Thursday, December 31, 2009

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Finally a movie where the unlikely combination might work?

I am also pretty sure this movie is going to blow the Rush Hour and Lethal Weapon films out of the water. This movie has the over-the-top old school humor and mannerisms of Tracy Morgan, paired with the tough guy die hardness of Bruce Willis, punctuated by the slapstick humor of Sean William Scott and the uber-intelligent writing and social commentary of Kevin Smith (Mallrats, Jay and Silent Bob, etc.).

Santa's oops...

EMBED-Too Much Eggnog For Santa - Watch more free videos

Santa makes a pretty rough entrance...

Another literal video

I believe I posted the literal version of one or two Beatles songs before, but here's one that is really amazing...

New-Age Quest

The Longest Way 1.0 - one year walk/beard grow time lapse from Christoph Rehage on Vimeo.

In November 2007, Chris Rehage decided to set out and walk from Germany to China...over the mountains, through the fields and rain, with no job and little money. This video is a brief documentary of his journey from the perspective of his hair growth both on his head and face.

While the video initially may seem trite or cute, it cuts deep. The aspects to pay attention to are not the slow growth of the hair, but the ever-changing background, the confused or cheerful people in the background, the friend whom he made along the way and had to part ways with in order to continue on his journey, and finally a girl he met and fell in love with, who he could only stay and travel with for a brief amount of time before he had to continue on his journey.

The journey itself is a new-age bildungsroman in which the protagonist finds a part of him or herself that could only be found through a quest which involves leaving the confines of the familiar and entering into the unknown (often physically far away from where they have lived up until that point). We, are viewers, see Chris' heartbreak, success, pain, and can almost feel the ache of saying goodbye to his friends, and feel the whip of the wind and rain on our faces when we see his again when he finally journeys back home and his weather-beaten cheeks and eyes announce he has found himself.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Have you heard?

I think this needs to be posted for its sheer awesomeness. Not that I'm a huge fan of the song, but it has to be the catchiest tune ever.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

End of Semester Two

The end of my second semester in the Lesley University MFA is upon me and again I'm greeting it with mixed feelings.

On one hand I'm super-excited for the day to finally arrive where I can breathe a sigh of relief and again focus on the countless tasks at hand when it comes to teaching. I have a mountain of correcting to plow through prior to progress reports (the rest I can leave for winter break), and many many things to plan for and make copies of prior to both Alice in Wonderland rehearsals beginning, and preparation for the wedding kicking into high gear.

I suppose I am where I want to be in terms of planning and wedding preparation. We're mostly set when it comes to the wedding, with a few meetings left to do, and a handful of things left to pay for and figure out. And I pretty much have a solid idea of what I need to do when it comes to Romeo and Juliet and teaching the basics of grammar, spelling and countless mini-lessons in between to ensure some raised scores on the MCAS exams. But when it comes to creative writing, I'm running on empty.

I am so focused on everything literal, and my mind is full of The Odyssey, Death of a Salesman and grammatical sentence structure that when I read (and re-read) Dylan Thomas' "Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night" all I could think to do was examine it from a literary criticism perspective. I'm beginning to suck the life out of some poetry because I'm scrutinizing it too much. And for a while, I considered this to be a horrible thing. I was, in essence, ruining the creative experience, and poetry in general for myself. I was over-analyzing it and taking all the juice out of it.

Then I had a revelation. Doesn't this backwards structure actually help me in the long-run? Haven't all great poets at one time or another in their lives really analyzed others' works and their own? Haven't they scrutinized? And isn't this vital scrutinizing what we, as poets, do in the revision process anyway?

Basically, I owe the program, and myself, an apology. I assumed that like Emily Dickinson, I should be able to write poetry and it should inherently be good, without having to read anyone else's work. In order to write a poem, shouldn't I be able to recognize the parallels in it, enhance the alliteration, and recognize when metaphors are too easily identifiable, or some element has become stale or overused?

Yes, I should. And the program has really opened my eyes to this, without explicitly telling me. In a way, the program has allowed me to recognize and learn these vital aspects of writing without making me read chapters on "why we revise" or "how to learn to recognize the faults in your own poems." In way, the program has come full circle by forcing me, through metaphor (by making me analyze my own work and the work of others), to learn what works and what doesn't work.

I look forward to my time away from the program, but when I return, I'll be able to write some poems that are critically better pieced-together, and are more coherent and smooth, while simultaneously using more interesting imagery and provocative and fresh concepts.

Tiger Woods

Tiger Woods seems to be in the news a little too much these days. Not that I don't think what he did was wrong and punishable, and news of it should be spread like a virus around the world so that everyone can know of his wrongdoings, but there's speculation permeating now about what exactly his sponsors will do; and now that this speculation has taken over, the real story is now hidden, which I don't necessarily agree with.

Beginning minutes after the truth was unveiled, news agencies and bloggers have been in a mad dash to discover first which of Tiger's sponsors will drop him from their roles.

