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Sedaris: Crumpet the Elf

Here's the video of the Santaland Diaries excerpt in case you were gone or just want to watch it again because it's pretty funny.


You So Stylish

As you are a-hunting for style this weekend, consider your own writing style. Who do you write like? Who do you want to write like? Visit this site if you're curious: I Write Like but beware! It may quickly become an obsession. It is not particularly scientific or infallible, but it probably has some merit. Plus it's fun.

Update: I just put a chunk of an Orwell essay into the "analyzer." Turns out Orwell writes like Vonnegut. Interesting. I figured Orwell would write like Orwell, but whatever. Prokott and I both write like H.P. Lovecraft. Which makes sense because we often comment on being THE SAME PERSON but neither of us is familiar with this author, though I very much like the name.

Make sure you visit to find the Incredibly Tedious Guide for Identifying Style in Nonfiction and the list of helpful words to characterize tone. They're at the bottom of that blue section.

Your blog post for this week is open topic. Write like you. Write like the author you aspire to write like. Write in a style that is altogether different from your own. But write. Recently, many of you have been writing really, really good blog posts -- your style is emerging, your voice is driving the content, you're owning what you write. Brilliant! Some of you are maybe sorta still just kinda writing stuff, and that's okay too. You know, if you don't want to grow and improve yourself.

As for me and my weekend, we will be knee-deep in your rhetorical analysis essays because I told you that you'd get them back before break. And that's next week. And I really want to make that happen. And they're not done yet. Not even halfway. AND I FEEL SO GUILTY ABOUT IT. So yeah.

Fun update that you probably don't care about: I finally have electricity AND running water in my kitchen. And actual walls--they're almost painted too. And I have carpet upstairs now instead of gross, bare subfloor. I am ecstatic. I might actually be able to cook something this weekend for the first time since September! It's nice to sort of almost have an actual house and not simply a rudimentary structure in which to live. Any design divas out there want to help me decorate? Any outstanding artists wish to create some lovely and unique mural? Want to create an inspiration board for me on Pinterest? Anybody got some sick skillz on the jigsaw willing to do some trim work? No? You'll be watching a marathon of holiday-themed television and can't be bothered to do anything else unless it involves sports or shopping or food? Hmph.


How Long Was This Week?

I don't know about you, but I am quite looking forward to sleeping in this weekend. And painting the weird, angled ceilings of my upstairs. And installing my kitchen cabinets in preparation for maybe getting running water and electricity in my kitchen again for the first time since October 4th. #HGTVliestoyou #I'msickofeatingtakeout #apparentlyIusehashtagsnow

Your rhetorical analysis essays are coming. Just a heads up: They might be coated in a thin layer of construction dust when you get them back. Also you will get them back before winter break for sure. Maybe probably next week. I know you're eager and anxious because you've heard stories of papers dramatically being hurled into recycling bins or lit on fire in the middle of the classroom floor--rest assured, you will get them back and if the result is catastrophic, you can give it another go. That's always how it's been, despite what you may hear.

Your blog post assignment this weekend is the "Variations on a Theme" assignment you got in class: Pick an abstraction and write about it in the different modes. Remember to shoot for 100 words per mode but that doesn't mean you have to hit exactly 100 words for each one; overall balance is the goal. Have fun with it. Try out some strategies and techniques you observed in the essays this week. I'm planning to further develop my puny little example blurbs...though I might find myself pinned under a fallen cabinet and unable to complete it. We'll see.

So I had this plan to do vocab a certain way and I don't really like it anymore. For example, we didn't exactly do any vocab this week. We haven't exactly done vocab ever except for that one time when I forced it on you. But here's the thing, you have (likely) still learned some words. So here's what we're going to do: you collect 20 words from readings or other things that cross your path containing words you find interesting or foreign. Then you learn these words. Like, beyond simple recall. Really learn what they mean, how they are used, what their stories are (etymology, historical use, etc.)  What. I actually have to know these words? Yes. Learn them. Learning is good for you. What if I never encounter any words that I find interesting or that I don't already know? Well, broaden your horizons I guess. We learn new words naturally by reading them, hearing them, noting when they show up and how they are used...and then we Google them to be sure. You will collect these 20 words and what you find out about them in some quaint little vocab notebook that you dutifully tote around for the next several weeks. Or in your regular notebook. Or on tiny scraps of paper that you keep in your pockets, Emily Dickinson style. Eventually, you will give me the list of words, their definitions, uses, etymologies, and at least one example sentence each.

