For me, enrolling in a required rhetoric class for my master’s degree was comparable to a clown enrolling in a class on tax auditing or thimble collecting. There I was, vibrating with ideas and excitement and an abundance of energy in a class that made the prospect of eating sawdust mixed with stale Ritz crackers sound appealing. I truly hated that class. I hated it so badly, in fact, that I could not make myself jot down anything like actual notes during the class. I had to do something – anything, really – to get through that class. It was three hours long, and it was a night class, lasting from 6:30 to 9:30. If you ask me, it was three hours too long.

When I did not like a class, my notes almost always looked like this:

At the top of these notes is the Grinch. And then there is a caricature of my rhetoric teacher. You make the leap.

My instructor would bring food to class and eat it in front of everyone while he taught. He once ate an entire Blimpie’s sandwich during one of his own lectures. The caricature actually looks just like him. My peers agreed at the time.

The “notes” below are the most schizophrenic in style. I would often draw strange and/or shocking images, knowing that the people on either side of me in class would often look at my notes whenever they missed something the instructor had said. They quickly learned that, like U2 before them, they would not find what they were looking for, at least not in my notes. I could easily gauge whether a person could be my friend or not by their reaction to my doodles. If they looked at them in terror, I knew not to sit next to them again. If they began to doodle as well, or write notes to me, I knew they were alright.

Note the cute kitten on the page above. That kitten evolved into the chainsaw kitten, which I ripped off from The Chainsaw Kittens, a lesser known alternative rock band from Norman, Oklahoma. The Chainsaw Kitten could cut any rhetorician down to size because they had chainsaws, and rhetoricians offered little in the way of resistance. The Chainsaw Kitten could even saw a house in half. Which made rhetoric class a lot more fun. A mascot always makes everything better.

The next page is a continuation of this Chainsaw Kitten theme. The reference to Turkish delight at the top of the page is not, in fact, a reference to C. S. Lewis’s The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, as some Chad Thomas Johnston historians might be inclined to presuppose. It is actually a reference to the treat our professor, Dr. Randy K. Dillon, brought to our Communication Theory class. I often sat next to my friend Christal, and she understood this.


Now, the final page is a little frightening. I drew it not because I am a psychopath, but because I despised rhetoric class that much. It drove me absolutely crazy. I wanted to hurt rhetoric class. Not my classmates. Not my teacher (well, maybe a little). But just the idea of something so dry and lifeless and bland. The dead and dismembered in the drawing below were all famous rhetoricians we studied in that awful class. I think I would have happily dismembered myself just to get out of there, seriously. “Pass me your chainsaw, Chainsaw Kitten! Time to lose an arm!” Do not scroll down if you are squeamish. You have been warned.

It is worth noting that my friend and colleague Bryan Brown had something like 300 pages of notes for this course. Bryan is the ultimate worker. He picked on me constantly before we forged our friendship in the foundry of teaching together. He would pick on me because I was weird, and maybe a bit of a goody two shoes. But then I would show him pictures like these, and he would look at me like “Where did you come from? Who are you? I am afraid. Never meet my wife or child, please.” Which always amused and pleased me. Now Bryan is like a brother to me, and he is still afraid of my “notes.”