Friday, September 22, 2023

I Still Want the Running Man Home Edition Board Game

 Read this passage from The Running Man by Richard Bachman:

    "Oh dear God," Amelia Williams moaned.
    Richards looked down at himself casually.  His entire right side, from ribcage to calf, was bright and sparkling red.
    "Who would have thought the old man had so much blood in him?" Richards said.

What literary term is the last line said by Richards?

a. allusion
b. cliche
c. personification
d. metaphor

In reality, Richard Bachman turned out to be a pen name for Stephen King.

Scroll down for the answer.

a. is the correct answer.  It is difficult to pick out allusions (this one came from Macbeth) if you have not read the text that is alluded to, so you probably would have to have ruled out the other answers to figure this one out.
b. a cliche is a worn out phrase.  Since you are probably not familiar with this line, you can rule out cliche.
c. and d. are literary terms you are probably familiar with.  There is no nonhuman thing getting human characteristics and there is no comparison, so they are clearly not the right answer.  


Thursday, September 21, 2023

Mr. Blue Sky

Read the song lyrics below for "Mr. Blue Sky" by The Electric Light Orchestra about a nice sunny day after a long rainy and cloudy period:

Runnin' down the avenue
See how the sun shines brightly in the city
On the streets where once was pity
Mr. Blue Sky is living here today, hey hey


Mr. Blue Sky please tell us why
You had to hide away for so long (so long)
Where did we go wrong?
Mr. Blue Sky please tell us why
You had to hide away for so long (so long)
Where did we go wrong?

What literary term is being used in this song? 

a. apostrophe

b. metaphor

c. simile

d. dramatic irony

e. 3rd person omniscient narrator 



By the way, you would probably recognize this song from the opening of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 with Baby Groot:


Scroll down for the answer:


The way to figure this answer out is to knock out all answers you know are NOT the right one.  Apostrophe is probably a term you are not as familiar with, so we can put that as a maybe.  The others, however, you are familiar with.  We can rule out metaphor because there is no comparison.  Likewise with simile - plus there is no "like" or "as".  As far as dramatic irony goes, there is nothing that we know that the characters in this song do not, so we can rule that out.  That leaves us with 3rd Person Omniscient.  Even if you are unclear on which person point of view this is told in, there is not knowledge of Mr. Blue Sky's thoughts, so we are not omniscient in this clip, so we can rule out that answer.  

That brings us back to apostrophe.  It is the only answer that isn't eliminated, so we can go with that one.  Only choose answer choices you are not familiar with if you can rule out the other answers.

Apostrophe - talking to something or some concept that cannot talk back to you.



Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Take a shot at this one

 Look at the following image:

This is an example of which literary term?

a. pun
b. situational irony
c. metaphor
d. alliteration

Scroll down for the answer.

The correct answer is:
   a. pun

See teachers, this is why you should consider creating some questions yourself or having your students do it as a project and send them to me.  Otherwise, you're in for a lot of these corny ones.  Fair warning.

Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Chim Chim Cher-ee

William Blake is famous for publishing two collections of poetry: Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience. He writes about the same subject matter from the perspective of an innocent and the perspective of someone who has lost that innocence.  There is a "Chimney Sweeper" poem in both books.

The Chimney Sweeper: A little black thing among the snow

A little black thing among the snow,
Crying "weep! 'weep!" in notes of woe!
"Where are thy father and mother? say?"
"They are both gone up to the church to pray.
Because I was happy upon the heath,
And smil'd among the winter's snow,
They clothed me in the clothes of death,
And taught me to sing the notes of woe.
And because I am happy and dance and sing,
They think they have done me no injury,
And are gone to praise God and his Priest and King,
Who make up a heaven of our misery."
What line(s) from the poem suggests that this poem is from Songs of Experience rather than Songs of Innocence

A."...I am happy and dance and sing," 
B. "They are both gone up to the church to pray"
C. "And are gone to praise God and his Priest and King,/Who make up a heaven of our misery." 
D. "Where are thy father and mother, say?"

Scroll down for the answer.


The best answer is C. These lines show that the speaker is aware that he has been abandoned by his family and by a society in which people neglect some of its most vulnerable populations (like chimney sweepers). This level of self-awareness reflects that the speaker has already lost his innocence, so this poem fits into the Songs of Experience collection.

You may have noticed that this question exceeds in quality our usual fare.  That is because someone far wiser than me wrote this one.  Thanks to Ms. White for this question!  Students of Ms. White should not weep weep in notes of woe, but rather cheer and carry her around the room on your shoulders in notes of joy! 

Monday, September 18, 2023

Me and You (or is it You and Me?)

Read the following poem by Gabriel McNeill:

Me and You

Colors of nature all around
yet human reason can't be found,
left and right, forward and back
always scared of things we lack,
we are here in this world 
yet we're a story never told,
tombstone at the wait
for death knows we won't be late.

In the above poem, what is the reason that "human reason can't be found"?

a. Humans are not smart enough to understand the complexities of life.
b. Death causes all of us to despair and not think properly.
c. Nature often causes distractions and death.
d. Humans are too busy pursuing meaningless activities

Scroll down for the answer.

Poems are almost always about either love or life.  This one is no exception.  The poet here makes a point that humans are running "left and right, forward and back" and to show us (the poet included, judging by the title) that people are too busy pursuing things that don't matter.  So maybe we take a lesson from Gabriel, put down our phones and get off of social media for a while and enjoy things that really matter - family, friends, and English lessons.

The correct answer is d.

Thanks to Gabriel for allowing the use of his poem!

Friday, September 15, 2023

I Am the Iron Fist

 Look at this panel from the first appearance of Marvel's Iron Fist:

What is the purpose of writing these captions in 2nd person point of view?

a. to mimic Asian writing styles
b. to make the reader feel like he or she is the main character
c. second person is the traditional style used to write comics
d. the point of view is awkward, so it shows that Iron Fist will be a fallen hero or villain as the series progresses.

Scroll down for the answer.


a. is a problematic answer because how many of you know enough about Asian literature to know if second person point of view is popular or not?  The state test, for all of its unfairness, usually does not ask a question that requires knowledge outside of the text to answer.  The big exception is mythological allusions.
b. is the correct answer.  Often writers will use first person to achieve this since second person is so unwieldy.
c. is wrong for the same reason a. is wrong
d. Nope.  Nope. Nope.

Thursday, September 14, 2023

A Sad Love Story

Read the passage below:

She had a boyfriend with a wooden leg, but she had to break it off.

This is an example of a(n):

a. alliteration             
b.  pun        
c. hyperbole
d. personification 

Scroll down for the answer


a. is incorrect - alliteration means repeating the same sounds at the beginning of words
b. is correct - a pun is a play on words.  Here, break it off has a double meaning that makes you think she may have needed to break his wooden leg, rather than break off the dating relationship
c. is incorrect - a hyperbole is an exaggeration used to make your point
d. is incorrect - personification gives something not human some human-like qualities ("The moon looks sad tonight," is an example.  The moon cannot look sad, it is a big hunk of green cheese floating in space)

By the way, if you like that pun, try reading the short story, "Good Country People."