March 20:  Answer in the Form of a Question Day

On this day in 1964, the popular game show Jeopardy made its debut. The show was created by Merv Griffin who also composed the show’s famous theme song. In the introduction to Alex Trebek’s The Jeopardy Book, Griffin explains that he wanted to create a trivia game show, but he was worried about the backlash from the 1950s quiz show scandals. On a plane flight in 1963, Griffin’s wife had a breakthrough idea, when she said off the cuff: “Why not just give them the answers to start with?”

Jeopardy! logo.pngGriffin originally called his show “What’s the Question?” but that changed when he showed his game to a network executive. The executive was concerned that the game lacked drama since once a player had a sizable lead, he could play it safe. The executive commented, “I like what I see, but the game needs more jeopardies!” It’s that comment that changed the show’s title and the show’s format. After the executive’s comment, Griffin added the climactic moment that makes or breaks the show: Final Jeopardy (1).

Appropriately enough, the word jeopardy began as a French gaming term from chess, meaning a divided or even game. It evolved, according to the American Heritage Dictionary, to mean any game in which the chances of winning or losing were even (2). So when the executive told Merv Griffin, “The game needs more jeopardizes,” he was most likely not referring to the modern sense of the word, meaning danger or peril, but to the gaming sense of the word, meaning, “Let’s keep the final outcome in doubt until the end.”

Today’s Challenge:  “Five Funky Facts for Five Hundred, Please”

What is a general category that you know enough about to write quiz questions for?  Brainstorm some Jeopardy categories, such as Authors, Novels, The Beatles, or Game Shows.  Then, write 5 answers and questions in the Jeopardy format.

For example:

Answer: This game show debuted on March 20, 1964.

Question: What is Jeopardy?

(Common Core Writing 2 – Expository)

Quotation of the Day: Anyone who has begun to think, places some portion of the world in jeopardy. -John Dewey

1-Trebek, Alex and Peter Barsocchini.  The Jeopardy! Book: The Answers, the Questions, the Facts, and the Stories of the Greatest Game Show in History, 1990.


March 19:  Listicle Day

Today is the birthday of American writer Irving Wallace (1916-1990). Wallace parents emigrated from Russia and settled in Kenosha, Wisconsin, where Irving grew up.  From an early age, Irving, whose father was a clerk in a general store, dreamed of being a writer. When he was still in high school, he sold his first published article to Horse and Jockey Magazine for $5.

After graduating from Williams Institute in Berkeley, California, Wallace began writing full time in 1937, selling freelance fiction and nonfiction to magazines.  He also wrote for Hollywood, producing a number of screenplays for major studios.

Wallace is best known, however, for his books — both fiction and nonfiction, which he began writing in the 1950s.  His 16 novels and 17 nonfiction books have sold more than 120 million copies.

In 1977, working with his son and daughter, Wallace published The Book of Lists.  It was the perfect book for the dawning information age and quickly became a bestseller (1).

The Book of Lists is more than just a compilation of lists.  Each of the book’s lists is annotated with fascinating facts and storylines.  Here’s a small sample of some of the tantalizing titles of the book’s lists:

10 Famous Noses,

6 People Whose Names Were Changed by Accident,

13 Mothers of Infamous Men,

Rating the Effects of 51 Personal Crises,

14 Highly Unusual Recipes,

33 Names of Things You Never Knew Had Names,

17 Pairs of Contradictory Proverbs,

5 Famous People Who Invented Games,

9 People Who Died Laughing

27 Things That Fell From the Sky (2)

The Book of Lists inspired hundreds of imitation volumes, and with the advent of the World Wide Web in 1990, the list article (or listicle) has become a staple method for writers to deliver information.

Today’s Challenge:  It’s the Listicle You Can Do

What are ten possible topics for interesting listicles?  Brainstorm at least ten specific topics that you might package as a listicle.  Use the words below to help you determine some possible organizing principles for your lists, such as 10 Reasons to Read More, or 10 Secrets to Getting an A in English:

ways, reasons, things, places, people, principles, rules, secrets, lessons, keys, habits, tips, myths, best, worst, mistakes, steps

Once you have some ideas, select the one list you like the best, and expand it into a listicle.  Make sure you have an engaging title that includes the number of items on your list. The number ten seems to be a number that resonates with readers; in fact, there is a single word in English, that means “a list of ten.”  Decalogue is from the Greek deca, meaning “ten,” and logos, meaning “words.”  Make sure to number each item on your list, and follow each numbered item with details that will engage your audience.

