Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Lightening and Thunder and Rain - Oh My!

I love storms. Well, I love rain in general, but I especially love torrential rain with pounding thunder and sharp streaks of lightening. I'm not sure why. I think it's the energy. And while I do love being outside in the rain and enjoying it, what I love most about storms is being warm and cozy inside while all the craziness is happening outside. I love getting into pajamas and a sweatshirt and curling up on the couch with a book or sitting at the table with hot chocolate and...and pancakes! Haha, not really pancakes, but that would be awesome. And, anyway, and basically just enjoying the stormy day and taking it easy and enjoying being warm and dry while the rest of the world is drenched in a deafening tempest. I actually enjoy jumping every time there's a surprise crack of thunder. Okay, not while I'm trying to sleep at night, but if it's early enough - like it was today - and everyone's still awake and we can all laugh at how loud it is outside. Doesn't it sound like Hashem's going bowling up there or something?

And I find blackouts particularly exciting, like the blackout in the city today. Using flashlights, oooh. Bedikat chametz, anyone? Never too early to start looking!!!! Ha! Who am I kidding? I'm a chametz QUEEN. Man, I love bread. And cookies. And--and CEREAL. Yum!

Wait, why am I talking about chametz? Weird.

But I did get rather excited when I heard some subways weren't working. Why did I get excited? Well, maybe it's because I just love excitement (ugh, too much use of that word) and breaks from the day-to-day routine and since I don't have to take the subway anyway....YES. THAT'S RIGHT. I GOT EXCITED AT THE EXPENSE OF EVERYONE ELSE. SO THERE.

Aaaaanyway, yes. So I love storms. They make me happy. The end. =D

Thursday, June 21, 2007

By the way, I'm rich!

Tomorrow it will be a week - a week - since my last post. Oh no! What is this world coming to?

Well, actually, it's mostly because I come home so tired after work and though I have much to say, I have little energy to write. I write mostly in my head as it's happening, but, of course, I can't blog from work (I'm new at this whole work thing. Give it time, give it time). So though I have a new dream diary post in the working (about vampires, to give you a little teaser), I thought I'd post something else beforehand. I don't want to neglect my flourishing, baby blog, after all! I must nurture it! Give it life and much TLC!

So I shall post about today's awkwardness.

Today the people in the publishing house held a pizza party for one of the men there because it was his birthday. The thing was, it wasn't kosher pizza so I of course couldn't have any. That's fine. I just stayed at my computer doing whatever I was supposed to be working on. But then the PRESIDENT of the publishing house came over and asked me if I wanted pizza. Now, this is the first time she was there when I was, so this is her first impression of me. I said, "no, thank you." So she asked me if I was sure and I said I was. Then she gave me this odd look and asked, "...Why?" I could sense how awkward this was about to become. "Well, I only eat kosher," I answered, a bit sheepishly. She frowned. "Oh. But--this is just plain pizza. There's nothing on it." I wanted to sink into the floor right then. "Yeah, but, it's okay," I said, feeling like a complete snob. I think she felt I was one, too, especially considering I heard her mutter a comment about 'kosher' under her breath as she went back into the conference room, and it didn't sound very positive. Or she just might have thought I was rather strange. But the way she had questioned me and reacted to my answers made me feel like a self-righteous snob in an "I'm sorry, your pizza isn't good enough for me," sort of way. Yuck.

So that was the more serious thing. The less serious and more idiotic thing was this:
I was searching for a book on the shelves in the conference room in order to mail to someone. A man who I had never seen before was in there, I think because he doesn't have a desk yet. So, I did the logical thing, I asked him if he knew where the book was. He commented that he was newish there also and had no idea how they organize their books. I sighed and commenced my search. After about a two to three minute pause, he piped up again with a, "by the way, I'm Rich." Now, me in my utter density thought he meant he was rich, as in, wealthy. I turned and stared blankly at him for a moment, having NO idea how to respond to that. Finally I just laughed a bit, taking it as a joke. It was only after he added, "yeah, like I said, I'm new here also," that I realized he meant his NAME is Rich. Idiot me!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Carryin' the Banner!

