Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Hamlet on Facebook

A while back I sent McSweeney's Internet tendency a submission which, unfortunately, was not accepted (for reasons I can only attribute to  poor taste). The benefit to this is that I now can post this here, for you, dear reader.

Without further ado, I give you the soliloquy of Hamlet, as adapted for modern times.

To click, or not to click- that is the question
Whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to ignore
The breasts and gossip of the outrageously fortunate
Or to read of the sea of their troubles
And by indulging, generate revenue. To stare, to think
No more, and by reading we end
The heartache, the constant daily drudge
That office life is made of. ‘Tis a bliss
Devoutly to be wished. To zone out, yes,
To gaze – perchance to dream, yes, that is the hope
For in that celebrity gossip rag what dreams may come
When I shuffle off this mortal deadline
Gives me pause ere I e-mail my boss.
There’s no respect I hold for the lives
Of those who bear the whips and scorns of Baldwin,
Th’ oppressive boar, the proud lout’s contumely,
Or report the  pangs of Anniston’s most recent love,
And, yet, my click increases their income.
It does even their occupation support
At no apparent loss to me. Who would grudge
The weary life of a journalist, who grunts
And sweats to uncover, to celebrities’ dread,
The undiscovered secrets of who sleeps with whom,
And no voyage to the E.R. unnoticed,
Puzzling which ill drugs did dispatch
Ms. Lohan to a rehab center we should not know of.
But  conscience does make cowards of us all,
And the unexpected visit from my boss,
Tarnishes the luster of the link,
Turning my mouse away ere with a click,
I turn the link a dark purple the rest of the day.
And thus, fair work project, I return to thee!
Be all my procrastinations so fruitless.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Recipe for an Existential Crisis, vol. 1

I've had several occasions these past few weeks in which I questioned some major life decisions I've made. The sinking feeling that comes from suspecting that you've squandered precious years of your life only to end up in your current situation is really a special blend of dread, despair, worthlessness and self pity that is not easy to achieve. In order to share this remarkable feeling, I'll have a series of recipes you can try to recreate that fever pitch of existential angst. Without further ado, here is the first installment in Recipes for an Existential Crisis.

Ingredients: A stack of papers, desk, a cold room, sad country music, one or two indifferent students.
Prep time: 1.5 years.
Serve with: Career uncertainty.

1) Become a teacher.
 I can't give advice on how to do this because I'm not sure how it happened to me.

2) Teach a subject as clearly as you possibly can and give a mid-year exam that half of your class will bomb.
This is easier than it sounds. Heck, I can do it.

3) Grade them while sitting alone in a relatively cold room and listening to Townes van Zandt (or any other country blues songwriter) sing the blues.
If you can add in some unrelated emotional turmoil as a garnish to this and choose a song that matches the feeling well, your Existential Crisis will have a personalized, unique touch that others may find hard to immitate!

4) Question what the point of teaching the material if your students weren't going to pay attention, anyway was. 
If you are having trouble finding appropriate questions, try starting with "What's the point, I'm not telling them anything that's not in the textbook anyway," or "Would it have made a difference if I had simply read 50 Shades of Gray out loud instead of lecturing?" and go from there.

5) Let that uncertainty spiral into an Existential Crisis! Enjoy!*

*step six is to blog about it

Friday, January 10, 2014