Wednesday, August 31, 2016

"Duck Town" -- Preparing for Lift Off

It happened yesterday.

My agent (aka the coolest person in the publishing business) completed her submissions list and sent "Duck Town" out into the world.

As we speak, my little graphic novel is waiting to appear on someone's computer, laptop, or iPad -- and hopefully the tale of Rainbow and her family will win their heart.

Now only time will time whether "Duck Town" finds a home. I did my best, now the book needs to find its own nest.

 "Duck Town" has been submitted to 13 editors. And 13 has been my lucky number ever since my daughter was born on Friday the Thirteenth. We will probably know within two weeks... Maybe sooner -- which is kinda terrifying.

For example, Abi has already received her first response. It was a "NO." (A nice, friendly "no," but still a "no" is a "no.") The reason was simple: the art style. So, that could be a big stumbling block. I'm the first to admit my drawings don't compare with the true masters children's book illustration. Still, I have hope that someone will look beyond the simple drawings and find a story worth sharing.

Keep your feathers crossed.

A Busy Fall Semester

There's been a lot of stuff happening the past seven days, and time has gone by so fast I haven't been able to blog about it...

For the most part, I have been busy with school. The new semester is cruising along -- a lot of great students, good writers and critical thinkers.

My classes are a bit more crowded than I would prefer because I added all of the waitlist students.

It's also going to be a busy semester because of some administrative duties: curriculum, tech review, tenure committee, a hiring committee for a new English instructor, and in September I'm going to be evaluated by my colleagues, as well as the new dean.

Then, there's my girls... Emily is taking an art class and an algebra class in college. Mackenzie is taking a PolySci class and a literature class. Plus, they've git added duties at karate because they are training the younger students.

Then, there's theater stuff. Chris Flowers and I are still developing the script for our old time radio comedy. We will be having our first table read (with multiple cast members) this week.

Around the World in 80 Days is going well. The cast is very sharp, and this week we are starting to put some of the tables, chairs and set pieces into the mix.

That's been my life in a generalized nutshell. Trying to think... What else has been going on... ?

We watched "You've Lost that Loving Feeling" at the Canyon Theatre Guild. A full house. The audience gave them a well deserved standing ovation. That's about all of the leisure time I recall this week.. I've hardly been watching anything, just too busy I guess. I have been watching some of Louis CK's stand -up comedy. It seems when I watch him for an hour or so, I start at act and talk he does, at least in my own pathetic way. It's weird how the media can rub off on you.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

"A & P" by John Updike

Tomorrow, our class will be discussing the oft-anthologized short story: "A & P."

Lots of students find this story interesting and amusing. Some students hate it -- or just don't get the point.

To me, this story resonates because I freshly remember those days of working in retail, working with customers and idiotic co-workers, ringing people up, and listening to complaints. Some of those teenage jobs were more wonderful than horrible -- such as working at the movie theater or working at Disneyland. All of my jobs during my young adulthood were bearable -- with the exception of one.

There was one job in which my employer was verbally abusive. She called me "dead brain" from time to time. She claimed that her ten year old son had a higher level of maturity (and to be fair, perhaps she was correct -- but she didn't have to be so mean about it.)

After six months of working for her, she decided I wasn't competent enough to deserve 8 dollars an hour, so she was going to dock my pay down to $6.50. When she told me that, I took my lunch break and then I never returned.

Have you ever walked away from a job? (Or have you ever wanted to?) What's the worst you ever felt while at work?

Oh, and if you are interested, here is the link to John Updike's "A & P." 

Saturday, August 20, 2016

English 1B - Schedule (Fall 2016)

Spent most of my Saturday finalizing the Reading / Assignment schedule... Here it is!

English 1B – Course Schedule

Aug. 22nd (Mon): Discuss online stories:
             “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson
            In Class Reading: "The Story of an Hour" (98-101)

Aug. 24th (Wed): Discuss: “A&P” STORIES (460-467)
            Hero Character Workshop (Bring in an example of a hero character.)

