Category Archives: Folks I Loves

Dear Jodie Foster: I got it (and it wouldn’t matter if I didn’t)

Update:  An article today  in The New York Times confirms–Jodie Foster’s REALLY FAMOUS 2013 Golden Globes speech was a scripted speech.  I was right that it felt intentionally structured.  I was right.  Did I mention I was right? Original post below:

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It’s been a long time since I watched an award show, but my husband was getting our son to bed last night, so I got to turn on the Golden Globes, which has long been my favorite awards show because it never seems to take itself too seriously, and just enough big stars always show up to make it fun.

I missed the beginning, so I missed some good Fey-Poehler moments, but thank-you universe, I got to see George Clooney canoodling Amy Poehler during the best actress in a comedy category moment.

And I got to watch all of Jodie Foster’s speech. Live.

And it made me cry. In a good way. Because it’s 2013, I said something on Facebook almost immediately, and then read a comment and HOLY CRAP–that speech was an instant controversy in a way something can be instant controversy only now, with all our immediate access and RESPOND RESPOND RESPOND modes.  I’m glad I wasn’t looking at f.b. or Twitter when she was speaking, because the people complaining might have colored the speech for me.

It’s a pretty Rorschachy cultural moment, apparently. People who watched the same speech I did thought it was incoherent, fragmented, confusing, and inappropriate. On Twitter and Facebook, people have said she was drunk. On drugs. Unhinged. Or sad. Perhaps in need of professional help.

So far, the only article I’ve read that gets it right (from my perspective) is this one from Salon, “Jodie Foster Comes Out, Gritting Her Teeth,” and even there–I thought she was having more fun than that.

In an attempt to figure out why people are responding so differently, I’ve watched the speech several times and analyzed the transcript. Here’s what I think–it was the tone and the pace and the lack of transitions that made people holler “incoherent!” If you watch the speech again, knowing what’s coming, or look at the transcript, it doesn’t seem so wacky. Or even very disorganized or fragmented.

Some caveats for my analysis: I love Jodie Foster. She could pretty much do or say whatever and I would be fine.

Caveat #2: the speech did feel zoomy to me, sort of flight-of-fancy-paced, but HELLO. I like that kind of zooming, that kind of doesn’t-feel-structured-but-it-is feeling.

What did we expect her to do? I suppose we would have expected a brief “thank you, this town has been very good to me, etc.” speech. Something like her Oscar speech, when she won for The Accused in 1988, a 141-word snippet in which she also thanks her mother. She said, “There are very few things: there’s love and work and family. And this movie is so special to us because it was all three of those things. And I’d like to thank all of my families, the tribes that I come from.”

In contrast, last night’s speech was more than 1,100 words. Nearly ten times as long. Lots of time to do lots more.

And I do know from incoherence. I’ve been teaching first and second-year college students for 25 years now. There’s incoherence (no main point, supporting points that don’t match main point, supporting points that don’t connect to each other), and then there’s subtlety.  I also teach creative writing, including creative nonfiction. There are ways to express ourselves that meander, that don’t add up to incoherence. I think Jodie Foster is more akin to Mary Paumier Jone’s “Meander” than a first-year disorganized essay, or a “bizarre” or “incoherent rant,” as many people are labeling the speech.

What she did, as I outline it, is the following:

