Month: July 2014

Handling Depression, Healing Music (7/31/14. 11:59 CST)

As I’ve written about in the past, I suffer from depression. When it gets bad, I head for my CD player. Tonight’s setlist:

Tom Petty’s “Feel a Whole Lot Better”

Tom Petty’s “Yer So Bad”

Tom Petty’s “Depending on You”

Tom Petty’s “The Apartment Song”

Tom Petty’s “Alright for Now”

Tom Petty’s “A Mind with a Heart of its Own”

Tom Petty’s “Zombie Zoo”

Billy Joel’s “That’s Not Her Style”

Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire”

Billy Joel’s “The Downeaster ‘Alexa’”

Billy Joel’s “I Go to Extremes”

Rod Stewart’s “Stay with Me”

Rod Stewart and Ronald Isley’s “This Old Heart of Mine”

Bruno Mars’ “Young Girls”

Bruno Mars’ “Locked Out of Heaven”

Bruno Mars’ “Natalie”

ABBA’s “Take a Chance on Me”

ABBA’s “Lay All Your Love on Me”

ABBA’s “The Winner Takes It All”

ABBA’s “Money, Money, Money”

ABBA’s “Voulez Vous”

ABBA’s “Waterloo”

Genesis’ “No Son of Mine”

Genesis’ “Jesus He Knows Me”

Genesis’ “Driving the Last Spike”

Genesis’ “I Can’t Dance”

Beastie Boys’ “Rhymin & Stealin”

Beastie Boys’ “Girls”

Beastie Boys’ “Fight for your Right”

Beastie Boys’ “Brass Monkey”

Beastie Boys’ “Time to Get Ill”

ZZ Top’s “Sharp Dressed Man”

ZZ Top’s “Viva Las Vegas”

Joe Satriani’s “Satch Boogie”

Eric Clapton’s “Before You Accuse Me”

Eric Clapton’s “Hey Hey”

Eric Clapton’s “Tears in Heaven”

Phish’s “Free”

Phish’s “Character Zero”

Phish’s “Waste”

Phish’s “Taste”

Phish’s “Cars Trucks Buses”

Phish’s “Talk”

Phish’s “Theme from the Bottom”

Phish’s “Train Song”

Phish’s “Bliss”

Phish’s “Billy Breathes”

Phish’s “Swept Away”

Phish’s “Steep”

Phish’s “Prince Caspian”

Somewhere in Phish, a former student contacted me about an ailment, asking me what he should do. Specifically, I should help him call a doctor. I let the entirety of the album play, as I did my best to accommodate. Mayhem ensued for a bit, but ultimately, placidity found a spotlight, and the music continued.

Grateful Dead’s “Bertha”

Grateful Dead’s “Mama Tried”

Grateful Dead’s “Big Railroad Blues”

Grateful Dead’s “The Golden Road (To Unlimited Devotion)”

Grateful Dead’s “Sitting On Top of the World”

Grateful Dead’s “Beat It On Down the Line”

Grateful Dead’s “Friend of the Devil”

Grateful Dead’s “Mexicali Blues”

Grateful Dead’s “Turn On Your Love Light”

Grateful Dead’s “One More Saturday Night”

Grateful Dead’s “U.S. Blues”

Grateful Dead’s “Sugaree”

Grateful Dead’s “Ripple”

Grateful Dead’s “Sugar Magnolia”

Grateful Dead’s “Me & Bobby McGee”

Grateful Dead’s “Johnny B. Goode”

Grateful Dead’s “Not Fade Away/Goin’ Down the Road Feeling Bad”

Queen’s “Under Pressure”

Metallica’s cover of Queen’s “Stone Cold Crazy”

Metallica’s cover of Thin Lizzy’s “Whisky in the Jar”

Queen’s “I’m Going Slightly Mad”

Queen’s “I Want It All”

Queen’s “Seven Seas of Rhye”

Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now”

Queen’s “The Show Must Go On”

Queen’s “Keep Yourself Alive”

Queens’s “Headlong”

Queen’s “Who Wants to Live Forever”

Queen’s “I Want to Break Free”

I feel I was born to play on antiquated radio (loading up Queen’s “Radio GaGa,” along with Muse’s “Knights of Cydonia.”) I realize I have no musical taste for the present, but I feel psychologically cleansed, despite all of the mental flak coming my way….perhaps, someone in the present or future will find my playlist and find peace by searching for obscure music from a small portion of human history…to become happy. If you axe me to duplicate, it’ll be a different manufactured set-list on any given night, thankfully for the pursuit of happiness…

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In Defense of Stephen A. Smith

I’m a frequent viewer of ESPN’s First Take, and there have been plenty of times I have disagreed with host Stephen A. Smith. I’d say there were a few times that Stephen A. Smith has offended me with his views (same with Skip Bayless). Recently, Smith was discussing his opinion in regards to the Ray Rice suspension, and his words stirred up a hornet’s nest of opposition in the media, mostly from ESPN’s SportsNation host, Michelle Beadle. I’d wager to say that a lot of the angst and disappointment that commentators have for Ray Rice’s two-game suspension is now directed at Stephen A. Smith.

I think this is a bit unfair to Stephen A. Smith. I’ve watched the broadcast and read through the transcript a couple of times, and I’m not entirely convinced that Smith’s words are as offensive as many are labeling them. In fact, he may have something of a point that we are hastily disregarding in light of a shared disdain for abuse of women. Stephen A. Smith may have not been as eloquent in this instance, but he might not deserve the knee-jerk reaction he is receiving from those with an inclination for proving their staunch opposition to the Ray Rice suspension.

First, as to what I think about the Ray Rice suspension, his receiving two lost games is not a long enough suspension…not that four to six games might necessarily magically cure Ray Rice of his physical attacks on his wife. The public scrutiny on Rice seems to be more of a cure than this suspension, and who’s to say that a four-game suspension would be enough to satisfy the crime? Would the media have become incensed if it was a four-game suspension? Probably not, which could indicate that the media’s moral majority might be the ones who have the most beef here. It seems a bit arbitrary to me, especially considering how unbalanced the NFL’s system for handing out fines and suspensions has been to this point.

