Thursday, September 27, 2007

So: it's no secret I've taken a few "blue flu" days in my career. My most memorable one was when I had to study for the GRE, which I did from 5 a.m. until about noon. Then I drank the rest of the day away and still made it into school the following morning.

My least memorable "blue flu" was spent at the library rereading The Blackboard Jungle. I was settling into an apartment that felt strange and unusual.

Tomorrow I'm out of the building. But not because of "blue flu" (although I plan to spend plenty of time grading yea papers). Because I have to take care of a sick cat.

It's a family member's cat who just went through surgery. And I have to make sure it doesn' know...die on me. While the owners are out of town and don't want to be worried sick. Because they're taking care of something else. So...what a guy I am. I could save my "emergency days" for the real emergencies of the world: two-for-one beer night at the local bar, or Wet T-shirt Competition for Women Under 80 at the dive down the road. Nope, I spend my emergency day following a cat around an apartment and grading essays. Meanwhile, while I'm gone, my freshman will be immersed in the pathos of Lean on Me without a guiding hand to tell them of the subtleties of the mis en scene, and my sophomores will be talking about medieval Scottish heroes in short, choppy sentences. Don't even get me started on my study hall.

"But, masters, remember that I am an / ass; though it be not written down." Much Ado About Nothing. And don't you forget it.

Oh shit, I just wrote it down.

Speaking of Shakespeare, I've got tickets for Saturday night's performance of Cymbeline, which I have not read, and my date is busy. So is my girlfriend (ha ha). Form an orderly queue, theater-goers.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

The Principal

I'm the Principal, man!James Belushi, looking slightly less fat than he does today, is a boozey, divorced teacher who gets into a fight with his ex-wife's lawyer in a bar and then, mysteriously, is out on his ass as principal of a gang-infested, rundown school nobody seems to want to fix. He strides the halls not like Morgan Freeman in Lean on Me, or like Edward James Olmos in Stand and Deliver. He's scared, but he still strides the halls, storms classes, forcibly tutors kids to read and do their homework, cajoles his teachers. The only problem is, every time he gets somewhere, someone else, at the hands of rogue drug-dealer ex-student Victor, winds up beaten up, raped, or, eventually, murdered.

The movie doesn't try to be anything else but an eighties flick, complete with cornball musical interludes. Add to that a principal who mixes chocolate powdered milk with Coke and beer, rides a motorcycle in his school's ratty neighborhoods, and gets a recently turned-around kid to high five him "down low/too slow" and you've got all the makings of an hour and fifty minute music video which is not so much an homage to teachers, or education, but to a down-to-earth tough guy doing what needs to be done to establish a status quo. Great stuff. Louis Gosset, Jr., is great, too--he spends equal time cajoling and berating Belushi for his dumb-ass bravery. The film won't create any new teachers, but it probably did pave the way for movies like The Substitute. We apparently don't have enough tough guy movies. We need Tough Guys Who Read movies, too.

Bonus: Check out a young Esai Morales as a student in this turkey. "Man, do you know where you are? You're at Brandel. Ain't you heard what they said about this place? Garbage never leaves the dump." Thank God good actors eventually do.