TODAY’S education reformers believe that schools are broken and that business can supply the remedy. Some place their faith in the idea of competition. Others embrace disruptive innovation, mainly through online learning. Both camps share the belief that the solution resides in the impersonal, whether it’s the invisible hand of the market or the transformative power of technology.
Yep, and this is why education in the United States is rated so poorly in the world, because we treat it like capitalism and teachers as students as numbers. A great example is New York City’s public education system under Bloomberg.
“I call it “The More Bubble.” The nature of bubbles is that some asset is absurdly overvalued until — eventually — the bubble bursts, and we’re left scratching our heads wondering why we were so irrationally exuberant in the first place. The asset we’re overvaluing now is the notion of doing it all, having it all, achieving it all; what Jim Collins calls “the undisciplined pursuit of more.” This bubble is being enabled by an unholy alliance between three powerful trends: smart phones, social media, and extreme consumerism. The result is not just information overload, but opinion overload. We are more aware than at any time in history of what everyone else is doing and, therefore, what we “should” be doing. In the process, we have been sold a bill of goods: that success means being supermen and superwomen who can get it all done.”—
I admit it: I’m guilty of this, and I think it mostly resides in the fact that I don’t think I’m doing nearly enough to be successful, when—in fact—I’m doing quite a bit. One of the keys that I think about this—that I have trouble with—is in saying no. Then I read posts like Charles Soule’s and immediately feel like a lazy sack of shit, which is wrong, and is not the point of Soule’s post—it’s about being more essentialist and getting done what you need to get done to have a happy life, and cutting out unnecessary stuff. It’s about making decisions and long term process plans. So I’m going to try a few of these things over these three months:
1. Schedule a personal quarterly offsite. Companies invest in quarterly offsite meetings because there is value in rising above day-to-day operations to ask more strategic questions. Similarly, if we want to avoid being tripped up by the trivial, we need to take time once a quarter to think about what is essential and what is nonessential. I have found it helpful to apply the “rule of three”: every three months you take three hours to identify the three things you want to accomplish over the next three months.
2. Rest well to excel. K. Anders Ericsson found in “The Role of Deliberate Practice in the Acquisition of Expert Performance” that a significant difference between good performers and excellent performers was the number of hours they spent practicing. The finding was popularized by Malcolm Gladwell as the “10,000 hour rule.” What few people realize is that the second most highly correlated factor distinguishing the good from the great is how much they sleep. As Ericsson pointed out, top performing violinists slept more than less accomplished violinists: averaging 8.6 hours of sleep every 24 hours.
3. Add expiration dates on new activities. Traditions have an important role in building relationships and memories. However, not every new activity has to become a tradition. The next time you have a successful event, enjoy it, make the memory, and move on.
4. Say no to a good opportunity every week. Just because we are invited to do something isn’t a good enough reason to do it. Feeling empowered by essentialism, one executive turned down the opportunity to serve on a board where she would have been expected to spend 10 hours a week for the next 2-3 years. She said she felt totally liberated when she turned it down. It’s counterintuitive to say no to good opportunities, but if we don’t do it then we won’t have the space to figure out what wereally want to invest our time in.
While I don’t personally care for the economist terminology—what the hell kind of business-speak is “quarterly offsite”?—this is good advice, so I got this book through Interlibrary Loan.
Over the next three months, I want to make sure I’m planning my lesson plans a week ahead of time, have a second draft done of the novel I’m working on, and do some form of exercise three days a week. The second thing is to get eight hours of sleep a night, read for one hour, and make sure I write 500 words a day. An expiration date on new activities: I’ve expired from my time as a swim coach, because of budget reasons, and now I can spend more time on other things, like beating this novel into shape and submitting it. This week I said no to helping get movies for the Lake Placid Film Forum series, because it doesn’t really add anything to my life other than yet another thing on my plate that prevents me from doing the things that are more essential to my life—teaching and writing. I also tossed out some worn out clothes and socks that had no point in being kept. I threw out some leftover files from my desk that are just clutter. The expiration date I’m putting on for these three months is to have the ADK Mogul Crew Database done. At least the research end. It feels good to remove things from my life that are just not that important to me anymore.
