Poem for August: Mentor

Another modern one, so you must click on the link: http://www.loc.gov/poetry/180/163.html

Poetry that rhymes is much easier to memorize, in my opinion. It’s probably because I am walking or riding my bike while memorizing and the beat of the words meshes nicely with the beat of the poem. I’m not a poet, but sometimes I think the imposed structure of “must rhyme” would be an interesting guideline while writing. It seems that most modern poets aren’t so interested in the whole rhyme scheme thing, which is cool, but the rhyme was what attracted me to this poem. I was interested to note that the poem was originally published in a poetry journal completely dedicated to metrical poetry and I thought I should check out this journal. Alas, it was last published in 2004 according to a wiki stub.
Oh well, I’ll have to find my metered poems elsewhere. Like, say: the past. Stay tuned.

Books read in August

A variety of reading styles this month: several “read aloud” volumes were finished, a poem book, book group books, a play, and an excellent piece of thick juicy fiction. But wait, there’s more! Read on to find out what other winners there were this month.

All Night Lingo Tango
Barbara Hamby
These were enjoyable poems by someone I would guess is either a night owl or has insomnia issues. Hence all the classic movie references. The middle section are sonnets and reading them, I was quite confused as they did not follow the sonnet format I had read about. However, at the end, Hamby explains they are what she calls abecedarian sonnets, which she explains as, “There’s one poem for each letter of the alphabet, each poem except one opening with its title letter and then following the alphabet through the poem.” When I looked back, I saw this was true and found this to be a rather amazing feat of writing.
Favorite poems:
  • Sonnets from the Psalms
  • Ode to Airheads, Hairdos, Trains to and from Paris
  • I find an Entrance to Hell
  • Ode to Cake, Catcalls, Eggs with a Minor Scary Reference to the End of the World
  • Ode to Little Boys
Anne of Avonlea
L. M. Mongomery
I found the incredibly underdeveloped character of Dora to be quite a distraction in this book. Davy, her mischievous twin was delightful in his badness, but she was a blank slate. Other than that, Anne’s navigation through early adulthood (although that started sooner then as she is 17-18 in this book) was enjoyable. Some of the “teacher” chapters were particularly amusing.
Freddy and Fredericka
Mark Halprin
I got this book from a booklist at the library, one of those “if you like this, you might like this” sort of things. I can’t find what the “this” was that led me to the book, but I quite indeed like this book and I’m thankful for the list for steering me to it.
In an alternate present, the Prince of Wales (Freddy, son of Phillipa, not Charles, son of Elizabeth) is sent by the mysterious Mr. Neil to travel incognito with his glamorous wife to conquer the United States of America. The book skewers everything: the British press, the American press, the monarchy, the parliamentary system, the constitutional form of government, political campaigns, etc. etc. etc.
It’s also quite generous with its use of words. The “sending of Freddy to conquer the USA” is first breached on page 170, all that comes before is establishing background. Halprin is clearly not worried about electronic age readers attention spans as he often takes more than five pages to set up a hilarious scene, which results in the reader working for the laughter, but many funny moments. There are also several touching scenes, one of which brought tears to my eyes, which was unfortunate as I was riding the Max train at the time.
For a busy person who only has time now and again to dip into this book, I would say, don’t bother. But if you have the time to put into it, this is a very rewarding read. Perhaps it will do for your next vacation, no?
My Antonia
Willa Cather
Read for Kenton Book Group.
Ah, there’s nothing like settling in with a book that you know you enjoyed before. It was enjoyable this time too. I think Willa Cather is the landscape painter of early twentieth century fiction and not only that but she can spin a yarn, too. Both times I’ve read this book I’ve been on deadline (first for a “History of Westward Expansion” class in college, now for Kenton Book Club) and I probably wouldn’t have made it through this book without the deadlines due to its early twentieth century “you have to pay attention” prose and it’s meandering pace and my book ADD, but it is such a marvelous book I’m glad that I’ve twice had the incentive.
Pride & Prejudice
Jane Austin
Matt & I read aloud
