Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Who built the Ark? No one, No one

When I was in elementary school, we used to sing a song in music class called "Who Built the Ark?" Now you know this has to have been a long time ago because no one would be allowed to sing about Noah in the public schools these days for fear of offending one's heathen classmates, or more likely, their heathen parents. Anyhow, the song goes "Who built the ark? Noah! Noah Who Built the ark? Brother Noah built the ark." Well, for some reason my first grader brain thought that the lyrics were actually "Who built the ark? No one No one." I have no idea why. I had heard the story of Noah before, but I never really put the two together. I don't know if I thought the ark builders' union was on strike or what. All I knew was that this particular ark was not getting built.

I did some further research on this yesterday and found that the second verse of the song goes "Old man Noah built the ark. He built it out of Hickory bark." I know what you are thinking. And no, I have no idea how I reconciled that "Old man no one built the ark. He built it out of Hickory bark" but I swear that's what I though it was. Anyway, the larger picture is that the song says Hickory bark is what the ark was built out of. I am not a tree-ologist or an arborologist, but I find it questionable that Noah,Ham, Shem, and Japheth were cutting down huge Hickory trees. It's more likely that they were dealing with Cypress trees. All I could find from the Bible is that God told Noah to make the ark out of "gopher wood." Either way, I think this song is taking too many liberties with biblical stories. Plus, "gopher wood" is funnier.

Which brings me to the main point of this post. I'm sure we have all seen the cute little Noah's ark playsets for kids, or even a child's room decorated in a Noah's ark theme. I'm sorry but I find this hilarious. Remember that in Genesis God says, "And behold, I, even I, do bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh, wherein is the breath of life under heaven, and everything that is in the earth shall die." What fun for children! The least the toy makers could do is throw in some dead bodies for accuracy. What's next? I know, a playset of Job's sufferings. Mother: "Look darling, I bought you Job's playset complete with flaming sheep and a house razed to the ground!" 4 year old child: "YAY! This will also help me deal the complex theological issue of the problem of evil!"

Truthfully, I don't care if kids play with a Noah's ark playset. The only reason I started to think about it is because my niece and nephew just received one from a very nice and generous Christian couple. It's just that the more I thought about it, the funnier it became to me. The only reasons that these playsets are made is because kids like boats and animals. I'm not sure that much thought of the actual story of Noah ever went into the planning.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

The End of the Affair

Well, I just recently finished The End of the Affair by Graham Greene, which I was urged to read by both Anne and Mary. I like Graham Greene, so I determined to read it when I had a free couple of days. Yet, I've kind of avoided posting about it because it was a complex book and I wanted to do it justice when I write on it.

First, I think the book was great. Greene has a way of presenting Catholicism with realistic grit without disrespect. He takes off the rose-colored Catholic glasses that I think many people have glued to their eyes. Yet, Greene never causes a person to loose hope. In fact, he inspires it. It's just that his writing is not so clear cut and heavy handed that it smacks you in the face with probity and piety. Mary once said that Greene, in The End of the Affair, leaves the door open for salvation. I think that description is fitting. Yes, the people in this book are not good people at the beginning, and most of them are not good in the end. But the change is set in motion, and I really believe that Sarah was a saint by the time she died. There is overwhelming evidence for this in the book, so I'm sure I'm not the only one who thinks this. What I enjoyed about Sarah's conversion and move to holiness is that it was gradual. It started at 2 when she was baptized and ended when her life ended. It was an immense struggle for her, and it was one that readers were not always sure would end happily. I think this is the most accurate description of conversion. Now, I like to read the lives of the saints, but sometimes when I read them it seems that the saints were either born that way, or the clouds just opened up one day and they decided to change. I know this isn't the way, but its how it seems sometimes. Greene presents the setbacks, the screeching halts, and the human side of the path to holiness.