Today I had an interview at a local Jewish newspaper - at the place I'd been trying to get to a few days ago when I got miserably lost. So last night my dad and I drove there together and figured out a good way to go so today I was able to go myself. That was accomplishment enough. It was a pretty big drive for me - me, who is not a big driver to begin with. I had to drive on some pretty major, busy streets. But I found the place without incident and I made my way home afterwards with only a slight detour. So that was good!

The interview itself was, well, to be blunt, it was fun. I don't think I've ever had a fun interview before. Usually they're just the interviewer going on about what the responsibilities of the intern will be, what the company/publishing house/newspaper stands for, asks if I have questions, wonders about my year in Israel, and then shakes my hand and I leave. That was the first thing I noted with relief about this interview - I didn't have to shake the hand of a male person. I know, I know, you're supposed to shake someone's hand out of common courtesy, but I can't say I haven't felt weird doing it. So finally, finally, here was one person whose hand I didn't have to shake.

I think the most surprising thing about the interview was the fact that, after all the usual questions were finished being asked, my interviewer offered to give me a tour of the place. Slightly startled, I agreed and, not only did I get a grand tour, but I got to see the huge printing press they have there. I've never seen a printing press before. It was so cool. We first looked down on it from these big windows upstairs. It was in a humongous room and I really felt like I was looking down on some sort of Willy Wonka contraption. Then my interviewer actually took me down to the printing press and showed me the paper, the ink, all the different machinery and what it does - needless to say, I was enthralled, awed, and amazed. We then got to see some people working at another machine which blew air into publications to put the inserts in, you know, where there are those ads that always fall out of various publications when you open them. That was cool, too. Especially since it was being done just then. It was like watching the Oompa Loompas! I can just hear it now:

Willy Wonka: And this beautiful machine blows air into the candy in order to insert commercial ads so you can get that very peculiar sensation of watching a commercial without having it interupt your television program! We call it the "annoying advertisement gobstopper."

Aaaanyway, I really hope the fact that I got a personal tour of the place is a good sign. It was definitely a really neat experience. What also startled me was the fact that my interviewer said that if I get the position, he'd feel comfortable letting me go to events to represent the paper and basically be a reporter. And this was after I told him I've never done any reporting before. But just imagine! Wow. Just--wow. I really, really hope it works out.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Books

Today was my second day at work! It was much better than yesterday. I answered the phone like a normal person and actually helped people! Though T.H. called again, only this time when I asked who it was and he said it was Gwiffle's husband, he didn't get all defensive. He just sounded a bit touchy. But, really, mister, if you don't tell me your name when you call, how am I ever going to know you're Gwiffle's husband? I mean, we're going to spend all summer playing this game if you don't start introducing yourself when you call. You know, like, "Hi, this is Fliffle, is Gwiffle there?" And then I can say, "Oh! Fliffle! Why certainly, one moment please!" And it can all be rainbows and cherries between us! Ah, alas, wishful thinking.

But anyway, today I also got to compose a letter! And make a list of contacts! And copy edit a catalog! Though the best part was listening in on a meeting about the creation of a book. They talked about the font, the spacing, the size of the pages, the cover, the price - everything. It was amazing.

I love books. I love everything about them, the smell, the pages, the weight of them in my hands, the words - oh yes, the words. The stories they tell. I treat them with care. I recently decided to use bookmarks so as not to ruin the corners of the pages. I also learned from Fire and Hemlock not to leave a book on its face in order to hold the place.

One day, when I have my own house, I'm going to have a library. And a nice one, too. I also really want to have a tower where I can have my work room for writing and I can look over the whole town but they can't see me. And it will have a windy staircase going up. The library won't have a staircase, unless I have so many books that it needs one *grins gleefully* but it will have really comfy couches. The kind that are maroon colored and you sink right in. And the bookshelves will be cherry wood - oooh, that's nice.

I'm not sure why I'm designing my dream house on my blog at the moment. Perhaps it's because it is midnight and I am in serious need of sleep. I also wrote an entire post about something else but decided I didn't like it and deleted the whole thing, so I felt the need to at least post something. I wanted to post about eating in Circa and why I love kosher restaurants but that will have to wait for tomorrow. I'm way too tired now to think on anything more than a silly, superficial level.

But this is a shout out to those who love books as much as I do!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Fifty Nifty Posts on My Blog...Otherwise Known As "Phone Shy"

YAY. POST NUMBER FIFTY.