If you have questions about this, we can talk about it next week. Power writing will be Monday-Wednesday. Writings due Wednesday 3:00. Don't be absent M-W. Other stuff Thursday and Friday.


And Then it Was the Weekend

Happy weekend, friends, happy weekend.

As you work on your process analysis for your awesome visual arguments, keep in mind the rules of analysis: HOW & WHY & WHY & HOW. No matter how long your process analysis is, if you do not actually offer analysis of your process, you will not have met the requirements of the assignment (read: you will fail it). MLA formatting is a must--that should be automatic at this point. MLA uses a works cited page. Not a bibliography, not a references page, a works cited page to list the works you cited in your writing. In this case you are citing the images you used in your visual "essay" but you will also be referring to them/citing them as you analyze your process of using them.

These will be printed and ready to go when you waltz into class, clutching your Starbucks, just as the bell sounds it's not-too-harsh tones. Don't ask to go to the Media Center.

A heads up for next week: 
 Since we pretty much do things in week-long spurts, this week was "visual argument" week, and next week is "awesome essays week," which means that we'll be having one of those weeks where it seems like you're always reading. The essays aren't extraordinarily long, but they do require careful consideration and close, x-ray reading. Expect homework every night. The plus side to this is that your video project will be finished. You're still working on your blog study, but there is no essay on your plate, which feels pretty satisfying, no?

I know you all have busy, beautiful schedules, so I'm giving you the reading schedule in advance (below). Maybe you'll try to do two at once just to get ahead. CRJs for each essay--remember you can use them on the quizzes that will surely follow the reading of the essay.  I don't consistently collect your CRJs because they are for you, but this time around, I think I shall.  I'll collect them in one big stapled chunk on Friday. So be prepared to offer pointed, insightful, brilliant, lively observations and participate in electrifying discussions. Sometimes you just settle in and wait for someone else to say something. Keep in mind that this Thursday I will be chatting with your parents at conferences. Wouldn't you rather that I say things like: Well, little Johnny was such a wonderful leader in our class discussions this week! He really demonstrated his understanding of the intricacies of language and what these essays have to say about humanity and the inner workings of society... instead of: He chose to refine his desk-etching skills and surreptitiously text his girlfriend the whole time. Very disappointing. If he continues to carry on this way, I don't think we can expect much of him in life. Go ahead, scoff if you must, because you know I'm kidding (or am I) but keep in mind the importance of engaging in a discussion. It will be far more fruitful if you come armed and ready with ideas, thoughts, comments, observations, questions, arguments, stories, etc.

For Monday, you are reading "I Just Wanna Be Average" by Mike Rose and completing a CRJ about the essay. It's a really good essay. Look up the words you don't know; my favorite is platitudinous. Just a heads-up, the essay has a couple of "bad words" in it, but you'll find they're apropos to the voice and purpose/argument of the essay. Plus, it's a school-sanctioned textbook, so we know they're okay.

Monday night: Bernard Cooper "A Clack of Tiny Sparks: Remembrances of a Gay Boyhood";

Tuesday night: Nancy Mairs "On Being a Cripple";

Wednesday night: Stephanie Ericsson "The Ways We Lie";

Thursday night: Lars Eighner "On Dumpster Diving";

Friday, I'll collect your stack of CRJs from the week, and then you'll have a bit of a breather over the weekend to do more work on your blog project. DO NOT PROCRASTINATE ON THIS.

...Oh yeah. And we should do some more vocab, too.

One more thing: 10 December--12 December is Power Writing Part the Second. Get ready.


Let's Try Again


Um, fix your family member "character profiles."

Most that I read were too short, too one-dimensional, and too superficial. "Grace" is the model for this assignment and I expected (still expect) to see writing that was (is) substantive, thoughtful, artfully crafted, detailed, interesting, and voice-driven. Only a few stand out in my mind as meeting that criteria: shout out to Michelle, Marissa, Rizwan, and Sophie. Everyone else: go read their blogs and then re-do yours.

I love you guys but GET IT TOGETHER. You're better writers than this. Just because something is on your blog does not mean that you should slack on it--exactly the opposite is true. AP formers can vouch for this. Invest. Invest in your blog. Write like you mean it. Every time. Write. Don't just park a few ideas there and call it a day. It's not a journal, a diary, a Facebook status feed, it's your vehicle to improve your writing, to take risks, to try out different techniques, "voices," approaches. So if you still haven't added links, played with your layout until your eyes begin to cross and the clock blinks 3am at you, what are you waiting for? Some of you, it seems, are not really getting the point of what we're doing in this class. It seems that you are dragging your heels, digging in at every opportunity, resisting. KNOCK IT OFF ALREADY!

