Friday, March 30, 2007

Tell All The Truth

Tell all the truth but tell it slant,
Success in circuit lies,
Too bright for our infirm delight
The truth's superb surprise;

As lightning to the children eased
With explanation kind,
The truth must dazzle gradually
Or every man be blind.

Emily Dickinson

(Sorry for the lack of real posts; I'm still working on my paper!)

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Puddleglum the Marsh-wiggle

The Prince and the two children were standing with their heads hung down, their cheeks flushed, their eyes half closed; the strength all gone from them; the enchantment almost complete. But Puddleglum, desperately gathering all his strength, walked over to the fire. Then he did a very brave thing. He knew it wouldn't hurt him quite as much as it would hurt a human; for his feet (which were bare) were webbed and hard and cold-blooded like a duck's. But he knew it would hurt him badly enough; and so it did. With his bare foot he stamped on the fire, grinding a large part of it into ashes on the flat hearth. And three things happened at once.

First, the sweet heavy smell grew very much less. For though the whole fire had not been put out, a good bit of it had, and what remained smelled very largely of burnt Marsh-wiggle, which is not at all an enchanting smell. This instantly made everyone's brain far clearer. The Prince and the children held up their heads again and opened their eyes.

Secondly, the Witch, in a loud, terrible voice, utterly different now from all the sweet tones she had been using up till now, called out, "What are you doing? Dare to touch my fire again, mud-filth, and I'll turn the blood to fire inside your veins."

Thirdly, the pain itself made Puddleglum's head for a moment perfectly clear and he knew exactly what he really thought. There is nothing like a good shock of pain for dissolving certain kinds of magic.

"One word, Ma'am," he said, coming back from the fire; limping, because of the pain. "One word. All you've been saying is quite right, I shouldn't wonder. I'm a chap who always liked to know the worst and then put the best face I can on it. So I won't deny any of what you said. But there's one thing more to be said, even so. Suppose we have only dreamed, or made up, all those things - trees and grass and sun and moon and stars and Aslan himself. Suppose we have. Then all I can say to that, in that case, the made-up things seem a good deal more important than the real ones. Suppose this black pit of a kingdom of yours is the only world. Well, it strikes me as a pretty poor one. And that's a funny thing, when you come to think of it. We're just babies making up a game, if you're right. But four babies playing a game can make a play-world which licks your real world hollow. That's why I'm going to stand by the play world. I'm on Aslan's side even if there isn't any Aslan to lead it. I'm going to live as like a Narnian as I can even if there isn't any Narnia. So, thanking you kindly for our supper, if these two gentleman and the young lady are ready, we're leaving your court at once and setting out in the dark to spend our lives looking for Overland. Not that our lives will be very long, I should think; but that's a small loss if the world's as dull a place as you say."

(pg 157-159)

It does sound an awful lot like Pascal's Wager; but its still a powerful little speech, isn't it?
Another Middlemarch quote

"If youth is the season of hope, it is often so only in the sense that our elders are hopeful about us; for no age is so apt as youth to think its emotions, partings, and resolves are the last of their kind. Each crisis seems final, simply because it is new."

from George Eliot's MIDDLEMARCH
(pg 547)

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The Star Splitter

‘You know Orion always comes up sideways.
Throwing a leg up over our fence of mountains,
And rising on his hands, he looks in on me
Busy outdoors by lantern-light with something
I should have done by daylight, and indeed,
After the ground is frozen, I should have done
Before it froze, and a gust flings a handful
Of waste leaves at my smoky lantern chimney
To make fun of my way of doing things,
Or else fun of Orion’s having caught me.
Has a man, I should like to ask, no rights
These forces are obliged to pay respect to?’
So Brad McLaughlin mingled reckless talk
Of heavenly stars with hugger-mugger farming,
Till having failed at hugger-mugger farming
He burned his house down for the fire insurance
And spent the proceeds on a telescope
To satisfy a lifelong curiosity
About our place among the infinities.

‘What do you want with one of those blame things?’
I asked him well beforehand. ‘Don’t you get one!’

‘Don’t call it blamed; there isn’t anything
More blameless in the sense of being less
A weapon in our human fight,’ he said.
‘I’ll have one if I sell my farm to buy it.’
There where he moved the rocks to plow the ground
And plowed between the rocks he couldn’t move,
Few farms changed hands; so rather than spend years
Trying to sell his farm and then not selling,
He burned his house down for the fire insurance
And bought the telescope with what it came to.
He had been heard to say by several:
‘The best thing that we’re put here for’s to see;
The strongest thing that’s given us to see with’s
A telescope. Someone in every town
Seems to me owes it to the town to keep one.
In Littleton it might as well be me.’
After such loose talk it was no surprise
When he did what he did and burned his house down.