Ahem.

Aaaaanyway, today was my first day as an intern somewhere! It wasn't much like I imagined, though I didn't know what to imagine, so I guess that's not saying a lot. I had to update the links on their website so my limited knowledge of html came in useful, though. And I got to put together media kits, which are basically these manila envelopes with a copy of a newly published book in each and a letter to each person getting an envelope to please write a review of the book. That part was pretty cool.

By far the worst part of the whole thing was answering the phone. I am incredibly phone shy. (Curiousjew, if you've noticed I never called you back :) It's nothing against you and I shall eventually, I'm just really awkward on the phone, heh). Luckily, I didn't have to do too much phone answering because someone else was in charge of that, but if she was on a different line or had stepped out, I had to do it. Let's just say, some women get very touchy about the fact that you don't know they're so-and-so's wife. I'm sorry! It's my first day working there! So I don't know your husband is such-and-such. Big deal. I mean, really. Get. A. Grip. And what was even worse was when someone's husband called and I completely went blank. This was the scenario:
Phone: Ring ring, ring ring (it's a really odd ring)
Me: Please, please, someone else pick up (wishful thinking, if it rings at my desk that means the lady who usually answers the phone is either not there or busy and no one else is going to be picking up that phone)
Phone: Ring ring, RING RING.
Me: *Swallows and picks up phone* H-Hi, this is [insert first part of the name of the publishing house] *awkward pause* Um, Publishing House. *Thinks: darn, I knew I forgot part of the name somewhere*
Touchy Husband: Hi, can I speak to Gwiffle? [this is my code name, just nod, smile, and play along]
Me: Um, sure. Just, um, hold on. Wait, who is this?
Touchy Husband: This is her husband. Who's this?
Me: Um, um, I'm Erachet. I-I work at the, er, front desk.
Nice Person I Work For: Do you want me to take that?
Me: Uh...*puts T.H. on hold* It's Gwiffle's husband.
NPIWF: Oh, just tell him she's out and she'll call him back.
Me: Er, okay. *Completely forgetting how to use a phone, I proceed to press hold in order to get him back. It, of course, does not work. Then I accidentally made a conference call, I think, but I quickly hung up and just hoped T.H. had somehow gotten off the line*

Well, yes, that was a disaster. Luckily, that was pretty much the only one. Oh, then we had someone call who only spoke Spanish. That was fun.

Let's just say, I'm absolutely rubbish at answering the phone.

But to end this post on a happier note: FIFTY POSTS. HURRAH. Or, or, HUZZAH, even.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Whoaness - a four-day hodegepodge

I can't believe I haven't written in four whole days. I have a lot to say and not a lot of time to say it in, seeing as it's eleven o'clock (hee, I love writing out the time like that instead of digitally, like, 11:00) and I have to get up at six tomorrow morning. You see, tomorrow is my first day as an intern. I've never really interned anywhere before, if you don't count organizing pictures in a hospital archive for a friend of my dad's. I'm interning at a publishing house for medical textbooks every Tuesday and Wednesday this summer. It should be rather interesting, I hope. And this Thursday I have an interview at a local Jewish newspaper for the other three days in the work-week. I really, really hope that works out.

Speaking of that interview, my parents suggested I take a test drive to the interview spot today just to make sure I can get there without getting lost. Now, I have an awful sense of direction. And I mean awful. And I'm quite good at muddling up directions - which is just what I did. What should have been a seventeen minute drive, according to mapquest, turned into a two and a half hour adventure missing every single street my dad directed me to turn down. I ended up in the oddest places, ran a red light, nearly got into an accident, cried a couple of times while in a sketchy school parking lot on the phone with my dad, got yelled at by the security of the school (for being in their parking lot when the buses were coming soon), and was drenched in nervous sweat. Literally. My hands were wet, my face was wet, my hair was wet. I mean, I don't think I've ever been this nervous ever (and yes, I know I just used 'ever' twice in about four words. I was that nervous). It was my very first time driving out of my community on my own, I was completely lost, I kept getting myself more lost when my dad tried to direct me, and, yeah. Basically, it was a disaster. So we're going to try again tomorrow night and this time, one of my parents is coming with me to make sure I go the right way. I felt like such a complete failure this afternoon.