I think this has become a case of political correctness, especially concerning Stephen A. Smith’s commentary on Friday. Here is what he said:

We know you have no business putting your hands on a woman. I don’t know how many times I got to reiterate that. But as a man who was raised by women, see I know what I’m going to do if somebody touches a female member of my family. I know what I’m going to do, I know what my boys are going to do. I know what, I’m going to have to remind myself that I work for the Worldwide Leader, I’m going to have to get law enforcement officials involved because of what I’m going to be tempted to do. But what I’ve tried to employ the female members of my family, some of who you all met and talked to and what have you, is that again, and this what, I’ve done this all my life, let’s make sure we don’t do anything to provoke wrong actions, because if I come, or somebody else come, whether it’s law enforcement officials, your brother or the fellas that you know, if we come after somebody has put their hands on you, it doesn’t negate the fact that they already put their hands on you. So let’s try to make sure that we can do our part in making sure that that doesn’t happen.

I bold-faced the text that I believe has been deemed offensive. What I think Stephen A. Smith is trying to say involves something that happened in his life. If I’m reading it right, then it might have involved a situation where a female might have been attempting to persuade a male, whether a male family member or a male police officer, to vindicate a perceived crime (I say perceived because that’s how our legal system works). It’s possible that a female might have been asking for a “chivalrous” reaction in the form of returned violence (think of the commonly-used phrase, “Be a man”), which is not what should be advocated in such a situation. We want the law to handle domestic violence situations without further violence, and we certainly don’t want to add to the list of potential arrestees. Perhaps, Stephen A. Smith was attempting to convey how, at times, females shouldn’t goad males into escalating a situation in the after-effects of domestic violence…and if you don’t believe that this could occur, then I’d suggest watching a few episodes of Cops (the truest reality TV show).

Stephen A. Smith continued:

Now you got some dudes that are just horrible and they’re going to do it anyway, and there’s never an excuse to put your hands on a woman. But domestic violence or whatever the case may be, with men putting their hands on women, is obviously a very real, real issue in our society. And I think that just talking about what guys shouldn’t do, we got to also make sure that you can do your part to do whatever you can do to make, to try to make sure it doesn’t happen. We know they’re wrong. We know they’re criminals. We know they probably deserve to be in jail. In Ray Rice’s case, he probably deserves more than a 2-game suspension which we both acknowledged. But at the same time, we also have to make sure that we learn as much as we can about elements of provocation. Not that there’s real provocation, but the elements of provocation, you got to make sure that you address them, because we’ve got to do is do what we can to try to prevent the situation from happening in any way. And I don’t think that’s broached enough, is all I’m saying. No point of blame.

Michelle Beadle, who is EXCELLENT on SportsNation, posted some Tweets showing her disgust for Stephen A. Smith:

So I was just forced to watch this morning’s First Take. A) I’ll never feel clean again B) I’m now aware that I can provoke my own beating.

I’m thinking about wearing a miniskirt this weekend…I’d hate to think what I’d be asking for by doing so @stephenasmith. #dontprovoke

I was in an abusive relationship once. I’m aware that men & women can both be the abuser. To spread a message that we not ‘provoke’ is wrong

Violence isn’t the victim’s issue. It’s the abuser’s. To insinuate otherwise is irresponsible and disgusting. Walk. Away.

Since Beadle has been in an abusive relationship, it’s obvious that she is taking this personally. Unfortunately, she is stretching Smith’s words a bit, especially with asking about wearing a miniskirt, which Smith did not indicate anything about how a woman dresses being involved in provocation.

He also did not say that Michelle Beadle in any way provoked her own beating. It’s understandable that Beadle might assume Smith is referring to all women who suffer domestic violence, but it was not his intention. Smith suggested that it is possible that women might provoke a response from men AFTER an incident of domestic violence. I do not see where Stephen A. Smith suggested that any woman who is beaten “provoked [her] own beating.” It is a leap on Beadle’s part.

Beadle suggests that Stephen A. Smith censor himself and walk away. She has a great point about violence being the abuser’s issue, and it is true. However, she wants to suppress (deems it “irresponsible and disgusting”) any discussion about how provocation might be a factor in domestic violence. This isn’t exactly fair, and it might work against efforts to cease domestic violence. Does Michelle Beadle believe that women are not capable of provoking men to commit violence? If we allow no discussion about the factors that lead to domestic violence, is it possible that some women might manipulate the system to falsely accuse or “get revenge” on men who have wronged them? Do men (and women) frequently engage in violence against their partner WITHOUT provocation? I’m not trying to make excuses for those who commit violence, but it’s obvious that domestic violence happens on a disgustingly large scale. Do we honestly think that suppressing a voice that might actually have a decent suggestion to avoid cessation of further violence helps? Is censorship going to help avoid further domestic violence? Michelle Beadle’s shaming of Stephen A. Smith isn’t exactly helping her cause, in some ways.

It’s obvious I’m in the minority when defending Stephen A. Smith here. I’m sorry to say it, but I agree with him on one point: I don’t think this topic is broached enough. Unfortunately, I don’t think Stephen A. Smith is going to broach this topic ever again, thanks to the backlash he’s receiving. This is unfortunate, in the sense, that it contributes to the difficulty of designating what causes violence in the first place. I live on the South Side of Chicago, where a culture of gun violence has surfaced, in which young people are shot, based on imaginary grievances and manufactured provocation (some of which are provoked by females, instigating easily-manipulated male characteristics). Nobody talks about how these shootings in Chicago are so easily provoked. In fact, most people ignore the details…and the violence increases.

I might also bring up Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman. Was there provocation involved? Is provocation a factor in “stand your ground?” In this case, was Zimmerman provoking an attack, or did Martin? Did the young dead victim deserve to be shot, because he provoked Zimmerman? Did our justice system exonerate a killer because of the untalked-about factor of provocation involved in the case?

How about we scrutinize the nature of provocation in a specific case of a female who suffered domestic violence? Marissa Alexander could serve 60 years in jail because no one wants to talk about how provocation should be defined in her Florida case, even though it is the exact opposite of the justification for George Zimmerman’s exoneration.

My point is that we shouldn’t be so quick to stifle an opinion that asks us to consider the nature of provocation in instances of human violence. Certainly, I’m not willing to make the leap that Stephen A. Smith is advocating that any woman who is beaten by a male asked for it by her own provocation.

A few days earlier, Tony Dungy was lambasted for comments about St. Louis Rams rookie Michael Sam. When asked about the comments, Michael Sam gracefully replied, “I have a great respect for Coach Dungy, and like everyone in America, everyone is entitled to their own opinions.” I fail to see how this situation is that different. Stephen A. Smith gave his opinion, and I’m not sure that his opinion, according to his rhetoric, is “women deserve to get hit,” as some are suggesting it is.

