Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Gorgeous, talented men

Oh, say, what a silly topic for a dizzy old woman. Yet! I'm not dizzy nor is the topic silly. It is what it is--and it is about gorgeous, talented men.

Omar Sy
The Intouchables
My new Number One is Omar Sy, a French-born. gorgeous, really black-skinned, awesome actor. I just showed "The Intouchables" to my French classes. It's a story about a quadriplegic, white-skinned Frenchman who seeks a new personal assistant. His counterpart, played by the charismatic Sy, is hired despite his attempts not to be. He brings absolute joy into a somber house, home to a resigned invalid, set on a course of music, letters, and quietitude. Driss invades it all, strewing his joie-de-vivre every where. He lights up everything. He zings everyone. He's a force to be reckoned with. I cannot emphasize enough what a delight this film is. The viewer will promptly forget she is reading subtitles (if you don't understand French) and become part of the story. Francois Cluzet is also excellent in his role as quad. Acting must take place in his face, for that's all he can move. There's one scene that is brilliantly played by Cluzet. You will not remain tearless! An emotionally moving story filled with laughter and joy and poignancy!

Sunday, May 4, 2014

What is life?

Edited on July 8, 2014:
The following blog was written during a time of mental, emotional, and physical fatigue. I'm allowing it to stay because it reflects how I felt on a given date (as if that matters in the least). I was unfair in my assessment of my school. My principal, whom I genuinely liked and respected, lost his job because the school was deemed failing. His fault? He must accept some of the blame, but more goes to the status quo. I insinuate  in the blog that students are lacking. Actually, I found many smart students, but--and there's that but. It's that attitude, that absence of accountability for students, or rather for those who just attend. Too many just attend. So much time was spent teaching teachers how to use this technique and that one to reach these students, as if they couldn't be reached in any traditional ways. No, that's not what I want to say.
I could write and revise and eliminate and keep writing and not be able to speak adequately of my experience at this school with these students. So, the following with some revisions to eliminate things that don't need to be said.)

What is life? Coming from what direction? Heading where? And, most of all, why?

I'm reflective tonight because I don't know the answers. I thought I was Christian, but, truly, I don't know any more. When my neighbor at school says that every day is a good day because he walks with the Lord, I am temporarily stunned. I don't feel that way. I think, oh, yes, I'm supposed to feel that way, too. But it comes as a momentary illumination. Am I?

I've spent a hard year teaching in a school that really struggles to be a school. It's more an incubator, incubating what, I don't know. Where I spent the majority of my years teaching, I demanded excellence and got it. Here, I could demand all I wanted and it wouldn't happen. I require written work every single day, yet some students still walk in with nothing and think I am insane expecting them to produce a pencil, much less a pen. Brain work is not practiced on any kind of scale for too many students. I am horrified.

So, I come to May, weary and unfulfilled. I tried so hard this year to make a difference. People tell me I do, but I don't see it or feel it. I am leaving them with not much more than I started. DID I make a difference?

The school was placed on the Failing Schools (my capitalization for emphasis) list, every person had to re-interview for a position in the "new" school. I initially chose not to interview, then did. It was one of the worst interviews I ever went through. This new principal did most of the talking.  Also,  I watched too many really good teachers interview and not be accepted. Oh my gosh, why wouldn't this new principal want them? They're young, know all the new techniques, and work so hard! Yet, on they go, to new grounds. Yet, they loved where they were, they loved the students, and wanted so much for them to achieve. Who replaced them?

So, I will move on and hope to have my dreams restored, my intellect stirred. But what about those hapless students? They still won't know that they don't know.

A favorite souvenir

A favorite souvenir
These are my two girls from Ireland!

Judy's shared items

Books on my very ambitious TBR list (*denotes read)

  • *Reading Magic: Why Reading Aloud to our Children Will Change Their Lives Forever by Mem Fox
  • The Odd Women by George Gissing
  • The Zen of Fish by Trevor Corson
  • How to Get Your Child to Love Reading by Esme Raji Codell
  • The Cod Tale by Mark Kurlansky
  • In This House of Brede by Rumer Godden
  • *Joan of Arc by Mark Twain
  • Dag Hammarskjold by Elizabeth Rider Montgomery
  • The Wisdom in the Hebrew Alphabet by Rabbi Michael L. Munk
  • Children of Strangers by Lyle Saxon
  • Spiritual Writings by Flannery O'Connor
  • Nightmares and Visions: Flannery O'Connor and the Catholic Grotesque by Gilbert H. Muller
  • The Violent Bear It Away by Flannery O'Connor
  • Flannery O'Connor's South by Robert Coles
  • Wise Blood by Flannery O'Connor
  • Sylvanus Now by Donna Morrissey
  • *Vincent de Paul by Margaret Ann Hubbard
  • Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi
  • A Briefer History of Time by Stephen Hawking
  • The Library at Night by Alberto Manguel
  • Readicide by Kelly Gallagher
  • *Ruined by Paula Morris
  • Say You're Not One of Them by Uwem Akpan
  • Wandering Star by J.M.G. Le Clezio
  • Silence by Shusaku Endo
  • *The Assault by Harry Mulisch
  • Kari's Saga by Robert Jansson
  • *The German Mujahid by Boualem Sansal
  • Western Skies by Joseph Conrad
  • *The Giver by Lois Lowery
  • *Imperium by Ryszard Kapuscinski

School Library Journal - NeverEndingSearch


A semester course in one book about the Soviet Union. Click on image for my review.