Tuesday, March 31, 2015


This is post 187 of 2015. That is a lot of posts!

You don’t care about this, but this is significant for me because it caps off a very post-y month (93 in March!), but also because 187 is equal to or greater than the number of posts in the years 2008, 2009, 2012, and 2013. I have posted more in the three months of this year than I did in each of those whole years.

This is partly because I cheat now. I linked up my Twitter and my Instagram to this blog and I should probably feel guilty about that, but really I don’t. This here is my online writing presence and to me, “writing” encompasses all the various forms of being generative. My whole life is built on this idea that good writing is writing that both finds the world fascinating and also seeks to understand that world. So, to me, pictures of sushi and ladybugs are all part of that adventure.

Even more exciting than that, 187 is the police code for murder, so in addition to being emotionally significant for me, this post is also hardcore. I felt the need to point that out.



Below is a throwback re-post that is somehow relevant again. I wrote it back in 2010 when I was getting my BA and I’m reposting it now because it is 2015 and I am getting my MA and because people are still dumb. 
Can you believe that?!


There is a Generalissimo Francisco Franco joke in this somewhere.


You Are Welcome.

So if you have any interest in going back to college and majoring in Creative Writing, there are some things that you need to know. I am not going to try to tell you about it all, but what I have done for you is start to make you a crib sheet for understanding what the hell everybody is talking about. It is not as bad as law school or anything, but it is significantly more subjective.

The list below is wildly incomplete, but what I have tried to do is translate a word or phrase that you might hear in an English or Creative Writing class and give you the actual meaning.

A special thanks to Chris P. who unwittingly has helped compile this list (Chris is a man among men, a champion among winners. He created “English Department Buzz Word Bingo” which is exactly what it sounds like. We play it during class).

So onward to the translation!

What we say = What we mean

“Thumbnail sketch” = A quick physical description of a character.

“Dialogue” = When people talk.

“Conflation” = Confusion.

“Plot” = The part that was like a movie.

“Exposition” = Boring.

“Poetic” = Pretty-sounding words.

“Motif” = Something that happens a lot, as in, “I like saying ‘motif’. Motif!”

“Deconstruction” = “I have had a Critical Theories of Literature class.”

“Autobiographical” = “I am too lazy/self-absorbed to write about anything but myself.”

“Fragmented Narrative” = “I ran out of time before class to finish writing this.”

“Theme” = “What I really want you to know about what I think about stuff.”

“Diction” = The words in this story.

“… Hegelian …” = “I’m an asshole.” (Anyone who ever invokes Hegel is an asshole).

“I’m a grad student.” = “I’m probably an asshole”

“(Your story) is structurally unfit.” = “I am an asshole with both a superiority and inferiority complex.”

“I’m not making a value judgment …” = “I am totally judging you right now.”

“Nouveau riche” = “I took a class where we had to read The Great Gatsby.”

“Tertiary Removal” = “I know lots of big words about stuff.”

“Authenticity” = “Why don’t you write like Juno Diaz?”

As I said, this is an incomplete glossary. I will work on it some more for you.


Chicago Fire Extinguisher Factory Burns in Three-Alarm Blaze http://t.co/gQt1NaG7tX

Chicago Fire Extinguisher Factory Burns in Three-Alarm Blaze http://t.co/gQt1NaG7tX Source:

March 31, 2015 at 09:47PM


There's a tiny burglar trying to break into my apartment right now.

via Instagram http://ift.tt/1BKftDT

This is my favorite shirt I never wear.

via Instagram http://ift.tt/1MvDxWi

Core Bliss.

I had a somewhat disheartening morning. The students in my SI class were thoroughly disengaged today and that always bothers me. I try to make things interesting and also applicable beyond simply the writing of their English papers, but that is not always enough to hold the attention of 18-year-olds at 8 in the morning.

Otherwise though I had a busy but good day.

Just now I am sitting up late because I don’t have to wake up early tomorrow and so - because I find the world endlessly fascinating - I am reading about the theological differences between Sunni and Shia Muslims because I know that this is something important that I don’t know enough about. Finally I did what I often do and I went to my man John Green for clarification. If you don’t know John Green, he’s the guy that wrote The Fault in Our Stars, but don’t hold that against him. For years he and his brother have been making a video podcast thing called “Crash Course” where they quickly and succinctly explain history and politics and economics and literally anything else one might be curious about.

I watched the Crash Course take on Islam and politics and it was interesting, but because I am a glutton for punishment, I started reading the comments section. There are more than 8,000 comments and most of them are exactly as dumb as you might imagine, but one stood out as head and shoulders more incomprehensible than the rest. It was written by someone called Core Bliss, which I do not think is a real name. This is what Core Bliss had to say about the history of Islam and politics:

it's the internet on YouTube it's all baseless unless you where there at the event that we're talking about.. Muhammad F is talking about Rape in time when it happen all the time because people only usly lived to only 30 and claim it was 100 years or so.. I'm talking about the Evils of Human rule over another by force.. Faith in humanity has long been driven out by taxes for war or poor services...Lee I Think is calling out Despotism over the Rape ..Victim which is point less in our time because it still goes on slave trade brothels and in India, they marry kids very young .. it's like the age 18 over 16 year old argument in most places but the 9 year old is mind blowing to most 1st world people..   

In a strange and odd way, this made me feel so much better about my morning. My SI students may not always engage and they may not always laud me every day or throw roses down at my feet at the end of a class session (that has only happened a few times), but they are not Core Bliss. I think that all of us should feel better about ourselves because we are not Core Bliss.

If, by some weird series of internet coincidences, you are reading this and you actually are Core Bliss, please email me and I will come to your house and help you be less awful at - literally - everything.