Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Hidden Gem

I have XM/Sirius satellite radio, and I am totally in love with it.

Where else could you hear the top hits of the 40s?  You can listen to almost anything on satellite, with very few interruptions.

I have many favorite stations, but one of them that I've recently found is called "Praise."  It's description says, "urban contemporary gospel music."

Think the end of Diary of a Mad Black Woman, when they sing, "Father, Can You Hear Me?"

Oh yeah - I went "movie scene" on ya!


"Praise" is such a little treasure.  I've always wanted to go to a church like the one in Diary.  Hearing the songs on this station make me totally blissful.


Man, how could I have forgotten this scene when I made my list?  What a scene of healing, forgiveness, and redemption.  Wow.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Weird.

Weird.  It's just weird. Period.

I just don't think I can let Amelia watch it.

Who comes up with this cracked-out crud?

A Letter to My State Representatives....

Dear Senate Representative Hawkins and House Representative Collins:

The last time I wrote a letter to an official in government was in 1991. In 5th grade, I asked Zell Miller to attend my elementary school’s chicken pie supper. Therefore, you should ascertain that for me to write you this letter shows that I am a fairly concerned person.

I am a teacher who is very concerned about education in the state of Georgia.

Recently, teachers received many morale-crushing blows. We dealt and continue to deal with furloughs and pay cuts. We have faced and continue to face reductions in our staffs at our schools as well as the reduction of our resources. Our class sizes will increase (yet again) next year.

We used to live in a society where teachers were respected for their profession and given respect in the classroom. Society has changed. There are stories that flood the ears of the public concerning cheating allegations, improper conduct, and many other negative things concerning teachers. These, naturally, add to the public perspective. It seems to be a harsh reality that teachers in Georgia are no longer as respected as they once were.

Despite all of these things, most teachers still go to work with good attitudes. Despite all of these things, many teachers still spend hundreds of their own dollars to offer their children snacks during testing and rewards for good behavior. Despite all of these things, most teachers still stay after school and work, go to student athletic events, and write notes of encouragement to students who are undergoing the rigors of testing. Despite all of these things, most of us will do more with less.

However, the bill on merit pay that the Georgia General Assembly has “snuck in” at the last minute might be the proverbial straw that breaks the camel’s back for many teachers.

In theory, merit pay is a good idea. Teachers should be rewarded on their performance. It is in the schematics where one can get confused.

I teach 8th grade Georgia Studies. How, pray tell, does one objectively measure “progress” in this subject area? Does one compare students from 7th grade to 8th grade? That would be like comparing apples to oranges, because students in 7th grade social studies learn about Africa and Asia. Would one compare Georgia Studies students from last year to Georgia Studies students ones from this year? Again, this seems unfair. The instrument for progress is at the crux of this argument. How would the state measure progress in subject areas like physical education, health, family and consumer science, and technology?

There are other problems with the merit pay measure. My husband teaches 7th grade social studies. His students didn’t even receive scores last year, and the state is still tweaking his Georgia Performance Standards. Social studies CRCT tests in Georgia are akin to playing Trivial Pursuit. The Georgia Performance Standards in social studies are written in a way that simply “lists” people, places, and events – they are not based on the “big ideas” in social studies. If students are not taught the correct fact about a certain person, place, event – well, they are sunk. Should my students and I be punished because we did not know where Eugene Talmadge liked to eat barbeque (and I’m being factitious here)?

Not only are there curriculum problems, but No Child Left Behind has made students believe that science and social studies “do not matter.” A science teacher at my school was even told, “Miss, I’m not going to even try on the social studies test. It doesn’t count.” NCLB has given our children the false assumption that science and social studies are unimportant, and abating apathy has become a burden in many schools. In grades where there is no accountability or consequences for students who fail, teachers will struggle with the general apathy. As long as there is little to no accountability placed on students to perform, teachers will struggle beyond comprehension to deal with the apathy that has plagued schools.

