31 July 2007

Proposals Away!

Apparently, I jinxed myself. After my last post, I said to Sarah "Hey! The blog is back. It's only mid July and I've already written as many posts as I did in June." Of course, that was two weeks ago and I haven't posted anything since. :(

I just submitted two research proposals to AERA. AERA (The American Educational Research Association) is the big giant educational research conference -- tens of thousands of people, hundreds of research specialties, everyone goes, etc. It's next March in New York City. It's important for me to go for professional reasons, but the one time I went in didn't have a very good time. It's just too big and spread out for me to really meet people or learn much. Now that I know people and won't be going by myself, however, I think it will be different.

I am excited about my two proposals, though. I am first author on both. One has to do with ethics and assessment. The other with preservice teacher's (i.e. my students') visions of what school should be like. The former I am working on with a colleague here; the latter with a former student. I hope they get accepted.

14 July 2007

S-A-T-U-R-D-A-Zzzzzzzzzz

I am going to bed early tonight. Want to know why?

Three loads of laundry.
Grocery shopping.
Three articles read.
Three powerpoints made for those articles.
Midterm exam written.
Final exam written.
Big update for on-line course.
Answered miscellaneous posts/messages for on-line course.

And I am still thinking about going to the gym.

Eleanor napped on me today, while strapped into the Baby Bjorn. If I set the laptop up on the kitchen counter, I can type while she sleeps in there.

Boy, am I busy!

12 July 2007

Have a Cupp!

Sarah has started back to work this week at a new coffee shop called Cupps Cafe.. It's (hopefully) opening next week and sits in a prime spot, on Cherry Road, right across the street from the two largest dorms on campus. The owners are great and clearly have a passion for coffee. They'll also have beer and wine, with organic/local food for lunches and stuff. I am very excited about the place and excited for Sarah, because she likes working in an environment like Cupps. It's one of her dreams to own her own cafe one day, and this gets her a little step closer.

Of course, Sarah started the same week my face-to-face class started, so we've been doing a bit of juggling with Eleanor. We're trying to avoid daycare, as much because of the expense as anything else. So I've been watching her in the mornings, or bringing her to the office for a bit. That arrangement has been okay, except that Eleanor isn't really napping like she needs to -- she only wants to sleep in her car seat. So she gets fussy and I can't get work done, which makes me fussy.

It's forced me to reevaluate my work habits and routine a bit. In many ways, I am a morning person -- I work best until lunch, then find it really hard to be productive (especially writing) after 2:00 or so. But this week, I have been able to get things done after class, which ends at 4:00. Yesterday I recorded a podcast for my on-line course and did some other odds and ends from 4:00 -- 6:00 before heading home.

So many balls are up in the air, but Sarah and I are figuring out how to sort things so that both of us can work, we can take care of our little girl, and spend some time together as a family. It's hard, but we are working it out.

11 July 2007

GEICO does not cover Autobot Matrix of Leaderships

It's been a real busy week, with my face to face class starting, Sarah starting back to work, and facing research deadlines of August 1st.

But my friend Josh sent this, and I laughed a lot. Love McSweeney's!

A Letter to Optimus Prime from his GEICO Insurance Agent.

06 July 2007

Bill Pickney, 1925-2007

On Wednesday, Bill Pickney died. He was the last surviving member of a group many know -- the Drifters. He was also a decorated WWII verteran and former Negro League Pitcher. They had big hits with "Under the Boardwalk", "Up on the Roof", "This Magic Moment," and others. Pickney didn't actually sing on any of their big hits; he had been fired from the group by then for asking for more money, another victim of a studio system that exploited black talent. But I paused when I heard he had died and was a little saddened, primarily because of my father.

Dad is a big fan of The Drifters and other similar groups of the time period, which many call Beach Music. I am not sure if the Drifters really fit into that category. They're R&B, really, and were much bigger than the regional bands that constitute that sub-genre. But you can shag to them, which is all that really matters, I suppose.

The Drifters and groups like that are an indelible part of my youth. We'd be working around the house on Saturday, or grilling out after church on Sunday, and dad would put on a record or turn the radio to a beach music station, where they would play The Drifters and other bands all afternoon. Those are good memories, even though on into high school I (like every teenager, almost) sneered a bit at the quaint music of my father. But, like any good adult, I've reconciled with all that, and enjoy the Drifters, Tams, Platters, and other groups of my father's youth.

Bill Pickney, RIP.

03 July 2007

Let's start an argument

Here's a story/column where guys from bands I have never heard of talk trash about "Great Albums".

I don't even know where to begin and, were I to begin, I would spend the rest of the day writing about it, so I am not even going to start.

Thanks to The Evil Genius (Myrtle Beach's resident blog king) for posting it first.

And everything they say about Nevermind is right.

01 July 2007

Movie Binge

Last week, Sarah's sister Leanna was in town. This weekend, Sarah and Eleanor have been gone to North Dakota for Sarah's grandfather's 80th birthday. The babysitting and free time have meant lots of movie time for Professor Pope.

