Archive for August, 2005

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Bring Me My Bow / Of Burning Gold

August 27, 2005

Elvish
Elvish

To which race of Middle Earth do you belong?
brought to you by Quizilla

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Fleshmarket Sales

August 17, 2005

Mood: Stunned
Song: "Razzle Dazzle"

It's amazing what you can discover when Googling yourself. For instance, I discovered that a review I composed for my Young Adult Literature class was submitted to a respectable journal by another one of my profs and…PUBLISHED! 🙂 From the March issue of the Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy:

Fleshmarket

Reviewed by Juliet ****, *** Arizona, USA.

The woman's screams pierce the air, rising above the doctor, spiraling past the gawking spectators, and lodging in the memory of her young son. One week later she is dead, and the family she leaves behind is altered forever. The time is 1822, and Scotland is still a barbaric place, despite the attempts of men “learned” in the arts of science and medicine to penetrate the darkness and squalor in which the masses grind out a meager existence.

For Robbie, his mother's death after complications from an operation and his father's descent into drunkenness and subsequent abandonment can be laid at the feet of one man: Dr. Robert Knox, the surgeon who mutilated his mother. In the midst of working long hours at a bakery to support himself and his sister Essie, Robbie cultivates a burning hatred for the man he holds responsible for the ruin of all his hopes. Lying down to sleep at night on his painfully narrow bed, Robbie vows retribution.

The revenge Robbie envisions begins to supplant his longing for a better life, including the education and musical training of which he believes Knox has robbed him. Robbie begins to stalk Knox, briefly spending time in jail as a result. Robbie's obsession even leads him to the machinations of Burke and Hare, two miscreant “resurrection men” who make money by selling “freshly dead” bodies of questionable origin to Knox and his medical students so the future doctors can study anatomy.

Robbie thinks he has the situation under control, but he can't suspect the truth about Burke and Hare's scheme. He is overly trusting of his new “friends,” but is Robbie also wrong about Joseph, a medical student with close ties to Knox who seems to offer both Robbie and Essie a future? When given the opportunity to destroy his enemy, will Robbie manage to discover forgiveness before his rancor consumes them all?

Despite the historical setting and the mature themes, Morgan's bildungsroman is readily accessible to modern adolescent audiences. Although most readers will not come face to face with the poverty that Robbie and Essie endure, the issues of losing one parent only to be neglected by the other will resonate. Additionally, Robbie's burning hatred and its consequences are significant issues for readers young and old. Fleshmarket is Morgan's second novel, and her description of life in 19th-century Scotland is so vivid that one can almost smell the stench of narrow, cobbled streets and taste the rough “porridge” on which Robbie and Essie subsist.

Morgan uses precise word choice to carry her message. It should be noted that certain scenes are too intense for younger readers. Early modern medicine was, after all, still primitive. Issues in Fleshmarket are far from black and white, but secondary students will be challenged to analyze characters' motives along with the moral issues raised by the text. They will readily be caught up in Robbie's strong emotional response to his situation, his family, and Knox. If Morgan's work has any flaw, it could be that the plot moves along fairly conventional lines, ending in a fashion that seems more patronizing than satisfying. However, boldly drawn characters and strong imagery make Fleshmarket historical fiction that transcends time and place. Age 14 and up.

Nicola Morgan. 2004. New York: Delacorte. 224 pp. ISBN 038573154X. US$15.95.

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Top Ten…

August 7, 2005

Mood: Way Past Tired
Song: "In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning"

Things you learn by staying up WAY too late at night…

10) You really DO need another ab-crunching machine

9) Nachos and leftover strawberry ice cream can make the perfect snack

8) Your Shetland Sheepdog and your husband both talk in thier sleep 🙂

7) If you try really hard, it is possible to find an argument justifying the Warren Commission's report in its entirety

6) The washing machine uses Morse code to communicate with the dryer

5) There are exactly 576 specks on the ceiling in the living room. Ditto the front bathroom.

4) Even though they may have been on the mental back burner for years, rhymes about the Presidents of the United States come back at the oddest times.

3) Brazil has world class figure skaters

2) Trivial Pursuit is not necessarily a two player game

AND…

1) The entire unabridged Les Miserables is, in fact, written on the inside of the human eyelid

Th-th-th-that's all, folks

JRW

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What’s in a Name?

August 3, 2005

Mood: Quizzical
Song: "Brush Up Your Shakespeare"
I, for one, was totally SHOCKED by these results 😉

And now to sleep-"Goodnight, goodnight, parting is such sweet sorrow"

Juliet
You are Juliet, fragile, yet not as much as people
think. You are a sweet, lovely creature, and
are very well liked by others. You tend to be
impulsive at times, and get carried away by
your instincs and passions.

~Which Shakespearean Heroine Are You?~
brought to you by Quizilla

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From the OETD (Oxford English Teacher’s Dictionary)

August 2, 2005

Feeling: Over My Head
Song: "Under Pressure"

overwhelming (adj): the reality of having two weeks to unpack a house, create a classroom environment with very little technology and no budget, plan at least three weeks worth of lessons, create an inspiring syllabus, understand the psyche of the average American 7th grader, figure out where the faculty bathrooms are (more important than non-educators can realize) and find a decent recipe for valium (I mean, um, chocolate chip) cookies.

Can you tell I had my first day of orientation today?

Here's a picture of my job site:

And here's our apartment:

I'm sure you can figure out how close they are 🙂

Happy Tuesday

JRW

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Ti-i-i-ime Isn’t On Our Side…

August 1, 2005

Mood: Rushed
Song: "The Time of My Life"

I've been doing some thinking (can you smell the smoke from there?) lately, all stemming from the C.S. Lewis book That Hideous Strength. What should a Christian perspective on time be? Since the advent of our Lord, the church has been told that she is living in the end times. On the other hand, in Thessalonians we are told that "a day is as a thousand years". Premillenialism? Postmillenialism? Old earth or new earth creationism? Where does logic come in? Why does it matter?

Consider this puzzle: why do captors so often begin by removing their captives from any means of ascertaining time? Man is an amphibious creature, destined for eternity but set adrift in time.

First (see how even in this posting it is almost impossible to avoid using time signal words), Scripture is clear that time follows a linear rather than a circular pattern, beginning with the Creation recounted in Genesis 1 and leading towards the second coming foretold in Revelation. What an encouragement-our history has purpose and is moving forward-not constantly progressing, necessarily, as that belief would lead to a dangerous delusion (see below)-in a direction ordained by the Creator.

Here's another thought: our age is no better or worse than any other. Thus, understanding history is crucial. One entire generation (or more) can easily be deceived, but the past can light the way to successfully avoiding pitfalls.

The truth, as always, is both more simple and more complex than a cursory glance reveals. Human beings have such a desire for change, yet stability calls us as well. Even in the church time is divided between sacred and ordinary, feast and famine. Vestments throughout the church universal became green this month; Pentecost is followed by ordinary time leading into Advent. Despite numerous tales of holiday depression, this time of year is truly the most challenging, as we are asked to simply LIVE in a manner that honors Christ. To raise children. To tend gardens. To tell stories.

We were never meant to be chained to time, although time was with us ever since "evening and morning, the first day." In the 21st century, life is scheduled to the second. Historically, of course, it was impossible to measure time to this degree. When should the corn be planted? When the leaves on the oak are the size of a squirrel's ear. When should work be stopped? At sunset. The very body itself was designed as a time regulator.

Thank goodness creation itself still follows this cyclical pattern. It is always a different spring, yet always spring again. A perfect mixture of dynamic and static. Praise to our Lord, who redeems even the time.

JRW