Fictional Worlds That Are Better Than Ours

Mamacita says:  Some things, I just can’t get enough of, and fictional worlds are one of mine. The real world as fiction in which evil is not tolerated and always defeated is one of my favorite things.

“Uh, Shakespeare in the park? Doth mother know you weareth her drapes?” Guess what mine is, tonight.

The real world needs this initiative. We need it more every day. I only wish. I’m supposedly grown up, and I still hope it happens.

“Make your move, reindeer games.”

We need heroes.

Sentient voters must step up and be Avengers today.

Sentient voters must step up and be Avengers today.

“You know, it really doesn’t matter what the media write as long as you’ve got a young, and beautiful, piece of ass.” Whoops, that wasn’t a hero. That was a villain. A real world piece of evil.  A tantrum-throwing toddler placed in a seat of power, on purpose, by people who knew better but chose its opposite.  ON PURPOSE.

Satan and the flying monkeys the undereducated voted into power.

Satan and the flying monkeys the undereducated voted into power.

” How desperate am I? You threaten my world with war. You steal a force you can’t hope to control. You talk about peace and you kill ’cause it’s fun. You have made me VERY desperate. You might not be glad that you did.”

Nick Fury said it best.

Nick Fury said it best.

Thank you, Nick Fury. You summed up our situation perfectly. Our current resident evil and the flying monkeys under his spell cannot be tolerated. Even Captain America understands the analogy.

More Things I Haven’t Done Yet: Whiny Version

I haven't done it yet, but I'll get around to it.

I haven’t done it yet, but I’ll get around to it. Right now, I’m just whiny.

Mamacita says:  Here we go – a huge childish whine about more things I haven’t done yet.  Some, I will eventually get around to, but others?  When pigs fly.  I am in a lot of pain tonight and more bills came in the mail today, so I am feeling pretty down.  I do my fair share of whining, but mostly about silly or trivial things, like parking meters or drive-through lines or Trump.  This is not a typical list for me.  I apologize in advance.

  1.  I haven’t recovered from the wreck yet.  I still refer to the woman who disregarded her traffic light as the person who tried to murder me and my friend.  I am ashamed of these thoughts but as of this moment I have not been able to forgive her.  Sometimes I think I can and sometimes I think I have and then more bills come and even more bills come and something else hurts and I think about all the things I still can’t do and I get flashbacks to the wreck and I have nightmares about the crash and I know the recovery is far more than physical and I haven’t recovered yet.

2.  I haven’t slept through the night since December 2.  I don’t worry about this one because I learned to do it many years ago and they say it’s like riding a bicycle: you never forget how.

I did it then; I'll eventually do it again.

I did it then; I’ll eventually do it again.

3.  I haven’t seen Beauty and the Beast or Fantastic Beasts yet but they’re sharing the Number One spot on my Movie Bucket List.  The Beast List.

4.  My attitude has not been something I’ve been proud of these past three months.  I’m trying, really I am, but I am still broken, and I’m angry about it.

This is how my luck has been, lately.

This is how my luck has been, lately. You’d be whiny, too.

5.  I still haven’t replaced the washer and dryer.  It’s hard to buy a big appliance without a paycheck.  I won’t be replacing the TV in my home office any time soon, either.  Same reason. Everything seems to break down at once.  Sympathy pains, maybe.

6.  I still haven’t thanked all of you wonderful people for your loving support.  You mean the world to me.  I don’t deserve you right now, but I’m hoping to get better. This person is not me.  This person is not who I ever wanted to be.  I want myself back.  It will happen.

7.  I haven’t been “me” for months.  What I’ve been isn’t anyone I’m proud of.  Please be patient with me.

8.  I miss my students and colleagues at the college.  I will never NOT miss them.  I hope to go back this summer, and get back in the swing of teaching and being taught.  It’s not just the students who learn in a classroom, you know.  Interacting with and listening to students over these past years has taught me more than any undergrad or graduate class ever did.  There’s no way they could have.  To learn how to do this right, one has to jump in with both feet and listen. On a related note,  I have never NOT shown my students how to blow things up for the past eight years.  I will be enthusiastic to the max when I’m back in the classroom. Put your hands over your ears.  Fair warning.  I love my job.

