Jason’s Ranting & Raving

Those who don’t read have no advantage over those who can’t.

Posts Tagged ‘writing’

A little scary story (for kids, I think)

Posted by jaystile on June 20, 2010

My daughter is in girl scouts. Tonight, she and her troop are having a backyard camp-out. For a few hours I helped prepare for the event by cleaning and keeping my daughters out of my wife’s hair. I grilled up some tasty burgers & hot dogs for the troop. Cleaned up vomit after someone nearly choked on an apple, changed the garbage, and was all-in-all a dutiful dad and husband. I even built a wood fire in the grill so we could roast marshmallows over the flames. The girls are around age six and I was told there would be stories before bed. I wanted to tell them a scary story, but my wife said, “NO!” Here is that unheard story.

Sarah with the long pigtails
There once was a little girl named Sarah. Her house was on a quiet street in a quiet neighborhood. Every morning, she would get up, put on one of her favorite dresses, make her bed, and brush her teeth. Then she would take out a brush and brush out the few snarls in her soft hair, gather together some pig tails and braid them. She would then tie them together with a beautiful pink ribbon. Sarah really liked making her hair look nice. Her mother would say to her, “Oh Sarah, your pigtails look so beautiful today!”

It was summertime and Sarah loved being outside. She would look for bugs under the rocks in her mom’s flower garden, lie in the grass and watch the clouds roll by, or watch the neighbor’s cat sneak up with its tail twitching and try to catch birds. Sarah enjoyed the outdoors, but it was lonely on her quiet street in her quiet neighborhood for there were no children for her to play with. One day, while Sarah was making chalk drawings on the side walk she looked up and saw another child way down at the end of the street. Sarah waved and the child waved back, but the next time Sarah looked the child was gone. The next day, Sarah was watering the plants in her mom’s flower garden. When she looked up she saw the same child from the other day standing across the street. It was a little girl about Sarah’s age. The little girl had on dirty clothes, her hair was in tangles and she didn’t smile, but she yelled across the street, “I really like your pigtails!” Sarah, yelled back “Thanks!” and the child ran away. Sarah was disappointed because she wanted to make a new friend.

A few days went past and Sarah did not see the little girl. Sarah went back to watching the cat, looking for bugs, and staring at the clouds. She fell asleep in the soft grass of the front yard. When she woke up the girl with the dirty clothes and tangled hair was standing above her. “I really like your pigtails”, she said without smiling. Sarah was startled and said, “Thanks. I’m Sarah, what’s your name?” The little girl said to her, “I like your name and I really like your pigtails.” Then she turned and ran away. Sarah called out after her, “Wait! Please come back!” but the girl with the dirty clothes and tangled hair was gone.

Weeks went by and summertime was coming to a close and Sarah forgot about the little girl with the dirty clothes and tangled hair. Sarah had been asking her mom if she could camp out in the backyard. Her mom agreed and Sarah went about setting up the tent, unrolling her sleeping bag, and settled in for the evening. She noticed a lot of different noises at night, but her mom had told her what to expect, “You’ll probably hear the hooting of an owl, the chirp of crickets, and the wind rustling the leaves.” Sarah was a little nervous with all the new sounds, but eventually she got used to them and fell fast asleep in the warm night summer air. Sometime during night she woke up. It sounded like something was by the tent so she listened closely. Yes, something was moving around the tent. She turned on her flashlight and could see the the tent being touched from the outside. Sarah was so scared that she couldn’t make a sound. Then the she heard the outer flap of the tent unzip, “ZZZZZZIIIIIIPPPPPPP”. She could see someone reaching to the inner zipper, “ZZZZZZZIIIIIIIIPPPPPPPPP”. Sarah screamed! “Shush!” Sarah’s mom said. “You’ll wake up the neighbors! I was just checking to make sure you were doing alright. I’m going to bed, good night. And no more screaming!”

Soon, Sarah settled back down, turned off her flashlight, and listened to the sound of the wind blowing through the leaves and laughed because she had been so scared. “I really like your pigtails.” someone whispered. Sarah sat up like a bolt and turned on the flashlight in an instant and screamed! Sitting in the corner was the girl with the dirty clothes and tangled hair. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to scare you”, she said when Sarah tried to catch her breath. “My name is Sarah too, can I stay and camp with you?” Sarah with the pigtails was scared and confused, but the dirty Sarah smiled a beautiful smile. Sarah with the pigtails calmed down and dirty Sarah starting talking with her and asked her lots of questions about herself. Sarah with the pigtails felt happy because someone was finally interested in her and wanted to be her friend. After talking for many hours the Sarahs decided to go to bed and fell asleep.

