JP Straight Up

JP Straight Up

Originally uploaded by Lou FCD

James and I had meant to get up early and head for Emerald Isle this morning, to shoot the sunrise. We overslept, messed around all day, and late in the afternoon we were bored. The car’s tail lights had mysteriously remained on all night and day and the battery was dead, so I couldn’t take him over to the skating rink.

We decided to take a few shots on the front lawn instead.

The results are on my Flickr page:

A Brief History of Moonbats


Lou FCD headshot by Ben Zvan

Last Thursday evening was a pleasant one. It was mild and welcoming, a good night for a drive to Wilmington. I had been by the University of North Carolina campus there, but hadn’t yet been to visit. I’ve been meaning to head down there to look around for a while now, as that’s where I intend to finish my Bachelor’s degree in Biology. The reason for this trip was mildly ironic given my intentions, as my son James and I were headed there to hear an anti-science advocate speak.

Dr. Michael Behe is a biochemist at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania. He’s also a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute, a well known creationist think tank whose purpose is to disguise religious doctrine as science in order to avoid the Constitutional ban on promoting religion in public schools. It was Behe that we were heading down to see.

Along the hour and a half drive, I gave my son the highlights of the full history of the Intelligent Design Creationism Hoax, parts of which he’s heard before. (Bear in mind here that I was driving, and not working from notes. I’ll be filling in details as I go that he didn’t get during our conversation.) I began with some background on the history of scientific discoveries in biology since Linnaeus. Carolus Linnaeus was Swedish doctor, a botanist, and a zoologist, who set about categorizing life’s varied forms in his long-evolving work, “Systema Naturae”, first published in 1735.

I touched on William Paley’s rehashing of Cicero’s water clock, and the the obvious logical flaw contained therein. In On the Nature of the Gods, Cicero’s character Balbus, a fictional follower of Plato, posited that because a sundial or a water clock has an obvious purpose, we can then infer that it was designed by some intelligence. Balbus went on to argue that because of the complexity of nature, we can therefore infer that the universe is also designed by some intelligence. Balbus concluded that the universe itself was divine, or possibly that the universe had a divine spirit, a sort of mono/pantheism (Collins 187 – 193). Paley bastardized the assertion in 1802, altering the water clock to a watch, and the deity in question to the Christian god (Paley 5 – 13). He failed however to remove the glaring logical flaw that we only perceive complexity in contrast to simplicity, the watch on the background of the heath. One cannot then use the complexity of the watch to argue for the complexity of the heath without undermining the original argument that the watch is itself complex and inherently different from the heath. This was important for what was to come, and I was later quite glad I had taken the time (we had plenty on the ride) to discuss it with James.

(continue reading below the fold)

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Just a Simple Melody

Feeling each word!, by Shahireh @ Flickr

Feeling each word!, by Shahireh @ Flickr

It’s funny, the connections the internet brings. Finding the little things that connect me to someone half a world away always amazes me, always brings a smile and a sense of wonder.

Now sure, there are the big connections, the grand ideas that I share with lots of people. Ideas that are large and encompassing: important, headline material upon which the future of humanity hangs.

But much more likely to bring a smile of wonder to my face are the little things, little things like a song sung on the street by an unknown street performer.

I was on Facebook a few days ago, and came across a random meme involving ‘my rock band’. The idea was that I was to use the randomize features of wikipedia, quotationspage, and Flickr to put together my fictional band’s first album cover.

I thought it a pleasant distraction, and went through all the steps. (I’ll put up the meme at the end of this post.) The image I drew through Flickr was (oddly enough) titled Flicker, by a photographer named Shahireh. Shahireh’s photostream is made up of photos from the UK and from Iran, and most of the comments left to her are in Arabic Persian of Farsi (though she speaks both Arabic Persian of Farsi and English). It made a great album cover, and I was moved to flip through her other photos. One of them, the one to the left, caught my eye.

Read on, to find out why.

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I Shoulda Took Pitchers

But Why Take A Chance?

Insanity, Thy Name Is James

Life with a teenage boy can be interesting.  Trying at times, but definitely interesting.  Especially when he is such an extrovert.  There is nothing outside the limits of his curiosity, or his humor.  Nothing.  I like that about him (usually).

Put two of them under one roof, add the cover of darkness and sparklers, insanity is inevitable.  It just is.