  • Start with an insider joke (“Well, for all of you ‘SNL’ fans, I’m 50! I’m 50!”)
  • Thank the person who introduced her (“I want to thank you for everything: for your bat-crazed, rapid-fire brain, the sweet intro. I love you and Susan and I am so grateful that you continually talk me off the ledge when I go on and foam at the mouth and say, ‘I’m done with acting, I’m done with acting, I’m really done, I’m done, I’m done.’” MORE ON THIS LATER. IT IS KEY.)
  • Comment on winning a Lifetime Achievement Award (““Trust me, 47 years in the film business is a long time….”)
  • Announce that she is going to pull a rabbit out of a hat (“So while I’m here being all confessional, I guess I have a sudden urge to say something that I’ve never really been able to air in public.”)
  • Thwart our expectations (“I’m single!”)
  • Explain why she’s thwarting our expectations (After a weird moment without audio–I thought it was my TV, but the ABC transcript says “audio went out,” she picks up with “…be a big coming-out speech tonight because I already did my coming out about a thousand years ago back in the Stone Age….”)
  • Comment on culture in a joking way (“But now I’m told, apparently, that every celebrity is expected to honor the details of their private life with a press conference, a fragrance and a prime-time reality show. You know, you guys might be surprised, but I am not Honey Boo Boo Child. No, I’m sorry, that’s just not me….)
  • Comment on culture in a serious way (““But seriously, if you had been a public figure from the time that you were a toddler, if you’d had to fight for a life that felt real and honest and normal against all odds, then maybe you too might value privacy above all else. Privacy.”  That BUT SERIOUSLY does count as a transition, btw.)
  • Impart some wisdom (“There are a few secrets to keeping your psyche intact over such a long career. The first, love people and stay beside them.”)
  • Thank people who have helped her (“That table over there, 222, way out in Idaho, Paris, Stockholm, that one, next to the bathroom with all the unfamous faces, the very same faces for all these years.”)
  • Conclude (“I will continue to tell stories, to move people by being moved, the greatest job in the world. It’s just that from now on, I may be holding a different talking stick. And maybe it won’t be as sparkly, maybe it won’t open on 3,000 screens, maybe it will be so quiet and delicate that only dogs can hear it whistle. But it will be my writing on the wall. Jodie Foster was here, I still am, and I want to be seen, to be understood deeply and to be not so very lonely. Thank you, all of you, for the company. Here’s to the next 50 years.”)

What’s so fragmented about that? Just because she didn’t say, “Next, I would like to comment on culture in a joking way.”  Really? We needed that? “And finally I would like to conclude.”

I always tell students that transitions are for readers. They’re kind. They’re considerate. Jodie Foster wasn’t being so terribly kind and considerate, I suppose–maybe that’s why people actually seem offended by the PERCEIVED lack of coherence. We thought she was nice! We thought she loved us and wanted us along!

One reason I think this seemed incoherent is not because she was incoherent; I think it’s because she is so freaking smart. Who the hell tries to comment on culture and impart wisdom at the Golden Globes? Jode.

I don’t know that we’ll ever know if this was ad-libbed or totally planned or partly ad-libbed and partly planned or how sober she was. We just heard her thoughts on privacy, after all.  But it stands up pretty well to analysis.

And it’s hilarious in some ways, even though people were mostly NOT laughing at the right places (not at the Golden Globes and judging from Twitter, not in a lot of homes).  If we go with the notion that the biggest component of humor is surprise, we can see she was going for it again and again–starting with “I’m 50!” and tossing out the almost Schecky Green style of “my fellow actors out there, we’ve giggled through love scenes, we’ve punched and cried and spit and vomited and blown snot all over one another — and those are just the costars I liked.” (Someone should have done a rim-shot. Maybe if she’d slowed down and said, “bah dum bum” we’d have gotten it, but no, she was ZOOMING.)

Then she moved on  “I’m single” and then with “I’m not Honey Boo Boo,” which, if she’d allowed us to linger, could have taken us to layers upon layers of serious hilarity. Jodie Foster, beautiful, in a shiny dress that matched her great blue eyes, fit, strong, brilliant, no she is not Honey Boo Boo. But wow. If she did have a reality show….But we didn’t get time to picture it and giggle to ourselves because she went zooming on to “I’d have to spank Daniel Craig’s bottom just to stay on the air” (which he did laugh at–another reason to love him).

Then there’s all the deep irony of 1)coming out by thanking your longtime lover when HEY!  You just told us you weren’t coming out!  WAIT A MINUTE!  and 2)sending a message to your mother who apparently has dementia and is close to death, which is a pretty goddam intimate thing to do when you were just lecturing us on PRIVACY, 3)and also, there were your sons, which paparazzi are pretty crappy at grabbing snaps of, beautiful boys, right there at your table when you were just lecturing us on PRIVACY….

