May 31, 2010

Esmerelda Chronicles, Part Two

Posted in Creative Writing, Fairytales at 9:18 pm by catsinboxes

After leaving the castle, Esmerelda plunged right into the deep, dark forest.  This was an ancient forest that lay around three sides of the castle and stretched away for miles and miles.  After a few hours of brisk walking, Esmerelda began to regret that she hadn’t brought along any food or water.  Still, she wasn’t going back, no, not ever.  Just then the path twisted around a large boulder and with it went Esmerelda, only to find herself nose to nose with a very large dragon.

Several things happened at once, Esmerelda let out a shriek rivaling that of the most ambitious banshee.  The dragon jumped backwards, and with a sort of whuffling sound breathed a sheet of emerald green flames.  Esmerelda was quick enough to avoid the flames by jumping off the path.  And then the dragon, in a lisp that was quite embarrassing for a creature of his size, told Esmerelda mournfully that she needn’t have screamed like that.  Esmerelda snapped that the dragon had no business in her father’s forest.  The dragon asked her if she had just said “her father’s forest.”  She answered in the affirmative (you must realize that she said a lot more than that, but I won’t repeat such name-calling).  Upon hearing her answer, the dragon announced very cheerfully that he was going to kidnap her.  Esmerelda screamed and tried to run away, but it didn’t do any good.  When was the last time you heard of a princess out-running a very large dragon?

Now, you are probably asking where Esmerelda’s parents were during all these events.  As it happened, they didn’t realize Esmerelda was missing for about an hour.  Then the king ordered his captain of the guards to go after Esmerelda and bring her home.  The captain of the guards was not very keen on this assignment.  It was his aunt who had been bitten by the two-year-old Esmerelda, and he personally thought it would do her a bit of good to get lost in the deep dark forest.  Let her get good and scared; that would serve the little beast right.  So, the captain took his time getting ready.  It was almost lunch, and he made such a fuss about adjusting saddles and packing supplies that it wasn’t till a good hour past lunch that he and his company of men at arms set out.  It wasn’t that hard for them to follow Esmerelda’s tracks and pretty soon they came to where she had met the dragon.  The captain gulped and wondered what in heaven’s name the king would say.  He turned around his party of men at arms and started to hurry back to the castle.  Unfortunately, the path he was on was one of those enchanted paths that changed direction every other Tuesday.  And since it was an “other Tuesday” the captain and all his men were soon quite lost.  If the captain hadn’t kept his head, they might never have been seen again.  As it was, they didn’t arrive back at the castle till 6:30 the next morning.

When the captain and his men arrived home, one of the ladies in waiting went to wake the queen up.  The queen woke the king (not the easiest of tasks since the king liked to sleep in), and both went down to the royal throne room to hear the captain’s report.  When the queen heard the news, she went into a fit of hysterics.  The king frowned, and tried to think.  The queen, between sobs, was all for rousing the army and sending them off after the dragon.  She kept carrying on and making impractical suggestions until the king (to be fair, he never was a morning person) snapped that he didn’t care if it was one dragon or a whole herd of dragons; if someone didn’t fetch him his coffee, he’d never be able to think the whole problem through.  The queen went into another fit of hysterics and was carried off to her chambers.  The king’s coffee was delivered, and he went up into his own private sitting room to enjoy some peace and quiet.

The longer he thought, the more he realized just how quiet the castle now was.  After all, there was no Esmerelda storming through it, breaking things, throwing expensive vases out of windows, and causing widespread havoc wherever she went.  Come to think of it, the servants seemed much more cheerful too; he’d never seen the scullery maids look so happy.

Finally, with a sigh, the king made up his mind.  He would issue an edict stating the traditional reward; half his kingdom and his daughter’s hand in marriage to the man who rescued Esmerelda.  However, halfway through glumly writing out this announcement, the king’s face suddenly brightened.  What was that it said, “his daughter’s hand in marriage.”  That would be nice, very nice . . . But what if they rescued Esmerelda and then decided that they didn’t want her hand in marriage?  He frowned and chewed on his quill.  It was a very bad habit since he was constantly ruining quills.   Ah, that was it!  He would see to it that any princes interested in rescuing Esmerelda signed a binding contract. Then they would have to marry her . . .


May 28, 2010

Long ago . . .

