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Archive for the month “January, 2012”

Exploring films that use the blogging phenomenon……….

Watching “Julie & Julia” before Christmas was my first experience of a film that is based on a blog. Amy Adams uses a blog as a memoir to document online her daily experiences cooking recipes from a cookbook. She sets herself a challenge to cook 524 recipes in 365 days and describes her progress on her blog. This blog becomes popular and makes her a published author. The film is set in 2002 and Adams is a young writer called Julie Powell who uses the blog to motivate herself and document her progress. Eventually her blog is featured in a story published in the New York Times. Consequently her blog project receives attention of journalists, publishers and literary agents.

This led me to reflect on other films that use blogging and a podcast for Radio 5 Live with Mayo and Kermode had done an interview with Steven Soderbergh on the film “Contagion”. It referred to the role of Jude Law as conspiratorially minded freelance internet journalist. His character name is Alan Krumwiede and he posts video blogs(also called vlogs according to my reading!!) about the disease. In one of his video blogs he ” appears” sick and later claims that he recovered using a specific cure. As people panic and overwhelm the chemists in order to get this “cure” they accelerate the Contagion as the infection passes on. In a similar vein to Julie above, Krumwiede gains national attention. However this is where the similarity ends as it is later realised that Krumwiede was not sick but was attempting to boost demand for the treatment. Despite being arrested for conspiracy and fraud, he is released after 12 million blog readers collect and pay his bail! This is a summary of Law’s role in the film but it looks good:

The interview was revealing as Soderbergh discussed the snaggle tooth Law introduced in order to change his characters face to look untrustworthy and shifty. The role of the blogger in this film is to be semi conspiratorial: Law’s character articulates many things that are actually true. The director specifically referred to a moment in the narrative where he has a rant on a bench…….Im looking forward to watching this!

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1st online tutorial – Teacher Tick !!

As a novice blogger, I’ve watched 32 minutes out of the 45 minute tutorial by Chris Abraham:

  • Is my title accurate, pithy, attractive or interesting?
  • Feel compelled to us some of the visual rich text editor – especially the one that allows you to cross through text.
  • Have managed my posts and deleted the “Hello World!” first blog that was automatically generated.
  • The presentation should now be more engaging than the bland standard set up.
  • Hopefully my widgets in the sidebar follow the correct blogging etiquette!!

Targets for improvement (as outlined by any good teacher!!)

  • Including a link
  • Uploading an image as a thumbnail
  • Including a video
  • Blogroll
  • Collaborative blog

With the voice of Chris Abraham echoing round my head on a Monday night,  here’s hoping that my future blogs will be more aesthetically pleasing…….

Politics or Personal??

Watching “The Iron Lady” this week and listening to Mark Kermode’s podcast afterwards led me to some interesting reflections on the nature of leadership and the division between personal life and public facade. This is an issue currently prevalent in my mind from currently teaching “Lord of the Flies” to Year 11 and considering Golding’s views on the nature of leadership and the characters he depicts to explore this universal issue. Arguably the character who shows the requisite qualities for effective leadership is Piggy yet he is perhaps the least favourite boy and most isolated boy on the island…..

An interesting discussion on Kermode’s broadcast related to the genre of the film: is this a biopic? This relates to the issue of how much truth about politics should have been included. Is this a personal film or a political film? Kermode objected to one section of the film not accurately representing a historical moment as it “truly” happened. Kermode argues that politics cannot be used as window dressing or props but interestingly the director has argued that the film is not about politics but actually more personal and about old age. Perhaps MT in her dotage is reflecting on leadership with clarity despite her dementia.

For me the plot was preoccupied with issues of leadership, feminism and class: the rise of a grocer’s daughter in a male dominated society and political sphere. I found myself reflecting on whether this role was represented as sitting alongside personal duties and responsibilities as a wife and mother or whether MT missed some personal duties in order to fulfil some public ones. A key scene that stood out in my mind was when her twins were begging her not to leave them and she had to drive off to fulfil her commitments regardless of their pleas. MT’s mantra was that she wanted to make a difference: how far did she succeed on a personal and private level I felt myself reflecting???? An interesting and thought provoking film. I looked at the blog following the podcasts which had some pertinent comments on Kermode’s points: one of them asked why Kermode was so vehement against Thatcher when actually he had launched his career and done very well out of her time in power???? Perhaps it is Kermode himself that is struggling to separate the personal from the public? Perhaps it is MK that “doth protest too much”!!!!!!!

http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/markkermode/2012/01/review_the_iron_lady.html

“Lord of the Flies” reflections…..

Preparations for teaching my scheme of work on “Lord of the Flies” by William Golding led me to some serious reflections on parallel situations in contemporary life at sixth form in my school…….

Imagine if the setting of the island without any adults was actually our sixth form building: would the washing up get done?

Imagine if the contest for leadership between Ralph and Jack in the novel was actually the current contest for leadership of the Young Enterprise team: who would win? The reliable chief character? Or the brave hunter type? These questions about personality and the dynamics of leadership within a group of young people are universal and pertinent irrespective of gender and time.

It is interesting to watch our girls as they undertake the January examinations: some girls rise to the challenge effectively and without nerves, others find the examinations daunting and need a great deal of support and encouragement.

Anyway enough musings from me – time to pass the symbol of the conch on and look at what others have had to say in their blogs…..

Fancy seeing you here!!!! Small world!!

After a hectic but fruitful week in sixth form I was looking forward to the weekend. I was attending a family wedding with my new husband and his family. Despite the freezing conditions, it was a beautiful venue and a lovely day!

Imagine the expression on an eight year old boy’s face when he bumps into his Deputy Headteacher at this event! It made me reflect on the important role that outward facing professions such as teachers and nurses have in the context of their community. Conversation with my new “cousin” led me to discover that my newly acquired Cowley surname has been adapted on her nursing ward to “Cowbag” at certain times in her career! Imagine my horror! I knew there was a reason why I wanted to keep my maiden name……

Day Pass Out or is it????

The new Mrs Mason-Cowley released from school into the wild (actually the London Knowledge Lab on Emerald Street, London but I thought “wild” sounded more dramatic…..)

Anyhow I am released from school for the day to attend a taught day session for my Masters in Media entitled Internet Cultures. Here I am being introduced to Word Press and undertaking my first blog ever!

However, prominent in my mind is my Year 13 Literature examination and the other AS and A2 examinations taking place today….Hope my girls are okay!!!!

Is it really a day release when you have checked your school emails before noon????

Looking forward to being back at the ranch tomorrow with my girls……

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