So, we know that Sarah was a saint, but what about Bendrix, Smythe, Henry and the rest of them. Well, Bendrix is the hardest to figure out. At the end of the book he seems even more bitter and evil than he was at the beginning (if that is even possible). Yet, throughout the book he commonly mistakes love for hate and hate for disbelief. He says he hates Sarah, but he never really does. He says he doesn't believe in God, but really he just hates Him. At the end, Bendrix acknowledges his love for Sarah. He doesn't acknowledge his belief in God, but the disbelief is really hate. And in The End of the Affair, hate is only a millimeter away from love. I'm not going to wrap everything up in a nice bundle and say that Bendrix will definitely convert. We don't know, but we do know that the door is open. Smythe and Henry are closer to conversion and Parkis is in the bag. So here we have a novel that seems so bleak and grim, yet it embodies so much hope.

If I had to choose my favorite between The Power and the Glory and The End of the Affair, I would still choose P&G right now, though I have a feeling that it might change over time. If I had to choose what book is of better literary quality, it would be EA hands down. For me, it's the same as choosing between the Odyssey and the Iliad. The former is more fun and exciting to read, but the latter encompasses so many more complex emotions and themes.

I'll continue to read more Greene (I'm reading The Quiet American now) to see how the rest of his novels, plays, and even children's books stack up to the novels above. If any of you have read any of Greene's work comment and tell me what you think of it. If you haven't read any, I suggest you do.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Scholastic apathy

It's about that time in the semester where projects, papers, and exams are due. So I have to start making up for the work I should have been doing all along. With that being said, I'm a tad busy at the moment. I don't think I'm alone in this boat, and I don't necessarily feel like a bad student about it. I do, however, feel like a tired, unenthusiastic student who has been in school for 21 out of her 25 years on this earth.

I'll give you an example of my indifference. Last week I was chosen by one of my professors to have lunch with the (sarcasm) Marjorie Garber, who is a Harvard professor and renowned Renaissance literary critic. I didn't have the heart to say that I had never even heard of the broad. So I had lunch with her and two other grad students who were chosen. I read some of Garber's articles so I could make intelligent comments and pretend like I had heard of her. It didn't matter because she mostly talked about Harvard politics and herself. So I got out of there with a free lunch and a lesson learned. The lesson being that most renowned whosits are way too full of themselves. After the lunch Garber gave a talk that I did not go to. Yesterday, before class, my fellow classmates were talking about how great Garber's talk was and how great she was in general. I mentioned in passing that I went to lunch with her and she didn't seem that great to me. Well, all my classmates were shocked and surprised that I went to lunch with THE!!!!!!!!! Marjorie Garber. Then I said that I didn't even know who she was before I went to lunch with her. Well, one of my classmates admonished me because "Garber is on the same level as Greenblatt." Now, I have heard of and read Greenblatt, but I'd be surprised of anyone outside the small world of English Lit. academia has. Even after my classmate's revelation, I could not work myself up into a fervor about the momentous Thai food luncheon that I had taken part in. Although, I have to admit that it was fun to make my smarmy classmates jealous, especially because I didn't care.

I suppose the real question is the following. Was I indifferent to meeting an academic heavyweight because I am tired of school in general, or was I indifferent because that is the normal reaction to meeting a person that one has never heard of? Well, I'm going to go out on a limb and say both. I am tired of school and I don't participate in idol worship, or in this case, scholar worship. Though, I have to say I would have been more googly eyed had I met Peter Holmstrom, guitarist for the Dandy Warhols and indie rock legend. I've juxtaposed a picture of Holmstrom and Garber so you can make the decision for yourselves. I think it's pretty clear. Anyhow, the point is that I'm getting a little tired of school. I'm sure this will change about 25 seconds after I get my MA, but for now it's getting a little old. The funny part is that I didn't set out to write about this at all. I was just going to make a quick post to let people know that I would try to update more often. Oh, I guess there is one more point. Indie rock stars are much cooler than Renaissance scholars.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Gettin' Physical