And yet, while I type this, I know that accountability for students can go too far. I saw a prayer request going around for a 3rd grade boy who wanted to do well on his CRCT. He had terrible test anxiety. I saw a girl in my homeroom break down crying during the math test because she was so overwhelmed. Too much accountability can foster negative results. There has to be a balance in this state for students – enough accountability to dissuade students that the test “doesn’t matter” and yet enough to prevent scaring the life out of them. The same can be said for merit pay – scaring teachers will not foster the greatest results.

Again, in theory, merit pay is a good idea. In a perfect world, good teachers should be rewarded and bad teachers should be punished. It makes sense. All teachers could agree that there are terrible teachers out there. However, there are terrible doctors, lawyers, workers at Burger King, gas station attendants, etc. There are members of the General Assembly who chose to take a 40,000 per diem (the salary for many teachers in the state) this year. I’d say they might need a new profession.

Sneaking in a merit pay bill at the last minute is a slap in the face to many teachers. It is, quite simply, not what teachers need right now. Teachers have been put through enough this year – a year full of furloughs, slander, and pay cuts. Our morale has had about as much as it can tolerate. Most teachers have just finished several exhausting days of testing (and if you have never tried to keep a room full of 8th graders quiet for four hours, you should try it sometime – you would instantly approve our pay raises). Honestly, we are tired. Because, like you, most of us come to work every day with the objective of doing our best to help the state of Georgia.

As our advocate for our district, I’m asking you for help. Please allow the merit pay bill to die until it is discussed further. This is not the kind of measure that should be thrown in at the last minute, but should be discussed and debated to determine schematics and to determine if it is truly the best measurable objective to determine the quality and worth of a teacher.

Thank you for your time.

Sincerely,

Dana Cain Farr

Sunday, April 11, 2010

I forgot a scene...

I noticed that no one commented on my post about the movies.

Not surprised.  I mean, I ain't the Pioneer Woman.

Oh, well.  I don't mind talking to myself in cyberspace.

This movie scene is one I meant to include, and it's worth mentioning:




Last of the Mohicans has recently become a favorite of mine, ever since I started reading Sara Donati's Wilderness series.  This ending of the movie is just completely stolen by Jodhi May, who plays Alice Munro (around the 4:30 point of the video clip).

Her father is dead, her love is dead, and she is taken by the evil Magua to be his new "wife."  Throughout the movie, Alice is much weaker than Cora, her sister.  She is still a child (Jodhi May was just a teenager when she portrayed Alice in this movie, by the way) in so many ways.

After Magua kills her love, Uncas, Alice starts teetering toward the edge of the cliff.  Magua, his eyes softening for the only part of the movie, motions her back to him - but he has the blood of Uncas on his hands as he does so.  When Alice looks at the camera, you no longer see the face of a girl, but a woman.  Words just can't describe this scene.  It's mesmerizing, gorgeous, and somewhat disturbing.  I'm not an advocate of suicide, but I understand why Alice jumps (she actually just kind of falls off...).  She feels trapped and knows that she can jump, or face a future of sexual torture, heartache, and possibly death. Cora's cry of grief just further marks the moment.  Ugh.  Seriously. The ending of this movie is just epic.

By the way, I used to think my mom and other ladies who thought Daniel Day-Lewis was so hot in this movie were crazy.  But I get it now.  I really do.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Salary

Despite all of her teeth issues...

Despite her refusal to nap at times...

Despite her temper tantrums, her big ol' poopy diapers, and her setting her angel monitor off ten times at night...

I get this.




Snuggle time truly is priceless.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Scenes that Resonate

Almost anyone who knows me knows that I have some definite favorite movies.

I'm the kind of person who can always read a book over and over again...or watch a movie over and over again.  I watch reruns of the U.S. version of The Office almost every time they come on TBS (I heart The Office...I really should devote a whole blog to it).  I like to catch the subtle stuff in the background the second (third...fourth...four thousandth) time around.  

