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Monday, January 30

January 30, 2017

Poetry Workshop: Today: Koscinski and Bett. For Wednesday: comments and annotations for the other three poems in your packet: Bowser, Kennedy and Erb-White.

Fiction Workshop: Today we did an in-class writing exercise (if you were absent, you don’t need to make this up). Following that, we went over the due dates for Round 1. Each of you has an individualized due date (shared with one other person); each of you now has a calendar with those dates noted. More on this later in the week.

On Wednesday, we will talk about comment guidelines. Everyone should have a read of the four sample comments that you got last week (in the comment guidelines packet); in advance of Wednesday, try to put these in order as directed in the handout. We’ll discuss on Wednesday.

You still have a standing assignment – rewrites! These are due this Friday. Get started now – it’s probably going to take a while.

Family Values: Today we went over several points of comparison between 1946 and today. In 1946:

  • there were 141 million Americans (322 million today)
  • it was the beginning of the Baby Boom
  • suburbia began
  • there was an economic boom which, more or less, continued through the 1960s
  • the average family income was $3,200 ($54,000 today)
  • gas cost 21 cents a gallon (about $2.50 today)
  • a new car cost $1,400 (approximately $20,000 to $30,000 today)
  • a house cost $12, 500 (approximately $80,000 in Beaver County)
  • the minimum wage was 40 cents an hour ($7.50 today)
  • 0.5 percent of households had a TV (about 44,000 households)
  • 95 percent of households had a radio
  • the first televised heavyweight fight, between Joe Louis and Billy Conn, was seen by 140,000, many of them watching in bars. (But just a year later, a million people watched the Louis/Walcott fight.)
  • RCA began production of the 630-TS, the first commercially-manufactured TV made after the war.

And yet, despite the low prices, a new television cost between $350 and $450 — more than 10 percent of the average household income. (By contrast, about $5,400 today.) We talked about why this was: the high initial costs of developing technology.

The big question about TV was: where would the programming come from? We identified some sources: sports, theater, the news. But the source we’ll be talking about is radio — specifically, adapting successful radio shows for TV. That’s where we’ll pick things up Wednesday.

BatCat: Today we worked on handouts. We’ll be inking up the press on Wednesday (Valentine’s people, take note; we are staying after school – anyone else who wants to may as well, there will be plenty to do). If you see an opportunity to take something home to work on, please do it! 🙂 Thanks to those who did so today.

Comedy: Today we watched three clips, two of them well-known, to illustrate some of the terms we discussed Friday:

“More Cowbell,” from Saturday Night Live (2000), starring Will Ferrell and Christopher Walken.

<p><a href=”″>need more cowbell</a> from <a href=”″>nicemusicltd</a&gt; on <a href=””>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

“Argument Clinic,” from Monty Python’s Flying Circus (the TV show; from 1972), starring Eric Idle, John Cleese, et al.

and the first half of “Diversity Day,” the second episode from Season One of The Office, 2005. (Sorry, it’s on Netflix, but no clip.)

Here’s what we said:

  • “More Cowbell” clearly derives most of its comedy from slapstick. There’s some mild satire (of rock bands, and of “Behind the Music”-style documentaries specifically), but this stands or falls on Will Ferrell’s character and his gyrations with the cowbell.
  • “Argument Clinic,” by contrast, has some slapstick near the end (people getting hit in the head), and it is clearly satirizing government (the police at the end) and perhaps consumer culture (You can buy anything you want, even an argument!), but the overall effect is farcical. There is no such thing as an “Argument Clinic,” and the interactions that happen are ridiculous and over-the-top.
  • “Diversity Day,” by contrast, has some mild slapstick. And the episode is a typically witty look at clueless office manager Michael Scott (we’re supposed to laugh AT him, of course, as well as Dwight and many of the other employees). However, Michael is so foolish that we might miss there a couple of satirical targets. One is the office environment generally (and this would be easier to understand if you had worked in an office), and its customs and habits. The other is the diversity training the employees are forced to undergo. It is presented as an ineffective and pointless exercise (the “H.E.R.O.” acronym is the most obvious point); a particular office custom deserving of scorn.

Bring your notebooks tomorrow: we’ll begin our real film studies journey there.

Survey: Screenwriting: Today you did an in class response (screenwriting-1-30-17-icr-1-some-like-it-hot) and we proceeded to talk about conflicts you found in Some Like It Hot. This segued into talking about what you wrote for the response – our general consensus is that the beginning ends somewhere around the time Joe and Jerry get on the train dressed as women, and the end of the middle (aka beginning of the end) happens around the time Spats arrives in Florida and Joe and Jerry decide they need to leave.

The key to take away from today is that these points revolved around decision making on the part of the main character(s). Joe and Jerry could have just accepted their fate and succumbed to the mob after the shooting, but they didn’t – they decided to run, decided to dress up like women and get on the train, and later decided to flee the hotel. More on all of this later.

At the end of class, I had you write about a familiar place using a very specific point of view: 3rd person, present tense, objective – limited to only the senses of sight and sound.

There is no homework for Wednesday.



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