Friday, October 30, 2009


What ho everyone! Here is my hero thingy.

First, apologies to Miss Pickwickian for not being as active on the blog as I could have been.
Second, the slide shows are totally awesome!

Now to business.
I have a ton of heroes. Every time I meet a new one, I add them to my Hero List, which is quite large and ever-growing. What does it take for someone to qualify as a hero for me? I think a hero is firstly, someone who does something either brave or self sacrificing (or both!) to benefit or save others. Bravery is essential - who ever heard of a cowardly hero? But a hero is not someone who simply does brave things for no reason. A hero must do brave things to save and help people. People who do dangerous things are either brave or foolish. I think that if someone does a dangerous thing for no reason, he qualifies as a fool. If a person does dangerous things in order to help others, the he qualifies as a hero. But a hero is not just someone who does scary dangerous things all the time; there must be the element of self-sacrifice (which is connected to being brave for others). I believe all heroes are types of the Ultimate Hero, the Lord Christ Jesus. Christ’s heroic act (the death on the cross) was the Supreme Act of Self Sacrifice. If the people we call heroes are not putting others before themselves, are not risking themselves for others or giving something up, I think they miss the point of being a hero.
Second, a hero must be someone that we can look up to, or strive to be more like. A hero doesn’t have to be perfect; in fact, usually a hero with some conflict in his personal life makes a more interesting story; but if a person does brave things, yet is totally corrupt in every other aspect of his life, then he does not qualify as a hero. Heroes are not ONLY people who do brave things for others; they are people we can look up to and respect.

Now that you have my definition of a hero, I will run through some of my favorites, and explain why I think they qualify as heroes.

My favorite knight form the story of King Arthur is Sir Gawain. Gawain, like most of the prominent knights, is skilled in battle and is of course a very valient warrior. But what maks him a hero for me is his amazing courage in areas other than fighting and his selflessness. In the adventure of the Green knight, one of the knights must travel to the Green knight’s house and get his head cut off. Gawain immediately promises the Green knight he will come. He did this not out of a desire for glory- after all, onc ehe gets to the Green knight's house, he'll be dead! He did it because he was brave and selfless, unwilling to let other knights risk their lives. Again, in another adventure, the King must answer a riddle or else be killed by an enemy knight. They find an ugly old woman who can tell them the answer-but her price is that Gawain must marry her! Gawain does not hesitate to marry her and saves King Arthur’s life. In every adventure, Gawain is always ready to sacrifice himself for others. Gawain is also staunchly loyal to King Arthur and is with him to the end. In the words of Lady Ragnel (Gawain’s wife): “There was never a knight as noble and unselfish as you!”

One of my all time favorites is Luke Skywalker. I am a huge Star wars fan, and he is my mostest favroitist hero of all Star wars. That’s saying a lot, because there are hundreds of heroes in those movies. Why is he my favorite? He’s a very typical human being. He struggles with his shortcomings, with his desire to be a Jedi, with the people in his life. He’s not perfect. He’s someone I can relate to more than I can to, say, Gawain. And yet, Luke not only overcomes his mistakes and short comings, but he perseveres to become the greatest Jedi there ever was, to save the Galaxy from evil, and even save Darth Vader. He transorms from the impatient, irritable kid who only wants adventure, to the skilled Jedi who saves the world; the very picture of bravery and selflessness.

Okay, one more. My favorite super hero is Spiderman. It’s not just because his ability to spin webs is cool (it is cool, though). What I appreciate about Peter Parker is his humility. He always has a humble attitude about his abilities and is never in it for his own glory. I also think it is incredibly selfless of him to forgo the normal life he could have had in order to save people. Peter has his struggles and temptations, but he always does what’s right in the end. I know that sounds so cliché, but it’s true. Out of all the super heroes I’ve seen, Spiderman seems to me to be the bravest and noblest of the all. (Note: I am going by what I saw in the movies. I've never read the comics, hypocrite that I am.)

I could go on and on about my other favorite heroes. Maybe some other time. Tinkerty Tonk for now!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

What Makes Him Cool?

So. Everybody! We seem to be having some lazy authors here... I feel sort of like I keep rambling on to myself. (Special thanks to Polka Dot, Rose, and occasionally Johanna and Dura Mater for commenting. You rock!)

Miss Polka Dot and I thought it would be fun to do a little assignment. A lot of what makes stories work is characters. I know we all of a lot of heroes. I thought it would be fun for us all to do a squib on one of our favorite heroes or heroines.