In the morning, Sarah with the pigtails woke up in the soft grass in the front yard. Confused, Sarah walked up the steps of the front porch and tried to open the door, but it was locked tight. Sarah rang the doorbell and heard the footsteps coming down the hall. The door opened and her mother looked down and said, “I’m sorry Sarah can’t come out and play, she’s grounded for screaming and waking up the neighbors last night.” “BUT MOM, IT’S ME! “, Sarah cried. As the door shut Sarah could see dirty Sarah standing in the house and she had Sarah with the pigtails hair on her head like a bad wig. “I really like your pigtails”, she whispered. The door shut and Sarah reached up and touched the top of her head and her hair was all gone.

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Book Review: The Hero with a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell

Posted by jaystile on June 22, 2009

The Hero with a Thousand Faces

The Hero with a Thousand Faces

The Hero with a Thousand Faces is a non-fiction book by Joseph Campbell ©1949. The premise of the book is that there is only one hero story, the monomyth. All stories share similar seeds of the idea of the hero. Joseph Campbell uses hero stories from varied traditions like Judeo-Christian, Buddhist, Native American, Australian, African, Irish, Nordic, and the far east to use as examples of the universal condition of man. The concepts in the book are exhilarating, however Campbell’s literary style has him flowing from topic/example to another and then back again. And other than his over zealous support for Freudian psychoanalysis and dream analysis (which was very popular at the time of writing) it was worth a read. I enjoyed Part I which focused on the exploits of the hero more than Part II which revolved around the cyclical nature of the universe and the hero’s role in it.

Mythology has been interpreted by the modern intellect as a primitive, fumbling effort to explain the world of nature (Frazer); as a production of poetical fantasy from prehistoric times, misunderstood by succeeding ages (Muller); as a repository of allegorical instruction, to shape the individual to his group (Durkheim); as a group dream, symptomatic of archetypal urges within the depths of the human psyche (Jung); as the traditional vehicle of man’s profoundest metaphysical insights (Coomaraswamy); and as God’ Revelation to His children (the Church). Mythology is all of these. The various judgments are determined by the viewpoints of the judges. For when scrutinized in terms not of what it is but of how it functions, of how it has served mankind in the past, of how it may serve today, mythology shows itself to be as amenable as life itself to the obsessions and requirements of the individual, the race, the age.

This book had a profound influence on George Lucas and the Star Wars story. The Hero with a Thousand Faces had me thinking of the many parallels of the hero stories I’ve enjoyed which I would like to align with the chapter titles in the book to add to his examples. So, let’s see how our modern tales fit in the monomyth (paraphrased for entertainment value by myself).

The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R Tolkien

  1. The Call to Adventure – Take the ring to Elrond.
  2. Refusal of the Call – I can’t go I’m in love with the Shire. What’s that? Bad things are coming to kill me? F@#$ this place.
  3. Supernatural Aid – Tom Bombadil, enough said. Old Man Willow should have ate their sorry hobbit behinds. Not too mention that Gandalf gets resurrected, talk about Deus Ex Machina. (Not that I am criticizing J.R.R. Tolkien my personal literary god.)
  4. The Crossing of the First Threshold – Let’s run to the Prancing Pony!
  5. The Belly of the Whale – You’re holding The One Ring to Rule them all. *uh oh*

The Matrix by Larry and Andy Wachowski

  1. The Call to Adventure – Follow the White Rabbit.
  2. Refusal of the Call – Climb out the window?! GTFO. <<Insert mechanical insect>> On second thought, where is that red pill?
  3. Supernatural Aid – I’m going to learn kung-fu? Yes dumbass, why else would we stab you in the brain?
  4. The Crossing of the First Threshold – Free your mind.
  5. The Belly of the Whale – Your whole life was a fabrication called The Matrix

Harry Potter by J. K. Rowling

  1. The Call to Adventure – You’re a wizard and didn’t know it. Congratulations
  2. Supernatural Aid – Hi, I’m Hagrid here to bust your ass out and be your BFF even though you’ll never appreciate me.
  3. The Crossing of the First Threshold – To Diagon Alley!
  4. The Belly of the Whale – Welcome to Hogwarts! Time to meet your mortal enemy!

Star Wars by George Lucas

  1. The Call to Adventure – Come with me to Alderaan.
  2. Refusal of the Call – I can’t I’m in enough trouble as it is! Oh, it turns out my foster parents are dead. I think I’ll go with you instead.
  3. Supernatural Aid – “hokey religions and ancient weapons are no substitute for a good blaster at your side”. Actually, it turns out they are.
  4. The Crossing of the First Threshold – That little droid is going to get me into a lot of trouble! … I see two banthas down there but no Sandpeople… *URRGHGG UR UR URRRGGGH*
  5. The Belly of the Whale – The Death Star. The metaphor doesn’t even have to stretch.

