30.11.09

Rant on Fashion: "I hate . . ."

My sad koi face does not like thee.
A blog post you really don't need to read because I just merely list the popular name brand clothing corporations I truly despise:

I Hate:

Abercrombie and Fitch, Hollister, American Eagle, Aeropostale, Ed Hardy, American Eagle Outfitters, Wal Mart, Macy's, Mervyn's, JC Penny, Gotschalks . . .

Thanks, francbecerra (for the inspiration)
PDF Copy for Printing

28.11.09

Let's Go to the Museum: "Oedipus Wrecks" in the Ninth Grade English Classroom

In this post, I write about a recent Ninth Grade English lesson based on the New York Times Learning Center curriculum where we turned our classroom into a museum full of objects based on the Greek Tragedy Oedipus the King by Sophocles.

Museum Exhibition of Oedipus the King
In all periods of my Ninth Grade English class at De La Salle High School in New Orleans, we created a museum exhibition for Sophocles tragedy Oedipus Rex.
Students create a puzzle game based on
Oedipus the King in a Ninth Grade English class.

In every corner of the room galleries were set up to showcase different significant objects from the play: the noose, the brooch, the crown, the walking stick, the nail, the masks the actors wore, to demonstrate non-linguistically the themes of the Ancient Greek tragedy.

In quadrant one museum-goers played the memory game, trying to remember different objects from the play. Can anyone remember where the brooch went? If you look carefully you can see one museum-goer chose a noose to demonstrate the noose Jocasta chose to commit suicide; I thought they performed the act with appropriate cheer.

Ouch.

I am glad we didn't have demonstrations of the brooch.

One group of students brought Oedipus cupcakes.


One group had sword fights to act out the fatal battle between Oedipus and his father at the crossroads. Clever. But, I heard one girl say, "He wants to kill his father?"

I liked the Oedipus crossword puzzle the kids created on the smartboard. That was fun. I found "furnace" and "citadel".

But, I could not get the smartpen to work. Doi *me imitating Homer Simpson*. So we had to remember what words were previously discovered.

I noticed that the success rate for the project was high. I should try to implement more projects like this one in the classroom. What do you think? I think it is important to try to encourage students to express in a non-linguistic form the themes of a piece of literature. Students react to thematic significance when they see the potent art of the literary piece brought to life. Isn't this what the Greeks did? They did not sit around in a classroom and underline important passages. In a way, it is the artistic expression of the work. It is a way to bring the work back to life; to take it from the textbook and reify the dramatic action.

I got the idea for the project from a New York Times learning center lesson plan using the idea of Orhan Pamuk's new novel the Museum of Innocence. In his new novel, every chapter is devoted to an object the main character Kemal associates with his ex-lover. We read the article in class and discussed ways we could create our own museum of innocence for Oedipus Rex. Fun stuff.

Well, I am off to attend a birthday party for my cousin. He turned sixteen today. Ain't that sweet?

Poem: "je t'aime"

he wants it all in a large package,

as if love can be given in one moment,
but I am not angry
at his infantile gestures,
rather
amused
that he could believe that love could be
so whole.
yet,
i believe in his tenacity,
somewhat envious, actually
of his certitude
so
i am able to say back to him,
without too much guilt and
little temptation to retract my words,

i love you too



27.11.09

Poem: "Cool"

Cool is so yesterday.

Weird is so today.

Conformity works only some of the time.

The rest is pure bullshit.

How's that for ideology?

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is an iconic American holiday.
Thanksgiving Dinner Plate
     I know the origins of the holiday are rooted in Puritan Christianity.
     I know it is based on the slow seductive manipulation of Native Americans but Thanksgiving, as we know it today, is neither Puritan nor is it Anti-native American.
     Thanksgiving is a 1941 contrivance to boost the economy under the FDR administration. Today it continues to be a worship of capitalism and a wish for plenty.
     Grateful 
     Thanks
     Gracious

     Whew. I better baste that turkey before it dries out. Don't want my guest consumers to order a refund.
I wish I could offer more profundity here, but sadly I am rather consumed by vodka and an unusually sanguine heart.

