Tag Archives: guest post

A College English Teacher’s Take on Last Chance U

My husband, Chet, and I recently finished season 2 of the Netflix docu-series Last Chance U. I think both seasons of this masterfully crafted show are compelling watches for anyone. However, as a college teacher, Chet’s perspective intrigued me. Here’s his take…

Located in super-rural Scooba, East Mississippi Community College is a near perfect microcosm of public higher education. EMCC has less than 6,000 students enrolled, but is thoroughly ensnared by the university sports machine and the slew of academic challenges that students, faculty, staff, and administrators face in this environment. When I first read the description of Last Chance U, I thought it was going to be another affirmation of student athletes that played hard enough to escape poverty using grit and determination. Last Chance U does feature some of that, though most often it begins following players after their meteoric rise and subsequent fall in the world of college athletics. Last Chance U manages to do much more. Through its portrait of players and coaching staff, it presents a surprisingly accurate view of contemporary college life.

In an early episode of the first season, Ms. Wagner (the academic coordinator for EMCC’s football team) is exasperated by a player who brings nothing to class- not even a pen. The scene is funny. We laugh a bit at Ms. Wagner’s expense, or at least I did. I laughed out of familiarity. As a teacher, speaking to a pen-less student that isn’t performing well in my class is a near weekly occurrence. As a former student, I laugh from familiarity, too. I did not bring writing utensils to Psych 100.

The players in Last Chance U have a love/hate relationship with their whole academic experience. They clearly love football, both the game itself and the opportunities it presents to many young players. On the other hand, they hate practice. They tolerate the school end for many of the same reasons. Good grades mean eligibility and the potential to play for a better school. It also means thinking and working in a way which is unfamiliar. It’s easy to look at the players and dismiss them. After all, why go to college if not to learn? These athletes are caught up in the same wave as most students. They have a vague notion of a career, and it’s often unclear how ENG 101 is going to help them achieve that goal. I spend most of my professional life working directly with students in the same position, and I think Last Chance U does a fair job of sketching the uncertainty that comes with a college education.

The real hero of Last Chance U is Ms. Wagner. She’s the academic coach for the team, but much more: a human planner, a motivation machine, a listener, and an open door. Academic counselors like Ms. Wagner are near ubiquitous in major athletics programs. They exist to help players maintain eligibility by navigating the minefield of a full course load for students working a “full time job.” Many schools are now using this kind of counseling for the entire student body, especially as state governments shift performance metrics to graduation rates.

What strikes me about Last Chance U is how close the experiences of the characters on this tiny campus ring true with my own. It’s easy to spot the problems in the show- the attitude of some coaches, the disengaged players, the placating staff- it is for better or worse where we are now.

Watch the trailer for Season 2 HERE. Seasons 1 and 2 streaming on Netflix now! Have you seen them? 

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mid-week round-up

Editor’s Note: Today, Finding Delight is thrilled to welcome Adam to our weekly round-up for the second time. (Here’s his first visit to the Mid-Week Round-Up.) I hope his post and links resonate as much with you as they did with me. 

adam-midweek-roundup

Over the weekend I was cyberbullied. It wasn’t the standard “you’re a liberal snowflake asshole” attack you might expect. It was more vicious this time and quickly escalated from some guy making veiled homophobic comments to likes and retweets of an emerging chorus of “queer” and “glory hole sucker” posts aimed directly at me. A couple of the attack tweeters lifted my profile picture and began using it in their posts. Clicking onto their profiles, I saw them having separate conversations about me, using my picture and saying things like I was a “disgusting queer” and “probably have AIDS.”

Full disclosure: I’ve written a few loud and arguably ignorant comments on some crazy-pants Facebook posts. I usually give social media attacks directed at me a pass, thinking “I, too, have posted things that 20 minutes later made me shameful.”

This time though, after resisting the desire to fight back and simply reporting them, I tried to go on with my day. But hours later, I had to keep checking on the tightness in my chest.

I wondered how women and female journalists continue to endure this on a daily basis. 

