Thursday, May 31, 2012
An educator I admire, Hugo Kerr, believes that there is an emotional component to asking kids to spell correctly all the time. In a recent post on a list-serv we both belong to he wrote:
"...spelling is not related to writing technically speaking, but it is closely related emotionally! Most less than perfectly literate adults are vary wary of writing because people are so censorious about spelling. To spell imperfectly attracts more opprobrium than is reasonable. IMO, and it frightens would be writers into being non writers. We overcook spelling accuracy and undercook writing flair. (Shakespeare was, of course, a 'bad' speller, as was his queen Elizabeth the first.) spelling is a trivial thing, elevated, sometimes to the status of literacy, itself.
To me, the spelling bee is a form of madness! And to concentrate such power in spelling, is, or can be, quite profoundly harmful. I do applaud...ideas about exploring spelling from the viewpoint of history, roots, relations, etc. if done in a democratic and non threatening way this is helpful to students. Partly because it lets them understand that English spelling is not the deadly and irrational system they may have been led to believe it is, but actually helpful and interesting, and taken with a bit of kindness."
......Hugo then added a piece of the poem that follows: Spelling is spelling, nothing more. It isn't ownership, and nor Does it amount to writing, it Isn't wisdom, truth or wit. Writing that's beautiful, or true, Has its influence on you Not, for heaven's sake because Of how the bloody spelling was! (taken from the poem entitled 'spellism')
Friday, May 25, 2012
Sunday, May 20, 2012
Wednesday, May 16, 2012
Friday, May 11, 2012
Finally, wondering if the gown I'm wearing is on correctly, I focus on myself. At this point in my life I'm fairly comfortable in a doctor's office. But it always seems to take so long when waiting for the doc to enter. So I fidget. Then I begin a tour of myself. Scars are tattoos. I look at the one on my knee and see myself at 12. Whittling a piece of wood with my Boy Scout jack knife. The blade slips and I cut a crescent slash through my jeans and into my flesh for life. 50 years later I see the moment. I'm worried more about the hole in my pants than the one in my leg. It all heals. I find the inch long butter-colored line on my right elbow and thing of the beautiful Morgan horse who tried to steal a carrot out of my back pocket. He'd already got the one intended for him and I was saving this one for a real old timer in the same pasture. Unthinking, I bonked him on the nose in an effort to dissuade him from taking what was not intended for him, and he bonked back with his head pitching me into a barbed wire fence and then into an emergency room for a bandage and a tetinus shot. I forfeited my chance to ride the big horse one more time with that bit of stupidity.
On my left forearm are the white dots that take me back to the Houston ghetto in the summer of 1969. As a young VISTA Volunteer, with no mosquito repellent, I retain these badges of survival proudly. A real watershed year and one that has shaped and informed much of my thinking throughout this lifetime. My excursion ends with the rectangular blemish still visible on my bicep. The scar left by a toothmark when I worked with emotionally disturbed children. Leonard was a 12 year old Latino/Native American who looked like he could be the son of Geronimo himself. Clearly one of the most angry human beings I've ever encountered. In his violent outbreaks, he'd often bite those attempting to help him. I wear another scar from an encounter with his outrage that is buried deep on the inside of my lower lip. That one came from the end of his fist. Some job for a conscientious objector to war.
Still no doctor, so I look at both the English and the Spanish versions of charts displaying the 10 levels of pain. Going from barely feeling any to being just about immobile, I notice how the Spanish adjectives are fascinating and somewhat more descriptive. Things seem to sound better in another language on occasion.
"Knock knock...Are you ready," my doc enters, smiles and sits by the computer. I begin to answer her questions and we agree all my numbers have improved.
What do other people do when waiting?
Sunday, May 6, 2012
Kentucky Derby 138 is firmly in the books this morning with all the hoopla, hangovers, and might have beens quietly tucked away. It was the first time in recent memory that Cinco de Mayo coincided with the Derby. Here in Portland, they celebrate these two rites of spring in their own weird way. The 5th of May commemorates the Battle of Puebla, but Portlanders could probably care less. Hence the name "Drinko de Mayo." The riverside is transformed into a carnival and this year the rain held back so that the mud wasn't too deep.
Derby parties take place in many local pubs and sometimes the neighborhood establishments even rent a bus and take the party out to Portland Meadows, the local race track, so the patrons can have a moving fashion show and actually bet a few bucks on the race.
My Derby ritual is in transition. I've done parties at home, intense gatherings at the track with my thoroughbred cronies, and, when a working turf writer, watched the race in the Press Box. One time I was actually in Louisville at Churchill Downs. Back in 1982 I had the good fortune of covering the race for a Northern California publication with full press credentials. Had the time of my life. Just the opposite yesterday when I opted for a quiet day at home. I still get all worked up right before the race. I still have a hard time sleeping the night before and I still get up early on Derby day. In the end, I got my wish. All 20 horses got home safe and I cashed a little ticket. All was not lost. Mexico and Kentucky combined in another way when I realized that young Mario Guiterrez, in his first Derby mount is from Mexico by way of Canada. What a remarkable accomplishment to win a Kentucky Derby in your first mount. The mile and 1/4 distance is hard enough, but add in 150,000 screaming mostly inebriated fans and you can see why Steinbeck once called the Kentucky Derby the most violent two minutes in sports. I think a few prize fighters would disagree.
This morning, the combination of the two special events on May 5th made even more sense when the Derby winner's name told the entire story: I'll Have Another.