Try to include a few of the following:

Why do you like this hero?
How can you relate?
Does he seem realistic? Does this make him more lovable?
What do you think is necessary in a true hero?
What makes or break a guy or gal from reaching the hero status?

Maybe post a picture or two.
Just ramble on your thoughts about the subject.

I know a lot of you think you don't know what to write about, but anything related to story is just fine. Quotes, song lyrics, random inspiring squibs, movie and book reviews, pictures, and so on are all welcome. I know you all love movies and songs, and a lot of you read, so really no excuse. Most of what we do everyday is related to story.

Also...please notice the improvements to the blog. Like the slide shows?

Thanks for reading. Now write!
Miss Pickwickian

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Lloyd Alexander

Lloyd Alexander (1924-2007) was a successful fiction writer who wrote mostly children stories, but some other varieties as well including a total of over 40 books!

I was reading about him today when I came across this quote in an article of tribute that was published at his death.

The quote from Lloyd Alexander is in reference to his main character in a five book fantasy series who starts out as an assistant pig-keeper. Although his work is sometimes predictable and his female characters are often unbearable, Alexander was a great children's writer. I have been greatly influenced by his style and have enjoyed hours of it, in my youth. ;-)

"For Mr. Alexander, the uses of enchantment were clear: fantasy, he often said, was a powerful way of talking about real-world injustice.

'In whatever guise — our own daily nightmares of war, intolerance, inhumanity; or the struggles of an Assistant Pig-Keeper against the Lord of Death — the problems are agonizingly familiar,” he said in his Newbery acceptance speech in 1969. “And an openness to compassion, love and mercy is as essential to us here and now as it is to any inhabitant of an imaginary kingdom.' "

And from an interview published after his death...

"SF: Of all your books, do you have a favorite book or character?
I can’t single out one of my books or characters as a favorite. In the same way that I don’t have a favorite kidney, my books are organically all part of myself. I might even say that put all together, the books are one ongoing, developing story—which, not coincidentally, happens to be my own lifestory.

SF: What was it like to win the Newbery Medal?

LA: The only way I can describe winning the Newbery Medal is: indescribable. Elation? Astonishment? Those are very pale words. What I did realize after the jubilation calmed down a little (it never calmed down completely) is that all awards, marvelous as they are to receive, are given for something already done. The point is not to look back, but to look ahead to what you hope still to do.

SF: What were your favorite books growing up, and who were your favorite authors?

LA: Favorite books and authors while growing up—I’d need a book to list them all. For the sake of brevity: Shakespeare, Dickens, Mark Twain, Victor Hugo, world’s mythology, the Arthurian legends. And the unabridged dictionary. And they’re still my favorites. They get better each time I read them."

(You can see the whole interview

For more info on Lloyd Alexander go to:
this interesting, short bio or Wikipedia.

Just thought I'd share.
Miss Pickwickian

(P.S. Perhaps his nose influenced my writing style as well. ;-)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Ship Captain with Blood in His Eye

I am doing American History this year for school, and have found a new hero.

Francis Drake

In the 16th century, the Spanish King Phillip II, a fanatical Catholic, wanted to kill all of the Protestants. His army was huge and rich, and slaughtered thousands of Protestants in Europe.

During this time, there were several Spanish outposts in the New World, where they were getting a fat profit of Mexican gold and Peruvian silver. Which provided for the Spanish army.

Francis Drake, an English sea captain, got together with his cousin, Sir John Hawkins, and became the most famous pair in a daring class of mariners under Queen Elizabeth I. They were called the Sea Dogs. They attacked and looted the Spanish outposts. When they returned to England, Queen Elizabeth came on his ship, the Golden Hind, and knighted Drake.

Quote from my history book:

There was much more to Drake's daring raids than simply fame and fortune--he sailed with blood in his eye against the Catholic threat. Drake's father, a tenant farmer, was a fervent Protestant lay preacher who had a great influence in shaping his son's character and convictions.

When Drake was a boy, he and his family were forced to flee their home during a Catholic uprising. In order to escape, the family lived in the rotting hulk of a ship on the bank of the Thames.

Ironically, the boy whom the Catholics forced to live in dire poverty in the hulk of a ship would one day take a ship and greatly enrich himself at the expense of Catholic Spain.

