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Thursday, November 30

November 30, 2017

Professional Writing: Today: Off the Books quiz #3.

We got into groups to begin work on two RFPs: one for a coffeemaker, and one for a new classroom. We’ll come back to these next Tuesday.

Critical Reading: Today we had a discussion of Butler and connected some of these ideas to Rear Window. Many of the things we discussed could potentially be the basis for, or appear in, your final paper, if you choose to use the Butler for your chosen filter.

I will update this post tomorrow morning with more information about what you need to do for Tuesday. Stay tuned.

Siren: Began coming up with questions for our demographic survey.

Publishing: HA prep!


Hitchcock: Started watching All About The Birds. Will finish tomorrow.

Survey: Poetry:  Today we didn’t watch this video (I spared you):

to begin discussing irony. Yes, we know that really none of the examples in this song really rise to the level of irony, which normally involves a reversal of expectations.

It’s the distance between what’s expected and what actually happens that accounts for whether something is legitimately ironic, though. For example, “rain on your wedding day” might be unexpected (or at least not ideal), but it happens all the time and really isn’t a huge reversal. A 98-year-old winning the lottery and then dying is unusual and probably tragic, but hardly unexpected. (They’re 98 years old, after all.) An Olympic swimmer drowning in the bathtub, on the other hand, offers a rare juxtaposition between what we expect to happen, and what actually occurs.

We talked about three different types of irony:

a. Verbal irony (sarcasm — when you say something that is the opposite of what you mean.)
b. Situational irony (when an event has an outcome that is the exact opposite of what was expected. For example, the Olympic swimmer drowning in his bathtub. Or, let’s say, a couple who go to divorce court end up falling back in love during the divorce proceedings.)
c. Dramatic irony (when the audience/reader knows something that a character does not.)

Then we talked about some other, somewhat related, terms from Chapter 10:

Paradox: A statement that seems contradictory or even impossible but which carries some deeper meaning (as when Jesus said, “They have ears, but hear not.”)

Coincidence: A random juxtaposition of events. “Rain on your wedding day,” to quote the popular song, is really just coincidence. Yes, you might expect that wedding days will be sunny, but of course, lots of them aren’t. That’s really not a sharp enough contrast between expected and actual outcome to qualify as irony. If you’re surprised to meet your friend at the mall, even though you didn’t plan it, it isn’t ironic — it’s coincidence. That sort of thing happens all the time too.

Read the rest of Chapter 10 if you haven’t already! It’s mostly review of stuff you’ve already done in Fiction: persona, denotation/connotation, diction and syntax, etc.



Wednesday, November 29

November 29, 2017

Fiction Workshop: Today: Bett/Holten. Thus endeth Round Four.

Gave out the first three for Round Five: Kennedy/McDanel/Erb-White. Have ’em ready for Friday.

Screenwriting Workshop: Greer’s screenplay is for Friday. Monday is a work day for the film project. You also received Henry’s screenplay for next Wednesday (it’s pretty long, so make sure to give yourselves enough time).

Act One: Today we took a quiz on Variations on the Death of Trotsky. Then we watched this short bio to better acquaint ourselves with this historical figure. Then we watched a version of the play itself:

in which we focused on the manipulation of time, an Ives specialty (what domestic drama was to Chekhov and delusion was to Williams, time manipulation is to Ives).

We started a new prompt, in which I invited you to come up with some celebrities who have died notable (and violent) deaths. We’ll return to these names Friday, which is shaping up to be a day for you to work up one of these names into a Variation of your own.

Gave back the midterm scoresheets. They were fine, for the most part, and you did a good job formatting. All of them have significant issues that need to be addressed. We’ll talk more about that when we see/hear these done soon.

BatCat: Prep for HA. Cecil – this is a reminder about the tables, if you see this. 🙂

Hitchcock: Finished The Birds. You completed your notes. Keep in mind the similarities to (and differences from) other “under siege” films you may have seen (including Night of the Living Dead).

Survey: Fiction: Today you got back your midterms (generally, good job). Then we revisited our conversation about dynamic and static characters from last week.

