Should I Warn the Neighbors?

“Should I warn the neighbors?”

We are lighting a smoke bomb today. I’m good at this. If the wind is favorable, the smoke will travel to the top of the old, oak tree that towers over my driveway. No one called the fire department in a panic last time. The man across the street lingered in his own driveway sweeping leaves that didn’t exist just so he could watch, but we avoided the sirens and red and blue lights.

Still, it’s a dilemma. Do we alert people or not?

This time we are shooting a stop-motion video in Barbie-doll scale. The smoke bomb for this shoot is full, human-sized. I could engulf a pink, plastic convertible many times bigger than the one my Ken doll occupies. That is a lot of smoke. It should make for a good sequence of stop-motion pictures, unless I am engulfed in smoke too, in which case I will simply keep snapping and hope for the best.

We are using fake blood for this video as we did for the last, “The Fake Guy”. I know a recipe that looks convincing and has a great splatter property. It is made almost entirely of powdered sugar with just a bit of cocoa and a massive amount of red food coloring. Yes, it’s edible. Yes, it’s gross. What is the amount of blood needed for a Barbie-doll bombing accident? Last time, I mixed a cup. I needed a teaspoon. Those dolls were small. I am good at math, but I tend to overdo things.

Ken’s doll double required some post-apocalyptic mutilation. I didn’t want to damage him too much, so I used a small hammer and tapped. That was pointless. Who knew that plasti-Ken had #absofsteel? I grabbed my industrial goggles – no selfies here – and the big hammer and pounded away with all my might. An exhausted 30 minutes later, and Barbie’s beau has a few gaping wounds.

“Should I warn the neighbors?”

What would you say? “Hey, I’m shooting a stop-motion video with Barbie dolls in my driveway. I’m going to be spilling fake blood and lighting a large smoke bomb. Please don’t panic when you see the mini-mushroom cloud rising above my roof line.”

My children think I’m weird and funny. That’s a good thing. It keeps them interested, laughing and engaged. My antics also teach them to think outside of the proverbial, collective box and take creative risks. We will be all hands on the “deck” of my driveway. At least one of them will be standing by with buckets of water should anything go wrong. What could possibly go wrong?

My only real dilemma:

“Should I warn the neighbors?”


Words and Photography ©2017 Tanya Cliff ~ to contact me

Entry posted in short stories. Bookmark the permalink.


The Fake Guy

You never know what they are going to cover on the “fake news” these days.


Words and Video ©2017 Tanya Cliff ~ to contact me

Posted in film. Bookmark the permalink.

Ricky Baker

roots of child neglect,

contort Ricky Baker’s feet,

strong hands cut safe paths.

(haiku inspired by Taika Waititi’s 2016 film, “Hunt for the Wilderpeople”)

How do Ricky Bakers keep from stumbling over the roots of child neglect? They are the refuse of an adult world that fails them frequently. Juggled around foster care, their only possessions fitting in the bags they carry, these children often end up in juvenile detention centers or worse. The problem impacts minority children disproportionately.

How do Ricky Bakers find safe paths to travel in this life? Hunt for the Wilderpeople, directed and adapted by Taika Waititi from the Barry Crump novel, Wild Pork and Watercress, explores the question with the perfect mix of quirky humor, adventure in the gorgeous New Zealand bush and pointed social commentary. The movie follows Hec (Sam Neill) and Ricky (Julian Dennison) into the wilderness to flee a child welfare officer (Rachel House) determined to place Ricky in juvenile detention through a police response that escalates out of control. This is a wonderful film that gives voice to the kind of love it takes to rescue a child and change a life.

If you haven’t seen Hunt for the Wilderpeople, DO! I rarely shout. Take it to heart.

How do Ricky Bakers find strong hands to secure their futures?  In 2016, my writing was selected to be given to children in a juvenile detention center to foster creative expression and encourage them to develop their unique talents. One girl found so much inspiration in that work that she took it with her when she successfully transitioned into foster care and used it for a school presentation for her new classmates. She continues to explore her gifts in art and writing. We can reach them by taking an interest in their lives one child at a time.

So the real question:

What are we each willing to do to help the Ricky Bakers of this world walk straight and fruitful paths?

Words and Photography ©2017 Tanya Cliff ~ to contact me

Entry posted in haiku & filmBookmark the permalink.