Once and Again
I Can't Stand Up For Falling Down

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Eli's no poet. He doesn't know it.

Eli gets his own paragraph here because his song lyrics are so devastatingly real, in the sense that I almost fell asleep listening to him spout them. "What's wrong with this picture? What's wrong with this life?" he sings, glaring at the spot where Rick stood near the stairs. That is indeed true sentiment. What is wrong with this picture? I think it's the lighting.

Preparatory booklets: sixty dollars. Test fees: forty dollars. Number-two pencils: three dollars. Rushed scores: thirty dollars. Post-SAT teenage rebellion and parental alienation: priceless.

Lily is working on her home laptop, munching on pizza. Yeah, right. Sela Ward must have a spit bucket under the desk. Rick reads at the dinette table. Lily, keeping with the theme, inquires about the SAT -- again, not Rick's Sultry Anatomical Totem-pole, but the test -- and Rick replies that Eli's acting exactly as he did the first time. "I don't think he's invested," Rick says sadly. Grace and Zoe scamper into the kitchen to raid the fridge. Lily is pumped that Eli's starting a band, and wants to know if they're any good. Grace perks up, her Eli-dar beeping furiously. "Are you talking about Anti-Inflammatory?" she asks. Rick, outraged that Lily told the kids about his Preparation H creams, barges angrily out of the house. Or, he just stares dumbfounded at Grace, unable to believe that his son named a band after topical ointments. Lily loves it, and Zoe wants to know what the group sounds like. "They were too loud," Rick grouses. "I couldn't hear them." Wow, congratulations, Rick -- so sorry I missed your important metamorphosis into an octogenarian. Zoe wants to come to rehearsal, and Grace laughs that they won't let her watch. "They don't want groupies who are nine," she teases. "Ten," Zoe corrects her indignantly. "Whatever," Grace says, rolling her eyes and lightly bopping Zoe's head with a box of crackers. That was kind of cute. Julia Whelan is good at playing the affectionately disdainful older sister. Zoe grabs more snacks and pulls Grace upstairs to finish watching the movie. Grace grumpily complains about spending her Saturday night at home. Well then, she should consider getting some friends who actually call her. Lily smiles and enthuses about how adorable the band must be, and says she can't wait to hear them. Rick sighs. He clearly doesn't care what Lily saying and contemplates capitulating and switching to Sprint just to quiet her.

Eli's playing the guitar outside his school. Jennifer strolls up to him and casually asks whether he's writing a new song, or just strumming. He explains that he's trying to, then ignores her. She pushes to hear the words. "Put your ear close to the ground, do you hear a fading sound? If it's lost, it can't be found...." Eli sings, breaking off and complaining about the last line. Jennifer grins, deems it "not bad," and suggests he replace the line with, "if it's lost for getting found." Eli loves it, and since Jennifer has done some helpful work for him, he finally acknowledges her presence with a smile. Sensing the presence of the kind of brain-addling hormones that make slaves of even the brightest, most independent-minded women, Eli presses Jennifer for a word that rhymes with "wilderness." And no, "horniness" isn't a good rhyme. The line reads, "A vagabond with no address, fire in the wilderness..." Jennifer suggests, "the possibilities are limitless." Her wardrobe is bathed in dinginess. Eli laughs. Jennifer bristles slightly.

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Once and Again

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