I actually finished this earlier in the year by reading it in bits through Daily Lit. However, I forgot to mark that momentous occasion via Goodreads. I read for the second time this year, because it was my selection to bring along for “read aloud” on the Bike Trip. The book was chosen because Matt and his friend Jeff wandered through while I was watching the miniseries and they started making fun of the story, categorizing it as “Mr. Darcy needs fixing and once the lady does, he’s so much better.” This isn’t the point of the story at all, but after making a few attempts at getting that point across that were resoundly booed by both Matt and Jeff, I figured it would be much better if Matt read it for himself. And so the book was chosen.
I find this book quite funny, and enjoyed the characters. There was a point where I felt the narrative was a bit slow (it was post-Lizzie’s visit to see Mr. & Mrs. Collins and pre-Lydia’s scandalous behavior) but the story is so rewarding, I can overlook that. It was fun to read aloud and do the different characters. I especially enjoyed being Mr. Collins. Also, Matt saw the error of his ways, which is always nice.
AND the introduction of the edition we read (1994 Tom Doherty Associates, LLC,) was quite good. It seems to not have an author listed, but was called “The Life and Times of Jane Austin.”
Much Ado About Nothing
William Shakespeare
Rumor mongering can kill a girl. And don’t you forget it. My favorite part? “Yeah, that Hero girl is dead, but my brother has a daughter just like her. You want to marry her?”
Yep. Those women sure are valued.
On Beauty
Zadie Smith
I’ve had a great streak of big, thick books about families. First there was Freedom, by Jonathan Franzen, then Freddie and Fredericka by Mark Helprin. Now, another good entry comes from Ms. Smith, an author I’ve heard about, but never read.
I enjoyed wandering through the Beasley family’s life, seeing the perspective from many different family members. I look forward to reading more of Zadie Smith.
The Order of the Stick Volume 2: No cure for the Paladin Blues
Rich Burlew
Matt & I read aloud.
The story continues with humor and more stick figures. The humor included a joke about a druid and a tree that had me laughing so hard we had to pause while I moved into silent laughter territory.
Order of the Stick, on the Origin of PC
Rich Berlew
Matt & I read aloud.
I’m a sucker for back stories, so I was happy with this slim volume in the OOTS canon.
A Single Man
Christopher Isherwood
I found this to be very spare writing that normally I would discard before I read too far in the book. Only the fact that I was constantly comparing it to the movie kept me reading. The characters in the movie were flavors of the characters in the book and the “one day” premise was the same, but many other things were very different. I did appreciate, as someone in one of the movie commentaries pointed out, that Isherwood was writing very matter of factly about the gay “lifestyle” in 1962.
A New Earth
Eckart Tolle
The insomnia I thought I had banished forever returned this summer and because I was not required to be at work at a certain time I was not proactive in getting rid of the insomnia by setting firm “go to bed/get up” times. What’s a girl to do for and hour or two when she’s awake in the middle of the night?
It turns out, listening to Mr. Tolle read this book was a highlight of my summer. His quiet, oddly accented voice was incredibly calming, and I took away a lot of his “live in the now” philosophy. I glanced at a printed copy of this book at Powell’s and I think I can say that I would not have made it through this book if I had to read it. It seemed a little bit dry on the page, but was quite interesting to listen to. If you have chunks of time where you can do nothing but listen this might be an enjoyable book for you.

6 Ranch pickup

The beef has arrived! Our shipment of beef from 6 Ranch came today and the Aunts and I picked up our orders.

Aunt Pat writing the final check.

Liza Jane and her daughter unloading the truck.

People waiting. In the background you can see two women dividing their order.

It’s nice to have a full freezer of beef again. If you are interested in ordering grass fed beef from 6 Ranch, you can go to their web site: http://www.6ranch.com/

Last day of Summer Reading Volunteering

Today was the last day of my summer reading volunteer stint. It was a great volunteer gig. I showed up for two hours every Monday afternoon and assisted children 0-18 participating in the program. This involved stamping their summer reading passport and letting them select a prize depending on what level they had achieved. This took about 15 minutes total of every two hour shift. The rest of the time I caught up on my own summer reading, watched the patrons in the library and absorbed the varying hubbub that is my popular neighborhood library branch. It was a good way to end my Monday workdays.

