It’s (almost) the End of the Semester as We Know It…

…and I’m feeling fine. A big stack of papers awaits tomorrow, but until then, I’m a (relatively) free man, so I’m taking a quick break to import some CDs to my iPod and do a quick blog update. In addition to my stack of papers, I have a small stack of DVDs that I’ve been promising to watch and review, and I’m planning to make a (small) dent in that stack tonight. But here are some short nuggets that aren’t quite worthy of an independent blog entry:

  • Now that I’ve survived my first half marathon, I’m on the lookout for some other races in which I can participate. I’m sure I’ll do another half marathon eventually (and maybe even a full one), but there are a couple of local runs that look pretty cool and seem to support causes I appreciate. Ryan’s Reindeer 5K on December 15 is one such run. Proceeds go to the Ryan P. Kishbaugh Memorial Foundation, the Duke Pediatric Bone Marrow Unit, the Friends of the Cancer Center of the Cape Fear Valley Health Foundation and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Team in Training Program. I found the Ryan’s Reindeer 5K on the GetSetNC website, which looks like a good site for tracking upcoming races in North Carolina (although if I have any NC readers with better suggestions, I’d love to hear them).
  • Ted Z. has a link to the trailer for Michel Gondry’s latest film, Be Kind Rewind, which features Jack Black as a video store worker who decides to reshoot all of the films in his store’s VHS catalog after accidentally erasing them when he becomes magnetized. I’m a huge fan of Gondry’s, and the concept certainly appeals to my inner cinephile, my admiration of the low-tech indie aesthetic, and even, to some extent, my VHS nostalgia. Ted also points to a number of fake trailers of past films such as Robocop and Ghostbusters that are both very funny and seem to capture the mood of the film.
  • A few days ago, Jason Mittell posted an interesting entry on “Understanding Vidding” that should be helpful as I unpack similar issues in the book. I have an entire chapter devoted to user-generated videos, focusing especially on fake trailers. Jason also points to a video that combines footage from Madonna’s “Vogue” with the movie 300.
  • Brave New Films has a deleted scene from Michael Moore’s Sicko, in which Moore travels to Norway. The scene is entertaining enough as a stand-alone piece, and I’m not sure that I would have added much to the original film, especially given Moore’s travels to the UK, Canada, France, and Cuba, so this is a good example of using online video and DVD extras to the advantage of the film as it is presented in theaters while still ensuring the material finds a wide audience.
  • Scott Kirsner has an interesting (if somewhat old in bloggy terms) entry on an initiative to allow local moviegoers to program at least one screen of their local multiplex. The article echoes a number of recent descriptions of digital media allowing the emergence of a kind of “cinematic jukebox,” which is another issue I’m addressing in the book. Hopefully I’ll have more to say about Kirsner’s article in the near future, but I’m probably a bit more skeptical about the idea of a cinematic jukebox, if only because I wonder how such a jukebox will function to promote indie filmmakers (however one defines that term).
  • I don’t know if I agree with Naomi Wolf’s arguments about student political engagement in her recent Washington Post editorial, but given that I’ll likely do a variation of the election theme in my composition courses in the spring, I think it’s worth checking out and possibly discussing with my students. The article seems to fall into some of the “kids today!” shortcuts that I find a little tedious. In fact, I think she misreads her primary anecdote, in which her student is shocked (!) by Wolf’s suggestion that she run for city council. It seems plausible that the student in question actually understands how democracy works, but simply doesn’t believe that elections necessarily produce the best candidates or promote the best ideas (just look at last night’s exercise in immigrant bashing). That being said, I think Wolf’s ideas are worth taking about with my students in setting up the “rhetoric and democracy” theme.

Update: I clearly overstated things when I said it’s the “end” of the semester, so I edited the title to reflect the real state of things. I still have a week of classes, but the stack of papers I’m about to receive and the lack of energy on campus indicate that things are nearing the end. Also, for those of you who aren’t on Facebook, here are some pictures of me running the half marathon a few days ago.

3 Comments »

  1. Jonathan Gray Said,

    November 29, 2007 @ 11:28 pm

    Chuck,
    Apologies for pimping my wares, but if you’re checking vids out, I just posted on them:
    http://www.extratextual.tv/2007/11/getting-on-the-vidding-bandwagon/#more-44

    More to the point, though, what a lovely uni if your semester has already ended. Did it begin in July or something like that? ;-)

  2. Chuck Said,

    November 30, 2007 @ 9:45 am

    Thanks for the link. I must have misspoke. We still have a week left. It sort of feels like the end of the semester, though, at least in terms of how exhausted I am.

  3. Jonathan Gray Said,

    November 30, 2007 @ 6:52 pm

    I hear you. It does have that nearly over feel

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