Mean laughter went about the town that day
To let him know we weren’t the least imposed on,
And he could wait—we’d see to him tomorrow.
But the first thing next morning we reflected
If one by one we counted people out
For the least sin, it wouldn’t take us long
To get so we had no one left to live with.
For to be social is to be forgiving.
Our thief, the one who does our stealing from us,
We don’t cut off from coming to church suppers,
But what we miss we go to him and ask for.
He promptly gives it back, that is if still
Uneaten, unworn out, or undisposed of.
It wouldn’t do to be too hard on Brad
About his telescope. Beyond the age
Of being given one for Christmas gift,
He had to take the best way he knew how
To find himself in one. Well, all we said was
He took a strange thing to be roguish over.
Some sympathy was wasted on the house,
A good old-timer dating back along;
But a house isn’t sentient; the house
Didn’t feel anything. And if it did,
Why not regard it as a sacrifice,
And an old-fashioned sacrifice by fire,
Instead of a new-fashioned one at auction?

Out of a house and so out of a farm
At one stroke (of a match), Brad had to turn
To earn a living on the Concord railroad,
As under-ticket-agent at a station
Where his job, when he wasn’t selling tickets,
Was setting out, up track and down, not plants
As on a farm, but planets, evening stars
That varied in their hue from red to green.

He got a good glass for six hundred dollars.
His new job gave him leisure for stargazing.
Often he bid me come and have a look
Up the brass barrel, velvet black inside,
At a star quaking in the other end.
I recollect a night of broken clouds
And underfoot snow melted down to ice,
And melting further in the wind to mud.
Bradford and I had out the telescope.
We spread our two legs as we spread its three,
Pointed our thoughts the way we pointed it,
And standing at our leisure till the day broke,
Said some of the best things we ever said.
That telescope was christened the Star-Splitter,
Because it didn’t do a thing but split
A star in two or three, the way you split
A globule of quicksilver in your hand
With one stroke of your finger in the middle.
It’s a star-splitter if there ever was one,
And ought to do some good if splitting stars
‘Sa thing to be compared with splitting wood.

We’ve looked and looked, but after all where are we?
Do we know any better where we are,
And how it stands between the night tonight
And a man with a smoky lantern chimney?
How different from the way it ever stood?

Robert Frost

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Special Greetings

Check out the postcard Jared got in the mail today!

P.S. Jared would like me to mention that he does not have a strange and unnatural obsession with Minnie Mouse and that he did not squeal with delight upon the reception of this card.

Made possible by the DIS and Geeks Like Me.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Seven Songs

I've been tagged by the Spark (gracias!) and the Claw.*

First, a preface: I'm sure I'm not the only one who's ever noticed that music is very definitely not just poetry put to music. You can't always read lyrics and get a feeling for the song. Sometimes the lyrics aren't anything special at all and yet hearing them sung is incredibly moving. (For example, a lot of Radiohead lyrics sound like something an angsty teenage boy might have written and yet put into the context of the music, they can sound extremely heart-wrenching/edgy/elegant/you-decide.)

That said, you sometimes start to realize this when you try to share a song with another person by just giving them the lyrics to read. Its usually just not good enough. Its one of those (rare?) cases where the words don't convey all that's being said.

Anyhow, whether or not the following are exceptions to this rule, you may decide.

Running Up That Hill
by Kate Bush
"And if I only could,
I'd make a deal with God,
and get him to swap our places."

Where Do We Go From Here?
from Once More With Feeling (BTVS)
"Understand we'll go hand and hand,
but we'll walk alone in fear."

Thinking About You
by Radiohead
"Been thinking about you, and there's no rest,
should I still love you, still see you in bed."

The Bleeding Heart Show
by The New Pornographers
"We hunched together in one chair out on the deck
In snow that froze and fell down on the modern set
It looked as if I picked your name out of a hat
Next thing you know you are asleep in someone’s lap "

Your Ex-Lover Is Dead
by Stars
"There's one thing I want to say, so I'll be brave:
You were what I wanted,
I gave what I gave,
I'm not sorry I met you,
I'm not sorry it's over,
I'm not sorry there's nothing to say"

No Man's Woman
by Sinead O'Connor
"I don't wanna be no man's woman,
I've other work I want to get done."

Sometimes Always
by The Jesus & Mary Chain
"I won't get on my knees,
don't make me do that please."

I tag:
Sarah (because she really needs to start a blog!)

* It almost sounds like a pub name, doesn't it? The Spark & Claw. Or a bookstore...

Desmond Tutu on Nelson Mandela

"Had F.W. de Klerk encountered in jail a man bristling with bitterness and a lust for retribution, it is highly unlikely that he would have gone ahead with announcing his initiatives. Mercifully for us... he found a man regal in dignity, bubbling over with magnanimity and a desire to dedicate himself to the reconciliation of those whom apartheid and injustice and the pain of racism had alienated form one another.

