This Blog is Stolen Property

Friday, April 06, 2007

Religion Makes People Grumpy

Everyone I know is grouchy this week. Half of them are wearying of their Lenten abstentions. The other half are in carb-withdrawal until Passover is over.

A group of girls behind me on the subway yesterday had this conversation:

A: Let's get some pizza.

B: I can't have pizza.

A: Why not?

B: Passover.

C: That's stupid.

B: You can't say it's stupid. You're not Jewish.

A: Well, I'm Jewish and it's stupid. There.

C: Hey--sorry. I didn't mean anything. I gave up chocolate for Lent.

A: That's stupid.

Everyone should be much happier come Wednesday. "A" will probably still be a bitch, though.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

The Difference Between the Greats and the Also-Rans

I have a student who has been angling for an extension. I think that he actually is sick or depressed or something. It doesn't matter--I'm happy to give him an extension.

What I am less happy about is the daily updates about the degree of his distress. And the course of his treatment. Why do I need to know? This young man has been to see a neuropath and a chiropractor and a neurologist (how is this different from a neuropath? I don't know. But I'm sure that I'll get an email in the next hour or so explaining it) and a psychiatrist and an osteopath.

Why do I need to hear all this? I ALREADY gave the kid his extension. Doesn't that give me a pass on hearing about the debilitating pain?

Here is the latest email (and remember, I have ALREADY GRANTED AN EXTENSION):

Dear Feemus,
As you know, I continue to suffer from this mysterious ailment. Since early childhood, my doctors have struggled to diagnose this difficult and variable illness. I have been in excruciating pain for the past several days--barely able to get out of bed and frequently in convulsions.

I have tried to work on my essay, but on account of my medication, I often find myself in a state of delirium. I wrote several pages of my essay, only to realize that I had been writing in German.

Please be patient as I work through this.

Mr. Sicky

Dear God.

I love the inadvertantly-writing-in-German bit. It's a nice touch, simultaneously Victorian and Oliver Sacks-y. It's a wonderful detail, evoking a student so dedicated to finishing his essay on dramatic ironies in Racine that he jeopardizes his health to work on it, only to discover that his brain is so disordererd by illness that it resists by permitting him only to write in German.

Ok, but here's what would have made this detail truly transcendent: if he'd followed it with "And I don't even know German."

That, friends, is what separates the bush-league excuse-makers from the Hall of Famers.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Shameless Self-Promotion

That last post reminded me that I might use this forum to plug my forthcoming album, a tribute to the literary canon, called "Straight Outta Norton."

It's due out in July, released on Tenure Traxx, the academic subsidiary of Death Row records.

A sample of the title track:

"When I leave, you best read your Wharton,
'Cause when I come back, I'm coming straight outta Norton."

Straight Outta Loudoun

I realize that by now everyone in the free world has already seen this. But...oh my. It's a testament to just how awful this is that I ACTUALLY FEEL BAD for Karl Rove. It's kind of like watching Fawlty Towers--Basil Fawlty totally deserves every humiliation that he gets, and yet...

It's like watching your eight-grade science teacher trying to be "cool."

Except much MUCH worse.

It's like if you had to watch your eighth-grade science teacher trying to pick up a woman in a bar with his decade-old pop-culture references and his really great story about how the Noble Gases got their name. And then when the lady turned away he tried to smell her hair.

Except much MUCH worse.

As the wise Doctor (Dre) reminds us: "Parental Discretion Iz Advised."