BURN for the Spanish there. I love that "blood in his eye". Isn't this inspiring? It's amazing how many awesome stories there are in history. Someone should take this and write a book. Maybe someone has. :-)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The White Company

By Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Plot Synopsis (sorta...)

The White Company is set during the 100 Years War and fallows the lives of several Englishman as they travel (fighting along the way ;-) from England through France and Spain and back again. It is crammed with historical info along with a compelling although, sometimes slow, plot.
(Doyle obviously did a lot of research and sometimes shows it off with page long list of the names of 12th century knights.)

The story follows the lives of four assorted men;

Sir Nigel Loring, a small, feisty yet aging knight who is well known, but poor and spends much of his time looking for honorable advancement (fighting).

Alleyne Edricson, a young man just loosed from being a novice at an Abbey for the first 20 years of his life. (A very cool character, but one does tire of Doyle's comments about his blond, curling, English locks....)

John Hordle, a huge, red-headed Englishman who is very capable of cracking a joke (and heads).
and Samkin Alyward, a hardened and expert bowman.

The book holds all the promise of a medieval tale (saving the damsel in distress, knighthood, chivalry, etc...) and pulls it off remarkably well.

I recommend it, but want say much more, so don't I spoil it for you. Mwhahaha...

Some unusual things about it really made it interesting for me. Alleyne father dies soon after his
birth and entrusts him to the monks of the Abbey with the agreement that when he is 20 he may leave and see the world. Before the end of that year he must decide if he would like to return to the Abbey and become a monk or stay in the world.

He begins piously thinking he will return and is completely shocked at the state of the world. But amazingly, by the end it has come very clear to him that it is those in the world that are changing it, not those hiding in cells. (This all comes about in a very cool way...not exactly how its coming across. :-) Whatever weeds Doyle might have strayed off to later in life, his view on the Church and Christ are very refreshing here.

Doyle also does an excellent job of portraying believable and compelling leaders. His patriotism and take on chivalry do him credit.
Fighting is very much for a cause or for loyalty to a leader, and has little to do with hate. Many of the French and Spanish characters are nearly as cool as the English.

Some of his characters crazy delight in "honorable advancement" and war in general is a bit weird...

Note on the Author

As you probably all know, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is also the author of Sherlock Holmes, among a series about Professor Challenger, science fiction, historical novels, plays and romancnes, political works, and scattered poetry.

He considered Sherlock Holmes a way to pay the bills for many years. He actually killed him (the time he's not really dead) because he was irritated with the public for their love of Holmes and their indifference of his other works. He believed he needed more time for writing "serious" stuff.

In November of 1891 he wrote his mother: "I think of slaying Holmes...and winding up for good and all. He takes my mind from better things."
His mother responded, saying, "You may do what you deem fit, but the crowds will not take this lightheartedly."
Well...Doyle didn't listen to his mama and after off handedly murdering Holmes was forced to bring him back, both because of popular demand and because of failing finances. (The off handedly isn't really historically accurate...just bitterness seeping through...)

Doyle considered his historical and political works to be his greatest, and often said The White Company was one of his favorites.

Although I don't think any of his characters could possibly be as compelling and fasinating (and lovable :-) as Sherlock Holmes, I enjoyed the players in The White Company. (BTW, we are talking strictly of the book Sherlock Holmes here.:-)

Miss Pickwickian

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The "Car Wreck" Dynamic

"Just as people slow down to look at wreckage, we can't resist seeing what happens to fully drawn human beings who make an unalterable mess in their lives. A skilled novelist can make us feel that 'there but for the grace of God go I.' "
Plot and Structure by James Scott Bell

Just thought I'd share this quote. This seems very true and really helped me understand this predicament. Bell uses The Great American Tragedy as an example declaring it the worst written "greatest book" ever. Although its style is unpolished, often lags, and the primary character turns into a horrible person it is compelling book. I also think The Mayor of Casterbridge falls into this category. Anyways...just thought I'd share...

Miss Pickwickian

Monday, October 19, 2009



Writing and its Characters

"In his book, The Art of Creative Writing, Lajos Egri asserts that the key to originality in fiction comes from characters.

'Living, vibrating human beings are still the secret and magic formula of great and enduring writing. Read, or better, study the immortals and we will be forced to conclude that their unusual penetration into human character is what has kept their work fresh and alive through the centuries...'

Lets test this.

