Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Brainiacs, Ho Ho Ho, and Wedding Videos

I've been missing out on an feeling all you parents with children who do competitive activities are probably used to: glee that my kid BEAT someone. See, Daniel has never, ever done anything that could be construed as competitive; as a matter of fact, the second any endeavor even hinted of competing with other kids, Daniel lost interest. Oh, I tried to encourage him when he started school, figuring that a little healthy competition is useful, but he couldn't care less about soccer or basketball or T-ball or any other sport. He even dropped out of Boy Scouts when it was time for the little wooden car race thingie (sorry, I can't remember the official name).

So you can imagine my shock when he voluntarily joined the Brain Game team at school. So far, they've done fairly well and even gave last year's state champs an extremely close match. Last night, he came home after a meet with another high-ranked school, and he dragged in looking dispirited. Fearing bad news, I asked "Well, how did it go, son?" He grinned suddenly, did a victory fist, and exclaimed "We won by ONE POINT because I answered the last question right!!" I haven't seen him that excited since he got his new computer last year. I asked him what the question was, and he rattled off a convoluted string of words, from which I picked out "World War II" and "island," and the answer was "Guam." I've been proud of him countless times in his 17 years, but I think this was the first time he's been proud of himself at the same time, you know? Apparently he did have a competitive streak buried somewhere; he just had to find something he cared enough about to compete in, I guess.


Kevin had some interesting news when he got home from work yesterday afternoon, too. Guess who's playing the W@lgreens Santa next Monday? Ha! Yes, he gets to take the day off from developing photos, listen to greedy kids recite lists of things they yearn for, and wear an itchy fake beard and a hot, sweaty suit. Why he's excited about it, I have no idea! I'm afraid I'd approach it with all the enthusiasm of a prisoner marching to the electric chair, but he's already practicing his "Ho, ho, ho" chuckles. Naturally, I plan to drop in that day and take several pictures. I hope no overly excited tots pee on his lap.


I've been editing several online courses lately, which are usually short, adult-education-type classes on a mix of technical and "lifestyle" topics: a beginner's guide to Photoshop, an introduction to wine tasting, tips on low-carb diets, digital video editing, and the like. Later this week, I'm starting one on wedding videos, and I can't wait to read the tips for hysterical, control-freak brides who are frantic to make sure they have a PERFECT record of their big day. I don't understand the fervor over taping a wedding. I know couples were doing that when I got married back in 1985, but I didn't see the point. I mean, does anyone actually watch these things? Ever?

Well, actually I can say I've seen one couple who watched theirs, but it was one of the more surreal experiences I can remember. My ex's little brother was marrying Jenny the Future Cocaine Addict and Major Hoor, and after the reception, most of his family gathered back at his parents' house to watch the couple open presents from out-of-town relatives. Mind you, the wedding had taken place approximately three hours before. After opening gifts, Jenny cried "Let's watch the video now!" I thought she was kidding and started laughing appreciatively at her sarcastic wit, but she was dead serious. And I'll be damned if everyone didn't sit down and watch the video breathlessly, as if it contained a shocker ending, such as the bride shrieking "No, I don't!" and racing down the aisle or something. Maybe if I watched sports and were accustomed to instant replays, I wouldn't have found viewing a record of something that had JUST HAPPENED so strange, but I did. The, uh, camera "work," performed by my ex's father, was nausea-inducing, too. The first five minutes of the tape consisted of wild swoops between the ceiling of the church and my father-in-law's feet, accompanied by his muttered curses. When he finally settled on a point midway between those two extremes, he couldn't decide between VERY CLOSE UP, at a range that allowed us to see my brother-in-law's nose pores in crystal clarity, or so far away that the priest, couple, and attendants looked like ants.

I suspect one of the first guidelines in this wedding video course will be "Do not let a relative take the video." If it's not, you can bet I'll suggest it.