Monday, December 31, 2007

Did You Fall off the Planet?

No, I didn't fall off the planet. I know you're relieved, because if I had, you'd have some serious worries yourself, about the laws of gravity, alien abduction, etc.

Actually, I've resolved to take a good long blog break. I don't know how long "good long" is, and I don't know if it will be a full break, or if I'll post intermittently. I'm playing that by ear. You'll probably see a poem or two on Fridays, for instance.

So, my break began a few weeks ago, but is official today, October 21. (Note the date of this post is set ahead, so this will stay at the top of the blog.)

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Contest Winners Step Right Up

A quick note before I disappear into the ether....

Contest winners from the Pop Culture in High Culture contest were:


I've emailed each of you, so check for it and I'll get your prizes out.

Thanks and congratulations!

Friday, September 28, 2007

A Little Poetry for You: Yeats and the Contest Continues

Happy Poetry Friday!

Today's round-up is over at AmoXcalli.

The contest is still going here until October 12, so please send in your examples of classic literature in pop culture.

Here's my latest:

Countess Kathleen, Scene 5
by William Butler Yeats

The years like great black oxen tread the world
and God the herdsman goads them on behind
and I am broken by their passing feet.

I'm on vacation for the next 9 days, but keep the entries coming!

Friday, September 14, 2007

A Little Poetry for You: Thomas and New Contest

Happy Poetry Friday!

Roundup is at Hip Writer Mama.

This week, I'm starting a new contest, one that I think everyone will find easy, fun and interesting. Yes, yes, we're putting the last contest down to my poor combination of medication. Sigh....

This contest theme: High Culture meets Pop Culture

So I was driving home from work the other night, and for some reason suddenly found myself thinking of Rodney Dangerfield reciting "Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night" in the movie Back to School.

Which led me to remember Charles Bronson in the movie Telefon, and that scene in the phone booth where the classic lines from Robert Frost are quoted:

The woods are lovely, dark and deep
but I have promises to keep,
and miles to go before I sleep,
and miles to go before I sleep.

What a lovely way to be brainwashed.

And then I thought of one of my favorite scenes from Porky's II (a movie that made me giggle so much I almost wet myself), where Pee Wee plays Shakespeare's Robin in the school play and gives the closing speech from "A Midsummer Night's Dream." This scene coming right on the heels of the outrageous sex and vomit sting scene was a fabulous juxtaposition. What's remarkable to me is that it was because of Porky's II that I fell in love with this little bit of Shakespeare. How many of you can say that? How many would admit to it?

Now the hungry lion roars,
And the wolf behowls the moon,
Whilst the heavy plowman snores,
All with weary task fordone.
Now the wasted brands do glow,
Whilst the screech-owl, screeching loud,
Puts the wretch that lies in woe
In remembrance of a shroud.
Now it is the time of night
That the graves, all gaping wide,
Every one lets forth his sprite
In the church-way paths to glide.
And we fairies, that do run
By the triple Hecate's team
From the presence of the sun,
Following darkness like a dream,
Now are frolic. Not a mouse
Shall disturb this hallowed house.
I am sent with broom before,
To sweep the dust behind the door.

And so back to the contest....

Here is your mission, if you want to play:

Submit your comments here with examples of TV shows, popular songs, or movies that used references or quotes from famous poets or authors in a way that may have caught people by surprise. Caught by surprise? I mean, don't include the movie Sense and Sensibility, where half of it was quotes from poetry because two of the characters sat around and read each other poetry throughout. Don't include Shakespeare in Love or Hamlet, where of course there will be a lot of, um, Shakespeare.

Give me movies like Porky's II, or songs like Dire Straits "Romeo and Juliet." Better yet, give me quotes from The Simpsons. Any extra explanation you can include, similar to mine above about Porky's II, will gain you extra points.

You also get extra points for posting about this contest on your blog.

Deadline: October 12
Prizes: Good. I'll randomly draw 4 winners and I'll send them gift cards worth real money ($10 to 25).

Enjoyment factor: 10

Oh, and I'll create a post of all the submissions. Please include links to videos, or pictures, if you can, because that will make the post more fun.

Important Things

Before I do a poetry Friday post, let me send you over to Seven Impossible Things to read this important call to action in honor of, and in memory of, Grace Lin's husband Robert.

More about Robert's Snow

Friday, September 07, 2007

A Little Poetry for You: Armantrout

Happy Poetry Friday!

I chose this poet during my searches today because her first name is my middle name, and somehow that makes her a better poet in my view. Anyhow, the poem today is full of interesting images and a stop-and-think-about-it concept. Enjoy!