Mini rant over. Go write something better than what you had before.


Thanksgiving Homework: Be Thankful for Your Education

Extended Blog Assignment

Later on this term, we are going to work on a narrative that requires some detailed observations you are going to make this weekend. You don't have a ton of AP homework over Thanksgiving. You do have this really fun extended blog.


Oftentimes, on Thanksgiving, family and friends gather and eat and celebrate. It sounds fantastic. Sometimes. You'll learn more about this as you get older, but a common irony of family get-togethers to celebrate is that family can be incredibly annoying and dysfunctional at times. Watch the Thanksgiving film Home for the Holidays with Holly Hunter, and you'll know what I mean.

Anyway. I pretty much just want you to tell me about your family. Record your observations, tell stories, note traditions. Write a lot. I want you to write a lot more than you've been writing for your previous blog posts. This is an extended journal. Like, you should be writing for at least an hour.

You can do this in multiple posts, or one big post-information-dump. It should be narrative, or descriptive, or in a list, or include pictures--it should be personal and funny and beautiful; but most important it just has to be. This is your forethought, your brainstorming, where you get it all down (remember, that's Lammott's advice, first in Shitty First Drafts--this is your down draft). It might not be the essay you come back to later. Or, you might find it's about Christmas or some other holiday that's not Thanksgiving, or some other thing about family that's not even about the holiday that it's "about" on the surface. 

Tell me about your Thanksgiving. Tell me what you observe this weekend, and then let the reflections that come directly from those observations inform what else you include in your post.

Be observant. Maybe you're noticing secret metaphors that live around your house, like the only pictures your mother hangs are in black and white, or your father is always in charge of the turkey, because it turns out your mother burned it the first year they were married and has been embarrassed about it ever since. Maybe you always play canasta. Maybe you go shopping with your friends on black Friday and only buy presents for yourselves. Maybe you decorate your tree.

Create round characters of your family members: maybe your uncle Jim always wears that yellow shirt with the airpit stains that match the same brown as your grandmother's gravy.

Reflect on the essay we read today: Barry's Lost/Turkeys in the Kitchen. His essay, turns out, is pretty significant, a character- and image-driven piece that defines a tradition and comments on social dynamics and gender roles. Another piece that you should read that we didn't have time for is Grace by Kevin Kling. It's on Moodle and my website. Go find it. Go read it. I bet both Kling and Barry wrote a blog post just like this one before they wrote those essays.


Other work: Remember that you won't get class time to work on your blog study. Because your only other homework is this really fun and awesome blog post, you should be tracking your blog and keeping up with your journals. Don't procrastinate on this. Just don't. You'll regret it so hard come January if you do.

BLA reading.

What else? Happy Thanksgiving! Check each other's blogs over break--comment and joke and enjoy. I'll probably be blogging, too.


BLA Ideas

Remember how you need to find a book to read for term 2 BLA? Remember what I told you about how to find the right kind of book? Remember the criteria for it?

  • It must be nonfiction
  • It must be argument-driven
  • It must be book-length (as in, continuous, not a collection of short works)
BLA does stand for Book Length Argument, after all, so you must find just that. I spent the last ten minutes sniffing around for some books to add to my list. Here's what I found:

Blink, Outliers, Tipping Point (pretty much anything Gladwell)
The Silenced Majority
The New Jim Crow
The Swerve
Twilight of the Elites
The Price of Inequality
What's the Matter with White People
Better Off Without 'Em
The Party is Over
Half the Sky (yes, this is what the documentary is based on, but don't assume they're the same)
The Digital Divide
The Shallows
Eating Animals
The Ethics of What We Eat
Who Stole the American Dream
American Lion: Andrew Jackson
The God Delusion 
The Purity Myth
Culture of Fear 
Nickeled and Dimed
The Beauty Myth
The Body Project

Politics? Pop culture? History? Economics? Food? Digital things? There's something for everyone, people. Something for everyone.

I have plenty of copies of Omnivore's Dilemma, The Death and Life of the Great American School System, The Gatekeepers, Outliers.  And I have maybe a few copies of Fast Food Nation, Savage Inequalities, Amusing Ourselves to Death, Nickeled and Dimed.

