Tag Archives: words

The Icebergs Cometh

23 Mar

Here is another word for you: Glaciologist: One who studies glaciers or ice

And not in a bar-tending kind of way but rather in a global warming way, as in glaciers, climate change and ice melt!

Apparently, according to glaciologists, there is some startling news! The North Pole is melting! And not in a slow, “oh no someone left the freezer door slightly ajar” kind of way but rather in a “ding dong the wicked witch is dead”, kind of way…

Because Greenland is now a lot greener than it used to be and is losing ice at the rate of 30+ feet per year. Just imagine 30 feet of solid ice melting. And that’s just this year because the ice is not melting at a constant rate but rather at a rate that is accelerating every year, so whatever predictions the glaciologists make based upon today’s melt rate, they have to be revisited every year and updated.

And even though folks around the world continue to debate the scientific merits of global warming and whether or not mankind has anything to do with it (rather than just God’s love) the glaciologists have absolutely no doubt that we are to blame. And why is that?…Because the ice in Greenland is black. And why is that?… Because the black color is from the soot that has settled all over it, making it melt at at even faster rate…and soot of course is not a heavenly substance but rather a consequence of fossil fuel burning by God’s most beloved and favored of creatures…us.

But don’t despair! It’s not too late! All we have to do is cut our worldwide carbon emissions by 85%!

But wouldn’t you know…we’re increasing worldwide carbon emissions every year. And as soon as 2 and a half billion people in China and India really get their economies going…we’ll really start to do some cooking…both literally and…literally!

So don’t buy beach property! Rent instead. And tell your grandchildren to move inland or to higher ground and if they are already there, tell them to expect neighbors, and lots of them,  because by the end of this century…or sooner… 80 out of 100 coastal cities in the world will be under water…and not in a good way like some futuristic Jules Verne kind of way but rather in a “glub, glub” kind of way.

Of course giant, moveable, and super expensive sea walls could be constructed to protect our cities but when you consider that most world cities contain a much greater portion of poverty as compared to wealth I’m betting that most of the wealth is just going to vote to move elsewhere…what do you think?

Anyway, there’s still some time and science could be wrong but who would you believe? Someone who has studied hard and dedicated his life to obtain a degree in Glaciology and who has seen and is studying ice melt with their own eyes… or rather someone who has studied hard to become a politician or an evangelist and who says, “Don’t worry about it” or “Let us pray”??

Maybe Noah’s Ark wasn’t a history lesson but rather a prophesy? In any event, when the iceberg cometh, ask not for whom the ice was ordered. It cometh with room service…for thee!


Vowels and Vulgarity

28 Sep

One Day in Class…

A student raised his hand and said, “Hey Mr. Picone, why is that bitch in the front row so ugly?”

One of the things that can make being a teacher so difficult is that on most days you just never see it coming.

I must warn you. Life in the public schools is not that easy…There is vulgarity there!

! I’ve never been to sea and I’ve never been a pirate but I’ve often heard that sailors and pirates are famous for their salty talk and off color language however, I have spent 50 years in the public schools and I can tell you that the vulgarity and profanity that can be found within our halls of education is a match for any profession legal or ill. And oddly enough in education it’s the kids who lead the way and blaze new pathways in obscenity not the adults. Adults have to watch what we say or it’s the highway for us. Some punk will rat us out to the administration and the next thing you know you’re being reprimanded for not setting a good enough example for the children. Good grief!

Every unutterable syllable of perverse, offensive and sexually explicit language that I’ve ever learned, I’ve learned in school from some classmate or student of mine. (well at least until the invention of HBO) I was never in the military nor did I work in construction so I will admit to leading somewhat of a sheltered life and I will also admit to being a little behind the curve when I was a student in high school as I often had no clue as to what other students or adults were talking about or referring to when they spoke about sex or used profanity. I had no idea what a douche bag was just that I didn’t want to be one and I thought that Pussy Galore was just a cute name for a girl that James Bond liked. Back in those days (when I was a kid) adults could use double entendre and innuendo to make inside adult jokes that were secretly shared between other worldly adults… and only the savviest and most corrupted children might be in on the secret, but naive kids like me still had no clue. Heck, I only just recently realized that Miss Kitty of Gunsmoke fame on TV was a prostitute who ran a whorehouse! How did I miss that? They called her Kitty which rather than just another cute nickname for Katherine was undoubtedly another inside joke that Ms. Galore would have clearly been in on.

Anyway, as I got older I picked up more carnal word play by listening more closely in the hallowed hallways of high school, college and beyond until suddenly in the late 70’s,  I found myself right back where I started; In high school again! Only this time there was a new generation in town and the walls of double entendre and innuendo had all but crumbled and disappeared. So much so that not many people even know what those two words mean anymore. And I was shocked to hear what I was hearing. The adults no longer owned profanity. The kids did! How did that happen???…I certainly know that teachers did not teach it in school, that’s for sure.  The Great Vowel Shift in the English language which changed the way we speak and pronounce and even spell words began sometime during the 14th century for reasons still not sure to linguists…but who or what was responsible for this great vulgarity shift in civilization that has changed the actual civility of our civilization? Any thoughts or guesses? Discuss! (nicely)

Teachers Need to be Comedians!

