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I gave up some other writing obligations last month with the intention of devoting more time to this blog. So far, not much has changed. Let’s see…what else can I give up? A somewhat famous writer once said, “A real writer is one who really writes.” One writing technique I suggest to students comes straight out of the 10th century Japanese writings of Sei Shonagon, The Pillow Book—make a list.

As an antidote to the all-too-familiar list of “favorite things,” I offer a list of my least-favorite things:

Finding the middle book of a multi-volume series at the library…but no other books by the author are in the collection.

Worse: reading books one and two of a series, and then the next volumes never turn up. Don’t tell me to go out and buy them myself—I’m a poor scholar!

People who spit their gum on the sidewalk or street.

Cruelty to animals—but that’s on everyone’s list, I suppose. Or if not, it should be. Hmm.

People who ask me when my colleague across the hall will be in his office, apparently mistaking me for his secretary despite two signs on my door identifying me as another professor.

People who expect me to remember dates and times off the top of my head (e.g., “When is the church supper?”)—see above. If I had wanted to be an administrative assistant, I would not have gotten a doctorate. Wait till I’m near a calendar, at least.

Obsolete media—I have some computer files I’ll probably never be able to retrieve, and it looks as if hi-definition may obliterate my old DVDs before too long.

Good TV shows that are canceled before finishing even half a season, or just as they start hitting their stride: Firefly, Wonderfalls, Drive, Joan of Arcadia

Novels and/or films that are supposedly set in ancient times, the Middle Ages (Renaissance, 18th Century, Regency), but none of the characters behave remotely like people of that era. To compound the annoyance, long passages of historical exposition are sprinkled awkwardly throughout to showcase the author’s research. Current example: The Other Boleyn Girl. Not so recent example: 300 (caution: rated R for language and adult mocking).
Movies based on Beowulf that seem to feel the original plot isn’t good enough.

Feel free to add your own!