Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Belle of Louisville

For those of you wondering what a thousand English teachers grading 300,000 essays looks like, it's this:

We're only grading one of three questions in this room, so for a full measure of the excitement here in Derby City, multiply what you see here by two-thirds. Or something. The statistics people are grading across the street, and it's not worth getting hit by a bourbon truck to try and find out exactly.

As the water poured into cups at our daily Doughnut Rumble tastes like it was ladled directly from the Ohio River, I stopped by a drugstore this afternoon to find something from a more palatable source, such as the bottom of a Newark sewer. There I found the candy displays completely wiped out. We have entirely depleted Louisville of its sugar supply. Send Junior Mints and tequila.

Today I graded 74 essays, some of which rose to the following levels of scholarship:

"The son doesn't want to hurt his father's fillings."

"Male bondage was very important in 1937."

"The son clearly has an umbundant amount of admiration for his father."

"There are a lot of naturous images in this book."

"Open space is conducive to death by coyote, bear, and myriad other creatures."

"In this passage from Johnny Got His Gum..."

Then there's the I Am Completely Lost Without My Windows XP Thesaurus Function Award: "The author is very descriptive when describing the environment and gives an in-depth description of the fishing rod."

About this rod: The essays we're grading deal with a passage which tell the story of a son going off to fish for the first time with a friend instead of his father, and as a sign of his love and devotion and general Wardness, the father offers his valuable rod to the son. So for three days all we've been doing is reading various interpretations of how the rod IS the father, and how the son and the father are just one over this rod, and how the rod is in fact a phallic symbol, and how the father will always be a part of the son as long as he has this magnificent, amber-plated rod cradled close to his heart.

Well, the room leader decided to read aloud the next several paragraphs in Johnny Got His Gun, and it turns out... the son loses the freaking rod. It goes right to the bottom of the lake. We almost couldn't deal with this. We sat there at our tables and fiddled with the empty wrappers from our Reese's Cups, utterly dejected, unable to grade.

But then it was break time. Doughnuts heal all wounds.

one half per prof at: mbe@drinktothelasses.com

14 comments:

college gal said...

Those chairs look so uncomfortable! How can you sit there for 8 hours a day?

By the way, we never read Johnny Got His Gun in my AP class. I guess I missed out on some very valuable literature...?

:-D

Toni said...

Half a doughnut?

That's an insult!

Life's a Laugh said...

Are they at least Krispy Kreme doughnuts? I might be willing to endure 8 hours of reading regurgitated Freud, or a seventeen-year-old's attempt at it, and the symbolism of a fishing rod to have half of a glazed Krispy Kreme. It better be warm though!

Laney said...

These last few postings, while very entertaining, make an important point: EDUCATORS DO NOT MAKE ENOUGH MONEY.

At least you have a sense of humor about it. : )

MB said...

Dude, if they were Krispy Kreme, you think there'd be that many left? This is just after a refill of the tray, btw. Announcing break time is like getting out a bucket of chum.

red pill junkie said...

I second college gal, those chairs look like they came from Torquemada's garage sale!

So, if Johnny lost his daddy's rod/penis... that means he's gay right? right??? ;-)

classickelly21 said...

MB- I feel for you. I met the adult version of those writers this week. I had to go back to the hospital for a little set back with the surgery. It went something like this:

"You don't have a blood clotting factor. Have you noticed any spontaineous bleeding?"

"Are you sure no blood had spruted out of you? You can't lie to us about this."

"Okay, we are going to stop your blood thinning medicine, we think that is the cause of the problem?"

"We can't give you an IV or take any blood, the needle could cause serious bleeding."

5 minutes later, they gave me a Vitamin K shot to help my clotting factor.

"Wow, you are really oozing where we gave you that shot. I guess you really don't have a clotting factor. We should put some pressure on that to see if we can stop it."

2 hours later:
"Wow, how'd you get that horrible bruise on your arm. I bet you started to spontaineously bleed. I better call the docotor."

I swear to you the last 72 hours has been the longest in my whole medical ordeal. I am still really thi but at least they let me come home. Of course I was directed not to touch anything sharp so I don't cut myself and don't bump into anything. So, I am all about sitting on the couch being waited on for the next couple of days.

At least you get paid for reading those comments. I had to pay and no doughnuts, just hospital food.

Hope your week finishes better than mine.

Julie said...

I'm beginning to understand how I got a 5 on that exam...

mike changed his mind about louisville said...

"Open space is conducive to death by coyote, bear, and myriad other creatures."

I will give this essayist credit: s/he did use "myriad" right. It bugs me when people don't.

MB said...

Feel better, Kelly.

Brent Bowen said...

I particularly like the fact that Johnny got his gum. Did the essayist specify which flavor of gum? Brand name? These are important details, MB...

Kristen said...

It's true--male bondage was quite important in 1937, as explained in the book The Pink Swastika, a VERY SCHOLARLY report on how the Nazis were clearly vindictive repressed homosexuals. On the upside, it has the best title I've so far encountered.

p.s. Maybe it's just me, but I don't think I could eat a doughnut after reading 50 essays on a phallic fishing rod.

Rochelle said...

This is just too funny. I have taken many of those AP tests including the lit and english ones and I recall the rapid beating of my heart and furious writing. Half the time I had no idea where I was going with something, but I didn't want to sit there and run out of time. Reading those sentences and rationalizations just brought me back to English class where everyone is desperate to find meaning. Some students come up with the dumbest ideas. Although I fondly remember my AP World Lit teacher who would explain the coolest undercurrents in the text. We were always in awe of her genius.

Anonymous said...

Couple of things:

1. I always hated the water in Louisville. Even when I was little. And a whole summer there in Law School didn't help.

2. There are some really 'hole-in-the-wall' places in Germantown.

3. Isn't "Johnny Got His Gun" the one Metallica uses in the video for "One"? Man, I coulda totally faked it on this exam.

4. I always pronounce it LOU-uh-vul.

5. I'll be in Louisville tomorrow on family business.

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