Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Pudding in Half an Hour // SS: Nursery Rhymes, Jack Frost, and the Snow Queen



 

I was supposed to write something based on a nursery rhyme and I had no idea what to write about. But somehow I smashed a bunch of them together, and I thought I'd speculate on the origins of Jack Frost and the Snow Queen while I was at it. So I hope you like it. Because I have no idea what's going on.


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The Children of Olden Years
or 
The Wee Ones
or 
I Don't Know How to Title
Pudding in Half an Hour



Willie rapped on the window. 

Jill rolled her eyes and snapped her book shut. What was he rapping on her window for? It wasn't like she needed him to anymore. Anyone who'd answered Willie's call and gone street-playing for as long as she had, no longer had need of sleep. Maybe she wished she did.

No, she just wished she could grow up. Or leave longevity behind and die already.

Jill turned the lantern down and opened the door. She had to deliver something tonight anyhow. And while the street-play was going on. She hated that she wanted to join the other kids. To jump rope. And eat pudding. And run around the mulberry bushes as if the mulberry patch were their castle and they were the adult royals who ruled instead of the wee ones who served.

Wee ones. Ha! As if some of them weren't older than their masters.

Outside, Willie's pale blue form zigzagged across the snowy, wet street. He knocked on all the houses although not everyone would be called to remain a child servant all their lives. Still, only those who were meant to be called would hear and answer.

Whoever was in charge of deciding fate ought to be overthrown.

 Jill pinched her lips together and stuffed her hand in her skirt pocket. The letter was still there. Her mistress' lover lived clear across town. She wouldn't be going to the street-playing tonight; that's for sure. Around her, children opened their doors and rubbed their eyes groggily. Some squealed and chased each other around. One boy dumped snow down his brother's shirt. But they all made for the same place, as if some instinct led them to the  street-play.

Jill passed one who was still crawling. They were being called rather young these days, weren't they? Nobody but those who were called could see the children street-playing. It was as if they lived in a different world at night. A world of their own, free from the duties adult masters put on them.

Well, except for her. Because Jill's mistress was thoughtless enough to give her a task in the middle of the night. The silly woman! Not even above fifteen yet. Jill gritted her teeth. Jill had lived thousands of years longer, and yet Miss Tasket had been called as an eternal adult so deference as one she received. 

What had Miss Tasket seen? What did the call of adulthood sound like? Certainly, some fairy spirit hadn't called her to come play in the streets at night.

It was not fair! Jill had been born to adult masters. Why couldn't she have been one of them too? She wanted to stamp her feet and throw down the letter. But that would be childish. So she suppressed the impulse. 

At least, Miss Tasket hadn't been called to be a royal. That would've been unbearable.

Her breath made puffs of smoke in the bright moonlight. But that was the only thing that told her how chilly it was. She took the letter out of her pocket to distract herself. She hadn't once noticed the lover's name.

The paper was dry and the greasy wax seal was an absurd green and yellow.

The music of the street-play grew louder as she came closer. Everyone would be there. Except for her.

To Tisket was written with frivolous curls at the end of each letter. Tisket. Tasket. What a fine pair they'd make.

She tried to ignore the music. She had to deliver this dumb letter to a dumb crush. If she hurried, she might catch the street-play before dawn. Her feet padded on the cobblestones. It seemed louder than the music. Much more definite and. . . not half as fun.

Oh, stop that! She was three thousand years old! She didn't have time for fun and games. She shouldn't care about--

"Jill girl!" Willie ran into her, or rather through her.

She turned to face him. He shivered. Apparently, spirits could feel cold.

"Sorry about that." He tried to keep his teeth from chattering. "I was about to make a second round to be sure I've gotten everyone." He glanced at the street-play by the town wall. "Aren't you going?"

"I've a message to deliver. Under orders."

Willie floated backward a bit and frowned. "You can't grow up. Doesn't your mistress know it? She can't deny you--"

"Well, I don't have to attend anymore to keep my childhood."

