Tagged: reading

Women Are Safe

For Matt

I’m just saying that Robert Louis Stevenson is masterful. Check out this little section I just read from his The Master of Bellantrae.

Let anyone speak long enough, he will get believers. This view of Mr. Henry’s behavior crept about the country by little and little; it was talked upon by folk that knew the contrary, but were short of topics; and it was heard and believed and given out for gospel by the ignorant and the ill-willing. Mr. Henry began to be shunned; yet awhile, and the commons began to murmur as he went by, and the women (who are always the most bold because they are the most safe) to cry out their reproaches to his face. The Master was cried up for a saint. It was remembered how he had never any hand in pressing the tenants; as, indeed, no more he had, except to spend the money. He was a little wild perhaps, the folk said; but how much better was a natural, wild lad that would soon have settled down, than a skinflint and a sneckdraw, sitting, with his nosed in an account book, to persecute poor tenants! One trollop, who had a child to the Master, and by all accounts been very badly used, yet made herself a kind of champion of his memory. She flung a stone one day at Mr. Henry.

“Whaur’s the bonnie lad that trustit ye?” she cried.

Mr. Henry reined in his horse and looked upon her, the blood flowing from his lip, “Ay, Jess?” says he. “You too? And yet ye should ken me better.” For it was he who had helped her with money.

The woman had another stone ready, which she made as if she would cast; and he, to ward himself, threw up the hand that held his riding rod.

“What, would ye beat a lassie, ye ugly—-?” cries she, and ran away screaming as though he had struck her.

Next day word went about the country like wildfire that Mr. Henry had beaten Jessie Broun within an inch of her life.

Makes me wonder. Where is the woman who admits her safe status today? Seems out-of-fashion. And if she is in danger, what factors contributed to the change?

I say you’re all still very safe, safer in fact than you were in the nineteenth century–and that this still explains your boldness.

Advertisements

Review of This Is America, by Childish Gambino (Using One Scene from Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Black Arrow)

While I have your attention, do be sure to read Stevenson’s Kidnapped. Alan Breck may just be my favorite character ever.

Okay, here’s how this review works. I describe the opening of the video, then I use a few lines from The Black Arrow to express my critical thoughts.

The video opens with a shirtless man whose immediate sex appeal rivals young Jim Morrison, Mick Jagger, and Elvis Presley. Then we see him reach for his gun. And you know the rest.

****

The Good Hope was, at that moment, trembling on the summit of a swell. She subsided, with sickening velocity, upon the farther side. A wave, like a great black bulwark, hove immediately in front of her; and, with a staggering blow, she plunged headforemost through that liquid hill. The green water passed right over her from stem to stern, as high as a man’s knees; the sprays ran higher than the mast; and she rose again upon the other side, with an appalling, tremulous indecision, like a beast that has been deadly wounded… 

“Bootless, my master, bootless,” said the steersman, peering forward through the dark. “We come every moment somewhat clearer of these sandbanks; with every moment, then, the sea packeth upon us heavier, and for all these whimperers they will presently be on their backs. For, my master, ’tis a right mystery, but true, there never yet was a bad man that was a good shipman. None but the honest and the bold can endure me this tossing of a ship.”

A Note On Public School Teachers

Long-time readers know of my, how shall I put it, no-love-lost relationship with public school teachers. Yes. That’s a fair way to describe the romance. Of course, it is a difficult thing to critique people who do thankless jobs. However, because teachers are adults and I know what being an adult feels like, I won’t hesitate to critique them.

This morning I went to help the kindergartners read. They each have a reading folder which contains an appropriate skill-level book and a sheet of paper on which data is recorded, data like book title, date, skill level, and the like. To give feedback to the teacher or next volunteer, there are three boxes to choose from which describe the contest between student and book: Just Right, Too Easy, Too Hard.

(New readers: My daughter is in the class.)

Anyhow, the teacher is setting me up at my spot just outside the classroom and she actually told me, instructed me, to not mark any “Too Easy”. (Pause for effect.) How could she possibly know the future?

More than that, she emphasized heavily that everything should be positive feedback and that I wasn’t to use the word “no” or say “that’s not right”. More than that, she gave me the okay to give the student the difficult word rather than have them sound it out.

If my daughter was overly shy and unkempt and occasionally had bruises that she hurriedly covered up and could not ruh-ruh-ruh-ree-add, then maybe I could see the need to talk to me about the nature of teaching the skill of reading–maybe.

Oh and another thing. One little girl was pouting because her dad’s finger accidentally touched her cheek as he got her out of the car. After sending the little girl to the nurse to get some ice, the same teacher looked at me knowingly and said, “Sometimes all it takes is a hug and a little ice.” All it takes for what? What exactly is the predicted/anticipated/desired future for indulging that kind of behavior? If you’re less than fifty and have kids I blame you. It’s probably against some policy somewhere to tell a 5 year old human-in-training, “Stop crying. You’re not hurt. Move along” because either you or parents you knew complained that a teacher with your child’s best interest in mind was being a meany.