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To Protect and Serve?

This week, a New York man named Eric Garner was killed by New York police officers who attempted to arrest Garner on suspicion of selling individual cigarettes illegally, after he broke up a fight between two other individuals in the neighborhood. One of the police officers applied a chokehold to Garner and violently brought him to the sidewalk. Several police officers assisted since Garner was a larger man. Garner was unhappy about being accosted and technically fulfilled the requirements for resisting arrest, but Garner did not make any threatening moves to the arresting officers. Instead, Garner was incapacitated by the chokehold and quickly lost his ability to breathe, claiming “I can’t breathe” several times. When Garner lost consciousness, the police officers stood around and did nothing to save Garner’s life, despite the pleas of bystanders that he needed medical assistance. When paramedics arrived, they also failed to administer any life-saving techniques, and Eric Garner died. The incident was filmed by a friend of Eric Garner’s, and the evidence is damning.

Unbelievably, there appears to be those who see no wrong-doing by the NYC police officers here. Some have pointed to Garner as being at fault, apparently because he is black, overweight, or even that he has a name that is too white! I cannot understand the utter contempt and disregard that is being shown for the loss of a human life, again FOR NO GOOD REASON WHATSOEVER! How the hell have we become so callous when a person is killed, and how the hell can police officers justify their actions in light of the fact that they are to protect and serve the citizens of their city?!?

Recently, Bill Maher recited an interesting “New Rules” conclusion to his HBO show, in which he painted a militarized police force that has the biggest probability of robbing us of our individual freedoms. Yesterday, a law-abiding friend on Facebook detailed how he was needlessly threatened and traumitized by two police officers because he had out-of-state plates, with his wife and child in the car with him. The Eric Garner case is similar to thousands of cases that happen in New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, and most major cities in America, many of which are not video-taped.

I’d like to support the police because I operate under the assumption that police officers are supposed to protect and serve us. It’s hard to do so because it appears that police are more interested in another maxim: to attack and confront.

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Golf Doesn’t Need To Be Resuscitated

I watched last night’s HBO Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel, which had a segment titled “The Future of Golf.” (There was also an excellent segment about the disturbing slave labor practices of Qatar…definitely worth checking out.) As an avid golfer, I’d like to address the golf segment specifically, since the golf industry is struggling, and major changes are being considered.

Apparently, young people are not golfing anymore. I understand golf courses are closing frequently in America, as I’ve seen some of my favorite courses in Northwest Indiana closed over the last couple decades (especially Lake Hills in St. John, Indiana…I wish I had one more chance to play what was probably the most difficult yet most fantastic golf course I’ve ever played). It is definitely frustrating to see golf courses close, and I understand how difficult it is to maintain a course and still turn a profit.

However, I often wonder if it isn’t the fault of the golf industry, as many entrepreneurs took advantage of the false boom in real estate and suffered the same fate as the economy when the market crashed in 2007. Prior to this point, plenty of people were happy to exploit the heightened interest caused mostly by Tiger Woods. Greens fees went up, and more administrators were hired…heck, I noticed some colleges offering degrees in golf course management.

Financial opportunity looked promising, and many thought they could eat a big piece of the golf-boom pie. When it turned out to be more of a trend than a sustainable cash cow, a lot of that promise bit the dust. I wonder if the prediction that golf is dying is more of a reaction from those who put too much investment into golf futures and are attempting to salvage their losses by advocating radical changes to the game.

The biggest change to the game of golf that is being proposed involves creating a fifteen-inch hole. The idea is that it will make a game of golf go quicker, easier, and be more fun. It seems like a simple enough alteration, and even Jack Nicklaus stated that anything that will draw people to the game should be considered.

I don’t get it. This change will fundamentally change the entire concept of putting. You won’t need to worry about touch; all you’ll need to do is ram your putts as hard as you can at the hole, no matter the distance or grade. Hell, you don’t really have to worry about hitting the green much, as chipping will get a heck of a lot easier.

I also don’t see how it will make the game more fun. A fun day for me on the golf course involves when I make one difficult putt. It doesn’t matter if I three-putt the majority of my day; it is that one beautiful stroke that I retain in my memory when I finish a round of golf. I’m not sure there will be any memorable putting moments with a fifteen-inch cup.

I understand golf is frustrating. Believe me, I’ve had my share of frustrating days on a golf course, but I’ve also learned valuable lessons playing this game: lessons of humility, lessons of patience, lessons of self-affirmation, lessons of discipline, and lessons of camaraderie. Such an enormous change to the game of golf might fundamentally change every valued component of this game I love.

I’m not sure what has happened recently, but I notice a push to change almost every sport in America. Baseball has excruciating instant replay now. Football wants to change the extra point to make it more “exciting.” Now, golf wants to create a basketball-sized hole in the green.

I suppose I shouldn’t knock it until I try it, so I will reserve judgment until I’ve had a chance to play a course with fifteen-inch holes…but I can promise you one thing: if the PGA implements fifteen-inch holes in professional play, then it will not be worth watching, as the integrity of the game will have been fundamentally altered where it is not competitive…and then golf will truly be dead.

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The Sphinx

(An Allegory of the 2004 Presidential Election)

On November 1, 2004, the Second Coming occurred. As foretold by Yeats, it was not the arrival of a savior, but a vengeful beast. In the deserts of Iraq, a sphinx arose from the sands. It stood twelve feet high with a beautiful human countenance to match its majestic lion body.

It arrived in Baghdad and conversed with its people. It talked with the men who planted bombs in hotels and cars.

“Why do you destroy and kill?” it asked.

“To oppose the tyranny of Bush’s evil plans and prevent the Americans from controlling our lives and culture,” they replied.

“Yet you kill your own countrymen in the process.”

“Sacrifices must be made.”

“Have you been successful in your endeavor?”

Unable to answer, the men answered they must continue trying anything. Dissatisfied with the answer, the sphinx ate all of the terrorists and flew to America to address George W. Bush. An election was imminent, and Bush’s concerns were more with obtaining votes than preventing the death of innocents. Bush did not want to see the sphinx, but the sphinx was most insistent. After trampling several Secret Service guards beneath his mighty paws, the sphinx found Bush cowering in a corner bedroom of the White House.

“Why did you attack Iraq?” the sphinx asked.

“Because they were going to use weapons of mass destruction to destroy my country,” Bush replied.

“What weapons? Where are they?”

“We’ll find them.”

“You’re very confident and passionate. Is that the only reason you invaded a country?”

