Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Quick poetry links...

I've been catching up on the Poetry Foundation's "Poem of the Day" podcasts and feel the need to point to two: "Calm Down" by Gregory Orr (a fantastic poem about writing and reading) and "Edward Hopper Study: Hotel Room" by Victoria Chang (about the painting above).


A blog shout-out to my friend Kate, who along with her roommate, is fostering two puppies. Check them out here--and pass along the word to anyone in the DC-metro area who might have a good home for Alice and Alba.

I watch too much TV...

...but here are some interesting updates about shows on the bubbles and the networks' fall schedules (well, really only regarding the shows I like.)

The good news:
  • Chuck will be back! Yay!
  • Amazingly, Dollhouse will be back, too.
  • So will Cold Case, which won the battle of "which one will CBS save?" that it was fighting with Without a Trace. That's too bad for Without a Trace, as I like that show, too. But if I had to choose, I'd go with Cold Case. The music is much better and my friends and I sometimes play a "guess the killer" game (that I am a rockstar at playing).
  • Some minor bits of good news: ABC is bringing back Better Off Ted and Castle. Castle is one I like mostly for Nathan Fillion, who I've loved since he was on One Life to Live--even before his entry into the Whedonverse. Better Off Ted is a pretty darn funny show--sort of Arrested Development-Lite. The episode called "Racial Sensitivity" seemed like an instant classic to me.
The bad news:
Goodbye, Samantha Who? I really liked this little show. This one hurts, although not as badly as when we lost Aliens in America. This is more surprising, though, as I thought it was doing okay in the ratings.

The weird news:

Thursday, May 14, 2009


Since I signed the contract today, I guess I can finally officially post this (although lots of you already know)...

This is an old picture of the place from back when the current owners were buying it, but it's the best one I have on hand. Tentative move-in date: July 29. I'll probably give more details later. This whole thing is terrifying, by the way--very exciting, but also terrifying.

Undergraduate Conference Opportunity

Let me do a little P.R. work for Shepherd's Sigma Tau Delta chapter, since I am, after all, their advisor. If you are a teacher and your school isn't too far away take a look at the cfp and feel free to pass it onto your students. It's the first year we are trying something like this, but it should be a good chance for students to get comfortable presenting and discussing their work.

So my birthday is in August...

...in case you are wondering what to do about it.

Some link dumping...

The end of the semester seems like a good time to clean up my bookmarks and post some links I've been saving. So let's start with some funny ones:

1) "Texts from Last Night." This one combines hilarity with equal doses of depressing--and sometimes unintentional profundity. A sample: "Is it possible to be promiscuous but in a classy way?"

2) "Awkward Family Photos." This one is awesome. But for all that is good and holy, tell me that this one isn't real!

3) And finally, DickensURL, which converts any URL into the words of Charles Dickens. It's totally random, but kind of fun, especially if you are Dickens geek like I am.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Camp Jane: The Sequel

If you find yourself with a few extra bucks (ha!) and want to make a charitable contribution that you know will do some good in the world, consider contributing to my friend Jane's Summer Camp in Azerbaijan. Jane is one of my favorite people in the universe and what she did last summer with that camp amazed me. You can read about it all here and here. And you can make your donation here.

Philosophical Insights from Vogel

So the other night, my good friend Vogel and I are having a deep conversation about good, evil, and human nature. I was explaining that my little sister, who works as a psychologist in a juvenile detention center, was talking with a co-worker about why people do awful things to each other. Her colleague, who has also worked in adult prisons, made this sad statement: "Anyone can do anything." (You need to understand this in an ominous way--not in a "yay for humanity!" kind of way.) My sister says she isn't convinced of that (yet).

Here was Vogel's reaction: "I believe it. Say you put me on an island and starved me. I could eat someone's butt. I'm not sure I could keep it down, but..."

After I got done laughing, I told her I was so putting this on my blog. She said, "Go ahead. Do it. I'm proud if it."

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Adventures in Grading: 'Favorite Sentences from Exams' Edition

It's just after 1:00 on Saturday and I am done with grading. Yay! I didn't collect as many gems from the flood of papers as I usually do. Most of the awfulness was just plain awful, not funny-awful. But there were a few awesome keepers worth sharing with y'all.

1) "Up through the 1900s, ethnicity threw-up boundaries between people."

It's the hyphen (that makes "threw-up" kind of like a noun--but not really--just enough to conjure the image of vomit) that does this one in, of course. Nothing major, but it made me laugh, and then gag a bit.

2) "Connie could no think at all. She is petrified in udder disbelief."

Sorry, but "udder disbelief" just kills me. I could try to explain how this is wrong, but if you don't get it, it's like a cow's opinion. And no, this student is NOT an ESL writer. He's just a horrible editor of his own work. In his next sentence, he refers to a "gold hot rub," when what he really means is "hot rod." At least I hope that's what he means...

3) And finally, I've saved the best for last: "When we think of love and sex, we think of happy endings and how the female is getting her happy ending. This semester, we looked at authors that take it beyond that."

Look--I know that on the surface, this is a perfectly harmless set of sentences, but come on, doesn't it also sound like the opening from an final exam essay for "PORN 101: New Depictions of Female Satisfaction in Adult Films"? By the way, I bet that's a real course somewhere...like Berkeley.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Sigma Tau Delta Initiation

Here's the latest group of STD inductees. A nice looking group, right?

Monday, May 4, 2009

What'll you'll be asked in an interview...

So I've just come back from a lunch with the President. No, not that President. This one. Anyway, the lunch was a bit of a celebration for those of us at Shepherd University who are about to finish our second full year. We have been part of a new faculty "learning community" for these past two years. Today's lunch marked the end of that community's formal meetings. I asked, "Does this mean we can't play the 'I don't know--I'm new here' card anymore?" The answer: "That's right. Now people can say, 'You don't know that? Why not? You've been here long enough!'" Gulp. Anyway, now that I am no longer "new" faculty and will next year find myself in the position of chairing two search committees (another "gulp!"), I feel a bit more qualified to link to this story about job search advice.

Back when lots of my friends started to go on the job market, I cobbled together a list of just about every question I had been asked in my years on the market and every question I'd heard other people talk about having to answer. (And I'd be happy to share it with any of you who haven't seen it yet.) This list, though, is pretty terrific. Though it says it's tailored to community college jobs, I think it would work well for any job where teaching will be your primary duty (as opposed to research).

You'll also want to have a list of questions about your research, of course, but for teaching, this list is a great start.

It's also worth noting that coming up with smart, thoughtful answers to these questions (even once you have a job) can help you better understand who you are as a teacher and why you do what you do.

Dear Anonymous Donor...

You seem really cool. Have you heard of Shepherd University? We're cool, too, especially in the English department.