Sunday, March 30, 2008

the ballot box

Last night, it struck me - quite forcefully: I have to actually decide which candidate will get my vote in May.

I've been following the election, obviously, but it's been largely with the slightly detached and disinterested eye of someone who will have to teach it one of these days. Oh, I would go to the polls in May and squint at the silly electronic screens, but I would do it simply because I can rather than because it would have any meaning in the long term vis a vis the selection of a candidate. Surely by May the race would be down to one person for each ticket...

Apparently Indiana is going to be a big battleground state for Obama and Clinton. Indiana? Who would have thought it??! I am stunned. Chelsea Clinton did a big university speaking tour here and Bill has been spotted all over the place. Meanwhile I saw the first ad I think I have EVER seen in all of my years living in Indiana for a presidential candidate during primary season (Obama.)

In all honesty, I am not wild about either of my options - Obama and Clinton both bring odd bits of baggage and their own myopic views and weaknesses. Both seem to be quite passionate about public service and to truly believe that change is actually possible. Whichever way I vote, it will be a historic vote as cast by moi. I am only one citizen but damnit, that's the point.

(No, McCain isn't an option. His embrace of GWB creates serious problems in my mind, not to mention that we disagree on some issues that are of vital importance to me as a voter. I might have voted for him in 2000, but not in 2008.)

So anyway, I am slowly shifting from detached cynicism to trying to make a decision. I'm trying to weed out the "I landed upder sniper fire" and "he's a Muslim" stories and actually pare down to their ideas, their ability to connect with others and their overall enthusiasm.

If nothing else, "Hillary" "Barack" and "John" all pass my "Prayers of the People" test.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

update and hodge-podge

Eighty-nine students understood the last assignment. Guess who continues to insist that it is, "so hard and it makes no sense." Ah well, enough of that.

We're in that funny mix that is Indiana spring - some warm days, some cold days, and some bizarre storms. Yesterday's classes were accentuated by thunder, buffeted by winds and the windows attacked by rain that sounded like machine gun fire. Naturally, by the time I walked to my car, the sun peeped out from behind the clouds. Were I the sun, I think I'd have just taken the whole day off.

Getting back to my earlier meme, I wanted to put in a plug for the Judy Garland/ Gene Kelly classic film For Me and My Gal. It was Kelly's first film and Garland's first starring role in which her name went above the credits. To answer your next question, yes, she's healthy and looks happy.

It's set during the days before WW I and, surprise surprise, features two hoofers who want to make it to the heights of Vaudeville. OK, so far it's a formula, right? Here's the catch - unlike most musical leads of the time, Kelly is a bit of a cad. He's not above some cocksure yet cunning duplicity to get to Garland. Garland's brother willingly serves in the war, while Kelly is, shall we say, a tad reluctant.

When the film aired in previews, several bits had to be added to make Kelly's charecter more acceptable to audiences - I'd have liked and comprehended him and his motives anyway, but as this was aired during WW II, I can understand this need to support patriotism. Anyway, how many 1940s musicals have war sequences?

"And sometime we're gonne build a little home for two or three or four or more in loveland for Me and My Gal."

Thursday, March 20, 2008

thanks for the cold noses

I was running, running, running - wanted to scream, but couldn't - running, running, running...

I awoke to a cold nose in my hand. Sam does this sometimes. The cold nose is then followed by his patented "border collie stare" one hard wired into his DNA to intimidate the sheep. He may be the same size as your average sheep, but Sam's stare could get a ram to recite Shakespeare.

It's 3 AM, so I assumed that Sam was informing me that he really should go outside right now or we'd both regret it. I stumbled out of bed, prepared to go downstairs in my state of semi-nombulance.

Instead, with the herding stare firmly in place, he blocked the door. Feeling a bit like I had time-warped into an episode of Lassie I said something like, "what is it, boy?" Sam nudged me down ont the floor and then put his head into my lap after licking my hand.

Understand that Sam is not a dog who licks. I maybe get one if I've been away for the weekend. I am convinced that my dog knew I'd been in the midst of a nightmare and wanted to comfort me. He kept his head on my lap until my heart had stopped pounding.

I'd like to thank all who have commented, called, e-mailed and otherwise offered support in the on-going soap opera. Ei, I am in love with the CD. I hate to make a blog into a thoroughly narcissistic statement, but I suppose this is one of the useful functions it can serve in our day to day lives.

In other words, thanks for all of the cold noses.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

a quiet rant

I thought I was tough.


I've been called every name in the book, plus a few that even a porn publisher wouldn't include, let alone Harlequin.. In 15 years, I've gotten reasonably accustomed to the occasional problem student. I'm pretty good at dealing with them too. In all modesty, I pride myself upon being the kind of teacher that gets people to say, "you know, I hate history, but I love your class."

I work at it. Very hard. Very hard. Probably much more than any of them ever guess. I care, a lot. I am poorly paid and all of that, but what I do matters and I love it and that's the point. I don't want to make millions, I want to make people as excited about history as it makes me. I want them to use it to improve matters, be informed, create change. Don't build amusement parks on Civil War battlefields -

I had a show-down today with a student. This was the worst show-down I have ever had with anyone in my entire life and I do mean with ANYONE. Pick your worst playground bully, your worst ex-boyfriend's mother, whatever. This was hideous. At the end of it I was, literally, sick to my stomach.

I hope that this means an end to the soap opera I have mentioned in the past. I am not optimistic. I have learned that I am not the only one to have problems wioth this person... I'm just the first to confront the student directly. Lucky me.

I'm sorry; I had planned to write a long and funny post about the one film that no one guessed from my meme (For Me and my Gal, Judy Garland and Gene Kelly) but this is all I can handle right now. Tomorrow I promise to go back to being light-hearted.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

movie meme

I've been seeing a lot of bloggers experiment with this one - it's been fun to see the variety of choices, even when when I haven't seen any of the films in question.

1. Pick 10 of your favorite movies.

2. Go to IMDB and find a quote from each movie.

3. Post them here for everyone to guess.

4. Strike it out when someone guesses correctly, and put who guessed it and the movie.

5. GUESSERS: NO GOOGLING/using IMDb search functions.

1) "Oh Abigail, Abigail, I have such a desire to knock heads together!"
-1776 guessed by Harriet

2) "That wasn't the prettiest corner I've ever seen Mr. Liddel, but certainly the bravest." -Chariots of Fire guessed by Jim and yes, you're exactly right, it should be "quarter" not "corner"

3) "I know. You know I know. I know you know I know. We both know Henry knows, and Henry knows we know it. We're a knowlegable family."
-The Lion in Winter Joe, bonus for knowing extra lines!

4) "Did you know she has flowers in her panties?"
-The Gods Must be Crazy guessed by Jeanne (I can't believe that she didn't know #7!)

5) "a little home for two or three or four or more in loveland"

6) "Perhaps Margaret is right. Perhaps piracy is our only option. What exactly is swabbing?"
-Sense and Sensibility Brain Girl - I didn't know you read my blog! I am honored.

7) "I'm a damsel - I'm in distress - I can handle it. Have a nice day!"
- Hercules guessed by Foxy - Drew, we saw this together!!!!

8) "Games? I've seen better organized riots."
-Chariots of Fire also by Jim. OK, I admit it, I couldn't decide which line I liked better so I used them both. Hey, it's my blog and it's a brilliant movie.

9) "Green - no, blue - aaaah!"
Monty Python and the Holy Grail guess by Harriet, some of smartest silly humor ever

10) "one sister has gone with a brother before, but two sisters makes the entire family look ridiculous."
Meet Me in St Louis Harriet, how did you get this one??!