“Yes.”

“You lie. You crave the resources there, don’t you?”

Under the sphinx’s commanding gaze, the president was unable to deceive the creature. “Yes, we need more oil. This country’s economic stability relies on obtaining all of the planet’s oil.”

“You are deluded and, therefore, dangerous,” the sphinx said.

The sphinx picked up the president between his teeth and bit him in two. Next, the sphinx visited John Kerry.

“Will you continue to attack Iraq?” the sphinx asked.

“I will do what is necessary to end the war with Iraq,” Kerry replied.

“Then there will be more deaths?”

“It’s essential to victory and the end of this conflict.”

“Will you ever withdraw your armies from the desert?”

“Probably not.”

After the sphinx ate John Kerry, it addressed the American people.

“What do you want from life?” the sphinx asked.

“We crave products and the money to buy those products. We want glamour and sex and immediate gratification. We want all this without having to work or toil or exert ourselves physically. We want someone else to think for us, and we want them to make the decisions for us. We are unconcerned with everyone else in the world, mostly because we don’t know about it.”

“Do you want to take over the world?”

“Sure, why not?” the Americans replied.

The sphinx shook his head like a parent who cannot communicate properly with his children. Discipline was necessary in such cases. The sphinx rumbled through America and devoured most of its citizens. Then it took over the office of President. It withdrew the troops from Iraq apologetically and assisted Iraq’s people with rebuilding its country and creating a government of its choosing. The American people became less selfish and vain under its new peaceful despot. The sphinx ruled America for centuries. It prospered as a monarchy and became a Utopian society.

Addendum

The Second Coming by William Butler Yeats

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

Works Cited

Yeats, William Butler. “The Second Coming.” Poetry Foundation. Poetry Foundation, 2014. Web. 19 July 2014. http://www.poetryfoundation.org

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Short, Sweet, and Somewhat Sacrilegious

Yesterday, Israeli ground forces entered the Gaza Strip. A commercial plane with just under 300 people was shot down accidentally by a military weapon in Eastern Ukraine. Iraq recently reinvigorated its violent trend with the onslaught of ISIS, a hateful group birthed by a most violent conflict in Syria.

Today, I recite a prayer of sorrow for a violent world where the human condition cannot rid itself of the disease of war. I state a prayer of compassion that there might be an end to the needless death of innocents who do not want to participate in the collective sins of warmongers. Finally, I say a prayer of hope that humankind might learn love for their neighbor and lose their hate, in order to end this perpetual cycle of violence that plagues our species.

Tomorrow, it’ll be business as usual. Americans will shun children who seek refuge from violence and death. We’ll continue to disregard violence in our own country by citing a right to own guns so that we might easily kill our neighbor before they kill us. We’ll likely listen to politicians who want to participate in as many foreign wars as possible.

If there is a God above, I’m not sure he’s willing to listen anymore to the pointless prayers of a flawed animal, a member of a nation that purports to know Him, while comprehending very little about His greatest desire for His human creation: love for one another. (Trust me, fundamentalist Christians…it’s in the Bible…and the Qur’an, for that matter).

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Opinion about Online Learning

I’ve retained a strong revulsion for online learning. I have taught several online sections for college courses, and I have become privy to the impetus of administrators and entrepreneurs for promoting online learning in the American education system. The marketing especially has drawn my ire in the past, whether it’s the infamous “college in pajamas” campaign or Shannen Doherty pretending like she’s younger in order to communicate with the desired demographic. Recently, some new commercials promoting online learning for public schools have surfaced, using emotionally-manipulative tactics to convince the public that good old-fashioned learning in a classroom is inefficient, antiquated, and a tradition best left in mothballs.

Online learning! Now that’s the wave of the future!

What seems to escape most people’s attention is how online learning might be a method to eliminate the role of a teacher from the classroom learning experience, which would be just fine for administrators, who are looking for revenue-generating opportunities, cost-cutting of their education budgets, and salary-increasing chances for administrators, who are always looking for a larger slice of the fiscal pie at the expense of the educators.

I’m sure many might presume I am quick to judge and my conclusions are a bit absurd. I have taught online classes, and I worked for an institution, Ivy Tech Community College, that pushed distance learning classes. There is one e-mail that sticks in my mind, from the central office. The subject matter concerned the implementation of a distance-learning program, created by a book publishing company, which advertised learning in college classes without the interference of a pesky teacher. Yep, students could receive college credits by completing a designed online curriculum that primarily offered tech assistance because the teacher had become unnecessary to the learning experience. Students were supposed to inherently understand that the teacher was the reason that they were not succeeding in school, and taking a course without the teacher was the specific marketing approach. There was quite a bit of backlash at Ivy Tech from the teachers, and an administrator responded by sending a snarky e-mail across the state: this was a good revenue-generating opportunity for Ivy Tech, and gosh darn it, we’re going to try it out, no matter what you commerce-ignorant educators have to say about it!

The two commercials that have reinvigorated my disdain for this online learning movement are advertised by an organization called K12 (here and here). The first caters to parents whose children are unhappy in school, where the pace might be too fast or slow for their children. They emphasize how parents and teachers “enthusiastically” endorse the curriculum, which is “exciting” and allows children to “blossom.” If that subjective language does not convince a parent, then they should be happy to learn that there will be no “classroom distractions” to hinder learning. The state-certified teachers, appearing like telemarketers, are better than traditional teachers simply because they utilize technology, with headsets and Excel programs. Online learning is “priceless” compared to traditional face-to-face learning, and, of course, an opinion poll, which we all know is reliable since it has a statistic attached to it, assures parents that 94 percent are satisfied with the online learning experience. The second commercial enhances the message with testimony of a parent, who has been brought to tears over the impressive distance-learning experience for her child…and we all understand how a crying person accompanied by sad piano music authenticates a consumer experience…not at all emotionally manipulative.

I’m not entirely discounting the possibilities of learning online; there is an obvious benefit for saving transportation costs and environmental protection, and the use of technology is an enhancement (though, technology can be used in a face-to-face environment just as easily). I have seen it work (frankly, I’ve made it work out of necessity for my students), but there’s no denying that online-learning and face-to-face learning are two entirely different experiences. I might suggest that there are obvious detractors of distance-learning that are not advertised:

Increased Procrastination—Procrastination of students is always a problem with teaching, but online learning increases it. The idea of an online curriculum is to report an assignment well in advance so that students might have sufficient time to turn it in before a deadline, usually around midnight of the designated day to turn in assignments. Many times, I would monitor a class through the week, waiting for students to submit their e-mails or messages, so I might assist students with any questions about the assignment. I usually received one or two through the week. I learned that the best time to monitor the class’s communications was about two hours prior to the deadline, as the majority of students would wait until the absolute last minute to complete assignments online. More often than not, those e-mails would have pleas for an extension as students often did not leave themselves enough time to complete the assignment.

