The Brontes and Dickens and other Victorian wonders
Ink and Fairydust Managing Editor Neri Preslin Submissions/Proofreading Editor Ellianna Mitchell
Assistant Editor Amanda Dominick Graphics Editor Shaylynn Rackers Proofreaders Aubrey Heesch, Megan Dominick, Ciara Zaketti Contributers Elizabeth Hausladen, Neri Preslin, Ellianna Mitchel, Kevin Derby, K. Martin, Bethany McGean, Lady Eulalia, Kelly Bancroft, Stasia Phillips, Allison DeWolf, Megan Dominick, Shaylynn Rackers Cover Artwork Neri Preslin Photographers Emily Rounds, Elizabeth Hausladen, Neri Preslin, Shaylynn Rackers. Stock images: stock.exchng. and old public domain photographs --Questions and comments should be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org Back issues and more information can be found at inkandfairydust.com All articles are the property of their respective owners and cannot be copied or redistributed in any way except for brief, properly cited citation. All photographs, artwork, and graphics are the properties of their respecitve artists and may not be reproduced without specific permission.
CONTENTS Editorsâ€™ Notes
by Neri Preslin and Ellianna Mitchell
Full of Pity for Victorian Governesses by Mina Campion
Victorian Christmas Party by Bethany McGean
Wuthering Heights by Kendall Jameson
A Dickenâ€™s Parody
by Micheal Keats
The Gift of Myrrh by Michael Keats
Jane Eyre, Abridged by Neri Preslin
The Love We Found by Neri Preslin
I&F Book Review by Bethany McGean
I&F Movie Review by Ellianna Mitchell
4-5 6-7 8-12 14 15 16-17 18-19 20-21 22 23
NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2011 theme: the brontes and dickens
24-25 25 26-28 29 30-31 32-33 34 35 36-38
The Art of Cooking by Allison DeWolf
Shea and Bergen by Shaylynn Rackers
A Review of Thursday Next by Bethany McGean
Washington Irving and Christmas by Kevin Micheal Derby
The Average Reader’s Response to Charles Dickens
NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2011 Ink and Fairydust is a free emag full of faith and creativity. It is run entirely by teens and young adults and is published bi-monthly. www.inkandfairydust.com
by Jo Cromwell
by Megan Dominick
Following the King by Kevin Michael Derby
Move Over, Tiny Tim: Make Room for Linus by Micheal Keats
Bitter Food Makes You Mad by Ciara Zaketti
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Greetings! It’s time for another issue of Ink and Fairydust! We’ve had a blast putting this issue together for you,--so much fun we decided to hold it back until right before the holidays as our present to you! Tada! Here it is, our Victorian/Christmas themed issue. Once again Shaylynn and the rest of the staff have amazed me with their incredible talent. Stay tuned in 2012, we’ve got some great issues coming up, we’re starting off the year with Fairy Tales! As always please help us out with prayers and send us yours, we’re always willing to pray for whatever you need. We’ve got a new email: ask@ inkandfairydust.com, so please drop us a line or two.
Happy Thanksgving, Merry Christmas, and we’ll see you in the New Year, ~ Neri Preslin Managing Editor
Dear Lovely I&F Readers, Thank you for joining us for another (or perhaps your first) issue of Ink & Fairydust! Thank you, also, for your patience as we continue working through the kinks in our mission to offer you the best magazine we are able to. When I was about ten years old, I was given a beautiful copy of Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre, and almost immediately I was hooked. Her sister’s Wuthering Heights was not as easy for me to get into, but after reading some of the articles in this issue I may attempt it once again. As an English major in college, reading Charles Dickens seemed the thing to do, though I was only assigned one of his novels—and a seldom read one, at that: Hard Times—in the entire four years I was there. My English professors explained that his books were simply too long. They may be long and, I’ll admit, overly wordy…but Dickens has still joined the ranks as one of my most-loved authors. I love the tale of Oliver Twist, the holiday classic, A Christmas Carol, and David Copperfield… Okay, so I only got through half of that last one, but it is on my list. We are blessed to have a team of very talented authors, illustrators, and an amazing graphic artist, and I’m pleased to present their work in this issue to you. ~ Ellianna Mitchell Sumbissions and Proofreading Editor
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Mary dresses in the dark, hitting her foot on the bedpost because she won’t waste a candle. She breakfasts alone before venturing to the drab schoolroom. The workday of the Victorian governess begins in dull silence. Jane Eyre, Agnes Grey, and Fanny Price are just a few of the dozens of governess heroines who appeared in popular Victorian novels between 1830 and 1865. When Charlotte Bronte wrote Jane Eyre, 25,000 Englishwomen were employed as governesses in upper and middle class homes. The attention devoted to the profession in books and newspapers far exceeded its actual presence in society. Victorians found themselves bewildered by governesses, though they joked about how stiff and ineffectual they were. Governesses were neither house-
by Mina Campion
hold servants nor family members. Within the conservative class system of Victorian England they shouldn’t have existed. They were wellbred workingwomen. Highly educated governesses were common in wealthy 18th century homes. During the mid19th century, the growing middle class began to employ more servants. Leaving traditional tasks like plain sewing, washing, and cleaning to hired help, girls were free to learn “finishing” skills to attract husbands. Mothers preferred for their daughters to remain at home for school. Families employed governesses to teach their daughters English grammar, French, Italian, piano, needlework, painting, and whatever other skills they knew. Governesses taught girls until they reached age twelve to fourteen, when male “masters” were hired to teach individual subjects. Gov-
ernesses stayed on to supervise interaction between the girls and their male teachers, picking up new skills as they went. Some formed strong friendships with their charges and became an indispensable part of the family. Yet, Victorian employers, writers, pupils, and the governesses themselves viewed the job as thankless, difficult, and bitter. The Victorian governess job did not resemble the cheerful song and dance of The Sound of Music or The King and I. A woman took a governess position knowing it would probably be her career for life. She rarely chose the work because it interested her. At the time it was the only way for respectable women to earn a living. Having no father to support her, a lady by birth and education was forced to become the dependent of another family. A governess often earned less than a maid, or even received only room and board for her work. If she didn’t have to share a room with the children, hers was the smallest and darkest in the house. She taught for eight hours a day and was expected to stay with the children and help with the family sewing in the evening. The governess ate alone, too good to eat with the servants but
not good enough to eat with the family. Today teaching positions aren’t glamorous, but being with children and receiving their parents’ thanks makes the job worthwhile for many. A governess taught, but she could not expect to earn the love of her students or respect from adults. Some children were taught by their nannies to fear governesses, who were sure to be cold and severe. Nannies sometimes resented governesses for taking their jobs. Others ignored the governess when they could, not knowing how to act around a woman who was only barred from social equality with her employer because she didn’t have money. To novelists like Charlotte Bronte, governesses made good heroines because they were pitied but not stuck in one social class. A hardworking girl like Jane Eyre could hope to earn equal stature with Mr. Rochester. Governesses were oddities, but they forced Victorians to deal with the idea of smart women earning a living.
Christmastime is often one of the busiest times of the year. From parties and shopping to baking and decorating, Christmas enthusiasts f ind themselves wrapped up in a myriad of activities. Amid the Yuletide festivities filled with friends and family, make your party stand out from the rest of the holiday bustle by holding a Victorian Christmas party. by Bethany McGean
In the anglicized world, Queen Victorian and Prince Albert popularized many of the traditions we associate with holiday season today. Not only did the Victorians revitalize old Christmas traditions, they also created several new traditions we still participate in todayâ€” Christmas cards and Christmas crackers. Find the inspiration for your party from these Victorian Yuletide traditions.
Invitations The sending of Christmas cards followed the creation of the London penny post. People could send cheap letters and cards to their friends and acquaintances in town for a penny. At the holidays, they would send cards featuring flowers, children, or Bible characters. Sometimes people would make their own or embellish cards with bits of lace and fabric. When you send out your invitations, choose Victorian inspired Christmas cards and personalize them with your own embellishments. On the inside of the card, write out the details of your party. If your friends like to dress up, encourage them to wear Victorian-inspired clothing.
