Friday, June 28, 2013

The blind man sleeps in the doorway - his home (Mumford & Sons)

Thought I'd analyse my (lack of) hipness in this post.

I've been really fortunate to share some time with a student teacher at school over the last 5 weeks (let's hear it for Toni!). She's been taking my nifty year nines - a stellar bunch of 13 year old girls. Toni finished on Friday but I learnt a lot from her. More than she knows.

It came as a bit of a shock to discover that I no longer have my finger on the pulse of pulp culture.

I'm deficient in hipness.

I blame my daughters for this! It's been a slow decline but since they left home my hipness quotient has seen a corresponding decline. Jade I need some help here!

Case in point - my form class (Year 12 hip girls) had to run the chapel service on Friday and they chose a Mumford & Sons song (I will wait) for the school to sing, and it was gorgeous and delirious and absolutely spot on.

And I hadn't heard it before.

Samantha bought the first Mumford & Sons CD, Sigh For Me, for me a few years ago and I liked it but then their follow up, Babel, came along recently and it passed me by...until Friday...thanks to my Year 12 hipsters.

Other case in point - Toni is Jade's age and knows all the songs the students know, and she knows all the movies the students know, and she knows, like the students do, who's hot at the moment.

I remember designing a culture quiz some years ago that listed all of the things our students were tuned into. I gave it to staff who generally had no clue; the point being we need to keep current. But I've recently realised that I could no longer design this quiz.

I've lost touch and I'm kinda concerned about this (SWMBO and Jade think I'm more than kinda concerned but I'm really not).

The sad fact is - I am aging but the students never do! They are always 13.

So I'm kinda thinking - don't sweat the small stuff Wozza. I don't need, or want, to keep up with the Kardashians.

But still...

Love and peace and smiley faces and thanks Toni - Wozza.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Always, no sometimes, think it's me, but you know I know when it's a dream (The Fabs)

The facts:
  • I bought the John Lennon Letters book a few months ago and started reading it recently.
  • I often use lines from John Lennon songs as updates on my Facebook page. Tim wrote back recently with some thought provoking statements that I feel compelled to build on.
  • The Beatles and JOL are never far from my thoughts - they and he are everywhere (maan).

This post.

Tim's thoughts:

"Sometimes music can do for you what nothing else can, and give you real inner peace. Strawberry Fields and Mr Tambourine Man both reach far inside you and still the turbulent waters like nothing else can. These were troubled men who found the kernel of soothing calm within themselves".

The opinions:

I am obsessed, infatuated and constantly amazed by the things John Lennon touched. I have an obsessive need to hear everything he's played on, everything he's written, everything he's sprinkled his particular stardust on (it's a big list). So I for one welcome a collection of his shopping lists, thank you letters and all the rest of the stuff he wrote with no thought that it would one day be compiled.

The John Lennon Letters is an amazing compendium of the man's thoughts. He existed in a typewriter world - no texts, emails, Facebook, pins, tweets or ithings. He would have embraced them all! One volume would have been 20 if he'd lived into this mad world we have now.

He loved communicating and he was jolly good at it. The reproductions of the actual letters and notes make him curiously accessible. Yes the messages are sometimes banal and trite and dashed off but so what? By being banal and trite and dashed off they allow me a glimpse into his world which is, shock horror probe - drum roll please, the same as everybody else's.

Tim's spot on with his message too - music can lift me to another level of existence (you should have seen me dancing and smiling along to stuff being played incredibly loudly in the ART room today). In the midst of this maelstrom of Pelican noise I found an immense area of soothing calm.

SWMBO was out, which explains why I was belting out Pelican.

Love and peace - Wozza

Monday, June 17, 2013

Wozza runs the voodoo down

George R R Martin. He's the guy who has written the books upon which the Game Of Thrones TV series is based on. I've read the first two in the series so far, thanks to Sallie's lending library (you should see how many books she's got!).

Unfortunately I've sort of read them around watching the first two seasons on DVD (again thanks to Sallie). Not a clever idea as it's turned out. I couldn't keep up with the episodes and I got frustrated with either reading stuff that was changed in a major way for the series or else I was reading about stuff after it had been on the screen. Either way it wasn't ideal.

I am about to start the third volume - A Storm Of Swords but first I need to read some texts my students are being taught. First up is The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon.

