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Friday, March 24

March 24, 2017

Poetry Workshop: Today: Cianfarano/Kasper/Hulick.

I gave out the Round 5 packets. Here are the poems if you misplace yours: Poetry Workshop Round 5 March 2017

For Monday: the first four (Bullock, Bocek, Erb-White, McDanel).

Fiction Workshop: Today we workshopped Henry and Bailey. Two new stories were handed out (Spencer and Joan) and are for Monday. We set due dates for Round 3, and here they are:

  • Friday, March 31: Joanie, Greer
  • Monday, April 3: Cassidy, Spencer, Henry
  • Friday, April 7: Ash, Cecil
  • Monday, April 17: Layla, Faith, Hannah
  • Friday, April 21: Victoria, Becca
  • Monday, April 24: Bailey, Ian

See you Monday.

Family Values: Today we watched this episode of The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, Season 2, Episode 4, from Oct. 25, 1960: “Dobie Goes Beatnik.”

Your prompt was to write about what was different about this episode, as well as the first episode (which we also finished today).


  • While Leave it to Beaver gave us, for the first time, a kid’s-eye view of the world, Dobie Gillis did the same thing for teens. (Although in both cases, remember, adults were the target audience.)
  • The show made frequent use of fourth-wall breaking and narration, which helped move plots along (in part, because of a device familiar to Arrested Development watchers: the contradiction between narration and action).
  • The show also took other liberties that we’ve come to take for granted: the dream sequence in Episode 1, where Dobie imagines being a gangster; the dramatic lighting to isolate the dejected Dobie and Maynard at the end of that episode; and the meta-ness of the show referencing TV convention in today’s episode (Dobie saying, “If this were a show on TV…”).
  • Finally,the show was built around a single, unobtainable goal: Dobie’s quest for a girl. (He has one, in fact, but in a case of prolonged dramatic irony, he doesn’t notice her.) This foreshadows the premise comedies of the Sixties we’re going to see soon.

Random notes: Dobie was played by Dwayne Hickman (who also played Chuck, the nephew on The Bob Cummings Show.

Something I neglected to mention in class is that Dobie actually began life as a character in a book by Max Shulman (who adapted it for TV). In fact, there’s a Dobie short story called “Love is a Fallacy” that I might give you Argument people.

The other major character here is Dobie’s best friend, the beatnik Maynard G. Krebs (played by Bob Denver, the once and future Gilligan):

Image result for bob denver

Maynard is a significant character, since we’ve never really seen the counterculture represented this prominently before. Granted, the show is spoofing beatniks and Beat Generation culture, but still…

“Beatniks” were those people with an affinity for the Beat Generation, usually defined as a maverick literary movement of the 1950s that can be best summarized by three key works:

  1. Allen Ginsberg’s poem “Howl” (1956), which paid tribute to “the best minds” of Ginsberg’s generation — those who had allegedly been driven mad, in part, by societal conformity.
  2. Jack Kerouac’s 1957 novel On the Road, a stream-of-consciousness book about a road trip that’s as much spiritual journey as physical one.
  3. William S. Burroughs’s 1959 novel Naked Lunch, which pioneered the “cut-up” method of reassembling linear text to create startling new juxtapositions. (Which often, in fairness, didn’t make a lot of sense.)

These writers experimented with both form (as stated above: Ginsberg’s free verse; the reassemblages of Burroughs) and content (some of this stuff was considered obscene on publication. These writers (and others, mostly white) were boundary-pushers, an example they took from the jazz musicians they admired (mostly black).

During the 1940s, bebop was a strain of jazz that broke musical conventions (with its speed and emphasis on soloing), as its musicians broke societal ones (some bop musicians, like Charlie “Bird” Parker, were drug users, and more than a few shot heroin). These maverick figures inspired the Beats (and the beatniks) through their art and their lifestyles. For example, Thelonious Monk — the brilliant pianist mentioned on today’s episode — was a drinker, drug user and notoriously unstable personality. Here’s a classic Monk album from 1963, just three years after this episode aired:

So while Maynard was a cleaned-up beatnik and a figure of fun — the worst thing about him is probably his dirty sweatshirt — he represented a very real movement which would eventually morph into the hippies of the 1960s.

I gave out a checklist for Monday’s notebook check, which you can get here: Family Values Notebook Check 2 March 24 2017

There are 11 required entries. Each entry should be dated (or else zero points), and it should contain the episode(s) header(s), as listed on the checklist (or something very similar).

For every episode, there should be a general personal response that follows the header. if a specific response was requested, it is noted on the checklist. If there were notes given that day on another subject — for example, statistics of some sort — then you should include these with your notes as well. (If you missed them, they’re probably on the blog.)

Monday there will also be a test. The subject matter will be what’s in the notebook and what we have watched — no more, no less. It will be very similar to the first test — some multiple choice questions, some short answer. I may or may not have you watch an episode to respond to for a short essay — I haven’t decided yet.

BatCat:   Got some good stuff done today. Thanks, everyone, for staying enthusiastic. 🙂

Comedy: Arrested Development: Season 1, episodes 16, 17 and 18.

Are you noticing…

  1. the complexity of the plots? For example, the final episode today dealt with a new character, Ira Gilligan, and George and GOB’s plot to frame him at GOB’s bachelor party; Michael’s quest to prove that he’s “fun”; Tobias’s reuniting of the Family Band; Buster’s continuing feud with Annyong; GOB’s marriage troubles; and more. That’s an incredible amount of stuff to keep straight in less than 25 minutes, but it not only works, but is interrelated. How are they getting away with this and keeping it understandable? (There IS an answer.)
  2. the tightness of the writing? There isn’t a wasted or throwaway line. That makes the pace seem even faster than it is. We’ll be talking more about this, especially in comparison to what we’ve seen filmwise.

Survey: Screenwriting: Today we talked a bit more about sequences, and your homework for Monday.

This is the scriptwriting site:

This is the video we watched in class:

We briefly discussed copyright issues – the bottom line is that it would be smart not to literally include your song in your sequence because you don’t own the rights to the music (and would therefore encounter some significant issues if you were ever to make or use your writing in the real world). You can get around this by doing some kind of parody, or referencing the type of music, but not the exact song (for example, “Sad music plays in the background,” or something like that).

Reminder: you are writing ONE sequence that is made up of THREE scenes for Monday. 3 – 6 pages in length, total. Just do the best you can, and don’t overthink it! Just write some good scenes and make sure your formatting is A+.

See you Monday!

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