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On Boneheads and Literati

A danged lovely read. Written by Joni Newman, guest essayist ~ A few years ago as an undergrad I took a literature class that very nearly sucked all the life out of me.  The class included a plethora of post-modern literature.  It meant a semester with authors like Cormac McCarthy and Toni Morrison – authors […]

June 30, 2011 9
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Being an Author

One year, I made the mistake of agreeing to judge our state novel writing contest.  It shouldn’t have been bad; there were only five or so manuscripts entered.  The first one I looked at  was all about “flatulence man,” a superhero(I am not making this up).  One was a fairly creditable historical novel. But the rest […]

June 20, 2011 3
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Teaching High School English

The image I used above this column is wonderful.  But I had to search the entire internet to find any hint of who may have drawn it.  Finally found it with the artist’s name “Warren” in Green, an Australian mag.  I can’t believe it’s been used by so many educators without the signature on it. […]

June 16, 2011 0
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The Publishing Biz

Once I saw this PBS thing about the Beatrix Potter story—how she’d inked her charming illustrations and written the stories to match and finally, bucking civilized behavior, actually found herself a London publisher to make all of this into books.  The thing in the story that amazed me and filled me with what was honestly […]

June 8, 2011 2
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Once upon a time, somebody told the first story. I’m sitting here, trying to imagine it.  Who it was.  Who she was telling it to.  What the world looked like then, and what the story might have been about. Maybe it was an answer to a question, like, “Where did you come from?”  Or “Where […]

June 3, 2011 0
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Sacred Cows

You remember Tootsie?  That movie that had Dustin Hoffman in it – the one when he got the soap opera gig?  Yeah, well, there’s this scene in the middle of it somewhere when he’s talking to his buddy, and they’re discussing this scene in a play the guy is trying to get produced. “You know […]

June 3, 2011 0
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In comedy, timing is everything. Change the timing, and a comedy can quickly turn into tragedy. In music, timing is the foundation of everything.  Even in freeform stuff like Eric Whitacre’s work, there is a time to let go of a chord.  The right time. You’ve seen movie scenes that have made your eyes roll […]

June 3, 2011 0
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In the last – oh – maybe decade or so, there’ve been a lot of people fah-reeeking out about what the internet is doing to literacy.  Me?  I don’t really get why they’ve so got their shorts in a knot over this (and what does that actually mean, “shorts in a knot?”).  Seems to me […]

June 2, 2011 2
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There are only so many. Basically, every story goes something like this: man, woman, child, animal-protagonist-treated-anthropomorphically  deals with antagonists, nature, supernatural or alien elements in order to win love, get sex, save the world, right a wrong, win power, or just get what they want – including and up to acceptance in the world. At […]

June 2, 2011 0
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Me? I Prefer People to Finger Puppets

One of the elements that separates good writing from the boiler-plate stuff is the quality of the characters.  I remember picking up one of the first local novels ever published in my neck of the woods—one that was being devoured by all my students (think Twilight, but on an even more grass-roots basis and without […]

June 2, 2011 7