Showing posts from October, 2014

Georgia Nepotism

I voted today.  I think it is odd, or funny, or sad, that two top jobs--US Senator and Governor--have attracted family members of former persons in those jobs.  Jason Carter is Jimmy Carter's grandson and running for governor.  David Perdue is related (a cousin, I think) to Sonny Perdue, the former governor.  Michelle Nunn's daddy was the senator from Georgia for years.

Not saying whom I voted for, but it wasn't straight ticket.

Hey, playwrights!

A fellow writer informed me today of the Chattanooga Theatre Centre's play contest.  I'm sending mine in as soon as I can.  One thousand dollar first prize and production on their stage, and three second prizes.  I'm pretty sure if you go to their website you can get the information.

The play can only have been performed once before, so I think mine qualifies.


It seems to me that if a place as powerful as the White House allows a leak about insulting remarks toward an ally to get out, it is either incredibly incompetent or wants the leak to spew forth.

Letting a comment get out in public that Benjamin Netanyahu is a chickenshit (yes, I typed it) and a coward is a new low.  It is also supremely ironic that this WH leaked it, since the Israeli PM is anything but cowardly.  Agree with him or not, but he doesn't back down and isn't driven by fear. 

Kick the Bucket List

Could we please get rid of the phrase "bucket list?"

I saw a girl in her early twenties use it the other day on Facebook about an activity she had wanted to try.

Unless she knows something about her health that no one else does, she doesn't get to say that.

But even for someone my age, let's stop it.  It implies we are going to die soon.  It implies that life is about doing a set of activities before one dies rather than quality of relationships.  It implies that the only reason to do the things is that we are going to die.

Sure, there are a lot of things I would like to do, but not because I will die soon.  Our lives are mists and vapors, and we could be gone tomorrow.  A colleague of mine had a student die walking into class one day.  Literally in the door way of the classroom, she fell dead from a brain aneurysm; early thirties, mother of three young children.  We tempt death every day the way we drive.

Of course, the other extreme is to not try new things ever, t…

The Best of Men - 2012 BBC Film

Last night my husband got me to watch a movie he found on Netflix (which has truly changed the way the world watches TV) called The Best of Men.  It is the story of Ludwig Guttman, a Jewish refugee from Germany during World War II who also was a spinal surgeon.  He was assigned to a hospital for veterans with spinal injuries.  He revolutionized their care and his work led to the Paralympic Games.  But there is much more in this wonderful movie, which I highly recommend.  It was made in 2012 in connection with the Olympics in London (its a BBC venture, and very “period” as all their productions are.)

What struck me is that I asked myself, “Am I  Guttman or am I Cowan?”  Which is kind of funny in a way. Guttman means “good man” in German, of course, and Cowan is close to coward, which is how this man is (probably excessively) shown to be.  Cowan is a doctor who opposes everything Guttman tries to do with the patients, from getting them out of bed and reducing pain meds to letting them ou…

Cliches to Live By

As a writing teacher, I know all about cliches and how horrible they are.  Maybe.  Sometimes what we call cliches mask truths.  Here are some I like to quote.

The elephant in the room.  This is my signature phrase.  I like to get people to talk about the elephant in the room, the obvious issues that everyone is dancing around, the source of the problem they don’t want to admit to.  But it’s not always pretty.

People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.  This can be care about them, the situation, or the subject.  Enthusiasm covers a multitude of problems.

To the man with a hammer, every problem is a nail.  This is so true of academia, where a writer, scholar, or “expert” has a theory that all problems must fit into.  As a colleague says, people are people, not theories.  I know that Lewin said, there is nothing so practical as a good theory, but he didn’t say, there is nothing so practical as a theory.  The qualifier “good” makes all the difference, and I’m not…

In Defense of Lecturing, Part III

I have posted two blogs on Defense of Lecturing, here is number one and here is number two.  You probably should read those before this one, or you'll get the wrong impression.  I have noticed a lot of readers have come to this one but not the others.  In the others I defended lecturing.  Now I will take the other side of the argument—an expose or attack on lecturing.

