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Rhetorical Thursday

Michael Bérubé and Janet Lyon were married 21 years ago today.

Photo Credit:  Jamie Bérubé

But that’s not what we’re here to blog about!  This is Rhetorical Thursday, and you should have expected us to open with the occupatio gambit.  We have an important announcement.

Because of the overwhelming public response to Rhetorical Occasions, this blog is temporarily suspending Liberal Thursday, the new feature in which we reply to readings, reviews, and graphic novel adaptations of What’s Liberal About the Liberal Arts?  Liberal Thursday will be back next Thursday, unless it is suspended again.

In its stead, we offer this brief announcement from the marketing department.  The public-attitude survey is complete, and Rhetorical Occasions has now been field-tested with a series of carefully chosen focus groups.  According to marketing, the book cover is not going over because:

(a) it features a great big fat looming ghostly head;
(b) it looks too much like a faded Che t-shirt;
(c) it is not violent enough;
(d) it has a great big fat looming ghostly head on it;
(e) it looks back at you when you pick it up;
(f) men are not wearing enough hats these days;
(g) the image is that of a great big fat looming ghostly head; and
(h) the single eye in the head winks when you hold the book at an angle.

At first, we considered hitting the side of the book repeatedly with a sledgehammer in order to make it look mean,* but the logistics of this option proved too daunting.  Accordingly, UNC Press has decided to do to the cover design of Rhetorical Occasions what Capitol Records did with the original cover art for the Beatles’ Yesterday and Today LP.  We are pleased to report, as well, that michaelberube.com site administrator Kurt Nelson has stepped into the breach to provide us with an alternate cover.  We believe this new cover addresses our readers’ primary concerns about the book, particularly with regard to (c) above, and we note that it required only a slight alteration of the book’s title, while subtly retaining the “head” theme of the original cover.  The mockup of the new cover is available here.

Arbitrary But Fun Friday will appear this week as scheduled.

* Readers who do not recognize the allusion are hereby advised that Slapshot is freely available for rental or purchase, and that it is one of the best sports movies ever made.

Posted by on 09/21 at 02:44 PM
  1. Congratulations!  We’re just a month away from 15 years, ourselves.  I am awaiting your baseball post so I can resume my shameless Twins commenting.  Wait, I can do that anyway!  My wife and I were married on same night the Twins defeated the execrable Atlanta Braves in the first game of the World Series - the Series which many (especially Twins fans) regard as the greatest of all time.

    Posted by  on  09/21  at  04:20 PM
  2. Mazel tov to you both.

    When you rejected the sledgehammer treatment for the book, did you also rule out wrapping it in foil?

    Posted by  on  09/21  at  04:26 PM
  3. In re: your anniversary: many happy returns!

    In re: the new book cover: Now that’s what I call academic bullying!

    In re: the Twins / Braves series of ‘91: I dunno about the whole series, but game 7 was the single best sporting event I ever witnessed, albeit on TV.

    Posted by John Protevi  on  09/21  at  04:37 PM
  4. Happy Anniversary!

    Posted by  on  09/21  at  04:40 PM
  5. Many happy returns!

    Did Horowitz say something about your sister?

    Posted by John  on  09/21  at  04:52 PM
  6. Happy anniversary.

    Congratulations as well on the new cover.  And if UNC Press continues to push the bobblehead idea, perhaps one of these could go on the back cover.

    Posted by J—  on  09/21  at  04:57 PM
  7. When talking about mama or sister, rhetorical never works. 

    Materazzi:  “I was only being rhetorical!”

    Zerube: “Eat it!”

    I think we need a post about how glad you are people have been defending your marriage with Acts and Bills and Laws and Amendments.

    Posted by Pinko Punko  on  09/21  at  04:59 PM
  8. I was considering an alternate title, with the same graphic: Rhetorical Occasions: From My Head to Your Heart, but it just didn’t take my breath away.

    Posted by  on  09/21  at  05:06 PM
  9. 21 years: Congratulations!

    Re: new cover: Michael, you shaved your beard (and your head)!

    Posted by  on  09/21  at  05:13 PM
  10. Shit. Thanks for the reminder. Roxanne Cooper and Mr. Roxanne Cooper were married five years ago today.

    Posted by Roxanne  on  09/21  at  05:22 PM
  11. congrats & many happy returns, and man does that picture make you look dangeral!

    Posted by john  on  09/21  at  05:32 PM
  12. kinda reminds me of this:

    Posted by saltydog  on  09/21  at  07:09 PM
  13. Sorry, I’ll try that again


    Posted by saltydog  on  09/21  at  07:10 PM
  14. Well huge congratulations and may there be so very many more.  When marriages turn 21 do they get special extra-legal privileges???

    I seem to be congratulating friends for a great many happy anniversaries this month.  Two of those weddings i performed (officiated? whatever the Universal Life referent is?); one was also fifteen years ago (nod to Charles above), and one nine solar circles back.  Must be something about the end of summer, and all that we find in our lives that connect us to that.

