Saturday, January 31, 2015

"I know that I am intelligent, because I know that I know nothing." - Socrates

Tonight we are going to discuss Intelligence Tests.

I was dyslexic, I had no understanding of schoolwork whatsoever. I certainly would have failed IQ tests. And it was one of the reasons I left school when I was 15 years old. And if I - if I'm not interested in something, I don't grasp it.

These are those pesky little tests that show a day in the time of a student and are probably not completely accurate for the lifetime of said person.
Although I doubt that Mensa would agree with me; a number of the university textbooks the boy has have basically said that an intelligence test is noway an accurate measure of what a student is capable of.

The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character - that is the goal of true education.

The cuter half and I were discussing this actual thing while in the car....the boy had showed a quote to the cute one and the boy was quite, um, well, lets say "disconcerted" about how it appears that most gen ed teachers are thinking that special ed kids are essentially stupid (the boy said, "morons"). The boy has even seen things that indicate that most incoming/new teachers do not want that kind of kid in their classrooms.

There are three kinds of intelligence: one kind understands things for itself, the other appreciates what others can understand, the third understands neither for itself nor through others. This first kind is excellent, the second good, and the third kind useless.

Naturally he is disturbed by this and the next big question he has had, "How many of my teachers really felt this way?" His normal reaction is to think all of them; more so since he had transitioned from a therapeutic day school to a gen school. He is feeling this way even more so now that he is in university. He keeps talking about the teachers in special ed who assume most special ed students are even indicated that by using spelling words; cat, and, tv.

Immaturity is the incapacity to use one's intelligence without the guidance of another.

The boy is beyond anxious now. He is worried that most people believe that people like him are generally stupid. The fact is that he was damn lucky to have the core teachers he had at the therapeutic day school and he tried and still does try damn hard.

Promise me you'll always remember: You're braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.

It makes me wonder how often these kids are left in the lurch because most educators do not wish to bother, take  the time or even try to understand where these kids are coming from.
We know that a goodly number of educators firmly believe that the parents of special ed students (the parents with expectations) are beyond psycho....or at least extreme nut job weirdo freaks (we are all of that - at least that is what we have been told). My usual reaction to educators like that is: until you live it, don't tell us what we are doing wrong. Come here and try it out for a wouldn't last 24 hours. (Wimps - they all refuse)

The greatest scholars are not usually the wisest people.

Thinking of that, I remember an early IEP where the teacher kept telling me what to do, and I finally asked her if she had a disabled kid at home. She told me she did not. My response was, "Well, until you have one of your own, you really do not know what living with one is like. Maybe you should have a disabled child then come back and we can talk about what I need to do."  I know I have mentioned this before but the thinking of it.....sometimes these things come back to us when we least expect it.

Common sense is genius dressed in its working clothes.

The students my son is in classes with want to believe he is stupid (this is what he has told us). He is so frustrated with the impression; because once someone gets past the "dopey" part you can get a person who is really intelligent and has a lot of thoughts and ideas. It is kind of like pulling caramel out of a takes some effort and to do it right takes a lot of time.....but in the end it is worth it.

Which, what it all comes down to is prejudice. Many people have a distinct prejudice against the disabled students. Our son sees it regularly and often mostly now with professors.... one even told him that he would NEVER pass her class and he needed to change his major. SERIOUSLY?! He was devastated....his reaction was classic and he will be tutoring in that subject (we are still trying to rake the $$ together- its expensive).

An intellectual is a man who takes more words than necessary to tell more than he knows.

And yes it goes back to people talking and not really knowing anything about what they are talking about. Live it; do it; make your kid MORE than what some stuffed shirt doctor tells you they can be and PUSH - then come back and tell me how hard it is. Otherwise it is all just talking and most people who don't really know the drill are the ones out there doing all the talking....

Genius ain't anything more than elegant common sense.

Basement goals is NOT where it is at any more. Basements are cliche..... go for the maximum your kid can do and don't hold back. Another thing - Living off social security is not an entitlement. It is there for people who really need it - not those who can work more, do better and try harder.

Genius might be the ability to say a profound thing in a simple way.

*** you have to click on the link to see who said the quote***

Friday, January 23, 2015

Movie Review: Biloxi Blues 1988, Neil Simon

This movie came out in 1988 staring Matthew Broderick as Jerome. The story is narrated by Jerome and at points is melancholy and almost historically accurate. Neil Simon is the author. The first review I saw when this movie originally came out was in the New York Times in 1988 by Vincent Canby

I am including the link but with my luck with links they usually disapear after a short while - so Vincent's actual review is below.

