Author Archives: ritalovestowrite

About ritalovestowrite

Freelance writer, graphic designer, musician, foodie and Jane Austen enthusiast in Northern Baltimore County, Maryland. As a writer I enjoy both fiction and non fiction (food, travel and local interest stories.) As an advocate for the ARTS, one of my biggest passions is helping young people find a voice in all the performing arts. To that end it has been my honor to give one-on-one lessons to elementary, middle and high school students in graphic design and music. And as JANE-O I currently serve as the regional coordinator for JASNA Maryland and am working on a Regency/Federal cooking project.

A Year of Quotes 1.4.16

Mr. Wilde is at it again… This one comes from his play, A Woman of No Importance. The play was originally staged at London’s Haymarket Theatre  in the Spring of 1893. Wilde wrote it at the urging of the Haymarket’s actor-manager, Herbert Beerbohm Tree, who wanted to duplicate the success of Lady Windermere’s Fan which premiered a the St. James Theatre the previous season.

One should never trust a woman
who tells one her real age.

A woman who would tell one that,
would tell one anything.

–A Woman of No Importance

Here’s a link to the free e-book of the play courtesy the Guttenberg Project.

225px-Oscar_Wilde,_1882

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A Year of Quotes 1.3.16

Continuing with Oscar Wilde month…

My experience is that as soon as
people are old enough to know better,
they don’t know anything at all.

–Lady Windermere’s Fan

oscar-wilde

 


A Year of quotes

I’ve already blown one of my New Years Resolutions… to post a quote every day… but I’m giving myself a break and starting today instead.
Since my wonderful friend, Angie, gave me a book of quotes from Oscar Wilde and one of quotes by Charles Dickens I thought I’d start with those fine fellows and continue with a famous author a month. Lets start with Mr. Wilde, shall we…

To get back my youth I would do anything in the world,
except take exercise, get up early,
or be respectable.{The Picture of Dorian Gray}

Oscar_Wilde


St. Thomas Day and the ‘Mumpers’

More holly

American Holly [Island Creeks ecology ]

December 21st is St. Thomas Day. It was traditionally the day when Regency housewives would begin their Christmas preparations in earnest. With houses cleaned to a spit shine the Holiday baking could begin.

It is also the day when widows and older women would go ‘Thomasing’ at the doors of their more fortunate neighbors and would receive food or money. Wealthier neighbors would often distribute wheat– either in the form of baked goods or uncooked (which the Mumpers would turn into Christmas cakes, breads or frumenty –a dessert made of boiled wheat, milk, sugar and cinnamon).  In some parts of England, like Warwickshire the Mumpers would “go a-corning” and would get gifts of corn or cornmeal. Children there would beg for apples.

In turn the benefactors would receive a sprig of holly, a small bunch of mistletoe or a ball of home spun wool in thanks.

 

Bettelndes_Soldatenweib

A widow (probably of the Napoleonic War) and her baby go “a-Thomasing” or “a-gooding”[Random Bits of Fascination ]

The day is remembered in Christmas carols such as:

Christmas is coming and the geese are getting fat,
Please spare a penny for the old’s hat,
if you haven’t got a penny, a ha’penny will do,
if you haven’t got a ha’penny, God bless you.

and…

‘ Wassail, wassail, through the town,
If you’ve got any apples, throw them down ;
Up with the stocking, and down with the shoe,
If you’ve got no apples, money will do ;
The jug is white and the ale is brown,
This is the best house in the town.’

“Mumper” is a slang word for “beggar” — presumably because many beggars were often handicapped (from either disease or from wounds they suffered in the War) and hobbled around on crutches… thumping and mumping through the streets.

A parcel of wretches hopping about by the assistance of their crutches, like so many Lincoln’s Inn Fields mumpers, drawing into a body to attack [infest or beset] the coach of some charitable lord.” — Ned Ward: The London Spy, part v. [Info Please ]

And Mumpers Day  was ‘celebrated’ either on St. Thomas day (December 21st) or Boxing Day (December 26th) depending on the region.

mistletoe-bunch

Mistletoe. [Weather.com ]

For more information on St. Thomas Day might I suggest the following links…

http://www.christmas-celebrations.org/216-st-thomass-day.html

http://randombitsoffascination.com/2013/12/20/regency-christmas-traditions-christmastide-charity/

 

 


A Year of READING Dangerously: #96 Grendel

OK I guess I really SHOULD change the name of this feature to “A Year *Plus* of READING Dangerously” as I have completely blown my deadline for reading all 100 books on the ALA’s list of most banned and challenged books between 2000 and 2010. But, since Hannah has done such a fabulous job with creating the logo, I’m going to stick to the original title, and we’ll just see how many books I get through. (Or WE get through for those of you who are still playing along.)

Reading Dangerously Logo 2Today’s pick is Grendel, John Gardner‘s 1970/71 masterful retelling of Beowulf. It is really the perfect book for a literature dweeb to pick up for Halloween. So run to your local bookstore and buy your copy now.

Grendel (novel)

Grendel (novel) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I can’t remember when I first read Grendel. It was probably in high school as an add-on assignment to the more classical book. And although I can still recite the first lines of Beowulf in Old English thanks to Sr. Carola, I can assure you I enjoyed reading the story from the monster’s side much more. Who doesn’t love an existential, self-loathing, monster? Am I right?

Ah-hem… not so right. The book has been banned off and on since its publication. The biggest offense seems to be violence (which Grendel has in spades), but it has also been sited for being nihilistic and unsuitable for students in high school. For example:

Grendel was challenged in the Sherwood, Oregon school district after being added to the sophomore honors English class’ reading list. Parents were concerned about scenes in the novel that describe torture and mutilation. … [Rohrbach Library blog]

The book remained on the school’s reading list. Students continue to have the choice of reading other novels that explore the human condition through the eyes of an anti-hero “monster”. (In the case of Sherwood, Oregon, Frankenstein.)