Two, Three
by Rae Armantrout

Sad, fat boy in pirate hat.
Long, old, dented,
copper-colored Ford.

How many traits
must a thing have
in order to be singular?

(Echo persuades us
everything we say
has been said at least once

Go here for the rest of the poem.

Go here for a bio of the poet.

Go here ... or here... for audio of the poet reading other poems. Fair warning, I find her a little too perky a reader.

Friday, August 31, 2007

A Little Poetry for You: Dove

Happy Poetry Friday, and happy end of August!

(It hardly seems possible that 2/3 of the year is done.)

The roundup this week is over at Mentor Texts.

My new poet this week is Rita Dove, one of the contemporary poets featured over at

Weathering Out
by Rita Dove

She liked mornings the best—Thomas gone
to look for work, her coffee flushed with milk,

outside autumn trees blowsy and dripping.
Past the seventh month she couldn’t see her feet

so she floated from room to room, houseshoes flapping,
navigating corners in wonder. When she leaned

against a doorjamb to yawn, she disappeared entirely.

Go here to read the rest of this poem.

Go here to listen to the poet reading this poem.

Go here for a brief bio of the poet.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Maybe She Was Just Really Really Nervous

Do you have a theory about why only 1/5 of Americans can find the U.S. on a map?

Miss Teen South Carolina does.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

John Irving, Obviously....

Who's better?

Dr. Seuss or Jane Austen?

Stephen King or Edgar Allen Poe?

Check out The Great Wednesday Compare, a new(ish) series of posts over at The Book Mine Set. You'll get to cast your vote each week, and see how your favorite authors fare.

John Irving is one of the contenders this week. Vote early. Vote often. Voting closes Tuesday night.

Friday, August 24, 2007

A Little Poetry for You: Dugan

Happy Poetry Friday!

The round-up is done pretty creatively over at The Book Mine Set.

I've posted a Dugan poem in the past (Love Song: I and Thou) but this one is new to me.

On Looking for Models
by Alan Dugan

The trees in time
have something else to do
besides their treeing. What is it.
I'm a starving to death
man myself, and thirsty, thirsty
by their fountains but I cannot drink
their mud and sunlight to be whole.

Go here to read and listen to the rest of the poem.

Go here for a short bio of Alan Dugan.

Friday, August 17, 2007

A Little Poetry for You: Giovanni

Happy Poetry Friday!

I ran across this tonight, and thought all the librarians out there might like it.

My First Memory (of Librarians)
by Nikki Giovanni

This is my first memory:
A big room with heavy wooden tables that sat on a creaky
...............wood floor
A line of green shades—bankers’ lights—down the center
Heavy oak chairs that were too low or maybe I was simply
..............too short
............................For me to sit in and read
So my first book was always big
Go here for the rest of this poem.

Go here for a bio of Nikki Giovanni.

And GO HERE for an interview with Nikki Giovanni talking about poetry and books and life. I liked this in particular: "There's no life in safety.... It prevents you from greeting the world with open arms." I also really enjoyed how she ended with a bit about making poetry accessible. Worth a listen!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Stephen King Weighs In on Harry Potter

"Jo Rowling's kids grew up...and the audience grew up with them."

My buddy Fran sent me this link today:

Stephen King on Harry Potter

I particularly like this quote from King, explaining how the Harry Potter series was much more than books for children:

The clearest sign of how adult the books had become by the conclusion arrives — and splendidly — in Deathly Hallows, when Mrs. Weasley sees the odious Bellatrix Lestrange trying to finish off Ginny with a Killing Curse. ''NOT MY DAUGHTER, YOU BITCH!'' she cries. It's the most shocking bitch in recent fiction; since there's virtually no cursing (of the linguistic kind, anyway) in the Potter books, this one hits home with almost fatal force. It is totally correct in its context — perfect, really — but it is also a quintessentially adult response to a child's peril.

Be sure to read all three pages!

Friday, August 10, 2007

A Little Poetry for You: Rogers

Happy Poetry Friday!

There's been so much talk about weird weather lately, I went hunting for a poem about wind and rain. Here is what I found.
In General
by Pattiann Rogers

This is about no rain in particular,
just any rain, rain sounding on the roof,
any roof, slate or wood, tin or clay
or thatch, any rain among any trees,
rain in soft, soundless accumulation,
gathering rather than falling on the fir
of juniper and cedar, on a lace-community
of cobwebs, rain clicking off the rigid
leaves of oaks or magnolias, any kind
of rain, cold and smelling of ice or rising
again as steam off hot pavements
or stilling dust on country roads in August.
This is about rain as rain possessing
only the attributes of any rain in general.

