Saturday, April 27, 2013

- --- -.. .- -.--     .. ...     - .... .     -... .. .-. - .... -.. .- -.--     --- ..-.     ... .- -- ..- . .-..     -- --- .-. ... .     .. -. ...- . -. - --- .-.     --- ..-.     - .... .     -.-. --- -.. .     - .... .- -     -... . .- .-. ...     .... .. ...     -. .- -- .     .- -. -..     .. -     .. ...     -.-. . .-.. . -... .-. .- - . -..     .- ...     -- --- .-. ... .     -.-. --- -.. .     -.. .- -.--   .-.-.-     .-- .... . -.     ..     .-- .- ...     -.. --- .. -. --.     .-     -... .. -     --- ..-.     .-. . ... . .- .-. -.-. ....     --- -.     .-- .- -.-- ...     - ---     -- .- .-. -.-     - .... .     -.. .- -.--     ..     -.-. .- -- .     .- -.-. .-. --- ... ...     ...- .- .-. .. --- ..- ...     ... .. - . ...     ..-. . .- - ..- .-. .. -. --.     -.-. .-.. . ...- . .-.     .-.. .. - - .-.. .     -. . -.-. -.- .-.. .- -.-. . ...     .- -. -..    -... .-. .- -.-. . .-.. . - ...     -- .- -.. .     --- ..-.     -... . .- -.. ...     - .... .- -   ... .--. . .-.. .-.. . -..     --- ..- -     -- . ... ... .- --. . ...     .. -.     -.-. --- -.. .   .-.-.-     ..     .-- .- ...     ... ---     - .- -.- . -.     .-- .. - ....     - .... . --     - .... .- -     ..     -- .- -.. .     --- -. .     --- ..-.     -- -.--     --- .-- -.   .-.-.-     .... . .-. .     .. -     .. ...

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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Talk Like Shakespeare Day

Today we mark the anniversary of the birth of the Bard of Avon... It is Talk Like Shakespeare Day. I present The Three Little Pigs Shakespeare-style:

I have been practicing Elizabethean English all weekend (my sisters are most heartily weary of me), so that I can show off my profound vocabulary and grasp of the complexities of English. Whether I shall have the wherewithal to Talk Like Shakespeare as I go about my work at the Library remains to be seen, but meanwhile, to celebrate, I am finally doing the Tag I received last week. But I shall endeavour to do it in as Shakespearean a manner as possible. So without further eloquence:


1. Thank the person who nominated you, and link back to their blog
2. Post 11 random facts about yourself
3. Answer 11 questions from the person who tagged you.
4. Ask the people you tag 11 questions.
5. Nominate 11 other blogs.

And here we go.

My Thanks:

Mistress Jack! Thou hast my heartiest thanks for this honour, so generously bestowed upon me! Faithful followers, do thou all take thine selves in haste to her most delightful blog.

Random Information:

1. It hath come to my attention of late, that I be like unto a sheepdog. I rejoice greatly in the news, for tis but a small portion of mankind fit to maketh that boast.

2. I am possessed of an overweening desire for ambidexterity, and with a view towards the acquisition of this skill, endeavour to employ my sinister hand as often as I do the dexterous.

3. To my teen be it spoken: I am bereft utterly of all sense of direction. I lose myself readily. This lack of an internal compass doth vex me most exceedingly.

4. I liketh not the summer salad of potatoes and mayonnaise, egg and onion.

5. I liketh not summer, tho' spring in its flowery greeness doth bring gladness to my heart.

6. I canst pat my pate whilst rubbing my tummy.

7. I canst never recall mine own house number, though I have dwelt in this residence for better than two years.

8. I excel not at the art of dancing, for I approach it as a swordswoman, with body in profile, and step out always upon the left foot, rather than the right.

9. I liketh not this dancing business.

10. I liketh me not the "chick flick". Better it pleases me to watch sword fights and adventure. I have much admiration for a well choreographed fight scene.

11. I am much possessed of a desire for chocolate... I verily believe that I must cease this scrivening and go out in search of this delicacy. I shall return anon....

Questions Needing Answers:

1. The Doctor shows up and asks you to be his companion at the same time Sherlock asks you to be his blogger. Who'd you pick?

