Thursday, October 8, 2009

A Damsel in Distress

A Damsel in Distress by P. G. Wodehouse was recommended as summer reading on the GirlTalk blog. So, since it is no longer summer and I have tons of work to do, I thought "what better time to start reading it?" It was especially useful in avoiding writing that Wall Street Journal summary and later my Materials Science lab report. But besides being useful for procrastination, it was well worth the read.

A happy English family is introduced to us in the first chapter. Oh wait, no, they are not really very happy. Well, Lady Caroline might be...
But not for long.
Her step-son Reggie Byng has not proposed to her brother's daughter after all like she had been hoping.
Lady Caroline is the chatelaine of Belpher Castle and sister to Lord Marshmoreton with whom she stays along with her step-son Reggie. Lord Marshmoreton is a widower with a son, Percy Marsh, Lord Belpher, and a daughter, Lady Patricia Maud Marsh (but she goes throughout the book as Maud). Lord Marshmoreton's chief delight is to garden roses. Lady Caroline's chief delight is to make everyone do as she thinks they ought to be dignified and live up to their social and historical position. She has Lord Marshmoreton working on a book about his ancestors. She is also urging her step-son Reggie to marry Maud, despite Maud having fallen in love with a penniless man in Wales. Reggie personally is in love with Lord Marshmoreton's secretary Alice.

And thus we are introduced to everyone all at once and get all their desires and the obstacles to them as well.

Now on to George.
George was usually a happy man, but one day he woke up feeling lousy. But that could have been owing to the fact that he had gone to better very late that night(or the morning) because there had been a party for the opening of the new play in London for which he had composed the music. But whatever the case, he was feeling lousy. And some friends of his said his problem was that he needed to get married. So he started to run some errands feeling very down and lonely and depressed.

And then suddenly a girl hopped into his cab as it was paused in traffic and asked him to hide her.

And the adventure begins at last.
And what fun it is indeed!
Maud, for it was she who hopped into the cab, was out on the sly to meet with her man from Wales whom she heard was back from a cruise with his employer. But she saw her brother, Percy, and hopped into the strange cab. George promptly falls in love.

The story continues with much hilarious misunderstanding as everybody mixes everybody else up and confuses Lord Marshmoreton for a gardener and etc...

And of course it must all come out right in the end, or else I wouldn't be so happy about it. So now you must all go read it right away too. You can find it on Project Gutenburg as A Damsel in Distress.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Surprised By Joy


Surprised By Joy
is a book by C. S. Lewis. It discusses his early life and childhood, and the evolution of his faith. But it's primary focus is:

The "stab of Joy"
It was beauty that inspired Joy. It was this Joy that Lewis sought.

The lack of beauty, and therefore Joy, as he grew up in a Christian home, made him think that Christianity wasn't enough. Because of this thinking, encouraged by several of his teachers in various boarding schools he attended, he slowly abandoned the Christian faith. He sought after the poetry and writings of ancient Greece and Rome, and the songs of Wagner and others that revealed to him a "stab of Joy".
In C. S. Lewis's own words, the stab of Joy
"....[I]s an unsatisfied desire which is itself more desirable than any other satisfaction. I call it Joy, which is here a technical term and must be sharply distinguished both from Happiness and from Pleasure" (Surprised By Joy, p. 17-18).
The book weaves in and out of Lewis's outer life and inner one, a sort of "dual plot." In the very end, Lewis comes to realise that the Joy he was seeking all the time was merely a sign, pointing to something better all along: to Jesus Christ Himself.

It is fun to note certain areas in which Lewis's experiences later led to characters in The Chronicles of Narnia. I have pointed out a few below:

The "New House" he moved into at age 7, he describes as large and full of all sorts of alcoves and rooms. Books of all kinds were scattered here and there, on bookshelves and in tall piles in the attic. The "New House clearly helped along the construction of: the Professor's house in the country (in the Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe).

Lewis describes driving to his first boarding school: "Now I am choking and sweating, itching too, in thick dark stuff, throttled by an Eton collar, my feet already aching with unaccustomed boots (Surprised By Joy, p. 22)." Where else was that collar? "In those days, if you were a boy you had to wear a stiff Eton collar every day, and schools were usually nastier than now" (in The Magician's Nephew, p. 1).

Perhaps the most obvious allusion made is with Professor Kirk. Professor Kirk was one of Lewis's old and best loved tutors. He was very much into logic. Of course this can only be one man: "'Logic!' said the Professor half to himself. 'Why don't they teach logic in these schools?' " (The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, p. 45). We later learn that this character is named "Digory Kirk," or just "Professor Kirk."

I highly suggest reading this book for yourself. I enjoyed the humorous stories told about Lewis's absent-minded father, and the thorough explanations of English boarding schools (seeing that I am not English, I was very grateful for being introduced to English culture). It was also encouraging to have someone relate to my thoughts and feelings (or, rather, I relating to Lewis's) in a way more closely than I have found in other books.

I can guarantee that you will not regret the time spent in reading this book, or the amount of "intellectual stimulus" it will provide.

Monday, February 2, 2009

The cookies

I whip out the recipe
my grin betraying glee
I have a huge smile
that stretches a mile
That those far away can see.

I opened the flour bag,
and watched that flour sag,
while a powder went floating
Like snow that is gloating
Oh! And I opened that flour bag.

I poured out a cup of milk,
That looked like watery silk,
It splashed impressively,
splattering, sadly
on the counter; wasted milk.

I pulled out an egg that was fat,
and promptly it fell with a splat;
Oh, egg you are gone!
This recipe was so long!
But at last I got through all that.

I grasped the vanilla tightly,
And adjusted the lid slightly;
The vanilla was poured,
And relieved I toured
The pantry, nicely and kindly.

I mixed with a spoon,
And hummed a tune,
The cookies were coming out fine,
I shaped them with a cutter of mine,
They would be done soon.

I held in my hands a tray,
With the cookies all looking my way,
And I opened the door
and saw the interior
Of the oven, and - O, I say!

The oven was hot,
and I was not,
And I stood contemplating heat,
With those cookies I wanted to eat,
Unsure of what I sought.

The cookies were finally baking,
And oh, so long they were taking!
At last they were finished,
And not diminished,
As I took them out, hands shaking.

But, alas, for my fate
(and how that word I do hate),
Was to trip on a ball,
And to promptly fall,
Dropping the cookies on plate.

(I know, I know, Kirk! The meter isn't right! :P )

Friday, January 9, 2009

After the Odyssey 2

The previous post introduced a blog which claimed to have serious articles posted on it. This is not actually so. They are posts of an unusual nature masquerading as serious. Everyone knows Miss Ell can't keep the normal serious type of blog. It just doesn't work. But anybody who hops by this should indeed go read it nonetheless.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

After the Odyssey

Since this blog is in one of the remotest corners of the blogsphere, I feel more comfortable about introducing my new blog, SpaceyHead. It is the typically dry blog with serious articles on it, written for school purposes. And there you have it!