And this is about night, any night
coming in its same immeasurably gradual
way, fulfilling expectations in its old
manner, creating heavens for lovers
and thieves, taking into itself the scarlet
of the scarlet sumac, the blue of the blue

Go here to read the rest of the poem.

Go here for a bio of the poet.

And for something completely different, why not check out Sara Lewis Holmes' 39 Reasons to Write, which was an answer to the meme I posted for my birthday.

Friday, August 03, 2007

A Little Poetry for You: Simic

Happy Poetry Friday!

He was just named Poet Laureate of the United States. He was just awarded the Wallace Stevens award.

And I never heard of him until today.
Pigeons at Dawn
by Charles Simic

Extraordinary efforts are being made
To hide things from us, my friend.
Some stay up into the wee hours
To search their souls.
Others undress each other in darkened rooms.

The creaky old elevator
Took us down to the icy cellar first
To show us a mop and a bucket
Before it deigned to ascend again
With a sigh of exasperation.

Go here for the rest of the poem.

For more fun, go here for the audio of another of his poems.

And finally, fresh off the presses: The Academy of American Poets will feature Mr. Simic in a free public reading in New York City's Bryant Park on August 21. He will also participate in the Academy's inaugural Poets Forum in October. For more information, please visit

Thursday, August 02, 2007

39 Reasons Meme

So it's my 39th Birthday, and to celebrate, I'm starting a meme: 39 reasons to be happy today. I'm going to tag Miss Erin, Robin Brande, and the 7-Imp ladies.

Here are my 39 reasons to be happy today.

1. Healthy family
2. 5 birthday cakes
3. Fitting into smaller size clothes
4. Surprise parties
5. Maine
6. More Maine
7. Friends who make me laugh
8. Surprise phone calls from old friends
9. Fresh paint
10. Blueberries are in season
11. New babies in the neighborhood
12. Hearing a great song I'd forgotten all about
13. Kids who can cross their eyes and lick their own noses
14. Puzzles
15. Books and more books
16. Neighbors who look out for me
17. Friends who keep me honest
18. Nieces and nephews growing up into amazing adults
19. Starting my 40th year well
20. Looking forward to the achievement of turning 40
21. My first pedicure
22. Spa indulgences
23. Sharing Harry Potter with my mom
24. Wonderful coworkers who have fun
25. Opportunities to be smart
26. Opportunities to let others be smart for me
27. Blogging and reading blogs
28. Getting letters and packages
29. Coffee ice cream with chocolate
30. Freshly laundered sheets and towels
31. Hot scented baths
32. Making decisions
33. Air conditioning
34. Sofa breaks
35. Backyard gardens
36. Writing poetry out of the blue
37. Sudden memories of long-past events
38. Old old friends
39. Silly string, silly putty and bubbles

Friday, July 27, 2007

A Little Poetry for You: Levine

Happy Poetry Friday! You'll find the round-up over at Check it Out!

I've snuck back from vacation for just a day, and wanted to get you this link to a wonderful poem by Philip Levine (brief bio).

I could only find this in audio, but I've transcribed the first half to the best of my ability.
Messieur Degas Teaches Art and Science at Durfy Intermediate School, Detroit 1942
by Philip Levine

He made a line on the blackboard
One bold stroke from right to left diagonally downward
And stood back to ask --
Looking as always at no one in particular --
"What have I done?"

From the back of the room Freddy shouted,
"You've broken a piece of chalk!"
Messieur Degas did not smile.
"What have I done?" he repeated.

The most intellectual students
Looked down to study their desks,
Except for Gertrude Bimler,
Who raised her hand before she spoke:
"Messieur Degas, you have created
The hypotenuse of an isosceles triangle."

Degas mused.
Everyone knew that Gertrude could not be incorrect.

Go here to hear: Messieur Degas Teaches Art and Science at Durfy Intermediate School, Detroit 1942

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Creative Writing: Sailing and Love

I'm posting this a few days early because I'm heading out on vacation.... Here's a sailing poem I wrote last year, to celebrate the wedding we got to witness on board the Victory Chimes.


by Nancy Rae Kienzler

I watched two boats
sail their separate courses,
and thought how sad
that these two beautiful things --
so similar
and following parallel paths --
should nonetheless be disjoined
by all that sea between them.

Like clouds overhead,
blown across the same space by the same wind,
but separated by a slice of sky.

But then sometimes the wind
will catch one cloud a little more than the other,
and blow the two together,
and sometimes,
when you watch the sailboats in the distance,
you'll see their paths cross,
their bows kiss,
their sails intermingle.

And you realize that
neither sea,
nor sky,
nor any space between,
can keep two --
who are meant to be one --
from joining.

(This poem is protected by copyright. Please do not use without permission.)
Have a great week everyone!

