Tag Archives: film/television/photography

The Weekly Text, 11 November 2022, National Native American Heritage Month Week II: A Reading and Comprehension Worksheet on the Homestead Act

This week’s Text, in this blog’s ongoing observance of National Native American Heritage Month 2022, is a reading on the Homestead Act in the United States along with its attendant vocabulary-building and comprehension worksheet. The effect of opening the western frontier to settlement on First Nations requires, I must assume, no explanation.

Have you by any chance seen Reservation Dogs? This superb and highly praised show needs no endorsement from this blog–so you should just go watch it. I’m just saying. If you don’t believe me (as Fred Holbrook used to say to me–and of me, alas–“Get it from the horse’s mouth rather than the other end”), listen to Patrick, of Patrick Is a Navajo, and his friends pay affectionate tribute to the program. Again, I’m just saying.

If you find typos in these documents, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

Peter Ustinov on Experts

“If the world should blow itself up, the last audible voice would be that of an expert saying it can’t be done.”

Peter Ustinov

Excerpted from: Winokur, Jon, ed. The Big Curmudgeon. New York: Black Dog & Leventhal, 2007

Book of Answers: Arsenic and Old Lace

“Who wrote Arsenic and Old Lace? The 1941 play was written by Joseph Kesselring. The 1946 movie adaptation was directed by Frank Capra.”

Excerpted from: Corey, Melinda, and George Ochoa. Literature: The New York Public Library Book of Answers. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1993.

The Weekly Text, 9 September 2022: Common Errors in English Usage, Imply (vt), Infer (vi/vt)

This week’s Text is a worksheet on the use of the verbs imply and infer. This is a full-page worksheet with a reading of three longish compound sentences, and ten modified cloze exercises. The text derives from Paul Brians’ fine book Common Errors in English Usage–to which he allows cost-free access at his Washington State University website.

I myself was uncertain about the use of these two words until I saw the 1988 remake of the estimable 1959 film noir D.O.A. Dennis Quaid plays Professor Dexter Cornell (Edmond O’Brien played this character as Frank Bigelow in the original). At one point in the film, Professor Cornell is dealing with a preternaturally cheap hoodlum named Bernard. Bernard says to Cornell, “I don’t think I like what you’re inferring Mr. Cornell.” Cornell sneers at Bernard, “Implying. When I say it, that’s implying. How you take it, that’s inferring.” Bernard replies, “I see. Infer this.” Then true to form for a knuckle-dragger like Bernard, he punches Cornell in the mouth.

Lawrence Block, in his novel Small Town (page 301 in the William Morrow hardcover edition), which I believe was his last, Block has the august New York Times commit a similar error, using infer where imply is required. True to its form, the Times prints a correction the next day.

Why am I on about this, as they say in Great Britain? Because these are two important conceptual words which describe an extremely common, if elliptical, form of communication. In fact, if you want to teach literature at all, these are two words students must understand well, and therefore be able to use well–and, for heaven’s sake, accurately. One more time: so much of human communication occurs by implication and inference (to trot out the nouns) that it seems to me unlikely to overstate the importance of understanding these words and the concepts in communication they represent.

If you find typos in these documents, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

James Dean

Here is a reading on James Dean along with its accompanying vocabulary-building and comprehension worksheet. Does James Dean register with young people anymore? To my mind, Rebel Without a Cause is one of the great movies on adolescent angst. To my surprise, I learned while researching the fundamentals of this post that Rebel Without a Cause was actually released about a month after James Dean’s death on 30 September 1955.

If you find typos in these documents, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

Cultural Literacy: Blue-Collar

As I prepared this Cultural Literacy worksheet on the concept of “blue-collar” work, it occurred to me that this is not an adjective I hear much used anymore. I certainly remember it well from my childhood and young adulthood, particularly the latter period, when I did quite a lot of blue-collar work myself.

Should your students stumble across Paul Schrader’s excellent film Blue Collar (as I did at age 19), this document may assist students in understanding its title. Otherwise, well, I’m not sure about this worksheet’s currency. If you use it, as always, I would be interested in hearing how.

If you find typos in this document, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

Archie Bunker

He came up in conversation with a couple of friends after an evening at Jazzmobile in Harlem the other night, so here is a reading on Archie Bunker along with its accompanying vocabulary-building and comprehension worksheet. I remember All in the Family when it was in broadcast–I was 11 when it started its run; I was not, alas, old enough to understand, let alone appreciate, the bitter irony of the superb writing and acting. I hadn’t realized the show ran until 1979. I stopped watching television in 1975. preferring to run the streets of Madison, Wisconsin with my friends in search of the sort of kicks that Archie Bunker would have frowned upon.

Now is a good time to congratulate All in the Family’s legendary producer, Norman Lear, on his centenary birthday. He turned 100 on July 27 of this year.

If you find typos in these documents, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

Guy Fawkes

OK, here is a reading on Guy Fawkes along with its accompanying vocabulary-building and comprehension worksheet. Chances are good, especially in the high school population, that students have heard of Fawkes through the graphic novel V for Vendetta by Alan Moore and David Lloyd, the book’s filmed version, or the ubiquitous Guy Fawkes masks that show up at various protest rallies.

In any case, Guy Fawkes remains of sufficient importance–if only as a bogeyman–in British history that the Brits observe Guy Fawkes Night to commemorate the Gunpowder Plot in which Fawkes was intimately involved.

If you find typos in these documents, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

Douglas Sirk

“Douglas Sirk originally Hans Detlef Sierck: (1900-1987) German-U.S. film director. He was artistic director of several theaters in Bremen (1923-29) and Leipzig (1929-36) and made several films before fleeing Germany in 1937. He arrived in Hollywood in 1939 and received minor directing assignments until he joined Universal Pictures in 1950. There he directed comedy, western, and war movies but was best known for such popular melodramas as Magnificent Obsession (1954), There’s Always Tomorrow (1956), Written on the Wind (1956), and The Tarnished Angels (1957). After directing his greatest success, Imitation of Life (1959), he retired to Germany.”

Excerpted from: Stevens, Mark A., Ed. Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Encyclopedia. Springfield, Massachusetts: Merriam-Webster, 2000.

The Weekly Text, 24 June 2022: Summer of Soul Lesson 4

Here is the fourth and final lesson plan of the Summer of Soul unit I wrote earlier this year. This lesson opens with this short reading with three comprehension questions on the concept of “a seat at the table,” i.e. joining in decision-making processes, particularly where those decisions concern oneself. The mainstay of this lesson is this reflection and assessment guide for discussion and note-taking at the end of this unit.

Because this is it. You now have access to all four lessons in this unit. If you expand this, or otherwise change it, I would be very interested in hearing what you did. I wrote this unit quickly to capitalize on student interest (Summer of Soul won the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature at the 94th Academy Awards in 2022). Even as I presented the unit, I recognized that there is a lot of room to expand and improve this material.

If you find typos in these documents, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.