Thursday, April 24, 2008

When I grow up I want to be an astronaut

Apathy Jack writes:

How a junior doctors' strike works:

Junior Doctors "We're paid a hell of a lot, but that doesn't take into account the hours we work, or the stresses of the job. We've tried for some months to negotiate, but it simply hasn't worked, so, although we'd rather not, we have no option but to go on strike."


How a teachers' strike works:

Teachers "We're paid... well, a living wage, but really nothing compared to most of the skilled professions out there, and it doesn't take into account the hours we work, or the stresses of the job. We've tried for, well, years actually, to negotiate, but it simply hasn't worked, so, although we'd rather not, we have no option but to go on strike."

Media and Public "Get back to work, you lazy fucking hippies."

Teachers "But..."

Media and Public "What part of get back to work don't you understand? We're sure as hell not going to raise our own children, so get back to work and stop fucking whining."


Yes, I am bitter - remarkably so - thanks for noticing.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Apathy Jack writes:

Alright, so how is it that when I say: “Are you scared of praying mantises?” and the reply comes “Yes.” and I say “Well then you’d better hold still for a minute while I...” – it is taken as time to shriek like an air-raid siren and dervish wildly around the classroom into several desks, the wall and a cupboard?

Seriously, what do these children think “hold still for a minute” means?

(Of course, I understand their suspicion – when I chase them with a bat, angrily yelling “I just want to talk to you!” they know I’m not telling the truth, so it’s easy to see where some confusion may have arisen...)

Of course, I did get to say the phrase “Don’t break the praying mantis!” - which probably very few other people did, so today is a win.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Apathy Jack writes:

So, I’m silently padding along behind one of the students (I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: teachers’ college should make “wearing sneakers to work” a compulsory part of the training...). I’ve decided that this one is going to be a writer, regardless of her antipathy toward the idea, and was waiting for an opportune time (ie when she noticed me and got a fright) to discuss the matter with her.
“Aren’t you late to class?” asked her friend, similarly wagging (and choosing not to reveal my presence).
“Yeah, but I have a reliever, so it doesn’t matter,” replied my one.
A few seconds later she noticed me, and started.
“Sir! Don’t be a stalker! Do you always follow me around?”
“I don’t follow you: I am everywhere all at once, and I occasionally choose to manifest myself where you are. Now why haven’t you entered the short story competition that closes in a couple of days?”
She dithered, before noticing she was outside her class, and hurried in.
The reliever, a woman of advanced years and little humour, demanded to know why she was late. She stammered, and her synapses were firing loud enough to make little cracking noises when a light came on in her eyes, and she said: “I was with Sir, ay Sir?”
“Yes,” I said. “We were talking about how she was entering the short story contest, and how I’d see her entry in the next few days. Isn’t that right?
Again her eyes darted around as she desperately tried to think, before giving up. Her shoulders slumped.
“Yes Sir,” she mumbled, and went to her desk.

This is how all the great writers started, I think. I’m pretty sure Voltaire had a slightly peculiar beardo blackmailing him to enter tupenny/ha’penny writing contests when he were a lad, too. It would certainly explain a lot if he did...

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Apathy Jack writes:

For this scene, the student whose skirt went missing halfway through the period (don’t ask, just don’t ask) will be played by Victim. A guilty-looking student who is suddenly attacked by Victim will be played by Thief. I play myself, sitting tiredly at my desk.

Thief “Hey! Could you do that later? I’m trying to do my work.”
Me “See, that’s interesting.”
Thief “Ack! Leggo! What’s interesting?”
Me “Normally when someone comes over and starts randomly choking you, you might be inclined to say, for example: ‘Why are you choking me?’ To offer a reaction as nonchalant as ‘Do it later’ implies that you know why you’re being choked, and that you accept your guilt.”
Victim “That’s right!”
Thief “Ow, would you let go? Thank you. Anyway, I have no idea where your skirt went.”
Me “Well, could you at least tell her if she’s hot or cold?”
Thief “Yeah, let’s do that.”
Victim “I knew it!”
Thief “Gak! Ack! Play the game! Play the game! Argh!”

It’s one of the reasons I like teaching: the image of the Thief scrabbling against the door, trying to get back in (after I locked them out in the hallway to discuss the matter) immediately before her body is slammed into the door by the Victim and her face smooshes into the glass like in a slapstick movie will linger with me for ages, whereas the two teachers coming to angrily investigate the noise fades like the morning dew...

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Apathy Jack writes:

The scene: Me in McDonald’s making idle conversation with the boyfriend of an old student as I wait for him to stop hugging me. (It’s a thing he does – best not to ask...)

Him “You spilled some hamburger on your book.”
Me “Meh.”
Him “Yeah, I know; you like books that look like they’ve been read heaps and carried around for ages. My girlfriend talks about you a lot. Heaps of topics we talk about come back to you. I know you better than you know yourself.”

I think I’m doing something right...

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Nothing compares to a quiet evening at home...

Apathy Jack writes:

There is a lot I could say about the recent rash of media concerning the terrible culture of violence that is causing so-called ‘fight clubs’ to spring up in our schools, but I’ll leave it at this:

Shut up.