Pirates of The Caribbean 3: At Worlds End -- Like the second one. Parts were great. parts were a lot of fun. But there were too many parts; the film was needlessly complicated, adding in unnecessary elements (the whole Calypso subplot, and possibly even the whole trip to Singapore, although that part looked very cool). And while they added all this random stuff that seemed extraneous, they failed to deliver on a very, very cool possibility. All I am saying is, if you set up a huge, epic sea battle between the pirate lords and the British Armada, then I want to see a huge epic sea battle, dammit, not just a fight between two ships! It was as if the Battle of the Pelennor Fields just turned out to be Eowyn and Merry fighting the Nazgul and everyone going home after that. NAVAL BATTLES, PLEASE!

Live Free or Die Hard -- Ummm. . . Awesome, anyone? This was great. An old-school action film that holds the fine line between believability and camp. Sure there's no way anyone jumps from the back of a jet fighter onto some concrete onramp. But there's no way anyone jumps off the top of a building with a fire hose tied around them, shoots out the windows below, and swings to safety. Yet we go along with this outrageousness because of John McLane. In many ways he's so very human -- he's incredulous at his own situation, he does get hurt -- we're willing to buy it a little when he does the super human. Just good stuff all around, with only a few flat notes -- the villan was a little generic (although Rickman set the bar so high) and Kevin Smith has begun to get on my nerves. Still, it was awesome.

The Rise of the Silver Surfer -- There are four tiers of comic books: the ridiculous (see most of Marvel comics in the 1990's), the perfectly fine for comic books (where most books fall most of the time), the excellent example of the craft (I'd put a book like Powers here, or Amazing Spider-Man from 2003-2005), and the transcendent (Sandman, Watchmen, etc). I am not sure it's possible to have a transcendent comic book film. We've seen a few recent examples of excellent comic book films (Batman Begins, Spider-Man 2). Both Fantastic Four movie fall into the perfectly fine for comic book category. They are fun, light, have a fast plot and a bunch of cool moments. Not a bad way to be entertained for a couple of hours, but not really much more than that. The Surfer was cool. It was neat to see the Quinjet. But couldn't they have thorwn me a bone and anthropomorphized Galactus just a bit? One hand of cosmic dust cloud reaching out to crush the Earth? Wouldn't that have been a cool image?

Eleanor and Sarah are back today, so who knows when we'll get to the theatre again, but it was fun to binge while I could.

Oh, and while I was waiting for the Fantastic Four to begin, a family came in. The girl was maybe 5 and the book looked 4 or so. How much fun will it be when I can take Eleanor to movies? LOTS! One of my earliest memories is standing in line with my Dad to see Empire Strikes Back. Very excited about that future possibility.

June Reading

Books Bought: Guns of the South by Harry Turtledove, The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova, Johnathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susana Clarke.

Books Read: Guns of the South, The Double (by Jose Saramago. PBOS (Put Back on Shelf))

Well, I moved away from magazines back into real prose for June. I wanted something genre-ish and easy to read for the beginning of summer, which led me to pick up Guns at the local indie bookshop for $2.00. It was okay, but I expected better from a book I had heard so much about and an author who is the leader of a sub-genre (alternative history). The basic premise is some guys show up at The Army of Northern Virginia circa 1863 and give them all AK-47's. With this firepower, the Confederacy wins at The Wilderness, captures Washington DC, and wins the Civil War.

There were three ways Guns could have been very cool. It could have been a neat mystery (who were these guys who gave the Confederacy machine guns? what do they really want?), an interesting character study (the complexities of the southerners way of thinking in regards to their cause, slavery, etc) and/or a big sprawling historical epic, where we get to play out the Civil War with the advantage to the south. We get elements of all three, but none of those really succeed. The mystery element lingered too long and wasn't ever really resolved. The main characters (Robert E. Lee and a Sgt. from NC) go through predictable changes (hey! maybe owning people isn't such a good basis for a nation. And it may even be Wrong!). Finally, all we see of the actual war is The Wilderness and the capture of DC. Thus, Guns was entertaining but not really good. I'm not rushing out to buy any more Turtledove.

After Guns I started The Double, but put it back on the shelf after about 15 pages. It's an interesting premise (a lonely, lost teacher sees himself (well, the self of five years ago) in a movie), but Saramago's style gave me a bit of a headache. The narrator adresses the reader directly, goes off on asides, and makes references to things the reader isn't aware of. It reminded me of talking to a socially challenged person at a gaming group -- they spend a lot of time talking about people you have never really met and ramble on about stuff you are not really interested in. You can't be interested in them, even if you want to, because she has never really bothered to give you any context. I am not claiming the guy who won the Nobel Prize for literature is a socially challenged gamer. I am sure he chose his voice deliberately and for good reason. I just don't want to listen to him right now.

I picked up The Historian and Johnathan Strange at Borders on Thursday. Both were in the outside bargain racks, so I got them for a total of $12.00. I've started The Historian and like it so far.