First, lecturing can be lazy.  Not in the sense that it doesn’t take a lot out of you and there isn’t any energy expended.  On the contrary, lecturing take a lot of physical effort, especially the way some of us do it.  I am quite active and animated.  I am known for it.  But I also tell my students that I could lecture in my sleep.  That’s an exaggeration, but not really.   I have given some of the lectures hundreds of times, at least. 

It is human nature to default to the easy, and sometimes I cherish  and look forward to those day when I get to go in, give that lecture I know backwards and forwards, for which I h…

First-time writers getting literary agents

I am planning on my post-doctoral life, when I plan to write a great deal.  I'm posting this for myself but also for others.
Article on literary agents

Novelists: Good advice for getting your novel noticed

I don't know if I have followed this, or not.  For me, the first page is the biggest struggle, since I know that sells it to a publisher--or not.

In a time of universal deceit

Last week I posted on Facebook, "Why does my mind keep going back to the George Orwell quotation, 'In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act'?"

I got several likes (the whole LIKE phenomenon amazes me.  People will hit LIKE when a person reports a death in the family!) but I don't think people knew why they liked it.  They may have projected onto it their own frusration about something currently going on.

On the other hand, I might have been being oblique an pretentious.  What I wanted to say is I am sick of media and the complicit government (or probably the government and complicit media) hiding the truth from us about ISIS, about the effects of sexual promiscuity (in any form), about immigration, and about disease epidemics.  There. 

I am also tired of the church being all about us and not about God.  We can say it is all about God, but our actions say otherwise, as does our rhetoric.  We sit in Bible studies but don't pray.  …

Heights and Depths

I never cease to be amazed by the heights and depths to which human beings can reach.  Science, technology, art; crime, depravity, cruelty. 

An acquaintance, an academic in Denver, wrote on Facebook about bestiality being shown on the Internet, and others wrote about how they had been exposed to such things in other places. 

And yet we are created a little lower than the angels. 

Whatever Happened to Comedy Duos?

This may seem like a strange question, but it was spurred by a show I saw the other night on PBS.  I only watched about ten minutes of it; it was about a gay vaudeville performer and I really don't enjoy watching men kiss.  Sorry.  But it got me thinking about something that existed when I was young and that isn't around any more--comedy duos. 

I am thinking of Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, Abbott and Costello, Stiller and Meara, Burns and Allen.  Now comedians are the last man standing.  They go before a crowd, totally alone. There is no back up.  No net.  No straight man. 

I am extremely concerned about lack of community.  It is epidemic.  There are only two, expensive bowling alleys in our area.  People used to bowl all the time  in leagues and with friends; then they bowled alone, according to Robert Putnam, and now they don't bowl at all. The bowling alleys, my son says, are "family fun centers" for little kids.  The kids can't play outside with the neigh…

Having Regrets

Should we have regrets about life?

Is it possible not to have regrets?

Do we regret what we did or what we didn't do?

Are regrets necessarily bad?

Can regrets turn into, or really be about, something worse, such as real, unconfessed wrong in our lives?

How much of our anxiety and depression may be due to regrets?

I think these are questions worth asking ourselves, individually and corporately.

I have some regrets.  I believe I have settled and that sometimes I haven't tried hard enough, have not worked hard enough, and have not taken risks.  But mostly I regret relational matters, and since my mother recently passed away, mostly right now they relate to her. 

I think a person without regrets is not self-aware and lacks empathy.

But regrets, of course, are crippling, too.  They can indicate a self-absorption and a lack of contentment.

I sat on the porch and listened to rain this evening.  My dogs were with me, but they were restless.  Mostly, they wanted my attention. …


My husband often tries to get me to watch NetFlix or Amazon Prime movies with him, and sometimes we find something I had been wanting to watch or we find a surprise.  We watched Chocolat the other night, a film that I often saw referenced in other reviews.

One could just watch this movie as a charming fairy tale, get a warm fuzzy feeling, love to look at beautiful Juliette Binoche, and move on.  I can't do that about this film.  That is not to say I didn't enjoy it.  I did.  The acting was very good and the sets pretty, and I didn't get bored.  But I also got bothered.

Not so much in defense of Catholicism but in defense of traditional Christianity, I was bothered by the disrespecting of Lent, both by the Comte (Molina) who makes it a legalistic practice, and by the chocolatier (Binoche), who aggresively tempts them away from their Lenten practice.