Posted in Creative Writing, Fairytales at 10:44 pm by catsinboxes

Once upon a time there was a little girl who loved to write.  One day, when she was about eight or nine years old, she decided to write a story . . .

There was once three princess, they lived in a cottage in the woods.  One princess was very pretty, one princess was very kind, and one princess was very clever.  They all loved each other very dearly and did everything together.  Their names were Jennifer, Jenna and Kate.  One day Kate said Jennifer Jenna lets go pick some wild strawberrys since they are ripe now.  Sow they all went to pick strawberrys, eksept Jennifer who had to finnish combing her hair.  Jenna and Kate said that they would whate for her but Jennifer insised that they start whithout her and she would catch up.

Now there lived a evil ugly goblin in those parts and he wanted a princess to whate on him and bring him his food, and make his bed every morning for you see he was very lazy.  Now this goblin had a mirror that would show him anything, and when he saw that Jennifer was alone he quickly called a wolf that balonded to him and said go and fetch me the princess in the cabin over yonder.

The wolf after he had heard what to do bounded through the woods till he reached the cabin and then began to think how to bring the Princess back to the goblins undergroud cave.  Sudenly the idea struck him, he rushed into the cabin crying Princess, Princess there is a young Prince over in yonder creek drowning at this very minute!

Oh no cried the princess and completely forgot to be cautious (because wolfs are knowed to be sly) bring me to him at whonce!  and the sly wolf led her to the stream and then along the bank and then when she asked where the prince was he answered a little more this way and led her right up to the goblins front door (which realy was a tunnel going straight down) and then pushed her in!

Meanwhile Jenna and Kate where begining to wonder why Jennifer was not coming to help them pick strawberrys sow they both went back to get her and where alarmed to find the cabin empty.

Meanwhile poor Jennifer was terrified at being suddenly pushed down a hole, and tried to scream but the wolf quickly put his paw over her mouth.  The goblin was very happy to see the princess and told her that she must go and make his bed at once ore he would cut her long beautiful hair.

Jenna and Kate decided to go and ask the queen of all the fairies what to do about the sudden disapearance of Jenner.

Jennifer was at that very minute makeing the evil goblins bed, she was very scared since the goblin had threatened to cut her hair.

Jenna and Kate where at that very minute packing up all the things they would need to take along on there trip . . .

At this point, the little girl stopped.  I believe her hand was tired, and she had some thinking to do about what would happen next.  However, like many stories, this one was set aside.  It found its way  into a folder and stayed there, quite contented, until it was found by a much-older girl who decided to post it on her blog . . .

May 27, 2010

Preface to the Korean War

Posted in Korea, Korean War at 9:29 pm by catsinboxes

What was the Korean War?  Was it even necessary?  What good came out of it?  After all, it is known by some as “the first war we lost.”

The Korean War marks a turning point in the history of warfare.  It also marks something greater, something that can be lost when looking at it from a 21st century perspective.

The Korean War was not ultimately about Korea, it was about communism.  The U.S. had watched while China was overrun by communism.  It had watched as the Soviet Union swallowed newly formed countries in Eastern Europe.  Communism was rising like a red wave and on June 25, 1950, it surged across the 38th Parallel into South Korea.

And it is here, in history, that the United States confronted communism.  For three years a war would rage across the little, mountainous peninsula of Korea.  A war that concluded inconclusively.  A war that did not have a “victor.”  What was the point, was it even worth fighting for those three years?

There is an answer to these questions, but it is not an easy answer.  In the coming days and weeks we will explore the Korean War, and as we do, we will find the answers to these questions.

May 24, 2010

Thoughts on a book

Posted in Books, Fantasy at 10:14 pm by catsinboxes

My room has become quite wild as of late, but before I spend most of my evening cleaning, I want to write down a few thoughts about a book I just finished two nights ago.  I know, you’re thinking: Hey, wait a minute!  What about that Korean War post that was supposed to be three afternoons ago and what happens to that horrible princess?  I want to see some more poodles chucked out of windows!

Well, not quite that.  I suppose I’m the only one who takes delight in thinking up creative ways of knocking off toy poodles.  In answer to your thoughts though, I do admit I have other things to do.  At the same time, I believe that a fun blog is a hodge-podge of this and that and is created at the writer’s whim.  So, while I do promise I will duly write about Korea and additional poodle demises my fairytale, at the moment I will write about a book.

