Saturday, September 30, 2006
While I'm away, I'm leaving you with this survey.
I've taken all the antagonists we collected in the Great Antagonists list, and asking you to rate them from pure-good to pure-evil.
Great Antagonists of Children's Literature - Evil Meter Survey
When I get back, I'll tally the results, and we can see who the worst offenders are, and who may still be redeemed.
Note: there are 242 to rate, but only rate the ones you know. It should go pretty fast that way.
Note: spread the word!
Friday, September 29, 2006
Series of Unfortunate Events #4, 5, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12
The Unauthorized Autobiography of Lemony Snicket
The Beatrice Letters
(can you tell I'm getting ready for #13 to arrive?)
Water Street (loved the cover)
A Northern Light
Fly By Night
Eragon (on to-be-read list for much too long)
The Amulet of Samarkand (ditto)
The Stolen Child
The Immortal Game
The Children's Blizzard
Salem's Lot (ditto)
S is for Silence (ditto)
A Death in Belmont (ditto)
Monday Mourning (ditto)
2 others in the car that I don't remember
And Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, to re-read
27 books. Hmmmmm.... I wish I were more decisive, because these books are heavy!
Anyhow, between the books I do read, the puzzles, the general vegetative state, and the dial-up connection, I am betting on little to no blogging for the coming week. I'll try to post if I can, but otherwise, I'll be back on track October 9.
Nourish beginnings, let us nourish beginnings. Not all things are blest, but the seeds of all things are blest.The blessing is in the seed.
Robert Louis Stevenson
Don't judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.
Robert H. Schuller
Anyone can count the seeds in an apple, but only God can count the number of apples in a seed.
I pray you’ll be safe.
I pray for your family.
I wait, breath held these long months,
For the brittle crunch as your other shoe drops.
I would hold out my hand to you
But my hand holds no grace, no welcome, no answers.
If I were to give you a gift –
Some talisman to represent my prayers –
It would be a seed for fresh planting.
No magic acorn to give you a tree of solid gold.
Just one ordinary seed – maybe a tomato, or a marigold.
Something beautiful, something hardy.
For now I offer nothing but the prayers,
And the prayer that the prayers will take root.
A Nauseous Nocturne
Another night deprived of slumber,
Hours passing without number,
My eyes trace 'round the room. I lay
Dripping sweat and now quite certain
That tonight the final curtain
Drops upon my short life's precious play.
From the darkness, by the closet
Comes a noise, much like a faucet
Makes: a madd'ning drip-drip-dripping sound.
It seems some ill-proportioned beast,
Anticipating me deceased,
Is drooling poison puddles on the ground.
For the rest of this poem, use this link here.
For more Calvin and Hobbes poetry, use this link.
Thursday, September 28, 2006
The brain is a wonderful organ. It starts working the moment you get up in the morning, and does not stop until you get into the office.
The human brain, then, is the most complicated organization of matter that we know.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
I consider that a man's brain originally is like a little empty attic, and you have to stock it with such furniture as you choose. A fool takes in all the lumber of every sort that he comes across, so that the knowledge which might be useful to him gets crowded out, or at best is jumbled up with a lot of other things, so that he has a difficulty in laying his hands upon it. Now the skillful workman is very careful indeed as to what he takes into his brain-attic. He will have nothing but the tools which may help him in doing his work, but of these he has a large assortment, and all in the most perfect order. It is a mistake to think that that little room has elastic walls and can distend to any extent. Depend upon it - there comes a time when for every addition of knowledge you forget something that you knew before. It is of the highest importance, therefore, not to have useless facts elbowing out the useful ones.
The puzzles only run till October 13, but they're worth a look. Some are pretty easy, some infernally difficult. Thank goodness, there's a cheat site, er, blog with helpful hints you can check out too.
Wednesday, September 27, 2006
The four most beautiful words in our common language: I told you so.
There is no such thing as an ugly language. Today I hear every language as if it were the only one, and when I hear of one that is dying, it overwhelms me as though it were the death of the Earth.
It's no coincidence that in no known language does the phrase "As pretty as an airport" appear.
Here are a few of the most beautiful words:
Here are a few of the ugliest words:
Looking around the web, I came across these further suggestions:
Here are my votes for other beautiful words
Here are my votes for other ugly words
hiccough or hiccup
Tuesday, September 26, 2006
Sailing was wonderful. Cold. A little rainy. Beautiful. And windy....
Kites rise highest against the wind, not with it.
Oliver Wendell Holmes
I find the great thing in this world is not so much where we stand, as in what direction we are moving: To reach the port of heaven, we must sail sometimes with the wind and sometimes against it, but we must sail, and not drift, nor lie at anchor.
Poetry is the impish attempt to paint the color of the wind.
