It’s going to be one of those weeks. Could I have gone into the office Sunday afternoon to write the column? Of course. But it was sunny and clement, so I didn’t. I could have spent Saturday afternoon crafting a whiz-bang site addition for Wednesday, but what did I do instead? I went to the office and tried to write a column, until I said to myself “eh. I’ll come back Sunday.” So Wednesday’s update will be small but hideously potent. Right now I’m shaving large chunks out of what I wrote Saturday night to use as a Tuesday column, because I’m 120 minutes away from bedtime and I’d like to relax a bit. At least I came up with this week’s design, which I am certain will be utterly incompatible with 90% of the browsers used to view this site. That said: it was a wonderful weekend, and life is good. Bear with me this week. I’ll do what I can.

It’s not all fun and thrills around here; there are important life lessons to impart to my child. She found a Superman doll in the bin of cast-off toys, and this led to a half-hour of running around with the ever-impractical cape (what, he needs it for stabilization? No, let’s be honest: Superman just liked to accessorize.) I’m Superman!

Actually you’d be Superwoman. Or Supegirl.

Oh. Right. I’m SOOpergull! Daddee, do you like Batman?

Yes, I do. He's troubled and conflicted, but he does the right thing.

He flies.

Actually, he jumps.

Do you like Spiderman? I don't. Spiderman is for boys.

I do like Spiderman. I always have.

Does he fly?

He swings.


Remember, honey: Superman flies, Batman jumps, Spiderman swings.


As anyone with a tot knows, you frequently have to reenact movies and stories, and gender roles can be assigned somewhat capriciously. For some reason Gnat wanted to reeanct “The Running Chickens,” which is “Chicken Run,” and she wanted to be Rocky. So she did her best Mel Gibson voice. You be Ginger. I did my best uptight British chick voice.

“Rocky, you can’t fly. You could never fly,” I said.

“Yes I can,” she said in a mock baritone. “Watch me. I’m flyyying.”

That’s not flying,” I said in the irritated, practical Ginger voice. “That’s falling with style.”

Consternation. “No, that’s Talking Toys. This is Running Chickens.”

She caught that one. Good for her. It’s fascinating what they learn and remember.

Example of more tot mindreading: We’re driving down the highway. Gnat says:

Octopuses live in caves.

Yes, they do. And the caves are deep in the ocean.


And squid live in the ocean, too.

Like Squidward!


For some reason I thought of Inky, the little squid from “Finding Nemo,” and how he blurted a cloud of ink when nervous. And I thought: that ink looked good. It looked just like ink in water. Except there wasn’t any water. The illusion of the movie was so complete that you just believed these characters were bobbing in the water, when of course no water existed. So someone had to come up with convincing ink-release effects; I’ll bet it was one person who was charged with this duty. Whose specialty was colored fluids of varying viscosities, and how they behaved when released in water. Most people would look at that person at work, peering at a computer screen, typing, moving the mouse, and think: well, they’re doing it all with computers now. True. But that’s like looking at Vermeer daubing a canvas and saying “they’re doing it all with horsehair and canvas” instead of the old fashioned way of putting your hand against the rock and blowing pigments out your mouth to make a hand-shaped picture. Tools are tools. What’s interesting about computer art is how we don’t often think of the individual artists, only the final product. We look at a great painting, and think: ah. Caravaggio, his masterful sense of light and shadow. But we look at Finding Nemo and think, that was a fun Disney movie, eh? The contributions of the hundreds of artists doesn’t register, because the final product is so good, so complete. The idea that someone who was in charge of bubbles, or handled the way ferns reacted in a current, is an artist in the sense we've come to believe just doesn't register, because computers are involved. Nonsense.

My reverie was cracked by a voice from the back seat:

Inky is a squid, Gnat said.

Whoa. That he is, honey.

I love Emo, she said, and then she brought up something my dad did a year ago, last Easter. He put plastic grass on his head and made amusing faces. They remember everything, it seems; it’s all locked in there somewhere. The passage of time doesn’t zero the drive and erase the memories – it just puts up BRIDGE OUT AHEAD signs that keep you from visiting those old locales. Maybe it would be too hard to remember everything, too sweet and too wonderful. Perhaps it’s best that we only remember fragments; the full story would be too much to live with every day. It’s sweeter for being forbidden. You end up building your own bridges in the end.

But I’m rambling. Column to write; off I go. See you tomorrow.

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