[And this actually wasn’t the first time she “came out” in public. I’m looking for the link, but she thanked Cydney publicly at least once before and called her her wife–and if her being a lesbian were a secret at all, it was a pretty open secret. I know some people have been angry at her for years for not “coming out” in a big way, but obviously, she wanted to do it her way.]

Caveat #3: I love Robert Downey Jr’s performance in Home for the Holidays, and Foster’s commentary on the DVD of that movie makes it sound like he ad-libbed almost constantly, and that she loved it.

So maybe I wasn’t as startled at the pace and lack of transitions in the speech because Robert Downey Jr. introduced her. He set the tone, and he set the pace. He was ironic almost all the way through, and silly, and almost no one laughed, it seemed, when he praised her for her philanthropy and the Jodie Foster Aquatic Pavilion, which he followed up quickly with a picture of her face photo-shopped onto Bo Derek’s famous “10” shot, with the caption, “Let’s Get Wet!”

He didn’t pause to let any of his jokes sink in. He just plowed on through.

And when she thanked him, she specifically mentioned his “bat-crazed, rapid-fire brain,” and “the sweet intro.”  You know what? The intro wasn’t sweet. It was, I trust, sweetly intended, since they’re friends, but it was mostly for her I think, an individualized, Robert Downey Jr.-ized chunk of what she would find funny.

She just picked up that baton and ran with it, and if we couldn’t keep up, well–we don’t get to hang out with them, do we? We’re not in their league.

Mel Gibson did look a little lost. I’d rather not be in his category of lost-ness.

But it says something, doesn’t it, that the two actors she chose to have at her table are not known for their clear-headedness and decorum? I take from this that she is loyal as the day is long and she has a fondness for the crazy. Both traits I happen to share.

I did feel dizzy at the end of her speech, no doubt, and the “I may never be on stage again” was a very weird moment, but we got a lot of Jodie Foster last night, more than I ever thought we’d get. Just looking at who was at her table–that was a lot, by itself.

She’s been in the public so publicly, so long, I’m not going to say “we got the real Jodie Foster!” There are layers upon layers upon layers there.

But in a room where she feels at home, where she can take whatever tone she wants and zoom however fast she wants, she ended with good news, “I will continue to tell stories, to move people by being moved,” and what I took to be the storyteller’s basic credo: “Jodie Foster was here, I still am, and I want to be seen, to be understood deeply and to be not so very lonely.”

She finished with “Thank you, all of you, for the company. Here’s to the next 50 years.”

That’s why it matters, right, why it was bothering me for people to react to the speech so differently than I did? Because I was, very distantly, keeping her company. I’m 47. Beginning with her picture on the Coppertone bottle (and I could write a whole blog about Coppertone, the very name working as a transporter, and if I ever smell it–wow, I’m gone), she has been a part of my life.

She was never not there.

I wish her well and I loved, loved, loved that speech.

Zoom zoom!

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UPDATE: Here’s a story from 2007 when Jodie Foster thanked Cydney Bernard. She isn’t quoted as having said “wife,” so I’m either remembering a different story, or remembering this one wrong, but this is from five years ago.

The Year of Buffalo Pokey

An embarrassment of entertainment riches, really.

In less than a week, all within a few minutes of my house, I’ve seen two great plays and one great concert.

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Pokey LaFarge and his horn section.

All that greatness is dizzying, apparently.

In a dizzy moment, I asked the usher to help me figure out where I was sitting for David Mamet’s American Buffalo last night.  She looked at the ticket, here:

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“You’re in Aisle 2,” she said (which was actually the only thing I was confused about–still not quite familiar enough with the aisles in the wonderful Touchstone to know for sure where to go). “Row E, Seat 204,” she said.

Well, all of us looking at the ticket now can clearly see it was Row F.

Imagine if I were sitting near Teach or Donny from American Buffalo.

“Fucking usher,” Teach would’ve said (not taking any responsibility for looking closely at his own ticket).

“Sorry, sorry,” Bobby would’ve said, when the correct inhabitants pointed out they wanted the seat they paid for.

