Sunday, July 29, 2007

"There's a Bob Dylan reference in this movie just for you."

I am currently watching Music and Lyrics with Michelle. It's actually not a terrible movie. I admit a certain fondness for Hugh Grant movies, though I couldn't tell you why.

I've been sick all weekend. Whether it's allergies or whatnot isn't really clear to me, but Lord knows I hate not being able to breathe. And God, the much phlegm. It's made it tough for me to sleep through the night and such, but at the same time it's making me ridiculously sleepy. This only happens about once every six or seven months, but it's always a pain when it does.

Tuesday is when I present my Final Portfolio. I printed it out earlier this afternoon. Fifty pages of crap. Woo. I will be glad to get the damn thing done finally, as it's been a long time in the works. It also marks the end of my classes until at least September, which will be nice.

Looks like Michelle and I will be heading to Oklahoma next month for a few days of hanging out with the folks. The impetus for the trip is, technically, Dad and Vivian's wedding reception (seeing as how they got married a couple of weeks ago). For me, the greater draw is taking Michelle to see the family members she hasn't met. So that'll be fun.


Song of the Moment: Cake, "Italian Leather Sofa"

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Harry Potter and the Pop-Culture Phenomenon

My wife is waiting anxiously for her copy of the seventh and final Harry Potter book to arrive at our doorstep. Her sister got it for Michelle for her birthday (which is this coming Wednesday), and all I've really heard about all week is "Harry Potter this" and "Harry Potter that." Nevermind spoilers or controversies over copies released early or reviewed by newspapers before the book was issued; my wife's been a one-woman Harry Potter frenzy (in fact, she just called me to ask if the book had arrived yet).

Personally, I'm not all that hot and bothered over the end of the series. I'm sure Rowling, who's made a fortune and a half cranking out these tomes (dear Lord, will someone teach that woman how to edit?!), will find some other way to continue milking the cash cow for years to come. And just because this is the end of this particular series doesn't mean she can't do the whole spinoff thing. God knows she put together a large enough cast for these books that they could all easily have their own series and the world would never want for more wizarding adventures.

But no, I don't really feel like this event has any impact on me (except insofar as it impacts so many of the people I deal with on a daily basis). I never got into the whole Potter craze. I've only seen the most recent film in the theatres; I have watched the other four, but all on DVD well after they came out. I have never purchased one of the books; I borrowed them all from friends. And while I think the books are nice in their way, I can't say I've ever been particularly blown away by Rowling's prose (the pseudo-Latin she used for magic spells still kinda irks me, and the very obvious character names--Lupin gthe werewolf, for cryin' out loud!--seemed too transparent to me. I know we're talking about children's books here, but c'mon). She tends to give way too much detail, but the detail doesn't really add to the story, characters, setting, or our understanding of the world she's created. It's all rather superfluous.

I'm probably in a pretty tiny minority in my opinions about all things Harry Potter. I've never really understood why the whole world seemed to have gone crazy over a set of (what I perceived as) mediocrely-written novels about a school of wizards and witches mixed in with a coming of age story. Garth Nix's Sabriel mixes supernatural powers and coming-of-age much better, as does Terry Pratchett's Tiffany Aching young adult novels.

But anyway, yeah, we're waiting for Harry Potter here at Casa de Branco-Cottrell. Woo.


Song of the Moment: Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, "The Waiting"

Thursday, July 19, 2007

"For No Reason, Here's Apu"

My vacation is at an end. Hafta return to work in the morning. I can't say I'm particularly thrilled to be heading back to work, but the money's good and I do enjoy my job to a large extent.

And, as I said, the money's good.

Michelle, of course, gets the rest of the week off still. Lucky.

We spent the first two days of the week doing a whole lot of nothing. Wednesday we went to Luray Caverns, which was pretty nifty and a nice way to spend the day. Granted, we had a small child in the group that made we question whether having kids was ever really a good idea, but that's just what happens when there's a little kid whose mother won't take control of him.

Watched Pan's Labyrinth on Tuesday, and damn if that isn't a great flick. Sometimes it's hard to believe that the same guy who directed (and wrote!) that film also directed Blade II.


Song of the Moment: Spoon, "Don't Make Me a Target"

Friday, July 13, 2007

"Poor Man Wanna Be Rich, Rich Man Wanna Be King"

Today is my six month-iversary. That's right, Michelle and I have made it six whole months without her killing me! This is truly a cause for celebration.

And we are, kinda. Next week, she's got the week off and I'm taking a few days off myself. We're looking on going on a little mini-vacation to just get the heck out of town and relax for a couple of days. God knows we could use the break.

Summer school is going well, but I don't remember it wearing me out this much last summer. Maybe I'm doing more work this summer? It's possible. Lord knows I'm working the kids pretty hard.

I've been listening to the band Spoon a lot lately. This is not a bad thing, I feel, and it's definitely something I could get used to.

In other news, I probably could use a haircut, but it ain't gonna happen. This hair shall get long enough for a ponytail, I swear it!


Song of the Moment: Bruce Springsteen, "Adam Raised a Cain"

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

"I Think It Was The Fourth of July"

Happy Independence Day, folks. We here at Casa de Branco-Cottrell spent it grilling burgers and watching Moonstruck and Seinfeld. Good times, good times.

Summer school's started up, and the students are not particularly happy about it. I can't say that I blame them: summer school isn't the most fun possible for a bunch of kids who really just want to relax and forget everything they've spent the previous 9 1/2 months learning. There's also the stigma that's always been attached to attending summer school; i.e., that you are dumb or stupid if you have to go to summer school and you must've flunked a bunch of stuff during the regular school year.

That's not really the reality for summer school at Accotink. We call it ESY--Extended School Year--and the idea isn't so much remedial "damn you're stupid kids" as it is "these children would benefit from extra educational services during the summer so they maintain and further develop necessary academic skills and don't forget everything over the course of two and a half months away from books, blackboards, and teachers." A lot of people might say I'm splitting hairs there, but there's a very different tone and approach between the two.

I rather like teaching summer school. The atmosphere is much more laid back and relaxed, I can wear jeans or shorts to work (I always wear sandals during the summer; once the school year ends, the shoes get put away and I'm barefoot as often as possible. This is what comes of being raised in Oklahoma, I think), and we take the students on field trips each day. Some of the field trips are pretty cool--we go see movies, play laser tag, visit nifty museums--and I think the teachers have at least as much fun (probably more, in some cases) as the students. I also get to tackle a different subject--writing--that offers a unique set of challenges I don't encounter in history. In terms of writing ability, our students really run the gamut, so you have to be able to ratchet your thinking up and down in terms of expectations of ability and such. But it's pretty groovy overall.

I bought Michelle's birthday presents tonight. Well, ordered it, anyway. Should arrive by the end of next week, I think, and then it's just a matter of keeping the presents hidden until her birthday actually rolls around on the 25th. I think she'll dig what I found for her.


Song of the Moment: The Decemberists, "Yankee Bayonet"