|The Illustrious Mr. Sheen|
It turns out that the mere mention of this foolishness is just the thing to get late-in-the-semester undergrads to rise above the lack of A/C and motivation that has permeated our classroom all month. It also turns out that Charlie Sheen's (in)famous interview in which he proclaims himself, among other things, to be winning, a bayonet, a Vatican warlock assassin, and winning, lends itself very well to rhetorical analysis and subsequent revision for conciseness.
Here's what we found. The entire text follows a very specific structure. In a section that we identified as the introduction, Sheen states his basic thesis: I'm winning, and you are losing. He elaborates on this thesis in subsequent sections, always staying true to the basic structure. In a section on his 3 failed marriages, Sheen's premise can be restated as "I'm winning at marriage, but marriage as an institution is losing." A section discussing his ex-wife Brooke can be boiled down to "I'm winning, and Brooke is losing." Later, when Sheen claims to have "cleansed" himself of addiction, the dichotomy holds up. Charlie Sheen is winning, Alcoholics Anonymous is losing. Then he restates his original thesis, sums up his points, and gets out of there. It's neat, it's tidy, and it almost makes me think that this guy isn't quite as crazy as I thought. I mean, maybe he is winning, and by winning I mean laughing all the way to the bank.
Charlie Sheen may or may not be a warlock assassin for the Pope, but he did give us a well-structured argument that supports its thesis; what else can a comp teacher ask for?