Monday, August 18, 2008

“The naming of cats is a difficult matter…”
T. S. Eliot, Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats
If, as the poet wrote, it’s difficult to name cats, then it must be even more difficult to name cars. I say this because sometimes I think that today’s automakers must be banging their heads against a wall. Otherwise, why would they come up with names like Borrego, Miata, Versa, Impreza, Elantra, Element and Passat?
I suppose I’ve turned into an ancient fuddy duddy when it comes to the naming of cars. Maybe that’s because I can remember the old Roadmaster, the stately Seville, the perky Escort, the elegant Malibu, the no-frills Biscayne, the speedy Firebird, the crowd-pleasing Grand Prix, and the legendary Beetle.
Well, I learned long ago that a name is, after all, just a name. If you call an airplane an air machine, it’ll still get you where you’re going. And if you call a strawberry a rawberry, it’ll still taste sweet. That’s why I guess I’ll have to be happy riding around in my beat-up, old Sentra. What’s more, I should be even happier because it’s not called an Impredoodia, or something like that.

A Written Feast for the Senses
After having students respond to several photos in terms of the five senses, Lehigh Valley Writing Project Co-Director Kristy M. Weidner-Gonzalez encouraged the students to write short poems in which each line revealed one of the senses. Then the students took a walking tour of the school and surrounding neighborhood during which they photographed their favorite places. Using the images they produced, the students revisited the idea of senses as they wrote what they had experienced when they created the photos. “The second time around had much more meaning for the students,” writes Weidner-Gonzalez, “because the places they photographed were much more personal and held certain memories for them.”

Plant Asks City’s Help
Yes! You just read the headline to an article that appeared in my hometown newspaper last month. When I read it, I thought it strange that a rose, an aspidistra, a coreopsis, or any of hundreds of other plants would ask for help—especially since they can’t talk. But as I read the article, I realized that a global manufacturing company here in Winston-Salem had applied to the city for $54,000 in incentives to upgrade its plant. The mystery solved, I couldn’t help thinking that the newspaper’s editors must have been talking on their cell phones or playing games on their computers when they wrote that headline.

What Is This Man Thinking?
In this photograph a lonely man stands against a background of rugs, a for sale sign, an American flag, and several other objects. Who is this man? Why are there no other people around him? What is he thinking as he stands and waits? Has he arrived in the United States from another country?
Combined with the photograph, these and other questions can inspire students to write poems, stories, dramatic monologues, expository pieces and other compositions to share with their classmates.

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