Nelson Mandela emerged from prison not spewing words of hatred and revenge. He amazed us all by his heroic embodiment of reconciliation and forgiveness. No one could have accused him of speaking glibly and facilely about forgiveness and reconciliation. He had been harassed for a long time before his arrest, making impossible a normal family life. By the time of his release on February 11, 1990, he had spent all of twenty-seven years in jail. No one could say that he knew nothing about suffering. A famous picture shows him on Robben Island with Walter Sisulu in the courtyard where they and others - who can be seen behind them in the photograph - sit in a row breaking rocks into small pieces. Such utterly futile drudgery could have destroyed lesser mortals with its pointlessness. And we know that his eyesight was ruined by the glare to which prisoners were later exposed as they labored in the lime quarry.

Everything had been done to break his spirit and make him hate-filled. In all this the system mercifully failed dismally. He emerged a whole person. Humanly speaking, we would be inclined to say that those twenty-seven years were utter shameful waste; just think of all he could have contributed to the good of South Africa and the world. I don't think so. Those twenty-seven years and all the suffering they entailed were the fires of the furnace that tempered his steel, that removed the dross... The true leader must at some point or other convince her or his followers that she or he is in this whole business not for self-aggrandizement but for the sake of others. Nothing is able to prove this quite so convincingly as suffering."

from No Future Without Forgiveness by Desmond Tutu
(pg. 39)

Friday, March 23, 2007

rest·less [rest-lis]

1. characterized by or showing inability to remain at rest: a restless mood.
2. unquiet or uneasy, as a person, the mind, or the heart.
3. never at rest; perpetually agitated or in motion: the restless sea.
4. without rest; without restful sleep: a restless night.
5. unceasingly active; averse to quiet or inaction, as persons: a restless crowd.
6. me*

[Origin: bef. 1000; ME restles, OE restléas.]

—Related forms
rest·less·ly, adverb
rest·less·ness, noun

—Synonyms 1, 2, 3. restive, agitated, fretful.

* Status of Paper: Undone. (This is because I, like an idiot, stayed home on a Friday night thinking I'd actually be able to concentrate. *sigh*)
French men don't get caught?

Henri is the fairy-tale adulterer: European, sensual, guiltless. He is a figure we Americans look upon with wonder and terror, wanting to believe and desperately not wanting to believe that he (or she) exists. Because when we go too far at that bachelor party in Vegas, or at the office holiday party, or with the milkman or the butcher or the baker, we go into hysterics. We drink a bottle of Wild Turkey and drive onto our own lawn and confess, bawling, to our spouse. We cut our thighs with an X-Acto knife. We quit our job and work full-time for free at a soup kitchen. We enroll in specialized infidelity therapy. We hate ourselves. We fall apart.

An interesting article on infidelity.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

The Dwarf tells of Prince Caspian...

"When the night came, and his various strange subjects came stealing into the Lawn by ones and twos and threes or by sixes and sevens - the moon then shining almost at her full - his heart swelled as he saw their numbers and heard their greetings. All who he had met were there: Bulgy Bears and Red Dwarfs and Black Dwarfs, Moles and Badgers, Hares and Hedgehogs, and others whom he had not yet seen - five satyrs as red as foxes, the whole contingent of Talking Mice, armed to the teeth and following a shrill trumpet, some Owls, the Old Raven of Ravenscaur. Last of all (and this took Caspian's breath away), with the centaurs came a small but genuine Giant, Wimbleweather of Deadman's hill, carrying on his back a basketful of rather seasick Dwarfs who had accepted his offer of a lift and were now wishing they had walked instead.

The Bulgy Bears were very anxious to have the feast first and leave the council till afterwards; perhaps tomorrow. Reepicheep and his Mice said that councils and feasts could both wait, and proposed storming Miraz in his own castle that very night. Pattertwig and the other squirrels said they could talk and eat at the same time, so why not have the council and feast all at once? The Moles proposed throwing up entrenchments round the Lawn before they did anything else. The Fauns thought it would be better to begin with a solemn dance. The Old Raven, while agreeing with the Bears that it would take too long to have a full council before supper, begged to be allowed to give a brief address to the whole company. But Caspian and the Centaurs and the Dwarfs over-ruled all these suggestions and insisted on holding a real Council of War at once."

from Prince Caspian by C. S. LEWIS

(Narnia map image by way of Into the Wardrobe)

The Story of Bonnie & Clyde

You've read the story of Jesse James--
Of how he lived and died;
If you're still in need
Of something to read
Here's the story of Bonnie and Clyde.

Now Bonnie and Clyde are the Barrow gang.
I'm sure you all have read
How they rob and steal
And those who squeal
Are usually found dying or dead.

There's lots of untruths to these write-ups;
They're not so ruthless as that;
Their nature is raw;
They hate the law--
The stool pigeons, spotters, and rats.

They call them cold-blooded killers;
They say they are heartless and mean;
But I say this with pride,
That I once knew Clyde
When he was honest and upright and clean.