“No shame in a simple mistake,” Donny might have said to himself later in the evening, after moving from Row E, Seat 204, to Row D, Seat 204.

But then what would Teach say, when he realized, after the house manager pointed it out later, that Row D, Seat 204 also belonged to someone else?  And what would he have said when he pulled out the ticket to show the house manager who gently pointed out, “That’s the wrong date.  And the wrong play,” thus:

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Teach would’ve had a manic meltdown; I just felt flustered (the house manager was just trying to figure out what the issue was; she’d found seats for the other people already). I said I’m sorry a bunch & I’ll say it again, to whomever I displaced, “I’m sorry.”

Last night, the second half of American Buffalo almost immediately distracted me from my flustered state.

What a play.

I’m so, so pleased American Players Theatre decided to do Mamet.  And this play.  With these actors, because, of course–Brian Mani is perfect as Donny, put-upon, and too generous, and forgiving in such a complex way we feel equal parts pity and admiration for how he navigates his little world.

And oh, what frightening fun to watch Jim Ridge as Teach.

Part of the pleasure of going to APT year after year is seeing the actors in different roles. As I was driving home last night I was remembering Ridge as Tartuffe–serpentine and frightening and clever.  I think Teach thinks he’s serpentine and frightening and clever, but what’s frightening is how wrong he is about everything, how worked up he is about how right he thinks he is.  Poor Teach–he’s in a play by Mamet, not Moliere.

Awfully nice work, too, by Brendan Meyer, as Bobby.  And once again, I love plays directed by Kenneth Albers.

If you haven’t gone yet, you should go.  Or, to put in Mamet terms, you should fucking get there already. Lots of shows available from now through October.

You should also go see The Year of Magical Thinking.

Aaron Conklin has a fine review that I concur with, on every point.

In my head, I routinely mis-label Didion’s amazing piece as The Year of Living Dangerously, and that’s not entirely wrong. It’s a dangerous place Didion goes to, narrating her harrowing time when she lost her husband and child. It strikes me as dangerous for APT to have chosen the play, given the difficult subject matter. Sarah Day plunges into the danger of the subject matter, of course–courage has to be in the top five features of her mode as an actor.

And it is a dangerous journey for an audience, but it’s not unrelenting awfulness.  It really did feel like a journey, a necessary one.  There is humor and insight, too, but most importantly, I felt different when I left.  As though I had traveled somewhere I needed to go, and that I could now move on.  Kind of like a gentler, prettier Charon taking me partway across the river Styx and back to the land of the living.  A three-hour tour (well, actually two).

Pretty amazing. Lots of tickets available from now until October.

There are no more tickets for Pokey LaFarge, that show is done.  There are plenty of tickets left for other shows at The Sh*tty Barn, however, and if you’re kicking yourself for missing Pokey, you might get yourself a ticket for Nick Brown on July 30. In the venn diagram of Barn Sessions, there’s some overlap between Pokey and Nick in the area of Gentlemen Country/Western Swing styles–a genre I hadn’t realized I was craving until Nick’s show last summer.

I knew I was going to enjoy Pokey’s music, but I was a little nervous it was going to be hipster country, given the theatricality of the photos.  When I told people about him I’d been saying he looked like k.d. lang and Pee Wee Herman had a love child, and I’m not taking that back because it’s one of my favorite things I’ve ever come up with.

But I was happy to find out that k.d. lang was a good call–musically, it was a rich night, and the theatricality was not so much camp as just big, big fun.

The horn section was great:

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And once again, one of the many extreme pleasures of the Barn is how close you are to the performers.  I zoomed in a little, but not much to get this shot of Pokey his own self:

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Everyone should come see great stuff in Spring Green. All summer long.

What’s more bizarre?

First post ever in a new category: what’s more bizarre?

Jimmy Fallon and Terry Crews Nip-Syncing?

OR

a parent calling an employer to protest a child’s performance review?

We don’t really have to decide between the two of course. We live in a weird world and both are real.

But only one makes me happy about how weird our world is.