Increased Forgetfulness—An online course usually has more assignments than would be administered in a face-to-face environment, and students often became overwhelmed at the sheer amount of work they need to accomplish. Since the only method of reminding students about the curriculum is electronic communication, it often became frustrating for both teacher and student. In a face-to-face course, it’s easy enough at the end of class to state, “Okay, here’s what you have to do for next class….” With distance-learning, sending e-mails or posting announcements become difficult, because students often miss the communications, as it is yet another online item that they need to monitor in order to succeed…which brings me to the next item…

Online Communication Does Not Support Increased Reading—As I teach English courses, a part of my goal is to compel students to read text, which already is a difficulty in a face-to-face environment. With distance learning, the social environment does not enhance the necessity for students to read more closely or copiously. The expectation is expediency and skimming in an online environment. I’ve found that the more I write for an online class, the more students will ignore my text, since it requires more reading. Often, I was forced to reduce my texts to a minimal, bullet point-laden outline just to get students to read my lectures and teaching (which is honestly what I’ve found with my blog writing, also…the longer the text, the more likely readers decide to skip it…the irony, as a composition teacher, I am supposed to teach students how to read complicated texts and write extended papers.)

Teachers Now Have to Be Experts of Visual Production—In order to teach online, it is encouraged for teachers to record themselves with video or Skype-type interactions. I’ve recorded myself lecturing, and I can testify that it is difficult to keep my own attention when it is simply a video of my face-to-face lecturing. In order to create effective videos, it seems to require strong visuals, compartmentalized messaging, and again, minimalized information-sharing. This is effective video, but not necessarily efficient teaching. Consider how good Hollywood and television are at visual production, but ask yourself how often they’ve been able to succeed at encapsulating the exciting classroom lecture for an audience. It’s not easy; certainly it’s not easy for a teacher who has not been trained to create video productions. Yet another component of education to which teachers must adapt.

Students and Teachers Are Expected to Be Online At All Times—In order to be available for students, it is expected that teachers have their laptop or cellphone on them at all hours. There is also an expectation of instant gratification for both student and teacher because of online components. For instance, a teacher sends an announcement, and if a student does not read it right away, they might miss something that has been changed with an assignment’s deadline…and if the student misses the deadline, then often they are out of luck according to the teacher’s policies. A student might send an e-mail, and if the teacher does not respond within hours of the correspondence (sometimes, during the times they should be sleeping), then the teacher is often labelled a bad teacher. Oh, and don’t get me started on the amount of times an assignment was turned in, and a student was expecting a grade an hour after they turned it in…

Online Aggression—I think we can agree that people tend to be a bit bolder and hostile when communicating online. If you don’t believe me, then read some online comments of news reports or spend some time going back and forth with trolls on Facebook. Just because the online environment is a learning experience does not preclude that the aggressive characteristics of internet communication will not be found in a distance-learning class. Many, many times I have had to intervene with a student’s online correspondence because it mimics the aggression that you find across the internet…and sometimes, the student thinks they can pull the same thing with the teacher and get away with it. In fact, I know that some teachers can be the worst offenders of all, when it comes to aggressive online behavior.

Decreased Communal Camaraderie—One of the benefits of face-to-face learning is that you are a part of a community that interacts with one another. There are some experiences of the face-to-face classroom that just cannot be provided online, no matter how much interactive technology you incorporate. Subjectively, it’s harder to make friends on-line than it is when you get to be in the same room for weeks at a time. It is a genuine difficulty at times to teach a class where you cannot frequently speak and get to know your students. There is also something lost for students, who do not get to interact and befriend their peers in a classroom environment.

Frustration for Technological Communication—An extension of the last criterion, one of the most frustrating parts of online teaching involves the socially-accepted norm that online communication is easier than speaking in “real-time.” I guess I’m one of those old fogies that become frustrated with his computer and cell phone. I also internalize my angst when I notice the majority of people around me have their head buried in a cell-phone everywhere and all the time…because everything’s better in technology. I can testify that quite a few students would prefer to just talk to their teacher instead of having to use these infuriating devices all of the stinkin’ time!

Potential Devaluation of Academic Standards—It is automatically assumed that an online educational course is comparable to the standards of a traditional classroom experience. I have yet to accept that as truth. I’ve noticed that a part of the online trend is to design courses around convenience rather than rigor. The goal of these online course-creators is to pass and retain more students, and often, the insistence is they maintain the harsh academic standards…good luck if you believe that is a realistic fix, just because it utilizes online technology. I’ve noticed a glut of PhDs entering into the college environment, and wouldn’t you know it, most of these doctorates earned their degree online…

Are We Teaching or Testing?—Having taught online, I notice my role has become less of a teacher and more of a facilitator. Even if I have leeway to design a course instead of using a state-wide utilized curriculum, there is little that is expected of me, as a teacher, other than assign the materials, grade the assignments, and answer e-mails to the best of my ability. The practice of teaching online is mostly that of gatekeeper, where I communicate to students what is expected of them in order to earn a grade. Actual teaching doesn’t really happen for an online class of students. Perhaps, this is representative of a greater change in our education system, as I observe that this expectation for facilitation-instead-of-teaching has extended to the face-to-face classroom as well.

As a teacher, I admit frustration about online learning. There’s no denying that it has gained a strong foothold in our education system, and standing against the tide has proven to be quite useless. Personally, I’ve been swept aside more often than not by the sheer amount of educators and administrators that insist this is the “wave of the future.” I write my opinion today knowing how readily it will be dismissed as irrelevant, yet, as per usual, I cannot suppress my opposition. I wish more of the public might consider the ramifications of distance-learning as anathema to education to the same degree and with the same passion that Common Core has offended our sensibilities.