John Gardner, circa 1984

John Gardner, circa 1984 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The novel  inspired an animated film (1981’s Grendel, Grendel, Grendel by Alexander Stitt) and a 2006 opera by Elliot Goldenthal.

Special props to my nephew John who was kind enough to loan me his gently read copy of the novel so I didn’t have read my 30 year old pocket paperback with its teeny-tiny type and crumbling spine.


A Year of READING Dangerously: 27. My Brother Sam Is Dead

Reading Dangerously Logo 2

SPOILER ALERT: in the Revolutionary War drama My Brother Sam is Dead,  by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier 
… Sam, the brother, DIES!

My Brother Sam Is Dead

My Brother Sam Is Dead (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This moderately entertaining read (it is loads better than #42. The Fighting Ground, by Avi, IMHO ) was published in 1974. It is a Newbery Honor Book, a Jane Adams Honor Book, was named by the American Library Association as a Notable Children’s Book and was a finalist for a National Book Award in 1975.

It also consistently lands on various banned and challenged book lists around the country.

ALA Seal

ALA Seal (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On our matrix the only reason I can think it might be challenged is the use of Offensive Language (which clashes oddly with the main character’s mostly religious approach to life) and the Violence.

Not bad for YA Historical Fiction. But is ‘not bad’ good enough? It attempts to give a balanced look from both the Tory and Patriot side of the conflict. In that way it was better than the History Channel’s appallingly inaccurate Sons of Liberty, so points there. But the History Channel, alas, did not set the bar very high.

Map of campaigns in the Revolutionary War

Map of campaigns in the Revolutionary War (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


A Year of READING Dangerously: 25. Killing Mr. Griffin

Killing Mr. Griffin

Killing Mr. Griffin (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Lois Duncan’s Killing Mr. Griffin is a pretty predictable teen drama about a group of high school seniors (and one junior) who plot to kidnap their strict English Lit teacher and “teach him a lesson.” Unbeknownst to them Mr. Griffin has a heart problem and their plan of making him THINK they are going to kill him actually DOES kill him. The rest of the novel deals with how far these kids are willing to go to cover up the crime. They do  some pretty stupid things that would lead even the most rookie of detectives (or mystery readers) to their door steps.

Why’s it on the Banned/Challenged list? Probably because of how easily the group is manipulated by the sociopath leader, Mark. They DO cause the death of an authority figure for no other reason than he, Mr. Griffin, is a tough teacher. There is also very mild offensive language and a cigarette or two might get smoked in the course of the novel.


A Year of READING Dangerously: #12 It’s Perfectly Normal

It's Perfectly Normal

It’s Perfectly Normal (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You don’t have to get very far into It’s Perfectly Normal , Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex, and Sexual Health by Robie H. Harris  before it becomes apparent why the book finds itself a perpetual favorite on the ALA’s Banned/Challenged list. Michael Embrerly’s full frontal nude cartoon illustrations on the title page are, I’m sure, more than enough to get it banned.

The book…

is meant to teach children 10 and older about sexual health, emotional health and relationships, and contains sections on puberty, pregnancy and sexual orientation. [NPR, “It May Be Perfectly Normal But Its Also Frequently Banned]

It has been banned/challenged for:

homosexuality, nudity, sex education, religious viewpoint, abortion and being unsuited to age group [ALA; “It’s Perfectly Normal” tops ALA’s 2005 list of most challenged books]

It’s Perfectly Normal has been translated into 35 languages, and has been hailed by physicians, parents and educators. It is an easy read and I think it would be a great, frank supplemental text to a parent child conversation on the birds and bees.


A Year of READING Dangerously: #55 Summer of My German Soldier

Reading Dangerously Logo 2

 

Summer of My German Soldier

Summer of My German Soldier (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Summer of My German Soldier, is Bette Green’s 1973 novel about young love in a small southern town during World War II.

The summer that Patty Bergen turns twelve is a summer that will haunt her forever. When her small hometown in Arkansas becomes the site of a camp housing German prisoners during World War II, Patty learns what it means to open her heart. Even though she’s Jewish, she begins to see a prison escapee, Anton, not as a Nazi, but as a lonely, frightened young man with feelings not unlike her own.

In Anton, Patty finds someone who softens the pain of her own father’s rejection and who appreciates her in a way her mother never will. While patriotic feelings run high, Patty risks losing family, friends — even her freedom — for this dangerous friendship. It is a risk she has to take and one she will have to pay a price to keep. [Amazon.com]

I remember reading this book in middle school and loving it. As I recall I cried buckets. SoMGS doesn’t hold quite the same appeal for me now, but I still found it a decent read. (This time though I found Ruth the most interesting character, and really would have rather read “Summer of my African American Domestic Worker.” — Guess I’ll be re-reading The Help, huh?)

So why is SoMGS perenially on the Banned Book List?

The most frequent complaints against Summer of My German Soldier concern the conclusion—Anton’s death and Patty’s punishment. Greene considers the conclusion to be socially and psychologically realistic, but the challenges have portrayed it as “pessimistic” or “unsuited to the age group. [businessclarksville.com/]

On our matrix there is certainly Cultural Insensitivity, Racism, Offensive Language (the ‘N’ word is used several times) and Violence (Patty’s father is physically abusive.)

 

The book was made into a television movie staring Bruce Davidson (who was wonderful) and Kristi McNichol in 1979.

The Video tape cover of the film Summer of My ...

The Video tape cover of the film Summer of My German Soldier. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


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