In a 2013 New York Times feature on Billy Crystal and the actor’s memoir, “Still Foolin’ Em: Where I’ve Been, Where I’m Going, and Where the Hell Are My Keys?,” reporter Dave Itzkoff details an awkward, but poignant moment during a public book reading. While relaying a passage from the chapter, “Buying the Plot,” which addresses mortality, Crystal made eye contact with his wife in the audience, got choked up and dropped the iPad he was reading from.
One need not have been present at Crystal’s book reading to at least be marginally impacted. Itzkoff’s sentimental prose captured the scene well, and served as a reminder of death’s inevitability.
Death, as it turns out, is not only one of the most compelling topics in any respect, but also happens to occupy an important space in rhetorical studies. Standing alongside ancient Greece’s original … Read More »
“Who wants to learn about prostitutes?” That’s the question I enthusiastically ask at the beginning of my presentation on the topic. From their reactions, I can immediately tell which audience members are likely to be interested in what I have to say. Regardless of whether they consider the theme distasteful, I at least have their attention.
Let’s get right to it: along with presenting to groups ranging from senior citizens to Hancock Leadership candidates, I’m writing about Findlay prostitutes for my master’s thesis, which I’ve tentatively titled “Unvirtuous Findlay.” Some rhetorical scholars write about pedagogical practices, some about government surveillance, some about methods of memorializing, and so on. I, for one, am researching a contingent of 19th century women who chose the sex trade as their profession.
You may be wondering why, and if so, I completely understand your confusion. When I … Read More »
In 2006, I got married on a broiling hot 104-degree day in Las Vegas, Nevada. A year later, I went back to learn about thermonuclear explosions. The National Atomic Testing Museum (NATM) is crammed with artifacts related to the atomic bomb. Chronologically arranged, it takes visitors through a bunker-style room with a walkway that meanders past items such as old Geiger counters, gas masks, toys and Civil Defense pamphlets. There are also 1950s-era photos of showgirls in mushroom cloud costumes. During that decade (prior to the government taking matters underground) when the U.S. conducted frequent nuclear weapons tests at the formerly named Nevada Test Site, guests staying in the top rooms of hotels could witness atmospheric explosions conducted up to 100 miles away, and everyone in the city could feel … Read More »
I know the distinctive sound of my gurgling pipes, and I dread it. My plumbing stopped working several times until I finally spent thousands to remedy the problem. I realized I had been taking first world, water-related tasks for granted, such as showering and brushing my teeth anytime I felt like it.
It was therefore a relief to get back to my former rhetorically provoking self this summer without having to worry so much about things like whether my toilet would flush. In August I wrote a letter to the editor, published in the local newspaper, that labeled as racists those who fly the Confederate flag and venerate Confederate war “hero” monuments. The Charlotteseville debacle disgusted me, and I felt compelled to speak out. One of the expected responses was a defensive letter about “heritage.”
“I have to ask Ms. Brown, has … Read More »