Friday, December 10, 2010

Hibernating in Hogwart's and Svalbard


Tried posting a little one last night, but couldn't access my blog for some reason. Actually, I still can't see it now, but I'm going to try posting and see what happens.

The weekend is here. I feel like I've been hibernating a bit lately with the colder weather. Though I have been busy after work, at work, I seem to have finally found a way to "take it easy" at the times where my schedule allows me to. I am the type of person, in the school setting anyway, where spare time makes me feel, let's say, a little uncomfortable. I end up creating work for myself in a less-than-constructive manner.

Well, not this month. My students (and teachers) are either in full lock-down mode for exam stress or exhibiting the lethargy of a post-exam shrug. The teachers are pretty much on vacation now along with the students, and I'm sure that next week will bring even more of an atmosphere of indifference. Yesterday, the bell to start class rang with one student in the classroom, more trickled in over the next 5 minutes, and at least a full 10 minutes after the bell had been rung, my beleaguered co-teacher teacher made her way to the classroom, too. In short, having high standards for my students (or co-teachers) this late in the season would only serve, as it did last year, to piss me off and heap a great deal of useless stress upon my shoulders. I've got fun stuff planned for post-exam classes late next week and the week before Christmas. It will be fun, interactive, and educational, but for now, I've been taking my co-teacher's lead and picking my battles much more carefully, and letting Rowan Atkinson do the entertaining since I've been running a little low on clown fuel this late into December.

Speaking of hibernating, I have also been revisiting a couple of stories from a time ago. As I previously mentioned in a very long post a while back, I have finally finished reading the Harry Potter series, and since I will be taking my after-school essay-writing students to Part 1 of The Deathly Hallows, I decided to borrow the first film from my school's library and have it on in the background at home while I got some things organized. I have also taken the time to re-read part one of Phillip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy, The Golden Compass.

Just wanted to report that in retrospect, though I appreciate the books, the Harry Potter films really started-off (for me) in a rather lackluster way. It wasn't until Alfonso Cuaron took the reigns for Azkaban that the series showed any real promise that it would try to be something more than Home Alone without the humour. The first two films try so hard to be charming, and end-up saying very little as they go from plot-point to plot point. The special effects also seem hurried and laughable. As with the reading experience, you do kind of need to trust that things really start getting interesting in year 3. Re-watching The Sorcerer's Stone, like Letterman would say about O'Reilly, I can't shake the feeling that it's about 60% crap, with the rest of it being not much better.

Re-reading The Golden Compass, I was again completely impressed. For me there are few better stories to lead into Christmas holidays than an adventure complete with travel to the snowy North where armoured bears rip each-others jaws off and children fight against the religious establishment to maintain their own free will. There are many reasons why the third book in the series became the first children's book to win Britain's Whitbread book of the year, as well as the first to be included in the nominations for the Man Booker Prize. Re-reading the book makes a fan of this series angry all-over again to remember how neutered the 2007 film version became as a result of pressure from the Catholic church and fear of smaller box-office returns unless the story was softened for the holiday movie-going crowd. 'Tis a shame, but we'll always have the books.

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