April 22 – Earth Idiom Day

April 22nd has been recognized as Earth Day ever since 1970, the same year that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was established. On a day where many people are focused on preserving green space and maintaining clean drinking water, we will look at the relationship between the Big Blue Marble and our language.

Earth Day Flag.pngLet’s begin by looking at some ‘roots.’

The Latin root for earth is terra, as in terra firma = “firm ground.” It’s the root found in words like subterranean, terrestrial, extraterrestrial, and terrarium.

The Greek root for earth is geo, as in geography, geology, and geopolitics.

On Earth Day, each of us becomes an Antaeus. Do you remember him from Greek mythology? He was the son of Gaia (Mother Earth) and Poseidon (god of the sea). Antaeus was an undefeated wrestler until he met up with Hercules, who was able to figure out his weakness. Even Hercules had trouble defeating the great wrestler until he lifted Antaeus’ legs from the earth. When he did this, Antaeus became powerless. As a result, Antaeus is a powerful metaphor for those who realize that their strength and very survival depends on Mother Earth.

Our daily conversations are well ‘grounded’ in earth metaphors. A number of idioms (expressions of two or more words that mean something different from the literal meaning of the individual words) use the earth as a metaphor. Below are a few examples using the words “earth” and “ground” from The American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms (1).

EARTH

down to earth, four corners of the earth, move heaven and earth, not have an earthly chance, salt of the earth, heaven on earth, hell on earth, ends of the earth, wipe off the face of the earth

GROUND

both feet on the ground, break ground, common ground, ear to the ground, from the ground up, gain ground, hit the ground running, happy hunting ground, run into the ground, stand one’s ground, worship the ground, someone walks on

Today’s Challenge: Clear as Mud

What are some examples of English idioms containing the words mud, grass, dust, dirt, trees, or water? Celebrate Earth Day by mining the language for expressions (idioms) containing the words listed below. Try to come up with as many as you can for each word:

mud, grass, dust, dirt, trees, water

Brainstorm a number of Earth-related idioms.  Identify three idioms that you think would be particularly curious for someone for whom English is a second language.  Write your three idioms, along with explanations of their meaning. Also, give an example sentence of each, showing how it might be used by a native English speaker. (Common Core Language 4 – Knowledge of Language)

Quotation of the Day:  Imperious Caesar. dead and turn’d to clay, Might stop a hole to keep the wind away: O, that that earth, which kept the world in awe, Should patch a wall to expel the winter’s flaw! –William Shakespeare in Hamlet: Act V, Scene 1

1 – Ammer, Christine. The American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1997.

April 21:  Complex Sentence Day

On his day in 1989, the film Field Of Dreams made its debut in American theaters.  The film stars Kevin Costner as a farmer who hears voices in his cornfield imploring him to build a baseball field.  The film is an adaptation of a magical realist novel, Shoeless Joe by Canadian author W. P. Kinsella.  The book and film form the perfect mix of sentimental themes of fantasy, baseball, and family.

The most memorable line of the film — a line which has become one of the most memorable movie lines of all time — comes from the voice that Costner’s character, Ray Kinsella, hears in his cornfield.  The voice says, “If you build it, he will come.”

This line, along with the film’s tagline “If you believe the impossible, the incredible can come true,” are textbook examples of complex sentences.

Unlike a simple sentence, which features a single independent clause, or a compound sentence that features two independent clauses, a complex sentence features an independent clause and at least one dependent clause (also known as a subordinate clause).  

For example, the line that farmer Kinsella hears in his cornfield begins with a dependent clause, a clause that cannot stand alone:

If you build it

To complete the sentence, and to make it a complete complex sentence, the independent clause is added at the end.

If you build it, he will come.

Complex sentences are an essential element of any effective writer’s repertoire because they not only provide sentence variety, but they also combine ideas logically, showing a reader the relationship between two ideas.  For example, notice the differences between the sentences below:

Because he loves baseball, Bill plays every day.

Although he loves baseball, Bill plays tennis in the spring.

After he plays baseball, Bill always cleans his cleats.

If Bill’s team wins their baseball game, they will be in the playoffs.

