Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Subbing at South Gate High

Right now I’m sitting at South Gate High School. I’m “teaching” 9th graders. Their assignment is to find the definitions of a list of words and write them down. Tough stuff. Then again- one girl asked me what “antagonize” meant. She pronounced it “anti-ganize”.

So here I am. Not much to do. I tried reading for a bit but I was starting to dose after a while. Next I have lunch and then I will be showing a video ominously labeled “ENRON”, which I’m sure will interest the kids for the 92 allotted minutes.
Yeah. Sure it will.

Since I started this blog I’ve been posting close to once a day- which has left me with very little to talk about at the moment. I’m even tapped out on my always stimulating thoughts on music and what I am currently listening to. Wait- hang on…

Okay. I had to tell the kids to “lower it” which sounds just as authoritative as you’d think.

I’m not looking forward to lunch. Peanut butter again. Also the remnants of confetti sized chips located at the bottom of the “family size” bag of Doritos that has been filling sandwich bags for my lunch for the past two weeks. Then I have a couple of malformed fun size Twix bars that I bought thanks to an early Halloween candy sale.

I wonder why they call them “Fun Size”? It seems to me that to most kids, the idea of a candy bar being “fun sized” would translate to it being abnormally large. Personally, I don’t think that it being half the size of a regular or “less fun” version would qualify as something to be excited about. But maybe that’s just me.

Finally, the complete my lunch is a small bottle of Orange Gatorade. I think it was meant for kindergarten aged Soccer players and T-Ball games. It, like the rest of the contents of my lunch was on sale. Little midget Gatorades, dwarfed in my hands as if they were regular sized and I was just a giant. Like the candy bars, this too has an odd label emblazed across it: “ALL-STAR SIZE!” Apparently everything that is on sale at Vons is either much smaller than its regularly priced counterpart or much much bigger (in the case of the freakishly large bag of Doritos that is apparently capable of feeding an entire family).

I have been taking place in a war for the past few months. Someone is buying every single package of the tuna fish that I like. The little drain-free pouches of “chunk-lite” tuna in water. Every time I go to the grocery they are out. Sure, they have PLENTY of the pouches of tuna in sunflower oil or the albacore kind- both of which have the taste and consistency of cat food- but someone buys the tuna I like by the gross. Plus they NEVER get a new shipment in. When they do, within a DAY it is immediately exhausted. It sucks because I know that due to the many other styles and brands of tuna available, it looks, to the untrained eye as though there is enough tuna options to feed a small finicky army but the kind I like is ALWAYS gone. I must not be the only one. But what I am trying to figure out is whether it is just one or two other people- or whether everyone is like me and finds tuna soaked in sunflower oil as repulsive as if it were soaked in vomit. The oil just gets all over your fingers and gives the tuna the odd after taste. As though I chased it with a bottle of Crisco.

I find it amusing how often I have to pretend that so much of this school crap matters. I was just interrupted by a young girl asking me if she should staple just the two worksheets together- or all three. If not, should she staple just the first two and then paperclip the last one to the others? This kinda thing happens a lot and it is important that I nod thoughtfully before saying whatever option pops into my head first as though it were almost Biblical.
“Hmmm. Well, let’s go with just stapling the vocabulary but I’ll just collect all three at once.”
“Oh- so… Just the vocabulary?”
I can tell by this girl’s voice that she has the wrong idea.
“Well- just staple the vocabulary, I’ll be collecting it all but you only need to staple the vocabulary together.”
“Oh, okay. So just staple the vocabulary.”
“So we don’t need to hand in the other stuff?”
“MISTER!” I hear from across the room. “Do we have to hand in everything?” says a kid wearing a single iPod earphone “covertly” like he’s fooling anyone. But before I can answer the girl at my desk turns to him and yells:
Sigh. And then I have to explain it all over again. This time with the use of monosyllabic words, physical demonstrations and explanatory hand gestures.

I can’t figure out where the problem lies- am I just really bad at this? Are the kids really this dumb? Or perhaps the problem is really just laziness. They would rather not pay attention for a long enough span of time to understand what the directions are- opting to waste far more of not only their time but my precious sanity as well. Granted the “stapling” question plays a factor, something that I should have foreseen and just asked that they hand it all in.

Most of the class will not hand anything in at all. This is typical. Probably because the kids know that none of the work that they do today will matter- or even be looked at,. Let alone be graded. I wonder if this upsets the teacher at all though. The knowledge that when they are absent that the kids know to disregard any plans the teacher may have made- no matter how well meaning or well planned they were. Do they blame me? Think I’m a sucky sub for not getting on them more? I hope not.


So, lunch was as much of a disappointment as I thought it’d be. I’m now in period 3 (of my 4 hour and a half long classes). We’re watching the “Enron” video- which is predictably one of those “Scandal of the Week” movies that CBS used to make. It’s terrible. The dialogue, the acting… everything. It’s called “The Crooked E.”