Hoodrat High, as I have mentioned, had a fight club. Three goddamn years ago. (No, really, look here.) It doesn’t have one anymore because these things come and go in cycles; it got boring, so it stopped. It may have started again, and there are certainly videos on youtube featuring my former charges beating the living shit out of one another, but the vast majority of those videos are staged.

What’s that you say? You can tell a staged fight from a real one? Not if the school has a good Drama teacher, you can’t, and Hoodrat’s is the best in the business.

Some of them are real: just like the fights they videoed before the days of youtube were real; just like the fights before they had cellphone cameras were real. Sometimes the fights were to settle disagreements, or to “teach someone a lesson”, or whatever excuse bullying idiots use. And sometimes, they were for the same reason Edward Norton started hitting himself in a parking lot one night after his house burned down: because he had never been in a fight, and wanted to see what it was like in a comparatively safe environment. Boys do that sometimes.

Now, don’t think for a second that I approve of this. I tried to regulate the goings-on at Hoodrat, and even made the odd stab at shutting the damn thing down. However, my efforts were in vain, because, you know, they’re teenagers, and teenagers are weird homunculi composed of sixty-percent hormones and forty-percent not-taking-the-advice-of-people-who-are-cleverer-
than-them, who learn all their lessons the hard way.

Note to parents:

I know your cherubs are lovable scamps who would never engage in anything other than low-level, kids-will-be-kids style japery, but here’s the thing:

Hoodrat had a Fight Club. And a ‘Junior Jackass’ group who videoed themselves jumping off roofs. And a thriving marijuana trade, complete with dealers handing out business cards. And on at least two separate occasions, the space underneath the stage in the hall was set up with mattresses, lamps and video cameras. And don’t even get me started on the amount of sex these children had with strangers they met on overnight field trips. (It was a lot.)

But not your kids. Your kids are angels.

These are not truths that make me happy (I have an emotional investment in many of these violence-addled, sex-crazed lunatics – I don’t want them to engage in dangerous behaviour...) but they are truths. Parents know about ten percent of what I know, and, on a good day, I know ten percent of what is really going on.

The death of that boy recently was a tragedy. I started writing a thing about where the blame probably lay, but hell, it’s obvious that the mother is doing enough of that for everybody – and her son died; she can be cut a lot of slack in that area. But the idea that teenagers might be doing stupid and dangerous things is not news. Think back to your teenaged years; remember exactly how much your parents and teachers knew about what you were doing. The only difference between what you did and what they are doing is that, with the proliferation of cellphone cameras and youtube, parents are finding out about it whenever lazy journalists smell sensationalism.

Is that good? No. Was it good when you did it? Probably not. Is it something we should be concerned about? Probably. Is it the downfall of civilisation? I refer you to my previous point:

Shut up.

Friday, April 04, 2008

The Day Today - 4th April 2008

Sir Arthur Streeb-Greebling writes:

Solidarity brother.

I couldn't stop laughing after reading this opening paragraph...

Once, literary criticism was an elite vocation. Now, writes Martin Amis, we are all critics and in this new democracy, talent and integrity are the losers
Do you agree? Join the debate on our talkboards

The Big Rip gets even more depressing, not only is everything just going to tear itself apart, our ability to work out the nature of the universe will disappear.

In this review, Michael Ruse points why economists can't quite get it right when they rationalise our behaviour down to equations (a debate picked up elsewhere), broadly speaking our brains have not evolved to find the truth, but to survive - a subtle but important difference.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Apathy Jack writes:

Sometimes I wonder if I’m doing my job properly.

Then, as I’m trying to choke a girl with cerebral palsy while an autistic student clings to me yelling “Caveman! Caveman! Caveman!” - I know that I really, really am.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Apathy Jack writes:

“Sir, what’s up with you?”
“In what way?”
“Well, it’s like something really bad happened to you in the past, and you’re still carrying it around inside you.”
“You’re sure it’s not just that you and your peers are capable of triggering spontaneous post-traumatic stress disorders?”
“No, see, it’s obvious that you care a lot inside, but you don’t want to show it on the outside.”
“I don’t care on the inside. In the black, dead space where my heart used to be, there is only hate. Hate for you. All of you.”
“I haven’t figured you out, Sir. It’s like when you do the working on a Maths problem, but you put one decimal point in the wrong place or something, so you know you’re really close to the answer, but it’s always just beyond where you can see.”
“What you mean is that every time you think you’ve got the answer, I go and change the question?”
“Yeah, that’s it!”

It’s taken me almost a year. But I can finally get some decent conversation out of these students...

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Well, I can't let that go...

Josh writes:

OK, turns out they've pulled the post. Nevertheless, Steady Eddy at that Whale Oil place is, not to put too fine a point on it, a cunt. Not to mention a shockingly bad liar. (Lying's an honourable pursuit, but when you're that shit at it, it's just insulting. Which I guess was the point, but in a different way. Now I'm confused, damn it.)

Still, nothing better for site than a blog war I guess, so I'll just say that while I can't prove that Steady Eddy throat-fucks aborted cow fetuses while Whale Oil masturbates watery grey semen into a duck's rectum, I've never heard them deny it...