Each of the sentences is complex, beginning with a dependent clause; however, in each sentence, the logical relationship between the clauses is different.  In the first, the relationship is cause and effect; in the second, it’s contrast; in the third, it’s time; and in the fourth, it’s conditional.

The words that single the relationship and that make the clauses dependent are called subordinating conjunctions.  

Read the examples below to see the different ways that subordinating conjunctions connect ideas:

Cause and Effect (or Reasons): because, since, so that

Because he loves to read, Bill is always carrying a book.

Contrast (or Concession): although, even though, though, while, whereas

Although he loves to write, Bill’s favorite pastime is reading.

Time: before, after, as, once, since, while, when, whenever

After Bill gets home from school, he sits down and reads the newspaper.

Condition:  if, once, unless

If Bill gets money for his birthday, he plans to buy some new books.

Use the mnemonic “A WHITE BUS” to remember the major subordinate conjunctions:

A White Bus

After, although, as

WHen, which, who, where, while

If, in order that

That, though

Even though

Before, because

Until, unless

Since, so that

Today’s Challenge:  If You Make a Parallel Product Pitch, It Will Sell

What are some products that you would personally endorse?  Imagine you work for an advertising agency.  Brainstorm some possible products that you might try to sell with a strong sales pitch.  Select one specific product, and construct a topic sentence for a 60-second sales pitch that features three parallel dependent clauses.  Notice, for example, how the following two topic sentences each feature parallel dependent clauses:

If you want the best value, if you want the highest quality, and if you want the best tasting cheese, buy Johnson’s Cheddar.

Boston Bacon is the best because it melts in your mouth, because it’s low fat, and because it goes well with any meal.

Writing three-pronged parallel complex sentence like these is a great skill to practice for effective writing.  These sentences can be used as a thesis statement for an essay, or as a concluding sentence for a paragraph or essay.  Notice that in the two example sentences above, the three parallel dependent clauses may come before or after the independent clause.

Once you have constructed your topic sentence, write the rest of your pitch by elaborating on the points in your topic sentence. (Common Core Writing 1 – Argument)

Quotation of the Day:  If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it. -Elmore Leonard

 

 

 

 

April 20:  Urban Legends Day

This day is purported by some to be the day that Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, and Janis Joplin died, but don’t believe it. Although all three of these celebrities shared a background of drug use and rock ‘n roll, they each died on a separate day other than 4/20.

The date and number 420 has somehow evolved to connote drug use, and there are a number of stories related to why, such as the supposed common death date of the trio of dead rock stars alluded to earlier. Other stories claim that the Los Angeles police code for “marijuana use in progress” is 420, or that the number of chemical compounds in marijuana is 420. Both of these claims are untrue. No one knows for certain the origin of these stories, and this brings us to the topic of urban legends.

An urban legend is defined as a story that is “too good to be true” by Jan Harold Brunvand, a professor at the University of Utah and the world’s expert in collecting and analyzing urban legends. Brunvand says these stories are told “as if they are really true, attributed to a friend of a friend of a friend.” Each time the story is told, the basic elements (or motifs) are the same, but the setting and other minor details change.

For example, a friend might tell you about a story he heard from a friend of a friend that goes like this:

There’s this man, see, and he dresses up like a little old lady and accosts unsuspecting women in shopping malls. Usually, he waits in the car. When the owner of the car shows up, bags in tow, the stranger pleads fatigue and asks her for a ride home. Then the driver notices her passenger’s hairy legs, the wig and, oh yeah, the knife!

This is an example of a story that was reported in the Seattle Times on May 4, 1983. It was reported as a rumor that was running up and down the shores of Puget Sound, and no doubt a story that had appeared in various parts of the country if not the world.

Even in a modern, urbanized society, people still love to tell stories. Maybe this is because we were telling stories long before the invention of writing. Urban legends allow even strangers to connect with each other. Another bonus is that they can be easily reconstructed from the basic elements of the tale and don’t need to be told exactly the same way every time (1).

