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    DRINK TO THE LASSES: Notes from a Woman's College Womb
    by Mary Beth Ellis
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Oh good! It's a new semester!

I teach several deployed members of the military at the moment, and it's an entirely new experience.  For one, I experience far smaller acidic waves of furor and personal affront due to sentence fragments.  I find it difficult to yell a great deal over a comma splice when they spend their days walking around Adamiyah in full body armor.

But they're not all troops, they're not all deployed, and students are still students.  So if you're one of mine:

-Hey, you know how you have the option of having all course emails sent directly to the personal email account of your choice?  I CAN SEE THEM.  I can see the fact that you think of yourself as "BigIronInches" within the world of Yahoo.  It doesn't do much for my impression of your 490-word essay entitled "A Complete History of Italy."

-By checking the little HIGHEST PRIORITY box on your email, you ensure that I read your message last.  Because chances are excellent that it consists of "WHERE IS THE SYLLABUS??!!!?" and,  somewhere else up the line, I will run into your four-minute follow-up: "Please disregard previous message... I found the syllabus under the enormous tab on the course homepage marked 'SYLLABUS,' to the right of the email in which you reminded us where to find the syllabus, lol!"  Yes, lol, my friend.

-Typing out "the year of Our Lord, anno domini, two thousand and eight" does not make you learned.  It makes you a word count padder, and it makes me give you an F+.

-If you really are sick/hurt/in a coma/otherwise incapacitated, just let me know.  I've been there myself.  We can try to work something out.  Attachments of HD 10-megapixel images of your ringworm rash from several angles, however, are not necessary.

-That being said, I'm sorry, but "my roommate closed a car door on my arm when I was drunk" is not sufficient excuse to get an extension on your 490-word complete history of Italy.

-When completing your MLA Works Cited page, be advised that there is a proper way to cite an interview.  "My Grandpa, on the Phone, sometime Last Week, 2010," however, is not it.

hurricane a- comin' and I'm not in it at:  mbe@drinktothelasses.com

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Reader Comments (6)

Imagine Professor Ellis’s reaction to Burton Bernstein’s epic purple prose in his word-padded (505 pages; legal fine-print type-size) biography of James Thurber:

“His scrupulously guarded virginity, hidden for so long on that lofty pedestal where American Womanhood dwelled, was surrendered to a semi-professional demimondaine, a Folies Bergeres dancer named Ninette, & was erased with yet another.”

This - from a writer once published in your beloved New Yorker magazine, no less - highlights the virtues of “my roommate closed a car door on my arm when I was drunk.”

It is an alibi that didn’t take a week to read; & it isn’t pretentious.

Bernstein may be a lost cause. But beware of this young writer who someday will add the aura of credibility to his inventiveness & gain fame for his ability to miss deadlines with impunity!

September 1, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDon Reed

Oh MB,
I know that your students sometimes do not live up to your academic standards and I know it frustrates/pisses you off, but I LOVE reading about your adventures in academia. And while I laugh on the outside, I cringe on the inside, knowing these students will someday work in the nursing homes giving me my meds. (Here's hoping for early dementia so I don't know the difference.)

I do hope you have a good semester.


September 1, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKelle Belle

Don, that quote is possibly the epitome of purple prose.

September 2, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterstarnarcosis

You need to get yourself a drill sergeant hat, girl.

"Shut up and gimme twenty... similes!" ;)

September 2, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterred pill junkie

When I read the paragraph about Mr/Mrs WHERE IS THE SYLLABUS??!!?, I almost died laughing. I take online classes and I did something similar because A) I'm an idiot and B) I'm also a guy which means that, apparently, I'm blind to enormous hyperlinks that say "Here is your assignment". Yeeaahhhh that was not my best week grade-wise...

September 2, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterpointyhead

Star & MBE & Josh: “Wait, there’s more!”

And the author’s epic-length-of-sentence verbosity…

In an eleven-line sentence (not “paragraph”) on p. 159, one beleaguered segment reads as follows:

“The creator of the most sophisticated, witty magazine in the English-speaking world who often missed the point of some of its most sophisticated, witty pieces & cartoons…”

Without steroids:

“The creator of the most sophisticated magazine in the English-speaking world who often missed the point of its sophistication & wit…”

September 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDon Reed
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