I’m certain you’ve noticed something strange:
I’ve posted nearly every weekday for the past two weeks.
This is no accident, as I signed up for WordPress’ course Writing 201: Poetry.
And then something miraculous happened: it snowed. Twice. In two weeks. Snow is rare enough in my particular part of North Carolina, and you can just forget having two snow storms literally back-to-back. But it happened.
As a result, in the last two weeks I’ve only taught two full days of school, with three more shortened due to various circumstances. Oh, and President’s Day weekend turned into a mini Winter Break: with school being closed due to the holiday, we dismissed on a Friday and returned the following Thursday. Suffice it to say I had plenty of time to work on my poetry, resulting in the following attempts:
However, I did more than just write. I also went out in the snow, and I almost regret it.
You see, I grew up in Pennsylvania – a place where snow is slightly more common. My birthday falls in December, meaning I quite literally learned to drive in snow. People here . . . did not. Look, it’s not an intelligence thing, it’s an ignorance thing. Why should people used to warm-ish winters and hurricanes know how to deal with snow? Conversely, why should people used to snow know how to handle hurricanes? Do we even need to bring up the damage and loss caused by Hurricane Sandy, which – bad as it was – could have been mitigated had New England taken the same precautions the South does for nearly every tropical storm?
Anyway, I had the bright idea to go to Redbox “before it got too bad.” Two weeks ago I wouldn’t have risked it; my so-called “tires” were nearly racing slicks. Now I’m driving on my first new set of tires ever (thanks to the generosity of a student and his family), so I felt much more confident: I had top-shape equipment and experience and knowledge in driving in snow. What could go wrong?
Other people. Other people could go wrong.
1. Unless you really have to go somewhere, don’t drive. Your inexperience may be more dangerous than the weather.
2. Please scrape off your entire car, not just the windows. Blowback happens.
3. Turn on your lights.
4. You cannot drive at speed.
5. You cannot stop on a hill.
5a. Parking brakes are a thing – use them.
5b. More gas is not the answer.
6. You cannot take corners at speed.
6a. Don’t try to beat the light.
6b. Hard braking is not the answer.
6c. More gas is not the answer.
6d. When you end up in the ditch, more gas is definitely not the answer.
7. Have I mentioned turning on your lights and driving slower?
My round-trip was less than six miles. In those six miles I counted many cars without their lights on and most driving at speed, which resulted in two cars crossing the center line, two sliding backwards after stopping on a hill, and one spinning out in a double-wide turn lane after trying to beat the light. This particular car then ended up on a curb, tried the “more gas” method to get off the curb, and nearly slammed into my car in the resulting slide. The only thing that saved me was my own light turning green – the skidding car stopped in the space I had just vacated.
Four things prompted my flirtation with death:
1. I didn’t want to pay late fees on the Redbox movie I already had – I think it was Boxtrolls.
2. I had just recently watched the Academy Awards and wanted to see Whiplash.
3. My wife wanted to see Book of Life.
4. We wanted ginger ale.
Just to be clear: none of these are worth dying for.
Nevertheless, both Whiplash and Book of Life were good movies. Since Whiplash was nominated for – and won – several Academy Awards, I wanted to write my own mini-review:
Summary: An ambitious young jazz drummer meets an equally ambitious studio/concert band leader; ruthless physical and mental exertions and exhortations result, finally culminating in a mostly-cliché showdown.
Positive Reaction: I can see why Whiplash won Academy Awards for Film Editing and Sound Mixing.
Negative Reaction: This movie is not about jazz in particular or even music in general. I found the story somewhat compelling but for a movie ostensibly about music and jazz it felt . . . soulless. I could go on, but I’ll just direct you to this article from the New Yorker which, in the interest of full disclosure, I found after I’d formed my opinion and wondered if anyone thought the same thing; I hadn’t really heard of Whiplash until the Academy Awards.
Book of Life may be the best animated film I’ve seen; I don’t normally like animated movies, but this one grabbed my attention from the beginning and held on for the whole run time. The fact the film includes several popular songs which I happen to enjoy didn’t hurt its appeal either. It’s well worth the dollar or so Redbox charges to rent a copy.
So, that’s what I’ve been up to. You can expect some more posts from me over the next four weeks as I participate in another WordPress course: Photography 101.
Oh, I almost forgot to explain the title: it’s an anagram of the three (main) subjects of this post: poetry snow whiplash