Friday, March 25, 2011

Homeschooling Stereotypes!! Meh.

I'm blogging AGAIN.  Why has the frequency of Sardine Mama's posting gone up?  Is that what you're wanting to know?  Well, I'll tell's not good news.  When I'm blogging, I'm usually not doing any other writing, and vice versa.  So here I sit.  120,000 words into Nothing Good and so I am calling a truce between me and the Nothing Good at the moment.  Stupid manuscript.

What shall we talk about?  How about a little article I recently read?  It was about Middle Grade and YA novels featuring homeschooled characters. The author gave a brief description of each of the novels (there are a lot!) and then bashed them for succumbing to stereotypes.  There were a variety of these stereotypes and themes, but mostly they fell into about 5 categories, I think.

1.)  Weird, anti-social homeschoolers that get put into school and hilarity/tragedy results.
2.)  Normal kids being homeschooled (I like to call them stereotypically atypical homeschoolers) who are suffering from being homeschooled and WISH they could go to school, the results being that they usually end up in school where they flourish.
3.)  Hippie homeschooled kids.....parents are Out end up in school and hilarity/tragedy results.
4.)  Homeschooled vampires and superheros who can't go to school because DUH - they're vampires and superheros.
5.) Kids who are homeschooled on the high seas or archaeological digs....having great adventures and can't possibly go to school.

The author of the article was a little miffed that the novelists were using these stereotypes.  As for me?  Stereotypes exist for a reason.  And that reason is because they provide entertaining fodder for those of us who tend to observe life as if it were a never-ending sitcom....and then like to write about it.  Also?  With the exception of the vampires and the pirates, they're kind of accurate.

There are stereotypes for school kids, too....have you heard of Diary of a Wimpy Kid?  Stereotype after stereotype and nobody seems to be upset about it.  I'm a fan, by the way.  So yeah, books and movies about schools are not exempt from stereotyping....any middle school or high school is going to have the jocks, the cheerleaders, the band geeks, the drama gang....and then you have those unpopular loners in the corner of the cafeteria who wish they were homeschooled.

So when I see or hear of a homeschooled character being stereotyped as weird or geeky, do I get offended?  Not really.  Because all I have to do is look in the back of my van and a least one on board at any given time.  Better to hang in an environment where Weirdness is worshipped and glorified....and homeschoolers, if I may characterize for a moment, tend to be a pretty accepting group (as long as you go to their church...JUST KIDDING!!).

Can we discuss the Unique And/Or Quirky Homeschool Phenomenon for a bit?  A lot of families homeschool because they have a child for whom the socialization aspects of school (which can be brutal, let's face it) would be too difficult.  So if you head out to a homeschool park day, you're going to see some quirky kids.  Being themselves.  It makes my heart sing.  I have an Asperger's kid, and we know several other homeschooled Asperger's kids.  They're hoots.  In school, they might not be considered hoots, but in our circle they are just one more flavor of jelly bean.  Stereotypical of homeschooling crowds?  Yes, I think so, and I'm grateful for it. 

I do believe that this particular stereotype (the odd and quirky homeschooler) can also include the child who has never seen a television or met a person other than his brother or sister....we have not actually met any of these mysterious kids and I think they mostly exist in fiction - but then again - most of the jocks I knew in high school weren't dumb and neither were the cheerleaders.  And the band kids weren't all dorks.  We KNOW that...yet the stereotypes persist in our fictional culture and we'd all probably miss them if they didn't. So how seriously can we take this nonsense?

In one of my aggravating manuscripts, I have a load of stereotypes....YA fantasy novel.  I've got a homeschooled kid who perfectly fits the Odd / Smart Homeschool Stereotype....(he has Asperger's although I never come out and say it).  And I love his character.  He knows stuff.  Lots of stuff. And he spouts it off at the most inoportune times.  He's also one of an elite group of paritcular heros...and the boy can hold his own with a dagger. Here's a little exerpt - you'll remember this story from a previous post, maybe?  Narrated by a 15-year-old collector of souls whose voice a literary agent recently told me was too quirky and strong....remember that one?  Sigh.

"Is there anyone else here who wants to brag about his prowess on the yearbook staff maybe?" Todd-Rob asks. "Or in the marching band? And if so, could it please wait until after we’re done battling the pets of Satan Himself? Huh? Do you think it can wait?”

Silence. Obviously it can wait. Although there is one kid who looks like he’s just dying to give a synopsis of his science fair project. Seriously. He is bursting at the seams. Finally, he says, “It isn’t actually Satan. It’s just his minion, Sun-Diabolos.”

