Friday, April 3, 1992

It is very very difficult to believe that in 1 week I will be writing my last entry in this monolith. It is equally difficult to believe that I will then turn around, go back to tape pool, and begin my life as AT&T schlep, having walked away from a good thing (maybe) to the foolishness and stupidity of walking around mounting tapes. There is no way I can do that again without recognizing what a profound waste of life it is. We watched "Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge" today, and if there is any theme in that film that leaps out it is "Live each day! If it were your last you would relish it and treasure it; do it, for it may be." Now of course that sounds like Ann Landers advice but it is quite true. The film was effective, and surprisingly powerful for some of them. We also watched an old B&W version of "The Ransom of Red Chief" which was awfully funny and well done.

Hour 1 watched in various levels of consciousness. What is so weird is that Samantha spent the whole hour awake with her head turned away and Karen doodled quietly on a piece of paper, also without watching. I had always thought that TV compelled watching, but they managed to ignore it quite easily without a twinge of loss. Their classmates laughed at tunes, and my buddy Dennis, the most energetic and punctuation laden reader in the class (he puts commas and accents after about every 3 words but doesn't seem to understand much of what he is doing) really got into the story and found it funny. It is a lot shorter than the original and the punishment he puts them through is not as painful, but the point was clear and they liked it (they especially enjoyed the episode when J.B. rides William and whacks him on the rear, kids conquering parents?). Bierce was a bit more challenging for them, but Steven and Dennis had a bet about whether he would live or die, and it was great to see them paying such attention and getting such excitement from it. They went crazy at the end; unfortunately, class came to an end just as the film did.

Hour 2 also watched, in fact with greater attention than the first group. They were constantly suggesting, criticizing, encouraging, and struggling with his choices, it was great to see them paying such attention. And they were judging, I'm not sure they really got the "point" of the film, but they responded there with gusto and verve. Hour 3 was a whole 2 again, Kerri and Mark and both were on the sleepy side today. They were familiar with Red Chief, though they had not seen this version, and they enjoyed it. However, Bierce was too slow moving, too much visual, not enough act ion. The contrast between them and their predecessors was interesting. They just could not pay attention to what was so slow and non-verbal.

Hour 5 was even smaller (proportionally). Only a grand total of 5 there. We wasted some time, I was going to bring them to Mrs. Korman's to watch the films, but they objected. They thought they would get a "free day". I assured them that I never had free days, and since they had chosen to stay we would be writing. Well, I had to act like a slave-driver to get them to write, and even then it was hellish. Christina wrote two glib teenage poems about love and lost love, as good as what passes for poetry in much contemporary music should have her send them to Dolly Parton or some mournful country singer. The songs are all about the gloom and despair of being in love. Others could not control their words so fluidly, they wrote something trite or simple or boring. I found something to praise in them all, but I am not sure how I'm going to get them to do it again next week. I want them TO FINISH THE BOOK before I go. And write.

Hour 6: every day I escape from there I am pleased. They didn't kill me and they didn't help me. I decided to let them watch the Bierce films (there were 2 on the tape but only 1 for the other guys) and part of them got into it and part of them, the usual slugs, went to sleep. Gibson decided to spend the class sequestered in his corner and managed to turn his head, but decided also to stare rather than watch. I am sure they have never seen anything like these films before, no talking, no action, just a story taking place in the mind of the protagonist. Horace kept turning around asking me things, and they all realized the nature of "Occurrence" at the end. Obviously, they had been watching enough to know what was going on, and I was very pleased. I want to read the story with them next week. Will they accomplish much? I want to do it so they will see the differences between how an effect is accomplished in film and how it is in print. They may write the whole thing off; they may think it neat. Nice thing about this class, as opposed to my fascinating job, is that there is no way to predict what is going to happen. Ever.

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