Cake walk

We’ve just concluded another successful crazy-April birthday month. The theme for Archer’s party was “ninja monkeys,” and so he had two birthday parties in one — the first at Expedition Island, where climbing walls, zip lines, rope bridges and more helped him and his guests to get their monkey on, and the second at his karate dojo for some hilarious ninja training courtesy of his multi-talented sensei Mr. Lavin. The theme for Jonah’s party was Avatar: The Last Airbender, so his was four parties in one — one for the Earth kingdom (a hike through a local park), one for the Water tribes (swimming), one for the Air nomads (jumping on trampolines at House of Air), and one for the Fire nation (practicing tai-chi-like moves with lit sparklers) — all of which prepared Jonah, the “avatar,” to “defeat” the “Fire nation” with his “airbending” skills (i.e., blowing out the candles on his cake).

Apart from putting on elaborate parties, we usually create interesting cakes to go with them. Herewith, a retrospective.

It started simply, with your basic store-bought cake with a few toys stuck on top:

But that didn’t seem quite enough, so next time we took a store-bought cake and plopped a homemade cake on top of it! (That duck is all cake. Mmm.)

I wasn’t too happy with the next effort:

…so we supplemented it with another store-bought cake, though you can see our decorations becoming more elaborate (those “rocks” are chocolate, mmm):

Our first proper theme was for Archer’s “Mr. Sunshine” party. Here’s the cake:

Jonah chose a “peace” theme for his third birthday — we were so proud! This cake is in the shape of a peace symbol, with berries filling the voids in the shape.

Archer’s next party was all about superheroes. We made a cake to look like the yellow A on his notional red “Archer-man” costume.

Next Jonah had a Peter Pan party. (The candles are supposed to make the shape of a teepee.)

For Archer’s next birthday he wanted a “monkey in the jungle” party.

Then Jonah had his Yellow Submarine party. (The cake’s in the background of this photo, with the yellow submarine on top.)

Archer then had a “put on a happy face” party.

And Jonah had his Scooby-Doo party. It was back to a store-bought cake (with our own decorations) for this one.

Another store-bought cake for Jonah’s Star Trek party.

…and also for Archer’s vaguely sea-themed party:

Archer’s ninja-monkey cake was a joint venture between us and Expedition Island:

…but Jonah’s four Avatar: The Last Airbender cakes (air, water, fire, earth) were all us:

A nice little success story

A few years ago a friend of mine who didn’t quite see the point of blogging asked why I do it. I had a few answers for him: a love of composition, a desire to educate and entertain, and a certain narcissistic itch that I can scratch by imagining I’m addressing a bigger audience than I likely have. But I really caught his attention when I added that by “putting myself out there” I may be creating opportunities for exciting things to happen that certainly wouldn’t happen otherwise. Here’s a story to illustrate that last point.

Among the tragically few people who know of the terrific but defunct band Splashdown are readers of this blog and a young Scottish woman named Alice Ishbel Watson. Unlike most Splashdown fans, she had considerable vocal and guitar-playing talent of her own. She posted videos of herself covering a few Splashdown songs (1, 2, 3) on her YouTube channel.

Splashdown’s guitarist, Adam von Buhler, discovered these videos and reached out to Alice with the suggestion that they record a song together. Alice documented her reaction in another YouTube post: “Aye, right. Sure you’re ‘Adam from Splashdown.’” He proved his identity to her with a video of his own, and now, a couple of years later, the two have released their first EP! Their band is Map & Key and the six-song CD is called Ancient History. It sounds great — the songs are catchy and they capture a lot of what I loved about Splashdown.

Isn’t that a great story? I hope they have a ton of success. Congratulations and good luck to Map & Key, hooray for YouTube, and hooray for putting yourself out there — the best way to make exciting things happen.

Clip show

The month of March passed without any posts here at gee bobg, the first such month in nearly five years of writing this blog.

There are two main reasons for this. One is being very busy, of course, especially now that it’s April. The other is that what little energy I have for online self-expression these days goes mostly to Facebook status updates. Those are much pithier than the kinds of things I like to post here (I’ll leave it to you to decide which is better), and some of them are meant only for my Facebook friends. But some are suitable for public broadcast and so here is a clip show of some recent Facebook status updates that would otherwise have appeared here in some form.

  • I don’t normally like to boast about the famous free food at Google, but: Risotto-Crabmeat Croquettes with Roasted Red Pepper Aioli, damn!
  • If I ever start a fertilizer company, I’m calling it Stately Wayne Manure.
  • Current media narrative: the Tea Party cost the GOP the Senate. You know what really cost the GOP the Senate? Ruinous policymaking.
  • At my kids’ martial arts belt test. There is no question my kids could kick my ass.
  • When I was a kid, it blew my mind to discover that most recipes involving chocolate require vanilla.
  • Count that day lost whose low-setting sun can see from thy hand no worthy act done.
  • If John Lennon were alive today, what would he say about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan? Trick question. If John Lennon were alive today there wouldn’t be wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
  • TMTD – Too Much To Do. Let’s see if this catches on as a new Internet acronym.
  • Tangled: First movie in a long time to make me feel like I could have sat straight through a second showing.
  • While I’m paralyzed trying to engineer the best solution to the problem, Andrea Glickstein is rolling up her sleeves and getting started on it, best solution or not. Which, it turns out, is a much better solution than being paralyzed trying to engineer the best solution. This is why I married her.
  • Seen during our trip to Thailand 10 years ago: “The having of wonderful tourism time is our lucky pleasure. Splashing-water-face is one but not only attraction of amazing country Thailand, Land of Smiles.”
  • Viral load: increasing. Matzo ball soup: consumed. Wife: awesome.
  • Can’t stand how many supposed actual journalists are writing about Larry Page taking the “reigns” at Google.
  • Made a hotel reservation online for a surprise romantic getaway. But because we’ve stayed at this chain before and their computer knows us, they sent the confirmation e-mail TO MY WIFE. So much for the surprise… and lucky for me it was her I was planning to take!
  • Me: “Do you want rice, or rice-and-chicken?” Archer: “How about both?” Me: “OK, rice-and-chicken it is.” Archer: “No: rice, rice, and chicken.”
  • Singer Dale Bozzio’s drunken, incoherent ramblings. Guitarist Brad Miller collapsing mid-show and being whisked to the hospital. The band soldiering on to play their biggest hits, saved for the end of the set, without a guitarist. Good times at last night’s Missing Persons concert.
  • Nothing says creeping despotism like this vaguely apprehensive slogan, seen on a Jell-O Pudding cup lid: “Happy is still legal in all 50 states.”
  • I have heat in my home, and electricity. I have clean hot and cold running water, and my toilets flush. The air is OK to breathe. A wide assortment of nutritious food is immediately at hand, and if it weren’t I could easily get some more. My family members are safe and comfortable and I know just where they are. May these things be true again soon for the people of Japan and anyplace there’s disaster or strife.
  • Every year, the same thing. “Aww, I have nothing green to wear! I’ll be sure to buy something before next St. Patrick’s Day.” Every goddamn year…
  • It’s raining outside. I have a roof over my head to keep me dry. Then I step into a little booth where I can make it rain artificially. Seems… inefficient.
  • Saw at Target yesterday: a DVD of the movie Benji. I already own it. But I have such affection for it from childhood that it took a real effort not to impulse-buy another copy.