Literary Analysis of a Story & Comments

In what must surely be a shock to anyone ever dropping by Burque Babble, your humble blogger is a professional writing teacher.  I get paid (by taxpayers) to pick apart student writing and elevate their understanding of literary critique.

Please do not hesitate to use this fact the next time you want to slam the quality of education in this country. It is most certainly an outrage.

Today, class, let’s get out the red pens and bifocals in consideration of the literary merits contained within a local legend of the writing craft:  a story and that story’s reader comments.

The story in question concerns three La Cueva HS baseball players caught with what is various described in recent accounts as “drug paraphernalia” and “marijuana and a pipe”.  As we are conducting literary critique here, we’ll eschew an examination of the journalism practiced by local media.  Instead, let’s just get to the deeper themes, grammar and all that.

Speaking of grammar, we’re off to a bit of a bad start in the extremely brief “story” itself.  Though only about 125 words long, we’ll have to get out the trusty red pen at least once in the story itself, namely the following sentence:

On Tuesday, officials caught three baseball players, two of which (annoying grammar teacher emphasis) were seniors, sitting in a car parked on campus with marijuana and a pipe.

I will spare the class my professional (i.e., boring) lecture on the whole which/who/whom/humans/not humans/subject/object thing, in the interest of keeping things interesting. Still, that “which” gets me right in the solar plexus…man it hurts. I’m in pain here.

Instead, let us immediately proceed to that paragon of ABQ writing, the comments section. New York had its “Algonquin Round Table”, Iowa still has it “Writer’s Workshop”, but no salon or school of writing can quite compare with the idiosyncratic degree of craft expressed in the “ Writer’s Group”.

This story is no exception.

Centered around entries by Group luminaries such as “Albertgall” and “SickoftheStupid”, the comments for the La Cueva story deeply examine the issue and its many sub-textural nuances. Let’s quote a few sentences to prove this point (some entries excerpted for added focus):

“Albertgall”: The school or athletic program is not responsible for the misguided actions of some of it’s athlete’s. The athletes should be kicked off the sports program and that is it.

“SickoftheStupid”: I agree with Albert….They (the school’s sports program) shouldn’t be liable for the idiots of the school.

“BarbaraMoore”: Quit turning a blind eye to this type of crap

“Not Amazed”: He (“SickoftheStupid”) hates cops, its that simple.

“Concerned16”: The best thing is to punish only those involved!!

“93glide”: Understood but this is the third violation in three dirrerent sports…

“Concerned16”: I understand that La Cueva has had three violations. However, it is only certain individuals and not an entire team….

and now comes the good part….

“sooooosickofit”: It is happening at EVERY school, including middle schools! Volcano Vista varsity baseball players just got busted for substance violations a few weeks ago! WHY JUST LA CUEVA! It’s ridiculous! Quit making an example out of them everyone!

“93glide”: Didn’t you you UNDERSTAND what i wrote i did say that you idiot, VOCANO VISTA -ONE VIOLATION, LA CUEVA -3 VIOLATIONS thats why your precious school is on probation.

“soooooooosickofit”: let me spell it out for you…it’s happening at every school, MANY sports (activities), ALL the time. NOT JUST LA CUEVA. The only thing that is LA CUEVA ALL THE TIME is that they are the only ones in the press being made examples of ALL THE TIME. GOT IT BOZO?

“93glide”: You only gave one example moron you need more than that to justify your B.S. La Cueva has three documented violations, so either back up your B.S. with other documented facts on other schools or quit you tantrum throwing spoiled brat.

So there we have it. A profound expression of the ennui and existential dread permeating our time. Writers such as “93glide” and “sooooooooooooooooosick of it” not only identify our interpersonal atomization in the “Age of the Internet”, but our need to synthesize public narratives into privately understandable constructs.

Phrases such as “you only gave one example moron” get at the heart of 21st Century living in a post-industrial society. “GOT IT BOZO?”, with its use of ALL CAPS and pop culture reference, not only wistfully looks back at the “simpler” time of BOZO, but considers what true understanding in a media age really means.

Do we “GOT IT”? Does anybody truly get it these days? What does it mean to “get”? It is the raising of these deeper, more substantive questions that brings the grade up for this story, overcoming the grammar issues in its early, one-sentence, paragraphs.


2 thoughts on “Literary Analysis of a Story & Comments

  1. “violating the substance abuse policy”

    That’s an ugly phrase (from the KOB story).

    First, the concept of violating a policy. One can violate a rule, or a regulation, or a law – but a policy? I’d always thought that a policy was something meant to guide, that one could depart from a policy or ignore a policy, but can one violate a policy? Is it like violating a virgin?

    Then there’s the substance abuse. There’s child abuse, and self abuse, but substance abuse? “I’m sorry, Sir, but I must arrest you for abusing that substance there, which appears to be a dog whose head you have cut off with a chain saw.” In other news, three teens were arrested for using abusive language towards some food related substance activities, to whit, one processed pasteurized imitation cheese substitute spread.

    I’d look at the comments to the story, but that would require some sort of registration process and the creation of yet another password, which isn’t worth the bother.

  2. I think substance abuse is like Diane Denish abusing the plane. I always got a dirty little image in my head during the Gubernatorial campaign when I heard that phrase. . .

    I try not to read comments on most news stories. Being a person of color and a teacher, I find it all doubly depressing, the things allegedly civilized people will say when protected by anonymity.

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