Friday, August 31, 2007

Serious Humor

"Comedy is simply a funny way of being serious."--Peter Ustinov It struck me as ironic that this quote should show up on my "Quote of the Day" because I had been thinking about this idea since doing some reading on Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry yesterday. Both Laurie and Fry are clever, witty, very funny actors, yet they both have struggled with serious mental illnesses. Laurie has been treated for clinical depression; Stephen Fry, for bipolar disorder. Incidentally, both men sought treatment within a couple of years of each other, and all the while they continued to perform in TV shows and movies which cast them as comic characters. I've always heard that some people develop a fine sense of humor to mask hurt and discouragment. That seems to be true with these men. I wonder if Hugh Laurie's current role as House allows him to explore the darker side of depression that he didn't express, at least on screen, during the mid-90's.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Introduction to Poetry by Billy Collins

This was my "Poem of the Week" for the first week of school. I thought I would share it with ya'll as well. "I ask them to take a poem and hold it up to the light like a color slide or press an ear against its hive. I say drop a mouse into a poem and watch him probe his way out, or walk inside the poem's room and feel the walls for a light switch. I want them to waterski across the surface of a poem waving at the author's name on the shore. But all they want to do is tie the poem to a chair with rope and torture a confession out of it. They begin beating it with a hose to find out what it really means."

Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry

I am an avid fan of Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry's fantastic series Jeeves and Wooster. If you haven't watched it yet, head to your local library and borrow a season or two today! My dad, youngest brother Zeke, and I watched almost the entire series this summer, laughing uproariously at Wooster's bizarre antics and rewatching some episodes several times. I plan on showing episodes to my senior English classes when we start discussing modern literature or when we study films derived from literature. (I think I have read all of the Jeeves and Wooster short stories [and many of his other stories] by P.G. Wodehouse and think them hilarious and well worth your reading.) Anyway, today while reading my new favorite blog, I learned that both Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie have written novels! I can't wait to read them! Hugh Laurie's first novel, Gun Seller, was published in 1997, and his second novel, The Paper Soldier , is due out in September 2007. Stephen Fry has written several books, many of which appeal to me: The Liar (1992), The Hippopotamus (1994), Moab is My Washpot (autobiography, 1997), Revenge: A Novel (rewrite of Count of Monte Cristo, 2000), and Ode Less Travelled: Unlocking the Poet Within (2007) So, if you want to buy me a Christmas present . . . just don't get Gun Seller, which I ordered today!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Magnetic poetry

I love magnetic poetry. I have a couple sets up in my classroom and I love to see my students turn around and add a few words to the poems they've been working on (even if they are supposed to be paying attention to the lecture or activity). Here are a couple poems I wrote.

This poem makes me sound like I was depressed, but I was just being dramatic.

I have started the South Beach diet since writing this poem. I do miss chocolate! But I didn't want it to be the death of me.

The start of a new school year

We're into the third week of school already! I can hardly believe that summer is over and we're now into the routine of classes, prep work, very little sleep, and too short weekends. But all complaining aside, I love teaching and I did get a little bored this summer without a good routine. (Now I feel almost "routined" to death--Wait! I'm not supposed to be complaining.) Here are some pictures of my classroom the night of Parent Orientation. I'm very happy with the way things turned out. . . If only I could keep my room this clean all the time!

My fabulous bulletin board:

A couple of views of my classroom:

All the books I handed out the first couple of days of school. Looks intimidating, huh? I felt nervous just looking at all the books I have to teach in the next few months, and I'm sure my students felt a little daunted by the task as well. I can still remember the look of amazement--and slight panic--one of my seniors, who is also in my literature elective, gave me when I handed him the stack of books for literature after giving him a sizable stack for Senior English a few hours earlier.

The faculty and staff of Harvest Ministries: