I wish a happy, healthy, wise, and productive New Year to all who read this and to your friends, families, and loved ones!
Thank you to Roo Ruse at What’s Next https://roosruse.wordpress.com for nominating me for the Sunshine Blogger Award! I have received one in the past, but it is always an honor to be recognized by fellow bloggers. Roo has a wonderful blog; please stop by and check it out.
The Rules of the Sunshine Blogger Award:
1.) What is my favorite genre to read? Anything considered speculation fiction, including horror, fantasy, and sci-fi.
2.) What do I mostly read today? A combination of serious literature for teaching and speculative fiction–which I also teach.
3.) If one word could describe me, what would it be? That is tough, but I will go with passionate, about my wife, my family, my friends, and my work.
4.) What makes my favorite character stand out to me? That is Aragorn, who shows a combination of courage, curiosity, generosity, and weakness.
5.) If a story is difficult to understand, do I finish it? Always.
6.) What one person would I choose as a companion for one day? I would love to spend one day being able to speak with Einstein. I am not saying I would understand him, but I would enjoy the conversation.
7.) What one literary character affected me the most? Again, it would be Aragorn from The Lord of the Rings.
8.) If I could pick where I would retire, where would it be today? Near Burlington, Vermont.
9.) If I could choose one gift or talent for a lifetime, but only one, what would it be? To be able to write well.
10.) Stranded on a deserted island, what two non-electronic items do I want with me? A volume of the complete works of Shakespeare and a coffee percolator for over a campfire.
11.) What is one target accomplishment for 2016? To have my horror novel Evil Lives After published.
Here Are My Nominees:
Lynette Noni http://lynettenoni.com/
Khaya Ronkainen http://www.khayaronkainen.com
Mitch Goldfarb https://mitchgoldfarbblog.wordpress.com
Eddie Two Hawks https://eddietwohawks.wordpress.com
My Questions For My Nominees:
1.) What is your most important creative skill?
2.) What season of the year do you prefer?
3.) Do you like to travel with a clear plan or make it up as you go?
4.) If you could travel to anytime in the past, where and when would it be?
5.) What do you think is the most important quality for a good leader?
6.) What is one thing that could be done to help nurture creativity in children?
7.) What is your favorite book?
8.) If you could develop one skill that you do not currently have, what would it be?
9.) Where would you like to visit in the world today?
10.) What is your favorite comfort food?
11.) Do you prefer to write with a keyboard or pen?
And once again, thank you to Roo Ruse at What’s Next https://roosruse.wordpress.com
It has been a while since I have made an entry to this series, so I thought it was definitely a good time to do so. As before, I am imagining what it would be like to invite a few fictional characters to a dinner and have conversation with them.
(This is the first page of the extant original copy of Beowulf, written in Old English.)
Today’s guests are Beowulf, King Arthur, and Aragorn, all kings from British epics: Beowulf, Le Morte d’Arthur, and The Lord of the Rings. These books range from the Dark Ages, circa the mid 800s to the Middle Ages, circa 1485 to the contemporary world in the mid 1900s. These texts are all important to me, both as a reader and as a teacher, because I have used all of these books in different college classes. While covering a very long historical range, they all deal with the difficulties faced by leaders especially when the fate of their kingdoms rests in their decisions and actions.
(King Arthur and his knights)
For this entry, we would dine again at a traditional British pub, and we would be seated around a fairly large, wooden, round table. This seems appropriate, given the attendees.
“Aragorn300ppx” by Source. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Aragorn300ppx.png#/media/File:Aragorn300ppx.png
I would like to ask these three kings what it was like to lead soldiers actively into combat. Unlike the leaders of contemporary armies, they faced death directly with their fellow fighters. I would also ask them what they see the main responsibilities of leaders to be. I would also like to ask them if they consider fate to be real, or are they in control of their own destinies? Given the variation in optimism and pessimism that ranges in their attitudes, their approaches to facing the difficulties of life and death would be fascinating to explore.
I would certainly be curious to see how these three warrior kings spoke with each other. I think a checking of the swords at the door might be a very good idea.
What questions would you ask these leaders?
I have been nominated for several awards by wonderful bloggers, and I have been remiss in attending to those nominations. To those who named me, I apologize in my delay. I will respond to each, one a day.