Marry! I do fear the strength of my glamour-spell of invisibility hath worn too thin, that manly acquaintances - two in number - should thus accost me, requesting that I render companionship and service. Alas, my mind is not so constructed as to be nimble in the forming of decision, and so I plead for time to muse upon this conundrum - and the meaning of that peculiar word, blogger - and will have answer for you tomorrow... or tomorrow.

2. In the great Clara debate, who do YOU think she is. (And if you don't know who Clara is...I've two words for you. No, three. Watch Doctor Who.)

.... Zounds! I am called Clara....

3. You're falling off a building, which Avenger do you want to save you?

...I am reaching but I fall.... I beg pardon. A tune hath tangled itself in my memory. To the matter at hand: Verily, I do believe that if one were so misfortunate as to discover ones self in a death-fall, not of ones choosing, one would be grateful for any assistance thus rendered, regarding more the value of the service than the person of the man himself. However, if I had to choose. If I were forced to make a choice. If there was no other response... I'd vouchsafe to remark that Captain America is right gentlemanly. And that Thor's manner of speech is not so alien to me as others of that assembly.

4. Would you go for a ride in a cold, hot air balloon?

Aye, and with a right good will. Depart ye not hither, til I have got me my cloak and a jug of mulled wine... but stop... Art thou the Doctor, and is this contraption of warmed air both blue and noisy? For my mind is still unresolved upon that matter of choosing betwixt thee, and the Detective.

5. Does your wardrobe lead to Narnia?

Alackaday, it doth not. But - hark ye well - there is like to be a tunnel, secreted within the woodwork of it, which leadeth cannily to secret chambers, and thence to means of stealthy exegesis. Shouldst my home be assailed by marauding bandits, enemy soldiers, the Roundheads, the Campbells, the IRS, or other persons of such inamicable society, methinks I shall take myself away right speedily, and none shall know whither have I wandered.

6. You meet an Alien who is about to kill you. Do you offer him a Jelly Baby or run?

I fear that the subject hath turned again to the troublesome matter of the Doctor and the Detective, for both men are strange, and alien to my orderly world. Alien or not, should a creature approach me with intentions of bodily harm, I wouldst not remain steadfastly in its presence, saving that I am handily armed with swords and arrows, ably fitted to fend off the malicious being. (Is a Jelly Baby some new form of blunderbuss?)

7. If your best friend faked his death to save your life, then popped up a year later to inform you he was still alive, would you faint or punch him?

"Thou fobbing beetle-headed malt-worm! The most infectious pestilence upon thee! Degenerate and base thou art. How couldst thou? Behold, I strike at thine most impudent visage!" Striketh I, with vigourous enthusiasm which but leads to much weeping.

8. Buttered popcorn or plain?

Thou hast popcorn? Joyous day! The seasoning mattereth not a jot. Serve it forth at once, I prithee!

9. Have you ever had a flip phone in your position and wished to yell, "Beam me up, Scotty!" into it?

Aye... but the phone was never mine to play thusly with, so I resisted heartily the temptation. Howsoever, my most respected Pater hath in his possession an imitation communicator, bestowed upon him by his loving offspring, and who's to say, but that with this device, I have so called out to the estimable Mr. Scott?

10. What is your favouritest book?

And hast thou time in plenty? For I am plagued with indecision, and canst not settle on a single title... Sittest thou there, with this flagon of goodly drink, and listen whilst I wax lyrical upon every book that hath ever stirred my heart. Let us commence with The Lord of the Rings...

11. It is raining, do you go for a walk in it or sit by the fire with hot chocolate and a good book?

Both, for I do be much enamored of the rain, and the galeful winds, and weather of all sorts; and am, in equal measure, fond of cosy rooms and roaring fires. I shall therefore, sally forth, cloak-wrapped, for to be properly wetted, that I might, upon my return, more heartily enjoy the comforts of book and drink.

