Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Stuff For Your Brain at RBC

A few things are happening on the Richard Bland College campus that people may be interested in:

  • It's summer. Not much is happenening on campus. I'll update when I can.

Friday, February 22, 2013

What is Mnemosyne (ma-az)?

Mnemosyne, commonly referred to as MA-AZ, is Richard Bland College's art and literary publication. I'm co-advisor, in charge of the wordy stuff (as opposed to the more visual stuff). We are an online publication, found at www.ma-az.org and we accept submissions year-round. The "Literature" page has submission guidlines, but we basically accept anything that has to do with words. Submissions are open to RBC students, faculty, and staff. If you're reading this and you want to submit, send a submission to RBCLitMag@gmail.com or isweeney@rbc.edu. Right now, we need submissions and volunteers.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013


I love brainstorming with others. When ideas bounce around the room, it's completely energizing. To top it off, judging from their blogs, students seem to like brainstorming as well as a learning tool. For fun, I took a photo of the board. It may be hard to see here, but here are some ideas from a "family" paper. Kudos to RBC's sociology classes (and others) for getting some killer ideas into the kids' heads.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

A Good Day to Die Hard: a brief review

I have a long and personal history with the Die Hard films. I'm confident enough in my Die Hard knowledge to even call myself an expert. If you care about reading about how John McClane was like a father figure for me, search "Daddy Die Hard" on Amazon - it's free. For one reason or another (like my age), I never had the chance to see McClane on the big screen. So I have been looking forward to this movie for a long time and I saw the earliest showing I could find.

I read some early reviews of this film and it didn't look promising. Weak story, dull action, too loud...  these were some of the complaints. I don't know, maybe nostalgia works wonders on me, but I liked it. Sure, there were parts that could've been better. I'm not crazy about the scale of the movie; the greatness of the first one was because of the claustrophobic feel, among other things. I'm also less than impressed with the villains in "A Good Day..."; another piece of greatness from the original was its villain, Hans, who is one of the American Film Institute's top villains of all time. And sure, the newest sequel has some weak plot structure, especially the first 20 or so minutes, when McClane goes to Moscow and happens upon his son (and a bunch of stuff blowing up). Perhaps the biggest let down for me is McClane's loss of reluctance. He's always been sort of reluctant to kill people and do what had to be done, but in here, he's pretty gung-ho.

Then there's the good stuff. Some of the action sequences are a hell of a lot of fun. Yeah, they're not all perfect, but they're still fun. The helicopter is way cool (and brings up some memories from the first movie). Some moments even took a sentimental tone, and they worked well. And the one-liners, the McClane-isms, if you will, were funny and well-timed (much of this was missing from Live Free or Die Hard, the previous sequel). I especially liked the famous Yippee ki yay ... because it was preceded by "The things we do for our kids" and followed by a crazy action-movie/superhero-ish act.

In a nutshell, it's not Citizen Kane, or even the first Die Hard, but it's fun, humorous, and it'll probably induce some nostalgic feelings for fans of the previous films. Bruce has still got it.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Blog Talk

Today I was a faculty presenter for the RBC library's brown bag lunch series. I talked about blogging as a teaching tool and a little about my Chronicle of Higher Education blog. Below, I've pasted my notes and links to student blogs (and my Chronicle blogs) I used as examples. If you are a student, you are reading this, and you made the "Blah!" list, try to do better in your next posts. Also if you are student, you are reading this, and you haven't written any posts, get to work!

Here are the notes:

Some Talking Points/Links – Student Blogging


Reading Responses (Journal. Reading for comprehension. Interaction with texts. Thoughts into word form.)


               Not very insightful


Not that innovative:

               Some of my colleagues at JMU used blogs in the classroom

               Here are some other examples with some different approaches: http://freshmanreflections.blogspot.com/ (prof’s blog), http://elaine128.blogspot.com/ (student’s blog for class), http://courses.carrielamanna.com/e501fall2012/ (Isaac, show this one)



-I (and the rest of the college community) get to know more about students

-Know one another and learn from one another. A kind of interaction that isn’t always so easy in the physical classroom.

-Opportunities for shy students to have a say.

-Practice writing. Finding a voice. Putting thoughts into words.

-Responding to each other’s posts (as opposed to a journal that exists by itself)


-Accountability. Involvement from the “whole world.” An author of a story, essay, or article you’re writing about may even read what you’re writing.

-Retention of information (works with physical journals too).

-Can spur ideas for further writing (works in a physical journal too)

-I can sometimes see what people are learning (if anything).

-Less plagiarism.



-It’s hard for me to keep up with all of them, especially comments.

-The usual – people don’t do it or do the bare minimum.

-Public forum, so they may say things that anger others (is this a con?)

-If they plagiarize, could be legal consequences beyond RBC.


-Beyond words (fun pictures and stuff):


Helping each other:


Disagreement among students:


Beyond the walls (ENG 101 and 102 mix a little):


Blah! – short and underdeveloped. Could be more intriguing.


Good – I like all of these, mostly because they provide some insight.



Some Talking Points/Links – Chronicle Blog

-How it started:


Lots of Comments (top five):


Discussion Forums:


Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The Misfit and the cat in cahoots??

Just a fun thing to talk about that I didn't get to with class when we discussed Flannery O'Connor's "A Good Man is Hard to Find." It's possible, based on clues from the text, to connect the cat, Pitty Sing, and The Misfit together. For those who don't know the story, in a tiny nutshell, a troubled family has a car accident and is come upon by an escaped convict, The Misfit, and his two goons. The Misfit and his little gang kill all members of the family (the grandmother, her son, her son's wife, and their three children). The family's cat, Pitty Sing, lives and The Misfit picks him up at the end, presumably to keep him forever.

Here goes:

-In the story, Pitty Sing is kept in a basket (imprisoned), escapes, and causes the car's accident. The Misfit is in prison, escapes, and causes the family's ultimate demise.

-They both snarl.
        --"the basket under it rose with a snarl and Pitty Sing, the cat, sprang onto Bailey's shoulder"
        --"'No pleasure but meanness,' he said and his voice had become almost a snarl."

-And again, Pitty Sing is the only survivor from the car. He nuzzles The Misfit and the Misfit picks him up.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Ending to "Hills Like White Elephants"

Today, I had students write/summarize an ending to the Hemingway story. I wrote one too. I tried to take a picture of it. Let's see if it shows up. By the way, check out the reference to The Glass Menagerie and Tom's "opium dens" speech.