I figured out why women (still) love Elvis.

I’ve never given much thought to Elvis Presley. I guess I’ve just pictured him hanging out somewhere near the top of a list of “most overrated musical artists of all time.” But I recently acquired a three-disc record album called Elvis: 50 Years, 50 Hits (I got it for free) and have listened to it twice now, and I’ve come to a better-informed opinion. I still think that for someone called “the king of rock and roll,” he has a pretty poor output of actual rock and roll songs. I’ll give him “Hound Dog.” That’s a rock and roll song, and a good one. And he’s got a few others along the same lines, though not quite as good. But his repertoire largely consists of excruciatingly maudlin ballads and swoony doo-wop numbers. It’s the latter category I want to focus on in this post because in listening to them, I think I’ve discovered why Elvis makes women…well, swoon.

It’s the lyrics, first of all. The aforementioned “Hound Dog” has this wonderfully bitter refrain (“well, they said you was high-class/but that was just a lie”) that puts in it the same category as Bob Dylan’s triumphs of nasty schadenfreude (OMG, I just spelled that word without looking it up–high five to me), “Like a Rolling Stone” and “Idiot Wind.” But that song is an exception in more ways than one. Most of Elvis’s songs have a tone not of ill will but of a plea for good will. He creates this persona of a heart-bruised lover who’s been hurt in the past and who is now turning to the unnamed female addressee of the song (with whom many female listeners identify, not by accident) and asking her to be gentle. You don’t have to go any further than the titles of some of the songs to see this persona: “Don’t Be Cruel,” “Love Me Tender,” “One Broken Heart for Sale,” “I Beg of You.” It’s as if he says to each fan, “I’ve been hurt in the past, honey, but I know you won’t do that to me.” (I’m pretty sure that’s not an actual Elvis lyric, but it could be.)

And there’s something incredibly endearing about that. I won’t make an overgeneralization and say all women, but many women are attracted to a man who is hurt, whether physically or emotionally, and needs our help. The cynical interpretation of this phenomenon would be that we like the power this gives us over a man; the more generous interpretation would be that we (everybody, but especially women) have an innate desire to nurture and care for people. The truth is that it’s probably a combination of the two. I have no idea whether Elvis Presley gave conscious thought to the psychology of all this, but I think he instinctively knew these things.

There’s an implied subtext in most of this songs–occasionally made explicit, as in “(Let Me Be Your) Teddy Bear”–that goes something like this: “If you treat me gentle, baby, I’ll treat you gentle too.” (Shoot, I think I missed my calling as a songwriter.) And this message, I would add, is not only sweet but also essential in a culture like ours in which masculinity is often portrayed as mutually exclusive with kindness and tenderness. If that message is sentimental, maybe we need a little sentimentality.

more musical observations

My posts have been taking a musical turn of late, not necessarily by design. Here are two more semi-profound musings I had about songs this past weekend.

  1. In a post several years ago, I grouped together three movies that came out in 1999 and summarized them all with the famous line from the Goo Goo Dolls’ “Iris” (1998): “You bleed just to know you’re alive.” I found myself thinking about this lyric again while listening to a song from just two years later, “Pinch Me” by the Barenaked Ladies (2000). I realize now that I’ve typed it out that this is a really unfortunate convergence of song title and band name (well, let’s just say a really unfortunate band name, period), but the title simply refers to the song protagonist’s feeling that he is asleep and needs to be (but is not sure if he wants to be) awakened in order to face the real world. (By the way, you may know this song better as the one with the line, “I could hide out under there/I just made you say ‘underwear.’”) The song could be read as a plea from a depressed person who can’t muster the courage to even go outside his door. I have a feeling that many cultural critics read it, along with “Iris,” as an anthem of the malaise of late Gen X-ers and early Millennials—people my own age, who grew up hearing these songs as background music—and perhaps some of them connect this malaise with the sense of entitlement that they are so fond of attributing to people in that age range. I prefer to think of true interpretation of these songs as somewhere in between: they’re not only about people with diagnosable mental health conditions, but neither should they be dismissed as the whines of bored young people who have to manufacture problems in order to help themselves feel validated. I would submit that the world has gotten more overwhelming and that people my age and younger are less equipped to deal with it than those who came before us, and these songs are just evidence of that. I’ll leave you with that to ponder.
  2. Now, something more uplifting. While running on Saturday, I listened to one of my favorite songs of all time, Queen’s “We Are the Champions,” and maybe it was all the adrenaline or the fact that my institution has graduation in less than two weeks, but in any case, I came up with a brief commencement address on the theme of this song. Here it is: Have you ever wondered why we use the term “commencement” for something that we usually talk about as an ending? Also, have you ever wondered why the song says, “We are the champions,” implying that we’ve already won, but then goes on to say, “We’ll keep on fighting to the end?” The answer to both these questions is the same: it’s that the struggle is never over in this life, is it? You’re celebrating the end of college, and indeed you should. You are a champion. But you still face the fight of career, relationships, and just getting through life. You can “go the distance” like Rocky, but then you still have Rocky II, II, IV, IV, and Rocky Balboa and Creed and Creed II—you see what I mean. The Queen song goes on to include several more of these “already and not yet” constructions (to borrow a term from theology): for example, the speaker of the song talks about taking his bows and his curtain calls, but just a few lines later he uses future tense: “I consider it a challenge before the whole human race/And I ain’t gonna lose.” So remember, the fight goes on. But don’t let that discourage you. [And I teach at a Christian college, so this next part applies to my students and is crucial.] Remember that you serve a God who does have time for losers. He gave his life for losers like us, and he makes us champions. The End.