The attack made me think back to one of my 2017 New Year’s resolutions: Get off social media. Why didn’t I stick with it? Why am I even on here

Perhaps I’ve just accepted that virtual bullying comes with the territory? In truth, it’s easy for me to accept that reality; I’ve lived most my life knowing there’s a strong likelihood that a passing stranger will call me a fag

So many people face vicious onslaughts of degradation simply by being present in both virtual and real-world spaces. Social media and internet links, so often, seem to be a product used to push shame; an evolving technology dedicated to tearing people down in ways that transcend virtual space with real life implications.

But looking over stories about the Muslim travel ban protests at airports all over the country, I realized the reason I’m still here—present in the shit hole that is social media—because it’s the links… Our links to one another are important. 

It was the Instagram post from a friend that helped me stop feeling bad about the bullying I faced. The hate is not normal—and I do not have to tolerate it. 

Seeing this tweet of a nun jamming at the airport protest in San Francisco made me laugh. Hard. The link was important. The Stanger Things’ SAG award acceptance and Wynona Ryder’s face made me take in the fact that America is already great.

I am benefiting from the resistance and the “personalized act[s] of labor dedicated to communal protest,” which are so often being transmitted through links—nudging me to recognize that now is not the right time to leave social media

The link-driven resistance is not a bunch of “liberal lawyers,” as the New York Times might argue. It’s about sharing stories to bend the arch of justice toward a shared sense of ethical humanity.

I will continue to actively link with the resistance by writing personal op-eds and showing up at town halls.

I will continue finding Finding Delight’s Wednesday links post through social media. It’s important to be connected these days. 

So, for the sake of theme and the goal of promoting a shared sanity in these harsh times, here are some other, more specific hyperlinks that you might also find helpful:

Anyway, with that, I hope you “like” this Wednesday’s links post. And I hope you “like” other peoples’ links too—it’s critical for us to lift up and recognize individuals and institutions when they’re focused on promoting truth.

adam-midweek-roundup-2

 

5 Great Ways to Save Money on Books

Hey friends! To continue with our week of all things book-related here on Finding Delight, I’ve got a guest post by fellow blogger and book-lover, Cassie

sweet-reading

Books are an amazing, enlightening and empowering force, one that has the possibility to change the world or at least the perspective of their readers. I can’t recommend enough that everyone should be indulging in the secrets of their pages as much as possible.

However, a stark truth that has to be faced is books are often expensive. New and popular releases regularly come with a hefty price tag. Avid readers often find themselves gazing longingly at titles they just can’t afford. These five tips are all great ways to save money when buying books, thus opening you up to a whole range of exciting new titles to explore.

Avoid the Hardback

While hardbacks are a beautiful and tempting product for any book lover—who doesn’t crave their shiny covers and satisfying weightiness when you read them—they are also by far the priciest. In fact, they’re often double the price of their paperback counterparts and can be over ten times more expensive than the e-book version.

While treasuring those beautiful books might seem like an important pursuit, if you remind yourself that you can indulge in numerous alternative literary delights for the same cost, then it will soon become easy to put them back on the shelf and save your pennies! Some people might argue that e-books are just as expensive since you have to add the initial cost of an e-reader, but there are numerous apps that let you download the releases directly onto phones, tablets or laptops that you already own.

Take Advantage of Project Gutenberg

There are so many classic novels that have been produced by influential and pioneering authors all throughout history. Each one of these pieces of literature is a must-read for any bookworm’s list. What’s even better is a large amount of these works can be found and read for absolutely free.

Project Gutenberg is an online resource founded in 1971 to help support the distribution of e-books. It provides readers with a staggering collection of works whose copyrights have expired, books that are in the public domain. The law around copyright varies, but in general, most books find themselves in the public domain so many years after their original author has died. The site currently holds over 50,000 titles, and many of these are famed classics—think Jane Austen, H.G. Wells, Lewis Carroll and hundreds of other timeless authors. 

Use a Virtual Private Network

The internet does wonders for helping us spend less on books. However, what many users fail to realize is the internet is not created equal. Book distribution websites and services often restrict their catalogs depending on region via a process called geo-blocking. In short, this works by identifying the IP address on your Kindle device or computer and only allowing you to view or purchase books available in your region. This means you can often miss out on great titles and deals just because you’re based in a certain country.