Aug. 29th (Mon):  Discuss: “A Rose for Emily” STORIES (133-143)
            Discuss: “I’m a Mad Dog Biting Myself for Sympathy” STORIES (126-133)
            Workshop: Psychological Criticism

Aug. 31st (Wed): Discuss: "The Yellow Wallpaper" (STORIES) (150-167)
            Discuss “The Chrysanthemums” by John Steinbeck (STORIES) (448-458)
            Workshop: Feminist Theory in Literature

Sept. 5th (Mon): NO SCHOOL (Labor Day)

Sept. 7th (Wed): Discuss: “A Hunger Artist” by Franz Kafka (STORIES) (218-228)
            Discuss “A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings” (STORIES) (143-150)
            Magic Realism Workshop

Sept. 12th (Mon): Fiction Mini-Exam
            Discuss: "Winky" (STORIES) (423-437)
            Peer Review: Bring Draft of Short Story Analysis
Sept. 14th (Wed): Antagonist Workshop
            Bring in discussions notes / example of a villain from literature or film.
            Discuss: “A Cask of Amontillado” (STORIES) (390 - 397)
            Discuss: “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?”
                        (STORIES) (316-333)

Sept. 19th (Mon): Short Story Analysis Due
            In Class Reading: "Trifles" (PLAYS)

Sept. 21st (Wed): Mid Term Preparation    
            Discuss "Uncle Ben's Choice" (STORIES) (3-8)
            Discuss "The Swimmer" (STORIES)

Sept. 26th (Mon):  Mid Term – Short Answer Essays

Sept. 28th (Wed): Poetry Overview / Bring Poetry Textbooks
            In class Reading: Billy Collins poems (POEMS) (64-69)
Oct. 3rd (Mon): Classic American Poetry
            Discuss Robert Frost: (POEMS) (119-124)
            Discuss Emily Dickinson (POEMS) (80-84)
            Discuss Langston Hughes (POEMS) (170-173)

Oct. 5th (Wed): Poetry and Art
            Discuss William Blake Poems (POEMS) (31-34)
            Discuss Edgar Allen Poe (POEMS) (248-253)
Oct. 10th (Mon): Workshop: What Makes a Sonnet?
            William Shakespeare’s “Sonnet 18"(POEMS) (276)
            John Keats’ “When I Have Fears” (POEMS) (181)
            Thomas Hardy’s “Hap” (POEMS) (135)
            Gerard Manley Hopkins’ “The Windhover” (POEMS) (161)

Oct. 12th (Wed): Poetry Mini-Exam
            Poetry Workshop -- Part One

Oct. 17th (Mon):  Poetry Workshop -- Part Two
            Bring an introduction / thesis statement of your Poetry Essay

Oct. 19th (Wed): Poet / Author Seminar #1

Oct. 24th (Mon): Poet / Author Seminar #2  

Oct. 26th (Wed): Peer Review - Bring Draft of your Poetry Essay

Oct. 31st (Mon): Discuss: "Young Goodman Brown" (STORIES) (167-180)
            Halloween -- Bring a creepy story / poem to share with the class.
            Creative Writing / Flash Fiction Workshop
Nov. 2nd (Wed): Poetry Essay Due
            Watch Film: The Importance of Being Earnest

Nov. 7th (Mon): Workshop -- Creative Writing Activity / Playwriting

Nov. 9th (Wed): Discuss Act One and Act Two of A Doll's House

Nov. 14th (Mon): Discuss Act Three of A Doll's House

Nov. 16th (Wed): Read the first 30 pages (or more) of one of the following plays:
  • A Raisin in the Sun
  • Oedipus the King
  • Death of a Salesman
  • Fences
  • Wit
Nov. 21st (Mon): Finish reading one of the above plays of your own selection.
            Group discussions or plays
            Workshop: Combining Literary Criticism with Biographic Research
Nov. 23rd (Wed): Outlining / Essay Development Workshop

Nov. 28th (Mon): Final Prep: Discuss “Cathedral” (STORIES) (61-76)
            "Everyday Use" (STORIES) (469-478)

Nov. 30th (Wed): Final Prep Part Two: Discuss "Hills Like White Elephants"     (STORIES) (180-186)
            Discuss: "The Things They Carried" (STORIES) (333-351)

Dec. 5th (Mon) Peer Review - Bring Draft of your Drama Analysis Essay

Dec. 7th (Wed): Final Prep Part Three: Discuss "The Gift of the Magi"
            MLA Check -- Bring your latest draft of your essay.
            Discuss Handout: Short Answer Essay Questions for the Final

Dec. 12th (Mon): Final In-Class Essay
            Drama Analysis Essay Due

Today's Creative Projects: 

Do gardening and yard work count as creative? If so, I was creative for about an hour this morning. 

