Monday, May 26, 2014

Fight Fight

I've been saying for over a month that the Red Sox need a catalyst to pull together as a team.  That one moment that makes 25 men in the same uniform transform into a team.

I cited two things that pulled a team together: the 2004 glove wash Jason Varitek gave A-Rod that pulled together a bunch of idiots and last year's marathon bombing.

The Varitek/A-Rod incident were significant in that Tek was protecting his pitcher.  Bronson Arroyo had pegged A-Rod and rather than just take his base, he started it with Arroyo.  Arroyo, to his credit, made a crack about A-Rod's salary and an obscene gesture (not aired on TV) that had A-Rod move towards the mound.  That's when the Captain made it clear you don't mess with his teammates, his family.

Yesterday Jonny Gomes tied up the game at one point and when Escobar knocked in the Rays go-ahead run and mocked Gomes, well, let's just say don't be talking trash if you aren't willing to back it up.  The Sox are (to put it mildly) in a slump and on edge.  Kicking someone when they're down is always bad form but Escobar showed how classless he can truly be with his taunts.  When Gomes took him up on the offer, Escobar ran like the coward he truly is.  The "you and what army" guy until he realizes you do have an army behind you.

It may be the event that kicks the Sox into team mode, it may not.  One thing that was clear in yesterday's bench clearer is that no matter how poorly they may be playing, the Sox are becoming a team.  I remember the last to first 12 game winning streak back in '88.  I also remember Bucky freakin' Dent and the meatball served up to him by Mike Torres.  I'm used to it going either way.  It's part of being a Red Sox fan but I do know this much is, and always has been, true: don't pick on a member of the team and expect to get away with it.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Time to teach the poetry unit....

Today I began a poetry unit with a group of second graders.  I introduced the concept to them with the morning message: a quick drawing of a cat and an equally quick haiku to get them going.  Big, tough 7 and 8 year old boys who are used to talking about the Bruins and Red Sox with me weren't sure what to do.  As they groaned and the girls squealed (and a mental reminder that there is a reason we have stereotypes for a reason).  The quick preview ended with, "Does anyone here have a favorite song?"

All the hands shot up with voices eager to volunteer their favorites.  Instead I simply said, "Think about that song in your head.  Now take away the music and think of the words and you'll find it's a poem."  I paused, looked at some of the boys who opened their eyes wide in shock and finished with my death metal voice saying, "Mind blown."

When we got to the lesson at the end of the day, we wrote a haiku together:

Sitting on the rug
Second graders eagerly
Learning poetry

We discussed the difference between prose and poetry.  I read them "Teddy Bear" by A. A. Milne the same way I would read a picture book or long reading.  I stopped to talk about some of the more awkward words (ottoman, stout, adiposity) and asked what was going on at various points just like I would with any other story.  By the time we were done, the boys were applauding and a number of the girls were sitting with notebooks writing away.  To illustrate my "mind blown" point, I also read Shel Silverstein's "Hug O'War" and asked if anyone had ever heard the Unicorn Song.  A bunch of the kids had and I sang the chorus and pointed out that it was originally a Shel Silverstein poem called "The Unicorn."

Reminding kids that poetry is not some scary stuffy thing is always fun, I just wish more peopel would remember that.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Ink Stained Fingers

Ink Stained Fingers is a project created by Larissa Jones over on Twitter.  The idea being, go back to traditional ways of writing - that is, pen to paper - over electronic forms of writing.

This project resonates with me because I am constantly telling kids at school to carry a notebook or writer's journal with them.  I tell them about how I love my Moleskine.  I show them mine.  I show them the rough sketches, the lists of ideas, the bits of things I have written when I'm thinking.  They see the scratching out, the side notes and arrows pointing all over.  They see the beginnings of poems and the final drafts.  I don't let them look too closely - my writing is personal until I'm ready to publish it - but I do let them take a glance and see that things aren't always effortless as they may seem.  I think it's important for them to see that writing is a constant process.  It's jotting down an idea here or spending a few moments writing things out there.

My favorite gift for a kid is to take a regular marble composition books and turn it into a fake Moleskine.  I've written about that process in a few places, but most recently I wrote about it here about a year ago.  Amazing what a little duct tape or contact paper or pleather or whatever with some fancy paper and a ribbon can do to make a plain composition book feel special for a kid.  Add a special pen or pencil and you have someone who will want to write.

It takes me about a year to fill up a Moleskine.  I go through phases where that's where the bulk of my writing happens and phases where nothing happens.  That's how writing works too - there are times when you write and write and write and write and times when you don't.

But there is something magical about pouring yourself a cup of tea, sitting someplace peaceful and taking your pen to paper and just writing.  So go out and find yourself something fancy to write in (if you don't have something already) or, better yet, get yourself a composition book and visit a local craft store for some fancy paper and duct tape and make your own.

Then let your fingers get ink stained as you write.