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Wednesday, March 22

March 22, 2017

Poetry Workshop: 

Fiction Workshop: Today we workshopped Cecil and Cassidy. Henry and Bailey are for Friday. We will be setting the due dates for Round 3 on Friday! As was suggested last time, if you are absent on Friday, you’ll be put at the BEGINNING of the round (the first due date will be Friday, March 31 – that’s one week from Friday) – so be here. 🙂 Round 3 is a free-for-all – you can submit anything you want, as long as it’s fiction and school appropriate.

Family Values: 

BatCat: Pins and designs.


Survey: Screenwriting: Today we had kind of a weird day. Basically, we started talking about what a “sequence” is and will continue to do so on Friday. I handed out a sample sequence breakdown for Sunset Blvd (Screenwriting 3.22.17 – Sunset Blvd Sequences) as well as the assignment sheet for your next screenwriting piece: Screenwriting 3.22.17 – Assignment 7, Sequence. If you were in class, you got assigned a subject and an inspiration song; if you were absent, please see me to get these things.

This assignment is due Monday. I suggest you start brainstorming today and tomorrow, learn a little bit more about what a sequence is supposed to do on Friday, and write it over the weekend. Have fun with it.

I also handed back Assignment #6 (Scene with Dialogue) – if you have any questions about these, please let me know. They were generally quite good! Keep it up. 🙂

[Sorry guys, I forgot to post the playlist! I’ll post it here in the morning tomorrow.]

Tuesday, March 21

March 21, 2017

Argument: Took a quiz on “Letter.”

Then I gave you a handout — a chapter from Malcolm Gladwell’s David and Goliath, concerning the Birmingham campaign. Please read it for Thursday.

Please also watch the last 10 minutes of this excerpt from the Eyes on the Prize documentary:

Both the handout and the documentary are necessary to give this essay some context, which I will expect you to have when we start class on Thursday.

FYI: It’s way too early to be worrying about yet, but the plan looks like your finals will be due on Tuesday, May 9, and that we will begin the final presentations over four class periods: May 11, 13, 18 and 20. More on this soon.

Adaptation: Today you presented your group projects on fairy tale adaptations, and then we (quickly) went over the guidelines for the upcoming Shakespeare project which (hopefully) you’ve already started researching. If you haven’t… you know. Here’s the sheet that was handed out: Adaptation 3.21.17 – Final Project Guidelines.

For Thursday: your first Into the Woods response is due (see previous blog posts for that handout) and you also need to read “The Struggle for Meaning,” which was handed out several weeks ago.

Siren: March and April stuff, all at once. Remember the April Fool’s cover shoot Thursday!

Daily Prompt: 

Publishing: Continued to work on the haiku project. Printing on Thursday, I think.

Comedy: Continued to watch It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. We have about 50 minutes left, if you’re trying to catch up. We’ll finish this tomorrow.

Middle School Lit Arts: 

Survey: CNF: Winnowed down our list of questions for Mr. Goodman from 115 to 30ish. We ordered them, and assigned three (plus follow-ups) to everyone. Here is the list:

Questions for Todd Goodman

I gave out two handouts: “Intimate Details,” a chapter from Lee Gutkind’s You Can’t Make This Stuff Up, and “Immersion,” from Gutkind’s magazine, Creative Nonfiction. Please be sure you have read them, and keep them in mind as we prepare to do interviews.

Our group interview with Mr. Goodman will take place on Thursday. If you’re absent, you will lose a great opportunity to see and hear your subject. So don’t be absent.


March 20, 2017

One more time, here’s the link:

Note: this does NOT apply to students currently in Survey – we will talk to you guys about this in the coming weeks.

This link expires at midnight tonight – if you don’t have your stuff submitted by then, that’s a problem.

Monday, March 20

March 20, 2017

Poetry Workshop: Today: Smith/Bett/Koscinski/Ohlund.

For Wednesday: the last four in the packet.

For Friday: your Round 5 poem is due on the blog by 8 a.m.

Fiction Workshop: Today we workshopped Becca. Four new sets of stories were handed out: Cecil and Cassidy are for Wednesday, Henry and Bailey are for Friday. Annotations were kind of on the lame side today, so maybe think about kicking it up a notch (on the other hand, though, online comments have been getting better, so keep it up!!).