Urban legends come under the category of folklore: songs, legends, beliefs, crafts, and customs that are passed on from one generation to the next by word of mouth. An adjective that is frequently used to describe urban legends is apocryphal. The modern definition according to the American Heritage College Dictionary is “of questionable authorship or authenticity.” The roots of the word are from Greek, meaning secret or hidden. The word was used in Latin to describe the books excluded from the canon of the Old and New Testaments, and these books are still identified today as the Apocrypha.

Today’s Challenge: Tell the Tall Tale

What is a tale you have heard from a friend of a friend?  Tell your own version of an urban legend, but provide enough concrete details about the specific setting, characters, plot, and dialogue to make it sound true. (Common Core Writing 3 – Narrative)

Quote of the Day: The most outrageous lies that can be invented will find believers if a man only tells them with all his might. -Mark Twain

  1. – cnn.com

http://www.cnn.com/books/beginnings/9909/urban.legends/index.html?eref=sitesearch

April 19: Monument in Verse Day

Today is the anniversary of the first shots fired in the American Revolution. In 1775 at Lexington and Concord, 700 British troops confronted 70 Minutemen under the command of Captain John Parker. The Minutemen disregarded the British order to disperse, firing ‘The Shot Heard Round the Word.’ The American Revolution had begun (1).

In her essay, “To the Victor Belongs the Language,” Rita Mae Brown traces the history of the word revolution. The word originally had no political connotations; instead, it was used to describe the revolving of planets in space. According to Brown, the political word of choice in the 14th century was “rebellion,” from Latin meaning “a renewal of war.”

In the 18th century, the age of the American and French Revolutions, the new meaning of revolution began to evolve to include the “overthrow of tyrants.” Thus, revolution came to embody ideas and actions related to political and social change. Brown ends her essay by alluding to the use of The Beatles’ 1969 hit “Revolution” to sell Nike running shoes in the 1980s. This illustrates that overuse of any word can corrupt its original meaning (2).

Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote his famous poem, “Concord Hymn,” in 1837 to commemorate the first battle of the American Revolution. The poem was specifically written for the dedication of a monument to the Battle of Lexington and Concord.

Concord Hymn

By the rude bridge that arched the flood,

Their flag to April’s breeze unfurled;

Here once the embattled farmers stood;

And fired the shot heard round the world.

The foe long since in silence slept;

Alike the conqueror silent sleeps,

And Time the ruined bridge has swept

Down the dark stream that seaward creeps.

On this green bank, by this soft stream,

We place with joy a votive stone,

That memory may their deeds redeem,

When, like our sires, our sons are gone.

O Thou who made those heroes dare

To die, and leave their children free, —

Bid Time and Nature gently spare

The shaft we raised to them and Thee.

Today’s Challenge:  The Revolution Started Here

What are some examples of specific geographical places in the world where important, revolutionary events happened?  Brainstorm some examples of important historical events or inventions.  Research one of these events or inventions, and determine the specific place where it happened.  Then, compose a brief poem that celebrates and commemorates the event or invention. Image your poem will be placed on a plaque at the specific site, and include details that would inform and intrigue visitors to the site. (Common Core Writing 2 – Expository)

Quotation of the Day: A revolution is an idea which has found its bayonets. -Napoleon Bonaparte

1 – http://www.americanrevolution.com/BattleofLexingtonandConcord.htm

2 – Brown, Rita Mae. “To the Victor Belongs the Language.” in The Short Prose Reader (4th Edition). Gilbert H. Muller and Harvey S. Wiener editors. New York: McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc., 1997.

 

April 18:  Definition Day

On this day in 1864, President Abraham Lincoln gave a speech in Baltimore, Maryland.  In the midst of the Civil War, Maryland, a union state, was considering a new state constitution, which included a provision that would end slavery.  Lincoln, therefore, traveled to Baltimore to express his support for the constitutional change.

Bureau of Engraving and Printing engraved portrait of Lincoln as PresidentIn making his case, Lincoln focused on the idea of liberty and how the word was viewed and defined differently in the North and in the South (1).

