Say Something Nice

A project from Improv Everywhere, where they set up a wooden podium and a mega phone in Times Square with a sign that said “say something nice.” The results are quite amazing. Hat tip to Andrew Sullivan’s blog.

It’s Not Easy Being Green

I admittedly was a little too young for the Muppets when they originally aired on CBS in the later 1970s and early 1980s, but I remember watching re-runs of The Muppet Show as a kid, and of course, the various Muppet movies came out while I was growing up. I had an actual record of the John Denver and the Muppet’s Christmas album that I’m fairly sure I wore out my second grade year. (At least, I remember taking it to school with me and we played it in class.) We all learned “The Rainbow Connection” in youth choir. I even, tragically, saw the Muppet Treasure Island movie on date, and yes, it was my idea. I was already ridiculously excited that there was a new Muppet movie coming out, written by Jason Segel. Now, there’s a new album called The Green Album, full of fantastic covers of classic Muppet songs, including “Rainbow Connection” and “‘Bein’ Green,” perhaps one of the best statements of about accepting difference. NPR’ s All Songs Considered has the collection live streaming. The accompanying article does a much better job than I of describing the enthusiasm that this collection enjoins. I’m just all sorts of giddy (though that could also be the coffee.)

And there’s even an OK Go video of them doing the theme song. Pure genius.

First Day of Classes

The first day of school is always both chaotic and slightly dull. You really can’t do more than go over the syllabus and get started with just a little bit of review/overview. Yet, there’s this internal pressure to make everything perfect, as if the first day is really a good measure of the entire tone of a class–it isn’t. I know my students are sizing me up, judging whether or not they’ll enjoy or dread my class. I’m just lucky if I don’t trip in front of them, get too nervous, pronounce their names incorrectly, or have technology fail me. My solution: dress up. If I feel cute and authoritative, then I’m a little less nervous. (Although, I also think the day I start a semester without a case of the nerves might be the day I’ve been doing this too long; and obviously, me writing this posts implies that I’m having my typical first day jitters, so yay?) And I think dressing professionally does a lot of the work of building my ethos for me.  Yet, doing so inevitably freaks first year students out a little bit because they’re not used to teachers pulling out the sartorial stops the first week or two of class. (At least they’re not used to it here; I’ve been other places where not dressing up regularly could actually end up on your student evaluations as a negative.) It all settles out in a couple of weeks as my students inevitably realize that I’m a goofy person and that I’m not going to take their heads off if they ask questions. Nevertheless, I’m sitting here, drinking my morning coffee, in my aggressively cute new dress, wondering how the first day will go. Will I be brilliant? Probably not. No one is on the first day, and really, how dazzling can a syllabus, tentative schedule, first assignments, and initial course questions be? But will I want to be brilliant? Yep.