Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Odd Stuff, Open House and such

            I’m continuing my pursuit of the bizarre. Among other things, I’ve read parts of a website entitled Marriage Equality. It’s a mixture of fact and wishful thinking. I am not recommending it to my blog readers.

            I’ve read major portions of two books on medieval era life. One is quite good and the other is a haphazard presentation of bits of medieval life. I’m looking for a third. I own it. I’ve put it back on the shelf and obviously in the wrong spot. It’ll take a concerted search to find it. There’s a section in it about 14th Century manor houses that talks about table manners. I want to review it.

           The things and acts and behaviors that attract people always interest me. Even when they have a huge train-wreckish, ick factor. And let’s face it, buster, some things people do are truly icky.

            Also on my mind is the “wise child” mythology. You’re probably more familiar with the foolish child stories. Red Riding Hood is one of those. So are Sleeping Beauty and Snow White. In the medieval era, most of the foolish child stories ended badly. They did not have the redeeming endings with which we’re most familiar. There are “wise child” stories too, many of them forgotten. In their modern retellings we find characters such as David Edding’s Aphrael, one of my favorite characters in any story, and Kipling’s Kim.

            The wise-child stories seem to have their roots in religious stories, some of them quite ancient. I’m new to this topic, mostly. So I really do not know. It is interesting though, and I think my surmise is accurate.

            Related to this are the resilient child stories. A 19th Century version would be the Goody Two-Shoes. It’s a charming story about a self-sufficient child. Some of you will know the title as a pejorative phrase, but it’s a story by John Newberry about an orphan girl who grows up to be an effective teacher. The original was published in the 1760s, but there is an Americanized version published in the 1830s that I like better. In that story she’s not an orphan but an adventuresome child who walks out on her own. She’s helped along her way by people who are strangers to her or not well-known by her. But they know her well. She’s given the gift of independence through the artifice of quiet oversight.

            On the history front not much writing is happening. We’re reviewing pages from four magazines, trying to connect articles in one to articles in the others. This is hard, slow work, but it is essential work. So that’s where we are, and it’s given me a headache.

            We have end of semester parent conferences today and through the rest of the week and an open house on Friday. We showcase student work. I saw part of the art department exhibit this morning. Our new art teacher has raised the level of student work to a startling degree. Super stuff!

            All of my classes are represented in the Open House. I’ve made books out of all the student writing. My lower grades history classes' interpretive art work fills another book. I hope this pleases the parents..

Writing Stuff


  1. Thank you for reminding me of Kipling's Kim. I had been struggling with visualizing a young person being so wise beyond years. Kim was such a child.

    Then I remembered some of my own stories I wrote when I was in my early teens. My characters then were tackling tasks that were more adult in nature.

  2. An occasional reader11:52 AM

    This is prompted by Harry’s comment about writing as a youth on adult themes.

    Stories written in youth are generally embarrassing, especially if they survive to be read in your own adulthood, unless you are someone like Jane Austen with her Juvenilia.

    I have the misfortune to be an inveterate hoarder. Two books written when I was 12 in copper-plate handwriting are hidden away somewhere, waiting to be furtively burned before I shuffle off this mortal coil.

    Alas, no adult themes. Instead, sheer plagiarism. The first was an adventure story of about 30 pages. I had obviously been overdosing on Talbot Baines Reed. Enough said about that the better.

    The second was even worse. I know I completed 80 pages before it was abandoned – or postponed – and I suspect at my age now, that the postponement is permanent. It was a “humorous” novel. It included lightly “fictionalized” events that had happened to me, plus a large dose of episodes culled from the films of Norman Wisdom. If American audiences have never seen a Norman Wisdom film, they are fortunate.
    But at the age of 12, I thought they were marvellous - apart from the bits of pathos, lifted straight from Chaplin. And as I grew and really got into the history of film and entertainment, I discovered many of the original gags done a lot better by Lloyd and Keaton. But yes – that was the inspiration. I remember reaching 80 pages, because that was when I was discharged from hospital. I had met the front lamp of a stationery motor vehicle with my head – after going over the handlebars of a bicycle. The front lamp smashed. My head wasn’t too good either, and I was six weeks in hospital regaining my memory and – weird the way things worked – learning how to walk again. So once I came around enough to remember who I was, and who these people were who visiting me (including my estranged parents who accidentally turned up on the same day and glowered at each other across my bed) I set to work to compose an epic. Eighty pages and I was let out – and went straight back to football, and climbing and cycling, and catching up on schoolwork.

    So unlike probably some of the students in Rachael’s classes and Harry’s experiences – I was not a child dealing with adult themes. Instead I grew up to be more of an adult dealing with childish themes.

    And apart from a bit of history writing and technical writing on my profession, that’s about where I have generally stayed. But quite happily.

  3. Griffin7:43 AM

    "“It would be useless to search for the place of its birth or for the name of its founder. It was born everywhere at once, and has been everywhere at the same time the natural effect of the same aspirations and the same needs.”

    Chivalry arose from a German custom which was idealized by the Christian church; and it was an ideal than a practice."

    P'raps one is being unchivalrous, but may one offer the observation that maybe here are two conflicting comments.