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is a handy piece of software that enables users to choose which country their server appears to be browsing from. The Kindle catalog in particular is notorious for setting up deals based on location, so by installing a VPN you can check that you aren’t missing out on great savings elsewhere. The software also provides an added layer of security to protect your credit card details when buying online. Secure Thoughts is a leading review site if you want to find out more information.

Browse the Discount Sites

As well as Kindle deals, there are many other dedicated sites that can be found online that specialize in providing discounted versions of your favorite novels. Students are probably already familiar with Half.com, as many use it to cut the cost of textbooks, but it’s also a wonderful resource for anyone looking to find great deals on favorite books. 

Powered by eBay, it’s run on the same concept as the main site but specifically caters to book lovers. Sellers can use the platform to clear out secondhand copies of books they’ve read, making it the perfect way to find discounts. As users have to compete to attract buyers to their products, you can often find significant savings if you’re willing to dig deep enough. As most books are secondhand, it’s also worth keeping an eye out for quality.

This trick is one that can be used when buying paperbacks from Amazon, as often titles can be found secondhand from individual sellers for a fraction of the bookshop price. These deals often come up when you do a search, so be sure to check them out before committing to a purchase!

Participate in a Book Swap

Last but not least, and my personal favorite way to save money on books, is the classic book swap. The concept is simple: you can pick up a new (to you) book, and all you have to do is leave another one in exchange. It’s a common practice in hostels, as travelers aren’t able to cart around large quantities of reading material, but it’s also becoming a regular occurrence in neighborhoods.

In England, many public telephone boxes—which are now largely seen as redundant —have been transformed into mini book swap libraries where passers-by can browse, borrow and donate books in return. It’s free of charge and a great way to drum up interest in literature and even engagement in your local community. If you don’t have a handy resource like this available near you, then you can get together with fellow book lovers from your friend circle, each bring a few unwanted titles and have your own mini swap session! 

Money should never be a reason for not getting your fill of reading. There are always new and innovative solutions to your financial problems when it comes to books. These are just five of my most-used tactics, but if you have any more tips and tricks, then I’d love to hear your ideas! Be sure to leave a comment below.


About the Author: Cassie is an entertainment and technology blogger for Culture Coverage. She’s been an avid reader all her life and loves that the internet has made it easier than ever to access the greatest stories out there.

 

(Photo by Galina Kochergina.)

In Defense of “Go Set a Watchman”

Today, I’ve asked Katie to share her thoughts on Harper Lee’s newest book, “Go Set a Watchman” and explain why she’s defending this controversial follow-up to a classic. Enjoy!


 

You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.

scout finch

I will never forget the first time I read “To Kill A Mockingbird.”  I was in the 4th grade, which was, looking back, the most formative year of my reading career.  I read books that to this day remain some of my favorites – “The Giver”, “Walk Two Moons”, and “The Shadow Spinner.”  But most importantly, I was first introduced to my spirit animal – Scout Finch.  At the time, I had this quirky habit that ultimately led to me becoming an actress.  I would pretend with every molecule of myself that I was the protagonist of whatever story I was in the middle of (even if the character was a boy).  So for about a month when I was nine, I lived in Maycomb County, I had a brother named Jem, my father was a lawyer, and I signed every journal entry as “Scout”.

This particular book left a lasting impact on me, more so than any other story I had read as a young girl.  I remained Scout in my head long after I finished the final page. Harper Lee’s novel became my favorite book, and has remained as such.  I have reread it countless times, I have performed in the stage play (as Mayella Ewell), I have traveled to Monroeville, and it was even the subject my BFA senior project in college.  So, as you can imagine, when the news of “Go Set a Watchman” hit the mainstream media, I was more than a little excited.  I couldn’t wait to read the rest of the story.  In this installment, Scout was 26 (and being a 24 year old, this absolutely thrilled me).  Before I could even get a copy though, I was inundated with negative opinions (“What is this!! Atticus is a racist!!  MY WHOLE LIFE IS A LIE!!!”).  Now, having read it, I can honestly say that I believe it is an incredibly important part of the story.