    My recommendation would be a stick-on cover featuring you at your drum set, surrounded by open books (unfortunately i am actually serious about this rather than parodic).

    Posted by  on  09/21  at  07:10 PM
  15. Congratulations on the anniversary and the book!

    The cover is a little wierd - didn’t the publisher like the shot of you in your dress uniform?

    Posted by  on  09/21  at  07:14 PM
  16. Happy, happy.  You should put that photo on the cover of the book.  Do I hear Oprah’s Book Club calling?

    Posted by eRobin  on  09/21  at  07:14 PM
  17. Why’d they put Jean Reno on the cover of your book?  Is it to indicate that you are Professional?

    6?path=pgallery&path_key=Reno, Jean (I)

    captcha:  have, as in have a happy anniversary and another happy twenty-one years!

    Posted by Crazy Little Thing  on  09/21  at  07:36 PM
  18. I love the new cover. Who can respect a team that kicks the ball out of bounds as its principal strategy?

    Posted by Bob Calder  on  09/21  at  07:46 PM
  19. Congratulations on your anniversary Michael,

    I just wanted to post this “thank you” for fighting the good fight. I depend on your insightful commentaries on politics, the culture wars, critical theory, etc. to help keep me grounded in this crazy world. No brilliant insight on my part here but I’m certain it’s your unique position as one whose job it is to critique the, ahem, arguments of the religious right et al. (and the fact that you do it better than just about anyone else on the Left) that makes you such a popular target for their invective. You must be doing something right to have invoked their ire.

    Plus, you’re a drummer, so you can’t be all bad!

    I just bought your book ("What’s So Liberal About the Liberal Arts") and am looking forward to reading it and sharing it with my wife who is an English professor at a small college in York, PA. BTW, I keep telling her she needs to arrange a speaking engagement for you at her college, or maybe a cage match between you and David Horowitz?


    Posted by  on  09/21  at  07:51 PM
  20. Congratulations! We just hit 20 ourselves this past spring.

    By the way, you look like you need some sleep, man.

    Posted by Timothy Burke  on  09/21  at  08:01 PM
  21. Super Big Congrats to you all!

    (and, *totally* off-topic, i was looking for something completely unrelated on the good ole’ Google today, and i came across this quote:

    “He’s like the Quentin Tarantino of English lit.”

    if you wanna’ know who they’re talking about--HINT: he has a blog--you can see it here:


    that’s got to be like, the coolest student compliment ever!


    Posted by Librarian  on  09/21  at  08:03 PM
  22. Congratulations! The Quentin Tarantino of English lit? I guess Pulp Non-fiction was right behind Rhetorical Annihilation for the cover rewrite?

    Posted by  on  09/21  at  08:18 PM
  23. Congratulations! smile

    Posted by Scott Lemieux  on  09/21  at  08:22 PM
  24. For those of you who don’t know, Pulp Fiction figures greatly in What’s Liberal ....

    Posted by Roxanne  on  09/21  at  09:08 PM
  25. Congratulations to The Amazing Bérubé and Lyon!

    Sh*t. Thanks for the reminder. Roxanne Cooper and Mr. Roxanne Cooper were married five years ago today.

    Ms. Cooper, have you considered one of these?

    For those whose religion proscribes following a stranger’s links: it describes a ring that briefly heats up to 120 degrees Fahrenheit every hour on a specifically-programmed date.  Until you run out of fingers to burn off, you’ll never forget that important occasion again!  (Thanks, Boingboing, for reading Gizmodo so I don’t have to.)

    Posted by  on  09/21  at  10:04 PM
  26. Wow. Well, 9/11 was supposed to serve as a signal bell, but it hasn’t worked out that way because we both forget every year.

    Posted by Roxanne  on  09/21  at  10:21 PM
  27. Tanti, tanti auguri, Janet and Michael!  I’m sure you both celebrated in style.

    I like the new cover idea; rhetoric really is a contact sport.

    Posted by  on  09/21  at  10:32 PM
  28. Meus parabens!

    Posted by Randy Paul  on  09/21  at  10:41 PM
  29. You know, they don’t call it The Big Sky in Paris.

    Posted by Chris Clarke  on  09/21  at  10:52 PM
  30. Congratulations!  As you know, we have strongly suggested as bloggers do* to Hugo Chavez that he promote your book.  Don’t forget the little people on your way to super stardom.

    *We write posts that our targets won’t read.

    Posted by Amanda Marcotte  on  09/21  at  11:01 PM
  31. *We write posts that our targets won’t read.

    Yeah, but Hugo would at least read more than the first line of a custom 404.

    Posted by Chris Clarke  on  09/21  at  11:17 PM
  32. Congratulations!

    Posted by Bill Benzon  on  09/22  at  01:00 AM
  33. I’d like to be able to congratulate you on your anniversary, but I just can’t.  You and your “wife” are libruls.  Therefore, your marriage is clearly a sham existing for the sole purpose of embarrassing the good, decent Christian extremists in the Bible Belt by skewing divorce statistics in favor of the Godless and immoral “Blue” states.