(Common Core Writing 2 – Expository)

Quotation of the Day: A listicle feels more democratic than a hierarchically structured argument, as well as more in tune with a conception of history and the world as just one damn thing after another. The foundational text of Protestantism was a listicle nailed to a church door: Martin Luther’s “95 Theses” posted at Wittenberg. So it makes sense that in our culture, which makes a fetish of anti-authoritarianism, the listicle should have spread everywhere, like mold. -Steven Poole


2-Wallechinsky, David, Irving Wallace, and Amy Wallace.  The Book of Lists, 1977.


March 18:  Reasoning Day

On this day in 1923, the New York Times published an article about the English mountaineer George Mallory (1886-1824) who was pursuing his goal of climbing Mount Everest, the world’s tallest mountain (29,029 feet).  When asked why he wanted to climb Mount Everest, Mallory famously answered, “Because it’s there.”

George Mallory 1915.jpgAt the time Mallory gave his answer, no expedition had ever successfully summited the world’s highest mountain.  Mallory, himself, had participated in two previous expeditions and was preparing for his third.

On the morning of June 8, 1924, Mallory and his climbing partner Andrew Irvine set out for the summit from their camp at 26,800 feet, but they never returned.  The disappearance of the two climbers was a mystery for 75 years, until Mallory’s body was found on the mountain in 1999. No one knows for sure whether or not Mallory and Irvine made it to the summit.

Twenty-nine years after the disappearance of Mallory and Irvine, Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay became the first climbers to successfully reach the summit of Mount Everest on May 29, 1953 (1).

Mallory’s simple three-word answer, “Because it’s there,” became his epitaph and captured the imagination of generations of explorers and risk takers.  It also shows the power of giving a reason — any reason.

A psychological study completed in 1977 demonstrated the power of the word “because.”  People waiting in line to make copies were asked by someone behind them to skip ahead in line.  The people who gave a reason to skip, saying, “Excuse me, may I use the copy machine because I’m in a rush” were 30% more likely to be allowed to skip ahead in line than those who gave no reason.  This worked even for people who gave a nonsensical reason, saying “May I use the copy machine because I have to make copies.” Readers are more likely to accept your claims if you provide clear reasons that support them.  Appeal to your reader’s logical side by laying down the clear reasons behind your claims. For even better results, string your reasons together using parallelism to add rhythm, repetition, and resonance (2).

The persuasive nature of reasoning is nothing new.  In the fifth century, the philosopher Aristotle wrote the first textbook explaining the art of persuasion, On Rhetoric.  Aristotle made logical argument accessible through a device he called the enthymeme, a sentence that explicitly states a claim and a reason.  The additional essential element of an enthymeme is an assumption, which is implicit rather than stated.

For example, as an enthymeme, Mallory’s justification for attempting to climb Mount Everest might be stated as follows:

Claim:  I should climb Mount Everest.

Reason: because it exists.

Assumption:  The existence of a mountain is sufficient justification for climbing it.

With the enthymeme, Aristotle emphasized the role of logic (or logos) in making a sound argument.  He also emphasized, however, that effective persuasion takes more than just pure logic. Any successful writer or speaker must consider his or her audience and establish the audience’s trust (ethos).  Furthermore, the speaker or writer must not only make the audience think, he or she should also make the audience feel something (pathos).(3)

Today’s Challenge:  Unpack Your Enthymemes

What are some current issues that people are arguing about at the local, national, or international level? What are the core claims, reasons, and assumptions that make up a specific argument? Brainstorm some general issues of controversy and find a recently published editorial that addresses one of the issues. Read the editorial carefully and analyze the writer’s argument by identifying the claim, reasons, and assumptions.  Also identify how the writer appeals to the audience by establishing trust and credibility, as well as how the writer appeals to the emotions of the audience. (Common Core Writing 2 – Expository)

Quotation of the Day:  We think, each of us, that we’re much more rational than we are. And we think that we make our decisions because we have good reasons to make them. Even when it’s the other way around. We believe in the reasons, because we’ve already made the decision. -Daniel Kahneman





March 17:  Your Brain on Fiction Day

On this day in 2012, the New York Times published a mind-blowing editorial by journalist and author Annie Murphy Paul.

