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I am not James Franco

What’s in a name? Confusion.

faculty

I teach college classes in Southern California. James Franco also taught some college classes in Southern California – UCLA, USC and CalArts to be exact.

A friend once mentioned to me that he had heard about a student who signed up for a class taught by a “J. Franco.” According to my friend, that student thought it was James Franco, the actor turned college professor. She was confident. She was so sure of it, my friend said, because she had heard that he teaches classes at local colleges. (Acting and film classes, I teach journalism classes, but whatever.)

On day 1 of class, she surely showed up to the classroom at 8 a.m. and it wasn’t the Academy Award-nominated Franco, but rather, the highly-rated and well-respected, Jose Franco (me) instead.

I don’t know who that student might have been, whether or not she remained in the class, or how disappointed she might have been. Such is life.

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One request

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I couldn’t find a photo of an apple, so I used this generic stock photo (of vinegar?) instead.

If I were to ever give in and create a dating site profile, I would list one thing and one thing only:

Must be able to tell the difference between varieties of red apples – golden delicious, Fuji, gala, honeycrisp and so on.

It may seem silly, but it’s the little things that matter most.

Remember that.

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I thought about parenting and how bad I might be at it

Reading this again before I post it reads like a very rough comedy act.

Parenting doesn’t have an “entrance exam,” but if it did, it should have a few challenges or thresholds you need to clear for basic parenting. There should be a challenge that asks things like “Can you cut fruit with a knife?” Or, “How long does it take you to go to the market, buy a specific thing, and back?” A child’s life could be at stake.

I tried cutting apples with a knife today and it took about 20 minutes to wash and slice them. These weren’t pretty pieces either like you would see any other competent person doing the slicing. I ended up with weird, rhombus-shaped looking things. Some were big, some were small pieces. I would fear a child choking on the them.

When I go to the market, I don’t always find things I need. My brain doesn’t think like grocers do. I just don’t have that sense. I also panic when there are more than 15 people in a grocery store. I once walked in, saw three people by the produce section, panicked, then paced around a few aisles and left without anything. Security could have thought I was canvassing the place for a future crime or something. I get very self-conscious there. It’s as though I fear someone will look at me thinking to themselves, “This idiot must not have children. Thank God. He’s been looking at those apples for five minutes. Just pick some and go.”

There are other times when you tell yourself, “I just need orange juice … and some milk. Rubber gloves. I really liked that one cereal I tried last time … Some napkins. … Oh and I need a new, one of those, um, that thing on the drain in the sink. Yeah! What aisle would that be in?” But if you have a kid, you need to find that one thing: formula, diapers, or something else and come back in about 20 minutes or your child will never forgive you. And you’ll feel terrible when you come back with ingredients for a new vinaigrette recipe your sister gave you.

OK, thanks guys! You’ve been great!

(Applause)

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A pat on the back is a good thing

Being a college instructor isn’t something I thought I would be doing. But here I am, just recently completing my fifth semester as an adjunct.

At first, the job was a bit overwhelming. You need to keep young people’s attention for about an hour and a half about writing … at 8 a.m. You also need to read many, many (sometimes really bad, sometimes surprisingly good) articles from students who, in some cases, don’t follow news or don’t read news online or in a newspaper. So their understanding of what makes a story interesting, informative, and well-written is lacking. Sometimes you really just have fresh blocks of clay.

You also need to provide feedback on ways to improve that writing, or to best tell that story. You also have to do it in a way that isn’t insulting, that is understanding, and most importantly, I feel, that is mostly encouraging for the student. You need to have students that are interested and engaged. Students that can see the benefit of what you’re looking for if you are a reader and an instructor. If you’re first trying it, like I was, you’re in for a total shock.

Basically, I view the job as part coach, part instructor, part mentor. I wasn’t really sure about how well I did that job until the end of this past semester.

