Desperate Ravings #3 – Rhymes and Reasons

So how did you like yesterday’s assignment?

Like I said, that one from A Shropshire Lad is one of my favorite poems ever… And all I did in college (other than play 50 hours of Magic per week) was read poems (mostly). Remember how I said to pay attention to your punctuation? The genius of Housman’s poem is how — via just a couple of English single-quotes — he shifts the speaker one-line-per-stanza in order to give us the overall experience of a surprisingly unsuccessful seduction.

In case you missed it, me and Bella reading, again:

(more on this… someday)

While the content was from my perspective super fun, the more important lesson for the day was one of form, and using punctuation and pattern in order to shift emphasis and uncover meaning in the text. Ever hear the phrase “it’s not what you said, but how you said it”? How you present an idea — what tools you use, what format or technique — can be the difference between just another boring “play my awesome deck list” that no one reads and a line-in-the-sand format-breaker that changes the composition of the next GP’s Top 8…

… Even though they might be the same deck list!

One of the reasons I make you write these exercises out by hand (rather than typing, or worse, copy and paste) is that the process forces you to slow down and absorb passages — both what is written and how they are written — more closely in order to graft the skills of a Stefani or A Shropshire Lad onto your very  spine.

Here’s a grammatical time bomb I use fairly often: repeat, Repeat, REPEAT.

I am sure you’ve seen some variation on that three-beat in my work in the past. I have come to lean on that capitalization progression something like every other week. I like how it looks.

Flores Fact:
I stole it from faster / Faster / FASTER in the letter column of an old issue of The Flash comics. True story.

Now on the subject of form, if you want to get a message to stick, learning to add a little poetry to your prose is an effective vector to covert hypnotism. I do a fair amount of not only caps / Caps / CAPS but alliteration and internal rhyme in order to increase the convincingness of my various articles and blog posts.

But don’t take my word for it!

Nobel prize winner Daniel Kahneman, in his best-selling Thinking, Fast and Slow cited a stunning study thusly:

“… Put your ideas in verse if you can; they will be more likely to be taken as truth. Participants in a much cited experiment read dozens of unfamiliar aphorisms, such as: Woes unite foes. / Little strokes will tumble great oaks. / A fault confessed is half redressed.

“Other students read some of the same proverbs transformed into nonrhyming versions: Woes unite enemies. / Little strokes will tumble great trees. / A fault admitted is half redressed.

“The aphorisms were judged more insightful when they rhymed than when they did not.”

Now you know why we marketers love those jingles 🙂

Today’s assignment comes from a different, in my mind surprising and delectible, section of Thinking, Fast and Slow:

Assignment #3!

In one of the most famous experiments in the history of psychology, Walter Mischel and his students exposed four-year-old children to a cruel dilemma. They were given a choice between a small reward (one Oreo), which they could have at any time, or a larger reward (two cookies) for which they had to wait 15 minutes under difficult conditions. They were to remain alone in a room, facing a desk with two objects: a single cookie and a bell that the child could ring at any time to call in the experimenter and receive the one cookie. As the experiment was described: “There were no toys, books, pictures, or other potentially distracting items in the room. The experimenter left the room and did not return until 15 min had passed or the child had rung the bell, eaten the rewards, stood up, or shown any signs of distress.”

The children were watched through a one-way mirror, and the film that shows their behavior during the waiting time always has the audience roaring in laughter. About half the children managed the feat of waiting for 15 minutes, mainly by keeping their attention away from the tempting reward. Ten or fifteen years later, a large gap had opened between those who had resisted temptation and those who had not. The resisters had higher measures of executive control in cognitive tasks, and especially the ability to reallocate their attention effectively. As young adults they were less likely to take drugs. A significant difference in intellectual aptitude emerged: the children who had shown more self-control as four-year-olds had substantially higher scores on tests of intelligence.

Per previous, just:

1) Copy down the above, by hand and in triplicate, and
2) Upload your efforts to the Desperate Ravings HOMEWORK page

… To improve your game and qualify for fabulous prizes!

Why Am I Doing This Again?

I just said “fabulous prizes” didn’t I?

Each of the first five days of Desperate Ravings comes with it three generous prizes from our sponsors, GatheringMagic, LegitMTG, and ManaDeprived.

Yesterday’s big winners:

The winner of a $10 gift certificate from GatheringMagic: Michael Marsala

The winner of a $10 gift certificate from LegitMTG: Susan Zell

The winner of a $10 gift certificate from ManaDeprived: Carlos Gutierrez

Carlos, Susan, and Michael were chosen by KYT, Medina, and The Stybs for their efforts on the Desperate Ravings HOMEWORK page (my homework is already uploaded there!).

Want to join the growing legion of winners (and topdeck the communication skills of a Nobel laureate while you’re at it)? You know what to do.


A Note on Homework and Prizes:
Just because you miss a day or caught on a little late doesn’t mean you can’t participate! I designed Desperate Ravings to give you 2-3 extra days to get all the homework in and potentially qualify for one of the four big prizes. Remember – We are giving away three $50 gift certificates next week to those who complete all seven assignments!

Desperate Ravings would not be possible without our generous sponsors.

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1 comment so far ↓

#1 MTGBattlefield on 06.06.12 at 8:49 am

Desperate Ravings #3 – Rhymes and Reasons…

Your story has been summoned to the battlefield – Trackback from MTGBattlefield…

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