In her article, entitled “Your Brain on Fiction,” Paul summarizes a variety of studies from neuroscience that reveal how reading fiction stimulates the brain and enhances human experience.

One study, for example, showed how specific sensory words related to smells, such as “lavender” or “cinnamon,” activated not only the brain’s language regions, but also regions of the brain that are devoted to dealing with actual smells.  Another study using brain scans showed that words describing motion, such as “kick” and “grasp,” activated regions of the brain that coordinate the actual movements of the body.

Another study showed that even figurative language had surprising neurological effects.  When laboratory subjects read a sentence like “The singer had a velvet voice,” the sensory cortex, the brain region that perceives texture, became active.  In contrast, when a subject read the sentence, “The singer had a pleasant voice,” only language regions were activated.

Additional studies revealed how reading fiction relates to social skills in the real world.  Canadian studies published in 2006 and 2009 revealed that frequent readers of fiction were more empathic and more able to see the world from the perspective of other people.  In Paul’s words, “This relationship persisted even after the researchers accounted for the possibility that more empathetic individuals might prefer reading novels.”

The studies summarized by Paul reveal that fiction is, in essence, the original virtual reality.  Reading fiction feeds our imagination with rich sensory imagery, evocative metaphors, and engaging details about the actions and interactions of people.  Long before we had computer simulations, fiction and storytelling gave us a way to simulate reality. In fact, one might even argue that fiction provides an enhanced reality because, as Paul puts it, “novels go beyond simulating reality to give readers an experience unavailable off the page:  the opportunity to enter fully into other people’s thoughts and feelings” (1).

Today Challenge:  All the World’s a Page

What are some works of fiction that you think do the best job of simulating the real world?  Select a work of fiction that you love because its story captures the essence of real life.   Identify a specific passage from the work that you think exemplifies that author’s ability to simulate real life through description of characters, setting, or plot.  Pay attention especially to effective sensory imagery, figurative language, and/or dialogue. Copy the passage verbatim; then, write an explanation of what makes the writing in the passage exemplary.  (Common Core 3 – Narrative)

Quotation of the Day:  Just as computer simulations can help us get to grips with complex problems such as flying a plane or forecasting the weather, so novels, stories and dramas can help us understand the complexities of social life. -Annie Murphy Paul


March 16:  Simile Day

On this day in 1971, the song “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” a song by the American folk-rock duo Simon and Garfunkel, won Song of the Year and Record of the Year at the 13th Grammy Awards held in Los Angeles, California.*  The song was a number one hit on the Billboard Hot 100 for six weeks and has been covered by over 50 artists, including Elvis Presley and Aretha Franklin.

Bridge Over Troubled Water single.jpgThe duo, made up of singer-songwriter Paul Simon and vocalist Art Garfunkel, met as children in Queens, New York.  Simon and Garfunkel were the most successful duo in popular music in the 1960s and were elected to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990.

“Bridge Over Troubled Water,” written by Paul Simon, is a tribute to friendship, employing the simile, “Like a bridge over troubled water” as a vivid image of dedication and devotion.

The song’s opening lyrics are as follows:

When you’re weary, feeling small

When tears are in your eyes, I’ll dry them all

I’m on your side, oh, when times get rough

And friends just can’t be found

Like a bridge over troubled water

I will lay me down

The simile is a rhetorical device that employs figurative language to create vivid imagery.  Unlike a metaphor, which says that one thing “is” another thing (as in “Juliet is the sun”), a simile uses the words “like” or “as” to admit that it’s a comparison.  In the words of author James Geary, “a simile is just a metaphor with the scaffolding still up” (2).

An easy way to remember the key characteristic of similes is to look at its Latin root similis, which is the same root from which we get the word “similar” meaning “like.”  Because similes use “like” or “as” they are more explicitly stated. Metaphors employ subtler comparisons.  In the words of poet and essayist Jane Hirshfield, “Similes make you think; metaphors make you feel.” Both devices share one key characteristic:  they build a bridge between the abstract and the concrete, allowing writers to employ fresh images.