Friday, July 20, 2007

A Little Poetry for You: Moore

Happy Poetry Friday! The round-up can be found at this link.

I'm off for a sailing trip today, and leave you with this little bit about the sea.

A Grave
by Marianne Moore

Man looking into the sea,
taking the view from those who have as much right to it as you have to yourself,
it is human nature to stand in the middle of a thing,
but you cannot stand in the middle of this;
the sea has nothing to give but a well excavated grave.
The firs stand in a procession, each with an emerald turkey-foot at the top,
reserved as their contours, saying nothing;
repression, however, is not the most obvious characteristic of the sea;
the sea is a collector, quick to return a rapacious look.
Go here for the rest of this poem.

No reliable audio this time (you might try this link but it didn't work for me), but here's a bio of the poet. She worked at the New York Public Library, just like other people we admire who may or may not have blogs and who appreciate good poetry.

While you're there reading the bio, click on the link to read another good poem called "Baseball and Writing." Moore was a big baseball fan, and it shows in this second poem!

Update: here's an audio clip of Moore reading "Silence." Quite interesting.

Back next week!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Words on Wednesday: Doctor Whom?

This arrived as a recommendation from Amazon today. Anyone heard of it?

Monday, July 16, 2007

Tanga Puzzles: July 16 - July 22

Here are the daily clues for the Tanga puzzles this week. To see the hint, highlight the space to the right of the date.

I don't give away answers here, just a small hint each day to help get you started or past a rough patch. If you want stronger hints, you can check the blog on the Tanga site itself, which is chock full of spoilers.

While I avoid giving away the answers on this page, be warned that there may be spoilers in the comments to this post, so open those with care.

Good luck!

July 16: Start with the ends.

July 17: If you're the type that likes to do things single-handedly, you'll get this puzzle with no problem.

July 18: Start with the synonym for ecru, and this should be simple. Bigger hint: Where do Michael and Dom both shop?

July 19: I found what I was looking for when I centered my attention on the guest list.

July 20 -22: I'm travelling for the next several days, but will catch up when I return.


Sunday, July 15, 2007

Creative Writing: Parchment


It's been over 3 months since I've written anything of my own, but tonight it just felt possible. I went over to one of my favorite Magnetic Poetry sites for inspiration, and these words got me started -- cloud, strike, crash, tingling, waiting, happen -- even though I only used a few of them.

Here is the result, not quite perfected, fresh off the press as it were:


by Nancy Rae Kienzler

It was our longest, our greatest, our finest drought,
The time we dried like raisins, like sawdust, like parchment.
Experienced as we were, knowing it would end,
As droughts always do, we waited patient and still.

And yet, nerves tingled. Senses heightened.
Do you smell electricity? Are those cirrus or cumulous?
Are the leaves up? Are the cows lying down?
Even the animals were restless then, pacing and sighing.

One night we heard the crackle across the bone-dry hills.
We sat on the porch and looked Southward,
Then wrapped around the side to look Westward.
It was beautiful, and so brilliant, but no more. Not a drop.

I don’t remember the fall or feel of that first raindrop,
Nor the first storm, momentous as it must have been.
But the weeks, and the weeks, of watching and wanting,
Waiting and withering – I hold on to those.

Friday, July 13, 2007

A Little Poetry for You: Kumin

Happy Poetry Friday! When you're done here, don't forget the Poetry Friday round-up over at Chicken Spaghetti.

I have to say I really enjoy hunting around on for new poetry. Today, I followed their link for "Cowboy Poetry" and from there a link to the poet Maxine Kumin.

Consider this poem about her guilt over letting go of a good horse:
by Maxine Kumin

How pleasant the yellow butter
melting on white kernels, the meniscus
of red wine that coats the insides of our goblets

where we sit with sturdy friends as old as we are
after shucking the garden's last Silver Queen
and setting husks and stalks aside for the horses

the last two of our lives, still noble to look upon:
our first foal, now a bossy mare of 28
which calibrates to 84 in people years

and my chestnut gelding, not exactly a youngster
at 22. Every year, the end of summer
lazy and golden, invites grief and regret...

Go here for the rest of the poem.

And then consider going here to read and listen to Kumin's "Woodchucks," which takes a somewhat humorous, somewhat grisly look at the determination of the poet to get rid of varmints in her garden. The poem begins: "Gassing the woodchucks didn't turn out right." If you read it as I did, you will laugh and then you will wince.

If the phrase "Cowboy Poetry" intrigues you, use this link for a description of Cowboy Poetry. By the way, based on this description I don't think either of the two Kumin poems I point out are part of the Cowboy Poetry genre.

