Tuesday, January 31, 2017
Monday, January 30, 2017
It was the title that grabbed me.
"Undaunted" -- not intimidated or discouraged by difficulty, danger, or disappointment.
"Courage" -- ability to "do" in the face of danger; strength in the face of pain or grief.
Ambrose is my favorite historian, for he writes like a novelist (I've already shared one of his books in a previous blog). My understanding is that when he was still teaching, Ambrose took one of his college classes along portions of the Lewis and Clarke trail, so he knows what he is talking about. Perhaps you've not read Ambrose, but most are familiar with his work as he served as consultant for the movie, "Saving Private Ryan."
Another factor that contributed to my intrigue is that my first exposure to this work was via Dick Estell's "Radio Reader" on NPR. Every weekday, I arrived early enough at work to get lost somewhere in the warehouse for a half hour as Dick read. I was spellbound.
I appreciate the work Ambrose put into this work, for he gives us a close look at Meriwether Lewis from the expedition that opened the American West to the personal life of the man at home. Ambrose paints a detailed portrait of a man who, once he had his heart set on a prize, accomplished his missions with bravery, tenacity and diplomacy.
Sunday, January 29, 2017
Saturday, January 28, 2017
I highly recommend "Crazy Horse and Custer: Parallel Lives Of Two American Warriors" (1975) by Steven Ambrose.
Friday, January 27, 2017
Thursday, January 26, 2017
Finally able to get back in the gym this week. With the arrival of our new grand baby, fitness took an extended rest for a couple days there.
Knocked out 5 Rounds in 8'30" of
- 10 alt DB snatch (5 each arm @40#)
- 10 box jump overs
Wednesday, January 25, 2017
A Book I've Been Wanting To Read For A Long Time And Still Haven't But It's Sitting On My Bedside Table In Case I Get A Chance
Monday, January 23, 2017
While grandbaby #5 enters the world, I'm watching my gran'daughters, doing as many rounds as possible of:
Go outside, go inside, make a snack, go potty, Finias and Ferb, Zootopia, Minions, karaoke and who knows what else.
One of us needs a nap.
Sunday, January 22, 2017
Saturday, January 21, 2017
Not long after, Beren is killed and Luthien mourns her lover with a grief so deep that her immortality breaks and she too dies. Mandar (keeper of the house of the dead) is so greatly moved that he returns life to the lovers who both live a long life and die natural deaths.
The second tale (much like the first) is most well-known thanks to The Lord Of The Rings movies--being the love story of Aragorn and Arwen. Some critics say the story of Beren and Luthien was the model for Aragorn and Arwen's story but one might consider the evidence that shows such a fantastic love story occuring twice in Tolkien's long history. After all, it is fantasy.
My understanding is that a stand-alone book telling the tale of Beren and Luthien will be released May of 2017.
Friday, January 20, 2017
This was a fun team WOD. We did (in relay fashion):
- 12 Upright rows (45# bare bar)
- 12 Kettle bell Swings (mine was 40#)
- 12 Wall Ball (that basketball is 20# of dirt)
- 12 Knee to Elbows. Workin' them abs!
Thursday, January 19, 2017
Wednesday, January 18, 2017
Tuesday, January 17, 2017
- 20 hanging knee raises
- 10 L-arm overhead walking lunge steps (45/30#)
- 10 R-arm overhead walking lunge steps
Monday, January 16, 2017
Published in 1832 by Alfred Lord Tennyson, "The Lady of Shalott" is based on a figure that pre-dates the thirteenth century and is found in Arthurian legends. Dreamboat Annie (of Green Gables fame) gives us a wonderfully heartfelt and pleasantly comedic re-enactment of the Lady's story.
"The fairy Lady of Shalott" lives under an unknown curse in one of four towers overlooking a river flowing along the roadside leading to Camelot. She is locked away and out of touch with the outside world for reasons unknown.
As she weaves at her loom, her gaze of what lies outside is limited to what she can see over her shoulder by way of a mirror reflection through her window. One day she sees the colorful and decorated knight Lancelot ride by with bells on, singing. As he "flashe'd into the crystal mirror," she is smitten. Taking the unknown curse on herself the Lady abandons her loom, leaves her tower and sets off to find the man who captured her heart.
Finding a boat, she carves her name in the side and sets herself adrift to Camelot to find her knight--or die trying. Her body is found adrift with a note on her chest--the curse is broken at last.
Speculation and discussion is high over the meaning of this simple four stanza ballad. Whatever the meaning, the scenes are beautifully inspiring as artists have dedicated years of their lives painting their interpretations. And as if under an unknown curse, few died before finishing their work, just as the Lady passes before landing in Camelot.
