Friday Faves: Reasons to Study Shakespeare

comedy of errors

This is a busy week. Our children are performing in a Shakespeare production, we’re all stretched thin, and my mind is on Shakespearean things. Or at least on the reasons why Shakespeare is valuable, since we’re all working 10 hour days on limited sleep. I thought we’d discuss the things to be gained from studying the ancient works of Shakespeare in this postmodern year of Our Lord, 2019.

~ That you may ruminate: If there is one thing Shakespeare provides, it’s the opportunity to consider the complexities of human nature and conduct. There really is, to quote King Solomon, nothing new under the sun, and it’s usually a straight line between someone we know, perhaps ourselves, and a Shakespearean character’s foibles.

~ One man in his time plays many parts: Is there a better description of the many ages and stages of a single life? In a world of two-dimensional characters and one-dimensional depictions of a good life, Shakespeare offers a rich and full examination of the stages of life as well as their advantages and drawbacks.

~ I have no other reason but a woman’s reason: I actually do have a reason, but I like this quote from The Two Gentlemen of Verona because it illuminates my next point. Shakespeare is politically incorrect and brutally honest. On most subjects, perhaps because he was a man of his time, Shakespeare unapologetically expresses things as they are, not the way we wish a mysterious alternate reality fairy might make them.

~ They have been at a great feast of languages and stol’n the scraps“: So much of our modern language, its idioms, and axioms, are borne of ideas first penned by William Shakespeare. From “break the ice” to “love is blind” and “as good luck would have it”, our modern language is peppered with mainstays we borrowed from Shakespeare’s 16th Century writings. In our flash-in-the-pan culture, I’d say that’s pretty amazing. Only the Bible has had as much or more impact on our use of language. And oh yes, I’m aware that the quote that I used here is not quite in context. I couldn’t think of one more fitting and so…I turned it into scraps.

~Mine eyes smell onions: Lastly, Shakespeare is funny, if you can get the joke. This very obvious quip is from All’s Well that End’s Well when the duke excuses his emotional reaction to a touching scene by complaining that his eyes smell onions. A lot of Shakespeare’s humor is what as known as “blue comedy”,  but even those jokes are insightful and tinged with truths about human nature.

Those are five of my favorite reasons why it’s worth the time and intellectual investment required to read some of the works of William Shakespeare.

Feel free to add your own observations to the list, and Happy Friday!

 

 

 

 

 

Word Nerd Wednesday: The Shadetree Mechanic

This installment hardly qualifies as intellectual wordsmith worthy. I know this, but recently my Southern gal surfaced and I used this term in a conversation with a woman who was born and raised up north. She was bewildered.

So I asked my hillbilly friend if she’d heard this word before and she hadn’t either. This left me wondering if what I thought was a Southern thing was actually a black thing. A few clicks, a bit of reading, and here we are. It’s neither, really.

From the urban slang dictionary:

Shadetree mechanic: A hobbyist mechanic who works on their own vehicles, often in their driveway. (Perhaps underneath a tree providing shade.)

When I was a kid, they often worked on the vehicles of folks in the neighborhood as well. They tended to know cars, and well, but lacked the requisite commitment and business sense to open a “proper” garage.

Well as it turns out, these guys are a dying breed. Cars and trucks are being designed differently now and most people simply take their vehicles to the dealer for service.

Autotrader has a good article on the death of the shadetree mechanic:

For decades now, every neighbourhood had their local shadetree mechanic. That man (or woman) that did their own oil changes, replaced their own brakes and generally did most, if not all, of their own repairs on their personal vehicles. These handy types would even help out a neighbour or a friend for a few beers and some good company or maybe a few dollars if the job was a long drawn out one that needed special tools or expertise.

But the days of the shadetree mechanic are now numbered, not necessarily due to the lost interest of your fellow neighbour, but due to the complexity and computers built into the modern car.

This is a term that will be completely removed from our lexicon in the near future, and in my opinion, it’s too bad.

Friday Fave: Winter in The Sunshine State

…Or at least on the peninsula.

A good friend shared this very funny three minute video with me: When It Finally Gets Cold in the South.

I can relate to just about every experience found here, but the funniest part to me is also the most true.

