Thursday, August 9, 2012

Pike Place Market

Holy Flying Fish, Batman!

That’s right, and you better watch your noggin when you enter Seattle’s Pike Place Market, the oldest continually operating farmer’s market in the USA. The famous fish throwing fishmongers (say that 20 times, holding your tongue) greet tourists at the main entrance.
I interviewed one of these sarcastic, fish wielding fellows a few days ago when I was on a MUSE hunt. And boy… was he a-MUSING! Here's the video. Play this video to see a “flying Fish”. Watch carefully, it happens fast!

Pike Place Market opened on August 17, 1907. Seattle area farmers were tired of paying a middle man to sell their produce. Farmers earned very little money this way, so they decided to set-up shop themselves. And the “Meet the Producers” motto has lived on today.

Just look at those beautiful veggies! Makes me want some Vegetable Soup! Here is a great recipe for kids!!!

And look at the fresh seafood. Sad for the crabs, but happy for the feast! Seattle is located on the Puget Sound, and fresh Dungeness Crabs are caught there daily! Watch out for octopus, though! The first time I went “crabbing” that’s what I caught! Imagine that!

Pike Place Market is home to 200 year-round businesses, 190 craftspeople, 100 farmers and 240 Street performers. Not all of these people show up every day, but they come and go throughout the year. And they are visited by 10 million shoppers annually.

Just a second ago, I mentioned the street performers. From singers, dancers, hula-hoopists, balloonists, and more – these talented people work for tips. And you can find them performing on one of the many painted music notes on the sidewalks.

The flower booths are another sight to behold! And the flowers are CHEAP! You can buy a beautiful arrangement for as little as $5! And the flower farms are local. I believe most of them are run by Loa immigrants.

If you don’t want produce, seafood, or flowers, the craft stalls are always fun to browse. From hand crocheted hats to funky finger puppets, there a hundreds of goodies to choose from. And below the main level of the market are a few more floors of independent businesses. I personally like the bookstore (grin).

And don’t forget “Rachel the Pig”, Pike Place Market’s unofficial mascot. Rachel is a five-hundred pound bronze piggy bank who welcomes tourists at the market’s entrance. She was designed by Washingtonian artist Georgia Gerber. This oversized piggy bank collects over $6,000 a year for charities. Currencies from all over the world are found in Rachel’s “gut”.

Last, but certainly not least, is the Market Theatre GUM WALL! I’m not quite sure if anyone knows whose gum started this MESS, but the culmination of textures and colors is an odd site. Is it just me, or does the close-up picture resemble Fruity Pebbles?

With this new knowledge, what kind of story could you write? Maybe these WHAT IF questions will help you get started.

WHAT IF the fish throwing fishmongers were all dressed up like clowns?

WHAT IF your main character was Rachel the Pig? What if she wanted all that money for herself? What would she want to do with it?

WHAT IF there was a magic door in the gum wall, but you had to pull off the right piece of gum and chew it for door to reveal itself?

The possibilities are endless, and please leave your own WHAT IF questions in the comment section below. I’d love to see what you come up with.

So, grab a cup of hot cocoa, a pencil and a piece of paper, and let’s begin. With your imagination, we can go anywhere. I look forward to seeing where you take us.

With Imagination,

Professor Watermelon

The word of the day is “monger”. Here is the definition: a dealer in or trader of a commodity. (Fishmonger or Cheese-monger or …. Melon-monger hahaha)

Monday, August 6, 2012

The Firedog (By: Jada)

There once was a dog, a big and good old Dalmatian who was actually a stray. It lived in a small, ugly looking, wrecked and dull doghouse.

The Dalmatian wanted a home, but not just a home – he also wanted to do BIG things, like help people.

I want to do BIG things, thought the Dalmatian. I want to help fireman!

One day, when there was a terrible storm, the Dalmatian hid in his doghouse. After a few minutes, an old woman came walking down the street. She was going to get her mail when the Dalmatian’s eyes met with hers.

“Oh my, you poor thing,” said the old woman. “You don’t have an owner, do you? I don’t see a collar, so I want to help you. I’ll feed you loads of food and water. I hope you are a boy, because I am naming you Dally the Dalmatian.”

She sat Dally down and let him play, eat and drink.

Right when Dally finished his food and drink, he could talk to humans.

“Thanks for the meal,” he told the old woman. “But your house is too small for me. I need more room for myself.”

