Sunday, December 30, 2012

67. Flowers for Algernon (4)

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April 6—I beat Algernon! I dint even know I beat him until Burt the tester told me. Then the second time I lost because I got so exited I fell off the chair before I finished. But after that I beat him 8 more times. I must be getting smart to beat a smart mouse like Algernon. But I dont feel smarter.
I wanted to race Algernon some more but Burt said thats enough for one day. They let me hold him for a minit. lies not so bad. Hes soft like a ball of cotton. He blinks and when he opens his eyes their black and pink on the eges.
I said can I feed him because I felt bad to beat him and I wanted to be nice and make fends. Burt said no Algernon is a very specshul mouse with an operashun like mine, and he was the first of all the ani­mals to stay smart so long. He told me Algernon is so smart that every day he has to solve a test to get his food. Its a thing like a lock on a door that changes every time Algernon goes in to eat so he has to 1cm something new to get his food. That made me sad because if he coudnt lern he woud be hungry.
I dont think its right to make you pass a test to eat. How woud Dr Nemur like it to have to pass a test every time he wants to eat. I think Ill be fends with Algernon.
April 9—Tonight after work Miss Kinnian was at the laboratory. She looked like she was glad to see me but scared. I told her dont worry Miss Kinnian Tm not smart yet and she laffed. She said I have confidence in you Charlie the way you struggled so hard to read and right better than all the others. At werst you will have it for a littel wile and your doing somthing for sience.
We are reading a very hard book. I never read such a hard book be­fore. Its called Robinson Crusoe about a man who gets merooned on a dessert iland. Hes smart and figers out all kinds of things so he can have a house and food and hes a good swimmer. Only I feel sorry be­cause hes all alone and has no frends. But I think their must be some­body else on the iland because theres a picture with his funny umbrella looking at footprints. I hope he gets a fend and not be lonly.
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April 10—Miss Kinnian teaches me to spell better. She says look at a word and close your eyes and say it over and over until you remember. I have lots of truble with through that you say threw and enough and tough that you dont say enew and tew. You got to say enuff and tuff. Thats how I use to write it before I started to get smart. Im confused but Miss Kinnian says theres no reason in spelling.

Apr .14—Finished Robinson Crusoe. I want to find out more about what happens to him but Miss Kinnian says thats all there is. Why?

Apr 15—Miss Kinnian says Im lerning fast. She read some of the Prog­ress Reports and she looked at me kind of funny. She says Tm a fine person and Ill show them all. I asked her why. She said never mind but I shoudnt feel bad if I find out that everybody isnt nice like I think. She said for a person who god gave so little to you done more then a lot of people with brains they never even used. I said all my fends are smart people but there good. They like me and they never did anything that wasnt nice. Then she got something in her eye and she had to run out to the ladys room.
Apr 16—Today, I lerned, the comma, this is a comma (,) a period, with a tail, Miss Kinnian, says its importent, because, it makes writing, better, she said, sombeody, could lose, a lot of money, if a comma, isnt, in the, right place, I dont have, any money, and I dont see, how a comma, keeps you, from losing it,
But she says, everybody, uses commas, so Ill use, them too,

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Apr 17—I used the comma wrong. Its punctuation. Miss Kinnian told me to look up long words in the dictionary to lern to spell them. I said whats the difference if you can read it anyway. She said its part of your education so now on Ill look up all the words Tm not sure how to spell. It takes a long time to write that way but I think Im remembering. I only have to look up once and after that I get it right. Anyway thats how come I got the word punctuation right. (Its that way in the dic­tionary). Miss Kinnian says a period is punctuation too, and there are lots of other marks to lern. I told her I thot all the periods had to have tails but she said no.
You got to mix them up, she showed? me” how. to mix! them( up,. and now; I can! mix up all kinds” of punctuation, in! my writing? There, are lots! of rules? to lern; but Im gettin’g them in my head.
One thing I? like about, Dear Miss Kinnian: (thats the way it goes in a business letter if I ever go into business) is she, always gives me’ a reason” when—I ask. She’s a gen’ius! I wish! I cou’d be smart” like, her;
(Punctuation, is; fun!)

