Tuesday, March 8, 2011

How to Raise a Prude in Spite of Herself

As a baby The Prude was tolerable. She potty trained early which won her all sorts of brownie points with her mom. But by the time she was 4 she turned bossy, and
shyness hit at about age 8, when she began to believe her middle name was ‘in a corner with her nose in a book’.  She began to come out of her shell in high school but it was the wrong side of the egg. She could be gossipy. She had a tendency to chronic mood swings.  In college, and later as a wife and mom she demonstrated her opinionated, critical and sometimes judgmental character.

Today The Prude continues to embrace the world of clean potties. She still exhibits tendencies toward shyness, bossiness, moderate mood swings (the dramatic ones require too much energy) and judgmental criticism. But somehow she survived those days when she was sure her undesirable character traits would get the upper hand. She wonders, what has made a difference? Why isn’t she utterly nasty? Of course she knows the Holy Spirit works sanctification. But what about those ordinary means God uses?

Recently she found some letters loved ones sent her when she was away at college.
Here are excepts from these remarkable ‘ordinary means’

From my grandpa: “What good looking girls you and your sisters are, and nice to grandpa too. Well I love you all and am proud of you…I thank God for every new day and hope I can be a blessing to someone who needs comfort and encouragement.”

From mom to her homesick daughter: “You cannot swallow all that is being taught as being absolute, you still must decide for yourself in the light of the Word of God…we want you to stay there, not because we do not want you at home because we miss you desperately, but we want the best for you that is possible for your future and also for your eternal life.”

From her little brother, in the only letter he ever wrote her: ‘Keep praying make your dreams come true. Work at it do not give up so easily, “Keep truckin” and hang in there.’

From her father, to ease her fears that the family couldn’t afford to keep her in college:
‘Always finish a year. If mother keeps on this way (job promotion with more money) we’ll make out. “Begin or do nothing of which thou hast not considered the end.” Take it to God and (LEAVE) it there. Serving Him becomes more meaningful day by day.’

That, my friends, is how you raise a Prude in spite of herself.
You surround her with love, encouragement, and prayer.

Zech. 4:10 "Do not despise the day of small things.”

That’s all for now, folks. The Prude is taking a break, and Lord willing and the creeks don’t rise, will be back after Easter.
Here is my love and encouragement prayer for you: The Lord  bless you and keep you and make His face shine on you; the Lord lift up His countenance on you and give you His peace.

Monday, March 7, 2011

The Prude helps the Cubs win the World Series

A cute, non-confrontational Chicago Cub
Here is a sad little story.
The Chicago Cubs are a major league baseball team. They have a rich heritage, a beautiful, vintage ballpark and an abysmal record in the World Series.
They can’t win it.
They can barely get a foot in the playoff door.

Why? Everyone asks.
Is it daytime baseball?
The lack of renovations at Wrigley Field?
Poor management?
The Curse of the Billy Goat?

Why? Why can’t the Cubs win a World Series?

Why don’t they ask The Prude?

It has nothing to do with jinx-casting billy goats.
It is not the fault of daytime baseball, or lack of millionaires in the lineup.

The problem is
The Name.
Squinch up your eyes and get a mental image of the some other Chicago team names:
Bears,  Bulls, Black Hawks.
And what do you picture when you hear these threatening names:
 Do you have those powerful images in your brain?
Good. They are a little intimidating, right?

Now conjure up everything associated with a cub. Contrast the images. Which one causes you more fear and trembling?

You see The Prude’s point.
No team whose name brings thoughts of cuddly little defenseless critters romping around dead tree stumps is ever going to be effective in the dog-eat-cub world of Major League Baseball.
Until the Cubs admit they need a new name (The Prude doesn’t recommend they return to their original moniker ‘White Stockings’) they won’t win a World Series.

The Prude is leaning toward ‘The Ruffians’
Any other ideas?

Friday, March 4, 2011

The Passive Voice of the Prude is Used

The Wall of Grammar, with a Part of Speech Block for Everyone
This week has been tough on you non-Grammar types. Can you grit your teeth and sit through one more?

The Prude has these examples to prove that Grammar has Something for Everyone.

Nonrestrictive Clause
Terriers, who never listen to reason, will leap for the jugular of Rottweilers if they are tied with only a nonrestrictive clause.