What is it that sets Dickens apart in our minds? Fagin and Wilkins Micawber; Uriah Heep and Miss Havisham; Peggotty and Barkis. Characters who sparkle in his plots like jewels.
How about a more contemporary example? I mentioned Stephen King. Study his work and you will see that his character development is every bit as original as his plot lines. The two work together. Take a look at the myriad characters in The Stand; you will not find a dullard anywhere.

Don't let any of your characters plop into your plot like plain vanilla. Spice them up.

Plot and Structure
by James Scott Bell

Friday, October 16, 2009

To Kill a Mockingbird

So I read "To Kill a Mockingbird" last week. A long time ago, Daddy read it out loud to all of us, and I barely remembered it, but thought I liked it. And then I heard people saying how they didn't like it, it was sort of confusing/weird, etc, and I thought... hm. It's weird that I liked it!

Anyhoo, I decided to read it to see what I thought of it now.

And I really liked it!

It is a very different kind of book, because it doesn't have a big plot, and the focus is more on the small events and realistic people in a small town. A lot of it is about a court case involving a black man, which the main character's father is a lawyer in.

Her writing style was unique, and very powerful, I think. Since it is in the first person of a little girl, it gives an interesting perspective--she sees and interprets things like a child. I hate it in books and movies when the children are the only ones who understand, and everyone else is stupid, but I think that it is true that a child can look with unprejudiced eyes, since they do not have all the complications and opinions of adults, and can be like, "Hey, people! This is so unfair!"
This is brought powerfully into the story because of the blatant racism of the people in the town.

The main character, "Scout" (her real name is Jean Louise), her brother Jem, and their friend, Dill, are shocked that people could treat each other the way they do. Atticus, their father, has taught them to treat everyone well, and they cannot understand why the people in their town act the way they do.

This book made me add two new heroes to my extensive Hero List. Atticus Finch, and Tom Robinson. Tom is the black man that is on trial, and he is basically awesome.

SO: to sum up. I really enjoyed book, it made me think alot, and I really liked the characters and writing style. Plus, it helped to comfort me when I was sick. :-)

Have any of you read it? What are your thoughts?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Movie and Book Quiz

Take the Movie and Book Quiz

And post your results in the comments. :-)

Miss Pickwickian

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Hunchback of Notre Dame

I recently read this book and found it very interesting. It raised several questions for me.
How much of human opinion is truly based on appearance?
Is innocence and naivety naturally lovable?
Can someone really be so innocent and naive to be so lovable (if that is indeed lovable) but be in love with someone other then the person she has married?
Where is the line between real love, infatuation, and desire?
And my top in the universe did they create this story into a kids' movie???????

So, have any of the rest of you read Victor Hugo's Hunchback? I looked all over the version I read because I don't believe it is completely unabridged, but I couldn't find anything. I'm going to assume it is, because I can't imagine Victor Hugo writing a book that was only 400 pages long. :-)

I haven't watched the cartoon, so I don't know how different the book is, but here is a short (hopefully) plot synopsis and then some of my opinions about the book.

Sixteen years before the book begins a woman, now called Sister Gudule, was gone from her
house when a band of gypsies stole her baby girl and replaced it with a deformed boy. She flips out (mentally and physically) and is imprisoned and the boy is adopted by the archdeacon of Notre Dame, Claude Frollo. Claude Frollo is a a highly respected, but friendless priest. He brings up Quesimondo and shields him from the public of Paris as Frollo's own brother, an overindulged poet.

Quesimondo eventually takes refuge by staying in Notre Dame (outcasts and even criminals were out of reach from the public and the law in the sanctuary of Notre Dame) and becomes the bell ringer, where he loses his hearing before h
e is 20. He is completely devoted to Claude Frollo.

Then Esmeralda, the young gypsy comes on the scene. She is a dancer and goes around Paris collecting money. She is also looking for her parents (light bulb here?) and carries a pink baby shoe around her neck. She believes when she finds its match, she finds her mother. (She of course, also has a little goat the does tricks and follows her around. Her only true friend. Isn't that tender?)
She belongs to a band of gypsies called the "Court of Miracles". By mistake an unfortunate poet, Pierre Gringoire, discovers the band. The Court declares that he must either be hanged or marry a gypsy. Out of pity, Esmeralda marries Gringoire, but continues her dancing and completely ignores him.