26.11.09

Listen to an Audiobook: Hour Trips

Driving Is a Wasted of Time
     Extended driving times seem to waste so much intellectual potential. If you're going to take an hour-long trip turn off the radio and listen to an audiobook. This is a public service announcement from Greig. I am listening to Philip Roth's novel The Plot Against America.
     What are you listening to?


22.11.09

Book Review: Martin Amis on Venal Negatives and Wart Negatives

Folks Judge President Obama By Different Standards Than They Judge President Bush
     Martin Amis, in his book Visiting Mrs. Nabokov: And Other excursions, contrasts venal negatives (e.g., masturbation without your spouse) to wart negatives (e.g., sanctioning third world nations) - examples are my own. The problem with America is we don't differentiate. We are a black or white bunch. It's either bad or it's good. Nuance is a difficult concept to grasp. But, we care about human rights; right? As much as President George Bush cared about PETA? As Amis mentions, did we vote for the guy cuz he was human? Here, meaning he said "fuck" and we considered him a "heybra". Obama is not a heybra but he's an intellectual democrat but not as gadflyish as Socrates. Obama won't be put on trial and asked to drink hemlock until he is accused of corrupting the social order (just like Socrates was accused of corrupting the youth?).
***
     Play this game with me: go to a used bookstore find an intriguing quote and blog about it. We place too much emphasis on plagiarism but not enough stress on the appropriate use of ideas. Who doesn't want their ideas integrated? I know it sounds idealistically Hegelian of me, but geez, it's much better than some bloggers' dull stab at originality.

19.11.09

Aphorism: "Coffee Musing"

"A cup of coffee is the closest thing to hashish"

Photograph: "Bonafide March Hare"

Dressed up with rabbit-ears in New Orleans . . .


14.11.09

Satire: Inebriated White Women

Random Underlinings found in a serial killer's handbag:


Whenever inebriated upper-class white women scorn fags and black people, you have to stop to think that inebriated upper-class white women are the minority that needs to be checked on their white privilege. Better yet, tell 'em their sons are homos and the WWII museum should be burned to the fucking ground. Viva La Revolution!

On the Uses and Misuses of Age

"Age doesn't matter, but dammit I look old" is what my friend Suzy Q said to me last night.

My grandmother looked in the mirror one morning on her 92nd birthday and shrieked, "Who is that woman? It's not me."

On the playground of life it is like Freaky Friday: Young kids want to be adults; adults prefer to act like kids. The age divide splits us from baby, to toddler, child, school kid, pre-adlescent, tween, teen, young adult, young person, 20 something, 30 something, Over the Hill, old, octogenarian, centenarian, dead. In the middle ages you were rudely a child, a man or geriatric. 3 stages of life. Now, the stages grew to 9 thanks to Erikson, now up to 30 thanks to Super Mario Brothers.

By increasing the stages of age, the strictures are enforced. The subtlety in development is painstakingly tracked. By 30 you must have acquired maturity. If not, you lie.

Middle age women are smart: they don't reveal their age.

Gay men lie.

Straight men don't care. Unless were talking about controlled substances.

Kids lie to get alcohol or cigs. But they expect adults to uphold integrity.

An online buddy asked me if it was ethical to lie about age on a personal ad.

It is apparently a controversial topic.

If you're 25 on a personal ad, in real life your true age is probably anywhere in the range from 21 - 29.

But if you are 30 on an ad you are actually more likely to be 40. If you're really 17 you are most likely going to say you're 18. If you are telling the truth, you're either desperate, or taking what you can get.

A bouncer asked for my ID and after looking at said, "Hey, you look 23 and still in college, but when you opened your mouth and started talking, I knew you were 30 and working"

The face (or body) says one thing while our words says another. Our age belies our wisdom while out wisdom never depends on age.