    Posted by Oaktown Girl  on  09/22  at  04:57 AM
  34. That’s not just any ghostly head, that’s Capt. Daniel Gregg from The Ghost And Mrs. Muir.

    Posted by  on  09/22  at  05:51 AM
  35. congrats, kids.

    My liberal feminist wife and I just celebrated our 20th this spring.

    It’s something the wing-nuts will never understand: that the left is all grown up, not still stuck in ‘68, and yet we *still* care about civil rights, feminism, equal opportunity, and holding America to its highest ideals.

    Thanks for aging gracefully and not giving up the good fight.

    Posted by  on  09/22  at  07:50 AM
  36. captcha: “job” but is it as in “good job” or “the patience of Job”? 

    Or perhaps, “when re-educating D’Ho one must have the patience of Job to get the job done.”

    Posted by Bill Benzon  on  09/22  at  07:57 AM
  37. I offer my congratulations as well, though I must note, along with Oaktown Girl, my dismay at your blatant disregard for liberal values.  Don’t you know you’re supposed to be out there divorcin’ and abortin’ hand over fist?  What kind of example are you setting for young America-haters who (understandably!) look up to you for their terrorist-appeasing needs?

    Captcha: She, as in my wife, who’s been married to me for the last sixteen years.  (But not 21, for God’s sake!)

    Posted by  on  09/22  at  09:37 AM
  38. Boa sorte, y’all. Now if you really want a book marketing ploy from “Slapshot” , tho, you’d ask your wife to go through the book and highlight the dirty parts.

    Posted by  on  09/22  at  09:53 AM
  39. Thanks for aging gracefully

    Oh, I hate that expression.  “You’re looking marvelous for someone so obviously aged.” I’m the recipient of it more and more, and I’m not nearly as oldlooking like I need some sleep as the distinguished Professor Bérubé.  (Yup, “distinguished” is another one.  X makes you look so distinguished; e.g., like a tidied-up Gandalf.)

    Posted by  on  09/22  at  11:12 AM
  40. Congratulations to you and Janet. I can’t believe your marriage is all grown up now!  *Sniff* Now it can drink as well as vote and buy porn!  But it still may not be able to rent a car in some areas.

    And in re: “the Quentin Tarantino of English lit” and successful marriages:  does Janet listen really fast?

    Posted by Dr. Virago  on  09/22  at  11:25 AM
  41. Hey, I don’t think a resemblance to a Che graphic is a bad thing for your cover. Actually, I was sort of hoping there would be t-shirts made.

    Posted by  on  09/22  at  11:44 AM
  42. Well, I guess I should say something about the book cover. What I find disturbing about it is not that it’s a “ghostly” head, but that it’s a floating head. If only they’d left you with some neck and shoulders, it wouldn’t be half as jarring.

    My first thought on seeing the cover was a recurring fantasy bit from the TV show Scrubs called Floating Head Doctor, which you can all now see through the miracle of YouTube even if you’ve never seen the show.

    Someone’s even made a Floating Head Doctor music video. The mind boggles at the creative possibilities of a Floating Head Dangerous Liberal Professor video!

    Posted by Oaktown Girl  on  09/22  at  03:27 PM
  43. Alternate cover humbly proffered:

    Rhetorical Dislocations

    Posted by Hottie McNaturepants My Ass  on  09/22  at  04:15 PM
  44. Congratulations to you both! And I like the new cover much better. I say run with it.

    Posted by  on  09/22  at  06:04 PM
  45. Congratulations.  I’m on 20, and it’s been an incredible ride.  Especially the kids.  I LOVE THEM!  But Michael, take the picture before the wine!


    Posted by  on  09/22  at  06:29 PM
  46. And let’s not forget her standing by you through the litigation, the notoriety, you subsequent deportation to Canada and that country’s refusal to accept you…

    Posted by Scot Lemieux  on  09/23  at  11:47 PM
  47. Congratulations to you and to Janet on your 21st, Michael.

    My wife and I celebrated our 25th anniversary on Thursday, two days late, staying overnight in a seaside cottage just to the left of the place pictured here. By pure serendipity, Thursday was International Peace Day, and that very night a local artist, Kirby Scudder, pulled off this crowd-pleasing commemoration, which began a few steps from our cottage. We came back from dinner a little before 9pm, just in time to be invited to participate. So we did. Thousands and thousands of people peaceably assembled. There were lots of smiles.

    The next morning, bringing stuff out to the car, I met the fellow who’d rented the cottage next door to ours. I mentioned that my wife and I were belatedly celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary. “Oh, he said, “That’s great. My wife and I came here to celebrate our 55th.”

    I hope you and Janet get to use that line on some whippersnapper eventually, Michael.


    Posted by  on  09/24  at  12:44 PM
  48. Michael, get some sleep. Those bags under your eyes are humungous.

    Posted by dave heasman  on  09/26  at  12:56 PM





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