Literary meme night

I normally spend part of my Sunday evening posting lesson plans on my classroom blog. My lesson plans often include quick writing prompts for my sophomores, and it occurred to me this evening that I might as well toss one of those prompts out into cyberspace as a meme for other bloggers to use as fodder when they get stuck and need an idea.

Here are the rules: I’ll post your Weekly Lit Meme — along with my own response — sometime late Sunday evening or early Monday morning. If you use the meme, please post a comment and/or link back to it so others can see what you came up with (and so we can cross-promote each other’s blogs a little bit).

And now, without further ado, I present the first-ever Red Fork State of Mind Weekly Lit Meme:

All things being single, if you could date any five literary characters, who would they be, and why?

Literature is full of amazing, unconventionally attractive heroes, and some of them probably had a lot to do with my decision to major in English. Here are the ones who dazzled me the most, in descending order of hotness:

5. Hamlet. Paranoid, depressed, unstable, prone to irrational violence, possibly suffering from a creeptastic Oedipus complex … but Kenneth Branagh’s version came out when I was in college, and I promptly fell head-over-heels for the guy, despite his numerous issues. (The link goes to a YouTube video of Branagh’s mind-blowing delivery of the soliloquy from Act III, Scene I.)
4. Rhett Butler from Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind. Widely regarded as the gold standard for hotness in American literature, and with good reason.
3. Heathcliff from Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights. I must confess: It’s been nearly 15 years since I read the book, and I’m a bit fuzzy on the details … but I specifically remember reading it in college and thinking, “Damn, he’s hot.”
2. Atticus Finch from Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird. Intelligence is hot. Integrity is even hotter. And that man had both in spades. *Swoon*
1. Erik from Gaston Leroux’s The Phantom of the Opera. Many things puzzled me when I was a teenager, but the one that puzzled me most was Christine Daae’s rejection of the Phantom. What kind of girl would choose a prissy little fop like Raoul de Chagny over a dark, mysterious badass who sings like Michael Crawford? I was terribly overcommitted at the time, and the idea of being kidnapped (and thus relieved of all my responsibilities) by a strangely seductive man who wanted nothing more than to marry me and spend the rest of my life giving me voice lessons seemed very appealing.

Who are your favorites?

Best. Tattoo. Ever.

I have no idea who this chick is, but she has the greatest tattoo I have ever seen. Seriously: Go look at it.

Also, I am fascinated with her hair. It might just be the angle from which the photo was taken, but she appears to be rockin’ both the Bettie Page bangs and a pretty nice set of dreads-in-progress. If that is the case, she is my new hero, because that is the most creative hairstyle I have ever seen, and she is totally pulling it off.

Her picture makes me wish two things:

1. That I had dark hair and a more exotic appearance so I could get away with Bettie Page bangs and white-girl dreads. (Don’t think I haven’t considered dreadlocks many, many times in the past six months. The more obnoxiously uncooperative my hair becomes under humid conditions, the more tempted I am to stop fighting my split ends — which are a completely intractable force of nature — and hire a good ethnic stylist to help this mess do what it’s been trying to do on its own since I was five. It’s that or move to the Mojave Desert, which Ron has vetoed.)

2. That the school board would one day announce, “Since we’re still flat broke and are probably going to have to continue to dump extra work in your lap without approving any pay raises for teachers, we thought we’d show you some love by amending our woefully outdated dress code to allow tattoos, as long as they don’t scare the children or promote immoral behavior.”

Because my last tattoo — a pair of fireflies I had inked onto my right ankle in honor of my twin nieces, who passed away in infancy — was not particularly well-rendered, and the artist’s unimpressive workmanship has become increasingly apparent over the past four years, I need to hire somebody really good to fix it. Unfortunately, odds are pretty high that the repair is going to involve inking over it with something else, which means it is going to end up much bigger than I’d originally planned.

Given the inspiration for the original tattoo, I think it would be trés appropriate to have it incorporated into a children’s-book illustration (maybe one of Maurice Sendak‘s Wild Things or a couple of Dr. Seuss’s Truffula trees).

This would be doubly apropos if I end up getting my master’s degree in children’s literature, which I am considering.

If my students happen to be reading this, you now know that Ms. Priddy secretly digs alt-couture stuff like dreads and ink. If you find this shocking, it’s probably time to quit sleeping through class….


