Viewing entries tagged
Film Class

THE WASTELAND

THE WASTELAND

Warning:  the cultural landscape, once lush and fragrant, has been plagued by a terrible and long-lasting drought.  The lush foliage has shrunken into pale patches of grimy moss.  The shards of glorious sunlight have darkened into just a glimmer of shadows.  Rainbows no longer include the colors green and purple.  The sociological touchstones that once served to ground us are often now misunderstood or completely ignored. 

It was only a matter of time really.  I saw most of the signs, even the ones I pretended for a while to ignore.  I would show The Graduate to my students and one of them would always ask, “Is this Simon and Garfunkel?” and I would smile and tell them how Mike Nichols had gotten the duo involved with the soundtrack and I’d see some slight nods of recognition and hear at least two whispers of “My parents like them” and it didn’t matter that the kids themselves weren’t fans; at least they were somewhat aware that a group called Simon and Garfunkel once existed on the planet.

POWER

POWER

Maybe it’s because it’s officially Summer Movie Season and, regardless of what’s actually coming out in theatres in the next few months, I just always expect that when the weather turns warm that I will be seeing commercials for films that involve characters who have some key kind of superpower like the ability to fly or to morph into another object entirely or who can outrun a genetically-engineered dinosaur who has got human spleen on his genetically-engineered brain.  Maybe it’s because I’ve been exercising a lot and I actually feel physically stronger these days.  Maybe it’s that I actually feel pretty okay in my own mind about the actions that I did and didn’t allow myself to take and that I’ve learned that smiling with a shrug is actually a somewhat effective way to move on.  But whatever has caused the thought process – Wonder Twins or running barefoot on a trampoline or the way my shoulders have finally loosened up from all the shrugging I’ve been doing – I do know that recently I have been thinking a great deal about power.

MAY

MAY

About five or six years ago, I presented a workshop during an annual school event to middle school students who were selected to come up to the high school for the day.  As my actual students had written, produced, directed, and edited documentary shorts that the little ones would be watching later (“Is it appropriate for a twelve year old to watch a documentary on piercings that starts with the extreme close-up of a nipple?” I wondered – probably too late.  But then I thought, “Fuck it; it’s a male nipple.  The kids will be fine.”), I did an activity about how to turn a defining moment each kid has experienced into a documentary film.  

I had never taught such little people before, and I was actually terrified.  I was scared I wouldn’t know what to say to them or that I’d make jokes they wouldn’t get or that they would just sit there and stare at me – like some of my actual students do, though after ten minutes, that just feels weird – but the group who toddled up to the high school were kids who had entered and won an essay contest to attend the event.  They wanted to be there.  They liked school.  And they all raised their hands immediately whenever I so much as spoke a sentence that mildly ended with an upwards question-like inflection.

A CHANGE IN IDENTITY

A CHANGE IN IDENTITY

Several long years ago – before I lived where I live now, before I’d very questionably attempted bangs for the first time, before I wondered if that one guy could possibly be worth it – the first day of a new semester arrived and, with it, three brand spanking new classes.  I have long loved what I do for a living – I see it as spreading the slasher and possession film gospel to the masses – but I have never been able to make myself love the day when the Fall semester officially turns into the Spring semester and it’s probably because a freezing day in February feels nothing like the springtime and because what it all really means is that I have to learn the names of eighty-something new students just when I’d finally figured out which kid was Peter and which kid was Steven in one of the classes that is now no longer a part of my daily schedule.

Change is not my favorite constant in the world, but I can usually roll (or at least hop along) with the punches that come with things being different, but the Name Thing has always been an issue for me.  Even when I’m writing fiction, I tend to use the same names over and over again.  It’s not even that I love those names; I just can, for some reason, remember them – and isn’t that what’s most important?  Okay, it’s totally not what’s most important, but at least it’s helpful because otherwise I end up naming every guy character I create Mike.

TEARS & FEARS

TEARS & FEARS

I’m kind of easy.  

Get your mind out of the gutter, please – I’m not easy like that (unless you play guitar).  What I mean is that I’m not all that complex or resistant when it comes to having an intended emotional reaction, especially the kind created cinematically.

