Kiki de Montparnasse

20130625-194929.jpg

This graphic biography is fantastic. It’s well-researched and the story of how Alice Prin became the Queen of Montparnasse in Paris in the the 1920s is shown and told beautifully. The French model, nightclub singer and painter, whose face and body were immortalised in works by, among others, Fernand Léger, Maurice Utrillo and Man Ray, with whom she had a long and complex relationship. While Kiki’s story is populated with artists and notoriety, the grittier side of her story is unfolded here too. While I love graphic novels, I sometimes think they’re over too quickly but this one kept me going for the best part of a week.

Here’s a short introductory video on the book.

The Great Gatsby

Current media is awash with all that’s Gatsby-related. We’ve studied the novel with Form V this year. It’s a novel that, although short, is packed with elusive insights (something that Luhrman’s film, although admirable, completely fails to capture).

If you’re a Gatsby enthusiast then it’s worth looking at Sarah Churchwell’s new Careless People: Murder, Mayhem and the Invention of The Great Gatsby

So, to get back to basics, here’s the opening page of Fitzgerald’s original manuscript and that unforgettable opening line, ‘In my younger and more vulnerable years…’

20130612-102651.jpg

Murmuration

20130418-170943.jpg
Vincent Sheridan is an artist whose work I’ve admired for years. His prints often depict birds roosting (a familiar sight and sound in Co. Wicklow and the Dublin mountains in autumn). This is a print (10/40) entitled Murmuration I. His work is showing now in The Draíocht, Blanchardstown and features an animation of starlings roosting filmed in Mullingar by the artist: Animation to Murmuration

Sonnet 116 by William Shakespeare

20130323-145628.jpg

My brother is reading this Shakespeare sonnet at my wedding a week today.

SONNET 116

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.
Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle’s compass come:
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

Word(s) of the Day

20130310-201715.jpg

‘Word of the Day’ is a great little teaching tool. Putting one up in a corner of the whiteboard each day and getting the students to write them down when they arrive is a good way of settling things early! End of term crosswords can be made up using definitions of the words as clues. Chocolate as a prize hasn’t failed yet…

Here’s some useful (and underused) adjectives.

Adamant: unyielding; a very hard substance
Adroit: clever, resourceful
Amatory: sexual
Animistic: quality of recurrence or reversion to earlier form
Antic: clownish, frolicsome
Arcadian: serene
Baleful: deadly, foreboding
Bellicose: quarrelsome (its synonym belligerent can also be a noun)
Bilious: unpleasant, peevish
Boorish: crude, insensitive
Calamitous: disastrous
Caustic: corrosive, sarcastic; a corrosive substance
Cerulean: sky blue
Comely: attractive
Concomitant: accompanying
Contumacious: rebellious
Corpulent: obese
Crapulous: immoderate in appetite
Defamatory: maliciously misrepresenting
Didactic: conveying information or moral instruction
Dilatory: causing delay, tardy
Dowdy: shabby, old-fashioned; an unkempt woman
Efficacious: producing a desired effect
Effulgent: brilliantly radiant
Egregious: conspicuous, flagrant
Endemic: prevalent, native, peculiar to an area
Equanimous: even, balanced
Execrable: wretched, detestable
Fastidious: meticulous, overly delicate
Feckless: weak, irresponsible
Fecund: prolific, inventive
Friable: brittle
Fulsome: abundant, overdone, effusive
Garrulous: wordy, talkative
Guileless: naive
Gustatory: having to do with taste or eating
Heuristic: learning through trial-and-error or problem solving
Histrionic: affected, theatrical
Hubristic: proud, excessively self-confident
Incendiary: inflammatory, spontaneously combustible, hot
Insidious: subtle, seductive, treacherous
Insolent: impudent, contemptuous
Intransigent: uncompromising
Inveterate: habitual, persistent
Invidious: resentful, envious, obnoxious
Irksome: annoying
Jejune: dull, puerile
Jocular: jesting, playful
Judicious: discreet
Lachrymose: tearful
Limpid: simple, transparent, serene
Loquacious: talkative
Luminous: clear, shining
Mannered: artificial, stilted
Mendacious: deceptive
Meretricious: whorish, superficially appealing, pretentious
Minatory: menacing
Mordant: biting, incisive, pungent
Munificent: lavish, generous
Nefarious: wicked
Noxious: harmful, corrupting
Obtuse: blunt, stupid
Parsimonious: frugal, restrained
Pendulous: suspended, indecisive
Pernicious: injurious, deadly
Pervasive: widespread
Petulant: rude, ill humored
Platitudinous: resembling or full of dull or banal comments
Precipitate: steep, speedy
Propitious: auspicious, advantageous, benevolent
Puckish: impish
Querulous: cranky, whining
Quiescent: inactive, untroublesome
Rebarbative: irritating, repellent
Recalcitant: resistant, obstinate
Redolent: aromatic, evocative
Rhadamanthine: harshly strict
Risible: laughable
Ruminative: contemplative
Sagacious: wise, discerning
Salubrious: healthful
Sartorial: relating to attire, especially tailored fashions
Sclerotic: hardening
Serpentine: snake-like, winding, tempting or wily
Spasmodic: having to do with or resembling a spasm, excitable, intermittent
Strident: harsh, discordant; obtrusively loud
Taciturn: closemouthed, reticent
Tenacious: persistent, cohesive,
Tremulous: nervous, trembling, timid, sensitive
Trenchant: sharp, penetrating, distinct
Turbulent: restless, tempestuous
Turgid: swollen, pompous
Ubiquitous: pervasive, widespread
Uxorious: inordinately affectionate or compliant with a wife
Verdant: green, unripe
Voluble: glib, given to speaking
Voracious: ravenous, insatiable
Wheedling: flattering
Withering: devastating
Zealous: eager, devoted

BlaBlaMeter – how much bullshit hides in your text?

This bla bla meter is a brilliant tool. I look forward to using it in class. The plan is to get students to copy and paste in chunks of text (their own, Austen’s, Shakespeare’s…) and see how they fair. Then we’ll try and figure out how the system works. Watch this space at the end of the week for a report on how it goes. Reflective practice, tick!

This (below) was once a big blank page. Better before or after?

20130306-075255.jpg

Down with Procrastination

20130225-105917.jpg

This is one of a number of illustrations by Cap Cheah on the Behance Network that encourages just ‘getting on with it’! They’re good for: a slideshow when pupils are entering the room and getting settled; classroom posters; getting pupils to write about which image they find most effective (good for toning that vital comparative writing muscle); and spotting typos (there’s one with the third image).

And they work as a gentle reminder to teachers to get on with that marking. Two birds, one stone.

Have a look at them here: X out Procrastination

Macbeth, Cambridge Edition for iPad

20130221-083517.jpg

Big Blank Page highly recommends this app version of Shakespeare’s ‘Scottish Tragedy’. The app contains the full text with audio, visual, a comprehensive glossary, and notes. The text scrolls automatically as the lines are delivered in audio, so it’s a dream to use projected onto the board in class. Mock marking is also made easier as all words are searchable and the quote you’re looking for appears in a split second. It’s a bit more than the average app (€12) but less than the paper version and well worth the €uros. Also available in the series are: Romeo and Juliet, A Midsummer Night’s dream and Twelfth Night. More are in the works. Have a look here.