“Michigan seems like a dream to me now”

I’ll go ahead and warn you that I’m not totally sure what direction this post is going to take–whether it’s going to turn out profound like last week’s post or be a stream-of-consciousness reflection on how Simon and Garfunkel lyrics have kept coming to my attention over the past week, which is all that I have in mind right now. Just letting you know.

So, yes, last night while I was making a tuna layered salad to chill for tonight’s meeting of my creative writing group, I listened to my Simon and Garfunkel greatest hits record because for days, I had been coming across direct and indirect references to their songs, from a former grad student telling me that “Bridge over Troubled Water” played an instrumental role in the conversion of Christian singer Jason Gray (shout out to you, Kandy, if you’re reading this!), to Max Lucado’s odd but appropriate mention of “The Boxer” in his early book No Wonder They Call Him the Savior, to the Michigan place-name Saginaw, which always makes me think of the song “America” (which, since that’s the most generic song title ever, most people probably think of as “All Gone to Look for America”). (“It took me four days to hitchhike from Saginaw.”) By the way, I haven’t been to the city of Saginaw, but the reason I fairly often think of the name and hence the song is that there’s a thoroughfare called Saginaw (Street? Avenue? It’s just called Saginaw, apparently. They do that a lot around here) in Lansing where the American Red Cross platelet donation center is. Yes, I do drive an hour to Lansing to donate platelets when I could donate here in Grand Rapids with Michigan Blood Services. I’m loyal to the Red Cross, and I don’t mind making the drive once or twice a month, especially now that I have a new Mazda CX-5 that I really enjoy spending time in.

Okay. Rambling. Focus.

There’s a line in “America”–near the Saginaw line, of course–that I never really paid attention to or possibly even heard until last night. (I recently got a new turntable and speakers, and I’m having all these revelations because I can now hear my records properly for the first time.) It says, “Michigan seems like a dream to me now.” This line brought a bemused smile to my face as I was chopping cucumbers or whatever I was doing at that moment. Michigan does seem like a dream to me now, not because–like the protagonist of that song–I have passed through it quickly and left it behind, but because I am still here after seven months and yet it sometimes doesn’t seem real that I live here. And I don’t mean “dream” in the sense of “beyond my wildest dreams”; after all, if you told me I could live anywhere in the world, no restrictions, I’d probably pick Italy or somewhere else more temperate in climate and with better food than Michigan (no offense intended). But I’m awed, blessed, and kinda proud of myself that I am not only living in a state that a year ago I’d never remotely considered living in, but also working at a university that a year ago I’d never heard of (but only because it’s a hidden gem)–and I own a house in that state and just a few blocks from that university. I even have a Michigan license plate on the four-wheel-drive vehicle I probably would not have bought in Virginia. But it all feels a little surreal, like an unusually long vacation.

That’s all I have to say about that, as Forrest Gump says. I hope it was sufficiently profound for you. Go listen to some Simon and Garfunkel.

Big Daddy Weave, Christian music, and my judgmental heart

For over a month, I had been going to my chiropractor three times a week and seeing a poster for an upcoming Big Daddy Weave concert every time I hung up my coat. Although I’ve never been a particular fan of BDW, I would sometimes look at the poster and think, “I should go to that.” After all, I’ve been running a streak of attending good concerts ever since last October–basically, since I moved to the Grand Rapids area. Also, the poster said there would be a guest violinist and a guest cellist, and I like classy string music as much as the next person. I have also been slightly intrigued by Big Daddy Weave ever since I read a guest column in the World Vision magazine a few years ago by lead singer Mike Weaver. He wrote about preparing to visit his sponsored child in the boy’s home country and feeling apprehensive about the visit because as an obese person, he thought his presence might be awkward or inappropriate in a severely food-insecure area–and then having his apprehensions made mostly irrelevant when he and his sponsored child immediately connected. I was impressed by the thoughtfulness of this piece and have had it in the back of my mind ever since then.

So I listened to Big Daddy Weave’s top tracks on Pandora and discovered, upon hearing them all at once, that these were some of the most memorable best-written songs I’d heard on Christian radio over the past few years. See, I have this thing about Christian radio–I listen to it while mentally distancing myself from it. After all, life is not always “positive and encouraging,” a favorite slogan of Christian radio stations. But as I studied BDW’s discography (still trying to decide if I should buy a ticket to the concert), I realized that while they do have a number of celebratory anthems about victory in Jesus (“The Lion and the Lamb” is a really good one), they also have a number of songs about shame, discouragement, and other non-positive experiences. Yet they always do point to Jesus somewhere in their songs. I’ve been telling my students that we need more Christian artists who do this, instead of jumping straight to the victory part.

So I decided to buy a ticket. But I felt like I had to deprecate myself about this. “I’m going to see Big Daddy Weave on Friday night,” I said to two of my music-savvy college students. “And you can make fun of me; I know that’s, like, soccer-mom music.” Their response surprised me. “Oh, we love them! So jealous you get to go to that” was essentially what they said. So I felt a little better about myself.

But when I got to the church where the concert was taking place, and I was standing in line waiting to get in, I saw a lot of soccer moms and soccer dads, and I started silently judging everything I told myself I hated about suburban middle-American Christianity. Honestly, I think this was a coping mechanism because I was really feeling lonely and awkward about attending the concert about myself.

I sat near the back of the sanctuary, which allowed me to do some people-watching, and I ended up being surprised by the diversity of the crowd. Throughout the concert, which was really more of a worship service, I sincerely enjoyed watching the people around me respond to the music. In the row in front of me, there was a group of intellectually disabled adults who were really getting into it. In the row in front of them, there was a group of teenagers who I would have guessed would’ve preferred newer and hipper bands, yet seemed to love the music. (Incidentally, there was a lot of hugging going on in both of those rows, especially toward the end of the concert.) In the row in front of them, there was a row of women who did indeed appear to be soccer moms, but one of them was African-American (one of the few non-white people in attendance–okay, so the crowd wasn’t diverse in every respect), and she wasn’t turning up her nose at the whiteboy music either; in fact, she and one of her friends a few seats down were on their feet almost the entire concert.

By the end of the concert, I felt convicted. What’s so bad about soccer moms anyway? Who am I, in my arrogance, to judge my fellow believers for the music they like or the way they dress or the minivans they drive? Or the way they worship? I felt convicted, but not guilty (another favorite song topic of BDW is how we don’t have to bear the guilt of our sin anymore, so that was good to hear)–I felt blessed that these people didn’t have a problem with worshiping next to a lone concert attendee wearing a weird bandanna and, by the end of it all, a goofy smile. (In case you’re wondering, that was me.)

India in Mira Nair’s Vanity Fair

Over the weekend, I watched Mira Nair’s 2004 adaptation of William Thackeray’s Vanity Fair. I had seen it several years before, and even before I rewatched it, I remembered that the movie left me feeling more affectionate toward the characters than the notoriously satirical novel did. I tend to have this experience in general with adaptations–it’s usually easier to like a character I am seeing portrayed by a flesh-and-blood actor as compared to a character described by a (sometimes vicious) narrator and perhaps, in the case of a Victorian novel, illustrated in a cartoonish style. But I think there’s an additional reason why Nair applies a more charitable interpretation to the characters, which is simply that she’s a woman. This is no doubt why main character Becky Sharp, while every bit as strong and smart and (a little bit) ruthless as in the novel, appears less like a shrew and more like a woman who has spent her life striving to overcome the disadvantages of poverty and orphanhood.

I also remembered that India, a distant backdrop for some of the plotlines in the novel, takes a more prominent role under the direction of the Indian-American Nair. But not until this latest viewing did I realize the extent and nuance of India’s presence in the film. Unlike some other movies of the last few decades, such as The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and its sequel (which I have to admit I really do enjoy), Vanity Fair does not carry the message that if British people (or white people in general; I think this message is also implied in Eat Pray Love) go to India, they will have a magical experience and all their problems will be solved. While Vanity Fair celebrates the music, cuisine, and clothing styles of India, it doesn’t slap a simple, single symbolic meaning on the entire nation or its culture. For example, in one scene, India seems to represent heartwarming family values (when the lonely Dobbin, who has escaped to India to nurse his unrequited love, watches the happy parents and child), but in a later scene, Indian music, dance, and costume are associated with moral degradation in Lord Steyne’s creepy-sexy “ballet.”

The connection with India is, I think, the reason for Nair’s significantly more positive portrayal of Jos Sedley, a British colonial bureaucrat home on leave from India and also the first man who makes a bit of a fool of himself over Becky Sharp. In the novel, Jos is a minor character who is regularly mocked by his fellow characters and the narrator–for being fat, for being nonconfrontational (or cowardly, as Thackeray seems to present him, but I think it’s a good thing to have a peaceful young man in a novel full of hotheads and warriors), and for having, in the eyes of his hidebound friends and family, nearly “gone native” in his affinity for Indian clothing and cooking. Although Jos is part of a colonial machine whose purpose is to impose British rule and culture on India, as an individual he seems to be doing more absorbing than imposing. Whenever he appears in the film, he is portrayed as a respectful and delighted fan of Indian culture, which he (again respectfully) tries to share with the folks back home. Although he remains a minor character in the movie, he does not, as in the novel, finally and ignominiously drop out of the story about halfway through, fleeing from the Battle of Waterloo. Instead [SPOILER], he shows up at the end, after Becky has lost her love and many other things, and we learn that he’s been looking for her and hoping to take her back to India with him. The film ends with the two of them riding an elephant in what surely looks like a wedding procession. And while the scene looks a little bit like an India tourism commercial, I love that Mira Nair found a way to celebrate her family’s ancestral land and set Becky Sharp up with the man who’s loved her all along. Thackeray purists may have a problem with the ending, but I think it’s lovely.

my take on the 2019 Best Picture nominees

I watch the Academy Awards every year and have blogged about them several times over the years, but this year I decided, for the first time, to see all the Best Picture nominees before Oscar night. Since there are only eight this year and I had already seen Black Panther (probably the only nominee that many people have seen), I was able to do this in one weekend. I did watch the rather inordinate number of five movies in my local cinema last weekend, which means that I saw the trailer for Isn’t It Romantic no fewer than three times. (It still looks pretty funny.) I rented one of the nominees from my local Family Video (yes, we still have rental stores around here) and finished up last night by watching one on Netflix.

Instead of writing a separate review of each film, I thought it would be more interesting–and less wordy–to make some lists of themes and motifs that appear in two or more of the films. Think of this as a textual Venn diagram that shows where the nominees overlap and thereby shows, perhaps, what was on Hollywood’s (and America’s and the world’s?) mind this year.

Let’s start with the obvious: Films that have the word “Black” in the title. Okay, maybe too obvious. Let’s move on.

Films about lonely musicians who abuse alcohol and/or drugsGreen Book, Bohemian Rhapsody, A Star Is Born

Films about political intrigue and insiderism that have zero likable characters: The Favourite, Vice

Films that deliberately hark back to older styles of filmmaking: Vice, BlackkKlansman, Roma

Films that incorporate multiple genres: BlackkKlansman, Vice (editorial note: Vice takes the cake in this category, using Shakespearean blank verse, restaurant menus, a helpful narrator who’s also sort of a character, historical footage, and even a fake credit roll in the middle of the movie in order to explain concepts. Also, a side note: BlackkKlansman and Vice have another feature in common–really cool, sometimes funky, sometimes epic scores by composers I’m not familiar with but whom I hope to hear more from in the future.)

Films in genres that traditionally don’t get nominated for Best PictureBlack Panther, A Star Is Born (And remember, a monster movie won last year. And the year before that, a musical won. Oh wait, no, it didn’t. Never mind.) I almost put Bohemian Rhapsody here because I was thinking of it as a feel-good movie/sort-of musical, but the Oscars do tend to love musician biopics (c.f. Ray, Walk the Line). Green Book somewhat fits into all of the categories I just mentioned as well, except that the focus is not so much on the musician as on his driver/bodyguard/friend.

Films that address contemporary issues: Oh wait, that would be all of them.

Films that felt like they were trying to out-weird last year’s weird period costume drama, Phantom Thread: I guess The Favourite is the only one that belongs here.

But perhaps the average filmgoer who doesn’t want to spend the equivalent of a full-time job in the movie theater will be most interested in these three categories.

Films that made me feel good: Black Panther, Green Book, Bohemian Rhapsody

Films that made me feel sad but okay: BlackkKlansman, A Star Is Born, Roma

Films that made me want to become a cynical world-hating hermit: The Favourite, Vice

That’s all for now. If you’ve seen any of these, let me know what you think. And if you happen to know why Roma is called Roma, let me know that too, because I’m pretty sure I missed something.


writing for joy

My grandfather, John Vernon Stockslager (we called him Pappy), passed away last week. My uncle preached his funeral sermon on Monday, and he mentioned something I had almost forgotten about: Almost 20 years ago, when Pappy first got a computer, he created a series of comic strips about two birds named Tweets and Blu. Technically speaking, they’re simple and even a bit rough–he used the Draw program in Windows to create them–but they’re funny and big-hearted and short, just like Pappy. Also at the funeral, one of my cousins read aloud a poem that Pappy had written not long ago. (We had also read one of his poems at my grandmother’s funeral nine years ago.) At some point during the service, I was struck by the sudden realization that although it had always seemed normal to me that my grandfather, a retired electrician and farmer, drew cartoons and wrote poems for fun, it’s actually not that common for adults to do these things. Kids do these things, and then when they grow up and decide they’re not good enough to get paid to do them, they get embarrassed and stop. Pappy never stopped.

I see this same impulse to write for the pure joy of it in Pappy’s children and grandchildren, particularly in my own immediate family. The examples range from the short-lived family newspaper my sister headed up when we were kids–The Fine Five–to my brother’s songwriting to my dad’s extensive reviews he posts on Goodreads for every book he reads. I see it in my own blogging and fiction writing. None of us are getting paid to do these things. Maybe we could, if we worked harder at marketing ourselves or knew the right people. But while I can’t speak for anyone else in my family, I can say that I’m content with writing for a small audience of family, friends, and Facebook connections–and for the delight it brings me. Sometimes I have to remind myself that I’m content with this, like when I see colleagues’ blogs and YouTube channels going viral or when I watch other people in my Facebook writers’ group (which I feel like a poser even belonging to) finding great success in self-publication through a combination of persistent marketing and real writing skill. I admire those people, and what I’m about to say is not, by any means, meant to fault them. But for me, I think it’s a useful discipline to be able to see the value in sharing my writing with the people who matter most to me, even if it reaches no further than that. That’s what Pappy did. I remember there was some talk of looking for a wider distribution channel for Tweets and Blu, but his family was always his favorite audience, whether for his comic strips, his poems, or his music, which I haven’t even mentioned in this post. (And he did get to play and sing in front of a wide range of audiences throughout his life.)

I’m not trying to make the worn-out, false argument that getting paid for doing something makes you love it less. But I do think there’s something to be said for writing–or drawing, or singing and playing–for nothing but joy. I’m thankful that Pappy taught me that.

songs you should drop everything and listen to

Deeply embroiled in grading, I’m taking just a minute to share with you the front-runner for my favorite “new” (to me) Christmas song this year: “Christmas Must Be Tonight” by The Band. This is an old song that I just discovered this year, and I really dig it. I’ve been realizing this year how much I like The Band. Over the summer, I discovered their wonderfully surprising part-bluegrass, part-zydeco cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “Atlantic City.”

Let me know what you think. And what Christmas songs are you enjoying this year?

Jesus was homeless

This morning while washing my face and putting on makeup and blow-drying my hair, I was trying to keep tears from streaming down my face. Let me briefly tell you why.

I was listening to the Trans-Siberian Orchestra song “Good King Joy,” which combines the tunes of “Joy to the World” and “Good King Wenceslas” (the moderately obscure carol about the king who feeds, warms, and clothes a poor man) but also contains a blues-gospel vocal riff on the journey of the wise men to bring gifts to Jesus. My first thought was “It’s odd that they would conflate those two stories.” My next thought was “Duh. They’re not conflating anything; those two stories are absolutely connected.” Jesus said that whatever we do for “the least of these”–like the poor man that King W. saw–we have done for him. And that’s why we sing about King W. at Christmas (well, we at least hear the song occasionally–I’m not sure if I’ve ever actually sung it) and why so many people give their time and money at Christmas. Charitable giving at Christmas is not something Charles Dickens came up with in the 1840s; Dickens was drawing from a very old tradition that stretches all the way back to the wise men and even further back to the innkeeper who did, after all, let Mary and Joseph stay in the stable. We give to the poor at Christmas because on the first Christmas, God became poor. He didn’t just become a baby unable to help himself; he became a baby born to a couple who didn’t have much in terms of worldly possessions and who, on the night Jesus was born, didn’t even have a place to stay.

This seems so obvious now that I’m typing it out, and it’s not like I didn’t know all this before. It just hit me this morning in a way that it never has before. This advent season, I want to pay attention to the people around me who are economically poor as well as poor in spirit, because in doing so I am paying attention to Jesus.

the dig list

It’s time for one of my periodic lists of stuff I dig right now.

  1. Music with close vocal harmonies. Throughout the past week, I have been listening to two bands whose music showcases the capabilities of the male voice in harmony with others. One is Queen. Have you ever noticed–well, I’m sure you have; I’m stating the obvious here–that if you stripped away the wailing guitars, many of their songs would make wonderful barbershop quartet numbers? The other band is Lord Huron, whose moody music conjures the lowering darkness of an overcast autumn day–specifically, of clouds gathering over a lake, probably Lake Huron. (Some of their songs reference lakes too.) Their harmonies are tiiiiiight (in two senses of the word).
  2. The Pickwick Papers. I decided that while I’m reading Michael Slater’s biography of Charles Dickens, I’m going to watch, in order of novel publication, my collection of BBC Dickens adaptations. Saturday and Sunday, I watched the 1985 Pickwick Papers miniseries. I can’t put my finger on what’s so delightful about watching rotund middle-aged men act like adult children and get into the same tight spots (figuratively and sometimes literally) over and over again, but maybe it’s that in this novel and only this novel within Dickens’ repertoire, everyone is so genuinely good-hearted. Even the blood-sucking lawyers Dodson and Fogg are ultimately harmless. Pickwick and his friends triumph because they choose to believe the best about everyone. Maybe that’s not the way the world really works, but it’s something to strive for. Watching this mini-series is kind of like watching Parks and Recreation, which manages to be hilarious even while being refreshingly un-cynical. All the duels, lawsuits, and other confrontations in Pickwick are funny in the same way that it’s funny when the other characters make fun of Jerry on Parks and Rec. They’re like little kids trying to be mean but succeeding only in being cute.
  3. Fazoli’s. Okay, look. It may not be “authentic Italian food,” though I’m not sure that phrase really means much in America, where we’ve adopted Italian cuisine as one of our own and enacted tons of bizarrely creative, often successful variations on it. (I mean, just look at pizza.) But I ordered a Caesar side salad, baked ziti, breadsticks, and a blood orange Italian ice online, picked it up, and was back home within half an hour. It was faster than flying to Sicily. And it was good.
  4. Peer review day. One of my favorite things to do as a teacher is to walk around the classroom and briefly engage with pairs of students as they read and constructively critique each other’s papers. My short attention span appreciates the short interactions, and instead of standing in front of a classroom babbling until my throat hurts, I get to swoop in, answer questions and sound very knowledgeable, and move on to the next group. All kidding aside (not kidding about that stuff, though), peer review can be a great instructional strategy, teaching students the important life skills of reflection and of giving feedback without being vague or unkind. Fortunately, I’m teaching two writing classes and have lots of peer review days to look forward to this semester.

What are you digging right now? Let me know if the comments.