Tag: Walter S. Coppage

Harry Potter and the Magical Estate Sale

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By Walter S. Coppage

This is the story of a quest to find the second Harry Potter book. I never read the Harry Potter books. I saw the movies. I would never have started reading them were it not for my wife.

“I wish I could go back and read them for the first time,” she said. “You have so much ahead of you.”

She said this a year ago. It wasn’t until this summer that I started reading Harry Potter. “The Sorcerer’s Stone” is great and I could see why everyone flipped out about these books. They’re funny and inventive and each character is so vivid. Did Rowling know the whole time where she wanted this to go and what these characters would become? Was that always in her head? What if the first one was never published and a worldwide success? Would the rest have followed just on pen and paper in her flat?

When I get ready to read at night, I’ll pick up the book and show it to Shannon and she’ll start humming the Harry Potter theme and I’ll make the book fly. When the song goes low I take it down, when it goes high I fly it with swirls. It’s a nightly Potter ritual now.

After “Sorcerer’s Stone”, the second book was next and it wasn’t due at the library until August 18th, might as well be a century’s wait. I thought I could borrow the book from someone. Everyone had read them. Someone was bound to have a copy. Every friend I contacted didn’t have them anymore or never owned them.

I went into my local bankrupt Hastings and couldn’t find any of the books. After asking an associate, I found the second book for 30% off. This paperback would have to tide me over until I could get the rest of the books at the library. The only problem was with the Harry Potter script coming out; those books were going to be in demand no matter what. I wasn’t going to worry about it. I had the third book from the library and it would take me a while to read that after the second one.

The next day, Shannon and I went to some garage sales and one estate sale. Usually there isn’t anything at these things. Some tools, a lot of dead technology and Rush Limbaugh books. I do like to look at what movies they are selling. I like to know what kind of movies they bought. Two garage sales. Nothing to see here. The estate sale had a lot of nice stuff but nothing we really needed. Shannon was in the other room talking to someone when I saw the bookshelf. There they were. Hardback Harry Potters. It was all of them well minus one. You had to keep them together. You couldn’t buy the ones you wanted.

Shannon was talking to some people and I kept creeping into the room trying to get her attention. After five minutes of that, I finally was able to show her.

“These look like first editions,” Shannon said.

“What do you think?” I asked.

“It’s a great deal. You should get them,” Shannon said.

I picked them up and carried them to the cash register.

“I’ve been looking for these books and no one had them,” I said.

“How much are they $50? I’ll give them to you for $40,” the cashier said.

What a deal. We cleared off room in our bookshelf to showcase our incomplete Harry Potter set.

“I think I have the one you’re missing somewhere,” Shannon said.

This tale isn’t all magic. Shannon didn’t have the missing one but that’s no matter. I have nearly all of them in their hardback glory. When I started reading the second one, it made a crack like it had never been read before. Wouldn’t it be something if those books were waiting all these years for me to read them?

 

 

Gimme Five: How To Thrive in Your First Five Years of Teaching

Gimme Five: How To Thrive in Your First Five Years of Teaching

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“It takes over five years to be a good teacher.”

I spent all day on my first classroom putting up posters and collages. A life size Michael Jordan cut out stood over 30 desks. I wanted students to walk in and feel like they were going to love my class. I had just finished a summer in an alternative certification program to get a teaching certificate. I had never been more psyched. I was going to come out of the gates firing on all cylinders. I dreamt of being everyone’s favorite teacher set to change lives. Every teacher does even if they don’t say it.

After spending all day at the school, we had an open house for kids to see where their classes were. 8:00 AM-9:00 PM plus a 90-minute commute home. I was fried before the year began.

My first day teaching was one of the worst days of my life. I didn’t think I would make it the next day let alone May.

No matter how many classes you take. No matter what your intentions are. No matter what, you will not be ready. Favorite teacher? Changing lives? How about just making it through first period.

After struggling that first day through the first year, I remembered an email from a teacher that summer.

“It takes over five years to be a good teacher.”

I didn’t want to hear those words no matter how true they rang. How does five years help me as I battle everything inside the classroom? If you’re a teacher, odds are you were a good student. Maybe you’ve never struck out at anything in your life. Teaching will strike you out. You have to keep stepping up to the plate because teaching will challenge you more than you can imagine.

Who will my students be? You won’t know that the first day. You won’t know that for months. Kids that are great in the beginning you will have tensions with later. Kids that start out difficult settle down.

