Monday, December 26, 2011

Taking Tests is Fun...

OK, so I'm a little odd that way. 
When I was in grade school one of my classmates taught me a lesson about test-taking that has stuck with me through the years. His name was Dean Boettcher and one day when we were going to take a test and I was worried that I would do badly, he said "It's just a game".  "What?" says I.  "Taking a test is like playing a game." Dean said.  "It's a game to see how much you know."

In that spirit, I try to teach my sons the same thing and I hope it is making an impression on them, too.

In preparing for the SAT and ACT tests... the all- important gatekeepers to a college education, I get a practice test question everyday in my email. The boys sometimes try them, but I have gotten to the point where I look forward to taking the quiz everyday. It automatically tells you if you are right or wrong and can even keep score for you over the days.

So, here is today's question of the day:

The following sentence contains either a single error or no error at all. If the sentence contains an error, select the one underlined part that must be changed to make the sentence correct. If the sentence contains no error, select choice E. 

The Bear Gulch Limestone Formation  in  Montana is
a sequence of bedded limestone layers  up to  90
feet thick  and  approximately 8 miles  across .  No 
  C   D   E  
A.  click to choose answer A   (A)
B.  click to choose answer B   (B)
C.  click to choose answer C   (C)
D.  click to choose answer D   (D)
E.  click to choose answer E   (E)
I don't think you will get the automatic answer, so I will give it to you....
The correct answer is E
That one was too easy for you writers out there.  But, how about the next one.

As we all know, my math skills could not get me a job at McDonald's and were it not for calculators on cell phones, I would still be using my fingers.
But, using the "game" theory on the following question... I got it RIGHT!
You try it and see how you do, then read on and I will tell you why I ace'd it.

Read the following SAT test question and then click on a button to select your answer. 

math image

The function y = function f of x, defined fornegative 1.5 less than x less than 1.5, is graphed above. For how many different values of x is function f of x = 0.2?
A.  click to choose answer A   None
B.  click to choose answer B   One
C.  click to choose answer C   Two
D.  click to choose answer D   Three
E.  click to choose answer E   Four
The correct answer is E, Four.

I got it right because I GUESSED. They tell you in test prep, to go with your first instinct and don't really give it too much thought.  So, I didn't.  I looked at the picture, saw 4 points where the wavy line crossed the horizontal like... figured that the 0 in the middle didn't count... and guessed.
TTaking tests are like playing a game... go with you gut, take a big swing and if you screw up, come back another day and play again while learning from your mistakes.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

How to write a story...

A couple of years ago, my sons and I visited a vice president at 20th Century Fox so they could pitch their idea for a new movie. This was a terrific opportunity for them and Mitsy Wilson, the VP and another VP for script development sat with them for over an hour!
Bottom line, they did not sell the script, but were strongly encouraged to keep working on it and re-submit it when they were finished.  They were a little too young to really appreciate the opportunity, but they did take away one big lesson... stay in school!!

They were also given a gift of a DVD set by Robert McKee who teaches script writing in Hollywood and runs seminars all over the world. At the time, we did not listen to the DVD's, being busy with middle school, high school and work. But, just this week we began to listen to them while riding in the car. #1 son and I listened to it on our way to see the movie "The Immortals" and after watching the film, came to the same conclusion... nice special effects and computer graphics... not much story.

The good part is, he is thinking about writing again and may go back to that script "Dinoville" that he started so long a go and pitched to FOX. And, not only that, but I am inspired to get out those scripts I wrote in college and while doing TV news and take another swing at them.

You may finally see our stuff on the screen! Stay tuned!!

Friday, December 2, 2011

How I fell in love with a voice...

In the 1970's and thereabouts, Ron Cuzner was on the radio late at night with his show The Dark Side.
Duane Dudek just added some of the audio from his shows to the JSOnline website and it took me back to some late nights I spent alone, in the semi- darkness with Ron's voice.

He had a style all his own and a rhythm to his patter that made you relax and want to crawl through the radio and join him in the studio.

I was editing a special for WTMJ called the Christmas Tree Ship.  It was the story of the Rouse Simmons that sank on its way to Chicago with all hands lost and tons of Christmas trees sent to the bottom of Lake Michigan during a November storm.  I worked on the documentary after my regular shift for Channel 4. That meant that I started editing at about 10:30pm and worked until dawn... and all that time, Ron's voice was with me.

When I took breaks from the miles of film (yes, we were still using film then) and relaxed for a few minutes, Ron's beautiful voice and the jazz he played were both relaxing and energizing.  Sometimes I talked back to the radio.  I had long, deep conversations with Ron that he never knew about.

The best way to listen to Ron Cuzner was in the dark... late at night... alone... or maybe not.

Thank you, Ron for making my Dark Side, bright.