August 30, 2009

Reading Rainbow--No Pot of Gold at Its End


I didn't even realize Reading Rainbow was coming to an end until my daughter sent me a link to a story on NPR.

Wow, has it been 26 years? I watched many an episode with my two kids, and, many an episode on my own--it was such a good show! For years, at the library, we had all the Reading Rainbow books marked and shelved separately because the demand created by the program was so great. But, little by little, public interest waned and we reintegrated the books. We eventually stopped keeping up with the new shows' featured books when it seemed that the local schools were no longer involved in showing the program to their students.

I suppose Reading Rainbow's demise is one more reason to hate the prior administration. The NPR piece inteviewed John Grant, one of those involved in the production of RR, who saw a change in educational philosophy that:
wanted to see a much heavier focus on the basic tools of reading-- like phonics and spelling.

Grant says that PBS, CPB and the Department of Education put significant funding toward programming that would teach kids how to read--but that's not what Reading Rainbow was trying to do.
Anyone who ever watched knows what RR was trying to do--show kids that reading can not only be informative, it can be fun! Why are we no longer teaching kids that reading is fun? [Imagine me letting out a primal scream here.]

Another thing that will fall by the wayside is the "Reading Rainbow Young Writers and Illustrators Contest" that has been held annually for 15 years. I'd been involved with the contest for about a dozen years acting as a judge at NHPTV's studios in Durham. Every spring I'd join others in reading, discussing, and voting on the entries from a particular grade to designate a winner to go on to the national judging. To see one of the winners, from two years ago, that I loved, loved, loved, click here.

Isn't this cover fabulous? Especially when you consider it was created by a second grader!

Over the past few years many states' public television stations stopped participating in the contest, but New Hampshire continued its partnership. As a result, the number of entries increased with kids sending their stories from states far away. One of my special RR contest memories is attending the awards ceremony and seeing a little boy who had traveled all the way from Brooklyn, NY to receive his certificate. He wore a little suit and tie and the BIGGEST SMILE!

One more thing--several years back the RR website had a recommended list that included books other than those that were featured on the various episodes. I happened upon my picture book, Littlebat's Halloween Story, on the list. What a thrill that was for me.

So, thanks, Reading Rainbow, for everything you've done for me, and the millions of kids you touched over the years.

August 28, 2009

Poetry Friday--My Grave


I was a little surprised to hear that Ted Kennedy was going to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery. It's not that I didn't think he deserved the honor, he did, but to me a military cemetery is a cold, harsh place. Truly, I suspect the Senator would have preferred a grave in a place such as the one Ella Wheeler Wilcox wrote about in "My Grave."
If, when I die, I must be buried, let
No cemetery engulph me--no lone grot,
Where the great palpitating world comes not,
Save when, with heart bowed down and eyelids wet,
It pays its last sad melancholy debt
To some outjourneying pilgrim. May my lot
Be rather to lie in some much-used spot,
Where human life, with all its noise and fret,
Throbs on about me. Let the roll of wheels,
With all earth’s sounds of pleasure, commerce, love,
And rush of hurrying feet surge o’er my head.
Even in my grave I shall be one who feels
Close kinship with the pulsing world above;
And too deep silence would distress me, dead.

To continue to be connected to "the pulsing world" seems a more fitting end for a man who exuded amiability.

Today's Poetry Friday Round-Up is being held at Book Aunt, make sure to stop by!

August 27, 2009

August 26, 2009

The Work Goes On, the Cause Endures...

"The work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives and the dreams shall never die."

Remembering Teddy Kennedy and hoping that one day his dreams of social justice will become a reality.

August 24, 2009

It's Nice When Someone Takes the Time to Explain Things

Sadly, not everyone takes the time to listen. But, in case you're willing to listen, and watch, the explanation here is easily understood:

August 23, 2009

August 21, 2009

Poetry Friday--The Tuft of Flowers

Photo by OakleyOriginals

There's a lovely butterfly garden outside the library where I work, and if I'm lucky I can see a variety of flying insects besides a butterfly or two. The whole idea of a butterfly garden is immensely pleasing to me, it's a sharing, and what's not to like about that?

Today, I'd like to share Robert Frost's "The Tuft of Flowers." It's a poem that needs no interpretation, Frost lays it all out for the reader.

I went to turn the grass once after one
Who mowed it in the dew before the sun.