With all that said, this isn’t meant to be a book review.  Rather, it is some musings on a particular series, the Inkheart trilogy by Cornelia Funke.  I finished the third book, Inkdeath, two nights ago, and I’m going to create a sort of dialogue about the book.

What interested you in the series? Well, I first heard of them when I read World Magazine’s movie review of the the first novel, Inkheart.  The reviewer wasn’t very enthusiastic about the movie but referenced with enjoyment the book.  I love fairytales and fantasy, but there are not many recent, good fantasy novels.  So, I mentally made note of Inkheart.  It was mentioned again in a conversation, and shortly afterward I came upon the first book at our library booksale.  I read it and really enjoyed it.  Some time between then and now, I read the second book, Inkspell.  Then, finally, I read the third.

Okay, nice history, but what is it about and why all the ink??? Well, it takes place in our contemporary world and also in another world dubbed “Inkworld” by Meggie Folchart, the story’s heroine.  Meggie’s family finds themselves increasingly drawn into the affairs of Inkworld.  I’m not going to say anymore about the storyline here; It’s thoroughly unpredictable, and I don’t want to spoil anything.  I really enjoyed that because I never knew what twist the story would take.  Also, despite several hundred pages (you could knock someone out if you dropped this volume out of a second-story window), the plot never lagged.

What sort of person would enjoy it; would I? Ah, that’s the tricky part.  The best way I can compare it, is to a piece of realistic medieval historical fiction.  Inkworld, in many ways, is medieval.  It’s magical, but poverty and dirt and sweat are all very real.

Morality is not an emphasized point or strength.  And, several remarks along that line are made that would make me classify this as a book for older teens or adults.  At the same time, in a Robin Hood sense, there are good guys v. bad guys.  And boy, are the bad guys bad; Funke can create quite the villain.  You might say that this is a Dickensian sort of fantasy.  A rambling fantasy world with all sorts of twists and turns, peopled with a whole host of characters.  And a warning, there is some profanity and “damn’s.”  Eleanor, a bristling middle-aged woman, is the prime culprit of this offense.

All right, I’m sort of interested, but you do have some warnings.  If I accept those, why should I read this? If you love fantasy, you will love the world that Cornelia Funke has created.  Her writing style is a rich, descriptive narrative (and this book is translated from the German!).  Also, Funke has invented all sorts of interesting creatures; blue fairies that nest in the eaves, glass men that act as assistants to scribes, to name only a few.  Then, you might say as icing on the cake, there is a wonderful quote from some book or poem at the start of each chapter.  They are very well chosen to correspond with the chapter itself.  That said, there were a few rather sacrilegious ones towards the end of Inkdeath.  (Quotes about God cleaning his workshop and finding half-created things he had forgotten about; I don’t think so!)

If you don’t mind my “warnings”, prepare to lose yourself in the pages of Cornelia Funke’s series; it really is a delightful experience.

P.S.  All right, what do you think?  Did you like this?  Would you mind commenting your thoughts?  I know there are some people out there reading this!

May 20, 2010

Just For Fun . . .

Posted in Creative Writing, Fairytales at 3:49 am by catsinboxes

Once upon a time there was a king and queen.  They lived in a grand castle and had a beautiful daughter.  Her name was Esmerelda Galatia Roberta Geraldine.  And if you think her name is bad, it is nothing compared to its owner.  For, Esmerelda Galatia Roberta Geraldine was awful.  In fact, she was truly a little monster.  At the tender age of two she had bitten her nurse’s nose and refused to let go.  It took three doctors, four courtiers, and the royal dog keeper to pry her mouth open.  The nurse (whose nose never did look the same) was given a life-long pension and a cottage in the middle of the forest.  For some reason, she never liked children again.

At the age of six, Esmerelda had flung her mother’s poodle out the tower window.  It had landed in the moat and would have been all right, if the castle’s crocodile hadn’t eaten it before it could swim to shore.  Her mother had cried and carried on dreadfully, and the king had ordered the crocodile to be killed.  It wasn’t the crocodile’s fault, really.  After all, what would you do if a nice juicy poodle had fallen right under your nose?  And what happened to Esmerelda? Well, her mother did tell her that she was “a very naughty girl.”  But Esmerelda didn’t care, she just laughed and ran off to find some other mischief.

