new poem

To whom am I married, my lover, my love?
To whom am I married, my love?

You've married the master, my lover, my love,
You've married the master, my love.

And who is that coming, my lover, my love?
And who is that coming, my love?

Our master is coming, my lover, my love,
Our master is coming, my love.

And who will run faster, my lover, my love?
And who will run faster, my love?

You know who runs faster, my lover, my love,
You know who runs faster, my love.

And who shall be victor, my lover, my love?
And who shall be victor, my love?

Oh I cannot answer, my lover, my love,
Oh I cannot answer, my love,
For swift is the hound and swift is the hunter,
And swift is the master, my love.

And oh, I did love you, my love!

(while reading "Privelege of the Sword")

single sex ed

Interesting article about a new trend for single-sex classrooms in middle school.  I work with enough teens to see the benefits, BUT...

when it comes to the different "learning styles" being assumed, I sure would have hated being in one of the girl classes they describe, and would have loved the style of the boy class.

You should be able to find the article here.

I'm looking forward to see what my favorite education blogger has to say about it.

video games and art?

He won't read it, but...

I wrote the following "letter to the editor" today to Roger Ebert, in reponse to this article in which Ebert responds to comments by Clive Barker about video games as art (or otherwise). I doubt it'll be read, but I had to write it!

Dear Roger Ebert,

In your article responding to Clive Barker, you write:

If you can go through "every emotional journey available," doesn't that devalue each and every one of them? Art seeks to lead you to an inevitable conclusion, not a smorgasbord of choices. If next time, I have Romeo and Juliet go through the story naked and standing on their hands, would that be way cool, or what?"

I've sampled dozens (maybe hundreds) of video games, played a few through to the end, and have only encountered one that might meet this definition.

While some games are more like "Choose Your Own Adventure" books than like novels or movies, most modern video games are really just short B-grade action movies with very frequent intermissions -- that is, you hack your way past a bunch of monsters and are rewarded with a "cut scene" (mini movie fragment) telling you the next bit of the plot. Guy gamers seem to think of the movie bits as interruptions in the real action of running around and shooting things. Girl gamers sometimes think of the video game part as an interruption in the movie. Rarely do the two aspects work together all that well.

And yet... I know one game that might approach art in itself, even in your definition. It's a strange title called "Shadow of the Colossus". "Shadow" begins the usual way -- a little introductory movie showing the protagonist arriving in some strange place, where a disembodied voice tells him to slay some monsters in order to bring his dead girlfriend back to live. Then the game begins, and the player runs the protagonist around seeking out and then slaying a handful of gigantic monsters. As expected, there are occasional (fewer than usual) movie tidbits interspersed with the action.

Some riders on horesback approach the temple. They are in a hurry. They are worried about the protagonist and what he's up to.

Meanwhile, the players have an odd experience. We start worrying too.

Why are we killing these enormous, unique, almost gentle creatures, who've done us no wrong and don't seem to be harming anyone or anything else? Why are the approaching riders so frantic? What's with the black smoke that escapes when the creatures are killed, and what's with the shadowy black smoke men that appear around the protagonist each time he kills a beast and is re-awakened in the temple? Are we doing something bad?

There is a subtle, but ever-increasing, sense of dread and wrongness. Yet the player is caught up in the action and the challenge of the battles (and spent $40 on the game) and keeps playing. It all leads to an inevitable conclusion that still manages somehow to be a surprise.

The whole game probably has less than 10 minutes of "movie", but without the extended fights (and long spans of travel by horseback across barren, sun-streaked wilderness), those bits of movie wouldn't have the impact they do. The end is puzzling, cathartic, frustrating, and satisfying. People who played it a year ago still talk and argue about it.

I think it might actually be art.
  • Current Music
    "ratchet & clank" soundtrack

New poem unlike my usual view


Where are the poets of this war,
This war of which I do not approve?
World War One had its share:
Wilfrid Owen and Vergissmeinnicht
Cool and distant in 9th grade Lit,
All busted eyeballs and pointless end.
Or History class, the wasteful Somme,
Half a million hurt or dead
Just to prove we could take it.
The Germans lost more that time,
But nobody's counting them.
Nobody counts the men we kill,
Names their girlfriends, shames
War itself in elegant couplets.
The Great War began
Far sillier than this,
And we've been at it longer.
If we lost a million men,
Would we find more poems?

June, 2007

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Getting over stuff

Not everyone will agree, but for me, the following is the most intelligent and concise thing I've ever heard about getting over bad things that happen. This is from an article about students recovering from injuries from the Virginia Tech shooting:

Anne Lynam Goddard, whose son Colin was shot three times during the attack on his French class, sees his trauma the way doctors see the shrapnel embedded in the tissue of his wounded leg: trying to remove it would cause more pain and might make matters worse, so it's best to leave it be.

"Your body forms a cocoon, so it will always be part of you, but it won't hurt. That's how I started thinking about this early on," she said. "My biggest hope is that this is how my son will remember this. I hope he can form a cocoon around it and not let it be his defining moment."

I remember the whole 70s/80's/90's thing of everyone being really pushed to talk about and deal with anything unpleasant from their past, because obviously you couldn't get over it unless you brought it out and talked about it. I remember how I already disagreed with that in junior high, when my parents were divorcing and I certainly was not in the mood to talk out how I felt about it. Obviously being shot is a bigger deal than that, because everyone else knows too, and their are physical scars, but the lastingness of it may be the same. I've since dealt with all that, but... some of it is still really better not being thought about and messed with!

The cocoon idea actually seems really healthy to me.

(I do think there's a difference when there's a problem with some other person that leaves an emotional wound, that may mean dealing with someone else about. But for the Va. Tech kids, obviously the other person is beyond the reach of discussion and resolution.)

Here's the whole article for those who are interested in the rest of the discussion:

starting a new story today

    "Hey Mish, get out of bed!" yelled Jake.  "The Elves are taking down a Dragon!"  I rolled out of my hammock onto the soft wood floor, grabbed my gear, squeezed through the doorway and half-climbed half-slid down the tree to where the rest of the fighters were waiting, wing-stubs quivering.  There'd be meat for the Queen tonight if all went well.
    We could see the Elves overhead, darting and dancing in the treetops, herding the Dragon towards the river.  If they could force it into the spray below the fall, its wings would be wet and they'd have it.  A risky game for them, playing so close to the water -- and riskier than they knew, because we would be waiting on the banks to steal their kill.  At least, that was my plan...