Ramona's picture

    On Drunks and Skunks And Why It’s Good That Mickey Spillane Isn’t Here To See This

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    You may or may not have heard about the new show on CMT called “Party Down South”(originally called “The Dirty South”, or so the rumors go), a purposely stupid, sexy, boozy 10-week series about a group of 20-something southern rednecks, strangers to one another, thrown together in a house near Myrtle Beach for a month just to see what happens.  The booze, provided by the production company, flows freely with no danger of running out, and the participants are encouraged (I hope that’s it) to out-dumb each other. The program is produced by the same folks who gave us the equally stupid, sexy, boozy–but popular– “Jersey Shore”.

    Doctor Cleveland's picture

    Eating the Turkey Soup: A Christmas Story

    One December when my brother and I were around ten and twelve years old, our mother enlisted us in a holiday good deed she was doing. She wouldn't tell us who we were doing it for, and after we got caught up in our task itself we stopped wondering. When we were finished, we went back to thinking about other things. But on the afternoon of Christmas Eve someone came by our house with a pot of turkey soup to thank our mother, and we realized who we'd been doing that small good deed for.

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    Doctor Cleveland's picture

    In Praise of the Late Term Paper

    It's that time of year again, or actually one of the two times each year, when semesters end and bleary-eyed college professors scale mountains of ungraded papers and exams. One of my friends claims that he can track the academic calendar by the crescendo of professors griping on Facebook and Twitter about bad papers, worse excuses, and outrageous examples of student entitlement. Some of this is necessary foxhole camaraderie, some of it verges on the unprofessional, and some does a lot more than verge. Too many lame papers and excuses will put most people in an ugly mood.

    Doctor Cleveland's picture

    Keeping Christmas at Home

    Last Sunday was the first day of Advent, which means in the most traditional sense possible the beginning of the Christmas season. Of course, Retail Christmas Season began five minutes after Halloween ended, prompting me to some bleak reflections in my last post. But the truth is, I love Christmas, no matter how much this year's commercial display may be getting me down. Last Saturday I bought a wreath and a bunch of assorted greenery.

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    Ramona's picture

    On the Day When Turkeys Refuse to Give Thanks

    Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.  Over the river and through the woods to grandson's house we go.  I wrote this last night, so if there's confusion about the time line, that's why.  Any Vegetarians in the crowd might want to skip this one.

     

    Ramona's picture

    On That Day We Lost JFK

    On that day I was up in my sewing room, away from the TV.  My four-year-old son was napping, and my 7-year-old daughter was in school. My husband was at work.   It was early afternoon.

    I heard the back door open and before I could start to the stairs, I could hear my neighbor, Gwen, shouting something, sobbing. I thought something must have happened to her mother, who had been ailing.  By the time I got to her she could barely speak.  "They shot the president!  They shot Kennedy!"

    Ramona's picture

    Run, Bambi, Run! Man Is In The Woods

    Today marks the opening of hunting season here in Michigan’s north woods.  The schools are closed in most upper state communities, including ours.

    Opening Day is an annual holiday for the kids, even though only a small percentage of them will be out in the woods with guns. For many of them, today will be their initiation in deer camp, and it’s a day they’ve been waiting for all year.   I don’t quite know when it started but I do know that up here it’s one of those holidays that is so sacrosanct nobody questions it.

     

    Doctor Cleveland's picture

    Dead Man's Name Tag

    I've been away at an academic conference for nearly a week, leaving blog posts unfinished, e-mail unanswered, and campus office untenanted. I had a wonderful time with a bunch of scholars and actors at the American Shakespeare Center's reproduction of Shakespeare's Blackfriars playhouse. (If you'd like to see some excellent theater, a trip to see the ASC's company in Staunton, Virginia, is a great idea.) But I also bumped up against a small problem that's began to follow me wherever I go professionally: the problem of my (real) name.

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    Doctor Cleveland's picture

    How Much Do You Need to Write to Stay Sane?

    Flavia has a post about her writing process, with many thought-provoking comments from her readers, and Dame Eleanor Hull posts a great deal about the academic writing life. I find that I can't give a clear account of my writing process right now, if by "writing process" we mean my composition process.

