November 02, 2005

A Dry Erase Board?

Yesterday, in the course of a discussion of "Iphis and Isis" (Book IX) from Ovid's Metamorphoses, one of the women mentioned that she could read a bit of constructionim, as in social constructionism, in the story. That led the professor to mention a book he had read, The Blank Slate by Steven Pinker (his own bio).

I found an interesting discussion with Pinker on from February 01. He has linked on his homepage a list of articles he has either written or to which he has contributed. I find some of his statements thought provoking, and although not directly on the same religious page, I don't find him far.

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October 11, 2005

Peaceful Measures

This week in one of my English classes, we're reading Lysistrata* by Aristophanes. Part of me can't wait to see the squirming, to feel the embarrassment in the room. Remember the culture in which I reside...

*The women of Greece (both of Athens and Sparta), tired of the Peloponnesian War, decide to hold out on giving up the goods to force an end to the fighting.

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October 06, 2005

Head on Straight

My girls have a finely tuned sense of humor. They are especially keen at puns (Nathan, The Pun King, would be impressed), in both understanding and creating them. Being children, anything that has to do with the body or can elicit a squeal of disgust from their mother is quite satisfying, as well.

We recently purchased the book Parts by Tedd Arnold. The nameless, ping-pong-eyed boy is filled with angst over the deconstruction of his body. When some gray, gooey, unidentifiable object slips from his nose, he fears his brain is falling out. The lint in his navel? He's losing his stuffing. The girls found this book quite hysterical, so when we saw Even More Parts, we knew we had to get it. It ended up being a late night, so I set the book (along with several others) next to K's bed, intending to read them tonight before our chapter in Mary Poppins Comes Back.

K took some time to peruse her new literature this morning. After lunch she brought Even More Parts to me, telling me it was "hilarious." This time, Mr. Arnold explores those euphemisms that are often so puzzling to children. He accompanies the confusing idioms with amusing illustrations of the frantic, nameless, ping-pong-eyed boy imagining the literal effect of such sayings. We giggled over "I'm losing my mind," and " My nose is running." I turned the page and we laughed when the boy placed his screw-on arm and leg, complete with shod foot, onto the counter as the equally ping-pong-eyed cashier checked the drawer for change-- more arms and legs. Beneath the full-page illustrations are smaller ones with more bug-eyed cohorts enacting similar phrases, "I had to foot the bill," or "I had to pay through the nose." I paused as K then reached behind her, literally to her behind, screwed her face up and in pretended effort jerks her arm. She placed her fist in on the table, and opening it said, "I bet you my bottom dollar."

I fell to pieces laughing.

May I take a moment to say, I really, really, enjoy my kids?

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September 28, 2005


Tonight I listened to Joel Long read selections of his poetry at a creative writing conference that the university is presenting. His writing gently grasps you and before you are quite aware of how you arrived, you find yourself in the middle of places that seem to you only dreamt of; places both real and imagined, or so unreal they could only have been conjured by the fervor of fury or besotted of the small things our aging minds collect from childhood.

I was immediately intrigued when I heard that the title of one of his collections is Chopin's Preludes. For each of Chopin's 24 Preludes, he has provided his own accompaniment. He has produced art as fine as the one whom he interprets. We spoke afterwards and I told him how I have now infected my daughters with love for Chopin and that when they were small, I would frequently play Chopin's Ballades for their passage into slumber. As we talked, he wrote. I paid and walked the spangled sidewalks to the parking lot.

When I returned home, I decided to read his written rendering of my favored composer while also listening to Martha Agerich perform the magic of the music. Opening the book to the title page, I found inscribed: "For Rae, for listening at night time...when the children are nearly asleep." And, For tonight, I thought, when I am not nearly, but very near sleep myself.

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September 27, 2005

Yes they will.

Oooohhh, I can't wait to read this in The Atlantic for November.

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July 28, 2005

House Arrest

Sophie Kinsella has a new book out, The Undomestic Goddess. As her writing typically is, this one is hilarious and almost complete materialistic, fictional fluff, but has a nicely palatable message of moderation tucked into the interior. And who couldn't use a bit of laughter at the expense of vicarious screw-ups? Yeah, that would be me raising my hand....

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July 18, 2005

Opera Length, please.