By the time you dig out your “winter gear” and get outside, it’s already starting to warm up to a balmy, beautiful 75 degree day!

Hope your Thanksgiving weekend is going well.

Thanksgiving Books for Kids

Thanksgiving is just two days away, and like many of my readers, I am in the kitchen doing make ahead food prep. Recently, I was thinking of books that would be great to read aloud with children who are at home from school this week or homeschool students who are doing far less than the typical school workload. Here are a few that we have enjoyed over the years. I’ll link to each one with its publisher’s blurb because, well, I don’t have time to exposit on them properly in my own words at the moment.

Squanto and the Miracle of Thanksgiving, by Eric Mataxas:

squanto2

This entertaining and historical story shows that the actual hero of Thanksgiving was neither white nor Indian but God. In 1608, English traders came to Massachusetts and captured a twelve-year-old Indian, Squanto, and sold him into slavery. He was raised by Christians and taught faith in God. Ten years later he was sent home to America. Upon arrival, he learned an epidemic had wiped out his entire village. But God had plans for Squanto. God delivered a Thanksgiving miracle: an English-speaking Indian living in the exact place where the Pilgrims landed in a strange new world.

America’s Real First Thanksgiving: St. Augustine, September 8, 1565:

real-first-thanksgiving

When most Americans think of the first Thanksgiving, they think of the Pilgrims and the Indians in New England in 1621. But fifty-six years before the Pilgrims celebrated, Spanish explorer Pedro Menendez arrived on the coast of Florida and founded the first North American city, St. Augustine.

As I noted before here, I fully recognize the validity and significance of the traditionally celebrated Thanksgiving event. As a native Floridian and Florida history buff, I happen to find this story fascinating.

The Berenstain Bears Give Thanks:

bears thanks

 

The Berenstain cubs act out the first Thanksgiving complete with costumes, props, and a full Thanksgiving feast. But will Sister Bear’s pet turkey play the part of dinner? The Berenstain Bears Give Thanks teaches how God provided for the pilgrims and reminds children of God’s many blessings.

An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving, by Louisa May Alcott:

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Thanksgiving morning is here, and the Bassett family’s cozy kitchen is filled with the hustle and bustle of the holiday. But this year something is different: Tilly, Prue, and their brothers and sisters have been left in charge of everything from the roasted turkey to the apple slump. They tie on their aprons and step into the kitchen, but are they really up for the challenge of cooking a Thanksgiving feast?

Feel free to offer some of your family’s favorite Thanksgiving books. It might include many that are not specifically written with children in mind.

Happy Thanksgiving, All!

 

 

 

Eggs are expensive. Sperm is cheap

eggs are expensive

Eggs Are expensive. Sperm is cheap: 50 Politically Incorrect Thoughts for Men, Kindle edition, by Greg Krehbiel. Published n 2014. 94 pages.

It just took me a grand total of one hour and 45 minutes to read this book, so it’s pretty short. I have heard the titular expression several times, but was unfamiliar with any book with this title. I learned of it after stumbling upon this article by Doug Wilson in which it was referenced. The book was far less expensive than eggs or sperm, and so I grabbed a cheap download and read it just a bit ago.

The basic premise, with which I fully agree, is that what our postmodern culture brands sexism is actually the recognition of human nature, common sense, and God-given sexual hard wiring for our survival and human flourishing. It’s a necessary good, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with pointing out that men and women are fundamentally different, thrive in different capacities, and are best served by the acknowledgment and acceptance of these realities.

There isn’t much more to it than that, broken down into 50 bullet point thoughts to organize the author’s points. The examples are worth considering; on everything from the privilege of male children in China to the “oppression” of women prior to 1920 when the 19th Amendment to the Constitution was passed. One example in particular that is worth considering is the ongoing fight for female equality in the armed forces:

Another example is warfare. If you understand the fundamental math (eggs are expensive and sperm is cheap) you understand why it makes perfect sense to have men fight the wars. Nature seems to understand that because it made the men physically equipped for the task. But somebody who is an absolute genius at spin has convinced us all that this very fact — that it’s the men who have to fight and die in war — is now seen as oppression of women. It’s almost hard to write something so transparently stupid, but that’s the way people think nowadays.

