Thursday, January 26, 2012

40 Write about Hansel and Gretel or Abandonment

In the fairy tale Hansel and Gretel two children are abandoned in the woods by their parents during tough economic times. The children meet a nice old woman who turns out to be a witch. She wants to eat Hansel but his sister manages to save him. I wrote a song from Hansel's point of view watching his little sister become the hero. Have you ever felt abandoned? Have you ever thought what it would like to live on your own? Have you ever been rescued by your sister?

Oh Hansel words and music by Barry Lane from the album, Lane's Recycled Fairy Tales. (Background vocals by Carol-lee Lane)

My mom and dad were talking
just the other night,
saying we ain't got no food to eat
and things are very tight.

We'll take the kids tomorrow
and leave them in the woods.
They'll find their way through valleys,
and learn to live alone.

"Oh Hansel,"
my sister said to me,
"Oh Hansel,
we're children can't they see."

I went out in the moonlight,
and I gathered up some rocks.
I put them in my pockets,
I put them in my socks.
When we went out the next day,
I dropped them on the way.
"Hi Mom and Dad, we're back home,
You see, we are OK."

"Oh Hansel,"
my sister said to me.
"Oh Hansel,
I'm shaking can't you see."

They took us out the next day,
and they left us there again.
We found a house of gingerbread
low down in a fenn.
An old lady she came out,
and asked us to come in.
She locked me in a prison cage
and grabbed my sister's hand.

"Oh Hansel, "
my sister cried and moaned,
"Oh Hansel,
we'll never get back home."

The next day, the woman,
she gave me food to eat.
Gretel did the dishes,
Gretel cooked the meat.
The woman poked a fork at me
and said she'd do no harm.
Gretel gave a bone to me.
Pretend this is your arm.

"Oh Hansel,"
my sister said to me.
"Oh Hansel, I'm stronger,
wait and see."

Late the next morning,
the woman lit the stove.
Asked Gretel to climb in
and check those fires and coals.

Gretel said I can't see,
you better check yourself.
Gretel slammed the oven door,
the witch she screamed and yelled.

"Oh Hansel,"
my sister said to me.
"Oh Hansel,
I've done it, now we're free"

The house is full of food to eat,
the house is full of jewels,
the house is full of money,
the house is full of tools.
We brought it back to Mom and Dad
and said look what we've got.

They smiled and hugged and kissed us.
"We missed you both a lot."

"Oh Hansel,"
my sister said that night.
"Oh Hansel,
I'm different but I'm all right!"

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Write About What Can't Be Measured

Not everything in life can be measured says the quote from Albert Einstein and not everything that is measured is so important.

What do you think of this quote? What can be measured in your life? What can't be measured? What measurements have no meaning? What measurements do?

Write about it. Think about it. Write about it.

Here is a song I wrote to describe my experience with grading in school.

Gradebook Prison Blues

I hear the teacher comin',
she's comin' round the bend
and I ain't see the sunshine,
since I don't know when

Cause I'm stuck in Gradebook Prison
and time keeps draggin on
when I hear that gradebook comin'
I turn my head and moan.

When I was just a baby
my mama said to me
always be a good boy
don't ever get a "c'

But I got a "d' in reading,
just to make her cry.
Now I hear that gradebook comin'
I turn my head and sigh

I see those smart kids 'sittin'
in that fancy AP class
Their probably readin' Shakespeare
and know that they will pass
but me I'm stuck in resource
doin' SRA
and I answer pointless questions
to pass the time away.

I'll probably write a novel
about the year I leave this school
Or maybe epic poetry
bout why I was not cool.
but now I'm stuck in English
Doing five paragraph themes.
But when I hear that gradebook comin'
it smothers all my dreams.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Write about a Time Life Surprised You

"L'homme propose et Dieu dispose."
Man proposes, God disposes.
French Proverb

Has life ever taken you by surprise? Has something terrible or wonderful or strange happened that was not in your plans? Write about it.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Write about Robots or Toys

Ideal's Robot Comando is here to Help you.