There was a world out there I knew nothing about and I wasn’t prepared for any of it. That’s why I wrote a book for teachers. “Silver Bullet Classroom Management” is full of every bit of wisdom I’ve picked up on in the last ten years. My hope is everyone can be a better teacher before that five-year mark. We lose too many teachers waiting for them to get their five.

I’m pulling a Radiohead and giving my book away for free for the first five days in August on Amazon. Get it for yourself or that special someone in your life that is about to start working on their classroom. New teachers will love it and veteran teachers can pick up some ideas to make their year better.

It might take five years to be a good teacher but these tips will help you thrive while you wait.

 

Get your free copy of “Silver Bullet Classroom Management” by clicking the link below.

Silver Bullet Classroom Management

 

 

 

 

 

Ghostbusters and the Kobayashi Maru

I knew something was wrong when there were too many kids in my screening of “Ghostbusters.” I’m sure the suits at Sony studios thought the opposite.

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The new “Ghostbusters” is fun and clever at times but Paul Feig and the new cast was always in a Kobayashi Maru, a no win situation. Bill Murray knew that and why after decades of pitches and trucks full of money promised he always said no.

 “Ghostbusters” is fun.  It’s a good time in a theater on a hot summer day. I thought director Paul Feig coming off of “Bridesmaids”, “The Heat” and “Spy” would be able to give it a new twist. I don’t understand why people flipped out about an all female cast. The cast is the best thing about this movie by far. They just aren’t given the best script to work with. Kristen Wiig and Melissa McCarthy are the straight characters setting up laughs for Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones. The villain is hardly formidable. Scenes jump from plot point to plot point. At no point was I remotely worried they wouldn’t save the city.

All that said, Kate McKinnon as Holtzmann steals the show away and hopefully we’ll see her in more in the future.

 The first trailer says: “30 years ago…..Four Scientists Saved New York.” There’s a shot of the firehouse, the logo and the new team. The whole movie I was confused. Is this taking place 30 years later? Are they starting from scratch? There are cameos but are they really the same characters? This was super frustrating to figure out what was happening. Why couldn’t they pull a Force Awakens and have the movie be 30 years later after the first film? Maybe they stumble upon proton packs and newspaper clippings that were destroyed.

 Shannon and I were the only ones who stayed after the credits, mostly because we were dancing to the song at the end. We were the only one who saw the Easter egg. Leslie Jones is listening to a tape or paranormal sounds on her headphones and asks the gang if they had ever heard of anything called Zuhl. They shrug. So that’s what they want to do with a sequel. They want to pull a Star Trek: Into Darkness and dust off the villain from an earlier film. Almost 30 years and tons of writers and this is what you came up with?

 Since the first film, there seems to be a push and pull about whom this is for? Is it for kids so companies can sell toys and make cartoons? Why not just hire the director of “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” or a Pixar director if you want it for kids? Come to think of it, I’m sure Pixar could make a dope “Ghostbusters” kids movie. Why have Paul Feig direct it if you want it to be a family summer blockbuster?

 When I came home, the first two Ghostbuster movies were on AMC. The first one is a classic, scary at moments but definitely creepy. The tone is spooky even though it’s a comedy. Everyone is playing it straight from Egon to Louis Tully (Louis is hilarious but he doesn’t know he’s hilarious.) Everyone is playing it straight except for Peter Venkman who is always armed with a quip and having a good time even as his girlfriend turns into a dog. We all want to be Venkman.

 I hadn’t seen “Ghostbusters II” in maybe decades. One of those movies I saw at the theater a ton cause it was at the dollar movie in the summer and friends were always going. At 8 years old, I liked it but it didn’t capture me like the first one. The first one makes you want to be a Ghostbuster. The second one makes you want to ghost out of the viewing.

 “Ghostbusters II” is not as terrible as I expected it to be. I did notice that it wasn’t as creepy in tone and it just didn’t have the teeth the first one had. I looked up “Ghostbusters II” on IMDB to find out what happened with this one. There was a popular “Ghostbusters” cartoon out at the time and it was tailored to kids. The screenplay cut back on smoking and innuendos in the sequel. There’s more slime.   There are more scenes of Bill Murray holding a baby than I’ve seen in any other movie of his. (Has he held a baby in any other movie? I knew he held a doll in “Scrooged.”) Then throw in that the script is almost beat for beat the same as the first one and you can see why Bill Murray didn’t want to do a third one.

