February 23, 2012

Random Reviews

I've been out sick with a cold that won't quit lately, hence the lack of any post of substance. This is going to be a random collection of thoughts that might just be interesting to you if you are a movie, TV or book buff. Enjoy!

Nikita- A spy thriller based on the french film "La Femme Nikita," only WAY better. I watched the entire first season in three days (to be fair, one was a Sunday and another a sick day) and still felt like I wanted more. The story lines are interesting and full of great twists, but the best part is the character development. There are a lot of strong female characters in this show who kick butt and take names. I felt strangely vindicated as I sat, sick and dejected on my couch, watching Maggie Lee take down five guys that could have played pro-football with a paperweight wrapped in a towel. Sweet.

The Secret World of Arrietty- An adaptation of the book, The Borrowers, the new Studio Ghibli film has a quiet, calm pace throughout that is simply magical. The movie wrapped me up and transported me into a miniature fantasy land, filled with great details (pay attention to the water droplets) and other-worldly music. I love all the Ghibli films, but this was the closest a movie has ever gotten to the feeling I get when I wrap myself up in a blanket and read a good book- comfy, cozy and imaginative.

Life As We Knew It- I don't know what it is with me and post-apocalyptic books, but I have read five of them in the past three months, the most current being a tale told from the perspective of a 16 year-old-girl after an asteroid crashes into the moon, sending it closer into the earth's orbit. All sorts of strange weather starts spiraling the world Miranda knows into chaos, and she records it in diary format. The style and mood of this book reminded me a lot of the The Road (the most stark and depressingly beautiful survival book ever written in my opinion). It's definitely written for the middle-high school crowd, but if you're into the survival-story-in-strange-circumstances-genre, this is a pretty good choice.

Rifftrax- Brought to you by the creators of Mystery Science Theater 3000! If you go to their website, you can download audio files of these VERY FUNNY guys riffing on movies. You play the audio on your computer while you watch the movie normally on your TV, and it's almost like they're in the room, making a horrible movie-going experience hilarious and truly worth while. Corey (my sister) and I have started a weekend routine of watching a movie with Rifftrax playing on the side, the Harry Potter series being our current victim. they've got hundreds of movies to choose from (my definition of heaven). If you're in need of a good laugh, or don't think you can bare watching the new Twilight instillation without some sort of help, I personally recommend the Rifftrax remedy. It does cost about 3-5 dollars to download the audio, just a heads up (it's totally worth it).

These forms of entertainment kept by clogged head above snot level the past few weeks, and if they're awesome when my brain is foggy, chances are, they're going to be spectacular to the fully-functioning mind.

One more thing before I sign off- I made out like a bandit this Valentine's Day. So much for Singles' Awareness Day, I'm going to call it Give Your Teacher Chocolate Day hence-forth. I like that second one so much better...The funny thing about Valentines though...they're really cheesy. I love cheesy. Here's three of my favorites.
Ah, blatant plagiarism, my old friend...

Complete with a parrot tattoo!

Not sure what I think of the DumDum...

February 4, 2012

Without art, the earth would just be 'eh'

My wish and hope and desire is to become an art teacher. Someday I will get a masters degree in fine arts, but the job market for art teachers is, well...limited. And shrinking fast. In fact, the middle school I teach in no longer has any extra curriculars: practically no sports, no music, no shop, no Home EC, no computer classes, and definitely no art.

I'm not one to give up on something I really, really, really, REALLY want, so...I started an art club! I feel invigorated and excited again about teaching after our first art club meeting on Thursday. Nine students showed up for the first meeting and I feel that more will come to the next. We had a marvelous time drawing shapes and creating a still life (well, one little guy drew dinosaurs and fish- the important thing is that he had a good time). I gave quite a bit of positive praise to everyone and let the students draw as they saw fit (hence the dinosaurs). While none of the students have a lot practice, they all tried their hardest and they produced wonderful drawings that I will proudly hang on the school's walls, proclaiming to all who pass by that art does exist in this place!
Basic Drawing
Our very first object.
This whole process was enough to make me giddy, but what really made me happy was how relaxed and at ease I was with my art lesson. It came so naturally! I joked around with the students and let my guard down, which I NEVER do in my normal classroom. It's hard for me let go of control enough to joke around with 23 eleven year-olds and just trust that we can come back down to a calm level (I wonder why). It was different with these guys: a smaller group, they all wanted to be there, and were therefore well behaved no matter what I did (like dropping all the still life objects in the loudest possible fashion. I then bowed). But it wasn't just that- I wanted to be there. It's important for the teacher to enjoy what they're teaching, and I'm afraid I've lost sight of that a bit in my English classroom.
M. C. Escher
Someday they'll be doing work like this!
In fact, there are many teachers that I know who feel drained, unappreciated, bored, overworked or a thousand other negative sensations that don't help us teach. Teachers are also blamed quite a bit for things that are wrong in education. It all adds up. It is such a pleasure to find something in the classroom that cancels all that out. I don't know why it took me so long to start this club, for it awoke my joy of teaching again. These little jump starts are sometimes all it takes to make it to tomorrow.

Speaking of jump starts, somebody out there got the bright idea of giving the image of a teacher a make-over. Apparently, the image of an apple, the ABC's or a pencil as the representation of a teacher seems old hat to some. I have honestly never thought about this before, until a friend sent me the link below. Now that the out-of-date image of a teacher has been brought to my attention, I agree that it might actually need a bit of an update. In this age where image is practically everything, teachers have a particularly negative one. I've always been partial to the classic icons of education, but the idea of 'connecting the dots' on this website might just capture the scope, purpose and delight of teaching. Check it out.

If you have any suggestions for my art club, let me know. We'll be making African masks this Thursday!