Saturday, July 14, 2007

Traveling pants and busy minds

I promised my son I'd take him to the park yesterday evening (well, actually right at sunset, seeing as the temperature any other time right now is around 110). He asked me why I wasn't ready to leave yet and I told him I couldn't find my pants.

"Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, Mom!" he exclaimed. I just stared quizzically at him -- I'd never read or mentioned the book, to my knowledge. Turns out he picked up the line from a character in the Nickelodeon cartoon Danny Phantom, about a teenage hero who's a kid-turned-part-ghost. The vice principal at his high school, Mr. Lancer, uses book titles as exclamations in nearly every appearance, i.e.: "Gulliver's Travels! I'm losing my mind-- and my pants!" or "War of the Worlds, creature, get away from my youthful charges!" or a recent one, when the local burger joint was attacked, simply, "Fast Food Nation!" He had uttered the Traveling Pants comment after inexplicably finding himself in the women's bathroom.

I limit David's television time, but if he's going to repeat lines and principles from the tube, he could do worse than literary references. Or my personal favorite cartoon influence, Jimmy Neutron. David gets most of his research from actual nonfiction reading, but from this show he's gleaned the number and relative size of Mars' moons, Thomas Edison's role as an inventor (although he also knows Edison didn't "invent electricity" as the episode claims but rather invented the long-lasting light bulb -- blame his nit-picking mom), and what a leptictidium was (a prehistoric mammal).

And I know the shows both portray highly unrealistic scenarios, and that they don't always get the book stuff right, and are pretty flippant at that. But who cares? Regarding the unrealism, I love a little smart fantasy in my stories. And painstakingly accurate or not, what I really like about shows like these two is that the main characters are interested in meaty things from time to time. I gripe about shows getting worse and being stupid for stupid's sake, but I think at the same time some cartoons are better than some I had as a kid.

And copied or not, I thought David was pretty clever to employ the Traveling Pants comment at an appropriate time. He's a smart one. By the time he's 6 he'll be outsmarting me (if I'm lucky to make it that far).

Thursday, July 12, 2007

With apologies to Augusten Burroughs

I have yet to read the book, but my son took this pose the other day, unprompted, and I couldn't help whipping out the camera. After a week or so of his "boxhead" game, though, it is getting a tad old. To think, I could have saved hundreds of dollars at birthdays and Christmas and just given him the old boxes from my book shipments.