Sam’s Freighter

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Allow me a moment of paternal pride in the presentation of my son Sam’s "Freighter" painting and stats

They were created as part of a class project studying "the harbor." The "harbor project" involved building a room-sized harbor out of wooden blocks, which each child building his or her own model boat — ferries, freighters, tugboats, fishing boats, pleasure craft, ocean liners — and then operating that boat within the "real world" of harbor commerce — for instance, Sam would collect money from exporters to haul cargo to Hawaii, and would pay a fee to the tugboat who took him out of the harbor and into the ocean, and also to the child who operated the dock in Hawaii, and so forth. It was pretty freakin’ awesome (each child also built their own fully-functioning lighthouse), but for me his evocative, vivid, carefully rendered painting of the freighter disaster was the high point of the show. Where most of the kids were content to present their subjects in a straightforward, "documentary" way ("I am a buoy, I keep the ships from running aground," etc) Sam both placed his subject into a narrative, and further, decided to make the narrative a disaster story, in the tradition of the disaster songs of the early 20th century, such as "The Ship Titanic" ("it was sad when the great ship went down").

Sam art update

Sam (6) had his first art opening this week. His class had their “Rauschenberg” show, where the entire class studied Rauschenberg’s combines and then each student made their own. Well, one learns technique by copying masters.

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Here’s Sam’s, with its own hand-made gallery card. “‘Adventure,’ Combine, Sam Alcott, 2007.” The background is a little busy so it’s hard to see the shiny stones and the postcard of Buddha on top.

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If you click on the above, you’ll be able to see the cut-up postcard of the Cedar Waxwing, which Sam included as a tribute to his dad and “those birds you draw on your computer.” (On the other side of the Combine is a postcard from Point Reyes, CA, where his mom spent her childhood.)

Dad peruses the finished product.

Meanwhile, Sam has today whipped up a number of illustrations of key moments in the Star Wars saga. Note that all the drawings are signed “TM Sam” to prevent trademark infringement.

First, it’s the podrace from The Phantom Menace. Featured are the tall mushroom-like rock formations of the racetrack as Sebulba’s podracer careens through a narrow passage. An explosion to the left of Sebulba’s pod-racer (the yellow ball at the base of the center rock formation) is causing the tower to topple over, threatening Sebulba’s pod-racer. The purple arrows and action lines indicate the way the rocks are about to fall.

Later on in The Phantom Menace, Darth Maul slays Qui Gon in that room where that happens. Qui Gon is very surprised by this turn of events — you can tell by the “surprise” lines emanating from his head and the OH NO speech balloon. Darth Maul is merciless however and lets out a triumphal “AH” as poor young Obi-wan watches helplessly from the other side of the red force-field, screaming a bigger-than-life (or at least bigger-than-speech-balloon) — NO! — (he’s shouting so loud his exclamation point needs to go on a separate speech-balloon addendum)

Darth Maul, being an arrogant, short-sighted Sith, does not pay attention to the open pit behind him, the pit that will soon claim his bisected corpse.

The moment of Qui-Gon’s death so impressed Sam that he felt a need to go in for a close-up of Obi-wan’s horrified face as he chants “No No No.” Or perhaps this is a view of Obi-wan’s face from Darth Maul’s point-of-view (note the crossed light-sabers in the foreground), moments before his own death at Obi-wan’s hands.

UPDATE: I have misidentified this image.  Sam tells me that this is not a close-up of the horrified Obi-Wan watching Qui-Gon’s death, nor is it Obi-wan’s face from the point-of-view of Darth Maul.  The reality is much greater — it is Count Dooku at the moment of his death, from Anakin’s point-of-view.  The crossed light-sabers in the foreground are being held by Anakin and are about to remove Count Dooku’s head from his neck.  Count Dooku is saying “No, no, don’t do it.”  The combination of the close-up and Sam identifying with the remorseless, hate-filled Anakin makes this father proud.

And then, finally, Sam’s favorite scene from Revenge of the Sith, the climactic light-saber duel between Obi-wan and Anakin on the volcano planet. Lava explodes in the background as student and master fight on a rickety bridge over a flowing river of lava. An outraged, heart-broken Obi-wan says, in four separate speech balloons, “I TOLD YOU TO” “BRING” “BALANCE” “TO THE FORCE.” 

(Maybe the separate speech balloons indicate pauses in Obi-wan’s speech as he struggles to defeat Anakin.  Much more effective than the traditional “I told you to — uh! — bring — unh! — balance — hh! — ” etc.)

This moment is brought to more vivid life in this drawing from a week earlier.  Note the use of backlighting and silhouette.

This moment, his favorite in the Star Wars saga, was also featured on his 6th birthday cake:

I resisted the impulse to have Sam’s cake read “Revenge of the Sixth.”
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