Monthly Archives: April 2012

Requiescat in Pace

Columbine

Marky Pace, the mother of a dear friend of mine, passed from this world and on to the next the night before last.

She is known for the warmth of her heart and the love she showered on so many in her lifetime. I imagine she was welcomed home with joyful singing, and she always did love the sound of voices raised in music.

Rest in peace and joy, Marky, and may the blessings your life gave to your family and friends comfort them until they meet you again.

God, comforter of grieving hearts, be with all of us who are, for now, left behind.


Very ominous endings

Book Meme 2012

Question 4: Best love story

Oh ho ho! A wide-open field. There are many kinds of “love stories.” The Greek language has more than one word for the myriad of feelings we encompass with the word “love.” I already have a habit of cheating in this meme, and so far I feel justified in doing so. True to form, I will rank my choices for best love stories according to categories.

These categories are: Romantic Love, Platonic Love, Unconditional Love, and an Honorable Mention (see? I’m cheating again.)

Romantic Love:

This one is the easiest for me to choose. There are many love stories that I find compelling, but the ones that tend to touch me most without irritating my low-tolerance for “mush” are the stories of Jane Austen, nestled in her satire and human understanding.

Of these, Persuasion stands out from the rest.

If you do not like spoilers, skip to the next category now, though if you don’t know the overall theme of this book, I will be very much surprised.

The relationship between Anne Elliot and Captain Wentworth is one of suppressed passion. More than that, though, it is a story of enduring and mature love. Where most love stories begin with two characters meeting and growing to love, this story begins years later, when the love shared has been lost, seemingly beyond recovery.

Love is a beautiful thing, but it is faithfulness and endurance that make it a rare and precious beauty. To me, love without faithfulness is like a flower that quickly wilts, becoming ugly. Faithful love is like a tree, whose beauty lasts for as long as it has life. It awes, shelters, and delights even beyond the lives of men. It may have its bad moments, when it drops a limb, or covers your car in pollen, but then the course of true love never did run smooth.

Platonic Love:

There are many contenders for this award, but I have cheated enough for one post, so I will force myself to choose.

Curdie and Lina from The Princess and Curdie, by George MacDonald.

I cannot defend this choice against all others. I can only say that I return to it time and time again, and at last I find that it must be my choice. Some spoilers will follow.

Curdie is a miner, and Lina is a monster. This is the description MacDonald gives of Lina:

She had a very short body, and very long legs made like an elephant’s, so that in lying down she kneeled with both pairs. Her tail, which dragged on the floor behind her, was twice as long and quite as thick as her body. Her head was something between that of a polar bear and a snake. Her eyes were dark green, with a yellow light in them. Her under teeth came up like a fringe of icicles, only very white, outside of her upper lip. Her throat looked as if the hair had been plucked off. it showed a skin white and smooth.

It is obvious that this is not going to be a case of love at first sight. Curdie feels, for Lina, a mix of fear and pity, and Lina, it seems, feels mostly fear. Being a beast, she never speaks, but they learn to communicate without the need for words. Between the miner and the monster a strong bond of trust and friendship develops to the point where both put their lives in danger to protect the other.

I have always found this relationship compelling and beautiful. Among the friendships I have seen in my literary travels, it is the dearest to me.

Unconditional Love:

This is a tough choice as well. I have wrestled with myself over the question of what counts as “unconditional.” Sam and Frodo came to mind, but as deep as their love is, there is reason behind it. I find that unconditional love must exist against all likelyhood, and what is more, it must be one-sided, at least for a time.

With this consideration, I choose the love Psyche has for Orual, from Till We Have Faces, by C. S. Lewis. The story is about many things, but the contrast between selfish and unconditional love is a strong theme throughout.

You should take spoilers as a given by now.

At first, the love between Orual and Psyche is not unconditional. It is quite natural and sisterly. In Orual, it quickly becomes obsessive and possessive, and once Psyche is taken by the god of the mountain, the underlying selfishness in Orual’s love overcomes her.

Unconditional love shows itself when Orual forces her sister to choose between Orual’s life and betraying Psyche’s divine lover. Psyche loves her sister even though the ugly aspects of Orual’s feelings are revealed. She loves Orual for Oural, knowing that she can expect no such love in return.