9.  I have never liked chili.  Mom used to fix it for us and I didn’t like it then and I like it even less now.  Most people like chili.  I wish I did; it’s fun to make and it smells wonderful, but I just don’t like it.

10.  My dad’s favorite meal was beans and cornbread.  I hated it.  Still hate it.  When I came home from school and the house smelled like beans and cornbread, my heart would actually sink.  Mom made this meal for him at least twice a week; he loved it that much.  Sometimes brown beans, sometimes white beans, always horrible.  A few times in my life I have seen people ordering beans and cornbread in a restaurant.  What a waste of an outing.




Mamacita says:  I have always loved fairy tales. I do not mean the insipid heavily-edited baby-tales, all with happy endings, the Disney-fied versions; I am speaking of the real thing: stories full of blood and guts and red-hot spikes and death and endings-that-are-not-always-happy and the accidental lunching on one’s infant and the horrendous consequences of not following directions or keeping oneself moral.

Mom had a large thick book of fairy tales when we were kids. One of my favorites was a tale not as popular as Cinderella, or Snow White, or Sleeping Beauty, etc. One of my favorites was the story of Burd Ellen, and her brothers.

I loved this story on so many levels. . . . but one of those levels was the vocabulary. It was full of many-syllabic wonders: words that the second and third grade world would have shortened and made politically correct in a whipstitch.

My favorite word in this story was “widdershins.”  (Antonym: deasil)

Widdershins & Deasil

Widdershins & Deasil

Its meaning wasn’t explained within the story, and I liked that, too. It meant that I got to pull down the absolutely immense dictionary and look it up. And while I had the dictionary down, I got to look at the shiny slick pages of world flags, and jewels, but I digress.

I’m not going to tell you the definition, either.  That’s not how I teach.  By now, you should be interested enough to find out by yourself.  You know, like real students do.

Widdershins. Burd Ellen was snatched up by evil elves and taken to fairyland jane goodwin, burd ellen, widdershins, unabridged literaturebecause she went widdershins around the church. I was lost in fascination by this word and by this concept. She and her brothers were caught up in playing and forgot the warning and she went widdershins around the church, chasing the ball.

Please, take your children to the library and check out a big thick book of UNABRIDGED fairy tales. Don’t waste your time with anything that’s been edited; you want the real thing, the genuine unadulterated scary bloody real thing. Abridgments are the devil. Yes, THAT devil. Do not allow an abridged ANYTHING in your home; it will devour your soul and make your children stupid.

Some “experts” claim that scary stories traumatize children. I do not believe that. This is not to say that your five-year-old would do fine with Steven King, no, not at all. Context, y’all. But a good satisfying scary fairy tale? Go for it. I can still remember sitting with that huge book, projecting myself into the illustrations, and grooving on the musicality of the language. I can remember coming to the end of a story and closing the book, thinking satisfactorily that since the wicked stepmother is dead, she’s not OUT THERE any more, and not only is Cinderella safe from her grasping hands, but so am I!!!

Whereas the Disney stepmother was forgiven, which means she’s still OUT THERE, and no little child is safe.

The little mermaid died, too, but it was the only honorable way out for her.  Once she got legs, walking was like being sliced by sharp knives, and with legs, she had to get married to get a soul or vanish completely.  The very obnoxious prince she wanted was already married, so it was murder him in his bridal bed or dissolve.  She dissolved.  Word to Disney.

Tortured by oysters

Tortured by oysters

I love Disney animated movies, don’t get me wrong, but those are not the real stories. I also understand that these stories were passed from generation to generation verbally, and if you’ve ever played “Secrets” at a party, you’ll know how much even a simple sentence will change as each person whispers what they think they heard to the next person.  Once written down, though, the stories started carving themselves in stone, and those are the versions I love best.  I’m not saying YOU have to love them best, but I think we should understand the dark underbelly of “Happily Ever After.”  I wish parents and teachers would expose children to the real thing, in print, and refuse to allow those sissy censored edited changed and WRONG WRONG WRONG books of these stories to grace the bookshelves of our schools and homes. Let the kids experience the wonder and satisfactory retributions and blood and guts and weeping and punishments and VOCABULARY of these stories, exactly as the authors and re-tellers put them down in the first place. It creates opportunities for comparison/contrast, too. Run with it.

