A Conversation Over Saturday Morning Coffee

morning coffeeThe following is the result of a free write exercise after grading forty-some-odd history assignments and consuming ten cups of coffee – at least, what my coffee maker indicates as a “cup”; measured using my actual coffee mug, it’s only three cups – with Smokey on my lap and House Season 6 on Netflix.


According to my schedule, I’m supposed to write something.

Blue Book ExamToday, it feels like a Blue Book Exam for which I haven’t studied – or worse, one for which I studied the completely wrong material. Like the exam which cost me an A in History of England I because I studied the wrong material and tried verbosity over substance and ended up with a 93.9 in a class with a six-point grading scale and a teacher who didn’t round and whose law was that of the Medes and Persians. She also wore military-style jackets [military circa the turn of the last century] and reminded most of us of Napoleon. She was great!

Seriously, I sat down and did the math – I only needed one more point anywhere else on any assignment over the course of the semester and I’d have my A. Now, I use this tale of woe as an academic morality tale for my students – especially the freshman.

And you know what? I, too, follow the law of the Medes and Persians. By that I mean I cannot change my own class policy, not that you’ll lose your hand if you cheat. Was that a law of the Medes and Persians? I’m not sure, but it sounds like it could be. You’d think I’d know this, being a history teach and all.

Persepolis Relief Medes and Persians

Students think being a teacher is fun because you can make the rules. Being a teacher is extremely enjoyable, but enforcing the rules isn’t always fun, like when a top student completes the wrong assignment or fails to completely follow the directions. I suppose that’s what discourages me sometimes: as a teacher I provide direction, but if my students cannot follow simple written directions, does this reflect badly on them or on me? Who is to blame in this scenario?

I suppose reading comprehension must enter the equation somewhere, and if teachers are being honest, we’d have to admit that most students don’t read as much as they should. Thankfully, that’s beginning to change with the recent surge in YA Literature.

Banned Books Poster 2015YA Literature – a definite misnomer if there ever was one. It’s very label implies it shouldn’t be taken seriously or that adults shouldn’t enjoy it. Hogwash. There’s excellent YA Literature and there’s trash Adult Literature because – shocker – it’s all literature. Let’s forget the labels and focus on a well-written story, shall we?

Now’s a perfect time to start a new reading habit, what with Banned Books Week starting in a week or so. I’m already working on some special posts, so stay tuned. You may even get to hear me read from some of my favorite banned/challenged books!

 

So, what’s new with you?


 

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Joey Zasa: Michael Corleone’s Sad Puppy (A Morality Tale)

Come, Sad Puppies, and sit around the fire.

Perhaps this is the very fire by which Mary Shelley created Frankenstein. Or not. It’s just a fire, and I don’t write Science Fiction/Fantasy. Deal with it.

Nevertheless, there is a tale you should hear:

The Tale of Joey Zasa

It’s New York City in the 1970s, and Joey Zasa has taken control of the Corleone crime syndicate. In another age, Zasa may have been the most powerful crime boss to ever rule a family; however, he comes to power at a time when crime families desire more legitimacy and overall public opinion is turning against the gangster lifestyle.

A smart businessman, Zasa nonetheless earns Michael Corleone’s displeasure by dealing narcotics and living a flamboyant, high-profile lifestyle – both of which draw unwanted attention to the family’s criminal activities. Furthermore, Michael forces Joey to make peace with Vincent Mancini (Michael’s nephew), who claims Zasa has been publicly insulting Michael and views Zasa as a legitimate threat to Michael. These perceived slights gnaw at Joey Zasa, and – after an unsuccessful attempt to eliminate Vincent – he plots Michael’s downfall.

Aligning himself with Michael’s enemies, Zasa engineers an admittedly brilliant mass murder of various Dons of the Commission in Atlantic City, New Jersey; unfortunately for Zasa, Michael Corleone – his chief target – escapes.

Fast forward in time: New York’s Little Italy is celebrating a religious festival dedicated to the Virgin Mary, and Zasa has put up a Cadillac as a raffle prize. A Corleone accomplice scratches the Cadillac, infuriating Zasa. His henchmen go after the vandal, only to be gunned down by disguised hitmen. Zasa himself flees on foot, but his escape is hindered by a locked door. He is shot three times in the back by Vincent Mancini, who had disguised himself as a mounted police officer.


Now, Sad Puppies, do you see? Do you see the lesson you should learn?

You are Joey Zasa. Considering yourselves slighted, you engineered the downfall of those who opposed you. It remains to be seen what – if any – ultimate victories you may secure. What is certain is the stunt is unlikely to be repeated. I’m not saying someone is going to gun you down; in fact, they shouldn’t. That would be murder most foul and an atrocity beyond the pale. What I am saying is that you won’t get away with it again. Enjoy your brief time in the sun, Sad Puppies; enjoy it while it lasts . . .

. . . and remember Joey Zasa.



Full Disclaimer

I have no dog in the Hugos fight.

Until a few weeks ago, I didn’t even know what the Hugos were; I would have asked if they were something akin to these two:

I’m not even sure I like that many SF/F authors. I can probably count them on one hand:

Jules Verne
Ray Bradbury
Michael Crichton
Terry Pratchett
Neil Gaiman

I also like Doctor Who, and I follow John Scalzi’s blog – for whom the Sad Puppies harbor a special venomous hatred – but I’ve never read any of his books and don’t rightly recall why I started following him. I like his blog, though; I’ll have to check out his books someday.

Why do you hate him so, Sad Puppies? Why?

I owe credit to one Scott Richardson, whose reply on Karey English’s post inspired me.

I feel like Michael Corleone at this point (“Each time I get out, they pull me back in again!”). I ducked out of fandom a long time ago because of this kind of thing. I got pulled back because there were anomalies in the Hugo ballot and my brain gets attracted to those like a pig to truffles.

A special thanks is due the Godfather wiki, whose biography of Joey Zasa was quite useful in my summation.

Don’t forget to follow me on:

Facebook – where I share news stories, articles from other blogs, and various and sundry miscellany that happens to catch my eye. It’s stuff you won’t see here! Well, mostly.

Instagram – where I show you my Life in Motion and share quotes and such. The widget only shows my last three photographs – don’t you want to see them all?

Twitter – where you can see my thoughts – and humorous retweets – in 140 characters or less.

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