Frollo sees Esmeralda and begins to follow her around to watch her dance. He becomes completely infatuated with her de
spite that fact that he is a respected priest...hem, hem! At some point he convinces Quesimondo to help him try to capture her so he can talk with her (uh..hint..not a good way to win a ladies heart). It fails and Quesimondo is captured and put in the stocks. Esmeralda sees him the next day being jeered at. He is calling for water and she is the only one who will come and give him any. After this, of course, Quesimondo loves her forever. Despite the fact that he tried to capture her and that he is horribly ugly, she was willing to give him water!

Esmeralda, well dancing in Paris, meets Phobeus, a young and handsome lieutenant
who rescues her from a crowd that proclaims her a witch. Despite the fact that Phobeus is engaged to a rich and beautiful noble lady, a fact he does not mention, and that Esmeralda is married, she falls madly in love with him. Phobeus suggests another meeting, being infatuated himself. Frollo, even though he's never introduced himself to Esmeralda, becomes frightfully jealous and follows them to their place of meeting.
Phobeus proposes (even though he has no long term interest in Esmeralda) so Esmeralda trusts him...anyways...Phobeus acts ungentlemanly so Frollo comes and stabs him in the back and runs away. Esmeralda is then accused of seducing and then attempting murder on a soldier. She is sentenced to hang.

Frollo comes to her jail cell and co
nfesses his love and says he can get her out of jail. She goes on and on about Phobeus and he gets mad. He says "hang for all I care unless you agree to marry me and never mention Phobeus again!" (slightly paraphrased). She says if Phobeus is dead I shall die too.

So, she's about to get hanged and Frollo is the priest to take her confession and he gives her another chance, but she refuses. Then! Quesimondo snatches her from the hangman and runs away to the Sanctuary. All though it takes forever for Esmeralda to figure out that he is deaf, they gradually become friends and Quesimondo is very devoted. Frollo eventually finds out where Quesimondo has hidden her and comes and tries to bug her... Quesimondo can't tell that it is Frollo and nearly kills him. When he does find out he is crushed because Frollo is his hero. He says, 'Whatever, but you have to kill me first and stands in front of Esmeralda.' Frollo feels like a jerk (ding, ding! You are!) and slinks off.

The gypsies, however, plan to "save" Esmeralda from Notre Dame. In the middle of the night they plan an attack. But becaus
e Quesimondo is deaf and he thinks it is a mob trying to bring Esmeralda out and hang her, so he fights back. He throws a huge beam on them along with melted led etc... He then, without knowing it, kills Frollo's brother. It is not long before soldiers come to quite the mob, the commanding officer being no other then Phobeus. Most of the gypsies are massacred.
Meanwhile, Gringoire, Esmeralda's neglected husband, tries another route of saving her by the aid of a helpful priest...yeah...Frollo! OOghy boogy! They take her away, but then Gringoire disappears and Frollo again threatens to get her hanged unless she agrees to marry him (sounds like true love, right?). She, of course, refuses, saying she finds the gallows and what lays beyond a kinder master then him. He puts her in the trust of Sister Gudule well he runs to find the guards.
Well he is gone, guess what? Sister Gudule and Esmeralda find out they are mother and daughter! When Frollo returns with the soldiers Sister Gudule almost succeeds in hiding her daughter, but instead dies trying to save her from the gallows. Phobeus is there, but leaves jus
t in time to miss the fact that the "criminal" they are hunting down is Esmeralda. Esmeralda really gets hanged this time.

Quesimondo goes crazy at Notre Dame trying to find Esmeralda thinking she is hiding in the church. Instead he finds Frollo leaning on the balcony watching Esmeralda get hanged, AND cackling! In a fit of righteous rage Quesimondo throws Frollo of the balcony were he scrambles for several minutes on top of a gargoyle and then falls down to a horrible death (finally already!).

Quesimondo then cries well he watches Esmeralda get hanged. Now the only two people who ever cared about him are dead. Quesimondo is never seen again.
Several years later, well some men try to find something in the vault were criminals are buried they find the skeleton of a hunchbacked figure craddling that of a young girl'a.The End!

So...yeah! Not at all a children's story! But I enjoyed it and thought it was a very good and thought provoking book. Just wondered if any of you had any more thoughts on it.

If you got to the end of this good for you! Congrats!
Miss Pickwickian

The Lady of Shalott
by Lord Alfred Tennyson

On either side the river lie Long fields of barley and of rye, That clothe the wold and meet the sky; And thro' the field the road runs by To many-tower'd Camelot; And up and down the people go, Gazing where the lilies blow Round an island there below, The island of Shalott.