The old woman understood, and they said goodbye.

One day, there were tryouts for being a firedog!

He went back and told the old woman, and she was nice enough to drive him to the fire station.

“We need a new firedog,” said the fireman named Frank. “Our old one retired.

“Pick me,” squeaked Dally.

No other dog wanted to take the job, except Dally. Just when Dally got a little too happy, another dog walked in. It was another Dalmatian.

The old woman left Dally and the other Dalmatian to be trained.

“What’s your dopey name?” asked the other Dalmatian.

“Dally,” said Dally.

“Mines Winston, and you are SO not going to win! I’m gonna win, dumbie!”

“Don’t call me ‘Dumb’,” cried Dally.

“You’re ugly looking, too!” yelped Winston. “And I’m gonna make sure you don’t win.”

Winston bit Dally hard on the throat and shook him back and forth with his savage teeth, ripping Dally’s skin.

Finally, Winston let go and threw Dally into a shelf of books.

When the trainer dog finally arrived, he smiled at Winston and frowned at Dally.

“Well, I’m afraid Dally can’t participate,” growled Winston. “He is a dumb dog and hurt himself.”

“Winston, it looks like you get a head start on training,” said the trainer dog, “But at the end of the week there will be a quiz on how to be a firedog.”

Dally was sent back in bandages to the old woman. The old woman fixed Dally up right away, and the next day he felt better. He went back to the fire station to begin training.

“You are still not going to win,” said Winston.

But Dally wouldn’t fall for it. He wouldn’t give up that easily. Dally practiced sliding down the fireman pole. He practiced jumping into the big truck. Both of these challenges got him into bandages again.

The old woman frowned. “Are you sure you are okay?” she asked.

“Yup,” barked Dally.

Dally would never give up. He would keep trying!

On the final day, Dally grew very nervous. They started off lifting weights.

“Use those strong dog muscles!” the trainer dog yelled.

Finally, the quiz began.

“Who can slide down the fireman pole the neatest?” called the trainer dog.

Dally won the first challenge! Dally won the second challenge, too!

The third challenge was the most important challenge, and if Winston won this one, it would tie the score.

Who was better at putting out a small house fire?

Dally won this challenge, too! What a great day this was. Dally had never felt more proud!

“No!” cried Winston. “You are amazing, and I am a STINKER!”

Dally was the new Firedog!

The old woman came to visit Dally at the fire station once and a while. And Dally’s job became easier and easier. One day, Dally settled down, had a wife and some kids, and was better off with a lot of happiness.

The End

A Note from Professor Watermelon: Jada, what a great story! You are a very talented young author, and I can't wait to read more of your work. When you originally shared this story in class, I was so inspired that I wanted to write about Dalmatians, too. If you haven't taken a look at my "finding the MUSE" post on Dalmatians, I invite you to do so. Also, take a look at Sparky, the National Fire Protection Association's Dalmatian mascot. He reminds me of "Dally"! Take care, Jada, and stay in touch!

Photo Credit: Justin Otto

Friday, August 3, 2012


This July, one of my creative writing students, Jada, wrote a splendid story using Dalmatians as her MUSE. Her story was so delightful that the Dalmatian became my MUSE, too.

I told Jada that my favorite childhood companion was a Dalmatian and that her story helped playback in my memory some very happy times. She also inspired me to dig a little deeper on this MUSE. And maybe some of you will be inspired to write a Dalmatian story, too.

Here is what I uncovered:

We’ve all seen the statues of Dalmatians at firehouses across the country. And some firehouses actually have the real thing, a living and breathing Dalmatian mascot. But why are firemen so fond of this spotted canine?

Come to find out, Dalmatians have a great affinity for horses. And in days-gone-by, horse drawn fire wagons were used instead of trucks. Dalmatians would clear the path for their hooved friends, and they would stay back and keep these horses calm once the fire was reached. Horses are no longer needed to combat fires these days, but the Dalmatian is still symbolic for firefighting.

Dalmatians have a long history as horse and buggy companions. In fact, the English have nicknamed the Dalmatian “The English Coach Dog or The Carriage Dog”.

The earliest proven record of the Dalmatian comes from its namesake – Dalmatia, a region of Croatia. These records date back to the mid 1700’s. However, just because there are no earlier records does not mean that the Dalmatian did not exist further in history. Some believe that an ancient Egyptian engraving of a spotted dog, near a coach is that of a Dalmatian. It would make sense, wouldn’t it?

