Tuesday, November 15, 2005

a post, so no one has to badger me

All I'm saying is I hope people take advantage of the great headline links I post. I search them out so you don't have to.

Well, everytime I plan to post, something comes up. Unfortunately, the last few days, that something has been flu-like symptoms and a raging fever. Not good times. I'm pretty sure it's punishment for skipping class last week when I was just not in the mood to go. That's Karma, my friends. Like a nasty kick to throat when you least expected it.

So lately I've been keeping myself busy with school, which is fitting, since that's what I get paid to do (or at least that's what they tell me. Apparently the whole "teaching fifty students" thing shouldn't be my priority -- but I've had this rant before). I thought I had a good idea for one of my papers, only to start doing research and discover that aspects of the topic have been talked about at least as far back as the 1700s. Whoops! Back to the drawing board on that one. At least I've finally nailed down what I think will be a good seminar paper(which in this case I'd define as "a paper that allows me to hit the page requirement without sounding completely ridiculous or making things up"). It's going to be on robots, the uncanny as Freud defines it, and E.T.A. Hoffman. Should be fun stuff. So, anyone know any good movies where either a) it becomes difficult to distinguish robots from humans (I'm already using Blade Runner) or more preferably b) the robotic figures are off-putting because they're not quite real enough (I'm thinking of how the human figures look in the CGI film Polar Express, but with robots). I'm trying to delve into the idea of the uncanny valley. Help a brother out, if anything comes to mind.

My other paper: I have no clue yet. What can I say, this semester just didn't do it for me. I'm ready to not be a part of collegiate academia for a while.

Quick Commercial Break: Watch these five movies!
Rebecca - Hitchcock film that won best picture in the 40s. Enjoyable and suspenseful.
Unleashed - Jet Li as a dog, Morgan Freeman as a blind piano tuner, and Bob Hoskins as a wicked extortionist. Some clunky dialogue, but fun.
Three Seasons - The first American film made in Vietnam since the war. Three stories of common people doing uncommon things: lovely and poignant (Bonus: A Harvey Keitel film where he doesn't appear nude. Hooray!)
Nightmare Before Christmas - C'mon, it's that time of year. Claymation goodness coming right at you.
A Tale of Two Sisters - OK, I'm about two and a half weeks late to recommend a Halloween film, but this Korean film is creepy, creative, and psychologically complex. Not for the faint of heart!

And now back to the blog:
Let me just say one more thing about my students. I wonder at times if I'm unreasonable. Then I take an honest look at myself and decide, no, I don't think I am. I gave an assignment last Friday to post a discussion question to our class website about a film. The film had already been assigned, so the only extra work I was expecting was to log on to the web, open a discussion folder, and post a question. I told them they didn't even have to respond to other questions, and that I'd draw from those questions for class discussion tomorrow. I also made it clear that this was the type of assignment that would affect their participation grade in the class. I gave them a Tuesday by 7:00pm deadline, e-mailed them over the weekend to remind them, and mentioned it again in class on Monday. Today at 7:30 (I even gave extra time) I get on the class website to find that 27 people have posted questions.

"That's great" you say.

Except that there are 50 people in the class. So 23 people just decided not to do it. What do I say to them tomorrow? Are they thinking I don't mean what I say? Are they thinking that I'm just making empty threats? I think a lot of people in this class are going to be pretty disappointed when they get their final grades. Sorry kids. I'll give you a lot of slack, but you've got to at least pick up the other end of the rope.

OK, that's enough for today. I really am trying to get back into the habit of regular posts. Maybe if I post more, but shorter, instead of infrequently, but longer. You gotta have a goal right? Or is that a dream? Or a car? I forget.

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