“Thank you for correcting me you Freaking Walking Encyclopedia of the Supernatural!” Todd-Rob bellows.

 “No problem,” says the Freaking Walking Encyclopedia of the Supernatural. Then he adds, “I’m homeschooled.” As if that somehow explains it.

It does explain the tube socks.

Before you lynch me for making fun of the homeschooled kid, let me say that I make fun of dumb jocks, too.  This is fiction, people.

“Some kind of a Tara-Naatha you are,” Todd-Rob mutters to me.

“Hey! No fair! This is extremely out of the ordinary. I dare say no other Tara-Naatha has had to deal with a stupid, pig-headed football player who is too dumb to even vacate his own dead body!”

Then I add, “No offense, Kurt.”

Kurt makes some kind of inaudible nasty sound. I can’t tell if he took offense, or not.

Okay, moving right along.  The next stereotype portrayed in books (not mine - I can't hit them all in one novel) is the Normal Kid who is being forcibly homeschooled by misguided parents.   These guys must hang out with that other elusive group....the isolated homeschoolers, because I've never met any of them, either.  I know lots of non-quirky kids being homeschooled, but none of them seem freaked out by it. There probably are kids being homeschooled who think they would rather go to school, but I bet there are more school kids running around wishing their parents would homeschool them.

Next up?  Hippie Homeschoolers.  Picture, if you will, Luna Lovegood from Harry Potter. That is what we're talking about.  Although Luna Lovegood went to Hogwarts and wasn't homeschooled.  But you get the idea.  We're not technically hippies.  We don't live in a commune (no matter what people say). We do tend to take part in protests of a certain sort, we have liberal leanings (stop laughing - I have personally met people who are more liberal than we are), we're environmentally conscious, we treat our kids with respect and don't make them go to school....don't make them do much of anything they don't want to do, really. We think there are excellent arguments for the legalization of marijuana and wear more than the average amount of tie-dye, but we're not anarchists.  In the past few years we've been less counter-cultural as the clockwise people have become more tolerant or simply desensitized to our antics...either way...we're not such a big deal around here anymore.

The last two stereotypes depicted in fictional works about homeschoolers....well, what can I say?  No vampires, shapeshifters, or superheros in the house.  And unfortunately, we are not homeschooling on the high seas.  Although we did drag a sardine can all the way to Northern California for three weeks....that's the trip that started this blog.

So I don't get why homeschoolers want to be portrayed in a certain way and if they're not, they yell stereotype.  The fact that we're being portrayed at all indicates we've finally been woven into the cultural quilt of neat-o little squares of stereotypes.  Like everyone else.  And it just doesn't bother me. That's how we roll as humans and I'm not sure it's entirely bad.  We are programmed by our very nature to classify and sort things, ourselves not excluded. 

I certainly don't like being lumped into over-generalized piles of whatever....and homeschoolers always need to be diligent where our rights are concerned.  In fact, I'm sure that for every word I have on this blog talking about how nicely we're all being treated by Society At Large - someone else is going through a nightmare dealing with authorities, neighbors, school districts and relatives in regards to homeschooling.  And that's worth paying attention really is.  But books that feature some stereotyped homeschooled fictional characters?  Well, they're simply worth reading. Save the angst for real battles. 

Signing Off as Sardine Mama, the stereotypically blocked fiction writer and prolific blog poster!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

A Public Service Announcement For Your Enjoyment

Normally I roll along thinking I'm fairly in sync with the rest of Americana.  For the most part, I look like the rest of Americana.  I go to the same places, see the same things, enjoy the same feelings of superiority over the rest of the world.  But then I'll see something that just makes me go WHAT?? and I realize that not everybody else is going WHAT?? and then I'm like, "oh's the cultural insanity we're all so fond of..."

So the other night I was being all mainstream and watching American Idol with Everyone Else.  I do love myself a little Idol. Want to know my faves?  Of course you do!  My favorites are James the Aspergian, Casey the Garden Gnome, and Stefano the Stud Muffin.  I also really like that little blond girl who is only 16.  She's a cutie pie.  Anyway.....back on track Sardine were saying?  Oh yeah, I was saying how I was watching American Idol like Everyone Else and can you freaking believe Steven Tyler is like 62 years old?  Seriously.  That's insane. 

