Thursday, January 21, 2010

TV, the biggest threat to tenure...

Some quick--and awesome--TV links...

1) Remember this post about the Joss Whedon-directed episode of Glee? Well, it only get's sweeter--Neil Patrick Harris (my love for him only grows stronger every day) might be guest-starring in that episode. It's like the people behind Glee are putting together an episode just for me! (Because the world works that way, right?)

2) Look, anyone who knows me knows that I am counting down the days until Lost's final season premieres. I am, I'll admit, a bit obsessed. But even I can appreciate how very funny this bit from The Onion is: "Final Season of 'Lost' Promises to Make Fans More Annoying Than Ever. "

3) And then there's this gem I just saw on Gawker: an adorable Italian family from Long Island recreates Lost in their living room (and basement). I want to hang out with this family.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

One more quick link...

Check out this Greensboro News & Record story about the happy ending for my grad-school friend, John, and his family, who brought their baby son home from Ethiopia earlier this week. (Non-Greensboro friends: You might remember John, Sarah, and Emma from this post.)

"Then too there is this"

Perfect poem for a winter evening and my life at the moment...

J. Allyn Rosser

joy in the day's being done, however
clumsily, and in the ticked-off lists,
the packages nestling together,
no one home waiting for dinner, for
you, no one impatient for your touch
or kind words to salve what nightly
rises like heartburn, the ghost-lump feeling
that one is really as alone as one had feared.
One isn't, not really. Not really. Joy
to see over the strip mall darkening
right on schedule a neon-proof pink
sunset flaring like the roof of a cat's mouth,
cleanly ribbed, the clouds laddering up
and lit as if by a match struck somewhere
in the throat much deeper down.

No more Poe Toaster?

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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

More links...

...these are decidedly academic in theme.

First, I suppose I am better late than never on posting a link to Brian Croxall's delivered-in-absentia MLA talk. (More smart analysis here.) I was at MLA this year, as we are hiring for two positions in our department, but I have yet to attend a single conference session (four MLAs, zeros sessions). Each time it was because I simply didn't have the time--the first three MLAs, I was interviewing as a candidate; this time, I was on the other side of the table.

Anyway, one of my colleagues and I talked about heading down to the Convention Center to see how busy the Job Center was and to get a general feel for this year's vibe, but we never got around to it. There were lots of good reasons: we just didn't have the time/energy after 8 hours of interviewing, it was bitterly cold and windy outside, and my colleague had a nasty cold. But I think that a big reason (unspoken by me) was that we didn't want to deal with what was sure to be a depressing scene. There were, after all, about 40% fewer jobs listed this year than last year. And last year's numbers were something like 30% less than the year before. It's nasty out there and I'm so grateful to have a job. And I couldn't handle seeing all those desparate folks who aren't as lucky as I am. Heck, I think I still have job-search PTSD.

Anyway, all of this is a roundabout way of saying, good for Brian Croxall for reminding people of how expensive, frustrating, awful, and often futile the job search can be.

Second link: from, a report from a Rhet/Comp session at MLA. This session sounds like it was lame...lots of finger-pointing and pontificating about what's wrong with rhet/comp. But if you are interested, check out the comments at the end of the column. Some are depressing because of their own pontificating, but others (from Kathleen Yancy, for instance, or from Joe Essid, who I worked with the one year I was at Richmond) are quite good and give some hope.

Third link, also from this one made me laugh--a column about a panel of historian parents and their historian offspring at the annual American Historical Association meeting. Choice quotation? "[I]t turns out that the way you rebel against an American historian parent is to become a medievalist." Ha. Beyond the laughs, though, are smart observations about how the field (and academia) has changed over the years. Good stuff.

One last link, which is only going to be funny to English folks...MLA 2010.

Earthquake Relief

Fellow Lutheran readers (or anyone else who is looking for a good source to donate to)...the ELCA's website has a really easy donation process. Every little bit helps, right? Such devastating news for people who were already struggling. Prayer certainly helps and can make a difference, but so can money...

Out of class early, so how about some quick link-dumping?

I've got ten minutes until my next class, so let me clean out my bookmarks a bit and share some fun links with you.

1) From back in November, some current writers (including Silas House and Jill McCorkle) talk about their first books.

2) From I don't know where, but I love it (click to make it bigger). I am teaching John Smith's writings on Friday and might just have to bring this to class.

3) From the New York Times Magazine (very impressive, no?), check out "Going Cyborg," by my friend and fellow UNCG alum, Jillian Weise.

4) Finally, from, an interesting column about the murder of Indiana University professor Don Belton.

Okay--I need to stop myself! Off to class I go!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Adventures in Grading: Fall Semester Wrap-Up

It's way late to be posting these, but I hate to let these gems of bad/funny/strange writing go unshared.

From an English 204 Paper: "The impact of words such as this pierces deep into the soul and grinds up a person's insides like mashed potatoes." I actually kind of like this one because you can at least tell that the words moved the student. I do wonder how this student feels about mashed potatoes, though.

All of the rest are from English 204 Final Exams...

"Her aunt was named No Name Woman because she got prego when she shouldn't have and her village kicked her out." Where to begin? The idea that this student seems to think the woman was actually named "No Name Woman"? The use of the word "prego"? Another student, writing on the same story, put another unique twist on the aunt's predicament: "Her aunt got pregnants."

"No matter if you are dead or alive, family is always with you." That's just creepy.

"Her story, though fiction, has very accurate idealization of what it was like for slaves before the Civil War." I am not sure what "accurate idealization" of slavery is...

"A plum is simple, yet delicious, so the form he uses is short, descriptive wording that sends the reader on a taste adventure into Williams' perspective." Okay, I kind of like this one, too. Perhaps this student has a career in advertising awaiting him or her. (Yes, it's about "This is Just to Say.")

"This story shows how something as petite as the color of one's skin determines who you love." An example of how your internal thesaurus can lead you astray.

"The male domination should be counterbalanced with some stories of women smacking a few men around and see how they like it." Not that I am in favor of violence, but one must admire that a male student wrote this.

Finally, from Part I in the exam, where students identify quotations from works we've read...I thought it might be fun to share some butchered versions of the title of one of Emily Dickinson's most famous poems, "I heard a Fly buzz--when I died:"

"Before Death Comes a Buzz--Then Die"
"A Fly flew by and buzzed when I died"
"There was a fly by my death bed"
"Something about a fly buzzing"

Onto the Spring Semester, which starts on Monday!