Monday, July 28, 2008

Ful redy hadde he his apothecaries
To sende him drogges and his letuaries,
For ech of hem made oother for to wynne—

The other night after I’d watched at least five dozen commercials for drugs on television, I dreamed that Chaucer’s Doctor of Phisik, or physician, spoke to me.
Amazingly, he spoke Modern English. “Yo, Hank,” he said. “Wassup? My apothecaries have developed a new drug. It’s totally awesome. It’s called Pilosec-H. I wanna introduce it to modern times, and I want you to tell the folks who read your blog about it. Don’t worry about the money. I’ll cut you in.”
What’ll Pilosec-H do?” I asked, intrigued.
Well, it’ll cure hemorrhagic fever, halitosis, hives, headaches, hemorrhoids, high blood pressure, hernias, hysteria, hangnails, and flatulence.”
Sounds good. But what about the possible side effects?”
Not many,” replied my visitor. “Just warts, toenail fungus, body odor, chronic constipation, excessive drooling, bulging eyeballs, hairy palms, turkey neck, cellulite, buck teeth, coreopsis of the ductile tract, blindness, and death.”
Let me get this straight,” I responded. “Are you telling me that although Pilosec-H can cure ten medical conditions, it can also cause twelve others?”
You got a problem with that?” The worthy physician glared at me with eyes that could have shattered diamonds.
I was about to respond when I awoke from a deep sleep. “I must’ve been dreaming,” I croaked. “Must’ve been watching too many drug company commercials on TV.”
Yes, honey,” purred Elizabeth. “You usually just snore and grunt while you sleep, but this time you were muttering something about drooling, hysteria, coreopsis of the ductile tract, and death.”
Oh,” I responded as I reached for an aspirin.

Norma Jean Is Alive and Well in Boston

From the Boston Writing Project, Peter Golden reports that in one of several photo-related exercises he uses with students at South Boston High School he projects a photo of Marilyn Monroe (a Norma Jean photo) and asks the students to write down their responses and share them. After the students arrive at a general description of the subject, as in shy or sophisticated, Golden presses them for details. Then he directs them to write descriptions of Norma that convey their conclusion (shy or sophisticated) without using that word. “In other words,” he writes, “the reader should come to the same conclusion just by reading the description.”

“Marriage is a thing you’ve got to give your whole mind to.”
Henrik Ibsen, The League of Youth

This photograph of a bridal party in the Netherlands can stimulate many writing assignments. Here are the opening lines to one high school student’s imaginative fictional follow up.
"If you had told me last year that Dave and I would be getting married, I’d have said that you’re crazy. But here I am, a bride—and a very happy one, too. Now, as I look around and see the happy faces of my friends and relatives, I wonder why I waited so long. I must have been crazy!"

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