Family Values: Today we talked about your observations of Friday’s two shows:

  • Make Room For Daddy, which combined the brashness and show-biz (Lebanese-American Danny Thomas was a real-life comedian) of I Love Lucy and (to an extent) The Honeymooners with kids, including the bratty (though not incredibly annoying) Rusty.
  • Bonus points: the maid, Louise, helped pioneer a familiar TV archetype — that of the wise, knowing butler/maid/servant.
  • The Bob Cummings Show, AKA Love That Bob, by contrast, featured Bob Cummings as a former Air Force pilot-turned-photographer who spends all his time chasing models, trying to live out the Playboy dream. (Playboy magazine, remember, had just debuted in 1953.)
  • Bob “helps” his widowed sister Margaret raise her teenage son, Chuck, but as you can probably see, he’s not the greatest role model. The nicest thing we can probably say is what someone offered today: that is the forerunner of the “cool uncle” we see on shows like Full House. For its time, this was a surprisingly sex-filled show.

Then we watched the first episode of Leave It To Beaver from October of 1957, “Beaver Gets ‘Spelled.”


We also talked about what made this such a different show:

1. It was, for the first time, a show about childhood — where the kids and their problems took center stage. Wally is as much a surrogate parent as he is an older brother; he tries his best to “raise” Beaver the right way.

2. But it was also a depiction of a much more realistic family than we’ve seen before. Ward and June Cleaver aren’t equals, exactly. (Beaver is surprised when his mother is planning to go out, remember.) They are, however, partners in raising their two sons. (See: the scene where they’re doing the dishes together.)

3. This is also a small-town, suburban comedy, unlike most of the shows we’ve seen so far. The small, close-knit town plays a role in why people don’t panic when Beaver goes missing, but it also mirrors the suburban lifestyles that more and more TV viewers (as TV use kept expanding) were living.

Later this week, we’ll see some other examples of what made this show so significant.

We talked briefly about historical context: the show debuted just as Sputnik was going into orbit; it came at the end of a decade of unprecendented — and unequaled — growth in TV usage. To compare, the US went from 150 million cell phone subscriptions to more than 300 million between 2003 and 2013. But between 1947 and 1957, the number of TVs in the US increased from less than 100,000 to more than 40 million.

BatCat: Another busy day.

Comedy: Today we introduced our next film — and first from the 1960s — with three short clips of contemporaneous movies:

1955’s Oklahoma!

1956’s The Ten Commandments (the parting of the Red Sea; watch this version instead of the one I showed in class):

and 1959’s Ben-Hur (the chariot scene; in Panavision):

What you should notice (besides the color) is that in each case — and these are three of the most well-known films of this era — the widescreen treatment is utilized and justified. Each of these iconic scenes packs characters and action from corner to corner. Combined with color (remember that color TVs were very rare at the time), this was an experience you just couldn’t get at home.

That sets up It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963), a comedy that checks three boxes:

  • It’s an ensemble comedy. The thinking that a guest-star-filled movie would appeal to a variety of moviegoers — and they still do it today — started around this time.
  • It’s a quest comedy. Not a new idea by any stretch, but one that continues to be used today.
  • It’s a chase-filled comedy. And by that, we mean car chases. This movie starts with one, and there’ll be plenty more before we’re done. Which will probably be Wednesday. So pay special attention to the cars — how they’re used, and how they compare to current chase comedies.

Middle School Lit Arts: 

Survey: Screenwriting: Today you handed in Assignment 6 – Scene with Dialogue. You were assigned groups and each group got two scripts to prep a table read for. We have one more group that needs to read. To those of you that went today – both the readers and the screenwriters: nice job! Seriously.

See you Wednesday.

Friday, March 17

March 17, 2017

Poetry Workshop: Today: Bocek/Bowser/Duffy.

For Monday: Ohlund/Hill/McDanel/Hamilton.

Round 5 poems are due a week from today, on Friday, March 24.

Fiction Workshop: Today we workshopped Faith and Layla. You received Becca’s work for Monday – please note that this is the only thing that it out for Monday, and this is a little change from the schedule.

Stay aware of your due dates.

Family Values: Today we began with the question: why were shows like “Ozzie and Harriet” and “Father Knows Best” so low-stakes, conflict-wise?