I liked this more than The Fault in Our Stars, mostly because it wasn’t really trying to beat you over the head with stuff about death. I felt like it was a little forced in that book, where this seemed more natural. Stuff happens and you feel responsible for it.
Students in my English classes get to choose their main book for the semester, because I think telling students what to read, because the teacher likes it is a great way to make sure they don’t read. Nothing is more alienating than telling someone they have to read something for a grade, but telling them not to read isn’t an option. I have a textbook too, but this choice book is a big part of their final paper. Letting them pick a book that they like, have an interest in also gets them to participate. They can pick anything: comic book, science fiction, memoir, literary fiction or 50 Shades of Grey (and some have picked that book and come up with some great papers about women in the workplace and other things.) They pick the book; we work through some literary criticism worksheets—like formalism, reader-response, and feminism—and come out with a cultural issue to talk about from their book in a research paper.
Last semester, a student did Saga and ended up writing a research paper about mixed race marriages. It also works as a kind of book club and gets me reading things that I normally wouldn’t. So this semester I’m going to use Looking for Alaska, because I think it’s relatable for quite a few freshmen in my composition classes. The characters are away from home for the first time, there are girls, booze, pranks, and responsibility, but most importantly it’s about selfishness—of only thinking about yourself when you’re away from home. It’s a great book to talk about for my English 101.
“You fellas think of comics in terms of comic books, but you’re wrong. I think you fellas should think of comics in terms of drugs, in terms of war, in terms of journalism, in terms of selling, in terms of business. And if you have a viewpoint on drugs, or if you have a viewpoint on war, or if you have a viewpoint on the economy, I think you can tell it more effectively in comics than you can in words. I think nobody is doing it. Comics is journalism.”—Jack Kirby, via Ales Kot.
"The role of the writer is not simply to arrange Being according to his own lights; he must also serve as a medium to Being and remain open to its often unfathomable dictates. This is the only way the work can transcend its creator and radiate its meaning further than the author himself can see or perceive."
S02E01 and S02E02: “Twilight” Another two-part story all about New Genesis and Apokolips and subsequently featuring a huge cast of Kirby characters
Justice League Unlimited
The follow-up to Justice League also featured some appearances by Kirby creations. The running plot in season one focuses on the Cadmus Project, a loose adaptation of a Kirby concept introduced in Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen.
S01E03: “Kids’ Stuff” The Justice League are changed into children in this episode that features Morgaine Le Fey, Mordred, and Etrigan
S01E15: “The Ties That Bind” This episode heavily features Mr Miracle and Big Barda, as well as a number of denizens of Apokolips. Notably, this episode was written by Jim Steranko, the IRL human on whom Mr Miracle was based
The best possible Avengers cartoon to watch on Netflix.
Every episode Every episode features at least one character or concept created by Jack Kirby.
As I said, this is only a partial list. There are some movies you might have heard of that are also available to watch via Netflix. You’ve probably already seen those, though.
Here’s the thing, though:
I have no idea how much, if anything, Kirby’s estate was compensated for the use of his creations in these episodes, so if you watch or have watched these shows and enjoyed them, please consider making a donation in Jack Kirby’s honor to The Hero Initiative, a non-profit organization that benefits struggling creators of the characters we all love so much.
Thanks for reading, and happy Kirby Day! The day that gets you ready for the WORLD THAT’S COMING!!!
“Another time, Jack took a call. A voice on the other end said, ‘There are three of us down here in the lobby. We want to see the guy who does this disgusting comic book and show him what real Nazis would do to his Captain America’. To the horror of others in the office, Kirby rolled up his sleeves and headed downstairs. The callers, however, were gone by the time he arrived.”—
Mark Evanier, Kirby: King of Comics (via nerdhapley)
It’s Jack Kirby’s birthday, so here’s that story of him being bad ass all of the time.
