Wednesday, May 28, 2008

You Are Number 6...

Okay, we’re going to do this on the down low, by request (the doing, not the down-lowing).

I give you 6 random things from the bulletin board to the left of my desk.

1. Black and white picture of a Furby, with the caption “Got Q—,” Q being the subject of Q—Fest, a day on which we celebrated the demented hilarity of The Mighty Lord Q (I’m omitting letters to protect the absorbefacient), an eighth grader with a genius for rant that out-RobinWilliams Robin Williams. Here’s just a tiny piece:

“BUTTONS: Have you ever noticed that buttons are disappearing? They used to be everywhere—phones, switches, TVs. So, what’s next? HOLES? And what ever happened to knob or switches? Is mankind too good for the knob? Is it? We’ve got to save the buttons; they’re becoming extinct, just like US factories (meaning, we’re screwed). Then, what about a random button; we have an easy button: you press it while having a seizure about something and BLAM, easy. So, you press a random button and BAM, a clown car catches on fire. The most fun you can see and it’s something new every day.”

Across the bulletin board is a souvenir Q—Fest wristband, designed and manufactured by the LogoMaster of Q—Fest: NM.

2. A turquoise blue rectangle of paper upon which is inscribed the word “Friday” in black 12 point Title Case Times New Roman and the word “TARDY” in black 14 point uppercase Times New. Kids have been handing me these for the past two years of my employ at the Instituto, and I have yet to know what the color coding means, much less what I’m supposed to do with them. I’ve now taken to tacking them to my board, they look so cool.

And while we’re on the topic of Times New, can we just give a shout out to the new default font of Microsoft Word Vista? Calibri, is it? Awesomely clean little font: I don’t know what makes it so magnificently superior to its tiny Arial cousin, but it rocks. I know Vista’s come in for some horrible press, and I ain’t here to defend nothing but the Calibri—I’ve been wanting to retire TNR to Happy Font Farms for years. It is, in my book, just one step above the Darth Vader of fonts, Comic Sans. Students know there is but one way to fail in my classes—turn in a paper in Comic Sans. The aforementioned NM sez that I have post-traumatic Comic Sans disorder. NM is a seventh (now eighth! today!) grader.

3. A color photograph of Ms AB, departing eighth now ninth grader, who threw down a 20 page memoir for her very first paper last fall that ranks in the Top 3 of anything any student of any age has ever written for one of my classes. The narrative voice was wise, hilarious, maniacal, and heartbreaking, all rolled into one. A brilliant piece of writing. In the photograph, Ms A is sitting under an early evening blue sky, holding the very large head of her gorgeous horse Dante’s Inferno.

4. A pencil drawing by the Trapunk (his invented school of art) artist JS, of a young boy over whom the Flying Spaghetti Monster is hovering. The FSM is sporting the obligatory pirate regalia and its spaghetti tentacles are ensnared in the young boy’s hair. The young boy is either not the least bit worried or he is catatonic. With CC (author of the classic “How to Survive a Gnome Attack”), JS is the co-author of the three-part “Pirates of Panda-ping” epic.

5. Above center on the bulletin board, pride of place, if you will, is a picture of ManBearPig, who has inspired the religious conversion of well over half my students. Being a small private school, we are a small sect, but we make up for our limited numbers with ample fervor and strawberry Twizzlers.

6. A list, compiled by the aforementioned NM, of various taglines for Dr Pepper through the ages, including “King of Beverages,” “The Friendly Pepper Upper,” “America’s Most Misunderstood Soft Drink Ever,” and “Out of the Ordinary, Like You,” for example. NM compiled this list as part of his background research on the creator of DP, to assist him in completing a writing assignment in which we resurrected important historical characters and placed them in our lives. I, for example, resurrected Marie Curie in my story, which more than underwhelmed NM, resulting in the ascension of the Creator/Founder of Dr P. I quite see his point.

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Blogger alister said...

This is utterly Qfesterous! It’s pandapintractable, twizzlersurreal! Why, it’s downright marmalade skies and rockinghorse people eating marshmallow pies!
Methinks you have more fun at “work” than the average ManBearPig...