The modern lie has taken hold so completely that up to this moment you probably saw it that way. You probably saw the exclusion of women from various roles in the military as a left-over of pro-male prejudice. You may have thought, “Why can’t a woman go fight if she wants to?” And there you have the female imperative. “If she wants to.” The man might be drafted against his will and sent off to fight and die in a war a thousand miles away from everyone he loves for a cause he doesn’t believe in. But the woman gets to choose if she wants to fight, and the entire military structure has to be retooled and reorganized to accommodate her preference.

There is a lot to be said about the subject of this book, and unless any of us are willing to think critically, outside  the box, and consider another perspective if only as a thought experiment, no consensus will be reached. I didn’t agree with everything in the book. As is often the case when I read secular books on this subject, I like to see more credence given to the transcendent, even when I have no reason to expect such.

Krehbiel is far more right than wrong on all 50 of his counts, so it’s worth a read whether you’re male or female. The second half is mostly advice for men, but most of it -not all of it- was decent advice. I arrived at that conclusion from observing my own husband, not because of any inbred authority on the subject of manhood.

One thing is true, no matter what side of the argument you come down on. Mr Krehbiel is right absolutely about this:

The modern approach to sex doesn’t build a culture. It doesn’t harness the energy of the young man’s sex drive to make young men into responsible, useful members of society. It also fails to maximize women’s potential as wives and mothers. It is, in short, destroying civilized society. For the time being, our society is living off the borrowed capital of previous generations. A couple more generations of the modern way, and we’ll be in full-bore idiocracy.

This is a book that hits all the pertinent notes in a concise, no nonsense way and does it without being coarse or vulgar. Totally worth a read, even if all it does is make you think.

 

4 out of 5 stars

Classics Are Often Not about “Old” People

Briana offers a good exposition of the fact that classics are not ignored or pushed aside because their themes appeal to “old” people.

I believe this happens because reading classic literature is often work; work that requires we labor with more formal, complex expressions of the English language. Most people, including many teachers, don’t want to be bothered to that degree. Many are also ignorantly dismissing timeless values for what is more “relevant”.

When I am reading a book and need a dictionary, or am compelled to think of transcendent ideas, it is then that I know I am really reading!

Read the post here.

Friday Faves: Thanksgiving Edition

thanksgiving capture

In less than a week, most of us will join our extended families and friends, break bread, and give thanks for all of the blessings we enjoy. In the interest of the spirit of the season, I decided to have a conversation about the best things about Thanksgiving Day, at least in my personal estimation.

  • Time with family: Our life is busy, and we are blessed to spend a lot of time with great people and awesome Christian friends, but we don’t spend as much time with our extended family. Family, even when things are hard, is still family. To spend a few hours eating good food and engaging in stimulating conversation is an opportunity that most of us don’t get to enjoy often enough.
  • Preparing good food: While turkeys and sweet potatoes are available year-round, it just never occurs to most people -at least not us- to smoke a turkey or bake a sweet potato pie in March. Our family cooks together pretty often, but cooking a Thanksgiving meal is a special meal preparation that’s not quite like any other. Everyone in our house has a particular specialty, and putting them all together is lots of fun.
  • Table settings: One of our kids has a God-given eye for beauty and a gift for design. I suspect her father bequeathed her his artistic eye, but hers has a particular feminine flair and she is wonderful at designing just the right look for the table.
  • A spectacularly clean house: We are constantly cleaning around here. Floors are mopped daily and all that good stuff. But when 12 or more people are visiting to sit around your table and hang out at your house for an afternoon, a deeper cleaning is in order; the kind of cleaning that gets relegated to seasonal scheduling when life is extremely busy, which ours usually is.
  • The crash afterward: The run-up to Thanksgiving can be kind of frantic. I started this afternoon with most of my shopping for the day. The next few days will be consumed with preparations and by Wednesday, I’m ready to get on with it. Thursday will be a lot of fun, laughter will rule the day, and after the clean up is done, I’ll be excited for the moment when I can shower, put on some comfy clothes, lay my head on my husband’s shoulder and play a Christmas movie. Of course, the chances that I’ll get 1/3 of the way through the movie without falling asleep is are pretty slim.

Those are a few of my favorite things about Thanksgiving.

What are some of yours?