Decorations The Christmas tree was a centerpiece of decorating for the Victorian Christmas celebrations. In 1848, The Illustrated London News published a picture of Queen Victoria and her family around their trimmed Christmas tree. Two years later in America, Godey’s Lady Book re-published the picture, but Americanized it (they removed the Queen’s tiara and the Prince’s mustache). The tree pictured in these sketches became the archetypical Christmas tree for the Victorian era. Decorate your own tree in the Victorian fashion. Hang glass baubles, paper chains, cornucopias, and gingerbread cookies from its branches. You can also make garlands by threading popcorn, dried cranberries and other dried fruits on a string. Additional garlands and greenery may be draped around windows and furniture to give the room a further festive appearance. Candles can also add to the Victorian atmosphere.
Caroling Christmas carols have long been a part of the Christmas holidays. Carolers travel from home to home serenading their neighbors with a Christmas carol or two. In the past, neighbors would invite carolers in for a cup of wassail or treat as a reward for their singing, such customers are rarely practiced today, and caroling can still be a fun activity for a group of friends. If the weather’s too cold, or you aren’t able to carol in your neighborhood, gather your friends around the piano and join in a good old fashioned sing along. When choosing which carols you’ll sing, pick songs that were popular in the Victorian period. Some of these songs include: Silent Night, I See Three Ships, I Heard the Bells, It Came Upon the Midnight Clear, O Little Town of Bethlehem, The First Noel, and God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.
Treats When you come back from your caroling you’ll appreciate a festive warm up. Treat your friends to glasses of warm wassail and hot chocolate. Supplement your drinks with a tray of Christmas cookies. Gingerbread is a classic favorite. If you’re feeling daring, try serving mince pie or Christmas puddings.
Christmas Charity During the opening chapter of A Christmas Carol, before his encounter with the ghosts of Christmas, Scrooge is visited by two gentlemen collecting donations for the “slight provision for the Poor and destitute, who suffer greatly at the present time.” About twenty-five years later and across the ocean, Louisa May Alcott wrote in Little Women how the March sisters share their special Christmas breakfast with a poor family in town. Like these literary examples, we often think about how we can help those in need during the Yuletide season. You can use your party as an opportunity for you and your friends to help those in need around your town or around the world. In your invites, encourage your friends to help support your chosen charity when they attend your party. Have fun with this. You can collect non-perishable food for local food pantries. Besides providing the typical cans of green beans and boxes of Mac ‘n’ cheese, add festive foods, winter hats, and small toys to your collections. Like the gentlemen asking Scrooge for donations, these organizations like to provide additional items of Christmas cheer for those who need their help. Call your local food bank to discover any particular items they might need. You might also want to consider international organizations such as Heifer International (http://www. heifer.org/) or Operation Christmas Child (http://www.samaritanspurse.org/). Or, you could support the charities associated with your school or church. For more ideas and instructions for crafts and activities, check out: http://www.bbc.co.uk/victorianchristmas/activities.shtml While the videos might not work in your area, the site still includes print directions you can follow. Have fun planning your party—play games, pull crackers, and share the festive cheer with your friends.
In the end, don’t stress out over the holidays. Remember the true reason why we celebrate and have a very Merry Christmas!
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Fairy Tale Novels
by Regina Doman
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by Kendall Jameson
Wuthering Heights, by Emily Bronte, is a work completely worthy of reading, despite its rather despicable characters and depressing plot. Emily Bronte did not create lovable characters like her sister’s Jane Eyre, but the cast of Wuthering Heights is so full of passion that their words and emotions are captivating if not morally commendable. In other words, it is my opinion that the merits of the dialogue balance out the fact that I’d love to punch Heathcliff and Catherine in their ill-tempered faces. In an early portion of the book, Lockwood is forced to stay at Wuthering Heights when a blizzard prevents him from going home. When he is in his room, he is haunted by the reminders of the Catherine that occupied the room before he did. Lockwood narrates his experience with wonderful phrases such as “vapid listlessness” and tells us that after staring at the objects labeled with various Catherine’s that his eyes had “not rested five minutes when a glare of white letters started from the dark, as vivid as specters—the air swarmed with Catherine’s.” Emily Bronte uses this rather vapid character as a means to portray the ghost story aspect of Wuthering Heights. He is absolutely terrified by his nightmare and his own horror is transmitted perfectly to the reader. On a lighter note, it is my opinion that the phrase “the air swarmed with Catherine’s” perfectly describes the ridiculous amount of Catherine’s in the novel. Catherine, Heathcliff ’s love interest in this novel, is a silly little brat, and yet her passionate attitude often proved to act as a catalyst for the novel. For example, she claims to Nelly that “It would degrade me to marry Heathcliff now; so he shall never know how I love him.” Statements like this are completely nonsensical, but are exceedingly important for the overall plot. Her love is a strange thing, if she claims to love him and still finds him degrading. However, this decision leads her to marry Edgar Linton, and Catherine
tells us that it is because “Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same, and [Edgar’s] is as different as a moonbeam from lightning, or frost from fire.” No matter how I feel about Catherine, or any of the characters in Wuthering Heights, I cannot get over the vivid imagery present in all of their dialogues. Even though I think little of Catherine herself, the passion that motivates her words is compelling in its own right. I have bipolar feelings where Heathcliff is concerned. He is, without a doubt, the king of giant jerkfaces and even knowing this I still sympathize with him when sympathy is called for. He speaks so eloquently about his loss of Catherine that I tend to ignore for a moment how monstrously he treats everyone around him. Toward the end of the novel, Heathcliff laments the fact that every inconsequential thing reminds him of Catherine. Bronte words it in a much more aesthetically pleasing manner as he says, “The entire world is a dreadful collection of memoranda that she did exist, and that I have lost her!” It’s rather unfair that a person of such horrible character can speak so beautifully, but no one is entirely bad and perhaps his eloquence shows this in a small manner. On the other hand, I cannot think of a single example of when the devil is depicted as ineloquent. Emily Bronte is ridiculously talented in the way that she effectively transmits the clear emotion and vivid imagery to the reader. Regardless of the narrator, Lockwood or Nelly, even the narrations are beautiful despite the fact that they lack the passion of the dialogue. Catherine and Heathcliff are two characters who will always be viewed in contrasting lights, as fascinating and star-crossed lovers, or as idiots. No matter what you think of the characters themselves, it is my opinion that everyone should read Wuthering Heights, even if it is simply for the purpose of marveling at her eloquence.
Chapter I In which I, Jonathan Sorrowpence, am born
Among the grim buildings of a certain town (which for many reasons--none of which I shall say--it will be prudent to refrain from actually naming, though it is of course London, and to which I will assign no fictitious name) there is one common throughout the course of history, from when the Romans left this island, to when William of Normandy launched his fleet to take the throne from Harold, to the days of Good Queen Bess and the sorrowful days decades later when Englishman killed Englishman, most towns, great or small, like all creatures, there is a workhouse and in this workhouse, in this town which I shall not name, was born; on a day and date which I need not trouble myself to repeat, inasmuch as it can be of no possible consequence to the reader unless April 17 is the reader’s birthday, in this stage of the business at all events; the item of mortality whose name is prefixed to the head of this chapter. For weeks after it was ushered into this world of perpetual melancholy, dark clouds and troubled minds, by the parish surgeon, an old sailor who reeked of rum since he bore memories of his service at the Battle of the Nelson and the glorious triumph that we celebrate every year in October at Trafalgar under the immortal memory of Nelson, it remained a matter of considerable doubt whether the child would survive to bear any name at all; in which case it is somewhat more than probable that these memoirs, for such is what they are, would never have appeared; or, if they had, that being comprised within a couple of pages, they would have possessed the inestimable merit of being the most concise and faithful specimen of biography, extant in the literature of any age or country though, in the decades that have passed, some of which I shall share with you in this memoir, I have never come across an autobiography written by a child who was only a few weeks old. After several weeks, the surgeon determined that the child, which was I, was in fact male and, if I may beg the reader’s patience for a moment, I can assure you that I still am. While I am open to other arguments, I remain
by Michael Keats
not inclined to maintain that the being born in a workhouse, is in itself the most fortunate, pleasant, cheerful, lucky, blessed, happy, unmelancholy, lovely, charitable and enviable circumstance that can possibly befall a human being, I do mean to say that in this particular instance, it was the best thing for Jonathan Sorrowpence that could by possibility have occurred. This is despite the fact that the same Jonathan Sorrowpence, who, if the reader does not mind the reminder, is in fact the author of this memoir, which is to say that it is me, lost both of his parents, as my father and mother died four years before I was born in a strange and somewhat gory accident involving a foggy night, a wild horse leading a carriage over the cobblestones, a wretched hag whose face was as pruned as a prune or, perhaps, more like fingers after they are immersed in water for nineteen days, a man in a horse mask and a gang of sorrowful ruffians pushing a cannon off the top of a building. The fact is, and I know this for I was there, as the main character of this narrative is, in fact, myself, that there was considerable difficulty in inducing young Master Sorrowpence to take upon himself the office of respiration-- a troublesome practice, but one which custom, habit, necessity, need, biology, Divine Providence, culture, breeding and, of course, the pure joy of partaking in it has rendered necessary to our easy existence; and for some time he lay gasping on a little flock mattress, rather unequally poised between this world and the next: the balance being decidedly in favor of the latter. After much contemplation, Mr. Sorrowpence decided to breathe and was rewarded when good Master Reynolds, a barrister of a quarrelsome nature, yet one with a gentle heart and much in the way of resources, and by that I mean money, decided to adopt him and raise him as his own; but this would not be for more than a decade later as I shall soon relate.
