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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.