I'm also planning out some of the scenes from the tail end of Act One for "Around the World in 80 Days." 

Friday, August 19, 2016

Developing a New Schedule

Hey, English 1B students, if you need the links for the short stories, here they are:

Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery"

Guy de Maupassant's "The Necklace"

Today was Day 2 of Fall semester, 2016 edition. I'm teaching only one class on Tuesday and Thursdays -- so when I don't have a meeting, it's going to be a rather light day.

Our English 1A textbook this semester is the Third Edition of The Seagull Reader: Essays.

You can order it new on Amazon for $31... Not bad. I'm sure it can be a bit cheaper if it's used... but remember, sometimes when you order the used books on Amazon, they send you to another merchant -- and sometimes they take weeks and weeks to ship their order. 

The book is still relatively new to me. This is my second semester since its publication, so I'm still testing out some of the new articles. I'll have a brand new reading schedule by the end of the weekend. 

Today's Creative Projects:

I figured out how to compress my PDF files so all of the chapters can be contained in a single file (only 78 MB). (Sent the new, sleek Duck Town files to my agent.)

Cheri and I had another good day at rehearsal. We are about fourteen pages from completing the blocking for Act I. 

Leisure Time: 

I watched Star Trek Beyond!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

First Reading Assignment - English 1B (Fall 2016 - Day 1)

Greetings class. This semester, I will be using this blog a(s well as out D2L page) to record supplemental course information. Occasionally I will post helpful links and articles. I also might share some of my thoughts on the literature, but I'll try to keep my ramblings to a minimum.

Normally, we will be reading stories, plays, and poems from The Seagull Reader:

It's a three-book collection containing the following volumes:

However, because many of you might still be scrambling to get these textbooks, the first reading assignment will be a pair of stories you can read online.

Here are the links to each story:

Story #1: "The Lottery" by Shirley Jackson

Story #2: "The Necklace" by Guy de Maupassant

As you read each work of fiction, ask yourself the following questions:

What is the conflict of the story? (Or -- Is there tension in the story? What is the source of the tension?)

What do I think is going to happen? (What are my expectations?)

Do I feel sympathy for these characters? (Why / why not?)

What happens at the end? (How do I feel about the ending?)

Feel free to use your journal to record your thoughts. We will discuss your responses to the story on Monday, August 22nd. There will probably be a quiz on one or both stories.

That's A Wrap! (Summer - Day 90)

Today wasn't exactly a summer vacation day, but it wasn't exactly the first day of school. Today was a flex day, which means that the staff and faculty attend meetings, tinker with their office, reconnect with colleagues, and brush up on their syllabi. It's not all boring stuff, though. They did feed us a BBQ lunch. And there were cookies!

It was a long drive from Moorpark, thanks to the 4 o'clock traffic. Fortunately, I will be leaving the campus earlier on most days.

I made it home just in time to go to our second day of rehearsals for Around the World in 80 Days. Two cast members couldn't attend but we still managed to block the first twenty pages. We're off to a good start... and a good ending, apparently, since summer is officially over. Back to work!

Prepping for Work (Summer - Day 89)

Well, it's just about time to say goodbye to summer vacation. It has been fulfilling, eventful, and fun. But now it's done.

Today (Monday Aug. 15th) I got the car washed and vacuumed. I organized some of my office and gathered up the necessary school supplies, school attire, school lunches. Basically, I did everything to get ready to go back to school -- which reminds me of a wonderful picture book about a teacher who isn't sure if she's ready to return to the classroom...

It's called "First Day Jitters" and it's one of those genius books that I wish I had created. A must read for new teachers.

