Monday, October 29, 2007

tucci, tucci too

Parenting is hard. You try to set a good example, and Christ, that's hard enough. You want your kids to grow up to be good, smart people.

I'm not driven to greatness, but I want my kids to be.

My definition of parenting includes exposing my kids to extraordinary, out-of-the-box stuff. And that doesn't mean visiting Disneyworld for vacation every year, or driving a minivan with TVs.

So last week, Boo had a couple of days off of school to film The Lovely Bones, directed by Peter "No-longer-a-huge-tub-of-lard-so-don't-confuse-me-with-Michael-Moore" Jackson. I thought it might be fun for him to see how tedious and dreary moviemaking can be, even if it's a movie made by an Oscar-winning director.

I read the book a year or two ago, and remember none of it. None. I hear it's a good book.

Apparently there's a boys' soccer team in the story, and the dead gal's sister plays on the team. In the scenes they filmed last week, the team is running through a 70s-era neighborhood. Boo has a prime spot within the group, running right behind the gal, so hopefully he'll stay in the scene.

A van transported them to the set. Their driver happily cursed at them, which the boys thought was hilarious. "Hey, don't get fingerprints on my windows, you little bastards!" he hollered. "Someone get these fuckers off my bus!" The boys howled with laughter. Ha! Ha!

Between filming scenes, Boo had a conversation with Stanley Tucci, who plays the murderer (oops, did I give it away?) He said he was very nice. Stanley--may I call him Stanley?--has appeared in, like, everything. Mr. Tucci. Stanley. Stanleys' a funny name if you look at it long enough.

For authenticity, the boys had to wear 70s-era workout-wear. This meant tight, banded t-shirts and short shorts, with tube socks and Converse sneakers. All the boys were clearly uncomfortable in these outfits, since they're all used to wearing big baggy everything. They came out of wardrobe holding their limbs tightly to their bodies. They tugged their shorts down, trying to hide their white thighs. Their thighs are never exposed to the sun!

I shared with Boo the horror of 70s-era gym suits, those blue one-piece monstrosities girls were forced to wear, with the poofy, elasticized leg openings.

By the end of the shoot, they had all loosened up a little, united in their disdain for one of the boys, who kept waving to the camera and acting like an idiot. Otherwise, they became fast friends and are hoping to return in November to shoot some scenes in which they're actually playing soccer.

And the moms? We got to sit. And sit. And sit...

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

cocktail games

I've finally figured out the reason why kids' soccer has grown exponentially over the last couple of decades.

It's just another excuse for a grown-up cocktail party.

When the weather's nice--as it has been for every socccer game the boys have played--we bring coolers to the games filled with snacks and beer and wine coolers. More intrepid parents bring a thermos filled with a preferred cocktail, like gin and tonic. Hardcore, parents, bring bottles of hard liquor and stealthily prepare more elaborate cocktails from the back of the minivan.

We bring plastic cups--red for Republican, blue for Democrat--in which to disguise the beer and cocktails. We surreptitiously crack open a beer and quickly pour it in the cup, looking around to make sure no one's watching, which we all invariably do, so we can ask if there's more to share.

We behave like naughty 12-year-olds, sneaking a beer behind the barn, giggling and filled with our own cleverness, eagerly drinking up this forbidden fruit.

It's probably a violation of some rule or another. But hey. We're grownups! We revel in our own smug rebelliousness. We're weary 40-somethings who, back in the day, happily accepted the challenge of dropping acid and then drinking and driving. Hah! That'll teach those rule-makers!

The weather's been mostly warm and sunny, but it should turn by the weekend. When the crisp November air sweeps around the soccer fields, we'll bundle up in sweaters and hoodies and our Chase Utley fleece blankets, and moan about how cold it is. And then, when we get to that point of reason, say, after about 2 beers, 2 cocktails...we'll stop. We have kids to drive home, after all.

Monday, October 22, 2007

college kids

Yeah, college kids these days! Harummph!

There’s a diverse mix of students in my V&D class. James is from Nigeria, blahblah is from Columbia, Sister Pepita is from the Phillipines and Occasional (named because of his attendance) is from Somalia. It’s always hilarious when the instructor hauls out the F-bomb and starts talking about venereal diseases in class while watching Sister squirm.

The other students are mostly college-age kids, mostly unkempt and apparently unbathed. Even the girls. They're sweet and dumb and self-absorbed; they know nothing about the world. When they presented their autobiographies, all they could talk about was elementary school and high school, ending with “and well, here I am in county college, and I don’t know what I’m going to do with the rest of my life.”

I don't remember being that boring and misinformed at that age, but perhaps I was.

They wear slippers and sweatpants to class. Some are still wearing their pants at crotch level. Isn't that look over yet? They still forget to bring #2 pencils on test days.

And then there’s Bambi, a little haggard with a whiskey grin and a smoker’s cough, and a couple of kids of her own. Her daughter is a a drug addict, unable to care for her own 2-year-old daughter, so that job has fallen to Bambi. Which pretty much has to suck, so I will try to refrain from making snarky comments about her in the margins.

And nearly 2 months into class, the only interesting thing we've done in class is breathing and tongue exercises. And not with each other.

Monday, October 08, 2007

voith and dickshun

I've been taking a voice and diction class at the local county college. I'm not sure why I'm doing this, exactly, except perhaps I'm harboring some pointless dream of doing some voiceover work in the future. You know: adding a spoke to my "career wheel."

Given my acting background and the heady mix of praise and adulation I've received the last few summers as baseball/swim meet/bingo announcer (example: "Gee. You're funny. You make swim meets sound not so boring."), wellll, it's enough to make me plunk down some dough and attend classes twice a week where I can flaunt my life experiences in a classroom full of young, boneheaded college students who don't know the difference between JFK and RFK.

Class started in September, and this is about all I've learned: the "th" sound is rare outside of American English. And, oh yeah: James Earl Jones was a stutterer, and then was mute until high school.

And: I've listened intently to my instructor's hilarious stories not once but twice, even, and it's only the beginning of October.

I've started once again, just like in high school and college after that, cartooning and editorializing in the margins of my notebook when I'm not fully paying attention. Comments include:

"OH, this woman's going to drive me INSANE. We have to go over really simple things, like old movie plots, like SINGING IN THE FUCKING RAIN, just to bring her up to speed on popular culture." (This is referring to my classmate "Bambi,"--no kidding, Bambi--who is the class suckup, which isn't an attractive feature for a 40-something woman.)

Followed by a cartoon of a starlet with big boobs.

And here, look, Bambi asks this question of the instructor, which I've duly noted in the margin: "This is a nosy question, but...why did you get divorced after 28 years of marriage?" OMGAAHH. The instructor politely brushes her question off. Bambi is not the brightest color in the crayon box.

And here are some more margin cartoons, mostly of heads...I'm relearning to draw mouths.

"OK, when does the learning take place?" I ask plaintively in the margin. "I didn't pay to hear stories."

That's the class. We gave autobiographical speeches last class, which was rather fun, but I'm afraid the kids didn't get most of my jokes. Maybe they were too esoteric. Or maybe I wasn't speaking clearly!

I'm going to say more about the kids next time.