28 May 2007

Movie Reviews/Exam News

My weekend was spent at community college dance recitals (very good!), buying huckleberry plants at a local farm, barbecues with the history crowd, and big-budget movies at the mall. I needed a brain break, and it was good to have a non-working weekend for once. Shrek the Third: good stuff. Pretty much, if you liked the first two, you'll like this one. Not as much Puss in Boots as I would've liked, but I hear there's a whole PiB movie coming out in a few years, so I can be patient.

Shrek viewing pleasure was also assisted by the comparison to the third Pirates movie, seen the night before. Shrek = 1 1/2 hours long. Pirates = 3 hours long. Also full of stupid and offensive stereotypes. Also, not nearly enough Johnny Depp. There's a whole mini surrealist movie of just him being totally hilarious toward the beginning that's actually worth sitting through the entire 3 hours, but I wish there had been more. More of that, less of the hours of tedious special effects.

In comps news, for the first time in weeks (since my first practice session), I don't feel like I'm counting down to my execution. I had another practice session on Friday that was actually like an enjoyable conversation about theory and ideas and historical trends in the 20th century (imagine!). The professor even ended it by hinting that it shouldn't be a hazing ritual and she will try to "interrupt" that if it starts to happen. Given that one of my other committee members clearly does view it as a hazing session, that made me feel a lot better. I'm aiming to take them the first week of July, before I have to start teaching my summer course. Today, it's back to work, but substantially refreshed and feeling a lot lighter than in a long time. I see the light at the end of the tunnel of books, finally.

16 May 2007

I Heart Bright Eyes

I don't know what it is about the last few days, I've just been listening to that album a lot. Especially Road to Joy. I think it's just that I really love political music. Somehow it goes with my teaching style, which, based on today's class on Brown, is approximately 70% leftist political rant (%40 race, 20% class, 10% antiwar, 'cause there's always room for that), 20% legal theory, and 10% random mentions of Republicans doing something awesome or Democrats being sinister (easy enough to find examples of that), just because I like to confuse them. Hey, when did I stop talking about gender? The irony! I guess I have next week's lesson plan done now.

I would also like to officially thank E. for turning me on to Feist, the official musical sponsor of my grading last weekend.

14 May 2007

I Can't Compete with Bush

Here is how one of my students' midterms discussing McCarthyism during the Cold War concludes:

"Personally I don't see anything wrong with restricting what people say about their government publicly. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but since no one has all the facts, each person should be allowed to decide for themselves what is right, without outside influence."

Apparently the only "outside influence" this student approves of are the government propaganda videos I showed them endlessly in section. Also, these two statements don't even logically get along with one another. Unless you're only entitled to your own opinion if it's government-sanctioned and you keep your mouth shut otherwise. Hey, we'll let you think it really hard! How awesomely freedom-loving are we? I guess all W.'s "work" the last few years has paid off. The kids today really get his message!

I also enjoyed the exam that discussed the need to fight communist Japan during WWII. That was, as we all know, the reason for the emergence of anti-communist internment camps. Oy. Of course, then I read a few that apparently wrote down and memorized every random thing I ever said about racism in Disney movies, read the text cover to cover, and are so ticked off about injustice that they draw all these unprovoked connections to 9/11 and inequalities today. Those make it all worth it.

11 May 2007

I Need A Montage!

Even Rocky had a montage! I've been a bad blogstress of late (thanks for the kick in the pants, KFR), largely because of comps preparation, and I've realized that I would like to just film a montage of the next few months until comps and wake up after they're over. I'm envisioning scenes of me making hundreds of thousands of factual flashcards, sketching vast and overcomplicated timelines on a piece of paper that stretches the length of my house, and of course, falling asleep with my montage glasses askew atop a precarious pile of books upon which I've taken copious and well-informed notes. In between there would be the requisite punching bag scene, some grading of midterms, and some intense computer typing as I finally get around to updating my blog and responding to emails. I haven't decided what the most appropriate song would be -- I'm leaning toward something classic, like Little Miss Can't Be Wrong by the Spin Doctors, or possibly Overkill by Colin Hay. OK, so actually, my "real-life" montage lasts a lot longer than three minutes and so far is set 90% of the time to Philip Glass. I think that might just be making this process more depressing. And let me add for the record that I attempted, as the Good Girl that I am, to follow my adviser's advice from last week and use bourbon as stress relief. (Yes, PP said that. With a straight face. That was her "stress relief" of choice in grad school.) Naturally, it did not work out so well for me, which might be related to following it with whiskey, and then tequila. Mistakes were made. Yet another way in which I am no PP. I fear this will become very apparent during the exam itself.

On a side note: according to my students' midterms, William Jennings Bryan was a conciliatory African American political leader at the turn of the century and the Army-McCarthy hearings were about the resignation of army General McCarthy who led our troops to victory in the Pacific in WWII and later headed up the Korean War. Yeah. They even had a choice of IDs to write about -- and yet. Of course, I couldn't remember the geographical distinctions between the Mid-Atlantic states, New England and the Chesapeake last week, and I lived in the major cities of all three areas for the majority of my adult life. So whatever. Exams suck.