April 18—What a dope I am! I didn’t even understand what she was talking about. I read the grammar book last night and it explanes the whole thing. Then I saw it was the same way as Miss Kinnian was try­ing to tell me, but I didn’t get it. I got up in the middle of the night, and the whole thing straightened out in my mind.
Miss Kinnian said that the TV working in my sleep helped out. She said I reached a plateau. Thats like the flat top of a bill.
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After I figgered out how punctuation worked, I read over all my old Progress Reports from the beginning. Boy, did I have crazy spelling and punctuation! I told Miss Kinnian I ought to go over the pages and fix all the mistakes but she said, “No, Charlie, Dr. Nemur wants them just as they are. That’s why he let you keep them after they were photostated, to see your own progress. You’re coming along fast, Charlie.”
That made me feel good. After the lesson I went down and played with Algernon. We don’t race any more.
April 20—I feel sick inside. Not sick like for a doctor, but inside my chest it feels empty like getting punched and a heartburn at the same time.
I wasn’t going to write about it, but I guess I got to, because it’s im­portant. Today was the first time I ever stayed home from work.
Last night Joe Carp and Frank Reilly invited me to a party. There were lots of girls and some men from the factory. I remembered how sick I got last time I drank too much, so I told Joe I didn’t want any­thing to drink. He gave me a plain Coke instead. It tasted funny, but I thought it was just a bad taste in my mouth.
We had a lot of fun for a while. Joe said I should dance with Ellen and she would teach me the steps. I fell a few times and I couldn’t un­derstand why because no one else was dancing besides Ellen and me. And all the time I was tripping because somebody’s foot was always sticking out.
Then when I got up I saw the look on Joe’s face and it gave me a funny feeling in my stomack. “He’s a scream,” one of the girls said. Ev­erybody was laughing.
Frank said, “I ain’t laughed so much since we sent him off for the newspaper that night at Muggsy’s and ditched him.”
“Look at him. His face is red.”
“He’s blushing. Charlie is blushing.”
“Hey, Ellen, what’d you do to Charlie? I never saw him act like that before.”
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I didn’t know what to do or where to turn. Everyone was looking at me and laughing and I felt naked. I wanted to hide myself. I ran out into the street and I threw up. Then I walked home. It’s a funny thing I never knew that Joe and Frank and the others liked to have me around all the time to make fun of me.
Now I know what it means when they say “to pull a Charlie Gor­don.”
I’m ashamed.

April 21—Still didn’t go into the factory. I told Mrs. Flynn my landlady to call and tell Mr. Donnegan I was sick. Mrs. Flynn looks at me very funny lately like she’s scared of me.
I think it’s a good thing about finding out how everybody laughs at me. I thought about it a lot. It’s because I’m so dumb and I don’t even know when I’m doing something dumb. People think it’s funny when a dumb person can’t do things the same way they can.
Anyway, now I know I’m getting smarter every day. I know punctua­tion and I can spell good. I like to look up all the hard words in the dictionary and I remember them. I’m reading a lot now, and Miss Kin-than says I read very fast. Sometimes I even understand what I’m read­ing about, and it stays in my mind. There are times when I can close my eyes and think of a page and it all comes back like a picture.
Besides history, geography, and arithmetic, Miss Kinnian said I should start to learn a few foreign languages. Dr. Strauss gave me some more tapes to play while I sleep. I still don’t understand how that con­scious and unconscious mind works, but Dr. Strauss says not to worry yet. He asked me to promise that when I start learning college subjects next week I wouldn’t read any books on psychology—that is, until he gives me permission.
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I feel a lot better today, but I guess I’m still a little angry that all the time people were laughing and making fun of me because I wasn’t so smart. When I become intelligent like Dr. Strauss says, with three times my 1.0. of 68, then maybe I’ll be like everyone else and people will like me and be friendly.
I’m not sure what an I.Q. is. Dr. Nemur said it was something that measured how intelligent you were—like a scale in the drugstore weighs pounds. But Dr. Strauss had a big argument with him and said an I.Q. didn’t weigh intelligence at all. He said an I.Q. showed how much intelligence you could get, like the numbers on the outside of a measuring cup. You still had to fill the cup up with stuff.
Then when I asked Burt, who gives me my intelligence tests and works with Algernon, he said that both of them were wrong (only I had to promise not to tell them he said so). Burt says that the I.Q. measures a lot of different things including some of the things you learned already, and it really isn’t any good at all.
So I still don’t know what 1.0. is except that mine is going to be over 200 soon. I didn’t want to say anything, but I don’t see how if they don’t know what it is, or where it is—I don’t see how they know how much of it you’ve got.
Dr. Nemur says I have to take a Rorshach Test tomorrow. I wonder what that is.
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Wednesday, December 26, 2012