We went and watched the fireworks at Camp Lejeune last night, as we do every year.  Nice display, though a little shorter, smaller, and less dramatic than usual.  Parking was a little better handled this year, and leaving the base not the usual pain in the ass.  Of course we had D with us this year, and it was his first time that he could remember going.  He and J.P. hung out and kept each other occupied and out of trouble, so it worked out pretty well all the way around.

The fun really started after we got home.

Fireworks are mostly illegal in North Carolina.  Well, illegal to possess.  Apparently, not illegal to sell, as they sell all sorts of things in Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club, at road-side stands, etc. that I would think fall outside the law.  It’s one of those things that come the approach of Independence Day, everybody just sort of ignores, I guess.

I don’t mess with them, just because they’re illegal.  It’s just not worth the potential hassle to me, and I try to set a good example for the kids.  But somebody gave Jane a few boxes of sparklers for the kids, and I don’t have any problem with that (they’re legal), so once we got home (10:30/11ish), I sat out on the porch and lit sparklers for the kids.  They were tough to get going, so I lit them and handed them off.

Remember the two teenage boys?  Yeah, that wasn’t going to be interesting enough, by any stretch.

(Crazy kids, below the fold)

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Got a call from Kay a while ago, she had just gone to pick up her check from work and put it in the bank.  (Still hard to get over her working and driving and all that!)

She’d gotten a block down the street.  A friend of my son, we’ll call him D, lives down there.  He’s kind of one of my adopted children.  D was home alone, and his house had caught fire.  I grabbed both house extinguishers and started to run down the street, hoping it was maybe a pot on the stove or something.

No.  When she said “on fire”, she meant “on fire”.  D was out and unhurt, spraying the garden hose in one of the front bedroom windows, but it was a battle he had no chance of winning.  At the very most he might have slowed the fire a little until the fire companies got there – except it was already in the ceiling and attic.  It was brave, if hopeless.

(More after the fold)

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Happy Coffee Pots and Sad Connections

I made this cup of coffee and it danced for meI’m a coffee addict. I drink a couple pots a day, which probably isn’t terribly healthy. With that kind of (over)usage, I tend to go through coffee pots fairly quickly. Usually, I’m happy to get a year or two out of them, so I don’t bother spending a great deal of money on them.

Last year, on Mother’s Day, my $10 Sunbeam decided it had had enough, and just stared angrily at me, rather than make my damned coffee. Recalcitrant jerk. It was Sunday, it was Mother’s Day, it was 6 A Fracking M. How terribly rude and inconvenient. Fortunately, Wal-Mart is open, even on Sunday, even on Mother’s Day, even at 6 A Fracking M.

It took some time, and was somewhat later in the morning before I actually got out the door, but I came home with my very first Mother’s Day present (from myself). I decided I’d splurge, and see if I could get more life out of something more expensive. It was sleek, black, and had a cappuccino / espresso maker attached. It was awesome, and I looked forward to the occasional chokalokacappuccino mocha latte ramalamadingdong.

Sadly, by Father’s Day, the thing would take like an hour to brew a pot of coffee, and gurgled and wheezed and caused the windows to rattle and I got the occasional complaint from the neighbors. I could always tell when they had planned on sleeping late in the morning by the evil stares across the yard in the afternoon. I had brewed too early. Still, I was determined to get my fifty bucks worth, and I’ve put up with the rattling, groaning, overpriced piece of garbage for over a year now.

This morning, the neighbors are happy. They are asleep in their beds, contentedly dreaming of JanieBelle and Kate and Lilith and Lucifer, whilst I sit here writing nonsense, enjoying freshly and quietly brewed joe. Little John, his own father now a permanent resident of California, surprised me with a beautiful white cheapo coffee pot for Father’s Day, and I love it dearly already.

But this Father’s Day brings me strange and sad news already as well.

(Continued below the fold)

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In the shade. Not a cloud in the sky.

Brutal to be at my son’s block party at school, but sometimes, a Dad’s job is never done…

My wife and I went and volunteered to chaperon. We lasted about an hour and a half, and fortunately, they were sending the kids back inside early because of the heat. I don’t think I could have taken much more.

I like it hot, but this was withering, without a sea breeze.