The Gift Of by Michael Keats
The Gift of Myrrh Christianity stands on the Alpha and the Omega: the first and the last, the beginning and the conclusion. Unlike some Eastern religions, which see life as an endless circle, there is a start and an end in Christianity. Certainly that is true in the Catholic church, which starts its liturgical year with the procession of four Advent Sundays. While the last half of Advent focuses on John the Baptist calling for readying for the coming of Christ, the readings of the first half touch on the end of times. The end is linked to the start of the Christian year—just as the Passion of Christ is foreshadowed in the gift of myrrh: oil that was symbolic of death. T.S. Eliot, a devout Christian, expressed this at the end of his last great poem:
Little Gidding in Four Quartets. Eliot wrote,
“What we call the beginning is often the end And to make an end is to make a beginning The end is where we start from.” These thoughts—as melancholy as they are—stay with me around the holidays. Many years ago, my grandfather passed away on the day that Christmas break began. I walked out of school that day feeling liberated from the trials and tribulations that plagued every sixth grader only to encounter real troubles and tragedy. After the grief came the anger. I was angry with God for taking my grandfather. I was angry at my father for keeping his grief hidden from the rest of our family. I was extremely angry at my little brother for being much closer to my grandfather
Holy Mother to as He was dying upon the Cross. On the 28th, we remember the Holy Innocents, babes put to the sword by a mad king and his tyrannical government. Even now, thanks to the gruesome paintings of Giotto and Ruebens, I cannot think of abortion without Good altar conjuring up the Innocents. On the 29th, we remember St. Thomas Beckett, a bishop murdered in his catheboy that dral by yet another mad king. I was, I turned All these feasts remind us that, since Christ to the Church for solace and took flesh, He was born to die. Through His death, we gained eternal life. So, each Christmas, I find time to encountered something of a revelation which has stayed with me over the years. Christmas think and thank God for the gift of myrrh. I remember is a time of hope and birth, but look closer: namely, my grandfather and all those I loved who are no longer with us, and I make them a promise: we shall meet at the liturgical calendar. again thanks to the birth we celebrate on Christmas Day. On December 26, Catholics celebrate the feast of St. Stephen, the first martyr. On the 27th, we celebrate the feast of St. John, beloved Apostle, Evangelist and the man who our Lord entrusted the than I was. Some of that anger came sheer fact of being twelve, torn being a child and an adoles-
from the between cent.
Jane Eyre, Some Victorian England Kid Jane: I hate my Aunt/Cousins. Aunt/Cousins: We hate you too. Kid Jane: I hate this school. Grown Up Jane: I still hate this school. Random Letter: Hate your life? Come work at a creepy castle! Jane: I’ll take it! Creepy Castle: Welcome! Jane: Now if only there was an interesting guy with a somewhat mysterious past… drumroll Guy on Horse: OMG, I forgot how to drive this thing! Jane: That was convenient. Guy (now off of horse): I’ve got brooding eyebrows, a killer back-story, and smolder. Plus, you work for me. Jane: This is soooooo exciting. Random Chick in Tower: Braiiiiiiiiiiiiins!!! Random Guests: We’re here to make you feel inferior… And to make fun of French orphans. French Orphan: I object!
Second Random Letter: Oh snap! Your cousin offed himself and your aunt’s about to kick the bucket. Come quick! signed, The Help. Jane: I’m leaving, temporarily. Guy we now know as Rochester: No you’re not. Jane: Yes, I am. Rochester: NO. Jane: YES. Rochester: Okay, fine. But take this money. Jane: Bye. Some Mansion
Aunt: Jane—I still hate you, but here’s a letter from your uncle you never knew about—I told him you were dead. Jane: Thanks. I’ll just wait around for you to knock off, then I’ll leave. Aunt: That’s cool. Some Creepy Castle Jane: I’m back! Rochester: I love you! Oh, wait—that’s not till later. Come help me with this crazy zombie/vampire attack victim, who’s in my mysterious attic. Jane: Okay.
abridged by Neri Preslin
Crazed Zombie/Vampire Attack Victim: Mmmmmrph! Rochester: Wait right here... Jane: Really? Rochester: Should we just skip forward to the part where I love you? Jane: YES. Rochester: Okay - let’s get married! Some Church
Preacher: I now present you man and— Lawyer: I object! Rochester: Snap. Jane: But why??? Lawyer: Personally, I think you make a great couple, but I’m representing that attack victim. Rochester, you’re already married to the crazed hag in the attic. Audience: Oh SNAP. Rochester: Let’s go meet her. Some Attic Crazed Hag: BRAAAINS! Rochester: I was forced to marry her by my father. Little did we know, she’d been infected by the zombie/vampire virus. Preacher: Really? Rochester: Naw, that’s the 21st century remake. She’s just plain crazy. Crazed Hag: BRAAAIIINS!!!
Jane: So, I’m gonna run away now. Some Moor
Jane: I’ll just die here. St. James: Hey, a person! I’d better take you home. His sisters: OMG, a new person; this is so exciting! Let’s pretend your life is one of those weird novels we’re not supposed to read, since you’re not a sharer. Jane: I’m gonna go teach school now. Third Random Letter: So that uncle you never knew kicked the bucket and left you his fortune. Tada!!! Jane: Soooo I’m rich, and we’re cousins. St. James: Marry me and go to India. Jane: Eww. Ghost of Rochester: I’m still in love with you, let’s get back to the real story. Jane: GTG, Kthanksbye. Creepy Castle: I got ruined. Random Old Guy: The crazed hag burnt the place down and jumped off the roof. If you’re looking for Rochester he’s being blind over there. Jane: Surprise!!! ...Oh you’re really blind. Rochester: OMG, you’re really real. Jane: Now we can live happily ever after. Maybe you’ll even get your sight back at the birth of our first child.
Charlotte Bronte: I can’t believe I just wrote that ending.
The Love We Found The Muppet Christmas Carol Preface: I have endeavoured in this Ghostly little book, to raise the Ghost of an Idea, which shall not put my readers out of humour with themselves, with each other, with the season, or with me. May it haunt their houses pleasantly, and no one wish to lay it. Their faithful Friend and Servant, C.D. December, 1843. Every year around the holidays people gather round the television to watch their favorite holiday movies. For many these are black and white classics like Miracle on 34th Street or It’s a Wonderful Life. For some these are late 20th century movies like A Christmas Story. In more recent years there have been other attempts (and some successes) at creating new Christmas Classics: Elf, The Santa Clause (one, two and three), The Grinch, and The Polar Express are just a few in the past ten years. Then there are all the classic animations: Charlie Brown’s Christmas, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, and Jack Frost. But one movie in particular stands out from the crowd. This movie combines live action and animation; it takes a classic novel and produces a classic musical—The Muppet Christmas Carol. When The Muppet Christmas Carol premiered in 1992 it was not met with much critical acclaim. The
by Neri Preslin
Washington Post review from December 1992 states, “The Muppet Christmas Carol isn’t terrible, by any means. But it’s resoundingly moderate, with merely passable songs by Paul Williams, and only occasional real laughter.” While the Chicago Tribune in the same month and year commented, “Just the idea of a Muppet version of A Christmas Carol suggests that a severe drought of inspiration has struck Henson Associates, and the movie does nothing to dispel that initial impression.” This is a perfect example of why critics should always be ignored. In fact, their observations are dead wrong. The pairing of the classic Christmas tale and an American classic like the Muppets can only produce something wonderful. Dickens’ original tale was released during a time of religious and moral upheaval. In the midst of the Industrial Revolution many people were losing faith in religious ideas and subsequently immorality was on the rise. Many authors/poets of the time looked to love as the element to stabilize society. Indeed many of the family holiday traditions were created or revived during Dickens’ time. A Christmas Carol was one of the first books published in this revival. Dickens created the idea of family based celebrations for Christmas as opposed to church based celebrations.