At the age of fourteen, Esmerelda used her father’s battle axe and tried to cut down the oldest oak tree in the garden.  She didn’t get very far because it was a very big tree and the axe was soon blunted.  So, she fetched her father’s best sword and kept hacking away.  She was on her way to the armory to get her father’s mace (though how she thought that would have cut down the tree I have no idea) when her father came looking for his sword.  When he found out what Esmerelda had done, he took her over his knee and spanked her with the flat of the sword.  Then Esmerelda cried and carried on, and said it wasn’t fair.  Her father agreed that it wasn’t fair, after all, she had ruined his axe, his sword, and had tried to ruin his mace not to mention damaging his oak tree.  Esmerelda said that she didn’t care what she had done and that she wasn’t sorry.  And her father, who was still quite upset, spanked her again.

After being spanked the second time by her father, Esmerelda decided to run away.  She stormed up to her bedroom and was soon angrily tossing clothes out of her dresser, wardrobe, closet, and trunk.  She tried to pack all the clothes she wanted into a bag, but the bag was too small.  Finally, in a fit of rage, Esmerelda threw the bag out the window.  The wind caught the bag and blew it down into the garden, where it landed on the queen’s poodle.  (If you can’t tell, the queen liked poodles.)

The poodle, who was quite a foolish dog, started running about wildly, trying to get the bag off.  It ran right into the moat and was promptly eaten by the new castle crocodile.  As you will have guessed, the queen cried and carried on, and told the king it was all his fault.  The king had never liked the poodle, and he was still in a bad mood because the armorer had just told him that both his sword and battle axe were ruined.  He said it wasn’t his fault at all, it served the poodle right for being so silly.  The queen grew quite distraught and tried to throw her gardening trowel at the king.  It didn’t hit the king, but it did hit the crocodile who had been watching all these events with the contentment that only comes after one has consumed a small, plump lap dog.  The crocodile didn’t like being hit by a trowel, so he started to come out of the moat.  The queen screamed and fainted.  The king bellowed for his sword and then remembered that it wasn’t good any more.  In the pandemonium that ensued, the king and several knights dragged the unconscious queen to safety while an enterprising squire held the crocodile at bay by flinging flower pots at it.  The crocodile didn’t like flower pots being thrown at it and finally retreated sulkily back into the moat.  They were new flower pots, and had just been planted by the queen.

Later, when the queen regained consciousness, she was quite upset at the squire for breaking all those pots and wanted him to be thrown in the dungeon.  The king, who hadn’t forgotten that the trowel had been meant to hit his head said, “Nonsense, and if you don’t stop that racket, I’ll have you thrown in the dungeon for attempting to harm our royal person.”  The queen was about to have hysterics but then thought better of it and instead retired to her royal chambers.

In the midst of all this confusion, Esmerelda slipped unnoticed out of the castle . . .

To be continued shortly

May 17, 2010

Busy Days

Posted in Just Life at 8:25 pm by catsinboxes

There’s a song I enjoy by Michael Card.  Actually, I can’t remember the song, but the chorus is stuck in my head and especially one line . . . “So many books, so little time.”

That could be the theme of my life right now, but it’s not just books, it’s everything.  I feel like someone’s stepping on the accelerator of my life.  There’s more and more to do, yet it seems less and less time to do it.

I do like schedules, and I love making schedules, but actually following them is my shortcoming.  I’d appreciate your prayers as I work hard on “numbering my days.”

With that in mind, I am planning on doing a series of posts about the Korean war, starting this afternoon.  It will be a good motivation for me to write, and I hope you will find it as interesting as I do!  And now, off to do some research and writing!

May 11, 2010

Jane Austen on Facebook . . .

Posted in England, Favorite Quotes, Jane Austen at 10:18 pm by catsinboxes

Resignation to inevitable evils is the duty of us all…

Actually, Jane wasn’t writing about Facebook.  The context is Mr. Collins reassuring Mrs. Bennet that he REALLY doesn’t mind about Elizabeth Bennet flatly refusing him.

Still, I found this quote just as I was resigning myself to some inevitable evils of Facebook.   Literally, the timing was perfect.  Just goes to show how relevant Jane Austen is to the everyday life of a 21st century American high school senior!