{If you appreciated this writing and want to help support the continuation of this blog, please consider sending a donation to:

Scott C. Guffey
P.O. Box 53
Michigan City, IN 46360

For a full explanation of author impetus, blog mission statement, and donations appeal, click About.}

Review of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Dawn-of-the-Planet-of-the-Apes1
[Author’s Note—Raymond Williams wrote, “Culture is one of the two or three most complicated words in the English language” (87). The etymology of the word began with reference to agricultural growth (the attentive care necessary to produce plants or breed animals, as in cultivation) and religious growth (the spiritual care necessary to promote enlightenment and epiphany, as in cult, which did not always denote negative connotation). The word culture has come to characterize humanistic growth, especially phenomena that represent the complexity of the human condition, collectively or individually, within a generational environment. Of course, even this definition is insufficient. Culture represents our human lives, and we are all immersed within our own individualized versions of culture, whether it involves work, family, money, politics, religion, or entertainment.

We reflectively know that the poems and stories found within the literary canon represent our culture. We know that art, music, the stage, sports, and film represent culture. In our modern environment—though some scholars might be loath to admit it—television, video games, and internet websites also qualify as cultural indicators. We often share with others what we find to be relevant and significant, and the respondents either approve or disapprove. This exchange perpetuates, fundamentally supporting the cultural conversation between individuals for eons, and we retain those cultural items that are agreed to be most worthy of inclusion. These cultural items often are designated as literary.

I am an enthusiastic explorer of popular culture. Three circumstances compel me to focus on pop culture topics for my blog at this time: 1) It’s summertime!!! 2) There has been a disproportionate amount of depressing world events taking place that compel me to look away for a moment, for preservation of good spirit. 3) I will be teaching again, so I’d like to dive right back into academia in the form of literary study! (I know…sounds riveting…this is how I relax and have fun!) I am going to celebrate life by having a cultural weekend, filled with film, stage, and music.

On Sunday afternoon, I attended my local movie theater to see the summer movie I looked forward to the most. Today, I share the final part of a four-part cultural leg of The Maniacal Rant, in which I explore some significance from Dawn of the Planet of the Apes–SG]

Summer movies can be good for generating excitement, but too many times have I been eager to see a summer movie and had my expectations ripped to shreds (X-Men: Days of Future Past comes to mind).

Thank the Good Lord above that Dawn of the Planet of the Apes was so satisfying. “Freakin’ awesome!!” in fact, if you’ll allow my inner child a moment to share his reaction after seeing the film.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is a spectacular sci-fi movie with a solid story that focuses more on the apes than the humans. Of course, many elements of the script are indeed predictable (though, there is one cleverly-written device in the script that was mostly unanticipated), but this is understandable considering this is the umpteenth film that employs the apes-take-over-the-planet mythos. It’s a testament to this film that it is easily the best movie within the whole series, even eclipsing the original Charlton Heston-acted, Rod Serling-written classic.

The special effects for the apes are phenomenal, and an Oscar nomination for visual effects is guaranteed (and they should be the front-runner at this point). For those not in the know, the apes in the film are human actors, using CGI to merge human expression to ape characters in most convincing fashion. I’d wager to say that there has not been a film that has incorporated visual effects so effectively and vitally since Jurassic Park.

Andy Serkis, he of Gollum fame from the Lord of the Rings trilogy, plays the role of his lifetime as Caesar. It’s downright spooky to recognize Serkis’ countenance so realistically as an ape, and his performance is something to behold. Serkis is receiving comparisons as a modern-day version of Lon Cheney, deservedly. This is a longshot, but Andy Serkis deserves consideration for best actor of the year for his role in this film, if for no other reason that this type of character on film is mostly unprecedented (If Johnny Depp gets an Oscar nomination for playing Keith Richards in a pirate costume, then Andy Serkis definitely deserves some consideration)…and the success of this film in its entirety mostly relies on Serkis’ stoic ape character…

…I say mostly because such lofty consideration should also be given to Toby Kebbel. He plays another ape in the film, Toba, and Kebbel is a revelation. His star is rising, for certain. There is one scene when he is interacting with two militant humans that is magnificent because it depends mostly on Kebbel’s facial expressions as an ape…I’ll leave it at that…the fact that I’m trying my best not to spoil the movie for my reader is indication that I want her to enjoy the full cinematic experience.

As for cultural relevance, most viewers will anticipate commentary on the human condition from the film, as the obvious parallels between human civilization and the evolutionary stages of man can be found. There are easy comparisons to make concerning war and its impetus. Some might see human fallibility in our need for technology primarily, as apes need no such crutch. I read a critic’s review who thought the theme of the film centered specifically on the power of the gun (Spoiler alert: watch the film before clicking on this critic’s review). I’m not sure I buy that obvious of a political interpretation, but there’s no denying that there is a cornucopia of cultural themes to pull from Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.

My initial stab for the thematic cultural statement of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes: the positive characteristics of man, a want for peace and goodness, are inherent when shared with one another, but the negative characteristics, the need for violence and war, are manufactured by selfish individuals who fool the collective into believing that evil is an inherent trait of man.

It was so very satisfying to walk out of the theater after watching Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. I thought it might be the best film of the summer of 2014, and I am happy to confirm that it is. I remember talking with a student about a year ago about this very film. He had enjoyed Rise of the Planet of the Apes a great deal and predicted Dawn of the Planet of the Apes might be one of the greatest films ever. Well, for my friend Daniel Anderson, I’m happy to say, sir, that you have proven to be correct.

Works Cited

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. Dir. Matt Reeves. Perf. Andy Serkis, Jason Clarke, Gary Oldman, Keri Russell, and Toby Kebbel. Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, 2014. Film.

Williams, Raymond. Keywords: A Vocabulary of Culture and Society. New York: Oxford, 1976. Print.

{If you appreciated this writing and want to help support the continuation of this blog, please consider sending a donation to:

Scott C. Guffey
P.O. Box 53
Michigan City, IN 46360

For a full explanation of author impetus, blog mission statement, and donations appeal, click About.}

Review of George Thorogood and the Destroyers

Thorogood

[Author’s Note—Raymond Williams wrote, “Culture is one of the two or three most complicated words in the English language” (87). The etymology of the word began with reference to agricultural growth (the attentive care necessary to produce plants or breed animals, as in cultivation) and religious growth (the spiritual care necessary to promote enlightenment and epiphany, as in cult, which did not always denote negative connotation). The word culture has come to characterize humanistic growth, especially phenomena that represent the complexity of the human condition, collectively or individually, within a generational environment. Of course, even this definition is insufficient. Culture represents our human lives, and we are all immersed within our own individualized versions of culture, whether it involves work, family, money, politics, religion, or entertainment.

