salty sea dog back to shore, and as he gazed back at the beach he began to grin and giggle uncontrollably. I guess he enjoyed himself more than is wide, anxious eyes conveyed.

Ever since becoming a Dad I've been chomping at the bit to take Hunter to a playground. I've been a huge playground enthusiast even before having a kid and looked forward to the possibility of not being met with fearful apprehension by the parents supervising their own children - Bean was my ticket to playground legitimacy. Obviously he's not really old enough to enjoy rich and rewarding experiences a bountiful playground offers, but there was time enough for a quick jaunt down the slide before having to leave.

I am super proud that Hunter's first art gallery experience was courtesy of his ridiculously talented Uncle Paulie (he has since already had his second, in which I basically stood around getting the pram in the way of preening hipsters diligently attempting to appear unaffectedly cool and well read... ick) and I'm sure there will be many more to come; Paul is well on his way to fame, fortune, and decadent artistic debauchery.

Tune in next time, once the photographic evidence has been properly collated (that's your cue snap-happy family members, email that stuff to me) for Hunter's first road trip, first exposure to *shudder* Hamilton, and first hugs and kisses from many members of the family.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Ragnarok Boogaloo Beatdown

So, after election results that had anyone not super-rich or completely masochistic sobbing quietly into their whiskey glass, we are transmitting again. Loud and proud as ever, regrouped for three years of struggle. Nothing new for trash like us.

Being that it was Bean's first election we figured we had better show him what proper democracy looks like. So we stocked up on booze, fired up the barbecue an invited our friends from across the political spectrum. Drinking, eating, with a little bit of voting squeezed into the middle; apparently true democracy looks very similar to any other weekend.

Most people had better things to do than help educate an eager young mind on the workings of our nation first-hand, but those that did show up made a good show of it. So cheers to all the politically conscious revellers, Hunter seemed to really enjoy himself.

Obviously the next day was a bit of a downer, due in equal part to the election results and copious amounts of alcohol, so it was a pretty subdued Sunday. But Bean digs those too.

I don't know why but I never ended up blogging about taking Hunter to Armageddon last month. For those that don't know, Armageddon is our massive annual geek festival. Comics, videogames, celebrities, cosplay, wrestling, anime, anything and everything dorky from up and down the country packs out the Aotea convention centre for Labour weekend. It has been pretty commercially oriented of the last bunch of years, ditching much of the real culture, but we felt it important to Bean's development as a budding young geek all the same.

I mention it now because I'm pretty sure his nerdy conditioning is starting to pay off. Every weekend morning I sit down with Hunter and watch episodes of Batman: The Animated Series on DVD. We've almost made it through all four seasons. Initially he wasn't too interested, it's quite a dark cartoon and his attention quickly wandered. These days he seems so much more attentive, often sitting still for an entire disc worth of episodes (and he loves the Joker, always elicits a grin.)

Of course we don't want to encourage him to surrender his little mind to television, that's just a weekend thing, celebrating my not having to immediately leave the house in the morning. One thing we had always planned on adding to our crew in order to stimulate the little one's mind was a pet, everyone in the Grafton Massive loves animals - despite varying degrees of allergy - and we figured once we had the hang of running a kid we would sort out a friend for him.

The situation sorted itself out, however, when a beautiful white cat suddenly found itself with no place to go. As so many do, the little waif found her way to us and has now been assimilated into our little community. Skeletor (or Skeli to her nearest and dearest) is six months old, a little ahead of Hunter (who is five months tomorrow) and absolutely full of insane energy.

Hunter has been around a fair amount of dogs in close proximity by way of visits from both grandmothers and their little companions. He's caught glimpses of cats before too, of course, but he has never really had the chance to share space with one. Although wary of the critter to begin with, both parties now seem fascinated and respectful of each other. The beginning of a beautiful friendship and a lasting love of animals, hopefully.

By now you should all probably have the odds sorted on your picks for Bean's first word, it seems as though it will be coming any day now. Until then, take care of yourselves and we shall check back in soon.

A bit of administration stuff; it's great that people are using the comments section to shoot the breeze, but anyone dropping racist shit will be promptly bounced, I don't care who you are. Is that really want you want Hunter to see if and when he revisits this blog? Just a friendly heads up.

Thursday, November 6, 2008


I was born during the Reagan Administration, an American legacy that cast a pall over global politics lasting well beyond that presidency. It ushered in an era of neoliberal globalization, destructive foreign policy, a domestic policy of social inequality, and the rise of a brutish, dim, intolerant national character.

It was an era that, for the last eight years, had culminated in the most hellish, corrupt, immoral, untrustworthy administration that America had ever seen. It seemed that no matter what right headed, socially conscious, moral people did nothing could make an impact on the bigoted, selfish, violent era that had dominated since 1981. Until now.

America has elected their first black President. A President that has promised to end America's dedication to the ignorant destruction of the planet, to end an unjust war, to establish a practical plan to eliminate nuclear weapons, to shut down state run torture camps, to make a realistic contribution to fighting extreme global poverty, to end trade deals based on exploitation of the poor and destruction of the environment, to acknowledge and take action to end crimes against humanity commit across the globe. To act like a leader of his people. That's one hell of a job he's set for himself.

I can't remember any significant event in global politics that has ever inspired me to feel hopeful. Being politically aware and active has always been an exercise in resistance, criticism, and defence. I literally have no idea what having a good man in power is supposed to feel like, closest I've come is an unhealthy addiction to The West Wing. Lets hope we are all about to learn first-hand.

A world where corporate greed trumped human needs, poverty ran rampant, war was a permanent thing, where people didn't have the common sense not to destroy or deplete the resources they needed to survive, where the racist, sexist, homophobic, violent voice was always the loudest, where living in fear seemed like an acceptable model for freedom - to have Hunter grow up knowing all this as just a bizarre footnote in history seems like an absurd, impossible dream. But for the first time in my lifetime it seems like an absurd, impossible dream that might actually be worth dreaming.

Too bad it looks so grim on the local front, huh? Oh well, courage.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Photo Dump

There sure were a lot of words in that last post. Lets go with pictures this time:

Paulie and Bean (wearing his grossly inaccurate 'Mum Rocks' shirt,) watching something very involving on television. Probably America's Next Top Model.

One of Mama's patented internet-ready self-portraits. What can I say, she gets bored.

Here's Bean ruining a perfectly lovely photo with Lucy. He's learning fast.

That's one hell of a forehead, he's got a bit of a Charles Xavier thing going on there.

This is Hunter's treasured friend Divine (named after the original Pink Flamingo) He loves nothing more than a good cuddle before trying to stuff her in his mouth.

He also devours literature; here he is attempting to chew through his weird scrunchy animal book.

He's really got the hang of smiling and laughing now, there's nary a minute he's not doing one or other.

Unless, of course, he is fleeing in terror from the giant DVD wall of doom!

As you can see in the background out place is pretty much a multicoloured pit of strewn plaything 24/7 (though I'm pretty sure I still have more toys than he does.)

Jump over to Hunter's Flickr page for more images.