Sunday, January 27, 2008

A Great Team Effort = One Small Stone

Last Friday the 9th grade Lady 'Stangs defeated Chippewa Valley High School. Some doubted the girls could fell such a Goliathesque opponent, but not the Lady 'Stangs. They took command early and played with confidence, speed, adjustments and poise to walk off the floor with a 33-32 victory. The Mustangs jumped out to a 10-4 lead by the close of quarter one and were hanging on to a two-point lead at the close of the first half.

In our previous battle with Chandler Park Academy, the girls proved they could run a play they had never seen or practiced before. After some quick sketchings that looked more like a plate of spaghetti than an offensive strategy, the Lady 'Stangs executed it perfectly and scored. Well, we didn't practice the "spaghetti play" but during a key point of the game we took a timeout and the coach reminded them of the play and once again illustrated it with his dry-erase marker. Not only did it work again but the drawing was also better. Instead of resembling spaghetti, it was an obvious serving of manicotti. Pick any Italian pasta dish you want. All I know is the girls played so hard, so well and so smart. They cheered from the bench, dove on the floor and screamed with giddy glee at the end.

To God Alone Be The Glory for giving these girls the talent, the drive and the passion to play basketball.

Friday, January 25, 2008

A Literary Mulligan?

We do so many things over in our lives. We retrace our steps when we lose our car keys. Athletes strive to repeat flawless performances. Many make the annual entertainment trek to Disney World. Well, this blog idea is part Groundhog Day (the Bill Murray cinematic classic) and part Moby Dick.

What book have you read in the past that you want to read again. Why?
I remember rereading To Kill a Mockingbird for the second time. What a difference. The first time I read the Lee's novel I was in middle school. I cared more about not losing every basketball game, like we did in football, than Scout, Jem and the rest of that crew. Years later I perused the novel during the summer and it was an entirely different read. The racist attitudes bothered me. The conclusion that I initially read only so I would do well if quizzed, now disturbed me. The novel shouldn't have ended that way. People should not allow this to happen. Oh....I see what Harper Lee was getting I get it.

So what novel have you reread or would you like to reread?

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Your NEXT read

I feel kind of sheepish about recommending this book on my blog but you have to get to the library and read this book…now!
Go on!
Stop reading, start the car, brave the arctic winds and get the book.
Well, if you are going to stubbornly read on, I’ll explain. We just finished Fast Food Nation in my AP Language class and I was looking for another read. While perusing the latest in the non-fiction aisle at Mt. Clemens Public Library, I came upon this title and thought it looked interesting. By the time I reached the bottom of the first page of the introduction, I was hooked. Keen, the author, had me at “steroids”.
In the introduction Keen crafts a conversation with a friend who was creating new software:
“It’s MySpace meets YouTube meets Wikipedia meets Google,” he said. “On steroids.”

I immediately appreciated the syntactical placement of “steroids.” I smiled and thought, “Now that was a well-placed intensifier.”

I read the next paragraph and new I stumbled upon a great read that I could apply to my English classes, life and even my next chapel.

“In reply, I explained I was working on a polemic about he destructive impact of the digital revolution on our culture, economy, and values.
‘It’s ignorance meets egoism meets bad taste meets mob rule,’ I said, unable to resist a smile. “On steroids.”

It’s the classic use of parallelism sprinkled with just enough sarcasm to push the point into his friend’s face and the reader’s literary pallet.

Keen immediately moves into an analogy using T.H. Huxley’s theory that if you provided an infinite number of monkeys with an infinite number of typewriters (computers for you youngsters) some monkey, somewhere will eventually craft a Shakespearean masterpiece. I’ve often used this theory and not just because I teach writing to high school students :)
The coupe de gra was Keen’s allusion to Schlosser’s Fast Food Nation to introduce the book’s assertion:
“On Wikipedia, everyone with an agenda can rewrite an entry to their liking – and contributors frequently do . Forbes recently reported, for example, a story of anonymous McDonald and Wal-Mart employees furtively using Wikipedia entries as a medium for deceptively spreading corporate propaganda. On the McDonald’s entry, a link to Eric Scholsser’s Fast Food Nation conveniently disappeared; on Wal-Mart’s somebody eliminated a line about underpaid employees making less than 20 percent of the competition” (Keen 4).

Still uncertain as to the book’s critical and informative scope? Keen’s title is The Cult of the amateur: How Today’s Internet is Killing our Culture. It’s an enlightening, affirming and quick read that won’t disappoint.