In previous semesters, my course usually ends with a thud. There is no intricate final. There isn’t a massive, caffeine-fueled final assignment to dominate my students’ time. My final is a multiple-choice test that requires the minimal amount of note taking and attention throughout the semester to pass. After about 20 minutes, students sheepishly turn in their exams and head out the door to cram for their next final. It’s the best I can offer for those who stick it out through the entire semester for an 8 a.m. class.

This past semester was different though.

When students turned in their exams to me, several of them said, “Thank you.” Some shook my hand and told me how much fun they had in class and how much they learned about writing, about media, about absurd things that I would sometimes bring up in class. It made me feel … appreciated. It was weird. It was an odd feeling to have, because I didn’t expect it.

I had made an impact in their lives. What I did was important. I hope I inspired them to write interesting things, that makes people happy, makes them sad, makes them want to learn more, makes their reader understand something they didn’t understand before, or makes them want to help other people.

Sometimes, that pat on the back is a good thing and is just some much needed affirmation that you’re doing those students a great deal of good by giving them your full effort.

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Happy Thanksgiving to all of you who visit my blog, or if you were bored out of your mind and you arrived here through a winding WordPress rabbit hole. Welcome.

Remember to be thankful for the things that mean the most to you. If one of them is random words, I’m thrilled that I can help.

Enjoy football, gravy, turkey and ham. Except, of course, if you don’t, and eat quinoa instead. How do you do it?

Happy Thanksgiving!

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I need to post more

I really need to post more to this blog. I love writing to it. It’s so rewarding. Some of you might even enjoy some of the things I have to say.

I’ve fallen into my routine once again, however:

Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays are really busy.

Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays are for catching up or for preparing for Monday, Wednesday, Friday or Saturday.

What to do?

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I can’t get away from Facebook’s location editor

I have an irrational disgust/obsession with the Facebook location editor.

There are odd times when, during a Facebook browsing session, I will do the worst possible thing and click on the location editor to see what locations other Facebook users have misnamed, mislabeled, or misspelled. If there are multiple entries for the same place, I have an unreasonable desire to merge or report places that shouldn’t be there.

For whatever reason, I feel like I have a duty to make sure that people – yes, strangers – don’t mistakenly check-in to bogus locations on Facebook. Once I click on the editor tab, I get lost into a never-ending editing and clean-up mode involving places I have both been to and never been to. It’s insane and I can’t help it.

It's "Krispy Kreme." With a  ... never mind.

It’s “Krispy Kreme.” With a … never mind.

For example, I see this, I want to pull my hair out. What I end up doing is edit the spelling of the place and report to merge it as a duplicate. It’s all in the hopes that someone at Facebook sees it and does the right thing. It’s ridiculous for me to do it because what does it actually accomplish? Nothing really. If anything, I’ve given Facebook some free labor on my part to try to weed out some bad data. In a way, I work for Facebook. In another, more accurate way, I’m a crazy person who shakes my fist at other people’s inability to properly input data.

Then there’s this.

It sounds like you're saying "DodgerS Stadium," but the signs say "Dodger Stadium." It's singular!

It sounds like you’re saying “Dodgers Stadium,” but the signs say “Dodger Stadium.” It’s singular!

Dodger Stadium is located in Los Angeles, Calif. The area code is 323. The ZIP code is 90012.

So no, you shouldn’t check-in to Dodger Stadium in Huntington Park, Van Nuys or Pacoima. Facebook users can be … inept, but your cellphone’s GPS is dumber. Don’t create a new “Dodger Stadium” in Sylmar folks! There’s only one, and it isn’t in the San Fernando Valley.

Look how many people have checked into these bogus Dodger Stadiums! It’s shocking. It’s disappointing … at least for me. It’s almost as if these people’s check-in never happened. Hundreds of people didn’t properly document their visit. They visited the wrong Dodger Stadium.

It’s a silly obsession. Maybe I just want to help people. Maybe I’m a sort of narcissist of “knowing” more than another Facebook user. Maybe I’m procrastinating, obsessing over this instead of something more important.

In some way, this data is important, but it isn’t life and death. It’s location metadata, advertising, technology and Facebook.

Thank goodness I’m not a Foursquare user.

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