I became insane with long intervals of horrible sanity.
Edgar Allen Poe

The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one's time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all.
- H. L. Mencken

Many people would sooner die than think; In fact, they do so
-Bertrand Russell

What I have been telling you, from alpha to omega, what is the one great thing the sigil taught me — that everything in life is miraculous. For the sigil taught me that it rests within the power of each of us to awaken at will from a dragging nightmare of life made up of unimportant tasks and tedious useless little habits, to see life as it really is, and to rejoice in its exquisite wonderfulness. If the sigil were proved to be the top of a tomato-can, it would not alter that big fact, nor my fixed faith. No Harrowby, the common names we call things by do not matter — except to show how very dull we are ...
-James Branch Cabell

May 16, 2014 - 12:10 p.m.

Tested by Testing

OK, I have to get cracking. It's finals time. I have a ton of grading to do.

So yesterday was filled with disasters but I somehow did not get an anxiety attack. I think it's because they were professional and I'm always good at handling my teaching duties. Of course I had the problem reading my emails from students over the weekend but that's email problems.

I wrote my precalculus final Monday night and got to school early on Tuesday to print it out before giving it. First I find someone sitting at my computer. I needed it as I had to access my dropbox. it was used by a Prof with his own office and own computer because he doesn't know he can print from his computer even though it's in a different room. I told him he can but he didn't pay attention. The printer might have to be installed but IT can do that. Hell I can do it.

I got on my computer and went to print. Nothing happened. Why? The computer's error light was blinking; it was out of staples. I didn't want to staple something. I tried hitting clear and it wouldn't clear. I tried a reboot. That takes some time. But it worked. Of course the admin wasn't around to put in the staples and take care of other problems. It's finals and there is no support staff available. Is this any way to run an airline? But I did manage to get it done. But then I was rushed. I had to give some people in my finite math class makeup finals at the same time. I left them on my desk, along with extra blue books. When someone came in to take the makeup I grabbed a test paper out of my pile of tests for grading and used one of the books I had brought for the precalculus class. Then someone needed an extra blue book because she wrote enormous and I gave her my last book. Then a student arrived an hour late for the final. He had the time wrong. I had to send him back to my office in the other building for the books I left on my desk. then I had to wait around for students who were to take the makeup exam at 4. And I had a student with personal problems I had to talk to in private. I can't do that in my office which I share with everyone else. I had to use an empty classroom.

On the bright side I got my invitation to Max and Caila's wedding! It's still during the FRFF weekend. As I'll be racing back to the festival I will be missing the scheduled shenanigans. That's what it says on the invitation. Have I mentioned that I love my nephew?

On the way home from school I finally did my Pathmark shopping. One thing I needed was more U-Bet. Now that egg cream season is here they are once again almost out of it. I bought a couple of bottles. I think I will pick it up any time I see it. I also got seltzer. So guess what I drank last night, yes an egg cream. It was part of my primo dinner of grilled steak and roasted potatoes with babka for dessert. Later I tried one of those blogo bananas that are now ripe.

I can see why they aren't popular. They don't peel well. I had to start it with a knife and the peels stuck to the flesh. It tasted fine and they are cheaper than Cavendish bananas. Those four bananas cost me 52. I'll try again after they ripen even more.

I feel that I've been less than inspired lately. It might be because I'm often thinking of things I can't share here. So I'm going to fall back on quoting. I haven't been reading The History of the Hobbit, Part Two: Return to Bag-End
because I've been busy with school work but it's still on my mind and there are thoughts from it I want to catch up on. We think of Tolkien as writing adventure stories but like Wagner the real action takes place in the character's minds. What are the great action scenes you remember? I remember thoughts and dialogue. In Tolkien's mind the thoughts are the key plot elements. This is the paragraph that got me thinking about it. Bilbo is descending via the secret tunnel to Smaug's lair for the first time. He is all alone. This is what the Dwarves hired him to do. To be a burglar.

It was at this point that Bilbo stopped. Going on from there was the bravest thing he ever did. The tremendous things that happened afterward were as nothing compared to it. He fought the real battle in the tunnel alone, before he ever saw the vast danger that lay in wait.
that's writing and that's insight. We have all been in that tunnel alone.