"Of course not. You passed that. . . I don't remember how many years ago. But you at least have to keep your strength up. After all, you can't sleep--"

"I know."

"Doesn't she realize the street-play is vital to your energy? And--"

"I know, Wee Winkie!"

He winced at his other name.

She breathed. "I'm sorry."

"And I." Willie sighed. "You could disobey her. She can't hold you to it if you protest. Take it up with the royals. The new ones uphold the laws."

She glared at him. "You know how I feel about going to the palace."

"Uh. . . Oh!" He finally caught on. Certainly being eight thousand years immortal did make one's memory slip. Jill was glad she hadn't reached that yet. "Right, of course." Then he got that fatherly look which was strange coming from someone who looked four years old. "But she's sent you out for the past two nights. A third's too much. She doesn't feed you, I know it."

Jill lifted her eyes to the sky. The moonlight was as bright as the soaring sun. She loved the moon. Adults couldn't see her under the its light.

"Your nose is red. Aren't you cold?"

"I've not noticed."

"We've a halfpenny roll to share. Can't you stop for just a little while? And pudding shall be done within half an hour! You like pudding."

"Everyone likes pudding." She tried not to smile. Now that she actually listened to the music it drew her in. Closer. Calling her. Wanting her to dance.

"Come on then!" Willie fluttered around her.

Jill sighed. "Fine, but I can't stay all night."

"Good girl!"

She sneaked a peek at the palace spires. Maybe she could find someone who'd play royals with her, and she could be the queen.

____________________________


Jill kept away from the fire even though other children danced around it. She huddled near the wall next to another girl. The roll was much too warm for her, so Jill offered it to the girl beside her. The girl devoured it right off. Jill ate a spoonful pudding.

She turned back to the girl. "Mary, right?"

The girl nodded.

A mere, but effortless guess. Half the girls here went by Mary.

"What've you got up to lately?"

The girl just shivered and blinked at her.

"What is it?"

"Is it colder here to you?"

Jill took another spoonful of pudding to think on her answer. What did she know of the cold? "Well," she said carefully, "I suppose it would be colder since we're not near the fire."

"You look familiar."
 
Jill squinted at the girl. Uh, oh. She was the servant of Miss Tasket's next door neighbor. The neighbor who always quarreled with Tasket.

"I don't see why." Jill tried not to snap. But her breath turned into a froth of fog.

The girl coughed and shivered. "You're the one!" She coughed again. "You froze my mistress' garden and she had me whipped!"

"I did not!"

"You did too!"

"I don't recall." And she really didn't.

"Well, I do! I'm the one who got the whipping."

"I-- I didn't mean to." Jill poked her spoon at the rest of her pudding. "If I did, I didn't know it."

"Just stay away from me." The girl moved off.

Jill wrinkled her nose. Who needs another Mary anyway?

 Some kids stood off to the side. They shouted, "Higher! Higher! Faster! Faster!"

Oh, great. She shoved her way to the front of the group. Two tall candlesticks stood lit, and the kids had cleared a path. A track for Jack and a taller boy to run down.

Jack smirked from the starting line. The other boy spat an insult at him and crowd of kids crowed. Someone marked the two off, and they raced toward the candlesticks.

Jack couldn't get ahead of the taller boy, but when they reached the candlesticks, Jack nimbly took to the air. He cleared the flame at least by a foot. The other boy trampled through his candlestick by comparison.

The crowd cheered. Some kids snowballed the loser to beat the flames from his clothes. Jill pushed her way to Jack.

"What are you thinking?" She wouldn't let on that she was pleased at the other boy's obvious defeat. Nobody could beat Jack. "You know how bad off you were the last time you burnt yourself."

"Chill Jill." Jack then laughed. "Did you hear that? A rhyme and an irony all in one! I am good today." He put his hands on his hips and beamed.

Jill rolled her eyes. "Jack, seriously."

