Focus

Today, let’s draw all our attention to focus (or the lack thereof).

Ready to roll? All you need to do is…

  • Write a new post on your iblog in response to the prompt.

Need more ideas? Not sure what to write around Focus? We’re here to help:

  • Many people have been finding it more difficult to stay focused since pandemic-related restrictions have taken effect around the world. Are you one of them, and if so, how have you been navigating this challenge?
  • Tell us about a sound, a smell, or any other type of stimulus that helps you concentrate on one thing.
  • Photographers: share a photo with a particularly clear focal point. Or, conversely: post your favorite out-of-focus shot.
  • Share a story about a moment or a period in your life where, after feeling lost or distracted, you managed to refocus.
  • The word “focus” derives from the Latin for “hearth” — what is the equivalent of a hearth in your home? What’s the object, room, or activity around which everything else is organized?
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Barney 2.0

Read: http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/mouse-sex-studies-1.3545486

Imagine a companion story to “Barney” by Will Stanton – “Barney 2.0.”

Think about the possibilities of a parallel story where a female rat also experienced “awakened intellectual curiosity.” Her name is … Barbara. (It has to be Barbara, I’ll tell you why if you ask after all stories are done.)

1. Begn the diray in trees in the stial of the ratt Barney.

Or

2. Begin a new sequence of enlightened diary entries in the voice and style of Barbara.

No “R” rated male/female stuff for the rats, please. I could not handle that. Classical allusions, metaphors, allegory, suspicion, trickery, betrayals, violence, fear of isolation, love and loss. Barney and/or Barbara have “flipped through” more books. Go.

PG-13 ok. Imagine the musical soundtrack if you like, just no sex.

Have fun, but try to remain faithful to the purposes of Will Stanton in the original.

What does your “Barney 2.0” reveal about the human condition after critical examination?

Environment and Technology–Reality and Responsibility

Equality–Pain and Pride

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Evolve a Word

Language evolves. The meaning of a word can shift over time as we use it differently – think of “cool,” “heavy,” or even “literally.” Today, give a word an evolutionary push: give a common word a new meaning, explain it to us.

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Does Music Speak to Your Values?

The Courage of Conviction: Social, Political, and Spiritual beliefs

The 1960s was a time when popular music—whether country, R&B, gospel, Motown or rock—spoke of themes such as overcoming adversity and the possibility of freedom and equality. Songs touched on messages about the hardships of racism, poverty, and the urban experience. During the Vietnam War, many songs were also written raising questions and calling for peace.

Composers of songs that addressed social issues took risks to express their values, as well as their social, political and spiritual beliefs through their music. Some songs were ignored by radio stations. Yet, some of these same songs from the 60s are still on the airwaves today and most of them have endured and been recorded on CD, and are widely available online (YouTube, iTunes, Play). Newly composed and recorded music still speaks to us on many of these social themes and concerns.

Listen and Respond

Think of a song that you enjoy today that you believe speaks of an important social issue, such as race, gender, sexual orientation, etc. Listen to it a few times, and reflect on the following questions. Write out your answers.

  1. What are lyrics from the song that stir emotions in you? Why? Record the lyrics that you believe are the most powerful or memorable below:
  2. How do you feel when you listen to this song?
  3. Why do you think the themes and messages in the song are important?
  4. Do you believe that a wide range of people, for many years to come, will be able to connect with the meaning of this song (in the way that people have connected with the meaning of “People Get Ready” for more than 40 years)? Why or why not?

Group Discussion

If possible, share your song (by playing it) with a group and have each person share the song that he or she chose for this activity. Talk about the messages in the songs. Tell each other what your answers were to the questions above.

Write a Post

Write a post about a song in which its composer addressed social issues and took risks to express their values – their social, political, and spiritual beliefs – through their music.

Inspiration:

http://www.rollingstone.com/music/lists/readers-poll-the-10-best-protest-songs-of-all-time-20141203/bob-dylan-blowin-in-the-wind-20141203

Try These:

Sweet Music (One of These Days)
Written by Alicia Keys
Produced by Alicia Keys and Kerry Brothers (as Kerry “Krucial” Brothers)
Performed by Alicia Keys

Uptight (Everything’s Alright)
Written by Stevie Wonder, Sylvia Moy, Henry Cosby
Performed by Stevie Wonder

Woo-Hoo
Written by George Donald McGraw
Performed by Rock-a-Teens (as Rock A-Teens)

Rave On
Written by Del ‘Sonny’ West (as Sunny West), Bill Tilghman, Norman Petty
Performed by Buddy Holly

Kaw Liga
Written by Hank Williams, Fred Rose
Performed by Hank Williams

Jambalaya (On the Bayou)
Written by Hank Williams

If We Never Needed the Lord Before We Sure Do Need Him Now
Written by Thomas A. Dorsey

I Can’t Get Next to You
Written by Norman Whitfield (as Norman J. Whitfield), Barrett Strong
Performed by The Temptations

I’m Blue
AKA “The Gong Gong Song”
Written by Ike Turner
Performed by The Ikettes

Last Night
Written by Charles Axton, Chips Moman, Floyd Newman, Gilbert Caple, Jerry Lee ‘Smoochy’ Smith
Performed by The Mar-Keys

Shake It Up Baby (AKA Twist and Shout)
Written by Bert Berns, Phil Medley
Performed by The Isley Brothers

My Guy
Written by Smokey Robinson
Performed by Mary Wells

Function at the Junction
Written by Eddie Holland (as Edward Holland Jr.), Shorty Long (as Frederick Long)
Performed by Shorty Long

My Home is on the Delta
Written by Muddy Waters (as McKinley Morganfield)
Performed by Muddy Waters

I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honeybunch)
Written by Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier, Eddie Holland (as Edward Holland Jr.)