go set a watchman

In defense of “Go Set a Watchman”:

  1. Jean Louise is the protagonist of this story.  Before we start getting our collective panties in a wad about Atticus losing his integrity, let us not forget who the hero of the story is and always has been.  Scout.  This is her story.  This is her coming of age.  This is her loss of innocence.  This is HER moment.  Throughout the entire narrative she has maintained her truth and defended what is important to her.  That is an amazing thing!!  One of the reasons I loved TKAM so much as a nine year old is because I could relate so much to Scout’s journey when she also was a nine year old.  But now I’m 24.  The world is completely different.  The same things that I stressed and worried about as a child are not the same as the things that keep me up at night now, but it is so comforting to read this book from a strong woman’s point of view.  She is still a major role model to me without having to look up to a nine year old.

  2. It teaches a lesson we all must learn in our twenties.  Which is that coming home after being away for a while is hard.  Whatever you consider “home” is not a golden, safe haven where your problems disappear.  Your parents don’t always have the answers.  Your responsibilities are still there, waiting for you to attend to them. I believe that everyone has that moment where they realize that their childhood home and the people that shaped them are not actually as idealized as we make them out to be in our heads.  It’s what we do with this new information that makes us who we are.

  3. Atticus has always been a little bit racist.  Maybe I have a skewed perception due to that time I delved so deeply into the psyche of Mayella Ewell that I will always hate Atticus just a little bit (I got something to say and then I AIN’T GONNA SAY NO MORE).  Of course, he’s very polite about it in TKAM, but it’s there.  He even jokes about relating intensely to a white supremacist senator who was involved with the klan. It is Scout, not Atticus, who ever pushes against racial or class distinctions.  Is Atticus a villain?  Absolutely not!  He’s a product of his time and place.  We as readers viewed him through the rose-tinted glasses that Scout herself was wearing, and as she matured, so did we.  His flaws were brought to light, and yet Scout was able to transcend that.

While “To Kill a Mockingbird”  will remain my favorite book, my favorite college experience, and the subject of the best paper I have ever written, I truly believe that this book is an incredibly important part of Scout’s story.  She is the hero, which makes me even more proud to have named the protagonist of MY story Harper Jean, a direct allusion to TKAM.  While I understand that sometimes it hurts deeply to see someone we have idealized for decades become someone we can no longer trust, let us not forget that the protagonist’s integrity and kindness has remained 100% intact.  I will be forever indebted to Scout Finch for teaching me the wisest lesson of them all…

 “I think there’s just one kind of folks. Folks.”

The 365 Sentence Memoir Project

Recently, my sister Katie told me about a genius project she is undertaking and I wanted her to share it with you guys! She is a wonderful and creative recorder of her thoughts and history (a quality I deeply wish I possessed), and her newest take on journaling would be an awesome summer activity for those of you eager to get the writing juices flowing (or well-oiled if you’re on a break from school). Let’s learn more…

365 day memoir

For a very long time, I didn’t necessarily identify as a “writer.”  In fact, I would never say I was one.  I was (and am) a musical theatre actress.  Last December, when I had the first reading of the musical I wrote  there was a press release that said “Join Playwright Katie Berger as she shares her original musical.”  My thought process went like this: “Playwright Katie Berger?  That’s me?  Oh, yea that’s ME!!  Of course I’m a writer!  I literally write all the time!  It’s one of my very favorite things to do in the world! I wrote a musical!”  Anyway, since then I have been asked numerous times for advice and even though I feel very unqualified to give tips of any kind I always say “Make sure you write every day, even if it’s only a sentence.”  Thus my newest project was born.  Every day for a year, I will be writing a one sentence story.  By the end of the year, I will have a 365 sentence long memoir. A year is a while to wait though, so here is a peek:

 

4-22

She found herself hiding in every single song on the radio.

 

4-23

It wasn’t exactly that she was heart broken but the rain relentlessly fell on her umbrella and she was definitely glad it wasn’t sunny.

