Peevish Pen

Ruminations on reading, writing, rural living, retirement, aging—and sometimes cats. And maybe a border collie or other critters.

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Location: Rural Virginia, United States

I'm an elderly retired teacher who writes. Among my books are Ferradiddledumday (Appalachian version of the Rumpelstiltskin story), Stuck (middle grade paranormal novel), Patches on the Same Quilt (novel set in Franklin County, VA), Them That Go (an Appalachian novel), Miracle of the Concrete Jesus & Other Stories, and several Kindle ebooks.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Pre-Drizzmal Day (With Fog, Irony & Surprise)

I was going to take a picture of this morning’s sunrise. Red sky peeped through strings of dark clouds. More clouds waffled across the sky to the south. But I needed more light. I waited fifteen minutes.

By then the sky was all-over gray. No red to be found. Later, as I sipped my first cup of coffee and read the Roanoke Times, fog enveloped my house. I couldn’t even see the gray sky.

So, instead of posting a picture of a new day dawning, I’ll write about the Roanoke Times again. While the RT doesn’t provide much to read, it does provide some blog ideas. Like the story I hoped to read about the latest wreck on I-81 (a road I avoid as much as possible) that tied up traffic for four and a half hours and backed up traffic for six miles. I figured this would be front page news, but it was on page 10 of the "Virginia" section. (Stories on the front page of the "Virginia" section were about how local police sell unclaimed seized goods on the Internet and about a kennel owner getting his seized dogs back.)

The best-written piece in this morning’s Roanoke Times was “The Irony of Evolution,” a commentary on the opinion page. Referring to a December 12th front page story about a high school student whose essay on evolution was censored from a high school lit mag and then to a December 16th front page story about how the student’s essay was found to be plagiarized, the writer weaves a reference to O. Henry’s “The Gift of the Magi” into the tangled censorship/plagiarism conundrum.

One line I especially liked: “Irony and surprise are staples of good fiction, probably because they're so often staples of real life.”

Speaking of irony and surprise, I was surprised by the content of yesterday’s “Extra” section. The back page of each Wednesday’s “Extra” is “The Edge,” a page written by local high school students. The Wednesday Roanoke Times is—or at least was when I was Roanoke County’s 2006-07 writer-in-residence—distributed to Roanoke area high schools. Some teachers use it in the classes; students are able to pick up a free copy from the rack in the hall.

Yesterday’s main “Edge” story, “Young Band has Growing Talent” was well-written and interesting. I was delightfully surprised by the young writer's talent.

What I found a ironic was that the front page of “Extra”—and a full page inside—promoted alcohol consumption. The “Twelve Drinks of Christmas” went into detail about how to make these drinks and provided full-color photos of each drink. I’m sure many students will appreciate the how-to advice for their holiday drinking that the RT provided, but I suspect that educators using the “Extra” in class won’t be so thrilled.

Teen drinking is a big problem; why promote festive alcohol consumption in free newspapers for students?

I don’t get the editorial reasoning behind placing the “Twelve Drinks” story in the same issue as the teen page. In fact, I don’t get why a story about drinking should be printed in the newspaper at all. Alcohol-related accidents increase during the holidays. Why make holiday drinking sound like such fun?

Maybe my brain’s just too foggy to understand the RT’s reasoning.


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