 For years, Harold Ramis, Ivan Reitman and Dan Aykroyd tried to convince Bill Murray to make a third movie. He wouldn’t budge, this from the guy who did two Garfield movies. At one point, the guys who wrote “Year One” had written a script for a third movie. This is what Bill Murray told GQ.

 “It’s all a bunch of crock. It’s a crock. There was a story—and I gotta be careful here, I don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings. When I hurt someone’s feelings, I really want to hurt them. [laughs] Harold Ramis said, Oh, I’ve got these guys, they write on The Office, and they’re really funny. They’re going to write the next Ghostbusters. And they had just written this movie that he had directed. Year One. Well, I never went to see Year One, but people who did, including other Ghostbusters, said it was one of the worst things they had ever seen in their lives. So that dream just vaporized. That was gone. But it’s the studio that really wants this thing. It’s a franchise. It’s a franchise, and they made a whole lot of money on Ghostbusters.”

 Once it became evident that Bill Murray wouldn’t take on a third movie, the major players started looking for a new generation of Ghostbusters. At one point, a Seth Rogen, James Franco, Jonah Hill/Judd Apatow reunion was rumored. I’m so glad Oscar didn’t grow up to be Seth Rogen.

 Only a few names come to mind to direct a “Ghostbusters” movie. J.J. Abrams, comedy isn’t his wheelhouse but he did resurrect “Star Trek”, “Star Wars” and kept “Mission: Impossible” going. The perfect choice would be Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, the directors of “21 Jump Street” and “The Lego Movie”. They took two movie ideas that had no place being made much and turned them into great movies. They have the style and chops to make a great “Ghostbusters movie.” Apparently they thought that wouldn’t be challenging enough. They decided to take on a Kobayashi Maru of their own directing the Han Solo movie.

 Streams crossed that if there is a sequel they will take more chances.

 

 

 

My Gradebook is The Terminator and I’m Sarah Connor

By Walter S. Coppage

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A few years ago our district was given a new gradebook that promised to enhance our teaching and make grading easier.  It had the ability to make seating charts and had all the bells and whistles that people who buy gradebooks loved.  God bless them for they know not what they do.  Skynet was supposed to solve all our problems too.  For the last few years I’ve been fighting a battle against the machines. I have been fighting a battle against my gradebook.

“It doesn’t feel remorse or fear and will not stop until you are dead.” (That’s being a little dramatic but you know what I mean.)

First off, the gradebook robs time.  After 15 minutes it automatically logs out causing me to have to take time away from class to login yet again.  I can’t take on a rowdy class and keep the gradebook online.  While I handle the rowdy class, the gradebook escapes and logs out.

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I’ll Be Back

The gradebook is the Terminator because its mission is to change the past to affect the future.  When I’m putting in grades, if it logs out on its own, all the grades I just put in are lost.  This leaves me to be on guard and continuously hit the save button which takes another 30 seconds for me to go back into the assignment I was just scoring.  Sometimes the gradebook will lose grades for no reason whatsoever leaving parents emailing and kids griping about missing grades.

“Come with me if you want to live.”-Kyle Reese

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Five Star Folder

A relic of an earlier age, a Five Star folder, my Kyle Reese, has been my protector for all these years against the Terminator.  Each class will get a Five Star folder where I keep all their work.  This way when the Terminator strikes and wreaks havoc on my grades, I have the papers and grades being protected by the Five Star folder.

For years, I taught Speech aka Communication Applications aka Professional Communications which was a semester class.  Their speech grades, tests and daily work all resided in the Five Star folder. By the end of the semester, most of the Five Star folders were at capacity but I made due.

Last year I started teaching English 3 and Kyle Reese (Five Star Folder) could not keep up. English 3 was locked and loaded with vocab tests, essays, interactive reader assignments and a million other papers.The past was fighting alongside the future against me.

A more organized teacher than myself might say, “Why are you keeping all those papers? You’re hoarding classwork.”

If I give students back a lot of papers, they end up in the trash or on my floor for me to pick up. Then when the Terminator strikes and I have no idea what 150 kids made on each assignment, that’s on me.  Parents will not blame their child and tell them to redo the assignment.  It’s not on the kid for not being able to keep track of it. It’s on me for not keeping track of it, all because The Terminator lurks.

“What about giving the students their own folder and having them keep stuff for a portfolio grade?”

I tried that a few years ago and even with a test grade at stake, they didn’t keep up with their papers and handouts.  The Terminator would probably erase all the portfolio grades anyway.

