Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Evaluation of Some of My Work

I have now reached the level of Alexander the Great*, except instead of boiling blood, it's work, with not much of an end in sight. 

But I wanted to point you to an incredibly generous evaluation of some of my work by Steve Tompkins at The Cimmerian.  It's on the piece that I wrote for Allan Turner's The Silmarillion: 30 Years On,
and which I thought at the time was far too personal for scholarship (it also includes my first published drawing, a linoleum block carving I made of Angband when I was nine years old).

As I said, Tompkins is incredibly generous about the work, so I thought I would give a pointer to it so other readers can see what they think.

*Dante reference. Alexander the Great is forced to stand in boiling blood so that only his eyebrows show. Next year's teaching includes the Tolkien class, Chaucer, and the medieval lit class that includes Dante and Egil's Saga. Should be a great year. Also a new extension to the Math/Science Fiction class, Logic and Language (done as an unpaid overload: what was I thinking? But it will be fun and my co-professor and I will probably get a book out of it).

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Never a dull moment

So last night I look out the window and there is a wild-haired, older man walking around our street, seeming to search along the ground.  So far, no problem: we live on a small circle and people sometimes come up to ride bikes or walk dogs or just walk.  But then I notice that the man was carrying something that looked like a gun.  I looked again. 

He was carrying a crossbow.  

I got more nervous when I noticed him scratching his neck with it.  It didn't appear to be loaded, but weapon safety was obviously not a big deal.  I was going to go out to talk with him, but my wife vetoed that idea, saying that a man with a weapon should be spoken to by the police. 

Well, I guess we used a magic word when we told them that there was a man on our street with a crossbow.  Many police arrived (though by then the man was gone).  I guess he was found, admitted to having the crossbow, and explained that he was shooting squirrels and that the bolt went across our fence and into our yard or onto our street.  I still haven't found it.  The man, who is somewhat mentally disabled, was willing to give up the crossbow to the police. No hard feelings, no charges, etc.  I have no problem with anyone eliminating squirrels, either, though maybe a nice have-a-heart trap would be better than firing crossbow bolts through the fence. Never a dull moment around here. 

...a flippin' crossbow...

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Paris Psalter on Anglo-Saxon Aloud

But before the actual post, a couple of things.  First, my apologies for neglecting the blog. A never-ending series of minor illnesses have swept through the family.  As those of you with young children know, that's not surprising, but this year, for whatever reason, we have had the very weird situation where we've all been sick in series rather than parallel.  So just as one person gets well, the next gets sick, and by the time the stupid virus has worked its way through the whole family, we're all set for a new one to start in.  

But today, although I was home with a kid with a fever, my own voice finally cleared up enough to get back to Anglo-Saxon Aloud.  I recorded, edited and posted the Psalm 51 from the Paris Psalter.  I still haven't entirely achieved true chant style, but at least the psalm is actually sung (though those of you who listen to my singing might think it might have been better had it not been sung).  There are about 100 psalms in the Paris Psalter, so I will be trying very hard to post more than one per day so that I can actually finish this project, but the medium is absolutely unforgiving, so it takes a long time to get a psalm recorded properly. 

I wonder what my colleagues and students will be thinking when they walk down the hallway tomorrow morning and hear singing (and cursing, when I mess up) from behind my office door.  

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Update on the 16 four-year-olds and the live goat

My son's fourth birthday party was this past Saturday.  We had used two rules of thumb for planning:  

1) we have had good weather every birthday of his life thus far.
2) when you invite the whole class to a party, less than half can come.  

We were wrong on both counts.  The weather was terrible, and every kid we invited came.  That meant that we had to have the party inside, and it was going to be crowded. 

Because the Barn Babies were coming.  

So, come 12 noon on Saturday we had sixteen children (actually more, because some people brought siblings without telling us that they would), a pig, ten rabbits, five chickens, two cats, two puppies, a rooster, and a diapered goat were in my basement. 

And it was great. 

The Barn Babies people put down tarps and then playpens to contain the pig, goat and puppies.  The goat was wearing a diaper (really).  The kids could take turns climbing into the pens with the larger animals or holding the small animals.  And the genius of Barn Babies, which they should patent, was that each animal to be held was wrapped up in a baby blanket.  That meant that the rabbits, chickens, kittens, rooster (really), didn't squirm or kick.  There were some great moments when I looked around to see every kid sitting and gently petting an animal. 

So Mitchell had a good party.  Then the next day we went to see the PawSox play.  I have been at football games in January where I was less cold than we were for that baseball game, and I wore a ski mask and winter gloves.  But we all got our pictures taken with the two Red Sox World Series trophies, so it was worth it.  

(Medieval content will return when I get over my latest miserable illness and get the proofs for Tolkien Studies volume 5 to the printer and catch up on grading).

P.S.:  Recorded a new Recorded Books course last week, on Grammar (and the producers loved it -- go figure).  

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Request for Supernatural Intercession

In less than two hours there will be 16 four-year-olds and a live goat in my house.