Thursday, December 16, 2010

Literary decisions in haiku

In his book, The Heart Aroused: Poetry and the Preservation of the Soul in Corporate America (1994, Doubleday), author David Whyte recalls the epic hero Beowulf's battle with Grendel’s mother. Beowulf is forced to descend into the murky depths of a lake to face his fears — despite an urge to stay safe in the light. Whyte points out that the search for one’s own soul and the corresponding need to make a momentous, life-changing decision is a common theme in literature. Below, I enter the heads of other great literary (and one cinematic) characters as they make a decision — in haiku.

(Super-minor spoilers for classic literature):

Enkidu, my friend
I wish I were more like you
Able to know me

It’s a long way home
I’ll see my loving wife soon
But first, I explore

The abyss beckons
His mother wants to kill me
But I find a sword

Nine circles explored
I abandoned hope, entered
The soul’s journey ends

Elizabeth Bennet:
Marry for money?
Never! I’ll marry for love
Darcy? Not so bad …

Jo March:
Aunt March wants me home
I’d rather visit with Laurie
Beth, how I miss you

Anne Shirley:
Oh, that currant wine!
The red soil of my home
Won’t keep me rooted

Jay Gatsby:
Having a goal helps
I choose to be in West Egg
To be near Daisy

Tom Joad:
We came here for hope
California was no home
For Okie workers

Rick Blaine:
My café is free
What is important? Elsa
I will help Lazlo

Holden Caufield:
Too much phoniness
This school is not where you learn
Big Apple beckons

Atticus Finch:
Race should play no role
Justice needs an example
For my two children

Doctor Manhattan:
I am above them
Ozymandias is right
Deception saves man

Monday, December 6, 2010

What goes through a kid's mind at dinner

While I was in class tonight, the missus took the opportunity to take Ian out to dinner with a couple friends. If you ever wondered what a kid thinks while he's at a restaurant, just give him an iPhone and tell him to take notes.

My six-year-old wrote the following:

6:06 p.m. -- We are almost at the restaurant
6:44 p.m. -- We are now at the restaurant
6:45 p.m. -- We're at Outback Steakhouse
6:46 p.m. -- I like Outback Steakhouse
6:47 p.m. -- My food is not here yet
6:47 p.m. -- I am getting Chicken
6:48 p.m. -- Bread is here
6:48 p.m. -- But my food is not
6:49 p.m. -- I got Root Beer
6:51 p.m. -- They are getting my food
6:52 p.m. -- Outback Steakhouse is good
6:55 p.m. -- My Food is still not here
6:56 p.m. -- I like songs
(food comes, they eat, Ian resumes taking notes)
8:13 p.m. -- We we're at Outback Steakhouse
8:14 p.m. -- Sharkboy and Lavagirl are cool
8:15 p.m. -- Fireboy and Watergirl are cool also
8:17 p.m. -- I made up Sharkgirl and Lavaboy and Firegirl and Waterboy

Grammar and spelling as by the author. And "Sharkboy and Lavagirl" was horrible.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Cricket is an evil sport

Like many cities, Perth offers special bus service to major sporting events. When I was last there, there was a club cricket match at the local oval. Why do I think cricket is evil (despite loving Lagaan)? Check out the special service route number on the bus.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

My music collection, by the numbers

I was at the San Carlos Library today prior to a meeting and perused the compact disc section. It got me musing -- for the first time in a while, it seemed there was nothing there I wanted to copy.

I've admitted in the past to occassionally borrowing a CD from the library and copying its contents. I'm not proud of the practice, but I'm also not going to pay $14.99 for a CD that I want one song from. I consider it a minor copyright violation sin on the level of photocopying a page out of a library book.

Of course, there are sites where you can legally download single songs, such as the iTunes Music Store,,, etc., and I routinely use them. With that in mind, I did a quick perusal of my iTunes music library (above) and tried to figure out approximately what percentage of my digital music came from what source.

The early very-rounded guesstimates:

65 percent copied from CDs belonging to me or my family;
15 percent copied from library discs;
10 percent from legitimate online music purchases;
10 percent from, er, illicit means (old Napster, etc.).

Of the library and "illicit" numbers, I consider that I legitimately own about a third of that 25 percent because I've downloaded/copied a lot of music that I actually paid for years earlier in the form of cassettes but never replaced with CDs. So I guess we can figure that about 16 percent of my music has not been paid for (there goes the political career!). But to be honest, if I didn't buy it legitimately, I probably wouldn't (or couldn't) have bought it anyway.

In the comments, I'd love to hear about what percentage of my readers' music collection is "valid."

On a side note, I'd like to note that I think the San Carlos Library is one of the best, if not the best, in San Mateo County. Great CD and DVD collections, large graphic novel collection (of which only 50 percent is manga) and a large study area. Everyone sings the praises of San Mateo's new library, but I prefer San Carlos.