In the evening, Cheri and I held our first rehearsal for "Around the World in 80 Days." Just a table read, but we got good vibes from the cast. I think it's going to be a fun show.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Laser Tag!!! (Summer - Day 88)

I like how I'm getting in a few stereotypical summer activities like beach days, hanging out with friends, and laser tag.

Today we journeyed to our friends in Orange County. It's one of our nephew's birthdays -- so we celebrated by eating lunch at The Olive Pit, and then blasted each other to bits in laser tag.

I was pathetic the first two rounds, but I adopted a better strategy on came in second place during round number three.

The place is called Laser Quest, and the maze inside is really cool -- dare I say, totally radical?

We drove home listening to Hamilton, and then took the dogs for a walk. They seemed rather lethargic after moping around all day by themselves. 

Our nephew up in Washington called us to practice his new job: selling knives. We didn't buy any, but hopefully we helped him by listening to his sales pitch. 

Sunday, August 14, 2016

A Day at the Beach (Summer - Day 87)

Emily and I went to the beach with friends from karate. We went to Ventura's Marina Park. (I got lost a couple times on my way there -- went to the other beach about a mile away by the harbor.)

I finished reading Ready Player One. I'm not sure if it will make a great movie, but it was a fun, engaging read.

I've been writing in my journal, prepping for the upcoming semester. (Also trying to figure out better ways to market my writing.)

The big news of the day... my knees are totally sun burnt! (That's what I get for actually wearing shorts.)

The fun thing that happened at the beach: I brought my trusty shovel and started digging a hole in the sand. After ten minutes of work, all the kids came in and took over the whole operation. They made themselves a nice little pit. Fun was had by all.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

The Right Stuff (Summer - Day 86)

After we dropped off the girls at karate, Cheri and I had a date at the bookstore. (Barnes and Noble is one of our favorite places to hang out.) She found a pair of The Fault in Our Stars t-shirts on sale for 2 bucks each. (They are for the girls... Cheri and I won't be wearing them around town together, so don't worry.)

In the evening, Cheri, Mackenzie and I watched The Right Stuff.  (And I don't think it impressed them as much as I remember the film impressing me. Maybe it loses something with it's long running time and small tv screen?)

Still, I think it;s a great flick. I've seen it many times in my youth, and I love the way it keeps going back to Chuck Yeager -- one of the greatest pilots in history.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Anyone for Tennis? (Summer - Day 85)

Emily and I decided to use our local tennis court for the first time this summer. We are really bad, but it's so much fun. However, we decided the next time we would use the court would be during the evening. It's too hot!

Oh, yesterday, the girls watched "As Good As It Gets." They liked the movie but didn't like seeing Jack Nicholson and Helen Hunt become romantically involved.

 Today, they have been watching 90s / early 00s TV -- Friends and Scrubs.

Cheri and I held our call backs at the Canyon Theatre Guild. We've got our cast! Six people with good chemistry and great acting chops. I think it's going to be very fun!

I've got a hundred pages left on Ready Player One. And Emily and I are now three episodes into Stranger Things, a show that becomes more engaging the more you watch it.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Relaxing Before the Big Return (Summer - Day 84)

So far, this has been a slow-paced relaxing week... which is just what I need before the semester begins. I've been reading, drawing (a cover for Duck Town), and going through the audition sheets. (We'll be having call-backs on Thursday).

And I watched the Americans amaze the world in the Olympics games -- mainly the women's beach volleyball.

Cheri and I met with a college guide to talk about her potential plans for the future. Very exciting stuff! She received lots of great advice and information. I don't want her to fly away from the nest, but at the same time I can't wait to watch her soar.

Emily and I watched the second episode of "Stranger Things" -- a show that totally reminds me of 80's film-making, such as Poltergeist and E.T. (I'm going to have to find out who these Duffer Brothers are, I guess I'm out of the loop.)

And, of course, we watched a couple more episodes of My Little Pony. (This does not make me a Brony. I am just watching it to support my daughter's interests.)

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Second Day of Auditions (Summer - Day 83)

This evening another group of wonderful people arrived at the theater to read from the script, Around the World in 80 Days. It's going to be such a fun show...

