Thursday, April 19, 2007

literary masterpiece

As I sit twidling my thumbs waiting for my cousin to try out her mountain of jewellery before the eve of her engagement, I decide to read through some of my favourite quotes from my favourite book "to kill a mockingbird" by harper lee. The story which centers around a white man's fight for a wronged black men told through the eyes of his six year old daughter is in my opinion a master piece beyond compare. The principal characters are Atticus Finch the lawyer who defends the black man Tom Robinson who has been accused of rape of a white girl Mayella Ewell by her father Bob Ewell. The story revolves around the white men's injustice and the realisation of that by Atticus's children Jem and Scout. Here are some memorable quotes from that book.

It was times like these when I thought my father, who hated guns and had never been to any wars, was the bravest man who ever lived. -Scout

They're certainly entitled to think that, and they're entitled to full respect for their opinions... but before I can live with other folks I've got to live with myself. The one thing that doesn't abide by majority rule is a person's conscience. -Atticus

I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It's when you know you're licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do. -Atticus

She seemed glad to see me when I appeared in the kitchen, and by watching her I began to think there was some skill involved in being a girl. -Scout

So it took an eight-year-old child to bring 'em to their senses.... That proves something - that a gang of wild animals can be stopped, simply because they're still human. Hmp, maybe we need a police force of children. -Atticus

"I think I'll be a clown when I get grown," said Dill. "Yes, sir, a clown.... There ain't one thing in this world I can do about folks except laugh, so I'm gonna join the circus and laugh my head off." "You got it backwards, Dill," said Jem. "Clowns are sad, it's folks that laugh at them." "Well, I'm gonna be a new kind of clown. I'm gonna stand in the middle of the ring and laugh at the folks."

The one place where a man ought to get a square deal is in a courtroom, be he any color of the rainbow, but people have a way of carrying their resentments right into a jury box. As you grow older, you'll see white men cheat black men every day of your life, but let me tell you something and don't you forget it - whenever a white man does that to a black man, no matter who he is, how rich he is, or how fine a family he comes from, that white man is trash. -Atticus

I think there's just one kind of folks. Folks. -Scout

The sixth grade seemed to please him from the beginning: he went through a brief Egyptian Period that baffled me - he tried to walk flat a great deal, sticking one arm in front of him and one in back of him, putting one foot behind the other. He declared Egyptians walked that way; I said if they did I didn't see how they got anything done, but Jem said they accomplished more than the Americans ever did, they invented toilet paper and perpetual embalming, and asked where would we be today if they hadn't? Atticus told me to delete the adjectives and I'd have the facts. -Scout

When a child asks you something, answer him, for goodness' sake. But don't make a production of it. Children are children, but they can spot an evasion quicker than adults, and evasion simply muddles 'em. -Atticus

Bad language is a stage all children go through, and it dies with time when they learn they're not attracting attention with it. -Atticus

Why reasonable people go stark raving mad when anything involving a Negro comes up, is something I don't pretend to understand. -Atticus

so if you haven't read the book, do so :):)

Friday, April 13, 2007


Today being Friday the 13th, a day for paranoia, I've decided to dwell on the mystery shrouding the unluckiness of of the number 13th. Sidetracking a little the fear of friday the 13th is called paraskavedekatriaphobia or friggatriskaidekaphobia. Deliciously long words with a hint of a tongue twister in them. After that slight bit of digression, here's the facts surrounding the origin of the fear of 13th.

  • Thirteen may be considered a "bad" number simply because it is one more than 12, which is a popularly used number in many cultures (possibly due to it being a highly composite number). When a group of 13 objects is divided into two, three, four or six equal groups, there is always one leftover object.

  • Some Christian traditions have it that at the Last Supper Judas, the disciple who betrayed Jesus, was the 13th to sit at the table, and that for this reason 13 is considered to carry a curse of sorts.

  • Fear of 13 has also been linked to that fact that a lunisolar calendar must have 13 months in some years, while the solar Gregorian calendar and lunar Islamic calendar always have 12 months in a year.

Diversion 1:A lunisolar calendar is a calendar whose date indicates both the moon phase and the time of the solar year. If the solar year is defined as a tropical year then a lunisolar calendar will give an indication of the season; if it is taken as a sidereal year then the calendar will predict the constellation near which the full moon may occur.

  • Triskaidekaphobia may have also affected the Vikings — it is believed that Loki in the Norse pantheon was the 13th god. More specifically, Loki was believed to have engineered the murder of Baldr, and was the 13th guest to arrive at the funeral.This is perhaps related to the superstition that if thirteen people gather, one of them will die in the following year. This was later Christianized in some traditions into saying that Satan was the 13th angel.

Diversion 2: Baldr (modern Icelandic and Faroese Baldur, Balder is the name in modern Norwegian, Swedish and Danish and sometimes an anglicized form) is, in Norse Mythology, the god of innocence, beauty, joy, purity, and peace, and is Odin's second son. His wife is called Nanna and his son is called Forseti. Baldr had a ship, the largest ever built, named Hringhorni, and a hall, called Breidablik. Phol may have been a German name for Baldr, based on the second Merseburg charm, where the same person seems to be referred to as Phol and Balder.

  • The Mesopotamian Code of Hammurabi (ca. 1760 BC) omits 13 in its numbered list.This seems to indicate a superstition existed long before the Christian era.