Monday, September 25, 2006
Sunday, September 24, 2006
Saturday, September 23, 2006
Friday, September 22, 2006
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of being and ideal grace.
I love thee to the level of every day's
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for right.
I love thee purely, as they turn from praise.
Click here for the rest of this poem.
I'm passionately involved in life: I love its change, its color, its movement. To be alive, to be able to see, to walk, to have houses, music, paintings - it's all a miracle.
It's better to have a good acoustic, so you use all the color of your voice.
A painter paints pictures on canvas. But musicians paint their pictures on silence.
The painter turns a poem into a painting; the musician sets a picture to music.
Thursday, September 21, 2006
Wednesday, September 20, 2006
Still, there is a calm, pure harmony, and music inside of me.
Art is harmony. Harmony is the analogy of contrary and of similar elements of tone, of color and of line, conditioned by the dominate key, and under the influence of a particular light, in gay, calm, or sad combinations.
The hidden harmony is better than the obvious.
We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature - trees, flowers, grass- grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence... We need silence to be able to touch souls.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.
George Bernard Shaw
Silence is the most perfect expression of scorn.
The Free Games
X-Words - Race against the clock to fill in the missing letters from 5 five-letter words.
My Secret Word - Find the right letters and arrange them to discover the secret word.
In and Out - Similar to hangman, only with each alternating guess you choose a letter that IS in the word, or is NOT in the word.
Word Builder - You are given 12 tiles to place on a game board where a word is already placed. Play and scoring are roughly similar to Scrabble, however, with 12 tiles to play, the word possibilities are better.
The Subscription Games (also available for one week to try without paid subscription)
Top Letters - Use 20 letters to make the best words possible in the shortest time. Each letter may only be used once, and you can make up to 4 total words. Letters in the first word count 4 times, in the second word, 3 times, etc.
Triplet Scramble - Rearrange blocks of letters to spell out a brief quotation.
Quote Puzzler - As the site's creator says, "You can get a Quote Of The Day anywhere...only Quote Puzzler is so cruel we make you unscramble it first."
In beta testing now, and due to be added to the live mix any moment, is my favorite of all the games, "The Honeycomb."
The Honeycomb - Build words in a hexagonal grid. Use double-letter boxes, bonus points for longer words, and backwards/forwards words to really amp up your score.
Here's a link to some nice things people say about the site. But truly, the best way to sell yourself on it is to try it.
Feel like you don't have time to go to a puzzle site? Well... excluding The Honeycomb and Word Builder, the games above take about 10 minutes to do, in total. The Honeycomb and Word Builder are at your own pace, so you can take as little or as much time as you like. Generally, I take 10 to 15 minutes on Word Builder and 30 on The Honeycomb, so I'm done with all my puzzles in under an hour.
Then I spend 23 hours waiting for the next day's puzzles.
Who brings their 3 young sons out to a nice neighborhood restaurant, and lets each of the boys watch his personal DVD player at the table? (Yes, 3 sons, 3 personal DVD players. Oh, and a raving lunatic mother who was miserable to the one boy who chose not to watch his DVD.)
Who picks up a pear from a box of free pears, takes a few bites, and then drops the half-eaten pear on the sidewalk? (Sorry, the fact that there are other pears there that have fallen from the tree does not make the sidewalk your trash barrel!)
Who emails an old friend and dis-invites her from officiating or even attending his wedding because she is "too fragile" from post-traumatic stress and might make a scene during his special day? (Thank goodness I don't know the couple well enough to have been invited in the first place!)
Miss Manners might not be enough for these three. I think I need Roz from Night Court.
These are my rants for the week. Feel free to add yours in the comments.
Some interesting contest info:
- Little Willow submitted 86 entries, accounting for over 1/3 of the total bad guys/gals on the list. I am wondering if Little Willow has the same fascination with badness in children's lit that I do. Or perhaps just a fascination with free coffee.
- I selected the winner by putting a random number next to each entry in an excel spreadsheet, and then picking the lowest. That was Little Willow. For kicks, I tried picking the highest to see what would have happened. That was Little Willow.
- I also want to give a special thanks to Erin, who sent in 36 bad guys/gals for the list. Erin, while I never mentioned a second prize, I do have a couple of free Starbucks beverage coupons I'd love to send your way.
- There were 22 total contributers to this list (not including me), and I am extremely grateful to all of you!
Leila the great
Well, the contest is done, but the list is still open. So if you think of any more, please feel free to send them my way at any time.
Tuesday, September 19, 2006
"The coup went largely unnoticed in Bangkok’s popular tourist districts, where foreigners packed bars and cabarets, oblivious to the activity about two miles away."
2. When you use the fantastic pear picker like mine (see this post), it has a nasty habit of getting stuck in the branches. You can wrangle it free without too much effort, but the tugging at the tree may also induce sympathy pear suicides (see # 1).