And here is a Brief bibliography/bio of Maxine Kumin.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Words on Wednesday: Anagrams

Here's something new I learned today: The phrase "two plus eleven" is equal to the phrase "one plus twelve" in more than one way!

Go here for more anagram coolness! (Click on the anagram link at the top right.)

Oh, and there's a whole bunch about palindromes there too.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Tanga Puzzles: July 9 - July 15

Here are the daily clues for the Tanga puzzles this week. To see the hint, highlight the space to the right of the date.

I don't give away answers here, just a small hint each day to help get you started or past a rough patch. If you want stronger hints, you can check the blog on the Tanga site itself, which is chock full of spoilers.

While I avoid giving away the answers on this page, be warned that there may be spoilers in the comments to this post, so open those with care.

Good luck!

July 9: Use the phrases one way, then apply to the pictures.

July 10: This is an inside joke but you don't need to be a hero to get it.

July 11: You need to recognize at least a few of these pictures to get this one.

July 12: I don't know why I couldn't remember, but it's buck.

July 13: If you can count, and if you aren't too blue, this should be a fine puzzle for you.

July 14: Little-'uns first.

July 15: If you can get those petty girls in order, you can probably figure it out within the first two rounds.

An Impossible Interview

The very kind Jules and Eisha over at Seven Impossible Things have added me to their series of blogger profiles. If you want to know things about me I'd never admit on THIS blog, and see my picture, and all that good stuff...


Thanks Jules and Eisha. I'm so happy to be part of the tribe!

Sunday, July 08, 2007

One Year and an Anniversary Contest

Today is the first anniversary of this blog, and I'm so pleased to have made it a whole year. There were times -- after I went back to work, after I started spending more weekends out and about and more time getting together with people I love, after the visitors started showing up on my doorstep to stay a day or two or six -- that I thought something would have to give and most likely it would be the blog. But I've given myself permission to lighten up, post only when I want to and what I want to, and that's made a huge difference and allowed me to keep going. You can't be all-or-nothing about blogging, or eventually it will be nothing.

So, I'll take a moment to reflect on the first year of blogging, and then I'll talk about my Anniversary Contest. Bear with me, the contest info will be just a few lines below....

Highlights of my blogging year:

  • Coming up with my blog name, one that was perfectly suited to me.
  • Being welcomed to the blogging world by Jen Robinson.
  • Buying two of Leila's excellent t-shirts.
  • Watching Miss Erin and Little Willow crush the competition in my Great Antagonists of Children's Literature and Great Passages of Children's Literature contests.
  • Laughing and laughing and laughing over MotherReader's posts.
  • Remembering to treat myself well thanks to Robin.
  • Remembering to be grateful thanks to Jules and Eisha.
  • Being able to count on Michele for very smart commentary.
  • Learning how to write fibs from Greg.
  • Working as a judge for the Cybils YA category.
  • Being contacted by a reporter about my postcard series.
  • Getting to know Kelly, Liz, Heather, Susan, Lady S, Elaine, and so many others out there blogging.
  • Finding treasures like the picture at the top of this post and the picture at the bottom.
  • Every single comment and email that you've sent my way. It's meant so much to know when I've captured your interest, introduced you to a poet you'd never heard of, made you think or laugh, or inspired you to contribute to one of my lists. It's also meant a lot just to know you've been reading. Yes, you.

And the posts....

Posting about sailing, children's books, my evening with Stephen King, my ghost, and my lousy lousy pear trees.

Posting quotations and learning a little about the people who said them.

Posting poetry and discovering the joy of listening to the poets read their own words.

Posting word games, puzzles, dictionary links and other wordie stuff and indulging my love for language.

Posting my own writing and being willing to take a risk by sharing it.

Posting a bunch of old postcards, and getting connected to the past through a little research and a lot of imagination.

Okay, that about covers most of the high points. I'd have to say my very highest points lately have been when I post an old postcard. The "Lives in Letters" series has turned out to be really interesting for me, and a great way to stretch my brain and figure out how things tie together.

Which leads me to the Lives in Letters Contest, at last....

In honor of my one-year blogversary, I am holding a contest that will run through the month of July.

The prizes:

I'll award 4 prizes, each a $25 gift card. Probably Starbucks gift cards, though I might shake it up a bit and go with Target gift cards too. Plus each winner will get one mystery prize of small monetary but huge sentimental value.

The deadline:

Deadline extended to September 30!

The rules to enter:

To enter, simply send some postcard, letter, note, photograph, or some other piece of history that tells a story. Use the Lives in Letters postcard series for inspiration, and search your attic, your scrapbooks, or your local flea market for something from the past that you find interesting, touching, intriguing, sweet, funny or sad.

