Friday, November 23, 2007

My New Favorite Quote

If at first you don't succeed, skydiving is not for you.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Turkey Coma

And to think he only ate the requisite one bite of turkey.

Happy Thanksgiving

Hope everyone had a great one!

Monday, November 19, 2007

...And Smites Him to the Earth

From "Demonbane," a filk song written by Mercedes Lackey.
The wizard shouts in triumph
Too soon he vents his mirth
For Vanyel calls the lightning down
And smites him to the earth
If I could call lightning down, I might have...smote...someone today.

If you'll recall, a few weeks ago I shared the uncharitable thought I'd had about Speech Person DFT, who ignored my repeated requests not to speak with Elastigirl's aide in front of Elastigirl -- both for ethical reasons and because of the simple fact that when she feels ignored, Elastigirl tends to do unfortunate things.

Anyhow, if you'll recall, I had the uncharitable thought that Elastigirl would, you know, get DFT instead of Aide J.  Or me.  Or anyone else DFT managed to get her mad at.

Elastigirl's tri is coming up.  Aside from trying to get the poor girl off services -- again -- the only services she'd done with Elastigirl this whole year is come in and watch.  She should thank her lucky stars Elastigirl's family is not the questioning kind.

Anyhow, she came in today and started peppering Aide J with questions.

Which, okay, don't do that in front of the kid, don't distract Aide J...all the normal stuff.

We were in the middle of a whole-group News-2-You lesson.

Which, as you may have guessed from my school stories here this year, is not an easy task on the best of days.

So, poor The Boss (Girl J) is trying to read.  Several people are talking.  I prompt her to say, "It's my turn!"

She does.  The kids stop talking.

Except for one.  DFT is deep in conversation with New Girl T.

I repeat, loudly, trying to get DFT's attention, "The Boss, say, 'It's my turn' so people will be quiet so you can read.'"

Chatter, chatter, chatter.

At this point, I'm seeing red.

One more time, "The Boss, I'm so sorry that people are being so rude to you.  Say it again, 'It's my turn.'"

New Girl T stopped talking, but DFT kept right on going.

At that point, Aide B comes to collect Third Grade A, who has been reading with us while her teacher is on maternity leave.

I throw up my hands in defeat, read a page or two to them, split the kids up into groups to work, and go about my life.

But not before I overhear DFT making snarky comments about Elastigirl's work during News-2-You.

The thing is, a year ago, Elastigirl couldn't sit through more than 15 minutes or so of a whole group lesson.  So, I made her file folder games based on the content we were working on.  I also started giving her things to do while the class read, including being master of ceremonies (rolling dice to see who reads next), and a few other things.  What really worked was giving her pictures to match while we read.

A year later, she's progressed from matching color coded pictures, to highlighted pictures, to just pictures, to color-coded words, to large not-color-coded words, and now to just words in the text highlighted.

And DFT has the gall to not only question the work itself, but to be snarky about the size of the text?

So, I girded my metaphorical loins, channeled my inner Vanyel, and wrote an email after school asking her to not do that anymore.  I am going to share it with my staff so that they know to redirect her to me.
The clouds of black have lifted
And there on barren ground
Stands Vanyel, hurt but victor,
The demons tied and bound
He looks down on Lord Nedran
His eyes grow cold and bleak
"Now I shall give you Nedran
all the power that you seek!"

Sunday, November 18, 2007

PC Run Amok

You know, I'm all for sensitivity of language and respect for other cultures.  Really.  I've ranted before about the casual use of the "r" word and its derivatives such as "fantard."

But when you have to "warn" that the earlier seasons of Sesame Street, now available on DVD, are for adults only because Alastair Cookie (of Monsterpiece Theater) smokes and then gobbles -- yes, GOBBLES -- a pipe, and because Oscar the Grouch is...well, grouchy, that's just insane.

I mean, for one thing, people should realize that the world was different in the late 60s.  Sesame Street has always very forthright with its audience -- and, I think, its motives.  It's had characters with a variety of disabilities, including physical disabilities, Down syndrome, and, if any Deaf readers will pardon my lumping it in here, Deaf characters.

After the September 11th terrorist attacks, Sesame Street took it upon itself to reassure children by having the characters deal with a fire and then visit a fire station.

That kind of political correctness is fine.  In both cases, they're presenting the world as it is -- there are people in the world with disabilities and the only way to build comfort (let alone mutual respect) is to show people with disabilities participating in society.  In the case of September 11, it happened, and to pretend it didn't is ridiculous.  In fact, to discuss it (or, rather, allude to it) while reassuring children is way better than having them see snatches of news coverage or -- for kids in New York -- to look outside and see smoldering ruins and wonder if they will be next.

Complaining that Oscar the Grouch is too grouchy is just beyond comprehension.  He, like all the other characters, is an exaggeration.

As for Alastair Cookie....  Okay, so he smoked a pipe.

Here's an idea.  Talk about it.  Say, "Boy, that wasn't a good idea.  He ATE the pipe.  You know what's a worse idea?  Smoking it.  Smoking is very bad for you.  I wonder what Alastair Cookie would do if someone asked him to stop?"

Or, you know, talk about the story...all of which I remember fondly.

It may be obvious from this that I was a Sesame Street fan in my formative years.

And I was.  I'm fairly certain I learned phonics from Big Bird's alphabet song.  I loved Kermit's news reports, and I ADORED the sketches where Grover was a waiter.

I watched Sesame Street in the early 80s, when Grover sang with Bernadette Peters, when everybody thought Snuffy was Big Bird's imaginary friend, and -- get this -- before Elmo.

So while some of this rant may be coming from my undeniable nostalgia, I just have to ask: what on Earth are these people thinking?

Kids can tell -- or should be taught, either way -- reality from fantasy.  Alastair Cookie is fantasy.

I never looked at Alastair Cookie and thought, "Oh, good, let's go try EATING a PIPE."

(I mean...really?)

I never thought mummies in Egypt actually walked around, nor did I ever think you could get fish to jump willingly to their doom just by crooning, "Here, fishy fishy fishy."

I grew up with songs like "These are the People in Your Neighborhood," "I Don't Want to Live on the Moon," and "I Love Trash."

And, get this, I never got the idea to collect trash.

Gosh, I must have had parents who told me it was a bad idea.

I betcha they told me not to eat pipes too.  (Well, okay, I like to think I didn't need to be told that.)

Imagine that.

And, in case you're wondering, Patrick grew up on Sesame Street too.  And to prove it, I quote here the first ten pages or so of the masterpiece of early childhood fiction, Ernie's Big Mess.

"Ernie and Bert are best friends.  They live together.  Bert is neat.  Ernie is messy.  Sometimes Ernie is very messy.  Then Bert gets mad.  'Ernie, come here!' Bert shouts.  'Look at the mess you have made!'

'Okay, Bert,' says Ernie.  'I am coming.'  Ernie jumps out of the tub.  Splash!  He splashes water on the floor.  Drip, drip.  He drips water on the rug.

'Ernie!' Bert shouts.  'You are making a bigger mess!'

'But Bert,' Ernie says, 'you told me to look at the mess I made.'"

For the record, he never tired to eat a pipe.  Or smoke one.

Also for the record, my favorite Sesame Street books were There's a Monster at the End of This Book and Gover and the Everything in the Whole Wide World Museum.

Oh, and I like Oscar the Grouch just the way he is, thank you very much.