By Tuesday 11/20, you need to know which book you want to read and who else is in your group. I will be back that day and I will ask you. There will be a sign-up. It will be great.

Don't hastily choose a book just cuz other people are or just cuz it's one I have. There are a lot of interesting books out there. Look for them. Just remember the criteria and the examples I offered--not every nonfiction book will fit the bill. If there's a book you're interested in and it's not on this list, you should definitely run it by me.



Comic Sans Criminal and Other Font Snobbery

Do we need to stage an intervention? Because we can.

Additionally, please read this post of mine from last year. It links to several things about font and, of course, about Comic Sans. There's a game, some cartoons--good stuff. Enjoy! 

And in case you'd like to enrich yourself with some font-study, go here:

And lest you think font and typography are still superfluous things that we only discussed today because I wanted "something light" to kick off the new term, read this: This stuff is real, people.

And browse this:

You see, there is an entire world of people like me who are fascinated by fonts.

Still more:

Also, offered up for your continued consideration/information/entertainment/indoctrination:

Now, before you get all inspired and go join the Comic Sans Nation, think twice. That's the motto for this week, right? THINK TWICE. The video is not a sincere appeal for you to defend the font, but rather, an indictment. If you missed this, perhaps it needs a sarc mark.


An Update

Some humor for you as you agonize over your grades and how you must wait to learn what they are:
I LOVE GEORGE ORWELL.                   

I'm whittling away at the pile of things this-needing-to-graded this weekend. So don't e-mail me every five minutes about your grade--in fact, don't email me about it at all--it will fluctuate as I enter things. Once things are finalized, do let me know if you see that something is missing, that I have accidentally given you 500 points or 5 points instead of 50 or something like that. Have patience. Go get one of those pretentious, indulgent salted caramel thingys at Caribou. They're amazing. They will wipe everything else from your mind. You will not worry about anything at all as you sip on your overpriced beverage with the fancy name.


Democracy & Rhetoric: 2012 Election

Election coverage is always laced with a certain pomp and flourish, sometimes seeming more like Mardi Gras than a civic event. Lights, gimmicks, confetti, rhetoric--it's all there! Don't get me wrong, it should be a celebration; it's important. I'm just saying it sometimes goes a little over the top.

Speaking of rhetoric, check out the graphic novel rendition of the 2012 election: The American election in graphic novel form

Clever animations and selected dialogue clearly shape the message. 


Culture Warriors

 Get in touch with your inner warrior--costumes are 50% off!

Some of you were wondering about who owns the media and how it is possible for so few to own so much. Freepress gives a nice overview of who owns what in different categories--note that Bain Capital shows up in there. But if you'd like a more objective take on it, consult the Pew Research Center --there's a wealth of interesting material worthy of a few minutes (or hours) of mouse-clicking.


Food for thought, as you begin freaking out about your BLA-final-as-blog-post:

Remember that Bauerlein is casting a wide net when he's describing a generation as dumb, civically illiterate, and apathetic about it. Are there certain areas of his argument that weigh on you more than others? If you're a lover of classical music, does pop music or autotune irk you? If you are drawn to art --Rembrant, Degas, El Bosco, El Greco, Modigliani, Matisse, Brueghel, Pollock-- do you resent the sentiment that art in the schools is supplemental and elective, not core? Does is matter whether we know the Bill of Rights, what the Magna Carta is, who the first or fortieth president was? Or does it just matter that we care to access that information when we need it? Apart from obviously being defensive because you are clearly not dumb, can you entertain his argument in some capacity that is relevant to you and your life? Are there certain cultural practices and traditions that are under siege that we must pick up our spears and defend? Whose job is it to defend them? Are you a cultural warrior? Am I? Are your parents? Where does the responsibility reside? What are you willing to defend?

No, these questions are not part of your official assignment, but as you comment on the effectiveness of Bauerlein's argument (which is part of the official assignment) I do want you to consider these positions or ideas.