3. Your local squirrels will not admire you. In fact, they will scamper immediately to the tree where you are picking, and to the branch you are trying to pick from. They will then glare down at you while trembling in a "ready to pounce" stance. When you move to the other tree, they will follow. If you persist, they will shake the branches of the trees to induce further pear suicides (see #1). If you manage to annoy them enough to leave, they will go to the top of your roof, again poised for pouncing, and they will holler squirrel obscenities at you while you pick pears off their trees.
Note: this picture is not MY squirrel, but it could be.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt
Be sincere; be brief; be seated.
William Shakespeare (Hamlet)
Therefore, since brevity is the soul of wit,
And tediousness the limbs and outward flourishes,
I will be brief.
Good things, when short, are twice as good.
Monday, September 18, 2006
I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. My sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history, naval architecture, navigation, commerce, and agriculture, in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry, and porcelain.
The United States of America have exhibited, perhaps, the first example of governments erected on the simple principles of nature; and if men are now sufficiently enlightened to disabuse themselves of artifice, imposture, hypocrisy, and superstition, they will consider this event as an era in their history. Although the detail of the formation of the American governments is at present little known or regarded either in Europe or in America, it may hereafter become an object of curiosity. It will never be pretended that any persons employed in that service had interviews with the gods, or were in any degree under the influence of Heaven, more than those at work upon ships or houses, or laboring in merchandise or agriculture; it will forever be acknowledged that these governments were contrived merely by the use of reason and the senses.
I am well aware of the toil and blood and treasure that it will cost to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these States. Yet through all the gloom I can see the rays of ravishing light and glory. I can see that the end is worth more than the means.
Check out Forgotten New York. The site is wonderful. And the book comes out next week.
In honor of this occasion, here are some interesting points, courtesy of Constitution Facts:
The U.S. Constitution has 4,440 words. It is the oldest and the shortest written constitution of any government in the world.
Of the typographical errors in the Constitution, the misspelling of the word Pensylvania” above the signers’ names is probably the most glaring.
Thomas Jefferson did not sign the Constitution. He was in France during the Convention, where he served as the U.S. minister. John Adams was serving as the U.S. minister to Great Britain during the Constitutional Convention and did not attend either.
The oldest person to sign the Constitution was Benjamin Franklin (81). The youngest was Jonathan Dayton of New Jersey (26).
The word “democracy” does not appear once in the Constitution.
When the Constitution was signed, the United States’ population was 4 million. It is now more than 300 million. Philadelphia was the nation’s largest city, with 40,000 inhabitants.
There was a proposal at the Constitutional Convention to limit the standing army for the country to 5,000 men. George Washington sarcastically agreed with this proposal as long as a stipulation was added that no invading army could number more than 3,000 troops!
There was initially a question as to how to address the President. The Senate proposed that he be addressed as “His Highness the President of the United States of America and Protector of their Liberties.” Both the House of Representatives and the Senate compromised on the use of “President of the United States.”
Go here for the entire list of Constitution facts and use this Constitution Facts link for all sorts of games, quizzes, documents and other cool things related to U.S. historical documents.
Sunday, September 17, 2006
A song ain't nothin' in the world but a story just wrote with music to it.
A good song is a good song, and if I'm lucky enough to write it, well....! I get more kick out of writing than I do singing. I reckon I've written a thousand songs and had over 300 published.
-- From "Cold, Cold Heart"
There was a time when I believed that you belonged to me
But now I know your heart is shackled to a memory
The more I learn to care for you the more we drift apart
Why can’t I free your doubtful mind and melt your cold, cold heart
William Carlos Williams
Poets are damned but they are not blind, they see with the eyes of the angels.
When they ask me, as of late they frequently do, how I have for so many years continued an equal interest in medicine and the poem, I reply that they amount for me to nearly the same thing.
THE little sparrows
about the pavement
with sharp voices
over those things
But we who are wiser
shut ourselves in
on either hand
no one knows
whether we think good
the old man who goes about
walks in the gutter
without looking up
and his tread
is more majestic than
the Episcopal minister
approaching the pulpit
of a Sunday.
astonish me beyond
I have! At least once it was for the Jerry Lewis telethon, so I had a good cause behind me. But my friend Dori was a raging capitalist as a child, and used to coax me into all sorts of neighborhood sales efforts. At one point, we even discussed going into business selling illustrated poems (I would provide the verse, she the art). That one never panned out, but we sold an impressive amount of candy bars, greeting cards, zucchini and squash.
This afternoon a small cluster of children went up and down my street hollering "Tomatoes! 25 cents! Tomatoes! 25 cents!"