SO.  Watching American Idol with the Rest of Americana when a Public Service Announcement comes on.  A mama is cooking dinner (of course - not the daddy, the mama - and a family that eats dinner together and talks together and don't forget PRAYS together, sticks together!!!  oh wait, wrong Public Service Announcement)....the mama is cooking dinner and her kid says, "Hey Mom! I need a dollar!"  At this point I'm wondering where this is all going and I'm expecting the mom to say, "What do you need a dollar for?  Crack cocaine??  Huh?  What you need that money for girlfriend? You think I'm not on to you?  What you gonna do with that dollar??"

But this doesn't go there.  Okay...gotta veer for a minute.  Speaking of Public Service Announcements, there was one when I was a kid.  It had a baboon in it.  I think he was smoking a cigarette.  No, wait a minute....he wasn't smoking a cigarette...he was on wait a minute....that was a fried egg.  NO WAIT!  He was on drugs.  Or something. But all I remember is that there seemed to be a baboon and he seemed to have a monkey on his back...wait a minute...he was a monkey.  Maybe he was on somebody else's back and that somebody was smoking crack.  Smokin' crack with a monkey on your wait a minute...I think that is in a Travelling Wilburys song.  So anyway - in my mind there is a cage and a baboon and smoke of some sort but I'm pretty sure I'm combining several PSA's....yeah, yeah, I am....'cause now I've got the rainbow thing shooting through that says something about The More You Know....and now Lavar Burton has come into the picture because whenever I see that PSA rainbow I think of Reading Rainbow and then I start thinking of Star Trek....
hold on, let me set my crack pipe down and try to get back where I started....or close to it....the baboon was addicted to something and I can't remember what it was but whatever it was he wanted it more than ANYTHING.  The PSA announcer went on about how that baboon wanted it more than FOOD, more than WATER, and even MORE THAN SEX.  I was like what?  Ten? And I remember looking at the baboon and thinking about how he was so stoned that he wasn't even horny and not caring AT ALL. 

So - watching American Idol with the Rest of You when a Public Service Announcement comes on...."Mom, can I have a dollar to buy crack?" 

"Sure honey! I have one right there in my pu..."  Mom looks on counter where her wallet sits RIGHT NEXT TO THE FRYING PAN.  Mom gets a cute and sneaky expression on her face.  'Cause we moms operate that way....all cute and sneaky-like.  "Ummm....I think my purse is upstairs in my room!" she calls out.

"Okay!" says the crack addict.  She runs up the stairs.  Mom keeps looking cute-sneaky.  Kid runs back down the stairs. 

"It wasn't in there!"

"Oh! Well, did you look in your brother's room?  He's always stealing money from me to support his gambling habit."  Sh*t! I'm off-track again.  That was a different Public Service Announcement.  Take Two.

"Oh! Well, did you look in your brother's room?"  Kid runs back up the stairs.  Mom keeps stirring the hamburger helper while grinning.  And we all know that kid isn't even going to eat dinner because the baboon had completely lost his appetite while he was on crack.  Or tobacco.  Or alcohol.  Or fried eggs or whatever it was.

So this continues a few more times....kid coming down the sending her back up the stairs while the wallet stayed right there within eyesight with a dollar poking out.  And I'm still just clueless, you know?  Where is this all going?  What exciting message is in store for us?  Bullying?  Is the mom an Evil Cute-Sneaky Bully who is getting some kind of perverted joy out of making her kid run up and down the stairs?  That must be it.  It's the only thing that makes sense.

And then finally the Evil Cute-Sneaky Bully says, "Oh! Here it is!" while looking at the wallet that she's been grinning at the entire time.

And then the message.  Are you ready?  And don't quote me....I'm possibly paraphrasing....but basically it was:

Moms find creative ways to get kids moving.

SERIOUSLY?  This was about EXERCISE??  Come on guys, this is probably the lamest PSA of All Time.  Ever.  In the history of Ridiculous PSA's.

But here's my point...I do have one, after all.  Why the mind games?  Is this really how we're expected to communicate simple messages to our children?  What's wrong with sitting the kid down and saying, "Dude - you need to get more exercise.  Turn off American Idol." 

It seems to be common to communicate with children in this way.  To consider them as lesser folks who need to be tricked into cooperation.  I know so many people who regularly "trick" their kids into eating certain things....or into believing certain things.... why?  I don't like to be tricked.  If you got something to say, sista.....please say it.   Don't underestimate my intelligence by making me run up and down the stairs while you grin at your wallet. 