Today’s Challenge:  Similes That Make You Smile

What are some examples of abstract ideas that might be defined by similes?  Generate a list of abstract ideas, such as friendship, success, imagination, power, failure, mistakes, memory, or intelligence. Select one of your topics and research examples of how these ideas have been defined by great writers using similes.  

The following are three examples on the topic of friendship:

Love is a flower like; Friendship is like a sheltering tree. -Samuel Taylor Coleridge

True friendship is like sound health; the value of it is seldom known until it is lost. -Charles Caleb Colton

Love is like the wild rose-briar; Friendship like the holly-tree. The holly is dark when the rose-briar blooms, but which will bloom most constantly? -Emily Bronte

Once you have recorded your three similes, decide which one you like best and explain your decision.  Once you have critiqued your favorite similes on your subject, try your hand at crafting your own original simile by pairing your abstract idea with a vivid image that brings the abstract to life.

For example,

Friendship is like a fire that stays aflame only through constant attention.

(Common Core Language 3 – Knowledge of Language)

Quotation of the Day:  Teaching school is like having jumper cables hooked to your brain, draining all the juice out of you. -Stephen King

*Song of the Year is for the writer of the best song. This award goes to the songwriter.  Record of the Year is for the performance/production of the best song. This award goes to the performers as well as the recording engineers.

1-Rolling Stone.

2-Geary, James. I Is an Other:  The Secret Life of Metaphor and How It Shapes the Way We See the World.  New York:  HarperCollins, 2011.

March 15:  Beware the Ides of March Day

On this day in 44 B.C. Julius Caesar was assassinated by the Roman Senate.  

After defeating his rival Pompey, Caesar returned victoriously to Rome in 46 B.C.  The Roman Senate made him dictator for life, but some senators feared Caesar had grown too powerful.  These conspirators planned a public assassination.

Days before March 15th, the augur Spurinna had warned Caesar to “Beware the Ides of March.”  (The Ides were simply a way to designate the middle of each month. In March, May, July, and October, the Ides fell on the 15th day; in the other months, the Ides fell on the 13th day of the month.)

As Caesar approached the Senate meeting on the morning of the 15th, a friend handed him a note, warning him of the assassination plot.  Caesar, however, did not read the letter. As he entered the theatre where the Senate was meeting, Caesar saw the augur Spurinna. He addressed him mockingly, saying “The Ides of March have come.”  Spurinna replied, “Yes, but they have not yet gone.”

As Caesar took his seat, conspiring senators surrounded him, pretending to be paying their respects.  A frenzied attack ensued in which Caesar was stabbed 23 times before falling dead to the floor (1).

For Caesar’s assassins, the Ides of March was an important date.  The first month of the Roman year was March, and the Ides marked the first full moon of the new year.  On this date each year, the Romans celebrated the festival of Anna Perenna, the goddess of the cycle of the year.  To her faithful worshipers, Anna Perenna awarded a long life. By eliminating the dictator Julius Caesar, the assassins no doubt believed they were ensuring the long life of Rome. (2)

Today’s Challenge:  Diverting Doom and Disaster

Julius Caesar would have been smart to have listened more carefully to the warnings of Spurinna, who made his determination of the future by examining the entrails of animal sacrifices.  Today we receive our warnings from Public Service Announcements (PSAs).  PSAs began during World War II when radio broadcasters teamed up with advertising agencies to create the Advertising Council.  This partnership produced numerous messages to promote the war effort, such as advertisements promoting war bonds and famous messages like, “Loose Lips Sink Ships” — a warning against careless talk that might provide state secrets to the enemy.

Both Smokey the Bear and his famous slogan — “Remember… Only YOU Can Prevent Forest Fires” were created by the Ad Council.  Perhaps the most famous PSA of all time was produced by the Ad Council in 1987. It featured the simple image of a single egg in a frying pan along with a concise message of just 15 words:  “This is your brain. This is drugs. This is your brain on drugs. Any questions?”