You got a new prompt! Here it is: Fiction 11.29.17 – Prompt 7, Dumpster Diving. Remember, if you pulled a lot of slips, you don’t necessarily need to use all of them in thinking about your character. Just use the ones that spark your interest. And remember: round, realistic, interesting… and school appropriate! This is due on Monday, 12/4.

Tuesday, November 28

November 29, 2017

Professional Writing: Today we heard the last of the @leroy_quotes RFP responses. The board met and deadlocked over the proposed costs and profit margins of a few products. We will revisit this issue Thursday.

I gave out (or re-gave out) a handout on redundant phrases. We’ll have an off-the-books quiz on these Thursday.

Gave back resumes and fog index homework. Regarding the former, we’ve done about as much as we can do. Make the changes I’ve suggested and keep updating your resume! Regarding the latter, there’s still work to be done to eliminate the assumptions that can make instructions confusing.

If you didn’t get the handout about RFPs, they’re in the box next to Mrs. Baringer’s desk.

Critical Reading: Today we talked about performativity, mostly. Here’s the video we watched in class:

We are going to talk about the Butler reading more specifically on Thursday.

Siren: Worked on December stuff. It’s all due on the blog Dec. 7.

New folks: we talked about inverted pyramid style (why it exists and how it’s used), and worked on basic lead writing.

For next Tuesday: please read pages 38-43 in your handouts.

Publishing: Prep for HA.


Hitchcock: Started watching The Birds. Will finish tomorrow.

Survey: Poetry: Took a quiz on external and internal organizers.

We talked about persona, and why it can be a wise choice in poetry (especially when you are writing from the perspective of a character you don’t care for). We used the John Betjeman poem “In Westminster Abbey” — this place:


–to illustrate the point.

You got slips of paper with a persona (actually, a persona and a problem). Your job for next Tuesday is to write a poem of any length, style or format from the perspective of this character. You must use “I,” and you must address the character’s problem in this poem, as well. I also want you to use one external and one internal organizer, and mention each.



The deadline for CMU’s MLK Essay Contest…

November 22, 2017

…is Friday. This is, like many contests and submissions these days, a Submittable-based entry, so be sure you’re signed up (as you all should be).

Here’s all the relevant info, one more time:

Dear Teachers and Administrators,

We hope you will have your students submit their writing to the 19th annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Writing Awards at Carnegie Mellon University. The deadline for submissions is FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 24. We continue to try to get greater participation in the awards. Last year, we began giving out a “Best of” Award to the strongest entry from each school. Please make sure that your school is represented!

Students are invited to submit personal narratives that deal with issues of discrimination and diversity. 

For submission instructions:

For information about the awards program and to read previous winners:

Tuesday, November 21

November 21, 2017

Professional Writing: 


Critical Reading: Today we talked about deconstruction and you got a whole bunch of handouts. Only the Judith Butler essay is formally assigned; it should be read for the Tuesday we return (one week from today – 11/28). There will be some kind of assessment/quiz/thing. Annotations are due also, as usual.

Siren: Distributed the November issue. If you want to read it online, you can by going here. (This is a new thing that we’ll start promoting next week.)

Publishing: Prep for HA.



Survey: Poetry: Talked about the six internal organizers from Chapter 9, with the help of some Hayes/Betjeman poems: (“Talk” and “Wind in a Box,” in particular.)

  1. Narrative
  2. Repetition (and refrain)
  3. Shift in attitude
  4. Overt theme (remember, this one is tricky and should be used with caution. “Anger Sweetened” or “The Narrow Mind” in Chapter 2 in your textbook are good examples.)
  5. Image clusters
  6. Compare and contrast (sometimes via extended metaphor or a controlling image)

For Tuesday: know the external and internal organizers from Chapters 8 and 9 for a  quiz.

Monday, November 20

November 20, 2017

Fiction Workshop: Today: Denny and Aloi. I gave out Bett and Holten (R4), which will be due the Wednesday we return. Then we’ll begin Round Five.

Screenwriting Workshop: You have two screenplays for after break: Jake is for Wednesday, Nov. 29, and Greer is for Friday, Dec. 1.

