Books Aren’t Cadavers

Two blog posts in two days. Pretty wild, huh?

Yesterday I wrote the first new post since January, about how my New Years Resolutions have more or less been dashed but that a greater goal has emerged: completing my first novel in 2014. It appears to be doable. I calculated how many words I think it will take to come up with 16 different endings to the story (it being a “Choose Your Own Adventure”-style book for adults), and it’s looking like at the current rate I would only need to write about 280 words per day to complete the book by the last day of the year. But I’m hoping it doesn’t actually come down to the wire like that.

Coming up with this project, along with being on a Stephen King kick in advance of my trip to New England this summer (which will include a Stephen King tour in Bangor, Maine on this awesome van), had inspired me to think about what kind of books are worth reading and writing.

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NaNoWriYe

It’s been months since my last new blog post was published on The Midnight Diner. The last one was my piece on Pet Peeves from January 31. The dirty little secret about that post, and several of the ones before before it, is that they were actually written weeks before that. I loaded up several entries at one point early on in January so that I would get a break from my commitment to writing two blog posts each week. Continue reading

“What Do I Do?” In Response To What?

 

Man struggles with umbrella.

I’m a firm believer that if you can’t explain what you do in one short, clear sentence, you don’t have a real job. And it needs to make sense to anybody, including toddlers.

Consider: “I leverage market synergies to present new opportunities for clients.” That’s make-believe. There’s so many vague generalities and buzzwords in there that your job description is designed to obscure what you’re actually good for, which must mean somewhere deep in the consciousness of your career’s fabric, you’re either ashamed or you don’t want people to figure out you’re actually on the payroll to swindle them.

Look at this job description: “When there’s fires, I save people from them.” Boom. That’s a real job. “I fly planes.” “I design bridges.” “I teach kindergarten.” Real. Real. Real. Those people do a thing.

“I analyze metrics for building consumer-centric brand consciousness.” That’s witchcraft. You’re awful.

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English Major RPG

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Welcome to English Major RPG!

Press Enter to begin Level 1

>> [ENTER]

You are in a long corridor. All around you is blackness and a foul-smelling odor. You feel dankness and something sticky on the ground. Ahead is a single white dot of light.

What would you like to do?

>> Walk to LIGHT

The world comes into focus. You are passed out on the quad of STATE SCHOOL, soaked in your own urine. The urge to vomit is coming upon you. URGE TO VOMIT attacks!

>> Use HAND

VOMIT wins, and leaves your hand disabled with its toxin attack! A student passing by is slightly sprayed.

>> Run like a coward

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Like A Boss

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It took me a minute to find him because of all the loud music and the angry hostility with which both men and women glared at me as I pushed through the dance floor to reach the table.

“Casper here is a flight instructor,” Dom introduced me, standing up as I walked over. He looked awkward getting up from the stool, his belly hanging over his dark pants, protruding against the buttons of his suit. It looked like there was sweat gathering at the spindly junctures of his mustache and goatee from the effort. I shook his hand concernedly.

“Ah, another protege?” asked the man sitting with him. “Looking to consistently pull more beautiful women? A new master for our method?” Continue reading

Those Who Can’t Teach, Control Education

DDI

My go-to teaching story for describing the student atmosphere where I worked is when I kicked a girl out of my classroom and she threw an open condom on my floor, shouting about how turned up she was before striding out the door. The thing about teenagers disrespecting teachers, though, is that if you sign up to be a teacher in America you’re asserting that being disrespected by teenagers is a major part of your job description. The unexpected is how much adults will disrespect you for being a teacher.

A few weeks ago, a video was making the rounds on the Internet showing how ridiculously demeaned and condescended to American teachers are – an example from none other than the district where I myself taught, Chicago Public Schools. There does come a point where you become a parody of yourself, Chicago Public Schools, and then as you stand in the way of everyone you were built to support, you go from being travesty to being tragedy.

What most people don’t realize is this Professional Development session made headlines because someone happened to record and release it, not because it’s unique. At all. Certainly, that session is on the far end of the badness spectrum, but teachers don’t go a day without some other adult wasting their time, looking down on them, treating them like second-class citizens and daft non-professionals – all while they still have hours and hours of actual work like planning and grading waiting at their desk that they wish they could actually get back to. This happened all the time.
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I Name the Next “Silver Linings Playbook” Follow-Up

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It’s easy for people to mock the stock-formula book title schemes of writers like “The Bourne Identity” author Robert Ludlum (his Wikipedia page says “The (Proper Noun) (Noun)”) or “The Firm” author John Grisham (in a story by BJ Novak, he’s enraged when his publisher releases his latest novel as “The Thing” – a placeholder title he gives all his novels and forgot to replace as a formality when he turned it in). Continue reading