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Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Villette Hell: Postgrad Adventure Game for Commodore 64

It is that time of year again. As I sit at my desk, trying not to think about the manila envelope bursting with in-class-essays for me to mark, I blog. It is all one can do, unless you do this. And since it mentions Villette in passing, it qualifies for inclusion here! I suppose you could call this a TA simmulation too. Some brief excerpts:

>read essay
With trepidation, you lift aside the cover sheet. Suddenly, the world around you seems to melt away...

You are in a maze of twisty little paragraphs, all alike. The path ahead of you is littered with sentence fragments, left broken and twitching at your feet as their pathetic spaniel eyes implore you to put them out of their misery. Dangling modifiers loop happily through the branches overhead. In the distance, that sound of undergraduate feet has turned into a heavy, erratic thwump - swoop - THWUMP you recognise immediately - it's a badly-indented long quotation, and it's coming closer.

You wish.

A flock of commas scampers past, squeaking in a high-pitched, giggly way.

You are carrying:
a purple pen
your grading criteria
a copy of Villette
5 crumbled dog biscuits
your TA contract
18 monographs you promised your supervisor you'd already read
a large amount of what-the-hell-am-I-doing-with-my-life angst
half a potato

>get commas
Tricksy little things, commas. These ones have embedded themselves in the comforting thicket of a nearby sentence.

>search for commas
Where do you want to search for the commas?

>search for commas around subordinate clauses
Surely you jest.

>search for commas prefacing speech
You spy a clutch of young semi-colons here, looking slightly confused.

>get semi-colons
You have the clutch of young semi-colons.

>throw semi-colons in direction of my own writing
I don't think you need any more of those, young lady.

>but I'm a Victorianist!
That's no excuse.

>search for commas at randomly-chosen intervals in middle of sentence in places where NO COMMAS SHOULD BE because despite correcting this THREE TIMES NOW and doing writing workshops in class and handing out links to resources like confetti it was all in vain
Ah, there they are! You gather up the commas, making sure you don't get bitten in the process.

You head north.


>look for thesis statement
Okay, I'll humour you on this one. Where do you want to look for this 'thesis statement' of yours, in a first-year essay, in the dreaded Batch #3, written by a student whose previous two essays just scraped a pass...

>read TA contract
TA Contract, paragraph 5.2(b): "Any grumbling, weeping or tearing out of hair that is not actively homicidal in nature is considered par for the course, sucker."


>look under lampshade
Which lampshade, the fake-satin lampshade of irrelevant biographical detail or the frilly velvet lampshade of waffle?

>look under frilly lampshade
You find a thesis statement clinging to the underside of the lampshade. It is very small and appears to be ashamed of itself.


A flock of rogue its/it's soar past you, their cawing sound echoing across the desolate landscape.

>shoot down wrongly-apostrophised plurals
With what?

>shoot down wrongly-apostrophised plurals with laser-eye beams of TA wrath
Sizzling slightly, they plummet to earth.


griffin said...

This is hilarious!

ChrisV said...

Very funny! And a Commodore 64 reference...impressive.

Anonymous said...

You make me smile .


the Evil Undergrad said...

guh, I've been on the other side more times than I am willing to admit (on pain of death).

We do put you through a lot, don't we?

But it took a shirk-aholic TA to make me realize that.

Rock on, nameless and faceless TAs! You're awesome!