Category Archives: humour

A Neddy driveby.

I will tell you all about Neddy vs MLA when I have the time for a longer post, but I thought you would enjoy this in the interim.

Neddy approaches me at the end of class (this is his favourite “me” time, even though the whole “Prof has another class RIGHT NOW” issue still applies, and will for the whole semester), with the following concern:

Neddy: I don’t know what a graphic novel is.
Me (thinking “HOW is this my problem?”): Well, we will talk about them in the class on Graphic Novels. You could go to the library and read some, if you want to learn about them.
Neddy: I did go to the library, but all they have in the Graphic Novel section are comic books.
Me (dying): Okay, well, then maybe you can save the questions you have until we talk about them in class in a couple weeks.


Quick review of student evaluations.

I just got my anonymous evaluations from Winter semester, when I had all my classes do the evaluations.

20% of my students fear me, and say I am intimidating or that they are scared to come and talk to me.

80% of my students fear me so much, they write down that I am awesome and love me, no doubt because they are terrified of retribution.

5% add pictures of cats to their comments.

Okay, I think my head asplode.

As you might have noticed, if you have been reading my blog since the beginning loyal readers, I am very fond of Chaucer, both in his real and blog incarnations. And you may also have noticed, along with less loyal readers, who come here via Cheeseburger, that I am also fascinated by lolcats. These didn’t seem to be tastes that in any way intersected, but what the hell, this is my blog, and I said I would write about things I like and things that interest me.

Apparently, a liking for medieval poetry and cat macros not that rare a combination, and when put together, it results in Chaucer deciding he can hath cheezburger. He called them lolpilgrim, but some wag in the comments suggested Lollards, which is so much funnier.


Feckless’ immediate reaction to seeing the Lollard pictures was to ask “Did you do that?” meaning, did I mention lolcats to Chaucer. Which is flattering, but no. I did mention them to some other medievalists, though. Unusually, I didn’t find the post by checking Chaucer’s blog (although I do this very frequently), but because I was reading another blog. What delights me is the idea of the synergy, I think. This is partly about the lolcat phenom, but it is also about blogging and the community of ideas. So much awsum.

Marking: the good, the bad and the buttsecks.

Last week, I was struggling with a massive pile of essays, and despite having left them out repeatedly for the marking elves, I had to mark them all myself. There were a bunch that made me want to bite them, but a colleague of my mother’s once did this, and then deliberately spilled coffee over the bite mark, thinking this would make it less obvious, which it so did NOT. Having learned from her experience, I thought I would poke them here, which would then hopefully relieve some of my feelings.

There are a couple of categories of things students say that make me go, oh dear lord. First up are the plain stupidities:

“You will be surprised to learn that A. A. Milne was not just a children’s book writer; he wrote children’s poetry as well.” Well, given that I set a bunch of his poems for you to read, not so much.

“Unless I am absolutely mistaken, using the term royalist poet is an oxymoron because the poets that are classified as royalist were not of royal birth.” Generations of literary scholars thank you for pointing out their embarrassing mistake.

“In the modern day some people are led to believe that Shakespeare was a sodomite.” Anyone want to bet on this student’s religious affiliations? But wait, the following sentence seems rather pro-gay: “A sodomite is a kind person who participates in anal intercourse.” Heaven forbid you engage in such activities with an unkind person.

Then there are the unfortunate word choices – like the one that gave this blog its name:

“This is the voice and audience that the poetry apples to…”

… a painful memory, subsided by the mind…

“Therefore, as time transgressed, her life became dull…”

“A child needs a supportive environment to develop their self of steam.” This one is so popular it’s practically a trend; I expect it will be in the dictionary in no time.

“This is much like society in general, and how resources are taken for granite.” If only this had been in a Geology essay.

Then there are the ones that make me go “WTF?” For the life of me, I cannot work out what these students were trying to say:

“Grendel is an exile. In Anglo-Saxon societies, exiles were often radicalists.”

“The illustrations are unique in that they are tartarised to encourage the child to interact with the pictures.”

The best part of marking this semester was marking my Children’s Literature class’ term projects. Students in the class are required to write a children’s story – they may illustrate it if they wish – accompanied by a reflective essay on the process. As usual, there were some wonderful creative efforts, some of which showed the benefit of some fun time at the craft store; foamy stickers were very popular this year. This is the third time I have had students do this assignment, and they are always fabulous; colleagues always drop by to check out my brightly-coloured haul.

Spawn helped me read the books, and we both loved the bug counting book, the backward animal alphabet (the author/manager of this one apparently dragooned everyone she knew into making the illustrations) and the wonderful, gentle story about a special raincoat. That one was so good my colleague Socks and I thought the author should see if she can get it published.

The books are fun, but for me, the reflective essay is where I get the most satisfaction. Students this semester said, as they do every time, “I thought this seemed like a really silly assignment at the beginning of term, but when I thought about everything we learned this semester, and tried to incorporate that into my book, it was actually really hard to make something I thought was good.” I love it when students learn things, but it is even better when they realise that they learned things.

Finally, in the backhanded compliment category, there is this offering from my poetry exam, where the bonus question asked for a haiku (or similar) about students’ experience in the class.

Not as dopey

as expected, much more fun

than pins and needles.