We briefly discussed Round 4, which is another “write what you like” round. All pieces for Round 4 are due on Wednesday, January 3 (the day we return from winter break) at 8 am. If you can post earlier, GOOD! Do it!

Act One: Test. If you didn’t take it today, you will take it after break.

I gave out copies of a new David Ives play, Variations on the Death of Trotsky. Please have it read by the Wednesday after break. You know what that means.

Here is a copy if you need one: 0071_001

BatCat: Over break, check with you parents about your Handmade Arcade participation. Try to know more precisely & definitively WHEN you will be able to be there by next Wednesday so that we can coordinate coverage for both the sales table and the pin-making activity.

Hitchcock: Today we watched the 19th of the 20 episodes Hitchcock directed for TV: “Four O’Clock,” the S1, Ep1 episode of Suspicion, a new TV series that ran on American TV between 1957 and 1958. Hitchcock executive produced the show, but this was the only episode he directed. We briefly discussed the similarities between this episode and two other Hitchcock-directed pieces we’ve seen: “Breakdown” and “Bang! You’re Dead!”, both from Hitchcock Presents.

Here it is: 

Survey: Fiction: Today we talked about character. The following terms should now be in your notes: protagonist, round char., flat char., dynamic char., static char., stock character and caricature.

We then broke into groups and you tried to apply these terms to characters from the stories we’ve read so far this semester. It was… a bit tricky. Each of you were assigned two characters to focus on over break, and we will continue/finish this discussion then.

In the last 15 minutes, I’ve changed my mind yet again. Don’t worry about reading the story, we probably won’t end up having time for it next Wednesday anyway. We’ll do it another time. Tell your friends. Have a nice break.

Friday, November 17

November 17, 2017

Fiction Workshop: Today: Duncan, Koscinski, Giffin.

For Monday: Luke Aloi. Please note that the formatting was stripped out of the packets; there are quite a few missing itals. So do look at the story on the blog before you annotate.

Screenwriting Workshop: Today was a very weird day. Cecil’s screenplay is for Monday. Make sure you stay aware of your due dates. Here they are again, in case you lost the calendar:

Mon., 11/20: Jake, Greer

Wed., 11/29: Henry

Fri., 12/1: Spencer

Mon., 12/4: Liv

Wed., 12/6: Brooke

Fri., 12/8: Hailey & Becca

Mon., 12/11: Bailey

Wed., 12/13: Torie

Note that these are POSTING dates, not workshop dates. Don’t get confused.

Act One: Today we had some technical issues that prevented us from watching a version of “Words, Words, Words.” My sincere apologies. We’ll get to it next week.

Monday there will be a test on what we’ve covered to date. That would include:

  • The basics (i.e., the stuff from the first quiz): theatre is six types of art…; stage directions; types of sets and stages; and of course, SAF.
  • The four Chekhov plays we read
  • The four Tennessee Williams plays we read
  • The one Edward Albee play we read (“Zoo Story”)

What might I ask you about these nine plays?

  • Who wrote ’em?
  • What were the dramatic questions and answers?
  • Were there any significant/symbolic visual elements?
  • Were there similarities between plays (especially those written by the same author)?
  • How do the plays reflect their historical context? (e.g., Chekhov’s Russia, after the serfs were freed; Williams’s New Orleans flophouses; Albee’s New York, circa the more straitlaced 1959.)
  • What were the wants of individual characters? (I don’t expect you to be letter perfect on the Russian names, but I DO expect you to know the character names as best you can. Not “the salesman guy in that one play.”)

After break, we will see your midterms on their feet, we hope.

BatCat: Prep for HA. If you have anything you think we should use for display purposes (stands, shelves, baskets, racks, etc.) please bring them on Monday so we can do a demo set-up.

Hitchcock: Today we finished watching that Making of Psycho documentary. More interested tidbits, including the brilliant marketing strategy the company used to be sure people saw the whole film, and a citation of this lukewarm review from The New York Times.

Survey: Divided class: half bookbinding, half reading and commenting.