Archive for November, 2011

Elusive Monkey Smiles

Getting a good photograph of the Little Monkey beaming one of his face-splitting smiles is a task akin to capturing a yeti’s likeness. Partly this is because Mrs. Monkeyshines and I are prone to parental cooing, which renders one somewhat helpless (as the appearance of a mythical man-beast might do, albeit for different reasons). But assuming one has the presence of mind to grab the camera, there’s a chance that in doing so, the Little Monkey’s attention will be diverted from the source of the amusement, killing the moment. If the Softly, Softly, Catchee Monkey technique for camera-getting is successfully applied, one then has to do similar in lining up the photo – if he clocks the camera, he’s liable to switch from smiling to stony-faced interest.

"Who do you think you're pointing that thing at?"

I tend to eschew flash photography, as a rule, as I find it washes out pictures and destroys colour (us English are already pallid enough); in any case, if there’s one thing sure to startle a baby, it’s a bright flashing light. My camera is sufficiently smart to alter the exposure, shutter speed etc. in imperfect light, but this exacerbates the last major obstacle, which is that a baby’s mirth is often a whole-body experience. Smiles can be accompanied by a giddily bobbing head and flailing limbs, and although it is, of course, wonderful to see such unrestrained glee, it makes for a blurry picture.

Blurry LOLs

But we have, on average, 3.8 photographs for each day of the Little Monkey’s life – so eventually, probability kicks in, and that elusive yeti of a smile is committed to film (well, pixels), in addition to blissfully saccharine memories of Mrs. Monkeyshines and I. Marvellous. Even if he does look a bit like a ventriloquist’s dummy.

A rosy-cheeked cherub

And finally, a pictorial aside, contrasting the abominable snowman with the adorable Little Monkey.

Adorable Monkey

Abominable Snowman

Monkey Chuckles

The Little Monkey has recently moved on from only laughing in response to physical stimuli, to laughing at sights and sounds. Last week Mrs. Monkeyshines saying “Sick-on-your-face” was the funniest thing in all creation. Here, the rattling of a fork in a bowl is enough to elicit pleasingly full-throated chuckles, alternating with his pensive look (top lip jutting out, wide eyes, and thrashing arms), as he tries to work out what the hell’s going on.

The Rascally Noble*

Sometimes I have something mildly diverting to say about the Little Monkey’s development. Sometimes I just have a picture of the boy that’s too charming not to show off to the world…

The Rascally Noble

* There’s a prize** for the first person to solve this anagram. Answers on a postcard, or the back of a stuck-down envelope, to the usual address.

** There is no prize.

The Comedy Stylings of the Little Monkey

The Little Monkey amuses himself, and us, by blowing raspberries and waving his bum in the air. The boy’s clearly a comedic genius; people have built careers on weaker material than this.

Twinkle, Twinkle,…

I tend not to re-read books, largely because I extend my library at a faster rate than I read, so I’m slowly accumulating an ever-increasing number of unread books. But sometimes it’s nice to revisit an old favourite, either to find that while the text has remained constant, the reader has changed sufficiently to discover new facets to the story, or just to relish some well-written prose that has been deployed to good effect.

After the enjoyable challenge of War and Peace, I thought I’d treat myself to a re-reading of Dune, by Frank Herbert, which I first read when I was a teenager. I’ve re-read it several times since, so it was more a case of sitting back and enjoying the quality of the writing and the scope and depth of Herbert’s imagination, rather than a delving for new meanings. But it was interesting to read it having (relatively) recently tackled the first three Foundation books, by Isaac Asimov. As implausible as it seems in a world where we can’t even manage to feed all of the people, I do hope that these spectacular visions of our species sprawled across the stars are more prescient than wishful. Although I do worry that if it happens in my lifetime, my exploration of distant worlds might hinder me from reading all those books that I’ve got…