Monthly Archives: November 2008

In which I am a genius of detection (aka Liveblogging my marking).

I caught a plagiarist yesterday. It took me all of 60 seconds. What tipped me off? The fact that there were chunks of text written in a totally different font to the rest of the essay. Look, if these guys weren’t lazy morons, they wouldn’t be plagiarizing in the first place. Part of me likes the challenge of finding a crafty cheater, but hey, I have 100 essays to mark this week, so I appreciated not having to make the effort.

In Pineapple news, he wasn’t in class yesterday. The reason? “I got a new job and thier signing the contracts today.” I am assuming, not a job in which written communications are prominent.

Back to marking. I will update you if I find any more gems.

Update: no gems, but what the heck is with starting an essay comparing two stories with sentences like, “since the dawn of time, when men drew pictures on cave walls,”  or “Throughout time there has always been some sort of a division”? History of the universe: do not want. Some student tried to explain it to me as giving some sort of context to the essay, or getting it into the ballpark. Yeah, but get onto the field, not down the road 2 miles from the carpark.

Marking makes my back hurt. Also my brain.

My life as a Nutcracker.

Okay, look. When kids are involved in performing arts, you have 2 choices. One, let them be kids, in which case they will fuck up, but the audience will say “Aww, look at the sweet little things expressing their creativity”. Two: run your production like a Nazi death camp. StepLadder belongs to a ballet school that subscribes to option 2. Srsly, we are in rehearsal or class at least 3 times a week for the duration. She thrives on it, though. Today, she was all, “look at this,” as she stuck her leg out perpendicular to her body. “Most of the girls in my class can only hold that for a couple seconds. I can do it for ages.” Which she proceeded to do.

I am happy that she is lapping this up, but it does make me into a ballet mom. Just saying. There will be dispatches.

I’ve written about the teacher before, and she really is awesome. Today, she was herding the 5 and 6 year olds who have the parts that last all of 30 seconds, but by gum, they are going to do it right. Srsly half of the rehearsal time is spent getting them to learn their “marks,” so that they are not wandering aimlessly all over the stage. The thing is, they are perfectly capable of getting it, which is a serious lesson in managing expectations. There are schoolteachers who need to learn this.

Generally, during rehearsal or class, I sit in the lobby and knit, which means people feel compelled to make conversation. Ballet parents are not all entirely snobby wankers, although there are a number of those. Mostly what they have in common is that they want their girls (again, I could be PC and say kids, but the gender ratio is like 100:3) to be exposed to music and “high culture” (those are air quotes) and physical activity. Knowing this about them makes them mostly tolerable. Hot topics this afternoon: why my knitting is not crochet, do you give your kid Tylenol for fever, and my that girl from our ballet school who is in So You Think You Can Dance, Canada, is talented, but why is she wasting her time on a show where they make her do a Hip Hop number and then criticize her for not grabbing her crotch hard enough.

The girls are so into The Nutcracker, they are great fun to watch. The ballet company of the school (that is, the core of dancers aged 9-19) make up the bulk of the cast, although they hire a professional dancer to be Cavalier, and then there are a few parents plus all the little kids under 8 in the party scene, and one dad gets to be Mother Ginger, lucky devil.

Because the whole company is doing the whole of the rest of the show, there is a lot less angst about who is Clara, which I find refreshing. They all throw themselves into whatever they are given, and the prized parts are often surprising. StepLadder is hugely delighted to be a soldier this year because “they have swords that look like real,” but the mice (played by older girls) have a better part: more jumping. “The jumping” has been her favourite part of ballet since she was three.

Nutcracker also inspires a lot of the children for the graft that is the rest of the year in ballet, and it gives all of them a rare gift in 21st Century North America where most kids are raised as Speshul Snowflakes who are praised and ego-massaged within an inch of their lives – it lets them experience the satisfaction of working hard in order to do a good job.

Mishmash of nothing much

I have a bunch of thoughts, none of which are particularly edifying or coherent.

Those rat bastards at RYS are “on hiatus”. This makes me want to bite things. Reading RYS is, some mornings, the only thing that can get me into class. Sarcastic Bastard (also a regular RYS reader and contributor) says we should just email them and say if they won’t do it, we will.  Maybe we could start a movement.

For Halloween, StepLadder was dressed as follows:

Which I show you, not just for you to marvel at my skills of a seamstress, but because I wanted to make an observation about old TV. We have Seasons 1 and 2 of The Muppet Show, on DVD, and they are on high viewing rotation. Professor Birkenstock said his kids are absolutely in love with Get Smart, which made me remember how much I loved it when I was 7 or so. My mother was a tv Nazi, and only let me watch one show a day, and that was my show of choice. Recently, I aquired an episode of The Addams Family, which is another one which goes right to the 8-year-old sense of humour, even though it is in – horrors! – black and white.

I like my child to have pop culture literacy, which I think I have observed previously, and it occurs to me that some of these older shows are so ingrained in her parents’ generation, that watching them may give her some insight into why we are so weird. Of course, heaven forbid that I would ever breathe a word of such a thing to her, lest I suck the fun out.

It also tickles me that I can tell her to Kermitflail, and she knows what I mean.

In unrelated pop-culture news:

You don’t have to live in USistan to be delighted and relieved. And a big thanks to Lorelei for the gif which expresses these feelings so effectively.

Finally, some of you may have seen SJ mention that we have made a forum called Uppity Women. If not, oh, hey, we made this really cool forum. Come along and check us out. We talk about feminism and pop culture and all sorts of related (and unrelated) issues.

Coming soon: the tale of the Flasher and the Spitting Boy, and how I made a local Vice Principal pee his pants.