I know.  I know.  This is a small thing.  But it represents a bigger problem in how we see and deal with the younger and smaller humans of our communities and families.  I don't mean to imply I'm above the occasional bribe or threat (please don't let today be the day  Alfie Kohn falls onto my blog while googling the sardine canning industry or John Frusciante).  I'm not perfect.  But I really don't think I could send my kid on a wild goose chase to burn off 3 and a half calories.  (Yes, I know this wasn't a Real Mom - it was somebody's idea of a Real Mom - it was probably an overweight middle-aged man in a Mom Suit - but still.....)

Now if somebody could come up with a PSA that would show me how to trick my son into accidentally learning algebra while on Facebook?  I might change my tune. 

But here's my Public Service Announcement.....are you listening?  Picture a baboon in a cage....he's smoking something....there's a guy trying to trick him into giving up the weed and having sex instead, the baboon's not buying it....gosh DANGIT...I'm off track again.  Do-Overs:

There's a cage.  A kid is in it.  The kid has to do ten jumping jacks and then it can peck at a button and get a snack.....a healthy snack.....and then it can do it again.  Here's the cool part.....the kid finally leans over to the camera and whispers...."You know I'm a human being.  Just like you.  You can...ya know....kid looks around left and right to make sure nobody's to me."

The More You Know from Sardina Mama....the More You Grow!  Now then - run along and play, don't do drugs and try not to fry any eggs on the sidewalk 'cause it makes a mess. 
Sardine Mama

Saturday, March 19, 2011

It Was A Whopper...and a Frusciante

This is a Saturday Smorgasbord, and it shall include both dream analysis and a couple of movie critiques - so you're really getting your money's worth.  Unless you came here for something other than dream analysis or movie critiques, in which case you're getting exactly what you paid for.

Last night Ellie and I decided to catch a show, as they say.

"Let's see Red Riding Hood so we can make fun of it," Ellie said.  I hate to admit this, but Ellie and I are cinematography snobs and sometimes we see movies for the sole purpose of becoming irate. 

"Nah, I don't want to waste my money.  Let's see that movie with the cute guy who dumped Taylor Swift and the train."

Because she is my kid she knew just the movie I was talking about.  We checked the show times at the nearest cinema (well, actually it isn't the nearest - our small town has an ADORABLE theater but it wasn't showing anything we wanted to see so we agreed to hit the city theaters) and saw that Limitless started at 7:15. 

So off we went, arriving at 7:13 which was freaking awesome.  Or at least it would have been if the movie called Limitless had indeed been the movie with the cute guy and the train, which we discovered it was not.  It was a movie with Robert DeNiro, and in retrospect, we should have seen it, but Ellie said, "Look!  Red Riding Hood is showing Right Now.  Let's see it."

So we did.  And it was horrible.  We thoroughly enjoyed it.

Directed by the same guy who did the Twilight movies (and please don't lynch me but we laughed our way through those, come on - there were scenes where you could see where the white make-up ended at the open collar...), it had some deliciously pathetic scenes.  Red Riding Hood's mom was suffering from an overabundance of botox and wore lots of make-up even though everyone else was in peasant attire....and the guy who killed the wolf had a little bit of a Tennessee accent as he said fantastically predictable things like, "Kill the beast!" and "Tonight we celebrate!" and "The wolf is dead!"  It was everything we'd hoped it would be and MORE.

The love interest of Red Riding Hood had many painfully long head shots where the young actor tried to maintain extended expressions of intense longing...and if you'd only painted his face white down to the collar he'd have looked just like Edward Cullen.  The worst scene was the Feast Scene (Tonight we celebrate!) which featured some rather embarrassing dancing...think a mixture of Jane Austen waltzes, jazz hands and shimmies, with a little bit of bump and grind pole flair thrown in for good measure.  There was also drumming and the required waving of the turkey legs in the air.  During the excitement of this particularly delightful scene I suffered an unfortunate incident involving a Whopper.  I'm not talking hamburgers, I'm talking malted milk balls.

I had picked up one oversized box of Whoppers while at Tractor Supply buying chick feed because I knew we were going to the movies after and it seemed like a good idea at the time. I smuggled them into the movies even though I'm pretty sure they cost the same at Tractor Supply - because I'm wicked that way.  Now then, I don't think that many folks buy their movie concessions at Tractor Supply and here's why.  They were a and chewy with a pasty, powdery  substance covering their chocolate shells.  I was sitting in the horrible movie eating them anyway (because I'm an addict and we do gross things like that), when I got one that tasted even worse than the others had.  I mean - it tasted BAD.  I made a face and a little sound and Ellie looked at me and said, "Oh yeah - I think those are rotten.  Don't eat them."