In one scene two characters kiss and immediately one of the kids shouted “he’s gonna get laid!” and the class erupts in laughter.

Some woman is speaking with the most fake southern accent I’ve ever heard. Isn’t a southern accent like the easiest accent ever?

Making these kids pay attention to this is a losing battle. Anyone could see that. Why did this teacher think these kids would care about Enron? Even I don’t care about this and I’m not an 11th grader surrounded by peers and members of the opposite sex while drowning in hormones. Plus everyone of them has iPods and cell phones and PSPs and Sidekicks. How can this humble Enron video compete?

It seems strange but I’ve counted now and this class room has four- yes FOUR “Hair” posters. Presumably because she is either a very big fan or the play or an ex cast member. Possibly both- but then- who’s really a fan of “Hair”?

In the movie, there is a meeting of Enron employees, their middle management boss is explaining what the company does saying: “So say your company goes bankrupt- what do you do? We’ll, that’s where Enron comes in. We insure your company so that the fall out isn’t so bad.” To which, the young new upstate askes “What if Enron goes bankrupt?” The group goes silent- the boss somewhere between severly confused and intensely upset- but before the upstart can be answered, he smiles and yells in someone’s face: “Ya-haa!” to, I guess represent the company’s devil may care, impervious machine attitude. He is then told by his boss to: “Get outta here you crazy kids! GO MAKE SOME MONEY!” Subtle. Very subtle.

Oh my gosh- Brian Dennehy plays someone named Mr. Blue. This is awesome.

It gets better. Shannon Elizabeth plays the part of “Courtney” and she is- as expected, amazing.

The upstart just made a 50 million dollar deal. Everyone in the film seems to care- but in a way that seems so totally unconvincing.

Some security guy just took half of my class, saying that they wouldn’t be coming back today. Weird.

Uh oh. The upstart is getting cocky. He just bought an expensive car. His wife Courtney has a bad feeling. He tells her: “Honey, don’t be silly! Enron?! We’re UNSTOPPABLE!” But the camera lingers on Courtney as he walks away- her face shows concern… and what do you think this ominous music could mean?!

The upstart just closed the big deal. He’s singing “Taking care of business” victoriously.
The kids seem to like this for some reason.

Some handicapped girl came in with a helper and told me that she’s supposed to be my ‘assistant’ but then about 5 minutes later left. Her helper told me that she was feeling dizzy. What was that all about?

Its kinda funny when a student looks to me and tells me: “I don’t get this movie.” To which I say, “well, have you been paying attention?”
“Well, it might help if you did.”
“No. I’m just not gonna do this” she says, pointing to the video worksheet.
What do I do in this situation? I don’t really know. So I just shrug and say “Alright, well you’ll only get a zero.” But really, what does that mean? She won’t get a zero. A zero in what?

UH OH! All the employees are investing in Enron. The music is pretty scary. This can’t be good. None of the class is watching or cares even a little. I can’t say that I blame them. Why are we even watching a movie about Enron in an 11th grade English class?

The upstart is staring to put Enron’s doomed future together. It’s all coming together. This movie has me hooked. It’s so much better than I was giving it credit for- even Shannon Elizabeth deserves an Oscar! I’m so glad that I get to watch this whole thing again next period. SO GLAD.

Brian Dennehy is back. You can tell that he is embarrassed to even be in this flaming turd. He’s been in it for a total of 3 minutes so far. Three pride swallowing minutes to be sure.

The upstart got mad that Courtney didn’t understand virtual assets. She just called him a virtual ass. Ouch.

I wonder if in a film like this is really good acting might stick out and actually seem really bad. I can’t imagine a great actor reading these lines and not looking stupid. Only bad actors seem to be able to read them and make sense. What a strange conundrum.

What the crap?! The upstart is realizing he’s screwed and behind him is the sound of slowed down demonic laughter. What is going on?!

Enron just collapsed- but the upstart made up with Shannon Elizibeth to the tune of cheesy country music. I guess it all turned out okay. That’s nice.

The movie ended. The credit music was a bad cover of that Pink Floyd song “Money” – how appropriate. How expected. How cliché.

The period ended to. I got back 3 worksheets out of 22. Swell.

Now a new period. A new viewing. I can barely contain myself. I get to follow the adventures of all of my old friends at Enron. Yipee. But in all honesty, I can’t wait to watch the demonic laughter scene again. Heh.

Well- as scintillating as I’m sure this blog has been for you I think I’m gonna wrap it up.

Blah blah blah.

Sleep well.



skye said...

ummm, do i need to fly down there and personally make you healthy lunches everyday? sheesh.

wow, that brought back a lot of memories of watching movies in highschool. though that movie didn't really seem like it touched on the true demon of enron...

steve said...

whats up joe! switch to wordpress! anyway, hope things are going well in LA!

steve o