Posts Tagged 'Fiction'

Why Jumping is Overrated

So…okay, this is rather a brutal thing to say, but you know this professor: I can’t help myself.

See, sometimes it’s best to be brutal: You get out what you need to say and you don’t have long thinks about it and end up changing your mind.

Have you ever been in a situation where you were quite happy and quite frustrated at once? A situation where you were relieved but pretty badly annoyed?

Let me explain.

You see, I had been searching all over for this gym bag. It was a red, Under Armour gym bag, to be precise.

Aha. This be the brute.

Then, wonders of wonders, I found it! (It was in the last store I checked, too. How’s that for a dadblamery?)

Thus, this professor was extremely overjoyed, having found the bag.

BUT.

And this is a big but.

The bag was wayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy way way way way at the top of a shelf, far out of my reach.

So it was a sticky wicket.


Now, there was a fellow about who worked there, but he was far off, leaning on a table, staring this professor’s way.

Yes, he was taunting me.

“You can’t get the bag,” he seemed to be saying.

“That might be,” I seemed to be saying back, “but watch how I end up getting it.”

I’ll be honest right away.

The jumping didn’t work.

Gosh. I hope I didn’t look like that.

Up to this point in my life, I must admit I thought I was a rather good jumper. You know how it is. You fancy you can do something well, you even take pride in thinking that you can, but the fact is you’ve just never really tried.

So now we all know I can’t jump.

DADBLAMEIT. You know what…? Forget I even mentioned that…

After my jumping attempts failed (just because my ankle was rather sore that day) I moved on to a better solution: a hockey stick.

You see, one glance in the fellow’s direction proved that he was still leaning on the table. But there was a smug look on his face after the attempted jumps. (Dadblame that sore ankle, right?)

But once I returned with the hockey stick…

Ah, he stood up then…

…and watched the professor fetch his bag.

Moral: You don’t need to jump when you have a hockey stick.

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Book Review: A Kingdom Far and Clear

WARNING: What you are about to read is, in fact, a dadblame regular book review. You see, the professor loves this book to death, so the ripping of it might cause him repulsion. Onward, then!

A KINGDOM FAR AND CLEAR–THE COMPLETE SWAN LAKE TRILOGY by MARK HELPRIN

DSC00222I know this is a bit different from the normal routine of ripping books until they’re dead, but…this novel deserves respect, I think.

The Kingdom Far and Clear is composed of three novellas that each tell the gripping story of a young girl who was displaced from the throne by the horribly devious, scarily deformed “Usurper.”

Now that is horribly frightening!

Each of the three novellas is told from a different perspective. Helprin creates amazing imagery with his prose. (It can be considered too flowery at times, though, and has been known to induce a headache in the professor’s case.)

Once, the mountains held within their silvered walls a forest so high and so gracefully forgotten that it rode above the troubles of the world as easily as the blinding white clouds that sometimes catch on the jagged peaks and musically unfurl.

At the time of reading, the professor was quite curious about the “gracefully forgotten” part. It does stagger the imagination, doesn’t it?

There is a lingering sadness in each of the stories that is buffered by a thread of hope. A perfect example of a modern “Fairy Tale,” that is as suitable to adults as well as to children, A Kingdom Far and Clear is a haunting read that will stay with you long after you’ve read the last word.

One of things the professor found remarkable about the book is the “sad humor” throughout. (We really must have a discussion about “sad humor” some day. Definitely a professorish topic.)

So, the professor highly recommends it.

Now, there is one rippable part.

It’s the dedication.

I’m almost sure that the professor should be in there somewhere, for I must be the book’s greatest fan!

Ripping Book Review–The White Company

DSC00066WARNING: Ripping Book Reviews are solely the judgments of Professor VJ Duke on an unlucky book that has caused him much repulsion—in one way or another. Therefore, blame must be put on the professor and nobody else. With that in mind, read on—if you are brave enough to take it.

THE WHITE COMPANY by SIR ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE

This novel is relatively unknown today, which is a good thing, since it spares readers unnecessary torture. It was popular up through the 1940s. How? I have absolutely no idea. But I suppose a reasonable conclusion could be that torture was in style.

Yes, I suffered (awfully) while making my way through the slosh and grime which is called The White Company. The edition that I own (I am seriously thinking about getting rid of it) is 401 pages too long.

Okay, the plot.

The novel takes place during the Hundred Years’ War around the years 1366 and 1367. It follows the adventures (overstatement) of a few fellows as they travel around England, France, and Spain. Now, if that doesn’t sound boring in itself, I don’t know what does. Granted, a lush read in that time period could have been written, but, if that’s the case, Doyle wasn’t aware of how to go about it.

The story centers on the insufferable Alleyne, a 20-year-old nincompoop who has decided to leave the abbey that has sheltered him all his life. You may ask: Why did he grow up in an abbey?

Here’s Doyle’s explanation:

“Twenty years ago,” he said [i.e. the Abbot], “your father, the Franklin of Minstead, died, leaving to the Abbey three hides of rich land in the hundred of Malwood, and leaving to us also his infant son on the condition that we should rear him until he came to man’s estate. This he did partly because your mother was dead, and partly because your elder brother, now Socman of Minstead, had already given sign of that fierce and rue nature which would make him no fit companion for you. It was his desire and request, however, that you should not remain in the cloisters, but should at a ripe age return into the world.”

So, because the mother died, the father was dying, and the elder brother was fierce, Alleyne grew up in the cloister. Hmm… Sounds like Doyle had a hard time deciding just how he would make Alleyne an orphan. He should have had Alleyne move in with his brother; at least it would have been interesting.

Eventually, Alleyne meets his lady friend, Maude who is the daughter of Sir Nigel Loring—more about him in a minute. Doyle greatly confused me with regards to Maude. Sometimes she was described as a woman; sometimes as a girl. So, throughout the book, I had conflicting notions. Part of me imagined Alleyne was courting someone 20 or more years his senior; and the other part imagined Alleyne was courting someone around his own age. I wonder which Doyle had imagined himself. I suppose all are free to imagine what they would like. Doyle painted with a broad brush just to give you the option.

Maude’s father, Sir Nigel Loring, is an interest. He is short, bald, and horribly nearsighted, yet he is a valiant warrior. It’s possible, I suppose. But it would be hard to fight when you can’t see. Perhaps, Loring had incredible hearing; perhaps he could ‘sense’ his surroundings; perhaps Doyle did the seeing for him. The latter is the most likely.

As the story progresses, Alleyne hooks up with Loring and a company of maddening persons, and together they set off for France. Some instances (not adventures, too boring) follow, but it’s all very tiring. The novel is serious, humorous, then serious again.

At the end of the novel, Loring is presumably dead. But we are shocked and dismayed to find that he isn’t. The blind man returns, with his ever faithful guide, Doyle.

All of the good characters in the story (no exceptions) are so maddening that we literally would cheer if they died. But they don’t give us the satisfaction. The bad characters are—in fact, there are no bad characters.

I would not recommend picking this book up on a rainy Saturday afternoon. No, the supreme boredom it would elicit would be enough to make you go out in the rain anyway. Besides, it would keep you up for nights with a myriad of nightmarish dreams that are really a rehashing of the many appalling scenes.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle considered The White Company his best. He even wrote a prequel to it.

If only he would have been loyal to Sherlock Holmes.


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