Got home and Shakespeare needed to go out. I took him out, he did his thing, he said out loud, “Dude. Fuck this.” He’s lying on the cool carpet under my desk.

I’m just going to cool off with Shakespeare under the desk for the rest of the day. The lawn needs mowing, but I just don’t care right now.

The end.

J.P. Protests the Pledge Peaceably

But Why Take A Chance?Update at the end of this post:

My wife and I just returned from a parent-teacher conference at the middle school. My son occasionally (read – pretty much always) has motivational issues. He’d rather be skateboarding than doing homework. Duh. So would I. He’s actually been doing much better lately though, and for that, I’m very relieved and proud of him.

During the course of the conversation with his four teachers (they work as a team, one unit – great idea, by the way), his homeroom teacher (who is also his science teacher) mentioned that James has been declining to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance. I was startled, actually. I had no idea.

I asked the reason, and Mrs. R. told me that he’s protesting the “under god” phrase in the Pledge. Wow. Really?

(More after the jump, please keep reading.)

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Medical Merry Go Round

JP Immediately Pre-OpIt just doesn’t seem to end sometimes, y’know?

So both kids were out of school most of last week, sick. JP had some sort of stomach thing going on, Kay a virus exhibiting different symptoms. Kay was bad enough that we took her to see Doc Pace. Love that guy, btw. He checked her out, did a throat culture (which is where the worst of the symptoms where rearing their heads), gave her some antibiotics on the chance that it might be bacterial rather than viral. He was pretty sure it wasn’t strep or mono, at least.

She gets better by Friday and goes to school, James not so much.

He’s feeling better by Monday and goes to school, Kay finishes the course of antibiotics and begins to feel worse again.

Yesterday, I pick JP up from school, and he’s dragging ass getting to the car. He gets in and I say, “Yo, there are cars behind me with kids to pick up, what’s up with you?” He’s wincing in pain.

Now, he’s still wearing the boot from the ankle fracture he got at the end of football season so he’s not supposed to be on his skateboard or anything, but… yeah, like that would really stop him anyway. I figure he’s found a way to injure himself while on the field trip, undoubtedly doing something he wasn’t supposed to be doing.

“My side hurts.”


“Right here.” He points.

“OK, we have to go to the hospital.” Kay’s home sick, I’m trying to get some writing done, I had not really anticipated appendicitis when I planned my day. I was in my PJs.

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More Football Drama

J.P.Two weeks ago, the team played really well together.  They took on the Stallions, who were able to field a full team with a few kids on the bench.

The kids marched the ball up and down the field, executed, and did all the things they were supposed to do, and it showed in the final score –  25 – 0.

Last week they played the dreaded Raiders, and fared not nearly so well.  Blocking broke down, tackling was bad, they had trouble holding on to the football, nothing went well.  They were down 40 – 0 in the final seconds, and the one bright spot in the day happened:  James broke free, cut back across the grain, and outran the defense to the goal line for their only score of the day.

I think the kids are just plain intimidated by the Raiders.  I can’t really blame them, given all the things going on over there, but our kids are better than they showed.  They have the stuff to beat the Raiders, I’ve seen it.

Last night’s practice and today’s game were nixed for weather, and the final game of the regular season will be Monday night at 6, against the Redskins.

But James is once again a tight end.  Without warning, our original quarterback showed up on Thursday, and coach put him back under center.  I’m more than a little pissed about that.  Yes, he has more experience than James as quarterback, though his arm is neither more accurate nor stronger than James’.  Yes, James is a better receiver than he is, and yes, the team has a better profile with him under center and James on the end.  They do in fact have a better chance to win this way.  BUT.

BUT, he was injured before the first game, and we’ve seen hide nor hair of him since.

BUT, while other kids who are sick or injured show up at practice and watch and learn, OQB (original quarterback) has not been to practice since getting hurt.

BUT, James earned that spot by busting his ass and learning it.  He worked hard to get it, and impressed everyone with his ability to make plays from there, throwing, scrambling, and running.

BUT, James has led this team through thick and thin, been to every game, early to every practice so he could throw the ball and get more passes in.

BUT, while he was “injured” OQB was over practicing and playing for the middle school.

Incidentally enough, the final game for the middle school was Wednesday night.  On Thursday night OQB shows up for his first practice since his “injury”.