Maybe it was the word rotten.  I don't know.  But at that moment, I knew I couldn't swallow the Whopper.  I really couldn't.  By now, I was producing an overabundance of saliva, profusely salivating you know, and I said to Ellie, "I thont wanth this," probably with a long string of spit hanging from my chin. 

"Oh my god, swallow it mom!" she said while scooting as far away from me as her stationary theater seat would allow.

"I thant!"  I said.  Because I really couldn't.

"You have to!"

"No, I'm thunna sthpit it outh...gib me mah purth."

She handed me my purse, quite hastily, and with a horrified look of disgust on her face.

I dug in my purse.  Normally, finding something to spit a Whopper in would be no problem - as my purse is known around here as the trashcan on a strap.  But this is a NEW purse, still all clean on the inside, and no trash items whatsoever.  No dirty Kleenex or napkin or gum wrapper or ANYTHING.  Which is how I came to find myself spitting a Whopper into a feminine protection product just as Ellie glanced over at me and broke out into hysterical laughter.  I'm pretty sure this was the best part of the movie for her.

So the moral of this story is:  Don't see Red Riding Hood (it sucks) and Don't Buy Your Whoppers at Tractor Supply, and if you do, make sure you're armed with Feminine Protection.

While I'm discussing movies, let me just say that the Train/Cute Guy movie is called Source Code with Jake Gyllenhaal and it isn't out yet.  Also?  Jeff and I saw The Adjustment Bureau with Matt Damon and we do not recommend it.  We're both Matt Damon fans so it was a disappointment.  It was good acting, good effects, but the story was very Junior High - there's a "Chairman" who turns out to be God and then basically angels running around in hats interfering with everyone's business.  Meh. 

This brings us to the part of the show where we do a little Dream Analysis.

I love to analyze dreams.  And I used to never understand people who said they couldn't remember their dreams.  I ALWAYS remembered my dreams. Until the past couple of years.  I think it is because I am a Big Girl now and I sleep through the night.  For many years I was either, pregnant, breastfeeding, co-sleeping, or ALL THREE and let's just say my slumbering was often disturbed.  Therefore, I was always waking up just after or during a dream - skipping many of the steps and processes that most people naturally undergo to fall asleep and wake up and all the stuff that happens in between.  Now?  I'm like the rest of you people - I go to sleep and I wake up in the morning, for the most part, completely clueless.  Sometimes I awaken with a feeling of irritation, happiness, or sadness...and I'm pretty sure it is the remnant of a dream, but no details.

So you can see how extremely happy I was to wake up this morning with about 70% of the details of my waking up dream all clear and readily available.  I am, however, having a bit of trouble figuring out what it means.  Here it is:

We (the family) met John Frusciante (formerly of the Red Hot Chili Peppers) at a frozen yogurt shop.  Nothing odd there, right?  Now normally, I don't like to discuss John Frusciante on the blog because a) it would be a strange revelation of a slight obsession I have and b) the man enjoys his privacy and what would he think if he knew I was discussing him in front of the 10 or so people who regularly read my blog and the 30 or so who end up here by accident while seeking information about the mating habits of sardines?  Anyway - because I'm sharing this dream I'm forced to discuss John Frusciante and I sincerely hope this doesn't somehow cause ripples in his mental/psychic sphere or anything...'cause he is sensitive in that way.

So.  John Frusciante is with us at the yogurt shop.  Where he buys me a spectacular pair of boots and the zipper broke on one of them but I didn't want him to know that because it would make him feel bad, so I hid the broken zipper.  Now then, so you get the full picture, I'd like to say that this was not the 41-year-old John Frusciante who is at this moment probably somewhere quite happily playing with a synthesizer, and it wasn't the 19-year-old Frusciante of the Mother's Milk was the Post Recluse / Post Heroin Frusciante - where he still looked a bit like a fragile Edward Scissorhands. 
Anyway - so during casual chit chat it is decided that it would be a good idea for Jules to spend the rest of the day with John Frusciante.  So off they go, driving away in a Volkswagen Beetle.

Then I say something along the lines of, "Holy crap - John Frusciante doesn't even have a driver's license because he's scared to drive and he just took off with our Asperger's hearing impaired 13-year-old son with a brain tumor!" 

"No problem," Jeff says.  "Let me call him and tell him to bring him back."  We then discover we don't have Frusciante's cell number.  In fact, we briefly discuss the possibility that Frusciante might be frightened of cell phones and not even have one. 

So THEN it just basically turned into your typical Can't Find My Kid Dream.  It went from lovely to traumatizing.  But I'm tickled I remembered it.  And I'll let you know if I bother to analyze it.

