originally published August 24, 2012

With Labor Day weekend approaching and my mid-summer hangover showing signs of abating, it’s time to turn our attention to the upcoming school year. This will be my final year of post-secondary studies, unless the University discovers that the credits I claimed for Marine Biology 335: Touring With Phish are phony.

I’ve been scanning the latest course guide from my alma mater (University of South Virginia State Community Tech A&M), and I need some help in choosing how I’ll earn my final credits. Any advice you can offer would certainly be welcome.

Drama 247 – Ventriloquism Mime

Course Description: Our culture has thus far limped along with its two most dynamic components having yet to fuse together into a single united spectacle. We at USVSTA&M hope to change that by training young performers (Drama majors preferred) the subtle art of projecting one’s voice to a dummy, but without using words or sounds. Ventriloquist dummies will be provided for a reasonable rental fee. Spots in this class are limited, so register early!

English 424 – Beyond The Steele

Course Description: Friends, family, and intrusive passers-by may scoff at the notion of a university course about Remington Steele fan-fiction, but once you explore the milieu and unearth the thick breadth of inspiration within the genre, you will understand its value. It’s a very thick breadth. A thick, chewy breadth. RemSteele Fan-Fic draws motifs from the likes of Chaucer, Hemingway, Poe, and Jesus. No slash-fiction, skronk-fiction, hump-fiction or the like will be examined. No student – and I can’t emphasize this enough – will be given a passing grade for contributing a RemSteele/Twilight cross-over story.

Computer Sciences 185 – Back To BASICs

The market for computer programmers is huge, but with so many people having recognized this by now, finding a lucrative job in the field has been getting harder and harder. You’ll need an edge. You’ll need to be able to do something that the other guy can’t. You’ll need to be able to set up your client’s remote server, construct a framework for his online wig shop, and design a multi-channel video-chat interface system. All on an Apple IIe, using nothing but the BASIC programming language. Sound impossible? Take this course and find out. Computers will be provided, because USVSTA&M still utilizes the Apple IIe for most of our administrative needs. We’ve got hundreds of these things laying around.

Physical Education 336 – Advanced Poker Technique

The P.E. department professors were sitting around the table at our annual program-mapping retreat in Atlantic City, when it dawned on us that poker tournaments are repeatedly broadcast on ESPN. We figured, if the nation’s leading authority on sports has deemed this to be a legitimate athletic endeavor, who are we to argue? Students will need to supply their own stakes, and while there is no cash prize, the student who cleans out his or her classmates by end of term gets an A+.

Food Studies 577 – What Does Professor Pezsnecker Like To Eat? (Graduate Class)

Students will learn to cultivate a sense of nuance in experimenting with temperamental Asian seasonings in order to… you know what? Professor Pezsnecker isn’t really a picky eater. The guy just likes to eat. These are easy credits, people. Make Pez a sandwich two or three times a week and you’ll pass. Do you know a good banana muffin recipe? That alone might net you a B.

Physics 440 – Calculating High-Impact Matter Displacement Patterns

Various materials will be studied, including hard-rind fruit (watermelon), small appliances (food processor), and confectionary dispensing units (gumball machine). The first part of the semester will be spent developing predictive calculations for the displacement of the assorted materials. The second half of the semester will be spent testing these calculations through empirical demonstration. Basically we’ll be spending seven weeks throwing stuff off the roof.

Philosophy 216 – Metaphysics & Bacon

What is the nature of bacon? Does bacon exist out of space or time? How does the scent of maple thick-cut bacon verify or refute the ultimate reason for the existence of the universe? Each unit will address a central metaphysical question, along with a different flavor or variety of bacon. The two will be contrasted and compared in weekly one-page assignments. Samples will be provided. The final will be given in two parts: a 1000-word essay on one of the concepts covered during the semester, as well as a cooking lab final.

Film Studies 377 – The Films of Joe Pantoliano

For almost forty years, Joe Pantoliano has been the single most undervalued character actor since Margaret Dumont. From The Goonies to Midnight Run, we will analyze Pantoliano’s impact on the screen. Also, his impact on the soul. There will be two screenings each week, and an automatic passing grade will be given to any student who can effectively convince the professor that another character actor is superior to Pantoliano (this will be impossible).

Dance History 535 – The Peppermint Twist (Graduate Class)

Thorough examination of the brief dance craze inspired by the 1961 record by Joey Dee and the Starliters. Influences and impact will be examined with respect to the “round and round, up and down” elements, as well as the “one two three kick, one two three jump” aspects. The movements will be contrasted with the more simple dance associated with Chubby Checker’s “The Twist”, which was a hit at the same time.

Art 498 – Practical Societal Integration

Attention will be given to the professional artist’s post-graduation living situation. Numerous recipes involving Ramen noodles will be discussed, as well as the benefits of proper couponing. Students will each be provided a large bottle of shampoo. Look, it’s my wife’s homemade shampoo, and she really just wants to get the name out there. It would mean a lot to me.

English 490 – The Antepenultimo Page

It’s a well-established fact that authors regularly conceal hidden messages in the third-to-last page of novels, dating back to early Victorian literature. We will examine numerous samples, and attempt to deduce the various encoded words and phrases within. Some group work; plenty of research; everyone gets a B+ if you show up.

I’m going to miss school after next year.

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