6:27 PM  
Blogger murat11 said...

Miss Alister: I'm glad you put that "word" "work" in "quotation marks." That is definitely the key.

And by the way, there is no "average" ManBearPig.

Yours in hirsuteness.

6:33 PM  
Blogger San said...

Paschal, I like your morphing of the SIX meme. Question: Which came first, the wildly gifted students or the wildly gifted teach? Or are you gifting each other wildly, at a dizzying clip?

The BUTTONS rant flashes with genius, enough to make me worry about their disappearance, along with knobs and switches. When HOLES go, let's have our DUCKS lined up.

TARDY AND FRIDAY squares. A horse named Dante's Inferno. A dissertation on Doc Pepper. A vortex of poems to be poeted.

Re the Pepper kid: Many years ago I worked in a gallery in Sausalito. An artist whose work hung on the walls had the surname Pepper. And yup, one day he walked in wearing a t-shirt that proclaimed I'M A PEPPER.

8:32 AM  
Blogger murat11 said...

Aw, Ms San, you put me on the spot with your pregunta. But, you know how it is with pigs in blankets: you throwm em all together and we just get, well, piggier. I'll take Door #3, as you knew I would: "gifting each other wildly, at a dizzying clip."

My classes, as you can imagine, look like street corner gatherings. I used to say, I still say, that they are not the way I would LIKE to run a class, but what can I do? Tina, on the other hand, sez that my classes look EXACTLY the way I want them to, the little gnome anarchist breaking in and subverting the good little golden boy from days of (snoozing) yore.

I do know that what passes for brilliance in my classes would be tossed into the trash can in the classes of some of my English-teaching colleagues here (not all, by the way). When we were reading Elie Wiesel's Night, my gnome attack author wrote a reflection on the book that imagined Hitler's ass being kicked by BigFoot rising from amongst the Jews of Europe: it was fiercely, maniacally, devilishly funny and completely irreverent. I gasped when I first read it, but the more I read it, the more I appreciated its offhanded brilliance and its deep understanding of all that was left to those bludgeoned people in the camps: their impossible dreams of rescue and super heroes and major ass-kicking.

I watch kids I inherit from the Dour Ones come into my classes, incapable of writing anything beyond the snooze button: they are terrified and completely bamboozled by the invitation to romp, but then they see the fun in the mud and hear the whispered anarchistic notions and lo and behold the CDs of the world are heading out on fictive road trips and having a blast.

It is my fervent hope, short of detonating the whole damned enterprise altogether, that one day a snoozing Pearson test scorer will fall on his/her ass when one of the CCs of the world throws down a five paragraph SAT essay in which Sasquatch has risen from the ashes, on his way to kicking some more totalitarian ass in the deepest bowels of Sauron's Last Bastion of Secondary School Pedagogy.

Peace, my sister and wonderful partner in crime.

9:43 AM  
Blogger Lee said...

Aww Paschal, (re: your response to San) having that wonderfully strange essay come across a scorer's screen would be a blessing to the scorer and a curse to the kid. As readers we love the variety and art when we get the rare glimpse of it. As scorers we have to follow the rubric and the creative genius might not get any credit at all for their efforts, especially if it is "off topic". There are definitely times when scoring sucks!

Loved your meme morph! Too cool! Would it be possible for me to visit your classroom someday?

Peace! Hope! & Joy for the freedom!

11:45 AM  
Blogger murat11 said...

Lee: I left a word out of my San comment: the sentiment should have read "will fall on his/her ass LAUGHING" at the Sasquatch essay and its sheer cock-eyed brilliance.

How sad is it that variety and art are rarely glimpsed?

The Final Tyrannies of the World: Catholicism, Capitalism, and the final demon: the Rubric.

12:16 PM  
Blogger Lee said...

Amen, brother! We're raising a bunch of instruction followers instead of thinking, exploring individuals. Remind me but weren't the later the kind that made our country great?


3:35 PM  
Blogger murat11 said...

Amen back at you, Lee.

5:20 PM  

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