In reading this book for the third time, I find that the onslaught of facts and figures is no less cumbersome, and the argument at the core of the book no less provocative. Being under 30 myself, I fall under his broad banner of dumbness and can pull from my own experience many points on both sides of this argument. Sure, I enjoy some trashy television, I can sing along to some terrible pop songs, I'm regularly on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, various comics, and whatever else I happen to find on the internet. But I also read actual books, pay attention to the news, and yes, visit museums. I have stood on the lawns of Monticello, looking out at the still, mosquito-pocked Potomac, cloaked in the mid-Atlantic's August. I have knelt on the blood-soaked grounds of Gettysburg, and touched the wounded trees there. I have enjoyed the performance arts in my patronage of ballet, opera, and theater. I have attended political rallies, I take my civic duty to vote seriously, I donate to charities that meet my criteria of ethical responsibility. I would--and do--defend these elements of our "rich American culture" (and to think more broadly, our rich, human culture) that Bauerlein laments is lost on today's youth (which, remember, includes me) even though I watch SNL and Modern Family, and maybe worse things like Here Comes Honey Boo Boo (though I don't actually watch that hideous show) instead of reciting monologues from King Lear to Winnie and Lola.

So my point is that you should obviously strive to be well rounded and amazing like me it's not necessarily all or nothing. There is room for both entertainment media and information media, room for both smutty, top-selling books, and the so-called classics, room for Family Guy and Masterpiece Theater. But, of course, not everyone seeks that balance.

So do I think the future is "dim" as he does? Well, maybe sometimes, but generally I'm optimistic that enough people care about this stuff too. Maybe we won't devolve into an idiocracy after all.

Furthermore, there is the issue of frontal lobe development and it's bearing on conscience, altruism, and self-actualization. And it isn't until one reaches the upper twenties that one's frontal lobe is fully developed. Thus, Bauerlein's argument is, and will be forever, conveniently true, because, until we care, we don't.*

*Though I am not suggesting there aren't other factors, of course. Nor am I suggesting that we can use but my brain isn't fully developed yet as an excuse to indulge ourselves in stupidity.


Halloween Rhetoric

Your task is to dig a little bit on one of these topics that came up in our brief conversation following Kling's "Waiting for Mr. Mershing" and to answer this question: how is Halloween rhetorical? Post your findings on your blog today in class (or later if you don't finish).

Here's the infographic here about sexy costumes that shouldn't be sexy.
  • Why do people wear sexy costumes (or "sexy" costumes...)
  • What does it suggest about people/American culture/society
  • Are there sexy costumes for men? explore this...
  • If you explore costumes in more general terms, consider why and how certain trends emerge. 
  • How come it's okay for little kids to dress up as the devil, as a witch, as a tiny vampire. These are really dark do we make them suitable for children--what's the argument here?
Candy/Trick or Treating
  • Where does this practice come from?
  • What's it all about?
  • Has it changed at all? 
  • Is it really all about sweet things? What about the tricks?
Haunted houses/house decor/superstitions
  • How are these things related?
  • Why do we decorate our houses on holidays?
  • Where do superstitions come from? how do they continue?
  • Seriously, what's the deal? Where does it come from?
  • While were at it, what about other symbols of Halloween, like black cats?
  • Why do we enjoy being scared?
  • Why do we watch horror/slasher movies?
  • What does this say about us (culture, society, humans)?
Zombie/Vampire obsesh
  • Where did we get the idea of zombies? the term? why?
  • Why do they eat braaaaaaaaaains? 
  • Go watch this scene from Romero's Night of the Living Dead (1968) 1:15:26 
  • Maybe read this
  • And this
  • Why are vampires suddenly all the rage? Read this
  • Where did our vampire obsession stem? what started it all? Watch this
  • How has the vampire image changed or remained the same?  
The Gross-out Factor
  • Halloween parties featuring gross food items, like "severed fingers" and "brains" and "eye balls" and "baby guts" and deep-fried spiders (which some people somewhere actually eat).
  • General indulgence in all things "icky": spiders, snakes, bats -- things we normally object to, we celebrate. Why? Why do we do this?


Non Sequitur


Contrary to what some of you believe, understanding how and why something is funny does not, in fact, ruin its humor. I argue that it enhances it. Why is this bizarre little video amusing? Well, simply because it's a current political reference, taking reputable public figures and twisting the dialogue from politic to a string of non sequitur and red herring statements. Bizarre and unpredictable. 


Browse Articles? Whaa?

For your next essay, you will critically analyze the glittering rhetoric of some article. I have a bunch to get you started, but I'm probably going to add a few more and maybe remove a few that are lame. Perhaps you will find one that you'd rather analyze than the ones provided for you. Fine.

Here's a link to that website that I'm supposed to  be phasing out. Find the yellow box called "Rhetorical Analysis" toward the bottom left; articles are located there. Length shouldn't be a factor in deterring or enticing you.