Dalmatians became very popular as a household companion with the release of the Disney animated film, 101 Dalmatians, released in 1961. These spotted pups became even more popular with the release of a live action adaptation in 1996. But did you know that both of these films are adaptations of a book? The Hundred and One Dalmatians was published in 1956 by English writer, Dodie Smith.

Dodie Smith created the “pelt-happy” Cruella De Vill, and the spotted protagonist, Pongo.

Speaking of spots, did you know that Dalmatian puppies are born spot-less? Dalmatians’ spots do not appear until about a month after birth.

If you are thinking about getting a Dalmatian as a household companion, make sure you consult the The Dalmatian Club of America, first. Here you will find great information about this Spot-tacular breed.

Also, here are some fun fire prevention games and activities brought to you by the National Fire Protection Association and their Dalmatian mascot, Sparky.

With this new knowledge, what kind of story could you write? Maybe these WHAT IF questions will help you get started.

WHAT IF you told a story through the perspective of a Dalmatian who is afraid of fire?

WHAT IF your Dalmatian main character is approaching his/her first birthday, yet they have no spots?

WHAT IF your main character wants a Dalmatian more than anything in the world, but his/her parents are allergic to dogs?

The possibilities are endless, and please leave your own what if questions in the comment section below. I’d love to see what you come up with.

So, grab a cup of hot cocoa, a pencil and a piece of paper, and let’s begin. With your imagination, we can go anywhere. I look forward to seeing where you take us.

With Imagination,

Professor Watermelon

The word of the day is “pelt”. Here is the definition: the untanned hide or skin of an animal.

Photo Credits:
Photo #1: Fifth World Art
Photo #2: Dawn Endico
Photo #3: Disney

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Bat Hero! (By: Sophie R.)

Once there lived an Indiana Bat who could write, and for some reason his family was being hunted down by a person named Alex.

So, every day he writes millions of notes about saving his family.

One night, the bat sent all his notes to the police station, thinking that the police would save them. But, no! Alex took the notes back and threw them away.

The next night, the bat made a sword and tried defeating Alex, but Alex hurt the bat’s wing.

Then, the bat decided to show the police what had happened. So, he went to the police station and flew over Alex’s house. The police followed.

The bat showed the police what Alex had done, and the police arrested him. The bat’s family was saved, and the bats were famous.

The End!

A Note from Professor Watermelon: Sophie, I am very proud of you, and I am happy that you were able to use the Indiana Bat as your MUSE! I can also tell that the story of "Charlotte's Web" was your MUSE, too. Sophie, you have a great imagination, and I'm so happy that you took my creative writing class for the second time! I hope I see you again in Indianapolis next year!

Artwork by: Sophie R.

The Mad Popcorn Scientists (By: Alexei L.)

In 1492, two scientists discovered popcorn. The two scientists, Ned and Ted, ate popcorn while they played checkers.

There was a knock on the door. This evil but dastardly man named Professor Watermelon came barging in. He swiped the popcorn and left.

Ted and Ned went flying through the door.

Professor Watermelon made three obstacles: a big vine forest, a fire pit, and a huge waterfall.

Ted and Ned took a sword out and went through the forest. After they went through that, there was a big bowl of popcorn. Ted and Ned left the popcorn behind so that they could catch Professor Watermelon.

They came to the fire pit. But Ted and Ned didn’t have anything to get through. They thought about it, and Ted had an idea. There were rocks that made a path to the other side. So Ted and Ned skipped and jumped all the way over to the other side.

Then, they saw another bowl of popcorn. This time Ned grabbed some. It took them two miles to get to the waterfall. Ned threw some popcorn at the waterfall.

Something rumbled. The waterfall just exploded in from of their eyes. So, they ran through the cavern and saw another bowl of popcorn. This time, Ted grabbed some.

Ted and Ned found Professor Watermelon, and they tackled him!

Ted and Ned locked Professor Watermelon up, and they finally got to eat their popcorn and play checkers.

The End!

A note from Professor Watermelon: Great job Alexei. You used Popcorn as your MUSE, and your story is full of action. Better yet, you kept my attention. And I love that you used me as your ANTAGONIST! Hahaha! I like your characters, and I liked how you kept your story moving along to the end. I'd love to continue seeing your work. Send it to