Monday, September 26, 2011

"The Chaos"

Dearest creature in creation,
Study English pronunciation.
I will teach you in my verse
Sounds like corpse, corps, horse, and worse.
I will keep you, Suzy, busy,
Make your head with heat grow dizzy.
Tear in eye, your dress will tear.
So shall I! Oh hear my prayer.
Just compare heart, beard, and heard,
Dies and diet, lord and word,
Sword and sward, retain and Britain.
(Mind the latter, how it's written.)
Now I surely will not plague you
With such words as plaque and ague.
But be careful how you speak:
Say break and steak, but bleak and streak;
Cloven, oven, how and low,
Script, receipt, show, poem, and toe.
Hear me say, devoid of trickery,
Daughter, laughter, and Terpsichore,
Typhoid, measles, topsails, aisles,
Exiles, similes, and reviles;
Scholar, vicar, and cigar,
Solar, mica, war and far;
One, anemone, Balmoral,
Kitchen, lichen, laundry, laurel;
Gertrude, German, wind and mind,
Scene, Melpomene, mankind.
Billet does not rhyme with ballet,
Bouquet, wallet, mallet, chalet.
Blood and flood are not like food,
Nor is mould like should and would.
Viscous, viscount, load and broad,
Toward, to forward, to reward.
And your pronunciation's OK
When you correctly say croquet,
Rounded, wounded, grieve and sieve,
Friend and fiend, alive and live.
Ivy, privy, famous; clamour
And enamour rhyme with hammer.
River, rival, tomb, bomb, comb,
Doll and roll and some and home.
Stranger does not rhyme with anger,
Neither does devour with clangour.
Souls but foul, haunt but aunt,
Font, front, wont, want, grand, and grant,
Shoes, goes, does. Now first say finger,
And then singer, ginger, linger,
Real, zeal, mauve, gauze, gouge and gauge,
Marriage, foliage, mirage, and age.
Query does not rhyme with very,
Nor does fury sound like bury.
Dost, lost, post and doth, cloth, loth.
Job, nob, bosom, transom, oath.
Though the differences seem little,
We say actual but victual.
Refer does not rhyme with deafer.
Foeffer does, and zephyr, heifer.
Mint, pint, senate and sedate;
Dull, bull, and George ate late.
Scenic, Arabic, Pacific,
Science, conscience, scientific.
Liberty, library, heave and heaven,
Rachel, ache, moustache, eleven.
We say hallowed, but allowed,
People, leopard, towed, but vowed.
Mark the differences, moreover,
Between mover, cover, clover;
Leeches, breeches, wise, precise,
Chalice, but police and lice;
Camel, constable, unstable,
Principle, disciple, label.
Petal, panel, and canal,
Wait, surprise, plait, promise, pal.
Worm and storm, chaise, chaos, chair,
Senator, spectator, mayor.
Tour, but our and succour, four.
Gas, alas, and Arkansas.
Sea, idea, Korea, area,
Psalm, Maria, but malaria.
Youth, south, southern, cleanse and clean.
Doctrine, turpentine, marine.
Compare alien with Italian,
Dandelion and battalion.
Sally with ally, yea, ye,
Eye, I, ay, aye, whey, and key.
Say aver, but ever, fever,
Neither, leisure, skein, deceiver.
Heron, granary, canary.
Crevice and device and aerie.
Face, but preface, not efface.
Phlegm, phlegmatic, ass, glass, bass.
Large, but target, gin, give, verging,
Ought, out, joust and scour, scourging.
Ear, but earn and wear and tear
Do not rhyme with here but ere.
Seven is right, but so is even,
Hyphen, roughen, nephew Stephen,
Monkey, donkey, Turk and jerk,
Ask, grasp, wasp, and cork and work.
Pronunciation (think of Psyche!)
Is a paling stout and spikey?
Won't it make you lose your wits,
Writing groats and saying grits?
It's a dark abyss or tunnel:
Strewn with stones, stowed, solace, gunwale,
Islington and Isle of Wight,
Housewife, verdict and indict.
Finally, which rhymes with enough,
Though, through, plough, or dough, or cough?
Hiccough has the sound of cup.
My advice is to give up!!!

