30 April 2010

Coraline by Selick, 2009

Filed under: Movies — ktismatics @ 2:31 pm

There are plenty of captivating images in this movie…

…but from the first few minutes we started getting creeped out by its personal uncanniness. The film’s premise is that the kid, Coraline, gains access to an alternate reality through a portal in her house. Evidently this portalic transport is mediated by a doll given to her by a new friend’s grandmother — a doll that looks just like Coraline. As we start watching we soon discover that Coraline…

… and her doppelgänger doll…

…have blue hair. That’s funny: Kenzie has blue hair. Then we see the dad writing something on his computer. He’s wearing a Michigan State sweatshirt.

That’s funny: I went to Michigan State. There’s a black cat — we have a black cat. The town where Coraline lives is preparing for the Shakespeare Festival — we just received our local Shakespeare Festival brochure in the mail yesterday. Extra-diegetic music in the film is provided by the Children’s Choir of Nice — we moved here from Nice. Hey, wait a minute…

27 April 2010

Universal School

Filed under: Culture, Reflections — ktismatics @ 3:23 pm

Beginnning in the fall, our local school district plans to offer a wide array of middle school and high school courses via the Internet — here’s the local paper’s report. Apparently Boulder is behind the curve on this trend: the article says that, in the past two years, more than 300 students have left the district schools and enrolled in online options offered in nearby districts. Courses and online teachers will be offered through a contract with Aventa, a vendor headquartered in Arizona. According to their website, Aventa has offered e-courses to over a thousand school districts nationwide.

“Eventually, Boulder Valley wants to have its own teachers instructing the online courses, according to assistant superintendent Pilch. “But right now, we are not ready to do that,” she said. The district has projected enrollment in the new online school to be the equivalent of 75 full-time students next year, Pilch said. That could be a combination of part-time and full-time students. “Those numbers are probably low,” she said. Pilch said online learning is “not for every student,” and district officials work with students up front to make sure they can succeed in an online course. “We want them to know that online learning engages students for just as many hours and at the same level of rigor as brick and mortar school,” she said.

During the current economic downturn schools here and throughout the country have confronted lower operating revenues. Salaries have been frozen; teachers and support staff have been let go. It seems almost certain that a single online teacher spends less time per student than does a classroom teacher, meaning lower per-pupil cost. The move to online education seems likely to continue, resulting in significant permanent losses of jobs and the individuation of what has traditionally been a communal educational experience.

Soon the Boulder Board of Education will be asked to approve the “Boulder Universal” proposal. I wonder what the teachers’ union has to say about it?

26 April 2010

Kenzie Gallery

Filed under: Reflections — ktismatics @ 10:28 am

It’s been quite awhile since I put up any of our daughter Kenzie’s art. Here are some of her most recent pieces.

“The Empress” (watercolor)

Untitled (pastel)

“Aspettativa: Fanatica” (tempera)

“Aphrodite” (acrylic)

Untitled (tempera)

25 April 2010

Fantastic Mr. Fox by Anderson, 2009

Filed under: Movies — ktismatics @ 4:11 pm

21 April 2010

Geographic Blog Dispersion

Filed under: Reflections — ktismatics @ 8:35 am

For free, Sitemeter maintains a running summary of the last hundred visitors to the blog, showing when they arrived, what page they clicked in on, and where they (or, more accurately, their ISP addresses) are located geographically. Sometimes I scan this list looking at the places and wondering how these people happened to show up at Ktismatics. Here are some of the latest 100 visitors:

Sao Paulo; Calcutta; Setubal, Portugal (I slept in a sleeping bag in a rock quarry in the rain there once); Tel Aviv; Oras, Romania; Chahar, Islamic Republic of Iran, Hebron, Occupied Palestinian Territory; Lenart, Slovenia; Dubai, United Arab Emirates; Toledo, Spain, Kaunas, Lithuania; Yazd, Islamic Republic of Iran; Nova Gradiska, Croatia; Tehran (that’s 3 from Iran, which is pretty typical); Bucharest; Tehran (that’s 4); Athens; (unidentified city), Egypt; Santiago, Chile; Jakarta.

And now that I’ve finished writing this short post I see that Ktismatics’ latest visitor clicked in from… yes, it’s Iran again.

19 April 2010

Daybreakers by the Spierigs, 2009

Filed under: Movies — ktismatics @ 10:04 am

18 April 2010

(Brief Notes On Discipline)

Filed under: Fiction, Reflections — ktismatics @ 9:24 am

The supporting structures have cracked and splintered, the skin is shredded and torn, leaving only the ruins of an extinct medieval animal. Its call, long unheard in the world, echoes in forgetfulness. There remained in this silent world a great and pernicious formula, dangerous, forlorn.

The streets of the city teemed with police looking for crime. To keep the formula from repeating itself, two of the urban policemen bent and snatched it from the bush on which it had been growing, poised on the verge of differentiation, its unknowns about to take on values of grotesque proportion. As the few open spaces remaining in the city began closing in on themselves, the policemen released their grip. The formula, exhausted, fell to the sky, where it exploded into a million points and vectors of unspeakable abstraction.

To this day the celebration continues in minute and meaningless rites unnoticed but by those assigned to perform them.

16 April 2010

That’s Not Very Nice, Missy

Filed under: Culture, Reflections — ktismatics @ 8:35 am

Waiting around in waiting rooms gives you the opportunity to browse through outdated issues of news magazines you’d otherwise never look at anyway. One article from late 2009 cited Christina Patterson, a commentator at the London Independent, who had this to say:

“Sure, America’s got talent, but it’s also got some of the most unpleasant, uncompassionate, unerringly ruthless people on the face of this planet.”

There’s a context of course, but I kind of like it as a free-standing remark.

11 April 2010

Barton Fink by the Coens, 1991

Filed under: Movies — ktismatics @ 9:13 pm

“You read the Bible, Pete?”

“Holy Bible?”


“Yeah, I think so. Anyway, I heard about it.”

4 April 2010

I, Claudius by von Sternberg, 1937

Filed under: Movies — ktismatics @ 7:10 pm

Starring Charles Laughton…

and Merle Oberon…

directed by Josef von Sternberg…

from the novel by Robert Graves…

the documentary narrated by Dirk Bogarde…

… about a great film that was never made.

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