The world has never had a good definition of the word liberty, and the American people, just now, are much in want of one. We all declare for liberty; but in using the same word we do not all mean the same thing. With some the word liberty may mean for each man to do as he pleases with himself, and the product of his labor; while with others the same word may mean for some men to do as they please with other men, and the product of other men’s labor. Here are two, not only different, but incompatible things, called by the same name—liberty. And it follows that each of the things is, by the respective parties, called by two different and incompatible names—liberty and tyranny.

After talking about liberty in general terms, Lincoln then shifted to a concrete, showing illustration of his definition of liberty, a definition that was consistent with the changes being considered in Maryland, but which contrasted significantly with the Confederate view of liberty.

The shepherd drives the wolf from the sheep’s throat, for which the sheep thanks the shepherd as a liberator, while the wolf denounces him for the same act as the destroyer of liberty, especially as the sheep was a black one. Plainly the sheep and the wolf are not agreed upon a definition of the word liberty; and precisely the same difference prevails to-day among us human creatures, even in the North, and all professing to love liberty. Hence we behold the processes by which thousands are daily passing from under the yoke of bondage, hailed by some as the advance of liberty, and bewailed by others as the destruction of all liberty. Recently, as it seems, the people of Maryland have been doing something to define liberty; and thanks to them that, in what they have done, the wolf’s dictionary, has been repudiated. (2)

Today’s Challenge:  The Word Became Flesh

What are some examples of abstract nouns — such as liberty, justice, success, or failure — that you could define using concrete examples and definitions?   Brainstorm a number of abstract words.  Then, pick one and write an extended definition of the word that gives more than just a dictionary definition.  Include, like Lincoln did with liberty, some specific, showing imagery as well as some examples that show how the word is defined by different people in different ways. (Common Core Writing 2 – Expository)

Today’s Quotation:  Perseverance is a great element of success.  If you only knock long enough and loud enough at the gate, you are sure to wake up somebody. -Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

1-http://www.lincolncottage.org/the-wolf-and-the-sheep/

2-http://teachingamericanhistory.org/library/document/address-at-a-sanitary-fair/

 

April 17:  Story Contest Day

On this day in 1397, Chaucer read his great work The Canterbury Tales before the gathered ladies and gentleman of the English court.  It was not surprising that someone would read stories out loud. After all, in the 14th century, before Gutenberg introduced movable type, books were rare. What was surprising, however, was the language that Chaucer wrote in and spoke in as he read his stories: English.

Canterbury Tales.pngSince the Norman Invasion of England in 1066, French and Latin had been the language of the court and the language of power.  English was spoken, but primarily by the peasantry. Change began to happen, however, as England waged war against France in The Hundred Years’ War (1337-1453).  Anti-French attitudes opened the door for English, the vernacular tongue of the commoners, to become more and more acceptable among the nobility.

Chaucer’s work begins with a group of 29 travelers gathered at the Tabard Inn in London to begin their pilgrimage to the shrine of Saint Thomas Becket, a Christian martyr, in Canterbury.  The pilgrims are accompanied by Harry Bailly, the host of the Tabard, who proposes a story contest. Volunteering himself as the judge, Bailly presents the stakes: the winner of the contest will be awarded a dinner paid for by the group when they return back to the Tabard Inn.

Thus begins the framing device for the collection of tales that became the first important work of literature in English and that earned Chaucer the title:  “Father of English Literature” (1).

Today’s Challenge:   Winning Storytelling

What are the essential key elements that make a good story?  What criteria would you use for judging the effectiveness of a story?  Brainstorm some criteria for storytelling and create a judge’s ballot that spells out each of your criterion along with the maximum points you would award for each of your criteria. (Common Core Writing 3 – Narrative)

Quotation of the Day:  Storytelling is a very old human skill that gives us an evolutionary advantage. If you can tell young people how you kill an emu, acted out in song or dance, or that Uncle George was eaten by a croc over there, don’t go there to swim, then those young people don’t have to find out by trial and error. -Margaret Atwood

1-http://thisdaythen.blogspot.com/2012/04/17th-april-1397-geoffrey-chaucer-reads.html

 

April 16:  Counterargument Day

On this day in 1963, Martin Luther King, Jr. penned his Letter from Birmingham Jail.

