Saturday, December 11, 2010

Stand by Me

(Adapted from a post I started way back before Thanksgiving and just got around to finishing).

Just got done watching the movie Stand by Me.  I’ve seen it a hundred times, it always leaves me feeling a little sad, empty, nostalgic and happy for the friends I had as a kid.  I’ve had two best friends in my life, both named Ed, one in Mass and one here in Utah.  They helped me navigate my way through childhood and adolescence, from the day I met the first one in kindergarten to well past my high school graduation.  I have no idea what happened to Ed the first.  It was over thirty years ago when I last heard from him and at the time he was homeless in Minneapolis.  I invited him out to Utah but he never showed up.  I still talk to the second Ed, he’s a professor of Psychology in a state nearby.  We get together every time he comes into town, once or twice a year, and it’s just like old times.

Stand by Me is a movie made from the short story The Body by Stephen King.  Stephen King is one of my favorite writers, I’ve loved almost every book of his I’ve read.  I hear a lot of people berating his work as being too horrific, too mechanistic, too predictable, among other things I can’t remember offhand.  I’m not a writer, English was my weak subject. (For all the people who tell me ‘Oh, I hated Math’ or ‘I suck at Math’ when I tell them what I do for a living, I tell them ‘back at ya, except for me it was English’.)  So I’m not going to argue those points, or his work on any literary level.

Why do I love his work?  Because, in my opinion, his characters and character relationships are phenomenal.  “IT” is not about a clown that terrorized a town every 50 years, it’s about a group of kids that had to deal with something profoundly terrifying, and then grew up to have to deal with it all over again.  Half of the book Cujo is about what is going on in the dogs mind, how the rabies distorts the dog’s view of things.  Dead Zone delves into the age old question “If you knew what Hitler was going to do and had the chance to kill him before he did it, would you?” and the experience of being (figuratively) thrown 20 years into the future.  Survivor Type (which still gives me the willies) is about how far a human being will go to survive.

Stand by Me is not about finding a dead body.  It’s about 4 twelve year old boys, the last week before they start junior high, and how they deal with life, death, bullies and each other.  That last line of the movie always gets to me, just makes me a little bit nostalgic.


Alexia said...

Standing ovation for this post, Max.

Most years I teach 'Stand By Me' as a film study, if I have a Year 10 class. (NZ Yr 10 = your K9 maybe? 14/15 years old, anyway).

I love, love, love this film, and so do the kids. They TOTALLY relate to it. And each time I watch it I see something new.


Max said...

Alexia - Seems like we are teaching the same age kids. 14/15 is exactly our 9th grade, which is what I'm teaching this year. But since my subject is Math, I don't get to teach too many movies. It's good to know that someone is using that movie as a teaching tool.

Karen S. said...

Thanks for finishing this piece Max it is outstanding and all spot on! Also Stephan King for those afraid of his style in books, I have always enjoyed reading his articles in the Entertainment Magazine.......he is and always will be an excellent writer! I'm still piecing together hard copies of his books from a series of his for my son-in-law....some people (my kids) just crave the hard copy of some stuff...funny isn't it!

A Paperback Writer said...

Why, Max, you just did a book review!!! I think my influence has been rubbing off on you!!
Gold star to you! :)

As for Steven King, since most of his books are the sort that give me nightmares, I generally avoid him, not because I think he's a bad author but because I don't need the nightmares. And, of course, most of my students can't read anything that hard, nor would I assign his works, as some parents would absolutely freak out, so King remains one of those writers about whom I've heard much but about whom I actually know very little.

By the way, I still think you'd enjoy some of Ian Rankin's crime fiction. :)

Max said...

Karen - Bravo! There's nothing like a hard copy of a book, holding it in your hands, turning the pages. I had the opportunity to try out a Kindle a couple years ago and ended up returning it within a month. It just isn't the same, and it's not because I'm a technophobe. I'm glad you showed your kids the value in the printed text!