The phrase “Merry Christmas” begins here. Cue the Muppets; for some the Muppets are a family tradition—certainly specific to the United States, they give those who know and enjoy their work a sense of community. Their take on Dickens’ tale is spot on in the spirit of the themes present in A Christmas Carol. With Gonzo the Great as Charles Dickens—the Narrator, the Muppets take the ‘Carol’ in A Christmas Carol to heart, and set the story to music. The “merely passable songs” mentioned in the Washington Post’s review are some of the most period correct, uplifting and meaningful lyrics in any musical on the subject. The original release of the movie has a glaring gap where the song entitled When Love is Gone was cut from the theater release, however it is available in some copies of the movie and adds an entire layer of meaning to the plot. The song entitled It Feels Like Christmas is a wonderful reminder to us all about the spirit of Christmas.
Michael Cain, who plays a de-
“The pairing of the classic Christmas tale and an American classic like the Muppets can only produce something wonderful.”
lightfully accurate Scrooge, said in a documentary called The Making of ‘The Muppet Christmas Carol,’ “I must say, I really do like playing this sadistic, old villain with all these lovely, little Muppets who everyone loves so much!” The cast also includes Rizzo the Rat, as Gonzo/ Dickens’ humorous side-kick, Kermit the Frog as Bob Crachet, Miss Piggy as Mrs. Crachet, Waldorf and Statler as Jacob and Robert Marley, Robin the Frog as Tiny Tim, and over 200 other Muppets. Live actors include Raymond Coulthard, as a young Ebeneezer, Meredith Braun as Belle, Robin Weaver as Clara and Steven Mackintosh as Fred. A beautiful example of how A Christmas Carol transcends time, and a wonderful, musical experience with the Muppets, this is truly a Christmas classic the whole family can enjoy.
Wide Sargasso Sea reviewed by Bethany McGean Anyone who has felt the appeal of fanfiction understands the power of telling a story in the universe of a favorite author. From The Aeneid to X-men, aspiring writers create new stories in that world, insert themselves into the plot, or expand the lives of characters. There is scarcely a story that has not been expanded upon by fervent fans. Jane Eyre is no exception to this. As of writing this article, 252 stories concerning Jane Eyre and another nine crossover stories have been posted on fanfiction.net. These stories include pieces of “fluff,” alternate universe or modern re-tellings, parodies, and ones that fill in the gaps. They are told in English, German, Spanish, French, Italian, and even Finnish. Fanfiction existed before the word was coined in 1965, but it has increased in popularity since the creation of the Internet and it became easier to share. It receives little critical acclaim and is rarely published due to legal reasons. Despite these obstacles, Jean Rhys wrote Wide Sargasso Sea, where she extrapolates the backstory of Bertha Rochester, née Antoinette Cosway. From the pages of Jane Eyre, little is known about Bertha. She is Rochester’s mad wife from the Caribbean and is locked in the attic. Though Rochester locks her away from public knowledge, readers consider her the obstacle between the happiness of Jane and Rochester. The story is told in three parts with a first person perspective. In the first part, Antoinette tells the story of her chaotic childhood. After her father’s death and the emancipation of the slaves, her family home falls to ruin. Her mother, Annette, remarries Mr. Mason, but their marriage is far from smooth. Disgruntled black servants attack the Cosway-Mason home, which leads to her brother’s death. After the death of her brother and the burning of her home, Annette’s fragile grasp on reality is severed and must
be sent away. Throughout the story, Antoinette never fits in with those around her because Antoinette, like Rhys, was of white Creole descent. Continuing in part two, the narration splits between Antoinette and Rochester as they tell the story of their early marriage. Antoinette wants someone to keep her safe and love her; Rochester wants financial security. Their marriage soon becomes tumultuous as they spend their honeymoon in her sweet summer home. A conniving “half-brother” reveals Antoinette’s family secrets to Rochester and he begins to feel uneasy about the whole situation. Antoinette, who wants to be loved, does not understand the new strain in their marriage and becomes desperate as she tries to “mend” the situation. It is during this period Rochester begins calling her Bertha--a name that is more familiar to him, as he tries to domesticate her from her wild and exotic home. This series of events leads Antoinette towards her increasingly unstable mental state. The third part returns to Antoinette/Bertha’s perspective and is told in stream of consciousness. Like Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, the ending of Wide Sargasso Sea is known from the beginning. What makes the story interesting is how Rhys progresses the story to the ending. Wide Sargasso Sea is a fascinating examination of what Bertha Rochester’s life might have been like before she was locked in the attic. In Jane Eyre, readers find Bertha an unsympathetic character, but in Wide Sargasso Sea, it is Rochester who is unsympathetic. Many causes lead Antoinette towards madness—from her family history to English imprisonment—but Rhys portrays Rochester’s actions as the catalyst for her madness. If you want to experience Jane Eyre, as Bronte wanted it read, I suggest you read it before you attempt Wide Sargasso Sea.
August Rush reviewed by Ellianna Mitchell A quick search of “Oliver Twist” will tell you there is no shortage of movie versions to choose from. At my count, there are twenty-five versions with that exact title, and more with slight variations: Oliver!, Wishbone: Twisted Tail, Oliver & Company, Twist, and August Rush are only a few of the countless retellings. While the other films listed here are clearly connected to Dickens’ story, August Rush is more subtle. Anyone familiar with Oliver Twist can see the similarities, but beyond just the changes that arise when modernizing a 19th century story, it is not a direct retelling. In the words of one movie critic, August Rush is “given a plot element or two the novelist surely never contemplated” (William Arnold, August Rush is Oliver Twist). Both stories revolve around presumed orphan boys: Oliver and Evan, and both boys escape situations where they are being bullied and mistreated. Oliver meets a young boy his own age, and is brought to the home of Fagin, a career pickpocket with other young boys in training. Evan is brought to a similar home, run by a man known as Wizard, where playing music on street corners for money takes the place of pickpocketing. Both Fagin and Wizard take a large portion of the profits. In August Rush, Evan is convinced his parents are alive and searching for him. They were both musicians: Lyla as a famous cellist, and Louis, a guitarist and singer in a rock band. Although Evan does not know this about them, he tells people if his parents hear his music, they will find him. He begins playing guitar for Wizard’s operation, and it soon becomes clear that he is a musical prodigy. Unlike Oliver Twist, where we learn little
of Oliver’s parents until near the end, August Rush begins with his parents’ first (and only) meeting, and shows scenes of their lives throughout the film. Evan’s parents never married, so Louis never learned of his son’s existence. His mother, Lyla, as Evan suspects, wanted to keep him, but when Evan was born, Lyla’s father sent him to be adopted and told her that her child had died. When this deception is discovered Evan is 12-years-old and Lyla immediately begins searching for her son. In Oliver Twist, Oliver is able to take refuge for a short time with Mr. Brownlow, a man some of Fagin’s gang attempted to pickpocket, but after a while Oliver is pulled back into the streets with Fagin. There is a parallel situation in August Rush when the police raid Wizard’s home, and the boys scatter. Evan finds shelter in a church, and when his musical talent is discovered, he is enrolled in Juilliard. Wizard eventually finds him there and, by use of a threat, convinces him to return to playing on street corners. In Oliver Twist, after another attempted burglary under Fagin’s direction, Oliver again is shown kindness, this time by Mrs. Maylie and her adopted daughter Rose. Fagin and a man named Monks try to recapture Oliver, but with help he is never again forced to reside with Fagin’s gang. Thanks to the Maylies, Mr. Brownlow and Oliver are reunited. It is discovered that Oliver’s half brother has been keeping Oliver’s half of his inheritance for himself. Oliver also learns that Rose is his aunt, so he has been staying with his actual family. At the closing of the story, Mr. Brownlow adopts Oliver, and he and the Maylies live together in peace. cont.
