Back to School #1 ... Or "Joey Go to Ghoul"**

** It's a Saunders family reference. Keep reading for the explanation.

It's true. Joey's back in class. Feel free to make your own Rodney Dangerfield reference or Freddie "Boom Boom" Washington quote. Extra credit for friends of Parker Lewis. Just because.

It's been exactly 5 years since my last semester at an institution of higher education. Call me crazy, but I've been missing it. I've always been interested in literature and over the past few years I've found a growing interest in film. So imagine my excitement when I discovered that one of the local colleges was offering a class entitled, "Literature and Cinema: Adapting Books into Film."

Color me intrigued (beige). Maybe there was a bit of apprehension at first. But I checked the list of materials in advance. I'd wanted to read most of the books and hadn't seen most of the movies. Pretty cool, huh?

Well, tonight was our first class. And I gotta say, my feelings have changed completely. After a brief, 30 minute course overview, I can honestly say that I am completely bat-shit terrified. Completely. Terrified. Bat-shit.

I didn't think school could be that different from 5 years ago. The most recent book on the list was published in 1987 and all but one of the film adaptations were made by 2000. So what could have happened to turn academic curiosity into panic and chaos?

Although it's true that I am no stranger to irrational fears of mundane things - stuff like onions, rooms without windows, wet hair and the eyes of video game humanoids. But afraid of learning? An English class? Never saw that one coming.

To keep with the theme of learning, I think the best way to explain what happened is to do this as a multiple choice quiz.

The goal is to pick the actual quote from tonight's introductory lecture. And no, you won't have to memorize any dates. Good luck.

1. "For one of the projects, you will be required to pick a film that was based on a book. For example, you may choose..."

  1. "... The Da Vinci Code."
  2. "... The Bourne Identity."
  3. "... Harry Potter."
The correct answer is c). Did I mention that I minored in English? Despite my childlike adoration for the series, parts of my brain died when I heard this book mentioned for the first time in a university level literature class - let alone as a suggestion for a self-guided project.

2. "Your first assignment will be to..."

  1. "... read the first 5 chapters of The Last of the Mohicans."
  2. "... pick 5 books that have been turned into movies and write a paragraph for each discussing the film adaptations."
  3. "... come up with a playlist of songs for a movie that was based on a book - like, as a soundtrack."
The correct answer is c). Yup. Assignment #1: make a playlist.

3. "Now I hate to be a bit of a stickler, but in order to do well in this class, I must insist that ..."

  1. "... you attend at least 90% of the classes."
  2. "... you complete and submit all assignments."
  3. "... you use your laptops during class."
The correct answer is c). A laptop is required and must be used during class. This is a far cry from the warnings I got during my senior year to the effect of "make sure you shut of your damn whatchamajigger cellphone-telephones."

4. Which phrase is an actual quote from class? Hint: this is a literature class.

  1. "Next class I am going to teach you how to code in HTML."
  2. "You should know how to 'rip' copyrighted material for your own use."
  3. All of these
  4. "I don't expect you to read all of these books. Just try to do some of them."
  5. "Feel free to use YouTube and NetFlix as class resources."

Of course, the answer is c). If you didn't get all the answers, then you didn't grow up on ScanTron - where the only lesson was "you always fill in c!"

I realize the world has changed a lot since I was in college. Back in the archaic days when we thought Intel chips were only for PCs (if you get that joke then we should be friends - I mean, Facebook me.) For example... (cue the harp flashback sound)

  • The U.S. was fighting unpopular wars in both Afghanistan and Iraq
  • Republican senators were making public apologies for saying racist things
  • The Billboard charts were filled with hits from Jay-Z, Kelly Clarkson and the Black Eyed Peas
  • The Phillies - a notoriously conservative team - surprised fans with huge pitching acquisitions - in the offseason! And Allen Iverson was on the 76ers.
  • No intelligent person could understand why NBC thought Jay Leno was a good late night host
It's scary how different the world is.

The set up of this class (which no one else seemed surprised by) is so unlike what I am used to in education. And who would have thought? The key difference I was not expecting: technology. Let me remind you that I work in technology. I read technology articles and keep up on all the latest gadget gossip. I support arguments by hot-linking to wikipedia like a badass mofo. So I figured there was nothing technology-wise that could surprise me. But...

There's a course blog. There are no papers. Just "multimedia essays".

"Nobody just writes Words. Or Sentences. I want you to edit film clips, remix the sound and embed that to explain your ideas."

Back in my day (cue sound of my 18-year old self traveling through time to kick my ass) , we wrote papers. With Words. Sometimes Sentences. All you needed to no how too due was sp3ll, caPita1i$e @nd punctuat3(dot thing)

So at the very least, I recognize that this is going to be an interesting experience. And I'm doing what I expect a 2010 therapist would tell me to do: "Quit bitching to me. Just blog about it. And take this bottle of Xanax. Daily."


I didn't think twice about using the same backpack I had way back in 2005. Until...

"Gape? What's that? Is it French?"
"Umm. It's pronounced Gap. It used to be a really popular - just.. forget it."

Oh yeah. "Joey go to ghoul."

So on my first day of kindergarten my mom is driving me to school and on the way she turns to my infant sister, who is satcheled into a car-seat in the back. She says, "Suzie! Where is Joey going today?" It was meant as a rhetorical question, since the only word my sister had uttered thus far in life was "Mah." And yet, let the record show that my sister's first complete sentence was a totally nonchalant response of "Joey go to ghoul" as she calmly gazed out the window.

My mom excitedly responded, "Susan! That's right! Your first sentence! Yay! But, it's 'school', not 'ghoul'. Say 'school', Suzie. SSSchool."

Mom claims not to remember this next part, but I have a distinct recollection of my young sibling eyeing my mother in the rearview mirror and responding, "I know what I said, bitch."


  1. Your memory notwithstanding, I rather doubt Sue actually *said* that last part, but I could definitely picture her giving an expression conveying that very sentiment.

    Congrats on your re-entry into the realm of higher (?) education. I'm looking forward to hearing more about it.

    By the way, is there a TA? Is he/she cool? 'cause you know, I hear having a lousy TA can just *ruin* a class. :D

  2. Sounds like a very interesting class! One I would enjoy as well as be intimidated by. Enjoy!