The Hero with a Thousand Faces – Table of Contents
Prologue: The Monomyth

  1. Myth and Ream
  2. Tragedy and Comedy
  3. The Hero and the God
  4. The World Navel

Part I: The Adventure of the Hero
Chapter I: Departure

  1. The Call to Adventure
  2. Refusal of the Call
  3. Supernatural Aid
  4. The Crossing of the First Threshold
  5. The Belly of the Whale

Chapter II: Initiation

  1. The Road of Trials
  2. The Meeting with the Goddess
  3. Woman as the Temptress
  4. Atonement with the Father
  5. Apotheosis
  6. The Ultimate Boon

Chapter III: Return

  1. Refusal of the Return
  2. The Magic Flight
  3. Rescue from Without
  4. The Crossing of the Return Threshold
  5. Master of the Two Worlds
  6. Freedom to Live

Chapter IV: The Keys

Part II: The Cosmogonic Cycle
Chapter I: Emanations

  1. From Psychology to Metaphysics
  2. The Universal Round
  3. Out of the Void–Space
  4. Within Space–Life
  5. The Breaking of the One into the Manifold
  6. Fold Stories of Creation

Chapter II: The Virgin Birth

  1. Mother Universe
  2. Matrix of Destiny
  3. Womb of Redemption
  4. Fold Stories of Virgin Motherhood

Chapter III: Transformations of the Hero

  1. The Primordial Hero and the Human
  2. Childhood of the Human Hero
  3. The Hero as Warrior
  4. The Hero as Lover
  5. The Hero as Emperor and as Tyrant
  6. The Hero as World Redeemer
  7. The Hero as Saint
  8. Departure of the Hero

Chapter IV: Dissolutions

  1. End of the Microcosm
  2. End of the Macrocosm

Epilogue: Myth and Society

  1. The Shapeshifter
  2. The FUnction of Myth, Cult, and Meditation
  3. The Hero Today

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Book Review – John Adams by David McCullough

Posted by jaystile on November 18, 2008

Originally Posted: Tuesday, April 24, 2007

John Adams by David McCullough is a biography on the United States of America’s second president. This biography was assembled from the reading the numerous letters that John Adams and his wife Abigail had written to each other. Other correspondance was used from various political figures of the time like Thomas Jefferson and John Jay. You almost get as much information about the career of Thomas Jefferson as you do John Adams in this book. This non fiction book is 650 pages. Some interesting things you might like to know about our president.

– One of the original signers of the Declaration of Independence. Adams was “The Voice”, Jefferson was “The Pen” of this great document_
– The Declaration of Independence was signed in secret on July 2nd, with some signatures not coming until weeks later. The secrecy was due to British spies and loyalists.
– John Adams was commissioned as a representative to France during the Revolutionary War. His ship was chased by British frigates. Also along the way a lightening struck and destoyed the main mast.
– The French foreign minister did not like John Adams and asked to have him removed. Due to America’s need to have the French assist them during the war, Benjamin Franklin wrote a scathing letter to congress against him which ended Adam’s career in France. At this time Franklin was close to 80 years old and did not want to ruffle any feathers. Adams was getting upset because the French were not fulfilling their promises of aid. Adams was constantly pressuring the French to live up to their agreements. He ruffled feathers by taking out letters in the newspapers describing the American plight.
– Adams was then tasked as emissary to the Dutch. There he took multiple years building up the case for the American people. Finally, his efforts were successful, a treaty was signed at The Hague recognizing the United States. You must note that the Dutch were under pressure of war from England if they made such a treaty. However, Adams education of the public forced pressure on the Dutch govenment. After recognition, Adams was able to borrow money from the the Dutch bankers to help fund our war against the British.
– After Adams came back he was elected Vice President under George Washington.
– After Washington Adams was elected President of the United States.
– Adams along with Washington were ‘Anti-Party’. The parties of the time were the Federalists and the Republicans.
– Adams fought for the creation of a Navy. Which came in helpful in the future during the Quasi-War with the French and the War of 1812 with the British. Our little Navy smacked the snot of those British on numerous occasions.
– Adams was a strongly principled man and did what was right. I wish we had current leaders like that.
– FYI, the current mudslinging and attack ads of the current presidential elections were tame compared against the attacks made in the press in that age. Adams lost his second election for President to Thomas Jefferson mostly through the efforts of Alexander Hamilton. Jefferson didn’t help matters either by bankrolling various attacks artists.
– An oddity, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson both died on the same day. July 4th, exactly 50 years after the Declaration of Independence was signed.