I will explain in more detail tomorrow (Tuesday) and give you The Assignment Sheet (which is epic, by the way) that articulates exactly what you need to do. After we finish the presentations tomorrow, you'll have time to browse and Wednesday will be a day of annotations and analysis.

Right, and we'll do a bunch of vocab on Wednesday, because I've been neglecting it. And I'll collect your scored Jesse Jackson essays. And we'll rejoice that we have Thursday and Friday off.

Except that EVERYONE WILL BE GONE FOR THAT SILLY PSAT TEST! So vocab will just have to wait. Again. Ugh. Look for an update that tells you what to do for your MEA weekend blog post and probably some other stuff, too. 


On Ethics, Philosophy, and College

Window into my undergrad years: I fancied myself something of a philosopher. A yuppie, middle-class philosopher, attending an expensive private liberal arts college (strictly on scholarships and loans, mind you). Remember that metaphor Joan Didion used about the shaky passport and false papers and being afraid of being found out? That probably applies here. I became intrigued with philosophy as a senior on high school. I wanted to know everything there was to know about philosophy, and the world--well everything that was actually knowable, that is. Wait, how do we know what is knowable? According to whom? What is knowledge anyway?


I was kind of ridiculous. A strange hybrid of too-serious, pseudo-intellectual and selfish, materialistic, semi-entitled suburban kid. Ah, youth. 

This pursuit of knowledge often consumes the undergrad, and for good reason. New surroundings, new ideas, new responsibilities, new opportunities for cultural awareness--it's all very exciting and dizzying. See what you have to look forward to? College is awesome.

So this philosophy stuff. I did an independent study on ethics one semester with this professor who unexpectedly burst into fits of shouting about the ontological argument and the problem of evil: Oh, look! Little pieces of evil! --It was rather entertaining. But we read and discussed Aristotle's Nichomachean Ethics and while I can't pretend that I have retained everything from that (or any other) semester, the concept of "happiness" as well being or eudaimonia, has stuck with me. This is what Vicki Hearne was getting at when she went on and on about animals deserving to be happy. She wasn't talking about smiley, giggly, I am so happy happiness; she was talking about living a full life.

I know, you didn't sign up for philosophy lit. and your patience is fading, but guess what? If you're going to write a compelling argument-driven essay, you have to consider virtually everything. Fun, right?


Composition requires thinking. Critical thinking. Clear thinking. Creative thinking--it's mental gymnastics, people. Start training.


Are We Dumb?

Mark Bauerlein asserts that today's under-30 crowd is the dumbest generation, but are we? Sure we have an inclination toward the defensive, but maybe there's some truth to this. Or maybe it's the usual inter-generational misunderstanding.

This article seems to support Bauerlein's position; it certainly offers some other interesting ideas. And it offers a quiz to see how dumb you are. THAT IS SO MEAN! Ha. No, seriously, would you pass the citizenship test? Take the quiz and see.

Also, fair warning: tomorrow you will be engaging in a debate. Not to worry! You'll have a little time to prepare your opening statement and all that good stuff so you won't end up like such as this:

Now, I fully admit that I am not the most eloquent speaker, and probably say and do all kinds of annoying things when I'm rambling on in front of the class...hey, I'm only human, and public speaking is difficult for most people. Still though, the ability to form and articulate a position in a short amount of time is rather important because you never know when you'll be running for Miss Teen USA.


Jon Stewart on Logical Appeals

Politicians give us so much rhetoric to analyze it's almost unfair. Here, Jon Stewart waxes poetic about the benefits of logical reasoning, bolstering arguments with facts, statistics, figures--math. He gets really into math.


What Counts as News?

A Short TED talk (if you don't know TED talks yet...get on it. 
They're soooooooooo cool. (Did you catch that? See memo note for #4.)


Here is a link to our AP Lang/Comp dropbox Save this link for times when you want to submit something and Moodle doesn't work (or when we officially abandon Moodle because it's lame). Dropbox is also just a huge livesaver. Download it onto your home computer and drag and drop stuff into it and then download the app onto your fancy phone and have all of your documents with you everywhere. Amazing, right?


Welcome to the Blogosphere!

You're going to love it here.

So yesterday you officially set up your blog. Woot! Keep tinkering and playing around with gadgets and layouts. Personalize it, but remember that your blog reflects who you are--it is you living in the technology world. I will be reading it. So will your classmates. So will potential employers or colleges. What I'm saying is, keep it classy.

