Friday, October 27, 2006

Clearly a Canadian

You can tell
By the wind
By fresh cut wood all stacked to dry
That autumn's here
And it makes you sad
About the crummy
Summer we had
With pine trees creeking
The raven's screeching
Just like the story my grandma tells
About when a bird
Hits your window
And someone you know
Is about to die

Autumn's here, autumn's here
It's ok if you want to cry 'cause autumn's here

So find a sweater
And you'll be better
Until the kindling is tinder dry
We can be quiet
As we walk down
To see the graveyard
Where they are now
I wonder how
They brought their piano
To holdene hill
From old berlin
Be hard to keep it
That well in tune
With winters like the one
That's coming soon

Cause auntumn's here
It's time to cry now
That autumn's here
It's ok if you want to cry
Because autumn's here

I think that ghosts like
The cooler weather
When leaves turn colour
They get together
And walk along ways
These old back roads
Where no one lives
And no one goes
With all their hopes set
On the railway
That never came and that no one stayed
I guess that autumn
Gets you remembering
And the smallest things
Just make you cry

Autumn's here
It's time to cry
Cause autumn's here
Autumn's here
It's ok now, cause autumn's here
Hawksley Workman

I think he's on to something

Elliot has a theory that militant fundamentalist atheists are actually a part of a conspiracy by fundamentalist Christians to make atheism look stupid.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Possible Focus

One of the good things about my current position is that while I am pressured to pick a focus, I still have quite a bit of freedom to change my mind. So here's my tentative focus:

Over the next 3 years (that's not including this one) I want to study the hero in literature, with particular focus on the epic, on mythology, on communal writing and the oral tradition, and on the contemporary incarnations of the above.

I want to use Superman as a particular instance of a contemporary hero without a single creator, and research whether Joseph Campbell's Hero with 1000 Faces is an accurate model of Superman's story, whether as time has passed and Superman's character and story have evolved his conformity to Campbell's model has changed—if so, in which direction? What are the implications of that? If his conformity to Campbell's model has not changed, what are the implications of that? Does a communally created hero like Superman conform more or less closely to Campbell's model than a hero created by a single author?

I will explore various ideas of hero, from Plato’s notion of heroic virtue, including Aristotle’s conception of the tragic hero, to Jungian ideas of the psychologically significant universal hero. I will research both the social and literary function of the hero historically in both popular mythology and in literary epics such as Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey and Virgil’s Aenead, Beowulf, Milton’s Paradise Lost, etc. and with special focus on the contemporary heroic character of Superman.

Will my research lead me to support Campbell's idea of a universal myth? What about non-western heroes? How has Christianity affected the development of Western mythology and particularly the Western idea of the hero? To what degree is Superman a product of Western culture, and to what degree is he a universal hero, and to what degree does he fail to be either?

Master's Thesis

You can't just do a Master's degree. You need to have a focus. When I tell people in the departement of English that I'm pursuing my Master's, they invariably ask: "What's your area?" And I have to say, "Well... I like Medieval Lit, and 15th and 16th century, and some Victorians, and Modern Irish Lit, and Milton and Gerard Manly-Hopkins, and G.K. Chesterton, and I've always been interested in King Arthur, and I like classical mythologies and epic poetry, and I'm a big fan of W.C. Williams, and..."

This is called "lack of focus".

On Wednesday, I have a grant proposal due. Apparently, the chances of my actually receiving the grant are quite slim, but I need to have at least submitted a proposal in order to qualify for a Fellowship next year, and blah blah blah.

I have a deadline. By Wednesday I need to hand in two pages saying what I want to do for the next three years, why I'm a good person to do it, and why it requires money. And if I write it well enough, they will GIVE me the money I ask for.

This is called "strong motivation".

The question is—will strong motivation overcome lack of focus?

Friday, October 20, 2006

Just me then?

Have you ever noticed how spaghetti squash smells like chocolate chip cookies?

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Ayn Rand

I recently heard Ayn Rand placed next to Hemmingway as one of the two greatest novelists of the 20th century. I've never read anything by her, but I find this claim ... somewhat difficult to believe.

Has anyone read Ayn Rand? Can anyone either confirm or discredit this claim?

Sunday, October 08, 2006


This week I had my very first and very second attempts at home-made perogies.

Yes, it's true. Despite four years among the Mennonites at CMU, I've never attempted to make my own perogies before. But this week we were between grocery trips, low on many kinds of food and on even the elements of food, but we did have flour, potatoes, cheese and sauerkraut. The building block of perogies.

I made two types of perogies: chedder cheese, and sauerkraut. If I say so myself, they were delicious. I made them again for lunch today, and added feta cheese to the sauerkraut ones, and it was an excellent addition.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Here, kitty

There's a wild animal living in our house.

For some reason, we allow this wild animal to continue its residence in our apartment. We even provide it with food. It wanders around our apartment, freely. It attacks our feet while we sleep, and jumps out at us from under the couch with no warning.

Sometimes, it's true, it pretends to be domesticated in order to gain our confidence and lull us into complacency. She curls up on my lap, growling friendly-like. She disarms my suspicions with her cuteness. But I am not disarmed. I am not complacent.

Be afraid.

Monday, October 02, 2006

What happens on a Circuit night?

On Friday the St. Margaret's youth had an event, which was a smashing success.

The youth group is growing; which is a good thing but poses a few problems. In order to get to the main attraction of our event (go-karting) we had to squish a few more people into the cars than would be ideal. Kevin (one of our leaders) even stayed home, because there was no room for him.

Go-karting was lots of fun. We went to the same place last year, and they were very nice to us both times. They agreed to keep the place open until we left, so we stayed about 45 minutes past their official closing time. Go-kart racing + trampoline basketball + minigolf + video games = good times.

We got back to the church by about 10:00, for ice cream, pop, rice-krispie squares and a talk. Our theme for the year is Running the Amazing Race and our theme verse is "Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us." (Heb 12:1) Last time, Jan talked about what comes immediately before this passage—the "Therefore, since we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses..." I had planned to talk about the race marked out for us, but they kept asking questions that made me refer back to Jan's talk the week before. So they heard about the great cloud of witnesses again. Maybe next time We'll really talk about the race marked out.

After the lesson we tried to sing some songs, but it ended in disaster. For one thing, the younger youth (who aren't allowed to stay for the sleepover) kept leaving. For another, I kept interrupting the song to change guitarists or for other stupid reasons. I don't know what was wrong with me. Next time—no interruptions.

Everyone who wasn't staying for the sleepover left, leaving only one boy and six girls. We played a few more games, ran around like maniacs, one of the girls and the last boy also left and the five remaining girls either went to bed, watched Whale Rider, or sat in the youth room talking and playing theater games. Finally they all went to bed, and I curled up in the youth room to sleep alone. No talking, no giggling, no snoring. I slept well.

The next morning we awoke to the smell of fresh (pilsbury) cinnamon buns made by Jan. After breakfast we kicked them all out, and that was that for another month.