What are some possible dangers that people face on a daily basis?  What do people need to know to avoid these dangers? Write a PSA that identifies a specific danger. The purpose of a PSA is to equip the listener/reader with a specific strategy for avoiding the danger. Do some research on your topic to gather some facts and statistics; then, consider the target audience for your PSA.  Begin by doing something that grabs the audience’s attention, and do the best you can to show, not just tell, the danger along with how to avoid it (4). (Common Core Writing 2 – Expository)

Quotation of the Day:  NOTICE: Persons attempting to find a motive in this narrative will be prosecuted; persons attempting to find a moral in it will be banished; persons attempting to find a plot in it will be shot. -Mark Twain in his preface to The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

1-365:  Your Date With History (124-5)




March 14 – Bracket Day

On this day in 1985, the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament began, the first time the tournament featured 64 teams.  The tournament originated in 1939, but at that time only eight teams competed. The birth of what has become known as “March Madness” began with the start of the 1985 tournament.  Fans across the nation feasted on a smorgasbord of first-round games, visually tracking the progress of the tournament using a 64-team bracket.

The moniker “March Madness” originated as a term to describe high school basketball.  Henry V. Porter, an official for the Illinois High School Association, first used it to promote his state’s basketball tournament in 1939.  With the gradual increase of teams in the annual NCAA college basketball tournament along with its growing popularity, March Madness graduated to the college ranks, becoming the operative term for the annual tournament. In 2010 the NCAA paid $17.2 million to trademark the term (1).

Besides the large number of teams in the tournament and ESPN’s saturation coverage of the games, the other element that made March Madness a cultural phenomenon was the bracket.  The bracket concept for tracking single-elimination contests is not new — it may go as far back as medieval jousting tournaments. Beginning with the large slate of teams in the 1985 tournament, fans across the nation could participate in office pools, filling out their brackets and tracking the progress of their predictions in each round. According to the American Gaming Association, $10.4 billion was spent on tournament betting in 2017 with approximately 40 million people filling out 70 million brackets (2).

In fact, brackets have become so popular that the concept has moved beyond just basketball and sports.  In 2009, Mark Reiter and Richard Sandomir published a book called The Final Four of Everything where they used the bracket form to judge everything from “SAT Success Strategies” to “Songs by the Grateful Dead.”

Reiter and Sandomir explain in the introduction to their book that a bracket is much more than just a list.  Unlike a list that ranks things from best to worst, the bracket presents “discrete one-on-one matchups” and allows “the two to rub together and create friction to determine the superior players” (3).

The following are some examples that show the variety of topics that can be found in  The Final Four of Everything:

Most American Superhero, Disney Animated Films, Fears and Phobias, National Parks, Texas Sayings, Politically Correct Terms, Artisan Cheeses, Board Games, Presidential Speeches, Fatherly Advice, Acronyms, Fortune Cookies

Today’s Challenge:  Build A Better Bracket

What are some sample categories that might make good topics for a bracket?  Brainstorm some possible categories; then, select one and break it into 64, 32, or 16 parts.  Draw a bracket on a piece of paper and fill in your list of competitors along with a title. Fill in the bracket based on who you think would win each competition.  For example, if your bracket were “Songs by The Beatles,” which song would you pick in the showdown between “Love Me Do” and “P.S. I Love You”? Write your explanation for the victor in at least six of the matchups on your bracket. (Common Core Writing 2 – Expository)

Quotation of the Day:  A bracket is a more dynamic way of understanding personal preferences.  The practice of parsing people, places, and things into discrete one-on-one matchups works because it’s simple and the face-off happens right in front of you – in real time.In that sense, a bracket invests your opinions with a narrative of how you decided something.  -Mark Reiter



3-Reiter, Mark and Richard Sandomir (editors).  The Final Four of Everything.  New York:  Simon & Schuster 2009.


March 13:  Anachronism Day

On this day in 2012, The New York Times announced that the Encyclopedia Britannica would no longer produce its print edition.

First published in 1768, the Encyclopedia Britannica became the most recognized and authoritative reference work ever published in English.  Its more than 4,000 contributors included Nobel Prize winners and American presidents.

In the 1950s, the Britannica was sold door-to-door, and many American families invested in the multi-volume repository of knowledge, paying in monthly installments.  The last print edition, produced in 2010, consisted of 32 volumes and weighed 129 pounds. Its price tag was $1,395.