In other news, tonight was my brother's high school graduation. It was really nice, though some of the speakers spoke for rather a long time. I just cannot believe he graduated. It's weird, his entire life has revolved around high school, the hockey team, different teachers he liked, didn't like, his friends, and now it's over. Time to move on to the next level in life. I hope Israel is as good, if not better, an experience and that he continues to grow and mature and have an awesome time in everything he does.

Lastly, before I literally fall into bed, I've been having an internal debate with myself since high school. In high school, I had some friends declared they would not study secular subjects on Shabbat. I thought about it for a bit, but I really did need to study on Shabbat, or thought I did, anyway, and I never gave that up. It was a perfect long afternoon when I wasn't doing much else anyway - it was either studying, reading, or getting together with friends to eat each other's leftovers and debate over how to spend the afternoon. When I was in Israel for the year, the head of my school briefly mentioned once that he never studied on Shabbat and did well anyway. When I entered college, everyone I knew studied on Shabbat and I totally forgot about the concept that maybe you shouldn't. Until this weekend. This weekend, one of my best friends had some friends over from her college and they were talking about this very idea - studying on Shabbat. She explained to me that although she used to study on Shabbat in high school, she no longer does. Her friend told me that it is blatant hachanah (preparation) for after Shabbat and that a person should not even study religious subjects on Shabbat for that reason. I was flabbergasted. What about reading novels for school? When else do I have time to read for school??? No, he said. Even that I shouldn't do.

I frowned, I furrowed my brow, I reasoned, I rationalized, and I arrived at a dead end. The hachanah argument seems so logical and so obvious, and yet, I know that people study on Shabbat. I know people read for class on Shabbat. And I want to be able to. But am I allowed? Is hachanah for after Shabbat the real reason people don't do it? Or is it because it's not in the spirit of Shabbat to study secular subjects, and therefore religious subjects are okay and even reading secular novels are probably alright?

If anyone can relieve my mind on this issue, it would be greatly, greatly appreciated.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

"Welcome to America, Now Speak English" - a t-shirt

I would like to discuss this comic:

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

There's always this debate, since America is like a large chulent country - a bit of this, a bit of that, toss some of the other thing in there, stir it up and see what we've got. So is this an English language nation? Or is it something else? What does it mean to be American? America now is definitely not the America it started off as, but where are we migrating to? We started off speaking English because so many of the early settlers were British. But what about all the other states that started off Spanish? Wouldn't that make Spanish just as legitimate for a national language? Or a co-national language? But you could say, those states that used to be Spanish weren't part of the original thirteen states of America. America was founded by Englishmen (primarily) and then those Englishmen - now Americans - took over further lands, thereby conquering places belonging to the Spanish. And when you are conquered, you do not impose your own rules on the conquerers. No, you adapt to the way of life that you've just been introduced to. In that sense, America should speak strictly English.

But America is also founded on the ideal that we are the land of the free, we provide equal opportunity. It shouldn't be difficult for immigrants in this country. In theory, anyway. In theory, America should open its arms to immigrants speaking all languages, not forcing them to conform to American ways, not forcing them to learn English, for we are a country where all cultures should thrive.

And on the flip side again, I'm American. I'm fluent in English because English is the dominant language in this country. So why is it fair that I shouldn't be able to understand other Americans - in America! Why should I have to learn their language so I can understand them, instead of them learning my language, the language all Americans should know. Right? After all, in France they speak French, in Spain they speak Spanish, in Italy they speak Italian, in England they speak English, so why can't the same expectation be held for America?

And speaking of England and America, if you really think about it, we don't actually speak English. We speak American. I mean, if you listen to a British person speak, there will definitely be words and phrases you just don't understand. Sure, it's similar, sure it's basically the same, but it isn't really the same.

I have no idea what I believe when it comes to this debate. I'm easily convinced either way. Any input?

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Rising to Potential

In light of Chana's most recent post, I would like to comment on the difference between being thought smart and actually being smart. I don't know how many people have actually thought about this or considered being a part of the thought-smart category, but it's something I know all too well.

