Tag Archives: kids

Of Cats and Kings

KING CATS.jpg“Well, it’s official: cats have taken over the internet.”

That opening line from an appropriately feline angled representative of the cat-weight of the web is just too appropriate not to pluck out to start today’s message.

Because one thing I’ve never done in my life is write or really in any way go on about cats. That’s probably just a function of my being allergic to them. I love cats, but am definitely not a “cat person”.

But I recently had a relationship with a cat in my neighborhood call me to arms–or to keyboard, anyway–on the occasion of his passing away a few months ago.

He lived next door to me, my kids and I had known him for years.

So, without further ado, this is for Taz.

Of Cats and Kings

I came across Taz a few days before my kids did, but they’re the ones who learned his name when they stopped on our walk up the block to pet him some summer day several years ago.

“Taz. Cool name,” I said. “This is the one I told you about who’s the king of the block.” This delighted them and they turned their attention back to him with even more of that particular brand of warmth and affection unique to little kids. But kings of all stripes behave, it turns out, much the same, and Taz had had his fill of the oblations of these three of his subjects.

I’m a history buff and know a decent amount about kings and potentates of yore. I’ve watched newsreels of kings, watched video of Queen Elizabeth II speak, but I’m an American and frankly have never seen a king in person. But I believe pretty firmly (the author says lightheartedly) that I learned much about how kings behave–both good and bad kings–from watching Taz; as much, I believe, as if I’d spent years in the court of one of the French Louis’s…or a Chinese emperor, or even…the kings whose kingly manner shaped for all time how we two-legged types think about rulers: the Pharaohs of oldest antiquity.

The reason I preferred calling Taz our “king” (instead of just mayor) was his demeanor: 100% absolute cool. Every other cat I’ve ever seen reacts, usually somewhat skittishly, when a sound punctuates their environment, such as when someone walking appears from around a corner. But Taz did so only rarely to my observation. I got to thinking: is he deaf? No, didn’t seem like it. I then figured by sitting outside so much he would have become familiar with the people who lived here on the block, versus the large numbers of others who were just “stopping by”; he’d have probably been able to distinguish our footsteps, maybe smells, certainly voices, possibly breathing rates, etc–all those animal things that people experience less of.

Anyhow, I saw that Taz indeed noticed everything. This became apparent when I was in a hurry one day and walked briskly past without saying hi and he turned to look at me, made eye contact and then turned away: the diss. Ouch. I’m not kidding when I say I felt it. Because as the subject of a king, you want to be in his favor, you need to be. So I made amends, stating clearly that I overlooked the acknowledgment. He was cool with that. (He was most decidedly a good king, and didn’t, it seemed, demand groveling from his subjects.)
It just so happens that the English word “cat”–and basically all other European languages’ words for them–is a borrowing from the Latin word for the adorable domesticated feline: catta (later “cattus”, replacing “feles”).

But the most amazing thing about the word we all use today is that it came to Latin from the source of not only our civilization, but more importantly, of the domestication of this animal to begin with:



was the Egyptian word for this amazing creature that they worshiped as long as 5,000


years ago.

And indeed, science chimes in with recent studies of the genes of domesticated cats confirming that the world’s population of them descends from libyca01wildcats from the Near East and Africa.

Some words take wild journeys through the mouths and minds of men andhqdefault.jpg women, bifurcating into a myriad related words that diverge so wildly as to confound us for generations. But not “cat”. We’re saying basically almost the same word as any Ramses II or Tutanhkaman or Cleopatra would have.

Taz was the–very simply & with as little extra mumbo jumbo as possible–the coolest cat I or my kids have come across, and we felt honored and privileged to live in his kingdom. He even came over a few times, and that felt–I kid not–truly like a visit from a king is supposed to: like a treat and blessing unlike any other.

I never knew why his name was Taz: the only derivations I know are 1) short for Tasmanian Devil, like the cartoon character, or 2) the abbreviation for Temporary Autonomous Zone, a byword for the teeny slivers of free will that exist in life.

