Friday, February 03, 2006

Lately, we have had a run of movies from Netflix that I didn't enjoy very much. First, was Dogville. Twice I tried to watch it - and both times ended up turning it off after torturing myself. Then it got sent back. Next, Brazil. I'd seen parts of it on TV before, and found it interesting. But the first time it came in the mail from Netflix, the DVD was damaged, and wouldn't play after a while. The replacement was in good shape. I enjoyed the movie more than the awful Dogville, but it was too long. Way too long. After a while, I lost all empathy for the characters. Finally, 25th Hour. This movie was more watchable than either of the other two disappointments, but again - it was just too long. Why are film editors so reluctant to cut? Not every scene is a masterpiece, or necessary.

Contrast this to PBS, which so often has wonderful, interesting, worthwhile programs. Recently, I saw Influenza 1918. It was amazing! Another history subject that is not covered enough, or at all, in school. In the cemetery behind my house, the one Rudy loved to explore during walks, there is a small tombstone with the inscription: "In memory of all the infants who died in the epidemic during the winter of 1918-19." Yesterday, I met with a prospective graduate student who was telling me that if she could persue her true academic interests rather than more practical ones, she would get a PhD in anthropology. The same is true for me and U.S. History. There are so many topics to research, I would never run out of material. The 1918 flu epidemic is an example.

My 100-level class is going to be a classroom management challenge this semester. In the Fall, the students were serious. Perhaps they were nervous, since most were at college for the first time. But this Spring, there are several young men who are not rude to me or anything - they pay attention politely when I am speaking - but they do a lot of horsing around when there is "down" time, or discussion. Something like classes I remember from high school. I didn't mind so much last night, since we are just getting into the swing, and an active, even at times rowdy class is OK with me - but as the semester goes on, I am going to have to be careful that the atmosphere doesn't disintegrate to the point where the other students get turned off.

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