Wednesday, March 31, 2010


I told the kids, "Give me a good word."
Coco came up with: "Thank you."
Madge came up with: "Perpendicular."
I wanted the word for rhyming purposes, so we'll see what happens.

If manipulative or polite,
there's one thing that boychild gets right.
He thinks, "Words, if I'd have to rank you,
then top of the list would be 'thank you.'"

In mishaps you should be particular.
Avoid crashes quite fast and vehicular.
Best of the batch
is a wee little scratch.
Worst is driver's side, hard, perpendicular.


movies, again

Oh, finally some sun.
Unfortunately, I already promised another trip to the movies.
But at least we won't have to take a car service today, but take a nice walk.
Well, "nice" is yet to be determined.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Time to learn

Often the kids leave plates and cups out with uneaten food and undrunk drinks. I know I shouldn't take a quick bite or sip before I toss them out, but I can't help myself. You know, I'm not really eating sweets or drinking milk if I'm just sampling a bit of theirs.
the other night Coco had just flossed his teeth and I was clearing a cup from the table and the milk in it seemed a little watery when the couch (peopled by Julie and Coco and Madge) erupted with giggles and I heard,
"Daddy just drank my spit!"
And then there was a half-hour of guffawing. If only I could translate something like that into a stage act, I'd have it made.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

sorry, daddy

Last week's Economist has a cover story of a strong Germany in Europe, perhaps implying that this might be a bad thing. Hm. Wonder why?
In unrelated news, Madge is reading historical fiction in her class and every once in a while they talk about the persecution of the Jews.
It's cute in the sense that every time she talks about it she pauses and shrugs before she says, "Nazis" or "Germans." It's cute because she's essentially apologizing to me for bringing up what she fears might be a shameful event in my personal past.
Whereas when they were talking about slavery, she was mostly indignant when talking about it.
Am I to feel more guilty for Germany's history than the U.S.'s? Or is it because it's more recent?
But I'm just being flip. I know she feels bad that it's all anyone over here ever thinks of when the words "Germany" or "Nazis" arise.
Velkomm to ze Klabb.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Old Man L.

That's what I called him, a sort of shorthand for the kids.
He was a ninety-plus gentleman from Vienna whom I read to when his eyesight had gone too far. Until he couldn't concentrate on listening anymore, that is.
The first thing we read was a scene from Goethe's Faust. Then we found some Gottfried Keller, which turned out to be too long for us. Then some Karl Kraus. Then some poetry. Then some music theory by Kauder. But again and again we came back to Goethe.
One day he called me up and recited a poem by Goethe, one that I believe my Oma really liked near the end of her, life, too.

Wanderers Nachtlied

Ueber allen Gipfeln
ist Ruh.
In allen Wipfeln
spuerest du
kaum einen Hauch.
Die Voegelein schweigen im Walde.
Warte nur, balde
ruhest du auch.

(Traveler's Night Song

Above all peaks
is rest.
In all treetops
you feel
hardly a breath.
The little birds hush in the woods.
Just wait, soon
you, too, shall rest.)

What do you say to something like that? I prompted him along as he was reciting it (because I had memorized it after I found out Oma liked it), and then I applauded his memory.

Occasionally when we'd read he'd remember a line or two and anticipate my reading. Always very choice lines: he was an astute person.
Yes, was. You may have already guessed where this was headed. He passed away over the weekend.
One such anticipation was (again Goethe):
Ja! diesem Sinne bin ich ganz ergeben,
Das ist der Wahrheit letzter Schluss:
Nur der verdient sich Freiheit wie das Leben,
Der taeglich sie erobern muss.

(To this meaning I am devoted,
this is Truth's final conclusion:
Only he earns Freedom and Life
Who daily must conquer them.)

Go out and conquer.

Friday, March 05, 2010

family friday shocker

That's the day of the month when parents get to go into the kids' classrooms to see what they're up to.
Coco had writing samples for me to read. Great stuff, really. He seems to be excited about writing because on almost every page he continues past the given lines and writes on the back of the pages. Highly enjoyable.
He still writes things phonetically, so sumtims its a littul hard to figyur owt whut his ritting.
One of his pieces was about "sludding" in the park. The hill needed a bump to be more "iksiting." To his surprise, luckily, "I saw a rape!"
Holy sh*t, I thought, choking and laughing at the same time, what am I introducing him to?
Where was I in all this?
Then I realized that it was his way of writing "ramp."

Thursday, March 04, 2010

the star of the show

I had a lovely talk with Madge while walking to and from the library last week. Getting her away from distractions like books, screens, and little brothers is the best way to hang out with her. She was fun and silly and open and all those lovely things.
We got to talking about how everyone is the star of the show of their life and other people only have walk-on parts and that we're a walk-on part in the life of almost everyone we see. And not even credited.
Because for me, my life, apparently, is either a movie or a sitcom, not sure which.
Then she said, "Yeah, or my life's a video game and I get to choose everything."
And I said to myself, hang on, your life is a video game?
But of course it is, and for the next generation their life is going to be an iPhone app.
What does this mean for previous generations? Were their lives radio dramas, novels? And earlier than that, my life: the epic poem? My life: the sermon?
But now that it's tax season, it's more like My life: the line item on Schedule F.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

movie quotes

Not the newest, I know, but I can't resist. Serafinowicz is great.