Month: May 2017

My Maniacal Rant, Chapter Four, Part Two

Within this hurricane of human events on planet Earth, I offer an elongated prayer for peace: Let’s not start wars because of terrorist attacks. Let’s learn from our previous mistakes. Let’s work towards loving each other instead of killing each other, not the current trend of sacrificing American youths, pushing the police/military political line, and buying military contracts with Saudi Arabia to perpetuate wars within the Middle East that we do not understand at all.

I suspect Donald Trump is waiting for an excuse to start a war, and I fear that the terrorist attack in Manchester, England, may inspire Trump to seize the opportunistic moment…

My American Country, let us shed ourselves of this Orange Menace, whose name we hesitate to accept as the paternalistic American voice: Trump indeed represents greed, conflict, and social divide. There is some hesitation to accept Trump as President, and it is, in fact, patriotic and welcome. We are a loving people, and what Trump represents is simply profit at the expense of others. It’s no mystery why the American people have found religion in the age of Trump because he has merely invoked the fundamentalist leanings of those who think the Apocalypse is best for the future of our American youth, sadly.

Trump wants to promote war. That’s why he was meekly dancing with an Arabian sword, colluding with the Russians before he left, and huddling with Netanyahu at a bare Israeli airport…

Some Americans are too eager to promote sending our troops into foreign wars. We don’t need to start anymore wars, without or within our country. Trump, Sessions, McMaster, Priebus, Bannon, and the rest…please, please, please stop your campaign of aggression, your promotion of driving dissidents out, out, out…out of civilization…Lest you decide to drive the dissidents out, out, out of the various states of America that have dissidents, which would be decidedly UNPATRIOTIC….A welcoming American civilization will end wars, and if we put more money into the military industry, it will just sustain America’s centuries-long stupidity of starting wars to make money.

Lord, we need to preserve our country. America should be done with war-mongering Donald Trump. He should get home and take his medicine. Donald Trump, come home and face the music, for the sake of this country, for the sake of democracy, and for the sake of making things right for the future. Please, Donald, please. Let us thrive, not languish. Please, Donald, please.

So be it.

Scott C. Guffey, M.A.

The Maniacal Professor

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My Maniacal Rant, Chapter Four, Part One

As simply as I can express, within this American moment,…

There is some evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government, and this stubborn, ignorant President works against American interests throughout every Tweet, rally, and international meeting. Every. American. Day.

The Republican Party invited Trump within their avaricious party, most eloquently expressed by the Fox News network each insufferable day, because Trump was perceived as a winner against the Black President. Trump is a liar, pure and clearly, and there’s no way of changing that perception for sixty percent of Americans at this date. The other forty percent of America seem to buy the Fox News propaganda about “anything’s better than Obama.”

[Maniacal Professor’s Note: The morning after I published this blog-post, Roger Ailes, of Fox News died. I am no fan of his network, but out of respect, I have revised this essay, taking out some of the more inflammatory language toward Fox News and Sean Hannity.]

Personally, I masochistically keep waiting for a potential Messiah to arrive and save us from Trump, while simultaneously realizing that any simple idiot is more capable of being President than Donald Trump. Yay America!

Within America, we are many, many partisans who are tired of both parties and may be considering an alternative to the traditional political parties in 2018 and 2020. There’s a thirst for progressiveness within the citizenry, whether it’s a preference through liberal or conservative leanings. This coming movement may be mostly about social issues in the future (not the economy, which has become an ephemeral ghost of Ayn Rand’s worst nightmares!), and there’s certainly a potential for young voices within the American political process to speak, asking for compassion for our neighbor, rather than judgments based on the place of our American neighbor’s birth.

America’s not about your personal heritage. It’s about your individual contribution to the future of this country.

