Saturday, December 10, 2011

Students With Funny Haircuts Making Ugly Art

White OleanderWhite Oleander by Janet Fitch

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book I've found difficult to review. First off, I would not recommend it: there is rather pervasive language and several sexual scenes, but far more disturbing is the overall theme, which is the reason that I absolutely love it, and usually revisit it once every couple years. Also, Janet Fitch can really write, with a prose style reminiscent of a less dense Dostoevsky packed with unusual metaphors that are enough to catch a reader off guard without distracting him. A rare "gift" indeed, and one that is usually far from free.

The story centers around the twelve-year-old Astrid Magnussen, and takes place over the course of about seven years, chronicling her fall from a sweet, open, (relatively) innocent child into a dark, bitter, amoral young woman, and the beginning of her rising again. This story goes from grey to black to black with a glimmer of grey, as N. D. Wilson would say. Yet, it is a very realistic, very chilling account of the utter devastation that a parent can wreak upon the life of a child, as well as a fairly accurate, if brutal and somewhat selective, account of the California Social Services

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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Beowulf Draft 1

My final assignment in English class was to simply demonstrate that I learned something this semester. It had no form required: it could be lesson plans for teaching, a paper on anything; I was given loose reins, free reign, a bit betwixt my teeth and a whole mountain to fall down.

I decided that I didn't want to do a final project. So I didn't. But, not daring to simply refuse, I instead assigned it to three other characters, and am turning in their responses to the teacher. The first is Beowulf, to be followed by John Milton's Satan, and Alexander Pope shall scathingly bring up the rear.

Here is the first draft of part 1; input is desired.

Beowulf is Assigned this Final Project

My lady list, from my word-hoard hear
Of the spear-armed Dane, ScyldScefing’s son,
Of Scandian shores the savior strong,
Swinger of swords whose shield shall not shatter,
The breast of my boat beats the whale-road white,
The tale of my triumphs the storm riders sing:
How the Wyrd Wielder Wise has clothed me with strength,
The Slinger of Seas that enfold the fair fields
Has hallowed my heart and my sword stained with gore.
A Wielder of Wonders, a Welkin-warrior,
A ring-giver great, weregild winner:
My enemies mighty my arm has hewn down,
My flag home a haven, my borders unbattled,
My mead freely flows and well-roasted the meat
In the hall of my fathers. There grow faithful sons;
Liegemen are loyal, the bane of my foes,
But bane of the sea wyrm, bane of the land wyrm,
The sky wyrm’s bane is the blessed Bear.
Bone cage of demons my sword split assunder
And heart of Hrothgar by my battle-boast hoisted:
That Heorothealed would be of the kin of Cain,
That house wild wight haunted, high on the hill.

Night walker was wary, dread death-dealer doughty,
Wan under welkin walked the whelp of Cain.
Lief was he my liege to kill, my thane he lifted his maw unto,
Rent his bone-cage, blood ran rivers,
Swallowed him whole, even head and hands.
But my hand grasped him grim, my fingers fast held him—
No battle brand bore I, no war weapon wielded,
Yet still his soul stole I, his blood did I spill,
And when his dam to avenge him came,
Her home her tomb was made by my right hand.

So now I stand here, and what ask you of me,
A slayer of demons, of dragons death-dealer?
Mightiest of men, king over coasts?
Full twenty men’s might in each of my hands,
And this be the task you are asking of me?
To “Tell you what I’ve learned in class this semester?”

Where be the brood of Cain?
Where the enemies that plague thee?
Where the house that's hight haunted? Where the demon spawn?
Is there no dragon in this domain? No hell-born beast?
No task worthy of my prowess? No death walking in darkness?
Ask not of my aid in this trifling task,
This woman’s work, this infant’s assignment.
My lady noble: my flagon fill, my mead let flow—
A dearth of beasts must be in this land
For my platter’s bottom I now perceive—
Mayhap another cow to his maker and our meat-board
Might be sent. And I? My sword I shall sharpen
And of the sea-born serpents that slew I Nine—Nine!
Of the tally of ten my tale lacks but one—
Of the sea-born serpents that slew I nine
In the years bygone shall I speak to thee.

Monday, December 5, 2011


How is it that time continues to cycle a full five years after the world has ended?

Wodehousian Fun