World Economy In Disarray After Oprah Endorses Everything

Chicago.  In an unexpected–and unprecedented–move this past weekend, Oprah endorsed every product. The only African-American Billionaire, Miss Winfrey is making headlines around the world after her weekend decision, and doing so in every news category.

Simply put, people do not know what to do.

Since her rise to stardom, which began in 1984, Americans, and subsequently all humans, have looked to Oprah for guidance when undecided about how to spend their money. From books, to clothing, to boots, to coffee, to perfume, popcorn and more, consumers grew to love this new found ease of shopping in which they didn’t have to weigh the options themselves.

But now, in only the three hours since Captain’s Log learned of the story, virtual chaos has engulfed the world’s major cities. Every stock market has plunged, and some analysts are already predicting it will take more than twenty years to recover from this new great depression–if recovery is possible at all.

The Obama administration is the leading voice in the world’s governments call for people to remain calm. More difficult, however, has been these government’s task of asking their citizens to essentially think for themselves.

As for this American writer, the only hope is that Oprah’s thoughtless action has the unintended consequence of being the first cut in America’s citizens much needed Cesarean section. Stay tuned to Captain’s Log for further updates as this story develops.

Review of The Martian, by Andy Weir

Finally there’s proof that I’m not the only one with Mars on the brain.  Originally published as an ebook in 2009, Andy Weir’s The Martian was destined for broader horizons.  Recently picked up by Crown Publishing (a subsidiary of Random House Publishing), it spent a handful of weeks on the NY Times Bestseller list earlier this year.  Must be nice.

Weir’s first novel is all heart.  And by heart, I mean comedy.  Maybe that sets the wrong tone.  Beginning again then.  The book is all Watney.  Mark Watney is the first astronaut (we all know there’s going to be one) to be stranded on Mars.  And The Martian, first and foremost, is about Mark Watney.  From the opening line, to the last page, Weir’s development of Watney through how he handles the obstacles that present themselves to him as he attempts to live on Mars acts as the life-giving oxygen necessary to sustaining his life on Mars.

The critics (really anything you’ll read about the book) frequently laud Weir’s attention to detail and eloquent grasp of the science behind traveling to and living on the red planet.  But that’s not what kept my attention.  (Like I have any way of verifying any of the story’s science anyhow.)  What I do know is that I enjoy the feeling I get as bursts of unexpected air come out of my mouth or nose. And this book causes plenty of that.  It’s a weird feeling, the feeling that accompanies laughing at unmoving text.  But it is as enjoyable as any other feeling I can think of.

If you’re like me, you probably won’t rush out and buy the book based on a recommendation.  But you might pick it up off the bookstore shelf and begin reading it.  Here’s what you need to know as you begin to feel guilty for reading so long and hurriedly put the book back before anyone can claim that you must now purchase it because you’ve read too much of it: despite the opening chapters, the book is not just a diary.  I started chapter’s four and five with a bit of a groan because while funny and interesting, it was a little too much Mark Watney.  Then chapter six arrived in a much welcomed third person omniscient point of view.  From there on out, it is a nice balance between the two.

In the end, it is a page-turner.  It is funny.  And its theme is hope.  If you have any interest in one of those three things and are space-curious, read it.

Review of A Fly Went By by Mike McClintock and Fritz Siebel

In the classic children’s book A Fly Went By, Mike McClintock harnesses the The Great War’s lesson and with perfect eloquence tells a story that frees children from fear.  With Fritz Siebel’s poignant illustrations as the glue holding a child’s gaze, McClintock’s repetitious prose etches its way into a young listener’s mind.  The story is simple:  a boy sees a fly go by, and asks him, “Why?”  We soon find out that the fly ran from the frog.  But the frog isn’t chasing the fly; he “ran from the cat, who ran from the dog.”  The boy continues his search for the thing behind all the running, and in perfect metaphor to life, it turns out that a man was the first to run, and he ran from sounds of unknown origin.  The chain reaction resulting in all the characters running in fear thus began.  We soon discover, though, that these sounds were caused by “a sheep with an old tin can.”

Like any toddler whose parents read this book to them, apparently I had the big finale memorized before I knew how to read.  It wasn’t until after college, though, that in reading the book to a nephew I realized the lesson that stamped itself on my person.  Have no fear.  “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”  Be brave.  These sentiments and more are captured within McClintock’s fun little book.  It is a sure winner for parents who are looking for ways to teach their children a timeless truth–without the children knowing class is in session.  A life without fear is a life worth living and a gift worth giving.  Give children freedom from fear.  Share with them the story of a boy who “sat by the lake, and looked at the sky.”

****

McClintock, Marshall, and Fritz Siebel. A Fly Went by. [New York]: Beginner, 1958. Print.