Here was my favorite toy when I was 6 years old. Robot Commando. Looking back, from today I can see this toy was a bit on the violent side. I grew up during the Cold War with the Soviet Union and this toy is a thinly disguised war machine, probably out to train the next generation of soldiers.What toys did you play with? If play is a preparation for life, what skills and things are they teaching you? Lets write about toys.

Friday, January 20, 2012

How do you Survive Big Bad Bully Bus?

Here's a song I finished recently. It is about learning to deal with bullies without becoming one yourself. What does it mean to drive the Big Bad Bully Bus? I think it means to make choices in life instead of just reacting to blows life sends you. I used to work in prisons teaching writing. There I found many people who thought they had no choices. Their violent crimes were reactions to a wrong dealt them by a person or by society itself.

How do you survive the Big Bad Bully Bus? At the end of the song , I give a few suggestions. In the recording I sing 5 ways that DEFEAT a bully in the end but in the writing I changed it, by suggestion from my oldest daughter Jessie to "Five ways that will stop, a bully in the end."
Jessie pointed out to me that DEFEAT was bully language and you deal with bullies best when you change the game around. You stop bullies by showing who they are . Mohandas Ghandhi did this to the entire British Empire. His non-violent strategies held a mirror up to the world and everyone saw the brutality of colonialism. This stopped some pretty intense 19th century bullying.
Now, let's write about bullies. Who are they? Where are they? How do you drive your own Bad Bully Bus?

The Big Bad Bully Bus words and music by Barry Lane by Barrylane55
The Big Bad Bully Bus

The Big Bad Bully Bus is rolling into town.
It comes to pick you up,
but it often lets you down.
The big kids in the back,
are making quite a fuss.

How will you survive,
the Big Bad Bully Bus.

The drivers up front he's looking at the road.
63 kids is a pretty heavy load.
No time to look back;
no time to supervise.
The big kids in the back
are telling nasty lies.

What will you do?
What will you say?
When all the bullies come your way?
(Make bully and cowbly noises here giyaah, giyahh whip, whip...)

They start to call you names,
they laugh right in your face.
Spitballs start to fly;
they make fun of your race.
They make you want to cry;
they make you want to scream,
but if you hit'em back
you join the bully team.

We become the choices
we make everyday
and if you take the high road
things will be ok.
To be a better person,
we all must learn to trust.
Each us us must take the wheel
of our own Bad Bully Bus.

Talk to an adult,
When you get to school.
Ask a bully why,
or tell him that's not coooool.

Learn to walk away
or stand up to a friend.
Five ways that will stop
a bully in the end.

We must be strong,
We must be brave,
when all the bullies,
come our wayyyyy. ( more bully noises)

The Big Bad Bully Bus
is rolling into town.
It comes to pick you up,
but it often lets you down.

Those big kids in the back,
you know they're making quite a fuss,
but you and I are driving,
the big bad bully bus.

You and I are driving the
Big, Bad , Bully

(words and music by Barry Lane copyright 2012)

Thursday, January 19, 2012

41 Write about North or South

Here I am standing at the gateway to the Arctic in Barrow, Alaska, True North. It is just about the farthest north you can go in the United States of America. Those are whale bone ribs framing the Arctic ocean. I was told that in Norway and Scandinavia this place is as well known as the Washington monument. How far north have you been? What does North mean to you? Who is north in your life? Let's Write about North.


if you are not in the mood for North, try writing about South or East of West.


Its cold today.
I know the sun is up there,
somewhere behind
the gray sniffling clouds.
If I were a bear
I would sleep in.

But I am not a bear,
so I leave my den
to make the first cup
of coffee.

bl (first draft)

90 North

At home, in my flannel gown, like a bear to its floe,
I clambered to bed; up the globe's impossible sides
I sailed all night—till at last, with my black beard,
My furs and my dogs, I stood at the northern pole.

There in the childish night my companions lay frozen,
The stiff fur knocked at my starveling throat,
And I gave my great sigh: the flakes came huddling,
Were they really my end? In the darkness I turned to my rest.

