Friday, February 27, 2009

Someone's in a Spot of Trouble

Today our constant freshman/faculty vs. upperclassmen competition reveals itself in the basketball court. So, someone (and I honestly have no idea who) affixed the name of our illustrious president to the following email. Repercussions will be interesting.

Students and Faculty:

Over the last week or two several issues have been brought to my attention regarding the upcoming basketball exhibition. Several students have voiced various concerns, and I would like to specifically address these questions in the context of the robust paideia and ultimate educational vision of New Saint Andrews College.

Many of you are probably aware of the first issue that I need to address. Nate Douglas has requested that the traditional ‘dark and white’ shirts for the basketball game be replaced with a new paradigm more in line with NSA’s values. Mr. Douglas asked that ‘shirts and skins’ be the new distinguishing factor. After discussion with interested parents and NSA’s BOD (board of directors), I decided to partially grant his request, and allow the upperclassmen to partially unclothe themselves for the game only. Standard dress code is still required for classes and game attendees (c.f. Student Handbook pgs. 207-449, which does not contain any specific rules).

This satisfied Mr. Douglas. However, more concerns have arisen since my initial decision. Micah Shryer, who recently acquired a weight bench via the church email, has complained about the discrimination against the lowerclassmen, and has asked for the new dress standards to be applied both ways. Although he initially did not plan to play in the game, he has since asked to join, giving as his reason, and I quote, “I may not be good at basketball, but I am good at shirts and skins.” Numerous freshmen have echoed his concerns.

The final decision I have reached is that there may be 5 total shirtless players on the court at one time, for both teams. Also, only certain players will be given this privilege. If you have a vested interest in any specific player, please email me your vote.

Concerns have also been raised by anxious female patrons of the College. Without detailing the reasons for their anxiety, the following list of Ineligible “Skins” Players has been compiled:

1. Jason Helsel ("long" shorts, please--thigh exposure is still prohibited)

2. Brian Kohl (full-length pants required in this instance)

3. Daniel Alders.

4. Mr. Schwandt and Mr. Griffith (the college does not support Ancient Olympic-style costume)

Finally, after certain problems with last year’s half time entertainment, this year the faculty have decided to sponsor a speed reading competition--Ms.Gwen Burrow versus Ben Saunders. As always, comprehension will not be a factor. The prestigious “semper current, numquam comprehendunt” award will be given to the winner.

Go Paideia!!


President Dr. Roy Atwood

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Dandelion Fire Review

I just finished it. I cannot presume to praise this book. I will read it another hundred times in my life, and my sons will know Hylfing second only to Middle Earth and Narnia. Magnificent.

Advice: refresh yourself on the last few chapters of 100 Cupboards before plunging in, and when plunging, pay attention. There are things I will be pulling out of this book for years: the christening? Nearly unparalleled. N. D. Wilson refers to Tolkein as incomparable, and I agree. But the day may well come when Nate is second only to Lewis in those that have aspired to create worlds that may approach Middle Earth.

Free Credenda

Yes, the caterpillar no longer charges. Credenda is now being sent out free of charge (rather irresponsibly) to anyone that asks. So, here is a snippet from N. D. Wilson in the latest issue, which is on why Shakespeare isn't Shakespeare.


Breaking Teeth
N.D. Wilson

I see my grandfather walking between shoveled mounds of snow, moving slowly beneath the load of life. He is a block away from where I stand at an office window, and still I can see his lips moving, unable to swallow back the hymns and prayers within him. This is my ancestor, father to my father, an old jug, cracked and spilling warmth along his path.

Wipe two decades off my age. Put me in pajamas and place me at another window, a window in my grandparents’ aging, sagging, cracking, yellow house. It is New Year’s Eve, my parents’ anniversary. Outside the world is cold, and the night has most likely passed its middle, easing into the first dark moments of a young year. But in the winter, midnight darkness takes a different flavor. Deep, white, shimmering swarms of crystals are mounded on the hills and piled perfectly on every tree branch. I stand, shivering, looking out the window at a pearl-world beaming beneath the face of a moon as bright as it is silent. A forest of thick icicles stretches down past the side windows, bending and muddying the moonlight.

My grandparents are long asleep, but my two sisters watch me, bundled in their sleeping bags beside popping embers in the living room fireplace, protected from the sparks by a tired, wire screen.

My grandfather is like his house. Once strong and young, now his beams and timbers sag beneath the weight of long use, heavier even than the piles of snow on his roof and the fanged ice stretching down from the gutters. The Nebraska farm boy rowed for Navy. He served well in Korea. He turned a sharp mind and a bulldog jaw to a lifetime of chasing souls. Though many of his victims now carry on his work, he will not stop until his roof collapses beneath the winter.