But the not-so-fun part is that there are only five to six people in the show, which means that most of the people who audition won't get cast. :(

Cheri and I streamlined our list, and we'll be meeting with some people again this Thursday for a call back, of sorts.

Emily is very excited because Season Six of My Little Pony has just been released on Netflix.

I am almost finished with the Author Questionnaire. Slow and steady. 

And speaking of slow, I'm still reading this book... 

I'm taking my time, but I should be done before the school semester begins... and then it's back to academic stuff! (You know, like Charles Dickens and Stephen King.) 

Oh, I almost forgot... We met with our friend Keri at Stonefire Grill. I had my usual: 

Keri will be working as our assistant director, possibly even our stage manager! We're lucky to have her on board. 

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

One Week Left (Summer - Day 82)

It's Monday, August 8th -- I have just one week left until it's back to the grindstone.

Today I continued to work on the Author Questionnaire. I'm embarrassed that I don't have any media contacts to list... although I'm going to reach out to Facebook. Perhaps I have some I'm not thinking of...

What else did we do... ?

  • watched bits of the Olympics (including water polo, volleyball, and twin diving)
  • met with a sales/repair guy & discussed getting a near air conditioning system from Costco 
  • decided we are getting the new system on Aug 19th (HWHL)
  • dropped the girls off at karate (Kenzie first day back at the studio)
  • attended a Board Meeting for the Canyon Theatre Guild
  • watched a new Netflix show called Stranger Things (intriguing first episode)

Monday, August 8, 2016

Around the World (Summer - Day 81)

Today I began to work on my author questionnaire for my upcoming picture book, Around the World in a Bathtub.

It might surprise you that I don't like writing about myself. At least not in an official business/marketing sort of way. So I only got about halfway through the question material before I just needed to stop and take a breather. Hopefully I'll finish it tomorrow.

While I've tinkered with that project I've also been watching the Olympics. I'm so thankful that NBC has offered live coverage on their website, because we don't have cable anymore. The downside is that if we want to watch the Olympics as a family we need to gather around the office computer... but it's better than nothing!

The big event of the day: Cheri and I held auditions for Around the World in 80 Days (lots of global titles, no?). Twelve people showed up... but because we have only five roles to fill, that's not a bad amount. Hopefully we'll have at least that many on Tuesday's audition. It should be a fun show. Very imaginative.

Speaking of which, we watched The Little Prince on Netflix.  It was an intriguing and ultimately engaging adaptation with an entirely new story built around it (and I was surprised that it worked so well).

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Back from Space! (Summer - Day 80)

Okay, maybe not back from outer space... but she's back from Space Camp!

We're so proud of her... and so happy that she has returned home. Mackenzie won the Right Stuff Award -- a very prestigious accomplishment considering how many amazing young people are also deserving of such an honor. (But it's no surprise to us -- we always knew she was awesome!)

What else did we do today? Well... most of our day was preoccupied with Kenzie's arrival. (She didn't get in until 10pm at night.) But we did pass the time by working on our yard -- which is very dead and very dry. I also worked on "Around the World," read a couple chapters of Ready Player One, and met with Randy and Chris to continue our work on the Radio Play.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Prepping for "Around the World in 80 Days" (Summer - Day 79)

August 5th... Today Cheri and I stopped by the Canyon Theatre Guild. In addition to picking up some stuff from our mailbox, we also walked around the stage and talked about potential ideas for our upcoming show, Around the World in 80 Days. It's a lively adaptation of Jules Verne's classic. Hopefully we will rise to the material.

I'm thinking of using some shadow and animation effects, but I've got very limited resources on this ol' computer. With a little luck, I'll be able to find an assortment of geniuses at the theater who will know how to bring to life what I'm thinking of...

Oh, yesterday Emily and I watched "Suicide Squad." Wacky -- and strangely paced -- plot holes aplenty -- but we had a great time watching it, regardless.

Emily did something very Californian. She hanged out with her friends at the mall. Cheri and I did something very suburban; we had a lunch date at Peiwei.