This story would shatter my heart if Orual never came to understand the difference between selfish and unconditional love. Thank you, Lewis, for revealing hope for Orual, for we are all need unconditional love.

Honorable Mention:

 Rat, Mole, Badger and Toad, from Wind in the Willows, by Kenneth Grahame

These guys are quite a mix. There is some unconditional love involved because Toad is, quite frankly, a mess, but the others stick by him. There is a “bromance” between them all that mirrors many real-life friendships. It is a quiet (save in the case of Toad), unassuming love that ties them loosely, but strongly, together. In short, I feel that this story shows philos at its finest, and it is that friendship that gives me such enjoyment in reading the stories.

Here are the links to the rest of this series, in order:

1. Motley Crew

2. Cue Music/Shout Out

3. Villainy Most Vile

4. Very Ominous Endings

5. Shapes are Only Dressess… and Dresses are Only Names

6. Chridonalchett

7. Verbage

8. The Scent Test

9. Personal Question

10. Packing Lightly


Villainy most vile

Book Meme 2012

Question 3: Best Villain

Difficult! Difficult! There are many good ones abroad in fiction. To complicate matters, there is the highly subjective nature of “best.”  Only an hour’s consideration, though, supplied my ready answer. Best, for me, does not mean the most interesting, the most terrifying, the most unusual or my favorite. Best means the most effective antagonist, one that lingers in the mind of the characters and the readers, the antagonist that haunts us even after they are gone. Of the many contenders, two stand out to me, and I will allow them to share the throne. If a vicious villain battle ensues, it will choose the victor for me, and be highly entertaining to boot!

Beware of spoilers, for I shall not hold back.

Ladies first:

Rebecca
from Rebecca, by Daphne du Maurier

This woman is one of the best villains of all time simply because she is already dead. If you are unfamiliar with the book named for her, then I should clarify that Rebecca is not an Undead. Oh no, she is far too villainous for that! She is, quite simply, Dead.

The protagonist of the tale is pitted, not against the woman herself, but against the memory of her. A master manipulator while she lived, Rebecca’s reputation survives with very few knowing her true character.  Rebecca’s weapons against the protagonist consist of the dead woman’s servants and friends and, most of all, the protagonist’s own imagination. Rebecca is beyond reach of reprisal; she cannot be stopped, she cannot be fought, she simply hovers over her rival in memory and in doing so, nearly destroys her.

How terrifying to fight the perfection of the dead. The protagonist does not even think it is right to fight such a paragon of femininity and refinement. Her imaginings almost destroy her marriage and her life. But is that all? No indeed.

Maxim, the protagonist’s husband and Rebecca’s widower, was always the true target of Rebecca’s wrath, and the protagonist is merely a weapon to be used against him. To the end, Rebecca manipulated affairs so completely that the mechanism of her revenge moves forward like clockwork. That, my ladies and gentlemen, is villainy. To reach from beyond the grave, without even reaching, in order to destroy your enemies and rivals with the workings of their own minds and emotions.

Yikes.

__________________________________________________________________________

Hares Second:

General Woundwort
from Watership Down, by Richard Adams

Yet another bunny. If I fail to finish this post, you can be sure he has torn out my throat for being so impudent as to call him a “bunny.” The death-rabbit from “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” is, perhaps, the General’s puny cousin. Beware.

This leporid of doom hails from Watership Down. If he were human, or an ogre, or a dragon, he could hardly be more terrifying. If I saw this hare, I would flee. He is large for his species (if you have ever met a hare, you will know that they are not small to begin with), ruthlessly ferocious, and insane. As his title denotes, though, his insanity is of a very orderly nature, up to military standards.

General Woundwort is driven by fear. Fear makes him very strong. He controls the colony, of which he is the head-hare, with repressive efficiency, supported by a military of his own making. Strength is the primary qualification for leadership and greatness. Power… power to defend and to control is, to the General, the highest virtue.

“Safety” is everything, and freedom is dangerous. No one leaves. No one really lives. But they are “safe.”