Now, I’m not a psycho little league parent, so I won’t be screaming at the coach about the unfairness of it, and up until this I was pretty impressed with the lessons the coach was teaching the kids about fairness and sportsmanship.  This is his first go at coaching, so he’s learning too.  James will be too old to play for this league next year, so he’ll be trying out for the high school JV squad, just so y’know.  In the off season, we’ll be working for him to earn a spot over there.   I’ve no doubts he’ll make that team.  I’ve talked with him about the whole switch at QB, let him know I understood why he’s feeling screwed, and reminded him that there are 13 other kids on the field that are depending on him to do his best at whatever position he plays.  I think he gets it.

But it’s still raw.

Two Weeks of Football

So I held off posting about last week’s game because I had some rather intemperate things to say about the sportsmanship of the Raiders and the style of football they’ve been taught to play.  Suffice it to say I don’t care much for the way they’re being coached.

**James Highlight**

We were down 35 –  0 with a minute or two left in the fourth quarter, the team is determined that they won’t be shut out.  Ball’s about on our 35 and James goes out on a crossing route.  The ball gets lofted and he goes up and comes down with the precious, and hauls ass for the goal line, the other big receiver a step behind.  James gets caught by three defenders on about their twenty, and he’s dragging them with him.   He remembered to keep the wheels turning for all he’s worth.  Finally, on about the ten, he gets spun around and is going down on his back with his head toward the goal and sees his other receiver.  He flips him the ball, and they put six on the board.  Final score, 35-7.

The kids really hung in, and played their best in the face of some serious crap.  They didn’t get shut out, and I’d be proud of them even if they had.   Good job lady and gentlemen.

On Thursday, Coach decided to appoint James starting quarterback.  He’s never played QB, but he’s got the arm strength and the instinct.  He just needs to learn the position.  Today, we had the Redskins again.  (Remember, his best friend is the starting QB for them, so this is epic story kind of ball.)

Our O-line wasn’t holding well today, but they were doing the best they could.  There were several big losses where James was on a roll out, ran too far back on his way around the end, wound up on his back.  There was one scary moment when he had his face smashed into the ground hard.  Welcome to football, James.  He sat a few plays trying to clear the cobwebs.

He did catch one pass when he pitched to the halfback who wound up in big doodoo well behind the line.  He saw James around the line of scrimmage and  heaved it to him, saving a big loss.  Way to keep your head about you, halfback.

It was raining and the ball was slick,  so this turned into a defensive struggle, though both QBs had their moments.  Late in the fourth we had the ball on their one, but penalties killed us and we didn’t score.  The Redskins had done the same, but we stopped them as well.  Both teams managed to put together a few good drives, but with about a minute left in the game, the score was tied at nil.

False starts continued to plague us, I guess the kids need to get used to James’ count.  Practice will cure that.  He managed to draw the Redskins offsides several times, though.

Anyway, the Redskins scored on a QB sneak with less than a minute to go, and then on a QB keeper for the extra point.

We got the ball back with 26 seconds left, hit the half back pass to the two, but didn’t manage to get it in.  A false start and a big loss put us back around the 15, and an interception on the goal line ended the game.

All in all, the team showed a lot of improvement over the last time we played them.  It’s a seven game season, and we have the Redskins one more time.  I’m looking forward to that game the most, I think.

James will spend the week working on leading his receivers and his footwork.  He’s got an odd drop that needs to be fixed so he can plant.   He threw several ducks today, and given that he’s not planting and the ball was slickerenaminnerspeter, it’s not surprising.


The Coin FlipFirst let me just give some serious props to the Stallions. Our opposing team today sized up pretty well with us, but only dressed ten players.

Rather than force them to forfeit, our coach offered to play with only ten. When one of their players went down to injury, he offered to drop one more of ours but the refs wouldn’t let him. Fortunately, they only went two plays with one man short.

That’s some great sportsmanship by our coach, and I’m proud to be associated with such a man. Coach Chris, you rock.

Now, the formula at the top…

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Wednesday Night Lights

Wednesday Night LightsIt was every football dad’s dream last night. It was beautiful.

Less than a minute on the clock, time running, down by 6 and the ball’s on the other team’s 35. My son the halfback comes out of the huddle and lines up at tight end. The tight end lines up at halfback. I whisper excitedly to my wife, “James is lined up as a receiver!” I’ve seen it in practice, so I’m excited.

