Thursday, July 30, 2009

Bottled Water: 98% Melted Ice Caps. 2% Polar Bear Tears

Okay, so my roommate gets the New York Times everyday, and we read this the other day. is all about alerting people to the benefits of drinking tap water and not drinking bottled water. It's very eco-aware. Anyway, this new ad campaign is hil-ar-ious. I've put a link below to the article that is on the actual website for the tappening campaign. Teh article has the other slogans, but two of my favorites: 1)Bottled Water is the Primary Cause of Restless Leg Syndrome

And 2)

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Nearly there

I just want to say that I have two weeks left of this beautiful place in Vermont! Classes end officially on Wednesday but both of my projects are due before that. I have one due Friday and the other on Monday, which means I can hike and play for almost a full week. Both of my projects are coming along fine and one I am especially excited to complete. I met a girl here named Heather. She is from North Carolina and teaches juniors (mostly African American) there too. We talked one afternoon and decided to put together a class exchange where my juniors and her juniors communicate with one another and even work together on a few things throughout the year. So far, we have come up with some great ideas and I can't wait to put them into effect. Don't worry, it hasn't caused any extra work. We are using it as our project for one (and a half) of our classes. I really hope my students enjoy the process. I can't even begin to imagine how much they could potentially learn from all this.
Working on all of this curriculum stuff has really got me thinking about the coming school year. I really miss my students and can't wait to get back to my regular life. Also, I've been away from my family for a pretty long time. I guess it's only been two months, but somehow the distance makes it seem harder to be away. Most of my family gathered in Pine Valley this last weekend, and for some reason I always get a little homesick over the 24th of July. It must have to do with the many memories and years of traditional family get-togethers. I haven't been for three years now, and with this master's program it looks like I won't make it for another four. So summer of 2014 look for me on the Pine Valley mountain. I'll be there. Anyway, wish me luck on the final push, and you'll find me back in Utah in two weeks from tomorrow (regardless of the luck wishing I'll be there. It's not like I won't come home if you don't wish me luck. Ah, I love language.)

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Ginny Weasley and the Half-Written Heroine

I watched Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, and wrote this after much thought and consideration to one of my favorite characters in Book 6. Don't worry there are no spoilers, so read and comment. I'd love to hear what people think about this.

Word. What happened to Ginny Weasley? After watching the sixth installment of the Harry Potter series, “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince”, I have to question some of the choices made by screenplay writer Steve Kloves and director David
Yates. The feat of trying to turn a book that gives readers the chance to imagine the impossible into a movie seems daunting. I recognize that things must change to allow the writers to cram an intense story into two-ish hours for a typical audience with a short attention span.

Also, I have never been one to advocate the comparison of movie adaptations to their original texts. Undoubtedly the book is always better, but both can be entertaining when appreciated separately.

The Half-Blood Prince was entertaining and by many accounts a great film. I laughed. I cried. I got frustrated. But mostly I wondered why Ginny Weasley was portrayed in the film as a domesticated, subservient female. Granted my English graduate courses could be tainting my thought process, but I think something is going on here.

Throughout the series, J.K. Rowling hardly ever writes a weak female character. All of them seem to be wand-waiving, danger-facing, opinion-stating women. Hermione Granger is characterized as the top of her class and is just as brave as Harry Potter. Bellatrix Lestrange is second only to Voldemort in her evil nature and heartlessness. Mrs. Weasley is daring, strong, and powerful as the mother figure of the story.

In the books, Ginny Weasley is written as an equal to Harry Potter. She is a devil-may-care kind of girl with ambition, determination, strength and talent. Ginny knows what she wants and she usually takes it. In fact, she is the one that initiates an actual relationship with Harry.

In the movie, however, Ginny loses her backbone. We see one moment of strength when she calls the Quidditch team to attention, but after this, she becomes a servant to Harry. While the following scenes are meant to be romantic, they come off only as awkward and forced. When Harry goes to the Weasley’s house for Christmas, Ginny hand feeds Harry a piece of tart. It does set up a rather funny scenario with Ron Weasley and is sort of romantic, but could it instead imply that Ginny is a tart herself? She later bends to Harry’s feet and ties his shoe for him. Weird? Yes! In one of the longest scenes they have together, Ginny helps Harry hide his potions book. Acting as a soft-spoken temptress, she sneaks a kiss and disappears.

Maybe these sorts of things are secret desires of a young man’s heart, but shoelace tying doesn’t seem very appealing when a real interaction between Ginny and Harry could have been written to show the real connection between them. The pizzazz Ginny has written into her character virtually disappears in the film (pun intended). The once strong, independent young woman turns into the handmaiden of the Chosen One. I, for one, don’t buy it. While other critics call attention to a passionless performance from Daniel Radcliffe, or praise the movie for its artful directing, I want to call attention the absence of our daring female love interest.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Quick trip to Montreal

