What I Hope My Students Got

So here is what I put in my Canvas for today, the last day of classes at Northeastern University:

Week 14 Overview

To-Do Date: Apr 19 at 11:59pm


Welcome to Week 14.  This semester, you learned a lot of things. Some of it I might even have taught you. Some of it your peers taught you. Some, you taught yourself. That is pretty much how life works.

Learning Objectives

What I hope you got from this class:

* We write alone, but we can’t only write alone.

* The world wants to tell you what to think, and sometimes that is a helpful shortcut, but when it isn’t helpful, you don’t have to let it.

* Writing can be hard, frustrating, and boring, but it doesn’t have to be.

* You are not always in control of your writing tasks (assignments, audiences, etc.) but you are in control of your writing process.

* Don’t write to make enemies or to change anyone’s entrenched ideas. Write to make allies.

* Write to make the world a better place. You might have to make yourself a better person first. The work is worth doing.

* Much of what you got through your education will prove useful. Reject anything that doesn’t help you repair the world.

* Who you are will always inform your writing, but you are in control of which bits to put in and which to leave out.

* We are firmly integrated in the material world, for better and for worse. We can try to make it more better and less worse.

* Thinking about the language you use, and being more intentional about choosing words and guiding metaphors, will improve your precision and persuasiveness.

* Also, ethos, pathos, logos and kairos, because those old Greek guys were hella smart.

*AND FINALLY, sometimes you just have to go into your back yard and spit.* But then put your mask back on.

*This is referencing David Huddle’s amazing essay, “Let’s Say You Wrote Badly This Morning.” 10/10. Highly recommend.

Badass Women in Combat Gear: Valentine’s Day Edition, Or, Dorothy Parker Was Wrong

((For those of you who, like me, were not Math Majors in college, I apologize. But this particular blog post seems to need a ridiculous number of parentheses and a rather surprising number of braces {curly} and brackets [square]. Be warned.))

There is a fairly famous rhyming couplet by the 1920s Algonquin Round Table wit, Dorothy Parker, that has been widely anthologized (and it suddenly occurs to me that a whole slew [this is a technical literary term] of the editors anthologizing this were {white} men], which says, “Men don’t make passes/At girls who wear glasses.”

I have been thinking about this since Mike Allegra (heylookawriterfellow) asked me to add to my BWCG series some BWCGs who wear glasses. I thought of this most recently after viewing a teaser for this coming Tuesday’s Agent Carter, in which Agent Sousa (the delightful Enver Gokaj) says to (an injured and therefore unavailable-for-the-mission) Agent Peggy Carter (the even more delightful Hayley Atwell) that what they need for the coming mission is someone who can “blend in with the glamour and throw down in the gutter.” Damn, Spanky, I LOVE the writers on this show!


Any Gentle Reader who has spent any time at all reading this blog will recognize that this is not only the dual nature of what I look for in my Female Leads of TV, Film, and Life, but also a micro-blueprint of who I would like to eventually be. I have to admit that the second part sounds much less painful to me than the first part, because as Agent Dana Scully admits in the most recent New X-Files episode, running/fighting in three-inch heels is no country for really anyone, but absolutely not Women, Older Men or Sane People of any Gender. Okay, she didn’t say that.

But as Jane Austen might have said, “It was nowhere said, but everywhere implied.” Come on. Amy Acker has said that at one point her only “stunt ability was running in heels” (Citation, as Wikipedia would point out, desperately needed. My guess? A ComiCon. San Diego? Maybe. Who knows?).


My point here is simply that Dorothy Parker was wrong and Mike Allegra is right. (Full disclosure: I wear glasses. So sue me. {Twenty-odd years at MIT’s Writing Center (some of them more odd than others) has made me as blind as my cat Musashi, if not as a bat or a possum. [If M. were a little boy, he’d be wearing Coke bottle glasses and a bowtie]}.


So in honor of a Sunday-facing Valentine’s Day (black Tuesday meets the Lord’s day), I offer you some of my favorite female actors (Nope, don’t call me a teacheress, professoress, editoress or martial artistess; I avoid calling them actresses for the same reason) in glasses.


I tried very hard to chase down the pics I have seen online of Lucy Lawless as herself, rather than Xena, wearing glasses, to no avail. Similarly, her soul-grandmother, Linda Carter (the always-and-everywhere Wonder Woman, despite DC’s brilliant work with Gal Gadot).

And because I believe it is important to look back and forward at the same time, I also give you Ingrid Bergman and Scarlet Johansson.

Also, the classic, brilliant, unimitatable Katherine Hepburn on a skateboard, because duh.


To my pal, Mike Allegra, men and women who love women in glasses or, you know, on skateboards: YOU’RE WELCOME. HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY. NOW WE WILL LET THE WEATHER BECOME WARM AGAIN.

Psycho Sunday: Badass Women in Combat Gear #7


643101756410b48842ea110569d28c5f RIZZOLI AND ISLES (TNT)

For Rizzoli and Isles, combat gear can be hospital scrubs and scalpel or a pantsuit and t-shirt and a police .45 handgun, but they manage to run around “Boston” solving crimes, dealing with their complex families, making us giggle, all the while looking unrealistically fantastic. That Jane Rizzoli (Angie Harmon) frequently takes down the bad guys like a linebacker is on the plus side of the ledger. That Dr. Maura Isles (Sasha Alexander) has the bad habit of talking about shoes while cutting into dead bodies is on the minus side.

But this show does manage to pass the low-bar Bechdel test, in that it a) has at least two women in it, b) who talk to each other c) about something besides a man. It also passes the slightly higher-bar Mako Mori test, which analyzes films by whether there is: a) at least one female character b) who gets her own narrative arc  c) that is not about supporting a man’s story. It’s hard to believe that here and now in the twenty-first century, it is still so difficult to find shows like this.

“Mako Mori Test.” Geek Feminism. n.d. Web. 25 Oct. 2015

One True Pairing


Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace

have kissed each other. Truth shall spring out of the earth; and

Righteousness look down from heaven. Yes, the Lord shall give

that which is good and our land shall yield its increase.” Psalm 85: 10-12

Yesterday the streets of America rejoiced, our streets running red,

Orange, yellow, green, blue and purple. In San Francisco and

Provincetown, in Boston and Chicago, and in the center of Times

Square, Liberty and Justice kissed. Though long denied, denigrated,

Marginalized and ostracized, our brothers and sisters, children

Of God, have finally come to stand in all their long dignity beneath

The banner of Love. Justice, long blinded, was surprised, I expect;

She probably didn’t see this one coming. But Liberty, leaping down

From her pedestal where she usually stands firmly on the broken

Chains of slavery, knew it was time for rejoicing. Every victory

Of Justice deserves celebrating. Every victory of Love requires some

Token. Only thus can we keep on with the battles that still lie before

Us: so many others pushed away from the table, so many others

Handcuffed and beaten, so many others hungry and held down.

So yes, let us celebrate this victory, this One True Pairing, with joy

For all the loves and lovers redeemed, and gather our strength.