It's funny because in an odd sort of way Matthew Broderick was one of the "cool" guys from back in the day (the 80's for me) and he not only did this movie but was in Ferris Bueller's Day Off -pretty much if you don't know that movie you must be dead. 

Really what it comes down to is that there are some movies that start you thinking about something else.... Matthew Broderick movies can do that with me. They either bring back a boatload of memories, or the usual should've, would've, could've,,,,or even remind me that I need more wine or another box of chocolate (exaggeration here). Most of the time it reminds me of what we can do when we have the desire or the real belief that we can do so. 

This Biloxi Blues is probably a dirt house relation to what actually happened at boot camp. My Dad was in Boot camp during WWII. He was in the army air force and although I am certain it didn't turn out like this movie has I am 85% certain that there were multiple similarities.

I think that we all need to think outside our boxes....and this movie/ story whatever you want to call it HAD the characters do so. Each one thought outside their comfort zone...and ultimately that is a big deal. Neil Simon did an interview with the Paris Review 1994 (I don't have room for another article so we will just have to hope this one stays up).

One of Neil's comments about Biloxi Blues is (to me) especially poignant, "No, but I listened to him (Frank Rich, reviewer NYT) saying, I’m interested enough to want to know more about this family. Then, Steven Spielberg, who had gone to see Brighton Beach, got word to me, suggesting the next play should be about my days in the army. I was already thinking about that and I started to write Biloxi Blues, which became a play about Eugene’s rites of passage. I discovered something very important in the writing of Biloxi Blues. Eugene, who keeps a diary, writes in it his belief that Epstein is homosexual. When the other boys in the barracks read the diary and assume it’s true, Eugene feels terrible guilt. He’s realized the responsibility of putting something down on paper, because people tend to believe everything they read."

Isn't that the truth.
People believe what they read.....people believe it to be fact... when I worked in a library there used to be a saying "If it is on the internet it must be true". Which in another way means do your research, get your head out of your ass and don't automatically assume you know everything about everything.....

Think about it, this would be especially true in cases where people tell Aspie parents what theya re doing wrong and how terrible they are when in fact these same people don't have a fucking clue.

Before I get off on another tangent- take some time, go watch a movie- tell Jerome, Ferris and Matthew, "Hi" and grab the bowl of popcorn and enjoy the show.