And while some movies may not be in my "favorite" list, they have scenes that I'll never forget..scenes that make me cringe...scenes that I adore.  Those little slivers of film - those glimpses into life, real or imagined - make me simply think.  These are the scenes that keep me up past my bedtime, because I would rather wait up than avoid seeing them.

So here, in no particular order (and because you care), are some of my all-time favorite movie scenes:

(Be aware - there are some "spoilers" in this list!)

1.  The end of A League of Their Own, where the older female ballplayers are playing baseball on the field, has always stuck with me.  It is so nostalgic...it makes me sad for reasons I can't explain, and makes me wish I was part of a time period that has long passed.  It makes me think of youth, of a generation dying out, and of how life gets more difficult with age.

2.  Solaris is weird, cerebral, and uncommonly slow.  But, apart from this, it is haunting - it's the kind of movie that sucks my breath out and won't me go.  I can't get it out of my head.  It makes such a profound statement about relationships with others.  The scene that grips me is the one where George Clooney's character Chris is discussing his dead wife, Rheya, at the end of the film.  He is at a loss over the thought that he remembered her in the wrong way, and that the true Rheya may not be the one constructed in his memories.  It's such a thought-provoking scene...to wonder if people are who I think they are.  Ugh.  This movie gets me every time.  I think this is a movie everyone needs to see at least once...not because it's a "must-see," but because I'm selfish and want you to come over to my house and discuss what you think of the ending.  It's that vague.



3.  While I'm on Clooney, I have to say that his scene with J-Lo in Out of Sight where they're hanging out in the back trunk of her car is a killer scene.  Who knew that the two of them would have so much chemistry?  Who knew Jennifer Lopez could act?


4.  I love the end of My Fair Lady.  Something about the way Rex Harrison softens his face when he sings "I've Grown Accustomed to Her Face" turns me in to a big pile of mush.  I love how Rex Harrison talks through the song and never really sings.  I love the words to the song - the song was played at my wedding.  The final scene is such a quirky end to such an epic movie, and yet it somehow works.  While Henry Higgins may be saying,  "Eliza, where the devil are my slippers?" what he really means is, "I love you...I'm so glad you came back to me."  I love Rex Harrison in the movie...and in general.  Love, love, love him.


5.  Gene Kelly's dance while he's Singin' in the Rain is so jubilant and perfect.  It's one of those scenes that transcends time.  It actually makes me thankful that I was privileged enough to see it.  The choreography is flawless.   A love that makes one dance in the rain is a true love, indeed.



6.  Tom Hanks's speech to Matt Damon in Saving Private Ryan is such a simple, tragic statement:  "earn this."  I cry buckets of tears every time I see that scene.  I think of those who lost their lives fighting for our country. I think of my grandfather and his sacrifices.  I think (again) of a generation that is slowly fading -- and what a great generation it is.

7.  I won't go into the schematics of the end of Schindler's List, but the scene at the end that involves Liam Neeson's character, Oskar Schindler, as he is preparing to flee the Allies is amazing. The speech that he gives ("I could have done more!") is so poignant.  Oh, what a scene...

8.    I don't think this would be a Dana Blog without some Jane Austen thrown in there... so I will go ahead and say that while I do enjoy all of the Pride and Prejudice scenes that involve the handsome (sexy, drool-worthy) Mr. Darcy, the scene that sticks with me in the 2005 version is the one where Lizzy tells her father she is in love.  Donald Sutherland should have gotten an Oscar nod for that scene alone.  I get moved to tears every single time I watch Mr. Bennet tear up at the thought of his Lizzy, his prize, being truly in love.



I have some others ...I may post them later...feel free to comment and post some of your favorite movie scenes!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Evidence

I've got one of the cutest little girls ever.

Don't believe me?

Well, look at this:




















And this:
  


















And...then...there's this:






Yup...it's hard to argue now, isn't it? :)