Benjamin Franklin was known to be a volumous writer. Just the correspondance between John Adams and his wife exceeds all of Franklins’ writings.

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Book Review: The Luck Factor by Dr. Richard Wiseman

Posted by jaystile on November 18, 2008

Originally Posted: Monday, April 02, 2007

I recently finished “The Luck Factor” by Dr. Richard Wiseman. This is a non-fiction book on the effects of luck in your life. I was drawn to read this book because of a local radio show. http://www.alice1059.com/pages/270072.php. One of the radio personalities, Jennifer, keeps touting ‘The Secret’. http://www.themastersofthesecret.com/DVD/?gclid=CO7lqJzxpIsCFRBGGAodugZjkQ

She mentions that through living ‘The Secret’ values then due to quantum physics and the laws of attraction the things you want will come to you. That would be a false statement. There is a joke that goes around the scientific community, how can you tell when someone doesn’t understand quantum physics? They say, ‘I understand quantum physics’.

But back to ‘The Luck Factor’. This is a self-help book. I wanted to read about the research that took place to determine if some people are really lucky or not. It really didn’t have the information in it that I was looking for. There was only one experiment that I found interesting, he had all the people who considered themselves ‘lucky’ to pick lottery numbers. There was actually a trend, so he went out and bought a ticket. And did not get one single number.

The summation of the book is, that your attitude and how you behave towards others makes you lucky or unlucky. An unseen force in the universe known as ‘luck’ does not show itself in experimentation. Behavioral patterns do show up. I take issue with some self-help books and programs that promote self improvement through mysticism. People looking to improve themselves through education always have my support, those who try to do it through magic and superstition do not.

I have a problem. This problem is when people state fiction as fact. When you see this behavior notice it, and if you feel willing, correct it. ‘The Secret’ touted by the radio show was making false statements. These statements were contradicted by facts from the research done to create ‘The Luck Factor’. I wrote the radio station to voice my opinion.

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Book Review: The Future for Investors by Jeremy Siegel

Posted by jaystile on November 18, 2008

Originally Posted: Sunday, November 26, 2006

I just finished reading ‘The Future for Investors’ by Jeremy Siegel. Before you invest a single dime more, make sure you read this book.

Synopsis:
This book covers what type of stocks give you the best return on your investment. The short of it is, buy stocks that have consistently paid an increasing dividend over the last 15 years. Also, find out why people lost a lot of money during the dotcom boom. It is mostly due to the fact that those stock were trading up to 500 times earnings without paying a dividend. Also, how those stock prices directly related to the changes in law allowing stock option grants not to be accounted for as executive pay.

Finally, this answers the question, when all the baby boomers retire who are they going to sell their assets to? The boomers are the largest age demographic in the U.S. The short answer is, we’ll be fine. We’ll sell off our assets to developing countries and the center of econimic power will shift to the East. As long and we continue to promote free trade in the world economy.

Jeremy Siegel also writes a column on finance.yahoo.com

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Book Review: The Courage to be Rich by Suze Orman

Posted by jaystile on November 18, 2008

Originally Posted: Saturday, November 04, 2006

I just finished reading Suze Orman’s ‘The Courage to Be Rich’. One really only needs to read a single Suze Orman book to get her philosophy about money. Please note that Suze Orman books are not about how to invest or what to invest in. They are about how you perceive and manage your money.

But if you want a synopsis, this book is more concerned about the negative things that can happen in your life like death and divorce and how to handle them financially.

I would still recommend ‘Nine Steps to Financial Freedom’ by Suze Orman if you have never read one of her books, but if you are going through something ‘bad’, then this book would be helpful.

The Courage to Be Rich

The Courage to Be Rich

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Book Review: The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins

Posted by jaystile on November 18, 2008

I just finished reading The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins. This non-fiction book systemically points out what is wrong with religion in general and why it is not necessary to believe any of the things you were brainwashed to believe since you’ve been born.

This book was not as heavy-handed or technical as his previous books;’The Blind Watchmaker’ or ‘The Selfish Gene’. If you already consider yourself an atheist or agnostic you’ll enjoy (or be deeply disturbed if you are a theist) by the absurdities of religion and the terrible things they make otherwise normal people say or do. And if you are religious I’m sure you’ll avoid the book anyway so it does not shatter your worldview. But remember, “Unquestioned faith is not a virtue”.

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