Before the internet, generations of students spent countless hours immersed in the pages of print encyclopedias.  The advent of the digital age, however, changed the way everyone accesses knowledge. The launch of Wikipedia — the online, open-source encyclopedia — on January 15, 2001 began the trend of internet-based reference sources.  

After 244 years in print, Britannica clearly saw the handwriting on the wall and shifted its focus to its online dictionary (1).

Today the multi-volume encyclopedia is an anachronism, something that belongs to another era or something that is conspicuously old-fashioned, such as a telephone booth or an 8-track tape.

Today’s Challenge:  Old School’s in Session

What are some things from the past that no longer exist or are near extinction (such as drive-in movies, VHS tapes, handkerchiefs, boom boxes, chalkboards)?  Brainstorm a list of things you remember warmly from the past, things that are no longer around today or things that are near extinction.  Select one item from your list that you have nostalgic feelings about. Write about why you have such fond memories about it. A note on the word nostalgia:  The word nostalgia comes to English from Greek, combining nostos (‘return home’) and algos (‘pain’).  When the word entered English in the 18th century it meant “homesickness,” but today it refers to “a sentimental longing for the past.”  (Common Core Writing 2 – Expository)

Quotation of the Day:  Remembrance of things past is not necessarily the remembrance of things as they were.  -Marcel Proust



March 12:  Analogy Day

Today is the birthday of Irish writer and politician Richard Steele (1672-1729). In 1709, Steele founded The Tatler, a newspaper that featured a new style of journalism. More than just reporting the news, The Tatler featured essays, reviews, gossip, and satire.

In the March 18, 1710 edition of The Tatler, Steele wrote a sentence to illustrate the benefits of literacy:

Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.

Steel’s analogy is perfect because reading is not just about retaining information; instead, it is about training your mind to lift more mental weight.  When you consistently lift weights in the gym, your muscles adapt, allowing you to lift more and more weight. Similarly, when you consistently read, your mind adapts, allowing you to lift and grapple with weightier ideas. Reading nourishes and strengthens the mind, giving you a mental six-pack of memory, imagination, logic, creativity, language, and knowledge.

Steele’s memorable and insightful sentence is a classic example of an analogy.  Analogies reflect the ways humans learn: trying to understand what we don’t know by comparing it to what we do know.  

Analogies are similar to metaphors and similes, but unlike similes and metaphors — which captivate us with surprising imagery, the primary purpose of an analogy is to explain via logical balance.  Analogies are also a bit more mathematical than similes and metaphors; in Greek analogia means “proportionate,” and a good analogy reveals a corresponding relationship between two pairs of things.  As Steele’s analogy illustrates, the basic formula for an analogy is: A is to B as C is to D.

In his Letter from a Birmingham Jail, Martin Luther King, Jr. uses an analogy to illustrate the way racial prejudice blinds us:

Let us all hope that the dark clouds of racial prejudice will soon pass away and the deep fog of misunderstanding will be lifted from our fear-drenched communities, and in some not too distant tomorrow the radiant stars of love and brotherhood will shine over our great nation with all their scintillating beauty.

To paraphrase King’s analogy, we might state it as follows:

Racial prejudice is to human love and brotherhood as fog and dark clouds are to seeing the beauty of the night sky.

The ability to think using analogies requires a high level of cognition.  It requires the thinker to synthesize complex concepts and to make parallel connections between seemingly unrelated ideas.   

It is no wonder, then, that analogies have been used to measure intelligence. The Miller Analogies Test, for example, is a graduate school admissions test made up of analogy word problems.

An analogy word problem follows a predictable format:

A : B :: C : D (A is to B as C is to D)

Steele’s analogy would be stated:  READING : MIND :: EXERCISE : BODY.

Try this analogy word problem:

story : fable :: poem : _______

  1. poet
  2. novel
  3. rhyme
  4. sonnet

The key to solving these analogies is to identify the bridge idea that connects both pairs.  In the problem above, for example, if you understand that a “fable” is a type or genre of story, you will probably realize that the answer is D because a “sonnet” is a type or genre of “poem.”