Nick Fury’s SUV

[SPOILER ALERT: If you have seen trailers for the movie Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” you’ve already seen this scene–I’m not giving anything else away here, other than what Chevy cars show up in the movie.]

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“The air conditioning is fully operational.”

Computerized, attentive, the voice of the Tahoe
recites time estimates and is just being rational,
still gets a pretty big laugh before it’s thrown
in the air and then upside down by a bomb
when it answers Nick Fury’s angry request,
“What isn’t damaged?” The answer then becomes
that Chevrolet is a company he can trust.

Black Widow rumbles in a new Corvette
(though I swear I thought it said Porsche)
and an Impala gets its own solid scene.
This is product placement at its best.

Like Cap himself–it’s honest, direct, authentic,
as up-front as a Silverado truck.

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Maybe I’ve become the ideal 21st century drone–I really don’t even mind the product placement in Captain America. I’m not sure how noticeable it would have been if 1)I hadn’t been trying to think of ways to write sonnets about cars because one of the big drivers for traffic on my blog is people who Google “car sonnet” and land on my category–which used to mean I started writing the sonnet in the car. Which I don’t do any more because it seems really obviously to be a case of distracted driving, even though I was pretty careful to do it only when there was next-to-zero traffic around. And 2)I hadn’t known I was going to see the movie twice, so I was letting myself pay attention to all kinds of everything the first time through.

It certainly wasn’t as awkward as the product placement in Back to the Future. COULD I HAVE A PEPSI?

And though I might be a drone about blithely noticing the Chevy vehicles in the movie, and while I would certainly accept a new Chevrolet in exchange for a fair number of product placements in my poetry, I doubt I’ll buy one. Of the cars I’ve owned, almost all have been Fords or Mercury products:
First car: Mercury Comet bought from my Aunt Toni. It was named Gloria & had a rust disease.
Next car: Mercury Comet bought from my Aunt Becky. It didn’t have a name or rust.
Next car: Mercury Zephyr.
(And then a Subaru Justy, which really shouldn’t count because it had only three cylinders and was totally totaled in a collision that would have caused only minor damage to my next vehicle,)
First truck: Ford Ranger, long bed.
(And then a VW Golf, which, regardless of paperwork, is actually my husband’s vehicle)
Current car: Ford Focus station wagon, silver, stick-shift.

It was my Gran’daddy who made me a Ford fan & that’s as permanent as being a Cardinals fan.
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Here’s a fun article on the product placement which SPOILER ALERT actually does say a couple more things about the movie you won’t know from trailers, and it also has the fun commercial with kids pretending to be Black Widow and Captain America.

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NaPoWriMo stats: I wrote poems on April 1, 2, and 3, but posted only a couple of those. Then didn’t write on April 4 or 5. Then here. Honestly? Not too worried about 100-percenting it. Just glad to write a little more.

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(not sure how to credit this image which is all over & clearly an ad for Chevy & the movie)

(not sure how to credit this image which is all over & clearly an ad for Chevy & the movie)


And you know, really, I’m remembering this car as having rounder front-end and butt. But I’m sure if everyone’s saying it was this car and it’s a Corvette, that’s really what it is and I must’ve just been revising it in my head based on the shape of the woman driving it.

Jimmy Fallon: Happiness Engine

It’s not that I think the Age of Irony is over (if irony didn’t die on 9/11, it can’t die), but something strange is afoot–I’m enjoying comedy bits on TV that are funny…because they’re funny.

What a revelation David Letterman was in 1982–things were funny because they weren’t funny. I was drowsy every morning my junior and senior year in high school because I stayed up for Letterman, and the not-funny=funny spilled over so many places–my dorm’s fundraiser in the Fall of ’83 we had toast on a stick….

I barely ever stay up until 12:30 a.m. any more, and when I do, it’s because I’m grading papers (YES I HAVE A VERY EXCITING LIFE). I still love Letterman in the abstract, but I can’t even manage the 10:30-11:30 CST slot.

