January 31, 2006
January 25, 2006
If you haven't read them, do! And then give it a whirl yourself maybe?
Oh, and you know I'm gonna say it, now don't you? --
UPDATE: Apparently the link for this quiz -- the one on the graph below -- is defunct, so if you want to give it a whirl, go here instead.
OK, so I took the latest Quiz going around. I canNOT believe Mathematics beat out Theatre and Art. A flawed quiz, this. So to Mr. Cody, my beloved high school drama coach and still my very good friend, I say that if you are reading this, you have my full permission to call Mr. Barringer (my high school algebra teacher) and enjoy a huge belly laugh at my expense.
You scored as English. You should be an English major! Your passion lies in writing and expressing yourself creatively, and you hate it when you are inhibited from doing so. Pursue that interest of yours!
created with QuizFarm.com
January 23, 2006
(click for definitions)
Virtual M&Ms to anyone who can pen some sort of diverting verbal trifle using all four of these stellar specimens of English etymology. Peanut M&Ms for a poem. Double portions for really bad haiku.
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If merely three prior rounds can constitute an archive, then here, for your amusement (or at least convenience), are links to the Oh My Word episodes past:
and Da Bomb, a slight mutation on the theme, which we will reckon henceforth as
January 18, 2006
You know, sometimes I wonder how much laughter we are missing out on.
I wonder this because today I was sitting at my desk doing Chemistry, when one of our cats jumped up into the window above my desk and sat there, watching the birds outside with round eyes. And I don't know, maybe this is just the effect Chemistry has on me (we don't get along very well at all-- barely on speaking terms in fact), but as I watched him out of the corner of my eye I began to notice how truly and incredibly ridiculous tails are. Especially this tail-- long and white and very fluffy, gliding constantly back and forth with cattish panache. And I began to laugh. And laugh. And laugh. Really hard and really long. Because when I really looked at the thing, it was just plain funny. I mean, what was that animal doing with a long snakey furry thing attached to its behind, waving violently? It was hilarious. I could hardly concentrate for giggling about it, partly because I had never looked at tails hard enough before to realise how funny they are.
It really was funny.
(Virtual M&M's on the title!)
Many are familiar with Milne's classic Pooh stories, but we Beehive people are equally enamored with his poetry. Every English speaking child on a perfect planet would have a copy of Milne's poetry and would know it so well as to have the joyous joy of being able to quote it at his whim.
In honor of the day and the man, "I shall tell you a bit of poetry" -- a happy bit that gets quoted quite often here at our house-- a line here and a line there, as appropriate for the moment, and always with an exaggerated English accent and an abundance of daughterish affection...
Tattoo was the mother of Pinkle Purr
A little black nothing of feet and fur;
And by-and-by, when his eyes came through,
He saw his mother, the big Tattoo.
And all that he learned he learned from her.
"I'll ask my mother," says Pinkle Purr.
Tattoo was the mother of Pinkle Purr,
A ridiculous kitten with silky fur.
And little black Pinkie grew and grew
Till he got as big as the big Tattoo.
And all that he did he did with her.
"Two friends together," says Pinkle Purr.
Tattoo was the mother of Pinkle Purr,
An adventurous cat in a coat of fur.
And whenever he thought of a thing to do,
He didn't bother much about Tattoo,
For he knows its nothing to do with her,
So "See you later," says Pinkle Purr.
Tattoo is the mother of Pinkle Purr,
An enormous leopard with coal-black fur.
A little brown kitten that's nearly new
Is now playing games with its big Tattoo...
And Pink looks lazily down at her:
"Dear little Tat," says Pinkle Purr.
from And Now We Are Six
And do hop over to The Common Room to read their delightful post today on Milne.
January 16, 2006
as if for reassurance
that the wind that grates
will carry too;
carry clouds, heavy clouds,
full clouds and black;
to fall and to dampen,
to drench and to soak —
deep into the pores of the earth.
The stream-beds are paths
for the lizard and the snake;
the reed-beds are brown
and blackened — (last week,
another fire went along there)
and the boulders which
in the floods are quite still;
still with the stillness
of tragedy brewing,
still with the stillness
Men curse the wind
for its transitory promises—
dark clouds build up
(and our hopes with them too)
and are blown away;
or, worse still, come over,
intact and inticing,
to cynically spatter
verandahs and faces
before passing on . . .
A desk — and textbooks strewn;
lately my eyes have been wandering
more and more. But my window
still frames the same picture
of a bright, empty sky
(called gorgeous in Sydney, where
storm clouds abound),
and grass, grey with despair—
dust hangs in a curl
(thrown up by a wheel);
it seems, almost, to have
been hanging there
for months now.