Email a photo of your item along with its story to nrkii at aol dot com.

I will probably post all the entries up on the blog, so please let me know if you want me to make your entry anonymous. Otherwise, I will be sure to give you credit!

Entries will be judged for overall coolness of the item and for how interesting the story is surrounding it. In other words, I'm afraid I'll have to be entirely subjective in judging the entries. I may call in outside judging help to make it more fair.

I'll also have a separate drawing for a book prize that will be open to any blogger who links to this contest in their blog. Just pop a note in the comments to let me know.

Not yet inspired?

If you want more inspiration for things you could contribute as contest entries, check out The Book Inscriptions Project (thanks Little Willow!) which is very similar to the postcards idea, but centers around the notes people have written inside of gift books. Or check out Found, which is a place to see and read about all sorts of found objects -- love letters, grocery lists, doodles.... I will accept any of these types of entries as well.

I am basically looking for history in the smallest places. Check your sock drawer.

Friday, July 06, 2007

A Little Poetry for You: Davidman

It's Poetry Friday! Get your round-up over at Farm School.

Lately I've been thinking about C. S. Lewis and Joy Davidman (Gresham), and their story as told in the movie Shadowlands and the book A Grief Observed. I don't know why these things pop into my head, but once they do, it's best to just let them out.

So here's a poem from Joy Davidman, which was actually used in the movie Shadowlands.
Snow in Madrid
by Joy Davidman

Softly, so casual,
Lovely, so light, so light,
The cruel sky lets fall
Something one does not fight.
How tenderly to crown
The brutal year
The clouds send something down
That one need not fear.
Men before perishing
See with unwounded eye
For once a gentle thing
Fall from the sky.

Go here for a brief write-up about the life of Joy Davidman. She was known to many of the public as that Jewish, atheist, Christian, communist, divorcee, American poet and novelist who married C. S. Lewis. She was known to Lewis himself as:
my daughter and my mother, my pupil and my teacher, my subject and my sovereign; and always, holding all these in solution, my trusty comrade, friend, shipmate, fellow-soldier.

I do recommend reading "A Grief Observed" if you've got plenty of kleenex handy and want to know more about Lewis and Davidman.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Tanga Puzzles: July 2 - July 8

Here are the daily clues for the Tanga puzzles this week. To see the hint, highlight the space to the right of the date.

I don't give away answers here, just a small hint each day to help get you started or past a rough patch. If you want stronger hints, you can check the blog on the Tanga site itself, which is chock full of spoilers.

While I avoid giving away the answers on this page, be warned that there may be spoilers in the comments to this post, so open those with care.

Good luck!

July 2: Find the gemstones, then let the maze solution help you find the answer within.

July 3: The instructions at the top are useful, but not if you follow them.

July 4: That's Dinah Shore, and that is her shirt.

July 5: I couldn't decide which way to attack this one, so I drew straws. Then I tried rock paper scissors. I should have kept it simpler.

July 6: The numbers at the bottom range from 1 to 34, which is a big clue about what to apply the numbers to.

July 7: Where I got stuck was the "palindrome" instruction. It means, find the palindrome word that is a synonym or an anagram. I was reading "palindrome" as a verb.

July 8: If you do a Google image search, this will come easily.

Friday, June 29, 2007

A Little Poetry for You: America

It's Poetry Friday (round-up is at Shaken and Stirred), and just a few days till July 4. Perhaps I'm being a little traditional, or even predictable, by offering the words of these poets in honor of the holiday.

First, a brief remark from Cummings:
e.e. cummings
America makes prodigious mistakes, America has colossal faults, but one thing cannot be denied: America is always on the move. She may be going to Hell, of course, but at least she isn’t standing still.
And now, a few poems.

I Hear America Singing
by Walt Whitman

I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear,
Those of mechanics, each one singing his as it should be blithe and strong,
The carpenter singing his as he measures his plank or beam,
The mason singing his as he makes ready for work, or leaves off work,
The boatman singing what belongs to him in his boat, the deckhand singing on the steamboat deck,
The shoemaker singing as he sits on his bench, the hatter singing as he stands,

The wood-cutter's song, the ploughboy's on his way in the morning, or at noon intermission or at sundown,
The delicious singing of the mother, or of the young wife at work, or of the girl sewing or washing,
Each singing what belongs to him or her and to none else,
The day what belongs to the day--at night the party of young fellows, robust, friendly,
Singing with open mouths their strong melodious songs.