WHEN first seen in ''Biloxi Blues,'' the movie, Eugene Morris Jerome is not, technically speaking, actually seen. He's an indistinct figure in the window of a World War II troop train. With more purpose than hurry, the train chugs across a broad, verdant American landscape, shimmering in the golden light of memory, as well as in the kind of humid, midsummer heat in which even leaves sweat. On the soundtrack: ''How High the Moon.''
In one unbroken movement, the camera swoops down and across time and landscape into a close-up of the ever-observant Eugene. He's headed for Biloxi, Miss., and basic training in the company of other recruits who, to his Brighton Beach sensibility, seem to have been born and bred under rocks.
They are Wykowski, Selridge, Carney and Epstein, the usual American cross-section. They're an exhausted but still tirelessly obscene crew given to communication by insults - rudely frank comments about each other's origins, intelligence, odors and anatomies. Says the voice of Eugene (Matthew Broderick), who has a would-be writer's way of stepping outside events to consider his own reactions to them: ''It was hard to believe these were guys with mothers and fathers who worried about them. It was my fourth day in the Army, and I hated everybody so far.''
It now seems as if the entire Broadway run of Neil Simon's 1985-86 hit play was simply the out-of-town tryout for the movie, which opens today at the Baronet and other theaters. However it came to be, ''Biloxi Blues,'' carefully adapted and reshaped by Mr. Simon, is a very classy movie, directed and toned up by Mike Nichols so there's not an ounce of fat in it.
Here is one adaptation of a stage piece that has no identity crisis. ''Biloxi Blues'' is not a movie that can't quite cut itself loose from the past, and never for a minute does it aspire to be anything but a first-rate service comedy. With superb performances by Mr. Broderick, who created the role of Eugene on Broadway, and Christopher Walken, who plays Mr. Simon's nearly unhinged, very funny variation on the drill sergeant of movie myth, ''Biloxi Blues'' has a fully satisfying life of its own.
In one brief but key sequence, the camera watches Eugene and his buddies as they watch the Abbott and Costello classic ''Buck Privates.'' The beautifully timed, low-comedy scene that so delights them continues to be funny in itself. It also helps to place ''Biloxi Blues'' in a very dif-ferent movie-reality, in an Army that's racially segregated and in which ignorance and bigotry are the order, though, in hindsight, World War II remains the last ''good war.''
''Biloxi Blues'' is about the education of Eugene Morris Jerome, who has three goals in life: to become a writer, to lose his virginity and to fall in love. Even if, through some warp in time, we'd never before heard of Neil Simon, the existence of this first-person memoir would reveal how Eugene succeeded in his chosen craft. ''Biloxi Blues'' recalls how he made out in the sex and romance departments while also growing up.
It makes no difference that there's never any doubt that he will make out. That's a given. The pleasure comes in witnessing Mr. Simon and Mr. Nichols as they discover surprises in situations that one might have thought beyond comic salvation.
Beginning with young Richard, the lovesick poet in Eugene O'Neill's ''Ah, Wilderness!,'' would-be writer-characters in the American theater have been sneaking off to brothels virtually nonstop. However, not one of those earlier adventures equals the nuttiness of Eugene's with a Biloxi woman (Park Overall) who, on the side, deals in perfume, stockings, black lace panties and other items hard to find in a wartime economy. Says Eugene, ''Do you sell men's clothing?''
There is also an idealized funniness in Eugene's sweet, tentative romance with a pretty Catholic girl (Penelope Ann Miller), who sends his head (and the camera) spinning. When she tells him that her name is Daisy, the delighted Eugene says that Daisy is the name of his favorite female character in fiction. Responds this no-nonsense Daisy, ''Which one, Daisy Buchanan or Daisy Miller?''
Even more important are Eugene's relations with the other recruits, including the slobbish but pragmatic Wykowski (Matt Mulhern) and Selridge (Markus Flanagan), and especially Epstein, played by Corey Parker with seriously funny arrogance. Epstein is a young, bookish fellow with a delicate stomach and utter disdain for what people think.
Epstein serves as Eugene's conscience, but Eugene still can't bring himself to stand up for a fellow Jew: ''Epstein sort of sometimes asked for it, but since the guys didn't pick on me that much, I just figured I'd stay neutral, like Switzerland.''
Eugene's coming of age is sharpened in the film by having Eugene, rather than Epstein, become the key figure in the recruits' late-night showdown with the crazy Sergeant Toomey.
As Sergeant Toomey (''You're not fighting men yet, but I'd put any one of you up against a Nazi cocktail waitress''), Mr. Walken gets his best role in a very long time, possibly since ''Pennies From Heaven.'' Mr. Broderick is wonderfully devious as a young man who's so taken by life's spectacle that he sometimes forgets he's a part of it.
As if he believed that a wisecrack left unspoken were a treasure lost forever, Eugene won't keep quiet. This is an endearing characteristic in Eugene but a problem in some of Mr. Simon's other works. ''Biloxi Blues'' is different. Mr. Nichols keeps the comedy small, precise and spare. Further, the humor is never flattened by the complex logistics of movie making, nor inflated to justify them.
''Biloxi Blues'' is the second play in Mr. Simon's ''Eugene trilogy,'' which begins with ''Brighton Beach Memoirs'' and ends with ''Broadway Bound.'' It may not be as good a play as ''Broadway Bound'' but, with ''The Heartbreak Kid,'' adapted from a Bruce Jay Friedman story, and ''The Sunshine Boys,'' it stands as one of the three best films Mr. Simon has yet written.
''Biloxi Blues,'' which has been rated PG-13 (''Special Parental Guidance for Those Younger Than 13''), is full of uproariously vulgar language. Barracks Bildungsroman BILOXI BLUES, directed by Mike Nichols; screenplay by Neil Simon, based on his play; director of photography, Bill Butler; edited by Sam O'Steen; music by Georges Delerue; production designer, Paul Sylbert; produced by Ray Stark; released by Universal Pictures. At Movieland, Broadway at 47th Street; Baronet, Third Avenue and 59th Street; U. A. East, First Avenue at 85th Street; Bay Cinema, Second Avenue at 32d Street; 23d Street West Triplex, at Eighth Avenue; Metro Twin, Broadway and 99th Street. Running time: 104 minutes. This film is rated PG-13. Eugene ... Matthew Broderick Sergeant Toomey ... Christopher Walken Wykowski ... Matt Mulhern Epstein ... Corey Parker Selridge ... Markus Flanagan Carney ... Casey Siemaszko Hennesey ... Michael Dolan Daisy ... Penelope Ann Miller

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

A Warhol-ism

Who wants the truth? That’s what show business is for--to prove that it’s not what you are that counts, it’s what they think you are.”
Andy Warhol, Popism, 248


It is what people THINK our kids are that is the problem. The truth is that our kids are smart funny and really able to do more than what society THINKS they can do.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Quote of the day

"Cleaning up the gut clears the brain" - Jenny McCarthy.  