Some people don’t eat enough fiber; they may end up with only a semicolon.

Indefinite Pronouns
Almost anybody trying to get elected will be indefinite about whether somebody should be  anti or pro nouns.

Proper Nouns
The Prude is a great fan of the Proper Noun.

Concrete Noun
The Prude’s Husband has been know to curse a noun and its concrete covering for hardening before he could smooth it.

Demonstrative Pronouns
That teenage couple is a little too demonstrative and somebody should tell them so this minute. Hand me that pry bar to separate them.

Verb Tenses
The Prude is tense in the present looking at spring catalogues knowing she will be future tense when she can’t hide beneath sweats anymore. In a delightful past perfect she hadn’t been tense to wear shorts.

-The Prude is usually in an indicative mood. She states facts. She offers opinions. Did you know she even asks questions in her indicative mood?
-Some days she is imperatively moody. She tosses orders and commands left and right,
Somebody better be listening.
-Then there are subjective mood moments, when she reflects that if only she had learned to (type, knit, ski, sew, cook, boss) folks may have taken her imperative moods seriously.

Lets give a nod to relative pronouns, or better yet, to actual relatives, who may nod back.

And finally, in a rare political statement, The Prude closes the week with the latest in Grammar styles here in her home state.
The Collective Noun.
The Collective Republicans are fighting the Collective Democrats (if they can find them)
The Collective Public Sphere and the Collective Private Sphere are trying to find common ground, most of it centered around the state capitol rest rooms.
And of course, most of the rhetoric centers on Collective Bargaining.

If you want to be cool this weekend, throw around the word ‘Collective’ a few times.

Grammar Week is finished! Have a positive- no, make that a superlative weekend!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

How Many Epi's are too many Epi's?

The Prude’s teacher pores opened up sometime overnight- possibly from her new ‘Orange blossom’ shower gel.
And open teacher pores mean she is itching to instruct somebody in something.
(she earnestly hopes that the itch is not just a reaction to  ‘Orange blossom’ shower gel)

Since her husband and son tend to vacate the premises, she turns her beady educator eye on you.

Take out your pencils and a clean sheet of paper, please.

There are 4 ‘epi’s’ she wants to introduce to you.  Three of them sound so similar as to remind you of triplets whose mother thought should be named in such a way as to confuse everyone they came in contact with. You know, like ‘Flicka, Ricka and Dicka’
or ‘Nelly, Nolly and Norbert’ 
The 4th epi is like the tag-along little sibling who mom didn’t want to leave out in the cold but wanted differentiated from the triplet pack. Like ‘Flo’ or ‘Ned’.

Epi’s 1, 2 and 3 are:

EPIGRAM is the brief, witty triplet who likes to flaunt a paradox now and again:
-The man who can't make mistakes, can't make anything.
    -- Abraham Lincoln

-Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.
    -- Winston Churchill
Those of you who know what telegrams are can associate EpiGRAM with a teleGRAM. The writer keeps it short because he pays by the word, and clever because he wants it read.
EPITAPH, the moody and reflective triplet, is a short verse written in someone’s memory.
Frequently Epitaph shows up on headstones, which could account for the moodiness.
Epitaph, during a blue period, may come up with something somber and vaguely ominous:
William Shakespeare

But Epitaph has a playful side:

Here lies Lester Moore.

Four slugs

From a forty-four.

No Les

No More.

You can remember EpiTAPh’s name if you keep in mind that TAPS is often played at funerals.
Then we have EPITHET. The Prude secretly favors Epithet because this triplet is a word or phrase used in place of someone’s name.
Like Alfred THE Great, Richard THE Lion Hearted, Captain of THE Starship Enterprise,
THE Hobbit, THE Prude.
Epithet, however, is inclined to naughtiness. Never let him use his cleverness to defame, abuse, or deride any person or race or bodily characteristic.
You can remember EpiTHEt by recalling that many epiTHEt’s contain ‘The’
And the tag-along child? The one born after the Epi triplets?
This is the overachiever who makes sure he/she will NEVER be mistaken for any of the those siblings.
Meet my little friend:

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Don't spit on the Cake of Communication

It’s Literary Terms Day! And it is Wednesday! Of course you see analogy here- Monday brought the rising action of the workweek; it also ushered in the rising anticipation
of Grammar Week. Today is the climax, or ‘Bump Day’ in the workweek, and Pinnacle Day of Grammar Week. Let’s tackle the pinnacled bump head on!