The ending of August Rush is different, but wraps up the story with the same almost unbelievable coincidences. While Evan’s mother is searching for him, she is chosen to perform in a concert—the same concert that a piece Evan composed and is directing will be played. At the same time, Evan’s father has been looking for Lyla. He sees the concert flyer and recognizes her name, and the three of them are
Is it just me, or does England conjure up images of tea time; of tea cups, scones, and cloth napkins? This is my favorite scone recipe that I’ve had so far. It’s the perfect texture, not too dry and not too crumbly. The lemony flavor is perfect for summertime, as well. One hint to keep in mind when mixing the butter in with the sugar/Bisquick is to use two butter knives to cut the butter in. This way, your hands will stay cleaner and you don’t have to be as precise. If you don’t like either lemon or blueberry, you can simply leave those ingredients out—it will not change the rest of the recipe. Iced Chai Tea is my go-to drink in the summer. It’s refreshing and easy to pour into a water bottle for an on-the-go drink. It’s really quick and simple to make, and making your own is much cheaper than getting it at a coffeeshop.
reunited at last. In summaries and plot outlines of August Rush, you are not likely to find references to Dickens’ story, but the similarities are clear. The simple fact is, Charles Dickens wrote a novel that has lasted for nearly two hundred years. When a story has characters that are relatable, and a plot that gives the reader or moviegoer hope that good does come out on top, that story will remain…in some form or another.
Lemon Blueberry Scones
2 1/2 cups baking mix (Bisquick) 1/4 cup sugar 1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter 2 large eggs 1/4 cup milk 1/2 cup frozen blueberries All-purpose flour, for work surface 1 cup confectioners' sugar Lemon juice 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract directions on following page
Shea and Bergen
by Shaylynn Rackers
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Scones: Whisk together the baking mix and sugar in a large bowl. Mix in the butter until the butter is the size of peas. Beat the eggs well with the 1/4 cup milk in a small bowl. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and combine until just blended. Do not over mix. Gently fold in the blueberries. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and pat into a 3/4-inch thick square. Cut into 4 squares, and then cut each square into 2 triangles. Arrange the scones on an ungreased baking sheet and bake until golden brown, for about 15 minutes. Remove to a wire rack and let cool a bit before glazing. For the glaze: Whisk together the confectioners' sugar, lemon juice, and vanilla until smooth. Pour evenly over the warm scones. Transfer to a serving platter and serve.
Iced Chai Tea
8 chai tea bags 1 cup whole milk 1/3 cup honey Ice cubes Directions
Bring 4 cups of water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Remove from the heat, add the tea bags and let steep for 5 minutes. Remove the bags, stir in the milk and honey and chill in a pitcher for at least 1 hour. Serve over ice.
a r e v i e w o f
by Bethany McGean
When we read a story, watch a movie, or view a television series, we usually want to experience a happy ending. We want the lead characters to have their romantic dénouement, the villain to receive his justly deserved comeuppance, and all the loose plot threads tied in neat bows. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always happen. Sometimes a series—Firefly, for example—is cancelled before the story is complete. Other times, Jane Eyre chooses St. John and India and Rochester is left with his mad wife in the attic. “Wait a minute,” you protest, “that’s not how Jane Eyre ends.” True, but, according to The Eyre Affair, without the intervention of Thursday Next, the unsatisfactory estrangement of Rochester and Jane might have been the conclusion to this beloved novel. Confused? What is The Eyre Affair? Who is Thursday Next? And, what does she have to do with Jane Eyre?
The Eyre Affair, by Jasper Fforde, is the first book in the Thursday Next series. The novels follow the adventures of LiteraTech officer Thursday Next and her adventures in a surreal version of England. Fforde’s world differs from ours in a myriad of ways. England is still at war with Russia over the Crimean peninsula and the failed charge of the Light Brigade occurred in the 1970s rather than the 1850s. People debate the Shakespearean authorship with religious fervour. Vampires, time travel, air ships, Neanderthals, and cloned dodos are part of everyday life. LiteraTech agents, a division of SpecOps, investigate literary forgeries, verify lost manuscripts, and protect first edition literary masterpieces. And, for a few individuals, fiction becomes reality through the ability of book jumping.
The Eyre Affair When the original manuscript of Martin Chuzzlewit is stolen without a trace of the thief, Thursday Next is on the case. She is one of the few people who can identify the prime suspect—Acheron Hades, who possesses the ability to manipulate people’s actions and thoughts. After a failed arrest attempt on Hades and a message from her future self, Thursday decides to return home to Swindon and continue to pursue Hades. Back in her hometown, Thursday is reacquainted with her exfiancé, Landen Park-Laine. She also reconnects with her absent minded genius uncle, Mycroft Next. He shares his latest invention with her—the Prose Portal. Through the portal, an individual can literally enter a piece of literature. Not long after Thursday’s return, Mycroft and his wife, Polly, are kidnapped and the Prose Portal stolen. With the help of Bowden Cable, her partner at the Swindon branch of LiteraTech, she continues her
pursuit of Hades, the hunt for her abducted relatives, and the search for the purloined manuscript. Thursday is not the only one on the cases of the missing Hades, uncle, and manuscript; Goliath, the resident evil corporation, put Jack Schitt on the case. In order to save classic literature and her aunt and uncle from the nefarious clutches of Goliath, Thursday must be the first to find Hades and put an end to his own malevolent schemes. This book is an excellent adventure for anyone who loves literature. If the idea of being literally “lost in a book” appeals to you, this book is for you. Fforde’s respect for literature is obvious, but he also treats it with a lighthearted playfulness.
Lost in a Good Book Thursday’s adventures continue in the next book, Lost in a Good Book. After being reunited at the end of The Eyre Affair, Landen and Thursday marry. Blissfully happy as a married couple, things soon begin to go wrong. A surprisingly large number of near-fatal coincidences begin to follow Thursday. Her father, a rogue Chronoguard agent, commissions her with the task of discovering why the world will end covered in pink goo and stopping the cataclysm. Also, she begins hearing voices with instructions about the trial concerning the changes to the end of Jane Eyre. At work, she must verify the authenticity of the long lost copy of Shakespeare’s Cardenio and figuring out what the slimy politician Yorrick Caine has to do with it. If this does not keep her busy enough, she must also deal with the fact that her husband was eradicated (taken out of time) and she’s nearly two months pregnant with their child. Once again, Thursday must fight evil corporations, face corrupt politicians, and prevent world ending disasters. This book links the first to the rest of the series. Thursday learns how to book jump and is introduced to her mentor, Miss Havisham from Great Expectations.
Several recurring villains are introduced, though since their reveals are part of the book’s mysteries, their identities will remain anonymous here.
The Well of Lost Plots In the third book of the Thursday Next series, Thursday finds refuge in the book world away from the dangers awaiting her in the real world. Instead of fighting evil corporations, she has exchanged places with a character in an unpublished novel. While in the bookworld, under the tutelage of Miss Havisham, Thursday learns to become a Jurisfiction agent, those responsible for policing fiction from the inside. Despite seeking a respite from the danger and derring-do of the real world during her pregnancy, Thursday finds a whole new world of trouble. As the release of UltraWord nears, Thursday’s allies in Jurisfiction are being brutally murdered. Unable to leave a mystery alone, Thursday must discover the reason behind the murders and how they connect to UltraWord. While she fights to save the bookworld, she must also fight to save the memory of her eradicated husband from the wiles of her latest real world enemy. Readers are once again drawn into a new world created by Fforde. For burgeoning writers, his interpretation of the bookworld and the well of lost plots will play on the familiar feeling that the characters really do have a life of their own. Back stories, plot elements, and characters are bought and sold as the economy of the bookworld and the writer is merely the tool used to convey the story. For the avid bibliophiles, they will enjoy the myriad of literary allusions such as Waiting for Godot, the Macbethean witches, the cat formerly known as Cheshire and many more. Also, The Well of Lost Plots sets the stage for Fforde’s spin off series, Nursery Crimes. (cont.)