But the laws fooled around,
Kept taking him down
And locking him up in a cell,
Till he said to me,
"I'll never be free,
So I'll meet a few of them in hell."

The road was so dimly lighted;
There were no highway signs to guide;
But they made up their minds
If all roads were blind,
They wouldn't give up till they died.

The road gets dimmer and dimmer;
Sometimes you can hardly see;
But it's fight, man to man,
And do all you can,
For they know they can never be free.

From heart-break some people have suffered;
From weariness some people have died;
But take it all in all,
Our troubles are small
Till we get like Bonnie and Clyde.

If a policeman is killed in Dallas,
And they have no clue or guide;
If they can't find a fiend,
They just wipe their slate clean
And hang it on Bonnie and Clyde.

There's two crimes committed in America
Not accredited to the Barrow mob;
They had no hand
In the kidnap demand,
Nor the Kansas City Depot job.

A newsboy once said to his buddy:
"I wish old Clyde would get jumped;
In these awful hard times
We'd make a few dimes
If five or six cops would get bumped."

The police haven't got the report yet,
But Clyde called me up today;
He said, "Don't start any fights--
We aren't working nights--
We're joining the NRA."

From Irving to West Dallas viaduct
Is known as the Great Divide,
Where the women are kin,
And the men are men,
And they won't "stool" on Bonnie and Clyde.

If they try to act like citizens
And rent them a nice little flat,
About the third night
They're invited to fight
By a sub-gun's rat-tat-tat.

They don't think they're too smart or desperate,
They know that the law always wins;
They've been shot at before,
But they do not ignore
That death is the wages of sin.

Some day they'll go down together;
They'll bury them side by side;
To few it'll be grief--
To the law a relief--
But it's death for Bonnie and Clyde.

by Bonnie Parker

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

An update

In case you were wondering (despairing, even) - yes, I have been doing more then obsessing about Disney. I promise. I even went out this past weekend to celebrate Sarah's 24th birthday. That involved a very hilarious scavenger hunt where a 3-girl team sparred off against a 4-boy team in a fast-paced hour and a half race to the finish (the boys won). We also went out that same evening to The Elephant & Castle where we drank green beer in honor of Saint Patrick.

Oh, and I've also been researching for my final Conflict Resolution paper. Its worth 25% so I'm a bit nervous. And when I'm nervous I procrastinate. Then I panic two days before and write the entire thing in one night. At least, that's what I'm counting on happening.

My paper is going to be on the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Some nice things about this are that 1) the topic is extremely interesting, 2) I already did a lot of research on it last year when I was torn over writing about the TRC or Rwanda's gacaca program for my Restorative Justice class, and 3) Elliot and Melissa were nice enough to buy me a copy of Desmond Tutu's No Future Without Forgiveness which so far is excellent. So this means I have all of my research gathered. I just need to finish reading/rereading it and then start selecting quotes and streamlining towards a thesis.

Generally, these are the steps I go through for writing any kind of a serious research paper:

First I choose a topic. If I can't think of a specific topic, I think of a general area that I'm interested in and start searching the UofW Cybrary databases until I find an article that looks interesting. Then I'll read that article and hope that it sparks an idea.

Once I've got a general topic, I pull up as many interesting looking articles as possible and print them all off. Sometimes I'll even go the library, but not usually as this has resulted one too many times in excessive late fees. *sigh* As a result I've learned that its smarter for me to buy a book than to borrow one and end up paying for it in the long run. So for a major research project I'll usually buy 1 really great looking book and start reading it about a month beforehand to get a feel for the topic. (For my project on Rwanda I read We Wish To Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families. With the combination of the book, numerous articles, documentaries, and movies I ended up overdosing on genocide and experienced a hellish month of darkness. That's another story.)

If my topic is for a major research paper, I usually also watch a movie or documentary (or two or three). For my TRC project, so far I've only watched In My Country. Its gotten poor reviews but for my purposes I give it a 5 out of 5. It gave me a feel for what it must have been like to sit through the Commission hearings and it included numerous real life testimonies. (And I didn't realize until I watched it that the Commission moved all over Africa - it journeyed to the people, rather then making the people come to it like a traditional court would have.)

Once I've finished watching and reading, I take all of my material and start typing out all of the quotes I found interesting. For my Rwanda paper, I ended up with over 30 pages of quotes. For my Gandhi paper, I ended up with 15 pages (but that was for a much shorter assignment).

Once I've got all of my quotations typed up (with their page number and author and article title next to them), I start sorting them into made-up-Anactoria-categories based on the points I've realized I want to make as I write my paper. This way, as I go through the paper I can go to my quotes and just pick and choose - I've already got my layout, including a quotes section for my introduction, thesis, and conclusion.

Of course, sometimes I've gone overboard and ended up with waaay to much information.