-- Gerard Nolst Trenité

They say that "if you can pronounce correctly every word in this poem, you will be speaking English better than 90% of the native English speakers in the world."
I can't. I don't even know what sward and ague are. I don't know how "face", "preface" and "efface" are pronounced differently. I'm really glad I'm Finnish :-D

P.S. A new person I've never heard of before; Barbara Newhall Follett... reminds me of  The Lady Vanishes

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Hobbits and Wonderland

So - what's the connection? Both fractures of someone's imagination? Sure, but there are others... I didn't expect to find Wonderland when I started thinking about hobbits.

When I was in craft school, I wanted to have an exhibition of hobbitian clothes. I was inspired by a wonderful watercolor of a girl in Muhu costume. She was short and stubby and was wearing these amazing stockings, that showed under her skirt...
Tolkien says
"I picture a fairly human figure, not a kind of 'fairy' rabbit as some of my British reviewers seem to fancy: fattish in the stomach, shortish in the leg. A round, jovial face; ears only slightly pointed and 'elvish'; hair short and curling (brown). The feet from the ankles down, covered with brown hairy fur. Clothing: green velvet breeches; red or yellow waistcoat; brown or green jacket; gold (or brass) buttons; a dark green hood and cloak (belonging to a dwarf)." 
- velvet breeches, waistcoat, brass buttons... very folk dressy.
These velvet breeches are what I imagine when I think about hobbit costume, and they are from late 18th, early 19th century. The time when the idea of national costumes and folk dresses was being created... So we are not talking about Victorian costumes for hobbits, but Georgian...

So I have been thinking about this for 20 years. I have sketches, ideas and notes, but not a stitch to show. Anyway, I was thinking about the dolls to wear these, like in Victorian and Albert museum... You know, the white mannequins with just a dash of color on their faces... but I'd prefer faceless cloth mannequins. I have been thinking on how to make them myself, and that has kind of been the problem here.
So I started thinking about easier alternatives, like papier mache dolls. (Easier for me). And then I thought about that perhaps there already is mannequins available, so that I don't need to make them myself!
A hobbit is about a meter high. That's about the size of a five years old child. Now, the dfference of a child and a hobbit is naturally that adults are shaped a bit differently from children. Quite a lot, actually... Naturally, the child mannequins could be padded, but... the shape is still not quite right. Too much padding needed...
So I started thinking about little people, and especially the "proportionate dwarfs"... You know, when I was growing up and I first learned about dwarfism, the term "midget" was the appropriate term to use of proportionate dwarfs. I wonder if they make mannequins for miniature people? Wouldn't know.

But that lead me to googling "proportionate dwarfs", and one of the results was "The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb"
This book is about Lavinia Warren, who was a miniature person, a proportionate dwarf. She had a rather interesting life, she and her sister, Minnie (Huldah).
This is the wedding picture - In the middle the happy couple; 
Charles Sherwood Stratton (General Tom Thumb) and 
Mercy Lavinia Warren Bump (Vinnieh); 
Vinnieh's maid and little sister Huldah Pierce Warren Bump (Minnieh) 
(to be mrs Edmund Newell, who was better known as General Grant Jr. or Major Edward Newell) 
and Tom's best man George Washington Morrison Nutt (Commodore Nutt). 

