Monday, December 29, 2008

Stand by Me

Marcy sent this to me on Facebook. I love the concept and its a great rendition of this song...

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Saturday, December 20, 2008

Does Any One Know Any Thing?

Today's title is in honour of editors, one of whom would likely change my titling to "Does Anyone Know Anything?" — sadly, quite different in intent than my original.

Apparently today, on the eve of the solstice, we are enjoying the halcyon days. Michael Quinion provides an explanation:

The story goes back to a Greek legend that the kingfisher nested in
the sea at the time of the winter solstice and that its floating
nest brought calm to wind and water, what we now call the halcyon
days, "halcyon" being from the Greek name for the kingfisher,
alkuon. A romantic version of the legend was told by the Roman poet
Ovid about Ceyx and Alcyone. She was the daughter of Aeolus, the
god of the winds, and he was the son of the morning star. Ceyx was
lost at sea and Alcyone was inconsolable. The gods took pity on
them, turning them into kingfishers so that they might continue to
live together. When they mated each year at the winter solstice the
gods calmed the winds and seas so Alcyone might brood her eggs
safely. Alcyone's name became "halcyon" in Latin, because of a mistaken
belief that its real source was two Greek words meaning "conceiving
on the sea."

It's difficult to imagine a seascape populated with kingfishers this morning, with the air temperature at -29 and the wind chill equivalent to -33. Still halcyon, meaning peaceful, calm, carefree, is an emotional tone we should all strive for this weekend. The sun is about to begin its return journey: the light is coming back.

Too bad there are only five more shopping days until Christmas. Perhaps that's why truly halcyon days seem so remote and fantastic.

Soon to emerge from under a pile of marking...


Sunday, December 14, 2008

Shakespeare was a Wild Thing

My online grammar students are required to do a style analysis exercise in which they must recast a piece of contemporary writing in an older idiom. Their choices are Middle English, Renaissance English, Enlightenment English, and Victorian English. The students protested that they had no idea what I was asking them to do — did I really expect them to learn Middle English in a week? — and could I please post a sample of the task.

Normally I am reluctant to provide well-developed models of assignments in class because students tend to do what I've shown them rather than developing their own, likely much more creative, solutions. However, I decided that because we are meeting in an online environment and they have much less contact with me than they would in a face-to-face setting, I would relent. Hence the following excerpt from Maurice Sendak's classic children's book Where the Wild Things Are, recast in Renaissance-style English. Enjoy! — L


The night Max wore his wolf suit and made mischief of one kind
and another
his mother called him "WILD THING!" and Max said "I'LL EAT YOU UP!" so he was sent to bed without eating anything.
That very night in Max's room a forest grew
and grew ——
and grew until his ceiling hung with vines and the walls became the world all around
and an ocean tumbled by with a private boat for Max and he sailed off through night and day
and in and out of weeks and almost over a year to where the wild things are.
And when he came to the place where the wild things are they roared their terrible roars and gnashed their terrible teeth
and rolled their terrible eyes and showed their terrible claws
till Max said "BE STILL!" and tamed them with the magic trick of staring into all their yellow eyes without blinking once and they were frightened and called him the most wild thing of all
and made him king of all wild things.

Lo, upon that eve, when upon his person did Max array the suit in the likeness of the Wolf, and did make mischief of such a kind and of another such;
his Mother, the very Hera of his being, him appelled "WILD THING!"; the while sayeth Max, "I'LL EAT YOU UP!" and so, thus was he returned to his chamber lacking entirely in victual and sustenance.
Lo upon that same eve'n, in that fast foreboding chamber, did grow a wood and a wild, the which unfurled
and increased ——
and expanded vitally until the firmament was wreathed with tendrils and tenerumen, and the ramparts gave way to a Universe new-emerged;
and there upon the waves of fair Okeanos did tumble a sailing vessel bold, for the express conveyance of Max alone; and so he did voyage, tracing the pathways of fair Diana and bright Apollo both,
through the reckoning of a seven-day and beyond a fortnight, nigh upon one turning of the stars, to discover the place of the Wilde Things.
Whereupon encountering the horde of these Creatures Beastly, did they bellow, their shouts a clatter upon the Heavens; and did they grind their beastly dentures, a boisterous and disorderly shewing;
They did roll their eyen frightful upon themselves, and did brandish their talons and their pincers set to maul and mangle;
And then, of a sudden did Max proclaim "BE STILL!" and brought these beasts of wildest mantle under his own sway and suasion, using that charm magick, the enchantment of staring but fierce into their orbs aureal and not to break the thread he had made with those fearsome orisons; and they were afeared and did cower and quake, and unto him did apply the title of that one most wild of any,
And so did they make him Ruler and King of all their kind.