In fact, that's probably always the case...

But I'd rather have too much than not enough because I like to be able to state things... authoritatively in my paper.

Anyways, once my quotes are sorted I start to write. It really, really helps to have all of those quotes right there for inspiration!

As I write, I use the best quotes in the body of the paper... but sometimes I have so many good quotes that I end up creating footnotes just so I can include the extra quotes that it would hurt me to leave out.

What was the point of this post again?

Oh yeah, do the rest of you do this? I guess I'm trying to figure out if this is the typical student way of writing a paper. If not, what do you do that is kind of special? (Or eccentric even!)

P.S. I got an A+ on the Rwanda paper. I got an A- on the Gandhi paper. So far the system is working. But if you have any better ideas, be sure to let me know! ;)

P.P.S. How desperate is it to write about doing your homework instead of actually
doing it??? Argh. (And no, I didn't do any today.... I was too busy eating odd potluck food and watching Gilmore Girls.)

P.P.P.S./Amendment - I have been told this was an extremely boring post. So sue me, Sarah! :P

I've been listening to this.

Reading this.

And watching this and this and this.

Guess I'll never lose that JW mentality, huh? [wink]

(I know, I know - its sad.)
The End of the Quest

"I have never done you injustice. Please remember me," said Dorothea, repressing a rising sob.

"Why should you say that?" said Will, with irritation. "As if I were not in danger of forgetting everything else."

He really had a movement of anger against her at that moment, and it impelled him to go away without pause. It was all one flash to Dorothea - his last words - his distant bow to her as he reached the door - the sense that he was no longer there. She sank into the chair, and for a few moments sat there like a statue, while images and emotions were hurrying upon her. Joy came first, in spite of the threatening train behind it - joy in the impression that it was really herself whom Will loved and was renouncing, that there was really no other love less permissible, more blameworthy, which honour was hurrying him away from. They were parted all the same, but - Dorothea drew a deep breath and felt her strength return - she could think of him unrestrainedly. At that moment the parting was easy to bear: the first sense of loving and being loved excluded sorrow. It was as if some hard icy pressure had melted, and her consciousness had room to expand; her part was come back to her with larger interpretation. The joy was not the less - perhaps it was the more complete just then - because of the irrevocable parting; for there was no reproach, no contemptuous wonder to imagine in any eye or from any lips. He had acted so as to defy reproach, and make wonder respectful.

George Eliot's MIDDLEMARCH

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Do not expect...

Do not expect that if your book falls open
to a certain page, that any phrase
you read will make a difference today,
or that the voices you might overhear
when the wind moves through the yellow-green
and golden tent of autumn, speak to you.

Things ripen or go dry. Light plays on the
dark surface of the lake. Each afternoon
your shadow walks beside you on the wall,
and the days stay long and heavy underneath
the distant rumor of the harvest. One
more summer gone,
and one way or another you survive,
dull or regretful, never learning that
nothing is hidden in the obvious
changes of the world, that even the dim
reflection of the sun on tall, dry grass
is more than you will ever understand.

And only briefly then
you touch, you see, you press against
the surface of impenetrable things.

Dana Gioia
Political sense

"We cannot worry about what they say about us around the boardroom tables, but we must care what they talk about at the kitchen tables."

That comes from none other than Stephen Harper.

Election call could come at any time, Harper tells Tory party

Saturday, March 17, 2007

So much for Women's Lib?

This is such a great post.*

You can't see my face right now but I'm blushing with a twinge of shame.

(J will know what I'm talking about. *sigh*)

I think almost every girl I know is guilty of relying on a guy to do what we historically (or just arbitrarily?) have classified to be "man's work" from time to time.

I generally like to justify it by saying that certain physical tasks are usually a bit easier for guys - like it or not, they do tend to have the extra muscle.

However, in the case of the mouse - I like to think that I'd scream a bit at first, yes, but then get over it and do the dirty work that had to be done. It was a mercy killing after all.

* All of the Waiter's posts are fantastic. You can spend many an enjoyable hour just going through his blog archives. (And he has an incredible voice, too. Wow.)
Manufacturing controversy... at any cost

I just woke up and now have to scurry to get ready for my friend Sarah's 24th-birthday-scavenger-hunt-St-Patrick's-Day-party but first something quick...

Here's an article which scathingly attacks climate-change deniers, particularly the ones involved in the making of The Great Global Warming Swindle,* which calls itself a 'documentary.' (However, since documentaries are by definition supposed to be non-fiction, I don't think it qualifies.)

This reminds me of two things:

1 - Holocaust denial

2 - Disney and the lemmings

* This was by way of the Claw who has gone on hiatus.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

To S.A.

I loved you, so I drew these tides of men into my hands

and wrote my will across the sky in stars
To gain you Freedom, the seven-pillared worthy house,
that your eyes might be shining for me
When I came.