Bonjour mon ami! Here at Bread Loaf things are crazy awesome. Thankfully the school gave us a day off this week as a sort of midterm vacation. Friday we had no classes, and I didn't have any wait staff responsibilities in the dining hall. So what did I do? That's right: Canada or bust baby! Montreal is only about three hours north of Middlebury, so I took my passport, my roommate, and a friend who speaks French with me Friday morning and we came back Saturday afternoon. Montreal is a beautiful city. We got into town, checked into our hostel and started seeing the sites. My friend that speaks French, Evelyn, has spent some time in Canada and knew all the things to see. So we didn't waste any time in tourist traps. Okay, maybe that's all we did. We hiked to the top of Mount Royal that looks over the entire city-scape. Pictures are above. The hike wasn't easy. Lots of stairs and lots of pausing, but definitely worth the view. After we got our fill of picture taking and resting, we hiked back down the mountain, caught the metro and went to Vieux-Montreal. For those of you who don't know, that means Old Montreal. Don't worry I had no idea either. Anyway, this is the part of town that apparently resembles Europe. It has cobble streets, giant cathedral, a quaint town square, and lots of cute stores. This is the part of town we spent most of our time seeing. We shopped, ate in a street cafe, and shopped some more. The people watching was a lot of fun too. We kept trying to guess who was a tourist and who was a local. We walked to a few historical sites for photos, but mostly we looked in at art galleries, souvenir shops, and the maple history museum. (No joke, but it was closed.) We took a tour of Norte Dame and all its beauty. We even got to hear the bells chime at the hour.
Sadly, it was a rather quick trip. I got just enough of the city to make me love it and to make me jealous of people who speak second languages. Now I have added French to my bucket list of things to learn in my life time. We left the city after lunch, and took our time coming home. Burlington, Vermont is the biggest city near Middlebury and is on the shore of Lake Champlain. We decided to stop there for a look at the lake and crepes. MMMmmmm lemon and sugar. While we were there, we thought we could drive over to the Ben and Jerry's factory for a tour. It goes a different way around to Middlebury than the direct route. Anyway, we drove for a while before we realized I probably made a wrong turn somewhere (my roommate was navigating so I'm not completely culpable). We were on the right road to get to Middlebury, but missed the factory along the way somehow. Once we figured we were pretty lost, we stopped at this place "Maynard's Snack Shack" to ask for directions. It was the only sign of civilization we could see. A couple of patrons told us the factory was back the way we came, but that the ice cream at Maynard's was homemade and better than anything we could get at B&J's. He also told us Maynard would give us a tour if we asked nicely. It really was a nice little mom and pop type establishment. I laughed when I saw a sign near their daily specials that read: We sell mulch hay. How small town is that?
Anyway, after a nice visit with Mrs. Maynard we ordered some maple creamies (which is what they call soft serve ice cream here) and got on our way.
The rest of the drive home was phenomenal. Route 100 took us straight through the heart of the Green Mountain National Forest. We stopped along the way for attractions like a covered bridge and a magnificent waterfall. I decided I will take my mom through that way when she flies out to drive home with me. I really can't say enough about the beauty.
Anyway, I'm on the home stretch of school. Both of my big papers are due in two weeks and school is out the 5th of August. I can't believe that it's already here. I've had such a great experience studying with such brilliant minds and learning some tricks from other young English teachers. I hope you enjoy the pictures in the slide show above and some new music. Au revior!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Julia Alvarez

So, here I am lost in my own academic pursuits brushing shoulders with some of the most intelligent people in the world, and people keep surprising me. No joke most of the professors here are "known" for something. I can't get over it. You've already seen my mention of Paul Mulldoon. Today I heard about this meeting for the teaching network that Bread Loaf runs. I'm interested, so I attended. Anyway, I walk in and guess who is there? Julia Alvarez, the Julia Alvarez. If you don't know her, I've got a link to her website. She wrote How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents among other works. She graduated from Bread Loaf and comes to hang out on campus a lot apparently. So, yeah. I'm flabbergasted to say the least. This is going down as a pretty cool day.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Vermont Photos

Okay, like I've mentioned, Bread Loaf is incredibly beautiful. I've been on a few hikes: one to Lake Pleiad and another to Silver Lake. Yesterday I got sick of doing homework so I went for a little walk through nature. There is a mysterious path across the street from the Inn that I have wanted to explore. It leads down to a gorgeous little area of river. I took pictures and wanted to post. Plus it wasn't raining then so I was a good time to be out and about. Enjoy the greenery.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Rainy Vermont Says Happy Fourth

Alright, if you haven't noticed my many status changes on Facebook, I am having a great time in Vermont. Everyday there is something new to do. Most of the week we are all bunkered down doing homework and reading in various places on campus, but when the weekend gets here, these people know how to have a good time. I've square danced, hiked, watched fireworks, swum in lakes, met lots of cool people and so much more. Oh, I've learned a lot too. My classes are enlightening. One is on the 20th Century African American Narrative and the other is titled The Language Wars. Mostly we've been talking about language loss of some cultures and peoples and the idea that cultural and language diversity can be useful as teachers and to individuals. Anyway, I'm enjoying all the geek talk about books and language. They are keeping me pretty busy too with reading and a few papers coming up this week. I love being a student again.
The weather has been unusually wet this week. Even though it has rained a little or a lot everyday, a group of us were hopeful ad anxious that the sun would come out long enough for a hike yesterday. The sun never came out, but we got out anyway. We hiked to Silver Lake in the rain and swam in the rain too. The lake was beautiful and it wasn't cold at all. I had so much fun sloshing around in my Chacos knowing no matter what I couldn't get much more wet so why avoid the puddles. We went on a different hike the weekend before as well to a different lake: Lake Pleiad. It was much smaller than Silver Lake, but the water was lovely and the sun was shining then. I am slowly, well not so slowly-I've only been here two weeks, falling in love with this place. It is green and the atmosphere is amazing. No where else in the world could I be hanging out with a bunch of cool (you might say nerdy) English teachers and talk about books, students, schools, classes, and Harry Potter. It's incredible.
To celebrate the Fourth of July a few of us drove to a nearby town, Bristol, and watched fireworks. It was a nice small town but they put on a really good show. I feel like a little girl every time I watch fireworks. I guess that is why I love the 4th of July so much. It's raining today, but that is okay. I'll be inside doing research and reading all day anyway. That is until the dance starts at 9. I love this place. Happy Fourth everyone. Here's to hoping your day is sunny, warm, and full of friend and family fun. (check out that alliteration). ********