Willows whiten, aspens quiver, Little breezes dusk and shiver Through the wave that runs for ever By the island in the river Flowing down to Camelot. Four grey walls, and four grey towers, Overlook a space of flowers, And the silent isle imbowers The Lady of Shalott.

By the margin, willow veil'd,Slide the heavy barges trail'd By slow horses; and unhail'd The shallop flitteth silken-sail'dSkimming down to Camelot: But who hath seen her wave her hand? Or at the casement seen her stand? Or is she known in all the land, The Lady of Shalott?

Only reapers, reaping early, In among the bearded barley Hear a song that echoes cheerly From the river winding clearly; Down to tower'd Camelot; And by the moon the reaper weary, Piling sheaves in uplands airy, Listening, whispers, " 'Tis the fairy Lady of Shalott."

There she weaves by night and day A magic web with colours gay. She has heard a whisper say, A curse is on her if she stay To look down to Camelot. She knows not what the curse may be, And so she weaveth steadily, And little other care hath she, The Lady of Shalott.

And moving through a mirror clear That hangs before her all the year, Shadows of the world appear. There she sees the highway near Winding down to Camelot; There the river eddy whirls, And there the surly village churls, And the red cloaks of market girls Pass onward from Shalott.

Sometimes a troop of damsels glad, An abbot on an ambling pad, Sometimes a curly shepherd lad, Or long-hair'd page in crimson clad Goes by to tower'd Camelot; And sometimes through the mirror blue The knights come riding two and two. She hath no loyal Knight and true, The Lady of Shalott.

But in her web she still delights To weave the mirror's magic sights, For often through the silent nights A funeral, with plumes and lights And music, went to Camelot; Or when the Moon was overhead, Came two young lovers lately wed. "I am half sick of shadows," said The Lady of Shalott.

A bow-shot from her bower-eaves, He rode between the barley sheaves, The sun came dazzling thro' the leaves, And flamed upon the brazen greaves Of bold Sir Lancelot. A red-cross knight for ever kneel'd To a lady in his shield, That sparkled on the yellow field, Beside remote Shalott.

The gemmy bridle glitter'd free, Like to some branch of stars we see Hung in the golden Galaxy. The bridle bells rang merrily As he rode down to Camelot: And from his blazon'd baldric slung A mighty silver bugle hung, And as he rode his armor rung Beside remote Shalott.

All in the blue unclouded weather Thick-jewell'd shone the saddle-leather, The helmet and the helmet-feather Burn'd like one burning flame together, As he rode down to Camelot. As often thro' the purple night, Below the starry clusters bright, Some bearded meteor, burning bright, Moves over still Shalott.

His broad clear brow in sunlight glow'd; On burnish'd hooves his war-horse trode; From underneath his helmet flow'd His coal-black curls as on he rode, As he rode down to Camelot. From the bank and from the river He flashed into the crystal mirror, "Tirra lirra," by the river Sang Sir Lancelot.

She left the web, she left the loom, She made three paces through the room, She saw the water-lily bloom, She saw the helmet and the plume, She look'd down to Camelot. Out flew the web and floated wide; The mirror crack'd from side to side; "The curse is come upon me," cried The Lady of Shalott.

In the stormy east-wind straining, The pale yellow woods were waning, The broad stream in his banks complaining. Heavily the low sky raining Over tower'd Camelot; Down she came and found a boat Beneath a willow left afloat, And around about the prow she wrote The Lady of Shalott.

And down the river's dim expanse Like some bold seer in a trance, Seeing all his own mischance -- With a glassy countenance Did she look to Camelot. And at the closing of the day She loosed the chain, and down she lay; The broad stream bore her far away, The Lady of Shalott.

Lying, robed in snowy white That loosely flew to left and right -- The leaves upon her falling light -- Thro' the noises of the night, She floated down to Camelot: And as the boat-head wound along The willowy hills and fields among, They heard her singing her last song, The Lady of Shalott.

Heard a carol, mournful, holy, Chanted loudly, chanted lowly, Till her blood was frozen slowly, And her eyes were darkened wholly, Turn'd to tower'd Camelot. For ere she reach'd upon the tide The first house by the water-side, Singing in her song she died, The Lady of Shalott.