T.E. Lawrence
from The Seven Pillars of Wisdom

The rest of the poem is here.

Monday, March 12, 2007

'We talked of love, death and fairy tales'

Dear Roberta Sparrow,

I have reached the end of your book
and there are so many questions that I
need to ask you.

Sometimes I am afraid of what you
might tell me. Sometimes I am afraid this
is not a work of fiction. I can only hope
that the answer will come to me in my

I hope that when the world comes to an end,
I can breathe a sigh of relief, because there
will be so much to look forward to.

Donnie Darko

Sunday, March 11, 2007

The Sparrow

Dear Diary,

Today a bird got into the apartment through a window that had been left open to ventilate the place from varnish fumes. I think it was a sparrow.

I was awakened in my bed due to the screaming and clamor. Well, that and Jared came to ask me to help in the search and rescue.

The bird was flying frantically from room to room, sometimes smacking into windows.

At first our strategy (mine and the children's) was to jump up and down shrieking while Jared ran from room to room with a small blue fuzzy blanket clasped to his chest for protection.

Or maybe that was to catch the bird with...

Anyways, the bird flew into the bathroom and vanished behind the shower into the walled-off space behind it. There was no way we could reach into that space.

At this point in time, I voiced my belief (admittedly not in my calmest voice) that the bird would rot and die behind our shower and that we would have to smash down the walls to get its carcass out.

Jared looked at me with some disgust and then marched off.

He soon came back with our secret weapon: Chubby the Cat.

Chubby had raced away in terror as soon as the bird had entered the apartment.

Now Jared had him in his arms and planned on using him as a ballistic missile (in the sense of "going ballistic"). He held the squirming kitty over the open shower space and waited.

Soon there came a squawking and a flapping of wings.

The bird came soaring out of the bathroom, past our heads (fortunately I had covered mine protectively with my arms and a hood and was facing the wall screaming "I hate birds" in my most grown-up voice) and into the living room where it hit the living room window, did a 180 and flew back into the hallway and into the dining room where Jared quickly pursued.

Finally displaying a tad of common sense I proceeded to cover one of the entrances to the dining room with a huge blanket in the hopes of discouraging the bird from flying out that way. There I stood with my hood over my head, arms raised high, praying that a bird was not about to fly straight through the blanket and right into my face.

There was sound of a scuffle. Muffled shouting. Then a window opening.

Then Jared called out that the bird was gone!

Well, gone out of the apartment at least. The bird was now sitting just outside the window shaking like a leaf.

My heart filled with delayed pity and I suggested we give it something to eat. Unfortunately the only animal food we had was cat. I considered suggesting that we make a tiny bed out of a shoebox and a pillowcase and pieces of cotton and place the bed on the window sill so that the bird could take a recovery rest if it so desired but then had a mental image of the bird lying sleeping peacefully and a wind knocking the tiny bed off the sill and the box tumbling over and over to the ground with a smash.

So instead we just stood there staring at the bird. Eventually it recovered somewhat and flew away to a nearby tree.

And that was the end of our bird adventure.

Friday, March 09, 2007

The Ultimate Top 10 Greatest Books of All Time?

1. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
2. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
3. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
4. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
5. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
6. Hamlet by William Shakespeare
7. The Great Gatsby F. Scott Fitzgerald
8. In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust
9. The Stories of Anton Chekhov by Anton Chekhov
10. Middlemarch by George Eliot

What can I say - I love lists. But can this really be the ultimate 10? I dunno. With all of the hundreds of thousands of books in the world, Tolstoy manages to make the list twice? Hmm.

(In bold are the ones I've read.)

Monday, March 05, 2007


Uninvited, the thought of you stayed too late in my head.
so I went to bed, dreaming you hard, hard, woke with your name,
like tears, soft, salt, on my lips, the sound of its bright syllables
like a charm, like a spell.

Falling in love
is glamorous hell: the crouched, parched heart
like a tiger, ready to kill; a flame’s fierce licks under the skin.
into my life, larger than life, you strolled in.

I hid in my ordinary days, in the long grass of routine,
in my camouflage rooms. You sprawled in my gaze,
staring back from anyone’s face, from the shape of a cloud,
from the pining, earth-struck moon which gapes at me

as I open the bedroom door. The curtains stir. There you are
on the bed, like a gift, like a touchable dream.

Carol Ann Duffy

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Of Many Books

My book collection grew by 12 this weekend. And I've already run out of bookshelf space in this new apartment (even with the built-in bookcases that are on either side of the fireplace) so I'm not sure what I was thinking.

Oh, wait. I wasn't thinking.

Of anything but having more and more books, that is...

I actually trimmed down by taking a bunch of books I either 1) hated/was-ashamed-to-own or 2) knew I would never read (some books I buy just to see if they'll be good without knowing anything about them; usually doing this ends badly) to Aqua Books* on Friday. (Amazingly I even managed to get rid of my copy of The Celestine Prophecy! HA!)