You will update your blogs every weekend of AP. I will assign something on Friday, and the post will be due on Sunday night. If you know you'll be out of town; if something comes up; if your blog gets spammed--whatever, just let me know and we'll figure it out. If I hear nothing from you and you don't post, it sure looks like you just blew off the assignment.

Do this:

  1. Set up your blog.
  2.  Once you have a link established, EMAIL me your link so I can link you from my blog. This is how I will check it.
  3. Play around with the links on my blog. I have some pretty cool blogs connected here as well as some great websites for you to waste time looking at. And also some useful, academic ones.
  4. Finish setting up your blog, including your "about me" section; link to sites as you work; finish the design of it.
Remember: Your literacy narrative (ROUGH draft) is due Monday, and your Mixtape next Friday.

Happy blogging!


I got an email Prokott got an email (and then blogged this and then I stole it) from the College Board with some notes about distribution, and I'll be able to see your individual scores at the beginning of July. But here's what I know so far:

  • The AP Language Exam has the highest number of students who take it (430,000). This, of course, makes sense, because AP Lang is the best class in the Universe.
  • Three students out of those 430,000 earned perfect scores. We hate them, and we are allowed to. They obviously cheated, or are Martians.
  • 10.9% earned a 5.
  • 20.2% earned a 4.
  • 28.9% earned a 3.   (This means that 60% passed; keep in mind that Wayzata typically scores higher than the average bear.)
  • 28.0% earned a 2.
  • 12.0% earned a 1.
  • Question one was the easiest (synthesis), and question 3 was the most difficult (free response--with the quotations).
  • Many students performed poorly on the Kennedy speech because they only analyzed style rather than style and purpose. Hopefully, you were one of the students who realized that form, audience, and purpose are all critical to completing a rhetorical analysis, and that style doesn't matter unless you connect it to rhetorical purpose. (I'm only saying that to make you nervous. I'm evil like that.)
You will soon know if it paid off to "get a little ballsy" on those responses.

Happy summer!


Who Still Reads This? Oh, Right, Nobody.

If you missed the two review dates, come by and pick up a practice exam and some other helpful handouts. Also, get ready to tease your friends who didn't take it this year and are taking it next year because they'll have summer reading and you didn't neener neener!



Exigence at it's Finest

Wow. I miss you guys.

Here's what we'd do today if we had class: make fun of how badly Rush Limbaugh stuck his foot in his mouth upon first calling a young woman any number of variations on the word "slut" and suggesting things even worse, and then attempting to retract his statements and apologize for... getting in trouble for it. That's right, not an iota of sincerity. Not that he had much ethos after his initial comments anyway, but he basically cupped what was left of it and heaved it out the window, guffawing about the splat it would make on the sidewalk below with his follow-up comments.

I would keep the article and use it when September rolls around again, (indeed, I just made a PDF of it) but, alas, by then its exigence will have long since vanished into the ether. Nobody will remember that Sandra Fluke gal, and all this birth control legislation will be yesterday's news. I'll just have to wait for another media personality to say something stupid. Shouldn't take too long.

Who am I kidding, this will probably go down in history as one of the biggest media debacles ever and if "the abortion issue" is any testament to the lifespan of this kind of back-and-forth debate when it comes to matters of women's reproductive rights, I have a feeling we'll be hearing about this for a while.

Ah, without further ado, here is the link to Limbaugh's "apology" and a brilliant analysis of it. See, you could write snappy rhetorical analyses for your job. You could get paid to channel Bitzer and Orwell and make fun of public figures for saying/doing dumb things! It could be amazing!


Love Letter to George Orwell

So this isn't really a love letter to George Orwell. Maybe I'll write one this weekend once I've finished the remaining final exam essays (they're slowgoing folks, but I'll enter the scores as soon as I finish them all) but I won't make any promises. I also have a confession to make: my obsession with Orwell is maybe slightly inflated for the good of the class. I'm more obsessed with Didion. And Alexie. And Bernard Cooper. And Annie Dillard. And Mike Rose. OH MY GOD, MIKE ROSE! You guys, you still probably don't believe me or care when I tell you how incredible and revered the authors published in your 50 Essays book are. But they are great! They are outstanding! Learn from them. Carry them with you in your pocket. Let them whisper sweet nothings to you when you sit down to write your next paper for whatever class you walk into next week. Carry your voice into that classroom too. Carry your close reading skills and your knowledge of Orwell's advice and Didion's attention detail.