"We're eternal children and you call me to be serious?" He laughed again. "Please do, tell another!" He grinned at her like the starry-eyed child that he unfortunately was. Then he sprang up, caught her in his arms and laughed around in circles.

"Put me down!"

"Of course, your frosty majesty." He set her down and mocked a bow.

A couple tittering girls came over.

"Excuse me. My fans await." He stepped over to the girls, said something that made them giggle even more, then kissed them each on the nose. When he did, they turned silent. Their noses and cheeks turned red, and tears welled in their eyes. They still grinned at him though. He gave a jolly laugh and clapped one of them on the shoulder.

It was a silly game of the girls. It was said that Jack's touch [and Jill's if anyone cared to know] was so cold nearly no one could withstand it. Some of the wee girls had made a game wherein the winner was the one who didn't cry from the cold when he kissed her.

No one had ever won.

Jill crossed her arms when Jack walked back to her.

"And my work here is done." He grinned.

"Well, mine's not."

"Jill, you're face is all red." He took his scarf off. "You ought to be careful of the cold."

"And why should I?" She refused to let him wind his scarf around her neck. "It's not like I feel it."

Jack touched her face and spoke quieter, "That fall really did something to us, didn't it?"

She bit her lip. She didn't want to think about that. 

"I want to go home." He sounded like a kid, and she wished she hadn't been thinking the same thing.

"But we can't. Home was three thousand years ago."

"I know, but. . ." He looked back at the palace.

She turned his chin to face her again. "They aren't there anymore. Remember?"

He winced. She shouldn't have said that. The war before the last was terrible. Worse off, their parents hadn't even known them.

"I know."

She caught a tear of his with her finger before anyone notice it. He always acted so happy. Sometimes she thought he did it for her, because he had to be just as frustrated as she was. Wasn't he?

"I wish we could've been adults. Royals. Like them," she said.

Jack nodded.

"What if we ran off? We don't have to do what they say anymore. Nobody would have to tell us what to do."

Jack stepped back. "Jill, what are you thinking? If we leave, we become--" He shuddered. "Outcasts? Spirits of dismay."

"What are we now, Jack? Even among the wee ones."

"I try not to think about that."

"And if it's not the other wee ones, my mistress sends me in the night to deliver petty love notes." She showed him the letter. "And I refuse to deliver it tonight."

"Nice color coordination." Jack tapped the green and yellow seal. "Wait a second." He frowned. "That's the letter my mistress told me to steal tonight."

They stared at each other a moment.

"Well, take it." Jill shoved it toward him. "I already said I wouldn't deliver it."

"No." He stepped back so the letter fluttered to the ground. "I don't care about his crossed-love. And you'll get in trouble."

"You'll get in trouble too! Besides, I can always accuse my mistress for sending me on night duties."

"Then so can I."

Jill touched a hand to her forehead and leaned against the town wall. "Well, this is a fine mess. Setting up a brother and sister after each other."

"There ought to be some law against that."

Jill sighed.

"I suppose we can't very well blame them," Jack spoke quieter. "It's not as if they know we're siblings. I'm sure nobody remembers. It's been so long."

"Don't make allowances for them!"

"We're not supposed to remember either, you know."

Jill gritted her teeth. She glared at the letter on the ground. What did it matter? What did any of it matter?

"I don't care anymore!" She pushed past him and marched to the far corner of town.

"Where are you going?"

 She turned back. "I can't stand it anymore, Jack. I going over the wall."

His jaw dropped.

She stared at the ground. "You don't have to come. Actually, don't. People like you, Jack. And you get along with them." She didn't want him to, but she said it anyhow. "You should stay. But I can't." She stepped closer to hug him. His arm rested limply on her back. He still wasn't believing this, was he?

She stepped into the darkest part of town. She swallowed. She was doing this. She had to. It was the only way out. She just wished that Jack would-- but no, that was selfish.

"Wait!"

She jumped and jerked around.

Jack ran to her. "I'm, I'm coming."