The youth Benjamin Button dies forgetting what he learned as an old man. Rip Van Winkle wakes up and lierally times has flown by. If it is true that "evey day a little death" then all of us should feel a lot more humble.

11.11.09

Mr. Roselli’s Rules according to Bon Qui Qui:





You can have it your way, but don’t get crazy!


In other words, have fun in class, but don’t cause chaos.


Complicated Order!


Don’t ask me questions that make NO Sense


Rude, don’t interrupt

Don’t interrupt me when I am speaking


You can have a coke

I say this when what you ask is REDONCULOUS


Do not get loud with me

There is no need to scream


Suh - Curity

To the Bench

That is what I had said

Do I have to repeat myself? Please


Uhhhhh ….. No …… Suh - curity

Major Violation

Needs to Go …. Needs to Go

Suspension

I will Cut You

Expulsion

9.11.09

Gilgamesh and the Search for Meaning in a, "I love you, man!" kind of way

My colleague and friend, Bonnie, asked me a rhetorical question once when I worked at the public library, “Who, Greig, would want on their epitaph, ‘He cleaned her dishes well'?"
My dishes are not clean. But, I want to be remembered for more than just washing my dinnerware well.

Unclean cups, dirty knives and forks, an unsealed peanut butter jar, torn packets of splenda and granules of instant coffee are splayed as objets d’art.

Waking up this morning thinking about Gilgamesh and that scene at the end of Superbad when Seth and Evan exclaim to each other, "I love you man!" I take solace in Bonnie's aphorism. 


I can explain the significance between the two. I really can.

At the end of Gilgamesh, the hero has his epiphany. He knows he cannot uncover the elixir of immortality even though he swam to the depths of the sea. Having stayed awake for an interminable amount of time our hero is consoled by the fact that he WILL live forever, not by a potion or a magical plant, but by his cultural deeds. Immortality is what you receive from society (if you are lucky). I take comfort in this epic anecdote.

Now, how do I relate all of this to pedagogy  and oh yeah, to Superbad?

Over the summer my ninth grade English class read the epic for their mandated summer reading project. When you are thirteen — as my students are — you probably seldom ponder death and you for damn sure are convinced that wisdom DOES not come from an ancient tome. Leave that to Lady Gadget  or is it Inspector GaGa?

I am not sure if they liked it or “got it,” but several of them, including parents, were quick to point out that the sexuality in the book was ripe, and “inappropriate reading material” for high school — at least I was not pulled into a disciplinary hearing for distributing inappropriate material to freshman.
Kids and adults miss the point. Do I need to teach the obvious truth that fiction is fueled by desire?

For me, it is a moot point.

Get over it.

Immortality gained by deeds is a fertile topic. Folks fail to catch the heart of Gilgamesh and instead focus on the lust (Shamhat, the prostitute being one example). People who complain to me are similar to those who get hot and bothered because The Catcher in the Rye has swear words. Controversy is everyone’s favorite past time anyway. Innuendo must be banned so it will be given a reason to be read. If it were not banned then people would say, "oh that is bland." Banning it gives us impetus to actually pick up the book and read it. It's some kind of whack reverse psychology that I have little patience for.

Gilgamesh could easily populate the world with greedy Calibans but he knows in of itself this is not the ticket to eternal life. The story is not about brute sex. The story is similar to Superbad: it is about friendship and the pain of loss. Seth has to give up Evan just as Gilgamesh has to give up Enkidu.

In the story, Gilgamesh — like Achilles mourning Patroclus — is unconsoled by the death of his best friend Enkidu. Mortality strikes him at the heel and pains him for the first time. Since Gilgamesh is a king and somewhat related to the divine, he has never brushed past death until his friend’s death opens a wound in his psyche and he ponders his transience for the first time. Gilgamesh is a king, half-god, civilized and blessed with superhuman powers — but the love of the wild man Enkidu forces him to reconsider his life. All of this — life on earth — cannot give him immortality. Enkidu’s death makes him stabbingly aware of his limitations. The death forces him to think beyond himself — and to not base decisions on his own prowess — immortality comes from accomplishment — not born out of pride but through cultural achievement.

