Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Now taste!

Ratatouille has become le film du jour.

There's a running bit in the movie that involves tasting one thing -- bread, perhaps -- and then another -- cheese, perhaps. With each nibble, animation appears, showing the character's experience of the taste. Then the character eats both at the same time, and there's a burst of more complex animation that incorporates both the earlier bits. Whole is greater than sum, and all that.


Ulysses and I were sitting on the couch with a plate of cucumber slices, one of his favorite treats. I was watching I don't know what, Countdown with Keith Olberman or something. Suddenly a slice of cucumber was thrust between my teeth. Obediently, I bit into it.

"No, don't hork it down!" said Ulysses, snatching away the cucumber. He was echoing Remy (Ratatouille's central character) trying to educate his rat brother Emil's palate with the line, "No, don't just fork it down! Really taste it!"

The slice reappeared. I took a delicate nibble.

"Yes!" cried Ulysses. "Taste it."

He took the slice away. Then he put it back between my teeth. "Now," he said, "taste this." I nibbled again.

Now he was gleeful, playing up the denoument. He pushed what was left of the cucumber slice into my mouth and crowed, drawing out the first word, "Now taste it!"

Then, stern for a verdict: "Well?"

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Number One!

Ulysses still hasn't quite gotten the hang of that classic form of adult-child interaction, the "How old are you?" conversation. And I think I finally got a clue as to why: it turned on his interpretation of what the whole conversation is about.

Adults used to ask me how old he was, and I would answer. Then, as he got a little bigger, they began to ask him, instead. Knowing he wouldn't, I would answer for him: "Two," and later, "Three." I began waiting for him, giving him a chance to respond for himself, but eventually I would be the one to supply the answer.

I've been trying to teach him, or at least to rehearse it enough that the answer will come automatically, but always, he either ignores me or looks at me skeptically.

"How old are you, Ulysses? You're four! When someone asks you how old you are, you can say, 'Four." Say, 'I'm four.' 'I'm four.' How old are you, Ulysses?"


"How old are you?"



So earlier this week at a reception -- it was the campaign victory party for Kelda Helen Roys on the evening of the election for State Assembly, held at a local restaurant -- when we struck up a conversation with a woman there, I wasn't surprised when Ulysses answered her, "How old are you?" with his usual friendly, smiling silence.

"How old are you?" she repeated, adding helpfully, "Are you four? Or five?"

"No," he said, firmly. Then, raising aloft his index finger so that his chest puffed out a little, he announced, "I'm Number One!"

Thursday, September 4, 2008

The Cooking Show

Next day, Ulysses decided he did want to watch Ratatouille after all. Now it's replaced Cars as the most frequently watched movie in the house. He calls it "The Cooking Show."

I haven't seen the whole thing yet, but enough to discover -- as he somehow knew but I didn't -- that the sentiment "I don't want to eat garbage" is a major driving plot point in the movie.

And I thought he was just being surreal.

Monday, September 1, 2008

U: "I don't want to eat garbage"

As the 38,647th showing of Pixar's excellent Cars was loading up in the DVD player, I thought I might divert Ulysses's attention to Ratatouille, another Pixar instant classic, and a movie I've been dying to see.

U was enjoying the preview of Ratatouille that played on the Cars disc, so I dug out the other movie and presented it.

"Look, Ulysses! Do you want to watch the movie about the rat who becomes a chef?"

He looked at the disc case in my hand.

"No!" he exclaimed. "I don't want to eat garbage."