I was interested, so I looked for more information, and at among the reviews I found this:
"I thought it unrealistic that Lavinia, a full grown woman, was portrayed as having only fear when it came to the physical side of life. The lifelong horror that grips Lavinia whenever she imagines a man might touch her is hard to explain based on one offhand comment of her mother's she overheard as a child. We tend to outgrow childhood and we tend to rebel against the strictures of our parents, yes? Why is her marriage so empty? Her supposed love of PT Barnum is as unfounded in fact as the author's treatment of Alice Liddell in "Alice I Have Been." I know, this is fiction, and in fiction a writer can take liberties. But I found it odd that in a book about a child (Alice), a six year-old was portrayed as having a grown woman's understanding of her own erotic power, and the desire to use it to capture a grown man's sexual attention. In this book, an adult woman (Lavinia) is portrayed as a frightened child who prefers not even to imagine such a thing. I think this was a strange choice on the part of the author, though not as strange as her choices in the "Alice" book."
-- Just Karen (
I have to say that I don't find the idea of a Victorian woman having "only fear" when thinking about sex. Our attitudes are the children of all kinds of things, and something one happens to overhear has significant importance in shaping of our attitudes and opinions. I was afraid of sex, because I had read and heard over and over again, from every possible source, that first time hurts. It doesn't - if you do it right. Now, I was born 1969, grew up in the "sexually liberated" 70's and 80's, there was plenty of sensible, correct and... what's the word? Anyway, plenty of sex quides and erotic novels around that gave me the idea that sex is something enjoyable and nice... this was not the case with Lavinia. She was surrounded with "close your eyes, and do your duty, it will pass quickly" and "you are not supposed to ENJOY ANYTHING ESPECIALLY NOT SEX!!!" messages and, frankly, I wouldn't be surprised if the majority of Victorian women considered sex as nothing but a duty, and not a very nice duty at that... I mean... we have "better than sex" cake. CAKE! We have jokes about people's sex life and the lack of it. Women trying to bribe their husbands and boyfriends to do things like taking the garbage out with sexual favors. Women faking orgasms. Good sex being something rare and amazing... and WE live in a time where sex is not considered generally dirty, disgusting and sinful.
On top of that, she was the size of a three years old child. As far as I understand, most adults find the idea of someone having sex with a three years old girl horrifying, and not only because of the mental damage, but also because of the physical damage. I find the fear quite reasonable.
Also... there's a lot of people in the world who live in celibacy. Some have chosen it themselves, some have not. Some accept self-satisfaction as part of celibacy, some don't. They are mostly all right and don't much miss sex. People don't NEED sex. We need intimacy, touch, hugs and kisses, pat on the shoulder, someone holding us tight when the storm passes, we need holding hands and  gentle strokes over cheeks...
Now, I have to say that I haven't read the book, so I don't know if Vinnie was described to get terrified if her husband tried to hug or kiss her, but even that would be understandable in time when those things were considered being "almost sex". It's still not unrealistic, I think. There are people who are so afraid of food they rather die of hunger than eat, and they have no rational explanation to their fear either.

About six years olds with desire to capture a grown man's sexual attraction - ew. That's why I couldn't read the Time Traveler's Wife either. Poor Henry. Brr. But - now again I have my own interpretations, that do make sense for me. It's not unusual for children to feel flattered, delighted and happy about attention, and see past who it comes from. It's not unusual for children to imagine their lives when they are adults and say things like "when I grow up, I'll marry ---" without any implication of having sexual fantasies about the person in question. Marriage is something you do when you become adult, and it's like mommy and daddy (usually) and it involves love and children. Some kids even know how children are made. Kids are not stupid. None of this has anything to do with having erotic feelings about adults, pedophilia and lolita phenomenon and all that stuff... I haven't read this book either, so I cannot say my opinion on what Melanie Benjamin tried to say, but - as a lot of people have read Time Traveler's Wife and NOT caught the "child with desire to capture a grown man's sexual attraction", there's always the possibility that it doesn't really exist here either.

Nevertheless, here's two more interesting people:
Lavinia Warren and Alice Liddell

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Sir Geroge Sitwell

(in)decorous taste posted about sir George Sitwell... He also refused to pay his wife's bills so she was injailed and his daughter refused to go to her mother's funeral because she didn't approve of her parents. Those two kids on the floor are Osbert and Sacheverell... such names :-D All three children became writers.

There you have a man who really lived his life as he wanted... "as you would live if money was not an obstacle"...
How would you live yours?

And why don't you?

Monday, September 12, 2011

What's your motivation?

Money, fame, recognition... they are there, aren't they... it doesn't matter that you write because you have to write, or because the book you want to read doesn't exist, or... the not-so-noble and rather-stupid motivations are there. I admit.

But that's not why I write. After having thought about it long and hard, that's the DREAM part of it. I HOPE and WISH I could support myself with my writing, and it would be WONDERFUL if I got RICH by doing something I love to do! Amazing! That's the reason why I send my manuscript to a publisher :-D That's not why I write.

