He can Sing! He can Dance! He's...Wolverine??

Well, technically, he's Hugh Jackman.

But, for me, Hugh Jackman = Wolverine. I mean, I've seen him in other movies and enjoyed them. It's just that when I think Hugh Jackman, I think of him as Wolverine. Not as the magician from The Prestige. Not as a theater performer. And certainly not as a singer.

Up until a few weeks ago (yes, I've been planning on blogging about this for weeks. Life got in the way.), this is what came to mind when someone said "Hugh" and "Jackman" together:

And then I watched this theater version of Roger and Hammerstein's Oklahoma! He plays Curly.

I was floored by his performance. The man can act. It's seriously impressive how good he is when all the special effects are taken away. He brought out all the humor that's embedded in the lyrics of the songs and the situations they sing them in. You know the humor's there in the R&H original, but the guy who plays Curly in it just kind of stands there and smiles and sings. Jackman brings so much life and expression to Curly that Oklahoma! moves to a whole different level of entertainment. He can actually dance and he has this incredible voice. Here, jump a few seconds into the video and listen:

Would you expect that from the guy who's famous for playing a mutant with claws? I know I didn't. And it was so neat to discover this entirely different aspect of one of my favorite actors. It also got me thinking. Thinking about how there is so much more to people than we think and assume.

We summarize people all the time. "She's a writer." "He's an actor." We associate individuals with what we see as their primary role. And they are that person. But they're also more than that. They're a particular combination of experiences and history, virtues and vices, hopes and hurts, dreams and hidden talent. It's so easy to attribute traits to someone because those traits are normally associated with that role. And once that attribution is made, that's all we tend to perceive.

We forget how complex people are. We forget how many roles a single individual fills. We forget to wonder or care about people's pasts, even though their histories have made them who they are. We just assume they've always been the way they are, that it's just their personality to be optimistic or aggravating. We never think about the possibility that they have to fight for that optimism or that there's good reason for someone to be begging for attention.

It's so obvious, too. We all know, intellectually, that people are complicated. We all know that there's a wealth of backstory for every single person on the planet. We know that there's more to people than first impressions. And yet we continue to put people into nice, neat little categories and expect their behavior to be consistent with the status we label them with.

I think that's what made discovering Hugh Jackman's musical talent so exciting and fun. He doesn't just fit into the hot-shot-actor/famous-person box any more. Not neatly, anyway. He's now actor, stage performer, and singer. He's so much more interesting now. And I think everyone is like that.

They're more. They're more than we expect or anticipate. They're more than we assume and are capable of more than we assume.

I think, at least in part, the revelation of that more is what makes life interesting. It makes life not just a grand adventure, but an adventure of character proportions. What do you think?


A Word for Wednesday

Before I get into today's word, please accept my apologies for the lateness of this post. I keep telling myself that I should write these things on Tuesday and schedule them to post since I work full days on Wednesdays and then have Jiu-Jitsu class in the evening, but I've managed to forget what I've told myself every single time. Do forgive my tardiness.

So, after work today and dealing with some college logistics, I picked a word. I had started finding examples of it's use when my sister walks by, pauses behind me, and says, "That's not an old word." My first reaction was insistence that it was in fact an old word. My confidence lasted approximately five seconds, at which point I realized that she was right. I had picked a variation of a fairly common word, having been taken in by a novel use of the word instead of the word itself. I returned to scouring the dictionary, found another one and this time when my sister walked past she said, "Yep. Don't know that one." So here's an old word that my sister didn't know ;) I'm not familiar with it and I hope none of you are, 'cause that would just spoil the fun.   

Lusory - a, [L. lusorius, from ludo, lusi, to sport] Used in play; playful

I like how Isaac Watts uses this word in his work, The Improvement of the Mind. "There might be also many entertaining contrivances for the instruction of children in several things relating to Geometry, Geography, and Astronomy in such alluring and lusory methods, which would make a most agreeable and lasting impression on their minds."

A most agreeable and lasting impression indeed :) Do you ever wish we could still speak like that in normal conversation? Be able to say things like "entertaining contrivances" and "alluring and lusory methods" without feeling (and having people look at you) like you're a walking antique? Or dictionary? I wish we could. All Watts is saying is that if you can find a fun way to teach kids, they'll remember it. It's a pretty straightforward idea, but his diction makes it elegant. He's eloquent about the ordinary. And it's a lovely thing, really.

While Watts used today's word masterfully, not many others seem to have used it at all. Not well-known, will-come-up-on-Google-searches others, at any rate. That's the only usage I could find to share with you.

I suppose that leaves nothing but the narrative. A narrative I have very little time to write if this is to be posted while the day still technically reads Wednesday. Here we go.

"Madam, I cannot teach your child."

I stopped mid-step at the sound of my tutor's voice. I pressed my ear up against the stone and waited for him to continue.

"Oh, don't be absurd," my mother said. "You are a highly qualified and experienced instructor. I have no doubt of your excellence. You can teach him. And you will. That is all."

"My lady, in all my  experience, I have yet to encounter a pupil as incorrigible as your son," he said.