“No one ever talks about how identifying with something you read might not always be a good thing. Saying “that’s like me” is not always an affirmation — it can be terrifying and make you feel “more fucked-up and Unknown.” Critics and fans alike rhapsodize about identifying with David Foster Wallace’s writing as though it can only be consoling and empowering, and I used to think so too, until I got too close and discovered what may be the most important truth about literature, the true “aesthetic benefit of close reading,” though I doubt the Mellon Foundation would be all that interested in hearing about my discovery, as it is beneficial only in the most cautionary of senses: there is such a thing as reading too closely.”—
I only thought I knew what “DFW” meant before. It was fanboy shorthand for the literary icon and hero that is David Foster Wallace, but to Wallace, “DFW” stood for the literary entity known as David Foster Wallace, his writerly persona that existed only on the page, apart from the living-and-breathing Dave Wallace. Wallace satirizes his literary moniker-cum-identity in The Pale King, where he writes “once you’re fixed with a certainnom de plume, you’re more or less stuck with it, no matter how alien or pretentious it sounds to you in your everyday life” (297), but this discomfort with his full name existed long before The Pale King.
Wallace’s initials appear twenty-one times in seventeen books, books ranging from novels to memoirs to literary anthologies to writing guides to philosophy and self-help books, and nearly every “DFW” or “DW” in Wallace’s archive appears next to a passage about creating, or, more precisely, the failure to create. And the “DFW”s that don’t appear alongside gut-wrenching descriptions of arrested creativity accompany withering descriptions of imbalanced, acutely self-conscious mental states, which only adds to the overall impression one gets of Wallace’s mental image of himself as a solipsistic failure, a gifted person who has lost control of his gift and now lives as a prisoner to “DFW” and all of its demands, demands he fears he will never be able to fulfill.
This is a great essay if you ever find yourself trying to cure yourself of thinking too much, or being too obsessive about an idol and reading too much into their life and yours.
“There has always been a silent agreement between Grant Morrison comics and Grant Morrison readers that one thing will not be considered in evaluating these grand struggles for the evolution of the superhero concept: that we won’t just elect to go do something else. That we won’t decide that the best way to deal with the problems of superheroes is to stop reading superhero comics. And this I’ve come to see as a narrative fault, because Morrison keeps going on and on and on about evolution, and yet the superhero decades have proven circular in their advancements, so that Nu 52 DC reads quite a bit like Wildstorm circa 1995, and as a result I find myself standing outside, wondering “hey, if nothing really changes, this guy can just position himself, profitably, as a shaman in perpetuity, right?””—
“I started writing this essay five years ago, and then I stopped. That I was not able to finish the piece did not strike me at the time as ironic but as further proof that whatever I once had in me — juice, talent, will — was gone. In any case, completing it would have made moot the very point I was attempting to make: Not writing can be good for one’s writing; indeed, it can make one a better writer.”—On Not Writing, by Bill Hayes—something I’m not doing by blogging this. Retrieved from Matt Thomas’s Sunday New York Times Digest.
Four years earlier, in 1968, Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot and killed.
Five years before that, in 1963, Medgar Evers was shot and killed.
Eight years before that, in 1955, a young Black man named Emmett Till was tortured, then shot and killed.
These events, and numerous others with frightening similarity, happened in a line, and in the early years of the first decade to reap the social benefits of the Civil Rights Movement, Marvel Comics gives the fans (and the world) a Black male superhero whose primary superhuman aspect… is that he’s bulletproof.
Not flight, or super speed, or a power ring.
The superhuman ability of being impervious to bullets.
Superheroes. Action heroes. Fantasy heroes.
Is there any doubt the power fantasy of the Black man in the years following multiple assassinations of his leaders and children by way of the gun would be superhuman resistance to bullets?
In American society, the Black man has come a long way from the terrors of the past handful of centuries, only to crash right into the terrors of the 21st century. Some of those terrors being the same exact ones their grandparents had to face and survive — or not.