Having been jailed for demonstrating against the injustice of racial segregation in Birmingham, King read a public statement in the newspaper that criticized his activities in Birmingham.  The letter was signed by eight Alabama clergymen. It is this letter that moved King, a clergyman himself, to answer his critics. In the Letter from Birmingham Jail we have a classic example of counterargument in action.  Respectfully responding to his critics’ claims point by point, King’s letter remains one of the strongest rhetorical rebuttals ever written.

King begins his letter by answering the charge that he is an outsider.  He answers this charge by talking about his affiliation with Christian organizations in Birmingham and the fact that he was invited to come.  Most forcefully, however, he argues that “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

Among the several counterarguments presented by King, perhaps his strongest is his response to his critics’ claim that his demonstrations are “untimely.”

Notice in the following excerpt how King combines reason and emotion to pointedly rebut the claim that African-Americans should be patient and wait for justice:

We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. Frankly I have never yet engaged in a direct action movement that was “well timed,” according to the timetable of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation. For years now I have heard the word “Wait!” It rings in the ear of every Negro with a piercing familiarity. This “wait” has almost always meant “never.” It has been a tranquilizing thalidomide, relieving the emotional stress for a moment, only to give birth to an ill-formed infant of frustration. We must come to see with the distinguished jurist of yesterday that “justice too long delayed is justice denied.” We have waited for more than three hundred and forty years for our constitutional and God-given rights. The nations of Asia and Africa are moving with jet-like speed toward the goal of political independence, and we still creep at horse and buggy pace toward the gaining of a cup of coffee at a lunch counter.

I guess it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging darts of segregation to say wait. But when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim; when you have seen hate filled policemen curse, kick, brutalize, and even kill your black brothers and sisters with impunity; when you see the vast majority of your twenty million Negro brothers smothering in an air-tight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society; when you suddenly find your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you seek to explain to your six-year-old daughter why she can’t go to the public amusement park that has just been advertised on television, and see tears welling up in her little eyes when she is told that Funtown is closed to colored children, and see the depressing clouds of inferiority begin to form in her little mental sky, and see her begin to distort her little personality by unconsciously developing a bitterness toward white people; when you have to concoct an answer for a five-year-old son asking in agonizing pathos: “Daddy, why do white people treat colored people so mean?”; when you take a cross-country drive and find it necessary to sleep night after night in the uncomfortable corners of your automobile because no motel will accept you; when you are humiliated day in and day out by nagging signs reading “white” men and “colored”; when your first name becomes “nigger” and your middle name becomes “boy” (however old you are) and your last name becomes “John,” and when your wife and mother are never given the respected title “Mrs.”; when you are harried by day and haunted by night by the fact that you are a Negro, living constantly at tip-toe stance never quite knowing what to expect next, and plagued with inner fears and outer resentments; when you are forever fighting a degenerating sense of “nobodiness” — then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait. There comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over, and men are no longer willing to be plunged into an abyss of injustice where they experience the bleakness of corroding despair. I hope, sirs, you can understand our legitimate and unavoidable impatience.

After King wrote his letter by hand, it was turned over to his assistants who typed it and disseminated it as an “open letter” (See February 3:  Open Letter Day).

As the power of King’s rebuttals demonstrate, it is important to consider counterclaims in any argument you make.  By anticipating and clearly stating the arguments that run counter to your claim, you show the reader that you are not blind to the arguments of others who think differently than you do.  By rebutting counterargument or conceding to points made by the opposing side, you demonstrate to your reader that your argument is not just an exercise in persuading an audience that you are right; instead, it demonstrates to your audience that you are someone who is legitimately seeking the truth.

Today’s Challenge:  Stake The Counterclaims

What are some possible objects that reasonable people might make to a position that you hold?  Brainstorm some issues that you feel strongly about and the claims that you would make about these issues.  Then, instead of building your case based on the reasons for your position, record the counterclaims. In other words, state your claim, and anticipate what reasons someone might give to disagree with your claim. (Common Core Writing 1 – Argument)

Quotation of the Day: Just as Socrates felt that it was necessary to create a tension in the mind so that individuals could rise from the bondage of myths and half-truths to the unfettered realm of creative analysis and objective appraisal, we must see the need of having nonviolent gadflies to create the kind of tension in society that will help men rise from the dark depths of prejudice and racism to the majestic heights of understanding and brotherhood. -Martin Luther King, Jr.