Have you thought about volunteering for Summer Reading? They will need you next summer, so I encourage you to sign up. Just like my friend Kelly encouraged me to sign up. You won’t be sorry. And you get a t-shirt!

Certificate has arrived.

Eight classes completed. Approximately $8000.00 spent to earn my Graduate Certificate in Middle School Math. The certificate arrived today. It’s not so much a certificate as an approved form.

For the amount of time and effort I put into this, I think it’s not too much to ask for something a little more diploma like and less bureaucratic.
But that’s Portland State for you.

Three sentence movie reviews: One Day

The thing I loved most about the book that this movie is based on is the numerous spot-on descriptions of life’s passages between 22 and 42. There was no way the movie could depict these descriptions, leaving me to enjoy the passage of time through clothing, but little else. It wasn’t a bad movie, it just paled in comparison to the book.

Also, I think there is an excessive amount of tongue in this movie poster. It makes me think “ew” every time I come across it in the paper. Even if it is two actors I find attractive.

Pride and Prejudice: Worst. Cover. Ever.

When I go to Powells to purchase a classic, I’m always looking for the crappy paperback, of the $1.00 variety. Sadly, it seems that I need to employ a time machine to find that kind of book, as Powell’s current prices bottom out at about $4.00. Or $3.95, which I paid for the copy of Pride and Prejudice (pictured below) to take on the bike tour. I might have paid a little more just because the cover to this book is so incredibly lame I still giggle with delight looking at it.

I initially judged this edition to be published in the early-to-mid-80s due to the Regency Romance type cover and was surprised to find the edition to be published in 1994. Note that it assures me right on the cover that this edition is “complete and unabridged.” Um, yes, that is what I’m looking for.

It’s a tossup which is my favorite part. The tagline “Mom’s fishing for husbands–But the girls are hunting for love” is such a groaner and also not actually reflective of the story, as Matt exasperatedly pointed out before we were even halfway through our reading of the book.

Or perhaps I love most that Elizabeth Bennet, someone who in the novel does not yet have one and twenty years, is depicted as someone closer to my own current age cohort which is mid-to-late 30s. Quick, grab her Darcy, before middle age begins! Also, would Darcy have ever kissed her hand like that? I think not.

This edition, aside from meeting the high standard of delivering the complete and unabridged book, did contain an excellent introduction titled “The Life and Times of Jane Austin” which I found quite interesting and informative. So just one more reminder to never judge a book by its cover.

Three sentence movie reviews: Glee Season 1, Road to Regionals

The second half of season one had many delightful moments, perhaps my favorite being the Madonna episode and also the Safety Dance flash mob scene where both Matt and myself felt sad because Artie is such a good dancer and we normally never get to see him move his feet. I found the Bohemian Rhapsody/birth scene to be a bit of a stretch, but as usual enjoyed the singing and the dancing. Matt and I watched a dance tutorial in the DVD extras that told us how to do a tiny bit of the “Rehab” dance and I was somewhat discouraged to realize that they were teaching us the dance at about one-quarter speed.*

*I have to say that the DVD extras were very informative on the subject of dance. I’ve noticed that often the main cast mostly does the “circle around the piano singing” style choreography, which I understand as I don’t see how they all have time to learn all the songs as well as do the acting part and then throw in the dancing on top of that. So I’m always thrilled when we get to see dancing from “other schools” which are clearly populated by professional dancers who always cause our jaws to drop. Zach Woodlee’s choreography is amazing. Although of the main cast, Matt is a huge fan of Heather Morris’ (Brittany) dancing.

Three sentence movie reviews: The Good German

This movie finally broke my streak of movies that contained good acting, good story, and were a little slow. I’m not sure how I missed this in the theater, as it has three actors I love to watch, and I appreciated their performances as well as the swelling 40s-style violins, the black and white film and the plot that kept me guessing. It was odd to see Toby Maguire as a morally compromised person, but that was just part of the fun.