"No. Jack. You'll do better--"

"No." He held his hand up. "I don't care about the others. They don't really see me. If you leave, then I will be alone."

She knew what he meant. He was the only home she had left, so maybe she was the only home he had left too.

They climbed the ladder on silent feet. Beneath their hands, frost cracked and spread down the rungs. The wall turned slick with ice when they stood atop it. Hand in hand, they stepped into the white woods. The moon shone bright as day, and the stars guided their way. To where, they did not know.




How many nursery rhymes did you spot? Have you joined Starting Sparks?

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Confessions of a Book Blogger Dragon

I've returned from Thanksgiving break! Technically, I should be working on an essay or two and unpacking a small hoard of books, but pffft! Who cares about responsibility? Not this dragon.


.:


Instead, I'll confess some dastardly blogger sins I've committed. Prepare to be shocked.

Or not because you probably already know.


1. What is blog lovin'?

So blog lovin' is just another one of those social media things. I don't need more social media in my life. I recently deleted my Facebook because who needs that. And Goodreads probably feels neglected. 
 
I'm not sure what blog lovin' is except maybe it helps other users follow you? Or it consolidates all your blogger profiles? What do I know? I don't actually care. . .

Should I?


2. I check stats every tenth full moon


I think the last time I checked stats was. . . eight months ago? And the stretch before that was the span of two dragon naps. Approximately 358 years.

 That probably sounds weird, because I've come to the realization that "normal" bloggers check their stats often? [It didn't sound weird because I measured it in dragon naps. No.]

It's just that, stats in general bore me.

 Sometimes they're confusing. How can you have 3 pageviews but 10 comments? What kind of math is this? Clearly, I've missed something so I'll just be over here in my lair clueing for looks.


For the tag with stats:


Or watching Sherlock. Because that's vastly more entertaining than figuring out stats. Anything is more entertaining than stats. They smell like organization. I think I'm already getting hives. *sneezes*

Ahem. Apparently, the most popular post of all the time has 556 pageviews and is a. . . blog tag. A sisterhood blog tag from last year to be exact. There you have it. The moment of truth: I'm good for tags.

[You're it.]


3. Using too many gifs and pictures


gif



I rather like Lestrade


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Shamelessly.


4. Typos

I'm sure you've noticed the abominable little aberrations in my posts and they probably make your eyeballs burn as they do mine.

Even if I typed a post 105 years ago, edited it every third Friday, and posted it today, there would be typos. It's infuriating.


5. No world-conquering ambitions

Yes, yes. Most dragons want to burn ALL the cities. Rule the whole world. Or at least a sizeable kingdom or two. But I keep to my lonely mountain, and I'm perfectly okay with that.

My blog wanders a lot. I know it isn't for everyone and I'm good with that.


 :P:



 I'd rather be me and have a smaller readership than the "super" dragon bloggers out there. I like all you dragons [and humans, I guess]. I'm thankful and baffled at why you stick around but I appreciate that you do.



.:


Besides if I was a "super" dragon blogger, I don't think I could handle all the comments and pressure. [Seriously, if you have a large blog, all of my respect goes out to you. You rock!] I would get social media burnout fast. And probably fly away to some unknown realm without a word.

Speaking of--


6. Blogging with voracious hunger for 2.3 weeks and then disappearing for half an eternity

You're probably aware of this bad habit of mine. I'll fire out some posts and then take a little nap for a week or two. Socializing really tires me out, and it seems online socializing has the same effect even if I can endure it longer than in person socializing.


7. The award for the worst comment backer commenter that ever commented back is mine

Apologies to you all! I don't know if you take the time to return and see how I replied to your comment. I wouldn't blame you if you don't. But if you do, I'm sure you get tired of waiting and give up. I promise I do comment back. Just not immediately. Sometimes I'm busy. Stroking my shiny books. Er, I mean, uh, defending the hoard from hobbits and dwarves. Oh, wait, that doesn't sound. . . never mind.


