Halloween 2012

Our viking with ax and shield ….

Spiderman! Or, as Bonk calls him, "Spy!"

Peanut. Never mind the snot ….

Another shot of Peanut …

Very possibly the first one of all 3 kids together, at least outside the hospital …

The secret is lots of protein and a light routine of chocolate milk …

Ready to pillage …

I love me a good Nordic ax-woman …

Beer drinkers and hell raisers ….

Welcome Amy

Got a little choked up shooting these photos, I have to admit.

Bonk wanted no part of little sister.

We should all be so protected.

OK. Just one more. (Actually I shot about 300 of these.)

Bullworker will grant you an audience now.

Nope, Bonk still is not interested.

Grandma is proud.

Grandpa, too.

Bonk is not. Yet.

First day, Part 2

Bonk joins the 18-month-old class at Mornings with the Messiah. It's his first time with classmates.

WTF?

Slightly out of focus for that dreamy look.

Working it.

Bonk, All-American.

Vulnerable Bonk.

OK, that's enough, Dad.

What's up with that kid?

Ready for preschool.

Visit to Starrville

"My kitty."

Zipline: $400 worth of effort. Or more.

Rides down zipline: Twice. The second time only because Grandma would hold his hand.

"This is kinda cool."

Anybody seen this expression before? Grandma?

Bonk and Buddy.

Not a bad life.

One more stroll with Grandma.

Fishing with Bullworker

"Fish!"

"I'm not near as excited about holding that fish as I was on the drive to Starrville."

"This is as close as I'm getting."

Buddy goes around telling people he has one blue eye and one green eye like daddy. I don't think so.

Worm?

"Hey buddy, want a worm?"

The fisherman and the worm man.

Bullworker does the hard part.

A fisherman is born.

10 things about this year's Fourth of July Picnic

1.      I got to be on stage at the Willie Nelson Fourth of July Picnic. It was a small Picnic. It was the secondary stage. It was during soundcheck, not a performance. But it was damn cool. I took a few notes, chatted with a roadie, got a picture of Ray Wylie and Lucas Hubbard. The only other time I came close to the stage at a Picnic was in Luckenbach in 1995 or 1996. I went around the corner and there was the stairs to the stage. The only thing separating me from glory was a security guy who looked to be particularly upset that he had narrowly lost a Conan the Barbarian lookalike contest. I didn’t try it.

2.      Interviewing Willie was cool, of course. I mentioned that this was my 13th Picnic and that I had interviewed him before and he just said “Well, I’m glad we’re both still here.” A very polite way of saying “Yes, you and a thousand other assholes.” I was prepared, kept it businesslike and Willie was nice, but not inclined to elaborate in his answers. They had planned to pair my interview with some TV fellow, but he was late and I didn’t have to share. Good.

3.      I missed “Whispering Bill” Anderson. Damn. This is mostly because the laptop I was given to take to the event was pretty much shit dipped in molasses. Trying to file my blog reports, which I’m sure nobody read, took forever.

4.      I was told there were 4,000 people. I heard that it was 3,000, maybe 3,200 at best. This wasn’t really a Picnic in any sense but the marketing. It was just a very nice concert at Billy Bob’s.

5.      Why was it not a Picnic? It’s July 5th and I’m not sunburned. I’m not sore. I didn’t wake up exhausted. My feet don’t ache, my back doesn’t hurt. Hell, I think I had a seat in the shade for every outdoor set until Billy Joe Shaver took the stage late in the afternoon.

6.      If Lukas Nelson is going to keep whipping his head around like that, he needs to grow his hair longer or cut it short. Right now he looks like he’s trying to shake off an angry varmint that is attacking his head. The phrase epileptic muppet did occur to me. Also, I guess I’m supposed to be impressed that he can play his guitar with his teeth, but the only thing that goes through my head is “Jesus, that’s just asking for an emergency trip to the dentist.”

7.      Paul English walked right in front of me. Twice. Going from backstage to the T-shirt vendor. If you’ve read enough about Willie Nelson, you’ve read about what a badass Paul English was. After rain threatened to collapse the roof of the stage back in ’75 (or ’76, I don’t recall off the top of my head), Paul pulled out his pistol and shot a couple holes in it to allow for a little drainage. Even when I interviewed Willie in 1995, Paul was still a scary presence. Now, after a stroke, he appears every bit as old as he is. I wish him the best.

8.      In case you were wondering: $4 for a longneck inside, $6 for a 16-ounce can outside. And Willie’s merchandise folks were selling CDs for $25 a piece. Can you believe that shit? Who is going to buy a CD for $25?

9.      The folks at Billy Bob’s Texas were really cool to me. I got to sit at a table in an office to curse at my molasses-shit laptop and file reports. I constantly expected to get harangued by some security guard about “who are you? You can’t be here,” but I eventually came to recognize that my media pass was actually pretty valuable.

10.   Will there be a 40th Picnic? If Willie lives that long, it looks like it. Should there be a 40th Picnic? Yes, but it should be the last. Where should it be? It should be at Zilker Park. Am I going? Yes.

What would Davy Crockett think?

The boy can recognize Willie and Waylon, by voice and by sight. He knows all the words to “Pancho and Lefty” and sings “Whiskey River” by request. He knows armadillos and cowboys, farms and barns, old pickup trucks and “Go Spurs Go.”

As a 5-year-old, Buddy makes a pretty damn good Texan. But there’s always something overlooked.

I found it in the corner convenience store, while I was buying a bag of ice and a beer, Buddy in tow.

I’m approaching the register when he sidles up suspiciously close to me and says “Daddy, what’s that?”

Behind me is a display of children’s cheap pop guns and cheaper coonskin hats. I’m not sure why. The junction of Manchaca and Slaughter in far South Austin ain’t much of a tourist trap, unless you’re on a world tour of most annoying intersections.

Buddy doesn’t have much interest in guns yet. This is by design. Plenty of time for that. But the coonskin hats have his full attention.

“Why son, that’s a coonskin hat,” I say. “Do you want one?”

I couldn’t buy one, of course. His enormous noggin would require me to special-order an adult-size hat. But I can tell by the look in his eyes that I can get away with the question. “Do you want one?”

“No.”

He puts his hand in mine.

“Does it bite?”

I’m laughing now, trying to pay for the ice and beer without having a full-on comic breakdown. It’s a legitimate question. To me the coonskin hat is Davy Crockett, the Alamo, Fess Parker, old books and childhood memories. To the boy, the rack of fur and tails is easily just so many varmints, huddled together, and full of unknown intent.

“No, son, it doesn’t bite.” I’m really having a good time with this now. “Are you sure you don’t want one?”

“No.” He’s extra sure.

The cashier is laughing now.

“Why son, what would Davy Crockett think?” I’m playing to the audience.

“Can we go home?” Buddy is a pro at the diversionary question.

I’m laughing so hard the cashier is starting to look at me strangely. Buddy finally steps out from beneath the counter – in the direction of the door.

“Aw, he’s so cute,” she says. Her own diversionary statement, it seems, against this barrel of monkeys I have become.

We get back in the car.

“Son, we’re going to have to go to the Alamo.”

“OK.”

“And learn about Davy Crockett.”

“Right.”

“And get a coonskin hat.”

“No.”

We’ll get there. I’ll try not to traumatize him on the way.

Needed: Guitar lessons

The boy is sitting on the roof of his play house with his toy guitar.
He is strumming and singing to an imaginary crowd.

The song sounds vaguely familiar.

I listen closely.

He is singing Charlie Robison's "My Hometown."

Uh-oh.