 

4-24

She loved them so much that she absolutely would, without question, stay trapped in a mine if it meant she could hallucinate from lack of oxygen with them, and she took great comfort in the fact that they felt the same way about her.

 

4-25

He could make her smile harder than just about anyone.

 

4-26

Let’s get married if we both aren’t, she joked, and he said earnestly I would jump at the chance.

 

4-27

Sometimes it’s nice to have someone hand you a beer, crank up the show tunes, and dance the night away with.

 

4-28

She looked down at her flannel shirt and her polka dot skirt and her knee socks and boots and pushed up her thick rimmed glasses and chuckled at the fact that after so long trying to escape the manic pixie dream girl trope here she was delivering a handwritten letter to a boy trapped inside his own anger and when she got back home she would probably play her ukulele and dance by herself to her Ben Folds a cappella cd and she thought maybe it’s okay to be a walking stereotype because this is exactly who I am when no one is watching.

 

4-29

She realized that starting tomorrow she will have spent more time on this earth without him than with him.

 

4-30

She laughed so hard she couldn’t breathe and maybe it was because everything always seemed a bit absurd on the anniversary of her dad’s death or maybe it was because she felt slightly feverish but it was probably because the response she got from her handwritten, heart felt letter was “my chinchilla chewed the paper.”

mid-week round-up

fem photo

The Queen has arrived with this week’s Finding Delight mid-week links round-up! For those who don’t know, I’m Adam, and publishing this post in memoriam of Finding Delight’s editor-in-chief. (JK she’s still alive). Full disclosure — I’ve waited a year to guest post on Finding Delight, a feat that has been delayed solely by way of my own laziness and HGTV. But since this go-get-em blog is celebrating its 1 year anniversary(!), I’m taking the opportunity to give lazy Beth a posting break.

Below, please find links to a few of the things that have given me pause for thought over the past few days:

This Kylie Jenner birthday post definitely gave me pause for thought.

You just you simply must go see this documentary: Ballet 422.

Speaking of movies, did you catch Cinderella at the theater this weekend? I bet you didn’t know the original Cinderella’s more complicated backstory, aside from her scrubby clothes.

This song rocks.

Did you know poop will be the ruin of Mt. Everest?

Please read this long read: “My Saga, Part 2: Karl Ove Knausgaard’s Passage through America.” And read the beautiful Part 1 via last week’s mid-week round-up. (Also note: Part 1 sharing credit should have been directed to this post’s author. Note to editors: I’ve note-ified my agent of the oversight. Final note: Noter and out.)

Are you in your PJs? Need a hard cry? Watch this less than 3 minute video produced by The Man.

Ashely Judd: This wildcat womyn is maybe my spirit animal.

KALE!

Check out this newsletter — I’m its managing editor.

Follow me on Twitter. And on Instagram if ya nasty.

< Note to editors: What else can I shamelessly self-promote here? Please insert something. >

And just because I can-can, here’s a Beyoncé music video you’re required to watch. Under Beyoncé law, of which we are all, you are indeed required to view/pray with this video before continuing your day.

…I’ll wait…

Bless you.

And that’s all you get this week! In all seriousness, congratulations on year 1 of new delights found, Beth. This blog rocks and has forever changed the way I think about soup broths and Gwyneth Paltrow—at the same time. To everyone else, please share this post at your heart’s delight.

(photo by Thibault Montamat)

World Cup Half Empty or Half Full

Ghana v USA: Group G - 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil

The other day, I was talking to my friend Jimmy Drake about the World Cup. He LOVES it…and sports in general, actually. But his stance that this relationship isn’t always easy interested me. I asked him to share his thoughts with you on why and HOW you can choose to embrace, love and celebrate one of the greatest shows on Earth–The World Cup. As Team USA takes on Germany this afternoon, while at the same time protesters continue to riot just a stones throw away from the pitch, things have certainly reached fever pitch. Thanks so much for sharing, Jimmy, your analysis rings remarkably true. Enjoy!