 

April 15:  Deliberately Bad Writing Day

Today is the deadline for a delightful contest for deplorable writing: The Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest (BLFC), where entrants face the challenge of writing the worst possible opening sentence to a novel. The contest began in 1982, created by Scott Rice of the San Jose State University English Department.

The contest is named after the prolific Victorian novelist Edward George Earle Bulwer-Lytton (1803-1873). He was a contemporary of Dickens, and in the 19th century, his novels were nearly as popular as Dickens’. Bulwer-Lytton’s flair for the melodramatic has inspired more than twenty years of good bad writing, “writing so deliberately rotten that it both entertains and instructs,” according to Scott Rice.

Here’s the famous opening of Bulwer-Lytton’s novel Paul Clifford (1830):

It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents — except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness.

An overall winner is selected in the contest each year, but there are also category winners for various genres, including western, detective, romance, and science fiction. Below is the overall winner for the 2002 contest, written by Rephah Berg of Oakland, California:

On reflection, Angela perceived that her relationship with Tom had always been rocky, not quite a roller-coaster ride but more like when the toilet-paper roll gets a little squashed so it hangs crooked and every time you pull some off you can hear the rest going bumpity-bumpity in its holder until you go nuts and push it back into shape, a degree of annoyance that Angela had now almost attained.

For more past contest winners, visit:  http://www.bulwer-lytton.com/

Today’s Challenge: The Good, the Bad, and the Funny

What are some examples of bad ways to begin a story?  Get a head start on next year’s Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest. Read the rules below; then, write your own one-sentence masterpiece.

The rules of the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest are simple:

Each entry must consist of a single sentence but you may submit as many entries as you wish. Sentences may be of any length (though you go beyond 50 or 60 words at your peril), and entries must be “original” (as it were) and previously unpublished.

Surface mail entries should be submitted on index cards, the sentence on one side and the entrant’s name, address, and phone number on the other.

Email entries should be in the body of the message, NOT in an attachment. If you are submitting multiple entries, please include them in one message.

Entries will be judged by categories, from “general” to detective, western, science fiction, romance, and so on. There will be overall winners as well as category winners.

The official deadline is April 15 (a date that Americans associate with painful submissions and making up bad stories). The actual deadline may be as late as June 30.

The contest accepts submissions every day of the livelong year.

Wild Card Rule: Resist the temptation to work with puns like “It was a stark and dormy night.” Finally, in keeping with the gravitas, high seriousness, and general bignitude of the contest, the grand prize winner will receive . . . a pittance.

Send your entries to: Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest Department of English San Jose State University San Jose, CA 95192-0090,

Quotation of the Day: The pen is mightier than the sword. –Edward George Earle Bulwer-Lytton

April 14:  Prepositional Phrase Day

On this date in 1965, Richard Hickock and Perry Smith were executed by the state of Kansas for the murder of four members of the Clutter family of Holcomb, Kansas.  The murderers and their crime were the subjects of Truman Capote’s (1924-1984) groundbreaking nonfiction novel In Cold Blood, published in 1966.

In Cold Blood-Truman Capote.jpgCapote read about the murders in the New York Times in 1959.  Intrigued by the story, he traveled to the small farming community of Holcomb with his childhood friend and fellow author Harper Lee, the author of To Kill A Mockingbird.

With the help of Lee, Capote spent six years researching and writing the book, which was finally published in 1966.

In Cold Blood is seen today as a pioneering work of the true crime genre.  The book fits into a larger literary genre of the non-fiction novel, a work that blends historical figures and actual events with fictitious dialogue and storytelling techniques.  The genre is sometimes referred to a “faction,” a blend of the words fact and fiction (1).

The title of Capote’s book is a prepositional phrase, a phrase that begins with a preposition (“in”) and ends with a noun (“blood”).  

