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Archive for the ‘the boy’ Category

OK, so I was straightening up the garage the other day, opening boxes to find out what was in them (yeah, I didn’t label everything the last time I moved and am still trying to find missing items). In the process of pulling out some tools from crate, the boy—who was standing over my shoulder, not helping—asked what a certain item was.

Feeling like a being a pain in the butt, I put on  my best Bogart impression and told him, “The stuff that dreams are made of.”

I got a blank stare.

And I heard crickets. No, seriously, there are crickets all over this part of Georgia.

This began a thoroughly detailed—and unappreciated—dissertation on Humphrey Bogart and his movies.

Blank stare, continued.

“He was in some of the greatest movies ever. He was in ‘The Maltese Falcon.’ You know that movie, don’t you?”

Crickets. And the stare.

“No.”

Ah, I’m getting through to him.

“He played tough-guy roles. You know what that means, right?”

He scrunched up his nose and thought for a moment. “Oh, you mean like Taylor Lautner?”

Crickets and a blank stare.

Bogart and Lautnery: great movie tough guys.

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OK, so the kids are now in the 6th grade. I know; where’d the time go? Anyway, they started middle school last week and they both decided that for their elective class—what they call “choices” here—that they wanted to take orchestra. So I went to the Parents-of-Children-Who-Want-to-Take-Orchestra meeting last night at the school.

It was a cozy affair, just me and the mother or father of the other 300-plus kids who have signed up for 6th-grade orchestra. Luckily, there are three teachers and the kids will be divided into four different classes. At the meeting, we learned about what kinds of instruments the kids will need (rentals would be just fine, and in fact, encouraged), as well as other middling details. And oh, by the way, could you have your kid outfitted and ready to play on Monday?

A viola and a violin by Mathias Thir, Vienna, circa 1780. These will be out of our price range.

Well, the girl got a jump on it this spring, deciding she wanted to play violin. So she got one and took two or three lessons before stopping for the summer and the mess of activities on her calendar. The boy, to my surprise, says he’s all for orchestra and came home saying he wants to play the bass.

Cool, I thought… bass—even though one is twice as big as he is—would lead to many opportunities and genres if he actually stuck with it. But now he’s wavering, as a friend who took cello last year told him bass was really hard. So he says he wants to switch to viola instead. He’s got a couple of days to think about it, and when he goes to the music store, we can have him sized for both.

I’m not going to put any pressure on them—but I will make sure they practice—and hope they have some musical talent that skipped me. My bothers brothers both played in band in school, and I have always envied them. I tried to learn piano, guitar, bass, harmonica, mouth harp, tissue and comb to no avail… my love for music will have to be passive only.

Before he makes his final choice, I’m going to show him this video of Stanley Clarke rocking out in an astonishing solo at the Newport Jazz Festival. I don’t know if he’ll appreciate it, but I think he needs to what the instrument can do in the hands of a genius.
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OK, so this morning I began the last day of my week-long vacation with nothing on the schedule. (The first four days, as well as the previous weekend was spent at Cape San Blas, Fla., which was a really, really nice; more on this to come later).

So, with nothing really to do (and not wanting to stay home, as the cleaning lady was there), I decided to do something I haven’t done in years: theater hopping. Yeah, I bought a $6 ticket to the first matinee of the day and stayed for three movies, getting the most for my movie dollar.

I know, I know… that’s stealing… well, I would have left if asked, and since I wasn’t asked, I took advantage of the theater’s hospitality and took in “Cowboys & Aliens,” “Captain America” and the final Harry Potter flick. I could have stayed for a fourth, and maybe even a fifth, but I did make plans to see Johanna tonight, so I took off, leaving something on the table. Having not theater-hopped in who knows how many years, it’s good to know that I could still have made a day of it.

Now, I usually see the Harry Potter movies with the girl, but she had already seen it with her friends. Having sat through the first seven (many of them several times on DVD), I figured I should round out the set. The boy wants to see the Cap movie, so I’ll probably have to watch it again with him. It won’t be that bad to see it again… I won’t sleep through it the second time around, but it was the one movie I would sit through that started in the right time slot. Oh, sure, I could have watched “The Smurfs,” but then I would have killed myself and missed the third movie.

So, as it was, all three were worth seeing, although I don’t know if I would pay full price for any of them, and as it turned out, I didn’t. I can’t say, “OMG! You have to go out and see this movie right away… it’s awe-some!” There was a lot of shooting in all three, be it Thompson machine guns, six-shooters and plasma rifles or swish-and-flicked magic wands (it was kinda funny how the aliens and the WWII-era evil HYDRA organization had the same kinds of laser blasters).