When a handful of hares do escape, through the machination of Hazel’s band, the General’s hitherto controlled insanity explodes. Even his devoted followers hesitate at the sight of his manic, obsessive pursuit of his enemies. He is driven as if his world will come crashing down should this small band defy him in peace.

His end is befitting one of the greatest villains of all time. No one sees him die.

He walks from the field of deadly battle, straight into legend, and his name becomes synonymous with fear on the downs.

This is the rabbit of nightmares.

Here are the links to the rest of this series, in order:

1. Motley Crew

2. Cue Music/Shout Out

3. Villainy Most Vile

4. Very Ominous Endings

5. Shapes are Only Dressess… and Dresses are Only Names

6. Chridonalchett

7. Verbage

8. The Scent Test

9. Personal Question

10. Packing Lightly


Critical bot and friends

This photo belongs to the user Khaki on stockvault.net

I have gotten a few more “interesting” spam posts lately. I decided it was time to share.

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Um… thank you for this “constructive” criticism, Critical Bot. Now if I can just figure out what “a few percent to pressure the message house” means. 

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Dear Confused, Hungry Bot. I am not a guy and I have no intention of feeding spam-bots.

“Outstanding post, I conceive individuals ought to larn a great deal from this web website its truly user genial . 744494”

“Larn?” I’ll larn you to mock my heritage, Mockingbot! Now where’s my scimitar got to…

P.S.
I just got this on my post “Shout Out”

“Another great website about this stuff you can find over here sexdate!!! Let me know what you think about this blog and i’ll subscribe to your blog!”

Um… bot, I think you were reading someone else’s post and got very, VERY confused. As a side note, subscriptions to my blog are not as important to me as you seem to think…


Shout Out

Reader’s warning: angst follows, but at least it is neither purposeless nor self-focused angst.

As the title would suggest, this is a shout-out to my fellow Book-Meme contributors, David and the Multifaceted Muses.

There has been some discussion among us, lately, on J.R.R. Tolkien’s Silmarillion, surrounding the role sorrow, grief and tragedy play in the book and its various related stories. Tolkien, we know, was no stranger to grief, pain or even the horrors of World War I. As a writer, he does not shy from tragedy, and yet there is a powerful, indestructible hope that runs through his work, as it seems to have run through his life. He understood a truth that someone like me, who has suffered very little in comparison, has no right to speak of: that from sorrow, strife and pain can come a rich harvest. As Gandalf observes, “not all tears are evil.”

On a seemingly unrelated note, the muses of the Egotist’s Club have produced some very intriguing answers two the second 2012 Book Meme question. Perhaps reading their posts opened a previously unexplored avenue of thought in me, because I usually do not match music with books.

This morning a song came up on my mp3 player and, as I listened, its relation to the Silmarillion hit me. I have never thought, nor am likely to think again, of Tolkien and Emmylou Harris at the same time. However, here are the lyrics for Harris’s song, The Pearl, for Urania, Thalia, Melpomene, Terpsichore, Calliope and David.

The Pearl, by Emmylou Harris

.

Oh the Dragons are gonna to fly tonight.

They’re circling low and in sight tonight.

It’s another round in the losing fight

Out along the great divide tonight.

.

We are aging soldiers in an ancient war

Seeking out some half-remembered shore.

We drink our fill and still we thirst for more,

Asking “if there’s no heaven what is this hunger for?”

.

Our path is worn our feet are poorly shod.

We lift up our prayer against the odds,

And fear the silence is the voice of God.

Of God, of God.

.

And we cry allelujah, allelujah,

We cry allelujah.

.

Sorrow is constant and the joys are brief.

The seasons come and bring no sweet relief.

Time is a brutal but a careless thief:

It takes our lot but leaves behind the grief.

.

It is the heart that kills us in the end,

Just one more old broken bone that cannot mend.

As it was, now, and ever shall be, amen.

Amen, amen.

.

And we cry allelujah, allelujah,

We cry allelujah.

.

So there’ll be no guiding light for you and me

We are not sailors lost out on the sea

We were always headed toward eternity

Hoping for a glimpse of Galilee.

.