Later in talking about Bard's arrow that slew Smaug Rateliff quotes the section of The Lord of the Rings telling of the demise of Merry's sword after stabbing the Lord of the Nazgl. The fight between owynand Merry versus the Captain of Mordor is one of my favorites. I have no memory of it from the film as nothing could replace the images Tolkien inspired in my mind. And even here in a battle scene it isn't about actions, but thoughts and words. I think of this often. It is so Tolkien. the protagonists are not mighty thewed warriors but a slender maiden and a hobbit. It's become obligatory to include warrior women who can beat any man in stories. But that's not what owynis. She has skills but she's not a greater fighter than others. She is braver and more loyal and hopeless, she seeks death. She's a hero not because of her muscles but her soul. I just reread it all and there are tears in my eyes. Here's a sampling. It starts with the voice of the Nazgl.

"Hinder me? Thou fool. No living man may hinder [email protected]"

Then Marry heard of all sound in that hour the strangest. It seemed that Dernhelm laughed, and the clear voice was like the ring of steel. "But no man am I! You lok upon a woman. owyn I am. Eomund's daughter.

and above it loomed the Nazgl Lord like a shadow of despair. A little to the left facing them stood she whom he had called Dernhelm. But the helm of her secrecy had fallen from her. and her bright hair, released from its bond, gleamed with pale gold upon her shoulders

owyn it was, and Dernhelm also. For into Merry's mind flashed the memory of the fae that he saw that at the riding from Dunaharrow: the face of one that goes seeking death, having no hope. Pity filled his heart and great wonder, and suddenly the slow-kindled courage of his race awoke. He clenched his hand. She should not die, so fair, so [email protected] AT least she should not die alone, unaided.

Still she did not blench: maiden of the Rohirrim, child of kings, slender but as a steel-blade, fair yet terrible. A swift stroke she dealt, skilled and deadly. The outstretched neck she clove asunder, and the hewn head fell like a stone. Backward she sprang as the huge shape crashed to ruin, vast wings outspread, crumpled on the earth; and with its fall the shadow passed away. A light fell about her, and her hair shone in the sunrise.

Out of the wreck rose the Black Rider, tall and threatening, towering above her. With a cry of hatred that stung the very ears like venom he let fall his mace.l Her shiled was shivered in many pieces and her arm was broken; she stumbled to her knees. He bent eove rher like a cloud and his eyes glittered.; he raised his mace to kill.

But suddebly he too stumbled forward with a cry of bitter pain and his stroke went wide, driving into the ground. Merry's sword had stabbed him from behind, shearing through the black mantle and passing up beneath the hauberk had pierced the sinew behind the mighty knee.

"owyn! owyn! cried Merry. then tottering, struggling up with her last strength she drove her sword between corwn and mantle, as the great shoulders bowed before her. The sword broke sparkling into many shards

Merry isn't a hero at all in the conventional sense. He's a decent person terrified but unwilling to watch owyn die without doing something. The battle is again in his head. owyn s not a hobbit so we don't get inside her head. LOTR is written from the point of view of the hobbits. But we can be sure her mind is just as active. I'll take owyn and Merry over Xena and Conan any day. I always felt that owyn gets short shrift in LOTR discussions. She's a more fully realized character than Galadriel. Perhaps the greatest female heroine of an adventure story. Well leaving out Pratchett's Tiffany and Granny Weatherwax who are the foci of multiple novels and magical beings not ordinary people. Tiffany's too young so owyn is the one I'd marry.

OK now to eat and grade. Then tonight I'm seeing Spuyten Duyvil and Joe Crookston at Jalopy.

I signed the Pro-Truth Pledge:
please hold me accountable.

Memories: Not that Horrid Song - May 29, 2018
Wise Madness is Now In Session - May 28, 2018
The NFL and the First Amendment - May 27, 2018
On The Road Again - May 26, 2018
Oliver the Three-Eyed Crow - May 25, 2018

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Horvendile May 16, 2014
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