I want to thank Laura https://todaysdose.wordpress.com for nominating me for this award. Laura is a kind, thoughtful, and intelligent person who writes a writes a creative, interesting, and friendly blog.
The rules of this award are:
1. Thank and link the blogger who nominated you.
2. Answer the seven questions your nominator provided.
3. Nominate seven other bloggers, and notify them of their nomination.
4. Create seven questions for your nominees.
My Questions To Answer:
1.) What is under my bed?
Hmmmmm….I have to check. Definitely some dust bunnies as well as books.
2.) What is something you want to write about, but find it outside your comfort zone?
Well, I am comfortable with anything I want to write about, because I love exploring new ideas, but I am very interested in new theories in quantum physics (no joke), and I have no math to support my interest. So, it would be very uniformed and general writing.
3.) What’s the craziest food I have tried?
I once tried to eat a stuffed habanero chili pepper at a party. I loved hot food, especially in those days, but that was a huge mistake. I broke into a sweat, and it was like I had a fire inside me. If I had started breathing fire like a dragon, it would not have surprised me.
4.) Would I travel around in space if it were possible?
As much as I like the idea and love the show Star Trek, I also hate to fly, so I would have to decline.
5.) Do you keep a journal? If so, is it more like a dear diary, or just random thoughts here and there?
I do keep a journal, and it is more of a journal about writing than a day to day diary. I am inconsistent with the entries, but I value having it and using it.
6.) What’s my favorite musical instrument and why? This question is difficult, because I love many kinds of music. If I had to choose, it would probably be the Scottish Bagpipes, because I love the unusual and powerful sound they make.
7.) What is your passion?
I have two: writing and teaching.
Herminia Chow https://aspiringwriter22.wordpress.com/
Fraser Sherman https://frasersherman.wordpress.com
A Not So Jaded Life https://anotsojadedlife.wordpress.com
Mitch Teemley http://mitchteemley.com
My Seven Questions For My Nominees:
1.) What is the last book you read?
2.) What is the first book you remember reading?
3.) What is your favorite season of the year?
4.) Do you prefer to use a pen and paper or computer to write?
5.) Are you a morning or a night person?
6.) Would you rather go out to see a movie or watch it at home?
7.) What is your favorite kind of breakfast?
And once again, thank you to Laura https://todaysdose.wordpress.com for nominating me for this award.
Merry Christmas to all! I wish you joy, peace, love, and happiness.
Fröhliche Weihnachten — in German
Nollaig Shona Dhuit — in Irish Gaelic
Boldog Karácsonyt! — in Hungarian
These are languages of my background and of my interest.
White Christmas, the 1954 film about two former soldier who turn song and dance men and who help their former commander as he attempts to run a floundering ski resort, has special meaning to me. It stars Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, and Rosemary Clooney and was directed by Michael Curtiz. It features the songs of Irving Berlin. As a major piece of American film history, that would be enough to be of interest to me, but it has a much more profound connection.
My parents were both of “the greatest generation,” which is a description with which I agree. They were born and raised during the depression and were part of the multitudes of America who fought and supported World War II. My father was a Marine, and my mother worked in the Signal Corps. This group of Americans had a toughness that was forged in the fire of great tumult, both national and international.
My mother loved this movie, and it was a tradition in our family to watch it when it aired on television, which was, if I remember correctly, every Christmas Eve. If not that night, then it was always on a nearby night. Of course, as a child who was born a while after World War II, it was all ancient history to me then, but for my mother and father, it spoke directly to their lives and to their hopes and dreams.
Both of my parents have been gone for quite a while now, about 20 years–they were married for 48 years and died within 2 years of each other. As I have become older, I have learned to appreciate what my parents did for us, which, I have to admit, when I was young and stupid, I did not. To paraphrase Mark Twain, –it is amazing how smart my parents got as I got older. And I appreciate and try to continue some of the family traditions, including watching White Christmas, but now with my beloved wife. I still feel the connection to my Mom and Pop when I watch this movie. This movie speaks to the connection of people, of hope, of joy, of happiness, and of the power of music.
And I wish we would have a white Christmas, but I think it will not happen this year.
Perhaps next year.