Now then, I really do think this post will pretty much kill off all of the remaining googlers getting here for Attachment Parenting advice...don't you?  Maybe I'll get back to that train of thought next time....then we'll have to round up a new herd of advice-seekers...having lost the existing batch through the repeated and determined posting of strange ramblings. What do you think?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Yo Mama

Sheesh!  Been awhile, hasn't it?  How you folks been? Ignore the weird font sizes and colors on my blog.  I don't know how to fix it and don't really care, either.

So, how've I been doing? Thanks for asking.  Busy as usual.  Don't know why I haven't blogged in awhile, except that whenever I sat down to do it, I drew a massive blank. 

Also?  In addition to ignoring the blog, I also hadn't updated my facebook status in awhile.  So I had this brilliant idea, see?  I thought, "Wow! Why don't I ask my 280 or so facebook friends, half of whom are hidden because they insist on repeatedly posting political ridiculousness that they refuse to take off even after I've informed them that Snopes says Obama did not steal Girlscout cookies from a Girlscout while refusing to say the Pledge of Allegiance, the other half of whom I don't actually know....what my facebook status should be.  (There is another half in there somewhere, made up of my kids and close, personal friends and family - and please don't point out to me that there can't be 3 halves.  I are home teached, it will make no sense to me.)

So (you've really been missing these long-winded sentences, haven't you?) I updated my status with:
What Should I Blog About?

Then I counted to 2 and checked for comments. I had one! Hooray!  Don't you just love facebook?

It was from Joel, my sixteen year old son who was supposed to be doing his geography homework and obviously wasn't and it said:
Yo Momma

And then, because I forgot for a moment, that there can be no such thing as a satisfying facebook conversation with my son, I decided to be all witty and bond with him from the comfort of my bed while he sat in the comfort of the study simultaneously killing zombies and commenting on status updates instead of doing his geography homework.  I said:
No, YO Momma

Endlessly entertaining, isn't it?  By now, we had the rapt attention of my 280 friends.  Also?  Someone had irritatingly given the big old Thumbs Up "I like this!" to Joel's stupid comment.  So he made another one:

I don't have no momma, I fell from the heavens.

I could see that this wasn't going to end well.  Joel literally stays up all night doing this sort of thing, and I was already getting tired.  I tried to end it:

I'm not responding, but I have a lot of good responses I could respond with if I were so inclined, which I'm not.

Kind of like a lame explanation of why I wasn't going to come up with any groovy comments.  I could if I wanted there. So Joel, (did I mention he stays up all night?) said:

Because Yo Momma said you can't use them.

Did I mention he was killing zombies as he did this?  Why, thank you.  Yes, I'm quite proud of him.  Also?  He had two more Thumbs Up.  I had to stop it or it would never end.  So I stupidly said:

Seriously, I'm not responding.  So stop it.

And then?  A Real Person actually responded with a helpful suggestion as to what I should blog about:

Didn't you just have a really busy weekend you could comment about?

Why, yes I did!  Thanks for the suggestion!  On Friday, Camille, Ellie and I dropped off Ellie's car to get its wheels aligned or something very similar to that - something to do with wheels.  While there, a young man asked Ellie (18) if Camille (9) were her daughter.  Ellie was all like, "Oh my god!" and I was all like, "Oh my god, that man thinks I'm Camille's grandmother!!!  We were both thoroughly upset so we went bra shopping.  Bra shopping only upset me further, but I won't go into all the reasons why. 

The NEXT day we drove to Austin for the regional Odyssey of the Mind tournament.  We left at 6:15 in the morning - I don't think Joel had been to bed, yet.  Joel and Jules were on the same team.  Jules played Neo of the Matrix, and he looked super handsome.  He is my handsome kid - sorry - I had to say that.  Long black coat, black clothes, hair slicked back, sunglasses....and the judge said, "Who's Neo?"  Dang.  It always happens to him.  A previous year found him on an Odyssey stage wearing Thomas the Tank briefs over his jeans, and boxers on his head, and when he opened up a suspicious cape to flash the audience and yell, "I'm Hades!  Hades of the Underwear!!" the judge said, "Who's Hades?"  

Anyway - Joel played Captain Ahab and spoke with a lovely accent of some sort - sounded kind of Scottish to me but I'm not really sure.  Joel does accents every year in Odyssey - last year he played Arnold Schwarzenegger.  The year before he was a female Greek muse.  So he had made himself a beard, was wearing my dad's Israeli Naval Surplus Peacoat and a Greek fisherman's hat...and when he whipped off the hat I swear he looked just like Jesus.  But he didn't sound like Jesus.  That is, unless Jesus spoke with a Scottish accent and chased people around saying, "Stroke Me Beard!!"