O Lord, I murmur,
and murmur again-
Please send us rain.
-by i've forgotten who...maybe i should look it up.
Eudora Welty and I became acquainted over the fall. After the initial shock of meeting, we have become quite inseparable, truly kindred spirits. So it was with great joy I received the news that I was to read her 'On Writing' in school this term.
I started it today, and as always am in awe. Here is a thought from the first chapter, 'Looking at Short Stories'--
"And so, plainly, we must distinguish plots not by their skeletons but by their full bodies; for they are embodiments, little worlds."
So, so true-- any story is a world, but a short story is a tiny world, compressed into 20 pages or so, so small that there is no space for context. So the writer must provide a diving board for the reader to jump in with, to submerge themselves all at once. There is no time for wading in gradually here, as in a novel. And indeed, maybe short stories are so powerful because of the shock of diving into the icy water all at once, with no time to calibrate yourself to the temperature like you have the leisure to when reading a longer work.
This littleness, paradoxically, also makes the the scope for impact of the story bigger. Unbound by the context of a novel full of characters and dialogues and subplots, the story itself has the freedom to be a Thing, an Entity. As Eudora says-- "This is because, although a small situation is going on, a large, complex one is implied." Everything becomes so miniature, so compressed that it has much more impact. No wonder short stories hurt.
January 15, 2006
YES, the Bebo Norman concert last night was great! We got there early enough to get third row seats.
He shared the stage throughout the concert with his good friend Christopher Williams, who was amazing and has natural stage presence if I ever saw it... he did this truly astonishing cover of Dylan's "Serve Somebody" with nothing but that drum and his voice, which had everybody gaping. I believe he out-Dylan'd Dylan (but don't tell Evan).
...and with Jonah Werner (far left), who is hard to describe -- a sort of modern day folk troubadour who sings and talks at the same time. Enjoyable and funny, but probably not my fave. But he was a good balance for Bebo, who is rather quiet and serious, and Christopher, who is intense... and all about that rhythm thang.
Bebo played five songs -- but I could have gone home happy with my ticket stub after his second, Trees Stand Still, one of the loveliest songs ever penned. Which, I might add, he said he wrote in Texas, while watching trees flash by outside his tour bus window. Why is it that the best things always come out of TEXAS, I wonder?
Wish you all could have been there!
January 13, 2006
Yes, my friends, meet George and Martha.
The George and Martha series is one of my lifelong addictions. I adore them. If you have never had the privilege and joy of meeting them you 'can find out more at your
local library!' as they say at the end of every PBS show. Please, please do not deprive yourself any longer-- read some of their adventures
When I did my picture book post, I knew there were a few books that I simply could not get started on, or it would turn into the longest post in the history of blogdom. Among these select and special few were the Beatrix Potter stories,Ernest Shepard's Winnie the Pooh and Wind in the Willows....and George and Martha. So here I dedicate an entire post to them. Enjoy it-- this is fine art if there ever was any.
Look at their eyes-- just a line and a dot, and they convey so much! Amazing...
And now for the other motive behind this post. One of my all-time favorite George and Martha stories is the one where Martha goes into a photo booth and has her picture taken for George. And what, you ask, does this have to do with anything?? ---Well, you'll see. Suffice it to say that my blogger profile may never be the same again.
January 12, 2006
Slippery, slick with dew and 6 AM rain;
Grey light, damp light, sodden sidewalk.
Blankets trailing from shivering shoulders,
I lift the blinds. Suddenly, swiftly, I
Am Someone Else-- from a movie, perhaps
Or a book read long ago-- some grey heroine,
Still, silent in a grey window, waiting for--
--I can't remember anymore. It's been too long.
I can't remember my-- I mean, rather, her name, or even
What story we're in. We're stuck here. Immovable, unnamed.
But we do know that we are waiting. So we wait.
January 10, 2006
(Being a general hodge-podge of amusing things that happened all in one day, which made for a chucklish day, all told.)
Best Current Events Headline: "Bird Flu Found in Turkey"
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Best School Moment:
Spuddy to Fa: Hey, Sis, I can read sometimes.
Fa: And what about the other times?
Spuddy: No, I can read the word 'sometimes.' And it's a pretty big word, y'know.
* * * * *
Best Sports Moment:
Spuddy's PE teacher, knowing that he is the fastest kid in the class, instructed Spuddy to take off running and then told the rest of the class to chase him. Whereupon she took a long, much-needed break. Sheer genius, I tell you.