However, I have spring break in a couple of weeks, and I’m looking forward to getting to stay up a little later, but sorry Dave–it’ll be the new Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon that I’ll be watching live-ish before I go to bed (instead of on the computer the next day or the next week).

I’m so motivated to watch because the clips I’ve caught have not so much made me laugh out loud (or, as I’m hearing people SAY now, verbally, not type, “LOL”) as they have just MADE ME HAPPY.

The first clue I had that Mr. Fallon was onto something was the verbal hash tag war he had with Jonah Hill. My Mom & I had a conversation about this, in which I was able to explain hash tags to her by comparing them to Library of Congress subject headings (I’d previously explained subject headings to students by saying “they’re like hash tags that old white guys use”).

But here’s when I started to crush on the new Tonight Show pretty hard–Paul Rudd killing it in their lip sync battle.

I’ve watched this so many times. Just–thanks, guys. Wonderful. Just what I needed. Awesome. Every little moment of it. Really.

And here’s when I realized Jimmy Fallon is not just funny, not just really doing great as a new host–

HE IS A HAPPINESS ENGINE.

Idina Menzel sang just fine in the Oscars* and I loved Frozen (happy it won), but this is my favorite version of “Let It Go.” The Roots Crew is so great, and they’re all so happy, and it’s so silly, and it’s just–I watch it again and again.

It just makes me happy.

When I lecture on humor, I point out that one of the categories of humor is delight, or childhood wonder–that humor doesn’t have to involve aggression or meanness or irony. It seems to be Jimmy Fallon is trafficking pretty heavy in delight.

I know he did a lot of these things on his other late-night gig, but I’m just now seeing people post them all over Facebook, and I know for a fact my Mom never watched him before he took over for Leno–so, wow.

Keep cranking it out, Mr. Happiness Engine. So happy to be happy out here where it’s still winter.
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Proof I need a Happiness Engine–here’s what winter does to me without it:

The Furniture of Winter

Like layering rugs on top of your carpet,
Like your grandmother’s hutch
There is no room for,
Or the trundle bed you’re holding onto
For a friend who’s recently nomadic,
The furniture of winter piles up.

Each shovelful’s a stack of old news
Balanced on top of whole hallways of snow.

All paths are precarious.

The unruly sun shuffles everything by noon,
And then at night the moon freezes
Everything in place.

Like another Collyer brother, you lie
underneath, praying messy prayers
for help, deaf heaven sending down
only more of what you have too much of
already, more, and also too much, snow.

(I started writing it two weeks ago; sadly, we got four more inches of snow this morning, so it’s still relevant.)

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Let’s not end there.

Let’s watch the lip sync one more time.

#awesome #thankyou #engineofhappiness

(Les Chatfield from Flickr)

(Les Chatfield from Flickr)

*Loved the Oscars. Probably my favorite ever, and Ellen actually reminded me of Dave a little–the pizza bit was funny because it wasn’t funny, or at least that was my take. Whereas the selfie bit was just delightful to watch.

Pedagogy Stew: July 2013

As I write this, my husband and son are in the living room, reading Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince.  We’ve spent a lot of 2013 so far reading those books, just plowing through them.  (I almost said “burning through them,” but that sounds bad.) With summer here, the pace has increased, well, apace.

In one way, I’m jealous of my son. Remember how long we had to wait between each book? But in another way, I’m sad for him. How amazing it must have been to be a child when the first one came out, and then grow up with Harry, with a book coming along every year or so, just when you thought you couldn’t possibly wait any longer.

On the third hand, wow do I love to binge through TV and book series.

Late May and June were Maisie Dobbs weeks for me this year. I read all ten of Jacqueline Winspear’s mysteries featuring the “psychologist and investigator,” quickly, not exactly in order, but saving the 10th for last.

Leaving Everything Most Loved is in some ways a summary of the previous novels, mentioning their plots and characters, and serving as something of a “final accounting” for the whole series (though it doesn’t seem to be final—I’ve scoured the interwebs, and there’s no word of this being “THE LAST Maisie Dobbs novel.” Whew).