When I was in elementary school, I was smart. I was. I can't remember not knowing how to read, but I do remember when the rest of the class was learning. I remember that I already knew how. I didn't need the letter books. I didn't need the readers. I was already reading books at home on my own. In school, I thirsted for chapter books, especially when most of the book in our classroom library were simple picture books. During this time in my life, I always did well in school and I was seen by the other kids as part of the 'smart kids' category. But there was something wrong, something that wounded my pride, that made me feel inadequate, unnoticed, unappreciated, or just plain not good enough. There was an enrichment program originally called Project Extra and then renamed Rise. My good friends were in it. I wasn't. I wanted to be so badly, but never did any of my teachers place me in it. It was like a special club that only the smart kids could be in, but yet I was excluded. I, who was smart, who couldn't make it on my own in the classroom when the rest of my friends were at Rise. It made me secretly resentful of my friends. I hated feeling that way. I hated not being part of it. I hated being smart, but not smart enough. If I was going to be burdened with being a reader, being studious, being quick at learning, then why could I not be rewarded along with my friends? And if I wasn't going to be rewarded, then couldn't I at least be good at whatever the other kids in my class enjoyed to do? So that I could have friends when my other friends weren't in the classroom? So that I could have things to share with other students in the class?

In elementary school, we also had an annual poetry contest. This was something I wanted very badly to win. I entered a poem every year and never did I get to read mine out loud in front of the whole school during the poetry festival. And I was the writer! I was the one constantly writing stories, writing poems, playing make-believe. But I never won. Not once. There was only one moment in elementary school when I felt pride for my writing and that was when we had an actual poet come to our class. It was in fifth grade and the poet told us each to write a paragraph about something, anything we wanted. I wrote about waking up on a Sunday morning and the rush of racing down the stairs to beat my siblings to the television so I could choose what program we would watch. I remember the poet singled my paragraph out. She said it was very good and that a phrase I had written, "I fumbled for my glasses," was just the sort of phrase writers liked to use. She said it showed a sophistication in my writing. I glowed with pride.

But that was my shining moment. My only shining moment.

In sixth grade, I got the biggest shock from a teacher that I had ever gotten before. I got my first C. Now, you have to understand, not only did I not get C's in elementary school, I didn't even get B's. I mean, I was a good student. This was also the year that I'd had hepatitis, so you would think the teacher would be a bit more understanding. We had a country report which included an actual report and an oral presentation. We drew from a hat and, lucky me, I was chosen to present first. I was eleven. I had never seen an oral presentation before. I had no idea what I was supposed to do. The teacher gave a few suggestions, but I had to make most of it up on my own. I worked incredibly hard with my parents building the Eiffel Tower out of a large 3-D puzzle (I had France as my country). I learned how to play La Marseillaise, the French national anthem, on my flute (I played the flute at the time). I made posters, I gave out what I thought were little French yogurts but really ended up being cheese (no one knew until later. It was pretty funny when my mom and I figured it out). And after all that work, the teacher gave me a C on my oral. Why? Yes, many of the other presentations were more impressive than mine, but how could I have known that? I was first. And I was terrified I would do it all wrong. I didn't have the confidence to go first. I remember being horrified. An actual C.

In seventh and eight grade, I was placed in the highest level class of my grade. It was then that I started to do badly in science and not amazingly in history. What was happening to me? I was supposed to be smart! Everyone still thought I was smart. I never shared my unsatisfactory grades with anyone. Let them still think I was smart, that I was capable, that I was up to their level.

In high school, for the first time I wasn't in the honors class. I was in a class right in the middle. While for many, this would be just fine, for me it was a wound to my pride. Again, almost all my friends were in the honors class. In fact, I was barely friends with anyone in my own class. I was miserable in that class. I didn't show it; I'm quite good at hiding my feelings - at least, I like to think I am. But I was in a class with all the jappy girls who didn't want to work. They just wanted to go on tangents with the teacher about her outfit. I admit, those were ideal times for me to get some solid bit of writing done ( I wrote many a story during class in high school) but I wanted to learn. I didn't care where the teacher got her skirt from, or her shoes. And, what was worse, my real friends and I began to have less and less to talk about during school. We were having different high school experiences on a day to day basis. We couldn't study together. We couldn't talk about teachers together. It was awful.