Questions for Others to Answer:

NOTE BENE: It is not my custom for to pass this tag to others, and therefore, do I neither compose questions. I fear that I have not a single person upon whom to bestow this tag. I have , however, made a rare exception to my usual practice, and composed questions. Shouldst any feel a desire to make answer to them, thou are right welcome so to do:

1. Dost thou takest thy tea with milk and sugar?

2. Canst thou tell thy numbers through 10 in any language other than thine own Mother Tongue?

3. Knowest thou what it means to navigate by means of "dead reckoning"?

4. Canst thou locate any celestial constellation besides that of the Ursa Major, perhaps better
known as The Big Dipper?

5. Dost thou recallest all the lyrics and hand movements of The Itsy Bitsy Spider?

6. Canst stand on thine head?

7. Hast thou ever encountered a Jabberwock?

8. Hast thou ever been able to name a single book as thine favourite?

9. Art thou afeared of heights?

10. Has thou e'er tripped the light fantastic?

11. Thou art offered a position as companion to an elderly gentleman. Thy tasks shall not be taxing; thou shalt read to him, and he shalt dictate his letters to thee. Thy evenings and weekends shall be thine own. Thy payment for this service shall be as follows: Thou wilt receive on the first day, one penny. On the second day, thou shalt receive two. On the third thou shalt receive four, and so on. Each day thy pay shall be double that of the day before. Takest thou the job?

Thursday, April 18, 2013

The World I Have Known Is Lost In Shadow...

So, I finally saw Les Miserables a couple days ago. I shall be honest and admit right off that I have never been crazy about that musical, so I was not particularly interested in the film, despite a stellar cast, and the truly exciting trailers I saw for it. My reaction to the movie was much as I expected it to be. I admired it exceedingly. It was well shot and well cast. The music was fantastic, the sets lovingly detailed, evocative, and often beautiful. It more than earns the praise that has been heaped on it, and I am glad that I saw it.

That being the case, however, I cannot say that I really liked it. Now, before you pick up stones to cast at me, I will freely own that this is a fault that lies in myself, rather than in the movie. It just doesn’t work for me. I cannot connect with it. I don't really care about most of the characters. I pity Fantine. I have sympathy for Eponine. I understand the students and their desire to fight for the poor, angry men. But I really do not care what happens to any of them... with two great exceptions.

The first is obviously Jean Valjean. I have a particular fondness for conversion stories. I think conversions are the truest form of character development, because no matter how good a person is, there always comes a time in which on must confront oneself – the sins and the weaknesses – and the response then will determine what sort of a person will emerge from that confrontation. Jean Valjean is introduced as a defiant, but broken man. He is bitter and makes it very clear that he considers his incarceration unjust, for though he stole a loaf of bread, it was in desperation, and for someone in more need than himself. It is clear that he does not consider himself a thief. He clings to his name, which is all he has of his old life. He is Jean Valjean, not No. 24601. Yet, when he has been granted parole, he falls into the very crime he has served time for, and this time, he steals for himself. An unexpected show of mercy saves him, and he is forced to face himself; alone and falling. He flees from that particular version of Jean Valjean, leaving behind the name he had fought to keep, and is able to re-create his life again, in time, putting the past behind him, and becoming an honourable and respected man. Les Miserables tells his story truly – for very few men are ever allowed to face themselves only once. Jean Valjean must repeatedly come to terms with his past, his sins, and himself, and each time, the life he has created for himself is at stake. But he has bargained with God, and given Him his soul, and the decisions he makes are based on his understanding of what God wants of the soul in His keeping. By the end of the story, he is not merely good and honourable. He is a Man of God, who has made peace with himself – both as Jean Valjean, and as No. 24601 – and with a world that has been unkind to him. His story is a very beautiful, very Christian story, and, in my opinion, is the reason to watch Les Miserables.

The second is... Javert. I went into the movie expecting to like him. I always liked him in the musical, and he was being played by Russell Crowe, who happens to be one of my favourite actors. What I was not expecting, was for Javert to become my runaway favourite character. I was not expecting to love him, to care desperately about what became of him. I was not expecting for the death scene, which I knew full well to be coming, to shatter me as it did, nor that I would end up crying over him almost as hard as I cried over Boromir the first time I saw The Lord of the Rings.