Mackenzie's last official day at Space Camp was today. (She'll stay the night and fly home tomorrow. We can't wait to see her!!!) They had a graduation ceremony and they selected her to receive the RIGHT STUFF AWARD for the Advanced Academy cadets. We're so proud. I'll post some more photos of her adventures very soon, but for now, here's what her team wrote on the final day of camp...

"We are team Copernicus! Starting as a team full of nerds from all over the country, we've become family over this long, 12 day journey. Forever in history, we will live down as one of Space Academy Advanced Elite's most epic team. Thanks to our crew trainers who helped us though this milestone of an adventure, and nurturing our passions to always reach for the stars above." 

In the evening, we treated ourselves to Dairy Queen. I had a Butterfinger blizzard, the ladies had buster bars. Then, we watched the opening ceremonies of the Olympics on our computer. 

I've been reading Ready Player One. It's the ultimate geek-dream-come-true. 

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Summer Vacation Highlights (Summer - Day 78)

All right, people -- time for a slide show. Here are some of my favorite moments from my trip to Washington state.

We arrived at the end of June and were greeted by this beautiful view. This is my mom's place on Camano Island, our home away from home.

Meeting the neighbors.

Tons of Bald Eagles in this area called Barnum Point. Here are a few of them disguised as my family. 

Lake Chelan combines scorching hot temperatures with freezing cold water.

Spencer the Therapy Dog may need therapy after this.

We ran in the warrior dash. I may not have had the fastest time, 
but I definitely had the cleanest T-Shirt

Mucking about in the pond at Sun Country Golf Course.

Visited our Canadian friends!

Played Canadian Frisbee (or they just stared at an invisible hummingbird, I can't recall which)

Emily's new hair color.

Mackenzie's new job.

Two Arch-Geeks and their family.

Aqua-Sox! Minor League Baseball at it's best! (And cousin Kayla is down there dancing to YMCA!)

Attended yet another sporting event (very unlike me). At this one, cousin Cameron was a referee for a Sounders soccer game! PS -- Soccer fans scare me.

Mackenzie got her senior photos taken... Chase the dog looks quite noble here, 
but don't let the image fool you. He's a dum-dum. 

And we met a new member of the family. Our new nephew-dog, Kato!

It's been one of the best summers ever. And still 13 more days of left for me -- man, do I feel blessed.I better make the most of it.  Carpe Diem!

Back to Duck Town (Summer - Day 77)

With Cheri's blessing and encouragement I have spent practically the entire day working on a new scene for Duck Town. My agent is very excited about the work, and suggested two ways to enhance the emotional conflict within the graphic novel -- so I've taken her ideas and I've been running with them.

I must say, it feels so good to be drawing Duck Town again. I hope this book sells... and my not-so-secret wish is that a publisher likes Duck Town so much they'll want to create an entire series.


Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Back in California (Summer - Day 76)

Two weeks of summer vacation and then -- BOOM -- it's back to work for me.

I'm going to miss all of this wonderful free time, but I am looking forward to teaching again. (I love to talk about composition and literature -- if only there weren't all of those pesky papers to grade.)

Today was our first full day back in he land of heat. It actually wasn't as hot as I feared... Only in the low nineties. But the house is stuffy amd the AC doesn't work properly. And our yard is dead. The grass has packed up and moved somewhere cooler.... Perhaps Hell.

I had a dental cleaning today, which always depresses me before (due to anticipation) and after (due to the shame of lackluster flossing).

The rest of the day, however, was encouraging and productive. I am adding several new panels to Duck Town, based upon my agent's sage advice. These extended scenes will add a bit more pathos.

Cheri and I watched Game of Throne, episode one of season two. I hope these characters will recognize their differences and many similarites and learn to get along with each other.

13 Hours on the Road (Summer - Day 75)

Whew! I'm sitting on my couch in California. It's 11pm, but it's still hot... Don't want to think how warm it will be tomorrow.

Yesterday we drove from Camano Island to Canyonville Oregon. We stayed at the Seven Feathers Casino -- which is an awesome hotel for dog owners.

On the road, we listened to our recently purchased soundtracks once again:

Into the Woods
Jane Eyre
Kinky Boots

Lots of mixed cds too, along with The Beatles, Indigo Girls, and High School Musicals Parts One and Two!

"We're all in this together!"