Other Archive Discoveries
My favorite among all the hundreds of documents I mowed down might be the few issues of Sabrina, the Amherst humor mag that Wallace edited in 1982-83 with Mark Costello, with whom Wallace later co-wrote Signifying Rappers. In Sabrina they cultivated a kind of proto-Onion vibe that owed something to Lester Bangs and the old Creem house style, and maybe a little something to Monty Python and Saturday Night Live. If you go in for the fourteen-year-old-boy variety of impertinent, puerile comedy, as I do, it is irresistible stuff. As I hovered over the brittle, oversized newsprint in that silent and stately library—I had been coached to keep the pages flat, and to handle them only by their edges—I shook like a leaf, eyes watering, in a mighty effort to keep my whoops contained.
News Briefs: Professor Czap ‘not just a Pair of Eyebrows’
Prof. Czap yesterday denied reports that he received tenure principally because of his amazing furry eyebrows. In a particularly unattractive part of the interview he was heard to agonize in a small voice, “I am not an animal, I am a history professor.” Moments later the interview was abruptly ended as an enraged Czap rushed toward the camera threatening to apply the Vulcan nerve grip.
(It turns out that Amherst history prof Peter Czap was indeed possessed of a powerful set of eyebrows. Photographed in 2008, the eyebrows appear in resplendent health.)
Hadley Arkes Symposium Planned
by Dan Francheese
In the wake of sightings of Hadley Arkes in Belchertown, the Political Science department recently announced plans to fund a "Hadley Arkes Symposium." Said Professor Austin Sarat, Chairman of the Department, "We intend to sort myth from fact to determine once and for all whether Hadley Arkes exists or ever did exist." Dismissing the claims of two student workers who reported seeing Professor Arkes lurking in the B level Men's room of Frost Library as "unsubstantiated rumor," Sarat gives more credence to samples of what some faculty members believe to be Hadley Arkes droppings found on the carpet of Merrill Dining Commons. Others disagree. As Sarat says, "They could be the droppings of any faculty member really." The symposium is planned for April.
Dan Francheese gives way to Dan Trapeze and Dan Francisco. Very few of the articles are signed.
There are the Letters to the Editor, as well.
We would like to say that the material you will publish will be profoundly offensive to us as soon as we have read it. In fact, we will never be so insulted in all our lives.
Society of Outraged Peoples (SOP)
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Especially enjoyable were the three pages he wrote as an undergraduate on Pride and Prejudice. He freaking hated Miss Bingley, calling her “a mean-spirited, selfish little bitch who is so intent on grabbing Mr. Darcy for a husband that she is willing a) to be extremely obsequious and agreeable to Mr. Darcy and, b) to tear to shreds (subtly, if course) any woman in whom Darcy shows the slightest interest.”
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An exam book from History 48, Japan Since 1800: Spring 1981, Amherst College 100 A+. The questions are along the lines of, "Why did the four-nation fleet attack Shimonoseki City in Chooshuu clan in 1864?" And he had to fill out the names of a whole lot of cities on a map of nineteenth-century Japan. He didn’t miss even one.
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"Trying to come up with the theme of a story and then articulate it is HARD. It’s also COOL and WORTHWHILE. Kennedy, for once, states the case really well: “Trying to sum up the point of a story in our own words is merely one way to make ourselves better aware of whatever we may have understood vaguely and tentatively.”
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He had a long, fun list of vocabulary words, forty-two pages long, that he seemed to add to every year. One version is thirty-nine pages long, and is called "Vocab 3/97", and then there is the forty-two page version called "vocab 1997."
Birl, cause to spin rapidly with feet
Musth, period of heightened sexual drive in elephants (Vulcans) when they’re more aggressive
Peculate, to embezzle
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A wonderful correspondence between Wallace, age nine, and his fourth-grade teacher, Mrs. Taylor.
Sept, 13 1971
Dear Mrs. Taylor,
I saw a great movie called on any Sunday. It was a biography of motorcyclists.
Remember to capitalize names of movies. You know how to spell very well, especially the long words. That movie sounds really interesting. I’ll have to tell one of my friends about it. She has a Yamaha 175.
Dear Miss More 9/14
Yamaha 175’s are all right but not as good as some (check consumer report) Honda 222 is best its speed recor is 138 ½ m.pn. Next time she or he is shopping for a motorcycle tell him or her that. Dave W
p.s. My hobby is motorcycle research that is why I went to the movie.
Have you seen Evel Knievel on any of the talk shows? He’s quite a character!
Dear Mrs. Taylor,
I sure did see it and I liked the 20 car jump and the Ceaser Palace wipeout. Dave
Do you think he will make it over the canyon?
Dear Mrs. Taylor 9/16
We had fun last night, we went over to our neighbors and played football.
This is football season. It’s in the air, on radio, television, on playgrounds, in parks—everywhere.
p.s. No he’ll get killed
That’s what I’m afraid of, too!
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And finally, as a bonus, here is a quiz that he gave his undergraduate students.
WIN A LUNCH WITH DAVE, SPARKLING CONVERSATIONALIST, WELL-MANNERED EATER, BY SIMPLY IDENTIFYING WHAT ALL THE FOLLOWING WORDS HAVE IN COMMON:
My only stab at a guess is that these are words that can be used to describe writing itself, though I feel like "pulchritude" is kind of wrong, that way. I would love to hear other ideas.