It seemed that Binoche's character was essentially a practitioner of witchcraft.  She tempts people to enjoy…

Gone Girl

I went to see this movie last week.  I am torn between seeing it as very good cinema (not great) and seeing it as a glorified Lifetime Movie of the Week.

The plot of wronged woman getting revenge is not new; let's go back to Medea.  And I knew pretty early about that plot twist, that is, the first one.  What I think makes the difference here are two things:  the media angle, and the acting that pulls off the ambiguity.  In the end, the two truly are partners in crime, one willing, the other unwilling but trapped.  He will play forever for his betrayal of his psychopathic wife.  And despite Ben Affleck's naive defense of certain things, he pulls off the role probably better than the female lead does.

Do I recommend it?  It's a thrill ride, but it's disturbing at points too. 

In Defense of Lecturing, Part II

There are of course many arguments for and against lecturing. In interviewing more than twenty faculty members at my college, one of the main reasons for a dependence on lecturing was “so much material to cover.”  In some cases the covering of so much material is mandated by state standards or accreditation necessities; for example, Anatomy and Physiology, the bane of pre-nursing students.  Students cannot legitimately be expected to learn material that is not discussed in class.  Lecturing is an efficient way to do that, using visuals like PowerPoint, either provided by the textbook company or teacher-created.

A second argument is that the students like it.  They see the professor as doing his or her job by showing up and “teaching” what will be on the test.  In talking to nursing professors, this was particularly the case.  Since there is a high stakes test for nursing students at the end of their course, it is vital for them that they be ready for the test.  They want the needed ma…

October 7, 2014: Blogging Lifestyle

I prefer to treat this blog the way a lot of people treat Facebook.  I can spend more time on my posts and it is available through search engines.  Plus, it's harder to get likes that don't require any response.

We had strong storms here in Northwest Georgia last night, but no official tornadoes.  

I am not very good at holding a grudge.  My little dog that I wrote about a couple of days ago is trying to "melt my heart."  I still tell him I don't like him, but he's very soft (and sheddy) and I want to play with him.  So far, I have kept my distance, although I have no idea what good that will do.

I will write about Craig's list soon.  I had one silly, ridiculous experience with it but some good ones, too.

One of the good things about blogging is that you can see who comes to it, and how much. My most popular post is the one about Twelve Angry Men and Groupthink.  It will spike at certain times, and I wonder if a professor somewhere has a link to it in a …

My dog and a spiritual lesson, however cheesy

After my mother’s death, her little dog Bumper came home to live with my husband and me.  We were concerned beforehand, knowing we would get him, that he would get along with our pit bull, Nala.  Nala is sweet and very smart, but shall we say rambunctious.  I call her a “pitbull in a China shop.”  She is not conscious of her physical presence.  My mother-in-law calls her clumsy; it’s not that because she’s agile.  She just takes up a lot of space.

Bumper, an eight-year-old mix of (probably) terrier and Lab on the other hand is a little neurotic.  That may have come from living with an ill, elderly woman who couldn’t give him much attention yet spoiled him with cheese and canned dog food.  When I was living with her, he became very attached to me because I was now his caregiver, his feeder, and I even put the leash on him and took him for walks (something he hadn’t had since my brother, his proper owner, passed away quickly three years ago).  Unfortunately, he poops (or used to) in the …

In Defense of Lecturing, Part I

Before I begin this article, which may be considered a reflection, a polemic, or a diatribe, depending on the reader’s viewpoint, and which to be is an honest exploration of an important topic in higher education, I feel I should give my credentials for writing about this subject.

If there is anything I know about, it is college teaching.  I have been doing it since  January 1978.  That is 37 years come January, and that is a long time by most accounts. Yes, I started at 22 (not kidding there).  I have taught in private colleges, technical and community colleges, a university, and a four-year state college.  In most cases, the institutions were more or less open-access. I have, by my accounting, taught over 20 different courses over the years.  I have also taught many of them in hybrid or online versions and developed a number of online/hybrid courses.  Here is my list:
Business Communication at freshmen and junior levels
English 1102
English 1101
World Lit I and II
History of Oratory