It is very easy to make Javert the villain of the piece, as he is at odds with every single protagonist in the story. He is Jean Valjean’s nemesis. He is another nail in the coffin of poor Fontaine, who is dying of grief and despair. To the students, he is an example of What is Wrong with France, and he is the enemy of the poor, angry men, for whom they are sworn to fight. Even amongst those who do not consider him a bad man, he is generally seen as heartless; an absolutist, blindly obedient to his duty, and to the letter of the law, with no compassion or understanding of the plight of his fellow man. He is too stern and too unyielding – too hard a man to properly be considered a good man... But while all of this is true, I do not think it tells the whole truth about his character, and Truth has this odd attribute about it: that unless the whole truth is known, Truth itself can be misleading.

Unlike Jean Valjean, whom we see rise, and fall and rise again, Javert is seldom allowed to reveal anything of himself, save for the lawman's face. It is worth pointing out, that even at his hardest, Javert is scrupulously just. He will execute the law to its full extent, but not one step further than that. He is exacting, but he is neither malicious nor cruel. When Jean Valjean protests his nineteen years as a slave of the law, Javert corrects him: “Five years because of what you did, the rest, because you tried to run.” Not so much to rub it in, but to be very clear. The sentence was five years only, and he would have been free at that time, had he accepted those terms. It is also well to remember that Javert is as hard on himself as he is on other people, and when he believes himself to be in the wrong, he voluntarily submits himself to the law, without a single word of defense. Both points speak in his favour. But though he seldom lets down his guard enough for us to see beyond Javert the Man of the Law, there are little glimpses throughout the film that show him to be more than that. He is a man who delights in the view from high places, who loves beauty and order, who prays to God in the calm and beauty of the night, and who sings to the stars. He is a man who is so moved at the sight of the small, dead body of youngest of the revolutionaries that he pins his own medal to the boy’s chest; a man who could take a beating, and face violent death without fear. For all his faults - and they are many - there is a beautiful soul hiding deep within Javert. So how could a man like that be so hard that the only thing that could break him is mercy?

During the sword-fight with Jean Valjean in the Confrontation scene, Javert lets slip a single, extremely telling fact about himself: that he born in jail, and that he is from the gutter too. He knows the gutter folk, perhaps better than they know themselves, and perhaps that is part of the problem. The sight of suffering is hard to bear, especially if it recalls one’s own sufferings and compassion can be a very painful virtue. Impatience is easier, because it distances the suffering, and contempt is easier still. Somehow, like Jean Valjean, Javert has managed to bring himself up from the gutter, to become a good and respectable man. Yet, who knows what it cost him to do so. One cannot make so complete a break as that, without there being a price to it. One of the unchangeable truths about life, is that at some point, each and every person will endure the experience of watching his world fall to pieces around him - in a big way, or a small, it doesn’t matter. The result is always that same: one looks around at a world in chaos (or so it seems) and tries to bring back order and control. And that is Javert – the man who is striving with obsessive single-mindedness, to restore order to a mad, chaotic world that continually falls to pieces around his head. Perhaps the trouble with him is not that he is too hard, but that he cannot be hard enough; that he is afraid of that softness in himself, and cannot see it as strength. Perhaps it was not Mercy, pure and simple, that was too much for him to bear, but the strength that lay behind it – a strength which made him feel less strong. Perhaps it was Love when he expected hatred, and when he was hating himself. It can be extraordinarily difficult to accept love when one knows oneself to be unloveable. Whatever it was, when Javert finally fell in flame, too far to rise again on his own, I wanted, more than anything else in the world, to be able to put my hand out to him and save him – and at that moment, I did not care at all what it would cost me.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

And Now... a Public Service Announcement

This is Yoyo and Skill Toy Weekend! Brownielocks's website says so, and while a quick browse about the World Wide Internet Computer Web (kudos to whoever catches the quote) does not readily turn up verification of the celebration, there do seem to be an awful lot of yoyo competitions occurring this weekend; so, unless yoyoers are over-achievers, who have competitions most weekends, I am going to take it as circumstancial collaboration. Therefore, if you are in possession of one of these:

or one of these:


or these:

Get them out, because now is your chance to impress your friends-and-relations... or at least, provide them with some solid entertainment...What is that you say? You have no skill with skill toys? Fear not, today is also Scrabble Day. And tomorrow is International Moment of Laughter Day - "My dear chap, I never would have dreamt of depriving you of your moment of laughter. Alas, a moment was all I could spare."