Evidently this just turned into a love letter to 50 Essays.

Truthfully, though, I want to say thanks. Thanks for humoring me with weird font assignments and mysterious instructions. Thanks for not throwing a tantrum in the middle of the floor when you learned of a new assignment (I'm sure you saved it for your parents) and for not lacing your essays with anthrax. I hope that in the process of "murdering your GPA" (as you like to say) this class taught you a thing or two that you didn't know before and will undoubtedly need in the future, because rhetoric is EVERYTHING. Regardless of what you go on to study, where you go to college, where you end up working, and what you end up doing, in your adult lives you'll be forced to decipher arguments every day (every moment, really) and defend your views and express yourself. I sincerely hope you see that this class has given you some tools for that and I sincerely hope you continue to write. Guess where you can do that?


I've heard a number of you say that you're "totally going to keep blogging" because you've become just a little bit obsessed with it and after studying those super awesome blogs (some of which make their authors a pretty penny) you want to write like they do. You want to be funny and clever and personable like your bloggers. You want to sit down to your computer every day and write: DEAR INTERNET... You say you're gonna do it because you've finally begun to write with voice and you want to keep working on it. You're gonna do it!


You will get sidetracked. You will get busy. You will get stressed about your next class and make erroneous claims about GPA murder and sabotage. (And anyone within earshot who graduated from AP comp will cry FALLACY!) You will forget. You will give it up. And then maybe sometime in the future you will pick it up again. I have five blogs. I only write on this one these days, but the other ones had their fifteen minutes of fame too. One became a place to house all of my poetry, one became one of those delightfully random blogs about cooking and yoga and girl sass and politics and being married and being a twentysomething. It's nice to be able to "try on" writing identities with blogs because you can maintain an anonymous real identity so there's no risk. But if you remember our chats about risk and writing, you'll smell a problem here. When your real name is attached, there's something at stake. When there's something at stake, you're invested. When you're invested, you're less likely to give up. So, invest. Keep blogging.

On that note, I want to keep you all linked to my blog so I can spy on you and your writing, but out of respect for your privacy, I won't. Unless you tell me I can keep you. Then I will!

But before I unlink you all, I'm going to "assign" you one more blog post: open topic. Go find some cool stuff and link it. Write about how much you hate love me. Write about writing. Re-do a "Why I Write" post. Whatever you want. Or blow it off because it's not a real assignment, but you have no homework this weekend, so come on. Oh, and it looks like Prokott posted THREE TIMES TODAY so that's cool (nerd). I was at the U of M sitting in my class talking about cognitive dissonance and sociolinguistics so I couldn't sit around and blog. But she probably wrote some of the same things I wrote here. Go check it out.

While you're off checking things out, if you never explored the things I have linked on you blog here (let's talk about typos, shall we? I don't even know what I was trying to type when that gem emerged, but I'm pretty sure it should say on the blog or on my blog or something) you should do that. Especially this, this, this, and this.

I'm directing you to funny things because I get really awkward when I try to talk about emotional things like appreciating my students and being sad that I won't see them all on Monday and blah blah blah so, fine, I'll miss you. Despite how it may have seemed on my crabbier days, I enjoyed you all very much and wish you the best.



I corrected Prokott's grammar in her most recent blog post and she told me I had a Hitler moustache and we made tasteless jokes about genocide and etymology. Genocide is in no way funny, nor is Hitler, but one day at lunch Prokott did a ditsy girl impression (you know? when everything sounds like a question? even though it's not?) and it went something like this:

"Um, so like, the Armenians, they had a genocide, and well, the Kardashians, they're, like, Armenian and so since somebody genocided the Kardashians, they've like, had a really hard life, and so people should know about it so it can stop, cuz it's really bad."

So I naturally find an occasion to use "genocided" daily even where it has no business being used. Like on our teacher blogs. So why am I showing you all? Because it's a lovely example of rhetorical wit, and you already think know that I'm nuts and outrageously amusing (probably not, but Prokott is), so what's the harm?

Students aren't the only ones who crack at the end of the semester.


Totes Cray-Cray

For those of you who didn't rush home and read my blog, this is not your weekend update post. See previous. This post is ... well, awesomesauce. Read on.

This article is amazeballs. You should probs read it. It's all about our obsesh with abbreviations and other linguistic butchery. Obvs it's entertaining. I mean, look at this pic:


Um, yes I did post this on Friday night at almost 10:00. Step off.