After acquiring a nice little credit balance with which to buy books, I picked up the following:

from Aqua Books:
The End of the Affair by Graham Greene
Greenwitch (Book 3 in The Dark Is Rising sequence) by Susan Cooper
The Grey King (Book 4 in The Dark Is Rising sequence) by Susan Cooper
The Secret Island by Enid Blyton
Big Planet by Jack Vance*

I've had a copy of The Dark Is Rising - book 2 in the series - for years (I think Elliot gave it to Karina and I?) and I think I even read it once a long time ago, but I never had the other books and so just gave up on it until the other day when someone left it lying out and I started to remember little bits and pieces of it: wintertime, a rowdy happy family, an old country house, breakfast being cooked, a secret room, a mystery, danger. The combination of those remembrances made me eager to find the rest of the series and finish the story, finally! Plus, I recalled that (in the tradition of Enid Blyton and C.S. Lewis) they seemed to have been very cozy books - with a goodly amount of danger, certainly, but balanced nicely with generous helpings of warm scones, strawberry jam, and tea. (Food is extremely important to any avid adventure book reader. I remember realizing this as a little girl reading Heidi for the first time and munching on cheese and crackers [pretending it was goat's cheese of course].)

from the Salvation Army:
The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell

from Value Village:
Persuasion by Jane Austen
Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy
The Wave by Todd Strasser
Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs
The Far Side of the World by Patrick O'Brian

On Saturday I went out thrift store shopping with my friend Sarah. When Sarah and I do thrift stores we hit them in sequence as follows: lingerie (but we draw the line at articles too intimate - you know what I mean, eww), books, and teacups. Well, actually, Sarah usually does go through most of the clothing section because she has a great eye for fashionable treasures; while she's doing that I wander over to the books.

Do you know, until yesterday I had never stepped foot into a Salvation Army store! It was quite the exciting experience!

No, not really.

But I did notice that Sally Ann stores are much cleaner then Value Villages. And the books are better too! By that I mean - in much better condition and cheaper. Unfortunately, the one we went to did not have a very large selection so we moved on to the VV down the street.

And lastly we hit McNally. I had to buy some gift cards and they always have the neatest ones. Also, I obsessively check their bargain book section at least once a week. And it was a good thing I did because there I found...

from McNally Robinson (bargain section special for $4.99):
Over Sea, Under Stone (Book 1 in The Dark Is Rising sequence) by Susan Cooper

Now, one thing that really bugs me is when I own all of the books in a series... but their covers don't match. You know, a series can sometimes be reprinted many different times and each time with a different cover illustrator. Am I the only one who isn't quite obsessive enough to insist on a matching set, but who is still just a little miffed over the fact that my set doesn't match? *sigh*

Ah, well. I'm off to finish up Over Sea, Under Stone...*

* It came highly recommended by Kelly, the store owner. Is it just me or is "Jack Vance" a really cool sounding name? Kinda like Aeon Flux. Or Lola Montez.
* The cover of my copy is endorsed enthusiastically by Diana Wynne Jones who says: "I wish I had written these!"
* Which is tied with McNally on my personal favorites list for best bookstore in Winnipeg. Of course, if Aqua had a restaurant that sold gingerbread cake that would probably push them right up to number 1...

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Two Sisters

"Of course I submitted to him, because it was my duty; it was my feeling for him," said Dorothea, looking through the prism of her tears.

"Then why can't you think it is your duty to submit a little to what James wishes?" said Celia, with a sense of stringency in her argument. "Because he only wishes what is for your own good. And, of course men know best about everything, except what women know better."

Dorothea laughed and forgot her tears.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

"Dodo, how very bright your eyes are!" said Celia, when Sir James was gone out of the room. "And you don't see anything you look at, Arthur or anything. You are going to do something uncomfortable, I know. Is it all about Mr. Lydgate, or has something else happened?" Celia had been used to watch her sister with expectation.

"Yes, dear, a great many things have happened," said Dodo, in her full tones.

"I wonder what," said Celia, folding her arms cozily and leaning forward upon them.

"Oh, all the troubles of all the people on the face of the earth," said Dorothea, lifting her arms to the back of her head.

"Dear me, Dodo, are you going to have a scheme for them?" said Celia, a little uneasy at this Hamlet-like raving.

(pg 736, 776)

[I wonder if these are as amusing when taken out of context.]

Friday, March 02, 2007

Mr.Deity and the Evil

"So what do you..."

"Shhhh! Shhhh! Do you hear that? Is it supposed to sound like that?"

"Mr Deity, I think it sounds great."

"Larry... I...The whole thing is a trainwreck... its..." *sigh*

"Sir, you're being a perfectionist.

"Well, yeah!"

"You had six days for this project."

"Well... actually, I had seven. But there's no way I'm coming in tomorrow. I'm so depressed."

