Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for December, 2012

Tony RomoI’m not sure about all this Tony Romo bashing. It seems rather obvious and easy for everyone to point to him. It’s sort of like blaming the character holding a bloody knife over the dead body in an Agatha Christie novel. Except that person is never the one who did it.

Books are rife with such red herrings, dubious characters who turn out to be just the opposite in the end. There’s the cast-off but ever-faithful Cordelia in King Lear. The men who challenge d’Artagnan to a duel turn out to be The Three Musketeers. The scruffy Strider eventually becomes the king in The Lord of the Rings. Jane Austen was especially fond of offering up red-herring suitors: the simple farmer Mr. Martin in Emma, the not-dashing Colonel Brandon in Sense & Sensibility, and, most notably, the pompous Mr. Darcy of Pride and Prejudice.

Now I am *not* comparing Romo to Mr. Darcy. Robert Martin, maybe. But the point is that these red herrings distract us from the real villains at work: Mr. Willoughby and Mr. Elton respectively. Or, in Romo’s case, Jerry Jones.

Yes, it looked like Romo choked against the Redskins. (Ok, it always looks like Romo chokes.) He threw three interceptions. But some of the NFL’s best quarterbacks have had the most interceptions: Brett Favre holds the record with 361. Fran Tarkenton and Dan Marino are also in the top 10, with John Elway ranked 13th overall. The fewest are by Damon Huard and Joe Ferguson—ever heard of them?

Also, it wasn’t Romo who gave up 361 yards and 28 points to the Redskins. It’s easy to blame Romo, but doesn’t that sidetrack us from the bigger, more insidious problem? After all, the Cowboys have been floundering for about 15 years now, ever since owner Jerry Jones inserted himself into the coaching process. Jones has not relinquished full control to a coach since Jimmy Johnson in the early ‘90s, coincidentally the last time the Cowboys won a Super Bowl or won the Division. (Really, Switzer was mostly coming off Johnson’s coattails in ’95). Current Redskins coach, Mike Shanahan (who took the Denver Broncos to two Super Bowl wins) is one of many notable coaches rumored to have declined an offer from the Cowboys because of Jones.

Back to Romo, I do wonder what he could do under a coach like Shanahan. Ok, so Romo’s not Darcy or d’Artagnan. He’s more like Professor Snape, the ultimate red herring who seemed to foil and thwart Harry Potter through all seven books, which I guess rather aptly makes Jerry Jones “He-who-must-not-be-named.”

Read Full Post »

Many candles cropI can’t bear to turn on the news and see the small coffins. Or read about the fallen hero teachers. It’s devastating, unspeakable. But, I do think about them … as my dog plays with the kindergarteners at the bus stop, as I shop in the toy store for Christmas gifts, as I hug my nephews and nieces. My heart aches for the families going through all the funerals this week.

Reading poetry is what I do when my own words fail me. Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Yusef Komunyakaa wrote “Rock Me Mercy” in response to the Sandy Hook tragedy. You can hear him read it via NPR. California Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera wrote “Little Ones We Carry You.” Herrera is also creating a Unity Poetry Wall in Newtown and accepting poetry submissions for via email juan.herrera@ucr.edu or his Facebook page.

One of the poems I’ve found most comforting in times of grief is Christina Rossetti’s “Remember.” Below, I’ve included “1914 IV. The Dead,” by Rupert Brooke. Written during World War I, the poem refers to slightly older children—young boys, young men—lost in war. Still, it evokes that feeling of lost promise and lost innocence. “All this is ended.”

1914 IV. The Dead, by Rupert Brooke

These hearts were woven of human joys and cares,
      Washed marvellously with sorrow, swift to mirth.
The years had given them kindness. Dawn was theirs,
      And sunset, and the colours of the earth.
These had seen movement, and heard music; known
      Slumber and waking; loved; gone proudly friended;
Felt the quick stir of wonder; sat alone;
      Touched flowers and furs and cheeks. All this is ended.

There are waters blown by changing winds to laughter
And lit by the rich skies, all day. And after,
      Frost, with a gesture, stays the waves that dance
And wandering loveliness. He leaves a white
      Unbroken glory, a gathered radiance,
A width, a shining peace, under the night.

Rock Me Mercy, by Yusef Komunyakaa

Little Ones We Carry You, by Juan Felipe Herrera

solitary candle cropRemember, by Christina Rossetti

Poet Rupert Brooke, Bio & Poems via Poetry Foundation

Check Out WordHits on Facebook

Or Follow @WordHits on Twitter

Read Full Post »

ImageAs it’s Jane Austen’s birthday, December 16th, and also the season of giving, I wanted to spotlight an absolutely delightful collection of Austen-inspired short stories, Jane Austen Made Me Do It, edited by Laurel Ann Nattress.

I should preface by saying that I am usually very skeptical about all the Jane Austen riffs. I avoid them as they can be painful, excruciating, to read. Mr. Darcy has been reimagined as everything from a hillbilly to a rock star to a (groan) vampire. (Thanks a lot Twilight!) All of this pop-culture running roughshod over Austen is simply “not to be bourne.” (Disclaimer here: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is pure genius, but that’s for another post.)

Part of the problem is that these knock-offs only make me pine for authentic Jane even more. But now, Janeites take note—the drought is over! A wonderful collection of short stories has done the unimaginable, the unthinkable. Austen’s beloved characters have come to life again in an enchanting series of vignettes, many of which are backstories or codas to our favorite novels. Well before Persuasion, Captain Wentworth earns his stripes as a Midshipman in the Royal Navy. We learn how Mr. Bennett landed himself his “very silly wife.” The now married Elizabeth and Fitzwilliam Darcy prepare for Georgiana’s ‘Coming Out’ ball. And, things get complicated when Mr. Knightley moves in with Emma and her father. Teensy spoiler alert: this story also offers happy news for poor Miss Bates. I loved getting another glimpse at these characters. It’s almost like the bonus deleted scenes you get with a dvd.

Jane Austen herself makes a few cameos, finishing up her Mansfield Park manuscript, and also acting as a sort of deus ex machina for star-crossed lovers in a very Austenesque Christmas tale. A few of the stories take place in modern times, including a clever ghost-busting romp in Northanger Abbey. The only glitch is that current owner, Mr. Tilney-Tilney, comes off sounding a bit more like Thurston Howell the Third than a British gentleman. Still, it’s a fun little parody, much in the vein of the original and complete with papers appearing and disappearing in the very chest that so vexed Catherine Morland. Indeed, most of the stories have similar sly ‘easter egg’ allusions for Janeites to uncover.

While, no one else can write like Jane Austen, these stories come close and they certainly capture her spirit. The collection reads almost like the literary equivalent to a tribute album.

Janeites will certainly delight in and savor Jane Austen Made Me Do It. A perfect Christmas gift. I usually pass books along, but this one is a keeper.

Jane Austen Made Me Do It–official link

A Joyous Season for Janeites

Jane Austen Unfinished Fragment Sold for $1.6 Million

Check Out WordHits on Facebook

Or Follow @WordHits on Twitter

Read Full Post »