—Here, the flag snaps in the glare and silence
Of the unbroken ice. I stand here,
The dogs bark, my beard is black, and I stare
At the North Pole . . .
And now what? Why, go back.

Turn as I please, my step is to the south.
The world—my world spins on this final point
Of cold and wretchedness: all lines, all winds
End in this whirlpool I at last discover.

And it is meaningless. In the child's bed
After the night's voyage, in that warm world
Where people work and suffer for the end
That crowns the pain—in that Cloud-Cuckoo-Land

I reached my North and it had meaning.
Here at the actual pole of my existence,
Where all that I have done is meaningless,
Where I die or live by accident alone—

Where, living or dying, I am still alone;
Here where North, the night, the berg of death
Crowd me out of the ignorant darkness,
I see at last that all the knowledge

I wrung from the darkness—that the darkness flung me—
Is worthless as ignorance: nothing comes from nothing,
The darkness from the darkness. Pain comes from the darkness
And we call it wisdom. It is pain.

Randall Jarrell

Metamorphosis Class

Yesterday my friends at Reed Intermediate school in Connecticut sent me their district wide writing prompt. It asked students to propose an after school club to the principal. Only after I wrote my 45 minute timed writing on transformation class did I realize my writing was influenced by Dr. Martin Luther King.
Here is the piece I wrote. My question is what do you do in Metamorphosis class? Or maybe can you write about a time of metamorphosis or transformation in your Life?

Transformation Class Could Change Your Life

Attention all students, this afternoon, after school , by order of the principal, we will begin transformation class. Please bring your bodies and minds, your thoughts and ideas, and especially, your dreams. You see a transformation class is where we learn to become our dreams.

This may sound weird to many of you but let me tell you transformation classes are not weird at all. From the beginning of time people have learned to transform themselves for the better. It started with the funny cave girl who found 2 round stones and turned it into a cart. She called it ‘ THE WHEEL” and at first everyone thought she was really strange. Then they saw how she could carry more stuff than anyone. After a while they all found round stones and today you can see them as the tires on your Ford Focus.

Then there was the guy who found that sparks made this thing called fire. Fire itself could transform metals like iron into liquid that you could mold into whatever you want. Enter silverware, armor ,can openers and , of course, the Ford Focus. Actually, the cans came first, but you probably know that.

Then there were the two children who decided war was not the best thing for humanity. They were a boy and a girl and they were both students at Reed Intermediate school in Newtown, Connecticut. They had watched the evening news and saw that there was enough, hunger and sadness and suffering in the world without human beings adding to it with their stupid weapons. So they started a secret class in Peace at recess. They showed everybody that peace was something you could practice in everyday life. It required stopping more, standing back from your angry, thoughts and feelings, learning to resist the temptation to just react and punch back at life. It required accepting kids who were not your friends into your group. It was more than tolerance. It was love and the more they practiced , the better they got at it and soon everyone in the class realized something: The whole world would be a better place if everyone practiced this.

I met this boy and girl last week and they invited me to tell the principal about this class. I have talked to the principal and he has approved it and now I want to invite you to it. It is never too late to live your dreams. It is never too late to see a world that others can’t imagine. It is never too late to transform hate and suffering into love and joy. Human beings, you see ,are all alchemists. We have a magic process that turns lead into gold. Come learn about this process.

If you feel sometimes like a sad larva, come to the Transformation Class after school and see that you have wings waiting to lift you up into the blue sky of your dreams.

Barry Lane January 18, 2012 started at 11:40 am finished at 12:19 pm

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Elvis was Bullied Because He was Different

Entering a new school, for sixth grade in September 1946, Presley was regarded as a loner. The following year, he began bringing his guitar in on a daily basis. He would play and sing during lunchtime, and was often teased as a "trashy" kid who played hillbilly music.

Elvis Presley, the King, was bullied when he was in sixth grade. Have you ever been bullied or seen someone being bullied because they were different? Have you ever been afraid to say something or do something because you were afraid of being seen as different than the rest? Write about it.

Option 2: Write about a fictional character who is different than the rest. What are the consequences of being a character like Elvis?