On grading jail, more gay cowboys, and why professors drink a lot of wine

Confessions of A Community College Dean is a great academic blog. Dean Dad dispenses marvelous advice, and is often brilliantly funny.

My favorite post of all time is one that appeared in February 2006: Men in Hats, Or Why I’m Glad I Don’t Teach Composition Anymore.

Here’s the first part of the essay:

With little ones, we don’t get out to movies very often. This weekend was a major exception, with two movies in two days. I took The Boy to see Curious George, and The Wife to see Brokeback Mountain.

Seeing two movies back-to-back prompted the inevitable comparisons, which, in turn, brought back memories of those awful “compare and contrast” essay assignments from my days teaching composition 1. What follows is a compare-and-contrast essay, in the style of a freshman composition student, about the two movies. I did my best to get the prose style right. For those who’ve never taught a class that involved grading freshman papers, you might want to take a stiff drink before reading more…


Although Curious George and Brokeback Mountain share many similarities, they also share many differences. Both involve men in hats, but the meaning of the hat changes.

Curious George is the story of a monkey and the man he adopts. The Man in the Yellow Hat works in a museum, where he never figures out that Drew Barrymore has a crush on him. He must be gay or something. He gets sent to Africa to find a statue that could save the museum. He doesn’t, but he could of if he had figured out how to read the map. A monkey steals his hat, which is like stealing his identity, but it’s a hat. It’s an example of nature’s inhumanity to man.

Anyway, the monkey follows the man back to New York City. They get into alot of adventures. Just when The Man and Drew Barrymore are about to hook up, George starts firing off a rocket. This is called symbolism. Then they go around the world again and again (The Man and George, not The Man and Drew).

Brokeback Mountain is about two gay cowboys. We know they’re gay cause they have sex. Also cause they don’t like Anne Hathaway, Michele Williams, and that chick who played Lindsay on Freaks and Geeks and is on ER now. They both wear cowboy hats, but not yellow ones.

Go read the rest on Dean Dad’s page.

When gay penguins attack!

To shore up your environmental intellectual side, we should probably have a discussion about children’s stories that humanize or anthropomorphize animals, portraying them as having human relations, emotions, and understandings. (By the way, it’s obvious that animals do have relationships, emotions, and understandings, but I suspect that it’s bad for us (and for animals) to always frame these in our own, human terms.)

There’s a whole boatload of literary and environmental criticism on the topic, but my favorite book that touches on the subject is Matt Cartmill’s A View to a Death in the Morning: Hunting and Nature Through History (Harvard University Press 1996).

I’ve been thinking about animal imagery this morning, as I often do, when I happened upon the American Library Association’s list of most challenged books–that’s shorthand for books that people want drummed out of library because books about things you don’t like are scary. Just like professors who say things you don’t like are scary.

So this time out of the chute, the numero uno most challenged book is about gay penguins:

“And Tango Makes Three” by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson

The cover even has some lecherous penguin porn:

And tango makes three

So there’s some socio-cultural environmental and sustainability soup for you this morning. I might point out that if global warming becomes catastrophic, we’ll not have to worry about penguins, gay or otherwise, any more, let alone their ability to corrupt American youth.