Monday, November 06, 2006

Just for Kicks...

I know that it has been over a month, but, hey, I've been busy teaching, applying for jobs, editing a book, representing grad students on my campus, oh yeah, and writing my dissertation.

'Tation Update: I now have ONE complete chapter with three others in various states of completion.

Also, I have had a number of friends completing this little blog-thing, I though I would as well. Theoretically, one is a movie geek/nerd/has no life if they have seen 85 of these movies. I might be all of these things, but I also study film for a living (of sorts).

(x) Rocky Horror Picture Show
(x) Grease
(x) Pirates of the Caribbean
(x) Boondock Saints
(x) Fight Club
(x) Starsky and Hutch
(x) Neverending Story
(x) Blazing Saddles
(x) Airplane
(x) Braveheart
Total: 10

(x) The Princess Bride
(x) AnchorMan: The Legend of Ron Burgandy
(x) Napoleon Dynamite
(x) Labyrinth
(x) Saw
( ) Saw II (Saw I pretty much did what was needed in this area.)
( ) White Noise (My wife saw it, thought it was incredibly stupid, and since no one else saw it, I let it go.)
(x) White Oleander
(x) Anger Management
(x) 50 First Dates
(x) The Princess Diaries
(x) The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement
Total: 10
Running Total ('cuz I'm bad at math): 20

(x) Scream
(x) Scream 2
( ) Scream 3
( ) Scary Movie
(x) Scary Movie 2
( ) Scary Movie 3
( ) Scary Movie 4
(I'm not actually sure which "Scary Movie" I saw, but I saw one of them.)
(x) American Pie
(x) American Pie 2
(x) American Wedding
( ) American Pie Band Camp
Total: 6
Running Total: 26

(x) Harry Potter 1 [Philosopher's/Sorceror's Stone]
(x) Harry Potter 2 [Chamber of Secrets]
(x) Harry Potter 3 [Prisoner of Azkaban]
(x) Harry Potter 4 [Goblet of Fire]
(x) Resident Evil
(x) Resident Evil 2
(x) The Wedding Singer
(x) Little Black Book
(x) The Village
(x) Lilo & Stitch
Total: 10
Running Total: 36

(x) Finding Nemo
(x) Finding Neverland
( ) Signs
( ) The Grinch (Do they mean the TV special?)
(x) Texas Chainsaw Massacre ( I will assume that they mean the original, even though they probably don't.)
( ) White Chicks
( ) Butterfly Effect
(x) 13 Going on 30 (Mark Ruffalo is so adorable in this movie. It is very well-done for the genre.)
(x) I, Robot
( ) Roots
Total: 5
Running Total: 41

(x) Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story
(x) Universal Soldier
(x) Lemony Snicket: A Series Of Unfortunate Events
(x) Along Came Polly
( ) Deep Impact
(x) KingPin
(x) Never Been Kissed
(x) Meet The Parents
(x) Meet the Fockers
(x) Eight Crazy Nights
(x) Joe Dirt
Total: 11
Running Total: 52

( ) A Cinderella Story
(x) The Terminal
( ) The Lizzie McGuire Movie
( ) Passport to Paris
(x) Dumb & Dumber
( ) Final Destination
( ) Final Destination 2
( ) Final Destination 3
() Halloweentown
(x) The Ring
( ) The Ring 2
( ) Surviving X-MAS
(x) Flubber
Total: 4
Running Total: 55

(x) Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle
() Practical Magic
(x) Chicago
( ) Ghost Ship
(x) From Hell
(x) Hellboy
(x) Secret Window
( ) I Am Sam
( ) The Whole Nine Yards
( ) The Whole Ten Yards
Total: 5
Running Total: 60

(x) The Day After Tomorrow
( ) Child's Play 1
( ) Child's Play 2
( ) Child's Play 3
( ) Bride of Chucky
( ) Seed of Chucky
(x) Ten Things I Hate About You
(x) Just Married
(x) Gothika
(x) Nightmare on Elm Street (I'm a bit confused as to why the creator of this list has listed all the sequels to everything else, but not this series.)
(x) Sixteen Candles
(x) Remember the Titans
( ) Coach Carter
( ) The Grudge
(x) The Mask
( ) Son Of The Mask
Total: 8
Running Total: 68

(x) Bad Boys 2
( ) Joy Ride
(x) Lucky Number Sleven [sic] (This title is spelled wrong. It should be "Slevin".)
(x/x) Ocean's Eleven (original and new)
(x) Ocean's Twelve
(x) Identity
(x) Lone Star
( ) Bedazzled
(x) Predator I
( ) Predator II
( ) The Fog (Original)
(x) Ice Age
( ) Ice Age 2: The Meltdown
( ) Curious George
Total: 8
Running Total: 76