Something Rotten After two years in the bookworld, Thursday decides it’s time to return home, but home is far from restful. Since Landen is still eradicated, she moves into her mother’s already full house with her son, Friday, and a character from the bookworld, Hamlet. She soon discovers finding reliable childcare is the least of her worries; once again the world is depending on her to keep it from complete ruin. In order to fulfill the prophecy predicting the downfall of Goliath and Caine, Swindon’s struggling team must win the rugby-esque version of croquet tournament and Thursday is the only one able to make this happen. While she attempts to ensure Swindon’s victory, she must also discover the reason behind the anti-Danish hatred sweeping through England and avoid three assassination attempts. All the while, she’s hoping Goliath will make good on its promise to re-actualize her husband. The fourth book in the series brings together all the building plot threads of the previous books. It creates a satisfying conclusion to the first part of the series and prepares the reader for the continuation in the second half.
First Among Sequels
Taking place 14 years after Something Rotten, First Among Sequels continues the story of Thursday, Landen, and their three children—Friday, Tuesday, and Jenny. After being downsized from SpecOps, Thursday and her associates run Acme Carpets as a cover for their covert LiteraTech operations. For our heroine, it also serves as cover for her continuing role as a Jurisfiction agent. In the real world, she is struggling to convince Friday that he must fulfill his destiny as a Chronogaurd agent and keep her triple life secret from Landen. In the bookworld, she attempts to train two unlikely Jurisfiction candidates—herself, that is, the novelized versions of herself, the violent Thurs-
day1-4 and the peace-loving Thursday 5—and prevent Pride and Prejudice from becoming a book version of reality television. The two worlds collide as Mycroft’s recipe for unscrambling eggs and the diminishing Now play pivotal roles for the future of time travel and the diminishing read rates. In this book, Fforde questions many facets of modern culture. The past might not be the ideal we remember, but is the future we are hurrying towards really that much better?
One of our Thursdays is Missing Thursday Next is missing— the real one. Or is she? Is Thursday5 the real Thursday pretending to be Thursday5? Or maybe she is actually Thursday5? The bookworld needs Thursday’s guiding influence to keep them out of a genre war. In the real world, Landen needs his wife and the children need their mother. Can Thursday5 find the real Thursday before both worlds fall apart? The sixth book in this proves to be the most metafictional and surreal book yet in the series. With twists and turns reality is turned inside out, so much so that even Thursday does not know if she is the real one or not. Fforde has created a series of books, which invites both readers and writers to take a fun romp into the land of fiction. He celebrates the love of reading and writing, warns against the mindless following of what’s popular, and twists the mind with his surreal examination of the world. Take a chance and be prepared to become “lost” in the exciting world of Thursday Next.
Washington Irving by Kevin Michael Derby
hile Charles Dickens—rightfully— gets his share of credit for popularizing Christmas, another major author from the nineteenth century also helped reestablish the holiday in the AngloAmerican world. With stories like The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, Rip Van Winkle, and the under-appreciated, The Spectre Bridegroom, Irving is associated with Halloween— but look closer. In The Sketch Book, which also contains the previous mentioned stories, Irving devoted a large part of the book to relating a festive Christmas his fictional narrator, Geoffrey Crayon, celebrated in England. Much like Chesterton would do a century later, Irving constantly took aim at Puritanism in his writing. Irving mocked the old New England branch of Puritanism in the character of Ichabod Crane. The Puritans rank as the chief villains of Irving’s fictional historian Diedrich Knickerbocker’s charming and often hilarious A History of New-York. In the five Christmas tales in The Sketch Book, Irving continues to oppose the Puritans, presenting the holiday as a festive celebration with great religious significance. Irving has Crayon, an American traveling through England after the War of 1812, encounter an old friend Frank Bracebridge. Bracebridge insists that Crayon accompany him home for the Christmas holiday, leading to a series of encounters with his oldfashioned family and its eccentric associates.
Besides offering an interesting portrait of a
memorable family, Irving presents a detailed look at Christmas throughout the ages as the Bracebridge’s and their pastor attempt to preserve the holiday customs from before the English Civil War and Puritan government that ruled England in the middle of the seventeenth century. In his time at Bracebridge Hall, Crayon enjoys a traditional Christmas dinner and attends church. Crayon encounters some of the familiar components of Christmas celebrations—singing carols, children up early for presents—and presents them to his readers as something to cherish and revere—as opposed to the Puritans who condemned Christmas festivities. While his works are—alas—increasingly ignored, Irving was one of the leading American writers of his era whose books were read and cherished in homes across the United States. The festive version of Christmas popularized by the likes of Irving and Dickens found a firm foothold in America as the century progressed. By 1892, Christmas was so well established that William Dean Howells could publish Christmas Every Day, the story of a little girl whose wish for everyday to be Christmas turns people against the holiday—a fitting warning for modern Americans who bring out reindeer sweaters on November 3rd as Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas can be heard non-stop at the malls weeks before Thanksgiving. Irving and Howells joined Dickens in backing a simple message: even with all its festivities and joys, Christmas cannot be taken for granted.
He Was the Best of Writers, He Was the Worst of Writers
I’ve read Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities. I really have. But I can’t for the life of me remember anything about the plot, the characters, the structure of the novel, the language… it’s all lost. Somewhere in the back of my brain there lurks a single image of a cask of red wine spilling into the street, Dickens’ macabre representation of the blood spilled in the French Revolution, but that’s all I can recall of good old Charlie’s tale. I’m not saying he’s a lousy writer. He wrote quite a few novels that we still read today, either in the classroom or alone at home with a mug of tea. And he’s not just enjoyed by literature snobs, either. Oliver Twist was turned into a successful musical, and Daniel Radcliffe’s performance in a mini-series version of David Copperfield helped land him the role of Harry Potter. And D. W. Griffith, the guy who practically invented the language of film (matched action, shot/reverse shot—you know, the basics of understanding shadows on a screen as we know them today), based his principles on Dickens’ work. The next time you go to the movies, remind yourself that you’re basically watching a Dickensian conversation unfold. But… yeah, Dickens is a lousy writer. Once, I decided that I was going to reread A Tale of Two Cities, because there was nothing good out and I vaguely remembered that it was a good book. I could hardly make it to the second section of the book. It was then that I heard that Dickens was paid by the word, which explains why he sometimes just goes on and on and on, when all he had to say was, “The sky was blue.” There’s something to be said for getting to the point, you know. And yes, we all have to make a living. I’m not saying he should have starved to death, poor guy. Just… why couldn’t they all be like A Christmas Carol? I’ve had a copy of that particular little ghost-story novella since I was ten years old, and I read it every time the Christmas season rolls around. It’s the perfect book—it’s terrifying, funny, suspenseful, heart-wrenching, and it happens to have a happy ending. It’s so popular that there are literally zillions of adaptations of it, each one drawing a different take on the story. Scrooge was a lonely old miser? Sure. Scrooge was a victim of society’s demands and a terrible domestic situation? Okay. Scrooge was a greedy duck who just woke up and decided to be mean one day? Why not? Make the story as funny, cute, artsy, or serious as you want. Just slapping the title A Christmas Carol on it will draw in the crowds. I’ve never met anyone who doesn’t like that book. The language is so simple, so universal, and the story so chillingly good, you can’t help but fall in love with it. It’s everyone’s secret hope for redemption and love, in the most basic sense. So Charlie was the best of writers, and he was the worst of writers. Aside from all the available versions of A Christmas Carol, what else did Dickens make that was so popular? Not a lot. Sure, A Tale of Two Cities is often read in high schools or colleges, and there will occasionally be girls who are obsessed with Sydney Carton for a week or two. But there hasn’t been a decent film adaptation of A Tale of Two Cities, or any other Dickens novel, in a long time. Sure, his material was well-read in its day, but now he’s kind of a one-hit wonder. Sure, the B side of that album was great, but everybody only really knows the one single. Oh, what a single it was.