8. Participating in links then forgetting to actually participate

There's a sizeable amount of posts on back file that are half-written and were intended for link-ups that were over a long time ago. 

Other times, I actually post the post. But then I forget to sign the link on the host's blog? Like that time I forgot to sign into Emily's and my Starting Sparks.

But hey, at least I posted the post. 


9. Reading my own blogposts

Because I'm a genius. And let's face it; I'm hilarious.

*cough*


...


 Or not.


I do cringe at all the typos and, meh, I don't even touch the posts that were posted during this blog's first year of life. I would feel a sudden urge to incinerate them. 


10. What in Midgard is going on with the blog's background color?!

Man, I don't know. When I find out, I'll tell you.

What are some of your blogging confessions? What are some of the highlights? Do you have WORLD-CONQUERING ambitions?

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Popcorn Reviews: The Editions Edition



Little Lord Fauntleroy

So this was an interesting read. It wasn't particularly engaging, although that was because the plot revolved around a "perfect" protagonist who changed imperfect people for the better. Little Lord Fauntleroy reads like a novel length fairytale, or I at least saw a lot of parallels to fairytale traditions.




His father was the youngest son of a misery, old lord who had three sons. The older two were corrupt and wasteful. The youngest was the old lord's pride and joy expect gosh it! Why'd he have to marry some lowly American woman? The youngest son was disinherited and the youngest went to be with his perfect wife and had a perfect little boy. Fauntleroy is intelligent and funny and he takes himself rather seriously. It's basically a rags-to-riches story. The grandfather finds Fauntleroy, who's real name is Cedric, and brings him to London with much skepticism. I'd tell you more, but I'm sure you can speculate or at least read the book for yourself. XD

Naturally, it's beautifully written, although it's idealistic at times.

What I loved, loved though was the book itself. I'm a bit weird like that. My love for books doesn't stop at just the story, but I like the book itself. I found Little Lord Fauntleroy while wandering the MG section of the library. It was a very old edition from around the 1950s or 60s. I loved its worn pages. And the illustrations! Some excellent sketches, maybe in pen? I don't know. I'm not very good at determining the medium of art.





Anyhow, Little Lord Fauntleroy was a good experience. Not a fast-paced, adventure read, but a sweet story told in the fairytale tradition.



A Farewell to Arms

So because I'm a nerd, I'm going to tell you why I picked this book up in the first place. 





1) I need to read more classics. Why *need*? I don't know. I can argue away every argument that comes to mind. Expect that I should at least have more variety in my book diet. 

2) Emily told me too. Okay, that may be an overstatement. I can't remember if Emily told me to or if she raved about it and then strongly suggested it. My mind palace is a cluttered place, so 'scuse me if the memory needs dusting. 

3) My favorite English professor from my former college loved Hemingway. So we studied 'Hills Like White Elephants.' He talked a lot about Hemingway and in his office, he had two whole bookshelves full of Hemingway books. This professor, uh, died a couple years ago. It was sad [obviously]. So I kinda picked this book up in a sort of to-remember-him kind of way, although I clearly had not forgotten him. So what kind of sense does this make? It doesn't make sense. It's sentiment.


Hemingway:


Unfortunately, I didn't like A Farewell to Arms. I really, really wanted to like it. But it just wasn't for me. I thought it was going to be a war story with a side of romance. Ha! It was a romance story with a side of war. Eh, I don't really do romance stories, so it's amazing I actually finished the book. 

The dialogue confused me at times. Hemingway often leaves off dialogue tags which is not necessarily a bad thing. But he also likes to put two speakers in the same paragraph together, or begin new paragraph even though the speaker had not changed. So sometimes it was difficult to understand who said what. It was tedious with talk about the weather and such too. But I think Hemingway was trying to bring a sense of realism into the conversation? Maybe? People do actually talk like that [but why do we?].

I can't say I disliked all of the dialogue. I did enjoy some of the conversations. Like the one about the brave and the cowardly and how the world breaks us all.