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

I'm Thinking.... I'm Thinking....

There used to be a time in which I considered myself both an aspiring author, and a bit of a poet. Those days are past now. These days, in spite of my best intentions, I am no more than a dabbler in both of those arts - and a lazy dabbler at that, I am sorry to say. I have done no serious writing since I painfully dragged myself through NaNo in November, but lately, I have been attempting poetry. I have three rather splendid poem ideas knocking about in my mind at present, and over the last few weeks, I have been trying very hard to bring them to life... and, after weeks, and numerous scraps of paper, covered in closely written efforts, all I have accomplished is a single opening stanza for a hopeful poem about the unexpected delight of pussy willows, and a pair of quite decent rhyming lines for the second stanza. There the poem sits, while the other two are still nothing more than ideas, with no single written line to show that they exist. Now, when I try to work on them, I mostly just end up sitting about looking like The Thinker, thusly:

And, instead of being A Poet, I find myself getting distracted by things like a parody of Gollum covering a Taylor Swift song - which of course, means that instead of writing Noble Verse, I go about croaking, "Precioussssss, Preciousssss, Precioussssss!"

And all of that Voice of Gollum stuff makes for a scratchy throat, so then I feel that I need a fancy coffee of some sort. Besides, I rationalise, Coffee Shops are supposed to be prime locations for Poets and Writers.... Except, that I do not like being around peoplesess. They do not minds their own businesses, no Precious. They will asks us what we are writing, and we will have to tells them!!! Coffee shops are out, then, if I intend to get anything accomplished with my versifying. Therefore, being resourceful, I make my own fancy coffee - a lovely Cinnamon Latte. I got that once at a Starbucks, and thought it braw fine, but I've never seen it since. After a period of trying a little of this, and a little that, and have come up with a fair imitation of the drink, - and very simple it is too, so it can be thrown together quite quickly:

Make coffee as usual, but add cinnamon to the grounds.
I like cinnamon, so I put in quite a lot.

While coffee is brewing or steeping, combine a bit of milk
a little vanilla extract, and some brown sugar in a small pot.
Warm over a medium high stove, whisking enthusiastically
with a wire whisk, until it is heated all through, and has
acquired an impressive head of froth.

Pour coffee into your favourite cup. Add milk. The froth will
naturally rise to the top. Sprinkle cinnamon on top if you so desire.
Or chocolate, if you prefer. *NOTE* If you are in possession
of  Cinnamon Whisky (as I am, thanks to an impulse buy
at Christmas) this is the drink to use it in. It is lovely.

So, then I sit with my fancy coffee, my paper and pen, and attempt to write... and attempt... and attempt... And then the clock chimes the hour - the clock is 15 minutes fast - and I must be away to work, while my poetry languishes for several more days, until I can turn my mind to it properly again. It is as well that I never decided to make a living this way. I'd be dead.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Easter Week

Oh joy! Oh bliss! Oh happy day! Easter is come! Christ has risen from the dead, and crabbed Lent is gone and past! There is chocolate in my life again, and coffee too, which is cause for great rejoicing. But quite apart from that, I simply love Easter. I feel like this during Easter Time:


I also currently have the Easter sequence,  Victimae Paschali Laudes, going round and about my head. This is what it sounds like:

And here is the translation. I cannot say that it is my absolute favourite piece of liturgical music, but it is close. It is, after all, a glorious and magnificent bit of poetry:
Forth to the Paschal Victim, Christians, bring
Your sacrifice of praise:
The Lamb redeems the sheep;
And Christ, the sinless One,
Hath to the Father sinners reconciled.
Together death and life
In strange conflict strove.
The Prince of Life, who died,
Now lives and reigns.
What thou sawest, Mary, say,
As thou wentest on the way.
"I saw the tomb wherein the living One had lain,
I saw His glory as He rose again;
Napkin and linen cloths, and angels twain:
Yea, Christ has risen, my hope, and He
Will go before you into Galilee."
We know that Christ has risen from the grave:
Hail, Thou, King of Victory,
Have mercy Lord, and save.
 Amen. Alleluia.