Saturday, May 21, 2005

The Sith, squirting octopi, and great educators...

I still haven't seen the new Star Wars yet. A few people have already told me it was really good, however I've read a few reviews that have said otherwise. I'm inclined to believe the reviews. Apparently there are holes, the acting isn't very good, the plot is so/so, etc. Everyone seems to agree however, that it is far superior to the last two. Although it may not be a good movie, I'm sure it's great...if that makes sense. I've been waiting a long-ass time for this. I'm sure I'll think it's great, but not good. I can forgive a mediocre film if it entertains me. That's what movies are supposed to be about...entertainment. When I eventually see it I'm sure I'll be mesmerized by the screen and walk out going "Wow! That was awesome!". I remember seeing Star Wars: A New Hope (the first one) at the drive-in with my parents. I've seen it probably 40 times since. (In the early days of VCRs a friend of mine had a top-loader and the only movie his parents owned that we could watch was Star Wars. If it rained we'd pop it in.) I'm not one of those fanatics either. It seems that most guys my age have seen it just as many times if not more. Star Wars was the shit! Star Wars still is the shit! The Empire Strikes Back is the king of all shit! Empire is definitely my favorite, but my heart belongs to the original. It's the movie that excited a generation. I hope this new one brings some closure. I remember hearing a long time ago about the three prequal films being released in the future and how far away they were (15 or more years?). Well...the third one is's official. Star Wars as we know it is coming to an end. Let's hope that Revenge of the Sith does justice to the first three. I'm not a Star Wars geek, I'm just a regular guy that thinks Star Wars is freakin' awesome! The younger kids today who have seen all the movies like and appreciate them. They may even be fanatics. But the Star Wars films are special and impactful for those of us lucky enough to have seen them in the theater the first time. Although I'm admittedly a fan of foreign and independent film there's always a special place in my heart for a blockbuster...and you can't get much bigger than Star Wars.

I was driving home from the restaurant job tonight and had a strange flashback (not the acid induced kind). It was around midnight when I drove past a private school where there were a bunch of cars and a bus pulling in to the lot. This reminds me of a time when I was a 6th grade student at Hayesville Elementary School in Salem, Oregon. The 6th graders were studying tidepools for a couple of months. We learned all about the tide and critters that inhabit this fascinating ecosystem. The months of study led up to a trip to an actual tidepool. We had to get to school too damn early (still dark) and meet in the parking lot and board a caravan of yellow Blue Bird school buses. We arrived at our destination while it was still too damn early. We arrived at Yaquina Head and took some steps down the ocean cliffs and reached tidepool mecca. The tide was out (as we were following the tide-schedule) and we were free to walk around. All of the things we had been learning about were there. Starfish, sea anenome, sea urchin, hermit crabs, fish, octopus, barnacles, mussels, sponge, sea slugs, was great. I remember a few kids found an octopus and grabbed onto it and it sprayed ink everywhere. This is all really cool when you're in the 6th grade. It was slightly sunny (which is kind of rare at the Oregon coast). We had a grand view of Yaquina Head Lightouse above us (pictures here). We then went on to another spot on the coast and made our way to a beach to have some fun. I remember that we played tug-of-war over a small water outlet (big creek size) that led into the ocean. We ran, played some "Smear the Queer" (that's what we called it in those days...before PC), got sand in all sorts of places, and just had a grand ol' time. We also stopped at a petting zoo of sorts near the coast and I remember being attacked by goat. Damn goat! We had a grand day! I had Mrs. Williams as my home-room teacher in both the 5th and 6th grade. She was great! Which brings me to this segway...

I've had some good, mediocre, and bad teachers in my past (K-12). There are very few that were truly GREAT, but there are some that really stood out and made and impact on my life...

Mrs. Stockton- 1st Grade- Scott Elementary School- Salem, Oregon (I don't remember many details, but she was really, really nice.)

Mrs. Williams- 5th & 6th Grade- Hayesville Elementary School- Salem, Oregon (Great teacher with a big heart. She really made everyone feel special.)

Mr. Rod Harris- 7th & 8th Grade- Waldo Middle School- Salem, Oregon (I had Mr. Harris for Choir for two years and one year for Drama. Mr. Harris was amazing. He worked you hard and yelled, but he was truly inspirational. I loved drama and choir! I remember when we went on a field trip to see a production of Cabaret in Albany and stopped for pizza. Mr. Harris was the musical director of the production. Great teacher!!! He also brought in a video of him playing Teddy in a production of Arsenic and Old Lace for us to watch. He really loved what he did and it was apparent.)