“The coward dies a thousand deaths, the brave but one'.... (The man who first said that) was probably a coward.... He knew a great deal about cowards but nothing about the brave. The brave dies perhaps two thousand deaths if he's intelligent. He simply doesn't mention them.”  ― Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms - Quote From Recite.com #RECITE #QUOTE:


I do like the way Hemingway painted the war. I think that's why A Farewell to Arms is lauded. The realistic portrayal of the war. The characters made a big deal about how the main character was wounded and they made him into a hero. But he was like, "I wasn't even fighting. I was getting cheese for our lunch." He was wounded while setting up dinner. And everybody thought it was great that he was wounded for nothing. Rather sad, isn't it?

I loved the way Hemingway ended it. It doesn't feel like an ending. It's so open. But I love open endings! And with A Farewell to Arms, I realized why open endings work for me. Because the character lives on, when that one time in his life or that one story ends, another begins. It's a natural thing. 

You end one chapter, another takes its place immediately. When you go through one phase in life, you enter another. There's no hanging around in between, even that would be consider a phase of its own. So it makes sense that when the story ends, another opens. We see that next story open because the change is so immediate. One story leads to another, it's so seamless that the writer cannot separate the two. We then feel as if the story hasn't ended, not because in truth the story hasn't ended, but because we have a begun a new story and are forced to discontinue it.

Anyhow, despite not liking A Farewell to Arms, there were still good things about it. And may I just talk about the edition again? I found this book was on a shelf in the back of an un-air-conditioned shop filled with yellowed and faded books. The edition was from the 70s or 80s. It might have been previously owned by a bored college student or something. It had to have been required reading for someone. There was the occasionally line or unusual word underlined. But sometimes I would come across a whole page wherein all the "o"s were colored in with pen. Or all the "a"s. It was funny. And interesting to think about the previous owner.






The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes

So, of course, I loved this book! It's Holmes, what's not to love? Honestly, I've read so many Holmes books now, I can only accurately place a few details within this book. Most things I just know that I've read it in one of the Holmes stories, but which one? *shrugs* Does it matter?

So here's what I remember.

You know on BBC Sherlock, that time when SH sits with his knees hugged to his chest?


"I feel like this is Sherlock’s natural waiting pose    he looks like a kid waiting to be picked up" (Tumblr):


Yeah, book Sherlock actually does that.

So the thing about the Memoirs is that this is the book with Moriarty. 

Moriraty first "shows" up in the book The Valley of Fear. Both Watson and Lestrade thought Holmes might be going crazy because he kept alluding to this Moriarty. But Moriarty seems a respectable man and is so far removed from the plot in The Valley of Fear that he doesn't even make an appearance. Holmes merely talks about him. And the readers wonder if Moriarty had anything to do with the events of the plot.


.
 

But finally in the Memoirs we see probably the most famous Holmes story unfold, The Final Problem. And we see Moriarty. Again even in the story, he gets little page time. His notoriety is held in whispers and the evil results of his deeds.

So you know that part during BBC Sherlock, the pool scene, when

 Moriarty says, "All that I have to say has already crossed your mind." 


And Sherlock says, "Then possibly my answer has crossed yours."

Guys! They took those lines STRAIGHT FROM CANON! Do you know how ecstatic I was when I read those lines? Some Sherlock Holmes purists don't like BBC Sherlock because the production changed so many things. But accuracy is in the details, the timeless snippets that you just can't alter or delete because it's too perfect. Like those lines.

The Final Problem was probably my favorite of the all the stories, although I do remember the Greek Interpreter one as very interesting too.

The only thing I didn't like about this book was the edition. I bought it secondhand from a Half Price Books. It's riddled with typos. Sometimes a word is missing from a phrase, and there are a lot of misspellings. The worst and most frequent is a missing "l" from "Holmes," so it reads as "Homes." 


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But the stories themselves were amazing! 

What have you been reading lately?