Grapefruits Need Pruning and Blogs Need Naming

Now here is a book I’m sure you’ll really enjoy. It is called Seven Ways to Prune a GrapefruitIt’s a collection of poetry by one of (if not the) most delightful minds I have had the pleasure of knowing. Dr. Johnny Wink is a professor of English and Latin, a perpetual student of his wife’s Advanced Grammar class, and a real nice guy, to boot. He has been writing poems “for the sheer fun of it” many a year, now, and it’s high time his words were put back into print.

I encourage you to read this article to get an even stronger idea of the whimsical nature of Johnny Wink and the affection he inspires in all who come across him.

Then I encourage you to pre-order his book here, at the publisher’s website. They will only print as many books as they have orders for, and will be taking orders until August 19th. Unsettling Wonder is a British publisher, so it will ship from overseas if you are from North America. The total comes to £17.99, or approximately $28USD, and I have every confidence that it will be well worth it.

I was lucky enough to have Johnny Wink as a professor, mentor, and friend during my time at university. It makes my heart swell with gladness to know that now virtually anyone can be moved to giggles by his wit.

Johnny Wink was, in a way, the inspiration for the title of this very blog. Erin had asked me what we should name our joint endeavor, and I was at the time enrolled in the Charles Dickens course taught by Dr. Wink. It was a very small class, with only seven students—and all of us female. Being a small group, we were able to spend quite a bit of time bringing up our favorite quotations from our reading and having a good laugh (Dickens really is quite the chap for humor, in case you had gotten the impression he was all stuffy and didactic). One such session brought up this very quote from The Pickwick Papers (or its full title, The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club), which turned out to be my favorite Dickens novel.

“Rum creeters is women” was such an unusual phrase; we had to know what it meant. When it was explained that the dirty-faced man was declaring women to be strange creatures, our class knew we had to take ownership of that phrase immediately. Johnny Wink, who for the purposes of that class was nicknamed “Miss Peecher” after one of Dickens’ characters, took it even a step further and suggested we start an all-girl punk rock band called The Rum Creeters. Well, we never did start that punk rock band, but I wasn’t willing to let that phrase be closed in a book and put back on a shelf. So now here we are, the Rum Creeters (for we are all a bit rum, aren’t we?), thanks to one Johnny Wink.

Signing off for today,

Puella Fontanarum Calidarum
(my Latin nickname, bestowed by Miss Peecher himself)

Ode to An Expiring Frog

Is it Wednesday again already? Oh, I suppose it is in the earth’s nature to keep orbiting the sun even when I’m not paying attention.

Here I am, Creeter Readers, and on time to boot. Let’s see where this vaguely planned out entry ends up by the time I push Publish, shall we?

This has been a good week for me. A very much needed good week, might I add. After last week (and the week before, and so on), I needed something to refresh my soul.

Let me explain why these past three days have been some of the best I’ve had perhaps since the semester began.

1. Several assignments that were supposed to be due this week have been pushed back, so I caught a lot of breaks that way. Of course, that means I’m just going to hate the assignments even more when the new deadlines attack, but I needed a breath of fresh air to keep me from going AWOL and being resigned to selling knitted scarves on the street corner for the rest of my life.

2. 2008 National Book Award finalist Salvatore Scibona visited my campus yesterday. I read his debut novel, The End, for my American Novel class (the same course I get to read Lolita for, by the by and huzzah). He came to our class and answered questions both about the novel itself and his writing process.
Later that afternoon he participated in a lively game of Trivial Pursuit in the Starbucks on campus. (We had planned the game for his visit, because somehow the rumor spread—by someone who shall remain nameless but happens to be my American Novel professor—that Scibona was a self-proclaimed champion.) As it turns out, he lives up to his rumored title. His team (of which I was a crucial member, if I say so myself) won, and there were high-fives all around. In case anyone asks, a mashie-niblick is an obsolete golf club. That is the one answer no one on my very illustrious team knew except me. All I can say is thank God for I Love Lucy.
That night Salvatore Scibona read an excerpt of his novel and afterward had a book signing. I love hearing authors read their own work. It illuminates nuances of the characters that might have gone unnoticed otherwise. And his book was already beautiful enough, even when it was just heard in my mind.
After the book signing, I told him that I was going to apply for an internship at Graywolf Press, who published his book. He gave me his card and said to contact him so he could put in a good word for me. He also offered to discuss grad schools with me, since I mentioned I wanted to pursue an MFA in creative writing. So I got that going for me, which is nice. (That’s a Caddyshack quote, by the way; I didn’t want it to go unnoticed.)

3. I need to preface this last point with a backstory. Last semester I took a Charles Dickens class and it changed my life. That is to say, I fell in love with Dickens and the world he created with his characters. Not only that, but our class reflected this world and the love for it. This is the class which inspired the title of this very blog. You can read the passage it was taken from in the top right column, under ABOUT: The Rum Creeters. There were only seven of us in the class, and that’s including Dr. Johnny Wink, our beloved professor. One day good ol’ Johnny Wink announced that The Rum Creeters would be an excellent name for an all-girl punk band, and since all the students in the class were female and in love with Dickens, it only made sense that we should become said band. Unfortunately the band has yet to materialize, but I named this blog in honor of it, and those of us who took the class still refer to ourselves as The Rum Creeters. So that’s the background information.
After several months of planning around our busy schedules, The Rum Creeters finally threw a reunion party. We had band shirts made, with “Johnny and The Rum Creeters Fall Tour 2008” on the front and all of our nicknames on the back. The shirts were a surprise for Miss Peecher (Dr. Johnny Wink’s nickname, after a character in Dickens’ Our Mutual Friend).
This reunion was exactly what I needed. All of us were longing for the Rum Creeter days again and—for a little while, at least—we had them back.
I suppose no one quite understands the significance of this class or this reunion without actually having been a part of it. All I can say to that is, I hope you can find your equivalent to The Rum Creeters someday.

Sincerely,
Puella Fontanarum Calidarum

P.S. “Ode to An Expiring Frog” is a poem by one of the many wonderful characters in Pickwick Papers, my favorite Dickens novel. Seriously, that book is hilarious from beginning to end.