The New Colossus

by Emma Lazarus

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
"Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

The Gift Outright
by Robert Frost

The land was ours before we were the land’s
She was our land more than a hundred years
Before we were her people. She was ours
In Massachusetts, in Virginia,
But we were England’s, still colonials,
Possessing what we still were unpossessed by,
Possessed by what we now no more possessed.
Something we were withholding made us weak
Until we found out that it was ourselves
We were withholding from our land of living,
And forthwith found salvation in surrender.
Such as we were we gave ourselves outright
(The deed of gift was many deeds of war)
To the land vaguely realizing westward,
But still unstoried, artless, unenhanced,
Such as she was, such as she will become.
I find it interesting that Frost's "Gift Outright" is always talked about as the poem Frost recited at Kennedy's inauguration, but few people realize the poem was actually written in 1942. I think putting this poem in the context of World War II makes it different somehow. The poem seems to me to be less about Manifest Destiny and westward expansion, and more a sentiment that Americans didn't become Americans until they were willing to sacrifice themselves completely, willing to die for just a vague promise of a vague American future. Again, in the context of 1942, this reads a bit differently than it would have in 1961.
Happy 4th of July all!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Monday, June 25, 2007

Lives in Letters: Postcards from Chocolatetown

I found a quick series of postcards from Hershey Pennsylvania in my travels today, and being inclined towards chocolate, I thought these would be fun to talk about.


Recreation Spot
Rustic Bridge
Cow Herd

Hershey Chocolate Co.
Hershey, Pa.

Chi & Carbondale R.P.O.
October - November, 1909

Addressed to:
Mrs. D. A-
Streator, Ill.


October, 1909
Dear Mother + Father
Did not get my ??
off until to-day
so do not know
whether you will
get it on time or
not. Am O.K. Having
bad weather but every
thing is fine so far.

November 14, 1909
Glad everything
is O.K. at home.
Same here. Tell me
if father's name goes
up. Will write to-night.

November 22, 1909
Got your letter
this A.M. Glad
everything is O.K.
Do not send any
money. Don't need
it and I will stay
until Xmas.

I'll talk about the chocolate in a bit, but first a few things about these cards.

These were all postmarked from the Chicago-Carbondale Railway Post Office (RPO). The RPO was an actual railway car or series of cars that functioned as a permanent but mobile post office. The car had a slot where you could leave letters like in a mailbox, and a sorting set-up inside including all necessary staff. The RPO system existed for 113 years in the U.S. (from 1864 to 1977) but was ultimately replaced by air and ground transport of U.S. mail.

These postcards then, even though they show Hershey, PA on the front, were sent from somewhere between Carbondale, IL (Southern Illinois) and Chicago. It could have been anywhere along that line, because Ed's parents were from a mining town in rural Northern Illinois, that sits between Carbondale and Chicago.

Ed sounds to me like a college Freshman writing home to reassure his parents. For the sake of argument, I'm guessing he was at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale. His parents wanted him home for Thanksgiving, and were going to send him money to make the trip, but Ed told them no, he'd stay at school until Christmas. Not that I know any of this -- Ed's not terribly chatty, but perhaps his letters had more substance than his postcards.

Okay, onto the important matters of chocolate.

First, when did Ed go to Hershey? My guess, the summer before he started at college. It was his last family trip with the parents and the little brothers and sisters. Hershey was still very new, and spectacular, so it must have been quite a trip.

Here's what an historical marker in the center of Hershey says about the town:
Model industrial town and noted tourism destination established in 1903 and named for its founder, Milton S. Hershey (1857 - 1945). Hershey's companies developed housing, recreation, education and cultural facilities, financial institutions, public utilities, a transit system, and the world's largest chocolate factory that opened in June, 1905.
And here's more from the website:
It was here, surrounded by some of America's most productive dairy farms, that Milton S. Hershey opened the world's first modern chocolate factory, and built the "model town" to provide employees and their families with an attractive place to live, work, and play. In 1907, he opened "Hershey Park" for the recreation and entertainment of the workers and their families. He also built a zoo, now known as ZooAmerica. During the Depression, his "Great Building Campaign" created jobs and a stadium, sports arena, community center with an elegant theater, and a Mediterranean-inspired hotel-The Hotel Hershey.

Mr. Hershey's proudest accomplishment was the founding of the Hershey Industrial School for Orphan Boys in 1909, and the establishment of a trust that would provide funding for the institution.
Did you know that Milton Hershey failed in the candy business THREE times (in Philadelphia, Chicago and New York) before he finally made a go of it? This brief story about Milton Hershey is worth reading, especially the Model Town and Legacy sections, where you can learn more about Hershey's methods for building a community for his employees, keeping folks working through the depression, and taking care of children in need. It's good stuff.

And now that I've taken the time to make this wonderful chocolate tour, I may just have to book a trip to the Hershey Chocolate Spa. It's only 2 short hours from my home. Oh my. Oh my. Oh my....