There’s a light

Ron and I were on our way to dinner this evening when I noticed something beautiful: The historic 11th Street Cleaners sign has been restored.

I’ve always loved this little sign, which advertises one of the Mother Road’s most unusual businesses: a dry-cleaning service that also houses a dollhouse shop.

For many years, only the letters lit — often faintly — so it was a wonderful surprise tonight to drive by and see the neon arrows lit up and the rest of the sign glowing more brightly than usual.

I didn’t have a camera in the car, but a late-night photo excursion was my reward to myself for finishing up some grading I needed to do this evening. It’s been a long time since I ventured out late at night to do something completely unnecessary on Route 66. I’d forgotten how alive such excursions make me feel. It was a nice ending to a day that included flashes of brilliance from several of my sophomores (we did a Socratic seminar over Field of Dreams), a lovely sunset, and a rough-and-tumble kempo lesson that left me bruised but oddly invigorated.

Hope your day was full of exciting insights, unexpected beauty, and plenty of whatever energizes you, too.


Folk Friday: Lennon

This week’s Folk Thursday offering is a Google Doodle:

Let’s pretend that I delayed Folk Thursday on purpose so I could celebrate John Lennon’s birthday. (In point of fact, I missed Folk Thursday altogether because I was busy taking a nap, during which I dreamed that I was the world’s first female Cub, and I was being interviewed by Gloria Steinem, who was getting very frustrated with the fact that I kept answering her questions with references to sabermetrics instead of offering up politically charged quotes filled with feminist rhetoric that would sound good in a Ms. Magazine article. But that sounds kind of lame, so let’s just roll with the Lennon excuse, shall we?)

Here’s the full video for “Imagine”:

In other news, the area superintendent walked into my classroom this afternoon for no apparent reason, discovered that I was teaching the movie Field of Dreams as a literary text, and proceeded to give my kids a little lecture about how awesome I am. The kids, who had no clue that this was my boss’s boss, responded by telling him that I was their favorite English teacher EVER. Guess I should bake them some cookies this weekend, eh?


Still ancient after all these years

When I was about 17, my mom went to an honors-night program at the high school I attended. Two of my English teachers leaned over to her and whispered, “You know she’s probably going to end up marrying some 50-year-old English professor, don’t you?”

Mom just nodded and laughed.

I thought of that today, as my students were watching the 1989 movie Field of Dreams in class. There’s a scene in the movie in which a shirtless Kevin Costner and his onscreen wife are lying in bed, discussing his crazy plan to build a baseball diamond in the middle of a cornfield. At the end of the conversation, they kiss.

Several of my girls loudly proclaimed this scene “gross,” on the grounds that Costner has a hairy chest.

I laughed. “That is the only time I have heard a girl refer to Kevin Costner as ‘gross,'” I said.

“But Ms. Priddy, he IS gross! Look at that hair! And they’re OLD!”

Ah, yes. I’d quite forgotten: Wise teenager say man over 30 can’t have sex drive. Ancient proverb, that; I think Confucius came up with it in junior high.

I laughed harder — partly because I am actually older than Costner was when he filmed Field of Dreams, and partly because I remembered my friends’ reactions to the men whose pictures graced the wall next to my bed when I was a teenager: Michael Crawford, Mandy Patinkin, Sean Connery, Omar Sharif. Not one of these charming devils was under 40, and most were older than my parents. I took a lot of static from my classmates over my collection of Neil Diamond albums. Diamond was 50 at the time. Given the opportunity, I would have gone all Pamela des Barres on him in a heartbeat.

Truth be told, if I weren’t married, I probably still would.

I can only imagine how much that thought would gross out my sophomores.


The more things change …

I am teaching To Kill a Mockingbird in my Pre-AP English II classes. In the second chapter, Scout goes to school for the first time. Her teacher — an earnest, attractive young woman who might be all of 21 years old — scolds her because she already knows how to read and write. Scout’s literacy is problematic for the teacher because it did not come about as a result of the one-size-fits-all method that the teacher’s college professors told her to use.

The novel is set in 1935.

You can imagine how hard I laughed when I read that scene and suddenly realized that Harper Lee’s description of a young teacher in 1935 was virtually identical to my experiences with 21st-century educational consultants.