"Okaaay. Well, we really should wrap up this whole 'evil thing.' Sir? Mr. Deity? What you're allowing and what you're not allowing, sir?"

This is hysterical. Check it out.

You can get to the other 5 episodes here.

(By way of Diedre.)
Leave it to speculation

I'm likely coming from a very different place then he is when I agree with Stephen Burnett's recent post on "Avoiding 'spray-paint' for speculative-stories" (linked to recently by the Claw) but I still feel like I couldn't agree more.

As I look back on my own upbringing, I am just now starting to realize (admit to myself?) that I was raised with Christianity forced down my throat from the womb onwards. And this meant having to look for the Christian (oh, alright the JW) meaning in absolutely everything. Some may feel that that is a wonderful way of being reared and in some ways it did have a few - what I hold to be - benefits that have stuck with me even now.* But it certainly has its drawbacks. One of those is a growing resentment, defiance even, towards the beliefs one is being forced to accept.

And so my experience taught me that even with the best intentions you can certainly go overboard in your zeal for instilling your faith/beliefs in your children. I think in some ways it backfired on my sister and I. We were taught to question "worldly beliefs" and ended up rebelliously questioning those we had been raised with.

Anyhow, I'm going on a tangent. My point was originally going to be that I think it is a lot more pleasant to come into a belief on one's own by being struck by it of one's own accord either by encountering certain facts or even by being led towards it in a more subtle, gentle, meandering way, then it is to have a 'message' force-fed to one through constant propaganda.

Which brings us back to Burnett's point.

When I was nine-years old and began to read the Narnia books I had no idea that there was a "Christian message" embedded within them.* They were the most fantastic books I had ever read (surpassing even Little Women which I'd read the year before) and that was all I knew.

Fast-forward: Now that The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe movie has come out and now that I know (through having Christian friends (yes, really)) that the Narnia books have been adopted/labeled by many as 'Christian fiction,' I am so, so glad that I read them as a child and was able to draw my own meaning and interpretation from them.*

As Burnett says:
"The antique Wardrobe in the story and its beautiful carvings (at least as portrayed in the film version) can tell its own story, with inherent, transcendent value. It doesn’t need Christians to come along and add to the imagery with churchy-sounding propaganda."
Hear, hear!

In my case, years later the imagery of the Narnia books did sink in. I finally 'got' the meaning of the conclusion to The Last Battle and the train accident, etc. But no one had given me the Christian Oprah's Book Club version of the series and made me go through a checklist after each book to make sure that every bit of symbolism had thoroughly sunk in. Oh, and I hadn't had to (as JWs are wont to do) been forced to look up all of the scriptures that corresponded with every part of the story either.

What's the end result? I'm not a Christian today. But I'm still drawn to Christianity as something that at its very heart is extremely mysterious and beautiful (I know that's an overly brief and very inadequate way of putting it but...).* And I think that Lewis stayed true to 'real Christianity' when he wrote the Narnia books.*

Burnett goes on to say:
In his [Lewis'] approach, story comes first, and Deep Meaning is secondary — for the author, that is. He himself explained why he wrote the books, not to propagandize, but to tell stories:

Some people seem to think that I began by asking myself how I could say something about Christianity to children; then fixed on the fairy tale as an instrument; then collected information about child-psychology and decided what age group I’d write for; then drew up a list of basic Christian truths and hammered out ‘allegories’ to embody them. This is all pure moonshine. I couldn’t write in that way at all. Everything began with images; a faun carrying an umbrella, a queen on a sledge, a magnificent lion. At first there wasn’t even anything Christian about them; that element pushed itself in of its own accord.

C.S. Lewis, “Of This and Other Worlds”
Let each reader take what they will from Narnia. Don't try to force a meaning upon it that isn't there for all of us.

Or, to put it even another way: Please try to resist the desire to add to what is already perfect.*

* A sense of wonderment and amazement with the world; a sense of appreciation.
* In fact, I actually had to hide their subject matter from my parents because we weren't allowed to read books with magic in them.
* Which at the time was admittedly limited...
* Pure, unadulterated, uncorporatized heart.
* Although he sure did do his own fair share of overt evangelizing in many of his other writings (i.e. God in the Docks, etc.)
* Once again I'm reminded of Dorothea: "Please not to call it by any name," said Dorothea, putting out her hands entreatingly. "You will say it is Persian, or something else geographical. It is my life. I have found it out, and cannot part with it." From George Eliot's Middlemarch. The full quote is here.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

"When I was born my father wished to name me

Seven Snows, which is a common name for girls

among our people. But I was born while he

was away in his boat; and before he returned,

my mother had left her bed and seen the Cim

blowing from tree to tree like a soft star in

the air, and completed the naming."


From the Gene Wolfe story Tracking Song.

(There are many ways I imagine Cim Glowing might look. This is just one of them.)