Harry Potter Meme

Miss Erin was kind enough to tag me for the Harry Potter meme. Which reminds me to remind you there are less than 4 weeks until it's all over. Did you pre-order? Do you have a plan? Will you reread all the other books before this one comes out?

Okay, here's the meme:

1. Butterbeer or pumpkin juice?
Butterbeer, but only if it tasted like butterscotch. If it actually tasted like, um, butter, then I'd be kind of turned off I think.

2. What House would you most likely (or want to) be in in Hogwarts?
This is tough. Gryffindor is always the one I root for, but I'd be most likely to end up in Ravenclaw I'd guess.

3. If you were an animagus, what animal would you turn into?
A hawk. Or perhaps a smaller bird so I could get closer to people and observe.

4. What character do you empathize with, or resemble best?
A mix of Harry and Hermione I guess. Sometimes Harry makes me a little annoyed, and I find that Hermione's always reasonable.

5. What position do you play at Quidditch?
Announcer, definitely, but hopefully not like Luna Lovegood.

6. Which teacher is your favorite?
No contest. McGonagall. Though I'll admit I find Snape the most fun to read about.

7. Any Harry Potter 7 predictions?
Snape will survive and be proven to be good. Draco Malfoy might not make it. Voldemort is toast, of course. Harry's aunt will turn out to be a key character and will be important to Harry's survival. Dumbledore's portrait will wake up and talk. Harry will see his parents again in some form. (Do I sound like I know what I'm talking about? Ha!)

No tags tonight. But please, pick it up if you've a mind to.

Tanga Puzzles: June 25 - July 1

Here are the daily clues for the Tanga puzzles this week. To see the hint, highlight the space to the right of the date.

I don't give away answers here, just a small hint each day to help get you started or past a rough patch. If you want stronger hints, you can check the blog on the Tanga site itself, which is chock full of spoilers.

While I avoid giving away the answers on this page, be warned that there may be spoilers in the comments to this post, so open those with care.

Good luck!

June 25: For 10, look for zero.

June 26: Wow. Think of lost in terms of a game, not "in the woods." Also, in the end, substitute the 2nd word with another way of saying that.

June 27: The Starting point is clearly indicated, and that's all I'll say.

June 28: Be sure to start in the right spot. Once you fill in the blanks, the answer should be easy to find.

June 29: Green is "go."

June 30: Anna Graham would help you here.

July 1: Ask the crew, then check google images.

Friday, June 22, 2007

A Little Poetry for You: Frost

It's Poetry Friday!

Here's a whole collection of Robert Frost poetry readings, recorded in 1956, and provided by Harper Audio. The one I'm going to quote starts at 4:50 or so in the section called "The Death of the Hired Man." To get to a higher quality recording of this selection, use this link and go forward about 1/3 of the way.
The Death of the Hired Man
by Robert Frost

MARY sat musing on the lamp-flame at the table
Waiting for Warren. When she heard his step,
She ran on tip-toe down the darkened passage
To meet him in the doorway with the news
And put him on his guard. “Silas is back.”
She pushed him outward with her through the door
And shut it after her. “Be kind,” she said.
She took the market things from Warren’s arms
And set them on the porch, then drew him down
To sit beside her on the wooden steps.

“When was I ever anything but kind to him?
But I’ll not have the fellow back,” he said.
“I told him so last haying, didn’t I?
‘If he left then,’ I said, ‘that ended it.’
What good is he? Who else will harbour him
At his age for the little he can do?
What help he is there’s no depending on.
Off he goes always when I need him most.
‘He thinks he ought to earn a little pay,
Enough at least to buy tobacco with,
So he won’t have to beg and be beholden.’
‘All right,’ I say, ‘I can’t afford to pay
Any fixed wages, though I wish I could.’
‘Someone else can.’ ‘Then someone else will have to.’
I shouldn’t mind his bettering himself
If that was what it was. You can be certain,
When he begins like that, there’s someone at him
Trying to coax him off with pocket-money,—
In haying time, when any help is scarce.
In winter he comes back to us. I’m done.”

“Sh! not so loud: he’ll hear you,” Mary said.

“I want him to: he’ll have to soon or late.”

“He’s worn out. He’s asleep beside the stove.
When I came up from Rowe’s I found him here,
Huddled against the barn-door fast asleep,
A miserable sight, and frightening, too—
You needn’t smile—I didn’t recognise him—
I wasn’t looking for him—and he’s changed.
Wait till you see.”

Go here to read the rest of the poem. It tells quite a story. Especially the part around these lines:
“Home is the place where, when you have to go there,
They have to take you in.”