Of course it would be nice if people recognized my worth and value as a writer, if I got praise, awards, fans and all that... or sort of. Fame is not a nice thing... people think they own you, if you are famous. You don't even need to be very famous, just enough for people to know you exist, and there are always people who will start objectifying you.
It's like celebrity crushes. I suppose all women have them, perhaps even men. In Polyvore there's this "50 celebrities you'd date" thingy.
Now, I have a crush on Nathaniel Johnstone. Who? The string instrumentalist of Abney Park. What? Never mind. I mean... he's just an ordinary guy living somewhere in USA. It's like someone would have a "celebrity" crush on me... you see, I am an internet persona - google Ketutar, and most of it is me - and my photo has been published online... so it's possible. Unlikely, but possible. :-D Now, Nathaniel is a bit more famous than I am, (4 million results to some 70.000 ;-)) but I don't think he can be called a celebrity. In his own circles I presume he is, but... outside? No. So - why do I think I have the right to make him the object of my fantasies? I know OF him...  People believe they have the RIGHT to people they KNOW OF...
Now... what if fantasies actually influence other people? What if the power of thought is so strong we actually effect other people's lives by fantasizing about them? What if celebrities don't manage to keep up their marriages, because there are so many fans imagining being married to them? What if these thoughts seep into their dreams, and make them confused of who they actually love? What if...?

Also, praise... if it doesn't come from inside, it's pretty worthless. If there's a hole in your "bucket", nothing will fill it. You will still believe yourself more than anyone else. Even if the whole world would tell you you're amazing, but you think you're not, you will only believe the whole world is either lying to you, or really gullible. You KNOW you're a lie. You KNOW you're not worth anything. You KNOW it would have been better if no trees were killed to make paper to print your books on. Electricity on your computer is wasted with you writing the words...

So - in the end, I am the only person I have to please and entertain with my writing, and the only person whose opinion matters anything - so my own pleasure and entertainment is in the end the only motivation that counts...

Make it count ;-)

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

50 + 50 books all kids should read

50 children's books

* Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll.

* Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi.

* Emil and the Detectives by Erich Kastner.

* Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome.

* Black Hearts in Battersea by Joan Aiken.

* The Owl Service by Alan Garner.

* The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster.

* Moominsummer Madness by Tove Jansson.

* A Hundred Million Francs by Paul Berna.

* The Castafiore Emerald by Hergé.

* The Star of Kazan by Eva Ibbotson.

* A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.

* Just William books by Richmal Crompton.

* The Happy Prince by Oscar Wilde.

* The Elephant's Child From The Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling.

* Treasure Island by R.L. Stevenson

* The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway.

* The Man Who Planted Trees by Jean Giono.

* The Singing Tree by Kate Seredy.

* The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson-Burnett.

* Refugee Boy by Benjamin Zephaniah.

* Finn Family Moomintroll (and the other Moomin books) by Tove Jansson.

* Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney.

* I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith.

* The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien.

* The Tygrine Cat (and The Tygrine Cat on the Run) by Inbali Iserles.

* Carry On, Jeeves by PG Wodehouse.

* When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit by Judith Kerr.

* Moving Pictures by Terry Pratchett. 

* The Story of Tracy Beaker by Jacqueline Wilson.

* The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

* The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon.

* Mistress Masham's Repose by TH White.

* Little Women by Louisa May Alcott.

* How to be Topp by Geoffrey Willams and Ronald Searle.

* Stormbreaker by Anthony Horowitz.

* Private Peaceful by Michael Morpurgo.

* Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer

* The Silver Sword by Ian Serraillier

* Animal Farm by George Orwell.

* Skellig by David Almond.

* Red Cherry Red by Jackie Kay.

* Talkin Turkeys by Benjamin Zephaniah.

* Greek myths by Geraldine McCaughrean.

* People Might Hear You by Robin Klein.

* Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman.

* Einstein's Underpants and How They Saved the World by Anthony McGowan.

* After the First Death by Robert Cormier.

* The London Eye Mystery by Siobhan Dowd.

* Beano Annual.