What is a “final accounting?”   Winspear defines it as what Maisie does as she makes “the essential visits to places and people encountered,” and calls it “a task that brought work on a particular investigation to a more settled close.” It’s more nuanced than our clichéd use of “closure.” When Maisie has wrapped up each case, she prepares a report for whomever hired her and then returns to locations crucial to solving whatever mystery there was.

It’s easy enough to end a semester as a professor by turning in grades, cleaning up my office, making a to do list for the summer, and no more.

But I’ve long tried to spend some time reflecting—what went well? Not so well? Why? And what can I do differently? I keep track of how promptly (or molasses-slowly) I return student work in an Excel spreadsheet, and I give students grading feedback on Excel, so I can run reports that way, too. Looking at the data for multiple years if sometimes almost a revelation.

This time, in addition to all the reflecting I typically do, I think I will visit each classroom I taught in, and my son’s classroom, where I volunteered, and see, like Maisie Dobbs, what each room has to say to me.

It also can’t hurt to think of all my semesters as mysteries, most of them solved (a few cold cases, I have to admit, still lingering).

What about you? What season has just ended for you? What case have you just solved? How will you do your final accounting?

(This column originally appeared in Voice of the River Valley.)

Jesus H. Coulson

I have a copy of this somewhere. It was given to me approximately 30 years before I became a fangirl.

I have a copy of this somewhere. It was given to me approximately 30 years before I became a fangirl.

I’m not the first one to think about Phil Coulson as a Christ figure. You can Google it–Jimmy Kimmel said he might be Jesus or a zombie, and in response Clark Gregg made that half-sheepish/half-sly face he makes and said, “I look a little different, but it’s basically the same character….I believe Jesus has super powers.”

After The Avengers movie, even before we knew about “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,one blogger was seeing Coulson as Jesus partly because of Nick Fury saying, “He died for us!”

But wait! There’s more!

5. He keeps putting together teams of disparate individuals to enact good in the world. He did it with the Avengers & he does it on Agents of Shield.

4. He answers to higher powers. We all know about Nick Fury, but apparently in the new Captain America, we get to meet Nick Fury’s boss, and he’s Robert Redford.  Now there’s a holy trinity.

3. He is VERY egalitarian about the role women play in his life. Ming-Na Wen(whom I’ve admired since she was on “As the World Turns” a million years ago) plays Agent May, and Coulson treats her with the utmost respect. (I know the official 12 disciples were guys, but Jesus had a great crew around him and let’s never ever forget that Mary Magdalene was the first who saw him post-resurrection.  The episode “FZZT,” Coulson and May have a really touching scene where she actually reaches out and touches his chest.  Lots of “sacred heart” image synchronicity there!)

2.He is forgiving.  In both “Eye Spy” and “FZZT” he takes the lead in forgiving an agent who has behaved badly.

1. The whole resurrection from the dead thing.

(NOTE:  Clark Gregg does not appear to be in either the new Thor movie or the new Captain America movie as Coulson–it apparently takes place during the post-resurrection period in which many of the Avengers do not know he’s alive– maybe both took place when he was in Tahiti.  Kind of like when Jesus descended to Hell to free the captives, which was so secret it’s in the Apostle’s Creed but harder to find in the Bible.)

This is mostly silliness, I know. I’m not trying to make the case that this is Marvel’s intent (although a bigger bunch of smarties is hard to come by) or that our lives are better thinking these things.  But it’s fun.

And I sort of wonder if Mr. Gregg his own self would enjoy the speculation.  In the special features section of the DVD of Choke (which he adapted from Chuck Palahnuik’s novel AND directed), they talk about a scene in which Sam Rockwell’s character talks to a stripper about whether Jesus was born good or learns how to become good through life, and she replies that Paul talks about that in Galatians. That’s apparently not in the book (which I haven’t read–it’s on my list, after seeing the movie).  It came from Gregg talking to his father, who was on the faculty of Stanford Divinity school.

The academic in me just beams at that.

I’m late to the whole Marvel-is-marvelous world, but I’m here now, and loving it, and Clark Gregg’s Phil Coulson is a humongous part of why.