Thanksgiving and Christmas
by Megan Dominick
In the year 1941, Presidential Proclamations made the fourth Thursday of November the day set aside for Thanksgiving Day. Earlier Presidential Proclamations had said Thanksgiving would be celebrated on the last Thursday of November. These Presidential Proclamations were founded on American Colonial tradition: Colonial Governor Jonathan Belcher’s Thanksgiving Day Proclamation played a role in determining when Thanksgiving is to be celebrated in America. The countries of Canada, Japan, Korea, and Liberia also celebrate Thanksgiving Day. In Canada Thanksgiving (Jour de l’Action de grace) is celebrated on the second Monday in October. Japan celebrates Thanksgiving on the 23rd of November every year. Korea celebrates Thanksgiving on September 14th. And in Liberia Thanksgiving Day is celebrated on November 3rd. In America, Thanksgiving was started back in 1621 when the Indians shared a feast of thankfulness for the pilgrims’ first fall harvest. Canada celebrates Thanksgiving Day as a way to be thankful for their harvest. In Japan, Thanksgiving is a day to give thanks for the rice harvest, and it is also to thank the laborers for their hard work. The reason that Korea celebrates Thanksgiving when they do is because it is the eighth
day of the lunar month, called Ch’u Sok (the harvest moon). The way that Liberia celebrates Thanksgiving follows the way America does. The Catholic Church has the season of Advent four weeks before Christmas. This time is to help prepare for the birth of Christ. Christmas is celebrated by the whole world on December 25th. And each country has its own way of celebrating the Christmas season, so here are a few of those countries and some of their traditions. The word Christmas comes from the old English Cristes Maesse, which means ‘mass of Christ.’ On Christmas Eve in Denmark, their dinner starts off with a rice pudding that has an almond in it. When the almond is found, the finder receives a prize. Their Christmas dinner also consists of goose, browned potatoes, and red cabbage. Another tradition is what is called a Christmas Plate: plates have biscuits and fruits on them, and are given as presents to the servants. When the Christmas tree is to be decorated, the parents do it secretly and the children don’t see it until Christmas Eve. Interesting tidbit: “Merry Christmas” in Danish is “Glædelig Jul.” In Canada, each of its provinces have different traditions. They have the traditional dinner of turkey, vegetables, and sauces. Dessert is a fruity Christmas
pudding with brandy sauce, as well as mince pies. In the province of Labrador, turnips with candles placed in them are given to the children. In Quebec, Nativity scenes are displayed in homes as decorations. During the 12 Days of Christmas in Nova Scotia, belsnicklers, or masked mummers, are in many neighborhoods, making noise and ringing bells and they go from house to house looking for treats and candy. And they often quiz the children on if they have been good or not. If the children have been good, they are given candy. In Eskimo (Inupik) ‘Merry Christmas’ is “Jutdlime pivdluarit ukiortame pivdluaritlo!” Australian Christmases are usually very hot, unlike Christmases in Europe, Asia and North America where it is winter. In Australia, turkey, ham, and pork make up the Christmas dinner, with a flaming plum pudding and mince pie for dessert. A small favor of some sort is baked into the plum pudding and the finder of the favor knows that they will have good luck. On Christmas Eve in Melbourne every year thousands of people participate in the carols by candlelight. The other capitols of Australia also enjoy singing and listening to carols in the weeks leading up to Christmas. Another tradition is that Santa arrives on a surf board or a surf lifesaving boat on many beaches. A Polish Christmas tradition is having Oplatek,
which is a wafer with a Nativity scene or another holy picture on it. The Oplatek is more of a symbol than real food: when people share it, they wish each other happiness for the coming year and make up for any hurts they have caused.Oplatek is usually shared with immediate neighbors and family. In Polish ‘Merry Christmas” is “Wesolych Swiat Bozego Narodzenia or Boze Narodzenie.”
“Merry Christmas” in some other languages: “En frehlicher Grischtdaag un en hallich Nei Yaahr” (Pennsylvania German); “Mithag Crithagsigathmithags” (Jiberish); “Feliz Navidad” (Chile); “Buone Feste Natalizie” (Italian); “Gezur Krislinjden” (Albanian); and “Pozdrevlyayu s prazdnikom Rozhdestva is Novim Godom” (Russian).
book reviews by Kevin Derby
Old stories never die; they don’t even fade away. The stores are full of books by new authors playing puppet master to familiar characters and settings. Just witness the plethora of books about the subsequent adventures of Mr. and Mrs. Darcy that can be found on the shelves and discounting of bookstores across the nation. One particular subspecies in the kingdom of recycled plots and characters involves sons riding on their fathers’ literary coattails. While only a fraction of the writer that his father Frank was, Brain Herbert continues to produce sequels set in the Dune universe. While Michael Shaara penned one of the greatest war novels of the 20th Century in The Killer Angels, his son Jeff has tried to replicate his father’s success in the American Revolution, the Civil War, World War One, World War Two and even the MexicanAmerican War--and failed miserably. Unlike many of the pretenders fighting for their fathers’ thrones, Christopher Tolkien actually has been able to build his father’s legacy by organizing and publishing J.R.R. Tolkien’s compendious notes. Thankfully, the younger Tolkien does not craft sequels to The Lord of the Rings. Instead he presents
often heavily edited histories of his father’s writings. In The Silmarillion, the younger Tolkien presented his father’s vision of the mythology and history of his created world and, while it offers insight into Middle Earth, the book did not contain the most gripping of narratives. The younger Tolkien continued to edit his father’s unpublished writings and expanded on a section from The Silmarillion to create The Children of Hurin. While not as readable as The Lord of the Rings, the book is much more accessible than The Silmarillion. The dark and often overly gloomy The Children of Hurin is reminiscent of the Icelandic sagas from the Middle Ages and seems more the creation of Tolkien the professor of literature than Tolkien the creator of new worlds. Readers accustomed to jolly hobbits and stout dwarves will find little mirth in the The Children of Hurin. While lacking in joy, there is a tragic dignity to story, especially Turin, a protagonist with many flaws. Torn between free will and fate, Turin faces evil powers and often undermines his own cause by his rashness and pride. More so than any of the Fellowship of the Ring-including Boromir--Turin is the per-
sonification of a tragic hero. There are subtle glimpses of Beowulf and Gawain and the Green Knight and not so subtle pieces of Germanic and Greek tales, including the strange fate of Oedipus, in Turin’s tale. If not as memorable as Frodo or Aragon, Turin is sympathetic despite his flaws and there are some excellent supporting characters. However, The Children of Hurin is most memorable for epic battles, fantastic creatures and settings that readers associate with Middle Earth. The tale is not as overtly faith-based as The Lord of the Rings but there are certainly hints in it of the Christian vision that often guided Tolkien. While The Children of Hurin is not as well crafted as the Lord of the Rings trilogy, it remains a valuable addition to Middle Earth that will not leave readers disappointed. Christopher Tolkien is that rarest of literary sons who does not undermine his father’s works--and fans of fantasy literature should be grateful.
move over, tiny tim
make room for Linus by Michael Keats
“God bless us, every one.” Tiny Tim’s line is one of the most famous quotes Charles Dickens gave the world, but religion is curiously absent from the Victorian writer’s A Christmas Carol. The tale of Ebenezer Scrooge has been told and retold in the theater and in countless numbers of cartoons, sitcoms and movies—but always the Christ child is missing from the drama. While Christian apologists like G. K. Chesterton could praise Dickens for writing about mirth in his books, they cannot claim that he did much to advance the faith in his works. In his holiday classic, Dickens offers us a sentimental tale with a noble message. There is even a conversion as the three ghosts and their visions help Scrooge become a better man. As painful as it might be to contemplate, Pinocchio and the classic Steven Spielberg film E.T. are more Christian tales than A Christmas Carol. At least Pinocchio and E.T. experience resurrections of some sort. Dickens offers us Christmas without Christ. This helps explain why the likes of Scrooge McDuck and Mr. Magoo—and even the Grinch—parade across our televisions every December and become better people...or ducks...or whatever the Grinch is...because of Christmas. Dickens helped set the stage for a Christmas based around buying and getting gifts, Santa Claus, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and radio stations playing countless Christmas songs that avoid all mentions of Jesus and His parents. Dickens offers us sentimental stories, paving the way for people wearing reindeer sweaters on November 5th while Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas and
Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer are piped in at retailers all across the fruited plains from sea to shining sea. No wonder A Christmas Carol and A Visit from St. Nicholas (also known as The Night Before Christmas) are still recycled more than a century later. They are inoffensive and harmless, avoiding the mind-blowing concept that God loved humanity so much that He sent down His only Son to live and die for us sinners to live among us. While Dickens offers us a reassuring tale of a nostalgic Christmas devoid of Christ, a very different message comes from a very different messenger who has reminded America what the holiday is all about for more than 45 years. In his classic television special, A Charlie Brown Christmas, cartoonist Charles M. Schulz, who taught Sunday school for a Methodist church, has Linus van Pelt tell Charlie Brown what Christmas is all about by quoting the King James Version of the Gospel According to Luke. Pressured to remove the scene, Schulz fought to keep Linus quoting the Gospel in the cartoon. With all of the countless hours of programming run every year, Linus standing on the stage quoting the Bible is one of the few—perhaps the only— explicit reference to Jesus Christ and the salvation He offers that viewers can find on the major networks every year. Every year at the malls and over the airwaves, we are bombarded with what Dickens wanted “the holidays” to be all about. Every year, thanks to Charles Schulz, a small voice reminds us of what Christmas is all about. If Jesus is the reason for the season, we need more men like Charles Schulz—and less like Charles Dickens.
