Saturday, August 25, 2007

Self Portraits

I love art, but I'm an idiot at art. To prove this wild statement as truth, I will relate a true story. I will not exaggerate, embellish, or in any way alter the facts as I remember them.

Many, many years ago, my sister Carolyn called me on the phone and said, "There is an art gallery on Westheimer Dr. that is selling paintings by Jackson Pollack. They have a few that you and I could afford. Do you want to drive over there, take a look at them, and maybe choose one and buy it together? We could go halvies?"

"Jackson Pollack? Isn't he that guy that throws paint and splashes it around and calls it motion art or some such garbage and they have monkeys that have duplicated his crap and one elephant that has done some doodling with his trunk that looks exactly like it?"

"Well, yes, some people can't appreciate it and have had some monkeys attempt to duplicate it, but his stuff is genuinely creative."

"How much does it cost?"

"Well, some of his large murals are probably ten or twenty thousand dollars. You and I would buy one of his smaller paintings, and it would only cost us four or five thousand. I don't know. In some ways it depends on the size of the painting."

"Five thousand dollars for monkey art? Do you think I'm stupid, Carolyn? Do you think I'm an idiot? Do you really think I'd spend thousands of dollars to buy monkey art? They got a monkey at the Lubbock Zoo that has already proven it's just monkey art."

"Are you sure? His art might be valuable some day, and it is really amazing in a lot of ways."

"Do you really think I'm that dumb? Don't you realize that them art critics are peddlin' junk and laughin' all the way to the bank? No thank you! I got more brains than that. Them art people are laughin' their asses off at all the idjuts that are buyin' that monkey art!"

"OK. I just thought I'd ask. It seemed like a good idea to me."

"No monkey art for me, thank you."
And now? After watching the lady who was a guest on David Letterman who found a Jackson Pollack painting in a garage sale and is fighting off wealthy, wallet-bearing art lovers who are throwing money at her to get their hands on one of his paintings? After stickin' my foot in my mouth and three-quarters o' the way down my esophagus?

I genuinely appreciate all art. Not because of the investment lost, but because of the lesson learned.

Here are some samples of my fourth graders' self portraits:

"The neck bone's attached to the....jaw bone.
The jaw bone's attached to the....arm bone"

"I have powerful upper body strength, Mr. R.!"

"I've never liked my doorknobs. One is bigger than the other."

"I am mesmerized by your charms."

"Gaze into my eyes. You are going deeper. And deeper."

"This caption confused the bejeebers out of my teacher.

I am cheering on Heatran, a Yu-Gi-Oh character."

"You'll never guess what I'm thinking."

"I am from the planet Zertron,

and I have come for your electric toasters."

Saturday, August 11, 2007

But Some of My Best FRIENDS Are, I Swear

Olivia and I spent this morning biking around our neighborhood. Saturday mornings are the best times for this, as we live in a (mostly) Orthodox neighborhood and consequently the Sabbath is free of cars. Well, except for that awkward moment when I race over to Nordstrom, and not knowing how to be nonchalant with my auto, honk bye-bye at my neighbors.

She chattered to me happily during the ride. And as those who know my family will atest, Olivia is most verbal when it comes to food. I was speaking to my good friend the other day when O ran in from her bedroom. "CHOCOLATE CAKE" she screamed, prompting my friend to say, "I do that sometimes!" Another phone conversation with my friend had Olivia shout "MORE PANCAKE!" Over the wires, charming. But accompanied with Olivia's little finger, pointing at your face with accusations of starvation, and it just substantiates my claim that I have birthed a diminutive dictator.

After thirty minutes pedaling in the heat, I was ready to go home; Olivia was not. The only way to be able to even wheel towards my house without her screaming was to promise her a large glass of the precious blood orange juice I had in the refridgerator. She was thrilled. My neighbors however, were not. As we slowly bicycled past the Orthodox people making their way to Synagogue, my daughter joyously pointed at each and every one of them and shouted her oncoming bounty. "Juice!" she yelled "JUICE!"

That, assuredly, is NOT what they heard.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Redundant Chinese Fortune Cookies

Brandon is a sixteen year old teenager I mentor, and he and I are at a Chinese restaurant enjoying a pretty good meal. Brandon and I both love food, and Chinese food is particularly good to both of us, so we're talking and yakking away about love, women, and life in general. I, of course, am providing him with my deep insights and advice, and Brandon is thoughtfully pretending to listen in a way that leads me to believe he will actually follow up on all my pontifications.

We finished our kung pao chicken and moo shui pork, and the waiter brought us those endearing little fortune cookies that once cost me $5 because the lottery was started up in our state and so the fortune cookie companies began printing numbers at the bottom of their fortunes and my wife and I decided that maybe the numbers were some sort of mysterious omen of winnings to come, so I dash to the nearest convenience store and contribute a Lincoln to the state "kitty" and some of it is given to a lucky yokel in Bernalillo who actually won the damn lottery.

I opened my fortune cookie and read it out loud to Brandon.

"You are never selfish with your advice or your help."

Brandon nodded approvingly and responded, "Yeah. That's right."

"Open yours, Brandon."

Brandon opened his fortune cookie and said, "You are never selfish with your advice or your help."

I stated the obvious, of course. "Brandon! That's the exact same fortune as mine!"

Brandon paused briefly and then announced way too loud so that everyone could hear, "What is this crap?"