By SUNNY LOCKWOOD
Roger Mueller has traded in his curriculum plan and grade book for a video camera and the result was a raucous sendup of the American automobile.
A retired University of the Pacific professor of American literature, Mueller was one of the first to sign up for video production classes at the Paul Moeller Studio in San Andreas.
For seven weeks, he drove from his home in Forest Meadows to the studio to learn about and practice using video cameras, microphones and editing equipment.
After nearly 30 years of lecturing on Hawthorne, Thoreau and other 19th century American writers, would he perhaps make his first film on the short stories of Mark Twain or the literary struggles of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow?
Mueller's first television production was "Demolition Derby 2002" with all the crashing metal and cheering crowds at the event on the last night of the Calaveras County Fair.
"I spent four and a half hours filming and then several hours editing," Mueller said, with a sparkle in his bespectacled eyes.
The show aired daily from June 14 to 19 on Channel 5 in Calaveras County.
"He's one of our new producers," said Ed Lark, studio manager and production instructor for Calaveras Community Television. "He interviewed individual drivers and added a whole new level of human interest to the production."
Lark said the production was good enough that he sent it to Sonora for broadcast on Channel 8, where it will air at 7:30 p.m. today, and he plans to send it to Sacramento to air on the public access channel there.
"For his first attempt, he did a darned good job," Lark said.
Mueller grew up in rural Minnesota and met his wife, Arlene, while studying business at Macalester College in St. Paul.
But he fell in love with literature after taking an extension class in Greek and Roman epics, quit his job as an insurance underwriter and went back to college, where he earned both a master's degree and doctorate in 19th century American literature.