Vulcan’s Peak

Real News

October 2, 2005 10:27 pm

Finally, finally, I know. Don’t look so shocked.

Academically speaking…

I think my favorite class this term is going to turn out to be Writing Poetry, which is with a professor who intimidated the hell out of me in freshman humanities. He seems more human now – not sure if it’s me or if it’s the chance in venue. He’s more personable in a small class setting (there are perhaps 15 of us), but I expect he will still push and challenge us; should be good. We’re reading and discussing a lot of poetry as well as writing our own (I might start posting some here if anyone would be interested.) Unfortunately the class includes a girl who exhibits all of Hermione’’s worst qualities with none (that I’’ve seen) of her good ones. She annoys most all of us –– though I heard someone say once that the qualities we like least in others often tend to be things we don’’t like about ourselves. I worry that there may be some of this going on. I try to be nice, but sometimes it takes effort.

Furman Hall renovations are all but done –– they’re still finishing a few cosmetic details — –and it looks really nice. The English department is settled into its new home at the end of the hall, and right next door is an “English lounge” –– couches and comfy chairs and such. I think this is a great thing and have been spending my hour between poetry and lunch in there, reading.

It was clear from the first day that my grammar class has the potential to be either truly fascinating or deadly dull and it’s taking some time to decide which. The linguistics book we started with (I’’m guessing Carmen may be familiar with de Saussure?) was a slog (we’’ve moved on to a grammar text now, though), and the prof is not the most engaging lecturer, but the material itself is okay.

I have discovered that the reason many people are taking the course is because the professor is reputed to be easy, and it’s not hard to see why. He is deeply concerned about things like grade inflation –– he points out that Furman’s cataloge describes a C as “satisfactory”. Of course this being Furman, none of us regard a C that way; neither do our parents or grad schools or anyone else. His way of dealing with this is to simplify the process: either you put in satisfactory work and you get an A and he allows everyone to be happy, or you don’’t and you get an F. He assuages his conscience by writing you a letter at the end of the term, giving you his professional opinion of your work (“here’’s what I REALLY think….”). Personally, this sounds a bit fishy –– is he not adding to grade inflation more than anything? At any rate, this is apparently why there are about fifteen people in grammar, rather than about five.

My other class, Contemporary American Writers, brought lots of excitement last week. Part of the fun is that the prof manages to get at least some of the writers you study to come speak to the class. We actually had two come last week; they were in town to speak at an event with a couple other local writers that evening, which was very neat. The two who came to class were Tommy Hays (author of The Pleasure Was Mine) and George Singleton (author of Why Dogs Chase Cars) and they could not be more different! Each man is exactly the sort of person you would imagine from reading their books –– one a quiet, Southern gentleman type, the other outspoken, chattering, and a bit crazy. I’’ve been fighting all weekend to write a short paper on the Hays book, which is about a family’’s struggle with Alzheimer’s, loss, and related themes. It’’s a sweet, sentimental, thoughtful book, firmly in the noncommital “”It was nice”” category. Finally realized I just needed a new topic –– required to pick one of three and this is just not the book for writing about themes. The Singleton book, however, is hilarious –– I haven’t quite finished it, but I do recommend it to those of you with a twisted sense of humor.

With an eye to the future…
…I have been exploring all sorts of scary things like job openings, grad schools, and the GRE. Still deliberating about the whole grad school thing – I could probably pick up anything a master’s in publishing could teach me, but it might be a trump card in a job search. Current plan is to take the GRE and apply to schools, but if a promising looking job opportunity comes up, I may spring for it. Basically, I’’m trying to avoid making a decision…

In other news…
…I have gotten seriously hooked on Firefly. A couple of the local radio stations hosted a free screening of Serenity last Wednesday, and Cort was able to get some tickets. Each one admitted two people, so of course Cort and Jen were one, while Genie graciously agreed to be my date. It was AMAZING and you should all go see it, even if you haven’t seen anything of Firefly. I hadn’’t (though am currently working to remedy that), and you really do catch on pretty quick.

3 Responses to “Real News”

Pug wrote a comment on October 3, 2005

*setting aside shock about real news*

First, I am greatly amused at there being only 15 people in a class generally considered to be easy. 🙂 Any low-level course which even begins to have such a reputation here requires an auditorium. The high-level easy-reputed courses need at least a very large classroom.

I wonder if Why Dogs Chase Cars is anything like The Jewish-Japanese Sex and Cookbook and How To Raise Wolves by Jack Douglas… That book was bizarre.

Elf wrote a comment on October 4, 2005

I watched some of Firefly. I wasn’t impressed. I’m not big on westerns, and the twangy music kept me from judging the show solely on its plot. It also didn’t help that the episode showing started on a planet that looked like Colorado, circa 1870. And they had shotguns. I honestly thought I was watching Tremors. I went, “There’s no aliens. There’s no space ships. I’ve yet to see any science going with this fiction. Why does anyone like this? Piss on their stupid western costumes and music, I’m watching the History Channel repeats.”

Switched the station back a few hours later and they were all in Victorian-era costumes, to which I thought maybe Sci-Fi was actually showing Sense and Sensibility, but then someone set off a blue-light weapons detector. To which I went “I don’t watch sci-fi to see era-wear. I don’t care if the dialogue is witty, I don’t care that that one guy is cute, and I don’t care that ‘the war is lost, now survive’ shows are cool. Andromeda did it better and had aliens. And no western music.”

Odette wrote a comment on October 4, 2005

I would dispute most of that, but I have known Elf long enough to be well aware that I would have better luck denting the hull of a battleship with a ping pong ball.   😉   Personally, I’ve always been fascinated by the American West, so I like that aspect. And much as I love aliens…sometimes human nature is so foreign to itself, you don’t need an alien character.

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