Camille was on another team and she played a doctor and carried a bloody knife.  Very, very cute.  They had built a rube goldberg machine and one of the hoses came undone and the little engineer was behind it and couldn't see that the hose had come undone but all of the audience and the judges could see that the hose had come undone so when they poured the water into the funnel we all just patiently waited for it to go splatter on the gym floor, which it did.  Man, and that child (Haley, the engineer) kept her cool and rehooked the hose and poured in more water and yeah...awesome.

The boys' team placed 2nd and Camille's team placed 3rd, so we'll be going to the state tournament in Houston next month.

I would have rather been at South by Southwest while in Austin, but there was no time for that.  The Chili Peppers, obviously, weren't playing S x SW, but some of their members were in two films that had first screenings at the event.  One was Bob and the Monster, a documentary about the legendary Bob Forest from Thelonious Monster...all about his drug addiction and recovery and how he helps others get off drugs.  Both Anthony Kiedis and John Frusciante are in the film....lots of LA bands from the 80's and 90's.  The other film is called The Other F Word and it is about fatherhood and rock and roll....features Flea.

So that's what I did last weekend....oh! and Ellie competed in a piano competition.  That's it.

Back to the status update:  Joel was still awake and so he responded to the suggestion with :
Her momma used those ideas already.

He was still getting encouragement in the form of Thumbs Upping....and I confirmed my suspicion that it was his girlfriend and so I said:

Alyssa, stop liking everything he says. It encourages him.

This got a Thumbs Up from Ellie, who wasn't about to actually enter the conversation.  But then, someone else did.  Mike, who is one of Jeff's besty friends from junior high and high school and a groomsman in our wedding 1,000 years ago, who now lives in Houston where he apparently has nothing to do on a Tuesday night said:

Maybe this will settle it.  You could blog about my mamma?

Mike's mamma is a lovely, lovely woman who has earned her spot in heaven.  I have now officially blogged about Mike's mamma.

At this point, my best friend from childhood and Ellie's godmother, Ann, who now lives in Dallas, decided to get involved.  Actually, she wasn't trying to get involved.  She once had an extremely unsatisfying conversation with Joel on facebook about whether or not Batman was better than Superman - so she wasn't really addressing the topic at hand - just did a pop-in where she says something completely unrelated to what everyone else is talking about....which was Yo Momma.  So she says:

Just had dinner with Lee! Boy! Lots of stories there!

Okay, so Lee is Ellie's godfather but he isn't married to Ann.  He's married to Saint Suzy and they live in New Orleans.  He is also a childhood friend...but actually way more than that.  He is kind of like my parents' adopted son even though he had two loving and doting parents already.  My mom used to live in New Orleans and Lee's mom was her best friend and then my mom moved back to Texas and she and Lee's mom had babies at the same time, which would be me and Lee and so yeah....we have grown up together even though we were in different states...our moms remained best friends and my mom had a special place in her heart for Lee, who she called Lee Darlin'...something that always irritated me just a bit.  Anyway - because Lee used to spend a good portion of his summers with us, he was friends with my friends, which is how he came to know Ann (who lived down the street) and how he came to be having dinner with her and her family while they were in New Orleans for spring break. this point I decide to acknowledge everyone's participation so I say:

Mike - thanks for getting involved.  Ann - LOL - I bet.  Did he tell you the one about his dog and the sausage?

Lee has a new dog and somebody fed it a sausage (I heard this story from my dad, not Lee, so don't hold me to the details).  He had told the dude not to give his dog the sausage but the dude did it anyway and the dog got sick and barfed all over the house and the vet bill was over $100 and Lee thinks the sausage-feeding fiend should pay the vet bill.  Now, my sister, who is also apparently having a late facebook night, pipes in with:

Ann - don't listen to him.

See how we've gotten off-topic here?  But aha!  Another actual suggestion from Susan, who is probably supposed to be working (she designs websites) but is apparently lost in the Suck Hole of Time known as facebook.  She says:

Smelly feet and long car rides...wait, I think you did that one already.

No, I haven't and luckily for you people, I'm not going to now, either.  Let me just say that the smelly feet in question were not mine and may or may not have belonged to Susan's son, whose feet are so big he once received hand-me-down sneakers from a Spurs Basketball Player so you can see as how if his feet had actually been stinking in my car all the way to the Odyssey World Tournament in Michigan, it would have been a Big Deal.  Then Pamela, who is watching all of this nonsense from New York state and who I met through blogging, chimes in with:

Whoop his ass, Carol!