There are Black men who are wealthy, powerful, formidable and/or dangerous. They can affect change undreamt of by their parents, and their parents’ parents. Their children will be able to change the world in ways we can intuit and others we can barely begin to try and predict.
But a bullet can rip through their flesh and their future with no effort whatsoever.
And so we look at Luke Cage, a man who gets shot on a regular basis, whose body language is such that he is expecting to be shot at, prepared for the impact — because he knows he can take it.
And maybe, in the subconscious of the uni-mind of Marvel Comics, is the understanding that Luke Cage may unfortunately always be a relevant fantasy idea for the Black man.
2012 – Trayvon Martin is shot and killed.
2013 – Jonathan Ferrell is shot and killed.
2014 – Michael Brown is shot and killed.
2015/2016 – Luke Cage premieres on Netflix.
I look forward to seeing if the Luke Cage of that show will have a true understanding of his power and what he symbolizes.
“Sir James Jeans, British astronomer and physicist, suggested that the universe was beginning to look more like a great thought than a great machine. Humanists seized on the expression, but it was hardly news. We knew, looking around, that a thought branches and leafs, a tree comes to a conclusion. But the question of who is thinking the thought is more fruitful than the question of who made teh machine, for a machinist can of course wipe his hands and leave, and his simple machine still hums; but if the thinker’s attention strays for a minute, his simplest thought ceases altogether. And, as a I have stressed, the place where we so incontrovertibly find ourselves, whether thought or machine, is at least not in any way simple.”—Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek.
“It’s OK not to be a genius, whatever that is, if there even is such a thing…the creative life may or may not be the apex of human civilization, but either way it’s not what I thought it was. It doesn’t make you special and sparkly. You don’t have to walk alone. You can work in an office — I’ve worked in offices for the past 15 years and written five novels while doing it. The creative life is forgiving: You can betray it all you want, again and again, and no matter how many times you do, it will always take you back.”—
Way back when we were selling copies of THE DEAL we put together a newsletter for that release, and…we haven’t been back. To be honest, we have been missing in action to a certain degree. Between personal, professional, and creative developments life’s been pretty crazy this year. For example, Tim’s success with his first novel, the release of its sequel is reason to celebrate and reinvigorate, and the EKG that monitors my creative life (It’s alive! No, it’s dead! It’s alive and it’s better than…No, it’s dead on the slab) have made things very hectic for us as individuals.
But we’re back, and like Marvel Comics we’re rebooting with a new first issue within a year.
That’s why we’re bringing the newsletter back. We’ll talk about the things we’re currently working on like the 2014-2015 Lake Placid Film Forum series at the LPCA, The Shared Experience, book-related things, and the occasional personal aside on us and our individual creative lives.
So, subscribe. We promise we won’t spam you every day. In fact, it’ll come out probably once a month, because—like you—we hate clutter in our inboxes. Amazon does enough of that for all of us.
Thanks and see you in the emails!
Hey, we’re going to do a monthly newsletter with updates on all the things we’re working on. Like shout outs for work in area productions! Book trailers! Documentaries! Events, and some talk about being creative in the Adirondacks. Check it out if you like. Thanks!
“During the packed panel at San Diego Comic-Con, the Saga writer noted that while today, Joss Whedon and George R.R. Martin are considered cultural monsters for killing off beloved characters, death used to be a more common feature of popular fiction. One problem, he believes, is that too many characters live in the hands of corporations and are therefore considered too precious to kill. Vaughn feels that takes away one of the things that makes fiction so valuable.”—Brian K. Vaugh[a]n And Fiona Staples Reveal What’s Ahead For Saga (via wilwheaton). Great point, but it’d be great if people actually took a second to make sure they spell his name correctly. It takes five seconds max.
“So: a voice. I am not so sure it is a voice as much as it is a cross-section between the story being channeled from the “outside” and a voice that is “inside,” both of which are ostensibly the same thing manifesting through different channels.”—