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    Doctor Cleveland's picture

    My Neighborhood, Times Two

    I was back in my old neighborhood a couple of weekends ago, walking toward the farmer's market, when I passed a little knot of people who were looking up and gesturing toward the dignified brick apartment buildings that line one of the boulevards. They were all clearly from somewhere else, and one of them was explaining the handsome buildings, which apparently struck them as odd, to the others:

    "I think they're pretty dumpy on the inside, but they look good from out here," he said.

    Ramona's picture

    I Called Elmore Leonard “Dutch” Once

    I woke up to the sad news that Elmore Leonard, our most famous Detroit-based writer, has died.  He was 87 years old but I thought that guy would go on forever.  There was never anything old about him and I doubt I’m the only one who felt that way, but I admit I haven’t seen him in person for almost 20 years.

    Doctor Cleveland's picture

    Stockpiling Books

    I've been buying a lot of books this summer. That's not "a lot of books" by the usual standards, because I've always been a better-than-average bookstore customer. Lately I've been buying a lot of books even for me. But I haven't been buying them to read. I've been buying books to write.

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    Ramona's picture

    I probably should have tried Marijuana

     
    In a daring raid in 1948, Robert Mitchum got caught smoking marijuana in Hollywood:
    Sept. 1, 1948: Actor Robert Mitchum and starlet Lila Leeds were reportedly caught smoking marijuana during a police raid at the actress' Hollywood Hills home. Two others were also arrested.

    Mitchum told police that he and another friend were in the neighborhood looking to buy a house when they stopped to visit Leeds and her roommate, dancer Vickie Evans.
    Doctor Cleveland's picture

    The Other Thing College Is For (and Why It Matters)

    If you ask anyone what colleges and universities are for, they'll give you more or less the same answer: to educate people.  That's a good answer. It's the one I give myself. But it's only half the truth. Colleges and universities actually fulfill two separate roles. We all know about both of them. We only talk about one of them. And because of that, we misunderstand almost everything about how higher education works and how it might be improved.

    Doctor Cleveland's picture

    Blogging Like Chaucer

    I love academic bloggers. Academic bloggers worry me sick. And the bloggers who keep me up at night are the ones who have adjunct or alt-ac jobs but are trying to move to the tenure track. Some of those people are using blogs and social media to advance their careers in ingenious ways which I would never have foreseen. But others seem, at least from my vantage, to expect or hope that their online work will help their career in specific ways that it will not and cannot. Being online can help an academic career. But it's important to be clear about what it can help and what it can't.

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    Doctor Cleveland's picture

    In Praise of the Writing Binge

    When I got my first job, I also got a book of advice for new professors. It gave me some sensible-sounding advice about writing. Avoid binge writing, it said. Write at regularly scheduled hours and keep each session brief. Too many graduate students are used to writing in crazy binges, the authors said, rather than developing steady writing habits. Faculty had to learn to write all the time, and also had to learn to STOP writing even if things were going well. And I tried to take that advice seriously.

    Michael Maiello's picture

    A Society Of Snoops and Tattletales

    This afternoon, Reuters published an Op-Ed from me about the online investigations into the Boston bomb attack.  I am very concerned about the "if you see something, say something culture," and how it has mixed with technology to create something of a society full of amateur detectives and complainers.

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    Ramona's picture

    Back in Michigan but not quite home

     

    Just to let you know I haven't fallen off the face of the earth. We've been living out of suitcases for almost two weeks now as we worked our way north from our winter digs.  We're in the U.P finally, on the last leg home.  Should get there today and I'm hearing bad news about a snow mound that still needs digging out before we can get to our door.  Should be interesting.

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    Doctor Cleveland's picture

    Seeing the Headlights

    Six years ago today, in the early morning hours of April 5, I hit a patch of highway ice while driving to the airport in an unexpected snowstorm and spun out sideways. My car was totaled, with all of the damage to the driver's side door. I survived unscathed. I did not get whiplash. I did not miss my plane.

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    Ramona's picture

    The Walmart Saga: Empty Shelves, Full Exec Pockets

     

    I've been debating about writing about Wal-Mart for a while now for one very good reason:  If I write as a knowledgeable shopper, people will know I shop at Wal-Mart.  Chicken of me, I know, but some of my best friends, relatives and acquaintances refuse to shop at Wal-Mart, and they don't like to be reminded that I'm not one of them.

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