First of all, I'm seething right now. My guy, Chikezie, got the boot on American Idol last night. Absolutely ludicrous. Here is a list of people who are actually better than the C-Man: Brooke White, Carly Smithson, David Cook, and Michael Johns. If those were the only people still on the show and Chikezie-E got voted off, I would have no problems with that. But to pull a Bernie Mac here for a minute, Come on, America! Kristy Lee Cook? Jason Castro? Ramiele Malubay, for crying out loud! I know there's no way to find this out, but I would wager my first-born son on the fact that Chikezie would sell more tickets and albums that Ramiele. And it wouldn't be close. So thank you, voters, for making the rest of my AI-watching experience slightly less enjoyable. Hope you're happy. At least it looks like next week's The Moment of Truth is going to be truly horrifying, so I've got that to look forward to.
Since I'm too upset to come up with a new idea, I'm weighing in with another installment of "student say the darndest things." I've decided that this is a truly inspired idea for a regular feature because I might someday run out of ideas for Top 10's, and I can only do mailbags if people are commenting, but kids will always say stupid things in their papers. It's a bottomless well of material. So let's get started. As always, the names have been changed, but these are all direct quotations.
STEPHANIE CARLSON (analysis of "War is Kind"): "In ‘War is Kind,’ Stephen Crane says, ‘Point for them the virtue of slaughter.’ He is saying that the men at war get points for killing people."
How many statements like this do I have to put up before you start wondering if it's really just my crazy kids or if I'm truly an incompetent teacher? Maybe we're already there...
JENNIFER HART (analysis of a David Eggers short short story): “Children enjoy being naked. They also like to hide their diapers from you, but that isn’t the point of this paper.”
Unfortunately--but maybe predictably--it never became clear what the point of the paper actually was.
ANDY O'BRIEN (analysis of a David Eggers short short story): “Some symbolism that I believe is in there is the Enron coffee cup symbolizes Roderick, the grapefruit juice symbolizes his wife’s complaining, and the cantaloupe symbolizes his plan to solve his wife’s issue with sleep eventually in possible murder.”
1) I love how he says the symbolism is "in there." It's like he's cleaning out a gutter. 2) I thought the last part of this sentence was crazy, but I just checked in my symbolism book, and it says, "CANTALOUPE: freshness, morning, plans to solve spouse's sleep issues with murder." So it turns out Andy was on to something.
ALICIA CONNOR (analysis of a D.E. short short story): “The passage ‘and when she thinks of what she will say to him and how loudly she will say it, she feels a strange kind of pleasure’ is like a slap in the face. This is a surprise to the reader, who now find out that the mother is unexpectedly a sado-masochist.”
It certainly came as a surprise to this reader.
ERIN NABORS (analysis of "Incident," by Countee Cullen): “Have you ever seen someone that was being racial towards another person?”
"Racial," Erin? Really?
DEVON MAISE (analysis of "The Red Wheelbarrow," by William Carlos Williams): “Another thing that was interesting about the structure was the first line has three words and the second line has one. Why he did this I am not sure, but it’s interesting to think about.”
This is really all I ask from my students. I don't need you to understand what's going on in the poem. Just give me something interesting to think about. Well done.
CRAIG GOLDBERG (analysis of "Incident"): “Having been denied work just for being labeled as an idiot I can relate to how these insults feels.”
This might be my all-time favorite. Just let it soak in for a while.
JORDAN CARTER (timed write): “Example: Boyfriend Mark decides to lie to girlfriend Anna. ‘Mark, we should go see a movie tonight. I think it would be a lot of fun since we don’t get to be with each other that often.’ Mark replies, ‘No, no. I feel a little sick. I’ve had a headache all day. Maybe we could save it until tomorrow?’ Is he telling her the truth? Nope. In reality, he is going out with her best friend Meg.”
Based on the tone of this essay, I think that "Mark" is an actual person, and he'd better watch out. The actual Jordan seems kind of like a crazy person.
Now, I'm going to introduce these final excerpts, all from the same paper, by saying that the core thesis of this essay is basically this: School is not as competitive as Alexandra Robbins claims it is in the book The Overachievers. Most people are content to just get by. At least Greg is.
GREG HARRIS: “[I read] the non-fiction novel The Overachievers”; “I am a senior in high school and all of my friends are starting to pick out collages”; “I have [a lot of friends] whose lives are already set for them. By that I mean they already have a full-time job and are out as an adult in the work force, [which] makes it a little less competitive for people like me to get into collage.”
1) What is a non-fiction novel? For those of you who have not read it, The Overachievers is not one. 2) He spelled "colleges" this way every single time. 3) Well, I'm glad that the fact that intelligent people are getting jobs is making it easier for you to get into collage. Just don't tell them that I had anything to do with it.