(x) Independence Day
( ) Cujo
(x) A Bronx Tale
( ) Darkness Falls
( ) Christine
(x) ET
( ) Children of the Corn
( ) My Boss's Daughter
(x) Maid in Manhattan
( ) Frality
(x) War of the Worlds
(x) Rush Hour
(x) Rush Hour 2
Total: 7
Running Total: 83

( ) Best Bet
(x) How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days
(x) She's All That
( ) Calendar Girls
(x) Sideways
(x) Mars Attacks
(x) Event Horizon
( ) Ever After
(x) Wizard of Oz
(x) Forrest Gump
(x) Big Trouble in Little China
(x) The Terminator
(x) The Terminator 2
(x) The Terminator 3
Total: 11
Running Total: 94 (Ooops, I'm already over the limit. Let's go for uber-geek status.)

(x) X-Men
(x) X-Men 2
(x) X-Men 3
(x) Spider-Man
(x) Spider-Man 2
(x) Sky High
( ) Jeepers Creepers
( ) Jeepers Creepers 2
( ) Catch Me If You Can
(x) The Others
(x) Freaky Friday
(x) Reign of fire
( ) The Skulls
( ) Cruel Intentions
( ) Cruel Intentions 2
( ) The Hot Chick
(x) Shrek
(x) Shrek 2
Total: 11
Running Total: 105

( ) Swimfan
( ) Miracle
(x) Old School
( ) The Notebook
(x) K-Pax
( ) Krippendorf's Tribe
( ) A Walk to Remember
( ) Ice Castles
( ) Boogeyman
(x) The 40-year-old-virgin
(x) Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace
(x) Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones
(x) Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
(x) Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope
(x) Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
(x) Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi
(x) The Matrix
(x) The Matrix Reloaded
(x) The Matrix Revolutions
(x) Kill Bill
(x) Kill Bill Vol 2
Total: 14
Running Total: 119

On an ethnographic note, I find it interesting that those who have watched three or four sci-fi/horror series' are already well on their way to "having no life". While, in general, this might be true from traditional nomenclature of what it means to "have no life," I think that this might be falsely skewed away from movie types that people who "have a life" might regularly view.

Perhaps it just goes to show what an odd academic I am that I seriously consider trying to craft a more indicative list or one which might give an insight into one's general pop culture literacy.

One of the things that has amazed me in my teaching is the lack of general cultural knowledge that is considered to be part of common knowledge.

On a recent quiz, I listed 35 quotations that most people in America should be relatively familiar with, with a definite angle towards things that students might have seen in the last few years. So, in addition to quotes from "The Wizard of Oz", I included major quotes from "The Notebook" and "Fight Club". Out of these 35 quotations, most people were unable to get the location of more than 10.

Now, I understand that not everyone pays attention to the details of film, like I do, but it should be general knowledge that, "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn," is from "Gone with the Wind".

Maybe it is just me.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Early Mornings...

I don't know who thought that it would be a good idea to have a three hour, Intro to College Composition class at 8am on Monday mornings, but they should be publically flogged. I know that I am not the best comp teacher ever, but the blank stares and tiredness is driving me nuts.

I give a fairly simple assignment: here are different types of support and argumentation, looking at that list, work with a group and identify the types of argumentation in your assigned essay, but there is nothing but sitting around with the look of, "what do I do?"

I know that self-motivation is not the highest on the list of 18 year olds, but come on! (To quote Rob Corddry)

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

I Will Have a Book!

Oh, yeah. I forgot to mention that the book that a number of us in my department have been laboring to get published for the past few months has finally found a publisher. Yay!

So sometime next Spring, you will be able to go on google or amazon and type my name in and get a book to buy that i have edited and written the introduction to. Woot ! Woot!

However, it will be yet another reason that things go slowly for me.

Update! Finally!

Ok...ok... The three of you that check blogs frequently have been after me for months to stop slacking and get it together. Well, I'm sorry, but I am a bit busy. I'm trying to graduate on time and get a decent job for next year.

I totally love working PT at a community college, but the lack of benefits, low pay, and little future progress does have some drawbacks. So, I have about two dozen places that i am planning on applying. The problem with this is that each and every school has their own little way of doing this. Some want no letters. Some want 5 letters. Some do not want writing samples, while others have very specific instructions on the kinds of writing samples that will be acceptable.