The dew was gone that made his blade so keen
Before I came to view the levelled scene.

I looked for him behind an isle of trees;
I listened for his whetstone on the breeze.

But he had gone his way, the grass all mown,
And I must be, as he had been,--alone,

'As all must be,' I said within my heart,
'Whether they work together or apart.'

But as I said it, swift there passed me by
On noiseless wing a 'wildered butterfly,

Seeking with memories grown dim o'er night
Some resting flower of yesterday's delight.

And once I marked his flight go round and round,
As where some flower lay withering on the ground.

And then he flew as far as eye could see,
And then on tremulous wing came back to me.

I thought of questions that have no reply,
And would have turned to toss the grass to dry;

But he turned first, and led my eye to look
At a tall tuft of flowers beside a brook,

A leaping tongue of bloom the scythe had spared
Beside a reedy brook the scythe had bared.

I left my place to know them by their name,
Finding them butterfly weed when I came.

The mower in the dew had loved them thus,
By leaving them to flourish, not for us,

Nor yet to draw one thought of ours to him.
But from sheer morning gladness at the brim.

The butterfly and I had lit upon,
Nevertheless, a message from the dawn,

That made me hear the wakening birds around,
And hear his long scythe whispering to the ground,

And feel a spirit kindred to my own;
So that henceforth I worked no more alone;

But glad with him, I worked as with his aid,
And weary, sought at noon with him the shade;

And dreaming, as it were, held brotherly speech
With one whose thought I had not hoped to reach.

'Men work together,' I told him from the heart,
'Whether they work together or apart.'
The Poetry Friday Round-Up is being hosted today at The Boy Reader.

August 20, 2009

Propaganda


Propaganda, according to the Random House Dictionary, is
–noun
1. information, ideas, or rumors deliberately spread widely to help or harm a person, group, movement, institution, nation, etc.
2. the deliberate spreading of such information, rumors, etc.
3. the particular doctrines or principles propagated by an organization or movement.
I'm not going to make this a political post, but I simply want to state that people need to be aware of the rumors that are deliberately being spread in the healthcare debate now going on in the U.S. As citizens, we need to be on guard not to swallow whole everything we read or hear. (I'm sure I'm preaching to the choir, dear reader, I know you're not one of the sheeple.)

To learn a little more about how propaganda is used, go to Propaganda Critic, and take a look around. I'd especially recommend the videos.

Don't you love the library propaganda poster (above) that was issued by the Illinois WPA Art Project in 1940? Library propaganda is good!

August 18, 2009

August 17, 2009

My Non-Family Extended Family


When I was a child we used to send rolls of film away in envelops to be developed. A week or so later, another envelop would come back with twelve white-rimmed photos. One time, though, in the midst of our photos were a few pictures of an old-fashioned living room that had an armchair topped with an antimacassar. No people inhabited the photos. We had no idea where the photos were taken, nor to whom they belonged. (We also had no idea where our photos ended up!) But, we didn't throw the alien photos away. We kept them in the envelop, and years later, when someone decided to put photos in albums, the pictures ended up in an album!


Photos have an odd hold on me. I'm always afraid to throw one out. I must be a little like the native peoples who believed that photographs captured their souls. Over the years I've saved peoples' souls by purchasing photos in flea markets, on ebay, or from a box of old books donated to the library. I've added them to my collection of Non-Family Family.


I love the one above. I don't know if you can see the details, but the children are standing on dirt. The backdrop is heavily cracked. If I had to guess, I'd say that some traveling photographer arrived in town and set up business outdoors where there was an open spot. Townspeople dressed up their kids and had a portrait taken, perhaps it was the one and only professional photograph the family ever had made.


Someone took the time to identify the people in this photo. In pencil on the back it reads,
Down front George Guard
Back row:
Harley Johnson
Billy O. Flint
John Wiley
Stanley Henrickson
Elwood LaDue
Along the bottom, in black ink it reads, "1935 Easter Sunday."

August 16, 2009

August 14, 2009

Poetry Friday--The Poetry Home Repair Manual

A little while back I posted a Poetry Friday entry on Braided Creek by Ted Kooser and Jim Harrison. I looked for more works by the two, and found that Ted Kooser had a how-to guide called The Poetry Home Repair Manual: Practical Advice for Beginning Poets (University of Nebraska Press, 2005). I got my hands on a copy and read it through.

