Friday, February 20, 2009

Triptych: Terrible Beauty, Beauty, Terrible

I. Terrible Beauty

Between screenings of our own films this week, my class is watching the documentary "Devil and Daniel Johnston". I'm pretty sure I've mentioned Mr. Johnston and this documentary before, but this is the first time I've shown it to a class. The story of an acute bi-polar singer/songwriter who can't sing and can't avoid exposing the very center of his emotional heart is not an easy one to watch at times. I had to wait for the right bunch of kids, and the reaction has been dramatically bifurcated. The 8th Graders generally love it. One immediately got a Daniel Johnston cassette from the 80s and spent the whole day yesterday in school listening to it. Another spent significant time at his website.

The 7th Graders, as a rule, are just staring aghast while viewing the film, like it's a pool of fresh vomit in the cafeteria.

Watching it with this two reactions going on simultaneously is almost as wrenching as the film/story itself. It's also serves as the most extreme example of what school tends to be (standardized testing and preparation for standardized testing) and what school perhaps could/should be (exposure to things like "Devil and Daniel Johnston"). But that's just me. I wonder what standard/benchmark "terrible beauty" falls within, whether it's Yeats or Daniel Johnston.

And yeah, putting Yeats and Johnston in the same sentence is kinda cool. Here's a clip from the film I found:

II. Beauty

The New Mexico Mock Trial Regionals are this weekend. I encourage everyone to go check it out today at 9:00 and 1:30 at both the Federal and District Courts at 4th and Lomas, and tomorrow at District Court. As with Daniel Johnston, I've mentioned mock trials at least once here before, but if you need to resurrect your faith in kids, school, Justice, America and Jurisprudential Apple Pie go see a round or two. It does a body/soul good, trust me.

And, oh yeah, Go Albuquerque High. They have two teams this year and pretty much every participant is a "graduate" of my little classroom. I'm not much on fandom, so I'll just give a general rah-rah to all who play the game, AHS or otherwise. Have fun guys.

III. Terrible

The little backpacker you see above looking up at my wife during a camping trip is named Oly. He's a Golden Retriever and he's having a little medical situation. We haven't got the biopsy results, but it's looking about 99% sure he has an intranasal tumor. And that ain't good. Not good at all.

We first ran into Oly right around the time we got married in 2001. He's been everything a Golden should be and more. Crazy as a hatter running around for his first four years, dependable as good shoes in his older days and the emotional cornerstone of our animal-crazed household throughout the decade.

It's been a tough few days. Tough enough to make you realize you're melting down over "just" a dog, but unwilling to care that it's "just" a dog. And a reminder that our pets are like our children and parents all in one never so neat 10 year package. We get all the joy of their arrival and the misery of their departure in a single decade (or so). Sometimes you wonder if it is worth it.

Sorry to end on such a note, but sometimes that's just where the note happens to be.

Have a good weekend, folks. Really.


barbwire said...

So sorry to hear about your dog Oly. It is always so sad when our "pets" get sick or pass on. They become such key members of our families - however those are constructed and no matter how many or how few members are part of the family. They are a big part of the heart and soul of the household. They produce so many smiles (and tsk tsks).

All we can do is love and enjoy them while they're here, and help ease their way out of this world when that becomes necessary. As with all beings in our little networks.

mjh said...

Hi, Scott-

I read your blog regularly but seldom comment. I almost wrote after you started riding your bike again -- that was a great blog entry. I rode my bike to work Thurs. But, it's Oly that gets me to write and tell you what you well know: Love comes at a terrible cost in the end, but it's more than worth it. peace, mjh

Anonymous said...

Did you do this, Scot?

Additional Procedures for Use of Videos/DVDs Rated by the Motion Picture Association of America

The ratings used by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) will be but one consideration in connection with the other selection criteria. If using an MPAA rated video/DVD, the following additional guidelines must also be followed:

Parents/guardians will receive one week advanced written notice when teachers plan to use commercial video/DVD recordings that are rated PG with elementary students, PG 13 with middle school students or R with high school students. Such notice will include an accurate description of the contents of the video/DVD recording and where it may be obtained/rented for parent/guardian review. Teachers must notify the school’s principal at least 10 days in advance of showing a PG 13 or R rated video/DVD.

G - No signed permission form is necessary.
PG - A signed parental permission form is required for students under age 13. If requested for use in an elementary school, the principal will ask a committee to review the use of the video/DVD prior to granting permission.
PG 13 - A signed parental permission form is required for students under age 14. If requested for use in a middle school, the principal will ask a committee to review the use of the video/DVD prior to granting permission. (Use of PG 13 videos/DVDs is limited to middle and high schools.)
R - A signed parental permission form is required for all students. The principal will ask a committee to review the proposed video/DVD before granting permission. (Use of R-videos/DVDs is limited to high schools only.)
NC 17 - Use of videos/DVDs rated NC 17 by the Motion Picture Association of America is prohibited.

jscotkey said...

Anon: Thanks for asking. Yes, we use a permission slip for all the films we show, PG-13 or otherwise. As a film class, it's integrated into the syllabus and all that at the beginning of each semester.