I am prepared to swallow my pride and accept that a part-time career as a journalist and shallow humor writer does not qualify me as a literary critic. Still it stings when the Macbeth paper I edit for my son's 10th grade English class is returned with a D.
In my defense, it was honors English and I've never read Macbeth, so probably that works out to more like a C+ when you factor that in. Or rather, when in you factor that. (Or is it "whom?" I can never keep those straight.)
My point is, I'd like to see his English teacher try to write a coherent story in 15 minutes with an editor standing over his shoulder screaming "15 minutes ago, lame ass," and the ballots are not even all counted! and the phone is ringing with a call he has to take or he won't be able to finish his other story which is due seven minutes after the first one and the only thing he's had to eat all day is Cheez-Its.
Whatever. I am prepared to cede the point when it comes to Shakespeare.
But the next assignment? A parody of a news story. And I don't like to brag, but I have been writing news parodies for decades, sir. Sometimes even on purpose.
I pass on to my son a bit of the craft, the word play, the deft substitution of the ridiculous for the absurd. His piece, in which House Republicans draft a proposal to repel health care, makes me laugh. It's good, I tell him. But what do I know?
It comes back with the word "repel" repeatedly crossed out. Above the first one, the teacher has written "repeal" in red ink.
Now my son is convinced that his mother could not even pass tenth grade English.
"Honors English," I say. Because how hard could the other class be?
From the literary archives: A Stapler of One's Own, All's well that ends mostly well, Portrait of the agent as a young man
I for one think you are accurate in word choice and the teacher "jumped" to a conclusion. Congress will "repel" it b/c their ain't no way Obama is going to pass an appeal. That bill ain't nuth'in more than bug spray to a mosquito.
Posted by: Audubon Ron | February 04, 2011 at 11:45 AM
Cheez-its? You got to eat Cheez-its on deadline?
That's whats wrong with you youngsters in journalism -- you're all soft. SOFT, I tell ya.
In my day, all we had to eat before deadline was whatever bits fell off of the cigar we were chomping on -- YESTERDAY's cigar, I tell ya.
Cheez-its. Next you're gonna tell me you had electric typewriters.
And who the fuck is this Macbeth guy? I asked around at the cop shop and none of the boys never heard heard of no Macbeth, I tell ya.
Posted by: Suburban Sheepdog | February 04, 2011 at 12:31 PM
"repel" = "too dumb to spell repeal" reminds me of the time in college when I was supposed to rewrite a scene from a Henry James story from the point of view of a character other than the original narrator--because we'd just finished reading Virginia Woolf. And so, like Woolf, I chose to rewrite the scene from the points of view of several characters, since it seemed a fun way to play with this exercise in perspective. I got a "C" on the paper for not rewriting from the viewpoint of ONE other character. There's no accounting for some people's lack of creativity...
Posted by: MommyTime | February 04, 2011 at 02:26 PM
I think his teacher may actually be that "Ballbuster" fella from the State of the Family post on NPR. They share the same humor impediment. if you want I can write him a letter. My son loves it when I write to his English teacher. Oh he doesn't say so but I can tell.
Posted by: nthnglsts | February 04, 2011 at 05:20 PM
I suppose The Onion would have gone with "rappel."
Posted by: Suburban Kamikaze | February 05, 2011 at 06:43 AM
Also, I am going to try to work "Sweetheart, get me rewrite," into as many conversations as possible today, in honor of the Sheepdog, who is as good a reporter as I've ever shared a flask - I mean desk of course - with...
Posted by: Suburban Kamikaze | February 05, 2011 at 08:08 AM