* * * * *
Most Morbid Moment:
Spuddy and I drive past a huge cemetery every week en route to PE class. It oftens draws forth questions, such as, "Why did ____ die, Mamadah?" To which I once replied something to the effect that "everybody dies... somebody dies every day, son."
So now, every time Spuddy and I pass the cemetery, as we did today, he says matter-of-factly: "Well, I wonder who today's dead guy is."
* * * * *
Most Intriguing Misperception:
A new freeway billboard almost caused me to smush my car, and still distracts me a bit on repeat passes, because to my peripheral view, it seems to say, in huge letters (and with a 1-800 number for your convenience): OUTRAGE HOTLINE. The thought of which just intrigues me. I suspect my fellow citizens simply see it as is: an electic company advertising their "Outage Hotline." But I see OUTRAGE, every time. Which, with all the road rage transpiring right beneath it, has far more worthy potential than merely providing folks with a venue to whine about their lightbulbs. Just imagine the untapped power of unlimited toll-free catharsis!
I absolutely adore picture books. I can think of few mediums better suited to creating beauty. Today, after thinking about that for a while, I decided I needed a picture book fix, so I sat down with a heap and read them. It was lovely.
I was looking at the artwork, and noticing how incredibly incredible it can be. So I here share some of my favorites. Each of these is a masterpiece-- most of them worthy of being framed, in my opinion. I have always thought that when I have my own house I will frame picture book pictures-- including several of those here.
(a note-- before you protest that there is nothing here from either Goodnight Moon or The Runaway Bunny, I will say that I love these books so much that I could never possibly pick one picture from them, and besides, we all know that they are wonderful. It's one of those self-evident truths that doesn't need pointing out.)
From Little Bear. The expression on her face says it all.
From The Little House. This is sheer brilliance-- how does a house convey such big emotions?
Two delightfully ridiculous Dr. Seuss illustrations, from Fox in Sox and The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins respectively.
From Owl Babies. I am endlessly fascinated by how those little owl eyes somehow manage to look fearful. When Spuddy Buddy was little, we would read this to him and substitute we three kids' names for Sara, Percy, and Bill, the names of the owlets in the story.
From The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree (don't you love Barbara Cooney?) and The Showdown at Lonesome Pellet, repectively. The radish hat just kills me.
From Trouble With Trolls, my favorite Jan Brett book. I think their noses are adorable.
From The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey, one of the most achingly beautiful books I've ever seen. Lucious.
...and this from A Day With Wilbur Robinson, quite possibly the most insane picture book ever. The entire book is like this!
From Tea for Frances, one of my oldest and dearest book-friends. It was one of the first I ever read to myself. "Remember, no backsies!"
And last but by no means least, three pictures from one of the most incredible picture books ever, The Little Fur Family. I would post every picture from this book if I could-- they're all wonderful. One of my earliest memories is of Queenie reading this to me.
...for your reading pleasure (hopefully). The subject this time was emotional vs. rational thinking.
(If the following seems rather long to have been written in 30 minutes, that's because it is. I accidentally took 40...)
Despite the dangerously cliched nature of the following statement, it really is the truth; and as it is also what I happen to be writing about, I feel I must begin with it and get it out of the way as soon as possible. So here it is: There are basically two types of people in the in the world -- the emotional thinkers and the rational thinkers. Now, I know that it has been said many times that there are basically two types of people, with the two types being everything from the regenerate and the non-regenerate to the earners and the spenders. And I suppose that there are many such ways to cut mankind in half. But I wish to deal specifically with this one.
Emotional thinking is really not thinking, but rather feeling. A person thinking through their emotions will usually base their decisions on how the result makes them feel, rather than what is strictly right. Faced with a dilemma, they will probably go with the most attractive or easy choice, because to do otherwise would make them feel bad.
I know this makes them sound like horrible relativists, but really, I believe that most people think this way, and not just those who believe that truth is relative. This mindset is rampant amongst modern Christians, especially in their conversion tactics. Most efforts to draw people to the faith have in common an appeal to the feelings that, besides being completely unheard of in Scripture, usually winds up sounding ridiculous in the extreme.
The media also knows how powerful emotional thinking can be, and they use their knowledge well. The struggle for an audience demands that each moment of screen time and each page be gripping, dynamic, and involving enough that the consumer will come back for more, and therefore the media often takes up the emotional side of an issue rather than the rational. This also appeals to the average consumer's love of ease, as well as alleviating the strain on the producers. It is much harder to read (and write) a complex, intelligent piece on what could have been done better in Hurricane Katrina than a story about a kitten rescued from the rubble. I actually saw that on the news one day, and it was to me a saddening testimony to the increasing power of emotional reasoning.