Like falling stars from the universe we are hurled

Down through the long loneliness of the world

Until we, behold the pain, become the Pearl.

The Pearl. The Pearl.

.

Cryin´ allelujah allelujah
We cry allelujah!

And we cry allelujah allelujah
We cry allelujah!

We cry allelujah allelujah
We cry allelujah!


Cue Music

Book Meme 2012

Question 2: Books I’d give a theme song to

Now this is a weird one for me. Perhaps, as much as I love and live through music, I have not a musical mind, for I never think of such when it comes to books. As a result, I have had to put a great deal of thought into this, and I have only come to scattered conclusions.

Thought #1:

Some texts are like dead leaves without music. Allow me to state the obvious and then expound. Songs are almost always more powerful when sung than when spoken. Why this is, I do not know, but several years back I had a revelation. I grew up with the poem “The Highwayman” by Alfred Noyes, and I never liked it. Then I had the honor of hearing Loreena McKennit’s rendition. Suddenly I loved the piece. For me, it took music to give the story vitality.

J.R.R. Tolkien (will I get through any book question without mentioning this man?), Bryan Jacques, and George MacDonald often have songs written out within their texts, and I have amused myself by trying to sing them. My only vaguely successful attempt was my childhood habit of singing the Misty Mountains song from The Hobbit to the tune of Greensleeves.

Does this sort of thing count as a soundtrack? I do not think it does, but it is worth noting.

Thought #2:

Soundtracks seem to serve two purposes in films. My friends who know more about film and film critique may know of more, but I am rather ignorant in this. Anyhow, one purpose is to influence the mood of a film, to sway the audience with the music. How I wish I could do this with my stories! If I could inflict music on the reader… aw, who am I kidding? I would probably irritate the poor folks and drive them away.

The second purpose of a soundtrack is to give aural cues. Hear that creepy theme? Be prepared for something jumping out at the protagonists! Hear the quickening pace of the music? Here comes the chase-scene. Even characters have their own themes, and so the viewer knows, often unconsciously, what to expect.

How to apply this to books… I cannot think of any book that tells a story where this could not conceivably be useful. Perhaps, though, the more conventional books, the books with patterns that we recognize, would benefit the most. I have a harder time thinking of George MacDonald’s Lilith with a theme song than I do Brian Jacques Mossflower.

Thought #3:

Music can be a hindrance. I have watched films where the music distracted from the story. I have also seen films where I, personally, did not like the music, and therefore it irritates me. I had a recent discussion with a fellow blogger on the soundtrack of “Ladyhawke,” because that is one that grates on me, but that she enjoys. If I liked the story of Jane Austen’s Persuasion, but it was accompanied by music I disliked, my appreciation for the book might be damaged.

I mention this simply to suggest that adding a soundtrack to something is not always positive. At this point it should be clear that I have thought far too seriously and too long on this topic. Onwards!

Thought #4:

By now you are wondering if I am ever going to answer the actual question.

If I could get a skilled, thoughtful and versatile composer (preferably Bear McCreary), I would give a soundtrack to Tales of the Brothers Grimm.

Here are the links to the rest of this series, in order:

1. Motley Crew

2. Cue Music/Shout Out

3. Villainy Most Vile

4. Very Ominous Endings

5. Shapes are Only Dressess… and Dresses are Only Names

6. Chridonalchett

7. Verbage

8. The Scent Test

9. Personal Question

10. Packing Lightly


Easter Cathedral

I wanted to share images of the stunning cathedral where two friends and I held our Easter service. I have few words, for I am overwhelmed with joy, life and freedom! May my heart forever sing praises to the Light of the World.

Jerico clear water

D and K

Jerico waterfall

Jerico bowl

Jerico shining water

Columbine

Jerico water

Jerico cave

Jerico cave water

Jerico stone fern

Jerico stone patterns

Jerico chasm

Jerico chasm tumble

Jerico butterflies

Jerico butterfly in the hand

Jerico farewell

The pictures I have barely touch the awe this place inspires. If you ever find yourself able, visit the Walls of Jericho yourself. You will not regret it. According to my mother, it was her father’s favorite place on earth, other than his home, and I can see, and feel, why.


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