Yes, "The Lady Of Shalott" is not a book, but "Anne of Green Gables" is and Anne played The Lady once. And I highly favor "Dreamboat Annie" too. So there.
Sunday, January 15, 2017
Samwise Gamgee is my favorite literary male character. He is the true Ring Bearer and hero of Tolkien's story. He may not have carried the ring personally, but he did carry the ring in a manner of speaking--for without Sam, Frodo would never have survived the journey.
His humility and purity of heart enabled him to be the hero nobody expected, which is why Sauron never saw him coming. And it was that same purity that allowed him to survive that brief encounter with the ring, when he saw all the world at his feet.
In the end, his reward was almost heavenly for once returning home he inherits all the treasures acquired by Bilbo, becomes mayor of the Shire and enjoys years peaceful prosperity.
Saturday, January 14, 2017
Yeah. We didn't make just one. There are too many bad book-to-movie movies. A simple Google search will provide one with a good (or bad) list of titles.
I've tried to select one or three to discuss here, but why bother? They were bad. I'm sure you've been disappointed as well--why not leave titles of your
Friday, January 13, 2017
Edgar Allen Poe
Arthur C. Clarke
Alfred Lord Tennyson
Howard Pyle (his illustrations are amazing)
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
I just know I'm forgetting someone . . .
Thursday, January 12, 2017
Today we killed it with 7x5 Bench Presses followed by a WOD of 5 rounds of 12 burpees and 70 Single Jump Ropes. Finished the main WOD in 13:36.
Orwell gave us a masterpiece, pure genius as a kind of interpretation and commentary of where we were headed as a society--and we did arrive . . . not exactly a prophetic work, but we've been holding our breath since it's publication because many images are startling.
No matter how many times I've read it, I always root for Winston. I have to. For all that he symbolizes for "any man," I ache for him to win. But he never wins, and I hate that.
I'll probably read it again some day.
And perhaps I'll be hoping things change for Winston.
But they won't. And I know that.
And I hate that.
Wednesday, January 11, 2017
Yeah, so that happened yesterday. Never done that before. What's more embarrassing is that I lead our noon group, so no backing out.
Box jumps in socks is no fun.
Knees told me about it later.
But that was mostly due the walking lunges.
Anyway, here was today's dog food (finished in 16:03):
4x10 Sumo Deadlifts then "Jackie" for time:
- 1000m row (sub with 100 UR Rows @ 45#)
- 50 Thrusters (45#)
- 30 pullups
Nathaniel Hawthorne's "House Of The Seven Gables" is not one of my favorites. It's a Gothic classic, but not one of those books that "dropped my anchor" personally (so to speak).
Suggested by a very real house in Salem, Massachusetts the first chapter of Hawthorne's fiction published in 1851 lays the foundation of the dark story, delivering through a kind of twisted excitement the mystery and the curse on the family that resided therein, who in the end find their freedom by abandoning the house. This work is perhaps simultaneously both unknown and most well known influences of idea of "the haunted house." Edgar Allen Poe and H.P. Lovecraft are among those inspired by Hawthorne's novel.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow called the book, "weird" and "wild." Another critic called the book "an affliction . . . [that] affects one like a passage through the wards of an insane asylum." Though a friend of Hawthorne, Herman Melville offered what is perhaps the most accurate review of Hawthorne's work stating, "There is a certain tragic phase of humanity which, in our opinion, was never more powerfully embodied than by Hawthorne. We mean the tragicalness [sic] of human thought in its own unbiased, native, and profounder workings. We think that into no recorded mind has the intense feeling of the visible truth ever entered more deeply than into this man's."
If one desires to be exposed to good literature, this work should not be overlooked, but be prepared for the journey. Read it in daylight, with the windows open.
Tuesday, January 10, 2017
Anyway . . . here's WOD was for lunch:
Strength Training: 5x4 Overhead squats
then AMRAP 20
- 5 Hang Power Clean to Overhead (95 to 110#)
- 10 box jump overs
- 20 walking lunge steps
At first, I was not sure what to think. Many books in the box were written by the same author, which got me wondering if that was a good sign or a bad sign for this book sale. I realized the person selling the books was a former professor, well past retirement age, and I reasoned that this man does not read garbage and was "cleaning house." So I bought up every book he being sold authored by Richard Wright. And I devoured every book by Richard Wright.
My appreciation for a time, people and culture has been significantly and positively impacted by Wright's descriptive writing. He takes the reader by the hand and shows us the dirt, the blood, the smell of sweat in houses and kitchens, the feel of the heat of the day and the oppressive darkness of night. Wright introduces us to men and women who live, thrive or die trying.
My opinion is that students of literature and/or American history should read one or more of Richard Wright's works. Especially these generations so far removed from the source material.