I am a very easy cry.  You construct a montage sequence lit like the world the characters onscreen inhabit is made out of gold and shine and then you score those visuals with a song that matches the images perfectly and I will blubber like a teething infant in four seconds flat.  
 

CRAVINGS

CRAVINGS

I left my house this morning at 6:11 AM -- and that meant I was running late.  

The leather bag I hoisted over my shoulder as I carefully climbed down my front steps felt heavier than usual.  I could feel the weight pressing the straps against my skin and I knew deep grooves were forming on my shoulder beneath the non-protection of my chiffon dress.  Swirling around in that bag? My laptop, two bottles of water, four Pike Street k-cups from Starbucks, maybe the best banana that has ever fallen off of a tree in whatever nation the banana hails from – seriously, it was bright yellow and fucking delicious – and a few DVDs. I’m usually carting movies around; it makes me laugh that there are days when it makes perfect sense that I bring Boogie NightsAmerican Psycho, and American Beauty with me to work, and those are the times when I can’t fully believe that I managed to carve out a career for myself where teaching clips of those movies is completely and utterly relevant to my curriculum.  

THE DEKLINE OF WESTERN CIVILIZATION

THE DEKLINE OF WESTERN CIVILIZATION

I stood in front of my class yesterday in a flippy skirt and opaque black tights – it’s November now after all – and told my eighteen year old seniors that we were leaving the 1940s behind and sauntering our way into the next decade.

On the board behind me, written in a pretty purple-colored chalk, was the word zeitgeist.
                                                             
“Say it with me so you know how to pronounce it,” I told my students who are old enough to vote, even though most of them don’t.  “Zeitgeist.”

Zeitgeist,” they said back in unison, and for a brief moment I thought I knew what teaching kindergarten must be like.

CANDY

CANDY

There’s a red, blue, and gold Wonder Woman costume hanging in my closet year round.  It’s the Deluxe package – you know, the one that comes with covers to slide over my thigh-high boots and a gold belt to tie around my waist and a tiara to wear atop my hair that’s not nearly as ink-black the real Wonder Woman’s.

I have a plastic drawstring bag stuffed with halos, three different headbands with devil horns – one that’s sparkly, one that’s stiff and spiky, and one that’s made of red pleather – and tails of various species.

Crinolines in various colors – white, pink, and one in red that is made of so much layered tulle that it takes up a remarkable amount of space – sit on a high shelf.  I smile every time I see them with such genuine happiness that you’d think I was a frustrated ballerina, an insane person, or President of The National Tulle Fetish Club, a thing I’m not sure actually exists, but there are some strange fucking people in this world so I wouldn’t be too surprised. 
 

MY FAVORITE PROFESSOR

MY FAVORITE PROFESSOR

I used to see him outside of Memorial Hall, the stately brick building where English classes were held at the University of Delaware. He'd stand on one of the stairwells, leaning against a wrought iron railing that led to the entryway, and I'd see him smoke cigarettes between classes, often surrounded by students who would stand and smoke with him, laughing at everything he said. He seemed older than some of the other professors, but it could have been the grey beard tumbling off of his face that gave that impression. He always dressed casually but professionally, wearing collared shirts but never a sports jacket. Once, as I walked by the group of inhalers on my way to Biblical and Classical Literature, I heard him speak and realized he had an accent. I hadn't expected that. It sounded kind of southern, but I couldn't really place the origin.

LUCIFER & MEPHISTOPHELES ARE IN LOVE -- AND THEY FUCKING HATE YOU

LUCIFER & MEPHISTOPHELES ARE IN LOVE -- AND THEY FUCKING HATE YOU

Once upon a suburban high school semester, two of the most horrible creatures the planet had ever born became students in my class.  

They are long gone from my world now – they graduated years ago and today they are probably either incarcerated or asking you if you would like fries with that – yet calling each by a pseudonym still seems to constitute proper form.  So for propriety’s sake, let’s call him Lucifer, and we’ll refer to her as Mephistopheles – Meffie for short – but only because Fucking Asshole doesn’t yield a cute nickname.