Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Dinner Talk with Teens






Some of the questions hovering around the dinner table at our house lately, not all of which led to full-fledged conversations:

1. Are we human, or are we dancer?
2. What would it mean if we were "denser"?
3. Would that be better than dancer, or worse?

4. Have you seen the lyrics to the Palin Rap from Saturday Night Live? Aren't they great?
5. What do other kids say about your Obama t-shirt?

5. Is Joe Plumber in jail yet? We heard a rumor that he was. Did you know there's a Joe Plumber who is really a plumber?
6. What about that Joe Leiberman, how did he go from being Al Gore's running mate to stumping for John McCain?
7. Will McCain say that everyone who owes back taxes will have to go to jail under Obama's "regime"?
8. What has happened to the polls since Powell's endorsement? How can the polls be accurate with such a small sample? (Click on that phrase to go to Daughter Number Three for a look at cell phone phenomenon and how it affects the polls.)

9. Why is there that creepy line in Carousel, when Julie (mom) says to Louise (daughter): "Yes, it is possible for someone to hit you real hard, and you can't feel it."
10. Is it possible to interpret that line in a positive way, rather than as an indication of masochism or an apology for domestic violence? Did the kids at South know about Middle Way House before they got involved with Carousel?
11. What does Carousel imply about childhood trauma and the stigma of a parental legacy? About masculinity and low self esteem? About carousel barkers as "artist types"?
12. What is antisocial personality disorder? Jigger has it, but does Billy Bigalow? Could he have turned his life around, if he'd had the right words, and not missed all of his "golden chances"?
13. What's up with that sexual assault scene in the woods between Jigger and Carrie? Doesn't it remind you of Little Red Riding Hood? Is it true what the song says: "There's nothin'so bad for a woman as a man who thinks he's good!"? Is Carrie trapped by Mr. Snow and all of those children?
14. Is it ever possible to change someone fundamentally, through the power of love?
15. How is Carousel a story about atonement and reparation? And does Billy "walk alone" at the end, as he heads back to purgatory, or wherever he seems to live, in limbo?
16. What about those class tensions in the story? Kind of neat and tidy (or classically oppositional) the way it's set up from the beginning as a choice between two different types of men: the sexy-but-tortured On the Waterfront carni guy, or the fishy patriarchal entrepreneur.
17. How are the kids in Sounds of South dealing with all this heavy stuff? Isn't it impressive that they are thinking about these things?

18. By the way, why does your English teacher give you such an unreasonable amount of homework?
19. Why would anyone ask you to write 10 poems about To Kill a Mockingbird, and even insist that each poem be 10 lines long? Doesn't she know that real poets probably don't set line limits at the outset of writing most of the time anymore? And why do you have all of those other huge assignments for that book, without any class discussion?
20. Do you want me to bring this up with your teacher?
21. Are there connections between Carousel and To Kill a Mockingbird?

22. How will you ever find time for dance lessons? Which kind would you like best? When can you start? Are you human...or are you dancer? What would the lyrics to a song called "Dancer" be?

4 comments:

Joyce Kennedy said...

I saw the Killers on SNL a couple of weeks ago and actually understood the word to be "dancer," not "denser." But I took dancer in a positive sense, not as marionette or lacking in substance, truth, emotional depth, etc., a la Hunter S. Thompson. I thought that dancer was a more comprehensive word than human, since we are all composed of dancing atoms like everything else in nature~
Dance, with me, dancer. Oh, I will.
Aspens doing something in the wind.
Robert Hass

Michael Wilkerson said...

Sounds of South is an evil cabal bent on keeping the world under the thumb of right-wing jerks, while subjugating women. I'm glad the Michel dinner table has turned its considerable analytical focus to the real source of terror in Bloomington.

And, from Joyce, yes, where IS Hunter S. Thompson when we need him? I mean, I know that he's dead but we really need him this time around.

Especially to attend the Sounds of South concert and write about it.

Great blog!

elena said...

Whoa, Mike – thems fightin' words!
We love Sounds of South around here..it's Rogers and Hammerstein we are trying to come to terms with, trying to understand that Billy Bigalow tragedy...

Joyce Kennedy said...

Yeah, Mike, but what about the English Teacher cabal?