Monday, August 16, 2004

Two weeks until the Fall semester starts. I am hoping to finish getting ready, and have at least a few days to spare so I can re-focus on the Mimmie book. Once again - it has been languishing under consideration at a publisher for too long. So I must write, and prompt a decision (which is likely to be one more "we really really -- almost -- want to take it...but no thanks.")

The weekend was low-key, and productive. Did some much-needed grocery shopping. In the relaxation arena, we watched two DVDs. The first, Kill Bill (1), just about ruined Saturday night. Ebert gave it a four star rave review. I think that guy is too influenced by the big bucket of popcorn. About halfway through I retreated to the computer (Bob had already been put to sleep by the story-absent, violent monotony) but after a few minutes even the sound coming from the TV became overwhelming and so I turned it off. Ugh. What resources were wasted making that movie, and the hour I invested watching it was wasted too.

The second, Pinocchio, was better. Unlike Kill Bill, I recall the reviews for this movie were not that good overall (and it seems Ebert didn't bother reviewing it at all?), but Pinocchio has always been beloved to me, and I found this interpretation fairly true to the story.

Something else I hope to accomplish before the semester starts is more pleasure reading. I read a couple of Margaret Atwood books this summer, including Oryx and Crake. It was great, as are all of Atwood's novels. Currently I am reading Extravagance, by Gary Krist. It is well-written, but it is taking me a while to get though it. Not that it is long, but every chapter switches between perspectives, but with the same characters, and parallel story lines - going from London in the 1690s to New York in the 1990s. That's an interesting device, but it is interfering with the story being a page-turner. At the end of each chapter, it is really easy to put the book aside for a while.

Next on my list is Educating Esme. (Actually, it may wind up filling the space after this chapter of Extravagance.) It is a journal of a first-year teacher that I have wanted to read for a while, and now I have no choice. As I struggle with revising the syllabi and my courses, it is inevitable that last-minute inspirations overtake the need to plan. I want to add in some accessible books, and change one assignment so that it is based on this new reading, but book orders had to be in months ago. I could add another to the list, and hope the bookstore gets it in a few weeks, but students are already overburdened from buying books, and I am not positive which of the current reading I will pare down anyway. So, I bought multiple copies of Educating Esme (Codell), Up the Down Staircase (Kaufman), Hard Times in Paradise (Colfax), How Children Fail (Holt), Savage Inequalities (Kozol), and Keeping Track (Oakes) on, and I will put them on 48 hour reserve in the library.

(If you're wondering whether I'll get reimbursed for the outlay?...No.)

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