And still, somehow, I was regarded as smart. I don't know if it's because I never goofed off in school or if it's because I sound smart when I spoke (which I highly doubt. I usually become too nervous to actually say anything very coherent. I find it much easier to express myself when I'm writing). But there it was, I was still thought of as smart. There was one time, I was in twelfth grade, when a teacher from the honors class subbed for one of my classes and she and I ended up having an intellectual debate for a good part of the forty minutes we were together. Sometime after class, she came over to me and told me she had no idea I was like that (like what? That I liked to debate? That I liked being intellectually stimulated? I still don't know exactly what she meant) and that she feels like she missed out by not teaching me. That was probably the first time in the entirety of high school that I felt proud of my performance in the classroom. And that was when I was almost up to graduation.

So even now I wonder, did I actually rise to my potential in elementary and high school? Did I really do my best? And if not, could I have been in Rise? Could I have been in the honors class? Could I have, as a result, ended up with more friends and had a better experience? Sometimes I get so angry at myself when I realize that the answer to these questions is, most probably, yes. And I don't know why I ruined it for myself. Laziness? Getting too used to being regarded as smart that I forgot to try my hardest? I don't know. I just know I'm unsatisfied with the way I've performed as a student all this time. I'm smart. I know I'm smart. It's just not as easy for me to rise to my own potential for some reason.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Harry Potter = Lord of the Rings?

This is a topic I feel I must address. There are those who suggest that Harry Potter is a plagiarism of Lord of the Rings. That's...I think it's simply outrageous. If there was actual, actual plagiarism of ideas that belong solely to J.R.R. Tolkien, then perhaps, yes, Harry Potter could be a hidden version of Lord of the Rings. But the comparisons I read here suggest nothing of the kind.

1. Dark Lord fearfully named, attempting to return to power, who placed part of his soul in a ring.

Okay, you have to understand, first, that there is no way - at all - that Tolkien owns dark lords. So anyone who says, "oh, look, Harry Potter has a dark lord and Lord of the Rings has a dark lord! They must be the same thing!" is ignoring the fact that a dark lord, a personification of evil, is universal. Whether it be an actual dark lord, a witch, a wizard, an ogre, a giant, a troll, an evil spirit, an---ANYTHING. They all serve the same role within the story and they are ALL trying to return to power/take over the world/destroy Good.

This is my own addition but when I was learning Beowulf first semester of this past school year, we learned about the importance of cups and other objects being passed around for the more treasure a person has, the more importance the person has. Figures lived on through the treasure they left behind. This could be why Tolkien, and then Rowling, give an importance to a piece of treasure, a ring. Also, Voldemort's ring did not play a significant enough part in the Harry Potter books that I would think Rowling was trying to recreate Lord of the Rings. A ring is so convenient as a thing of power or to hide one's soul in because it is small, unnoticeable, and can be worn on your person. It isn't like Harry Potter was walking around with the ring and used it to become invisible, nor do the Harry Potter books center around the ring in any way like Lord of the Rings does.

2. Concept the Dark Lord cannot understand, ultimately used against him

Again, how can you say Tolkien owns that? That's used all over the place.

3. A birthday sets events in motion

Again, not owned by Tolkien. In my myth and folklore class, we learned about how the hero is often an adolescent and that his adventures symbolize his growth and maturity. Birthdays are used all the time in fairy tales as symbolic days (Sleeping Beauty - on her sixteenth birthday she will prick her finger, Beauty and the Beast - often an age is given for how long the Beast has in order to turn back into a person). Also, the only reason why Harry's birthday sets things in motion is because he is born in July and you have to be eleven to go to Hogwarts. ALL the Hogwarts students began to receive their acceptance letters the summer they were eleven, whether their birthday was earlier or that summer. If Rowling chose to have Harry's birthday in July, you can't say she is copying Lord of the Rings just because LotR opens with a birthday as well. And it isn't as though it opened with a party like LotR did. If it had, that would be one thing. But if it wasn't Harry's birthday that particular day, it still would have been almost exactly the same. He still would have been eleven, old enough to attend Hogwarts.

4. Wizened old wizard

Oh please. Old ones, Elders, Wise ones, that concept is universal as well and was definitely around waaaaay before LotR was.

5. Strong non-parental connection

Can anyone say...Fairy Godmother? That's a Cinderella-type story, not a LotR one. And Bilbo's role in LotR is completely different with Sirius's role in Harry Potter.

