Thursday, April 29, 2010

Brag Blog











The Rationalist and his fellow teammates came in third place in their school's Battle of the Books contest. I was pleased that they at least placed. The Rationalist has been a part of many competitions and always missed making it into the top three.

Next week brings the Math Bowl for The Intuitive, a nerve-wracking, timed competition that is torture for me to watch. I can't handle hearing the beeping timer and watching the team members arguing about the right answer while they lose time, which also means they earn less points.

The Rationalist has become a SPIT--Safety Patrol In Training--following in my elementary footsteps. I have yet to tell him I got kicked out of the Safety Patrols for being a serial procrastinator who never turned in homework. Maybe I'll keep that to myself. Knowing my son, I'd lose all respect in his eyes.

The Rationalist was born to be an enforcer. I'm hoping becoming a Patrol doesn't reinforce the negative aspects of that personality trait. He already sees himself as the third parent in the house...no matter how many times I remind him that he isn't.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Red Green

What does it mean that my boys like The Red Green Show?


Magical Series

I finished all of the Harry Potter books a couple of weeks ago. Having completed the series, I had a few observations. The last four books are much lengthier, but also darker and more mature. While I enjoyed the first three books, I didn't think that Rowling hit her stride until the last four, with the last two, Half-Blood Prince and The Deathly Hallows probably being the best in the series. Interestingly, The Deathly Hallows develops, in a much more specific way than the previous books, basic, Christian themes.
I was left wondering if this had been her plan all along, or if it blossomed in the midst of so many fundamentalist, evangelical Christians denouncing her work as dangerous and occultish. Was this a way to poke them in the eye and turn their arguments to dust?

Either way, she does a nice job of bringing everything together and providing a satisfying ending to Harry's adventures.

After finishing my marathon reading of the Harry Potter books, I decided to pick up C.S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia books from the library. I had never read any of the others besides The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. I used to read Lewis ravenously, but soon became burned out with his work. Having read most of his major works and essays, and some of his fictional books, I had decided that I had had enough of him and understood the major themes running through his writing.

The Magician's Nephew, the first book in the Chronicles reminded me of several things. The style of writing has changed so dramatically. Going from Rowling to Lewis was a bit of a shock. There is a certain stiltedness, or formality to the book. I realized that Lewis tells his tale from the position of an outside, grown-up narrator. He breaks into the story at times comparing the characters' ideas and backgrounds to an unspecified "nowadays". It's a different type of storytelling that is meant to evoke the idea of sitting around a fire while a friend tells a childhood story, or an adventure they once had. It is harder to lose oneself in that type of narration because you are always being brought back to the reference point of the story-teller.

As I thought about the differences between Rowling's and Lewis' magical series, it reminded me of the Oz books by Frank Baum. The style and nature of Baum's work is quite similar to Lewis's Chronicles and makes me wonder if the Oz stories served as a pattern for Lewis to start with.

One more stylistic difference jumped out at me. In the very beginning of The Magician's Nephew, before the plot gets fully underway, we are introduce to Digory's uncle through a conversation between Digory and his friend Polly. Digory's mysterious uncle and his unknown activities are always kept from Digory by his aunt leaving an impression of an eccentric old man with a hint of possible sinister intentions.

In modern stories, a frequently relied upon twist in a plot involves revealing an unknown, quirky, possible scary person as actually being quite nice and useful, explaining away the first impression as a misunderstanding and the rejection of people who are different.

In The Magician's Nephew, Digory's uncle is as sinister as he was implied to be in the beginning of the story. This struck me as unusual, and as an indicator of the time in which it was written.

Once I finish the Chronicles, I'm going to go back and finish the few Oz books that I never quite made it to.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Incredible .



It's strange to hear that voice coming from a young Taiwanese boy/adolescent.

Once you get past the dissonance, though...it's amazing.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Compassion

The same people who are aggressive jerks while driving on a busy road are the same people who bring traffic to a standstill as they slow their cars to watch a struggling turtle slowly trying to cross three lanes of rush hour traffic.

Even jerks want the underdog to make it.

Petty

Yesterday, I stormed out of the house completely irritated with DH. It was one of those stupid, maddeningly benign moments that transforms into an argument for no reason other than the underlying cantankerousness of each of us has decided to bubble up to the surface.

I slammed the door on my way out to the car, fuming as I hurried to get to where I was going.

After fifteen minutes of driving and stewing, I began to feel badly and figured I should call DH and try to make peace over the incredibly dumb argument. I reached into my purse with my free hand and grabbed the phone. As soon as I touched it, it began to vibrate.

DH was calling me...with the same idea of apologizing and making peace.

I should have been amused that our marital ESP was operating and we were both thinking and acting on the same thoughts.

Instead, I was irritated. In a split second, I decided to throw the phone back into my purse rather than answer it.

I was mad, for no good reason, that he was calling to make up....even though that was exactly what I had wanted.

People are funny.

p.s. I did call him back later and apologize.

Opinions

It's always funny to notice the conflicting attitudes people can hold within themselves.

In the midst of DH and I bantering back and forth with each other at his parents' house, I had a head-scratching moment. DH was teasing me while getting drinks for everyone for dinner. I told him, before he had actually asked me, that I thought I would like a Coke with my meal. Pretending to be put upon by my anticipatory answer, he declared that he wouldn't want to get it for me and risk offending my feminist ideals by implying that I needed a man to get my drink for me.

I laughed and sarcastically thanked him for being so thoughtful and respectful of my intrinsic equality with men.

His mother asked querulously,"Oh...are you a women's libber?", with an obvious tone of disapproval.

Stifling a giggle at the archaic term, I asked, "Why do you ask?"

DH strode the fence and jumped in, "I doubt she would fit into a specific box, or label."

Trying to answer my mother-in-law, I declared,"I would probably call myself a mild feminist. I don't know if I would fall in line with everything that stereotypical feminists promote, but I believe in the absolute equality of women with men and don't think there should be any barriers preventing women from participating in any realm of our society."

"Oh, I don't think so either," said my mother-in-law quickly, seemingly worried that she might have offended me. She talked for a few minutes about a friend and her daughter's radical feminism with a knowing smile meant to acknowledge how ridiculous the daughter was being. Then, after communicating the subtle dislike of feminism, she shocked me by saying:

"Actually, I think women are stronger than men anyway. Things that would crush a man are handled all the time by women."

I let out a snort of laughter and teased her. "So what you're saying is that women are not equal to men...they are superior! We shouldn't be fighting for equality, but instead should be focusing on domination of the world by the properly superior sex!"

We all laughed together.

People are funny.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Godspeed, Michael Spencer!

Yesterday Michael Spencer, better known as the internetmonk, passed away after a months-long battle with cancer.

It's hard to know what to say when someone you "know" through their blog and internet conversations is suddenly silenced, their voice no longer heard in everyday, ordinary updates.

I started reading internetmonk a few years ago, not long after I began blogging. It was always first on the list of blogs I would check out each morning, not just because Michael was a gifted writer, but because the conversations and commenters he was able to elicit on his site were always intriguing and diverse. He was good at playing the host and wrangling divergent people and viewpoints into an enjoyable rodeo of opinion and insight.

May God be with his family as they come to grips with losing him.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Happy Easter!

Great post on the importance of the empty tomb and the heart of faith.

Busy with family and enjoying the Holiday. I hope everyone else is too!