Diversion 3:The Code of Hammurabi (also known as the Codex Hammurabi and Hammurabi's Code), created ca. 1760 BC (short chronology), is one of the earliest extant sets of laws and one of the best preserved examples of this type of document from ancient Mesopotamia. It was created by Hammurabi. Still earlier collections of laws include the codex of Ur-Nammu, king of Ur (ca. 2050 BC), the Codex of Eshnunna (ca. 1930 BC) and the codex of Lipit-Ishtar of Isin (ca. 1870 BC).
The Code contains an enumeration of crimes and their various punishments as well as settlements for common disputes and guidelines for citizen's conduct. The Code does not provide opportunity for explanation or excuses, though it does imply one's right to present evidence.
The Code was openly displayed for all to see; thus, no man could plead ignorance of the law as an excuse. Few people, however, could read in that era, as literacy was primarily the domain of scribes.

I meant this to post to completely centre around the notions which made 13 an unlucky number but the references were so interesting, especially for a someone like me who loves the old and the obscure that I couldn't help introducing various diversions in the piece.

Some interesting consequences and events of this phobia were

  • Some buildings such as One Canada Square in Canary Wharf(the tallest building in the UK) number their floors so as to skip the thirteenth floor entirely, jumping from the 12th floor to the 14th floor in order to avoid distressing triskaidekaphobics, or the building will have 12th floor and floor 12a or 12b instead. Many hotel/casino megaresorts in Las Vegas also lack a 13th floor. This is often applied to home or hotel room numbers as well, and the same is also true of rows in airplanes, as well as cabins aboard cruise ships.

  • The composer Arnold Schoenberg (ironically born on the 13th) suffered from triskaidekaphobia. He was convinced that he would die aged 76 (because 7+6 = 13). Not only did his premonition come true, he also died on Friday 13 July (another 13: Friday is the sixth day of the week - beginning on Sunday - and July is the seventh month, making 6+7=13) at 11:47 PM - 13 minutes to midnight. Also, adding the numbers 1, 1, 4, and 7 brings up a total of 13.

The above case just gave me the goosebumps, this is definitely a facer for those who scorn at supersitions. But then for the sceptics, I guess they'll just term it as a coincidence. A special thanks to Moi for inspiring this post with her photo of the paint can head scarecrow. Can be seen here

Monday, April 09, 2007

poetic dissections

Recently conducted a poetry workshop for my tiny tots and couldn't resist enshrining it in my blog, of course some of the examples cited for each type were not included in the workshop but I doubt any children will be reading this. I didn't bother about the various obscure forms but satisfied myself with the seven most popular forms.
  • Free Verse- poetry that is written material freed from paragraph form and has rhythm but no rhyme

Ode to Job

Job came down

in a woosh, outstretched

and gliding into the horizon.

Blue shadowed


arrested bythe beckoning marsh.

His greatness bears


yet not

the anguish of ancient


Situated grievances weigh


on this long,

strong back. Unconscious


numbs while

time drifts out

another sun salted


  • Haiku- the haiku is a three lined Japanese poem about nature. This particular type of poetry has a limit on the amount of syllables you can have for each line. The first line always has five syllables. The second line has seven syllables. The third line has the same amount as the first line.

Gentle waterfall,

Tripping over rocks and stones

Creating beauty.

  • Limerick- a limerick is humorous nonsense verse consisting of a triplet and couplet, making it a five line poem. Lines one, two, and five are the triplet and rhyme. Lines three and four form a rhyming couplet.

There was an old man of Nantucket,

who kept all his cash in a bucket;

But his daughter, named Nan,

Ran away with a man,

And as for the bucket- Nantucket

  • Acrostic- a poem where the first letter of each line spells a word that can be read vertically

Summers' gifts of sensational feelings,

Heaping happiness in poets' path

Awarding praises for poetic data

Doses of episodes, where lived

Original thoughts; orgasmic tempo

Weavers of words; morning's dew

Prosing spewing from every lip

Operetta unions, written in solo

Energy of many, sharing love

Tears touching every heart

Rivalry forgotten, visions clear

You and I spreading peace and joy

  • Cinquain- a type of poetry in which the first line has one word, the second has two words describing the first line, the third line showsaction with three words, the fourth line has four words that convey feeling, and the fifth line refers to line one.


Hot, muggy

Firecrackers pop loudly

Exciting, thrilling, and inspiring

Patriotic month

  • Ballad- a ballad is a story song that often has a refrain or chorus

The Ballad of Marian Blacktree

Oh, do you know the mountain road

That leads to yonder peak?

A few will walk that trail alone,

Their dreams they go to seek.

(1)One such was Marian Blacktree,

A lowly sheperdess,

And courting her was Tom, the swain,

Who loved her nonetheless.

(2)A thought occurred to Marian

While watching o'er her sheep,

And gazing at the mountain thus

She nodded off to sleep.


(3)That night she came to Tom and said

She longed to know the sky.

"I'm weary of this valley, love,

I want to learn to fly!"

(4)Poor Thomas did not want to leave,

This valley was all he knew.

So when she turned and left him there

Her heart, it broke in two.


(5)Her faithful swain did track her,

All night the trail led on,

And finally at the mountain,

He looked but she was gone.

(6)As morning broke and lit the sky

An eagle he did see:

It circled 'round him thrice and cried.

He knew now she was free.

  • Sonnet- a type of poetry with three four line stanzas followed by a two line stanza called a couplet that rhymes.


When I consider how my light is spent

E're half my days, in this dark world and wide,

And that one Talent which is death to hide,

Lodg'd with me useless, though my Soul more bent

To serve therewith my Maker, and present

My true account, least he returning chide,

Doth God exact day-labour, light deny'd,

I fondly ask; But patience to prevent

That murmur, soon replies, God doth not need

Either man's work or his own gifts, who best

Bear his milde yoak, they serve him best, his State

Is Kingly. Thousands at his bidding speed

And post o're Land and Ocean without rest:

They also serve who only stand and waite.

-john milton.