The Prude approves of Literary Terms. They personify what she loves so much about Language.

Metaphors, for example, are the icing on the Cake of Communication, while similes
are like the candles on top.

And let me tell you a little story about anecdotes:
When I first attempted to teach the term and concept of ‘anecdote’ one of my little scholars wanted to know if it was to be taken in case of a poisonous snakebite.

Some literary terms are just fun to say.
‘Oxymoron’ is the most frightfully cute word, isn’t it?

And then we have the ‘Pathetic Fallacy’, which gives human traits to nature. But one wonders- why it is called ‘pathetic’? These are the questions that keep The Prude awake nights as the wind howls piteously down the chimney, the wretched rain weeps down from the heartbroken heavens, and the forlorn leaves spiral in their Death Dance from the trees.

Malapropisms are a great, if inadvertent, favorite of The Prude’s. You know, of course, that a malapropism occurs when 2 words are jumbled in a speaker’s mind.  They may cause embarrassment, but they are a great anecdote to cure the winter blahs.

Irony and paradoxes, while easy to recognize, are difficult to explain. The Prude would study like mad and prepare lesson plans to teach the concepts, but it seemed that the hurrieder she went, the behinder she got.

Alliteration, the repetition of initial sounds in words, can be alternately annoying or addicting.

And onomatopoeia is a hoot of a word whose sound suggests its meaning. It is just the sort of buzz word needed to put a little zing and oomph in what many consider a hohum branch of learning. 

We draw today, Literary Bump Day, to a close by comparing and contrasting understatement and hyperbole. They are at opposite ends of the literary spectrum, so far apart that if hyperbole jumped on a jet going faster that the speed of light and took off today it wouldn’t reach understatement for a gazillion years. You may even say they have little in common.

Come back tomorrow as we enter the entangled world of epigrams, epitaphs and epithets!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Grammar Comes out of the Closet

On this, the first day of the month that ushers in Spring, let’s delve deep into the closet
where the old, the broken and the obsolete is stored.
Underneath those outgrown hockey skates, the defunct breadmaker and 8 dozen tangled power cords lies Grammar, gasping for air but still filled with gumption and conjunctions.

Come with Your Prude as we metaphorically rescue of this Branch of Knowledge that is often feared, frequently abused, and consistently misused.

But wait, you declare.
Has The Prude shown definitively that Grammar is worth fighting for? What has Grammar done for me lately? And will The Prude make me diagram a sentence?

Friends, let me point out that Grammar can be the bridge that unites the generations,
the silver cord that binds mother to son, father to daughter, Republican to Democrat,
the trunk of the Tree of Language where we develop fruitful communication.

Today we want to look at the very language of Grammar and discover the excitement that lurks beneath intransitive verbs and comma splices.

Where would 13-year-old girls be without exclamation points? The 2 year old without question marks?  A parent without a ‘That is final. Period.’ or a busy executive without a dash?  And how could the indecisive and forgetful survive without the ellipsis?
Don’t forget the resurgence of Quotation Marks “drawn” in air. Grammar flaunts them as the first “virtual” punctuation and brags that they are AKA  “air” or “finger” quotes.

Behold the riches that are contained in the language of grammar!
Passive and Active Voice resonate with every day care worker and dog trainer
Independent Clause- what American doesn’t cherish the word ‘independent’? It gets the patriotic blood a-boiling.
Possessives- a word that the socialists among us can cling to. Or spit at.
Gender- You can’t live in the 21st century without running smack-dab into gender agreement.
Abstract nouns appeal to the philosopher, Interrogatives ensure that all the police/courtroom dramas exude authority, while politicians love to refer to subordinating (the other guy) or coordinating (themselves)
And no one understands mood better than that 13 year old girl and her 50-something mother.

The Grammar Surface has only been lightly scratched! Tomorrow we approach, with great respect, the crème de la crème of Grammar: The Literary Term.
You may want to have your tea and scones on standby.