Now, quit blogging and read the book.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Ode to Expos: The Words

You can say anything you want, yessir, but it's the words that sing, they soar and descend . . . I love them, I cling to then, I run them down, I bite into then, I melt them down . . . I love words so much . . . The unexpected ones . . . The ones I wait for greedily or stalk until, suddenly, they drop . . . Vowels I love . . . They glitter like colored stones, they leap like silver fish, they are foam, thread, metal, dew . . . I run after certain words . . . They are so beautiful that I want to fit them all into my poem . . . I catch them in mid-flight, as they buzz past, I trap them, clean them, peel them, I set myself in front of the dish, they have a crystalline texture to me, vibrant, ivory, vegetable, oily, like fruit, like algae, like agates, like olives . . . And then I stir them, I shake them, I drink them, I gulp them down, I mash them, I garnish them, I let them go . . . I leave them in my poem like stalactites, like slivers of polished wood, like coals, pickings from a shipwreck, gifts from the waves . . . Everything exists in the word . . . An idea goes through a complete change because one word shifted its place, or because another settled down like a spoiled little thing inside a phrase that was not expecting her but obeys her . . . They have shadow, transparence, weight, feathers, hair, and everything they gathered from so much rolling down the river, from so much wandering from country to country, from being roots so long . . . They are very ancient and very new . . . They live in the bier, hidden away, and in the budding flower . . . What a great language I have, it's a fine language we inherited from the fierce conquistadors . . . They strode over the giant cordilleras, over the rugged Americas, hunting for potatoes, sausages, beans, black tobacco, gold, corn, fried eggs, with a voracious appetite not found in the world since then . . . They swallowed up everything, religions, pyramids, tribes, idolatries just like the ones they brought along in their huge sacks . . . Wherever they went, they razed the land . . . But words fell like pebbles out of the boots of the barbarians, out of their beards, their helmets, their horseshoes, luminous words that were left glittering here . . . our language. We came up losers . . . We came up winners . . . They carried off the gold and left us the gold . . . They carried everything off and left us everything . . . They left us the words.
-by Pablo Neruda

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

A Trifecta Goose Egg

We didn't break the tip-off scoring record. We didn't win the tip. We didn't win the game. Lady 'Stangs 22- Richmond BlueDevils 28
Ouch! However, after an early first quarter drubbing where we found ourselves down 2-10, the Lady 'Stangs battled back and were down 1: 11-10. The rest of the contest was a brutal affair. The lead went back and forth until we were down by four and needed to foul to get the ball back into our hands. Well, we fouled and they hit some free throws. We fouled some more and they still made the free throws. By far it was the most physical game we played. The loss merely shapes our focus for Thursday's battle with Lutheran Northwest...the crosstown rivals.

Monday, January 14, 2008

The Pontiac Civic?

I drive a Honda. It’s how I roll. As a result of my rolling, I’ve been verbally vilified by those offering their superior views of the American automotive industry. Some comments have been kind but often they have been vicious verbal barbs I’d rather not print.
I’m fine with that. I don’t have unlimited funds. I need a car I can depend upon in years 7-10 and more. I do research and read car reviews. Hondas hold their resale value better than American cars. Hondas have fewer problems than American cars. Hondas have very high consumer reliability. Check the resources and you will discover my findings. Still, many jump on the “Support America” bandwagon.
I understand this outcry. I also understand that the people in Marysville, Ohio that built my car are Americans. I also understand that the economy in Marysville, Ohio benefits from this factory.
What I never understood or even heard before is that the Pontiac Vibe uses transmissions made in Japan. Where has that news been? Where is the domestic outcry? Where is the disgust?
I would never have known any of this if I didn’t walk through a local dealership. I saw the Vibe and peered into the window. Hmmmmm, interesting: nice color, nice interior design and oh, look at the sticker. Yes, look at the sticker.
On the eve of yet another auto show in Detroit, headlines reveal the rising popularity of the foreign automobile industry. It’s a sensitive issue during a sensitive time in this state’s economy. I understand this. I also understand that Pontiac aids the Japanese economy, just like my Honda aids the economy of the seventeenth state of our country, Ohio.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

...due to technical difficulties

After spending a vacation gathering prime blogging photos that would accurately reflect my vacation, I've discovered changes have been made that do not allow me to use those pictures. Well, on to plan B.
The free tickets I snabbed for The Motor City Bowl turned into standing room only seats which then turned into prime seats in the end zone behind the Purdue marching band. Why does the Purdue marching band get a literary nod in the blog? These cats possess the world's largest drum. This alone made the free tickets worth the money I spent.

Ron Paul. I never met the man but I did snab some of his political propoganda that a volunteer was distributing outside Ford Field. It was hard to hear what the volunteer was telling me. It wasn't because of the world's largest drum. There was a constant thundering from everywhere. This phenomena could only be explained as a HuckaBOOM tempest.

Lutheran North's 9th grade hoopsters upped its record to 4-2 by dismantling the Royal Oak Ravens. We did not set the tip-off record but we played very hard and had the fast break working perfectly. Our next game is Friday at Bloomfield Hills Andover. It's a week of road trips but I believe the girls are up for it.

Nolan Finley, the Editor of the Detroit News editorial department, visited my class yesterday to discuss elements of writing and life as a journalist. It was a very interesting discussion and certainly kind of him to take time out of his schedule to speak with our class.
Well, Blog 08 is beginning to ramble. Hopefully, my pics will surface and I can add visuals to the literary narrative.
Until then.