Under tower and balcony, By garden-wall and gallery, A gleaming shape she floated by, Dead-pale between the houses high, Silent into Camelot. Out upon the wharfs they came, Knight and Burgher, Lord and Dame, And around the prow they read her name, The Lady of Shalott.

Who is this? And what is here? And in the lighted palace near Died the sound of royal cheer; And they crossed themselves for fear, All the Knights at Camelot; But Lancelot mused a little space He said, "She has a lovely face; God in his mercy lend her grace, The Lady of Shalott."

If any of you haven't read this you have to. :) It's a wonderful poem

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Pickwick Pond

Before he began his career as a novelist, Dickens used to write stories illustrating pictures, describing what was happening in them and so forth. In keeping with our blog's title, I have decided to imitate Dickens and write a story about a picture. This picture was drawn by Robert Seymor, whom Dickens used to write for. Be sure you study the picture before you read, because after all, my story illustrates the picture, rather than the picture illustrating my story. Enjoy!

Ah! That was a winter of many years ago. Can you see me? I am the shortest person present. I am the only person to have skated without shoes. You may not notice me, being perhaps prejudiced by other narrations of that remarkable day into noticing only the …*cough* Corpulent Man in the center. I am not the man in the center. (Thank heaven!). I am in the lower left-hand corner, standing by a group of men, one of whom appears to be in a rather fallen state. The person in the considerably, shall we say, ‘lowered’ position, is my unfortunate master. The Corpulent chap in the middle is-, well, perhaps I should begin my narration at the beginning.
I shall start by saying how absurd a crowd of humans is. One human is bad enough, but when you get a lot of them together- well, have you heard of mob psychology? Now, I do not want to appear disloyal, for after all I have the responsibility to be man’s best friend, but the humans are both fickle and prone to make fools of themselves very readily with great skill. I know from experience, for I have lived among them for 15 years. On the 5th day of my 5th year of the man in the fallen state being my master, when both I and my master were notably younger and spryer, it chanced that my master’s whimsy took us to the town pond. This pond, a popular place in which to paddle in summer, periodically froze over during the winter months, and afforded great pleasure for both those whose winter pastime was skating; and also to those whose pastime year round was spectating. My master, being in those days younger and possessing nicely oiled joints, accordingly took his turn in impressing the crowd with feats of skating renown. But there happened to be at the same time a man of considerable girth- one might also add, of considerable impertinence, malintent, and of a exceedingly pompous, not to say windbag-ous character- there are other essences which I would like to add, but will refrain for the sake of charity. He is no other than the Man in the Middle. He was, preposterous fool, attempting to perform some of those same antics that my master was executing with such skill. It was obvious that he was encouraging competition between him and my master, but was of too cowardly a nature to openly challenge an expert. However, some equally feather-brained person- who has conveniently exited the scene- took it into his head to shout at the top of his atrocious lungs, ‘Fight! Fight! Fight!’ The crowd, who by this time in the proceedings had caught on to the pompous old windbag’s impertinent intents and were now only waiting for excuse to indulge in the enjoyment of seeing one of them fail, took up the cry. It was inevitable- there should be a competition between my master and the pompous windbag to see who could stay up and skating the longest. In the usual preliminaries of battles, words of defiance were exchanged. My Master stated, rightly so, that the Man in the Middle was fat, markedly so; and therefore by his unseemly weight he would inevitably fall the faster. There were several rotund persons present in the crowd of onlookers (I believe you may see them in the upper left hand corner), and on hearing this remark, loudly denied the fact. Sides were taken- the portly personages supporting the pompous windbag, and a mostly female crowd admiring my master’s trim physique taking up the other side. Now the battle began in earnest. The contestants were so rigorous in their antics that the only thing the eye could see was a fat blur and a thin blur. Faster and Faster, and the fat blob did not fall. Faster and Faster yet, and STILL the fat blur refused to blunder. But then Catastrophe Strikes! The Thin Blur loses balance- he topples for one sickening moment- and then he lies prostrate on the ice! And look! There, to all the astonished world, the crowd that had cheered for my master so vigorously only moments ago, has suddenly turned their attentions to the Fat Blur, who is by some evil fortune still upon his pudgy feet! Their interest in my master is failing and they now make the Fat Blur their hero! Even those who had formerly encouraged my master now stand about and mock him. They now cheer for the Pompous Windbag!
But look- is there not someone in the crowd, near the front, who looks not at the new celebrity? But if her attentions are not on the new hero, what are they turned upon? They are not upon my master either. Neither is her focus. Now that I think about it, I am not sure that she had ever taken sides, nor shouted for the tournament to begin. She is not looking at the scene in front of her. She is laughing; does she not seem to indulge in quiet humor, at the expense not only of the contestants, but of entire crowd? Does she not seem to invite you, observer, to join her in ridicule of the whole scene?