Much of what Kooser tells the reader is common sense. For instance, he says that a title and the first few lines of a poem do a lion's share of the work. The thing about the book, though, it is so well written that even the basic information is a pleasure to read.

I found myself putting little markers on all the pages that had some phrase or bit of advice that I wanted to save. My copy of the book looks a little like a paper porcupine!
"Revision, and I mean extensive revision, is the key to transforming a mediocre poem into a work that can touch and even alter a reader's heart. It's the biggest part of the poet's job description."

"Another note to tack up over your desk: Too much cleverness in poetry can be a real killer."

"Perhaps there have always been people who took up writing poems just so they could talk about themselves, but self-indulgent poetry almost always disappears in time, a victim of its own failure to engage the need and interests of others. It takes a grateful audience to keep a poem alive."
Kooser's voice is loud and clear. He speaks to the reader, he doesn't lecture.

He does a fine job of illustrating his points with contemporary poems (with one from Gerard Manley Hopkins) and a few of his own, including this one:
AFTER YEARS

Today, from a distance, I saw you
walking away, and without a sound
the glittering face of a glacier
slid into the sea. An ancient oak
fell in the Cumberlands, holding only
a handful of leaves, and an old woman
scattering corn to her chickens looked up
for an instant. At the other side
of the galaxy, a star thirty-five times
the size of our own sun exploded
and vanished, leaving a small green spot
on the astronomer's retina
as he stood in the great open dome
of my heart with no one to tell.


One last note: I found the chapter entitled, "Fine-Tuning Metaphors and Similes" to be particularly helpful to me, a novice, but I think it would also be something a reader of poems would benefit from.

The Poetry Friday Round-Up for today is being hosted by Andromeda Jazmon at a wrung sponge. Stop by!

August 12, 2009

How's Your Week Going?

My week has officially been designated as a "week from hell." It all started Sunday morning when I found that my beloved desktop computer had suffered an invasion by roving Trojan viruses! Being of a pacifistic nature, it succumbed to the assault and was hauled off to the hospital for sick and dying computers. With any luck, it will make a complete recovery, but the doctor isn't even scheduled to operate until Saturday. I hate working on a laptop. I do it, but I hate it.

We're short-handed at the library due to 4 staff members taking their vacations at the same time, so I'm feeling harried and short-tempered at work.

I'm about ready to move out of the country due to the ridiculousness of the members of the American public who are so very willing to believe all the crap about mandated euthanasia, and being "forced" to give up the healthcare they supposedly love (yeah, right, they love the co-pays, paying 30% more this year than last, and not being covered for preventive care visits). I can't tell you how many times this week I've recommended a visit to FactCheck.org. Whatever happened to the idea of looking things up?

And, just 1 minute ago, my cat threw up and gave me her, "hey, I didn't do it" look.

It's been a helluva week--and it's only Wednesday!

August 10, 2009

Haiku Sticky #2



© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved

A little background: I went to a NH Fisher Cats game over the weekend, and most of the music between batters and innings was typical "game" stuff like "We Will Rock You," but some choices were totally bizarre, like Pachelbel! Strange, but nice!

August 7, 2009

Poetry Friday--Teodoro Luna

Several weeks back, my friend Barbara introduced me to the poem, "Refugio's Hair," by Alberto Ríos. I was quite taken by it's magical realism (I hate terms like "magical realism," but I'm using it here because there's no other way to describe it). I became interested in learning more about the poet. I looked up Alberto Ríos and had one of those "duh" moments when I realized he had written a poem that is tacked on the wall above my desk at the library!

I had done a display for "April is Poetry Month" many years ago and put "Teodoro Luna's Two Kisses" in the display case with other poems and LOTS of books (it is a library, afterall). When May came along I reshelved the books, but I decided to keep "Teodoro Luna's Two Kisses" nearby. Its main character, Teodoro, uses his brows to tell his wife he loves her--a visible yet highly private gesture. I love the idea of little "secrets." What tickled me the most, though, is the last line, which for me, says all you need to know about a good relationship--it's one in which both parties can laugh together.