Hmm... which children's books I think all kids should have read?
Astrid Lindgren, at least some of it. Preferably all :-D Emil and Pippi anyway.
C.S.Lewis, The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe
Mary Poppins
The Wind in the willows
Three musqeteers and Monte Christo
Something by Burroughs and Verne
Something by Enid Blyton
The Secret Garden
Watership down
101 dalmatians
Black Beauty...
Well, all the classics :-D They are classics for a reason.

50 picture books

Shaker Lane by Alice and Martin Provensen

Next Stop Grand Central by Maira Kalman

I Can Fly by Ruth Krauss Illustrated by Mary Blair

Come Away from The Water, Shirley by John Burningham

365 Penguins by Jean-Luc Fromental Illustrated by Joelle Jolivet

That Rabbit Belongs To Emily Brown by Cressida Cowell Illustrated by Neal Layton

Rosie’s Walk by Pat Hutchins

Big Rabbit’s Bad Mood by Ramona Badescu Illustrated by Delphine Durand

Madeline And The Gypsies by Ludwig Bemelmans

Oh, The THINKS You Can Think! by Dr. Seuss

The Book about Moomin, Mymble and Little My by Tove Jansson

The Story of The Little Red Engine by Diana Ross and Leslie Wood

The Happy Lion by Louise Fatio and Roger Duvoisin

The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf and Robert Lawson

Would you Rather by John Burningham

The Circle of Days by Reeve Lindburgh and Cathy Felsted

This Little Chick by John Lawrence

In The Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak

The Adventures of Uncle Lubin by W. Heath Robinson

Little Bear by Else Homelund-Minarik and Maurice Sendak

The Illustrated Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, illustrated by John Tenniel.

The Complete Nonsense and Other Verse written and illustrated by Edward Lear

The Just-So Stories written and illustrated by Rudyard Kipling

Just William by Richmal Crompton, illustrated by Thomas Henry

Tanglewood Tales by Nathaniel Hawthorn, illustrated by Granville Fell

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, illustrated by John Leech

The Adventures of Tin-Tin written and illustrated by Hergé

The Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, illustrated by Mervyn Peake

Albert and the Lion by Marriott Edgar, illustrated by John Hassall

Sindbad the Sailor and Other Stories From the Arabian Nights illustrated by Edmund Dulac

Pierre by Maurice Sendak

The Miracle of the Bears by Wolf Erlbruch

Trubloff by John Burningham

Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson

Jitterbug Jam written by Barbara Jean Hicks, Illustrated by Alexis Deacon

The Tiger Who Came To Tea by Judith Kerr

Wave by Suzy Lee

Olivia by Ian Falconer

Le Voyage d’Oregon written by Rascal, illustrated by Louis Joos

The Doubtful Guest by Edward Gorey

Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

The Happy Lion by Louise Fatio and Roger Duvoisin

Geraldine, the Music Mouse by Leo Lionni

Croc and Bird by Alexis Deacon

No Kiss for Mother by Tomi Ungerer

Puss and Boots by Ayano Imai

Haunted House by Jan Pienkowski

Mr Rabbit and the Lovely Present by Charlotte Zolotow, illustrate by Maurice Sendak

Crictor by Tomi Ungerer

The Rabbits by John Marsden, illustrated by Shaun Tan

Ginger by Charlotte Voake

The Tiger Who Came To Tea by Judith Kerr

Slow Loris by Alexis Deacon

Clarice Bean, That’s Me! by Lauren Child

Starting School by Janet and Allan Ahlberg

The Story of Babar by Jean de Brunhoff

Marshall Armstrong is New to our School by David Mackintosh

Cars And Trucks And Things That Go by Richard Scarry

Where The Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

Dogger by Shirley Hughes

Scarry's books, Sendak's books... the little caterpillar... brambly hedge and Beatrix Potter... and... well... take the kids to a library and let them loose in the picture book section, and let them borrow one book every week. So they'll read 50 books every year, since they get interested in books :-D They will find books they are interested in, because there are so many of them.

If they read Tintin, Asterix, Oompapah and Lucky Luke, great! If they read other series, like Donald Duck, fine. Kids aren't supposed to read "good" literature, but get in the habit of reading.