At the window, back in my youth, I shiver again. My skin rises up in mountain ranges, but I savor the cold. This cold, this bite, and the draft I can feel ghosting through the old glass panes are all preparing me for the beautiful sleeve of warmth that is my sleeping bag. The fire pops, tempting me, but still I stand, staring at the creeping cold, marveling at the icicles. In this house, they are the winter’s front lines—a Berlin Wall raised up (or down) between hibernating life and the killing cold. This house is like its occupants. It has never held its heat selfishly. Heat is its gift to the world, and the icicles form in retaliation. Yearly, on this one winter night, when our parents leave, my grandfather stokes a fire, blocks it with a screen and throws our bags on the floor beside it. Sometimes he tips the couches onto their faces and shoves them together as a fort. Always, we are allowed to burn inappropriate things in the fire—trash mostly—and the strange dancing colors entertain while we lie on the floor, whispering.

The moon peers through tree branches, and the knobbed icicleshafts snare its light. These are icicles that threaten to reach the ground, winter fangs gnawing at the house, straining the eaves. I move to the door and slip thin feet into oversized boots. I will not need a coat. I am cold already. My older sister sits up. The door opens and the winter lunges in, snapping cold at my shins and arms and face, rolling invisibly across the floor to the sleeping bags. I am outside, the door is closed, and my skin is the color of moonlight. I cannot shiver. My joints are hardening. Lunging off the sidewalk, I hurry toward the corner of the house, toward the greatest of the ice teeth. Snow avalanches into my boots. Needles of air, thorns of cold dig into me as I grab at the biggest icicle. A third comes away in my hands. The rest drops to the ice carnage in the drift below. Picking up a chunk, I hurl it at the remaining row of gaping teeth. A jaw breaks. Fangs tumble. Turning, quaking, I run back to the house, back to the heat. Flippancy toward winter, petty sneers and disrespect for the cold were important for us in those days. Cold could not be our master.

My children have a name for my Grandmother. She is Chi-Chi-Pa. They named her for the Japanese song she sings, a relic of her missionary days, a time when she could walk without struggling, and pain was not such a part of her existence. She smiles and laughs when my children steal her walker, when Spring borrows a prop from Winter. As far back as I have memory, she has had her own funeral hymns chosen. She has love and warmth and joy, but she can’t help but anticipate the end. She is eager for the ice to fall away from her joints, for her eyes to burn bright. She has labored long. She has sons and a daughter who love and honor her. She has seen the rich harvest of fifteen grandchildren, and already thirteen great-grandchildren. She is happy, but she is eager.

When the final collapse comes, when the ice triumphs, she at least will have no truck with grief. Let the Winter come. It is the only path to Spring. The house is battered with cold, but inside there is a warmth that cannot and will not die. Both of my sisters are up, talking, whispering to me and laughing quietly as I shut the door and kick off my boots, as the icicle shard drips in my hands. Inset into the old fireplace, there is a strange little stove with open iron doors and a smooth iron cap. The dripping icicle goes onto the cap, and we three huddle to watch. The winter fang spins and sizzles and twists in pain while it shrinks, leaving a dark, fast-vanishing trail. We watch until not a trace remains, until the winter’s bite has taken invisibly to the air. Then, triumphant, we shovel ourselves back into bags and stare at the fire, sure that we will not sleep before the embers do, unafraid of the winter, lulled into comfort by the warmth, lulled into sleep by its whispers.

One for Brooke

The sea cucumber, when harassed, will turn away from its inimicus, blast its intestines out of it's nether regions to entangle or distract aforementioned unfriendly, and will then proceed to grow them back at its leisure.

Should Have Known

I'm still catching up on all my reading, and am on schedule. I'm also on page 226 of Dandelion Fire. As it's a zero sum game, I'm not sleeping much. The book is dizzying.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Dandelion Fire

It is less than ten minutes till Dandelion Fire is released, and I pick up my pre-ordered copies tomorrow. Yet, I won't be able to read the book for about two or three weeks. It will be the forbidden fruit, sitting on my shelf, calling my name in the night. I will wake up standing in the living room in my boxers, removing a copy from its dust jacket. I will dream about Henry, and hold long debates over who his father actually is. I will put all Harry Potter fans to shame, as the object of my obsession will have a third dimension to his character. Now I'm really starting to wonder if I'll be able to wait.

On the other hand, I have no idea how long before the Chestnut King comes out (which happens to be finished, and sitting less than three miles from my house, and less than two from my school... Juvenile Hall isn't that bad, is it?), and the sooner I finish Dandelion Fire, the longer I have to wait for that. C'est la vie.

Anyway, should you be from Humboldt, and want a signed 1st edition, leave me a comment and I'll get one for you. It goes without saying that the Moody's and Ashbach's have one on the way.

Jesse Broussard

Wodehousian Fun