15 Sep

Teachers need to be Comedians too!

Sometimes in school teacher’s just need to be entertaining.

One day in class my students started complaining about me and my teaching style. They said that I was too boring and uninteresting in general. So I stopped my lesson and asked who they thought would make a good teacher. A boy in the back raised his hand and said, “Eddie Murphy!”

“Eddie Murphy?” I said. “Why Eddie Murphy?”

“Because, the student replied, he’d tell us jokes and make us laugh.”  The other students all agreed.

Then they all failed my surprise quiz.

One of the things that can make teaching so difficult, and learning for that matter, is that you always have to be ready for disappointment and you have to know your audience. Even comedians face this daunting task of playing to their audience and giving them what they want. Teachers face this every day and in every class a teacher finds a different audience that needs to not only be taught but also to be entertained. It’s hard to keep someone on task if they are bored and disinterested and the public school teacher is constantly faced with this daunting task; different students, different levels of ability, different levels of understanding, different cultures, different subject matter and all in one day! It’s like doing 5 stand-up shows in front of 5 different audiences every day, 5 days a week. Unfortunately teachers by their very definition are boring, frumpy and unfunny and unfortunately there is only one way to guarantee that your teenage audience, no matter who, what, where or on what level will be entertained. And here it is…

Just think! You could be a comedian. Well, a teenage comedian anyway or rather a comedian who can make teenagers laugh. Although I’m pretty sure adults would enjoy this act too. Here’s the routine, guaranteed to leave any teenager rolling in the aisles.

You walk in front of the class, look at the crowd and then…FART…a nice big loud one. That should keep them laughing for a good 10 minutes. When the laughter subsides you rip off another loud one…Brrrrrrrraaat! To which you cleverly add: “Shit! Was that me?”

Now you’ve really got them going! (Plus you used a naughty word. They love that!)

Ten minutes later as they’re wiping the tears from their eyes and are just beginning to regain control of their abdominal muscles, you hit them with the big finish…

You rip off another big one and say, “Aw Crap! I gotta go!” (For a teacher, using the word crap in front of students is equivalent to using the F word. Don’t ask me why but trust me it just is)

You see, they don’t know if you’ve gotta go or if you’ve gotta go!

It’s brilliant! A twenty minute routine and you didn’t even break a sweat. Man, it’s all in the words. You could be a teacher and a comedian! The trick is working your subject matter in between all of the farting but with a little practice you can master the technique. Morning coffee (And lots of it) helps too.

Who da man?!

Fun With Words!

4 Sep

Words are not just important, they are the building blocks that support education in every subject and they provide the basis for all education, whether it takes the shape of formal schooling or the informal shape of the every day education that takes place within the home, or one’s local and family culture or on “the street” or “hood” or whatever and wherever. And they can tell you a lot about a person and where they are from and how they think and even what generation they belong to. For example:

One day in school, an older teacher was trying to explain to her younger colleague the play that she had recently attended at her son’s high school.

The play was entitled “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas” but the older woman’s age and sensibilities about such language could not permit her to say that word, “Whorehouse” in the company of someone who she did not know well. So she said…

“Last night we saw “The Best Little Hmm Hmm in Texas” at my son’s school.”

To which her young colleague replied, “What the fuck are you talking about?”

Two different generations and two different sensibilities about language and propriety and even the sense of what it means to “swear” in public.

More Fun with Words

Here’s another example:

How can an argument start with, “Excuse Me”?

Some public school students are so angry and belligerent that they can begin an argument with only the slightest provocation and when something is bothering them the words just don’t matter.

Take for example the student who was walking down the hall at my high school one day and accidentally bumped into another student. She said, “Excuse me.” That sounds polite and courteous doesn’t it? Exactly how you’d hope one student would talk to another when an accident occurs…but the student who had been bumped into replied, “Excuse me?! Excuse you!” To which the first student replied, “No, excuse you!”

Second student: “Well, fuck you!”

First student: “Fuck you!”

…and the fight was in full rage, all begun with a seemingly harmless, “Excuse me”

…and the security guards never saw it coming.

…and it all began with the correct and proper words!

          And sometimes words don’t make any sense at all…

One day in my class a student walked in and said,

“Hey, Mr. P. What the dilly yo?”

And I had absolutely no idea what he was talking about or even if it was the English language he was using but they were real words with real meaning and they made sense to him.

Another truth about words and the evolution of language in our public schools and in our society is that literacy is literally going out of style. And words and their meanings are changing so quickly that as a teacher. One must be very careful with the words he or she uses when speaking in front of a classroom of teenagers, adolescents and dare I even say grammar school kids?

Swearing” certainly doesn’t mean what it used to and not all words maintain their meanings nor their status as “improper” words…language and words live and evolve (and sometimes die too…Et tu, Brute?) and we all need to live and grow with them… even though sometimes we might want to go kicking and screaming.

So speak softly and carry a BIG dictionary!

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