AACC 2015 and San Antonio

The Suburban Prof and I with a couple of others are heading over to San Antonio next week to present, attend, and lurk at the American Association of Community Colleges.

This is an interesting conference for a faculty member to attend.  It is focused on community college presidents and chancellors; supposedly, the association has only invited faculty to present in recent years.   Our Twitter and Instagram accounts will mark noteworthy presentations and cool eateries. Continue reading AACC 2015 and San Antonio

Silent Hill and A Broken X-Box

I am not a gamer, but I do enjoy a good first person shooter.  When our X-Box died last fall, I was told that the entertainment budget had gone for the new Brooks saddle on my Felt.  Although I vaguely miss the online combat of Halo, I was not willing to give up an overhaul on the cross for a new system (especially since my son is no longer around to protect me from the hordes of angsty teens).

Right now Silent Hill: Revelation is on SyFy. Silent Hill just finished.  Before that, Resident Evil.  Something about these horror/suspense game based movies fascinates me.  It is not the acting.  Nor is it the plot.  Although both are superior to the CGI fare SyFy rolls out on bi-monthly basis, neither is worth wasting a Sunday afternoon.  I think it is the setting.  The same worlds that draw gamers into exploring and doing battle with hordes of monsters pull me into the film–for a bit.  15 minutes.  Half an hour.

The settings are complex; they are meant to be explored.  The gore and the graphics and the monsters add life and urgency to the exploration.  But the place of the film holds a secret, and that is the trick.  The special effects and blood lettings falter in the face of the uncertainty of the unexplored passages.  But that is the basis of good horror.  Stephen King does not show us.  He suggests what is lurking around the corner.  The balloon in the library is one of the most terrifying scenes I have ever read.  Something is there.  (I was in graduate school researching a paper in the library’s basement the weekend after I had read It.  Deep in the stacks, I suddenly realized how empty the place was.  The scene came back to me, and I bolted.)

Like an epic which retains its oral roots even as it is read from a Norton critical edition jam packed with footnotes, these films retain their heritage, relying on the techniques that captured the gamers.  The creatures are fixtures of the settings; they do not exist independently of the place. They are defined.  The protagonist encounters them as she moves through the setting.  Her goals, her motives, are secondary and uninteresting.   There is more to the world than we will see.  That is why we are there.  To solve the puzzle of the place.  Tolkien viewed that as a key element in effective fiction–a world that is never fully explored.

Of course, I have stopped watching the film now to write this.  The exploration bogged down in exposition, a vague attempt at character development, and (shudder) a commentary on evil. (20 minutes, and now back to TCM.)

Dr. Z

Graphic Novels and American Literature

Literature and Graphic Novels

Dr. Z
American Lit class is going to have to select a graphic novel and track the literary ancestry of one of the characters.  Graphic novels are beginning to make appearances in college anthologies, texts.  But they are all of the literally safe ones–Persepolis, Maus.

The bias is there.  I have yet to see any including superheroes anthologized.  (Note that The Rolling Stones carefully culls the superheroes.)

With all of that said, any suggestions for my class?  (One group has already claimed Deadpool.) Continue reading Graphic Novels and American Literature

Comic Book Statues

moon knightI have recently come into some Bowen statues, busts, of a wide variety of Marvel heroes and villains–many of whom I do not recognize.  They range from the wildly outrageous to the vaguely familiar to the iconic.

I found the simplicity of this statue of Moon Knight striking.  Something about the collection as a whole is mesmerizing.

The thought and effort put into
gathering such a collection is breathtaking.  The statues have been
Marvelaccumulated over years, reflecting various stages of the collector’s life.   A biography.

Looking at this one, Zombie, I think about the collector and what he was up to when he purchased it.  The statues form a whole, and the notion of dispersing the collection troubles me.

Dr. Z

Big Hero 6

Big Hero Six


We saw Big Hero 6 on opening weekend. It was good.

Sadly, the most interesting and most fleshed out character (Hiro’s brother) dies early in the film (or does he?). The villain has the coolest costume.

It has a couple of plot twists that should shock most kids under 10 and be mind-numbingly obvious to anyone over 12 who has seen a film in the last 30 years. In this case, it doesn’t take away from enjoying the film. It’s not about the destination. It’s about the journey.

I would have liked to have had Godzilla appear but there will likely be a sequel so there is hope.

There is lots of cool science in it. Tons of near future tech too. One review I read said the reviewer’s daughter said she wanted to go to college to study science after watching it.

The main lead is mopey and angst-ridden for much of the film. He’s likable but very much like a younger brother. The rest of the team while not completely flat are 2 dimensional overall.

The Stan Lee cameo is funny. There is one post credit scene. It doesn’t really set anything up but it’s funny. Think the shawarma scene after the credits in The Avengers.

Overall, I’m looking forward to the DVD when I can watch it again.

A New Terminator

Robert W
As if American children didn’t have enough trouble with spelling, movie studios have to misspell words in titles. Sheesh! (Some background for this exchange.)

Have any of you seen any of the plot points that have been dropped? This time Sarah Connor was raised by a T-800 (Arnie model) Terminator.

I guess you could argue that they keep pushing Judgement Day out further and further but never quite prevent it creating some kind of vicious time vortex.

Dr. Z
I am out of the loop.  After watching the new Avengers trailer, I went back to read all of the hype.  I feel like I am missing something.

Robert  W
I would take the Avengers stuff with a grain of salt. You’re probably better off not looking at too much going in and trying to catch up after the fact. What you are seeing right now are the Marvel & Disney marketing machines ratcheting up interest. None of it is really important.