I see that Shopgirl, the novella by Steve Martin, has been made into a film. I already gave my personal thoughts on both of the recently published books by Steve. I am interested in seeing the movie because I believe Claire Danes to be quite talented, and the book actually seemed more like a screenplay.

I can't help but wonder how much of the neurosis in his novels in autobiographical.

(P.S. The music from the soundtrack sounds decent, too).

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July 12, 2005

Brilliant White

E.B White. He is most famous for making an arachnid appealing to perpetual generations of children. And mothers. I personally remember The Elements of Style best. Well, at least I think I do. Everytime I find a grammatical error, or feel a piece of writing lacking in layered, delectable diction, I hang my head a bit, feeling the shame of forgetfulness, or lack of being the meticulous writer.

E. B. White, like his literary antithesis, Roald Dahl, had the ability to speak the language of the knee-high that many lost among the crib sheets, had weaned away with the bottle, and some had drowned in the sweaty, hormoned-halls of junior high.

He gently spread the emotions of a young mind before the reader who then couldn't help but find themselves reaching out, pulling the soothing softness of it up to rub against their cheek, comforted by either finally having someone able to articulate, or in the discovery of things, of thoughts long forgotten.

Thanks to the Llamas for the reminder.

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July 04, 2005

'Satiable Curtiosity

I keep six serving-men
(They taught me all I knew);
Their names are What and Why and When
and How and Where and Who.
I send them over land and sea,
I send them east and west;
But after they have worked for me,
I give them all a rest.

I let them rest from nine till five,
For I am busy then,
As well as for breakfast, lunch, and tea,
For they are hungry men:
But different folks have different views;
I know a person small-
She keeps ten million serving-men,
Who get no rest at all!
She sends 'em abroad on her own affairs,
From the second she opens her eyes-
One million Hows, two million Wheres,
And Seven Million Whys!

I have been reading nightly to K from a collection of classic stories by the author of this poem. Without googling, can anyone tell me who penned this?

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June 03, 2005

A Mother's Duty

Mrs. Darling first learned of Peter when she was tidying up her children's minds. It is the nightly custom of every good mother after her children are asleep to rumage in their minds and put things straight for next morning, repacking into their proper places the many articles that have wandered during the day. If you could keep awake- but of course you can't- you would see your own mother doing this and you would find it very interesting to watch her. It is quite like tidying up drawers. You would see her on her knees, I expect, lingering humorously over some of your contents: wondering where on earth you had picked this thing up, making discoveries sweet, and...not so sweet; pressing this to her cheek as if it were as nice as a kitten and hurriedly stowing that out of sight. When you wake in the morning, the naughtiness and evil passions with which you went to bed, have been folded up small and placed at the bottom of your mind and on the top, beautifully aired, are spread your prettier thoughts, ready for you to put on.

Peter Pan
J.M. Barrie

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March 25, 2005


We are in the thick of our Medieval study of history.

The other day we fled to the library to allow for our carpet (which was being cleaned by Chem-Dry and was supposed to be a high-extraction method; however, it is slightly damp to pull the pile back into place- and I must say, they look fabulous) to dry. We packed school in a bag and reserved one of the spacious study rooms for several hours.

While the girls finished up their math assignments, I went hunting for books on the Arthurian legend, one of the literary loves of my life. I found some well-known references, but was delighted to happen upon several new ones, too.

Two of my immediate favorites, Merlin and the Making of A King and The Kitchen Knight: A Tale of King Arthur, by Margaret Hodges and illustrated byTrina Schart Hyman. This team colaborated on Saint George and the Dragon in 1990 which was awarded the prestigious Caldecott Medal for Children's literature (which we also own).

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March 22, 2005

Make Mine a Foster's

If you aren't already a regular reader of The Atlantic- and you should be- get it this month just to read the piece by David Foster Wallace, "Host."

With (literally) colorful, jocose editorial sidenotes, explanations and micro-histories, he examines the conservative talk show phenomena through the lens of John Ziegler, host of The John Ziegler Show broadcast out of KFI, the local right-wing monarch of AM radio in Los Angeles.

I was able to glean the perfect explanation for my conservative political siblings as to why their moderate sister much prefers the news (even with an "elite" perspective) over entertainment from a related article by P.J. O'Rourke linked at The Atlantic site:

"I listen to NPR: "World to end—poor and minorities hardest hit. I like to argue with the radio."

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