Of course it does not help that i am interdisciplinary in nature and thus applying to film, communications, and English programs among others. It takes up a lot of time. At first, i liked dreaming up possible upper-level undergraduate courses that I might like to teach, but at this point I just want to write, "I will assign a list of fantastic and life-changing works of fiction and criticism. The students will read about 30% of it and refuse to discuss in class. Their papers will, in general, be weak but acceptable in the contemporary climate of grade inflation, and I will fight constantly to find time to write my research, publish, and present. Students will simultaneously find me pompous and overly casual based on their tastes and expectations. About five in a class of twenty-five will absolutely adore the class."

Does that come across as too cynical? Probably. I will have to paste on my happy face and talk about engaging students as co-learners and creating a discourse between practice and theory where the classroom becomes a space for playing with ideas. It isn't that i do not believe these things. I do. I was in classes where this happened, and it was magical. I would leave class talking to some cute girl about how Jane Austen must have had a lot of closeted fans from the manly-man class during her time. There are too many little hints...etc.

However, for the most part, I teach and just get blank responses to questions like, "Now how does globalization of culture affect your life? Anything? It could be that you can go to the same McDonalds everywhere or see brand new movies around the world that are all from the US. Does anyone have a single example of how this cultural and economic process enters daily life?...No....right then."

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Where am I?

"Sometimes I really just feel like screaming very, very loud, but that is usually just indigestion or a lack of exercise. " -I don't know, but someone should have said it.

Well, things keep moving on. I am approaching the end of the semester. I need to get my final exams in line, approved, and xeroxed. I have decided to be super mean and give all essay finals where the students must choose 5 out of 7 choices and write 1.5-2 page essays on the topic.

I know that it is cruel, but the department is trying to work on its assessment. We are trying to get away from objective based tests. In general, I agree, but I think that they will be surprised when half of my class gets a D or F on the final because they have never been forced to write a decent essay.

In other news, I received a small, named scholarship for my work on faith, culture, and communication. It gets me a small honorarium and attendence at a super-cool banquet. I know that it is small, but it is very exciting to be recognized for my work, even if it is from my alma mater. It still counts right?

Also, I have been working on my dissertation. In my search for sources on philosophy and noir, I found the work of Thomas Hibbs, a prof at Baylor. He is working on a book on noir that looks at it somewhat similarly to my approach, only using different philosophers and a more "Christian" view of the redemption/responsibility of the protagonists.

Anyway, he was kind enough to send me a draft copy of his book, and I was surprised when he asked me for my input and comments. I tentatively sent him a couple observations and questions on the first chapter. He wrote back that they were very helpful, and he would love if I wouldn't mind to do that for each chapter.

Now, I know, on one level, that I am somewhat being used to help find typos and act as a sounding board, but on the other side, I am hoping to use him in the future as a potential contact, maybe even a fourth member of my diss committee. He is the Dean of something at a very prestigious school, and he has written the cover comments on a number of books on philosophy and noir. So, it might not hurt to get used a bit.

Finally, Jenna and i are moving up to Toledo in a month. I will really miss being able to ride my bike to school on nice days like this, but in all honesty, Ohio is not really this nice but for 6-12 weeks a year max.

Friday, March 24, 2006

An Important Message for My Friends...

I had just succeeded in convincing my wife that we did not NEED to have babies right away. We are both young and just struggling to get by. Babies are wonderful, and I love them. I want a couple of my own some day soon. However, this whole message becomes difficult to support and hold to when you al keep getting pregnant and having babies.
At first, I was upset at myself and others, but I have realized that the real fault lies with the procreating pals (PP). While some might say that you are doing nothing wrong, I argue that the pressures to have children at remotely the same time is of vital interest in maintaining the myths that we have learned through "Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants" and "The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood". Groups of friends must at least have the potential for their kids to be friends.
Not only does it give us all something to talk about, but it give us the option of producing a sequel with younger, smarter, and prettier versions of us. Think of the montages, people! They are beautiful. Our children grow up all around the country and the world not knowing that they are the inheritors of our legacy. Some day they will have to assume the mantel of troublemaking. They too will have to chain doors shut, burn pizzas, and waste hours watching television shows about a man in space and his robot pals.

Think of the Future! Unless I give up this dream, I will have no choice but to join the PP's.

Thank you.

Keep on keepin' on...

Well, all. As Brandon says, I am still working on my dissertation. I would really like to get a complete draft done by the end of summer, and I think that is possible. Unfortunately, I have two writing modes:

1. Staccato: In this writing mode, I must just put little ideas down here and there throughout the day whenever I think of it. This is a great way to get started and still do the work that I need for teaching, living, and loving. However, progress is very slow and can end up being very disjointed.

