Happy National Punctuation Day! ; )

This Sept. 24, like the previous 10, is National Punctuation Day. ’Tis a time for merrily gargling our hyphens and luxuriating in bathtubs full of em dashes, for braiding parentheses in our hair and giving our suitors octothorpes as love tokens after we dance on clouds of ampersands.

My boss showed me this this morning. Personally, I’m still waiting for the campaign to bring interrobangs into widespread use, but I guess I’ll keep waiting for a while. Until then, I’ll snuggle up with all the Oxford commas that I can’t use in my writing at work (see: AP Style comma rules).

But seriously, who doesn’t love a good interrobang?!

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September 24, 2014 · 8:29 pm

The Singing-Woman from the Wood’s Edge

Edna St. Vincent Millay is seriously underrated as a poet…

Under Shelter of Magnolias

The Singing-Woman from the Wood’s Edge

By Edna St. Vincent Millay

What should I be but a prophet and a liar,
Whose mother was a leprechaun, whose father was a friar?
Teethed on a crucifix and cradled under water,
What should I be but the fiend’s god-daughter?

And who should be my playmates but the adder and the frog,
That was got beneath a furze-bush and born in a bog?
And what should be my singing, that was christened at an altar,
But Aves and Credos and Psalms out of the Psalter?

You will see such webs on the wet grass, maybe,
As a pixie-mother weaves for her baby,
You will find such flame at the wave’s weedy ebb
As flashes in the meshes of a mer-mother’s web,

But there comes to birth no common spawn
From the love a a priest for a leprechaun,
And you never have seen…

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“I hate these word crimes…”

“Weird Al” Yankovic is a national treasure.

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Why do we make playlists?

From my creative writing blog. It deals with how fans interact with media, so I’ll post it here as well.

Under Shelter of Magnolias

I’ve been thinking a lot about my fiction-writing process. the more I thought, the more I realized how important music playlists are to my projects. Starting with “Magnolia,” the first short story of my college senior project, I’ve had a playlist (or two, or three) for every major work I’ve written.

I don’t think it’s just me, but I do think it’s exploded with my generation. Check the playlist tag on Tumblr (which skews toward the 18-24 demographic), and you’ll see probably almost a hundred updates a day, with people posting playlists or the songs in them, often with song titles superimposed over an artsy photographic background. There’s usually a link at the bottom to a site like 8tracks that allows people to save playlists to listen to later, but sometimes there are links to the individual songs on YouTube. Of course, the playlist is a newer form of a…

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Review: Recovering Disability in Early Modern England

This is a review of an academic text in Disability Studies Quarterly that I wrote this past summer, and that just came out this spring. The book I was reviewing, Recovering Disability in Early Modern England, is very much a scholarly work (with jargon to match), but it was fascinating, and I would definitely recommend reading it. For someone not in the field of disability studies, one of the most interesting things that it does is illustrate the ways in which disabled people in the past acted with more agency than most people nowadays might expect. The review itself is aimed at academics; here’s the second paragraph:

Perhaps the greatest strength of this book is its multifaceted approach to the subject of disability in early modern England. While many of the essays focus on disability representation in specific texts now recognized as literature, others focus more broadly on historical popular culture or material artifacts. Many of the essays also make explicit connections to political systems (both early modern and present-day), making them useful or interesting for scholars and students outside the fields of literature or the humanities who may not be as familiar with some of the literary texts discussed. The inclusion of multiple kinds of disability and physical difference—including but not limited to blindness, paralysis, dwarfism, and autism and mental disorders—allows readers to create a broader picture of the period’s attitudes and constructs regarding disability and the ways in which these impacted the lived experiences of disabled people.

Anyway, it’s a cool book. If you have the chance to take a look at it, you should. It’s interesting.

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April 15, 2014 · 11:41 am

The Terrible and Wonderful Reasons Why I Run Long Distances – Part 6 (The Oatmeal)

The Oatmeal is phenomenal, and this last comic on running is absolutely perfect.

I was considering running a marathon later this year, but a lot of that depends on my location, which depends on my employment situation, so that’s up in the air. So far the most I’ve run is a little over 20 miles (a lot of professors and grad students run marathons, so I found a friend to train with). I’ll see what happens.

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July 15, 2013 · 2:36 pm

Grading Writing: The art and science–and why computers can’t do it

But what goes into professional writing teachers’ responses to student writing?  Notice that I’ve chosen the term “respond,” which certainly includes grading: how good is this text on some scale of measure? “Respond” is a bigger term, though: what ideas and reactions does this writing create?  How might its author improve similar writing in the future?  It’s one thing to say whether your writing is any good; it’s quite another to explain to you helpfully why.

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May 2, 2013 · 3:58 pm