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Monday, February 27

February 27, 2017
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Poetry Workshop: Today: Ohlund/Smith/Hill. End Round 2.

For Wednesday: I gave you copies of two poems: “I Hear America Singing” by Walt Whitman and “I Am the People, the Mob” by Carl Sandburg. I will ask you some (primarily structural) questions about these poems at the start of class.

Also for Wednesday: the first three poems of Round 3 (Bullock/Kennedy/Bett). We are ramping up the workload; expect four for Friday!

Fiction Workshop: Today we workshopped Spencer and Layla. Two new stories were handed out for Friday (Bailey and Cassidy). For Wednesday, you have a short handout to read (by Sherrie Flick, on the treatment of time in flash). We will also be setting the due dates for Round 2 on Wednesday – please have a look at where you’re at. Know that I’ll need 2 people for the 10th, and 3 people for the 13th. If I don’t get volunteers, the dates will be assigned randomly.

Family Values: Today I gave back the tests. Be careful when I give you questions like those on The Goldbergs; bullet points don’t necessarily tell me, for example, when you’re making a comparison based on similarities or differences.

We watched the first episode of The Honeymooners from 1955, “TV or Not TV.” We talked briefly about the financial context:

  1. Ralph says he doesn’t want to spend money on a TV; he’d rather save it. He points to the $75 he and Alice have saved in the bank. That doesn’t sound like much — it’d be a little more than one week’s salary for Ralph, or about 2 percent of his annual income of $3,224 — but consider this Federal Reserve report from 2014 that showed nearly half of Americans couldn’t cover a $400 emergency expense without selling something or borrowing the money. (In other words, they had less than $400 in savings — that, despite an average household income of more than $50,000. That’s less than 1 percent of their annual income.) The poor savings habits of Americans have been much-discussed over the last decade; just know that by today’s standards, Ralph wasn’t doing too badly!
  2. However, the real reason Ralph didn’t want to buy a TV, as he said himself, was that he’d have to give up his “pocket money” — for bowling, pool and lodge dues. Probably Alice knew this when she asked! We can’t know how much this stuff cost, exactly — lodge dues would be tough to pin down, and the money Ralph paid to play pool might have been at least partly for gambling. But figure roughly a quarter a game for bowling and pool, plus another dime to a quarter for bowling shoe rentals.
  3. Norton, by contrast, is one his second TV — but that’s because he buys everything “on time,” or on credit. He mentions he has 19 charge accounts at the local appliance store, and they won’t give him more credit — which is why he agrees to share a TV with Ralph. More about the history of credit Wednesday, but it is safe to say that credit — while not uncommon — was less ubiquitous in 1955 than it is today. (That’s in part because the first real credit card, the Diners Club card, didn’t debut until 1951.)

Those of you who were in SpongeBob should recognize the four archetypes of our four main characters: Ralph, Alice, Norton and Trixie.

We’ll watch a second episode Wednesday. I collected your notebooks and will return them then.

BatCat: Today we started trying some things. It’s okay if it’s hard/weird/disjointed at this point; consider it all an experiment!

Comedy: We ran through your “afraid to tell someone something” sketches. More on these tomorrow, when we’ll also talk more about the Code and its effect on films.

Middle School LA: 

Survey: Screenwriting: Today we just reviewed what you should have on your radar at this point (if you’re missing any of the Tootsie stuff – quiz or notes – please get it to me ASAP; your short silent screenplays are due on Friday; if you have any questions or want me to look over anything, please see me or send me an email).

In class we read the next 15 pages or so of Strangers on a Train and continued watching the film (we started it about a month ago, when we read and watched the first 12 pages). We got up to minute 44. If you were absent, please make every possible effort to get this watched for Wednesday so that you can jump in and not be confused. Finishing the film will take most of Wednesday. Notes will be due on Friday.

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