While I'm on a literary theme here's a poem I wrote yesterday in response to a poem I saw which was about wanting to live in a machine world called Ratchet and Clank (it's a computer game) by a NZ poet Alex Walls (who dabbles in mathematics according to the site I got this poem from). Mine takes the opposite view (having decided that he's mostly sincere in his beliefs).

First his version:

ratchet and clank

Give me a machine world
The clink of gears and the greased slide of running parts.
Flashing buttons like tacky stars
And green read-out screens.

Give me binary choices: Yes or No, Left or Right
To be or not to be.
Give me plotted routes, synthesized flavours, debugging procedures.
A world of rules and logic,
Backdoors and loop holes
I want Inspector Gadget arms.

Give me robotic men who speak pre-programmed lines:
Did. It. Hurt. When. You. Fell. From. Heaven?
Give me BarryWhite.exe
And engine oil in an ice bucket.
I want to admire your circuits, your perfectly formed fan belt, your
Enormous data banks.

Give me conversations in numbers and
Music in the hum of processors.
Give me the perfectly calculated turning
Of the celestial spheres, the
Exact angles of the orbiting moon, the
Soft sigh of metal in motion.

Give me a machine world.

And now mine:

           Is This Whatcha Wont?


Give me an emotional world,

show me the tears

as Jerry Maguire says,

“You complete me” to Dorothy

on my big flat screen plasma TV.


Give me an infinite continuum of choice,

with Hamlet continuing to wander about,

the Gordian Knot of it he will unloose

(There’s no success like failure).

Give me serendipity baby, kismet

And carpe diem days.


Give me a world where entropy rules;

Front doors and black holes and revelations

I want Lady Madonna in my arms.


Give me jazz improvisations:

John Coltrane chasing the interstellar train

and men using naïve chat lines:

“Is it hot in here, or is it just you?”


Give me fire and ice and conversations

is our soundtrack on an endless loop

without a machine in sight.


Make me an irony free coffee.


Give me peace, give me a world

where all you need is love.


Give me an emotional world.

 - Wozza

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Hurry up, hurry up and wait (Blondie)

Life is starting to settle into some semblance of order with work days and weekends forming patterns. For so long we have had to snatch glimpses of normalcy and routines had no chance.

It's been an old school Sunday today. I've been doing marking and preparation for the coming week pretty much all day.

With a twist.

I've physically only marked two scrips with a pen - the rest have all been assignments delivered into a dropbox on my school schoology account. I've checked the various essays and 'written' comments on the work digitally. Apart from a couple of DOH! moments where I failed to save my comments it's been smooth sailing.

The reading and commenting on a screen has taken some adjustment. I'm from a generation that is mostly comfortable editing stuff in hard copy.

The other neat element of today was conversing with my students as I marked their work. Little messages and updates kept popping up all day long as they responded to my notices and assessments and their essays.

Cool - marking didn't seem such a chore and I got to listen to some Miles Davis, Ten Years After, Stan Getz, The Exponents and others.

Love and peace - Wozza

Saturday, June 1, 2013

It will help us ev'ry day, it will brighten all the way, if we'll keep on the sunny side of life (The Whites)

Shot myself in the foot this week didn't I!

It seemed like such an innocuous thing to do but I clearly didn't thoroughly think things through (hey hey, alliteration kids).

We have a student learning system at school called Schoology. It started a few weeks ago and staff and students are getting slowly into it together. Usually technology + students means they are way ahead of teachers but in this instance we seem to be slowly learning about the possibilities of Schoology together.

I placed a photo on my profile page that Adam had taken of me in San Francisco (below right) and placed on his facebook page.
Wozza creepily contemplates how
stoopid he can be!
Unfortunately my Year 9 students told me that the picture was 'creeping them out' and they asked me to change it. Sure I said - how about of our cat, 'Waffles'? Yes they said.

I was at school without my picture files so I went to my blog to find a picture of Wafi. As I was doing so the girls spied the title to the blog - Wozza's Place. "Who's Wozza?". they  asked innocently.

At that point I swallowed hard, made noises like a blocked drain, and said, "Um...actually - that's me".

BAM!!!! The genie was out of the bottle and I have had to face some WOZZAAAAAH type comments on their Schoology messages to me over the last few days..

My baad!!

I had to have 'the talk' and explain to the girls that calling me Wozza from now on was NOT going to happen. They are a sensible bunch and they knew what I meant. More sensible than me as it turns out.

Moral of the story? Don't you eat that yellow snow!

Love and peace - Mr Purdy