There are dangers in the other extreme, naturally, and very frightening dangers, too. Too great a preference of logic over feeling leads to Margaret Sanger-style brutality and other atrocities. On a narrower plane, and held in check by morality, it can lead to a dull or calculating existence, and a lack of charity and affection for those around us.
Jane Austen wrote an entire book on this subject, Sense and Sensibility. Here we find Marianne Dashwood, the archetypal emotional thinker, running into disaster and turmoil through a denial of common sense and an excess of feeling which, however charming, is shown to be not only dangerous but, paradoxically insensitive through her great sensibilities, Marianne makes life for those around her very painful. Fanny Dashwood (not Elinor, as is sometimes assumed) is a portrayal of the other extreme -- cold, hard, and unfeeling, she causes great trouble and aggravation to those around her as well.
Elinor is the middle ground, and, as usual, the middle ground is in the end the best. Elinor has deep feelings, strong affections, and a greater consideration and attention to the people around her than Marianne, with all her effusiveness, could ever boast. But she also has a practicality and discipline of thought that allows her to carry the many burdens placed on her with grace and dignity.
I've heard it said many times that truth is never found in extremes, but rather in between them. It is also true that it is much easier to go to an extreme than to stay grounded. But it is a balance we all must endeavor to keep if we wish to live fully.
January 9, 2006
January 7, 2006
Spuddy Buddy's song (we've now posted his lyrics; do check it out) evoked a comment from a Beehive visitor yesterday about silly kid songs that become family classics. We fess up: yep, we do that. Always have. Completely goofy tunes that undoubtedly make some people think we are dismayfully loserish dweebs. But to us it just seems rather tiddley-pom-ey Pooh-ish and oddly fortifying. Tribal glue, so to speak.
First, there's the catchy hit tune Dak Oo Dak. The lyrics are a compilation of Spuddy's favorite gibberish phrases when he was a baby, and the girls could always make him all jivey and giggly by singing this to him. We actually have friends whose families picked this up from us way back when, and they still sing it at silly moments, as do we:
Dak Oo Dak
Oh dak oo dak oo dak!
Oh dak oo dak oo dak!
Ay doo bwah!!
Oh dak oo dak oo dak!
Astonishing, I know. But it makes you feel happy to sing it, so who cares?
But our all time family anthem is a goofy ditty sung to the tune of The Beatles' "Yellow Submarine." Great Scot started singing this to FaSoLaLa when she was in diapers, and we still launch into it -- very LOUDLY and with gusto, like the fight song at a ballgame -- in those "rah rah rah we are all family!!!" sorts of moments. And at the beginning of road trips. We do a stupid little dance, too, if you must know.
Listen if you dare:
Wow, I can't believe we just revealed that to the whole world. Dweebs, like I said.
Anyway, Great Scot and I had a Great Parenting Moment a while back when our daughters, now teenagers, heard the song Yellow Submarine for the first time. They apparently never knew that their sweet Daddy had not made up the tune just for them. They stopped dead in their tracks for a moment to listen, mouths gaping, in shock. Then they both cried out, "THAT'S JUST WRONG! That's OUR song! Turn it OFF, Daddy!"
Take that, McCartney.
And last but not least, there's the ardent love song my little niece made up, which we now sing whenever we pass a Taco Bell or a Wendy's. This one you'll just have to hear for yourself (interpreted for your listening pleasure by Fa):
Okay, so please, someone else fess up to your goofy family songs. You don't want to leave us stranded here all exposed, looking like the only dweeby family in blogdom, do you?
I, Fa-So-La-la, have, in the last fifteen months, seen six movies in a theater. And in the next few months I will see at least three more. Such dissipation!
The trouble started with The Incredibles waaaay back in October of 04... I little realised then what a slippery path I had set my feet on. I mean, come on! It was a kid's movie!
All went smoothly for a while...until the fateful afternoon in February 05 when, with Spuddy Buddy gone to the grandparent's house, we three ladies decided to go see Phantom of the Opera. Well, we went. And that would have been the end. But it wasn't. Because we then decided, an hour later, to go see Finding Neverland. Two movies in one day-- oh horror! Oh doom!