66. A Blogger's Follow-up: One Year Later

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A student of mine once wrote that posting things and waiting for answers from students when it’s holiday time is useless: nobody’s ‘here’, meaning nobody cares about blogs like this which are – according to a somewhat general opinion – the place where bloggers (that is to say, blogs’ authors) upload material as a way of pouring out their hearts, or of venting their frustration, but then again it should be for everyone to…witness? I’ll never know.

What I know as yet is that this blog is...65 posts and 365 days old. In the meantime it has changed its basic purpose for what might be seen as more feasible and accessible. There is too much to deal with anyway, so proposing oneself and visitors more realistic challenges has more chances of fulfilment.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: what does this have to do with Charlie Gordon? Quite a lot, I’d say: the ideas put forth by Daniel Keyes are so deep and so numerous that it’s almost impossible not to feel like commenting.

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Then there are the audios, and the videos (and there's a theatre play, too!). 'Flowers for Algernon' is one of those short stories which is a must for every English-speaking pupil in the English Language classroom: it has all the right in the world to be read, listened to, viewed and debated. All the media employed convey the same deeply moving themes, albeit in different ways. You just look at how Charlie’s spelling and grammar changes to understand how challenging a text can be when compared to a film, or a radio performance.

If ‘a picture paints a thousand words’, then how does Keys paint Charlie’s evolution through spelling and grammar?     

There they are: videos 3 and 4 – maybe a little out of step with the audios or the text, but it’s holiday time, isn’t it?

So, 65 posts and 365 days later, the myth of Easy English is still on!

The best thing to do would be to start building up a map of themes that you discover while reading the text, listening to the audios and viewing the video episodes. They will all be the basis for the classroom debate.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

