Survival Kit: Mr. Jones on Horror Movies and William Faulkner

Mr. Jones on journaling, Frankenstein, and William Faulkner.

Survival Kit: Mr. Jones on Horror Movies and William Faulkner
Photography and illustration by Kaiden Chandler.

Welcome to Survival Kit, a monthly column interviewing teachers on the seven things they can't live without. In this edition, Mr. Jones on journaling, Frankenstein, and William Faulkner.

Mr. Jones, an English teacher at MSMHS, spoke with Current reporter Gracie Peil on the seven things he can't live without. Here's their conversation, lightly edited for clarity.

1. His Book Collection

I would go with my book collection. I have been hoarding and reading literature since I was a teenager and before, and I love having books that I loved when I was 14 or 15, right next to books that I’ve recently read. I love the fact that it's this living record of books that have either taught me a lot of stuff, entertained me, I just have a real connection with them. Ms. Frick [a former MSMHS teacher, a current Groton Middle School teacher, and Mr. Jones’ wife] says that we basically cannot move ever again because she does not want to move the books again.

[My favorite book is] probably Light in August by Williams Faulker, which was always one of my favorites. I taught it last year, and teaching it, with a lot of books, makes you see it in different ways and have new experiences with it. And it was special to read it as a teenager and wrestle with it and become obsessed with it, and then, you know — 10 or 15 years later — force other teenagers to read it, who actually didn’t hate it, so it was pretty cool.

2. The Detroit Lions

I would go with the Detroit Lions, a football team that is not from here. I have no reason to like them other than the fact that my dad loves them. I love the fact that when they made the playoffs this year — and ultimately threw it away for no reason — it was fun calling him after the games and having that kind of connection. Maybe I’m just a hipster, but I enjoy loving things that others don’t love, but that’s something that I keep with me and love.

Once, when I was around 18, they came to play the Giants and I saw them and they got torched, and then, last Christmas Eve, two years ago, my parents live in South Carolina now, and we went to see them play the Carolina Panthers, and they got beat by maybe 40 points, and it was a massacre. Probably not worth the price of admission, but I love them.

3. His Wedding Ring (Symbolically)

I guess I could do a silly symbolic one and say ‘This here wedding ring.’ I definitely could live without it, however, it is very much representative of something that I would not want to be without, which is my wonderful marriage. It’s a symbol of not being alone in this life, which is definitely nice and a wonderful thing.

4. Headphones

My headphones. That’s kind of a generic one that people love to say, but it's true. The ability to put on headphones anywhere, whether it's a prep period or out for a walk or when I used to commute into the city and take the train and be around all these people. The ability to essentially block out the rest of the world, and have a little white noise guarding you from the chaos around you I think is nice, and I need that.

5. Journaling

I’ve kept a journal since I was a teenager. I don’t go back and read them like they’re great literature, but it provides a little context for my life, and I do like being able to take the clutter of the day, kind of crystallizing it on the page — I find it to be very healthy and helpful.

6. 20-Person Book Clubs (Or, Teaching)

I don’t know what physical object represents this job I have, but this new life I’ve discovered in the past four years or so — where I teach people things, work with young people, and engage in a series of 20-person book clubs every day — is a really fun and frustrating and awesome and exciting career that I have.

I love reading the material, preparing for class, and coming in and talking to a bunch of other people who’ve read it and hearing what they have to say. Because genuinely, I walk out afterward with a different understanding of what I’ve read, and it's very fun to have that collaborative conversation, to talk to young people with this book in the middle, this poem or whatever, and it's really fun. It’s really fun having moments where I see the kind of passion coming out that I feel like I’ve always had for literature, seeing that in the kids I teach, I love that.

7. Horror Movies and Books

I’m gonna go with horror movies, honestly. I’ve watched them a lot since I was a little kid, and that is the ultimate comfort thing to crawl into — around Halloween time, but also in general. I find it relaxing and helpful — I don’t know helpful how, but it’s just a thing that I return to constantly. I really like the Halloween movies, the Rob Zombie Halloween movies, and anything vampire-related. I mean I do love Twilight, separately from this. But I also enjoy any kind of Dracula, Interview with a Vampire — anything that deals with the idea of these people living forever.

I love Stephen King. I love the old, old ones like Frankenstein and Dracula, they're cool, it's a fictional story created around fears that people — universally, from different cultures, different generations, and eras — have all shared, fears of these things that are scary in our world, showing themselves in different ways. You know, Frankenstein’s scary; it's also all about the fear of man’s uncontrolled need for scientific progress by any means necessary. We live in a world with Elon Musk now, so, these things, they’re good cautionary tales for the world around us.

Thanks for reading Survival Kit, a publication of The Current. Join us next Thursday for news, opinion, puzzles and more in The Current: Monthly Edition!

-Kaiden Chandler, Editor in Chief of The Current

The Current