Trump has affected America negatively, but the product of his machinations remain to be determined, whether it be for four hard years of hard, practiced journalistic attention, or it be throughout an impeachment trial during the summer of 2017 that threatens to tear the country apart ideologically…

The Republican Party needs to find some compassion within their social policies, and the Democratic Party needs to cease their ideological purity, especially within the collegiate, legalistic, business-istic, and journalistic professional communities. America needs this to happen right now, for the little guy, not the investor.

My country is slightly in turmoil, yet I inherently know those who read my silly, little blog: All of you still love your country; you don’t want to leave your home and keep fleeing to an imaginary Utopia. We want to smile at our neighbor, not shoot our weird-looking neighbor with a gun for being nosey, or boisterous, or looking at someone’s woman, or whatever the fuck we keep insisting on the need to shoot each other all the freakin’, fuckin’ time….

Simply, I know America is more neighborly than judgmental. We are more agents than conformists. We Americans do not think sinister plots upon our neighbors, throughout the fifty states; instead, we hold up and help our helpless neighbor, not grind his chin to the dirt.

Trump is assuredly a mere speed-bump in American history, not a catastrophe. America will persist, despite Trump, and that’s worth investing some patriotic faith into our American institutions. It’s important to do so as American citizens, proud of our system of sharing wealth and community improvement.

This thesis, as inspired tonight after having watched our Congress slowly admit Trump’s liabilities, makes this turmoil, for me, a bit more digestible. I thought I’d share my thoughts on this highly turbulent evening, with love and hope for the future of the American people, within this very personal blog post.

Scott C. Guffey, M.A.

Class Conclusion Spring 2017

To my students of the spring 2017 semester:

The first thing I’d like to say to you is congratulations. All of you produced college-appropriate Research Papers, and thus, every one of you passed the class, most of you with flying colors! It was a long reading process, per usual at the end of the semester, but your papers were interesting: some were provocative, some were contentious, and all were effectively argumentative and expository. I often admit to people that the main reason I like teaching college classes is I learn as much from my students as they may learn from me. Your arguments are worthy of consideration, and that’s ultimately what I ask students to produce in my class. If you have any questions or comments about your evaluation (or if you can’t read my writing…I get a bit scratchy when I have 300-plus pages of homework to grade in a week), then feel free to ask before you leave today.

I ‘d like to offer some revelations for you: My students, I want you to know, that I came this close to breaking my contract in January and walking away from the teaching game, all because of Donald Trump becoming the President.

It’s difficult to explain it; it seems like forever ago, but at the end of last semester, I felt deflated, realizing what the daily grind would be like during Trump’s first trimester as President, and I had just finished a few classes that had some defiant, Trump-loving students in them. I didn’t think I’d be able to maintain the necessary decorum, and I wasn’t sure I actually wanted to be a teacher in Trump’s America, where schmaltz and bullshit are the order of the day. This is hard for most of the people I know to understand about me, but try to imagine what it’s like to teach rhetoric in a society that devalues the nature of language every day. At any rate, I was having quite a few second thoughts about teaching in January.

Here in May, I can tell you that I am very glad that I did teach these classes this semester because you students are such interesting people, and you are, mostly, receptive to my methods. I learned a lot about myself by opening up a bit more to these classes; I’m usually more withdrawn and anxious, but this semester, I managed to relax a bit more and be myself. I took some chances with lectures this semester…not that every speech landed, but I think the majority of them were still solid. I took a more improvisational approach than acting from the meticulous notes I worked from in the past. This semester, I was more honest with my students, and I think, perhaps, these qualities may have been a benefit to you.

I always fall in love with my students, without exception, and that’s also why I was nervous about starting another semester this past January.  In my mind, a good teacher invests in his students, and for me that requires getting to know them as people. I’m glad I did, and I thank you for investing equally in me.