Basically get the poop out and a good percentage of the problems will disappear.  

Really -it does work.  Look at your kids gut- distended? Ok you have a kid with poop stuck in there so bad it will take a doc appointment and serious laxatives to move that shit.  

Yup- tonight's thought is all about poop 
This is why my parents sent me to college. Oh yeah 

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Unfinished Projects

When I was young my Mom taught me to sew. I learned to do crewel, embroidery, cross stitch, needlepoint, quilting, and even latch hook (it was the 70's everyone did latch hook). She taught me this stuff to keep me out of her hair. It would force me to sit still, concentrate and focus on what I was working on. My projects usually varied by my mood. Several silks I never did finish although I have wanted to (frankly the picture is 70's modern aka UGOOOLY) and although I go back to it  I still don't have it done.

I still embroider. I have done this on and off for years. When the boy was in therapy daily (Monday- psych, Tuesday- speech, Wednesday- social, Thursday- ot/pt, Friday- off, Saturday- speech, ot/pt, Sunday- ot/pt) I was doing "projects". Usually I would leave one in the car trunk to be pulled out while I was sitting for hours in a waiting room; listening for the boy. "Projects" were something to do when I tired of the trashy magazines (a good doc office is only as good as their trashy magazines).

I had to stick around for most appointments.The boy was still at his "wild child" phase and me being close by was pretty much mandatory. I was/am his security. This kid might not listen to me on a regular basis; but I am the person he calls when he has a problem.

Anyway, doing all this sewing gets to me...I have gone in "fits and spurts" over the years and I have a number of things that I have made that are a masterpiece of one. My favorite projects are those that I can pick the colors I want myself. Like Picasso, I am in a "blue phase" The cover I am working on is in different shades of blue and ecru (eggshell white). Looking at the pattern I can tell what I need to do- back stitch, daisy, satin, or even a french knot.

Most "old" stories talk about women becoming "accomplished" girls schools taught sewing, and to be really accomplished one had to do a sampler.The one's I have seen are counted cross stitch - these are done sans pattern, and colors are what was available maybe even dyed at home. It is fascinating to look at the history of these samplers and try to figure out what the students were thinking. I think my favorites are those done by boys. No hearts and flowers- cows, horses, buildings, (I can't find a picture of my fav one so I am using the one below)

I found this picture (below) on Wikipedia- this is an interesting one done in 1805 by Catherine Ann Speel who used silk on linen in Philadelphia PA.

Isn't it interesting that something like this was used to teach letters, numbers and some moral sayings or thoughts. Most students ended their education at a young age....there was no such thing as a behavior disorder, or having Aspergers, Kids were in the classroom, sometimes multiple grades in one room and the teacher was able to keep order. Either by intimidation or because the students liked him/her. Expectations were HIGH- students got busted for "giggling with a seatmate" or "whispering to much".
I don't see the same kind of order these days (God that makes me sound old). I hear about students wanting their time in most classrooms. Seriously? Really? so what, you get to sit all day, play video games and do nothing? Better yet, having a teacher "model reading so these students know what a reading person looks like" (total cop out there). Yet parents are expected to take whatever our kids dish out and be OK with it. (Nope, sorry not going for that one).

Like with a lot of things, embroidery is only as good as the effort you put into it. 

Let me explain; the expectations we have of the boy are high. We know he can do it but he has to want to do it and believe he can. It drives us spare that other students will tell him that we are pushing him too hard or that we are cruel and mean and awful. The last time I heard that one I told the boy he could move out and go live with friends since he didn't want to be here. They can put up with the joy of not being respected and see how far it goes......
SO, if you put a lot of effort into whatever you are doing- well then we should all be as successful as Bill Gates. Well, no, not necessarily. It is important for people to work to their highest ability. We strive to be our best and do our best. 
What we see around us isn't always the best. 
Usually what we see in the special ed world is an over abundance of minimal expectations and a lot of excuses about why not. 

Using the allegory of embroidery- if the missed stitches are there then the piece isn't going to be as good. But being careful (and me using my reading glasses - gah) the piece can be completed, look nice and have some reasonable use.
Just like the boy.....being careful, having high expectations and he should go pretty damn far. Unless he is kept from his full potential by listening to uniformed/misinformed "friends" who (it appears) do not want anyone to do any better than they are... why should they? It would mean they would actually have to work harder and not play video games....