Monday, March 26, 2012

Checked Out.

I know!
I've been out of action for a little bit.
Today I am talking about book trailers.
But first, please go read this un-review of Please Ignore Vera Dietz, by A.S. King, written by my friend Matthew MacNish.
If you have not yet read every book by A.S. King, you need to do so. And you will want to keep your copies, but since they are the kinds of books that make life better for all kinds of people, you would do well to share the awesomesauce and donate your copies to, say, a school library or even a computer lab's Underground Library.
(I realize that this is not subtle. People, I done run out of subtle.)
And, if you check out Matthew's blog today, you will see the cover of the sequel to The Marbury Lens, by Andrew Smith. It's called Passenger.
I showed my students the cover of Passenger today. There was an outcry when I said "This is the cover reveal" and they were indignant that I revealed a cover to a book that's not even out yet. The students made a few signs for Andrew and we exploded some stuff in the microwave in a show of enthusiasm.
I'm pretty sure it was enthusiasm. Since I left my iPod at school I couldn't email the pictures to Andrew or post them here.
And The Marbury Lens is checked out.Here is the book trailer:

You will notice that there is a high level of Creep and Disturb in the book trailer. That is because there is a high level of Creep and Disturb in the book.
There is a high factor of Creep and Disturb in life, too, if you have been paying any attention at all for however many years you have been alive.
Last week I ruffled feathers by showing the kids the book trailer for The Dust of 100 Dogs, which also happens to be by A.S. King.

It was checked out.
I was told that if I don't have the book available to be checked out, I shouldn't show them the book trailer.
They were not appeased that I have started a waiting list, and that I have written grants.
I have one student working on a book trailer right now. The other students will storyboard their book trailers this next quarter.
This is why we watch book trailers.
It is also part of the Revolution, which involves saving humanity by having people who haven't ruined the world gain tools for fixing the world by reading the Best Books Ever.
I also showed them the book trailer for Michael Grant's BZRK, which is, you guessed it, CHECKED OUT.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Superhero? God? What it All Means.

One of my classes is full of comic book afficionados.
For the last several weeks during project time, a conversation turns into a debate.
The subject is,"Who is the best superhero?"
My students have strong feelings about this topic.
Student A: "Superman would OWN Batman."
Student B: "No! Uh-Uh. The Green Lantern!"
Student C: "Batman rules. You guys are fools." And then makes a little rap about it, complete with sound effects.
Student D: "Thor. It's all about Thor."
Student B: "Thor isn't a superhero. He's a GOD."
Everyone gets quiet for a minute.
Student D: "Why can't a god be a superhero? He has powers and stuff."
Student A: "Because he's a god. You can't be a superhero AND a god."
Student D turns to me. "Why can't a god be a superhero?"
Me: (Making the Universal Symbol for Frontal Lobe Development) "I don't think what I think matters in this discussion. You show me your reasoning."
Student A: "Superman.Dude. Batman wouldn't be a superhero at all if he didn't have all that money. It's not like he was BORN with powers."
It seems that this struck a nerve. Several students nodded.
And then they went back to work.
And left me thinking about the nature of heroes, power, and money.

Monday, March 5, 2012

The Cat Daddy. A Nice Classroom Moment.

In the wake of my interpretive dance, performed as a part of a school fundraiser, several students have been giving me Helpful Tips.
Student: I liked your dance.
Me: Thank you.
Student: I think you need to learn the Seatbelt.
Me: What?
(Other students murmur approvingly)
Student: (demonstrates the Seatbelt)
Me: Of course. The Seatbelt.
Student: Try it.
Me:(bites lip) Show me again, son.
Student: (repeats Seatbelt)
Me: Um. Okay. (Attempt the Seatbelt. It is lame and lurpy)
Student: Uh. You know there are tutorials on YouTube.
Me: I will take that under advisement. (There are three minutes left in class.)
Another Student: And the Cat Daddy. You need to do the Cat Daddy.
(Other students unsuccessfully try to control their mirth.)
Me:(wary) Cat Daddy?
(Several students demonstrate. I am relieved to see that the Cat Daddy does not appear lewd.)
Students: Try it! Try it!
Me: I will watch the tutorial.(Logs in to YouTube, under "teachable moment" license.)
We all watch the Cat Daddy tutorial. It is impressive.
I try it. Kind of.
Happiness ensues, and students exit with good cheer.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Interview with a Writer, Part 2. Boys, Reading, and the Stunning Capture of a Lingerie Thief.

Michael Crichton used to live next door to my grandmother. He used to peel out of his driveway really fast.
Almost getting hit by Michael Crichton's car was my closest brush with an author until my brother got published.
So the interview continues.
Kristen:So let's talk about high school. What did you learn?
Matt: Typing. Typing was the best thing. Really handy.
Kristen: What about reading Billy Budd?
Matt: Never read it.
Kristen: I didn't read it either. Until later.
Matt:I probably should read it.
Kristen: You've had a very productive life so far. I wouldn't worry about it too much.
So why did you choose to write plays?
Matt: Because of Eric Bergosian and Talk Radio. I wanted to be a cool dude like that.
Kristen: I remember your first play. Father Fatal. Why that subject?
Matt: I liked the idea of a crucifix that shot daggers. That's a natural.
Kristen: One of the things I so enjoy about watching your plays is how scenes from Growing Up Pelfrey show up.Like actual scenes from our family. And what I think is really interesting is that everyone laughs at those parts and thinks they are the least realistic part of the play.
Matt: Yeah, like in Monkey.
Kristen: Exactly. No one would believe that Dad promised to get you a monkey when you were sixteen. And the trauma that happened when the monkey never materialized.
Matt: Dad thought I would forget.
Kristen: He was wrong.
Matt: It's a deep wound.
Kristen:(maintains respectful silence.)
Matt: And the three thousand year old crack.
Kristen: That crack shows up in my work in progress. Is it plagiarism if siblings draw on the same set of memories?
Matt: I doubt that we will use the crack the same way.
Kristen: True. So tell us how you caught a panty thief, and what effect that has had on your work.
Matt: It's a long story.
Kristen: Yeah, but I like it. I mean, two teen boys catch a panty thief while said thief was raiding the mom's panties?
Matt: Sissy. I got a kid crying here.
Kristen:(sighs) Well, okay. Next week?
Matt:Call me after The Walking Dead.