Taz was such a cat that I and my kids will be but three in the legion of those of us outside your family who will all be like the young boy at the end of the movie Camelot who King Arthur bades: “tell it loud and clear” that once there was a cat…

And here are my top cat videos:

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Henri – Le Chat Noir

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SloMo Guys: cat jumping


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10, 9…

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Why the beginning of a countdown for today’s post title? Eh, no reason, really, beyond I couldn’t think of anything better, since it’s almost coincident with the date, since one of the main reasons is posting pictures of my son’s 9th birthday (and he’ll too soon for JMC2014this father’s taste be 10, just as his sister is now 11!), and it’s an excuse to note (a few days late) my cousin’s birthday, which was 10/9 (Happy birthday, Julia! :-) )

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That said, these 1st pictures are the kids on Jolly’s *actual* birthday (Sunday, 10/5). One of his presents was yet another fantastic book from Klutz, the “Flying Dragons” book. It’s a collection of patterned, cut-out dragon-styled paper airplanes. But no dull and ordinary paper airplanes, these.KLUTZ DRAGONS




The geniuses at Klutz must have (so I marvelled to the kids that day as they spent a couple hours assembling them with the intent of technicians) some crazy software that analyzes the paper weight (heavy stock card, btw) and the shapes and curves for Prepaerodynamics kltz9780545449366_2cuz shazam! The things really fly beautifully. Or maybe they’re just designed to excel at falling…with style!


We practiced and had a mini-tourney inside diagonally across my tiny house, but the wild blue yonder beckoned.


A10514 2nd the ideal place to go was a vast cemetery where the little street that forms the backbone of my “village” (Piedmont Avenue) dead ends (honestly, no pun intended). It’s a spectacle in itself: Mountain View Cemetery. See footnote, below). There are great wide lawns there (not burial plots) and we started there. I must say my daughter and I were just not as good at throwing the things for their best flights (though she was better than I, I also must admit).

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The birthday boy was the master, and I am NOT just saying that. But then we saw a hill just before we were going to leave to meet their mom for ice cream, and that’s when these pix were shot, as they launched their dragons to coast on the air down the hill, all of us with a simply lovely view across the Bay from up there.10514 1B






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A second batch of pix are from the full-on birthday party he had the following Friday, that was a joint party with one of his best buds, a wonderful kid that for this blog we’ll call Goofy. Smart, free-spirited, funny, and a gentle, if zappingly energetic creature. The long-distant shots are of my son and three other of his buds (and a couple of my daughter, Silly) out wading in the Alameda beach as the tide went out…as another parent and I remarked together, they were totally seeming all Lord of the Flies out there. To be 9 to 11 years old. Truly, nothing is as pure, primal, innocent and yet ripe with capacity.

Happy birthday to you, my son…and my cousin (who’s just a weesnie bit older than I…heh heh, and who, like me, knows better at this age, but has also succeeded at hanging on to her inner Peter/Petra Pan & Wendy).

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Catching Up Again!


Yes indeedy heeby do. I am, ummm, yeah, soooo…how are YOU?

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Yeah, ok, so I’m super behind on my posting. But it’s good stuff, and thus perhaps worth the weight…in gold. Har har…see, such puns are why I need an editor! lol

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more pictures of my little lovelies. And how about the Lego Movie?? Freakin’ totally fun, nifty, and made all the more amazing (and awesome) by its meta view of itself, framing itself as it did, umm, well, within..heck *you* the home audience know what I mean, right?


Tiny creations from clay by daughter; this tableaux is 2 inches across.

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                              This is a creature dreamed up by my son: a species of dragon known as “Odin Spearthrower”


Interior of daughter’s locker at school (winter decor, dontchya know)


                                             Another species of benevolent beasty my son’s created: A crazy powerful puff ball…

And with that, then was now was then again, and all very quickly

These crowd shots are from the excellent, thoughtful and not overly maudlin annual end-of-the-schoolyear ritual their school does called the “Crossing Over” ceremony, where each grade level group of kids forms a phalanx as you see, and then BANG! charges ahead to cross over to the launching pad of their next grade level; into their futuinto it2res. And parents, snap snap away the pictures, because if you blink ya miss it. Every minute that into itticks along also talks: “bye”, it says. I’m getting older and growing. The future has zoomed them into it almost as fast as they’ve smiled their speed of light way headlong into it.

And…DSC00017 copy

I’m also finishing preparing the short videos of them killing at their school talent show from the last part of last school year (ie, this recent spring). I’ll post them tonight or tomorrow I hope. They’re short. And sweet. And awesome.

Here’s a thought to chew on, and it’s something I put to a friend many years ago, a guy who is rarely without an answer or opinion on any sort of thing. But when I put this to him, he was actually caught having not thought this through, with an opinion that if you looked closely, you might just be able to actually see forming and “form of”…divided priorities. But I’m not pointing that out to single him out; it’s a genuine issue that we all as parents answer with our actions, with more or less ever detail of our lives.

Ok, here it is:

Do you want to conduct yourself so that your kids have all the chances to be great, or do you want to be great?

And while the clever little folkies out there will pipe-in with right about now, I have this pre-packaged response: just because it is possible (for some people) that the question won’t have any purchase because they are not, for them, mutually exclusive foci does not eliminate its relevance for a good many people who are parents as well. Basically, if the question resonates at all, then it’s one to chew on. If it doesn’t cuz you have your whole thing nicely dialed in (ie, you direct everything toward making sure your kids have all the chances to be great…hee hee lol! ;-) then just sit back & enjoy the pictures.

