Saturday, February 5, 2011


Last night Barrett and I watched Inception and I liked it way more than I expected. Barrett's description, which I though was very apt, was "It's is an action movie but smart."

The movie is about a group of what are basically dream hackers. Using a method called collective dreaming, they can go into your subconscious and extract hidden information. While I know this sounds cheesy: (a) it is a movie so you automatically have suspended reality and (b) they way they explain it is the movie is pretty clever and not fantasy-sounding at all. Leonardo diCaprio's character has some very dark secrets surrounding the death of his wife; in a last attempt to be reunited with his family, he takes one last very difficult job: to plant an idea in someone's head--inception.

The movie is well acted and well written. I was impressed by the characters that assemble the heist's "dream team" (sorry, I couldn't resist). The entire world of the movie is very interesting and intriguing. All of the strategy that goes into building dream then inserting yourself into someone else's dream was fascinating. The whole idea that the subconscious know when you are an intruder and will become suspicious then attack like white blood cells I thought was really clever.

Christopher Nolan's direction of this movie made it really special. Inception was not overly reliant on computer generated images, and the cgi it used was very tasteful. Most of the action sequences were just good, old-fashioned awesome. In one scene, which you probably saw on previews, there is a fight in a hotel hallway in which the hall is rotating so that the brawl takes them from floor to ceiling to wall, etc. Other scenes anti-gravity coolness. To make this scene, they actually built a rotating set and anti-gravity chambers. This gave the movie a "hands-on" creativity, ingenuity, and experimentation that so many modern movies lack and coincidentally is what I love so much about silent films. Over reliance on computer generated images I think puts distance between the director and the medium which causes you to loose something of the artistic nature of film.

The other thing I loved about the movie is that one of the central themes was the power of ideas. As a teacher of history and literature, this is something that I feel often but have difficulty communicating to my students. It was very cool to watch a very modern and exciting movie that believes in the power of ideas to "define or destroy us" as DiCaprio says in the movie.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

never-ending tasks


I guess there is some comfort in always having something to do, but there are a few tasks that are exhausting in their never-ending nature: namely cleaning and grading.

These tasks are unique in that as soon as they are completed, they need to be done again. As soon as I finish grading and record all the grades, the kids turn in more work and my stack of grading grows to its previously sad/scary height. It is the same with cleaning: as soon as I finish, I can enjoy the fresh scent of ammonia and the tidiness for what feels like a matter of minutes before things are disheveled again and dust bunnies begin to form. The fact that these tasks feel like they can never be completed and enjoyed for a meaningful length of time that make me drag my feet to even attempt them. Although I have found that both cleaning and grading are most efficient when you have a large block of time to devote to doing them. Get a window of several hours and knock it out. Usually music or a good movie in the background help ease the blow too.

Fortunately for me, it feels like time as stood still this week because I have had THREE snow days in a row. With all of this time, I have finally gotten to trhe bottom of my grading pile and have caught up on just enough cleaning to still enjoy the days off.