We reflectively know that the poems and stories found within the literary canon represent our culture. We know that art, music, the stage, sports, and film represent culture. In our modern environment—though some scholars might be loath to admit it—television, video games, and internet websites also qualify as cultural indicators. We often share with others what we find to be relevant and significant, and the respondents either approve or disapprove. This exchange perpetuates, fundamentally supporting the cultural conversation between individuals for eons, and we retain those cultural items that are agreed to be most worthy of inclusion. These cultural items often are designated as literary.

I am an enthusiastic explorer of popular culture. Three circumstances compel me to focus on pop culture topics for my blog at this time: 1) It’s summertime!!! 2) There has been a disproportionate amount of depressing world events taking place that compel me to look away for a moment, for preservation of good spirit. 3) I will be teaching again, so I’d like to dive right back into academia in the form of literary study! (I know…sounds riveting…this is how I relax and have fun!) I am going to celebrate life by having a cultural weekend, filled with film, stage, and music.

On Friday night, I attended high-brow Shakespeare; on Saturday night, I attended proudly low-brow booze blues and guitar rock. Today, I share the third part of a four-part cultural leg of The Maniacal Rant, in which I explore some significance from a George Thorogood and the Destroyers concert at the Blue Chip Casino in my hometown of Michigan City–SG]

Ouch! I’m writing this morning with the hangover that George Thorogood sang about last night, which must mean that the night was a resounding success.

As a young man in my twenties, I found an education, not in college, but in seedy, hole-in-the-wall bars like Kenwood Tap in Hessville, the Alaskan Pipeline in Schererville, and the Back Door Lounge in Griffith. I guess I played a fairly decent barfly, as I learned quite a bit about the community (and myself) by chewing the fat with complete strangers over cold beer.

George Thorogood epitomizes bar culture with his music, and I’ve always been susceptible to his brand of blues and rock-and-roll. I’d never seen Thorogood live, so last night was a treat-and-a-half. In case you’re unfamiliar, George Thorogood is a helluva guitar player and one ultra-cool, bad-ass rock-and-roller.

The venue at Blue Chip Casino is an intimate setting (which was good for us, since we were WAY in the back), and a decent auditorium to enjoy loud, raucous music. The crowds in Michigan City prefer to sit, which is a drag for groovin’ rock concerts, but I wasn’t letting that get me down…I’ve been to several concerts there before, and Michigan City does not get on its feet…not even Thorogood can change that, I guess (I was amused to learn that Cleveland, Ohio, might have the same problem, as this inspiring letter illustrates).

The sound was awesome. George Thorogood does not use a pick with his big, bad electric guitars, and he plays power chords that rip through your body with incredibly-fast, stone-calloused fingers. The bass was popping, the sax was crisp, and the double-bass drums steadily boomed.

The Destroyers properly set the tone with Rock Party, a rip-roaring jam, right at the get-go. Get a Haircut, my personal theme song, downright rocked, and I howled the lyrics as I swung my long, uncut locks (even if everybody else sat stone-faced at the groovy tune). We heard flawless renditions of jamming staples Bad to the Bone, Madison Blues, Move It On Over, and Who Do You Love, but a few of my faves were missing from the short set, like Gear Jammer, Rocking My Life Away, and Treat Her Right. Alas, no point in complaining, as the real luxury of the evening was Thorogood ripping out an awesome cover of Johnny Cash’s Cocaine Blues.

I’m not much of a drinker anymore, as my forty-year-old body continues to remind me I no longer have a twenty-year-old stamina. I told myself to limit my Budweiser beer intake to two libations. Somewhere in the middle of I Drink Alone, my second beer was drained, my limit forgotten, and I was at the bar.

“What choo want?”

“What choo think?”

I made it back to my seat, double-fisting two Buds, before the chorus of One Bourbon, One Scotch, and One Beer had started.

Good times. Now excuse me while I go lie down and nurse my achin’ head.

Works Cited

Williams, Raymond. Keywords: A Vocabulary of Culture and Society. New York: Oxford, 1976. Print.

{If you appreciated this writing and want to help support the continuation of this blog, please consider sending a donation to:

Scott C. Guffey
P.O. Box 53
Michigan City, IN 46360

For a full explanation of author impetus, blog mission statement, and donations appeal, click About.}

Review of Crown Point Community Theatre’s Hamlet

hamlet2014

[Author’s Note—Raymond Williams wrote, “Culture is one of the two or three most complicated words in the English language” (87). The etymology of the word began with reference to agricultural growth (the attentive care necessary to produce plants or breed animals, as in cultivation) and religious growth (the spiritual care necessary to promote enlightenment and epiphany, as in cult, which did not always denote negative connotation). The word culture has come to characterize humanistic growth, especially phenomena that represent the complexity of the human condition, collectively or individually, within a generational environment. Of course, even this definition is insufficient. Culture represents our human lives, and we are all immersed within our own individualized versions of culture, whether it involves work, family, money, politics, religion, or entertainment.

We reflectively know that the poems and stories found within the literary canon represent our culture. We know that art, music, the stage, sports, and film represent culture. In our modern environment—though some scholars might be loath to admit it—television, video games, and internet websites also qualify as cultural indicators. We often share with others what we find to be relevant and significant, and the respondents either approve or disapprove. This exchange perpetuates, fundamentally supporting the cultural conversation between individuals for eons, and we retain those cultural items that are agreed to be most worthy of inclusion. These cultural items often are designated as literary.

I am an enthusiastic explorer of popular culture. Three circumstances compel me to focus on pop culture topics for my blog at this time: 1) It’s summertime!!! 2) There has been a disproportionate amount of depressing world events taking place that compel me to look away for a moment, for preservation of good spirit. 3) I will be teaching again, so I’d like to dive right back into academia in the form of literary study! (I know…sounds riveting…this is how I relax and have fun!) I am going to celebrate life by having a cultural weekend, filled with film, stage, and music.

Friday night, I attended the opening night of Hamlet, presented by local NW Indiana company, the Crown Point Community Theatre. Today, I share the second part of a four-part cultural leg of The Maniacal Rant, in which I explore some significance from the truly extraordinary play, Hamlet, directed by Grant Fitch.–SG]

The first opportunity I had to teach literature in a college classroom was to teach Hamlet’s soliloquy. One of my dearest friends and mentors, Dr. Dennis Barbour, had to attend a meeting that interfered with his class, and he asked me, as a graduate student interested in teaching literature, to fill in for him. I was excited at the opportunity, but once I started to delve into the study of the text, I realized a melancholy comparison with my own personal circumstance. My youngest brother, a veteran of Iraq, had committed suicide half-a-year prior, and Hamlet’s soliloquy essentially ponders the idea of suicide. I could not help but read every word of the text through the imagined experience of my brother, who used a gun to perform the grievance. Suffice to say, I enjoy an affinity for this text of Shakespeare, and I appreciate a special sensibility for the character of Hamlet.