Several months went by, until at length, in November, Pride and Prejudice came out. We rounded up some dear friends and went to see it, the day after it opened. At an 11:00 PM showing... ah, that was glamorous. Then, a couple of weeks later, we were with some more dear friends, and we decided that we wanted the experience of seeing it with them too. So we saw it again.
Which brings us to yesterday evening, when we went to see Narnia (more on that in a minute). We saw previews of three, three movies that we wanted to see-- Cars, the next Pixar movie, Pirates of the Caribbean 2, which I expect will be every bit as stupid and every bit as wonderful as the first, and Lady in the Water, by The-Guy-Who-Made-The-Village-and-Signs (we can never remember his name-- around here he is always referred to as Shamalama-ding-dong). Oh yes yes yes, I can't wait for that one. Just a side note, make sure you go watch the trailer for it, it's a piece of sheer genius. It is incredibly beautiful, makes you oh-so-curious about the movie, and-- best of all-- tells absolutely nothing about the movie. You can see it here
Now, as for Narnia-- oh my word oh my word oh my word I say... it was incredible. Probably the strangest movie experience I have ever had, because the whole time it was like someone had plastered my imagination to the big screen. Everything looked just like I have imagined it, to the point that I gasped aloud many times. It was like seeing an old friend again. I actually cried, which those of you who know me know is just pretty remarkable. I don't really want to say anything about it, because everybody needs to experience it for themselves, but I will say that aside from the music (which was dismayfully loserish) there is really nothing wrong with this movie at all. It's amazing.
It also illustrates a time honored saying, or rather, a really bad paraphrase of a time-honored saying--
"It is a truth universally acknowledged that there is just really nothing like a guy on a horse with a sword."
So anyway, that's my confession. Dreadful, I know. I need help.
January 6, 2006
I looked around and saw
that there was a monster
but I jumped on his head
and he was dead
But then I look around again
and there was a robot
so I pulled off his antenna
and he was dead.
But then I looked around one last time
and I saw an alien
but that was strange
because I thought they were on Mars
and I jumped on his stomach
and he was dead.
(That's all, you lovely peoples!)
January 5, 2006
Where people run off cliffs and keep running
And unexpected doors swing wide
On the hinge of a half-second
And even things you thought securely
Written in ink by an elegant hand
Can be scratched out quietly,
Quickly, when you least expect it.
Which is good, because otherwise
We'd all live in the shadow of our own plans,
Held hostage by our diary's surprise--
Changing, and yet not free to change.
So here's to maps in moderation,
Unexpected cliffs and valleys,
Chutes and ladders, ins and outs of fashion,
Providential surprises. Hallelujah!
-- upon embarking on a road trip shortly after a nice breakfast:
"Let's go ahead and eat lunch before noon so we don't have to worry about it later."
-- and immediately after scarfing down a loaded six inch ham & cheese sub:
"Okay, Mamadah, I'm ready for the other half!"
-- to which Great Scot replied with great wonder:
"Mercy -- everything's an appetizer."
And Spuddy, just now, looking over my shoulder as I type:
"Mamadah, I'm STARVING looking at all these words about FOOD!"
So please pardon me while I go make mountains of appetizers...
January 4, 2006
Last sunset, last twilight,
last stars of December.
And so this year comes to an end, a year rich in the small, everyday occurances of the earth, as all years are for those who find delight in simple things.
There is, in nature, a timelessness; a sturdy, undeviating endurance, that induces the conviction that here we have a place to stand.
All around us are the inconstant and uncertain. The institutions of men alter and disintegrate. Conditions of life change overnight. What we see today, tomorrow is not. But in the endless repetitions of nature -- in the reoccurrence of spring, in the lush new growths that replace the old, in the coming of new birds to sing the ancient songs, in the continuity of life and the web of the living -- here we find the solid foundation that, on this earth, underlies at once the past, the present and the future.
- by Edwin Way Teale, from his book "Circle of the Seasons." This book is a poetic nature journal. The entire book is incredible and expressive. read it. love it.
January 3, 2006
"I know all about the despair of overcoming chronic temptations. It is not serious, provided self-offended petulance, annoyance at breaking records, impatience etc. don't get the upper hand. No amount of falls will really undo us if we keep on picking ourselves up each time. We shall of course be very muddy and tattered children by the time we reach home. But the baths are all ready, the towels put out, and the clean clothes in the airing cupboard. The only fatal thing is to lose one's temper and give it up. It is when we notice the dirt that God is most present in us: it is the very sign of His presence."
~C.S. Lewis, The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis: Volume II, Letter to Mary
Neyland, Jan 20, 1942