Mrs. Whittley- 8th Grade- Waldo Middle School- Salem, Oregon (A lot of students really didn't like her, but I thought she was great. She was a science teacher and she was really passionate about science and teaching. Her class was very challenging, but I loved science and she really got me to think about things. She was also the supervisor for the Future Astronauts of America Club of which I was a member. A lot of people thought she was eccentric and a really tough teacher, but she just really cared about the subject matter and trying to get us dumb kids to learn something. I remember seeing her cashiering at a supermarket in the summer. Teachers really should be paid better. I really appreciate Mrs. Whittley and how she opened my mind up.)

Mr. Charles Graber- 9th Grade- McKay High School- Salem, Oregon (Mr. Graber is one of the greatest, most inspirational people that I've ever met. I was in the Basic Choir class as a freshman, but he asked if I'd like to join the Concert Choir. I had to juggle my schedule around. I was in an advanced Geometry Class for freshman, but had to take a regular geometry class instead with sophomores, juniors, and seniors to fit my schedule. The Concert Choir had about 120 members and I was one of about five freshmen. It was a real honor. Mr. Graber was tough...very tough. He yelled, he screamed, he cared. He was constantly striving to get our very best effort. I loved Choir more than anything. We practiced like crazy and got yelled at a lot. He realized our potential and pushed us to reach it every day. We did lots of concerts, but one really stood out. We sang with all of the other high schools in our district (North Salem, McNary, South Salem, Sprague)one evening. The Salem-Keizer school district was know for having some of the best choirs in the state. Many of the other schools tried to show off with acapella versions of songs in Latin. We did a rendition of "Dem Bones" that brought the house down (with some great solos). We were chosen to represent the state of Oregon at the Constitutional Bicentennial Celebration in Philadelphia. We performed an outdoor concert in front of Independence Hall in front of lots of people. I'll post about that experience some time. Remind me. Mr. Graber is one of the people that I respect most in life. He's not only a great choir director, but a great coach. I never saw him in a relaxed state. He was always driven and pushing his students to extremes. I really appreciate the fact that I had the privilege to serve under his direction. I respect Mr. Graber more than most of the people I've met in my life. He may be retired now. I hope he's relaxing and enjoying himself.)

Ms. Maria Stasiw- 11th & 12th Grade- Allen Park High School- Allen Park, Michigan (Ms. Stasiw was fantastic. I had her for two separate drama courses and also Advanced Placement English. She was one of those "cool" teachers that could talk to students about anything, but she was also very respectful of her students and their abilities. Drama was an absolute blast! I was in 4 productions and had some of the best times of my life. The drama classes were fun and informative, and the productions were great and challenging learning experieces. She was the Drama Club sponsor and respected her "drama fags" (as the other students called us). Yeah..."drama fags". We were the smart, awkward, gothy, punky, free-thinking types that they didn't know what to do with in Allen Park (where sports rule). She encouraged us to pursue our dreams and to be comfortable with ourselves. She sort of "stood out" among the other teachers as... well...being "cool" and all. She was the best teacher you could ask for for an AP English class as well. We read some great stuff (Light in August, Invisible Man, Candide, Madame Bovary, Crime and Punishment, The Winter of Our Discontent, etc.). She really made us feel comfortable and treated us like adults. It's an awkward time in one's life and she made it the transition much easier. I'm hoping that I run into her one day and we can just BS over a bottle of wine. Great, great, great teacher!!! Thanks, Ms. Stasiw!)

I'd really like to thank these fine folks. They all have made some sort of positive impact on my life and I am most appreciative. Teachers, especially great ones, deserve respect. Don't even get me started on college professors...

I'm up way too late. I think I'll try to fall asleep to the "Ocean Rain" album by Echo and the Bunnymen. It's a very soothing album to me...



Anonymous Anonymous said...

OMFG MRS. STASIW IS AMAZING!!!!! i have her now :)

4:48 AM  
Anonymous Liz S. said...

Randomly found your blog post... also had Mrs. Williams for 5th & 6th at Hayesville. Looking to find a way to contact her and ran across your blog. Great memories of a fabulous teacher!

11:11 AM  

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