Monday, January 09, 2017
Sunday, January 08, 2017
How could anyone not love this book? This avid Pink Floyd fan who wrote three Doctor Who episodes and helped springboard many computer games is a force to be considered! This man understood things!
Consider Adams' keen skill of observation. "The ships hung in the sky in much the same way that bricks don’t."
Or his "theory of the Universe" theory: "There is a theory which states that if ever anyone discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable. There is another theory which states that this has already happened."
Or his definition of "space" which is "big. Really big. You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mindbogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it’s a long way down the road to the chemist’s, but that’s just peanuts to space.”
Or his simple philosophy on life, "how just when you think life can’t possibly get any worse it suddenly does.”
Or his description of reality. "Isn’t it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?"
Saturday, January 07, 2017
No matter what happens to a man, the earth will always produce. The earth is good, but life is hard. The story centers on Wang Lung, a man who rises and falls. He struggles to prosper and struggles in his prosperity. Wang Lung's story begins in the country and moves to the city--but Wang Lung's heart remains in the country. He wants the simplicity of what he once had, the wealth of the land--the wide open spaces, peace and safety.
Births, deaths, weddings, funerals, poverty, wealth, fidelity, betrayal--Wang Lung experiences a very full life--but what does it take to make a man happy? What brings satisfaction? The conclusion is reminiscent of Tolstoy, who answered the question in his short story of how much land a man really needs.
Friday, January 06, 2017
My "Happy Book" is "Piggle" by Crosby Bonsall. Homer wants to play but nobody else does, so he falls asleep. Bear finds Homer and they play the best game ever: Piggle.
My grandparents gave me this book when I was very small and I was happy to pass it along to my children.
Thursday, January 05, 2017
Yesterday I posted a brief overview of my favorite series of books. Today, I would like to highlight one of those books, which is perhaps my favorite from the list: "Moby Dick" by Herman Melville. This may be one of the greatest books ever written in all time, in any language.
I did not realize until much later that "Moby Dick" is far more than a story. It is a tale of a way of life, of a mindset, of a sub-culture that existed in but a spot of time in history. Certainly it was inspired by true events, but like a fantastic mural it portrays more than the eye at first glance can behold.
Melville tells the reader something of the whale in one paragraph that if the reader will pay attention, finds that the story is more than a tale of an albino mammal battling a scarred and obsessed sea captain. The symbol is rich and deep, describing the real-life struggle of any man. Of every man.
Wednesday, January 04, 2017
My favorite book series is not a typical series. I was going to write how my favorite series is "Lord Of The Rings" and about all things "Tolkien"--but those books stand out as overly popular.
Next, I was going to describe how much I enjoyed Piers Anthony's "Apprentice Adept" series and imaginative blending of two worlds existing in the same place but in different dimensions--a truly fantastic series.
Instead I would like the highlight as my favorite series of books, "The Great Works of the Western World." Everything is here: religion, politics, poetry, science, ethics, philosophy, economics, mathematics, history, drama and more. A bible, if you will--books of books. In the Great Works one will experience a wide range of writings, from the Bible to Shakespeare, from Greeks to Germans, from tyrants to democrats, from the faithful to skeptics.
“This is more than a set of books, and more than a liberal education. Great Books of the Western World is an act of piety. Here are the sources of our being. Here is our heritage. This is the West. This is its meaning for mankind.” -Robert Hutchins
"In the case of good books, the point is not to see how many of them you can get through, but how many can get through to you." - Mortimer Adler
There is some debate as to which books should be included in the canon of Great Works, but one list of available free e-books can be found here.
Tuesday, January 03, 2017
I've read books that have called me back again and again. No matter how many times I've read them, despite how much I know what's going to happen when I turn the page, these books have called out to me over the years and will never grow old.
"A Christmas Carol" by Charles Dickens is the first book to which I refer and one primary reason the book intrigues me is because I hold the opinion that Charles Dickens is the father of science fiction. Despite its' brief and simple story, the tale is packed with imagery that deserve another look. For example, why does a man who clings to his riches live in the servant quarters of the mansion? Dickens does not tell us this outright, but rather shows us in the early scene when the old miser arrives home and settles down for the night--and bells begin to ring.
The second book is Ray Bradbury's book, "The Illustrated Man". One may not realize at first but the two books discussed here have a few points of interest, namely that one very well could not have happened without the other. What I mean to say is that Dickens is more than the father of science fiction, he is specifically the father of time travel.
Bradbury gave us an amazing collection of short stories all hanging within the framework of another short story. And each story takes place in a different setting, in a different time--my most favorite being "Kaleidoscope".
In the comments below, take moment to mention the books you like--namely, the one you just can't put down!
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