I can close my eyes and remember those illustrations. There weren’t very many, because too many pictures in a good book is an unpleasant distraction, but those pictures that were there, were, to quote Spencer Tracy on Katherine Hepburn, “cherce.”

Widdershins. Burd Ellen. I hadn’t thought of Childe Rowland in years, but I thought of it this afternoon whilst chatting with a dear friend; he used the word “widdershins’ and I was transported back to my childhood, poring over that big thick book, fascinated by the picture of the big gothic church and the young girl chasing a ball widdershins around it, not to reappear. I remembered how much I loved it.

Widdershins and its antonym, deasil, are associated by some people with the occult, but don’t let the undereducated fears of such people influence you.   Go HERE, and become enlightened at once. Do not skip the big words. That is what your dictionary is for. If you know how to use context clues, you won’t need a dictionary, even.

A few types of context clues.

A few types of context clues.

And contrary to what a select few elementary teachers (not the good ones) might think, small children LOVE big words. There is no need to dumb a story down for them. No need at all.

Condescension is never a good thing, and dumbing-down, editing, and changing all the cool big words into stupid tiny words is an insult to our young people.

My Semi-Pornographic Love Affair With Grammar

sentence diagram, judgment, Jane Goodwin

Sentence diagramming is really helpful. It’s also fun.

Mamacita says:  I love a good turn of phrase. I can be swept off my feet by it. I can be swayed and influenced and converted and my vote can be purchased and my virginity can be compromised. . . .um, pretend you didn’t read that part. . . .

Language is power, and a pen is more powerful than any Ollivander wand. I love wit and whimsy and sarcasm. I love a quotation that knocks my socks off. I love WORDS. I love their meanings and their origins.  I love how a word and a person both have histories. I love all the things that can be done with words. I love making them into adjectives and adverbs and nouns. I love the “kick” of a strategically placed interjection. I love how the grammar, snob, English grammarchoice of a tiny preposition can change the focus of an entire book. I love how a comma can turn a legal contract into the opposite of what a careless reader believes it to be. I love dictionaries. I love to play with a thesaurus. I love the preciseness of grammar, and I love how that very preciseness gives us the ability to be witty, and whimsical, and how it not only lets our imagination soar, but also allows us to share what we discover as we soar.  Figurative language depends on grammar for accuracy;  metaphor, simile, hyperbole, alliteration, personification, etc., are awesome only if they’re done well.

Did I mention how much I love a clever turn of phrase?  Literally and figuratively; I love words.  You do understand the difference between literally and figuratively, don’t you?  Of course you do.  I’m going to assume that you do.  Please don’t prove me wrong; it would be quite disillusioning.  I’m counting on your refined inferential skills here.

Even more, I love how someone who KNOWS HOW can take that preciseness and twist it, toss it, and tie it into a knot.  Good writers are a lot like good athletes; once they know the rules well, those rules can be twisted and turned into even more.

grammar, English, language, writing, Jane GoodwinMore what?  More of everything.  There’s nothing in the rule book about Michael Jordan flying through the air like a veritable Peter Pan, but it wasn’t AGAINST the rules, either.  Ditto a good writer.

Occasionally, too, a rule needs to be broken in order to make a point.  This is true in business, as well, and also in our schools.  A leader who doesn’t know when to break a rule is useless, and a writer who doesn’t know when (or how) to break a rule will not be as good a communicator as a writer who understands the language more thoroughly.

I love reading articles about people who are upset because their lack of grammar skills resulted in a lost court case, contract dispute, etc.  Item:  I am not on the side of the person who has chosen to become an adult without any honed grammar skills.  I LOVE it when grammar-ignorant people lose.

One can almost always tell whether a piece of writing is written by someone who knows his/her grammar rules well and has chosen to twist them, or if a piece of writing is written by someone who is just plain ignorant.

Um, I teach writing.  I love my job.

What I mean to say is, I LOVE MY JOB.Jane Goodwin, Mamacita, Scheiss Weekly, grammar

I hope you can tell.

P.S.  Speaking of my vote. . . . I will generally vote for the candidate with the best grammar, my assumption being that the candidate with the best grammar probably studied everything else in more detail and depth, too.  People with good grammar have paid attention.  That’s been my experience, anyway.

P.P. S.  If there are only two candidates, I’ll vote for the one with the better grammar.  It’s that three degrees of comparison rule. . . . A political candidate who can’t put a simple sentence together probably won’t be any good at any other part of the job, either.