2. Largo: The other option is for me to just lock myself to my keyboard and write for 8 hours/day. This is incredibly effective but also very unpleasant. I wrote my thesis this way, and in addition to getting a bit crazy, I got nasty carpal tunnel, especially in my right wrist.

I am hoping to merge these two styles for my dissertation. My plan is to have a three month period of gathering ideas, reading, watching my films, putting down general ideas and thoughts, and having deep discussions over pints at Beckett's or Grumpy Dave's. Then, I will spend the summer writing a lot and meeting with my advisor once a week to go over things and keep fresh and interested. Finally, next fall, begins the clean-up phase, which I'm quite good at. All I have to do is to do rewrites and fix little errors.

So that is the plan. I was going to write something deep comparing Christian fundamentalists and those Islamic Imams who are calling for the prosecution of the journalists who printed and reprinted the Muhammed cartoon, but frankly, it is too easier and will just make me mad.

I hope that you are all doing well and are content.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Spring Break...yadda yadda yadda

I love Spring Break although I have never gone anywhere at all. I love it because, for me, it comes at just the right moment in the semester. I've been running on all cylinders for eight weeks now, and I've just been getting to the point where the engine starts glowing white-hot. Then, magically, there are a few days where I can run a little slower.

I've never had a "break" per se since I've been working from the time I was 14, but it is nice to take a bit extra time and do something different.

Yesterday, my wife and I went to drive around the area in the city where we are moving to. It was fun for me because I could just not think about getting copies made or coming up with a creative activity that the students would enjoy. I could just drive, look out the window, and keep on the search for a good bar somewhere near my house. (not much luck, by the way)

On a side note, I've been reading the book of Jeremiah recently because I heard an evangelical minister using passages from this book to blame the homosexuals and liberals for Katrina. Anyway, there is a large quantity of time spent in the book talking about how the fault for the coming disaster comes from the chosen peoples of Israel and Judea pretending that they are doing nothing wrong and pointing the finger elsewhere.

I think that the more significant parallel (if one is actually to believe that God uses hurricanes to punish people in the active way that many fundies and evangelicals seem to believe) would be to the way the Church and its leaders are doing the same thing as Israel and Judea were when threatened by outside powers. They pointed their fingers at each other and did whatever they needed to in order to maintain physical, earthly power.

It seems that the prophet is trying to communicate that God desparately wanted to avoid punishments but that the leaders of the Hebrew people prefer to trust in the strength of their swords and their alliances with other nations rather that trusting in God to protect them.

Just a thought.

On still another note, I had the last day of classes at the CC that I teach at PT. It was so cute. One of my students broke down and started crying because class was going to be over. I will miss that class. It was honestly the best class that I ever had. For the most part, they worked hard and came to class mostly prepared. I hope that this summer tha tI can get another good class.

Friday, February 24, 2006

The Joy of Computer Lab Days...

There is something extremely satisfying in teaching composition. At the end of the semester (I'm teaching an 8-week version of my class), it becomes so exciting to see all of my students dutifully sitting behind their computers editing and revising their research essays.

They ask each other questions that show that they have paid at least some attention throughout the class: "Would you check this paragraph for passive voice?" or "I know that something is not correct in the predicate here, but I don't know what it is."

The improvement in my CC kids is so drastic that I don't know what to do with myself. It certainly isn't my teaching. There is no real way to force composition down someone's throat. They either pay attention to the book and work hard on drafting and revision, or they don't.

Monday, February 20, 2006

A bit O' Sadness...

I did not get the super cool job at the school north of Boston. It would have been super neat, but I would have had to really hustle to get my work done. Now I have a whole year to get my diss written and send some chapters out for publishing.

A funny thing about my committee...They all agreed that I need to spend MORE time talking to myself.

It kinda makes sense. They said that I was much more adept at teaching my dissertation than i was at communicating it in written form. So they have recommended a combination of me talking with my micro-cassette recorder and getting together with them to just talk about my project, while recording our conversation.

Anyway, just wanted to touch base. For those who are counting, I have picked up another job. So I now kinda have 4 jobs...eeek. It will be ok...Just remember "Don't Sleep...the Clown will eat me."

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

A Conspiracy of Gay Witches...

I had a phone call last night from my Grandfather, who is a retired Baptist missionary. I love my grandpa very much, but sometimes he just really confuses me.