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


Starring: Daniel Craig, Liev Schreiber, Jamie Bell, and Alexa Davalos

"Defiance is an inspiring story about bravery and humanity in the worst of human circumstances."

Defiance, tells the story of the three Jewish brothers, Tuvia, Zus, and Asael Bielski.Inspired by a true story, this epic World War II drama Defiance tells the tale of three Jewish Eastern European brothers who narrowly escape certain death at the hands of the Nazis, subsequently vowing to avenge the deaths of their loves ones by launching a desperate battle against the forces that seek to exterminate their entire race. The year is 1941, and the setting is Nazi-occupied Poland. The Final Solution is in full effect, and the Jews of Eastern Europe are being slaughtered wholesale. Tuvia, Zus, and Asael, have miraculously managed to escape into the dense surrounding forest. Having played in these woods since childhood, the brothers have a distinct advantage over their adversaries, and soon decide that simply surviving is not enough. In order to make a difference, they must take action, but in order to take action they will need support. As whispers of their bravery take wind, others like them appear determined to lay their lives on the line for the cause of freedom. Tuvia has become the de facto leader of the group, but he's still somewhat reluctant to take on such a heavy responsibility and his brother Zus expresses concern that his idealistic plan will ultimately bring about the group's downfall. With winter setting in, everyone works to create a functioning community that will help them endure the frigid months that lie ahead, and Asael reluctantly finds himself caught in the crossfire of his older siblings' rivalry. Is it possible to keep faith alive in a time when the world seems devoid of humanity and survival becomes a way of life? ~ Jason Buchanan, All Movie Guide

Zus Bielski

Asael Bielski

One of the things I appreciated most in this film, was the strong bond that existed between the Bielski brothers. The close relationships they shared, and the fact, that even though they had many disagreements and fights, they always stood by eachother in the end.

This movie is set against one of the most heartrending times in human history.
There is something incredibly powerful about a holocaust film that realistically depicts the sorrow and struggle of the Jews. When faced with the most daunting challenges the true nature of people is revealed, either to depict them as the courageous, heroic people they are, or to manifest their weakness and limitations. I think the performances by Daniel Craig and Liev Schreiber were truly incredible. The fear, sorrow, anger, hatred, rage, and love that is displayed so intensely, so perfectly, makes this film an extraordinary work of art, that I believe anyone would be benefited by watching. By Miss Rose

Death Shall Be Their Shepherd

Like sheep they are appointed for Sheol;
Death shall be their shepherd,
and the upright shall rule over them in the morning.
Their form shall be consumed in Sheol, with no place to dwell.

But God will ransom my soul from the power of Sheol,
for he will receive me.

Psalm 49:14-15

I read this in the Bible this morning... and it made me happy, and inspired me.

Is that weird?

-Miss Polka Dot


Hey everyone!

I think another great thing to do on this blog, besides book and movie reviews and stories and poems and essays and all that great stuff, is to post pictures, quotes, verses, etc, that are inspirational! I know there are certain things that really inspire me, and it would be cool to just kinda see what inspires other people. You could write about just events or whatever that inspire you.

Maybe it doesn't inspire you to write... but maybe it inspires you to jump up and down and scream your head off and run around in circles! Or whatever. :-)

So.. yeah.

~Miss Polka Dot

Monday, October 5, 2009

The New Blog! Rules and Ideas

Hello everyone!

I'm hoping we can use this better then our old group, Writers_for_Him.

Please feel free to post discussion topics, stuff you've writing, or your own reviews on movies and books you've seen or read.

Please do not use your own true name when you post or address others by their name since this is a public blog.

I would really like to encourage discussion on this! Please be nice when presenting your opinions, even when you don't agree with someone else.

If you have an idea for someone else who would like to join the blog, please email the moderator...that's me...and maybe we can add them as a author. Feel free to invite friends to follow and comment.

I think we can all have a lot of fun with this! Thanks for coming to the new blog!
Miss Pickwickian :-)