The first, unveiled today, is Gatorade. And while I think it's a necessary move and a righteous position that Gatorade is taking (though they stood by Michael Jordan and Michael Phelps...), I think the fact that they needed to cover the "we're dropping him because of his gambling, extra-marital affairs, etc.," with "we're dropping the Tiger Woods name because identifying the drink by its flavors is more marketable."

Yeah, OK.

Now that he's lost his multi-million dollar contract with Gatorade, which sponsor is next? Many speculate that it will be Nike. Nike has a roughly $100 million contract with Tiger, but many think his skills as a golfer and his image at perpetuating golf in popularity with the worldwide youth are too vast to cast away.

Personally, I believe he is paid to be a golfer. He is a role model second, but when his role model status becomes larger than his sports persona and success, perhaps it's time to reevaluate himself anyway. Perhaps he needs to do some image revitalization after all the smoke clears, and needs to rework himself from the ground up, but if any athlete really hopes to be a role model, then perhaps they need to separate themselves from an adult life in which temptations exist.

If this scandal has shown us anything, it's a reinforcement of the idea that our idols (and role models) are anything but godly and perfect--they are fallible, inconsistent, easily tempted, and do not have the best morals and realizations about their public standing vs. their private lives.

Perhaps our children should learn this lesson before it becomes too late. Man is imperfect, and there is no perfect person in the world. Everyone has faults and misdoings, even those we catapult into godlike standings and place on proverbial pedestals to be admired and scrutinized by all.

And to prove my point, this idea is often reflected in literature, but with a twist that is vitally important for both Tiger Woods and the youth of America and the world to understand.

When Odysseus, the great warrior, left his homeland he promised his wife and newborn son he would return. 20 years later, after accidentally giving away (by bragging) his position to a cyclops who killed many of his men and after angering a principal god who would ultimately kill all of his men and nearly him, he returns home. He does not tell his wife about his infidelities along the way, nor about his hubris, but he does fit the description of the epic hero: one with faults, but one who, unlike the tragic hero, is not destroyed by their flaw. Instead Odysseus grapples with it and pays for it by having to carry the burden and the pain with him forever, missing out on most of his life.

But he never gives up and never turns from a path that is mostly right. Should our idols adhere to this "mostly right," squeaky clean (except for a few patches of dirt) image? Or should they be expected to be perfect or expected to fail much worse than they do?

Odysseus is inherently good and well-liked, well-intentioned, and intelligent. He is ideally a hero, and a role model in the ancient world. He has his downfalls, as does every hero, but it is his conquering of his inner demons that allows him to conquer his exterior demons, and through his vindication, he finally achieves the title "hero." Without these temptations, then countering them and eventually casting them out, the "hero" can never be born.

This is the crossroads which every major idol and role model must face (Tiger's may be greater than many others, I know...), and Tiger must make a decision on how he wants to act and be perceived from hereon out. Like Odysseus, his monsters are interior and exterior; like Luke (Skywalker), he must experience the dark side before he can understand how to conquer it.

Wow, cheesy conclusion, huh?

First Snow Day

Today, I finally understand the concept of the "snow day" from both ends of the spectrum.

As a student, the thing I looked forward to the most was the snow day. I would awake early and squint at the bright television through the early morning darkness and my still-sleepy eyes, scanning the scrolling list of closures and delays, hoping to see CPS somewhere on the list. On mornings when it was omitted I begrudgingly packed my things up and headed to school, traversing roads that were never very icy or snowy.

But on mornings when the magic words appeared on screen it was akin to manna from heaven. The initial butterflies and thanks were always obligatory, but the excitement lasted for hours. Nowhere in my mind was the effect of the snowday--an extra day slapped onto the end of the year, light a giant glaring zit on the calendar that kept taunting me.

One of the things that greatly confused me, however, was why the teachers seemed ambivalent to snow days. Some seemed gung ho on the idea and welcomed them with open arms and new shovels, while others stammered and swore when they knew an impending snow day was upon us.

As a professional teacher finally, I understand how these otherwise no-brainer emotions can become conflicted. On one hand I am welcoming this day as a respite from the insanity that sometimes plagues my freshmen CP classes, as a day to catch back up on sleep and correcting, and as one wintry day that I don't have to brave the treacherous roads. Yet on the other I am cursing this day because two of the classes I would have had today are in danger of not finishing what we need to before winter break. I can, however, speed up two of the remaining class periods to accommodate for missing the third, but if we were to have had a snowday tomorrow, as opposed to today, the rotating schedule would have plagued me with a 50/50 shot at not finishing what I need to before winter break.

Perhaps this is why many of my teachers cursed the snow days, or that they had to give up a day at the end of their summer to return, or (if they are senior teachers) that the seniors, who are let out in early June, never have to make up these days, thus putting senior teachers to the task of trying to make up an entire day.

Looking at the list of closed school districts in the area, though, I am happy that mine was one of the closures today. Every school in our conference is also closed, making it easier to schedule events (mainly sports), elections, and so forth.