To your kids and my kids and their kids and our kids.

And btw, here’s a favorite song about kids. It sounds like vapid nonsense at first, but I assure you, that’s just the extremely clever packaging.

“Now if I had some children, they’d be some Chinese children…”

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Happy Thanksgiving!

This leads here.

In addition to being thanksgiving, today, it’s also the 149th anniversary of Lincoln’s delivering the Gettysburg Address.

A whole buncha love to all, ya turkies!

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Hermione! Hufflepuff & Hogwarts, O, my!

Halloween part deux.

I love love love my hermione. :-)

More, featuring MY best boy, Sir Hufflepuffian:

and yet more…with…yes, someone you may know as … Snape!

more TK!


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Backlog of cuteness


As a colleague/some-time boss of mine at TechTV once said to me and to a young-turk fresh out of college w/ a shiny new degree in broadcast who had gone through an entire two-hour tape TWICE without seeing a single usable shot for an Antiques-Roadshow-style tech-talk show we were doing from which in literally 12 minutes I’d run through the whole tape and isolated at least four usable shots of darling little kids….on their daddy’s shoulders looking intently at the stage …holding mommy’s hand peering shyly at the fascinating cameras…laughing as they ran under a table in their own li’l worlds….he said so plainly that the truth could not be denied — and schooled that young turk intern:

(with emphasis on both the first word, and the last, thus emphasizing the matter-of-factness as if one were saying: 2 plus 2 DOES equal 4…re-MEM-ber?)

Kids are cute.

(as in KIDS are CUTE)

They sure are.

Here’s some backlog of cute times recently. You’ll find the “Hands that became kitties” and other delights… :-)

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Art, by Father Andson

The kids and I are lifer fans of the Toy Story movies…as well as everything from Pixar. A true, long-lasting, and dear friend works there and had both given us a tour and had us join him at a screening of the new one, Toy Story 3 actually AT Pixar a month before its general release. Yay!

He’d also informed me of some extra special cool things that had been done for the “Art of Pixar” exhibit that is currently at the Oakland Museum of California, near downtown Oakland.

So this past weekend the kids and I were excited when we headed out to go to check it out one afternoon, on a “Free Day” at the museum.

The sign “Pixar Sold Out” didn’t bode well on arrival, though. The ticket attendant informed me that the Pixar shows have a limited number of tickets that are gone within one hour on the free day when they have the exhibit. She added that the rest of the museum was still free, of course. I waited for the kids’ responses and they howled that they were psyched to go, anyway. Yay!

It’s divided into the Art of California and the History of California sections. We aimed at the Art part. There’s a lot to say about it, but for now will suffice with: from the entrance that features various tools of artists from chalk and brushes and pencils and clay to Apple computers and more to modern art by artists, here, to mid 19th Century landscape paintings, it’s chock full of goodness.

Within the area featuring portraits — from the 1800s to the present — they have this kiosk with a mirror and a screen on which you can use your fingers to make a self-portrait that comes out looking like a water-color. All the portraits done by visitors — if saved — are fed into a whole collection that then find their way to framed screens on a wall of other portraits by famous artists.

So my daughter did one, painstakingly. She’s 7 and very practiced and I s’ppose basically coming right along in her rendering and drafting skills. My son (who turned FIVE today!) cares less for representational drawing than for putting what he feels down on the medium.

As my daughter finished hers, museum staff informed us that we had only a few minutes until it closed. My son said he wanted to do one and started in, laying down a swath of color to serve as a base. When I gently reminded him we had about 5 minutes to do it, he looked at it and erased the color, saying he didn’t want to do it rushed.

I then started quickly laying down lines to do my own face which I figured I could spit out super fast.

No sooner had I made some blue lines for my face shape & ears and some brown lines for my eyes, than my son started adding to it! I have no idea as I write this whether his additions to the picture are supposed to be bits of a representation of his face or are commentary on me or my face or my act of trying to get one in real quick or what. As I was saving it, and it came time to name it, he told me to name it with his name. I told him that I had drawn a bit of me and that it was really more both of us together and that I wanted to name it “K&Son”. He thought for a sec, and cheerily exclaimed, “Ok!” and waited for it to then pop up on the public screen.

So there it is (see top of post again.) It’s way more expressive than anything I could have done by myself. Though I believe abstract expressionism is the ultimate of what can be done with the medium of painting, I am incapable of creating that sort of thing. My son, however, has a different connection to the ancient starry dynamo in the machinery of night than I do. And thank god for that. :-)

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