The ball is snapped to the quarterback, who’s filling in for our injured starter. The offensive line collapses almost immediately under the pressure of a defense that heavily outweighs it, and has had several more weeks of practice. (Our team only got started two weeks ago.)

The quarterback pitches to the stand-in halfback, who’s rolling right as hard as he can to get away from the sea of maroon that is the Redskins Defense.

My son has ditched his coverage with a fake that left the defender’s jock strap lying in the grass. The ball is launched high, to clear the wall of pain that is about to descend on the halfback. In my line of sight, the ball sails in front of the lights that illuminate the field. It comes down behind a sprinting James, who stretches a long arm and tips, corals, bobbles, and finally pulls in the ball at a dead run on a corner fly.

Hot pursuit to the goal line, James’ wheels turning like a bootlegger running from the smokies. Three defenders block our view as they head directly away from us to the far corner. His blue striped helmet pops into view once, as he jukes hard once and loses one.

He beats the other two in the footrace and scores.

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And So It Begins

I Will Not Tease The BoysAnother school year began this week. There are sounds of school buses outside my window, children at the bus stop out front, piles of papers to be signed and returned, $15 notebooks that will be destroyed in a month, the smell of new textbooks in the house, and all the ambiance of another summer left behind.

And of course, there is the usual plethora of issues to be worked out.

First up, Kayla’s much beloved high school principal retired at the end of last school year. He will be sorely missed by every person with whom I’ve spoken. Replacing him will be Dr. Doom (as she is (un)affectionately monikered), formerly the principal at James’ middle school.

I’ve always liked Dr. Doom. She seems friendly but stern (as a principal should), intelligent, and capable. I was delighted for her when I had heard she received her doctorate a year or two ago.

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Sunshine Behind The Trashcan

It's Too Soon, by Face It @ FlickrIt’s 11:30 on a Sunday night. I’m just catching up on a few blogs, and then I’m going to get ready for bed. My wife and daughter are in the living room veggin’ in front of the idiot box, the dog is laying in my spot on the bed all calm and peaceful for the first time in hours, and my son and his best friend are in the back yard in a tent. It’s summer time, so no school, I’m cool.

My wife sticks her head in the bedroom door and tells me there’s sunshine in the front yard behind the trashcan.

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Teenagers Bearing 6 AM Gifts

Breakfast In BedBreakfast in bed.

Sounds wonderful, right? I’ve always been a morning person, and watching the sun come up is one of life’s greatest pleasures. For most of my adult life, I’ve been God’s alarm clock. She’s a party Gal, and tends to stay out too late, drink too much, and arise hung over sometime in the mid-afternoon. There’s nothing wrong with any of those things of course, and I’ve always done the best I could as Early Morning Stand-In (EMSI or “MC” for short). Somebody has to keep an eye on the universe after all, and if she’s disturbed before noon after an all-nighter, bad things happen.

Remember that whole Noah/flood/genocide thing involving an ark? Man was that ugly. And Job never did that twice, let me just tell you. He learned the first time, too.

But since I’ve become disabled, I tend to have stints of pain that keep me up late, and that leaves me in bed with her drunk naked butt and whoever she brings home until well after dawn. There was one time she brought home the entire Greek pantheon. That bunch can be pretty bawdy when they’re plastered. Lots of fun, but annoying if you’re the only sober one in the bed.

Oh, sorry. Tangent there. Where was I? Oh yes, last night.

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Family Updates

Livin Life in J-villeI know it’s rare that I post here more than once or twice a week, so I’m hoping I don’t cause any cardiac issues for anyone.

I just thought you’d like to know what’s been going on in the FCD family.

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Allow Me to Share

In response to this post at the Denialism Blog,

If I may, please allow me to share a warm fuzzy divorce story…

I met a lovely young lady just before Halloween in 1987. We got along famously, and we were married before Thanksgiving. Probably not the brightest idea I’ve ever had I admit, but I was twenty and twenty year old boys aren’t always very wise.

Nevertheless, we did OK, and had a little girl in ’91 and a little boy in ’94. By the time he was a few months old, we were constantly fighting, and all miserable.