Gilgamesh is like the privileged son of a wealthy entrepreneur who has never had to fight for anything in his life. One day he loses something. Something he cannot regain. It is in this loss that he realizes that there are values irretrievable. Most accomplishments are for naught. The only true lasting legacy is greatness. The question becomes not “Will I live forever?” but, “Who will remember me?”

My students groan at the repetition and seeming irrelevance of an ancient oral tale. Most think Gilgamesh and Enkidu are gay. In their homophobic worldview, two men can never really LOVE each other — GROSS! — but, that is a discussion for another post (which will be how loving the same sex is not necessarily the same as being gay) but, we have a good discussion about deeds and achieving immortality — that love, no matter the gender — we are not talking about who’s hot and who’s not, people — can embolden us, change us, scare us.

7.11.09

NOLA bookfair

"Under the starlit ersatz dome"



2.11.09

Earliest Philosophical Memory

My earliest philosophical memory is wondering about the meaning of the word “narrow.” I was like seven and I had heard the word spoken by an adult earlier in the day. Or, maybe I had heard spoken by an adult on television. The evening news. Or. One of the deliberate adults on Sesame Street. It was a new sound and I did not know the meaning. I said the word out loud, “Narrow.” Behind my house was a strip of woods and beyond that was a sugarcane field. I was an outdoors brat and I had had brought my bike through an entangled cobweb of thorn bushes in those woods behind my house. The passage was hard to navigate. I was brushing off thorny branches when I realized what the word “narrow” meant. I distinctly remember thinking about how I had to come to this realization — when I was relieved to come out of the woods amidst the rows and rows of sugarcane. I was startled that I had stumbled upon new knowledge and was desirous to know where this ability to realize originated. To this day I mark this moment as my earliest philosophical memory. Pretty cool, huh?

When was your first philosophical memory? Post a reply. I wanna know.

Software Review: Google Voice

Google has entered the telecommunications realm with its introduction of Google Voice, a service created by Google's addition last year of Grand Central, a nifty feature that transcribes voicemail messages and cloaks all your phones and telecommunication devices under the umbrella of one number: a Google number. 
     In effect, you can give out one number to all your buddies, colleagues, friends or whoever and all your phones can be connected seamlessly. Also, you can send free SMS and have voicemails transcribed for you (also, available by other services, such as Callwave).
     I had read about the service at least a year ago when Google first acquired Grand Central but was only giving the service to customers by invitation only. Alas, I was not one of the chosen few. Ugh.
    So, I was happy to discover one day, a message in my Gmail inbox that Google Voice was now available for me to sign-up.
    I would love to use the full functionality of Google Voice but, because of a move by Apple to pull the plug on Google Voice on the iPhone, I can only use the service through my computer. I am a loyal Apple fan, but here, Apple has sold itself to AT&T. Google had created a Google Voice app for the iPhone, but Apple deleted it from the Apple store.
    Personally, I think Apple's move was a bit draconian. It would be like if Microsoft did not allow you to download Firefox onto your computer and forced you to use Internet Explorer.
    But don't worry, in a recent blog post, David Pogue assures us that Google will eventually develop a web app to counteract Apple's icks-nay of its newest FREE gadget. Now, you can only use Google Voice on its android phone or on a blackberry, on your home computer, or on a web app compatible device. But the web app does not work yet on the iPhone. Just a matter of time.
    But, why is Google Voice so cool?
    Well, it is like having CallWave, Skype and Gmail all rolled up into one. I hate listening to voicemails and would just rather read them. Also, I am an addict when it comes to new digital features. Also, I am a proponent for Open Source. Apple should not decide how I access information and what platform I use to do so.
    In the meantime, you can call me through your computer until I get Google Voice, fully.*

*This functionality has been disabled.