I don’t know if there’s a single answer to that question, but one thing to consider is that, by the 1950s, someone in their 20s and 30s had spent most of their life 1) in the Great Depression, 2) at war (WWII and then Korea and then the Cold War), and 3) inside a rapidly-changing America, where civil rights and juvenile delinquency and fears about communism weren’t far from everyone’s minds.

There’s a frequently-cited saying — that between 1900 and 1950, America changed so much that it would have been almost unrecognizable  to someone from an earlier time. Cars! TV! Refrigerators (and other appliances)! Electricity! Indoor plumbing! But between 1950 and today, the changes have been much smaller and more subtle. (If you’ve ever been on the Carousel of Progress at Disney World, you might know what I’m talking about. So a little family escapism might have been just the thing.

Today we watched two new shows, as we near the end of the 1950s:

Make Room For Daddy, starring Danny Thomas as a nightclub comedian/singer, from 1954: “Family Troubles.”

And The Bob Cummings Show (aka Love That Bob), starring Bob Cummings as an ex-Air Force pilot-turned-photographer, who’s helping raise his nephew Chuck, and chasing as many models as he can. This episode, from 1958, is “Bob Goes Bird-Watching”:

There wasn’t a lot of time to discuss, but we’ll do that Monday.

Don’t forget that your “Ozzie vs. Ozzy” responses are due Monday. They must:

  1. Be typewritten
  2. Be one to two pages
  3. Give examples from both shows we’ve watched and modern shows of your choice that answer the question: “Have family sitcoms really changed that much from the 1950s to today?”
  4. Cite the essay itself. (Not in a formal way; I just mean you need to reference the argument the author is making, and whether you agree or disagree.)

BatCat: More design business; making little baby steps. Our workshop dates are Saturday 4/22 and Saturday 5/6, the time for both days will be 12:30 – 3:30 (plan to come 30 minutes early and stay 30 minutes later to help set up and clean up). Unless you’ve already talked to me, I am assuming that you are able to attend; if you find otherwise, please let me know IMMEDIATELY, as we will need to cancel if attendance is going to be poor. The sales page for these workshops will be up next week.

There is a lot going on right now, from design to reprints to workshop planning to emails to pins to… who knows what else. It’s a lot. Thank you for your patience, and thank you in advance for continuing to stay focused and taking initiative. We have to make sure to continue on a positive trajectory – there is a lot left to do! 🙂

Comedy: Arrested Development x 3: S1, episodes 14-16.

Survey: Did some art stuff: water marbling, letterpress, talked about BatCat.

Portfolios are due Monday!

March 16, 2017

Click here to submit your portfolio!

The deadline is Monday, March 20th at 11:59 pm. You will be UNABLE to submit your work after this deadline.

Thursday, March 16

March 16, 2017

Argument: Today you turned in your homework responses to “Dear Mom,” and we discussed the principles of Rogerian argument. Named for psychotherapist Carl Rogers (though developed by others), it is a different model of argument than the Aristotlean/Toulmin model. The intent is to dial back tension (especially in long-running arguments) and reach some common ground.

The principles are pretty simple:

  1. You restate your opponent’s position, to insure that you understand it, and that they have been heard.
  2. You acknowledge the conditions under which your opponents’ position might be right.
  3. You demonstrate how, under the current conditions, that YOUR position is actually the correct one.
  4. You show that, by adopting your position, your opponent can get all (or at least some) of what they want, because you both really want similar things.

You then wrote a Rogerian response to an “argument” of mine.

For Tuesday: Please have read “Letter From Birmingham Jail.” Remember that I expect you to know at least a little about the historical context of this argument, and I also want you to be mindful of the Rogerian elements in it (because there are some).

Adaptation: Today we finished Into the Woods. The response (Adaptation 3.14.17 – Response 5, Into the Woods 1) is due next Thursday, March 23 (typed, etc. as usual).

Your presentations are due on Tuesday.

Siren: March/April stuff.

Daily Prompt: 

Publishing: Continued to work on setting for haiku book.

Comedy: Today we went back to our timeline, and picked up where we left off – roughly 1948, when the studio system was dealt a major blow. We discussed what “aspect ratio” is and then went on to talk about some of the big names in widescreen (namely, Cinerama, CinemaScope and [briefly] Panavision). Here are the clips we watched in class:

Survey: CNF: You made lists of questions for Mr. Goodman. We’ll order these on Tuesday and assign questions to different individuals.