Since the kids are 11, I won’t be explaining the fine details on how to not stand out while spending all day at the movies, with details on how to camouflage yourself with a simple hat and light jacket (it’s harder to do the jacket trick here in sweltering Atlanta than in San Francisco, but the huge, 20-plus-screen metroplexes does help one blend into the crowd). Maybe next year, when they’re 12… That’ll keep them out of my hair for a whole day.

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OK, so the kids are living it up in Costa Rica this week, doing things I wish I could have done as an 11-year-old. Today they did a zip-line canopy tour and they loved it. The tour covers some 3.5 kilometers worth of cables. I’m totally jealous. When I was a kid, the best we could hope for was a road trip to visit family in New Mexico or Idaho… no offense New Mexico and Idaho relatives, but hey, we’re talking zip-lining here!

Anyway, this is what it looks like:
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I totally expect to get a “My kids went to Costa Rica and did all kinds of cool and awesome stuff and all I got this lousy T-shirt” T-shirt.

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The kids and their friend Bre celebrate a birthday.

Hello friends, here’s another restaurant review for the travel web site UpTake.com in which my kids surprise me at how worldly they are becoming:

OK, so the other night I had the kids for dinner. It was a Friday night—not usually my night for them—but given the chance, I jumped. When I picked them up, they had a friend in tow, who was having a birthday party the next day but the girl couldn’t make it and wanted to treat her friend to a birthday dinner. She had everything planned out, she said. All I had to was to drive them there and to pick up the check.

“Oh, alright,” I said. “Just where are we going?”

“Kirin House!” the three of the said in unison, with vigor.

I had never been to Kirin House, a Japanese hibachi, streak and sushi place, but the kids had. Several times. My two kids have been there enough time to know exactly what they were going to have when they sat down at the cook-top table. Their friend Bre, also a Kirin House vet, was ready to order, too. I, on the other hand, was caught off guard and needed a couple of minutes to catch up.

Click here to read the whole review.

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OK, so this last weekend, the boy had to spend a few hours on the computer doing practice Criterion-Referenced Competency Test, the Georgia educational system’s standardized testing. He did pretty well on the computerized pretest practice testing test tests, doing enough to satisfy the requirements, but jeeze, making him stay inside on 78-degree, breezy days just didn’t seem right.

The elementary school that the kids go to (they’re in fifth grade) always freaks out this time of year, and tries to trick parents into coming to school on a night a week before—usually with a student concert or play or something—and before the show starts, some administrator will get up and talk about how important it is for the students to do well on these test because it’s important for the permanent record and blah blah blah …

The upshot of the bait-and-switch (go for a concert, realize you have to sit through a warning about how important the testing is) is that they implore you to make sure the kids aren’t stressed out, get to bed early, eat good breakfasts the week of the testing. You know, all that good parenting stuff you don’t do the rest of the school year.

I can’t say the schools are teaching exclusively to the test, as the kids’ homework and subject matter has been varied, but I feel for the kids having to spend a whole week filling in little bubbles. I hated that when I was in school.
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Via Graphjam.com

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OK, so I guess the kids are growing up. When I picked them up for the weekend and asked them what they did in school that day, they said they had “The Talk” about puberty at school.

Not knowing exactly what The Talk was going to included and leave out—sex, evidently, was not part of this discussion, leaving that little topic for parents to handle; they will broach that subject next year in sixth grade—I asked some general questions about what they learned. Their answers were on the outskirts of the topic, but they didn’t elaborate much. They said that the girls went to the cafeteria and the boys went to the gym, so they could be gender specific.

“They talked about how our bodies are going to change,” the girl said.

“They said that we’re going to get whiskers,” the boy said.

“They said we’re going to get pimples,” the girl said, squirming.

“They said our feet are going to grow and get smelly,” the boy said.

And then the boy added that said they talked about that “e-word, I forget what it was.”

I scanned my mind for what e-word would come up in this particular situation.

“An erection?” I asked.

“Yeah, that’s it. I’ve had those,” the boy said matter-of-factly.

“Um, TMI,” said the girl.

At this point, I was worried I was about to get into a discussion I wasn’t prepared for, but luckily, the girl changed the topic by teasing the boy about what he was going to sound like when his voice changed.

Which immediately reminded me of this:
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And this:
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I shared one of these videos with the kids, but left the other for another day. Can you guess which was which?

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