When you are solving analogies, try writing your answer in the form of a balanced sentence, a sentence that has two parallel independent clauses, such as “A fable is a type of story; a sonnet is a type of poem.”  Doing this will allow you show your thinking by explicitly stating the bridge idea.

Try the following:

  1. puppy : litter :: soldier : (A. group B. war C. army D. battle)
  2. entomology : insects : : etymology : (A. birds B. words C. foods D. ants)
  3. Grendel : Beowulf :: Hydra : (A. Achilles B. Vulcan C. Atlas D. Hercules)
  4. adverb : sadly :: conjunction : (A. the B. none C. but D. happily)
  5. Mark Twain : Huckleberry Finn :: William Shakespeare : (A. Tom Sawyer B. Jim C. Hamlet D. Hester Prynne)

Today’s Challenge:   Four-part Formula for Framing Analogies

As Windex is to a clear, picturesque view so are analogies to clear writing.  What are some topics that you know well enough to explain to someone less knowledgeable?  Brainstorm a list of topics that you might explain using an analogy. Use the basic four-part formula:

As ________ is to __________, so ________ is to _________.


As kindling is to fire so is brainstorming to creativity.

As weeding is to gardening, so is editing to writing.

As fast food is to the stomach, so is television to the mind.

As yeast is to bread, so is honesty to friendship.

As wood fuels a fire, so memory fuels the imagination.

As dancing is to walking, so dancing is to walking.

As the selection of bait is to fishing, so is audience analysis to public speaking.

Once you have written your complete analogy, follow it with some explanation that elaborates and expands the comparison.

Example Analogy with Explanation:

As the correct number of employees is to an effective business, so are the right number of words to effective writing.

Imagine each word you write is an employee of the company you own.  Each word needs a job to do. You can’t afford to pay a salary to words or employees who do nothing.  Your job, therefore, as the writer is to keep your workforce — your “wordforce” — at a size no larger than what it takes to get the job done.

(Common Core Writing 2 – Expository)

Quotation of the Day:  Analogies, it is true, decide nothing, but they can make one feel more at home. -Sigmund Freud

March 11:  I Remember Day

American poet and artist Joe Brainard was born on this day in 1942. Brainard was raised in Tulsa, Oklahoma, but he spent most of his adult life in New York City where he collaborated with a number of writers and artists.  As a visual artist, Brainard gained renown for his work in painting, drawing, and collage.

Brainard is best known for his 1975 memoir I Remember, a kind of verbal collage, juxtaposing vivid details from his life.  I Remember is a book-length prose-poem made up of one long list of sentences, each of which begins with “I remember . . . “

I remember the only time I ever saw my mother cry.  I was eating apricot pie.

I remember how much I used to stutter.

I remember the first time I saw television.  Lucille ball was taking ballet lessons (1).

Today’s Challenge:  Mining Memory

What are some specific ways you would complete the following sentence: “I remember . . . .”?  The simple two words “I remember” remain one of the best prompts for writers of all ages, opening the door to the mine of memory and helping them to practice recording sensory details that show, not just tell.  Create a list poem, cataloging at least five specific memories. Strive to show, not tell, using specific sensory imagery of what you saw, smelled, tasted, heard, or felt.

-I remember the smell of the freshly cut grass on a spring day in 1971 when I first learned to ride my bike.

-I remember my dad in the front yard, pushing the lawn mower, as I pushed my Schwinn Stingray with a banana seat onto its two wheels.

-I remember being too proud to ever use training wheels.

-I remember the overwhelming joy and freedom of finally staying up on the bike, pedaling up and down the street in front of my house in Renton, Washington.

-I remember the feeling of the wind in my hair, and, looking back, I think about the absence of a bike helmet, something that no one wore in the 1970s.

-I remember the smile that would come to my face each morning as I woke up and realized once again that I had a bike and that I knew how to ride it.

(Common Core Writing 3 – Narrative)

Quotation of the Day:  Writers remember everything…especially the hurts. Strip a writer to the buff, point to the scars, and he’ll tell you the story of each small one. From the big ones you get novels. A little talent is a nice thing to have if you want to be a writer, but the only real requirement is the ability to remember the story of every scar.

Art consists of the persistence of memory. -Stephen King