18 April 2015

Saturday Speaks (and Links): Not a Fanboy Edition

Or do I? That is the question. It shall be answered by the end of this post. 

For now, I've missed you, blog world. A few minutes ago, I read a post from Irene at Mysterious Bibliophile in which she said she'd be taking a hiatus for a bit. Life in the way. I'm with you, girl. 

From March 1 - May 15-ish is the busiest time of my year.

Why? First and foremost, I'm a middle school ELA teacher. I am responsible (as if my job depends on it) for ensuring that 12 and 13 year olds (seemingly with no self-discipline) score higher on a harder test than they scored the year before on an easier test. 

Yes. That's how it works. The State of Tennessee expects me to take hormone-filled 7th graders (half of whom are new to middle school altogether) and prepare them for an all-or-nothing multiple-choice test. Here's the biggest fear of a teacher like me: What if the kids wake up on ELA test day and just say "F--k it! I'm just gonna guess."

My students like me, though, and I do my best to impart the importance of effort. Truly, I love the kids. They're why I do what I do. Public school is a "don't hate the player, hate the game" scenario. Here are some random Tuesday end-of-class selfies: 

My plate also contains a side of Golf. I am the "Golf Coach" at my school, or as I like to refer to myself--the "Golf Administrator." This simply means that I put the team together, set up a schedule, do a few practices, and get everybody to area matches. So much fun, but most days I don't get home until at least 8 or 9 o'clock. 

Middle School Golf Score Sheet
I also find myself, this time of year, with a lot of good weather to the point where I feel bad sitting inside on a computer when I get home from work. Luckily or unluckily (depending on how you look at it), we've had a lot of work week rain lately (canceling golf matches and giving me just enough time to do Thursday Movie Picks and watch a couple Oscar winners for a forthcoming blogger roundtable). 

While the work weeks around here have been wet, the weekends have been immaculate. Alas, no Saturday recap posts. Sorry. But my golf clubs and shoes are in the trunk, and I refuse to sit inside when the sun is shining. Last weekend, I went to Crossville, a small city on the Cumberland Plateau, a.k.a. The Golf Capital of Tennessee, for a weekend "dude's trip" with eleven other gentlemen, including my best friend since birth. 

Two nights in pretty sweet condos and three rounds of golf on three of the most beautiful golf courses in Tennessee. A few cold ones, no sleep from all the snoring, morning bloodies, warm sunshine, and my putter was on, for real. 

From the tee box of the Signature 14th Hole at Stonehenge, Fairfield Glade, TN.

From the green of the same hole, looking up at the tee box.

The brook that runs beside the green into the lake.

Post-final round Mexican. Which one did we visit?

Wednesday. Tax Day? Or Jackie Robinson day? I like the latter better. Not as intense. Even more powerful. Every Major League Baseball player wears #42 in honor. That's the stuff. 

While I'm on the topic of baseball, we have spent a good bit of our tax refund on our Memorial Day Weekend trip to four MLB parks. We also got our plane tickets for Denver in August, where we will see My Morning Jacket at Red Rocks. Boom!

I need to go back in time to the week before this past, where I tried to go to a high school baseball game at our local minor league park, home of the AA Cubs Affiliate Tennessee Smokies, failed, and ended up here: 

This is the best restaurant in Knoxville, TN. That's an Old Fashioned and a sampling of some of the magnificent burger options at Stock & Barrel. If you look closely, you'll notice a burger called "The Hurt Locker." Excellent name. Ridiculous toppings, including the world-renowned choice of top chefs, Benton's Bacon, cured and smoked an hour from my house in Madisonville, TN. 

I did something I rarely do. I bought a brand new Blu-ray. Chris Nolan's Interstellar, yeah I went italic on that title, been teaching some MLA style to my students and this film is truly a work of art. And the Blu comes with a cereal box treat for the fanboy in all of us. A 70mm film cell. I got a sweet one. 

Movies I Watched

Florian Henckel von Donnsersmarck's The Lives of Others is a masterpiece.

Al Gore puts me to sleep with a PPT in Davis Guggenheim's An Inconvenient Truth.

Edward Snowden wakes me up frighteningly in Laura Poitras' Citizenfour.

I have watched 68 movies so far this year, of which 26 are re-watches. 


To say I'm excited about Colin Farrell's mustache and brass knuckles is the understatement of the year. Yes! The Best Show on Television that is True Detective is one day closer to airing every day. This trailer is magnificent, if just a short tease. That last shot though!

When I was about 15, George Lucas and Co. updated the original Star Wars trilogy. I saw the first with my Dad in the theater. Got the trilogy on VHS. Watched the first and Empire, and, by the time I got to Jedi, gave up. I've still never seen it. Never watched the prequels. Now, J.J. Abrams is making the next installment. I don't know what will become of this, but I do know that this trailer is good and I will be seeing this. That last shot though!

I don't care that Ben Affleck is playing Batman. I think it's a good casting choice, and I love Affleck. But this movie looks as shitty as Zack Snyder's Man of Steel actually was. This is the last I'll talk about this until this comes out over a year from now. 


Irene at Mysterious Bibliophile celebrates her blog's first anniversary.

Fisti at A Fistful of Films does 1982 and gives it all to Blade Runner. Now I have to see it for the first time finally.

Katy at Girl Meets Cinema Blind Spots Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs. I'm envious, though I liked it more than her.