I will be teaching three classes of English 3 this year and I don’t know what to do. Kyle Reese (Five Star Folder) can’t do it anymore. I’m on my own in this fight. What do I use? I saw one teacher using hanging folders in her class.  I could file their papers in an already packed file cabinet.

How do I win the war against the machines? How do I defeat The Terminator?

 

“Independence Day: Resurgence”Could Unleash Destruction of Our Movie Theater

“Independence Day: Resurgence”Could Unleash Destruction of Our Movie Theater

By Walter S.Coppage

 

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I saw “The Neon Demon” today at Cinemark and was the only one in the theater on its last day. It’s not a comic book movie. It’s not a romantic comedy. It’s not animated. It’s an independent film directed by a guy who says, “I don’t make films. I make experiences.” That’s the kinda movie it is. While I watched it, I wished I could create something as original and visually arresting as “The Neon Demon.” It’s not a horror movie but that doesn’t mean it’s not terrifying. The music. The colors. The intensity. It’s not the kind of movie you get the most out of at home with your phone and life at your disposal. This is the kind of movie you see in the theater so you are paying attention and getting the whole……experience. (I’m sorry this blog is getting pretentious. I have a point.)

 

I had been trying to see this movie for a week and life at 35 gets in the way. Appointments and plans kept me from getting there but I made sure to make it today because it’s gone tomorrow. Like many independent films, its time will be short lived in Wichita Falls all the while “The Jungle Book” has been here since April. Studio films always overstay their welcome but something happened this summer.

 

Wichita Falls has had at least two movie theaters for 35 years and most of that time it’s been two theaters bidding on which theater gets the movie. Something changed. I heard 20th Century Fox is just putting screens out everywhere no longer taking part in the bidding process. Someone else told me studios are out to put their movie everywhere. That’s just business. Well it is never how business had been done here.

 

I was in England and Spain for two weeks and when I got home I checked Fandango and “X-Men: Apocalypse” was at both theaters. That couldn’t be right but it was only the beginning.

 

With both theaters, we have 24 screens. 8-10 screens are being used for movies that are at both theaters. “Free State of Jones”, “Independence Day: Resurgence” and “Now You See Me 2” are at all locations and it’s not like these movies have been doing “Star Wars” or “Avengers” type business. Side note: “X-Men: Apocalypse” is only at one theater now.

 

This might seem like good business but it’s not for Carmike Theaters in the mall. In the late 90s, the newly renovated theater was coveted by everyone. You wanted every good movie to go there. Ever since the amazing stadium seating cathedral of Cinemark Theaters opened in 2005, people want every movie to go there. Ever since it opened, everyone hates on the mall theater.

 

“That mall theater, I’d rather drive to Dallas then see a movie there.”

 

“That mall theater, they have a sign that says I can’t have my gun so I’m boycotting.”

 

“That mall theater, I saw rats there one time.”

 

I’ve never seen any rats there and I’ve seen a thousand movies there. Is it in need of a good cleaning? Yes. Does it need new equipment and seating? Yes. Should they be cheaper tickets? Absolutely. I still go there. I still want them to stay open.

 

“They should just tear it down and build a new theater.”

 

There was even a Facebook survey about building a new theater. (Not exactly Nate Silver is it?) Everyone voted for a new theater. Here’s the thing. Theaters aren’t cheap and if you want a new one, it wouldn’t be able to be on the same property. It’s a huge operation. Plus it’s not a bond election. A corporation has to come in and make that happen.

 

If both theaters are showing the same movie, Cinemark is going to get people every time. This puts Carmike in the crosshairs of closing. Why on earth do we need four screens of “Independence Day: Resurgence”? Ground control to Major Tom, Will Smith isn’t even in it. You’re banking four screens on Jeff Goldblum.  Roland Emmerich has destroyed The White House, New York City and 2012 and Carmike Theaters might be next.

 

Whenever people ranted and raved, I came to Carmike’s defense. For the average moviegoer, it doesn’t matter. “Star Wars” will still come here. “The Avengers” will still come here. But for people like me and my wife, we need two theaters. We need them because we read Slashfilm.com and listen to the Filmcast with David Chen, Devindra Hardawar and Jeff Cannata. We know about hits at Sundance and Cannes. We pay attention to the Golden Globes because it puts stuff on our radar outside of the blockbuster zone.  We’re able to get movies that aren’t going to make a lot of money here but that doesn’t meant they’re not great movies. If we lose this crappy mall theater and become a one theater town, we lose the power to have more movies come to our town. When we pack four theaters with “Independence Day: Resurgence” we lose something riveting like “The Neon Demon.”

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