25 November 2007

A Little Note For Now

Consider this an update more in theory than in fact.  As ever of late, I'm whelmed by marking that seems only to worsen with each passing week; in the past week alone, I've probably been grading assignments for thirty to forty hours entirely exclusive of my normal teaching duties and (worse inevitably following worse) making all kinds of extra-curricular meetings for students who didn't, or couldn't be bothered to, signup to discuss coursework in normal times.  Let's just say it's exhausting and leave it at that. 

In the interim, until I can actually think about a real entry, herewith a few short takes:

  • Finally watched, in bits and pieces, the Guy Pearce film of The Count of Monte Cristo, which is a travesty of a film for anyone that knows the Dumas novel.  While it's nothing new for Hollywood to revamp a tale for its own purposes, the unmitigated evisceration of Dumas' plot, right down to excluding major characters and excoriating all of the issues of mercy so key to the novel, is utterly unpardonable.  More sadly, though, it reminded me of how long it has been since I read anything for pleasure; seems like an eternity. 
  • Though I can't feign much interest in the technological material, I discovered to my great joy that Stephen Fry-- the actor, director, novelist, comedian and general polymath-- has a blog.  I was particularly impressed by his discussion (a "blessay," as he calls it) of the global warming debate, partially by way of Pascal's Wager before he rightly rejects Pascal's practical cynicism.  It's long, and perhaps too dense and tangential for most, but it's a terrific read, especially if you know Fry's voice and can it hear it in your head as the words roll by; he and Lewis Black are the only comedians capable of regularly turning material into virtuoso comic arias.
  • Speaking of Stephen Fry, unfortunately we in North America are not privy to most of his television projects as they inexplicably don't get aired over here.  Blessed be, then, YouTube, which offers most of the episodes of his brilliant series QI, a rare programme that's both delightfully informative and deliciously funny.  I highly recommend going over to YouTube and entering "QI Fry" as your search terms and savouring the results.  I also managed to purchase Fry's Bright Young Things last week, his film adaptation of Evelyn Waugh's Vile Bodies; it's quite good, though the last sections drag a bit.  Watch it if you can find it, though the latter will certainly be more difficult than the former.
  • Can you tell I'm procrastinating from marking?  I thought so.
  • Have been trying with some of my classes in recent weeks to add some oddities to add some spice to the duller lessons of grammar & writing.  Did some lectures on the history of the word "word," contranyms, and the counter-instinctive nature of prose, as opposed to the instinctual nature of poetry (with the primary unit of logic for the former being the sentence, but the latter being the line).  One wonders, however, how much any of this takes in convincing my young charges to thing more actively about language.  It has, at least, to be more interesting than the myriad rules for comma usage.  *shrug*

Okay, I've obliged this blog long enough for now.  Marking beckons like an angry shrew, so I'd best attend its call.  Until later, probably much later,

the increasingly recondite, scattered and almost completely exasperated Dr J


Pious Labours said...

I'm TAing for a required first-year essay writing course, so I know how brutal it can be. Luckily for me, the prof is very energetic and makes the material as interesting as is humanly possible. I'm actually impressed that most of the students in the class are at a decent level and are very eager to learn.

Of course, the most interesting parts of the lectures are when the prof goes off on tangents: Althusser and the history of Arabic numerals among them.

I imagine, though, that it's even tougher to be interesting at a college.

Pious Labours said...

Oh, and thanks for the Stephen Fry blog. I'll definitely bookmark that one.

RK said...

commas? commas? two things to introduce them to.

1. Eats, Shoots, and Leaves (the fact that it's famous and its author now rich doesn't make it bad)

2. The Apostrophe Society (google it).

Wurf. Or, Wurf,