Well, I've gone and rejoined Jazzercise. Yes, you heard right. I've rejoined what is possibly the most made fun of way to work out. Runners get respect. Weightlifters get respect. Jazzercisers get entire stand up comedy acts devoted to them. I'm not angry about it. In fact, I understand completely. First, there's the name. It's dumb and it makes no sense. We don't listen to jazz and even if we did the name would still be silly. Second, only women are in this group. This isn't because of any rule against men. I just think that men would die of estrogen intoxication if they ever even witnessed a session. Then there are the names of the moves we do. We do chasses, plies, grapevines, jazz stretches, and attitudes lifts. I'm not even making these names up. Next, whenever we do certain moves we yell, "whooo!" in unison. Finally, there are certain floor moves we do that simulate child birth. In one routine for abs and legs, we are down on our backs, legs wider that shoulder width, while pulsing and squeezing all appendages and the stomach. If someone screamed, "epidural, please!" it would be completely convincing. Well, it would be convincing it some Jessica Simpson song weren't playing in the background.

Yet despite all these reasons, I still like going. It's a pretty good all around workout. We do lots of cardio and strength stuff. Oh, I also like that I'm the youngest person in the class by about twenty years. This means that class is like exercising with 20 moms. The Jazzercise ladies are really nice and laid back. This is different than the Purdue CoRec because every girl there is trying to compete with each other and snag a date. I don't feel like I have to suck anything in around the my jazzercise moms. Anyway, Jazzercise is fun and it's hilarious. Sometimes I'm not sure whether I stay in shape from the workouts or laughing about them.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Cassandra Complex

Some days I feel like Cassandra from Greek and Roman myth. Cassandra was a student of Apollo who gave her the power to foretell the future. Apollo wanted to get with Cassandra in that creepy "inappropriate student-teacher relations" sort of way. Cassandra rejected Apollo's advances and was punished accordingly. Cassandra was able to keep her power to accurately foretell the future, but when people heard her predictions, they were all convinced that they were hearing lies. No one would ever believe her. She predicted several disasters, including the Trojan Horse and her own death at the hands of Clytemnestra (See picture at left.)

Now, what does this have to do with me? I can predict the future about as well as Mrs. Cleo(ca' me now fo' your free tarrot readin'). However, I do feel like I have been saying several true things lately only to be judged a lunatic or just simply an idiot. For example, I haven't felt well recently. I've had some heart palpitations and have had a 24 hour monitor affixed to my chest in order to catch these palpitations. Of course, as soon as I get the monitor, the palpitations that I have had every day for the past two weeks have disappeared. I can't wait to return to the doctor so she can tell me I'm nuts. Next, my students must think that I'm telling them lies when I illustrate to them everything I know to be true about Latin. This is apparent because I will show them a concept and they will do the exact opposite on the quizzes and exams. So what am I going to do? Probably break down and start screaming at the top of my lungs until David takes me to the loony bin in Logansport. That's my prediction anyway.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

2 Legit 2 quit (hey hey)

Well, I know it's a day late, but I thought I would post this picture anyway. It's a picture of me and Kris holding our MC Hammer pumpkin. We're even giving the 2 Legit sign. So, If anyone has ever questioned my legit-ness, let them behold this pumpkin and recognize my legitimacy in all it's glory.

Why an MC Hammer pumpkin, besides the obvious show of legitimacy, you ask? Well Kristin had everyone over to her house a week ago so we could do pumpkin carving and other fall activities. There were eight people and four pumpkins, so we had to pair up. I was paired up with Kris, the nice,young, Swedish Viking/ physics PhD student you see above. At first we were going to carve a crazy physics equation in the pumpkin, but then we decided that neither of us were good enough with a knife to carve a psi. Then we started talking about eighties cartoons. At this point, I think all of the other pumpkin carvers were getting annoyed because they had started on their standard pumpkin faces long ago. After rejecting a Darkwing Duck logo and a Salt and Peppa image, we decided on Hammer. Essentially, this is because Kris and I both found that we "hustle for our muscle and you look weak to me. We're going for all that we can get, takin' it to the top 'cause we're 2 legit 2 quit (hey hey)." After that inspiration, we set to carving and ended up with the finest MC Hammer pumpkin ever.

Now if you'll excuse me I've got to go hit some fools with a "dose of old-town power, and charge them by the hour." That's word.