Can You Do It
Written by Richard Street, Thelma Gordy
Performed by The Contours

Burnt Biscuits
Written by Chips Moman, Booker T. Jones (as Booker T. Jones, Jr.)
Performed by The Triumphs

I’m on My Way to Canaan
Written and Performed by Mahalia Jackson

Baby Love
Written by Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier, Eddie Holland (as Edward Holland Jr.)
Performed by The Supremes

Jordan River
Written by James Herndon
Performed by Shirley Cesar

Texas Fight
Written by Colonel Walter S. Hunnicutt, James E. King, Burnett “Blondie” Pharr

Green Onions
Written by Booker T. Jones, Steve Cropper, Lewie Steinberg and Al Jackson Jr.
Performed by Booker T. & the M.G.s (as Booker T. and the MG’s)

I’ve Been Loving You Too Long (To Stop Now)
Written by Otis Redding, Jerry Butler
Performed by Otis Redding

Ain’t That Good News
Written by James Cleveland
Performed by The Meditation Singers

El Paso
Written by Marty Robbins

Going to a Go-Go
Written by Smokey Robinson, Marvin Tarplin, Warren Moore, Bobby Rogers (as Robert Rogers)
Performed by Smokey Robinson & The Miracles

Shotgun
Written by Junior Walker (as Autry Dewalt)
Performed by Jr. Walker & The All Stars

You’re a Wonderful One
Written by Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier, Edwards Holland, Jr.
Performed by Marvin Gaye

Get Ready
Written by Smokey Robinson
Performed by The Temptations

Ain’t That Peculiar
Written by Smokey Robinson, Marvin Tarplin, Warren Moore, Bobby Rogers (as Robert Rogers)
Performed by Marvin Gaye

Down in the Boondocks
Written by Joe South
Performed by Billy Joe Royal

Ballad of the Green Berets
Written by Barry Sadler (as Barry A. Sadler), Robin Moore
Performed by Barry Sadler (as Sgt. Barry Sadler)

Road Runner
(AKA “I’m a Road Runner”)
Written by Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier, Eddie Holland (as Edward Holland Jr.)
Performed by Jr. Walker & The All Stars

Dancing in the Street
Written by Marvin Gaye (as Marvin P. Gaye), Ivy Jo Hunter, William Stevenson
Performed by Martha & The Vandellas

These Arms of Mine
Written and Performed by Otis Redding

People Get Ready
Written by Curtis Mayfield
Performed by The Impressions

Up All Night Blues
Written by Rick Garcia, Craig Eastman
Performed by The Raven Shadows

The Eyes of Texas
Written by John Lang Sinclair

On, On, U. of K.
(University of Kentucky)
Written by C.A. Lampert

People Get Ready
Written by Curtis Mayfield
Produced by Alicia Keys and Kerry Brothers (as Kerry “Krucial” Brothers)
Performed by Alicia Keys and Lyfe Jennings

I Will Make the Darkness Light
Written by Charles P. Jones
Produced by Alicia Keys and Trevor Rabin
Performed by Alicia Keys

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Dystopia

Do research to create a working definition of the term dystopia. Then view a film that deals with either a utopian vision, such as Animal Farm(2000), or a dystopian vision such as 1984(1984) or Fahreheit 451(2000). Write a review of the film for a mass-circulation online news audience. Include in your review the following features: a synopsis of the plot; an explanation of how the film reflects a universal theme or archetypal pattern; and an evaluation of the effectiveness and quality of its cinematic(and other related media) techniques and their impact on viewers. Exchange draft reviews with a partner and ask for suggestions to improve your style and content.

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Sin of Omission

Sometimes the failure to speak or act when others expect us to reveal what we know is referred to as a “sin of omission.” Describe a situation in which you were tempted to commit the “sin of omission” or in which you actually did refrain from revealing what you knew. Would you do so again? Explain.

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The Art of Nature

In our highly industrialized and urbanized society, sometimes we forget about or ignore or overlook the beauties of nature. But when we do go to nature, we often have a rich experience. Choose an outstanding example from your contact with nature and write an essay about it. Be descriptive so that the reader can also enjoy your discoveries.

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The New House

“The New House” by Maya Angelou is a simple poem about what we leave behind in places where we have lived.

Theme:

The mark of one’s personality or soul is left behind in places where one has lived.

Techniques:

  • internal rhyme, onomatopoeia, rhetorical questions.

Issues:

Do people exist beyond a physical presence?

Write as many questions as you can that deal with the important issues suggested by this poem (hint).

What is the significance of the title?

 

“The New House” by Maya Angelou

What words
have smashed against
these walls,
crashed up and down these
halls,
lain mute and then drained
their meanings out and into
these floors?

What feelings, long since
dead,
streamed vague yearnings
below this ceiling
light?
In some dimension,
which I cannot know,
the shadows of
another still exist. I bring my
memories, held too long in check,
to let them here shoulder
space and place to be.

And when I leave to
find another house,
I wonder what among
these shades will be
left of me.

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Plinky Prompt

Write down the first sight, sound, smell, sensation and scene from your life that come to mind with just sixty seconds for each. See which of those you’d most like to continue to write about, and where it leads you.

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