P.P.P.S.  “Grammar” is spelled with an “-AR,” not an “-ER.”  The word is “grammar,” not “grammer.”  Unless we are speaking about your grandmother, in which case you should call her whatever she wants you to call her, and spell it however she dictates.

Or unless you are referring to Kelsey Grammer, but we are not discussing adultery in this post.

Fact vs. Opinion

Both statements here are fact.

Both statements here are fact.

Mamacita says:  Fact vs. opinion is one of the units I look forward to, difficult though it can be for my students.  Helping my students understand the difference between a fact and an opinion is one of the most difficult parts of my curriculum. We all want to think that what we personally believe is fact, and everything else is opinion. Until we learn discernment, we stand by “it” because “it” is what/how we were brought up and taught by our elders, and all-too-often, because it’s just how we want “it” to be and the thought that “it” might not is more than our level of discernment can bear.

We are raised in homes with certain values and while those values may be wonderful, and promote honesty and decency and learning, they are still opinions.  Ditto the homes with values that promote lies and adultery and criminal behavior.  Belief in both is opinion.  I know which set of values I personally believe in, but that is my opinion.  And yours.

A fact is a statement that is true and can be verified objectively, or proven. In other words, a fact is true and correct no matter what.

A fact is a statement that is true and can be verified objectively, or proven. In other words, a fact is true and correct no matter what.

But no matter how firm we are in our beliefs, facts and opinions are not the same thing. There is a huge difference.

An opinion is a statement that holds an element of belief; it tells how someone feels. An opinion is not always true and cannot be proven.

An opinion is a statement that holds an element of belief; it tells how someone feels. An opinion is not always true and cannot be proven.

“The garden has two rows of red tulips” is a fact. “All those tulips make the garden really lovely” is an opinion.

“Everyone should make a list before going to the grocery store” is an opinion. “Many people make a list before going to the grocery store” is a fact.

Pick and choose your words carefully; adjectives and adverbs can turn a fact into an opinion.

“My new boyfriend has gorgeous red hair” is an opinion “My new boyfriend has red hair” is a fact.   One word can transform a fact into an opinion.

If a thing cannot be objectively proven, no matter how badly you might want to believe it’s a fact, it’s an opinion.  Nobody controls facts.  Nobody dictates truth.  Not your mom, not your grandfather, not your minister, not your rabbi, not your priest, not your best friend, and not your president.  Facts are.  Truth is.  Opinion varies.

Opinions are how you feel about it.  Feelings are not facts.

Generalizations are not facts, either.  If the statement uses words like “everybody,” or “nobody,” or “never,” or “always,” it’s an opinion.

“But Mom, everybody’s going to the party!” is an opinion. “But Mom, Mike and Sue are going to the party!” is a fact.

"Facts are the enemy of truth!"

“Facts are the enemy of truth!”

In spite of Cervantes, facts are truth. (I will always love Cervantes’ quotation, though. Allegory fascinates me, and the Man of La Mancha is one of my favorite pieces of literature.) (And an awesome musical.)  (Not the movie version; you have to see it live.) (My opinion.)

Facts and opinions clash all the time, and most of those clashes are nothing. (Big Macs are better than Whoppers – opinion.  Big Macs don’t have tomato but Whoppers do – fact.)  (Trivial fact that affects nothing important.)  However, if religion or politics are involved, people tend to lose perspective and forget to be discerning. Or even how to count.

“The Baptist church is the only way to salvation” is opinion. “The Baptist church has the largest pipe organ in this city” is a fact, which can be proven with a tape measure. A really big one.

“Full immersion baptism is the only way to enter the Kingdom” is an opinion.  “Many people believe that infant baptism is necessary for salvation” is a fact.  Why?  Because of the adjectives and adverbs.  If an issue is important to you, analyze it carefully.  Make sure it actually represents what you think it represents.  Make sure it represents what you actually believe.  For this, you need discernment.

Discernment is a learned skill that helps us understand the different between truth and lies, between fact and opinion.

Discernment is a learned skill that helps us understand the different between truth and lies, between fact and opinion.

Wishful thinking will not change an opinion into a fact.  Word to the White House. There is no such thing as an alternative fact.  Another word to the White House.

