Did you ever start thinking about something, and then discover, five minutes later, that that thinking led you to someplace COMPLETELY different but entirely connectible? The other day, for example, I started thinking about Mr. Chili’s impending month-long trip to New Mexico for another instrument launch. That started me thinking about what we can and cannot bring on airplanes. THAT thinking led me to thinking about water bottles, which got me to these (which my sister hooked me on to and which I love, despite their hefty price tag. Honest to Goddess, People; black flask in a black car in a parking lot in August for two hours while I watched a movie. I came out and the tea inside was still refrigerator cold). I went from Mr. Chili’s trip to my favorite beverage in three steps. Kinda like six degrees of Kevin Bacon…
So, here’s the scene, okay? I’m on a lunch date this afternoon with my boss, whom I call Carrie here. She’s awesome; smart, funny, and fiercely passionate and committed about what we’re doing. She’s a truly amazing boss – the best I’ve ever worked with – and she’s also a dear and trusted friend; we know, almost instinctively, how to balance the friend relationship with the work relationship in a way that makes both relationships better. We have a blast every time we’re together, and I’d been looking forward to this lunch for a couple of weeks.
ANYWAY, we’re having lunch and talking alternately about home things and work things. At one point, we started talking about the fact that I’ve got Mac now, which means that I can teach electives this year. We’re trying to decide which elective I should teach when, and we got around to the fact that my colleague is teaching his film appreciation class this term, so I’ll teach my Film and Lit class in second semester. What, then, to teach starting in September?
Somehow, the conversation came around to the fact that Carrie and her daughter sat down to watch Interview with the Vampire the other day. It seems that her kid was quite ticked off at Claudia’s fate, and Carrie spent a good bit of time explaining that her daughter felt that Claudia’s death was completely unfair. That somehow led to a conversation about who the villains really are, which led me to observe that our villains change over time; when we were kids, all the bad guys were Russians. Now, they’re all Arabs. We go through phases in our entertainment; we get a bumper crop of football movies, then a run of mobster movies, then we get the alien invasion flicks, then we get the supernatural, ghost-and-vampire films, and so on and so on. What is it, I asked, that makes a certain genre of film so accessible at a certain period of time?
As I was making my case for the cyclical nature of our entertainment choices, Carrie’s eyes got big. “I KNOW!” she said, “YOU need to teach a seminar on aliens and vampires!”
I swear to God, that’s really what she said.
Do you see now why I love working for/with this woman?
We spent the rest of the meal discussing what that course would look like. I rattled off a bunch of stories that could be the foundations for the course – Dracula, of course, and War of the Worlds – and things like Contact, Alien, Men in Black, and Star Trek set up alongside Dracula, The Lost Boys, Buffy, Blade, and I am Legend. The objectives would include an investigation of the stories’ history in popular culture and possibly some investigation of some of the earlier treatments of the genres, some critical analysis of the parallels (if any can be found) between the number of pieces in a genre during a particular time and the sociopolitical climate during that time, and some sort of creative component in which the students fashion a story (or a play or a skit or a mini-series) that uses one of the genres to interpret a current issue, like immigration, civil rights, or international diplomacy.
You should have seen us, geeking out over dessert, imagining how much pure FUN this class will be. I’m off to write a course description; I’ll post it here when it’s ready. Any thoughts, suggestions, or advice you can offer are, as always, gratefully accepted.