This past Thursday, my brother would have enjoyed a birthday. It was a tough day. Knowing that I was to attend the Crown Point Community Theatre’s production of Hamlet the next day, I spent some time reviewing Hamlet and pondering what drives men to the brink of madness and self-injury. I anticipated how the character of Hamlet might be portrayed and wondered if the actor would be able to properly encapsulate the raw emotion necessary to portray Hamlet. I especially awaited the scene of Hamlet’s soliloquy.

I am pleased to report that my expectations were not only met, but exceeded. Steve Ellis, with his first performance as Hamlet, has created the personal archetype for how Hamlet should be portrayed, and I shall remember this portrayal of Hamlet to the moment I find myself asleep, with a chance to dream.

When his soliloquy began, Hamlet was hunched low as the spotlight highlighted Ellis’ crouch. He held a gun as his weapon, and he wore goth-style pants with chains and a t-shirt, eerily like my young brother used to wear. My breath stuck in my chest, as Ellis glowered for what seemed an eternity. He began, “To be, or not to be…,” and I somehow found the will to breathe again as he more than did justice to the anticipated scene. Ellis approached this character with such raw vigor and zeal that I cannot help but promote his performance as the ultimate showcase for Shakespeare’s flawed yet noble protagonist.

Grant Fitch adapted the play to incorporate a modernized vision successfully, a la Julie Taymor’s Titus. His sense of stage movement and choreography highlighted a successful interaction with his audience, who were on the edge of their seats throughout. No sleeping through this performance, as the violent fight scenes, passionate conveyances, and magnified utterances demanded attention. In fact, if I had one criticism, it might be that I feared for the actors’ safety as some of the physical performances appeared as if they might cause real pain and injury to each other. However, I’d be loath to ask these actors to hold back whatsoever from such a fervent recreation.

Lest I misidentify Ellis as the only worthy player here, I am happy to confirm the discovery of a magnificent cast who drove the brilliance of this contemporary Hamlet. First, kudos to Kassidy Norman who easily steals scenes as unbalanced Ophelia. Her emotional crescendo sent an audible gasp through the crowd. Glenn Silver’s Laertes is jarring, to say the least, as he played such emotional highs and lows with the foil character; the fight scenes he performed with Ellis were authentically like nothing I’ve ever seen on the stage before, and these were most responsible for creating such an air of uncomfortable focus in the stifled room. Mike Johnson’s dual performance as insidious Claudius and the sorrowful ghost of Hamlet’s father was stunning. His booming voice and clear enunciation highlighted his fantastic facial expression, which effectively differentiated the needed dichotomy (I was reminded of wonderful Hollywood and stage actor, Richard Jenkins, easily a compliment in my book for Mike Johnson). Bob Prescott impresses as Hamlet’s conflicted friend, Horatio, enthusiastically providing the necessary characteristics of loyalty, frustration, and disappointment to enhance Hamlet’s dilemma (to underscore the interactivity with the audience, the discarded poisonous goblet nearly landed in my lap, and I was almost compelled to snatch the prop out of the air to assist Horatio’s salvation). Bethany Lee boldly plays naïve and conflicted Gertrude to the satisfying hilt. Jeffry Steven Zimmerman plays a smarmy, chuckle-inducing Polonius, along with a second role as abused priest. Sarah Dwight and William Milhans wonderfully enact the difficult characters of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. Trish Neary and Jennifer Stevens merit congratulations for providing genuinely comic performances as cockney-accented gravediggers. Amy Aurelio is frightening as over-the-top assassin, Osric. Chuckles C. L. Brady, Brittany Bogdan, Chloe Hoeksema, Lydia De Ville, Loretta Moton, Charlie Wimmer, and Rebekah Shepherd round out an impressive cast.

The superb acting and efficient stage movement makes the bare-bones stage production and costume design mostly irrelevant. The props were effectively utilized, and the choreography was nearly flawless, especially with the concluding fencing scene, which literally caused me to seize my chest, as if I was the one being stabbed. I might suggest a higher volume for the original music in future performances, as it was difficult to enjoy the songs between scenes. There were few hiccups with line-recitation on opening night, considering the difficulty of reciting Shakespeare (Glenn Silver did yeoman’s work trudging through what has become the requisite ringing of a cell-phone in a stage production…patrons, leave your cell phones at the door, please!!).

This play is full of moments of levity, uneasiness, and genuinely palpable shock and awe. I admit I was not expecting such a quality performance from a local company, and I am elated to report that this presentation is worthy of a larger venue and audience. I cannot help but fully endorse this rendition of Hamlet and appeal to art-lovers in Northwest Indiana to attend its performance.

Hamlet will be performed at the Crown Point Community Theatre, located at 1125 Merrillville Road, on July 11th-13th, 18th -20th, and 25th-26th, Fridays and Saturdays @ 8:00 pm, and Sundays @ 3 pm. Tickets are $15 and worth every penny. You can find them on the web @ www.cpct.biz or call @ (219) 805-4255. Do yourself a favor and treat yourself to a commendable stage presentation of Hamlet in Crown Point, Indiana, this summer.

Addendum: Hamlet’s Soliloquy

To be, or not to be–that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles
And by opposing end them. To die, to sleep–
No more–and by a sleep to say we end
The heartache, and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to. ‘Tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wished. To die, to sleep–
To sleep–perchance to dream: ay, there’s the rub,
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause. There’s the respect
That makes calamity of so long life.
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
Th’ oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s contumely
The pangs of despised love, the law’s delay,
The insolence of office, and the spurns
That patient merit of th’ unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin? Who would fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscovered country, from whose bourn
No traveller returns, puzzles the will,
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all,
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprise of great pitch and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry
And lose the name of action. — Soft you now,
The fair Ophelia! — Nymph, in thy orisons
Be all my sins remembered.

Works Cited
Williams, Raymond. Keywords: A Vocabulary of Culture and Society. New York: Oxford, 1976. Print.

{If you appreciated this writing and want to help support the continuation of this blog, please consider sending a donation to:

Scott C. Guffey
P.O. Box 53
Michigan City, IN 46360

For a full explanation of author impetus, blog mission statement, and donations appeal, click About.}