There are so many aspects of this holiday season that are wonderful to me: getting together with loved ones, friends and family alike; the spirit of giving that I hope continues to grow; celebrations; the holiday music; and the memories of happy times. Among the favorite memories I have are a few specific Christmas movies.
The movie I will talk about today is Scrooge with Albert Finney as the star; he does a magnificent job in his performance as the miserly and misanthropic loan-shark. This musical version of A Christmas Carol is one of the finest filmic adaptations of the classic Christmas Eve ghost story and morality tale. This film follows the story closely with Scrooge being visited by the ghosts of Christmas Past, of Christmas Present, and of Christmas Future. Among the movies best songs are Scrooge singing “I Hate People” which clearly shows his despicable and greedy nature, “Thank You Very Much” in which a tap dance is done on Scrooge’s coffin in the future, and “I Like Life” in which the ghost of Christmas Present teaches Scrooge about experiencing life as well as having empathy for others.
This movie does an excellent job of showing Dickens’ critique of a greed based society and one that did little or nothing to help alleviate the enormous difficulties of the poor. When first confronted by the ghost of his dead partner Marley, Scrooge tells him that he was always a good man of business. Marley’s ghost responds, “Mankind should be our business.” This is a sentiment that stands today. We should be putting the good of humanity above the pursuit of greed.
I was a teenager when this movie was first released in 1970, and I loved seeing it with two of my closest friends. We were captivated by the music and the story, and it remains as powerful to me as when I first saw it. If you have never had the opportunity to see this particular film, I give it my highest recommendation.
I also remind all of us, in paraphrasing the Master Charles Dickens, that we must always remember to make the good of others our business.
The winter season is a time of celebrations in many cultures and religions. For me, I take great happiness in the winter and in my view of spirituality.
I will never try to push my religious and spiritual views on anyone, but I hope this expression of joy and peace for you, your family, and friends is accepted as an offering of kindness and happiness.
Please read this post and consider helping a fellow author with a book launch blog tour.
I want to let all of you know my debut novel Amber Wake: Gabriel Falling now has a release date of February 14, 2016. Yes, Valentine’s Day. P.S. Bartlett, my co-author, and I want things to be quality. We are not rushing things for a Christmas release. A wonderful day yes, but for our first collaboration, we want it to be done right.
With that knowledge, I’ll be needing Book Blog Tour Hosts. You’ll be seeing information here on my blog leading up to the release date, but I need your help. The best way to sell a book is by word of mouth. My friends to tell their friends. One way to start that telling is by hosting a Book Tour.
I will be preparing some posts you can share. Or if you are interested in sending me questions for an interview that would be…
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I frequently end some of my college classes with courtroom trials, and this semester I was able to incorporate this activity into both a traditional day and an evening non-traditional First Year Writing class. In both classes, held at different schools–Lehigh University and the Wescoe School of Muhlenberg College, the students conducted criminal trials of characters from Frankenstein by Mary Shelley.
From having my students perform this exercise over many years of teaching, I have found that it gives the students a dynamic path into understanding the text. By having them produce, what I name a living paper, they gain a very deep comprehension of many aspects of the book; among them are theme, motif, character development, and social critique.
I serve as the judge, while students are prosecutors, defense, characters, and, in the traditional class, jurors. Because the class size is smaller in the non-traditional class, I had various people from the Wescoe School act as jurors. To the guest jurors–thank you! You did an excellent job in judging the charges.
The traditional class was conducting their trial against the Creature, while the non-traditional class was trying Victor Frankenstein.
Both classes performed lively and informed events. In both, the prosecutors presented a list of potential criminal charges, and the defense challenged them. I made the final decision and eliminated some so that we would have a manageable number of charges to handle in a short time. These are not law classes, so the jury judged on who did the better job of making and supporting arguments not on issues of jurisprudence. I was deeply impressed with both classes and the effort they invested in their respective projects. They did excellent work, and they all seemed to enjoy the project. I am convinced that adding a creative component to a class almost always adds to students’ comprehension of the material being learned.
In both classes, the decisions on the charges were split. Both defendants were found guilty on some charges and not guilty on others. I find it interesting that in all the years I have done similar trials, there has never been one with a unanimous sweep either for the prosecution or the defense. While the verdicts were split, my opinion on my students’ work is definitive–they did an excellent job!
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