We split in April of ’95, and agreed not to fight any more over the past for the kids’ sake. Anytime the conversation steered toward the sore spots, one of us managed to steer it away. It wasn’t always easy.

We turned out to be much better friends than we were husband and wife, and by the time our divorce hearing came up, we had settled everything ourselves and showed up at the courthouse sans attorneys and holding hands.

The magistrate saw our hesitation as we pondered the plaintiff’s and defendant’s tables and helped, “You can sit together, if you want.”

She asked us a bunch of questions about our marriage, and about why we wanted to get a divorce, and when we were done, just before she banged the gavel she said to us, “Y’know, I’ve been doing this for 30 years, and you’re the first two adults I’ve ever divorced.”

Anyways, long ’bout ’02 we decided we kinda liked each other and she (the ex-wife, not the magistrate…just to clarify) and the kids moved in with me. Now we’re approaching our second anniversary of our second marriage to each other, and I gotta tell ya’- divorce was the best thing we ever did for each other or for the kids, statistics be damned.

Anecdotal and scientifically irrelevant, but it worked for us.

Divorce rocks. Ask my kids.

Earth Mother – Tiki #4

I forgot to take pictures of Easter Island Bob before I delivered the first three tikis. (He’s styled like an Easter Island Moai… hence the name.) I’ll take pictures in between the dance this Friday and the party they’ve already got booked for the high school at the end of the year. Apparently, they’re celebrities already.Eath Mother Godess Idol

This one is the latest. I wanted to do a full body type of idol this time. As I carved him, he turned out to be a she. Hey, I just find them and set them free.

The pics don’t really show her headdress very well. It’s black feathers wrapped with braided hemp. I bought the beads and feathers and hemp at Michael’s, then made the skirt and stuff myself.

Eath Mother Godess Idol

She wound up (accidently, I swear!) with a very convenient knot. After she was done being carved, I decided I had better put a grass skirt on her.

You’ll note she’s pregnant.  It’s hard to tell in the pics.  Sorry.

Here’s what’s under the skirt.

Eath Mother Godess Idol

Tiki porn. Gotta love it.

On another note, the stuff for the new shed arrives tomorrow. I wasn’t really ready to tackle that project yet physically or financially, but the wind had different ideas.  Maybe I should make an idol to the wind god, and he’ll magically fix the shed and I won’t have to build a new one.  Anyways, I’ll be glad to get that behind me. Then I plan on laying in bed and crying like a damned school girl for a week or two.

Unless something else breaks.

Maybe then I can get UDoJ moving again.

Suloram Gets A Face

Moloram SuloramMoloram Suloram

I putzed around some today, trying to stay out of bed.

I didn’t sleep much last night. The neck and back were killing me. All I wanted to do today was sleep, but when that kind of thing happens and I give in, I spend weeks trying to readjust my sleep schedule. So I stayed out of bed as much as I could. Every few hours I’d go into the shop and putz with Suloram a little.

Moloram SuloramMoloram Suloram

I drew him a face, then started carving. Rested a while, came back later, carved a little more here and there, yada yada yada.

At the end of the day, I had him all done but his eyes. Not bad, all things considered.

Moloram SuloramMoloram Suloram

I was going for a little scarier look with Suloram than I got with Moloram.

I guess I did OK.

There was a small issue with a slipped chisel and a nose. And another slipped chisel and an eyebrow.

Moloram Suloram

Fortunately, both body parts involved were his, not mine. That’s not a given when I’m on meds, y’know. I figured I wasn’t using any machines, I’d only lose a finger or two in the worst case scenario.

Uncle Luis came by today and I showed off Moloram. Uncle Luis has this thing about clowns. Deathly fear of them. It never occurred to me that his phobia might extend to Moai. He laughed and praised the work, but wouldn’t hold him. It dawned on me after he left that it was the clown thing. Too funny.

Moloram Suloram

I’m thinking I’ll go to Michael’s craft shop tomorrow and see if I can find some plastic jewels for Suloram’s eyes. I might hollow out the top of his head a little and add some feathers, too. I guess it depends on whether I can get out of bed and drive.

Suloram has a bit more detail to him.  More relief on the teeth, the nose, the eye pads.  Better shape to the mouth and eyebrows.  I put that big ol’ knot right in the front of his hat thing because I might make that head dress thing with the feathers.

I guess that makes him the chief Moai.