World Cup Half Empty or Half Full

by Jimmy Drake

As we get older all kinds of things become more complicated. It’s a fact of life, but it’s become especially evident in my sports fandom. When I was a kid it was easy to root for my favorite baseball team, the Atlanta Braves, and wear their logo proudly. However, as I grew older, I realized a picture of a screaming Indian and tomahawk chants are offensive to Native Americans. As a kid it was easy to get excited every time my favorite football player clobbered a defenseless receiver, but as I learned about the severity of concussions and brain damage my shouts and fist pumps turned to cringes. Or college basketball–growing up in Kentucky it’s a close second to Southern Baptist as the state’s dominant religion. But then you learn the NCAA generates millions of dollars as a “non-profit,” gives athletes a rushed and sometimes¹ even fabricated college education, and only offers their scholarships one year at a time. These situations bring up complicated emotions for any informed sports fan, but none present the biggest challenge to my compartmentalization skills as much as FIFA and the World Cup.

Before I explain how evil and corrupt FIFA is, I’ll explain how fucking awesome the World Cup is. First off, it’s soccer at a high level. The teams aren’t as good as you’d find in the Champions League or the Euro’s, but it means more than both of them. Soccer on it’s own can be beautiful and epic. The World Cup adds to this beauty and epicness by raising the stakes to an astronomical level. Just watch the video of Maradona in the 1986 World Cup. His goal is one of the more incredible things I’ve ever seen in sports, the moment magnified by the hopes of an entire nation.

 

And these hopes are the very reason Americans should enjoy the World Cup. Being a patriotic American is awesome, but given America’s current geopolitical standing, it’s difficult for me to to get all patriotic about wars, politics or international relations. Sports make it easy. I can chant “USA!USA!USA!USA!” and wave a “Don’t Tread On Me” flag without looking like an imperialist xenophobe. I can sing the national anthem with my hand over my heart without feeling like I’m being indoctrinated into nationalism. Events like the Olympics² and the World Cup are my only chance.

americanfans

So the World Cup is awesome, that’s easy enough, but something sinister lies beneath the surface. FIFA is the Fédération Internationale de Football Association³ and it’s president, Sepp Blatter, is a villainous character straight out of a Disney movie, the kind of guy who suggests female soccer players wear shorter shorts to grow interest in their sport.

Countries find it an incredible honor to host a World Cup, so much so that they’ll change constitutions¹, pay millions of dollars in bribe money² and pour their own citizens tax money into stadiums that are rarely used once the whole shebang is over³ while these same citizens live in abject poverty. Okay, so that’s a pretty insane investment, but surely hosting a World Cup boosts the economy enough to have it all make sense. But FIFA operates as a non-profit. Any money they make in Brazil this year from endorsements, advertisements, ticket sales aren’t even taxable by the Brazilian government. So, while the rare rich hotel owner may profit the taxpayers investment isn’t returned at all. And locals are justifiably angry, storming the streets and protesting FIFA and all it stands for.

fifaprotests

There is no solution I’ve found to this conundrum other than compartmentalizing the two sides. I hate how FIFA and the Brazilian government have handled the event but I love the spectacle of it. And soccer… isn’t FIFA. Soccer isn’t the Brazilian government. Players train their whole lives for a chance at this World stage and I will cheer them on…and I will cheer them on even louder if they’re from the USA. It’s just another complication of growing up and having to search harder for joy in a complicated world.


1. http://www.newsobserver.com/2014/06/17/3943396/morris-what-happened-at-unc-happens.html?sp=/99/102/110/112/973/

2. Summer only. Seriously the Winter Olympics are so boring, except hockey. I’m honestly surprised that the USA figure skating team isn’t selected by way of a America’s Got Talent style reality show.

3.  Not just an awesome video game that helped get tons of American bros into soccer.

(Ed. Note: WordPress only let me “superscript” 1, 2, 3 so please excuse the repetition here.)

1. http://l2b.thelawyer.com/home/insight/how-fifa-is-changing-brazils-constitution-for-the-world-cup/3020589.article

2. http://www.theguardian.com/football/2011/may/10/millions-bribes-qatar-2022-world-cup-claims

3. http://www.npr.org/2014/06/21/324260148/world-cup-stadium-in-the-amazon-is-nice-but-is-it-needed