Prepositional phrases are the most frequently used phrases in the English language.  They are never the subject of a sentence, but they always provide additional details.

Here are some other examples of prepositions used in other book titles:

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

One Hundred Years of Solitude

The Grapes of Wrath

Of Mice and Men

All Quiet on the Western Front

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

Much Ado About Nothing

Today’s Challenge:  Prepositional Pitches

What are some examples of titles of great books or movies that do not contain propositions?  Brainstorm a list of at least 10 titles of books or films that do not contain prepositions.  Then, imagine you were going to re-title the book or movie. Create at least five new titles for five different works, and make sure that each title contains at least one preposition.

Examples:

Hamlet – Something Is Rotten in the State of Denmark

Romeo and Juliet – Teenage Tragedy in Verona

Macbeth – Something Wicked in Scotland

Jaws – Summer of Sharks

Apocalypse Now – The Quest For Kurtz

Quotation of the Day: Writing has laws of perspective, of light and shade just as painting does, or music. If you are born knowing them, fine. If not, learn them. Then rearrange the rules to suit yourself. -Truman Capote

1 -https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Non-fiction_novel

April 13:  Triskaidekaphobia Day

On this day in 1970, Apollo 13, NASA’s third lunar mission, experienced an oxygen tank malfunction that caused the mission to be aborted. The famous words from the 1987 movie Apollo 13 were “Houston we have a problem.” The actual quote was “Houston, we’ve had a problem here.” The Apollo 13 mission also gave us the oxymoron “successful failure,” meaning that although the ultimate mission of reaching the moon was a failure, the secondary mission of returning the astronauts to earth safely was a success. (See October 12:  Oxymoron Day)

Apollo 13-insignia.pngAlthough no one died on the mission, Apollo 13 provided no solace for those with triskaidekaphobia: the fear of the number 13. After all, not only was the mission given the number 13, but other number 13s pop up when you look at the statistics related to the mission:

-The problem occurred on the 13th of April.

-The mission was launched on 4/11/70. 4 + 11 + 70 = 85 and 8+5= 13!

-The mission was launched at 13:13 Central Standard Time (1).

Even if you have no fear of the number 13, or any other numbers, there are plenty of other phobias to concern yourself with. The suffix -phobia is Greek for fear. And even if you have no chronic fears, exploring the world of phobias provides good practice for checking your knowledge of Greek and Latin roots. For example, claustrophobia is the fear of being in narrow or enclosed spaces. Claustrum is Latin for enclosed place.

The Sum of All Fears

The following list of phobias is from O.V. Michaelsen’s book Words at Play. See if you can match up each of the phobias with its correct definition.

  1. Agoraphobia
  2. Euphophobia
  3. Lunaediesophobia
  4. Homilophobia
  5. Heliophobia
  6. Dextrophobia
  7. Carnophobia
  8. Sophophobia
  9. Hygrophobia
  10. Sinistrophobia

A. Fear of dampness or liquids

B. Fear of good news

C. Fear of sunlight

D. Fear of things to the right

E. Fear of sermons

F. Fear of open or public places

G. Fear of meat

H. Fear of learning

I. Fear of Mondays

J. Fear of things to the left.

Answers

  1. F, 2. B, 3. I, 4. E, 5. C, 6. D, 7. G, 8. H, 9. A, 10. J

Today’s Challenge:  Say Farewell to Your Phobia

What are some common fears that people have, and how can those fears be overcome?  Triskaidekaphobia Day is the perfect day to look your fears in the face.  Brainstorm and research some common fears, such as fear of flying, public speaking, intimacy, spiders, failure, heights, or death.  Select one, and write a Public Service Announcement (PSA) that provides your audience with common sense ways to confront the fear and overcome it. (Common Core Writing 2)

Quotation of the Day: Fear is an insidious virus. Given a breeding place in our minds … it will eat away our spirit and block the forward path of our endeavors. -James F. Bell

1 – Kennedy Space Center

http://science.ksc.nasa.gov/history/apollo/apollo-13/apollo-13.html

2 – O. V. Michaelsen, O.V. Words at Play (Sterling Publishing Co., Inc, 1997)