First, it is important to note that he almost never calls me just to chat. Generally, he sends e-mails with links to conservative Christian groups that will assist me in fighting off the liberal bias in my university. While he means it to be a form of assistance, I have to take it as something of comic relief.

I don't mean to make light of his beliefs. He is very sincere in his faith, and he has had a long and fruitful retirement career of serving prisoners, which is something that I really think the modern church ignores.

Still, I was a bit surprised when he began to talk about this speaker from the Christian Coalition who had come to urge their church to really strive to vote for a PA bill that would limit marriage to one man and one woman. This in and of itself was not surprising. This is part of the main reason that he calls me, to make sure that I am still a Christian...and a conservative one at that. (If he only knew)

I was a bit surprised when he said that his county had voted democratic in the last election. It had always seemed like such a staid and conservative most of Ohio. I asked him, "How did that come to be?"

His answer was, "Well, just to the east a bit, there is a community where we have a daughter church [I'm not sure what a daughter church is or why it is different from a son church. I didn't know that churches could procreate in that way or have defined gender.]. They are really struggling with the large number of homosexuals and people interested in witchcraft who are really giving them a hard time."

This immediately called to mind an image of a smoke-filled room with a large circular table. Around it sit the cast of Queer Eye, Rosie, a number of people who look like extras from "Manos the Hands of Fate," some fourteen-year-olds in pale make-up and black clothes, and in the gloom, I can kinda see Usher. I don't know which side he supports. They begin to plot and scheme about how they can destroy this small Eastern PA church. Cackles abound.

I know that in many places in the world the Church is really under attack. Christians are daily killed because they are Christians. To equate that experience with being responded to angrily when you try to force tracts down people's throats at an antique fair seems a bit problematic.

Check out Reb. Michael Lerner's "The Left Hand of God".

Saturday, February 04, 2006

What I've been up to...

Hey, All!
How you all doin'? I know that I've been slacking for the past month, but let me explain. I have been super duper busy. Let's see, what have I been up to?

Well, I am applying for a job at Gordon College. I am only recently going to be ABD, but it was the perfect job for me, so I figured, "Why not?" They are looking someone who can teach video production, editing, communications ethics, media studies, and culture studies in media. This is a fairly rare combination, let alone having Christians who can do all of that. So, I feel like I have something of a shot, which is nice.

Secondly, I have been furiously attempting to complete my dissertation proposal and, what's harder, getting my committee to meet all at the same place, at the same time. It looks like I will be defending on Feb. 17th. So those of you who pray, please do so between the hours of 12:30p and 3p.

Thirdly, I have been trying to keep balanced three jobs: two teaching and one online tutoring. I would like to quit one or more, but I need the money and am sick of taking out tons of loans. Fortunately, one of these ends in another four weeks. Then, I'll only have two jobs, yay!

Finally, i have been trying to make time to exercise and relax. Exercising takes tons of time, what with all of the jocks and waifs hogging the good machines for hours on end, while the porcine among us must waddle around the indoor track. I don't mind waddling, but then some speedster comes along and gets all grumpy that we dare to walk while they can run a 6-10 mph for 30 min. I want to just yell, "Hey! We would love to get out of your way, but there are too many fuzzy bunnies chatting about how drunk they got last night rather than paying attention to the 25 min limit."

Not that I'm bitter or anything. I find that a steady diet of music that moves between Johnny Cash's Unearthed, Nirvana's Unplugged, and Ben Harper does a great deal to deal with almost any situation that arises. Music is definitely a blessing....and a curse.

I have also been reading a great deal. In addition to the books for my dissertation, a collection of film noir texts, novels, Sin City, and continental philosophy of ethics, I have been enjoying cheap mysteries. I am currently reading Ian Rankin's The Black Book, Alexander McCall Smith's Tears of the Giraffe, and I just finished listening to Elmore Leonard's The Hot Kid. Fortunately, since they are all mysteries, I can pretend that they are part of my research, since noirs and mysteries have a common ancestry.

You know what else is super cool? Stand-up comedy. Not all of it obviously, I hate Dane Cook, but for the most part, I am really amazed at how diversely the same sorts of issues are raised.

I mean how many comics do a bit about, "You know what the difference between men and women really is...?" Still, there are minute differences that make them hilarious. There are also those moments when the comic does something completely different and unexpected. I love stand up comedy and have since i discovered my parent's Bill Cosby records. "Himself" is still my remedy for even the worst day.

Name that comic: " of the toughest times in anyone's when you have to murder a loved one...because they're the devil...but...other than that though it's been a good day."