I know that much of life concerns the shades of gray that often lie between fact and opinion, but even so, an intelligent nation MUST know how to discern that.

Issues of any kind are clashes between fact and opinion. Please understand the difference. Not everybody loved Raymond. Don’t be afraid to challenge your belief system. If questions and banter and debate threaten to topple your belief system, maybe you need a new one. If you belong to any kind of organization that frowns on questions, run, don’t walk, away.  They’re hiding something.  They’re afraid of toppling.

Facts don’t topple. And nobody can say “because I said so” except your Mom, and that phase should be gone by the time you’re eight.

Not a good defense for anyone over the age of 8.

Not a good defense for anyone over the age of 8.

People with no discernment skills are easy to persuade, easy to boss around.  They believe what they want to believe and they’ll follow anyone who advocates their same beliefs.  They tend to be very literal. They are sheep, and sheep are stupid.  Large mobs of sheep are dangerous.  They want and even need to be led.  They find leaders who are seeking these people.  They want a leader who is persuasive and they’ll do almost anything asked of them.  Remember Jim Jones? Beware.

Drinks for the undiscerning!


People who know how to discern can be difficult in an environment that values obedience and kow-towing and instant belief.  They know how to read between the lines.  They comprehend inferentially as well as literally. They are thinkers and self-starters.  They are creative and artistic and literate.  They are the hope of the universe.

So, what’s the best way for a person to be?  That would, sadly, be a matter of opinion.  I hope mine shines through.  I have no control over yours.

On the bright side, you have no control over mine, either.  I know how to discern.  Sometimes, after some thought, I change my mind.  But never over a fact, my friends.  20 items means 20 items.  If you have 21 items, you don’t belong in the short line.  And that is a fact.

Discernment teaches us inferential skills, and context clues, because the same word in one context is a completely different word in another context.  Super literal people have trouble understanding this.  Lack of this skill is dangerous.

In common use almost every word has many shades of meaning, and therefore needs to be interpreted by the context.  — Alfred Marshall

Remember third grade, learning how to use a dictionary, and how even tiny little simple words could have two pages of meanings, no two alike, depending on the context?  And how you had to understand the context so you could understand what that little word meant this time when it meant something else last time?

Context is king.

Context is king.




Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. — Martin Luther King, Jr.

Dr. Martin Luther KingMamacita says:  Why is this day a holiday in most communities? (This community has only just recently started acknowledging MLK Day as a holiday; for years, none of our schools closed.) (They still don’t close for Veteran’s Day.)  (The colleges, businesses, and guv’ment offices are closed – the public schools here are open.)

However, intelligent, sensitive, educated people understand that today deserves respect because a man who dedicated his entire life to peaceful means of acquiring freedom for all people fully deserves to be recognized, and there are still, shamefully, communities that do not consider this of any importance. Making it a holiday forces people to look at his name on their calendar, if nothing else.

If he had advocated violence, it would have been different. Violence does not deserve recognition. If he had advocated “something for nothing,” it would have been different. Bums do not deserve recognition.

But Dr. Martin Luther King advocated equal rights for all people, not just for whites and not just for blacks and not just for whites & blacks. He dedicated his life to gaining equal rights for EVERYONE.

And I can’t help but listen to a speaker with such beautiful grammar. His grammar enhances his message.

May we all have this same dream.

Careful, grammatically-correct language and an almost poetic speaking style will always get my attention.  It’s an assumption on my part, of course, but I associate good grammar with people who actually know what they’re talking about.  In fact, I am convinced that this is so.

Martin Luther King, Jr. definitely knew what he was talking about, and he knew HOW to present it.

====Martin Luther King, Jr., hate, let no man

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. — Martin Luther King, Jr.

I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear. — Martin Luther King, Jr.

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy. — Martin Luther King, Jr.

Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity. — Martin Luther King, Jr.

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. — Martin Luther King, Jr.

We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies. — Martin Luther King, Jr.

The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education. — Martin Luther King, Jr.

A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual doom. — Martin Luther King, Jr.

He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it. — Martin Luther King, Jr.

History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people. — Martin Luther King, Jr.

Rarely do we find men who willingly engage in hard, solid thinking. There is an almost universal quest for easy answers and half-baked solutions. Nothing pains some people more than having to think. — Martin Luther King, Jr.