Sunday, February 11, 2007

Ramblings for the Evening (2/11/2007)

Let's get to it.
So, without further ado: I'M BACK, BABY!
An American Tragedy?:
My son woke up last night at 2. Though he went back to sleep, I was up, so I turned on the TV to find something horrible to knock me out (be it Lifetime, News, whatever). I ended up watching the news, because I was in shock.
When Anna Nicole Smith died, the BBC World News gave it a full minute. That's it. Here she is, here's what happened, the end.
Our news, however, is calling it "An American Tragedy." What? September 11th was an American Tragedy. School children being shot and killed by classmates is an American Tragedy. The death of a former Playboy playmate whose life was incredibly screwed up is NOT an American Tragedy. I'm sorry that she died at the tender age of 39, but we are the choices we make in life. She made some good ones, and she made some horrible ones. That's how it works. And you news people should be ashamed. Stop with the damn comparisons. I get that she wanted to be like Marilyn Monroe. She said it over and over again. Yes, she died at 39, and Marilyn died at 36 (and both from what looks like tragic overdoses), but if this is about the loss of potential because of her age, then we should mourn longer whenever a child or teenager is killed.
Seriously, folks, what is the fascination with this? I watched the news channels for a half an hour, and the entire time they talked about her death. On the bottom tickers were stories about deaths in other places. I guess that's not sexy. We rather look at pictures of a blonde chick with large breasts. She's dead. That's too bad, but it's time to move on to other things. Arthur Miller died and no one paid attention. Who you ask? That's part of the problem.
Anna Nicole Smith's death, though very sad, is NOT an American Tragedy. It's just a sad death.
Super Bowl Commercials:
Once again Budweiser and Bud Light won for best commercials this year. Really? Most of the commercials sucked this year. The ones that I liked were almost universally hated. I couldn't care less about the Snickers commercial (now being known as Brokeback Snickers). So these guys kiss and then "do something manly" to show they aren't gay? Who cares? The more you complain, the more press it gets.
The Dog wants to be a dalmation and runs through mud? It was lame. Last year we had the donkey who wanted to be clydsdale. This is a rehash.
The crabs? Eh...not so funny.
I did like the guy who throws a rock. That was funny.
Leab's favorites?
I love the Robert Goulet Emerald Nuts commercial. It's so incredibly random. Plus, it's GOULET.
I like the new Careerbuilder commericals. Especially the one where the guy waits for his meeting and sees his co-workers tortured. That's what it feels like at times.
And though it's incredibly depressing, I love the GM robot commercial.
I'm surprised that more people didn't complain about this commercial. Think about it. The robot represents the people who lose their jobs (like...oh I don't in Minnesota?) at the auto plants. The robot tries all sorts of other jobs it should be qualified for, including working for a realtor and the fast food industry, but to no avail. With no choice left, it makes its way to a bridge and commits suicide. We laugh at the idea of the robot dying because it isn't human, but what if a human takes the place of a robot? Now it isn't funny anymore. Still, it's a brilliant concept, because who would ever fire a robot?
Time Killers:
Outside of the posts that I usually visit screen right, I've visited some great time killers.
If you don't know these, you should check them out:
-Tom Wilson, of Back to the Future fame, is now a stand-up comedian. He
sings a song that I believe most celebrities would like to use on the fans.
Chad Vader. It's a very funny concept and quirky. Enjoy.
These should get you started. However, if you haven't done so, you should be watching
Chasing Windmills.
And finally....
And so Valentine's Day is upon us. For me, I couldn't care less. However, I love being in a high school on this "holiday." If some guy forgets to get a flower or gift for his girl, then she bursts into tears and talks about how he doesn't love her. On the flipside, many guys think that girls (and I'm quoting a student I know), "have to put out because it's Valentine's Day." Didn't realize that was a written law. Bottom line: It's funny to me because so much stock is put into this one day. Almost more than Christmas. If a gift isn't given, than everyone is supposed to get upset. And when did it become mandatory that parents, siblings, children, and pets get Valentine's gifts? Here's how I always remembered it: You got some cards for classmates (regardless of sex) as well as chocolates. When you got older, you gave your loved one a gift. That's it. When did it change?
I guess I don't get it.
Yes, I have a gift for my wife. Do I want one back? No.
It's just another day, folks. It's just another day.
Then again what do I know? I'm just a cynical and hopeless romantic. I'm probably wrong.


Lately I've been thinking alot about persona.
As a writer, a teacher, a father, and even a human being, my persona changes depending on the situation. We're all like this. Persona, in case you're unfamiliar, is derived from Latin word for mask or character. We have all these different masks that we use on a daily basis.
Leab the teacher
Leab the dad
Leab the husband
Leab the friend
Leab the son
Leab the brother
Leab the neighbor
Leab the blogger
Sometimes these come together, but the way I act at school is not the way I act at home. Though I am forthcoming with certain aspects of my life with my colleagues or my students, there are many things that I do not discuss. Same with my family. Same with the blog.
As a side note, I have no idea if any of my students read this anymore, and I really don't care. I know
Michele has the same issue. I also couldn't care less which of my colleagues have been or are reading.
Back to the point. Persona. It also spreads to authors.
In particular, I'm thinking of Samuel Clemens, who was better known as Mark Twain.
Several of my colleagues are teaching Huck Finn to their 10th grade students. As we've already seen this year in Lakeville, some folks are not ok with the book. In particular, it's because of the character of Jim. In the book, he's known as Nigger Jim, because he's black.
So in comes the problem: do you allow Twain the use of the term because of the time period, or do you damn him for using a derogatory term?
This is not a debate I can answer, but this is what I have been discussing with some colleagues. I have always looked at the story like this:
Clemens created the persona of Twain so that his alter-ego could say things he couldn't. Twain is a great writer. I admit that I fall in the apologists category. I truly believe Twain is satirizing the deep south in the 1840's to show how idiotic the thinking was at the time. Jim is the only complete character in the entire story. Does Huck Finn have writing conventions? Sure. The fact Tom Sawyer shows up to save the day is coincidental....Almost too easy.
Think of it this way. How do you get people to change the way they are thinking? You have to start by showing them the way they think. Present it to them. Then, you need to show why the way they think is incorrect. This is what, in my opinion, Twain is trying to do. He uses Jim to show the readers that their misconceptions about African-Americans, in particular former slaves, need to be eradicated.
So why use the persona of Twain? Well, and again this is my opinion, Twain is to Clemens as Borat is to Sascha Baron Cohen. A character used to help the real person. That's the idea of persona. A mask that the real person uses to put forth a point that they cannot do themselves. Another example? Bruce Wayne and Batman. Batman is Bruce Wayne's persona.
And then there's Tom and
Arthur Willoughby. Again, persona.
Sometime you should watch how you speak to people. Do you talk to your significant other the same way you talk to your friends? What about your parents? Do you talk to them the way you talk to your siblings?
I teach, but I talk to each of my classes differently. It's like knowing your audience. I try very hard to bring "the Real Leab" to the classroom, but, amazingly, I'm a little bit of a private person.
Take a moment and think about it, and you'll understand what I mean. Think about how you deal with people and how different you are.
Leab the person is abrasive because he tells people what he thinks. There's not "politics" or anything like that. The problem is that when you tell people the truth as you see it, they get angry.
That's why we create personas. So we can find ways to truly say what we feel.
Then again what do I know? I'm Leab the crazy person. I could be wrong.