Wendell at Dell on Movies reviews Mockingjay, Part I.

Nathaniel at The Film Experience does a Hit Me With Your Best Shot on Scorsese's Taxi Driver. I really wish I had been able to participate in this one.

Jay at French Toast Sunday breaks down the Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailer. 


  1. Fun post. Never got into golf, but the people I know who are, are really into it.

    Jackie Robinson Day >>>> Tax Day.

    Good luck with your class and thanks for the link!

    1. It's a beautiful frustrating game, man. Way too expensive but addictive as well. So much fun though.

      April 15th - Baseball and Taxes.

      Thanks, man.

  2. First of all I LOVE The Lives of Others! I am so glad you watched it. I am excited about seeing Citizenfour. An Inconvenient Truth is a movie I've always thought I *should* watch. If I don't, I have to turn in my Liberal Democrat card, right? But truthfully, I'd rather sit outside and watch the grass grow for a couple of hours than see that movie.

    I lost interest in the Star Wars franchise after Return of the Jedi. I know I'm showing my age, but I watched the whole trilogy as a child and teenager, when they were released in theaters, and it ended perfectly. What's with all these crappy latter-day prequels? I know the second trilogy has its fans, as will this new project they've cooked up, but to me, it's just sad.

    Compared to your schedule, mine is light. I should stop complaining right now.

    *LOL* I love what you said here: "Public school is a "don' hate the player, hate the game" scenario." If you ever decide to start a cottage industry, that would be a great t-shirt. And having gone the public school route, with my kids, for about 5 years before opting out, it sums up my feelings perfectly. I have the utmost respect for all but a few of the teachers and principals I met. We had our disagreements, but they were fabulous. If the government would climb down out of their asses and let them do their jobs, great things would happen. But after realizing I could paper all the walls in my house with my daughter's practice tests for the SOLs (Virginia's high-stakes standardized tests), I realized I was done, and I never looked back. End of rant. :-)

    I hope you and Amanda have a wonderful weekend! Thanks for the shout-out.

    1. The Lives of Others really is a brilliant film. My second time seeing it, though I don't remember much of my first viewing. Solid storytelling and excellent performances. An Inconvenient Truth, for sure, has some extraordinarily valid information but, honestly, it's dated. We already know all it contains. It is so boring. Don't do it. I won't take your liberal card.

      I just never got hooked on Star Wars. Not really my thing, though I do understand the praise, especially of Empire Strikes Back. I still haven't seen Jedi and probably will in anticipation of this, which just looks great.

      I'm pretty busy, but you're a Mom. No comparison.

      Thanks. That's my mantra. I do my best to teach what I think is best and then just work on training my kids on the tricks of the TCAP in the 6 weeks leading up to.it. I'll cut you in if that t-shirt ever works out. LOL. I fully understand not wanting your kids involved in the world of high-stakes testing. We are actually changing over to a more constructed response based testing series, which I think will be more in tune with what should be taught in terms of true balanced literacy.

      Thanks so much!

  3. Thank you for linking my review!

    My family are huge Star Wars fans. Me? Not so much. I like the last 45 minutes of Revenge of the Sith the most out of all the movies, that's how horrible a fan I am. J.J. Abrams leaving Star Trek still stings a little, but this new trailer is quite exciting.

    Ben Affleck as Batman is pretty awesome casting choice. Initially believing in the movie was coming out this summer, I felt a slight wave of relief realizing it's going to be released next summer. I'm just not very crazy about the trailer either....

    1. No problem. So jealous that you got to watch Reservoir Dogs for the first time. There is nothing like it. Too bad you didn't like it as much as I do, even though, I agree, it is one of Tarantino's weakest.

      I'm not into Star Trek either, so I didn't see those. I do love Lost though, and I praise J.J. Abrams for creating that piece of TV brilliance.

      Yeah. I hated Man of Steel, and this looks like more of the same. I've never like Zack Snyder. Watchmen was okay, but the rest of his movies that I've seen just don't work at all.

  4. thanks for linking -- why didn't you participate in TAXI DRIVER? that one was easy to find! next up Nine to Five (1980), Bright Star (2009)

    1. No problem. I hardly surfed at all last week and totally missed it. Today was seriously the first day I've read any movie blogs in too long a while. I definitely want to get in on Bright Star. Thanks for the heads up.

  5. YES! Affleck is good casting. I'm not too sure about the movie itself, but Affleck looks good.

    Love the selfies.

    You liked Interstellar? We'll have to talk about this one.

    I will not put up with another hiatus from a blogger I enjoy reading regularly, so get your shit together and blog :-P

    1. I'll never understand the Affleck hate in this world. I even love the crappy movies he's in. Reindeer Games is my shit!

      Thanks. Nothing gets middle school kids more geared up than a good class wrap-up selfie.

      I more than liked Interstellar, but I wouldn't go as far as to say I love it. It does have moments of pure cinematic artistry though. I have some of the same qualms as most. The self-serving (plot-driven) dialogue, the odd sound design choices (Like, why have the characters shout exposition at each other while the rocket is launching?), and the big plot holes. But there is enough to admire and plenty to ponder about to own the Blu-ray and put it on for some high-class entertainment.

      I'm not hiatus-ing, but I have slowed way down since March 1. Busy time of year. I'll be blogging pretty much every day come the end of May. No worries. To quote Leo: "I AIN'T GOIN' NOWHERE!"