Max said...

Writer - A book review? Oh crap, I never meant to do a book review! I thought I was just doing a movie review. I guess you are influencing me.
As for the nightmares, I had a waterbed when I read IT, slept on the couch for a week after that. Someday, after I'm done with Gulliver's Travels (a book I'm reading for the book challenge at school) I'll have to try one of Ian Rankin's books.

A Paperback Writer said...

Rankin's a bit more current than Swift and rather easier to read. :)

Max said...

I'd hope so. Swift's writing is, hmm, how can I put this nicely, quite annoying?

Alexia said...

I don't often teach kids that young, Max - most of my time is spent with the older ones. But this year I had 4 hours a week of the Yr 10 kids. It sounds as if your system is quite different - do you spend all of your time teaching one age group?

PBW: I LOVE Ian Rankin's books :D

Max said...

Alexia - We have our grades split into three different schools; Elementary (usually grades Kindergarten through 6), Middle (??), and High School (9 through 12). Middle School depends upon which school district you are in, it can be 6,7&8 or just 7&8, or like my school which has 7,8&9, even though 9th is actually a high school grade. Elementary school teachers are usually assigned to one grade, but in both the secondary schools teachers can be teaching any and/or all of the grades in their school. This year I'm teaching all Algebra classes, which means my students are all 9th graders with a few 8th kids sprinkled in the mix. When I taught at the high school I had kids from all 4 grades there, 9 through 12.It really depends on what school you teach at, what subject you teach, what you like to teach and what you're endorsed to teach.

A Paperback Writer said...

And, Alexia, for comparison purposes, I teach 5 classes of 7th grade English (ages 12-13), one class of 9th grade English (ages 14-15), and one class of creative writing to all three grades (so, I have kids from 12 to 15 in the same class, but it's okay because it's not a core subject and they're all well-behaved because they CHOSE that class).
I know things were quite a bit different in the Scottish school system (I did my master's degree at the University of Edinburgh.). For example, it strikes me as very odd indeed that primary school kids in Scotland -- if they don't switch schools for whatever reason -- have the same teacher for 6 years for all subjects. I don't think that's a very good idea at all because every teacher has strengths and weaknesses, and if the teacher moves up with the kids, the kids will get all the teacher's weaknesses.
Perhaps sometime on your blog you could give an overview of the NZ system so we could understand it better.
Also, glad you like Rankin. I've met him a couple of times, since he lives in Edinburgh. I used to see him Sunday mornings in the park when I was walking to church.

Alexia said...

Thanks for the explanations, both of you. It's really interesting to see how different systems are structured.
I guess you both know already that our academic year runs from February to December. So we have just finished for the year. Yay!

In New Zealand kids begin school in Yr 1, at 5 years old, and finish at the end of Yr 13, when they're 18. In the majority of places we have Primary Schools (Yrs 1-8) and Secondary (9-13). The latter are called High Schools or Colleges. In some larger cities there are Intermediate Schools (Yr 7-8), and there are a very few Middle Schools appearing (7-10.)

Primary teachers tend to specialise at one level - for example my daughter taught Yr 1 until she started having her own kids a couple of years ago.
In High School the normal teaching load is 20 hours per week (out of 25), for people who don't have any other responsibilities. Next year I will have 4 classes: a Y13, a Y12, a Y11 and a Y10. Each class gets 4 hours a week. The extra time is for the other jobs I do ( and it's never enough!)

In Australia the system is pretty similar except that kids don't start school until they're 6, so their last year at High School is Y12.

Hope this all makes sense :)

Max said...

It never occurred to me that you would have a different school year, Feb-Dec instead of our Aug-June, but when you think about it, it does make sense.
We do have the kids in school about the same number of years, from 5 until 18, but what you call Yr 1, we call Kindergarten. 1-13 vs. K-12.
Thanks for the info - I like to see how other countries do things differently, and the similarities.