6. Annoying relatives

a. Tolkien definitely doesn't own that
b. The Sackville-Bagginses and the Dursleys are very different

7. Scar that won't heal

Okay, here I could say she was bordering on taking that idea from LotR, except that the scars are quite different and have different roles. Harry's scar definitely has more significance. And, anyway, she's allowed to have her character have an important scar. I wouldn't jump down her throat just on that.

8. Inherited invisibility device

Yes, but, again, they are very, very different. Harry's isn't something dark and evil that he must destroy.

9. Eerie prison controlled by dark forces

Okay, perhaps.

10. Treasure Hoarding Goblins

Oh, please. That's taken from the treasure hoarding dragon in Beowulf. Tolkien didn't come up with it.

Alright, this is taking much longer than I expected and I have to go get ready for Shabbat, but maybe I'll continue in another entry. However, my point is, a heck of a lot that people are holding against J.K. Rowling is really nitpicky and extreme, considering most of it Tolkien didn't actually originate.

Tolkien took a lot of his stuff from Beowulf and the Saga of the Volsungs (this includes special swords, rings of power, etc. Look here and here). And anyway, the first place I'd think of that uses important swords is King Arthur, which was around ages before Lord of the Rings.

Every author uses things from other authors, if you look hard enough, but if you want to compare Harry Potter to anything, it should be this: a book and movie that I read/saw AGES ago, long before Harry Potter.

The thing that really bothers me about Harry Potter is, supposedly Harry had love protecting him and that's why Voldemort was unable to kill him. But what I want to know is, how was that situation so unusual? If Voldemort was going around terrorizing and murdering families, friends, lovers...no one else ever died for their loved one before? In his whole reign? It doesn't make sense. Lily Potter was the only mother who died for her son out of love?

Anyway, everyone have a Shabbat Shalom!

Memorization...memorization...memo...rization...memoziration? Zamorfication?

There is a fourth grade girl in my community who I help with her homework. Starting yesterday, her teacher began assigning homework about the sons of Yaakov: questions about their brachot from Yaakov and memorizing those brachot. Luckily, it's only one son at a time (though today Shimon and Levi were together) but what I want to know is this: this girl barely understands what she's memorizing. It's all just sounds to her. I ask her if she knows what the words mean and she says she doesn't. So how can she be expected to memorize something if she doesn't even know what it means? And she learned the psukim in school with a tune and hand motions but the hand motions have nothing to do with the words!

When I was in sixth grade, I had to memorize Shirat Chana. We had hand motions too, but at least they made sense with the words to help us understand what we were memorizing! Even then, though. What was the value in my memorization of Shirat Chana? I never had to recite it to anyone after sixth grade, no one ever really cared that I knew it, I never even learned it again in school! So what was the point? Hooray, I can rattle off the psukim if I'm singing them in the song. And I don't even know if I have all the words 100% correct. And in sixth grade I got hepatitis and I remember getting in trouble one day when I came back to school after being out for a while because I hadn't memorized the next part of the Shira. I'd had hepatitis. Do you think I cared about memorizing a bunch of psukim from Navi? I was trying to keep up with all my other schoolwork and I had my country report to work on and I had to keep myself sane from all the itching (hepatitis makes you reeeaaaally itchy).

In seventh and eighth grade, I had a teacher who made us spit back the Torah. We had to take notes by writing every word of the pasuk and its translation and then the same for the mefarshim. And we could get ten points of extra credit on the final if we memorized ten rashis. Or maybe it was five rashis. That's more likely. And the deal was they had to have more than three words each. But STILL. So the girls who were good at memorization got to have ten extra points? Is that fair? I'm AWFUL at memorization and spit back (even though I have a really good memory in general). I shouldn't say that. I can spit back movies, shows, books, that sort of stuff. I'm just not great at being forced to memorize something and then spitting it back. Or maybe I'm good at it, but I hate doing it. It bores me, it takes too long to actually memorize - I just don't like it. The books, movies, and shows I know by heart I didn't actively memorize, it just sort of, well, happened.

My point is, why make a fourth grader memorize all the brachot of Yaakov's sons if she doesn't even understand what she's saying and it won't actually effect her ever? What's the point of all her frustration?