Capitalism is alive and well in today's 7-year-olds. I'm not so sure about fair market pricing: they were cherry tomatoes.
Saturday, September 16, 2006
I'd love to get to 200. Is it possible?
Erin has certainly done her part. So far 25 of our antagonists have come from her suggestions. That's 25 chances to win the free coffee. Better than a 1 in 6 chance.
G. K. Chesterton
An adventure is only an inconvenience rightly considered. An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Plunge boldly into the thick of life, and seize it where you will, it is always interesting.
Security is a kind of death.
As a postscript, one of the quotes I came across was from Peter Pan: "To die will be an awfully big adventure." Only trouble is, the place I found it credited that quote ... to Aristotle. Somehow, "awfully big adventure" just doesn't sound much like Aristotle to me. What do you think?
Friday, September 15, 2006
I prefer winter and fall, when you feel the bone structure of the landscape - the loneliness of it, the dead feeling of winter. Something waits beneath it, the whole story doesn't show.
Nature is, above all, profligate. Don't believe them when they tell you how economical and thrifty nature is, whose leaves return to the soil. Wouldn't it be cheaper to leave them on the tree in the first place?
Summer makes me drowsy. Autumn makes me sing. Winter's pretty lousy, but I hate Spring.
Debra, here is my entry, from my review of an imaginary thriller I'm calling "Spreads like Wildfire." (Johnson is in for a world of trouble tomorrow, according to this story....)
Johnson is alone on the grounds, oblivious that the girls left the Washbrooks’ mansion buzzing with gossip worth reading in a small Maryland newspaper.
It also makes me think of Robert Frost, who seems like such an autumny poet. For this Poetry Friday, I've selected excerpts from "Mending Wall."
Something there is that doesn't love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
And spills the upper boulders in the sun;
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.
I let my neighbor know beyond the hill;
And on a day we meet to walk the line
And set the wall between us once again.
We keep the wall between us as we go.
To each the boulders that have fallen to each.
And some are loaves and some so nearly balls
We have to use a spell to make them balance:
"Stay where you are until our backs are turned!"
. . . . . I could say "Elves" to him,
But it's not elves exactly, and I'd rather
He said it for himself. I see him there,
Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top
In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed.
Go here for the rest of the poem. It's really quite good, and you'll see I left the classic line out, twice.
I suppose I could have gone with "After Apple-Picking" to be more in line with the Autumn theme, but "Mending Wall" makes me smile more.
Thursday, September 14, 2006
The sea pronounces something, over and over, in a hoarse whisper; I cannot quite make it out.
A lake carries you into recesses of feeling otherwise impenetrable.
Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world's great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of the rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs. I am haunted by waters.
The street-cleaner came, and swerved AROUND the pears and pear puree. I had a very friendly chat with him about this on Tuesday, explaining about the bees, the children who walk by on their way to school, and the smell. I was extremely nice. I am hoping that this Monday's street-cleaning will be an improvement.
The last few days, teenagers have been leaping off my porch steps to get to the pears, now that the lower ones have fallen or been picked. I brought a step ladder out for one of them the other day, fearing otherwise he would break his neck. I made him promise not to leap off the ladder. I also told him that in a few days, I would have another way for him to get to the pears....
Which leads me to my big news. On Tuesday, I ordered this:
It arrived this afternoon, and I've already put it together, and I've picked 5 pears with very little effort. It was dark and raining, so I put off further harvesting till tomorrow.
Boy oh boy, the pears are coming down! Yeeeeee haaaaaah!!!
Earlier posts on pears:
#1 - pretty picture
#2 - confessions of a pear-hater
#3 - pear taste tests
Apparently, Harry Potter almost didn't make it out of the U.S. a few weeks back. Luckily, J. K. Rowling was able to convince security officials that her manuscript posed no immediate threat. See this article for details.
We can all breathe a sigh of relief that Harry Potter did not end up in Scottsboro, Alabama.
Meanwhile, Ms. Rowling, might I suggest you invest in this product?
Wednesday, September 13, 2006
Honore de Balzac
This coffee falls into your stomach... sparks shoot all the way up to the brain. From that moment on, everything becomes agitated. Ideas quick-march into motion like battalions of a grand army to its legendary fighting ground, and the battle rages. Memories charge in, bright flags on high; the cavalry of metaphor deploys with a magnificent gallop; the artillery of logic rushes up with clattering wagons and cartridges; on imagination's orders, sharpshooters sight and fire; forms and shapes and characters rear up; the paper is spread with ink - for the nightly labor begins and ends with torrents of this black water, as a battle opens and concludes with black powder.
Charles de Secondat Montesquieu
The coffee is prepared in such a way that it makes those who drink it witty: at least there is not a single soul who, on quitting the house, does not believe himself four times wittier than when he entered it.