bitter food makes you mad chapter two by Ciara Zaketti il ustrated by Shaylynn Rackers
Will woke up in a daze and glanced at his alarm clock, which was flashing, beeping and doing what alarm clocks do best: annoying people out of much needed sleep. Swearing mentally, Will rolled off the futon he had crashed on four hours earlier without even bothering to unfold it, and went directly to the kitchenette to make coffee, shutting the alarm off as he passed. The kitchen was cluttered with dirty dishes and piles of mail that he had only had the presence of mind to actually bring inside and not open and sort. Will shoved aside a pile of mail to make a place for himself at the table; the magazine at the top of the pile fell to the floor with an irritating splat. He grudgingly
bent to pick it up, but quickly tossed it at the heaping trash bin when he caught sight of the cover: it advertised the opening of a bowling alley. His answering machine was flashing a big, red number 8 at him, but Will didn’t have the heart to deal with the recordings. He scooped the coffee grounds into the filter and started the maker, then went to his bedroom to get ready for the day, unplugging the alarm clock and taking it with him. Half an hour later found him freshly showered, dressed, coffee’d up, and en route to the police station for his meeting with Gramps and Feud—and in a much better mood. “You’re late,” Janice, the desk clerk, greeted him as he walked through the lobby doors. “Thanks, Janice; it’s nice to see you, too.”
Janice smirked at his tart
reply. “He’s waiting.” Will headed towards his grandfather’s office, quickly and instinctively taking in his surroundings: two perps sat on the bench near the desk, cuffed and scowling. Jogging up the stairs, he met Angus O’Hara, his grandfather’s oldest friend and longtime partner before he had been named Chief. “William!” Angus’ booming voice could be heard throughout the station, naturally. Will sighed, knowing that it would have drawn the attention of anyone within shouting distance. Angus’ voice was wonderful during interrogations when they were trying to intimidate an answer out of someone, but when trying to discreetly and quietly hold a private conversation, one might as well have announced it to the world via foghorn. “Hi, Angus,” Will forced a smile and accepted the firm
“How are you, lad?”
“Oh, you know,” Will shrugged, putting his hands in his pockets, and stepped to the side so a sergeant who was clearly in a hurry could step past without knocking them both down the stairs. “That right?” Angus didn’t believe him. That was the difficult thing about working with cops: it was nearly impossible to evade a question because they could read you like a book. Will started up the stairs again. “I’ll tell you about it later.” Angus stopped him. “You going to see your grandfather, lad?” “Yes, and I’m very late.” Will started up the stairs again, his good mood gone. There’s no chance that conversation’s just going to stay between the two of us.
whatever emergency was calling you from home this time.
Tonight was no exception. Even though she was no longer at an “on-call” status with the Bureau, it was as if it was an instinct. Phone rings, you answer, no matter what time of day, no matter who it was, or what they were asking. No matter how surprising.
Charles Leger found himself staring at a blank screen. Stupid snowstorm, he thought, grudgingly, as he shoved the keyboard aside and got to his feet. At least he had thought to save his work to a memory card this time. It seemed like this research was going to be his focus the rest of his life. Or the death of me.
After the phone call this morning, she had quickly showered, dressed, packed, and booked her flight. Nothing could have prepared her for that phone call. A simple phone call had never propelled her out of bed so fast. Sam closed her eyes, utilizing the headrest, as the plane began to taxi down the runway. I might as well get some sleep now… No telling when I’ll rest well again. But her body would not rest. Instead her mind continually played that conversation over and over in her head until she thought she could scream. “Dryden?”
Sometimes Sam thought that the only thing being a cop had taught her was how to answer a phone in the middle of the night after being woken from a sound sleep. It was an art, to be sure. Reaching out from underneath the warm covers, actually picking up the phone in one movement rather than flailing like a fish out of water, or accidentally knocking it to the ground, and actually putting the correct part of the phone to your ear so you could hear
“Do you have some vacation time you could use? Or could you request some?” “Dryden, what’s going on? Why are you calling me now?” She was sitting up in bed, struggling to turn on the lamp.
“He’s back, Sam.”
Charlie rubbed his face, tiredly, and glanced at his wristwatch. Time for shuteye. He reached out and grabbed the flashlight off of the bookcase and headed to his bedroom. He had not been sleeping for very long when he got the phone call. “This is Leger,” he muttered, hoarsely, into the phone.
“Charlie, it’s Jay.”
“Jay, what’s kicking, man?” “You mean besides my kid?” “Well, your wife’s, what, five months along? Figured he’d be kicking by now.” Charlie tiredly rubbed his eyes. “We don’t know that it’s a boy, yet, Charlie.” “You don’t know that it’s not.”
Those words haunted her now: “He’s back, Sam.”
“We won’t until the delivery day.”
She hated that she knew before he told her details. She knew who ‘he’ was, she knew what he was doing, and she knew he had to be stopped.
“Look, I didn’t just call for a social chat.”
“I know, I know.” Charlie glanced at his bedside clock. Oh, good, power’s back.
“If you had called for a
social chat at three in the morning, Jay, I’d have to reconsider being little Charlie’s godfather.” Jay laughed, then sobered up quickly. “It ain’t good, Charlie.”
“Fill me in on the details?”
“Not on this line. Can you be at the station soon?” “I can be there in half an hour.” “Thanks, Charlie, see you soon. Say, how’s that research thing going?” “The one about cops with A-type personalities that may or may not end up criminally inclined and get away with it because they’re brilliant?”
“No, Jay, you are not included, nor will you ever be.” “I don’t know if I should be insulted or pleased.” Charlie laughed. “Goodbye, Jay.” He hung up, quickly showered and dressed, and grabbed a bagel as he passed through the kitchen into the garage. ~~~ Jay Hume flipped his cell phone shut and tossed it on his desk, knocking over an empty, disposable cup. Ignoring that, as well as the various other disposable cups and food wrappers
that cluttered his desk, Jay reached over and flicked the power button on his desktop computer. As he waited for the machine to power up, he snatched one of the many cups off his desk and went down the hall to the coffee machine that the station kept constantly filled. After pouring a cup, Jay stalked back to the office just as Will hurried in the door just in front of him.
Will shoved his drawer shut. “Fine, but I’m not talking to him. He’ll just go all, ‘The real reason you scowl all the time is because of the angst you feel in regards to being partners with a man who is far better looking than you are. Ergo, you scowl and create a mystery about yourself so you can overcompensate and have a Byronic hero-esque aura about you.’”
“I’m surprised you memorized that whole thing.”
“Hey, long night?”
Will looked quite hassled as he hurried to his desk, which was on the opposite side of the office of Jay’s. Without looking up from his desk, Will mumbled, “Got in about three. Right after I called you.” Jay nodded. “Charlie’s coming to help out.” Will looked up and fixed Jay with a glare. “You called Charlie? Why?” “I know we could use the help, especially with the Feds coming in. A murder case is the last place we need territorial disputes.” “Which explains why you called a psychologist? I hate psychology.” “Hey, Charlie’s the least psychologist-like psychologist, I know.” “The man profiles his cat!” Will dropped a folder onto his desk with a resounding splat.
“You’re making that up.”
Will held up a hand: “Scout’s honor.” “You were only a cub. That doesn’t count.”
Will grabbed the file off Jay’s desk and led the way to the Chief’s office.
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