I received Mr. Ríos's permission to share "Teodoro Luna's Two Kisses" with you, for which I offer my thanks.
TEODORO LUNA'S TWO KISSES

Mr. Teodoro Luna in his later years had taken to kissing
His wife
Not so much with his lips as with his brows.
This is not to say he put his forehead
Against her mouth--
Rather, he would lift his eyebrows, once, quickly:
Not so vigorously he might be confused with the villain
Famous in the theaters, but not so little as to be thought
A slight movement, one of accident. This way
He kissed her
Often and quietly, across tables and through doorways,
Sometimes in photographs, and so through the years themselves.
This was his passion, that only she might see. The chance
He might feel some movement on her lips
Toward laughter.
Below is the picture that is tacked up next to the poem on my wall.




I have no idea who this gentleman is, but I always think of him as Teodoro. (One day soon, I'll tell you how I came to be in possession of Teodoro's portrait.)

Don't forget to check out the Poetry Friday Round-Up being held this week at The Miss Rumphius Effect.

August 4, 2009

Haiku Sticky Day

I like the way the sticky note, in the last post, looks, so I've decided to be self-indulgent, create another one, and declare today as Haiku Sticky Day!



© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved

I quite often write haiku on sticky notes. They're the perfect size for the terseness of a haiku/senryu. And, you can see, they're the perfect frame for a haiku, too!

August 3, 2009

Peace Is...

If you watch The Office then you're probably a fan of Rainn Wilson who plays Dwight Shrute.

Wilson is one of the people who launched Soul Pancake, a website that strives
to make discussions about Spirituality, Creativity, and Philosophy cool again. Were they ever cool? I have no idea. But it seems like a good idea. We want to engage the user to "Chew on Life’s Big Questions."
I was poking around the site last week and came upon a challenge:
In a world rife with war, achieving peace is one of those things that falls squarely in the "easier said, than done" category. What if one reason we haven't achieved it has to do with our differing definitions of what peace means?

Grab a Post-It note. Draw, scribble, or design your definition of peace. Snap a picture and upload the link
I had to accept the challenge. Peace is more than "the absence of war." This definition places war in a position of primary importance. We have to get away from a world defined by war! Here's my submission to the challenge:



If we would all live by the "Golden Rule," peace could be the only outcome. How would you define peace?

To create your own sticky note, click here.

I don't foresee myself taking part in many of the discussions on Soul Pancake because I am, afterall, nearing the age of being an "old fart." But, I will read it with hope in my heart that our youth will rise to the challenge of using their intellect! Education and intelligence are in again! Hallelujah!

August 1, 2009

Look Up! Timothy Leary May Be Flying Over (Not Really)

Have I said here how much I love the internet? If not, I'll say it now, I LOVE THE INTERNET!

It's a marvelous way to follow your thoughts wherever they take you. Case in point--I came across a blog post a few days ago, quite by accident, which explored all the ways people have of remembering their loved ones through the creative transformation of their cremains (a.k.a. their ashes). Cremains can be added to paint and become part of a work of art. They can be put under great pressure and, get this, turned into diamonds! Bizarre? Yes! Interesting? Absolutely! Please check it out for yourself--click here.

So, that post got me to remembering a movie I had seen a gazillion years ago, The Loved One. I remembered that the idea of sending the "loved one" into space had been proposed as the way of the future. I looked it up on Internet Movie Database to make sure I had the name correct, and I did. That's pretty good considering the movie came out in 1965, and I think I saw it in the early 70s. I went to YouTube to see if there was a trailer or a clip, and of course, there were many, including this one:



I watched quite a few clips, and boy, was that one strange movie! Even stranger than I remembered! I completely forgot how many famous people appeared in the film--Liberace, Jonathan Winters, Milton Berle, John Gielgud, Rod Steiger (OMG! You won't believe Rod Steiger's role!), and more!

So, yesterday, I was commenting on The Write Sisters Poetry Friday post and I mentioned I had seen both Allen Ginsburg and Timothy Leary at one time or another. My memory being what it is, I did a search on Timothy Leary to try and figure out exactly when it was that I saw him. Of course, I didn't find anything to help me pinpoint the year, and I'm starting to doubt my memory (and no, I wasn't a pothead, so that doesn't explain it), but, I did learn that Leary died in 1996 and that some of his cremains were launched into orbit by way of Celestis. (If you want to see something really bizarre, there's a photo of a baggy full of Leary's cremains at Timothy Leary Archives. Look for the entry dated March 21, 2009.)

Here's a little bit of trivia for you, Leary's space burial was shared with none other than Gene Roddenberry!

It's been a freaky week of internet searches and discoveries! By the way, have I mentioned how much I love the internet?