I'm not certain, but I think she fell off her bar stool as she said this, while holding a whopping glass of wine up in a salute.  At least that's how I like to fondly think of her....I gave her a Thumbs Up. At this point, my friend Ann who is from Dallas but still partying in New Orleans, says:

He did not mention a sausage!

I picture her raising a hurricane in salute and falling off a bar stool.  Also?  I'm thinking she wasn't talking about sausage in a G-rated way and god knows I run a family friendly facebook page and blog so we're just leaving her there on the floor at Pat O' Brien's.  My sister chimes back in, this time to make a suggestion.

You could always blog about our trying to chase down info about the car chase the other day!

OK. So the other day my sister and I are driving through our small town (pop 4,011 or so) and all hell breaks lose around us in the form of speeding police and sheriff's deputy-type cars.  Since we were not currently busy updating our facebook statuses, we followed them.  There was yellow tape, television reporters...the whole 9 yards.  We tried to get closer from several angles, but our attempts were thwarted.  So we came home and I e-mailed the local newspaper owner/editor to get the scoop, and she directed me to their website which had just published the story.  Girl has restraining order.  Guy breaks restraining order. Girl calls cops.  Cops come quickly (good job, guys! thumbs up to the cops!).  Guy runs.  Cops chase and invite their friends to join in.  Guy goes back to girl's house.  Guy pulls B.B. gun on cops.  I do not know why Guy would do this.  Cop shoots Guy but does not kill him.  Guy is now recovering in hospital but in a Heap o' Trouble as we say here in Texas.  Not to make light of this, because it was obviously quite traumatic for the Girl and the Guy and also for the not to make light, but it did spice up my afternoon.  Now then, Joel had obviously been distracted by a mob of zombies, but he jumped back in with:

Yo Momma was in a car chase.

So then, another childhood friend (I mentioned this is a small town - we tend to stick together) got involved.  Kathy first suggested a blog topic:

With the way these other comments have been going, might I suggest your topic be on the infinite patience, required to be a loving wife, mother, sister, and friend while also maintaining the ability to not need knowledge of how to make their bodies disappear.

So yes, basically it has required much patience to not kill 90% of the people I know.  Then Kathy attempted to address Joel directly:

Joel, you sir, are one brave dude.

He's not so brave.  I never get mad at him.  Even when he misses his geography deadline and we're forced to buy a six-month extension....which is ridiculous, if you ask know, that they offer extensions for you to buy.  What kind of lesson does that teach?  It is like, yeah, it is really important that you learn how to get your work done on time and here is this very strict deadline that you need to be aware of but if you miss it you can pay us $50 and then scratch all that other stuff we just said.  It is kind of like the Catholic Church granting marriage annulments.  Don't get mad if you're Catholic; I'm pretty sure that even the Pope is a tad embarrassed over this one.  Anyway - Kathy soon learned the futility of addressing Joel directly as he then said:

Yo momma's one brave dude.

I saw that coming.  I really did.  And then Kathy said:

Carol, Janet, Mike, would any of you like to educate Joel on my mama?

Kathy's mama was a larger-than-life and very imposing piano-playing first grade teacher of music.  She scared the hell out of me and I would give anything....seriously, anything at watch her have a conversation with Joel.  Now, sweet little Katie, daughter of a friend, friend and former Odyssey-mate of Ellie's, and awesome blogger said:

Charlie Sheen?  Ha ha...Regionals?  Japan?

I love Charlie and he makes me not miss Mel Gibson quite so much.  Regional Odyssey tournament - just did that (see above).  Japan...what can I say.  I'm like everyone else.  Absolutely broken-hearted.  I'm also considering resuscitating my No Nukes bumper sticker.  And on the sobering mention of Japan, Joel pipes back in with:

Yo Momma is Charlie Sheen.

I wish.  Then Jas, who was the first person to actually make a suggestion, chimed in with a good one:

How about how annoying it is to friend your teenage son?

Good suggestion and one I obviously decided to take.  So I said:

And Jas wins. The end.

So Joel says:

Yo momma wins.

I'm about to give up at this point, because the boy has no intention of going to bed anytime soon and I totally do.  But I try one last time to have the last word because I am basically built that way and I said:

Let yo momma have the last word.  Also?  Go to bed.

Would you believe he let me have the last word?  He didn't go to bed though.

Signing off as Yo Momma