Do or Do Not.

Archive for the ‘Kids’ Category


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Ah, vacation! After a ridiculously hard month or so that featured a whole lot of sixty-plus hour work weeks interleaved with multiple familial tragedies, it’s time to take a week off from work to get my head back on straight so I can stop making ridiculous coding errors and find wherever it is my creative mojo disappeared off to.

Staying home should be nice and relaxing, right? No work stress, time to myself, some quiet space for rebraining. You’d think that, wouldn’t you? Oh, that’s right, I have a one-year-old.

It’s amazing how a human so small can make so much noise. A few minutes ago, I’m pretty sure he managed to get every single one of his toys to make a racket at the same time, even including bouncing his favorite beach ball off of so many surfaces in such a short time that he must have cloned himself and the ball. (Dad, remind me to thank you so much for the remote-controlled Caterpillar truck which comes with a 300-watt Rockford Fosgate amplifier built into it.)

And when he’s not making all the noise ever, of course, he’s into everything oh em gee. The boy has a voracious curiosity combined with a stubborn determination, which I think will serve him very well in later years…provided those same qualities of his permit me to let him live long enough. Normally, his favorite room in the house is the bathroom, because that’s the one room he’s not allowed to explore; today, however, his favorite room by far has been the office, because that’s where I’m trying to concentrate on stuff.

ANDREW: Oh, hey, Dad. What’s up? How’s things?
ME: Andrew, I’m trying to do some thinking and some planning in here, can you maybe go–
ANDREW: Oh look it’s hair and dust bunnies in one little ball I can put right into my mouth nom nom nom! Dad, you should try this, it’s so good.
ME: Hey, Andrew, come on, let’s not play with–
ANDREW: Dad did you see that there’s a mouse up here and a keyboard and hey look it’s a coffee mug did you have any idea?!
ME: Andrew, really, I’m trying to–
ANDREW: Oh hey is this a surge protector and is that your computer plugged into it and is that the off switch?!
ME: Andrew, no! That’s not–
ME: Andrew, don’t! You can’t–
ME: Kelsey, come get your brother!

…but repeat that, oh, a dozen or more times. The boy is exhausting and he doesn’t even walk yet.

(For extra added bonus noise/fun, there’s an occasional loud clanking or crashing sound from the eight-year-old, followed close after by an “Everything’s okay, Dad!” I’ve learned not to ask about those sounds.)

Written by Allen

November 10th, 2010 at 4:47 pm

Posted in Family,Kids

Audacious Laurel

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Sometimes my younger daughter scares me.

Many of you likely to be reading me are fellow movie geeks and several of you are likely audio geeks, and even if you don’t fall into one of those two categories, there’s still a decent chance you’ve heard of the Wilhelm Scream. But for those of you haven’t: the Wilhelm Scream is a stock sound effect of, well, a man screaming, originally taken from the 1951 Western Distant Drums. It’s a fairly distinctive sound clip, and it’s been used in numerous movies, TV shows and cartoons — including pretty much everything George Lucas has directed or produced.[^1] Once you know what it sounds like, it’s easy to identify; there’s even a number of helpful videos on YouTube to help you place it.

Laurel, however, is six-and-a-half. She has no idea how movies are made, has no idea of how audio is produced, has no idea that there even is such a thing as a stock sound effect. Clearly, the entire concept of the Wilhelm Scream is far, far outside of her six-and-a-half years of experience.

Yet last Friday night, while we were watching Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade 1, the scene in that movie which is wilhelmscreamified came up. (For those of you playing along at home, it’s early in the great tank chase sequence about two-thirds of the way into the movie.)

And the scream happens, and Laurel says “Hey, that was the same sound as when [some reference to Star Wars, a series which has a fair amount of wilhelmscreamification in it]!” And I knew immediately what she was talking about, though I was flabbergasted to realize that she did. How the hell was this six-year-old paying enough attention, noticing detail enough, that she can recognize a sound effect used across different movies? It’s not like it gets used that frequently — once a movie, maybe. And it’s not like anyone has ever explained the function of an audio department or the sound effects editor in film production — hell, if anyone was going to explain that to her, it would’ve been me, and I know I haven’t done it.[^3]

I mean, yes, I know that she now understands that movies are things that get made by people, and the same people might be involved in making many movies: when she realized that (to her thinking) Han Solo was playing Indiana Jones, that was a pretty big moment of illumination for her. That’s obvious, though — not noticing that would have been a bigger surprise than noticing it. But this? This was surprising. I almost let out a little Wilhelm Scream of my own.

It’s times like that one when I’m afraid my jokes about her taking over the world when she grows up might not actually be jokes.

Or at the very least, I suppose, maybe it means she’ll grow up to be an audio engineer.

[^1]: Credit for reviving the clip and popularizing its use goes to sound designer extraordinaire and Oscar-winner Ben Burtt, who has assembled the sounds for most of those Lucas movies, a great many Steven Spielberg movies, and worked for the geniuses at Pixar. In fact, not only did he receive yet another Oscar nomination for WALL-E, but provided the voice for the title character.

[^3]: Supposedly, “gifted” children — and there’s no doubt that’s a group of which she’s a member — are particularly attuned to sound. It’s one reason why so many of us…er, them…seem so flinchy at loud noises.

  1. I’d forgotten just how much I loved that movie. And, oh yes, Ben Burtt won an Oscar for sound effects editing for this movie, too. 

Written by Allen

July 12th, 2010 at 9:25 am

Posted in Kids,Movies

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She falls asleep on my chest: growly little snores escape her body, the first two fingers of her right hand take their preferred place in her mouth, increasingly long pale legs seemingly stretch off to the horizon, fine red hair tickles my neck. A cool breeze and soft afternoon light spill through the window behind the couch we rest on. Her sister is away at a campout and her brother is himself asleep, so we have some rare quiet time in our apartment and she sleeps soundly.

It’s not often I get these times anymore — she’s six and her sister is eight, and naptimes with Daddy happen rarely. My monkeybrain fights me: I feel as if I should get up and do some work or check my email or do any of dozens of other small tasks I use to distract my restless mind.

But I ignore that buzzing and I stay right there on that couch, the weight of this amazing, beautiful, fiercely intelligent (and just as fiercely stubborn) six-year-old on my chest, and I try to remember this moment, for I never have any idea how many more of these moments I’ll get the opportunity to savor.

Written by Allen

May 15th, 2010 at 10:45 pm

Posted in Kids

Lazy Saturday

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Some Saturdays are made for getting out of the house and adventuring: going to a park and running around or going to the beach, perhaps. Some Saturdays are made for housework. Some Saturdays are made for travelling or socializing or games.

And some Saturdays…aren’t.

Written by Allen

July 25th, 2009 at 3:17 pm

Posted in Kids

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Conversations with Kelsey (Part n of a Series)

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Kelsey, Age 7:  I really want all of my dreams to come true.

Me:  Well, they can.  You have to work hard for them.  No one’s going to just give you your dreams, but if you work hard, you can do anything you want.

Kelsey:  I’m working really, really hard for a baby pony.

Written by Allen

May 21st, 2009 at 10:00 am

Posted in Kids

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