65. Flowers for Algernon (3)

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Progress Report 7—mar 19
Nothing is happining. I had lots of tests and different kinds of races with Algemon. I hate that mouse. He always beats me. Dr Strauss said I got to play those games. And he said some time I got to take those tests over again. Thse inkblots are stupid. And those pictures are stupid too. I like to draw a picture of a man and a woman but I wont make up lies about people.
I got a headache from trying to think so much. I thot Dr Strauss was my fend but he dont help me. He dont tell me what to think or when Ill get smart. Miss Kinnian dint come to see me. I think writing these progress reports are stupid too.
Progress Report 8—Mar 23
Im going back to work at the factery. They said it was better I shud go back to work but I cant tell anyone what the operashun was for and I have to come to the hospitil for an hour evry night after work. They are gonna pay me mony every month for lerning to be smart.
Im glad Im going back to work because I miss my job and all my fends and all the fun we have there.
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Dr Strauss says I shud keep writing things down but I dont have to do it every day just when I think of something or something speshul happins. He says dont get discoridged because it takes time and it happins slow. He says it took a long time with Algemon before he got 3 times smarter than he was before. Thats why Algemon beats me all the time because he had that operashun too. That makes me feel better. I coud probly do that amazed faster than a reglar mouse. Maybe some day Ill beat Algemon. Boy that would be something. So far Algemon looks like he mite be smart perminent.
Mar 25—(I dont have to write PROGRESS REPORT on top any more just when I hand it in once a week for Dr Nemur to read. I just have to put the date on. That saves time)
We had a lot of fun at the factery today. Joe Carp said hey look where Charlie had his operashun what did they do Charlie put some brains in. I was going to tell him but I remembered Dr Strauss said no. Then Frank Reffly said what did you do Charlie forget your key and open your door the hard way. That made me laff. Their really my friends and they like me.
Sometimes somebody will say hey look at Joe or Frank or George he really pulled a Charlie Gordon. I dont know why they say that but they always laff. This morning Amos Borg who is the 4 man at Donnegans used my name when he shouted at Ernie the office boy. Ernie lost a packige. He said Ernie for godsake what are you trying to be a Charlie Gordon. I dont understand why he said that. I never lost any packiges.
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Mar 28—Dr Strauss came to my room tonight to see why I dint come in like I was suppose to. I told him I dont like to race with Algernon any more. He said I dont have to for a while but I shud come in. He had a present for me only it wasnt a present but just for lend. I thot it was a little television but it wasnt. He said I got to turn it on when I go to sleep. I said your kidding why shud I turn it on when Im going to sleep. Who ever herd of a thing like that. But he said if I want to get smart I got to do what he says. I told him I dint think I was going to get smart and he put his hand on my sholder and said Charlie you dont know it yet but your getting smarter all the time. You wont notice for a while. I think he was just being nice to make me feel good because I dont look any smarter.
Oh yes I almost forgot. I asked him when I can go back to the class at Miss Kinnians school. He said I wont go their. He said that soon Miss Kinnian will come to the hospitil to start and teach me speshul. I was mad at her for not comming to see me when I got the operashun but I like her so maybe we will be frends again.
Mar 29—That crazy TV kept me up all night. How can I sleep with something yelling crazy things all night in my ears. And the nutty pic­tures. Wow. I dont know what it says when Tm up so how am I going to know when Tm sleeping.
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Dr Strauss says its ok. He says my brains are lerning when I sleep and that will help me when Miss Kinnian starts my lessons in the hospitil (only I found out it isnt a hospitil its a labatory). I think its all crazy. If you can get smart when your sleeping why do people go to school. That thing I dont think will work. I use to watch the late show and the late late show on TV all the time and it never made me smart. Maybe you have to sleep while you watch it.
Dr Strauss showed me how to keep the TV turned low so now I can sleep. I dont hear a thing. And I still dont understand what it says. A few times I play it over in the morning to find out what I lerned when I was sleeping and I dont think so. Miss Kinnian says Maybe its another langwidge or something. But most times it sounds american. It talks so fast faster then even Miss Gold who was my teacher in 6 grade and I remember she talked so fast I coudnt understand her.
I told Dr Strauss what good is it to get smart in my sleep. I want to be smart when Im awake. He says its the same thing and I have two minds. Theres the subconscious and the conscious (thats how you spell it). And one dont tell the other one what its doing. They dont even talk to each other. Thats why I dream. And boy have I been having crazy dreams. Wow. Ever since that night TV. The late late late late late show.
I forgot to ask him if it was only me or if everybody had those two minds.
(I just looked up the word in the dictionary Dr Strauss gave me. The word is subconscious. adj. Of the nature of mental operations yet not present in consciousness; as, subconscious conflict of desires.) Theres more but I still don’t know what it means. This isnt a very good dic­tionary for dumb people like me.
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Anyway the headache is from the party. My frinds from the factery Joe Carp and Frank Reilly invited me to go with them to Muggsys Sa­loon for some drinks. I dont like to drink but they said we will have lots of fun. I had a good time.
Joe Carp said I shoud show the girls how I mop out the toilet in the factory and he got me a mop. I showed them and everyone laffed when I told that Mr Donnegan said I was the best janiter he ever had because I like my job and do it good and never come late or miss a day except for my operashun.
I said Miss Kinnian always said Charlie be proud of your job because you do it good.
Everybody laffed and we had a good time and they gave me lots of drinks and Joe said Charlie is a card when hes potted. I dont know what that means but everybody likes me and we have fun. I cant wait to be smart like my best fends Joe Carp and Frank Reilly.
I dont remember how the party was over but I think I went out to buy a newspaper and coffe for Joe and Frank and when I came back there was no one their. I looked for them all over till late. Then I dont remember so good but I think I got sleepy or sick. A nice cop brot me back home. Thats what my landlady Mrs Flynn says.
But I got a headache and a big lump on my head and black and blue all over. I think maybe I fell but Joe Carp says it was the cop they beat up drunks some times. I don’t think so. Miss Kinnian says cops are to help people. Anyway I got a bad headache and Im sick and hurt all over. I dont think Ill drink anymore.
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