So, in our final day of class, I wanted to leave you with some thoughts, little lessons that you won’t find in your textbook, but I think these are valuable and worthwhile to tell. Some are based on the Nicomachean concept of moderation, some are simply good-natured, and all are things I’d like my students to think about after we conclude this class:

  1. Be honest, in all things. The second we start stretching the truth with others is the second we start having to keep track of the lies we tell. Seriously, though, as a writer, I’ve learned that honesty creates good rhetoric, as I mentioned on day one!
  2. Learn how to have conversations with others…Seriously! Stop looking at your phone, and learn how to talk to people.
  3. Try not to devalue yourself. There are all these messages in our media that tell us we’re not good enough, that we need to look, talk, and act certain ways to be valuable (usually by spending money on yada, yada, yada). Don’t fall for the marketing game, and stop worrying about what other people think. You’re good enough, you’re smart enough, and people will like you! (Understand, I devalue myself ALL the time! This is something I’m working on.)
  4. The line, “When they go low, we go high” drives me nuts! In case anyone noticed, it didn’t work. John Dickerson went on a self-righteous tear a few weeks ago about swearing, stating that since Trump swears, that doesn’t mean we sink to his level. Two wrongs don’t make a right, and such. If I were going to suggest a tired, old cliché, it’d be “fight fire with fire.”
  5. Play the long game, but live in the moment. I try to use patience in all things, and I sometimes stop what I’m doing and just stand, look, and breathe. Stay where you are, look around, and take a gulp of fresh air. The other day I came to some conclusions about this summer while White-Crowned Sparrows, Purple and Gold Finches, a few CatBirds, some beautiful Red-Breasted Grosbeaks, and a fifteen-inch Hairy Woodpecker ate from our feeders, all within an hour’s time. Some may call it a waste of time, but I wouldn’t give back that hour for anything.
  6. Be kind to your neighbor; however, do not be so kind as to be taken….This is a tough one. We Americans definitely need to be more neighborly, but the American illness seems to be all about grifting and tricking others. Everybody’s selling something, including the President! Simply, it’s a tough living out there, and you need to be aware that people may take advantage of you in this country…and usually the one who waves the flag, fears for the children, or thumps the Bible more than everybody else, that person is definitely selling you something.
  7. Also, be careful not to let the people closest to you prevent you from becoming a better person. This is not the case for everyone, but some need to understand that sometimes our loved ones are not giving us the best advice. Family is a helluva thing; we are bound to one another, and we feed emotionally off each other. We hurt one another to feel pain ourselves, and family is often the dominant thought running through our minds when we let them wander.
  8. As such, we need to actively maintain our relationships with those with whom we are closest. Understand this, with all the complicated concepts we study here in college, the absolute hardest thing to do in your life is keep peace and solidarity with those with which we choose to coexist and cohabitate. See the above item for an explanation as to why….
  9. Here’s a personal favorite: Money is not the most important thing in our lives. America just makes it seem that way, especially in Trump’s America. If you haven’t seen Jimmy Kimmel’s monologue from this Monday, then check it out to get a good example.
  10. Without qualification, always celebrate life. It’s too damn fleeting and fragile to not elevate each other because we are all, very simply, alive.

This is my letter to you at the conclusion of the semester, so if you could perform one final writing for me, then please today write me a letter letting me know what you thought of the class…and again, please be honest. I know that some of you do not appreciate my unorthodox tactics, and I know that I often am very preachy…I try to be preachy, believe it or not, after reading you those ten life lessons!…I do ask, however, to consider why I say and do the things I do, and how it may have affected you positively or negatively. I’d also like you to consider some things, such as the textbook, the ICWAs, the Writing Projects, the Additional Readings, the library visit, any specific day that bothered you, the films we watched in class, my appearance, my lectures, my writing…anything, just please be honest, and write me a letter. I will eagerly go home tonight to read them, so I can see if this class worked out for you or not, so thank you in advance for being honest in your evaluation.

Again, I wish you congratulations, and I hope you all can breathe a happy sigh of relief today. Have a happy summer, and if you can, in a fleeting moment here or there, remember our time together. Thanks.

Scott C. Guffey, M.A.