"Well, then." I could hear her smirk. Even with a wall between us, I knew that she had just raised her right eyebrow the slightest bit while her eyes got hard. "Consider a challenge."

"I'm afraid, sweet lady, that you do not understand my situation. I have exhausted every means within my knowledge and still I cannot make him comprehend. I have been strict and stern, lusory and lax. I have threatened, challenged, goaded his pride, left him alone with books and no supper, all to no avail. He simply refuses to learn."

I wasn't sure I wanted to hear what my mother would say next. The hall was wide and empty, my shoes soft enough that I could walk past the door without making sound. But I stayed. And I don't know why.

"Then find a way to break his stubbornness," she said, her tone as cold and hard as the stone against my ear. "I will not have a fool for a son."

I was no fool. When it came to books, perhaps then I was a fool. Not in the forest, though, where I took prey with ease. Not in the village, where I kept the goodwill of the peasants and knew their children's names. Not on the manor, which I managed in my father's absence. She thought the hands saw to the smooth workings of our estate. She didn't know it was me. My tutor didn't either.

It was all as plain as the words on the books he gave me. They simply failed to look and see."


A Word for Wednesday

Leman - n. A sweetheart; a gallant, or a mistress

This is one of those Old English words that will probably never be commonly used again. And that's perfectly fine with me. I know I normally pick words that I want brought back into use, but I cannot recommend that guys start calling their girls lemans or vice versa. That would just be...odd.

So, why did I choose it? Well, A) it's really rather amusing to insert "leman" into pick-up lines you've heard before. Try it. It's fun. B) Chaucer and Spenser used it in their most famous works. Most words I find for Wednesdays don't have a single literary passage to accompany them. This one has fourteen. Yes, fourteen. I may never use this word again outside of this post, but it's a rare excuse to put classic works on my screen and yours.

"Then came he to the carpentere's house,
And still he stood under the shot window;
Unto his breast it raught, it was so low;
And soft he coughed with a semisoun' (low tone)
"What do ye, honeycomb, sweet Alisoun?
My faire bird, my sweet cinamome,
Awaken, leman mine, and speak to me."
- The Canterbury Tales, by Geoffrey Chaucer

Say that last line out loud (with a British accent if you can manage it): "Awaken, leman mine, and speak to me." Oh, I laugh. I laugh.

Apparently, women used it as a title too:

"'Now, deare leman,' quoth she, 'go, fare wele:
But ere thou go, one thing I will thee tell.
When that thou wendest homeward by the mill,
Right at the entry of the door behind
Thou shalt a cake of half a bushel find,
That was y-maked of thine owen meal,
Which that I help'd my father for to steal.
And goode leman, God save thee and keep.'
And with that word she gan almost to weep." 
- The Canterbury Tales, by Geoffrey Chaucer

Spenser's work has an entirely different flavor to it. Of which I now give you a taste:

"Then like a Faerie knight him selfe he drest,
For ever shape on him he could endow;
Then like a king he was to her exprest,
And offered kingdoms unto her in view,
To be his Leman and his Lady trew:
But when all this he nothing saw prevaile,
With harder meanes he cast her to subdew,
And with sharpe threates her often did assayle;
So thinking for to make her stubborne corage quayle."
- The Faerie Queene, by Edmund Spenser

"Then forth the sad Aemylia issewed
Yet trembling every joynt through former
And after her the Hag, there with her mewed,
A foule and lothsome creature, did appeare,
A leman fit for such a lover deare."
- The Faerie Queene, by Edmund Spenser

One more, just because I like it.

"'O great Orgoglio! greatest under skye
O! hold thy mortall hand for Ladies sake;
Hold for my sake, and doe him not to dye,
But vanquisht thine eternall bondslave make,
And me, thy worthy meed, unto thy Leman take.
He hearkned, and did stay from further harmes,
[...] From that day forth Duessa was his deare,
And highly honourd in his haughtie eye."
- The Faerie Queene, by Edmund Spenser

Okay, I think I've sufficiently flooded you all with passages for the day (or night, since it's taken me way, way too long to finish this post and push the 'publish' button). My word-inspired story snippet is all that's left. Normally, I have a decent idea by now and am ready, even eager, to write it. It hasn't really worked out that way this time. 'Cause I'm a sentence away and still drawing a blank. I guess we'll just see how this goes...

"She's no good for you," Jay said, adding a lime to the other fruits he was juggling.

"Will you stop with the juggling?" I snatched one of the oranges out of the air. "We're in the grocery store, not the circus. And stop telling me to dump my girl."


He threw the fruits back into their bins one at a time while keeping the others in the air. The handful of other shoppers around us clapped and smiled and started talking about him. I left him to take his signature bow and headed for the frozen pizzas.

"Dude," he caught up. "She's a leman."

"A what?"

"A sweetheart, a mistress. Whatever. Listen to what I'm saying, she's not good for you."

"Yeah? Why? Because you said so, Mr. I-read-old-Old-English-manuscripts-for-fun? I'm supposed to be your best friend. Not Shakespeare or Chaucer or whoever you're reading all the time. So stop using their words and shut up about Scarlett."

"You are my best friend. That's why I telling you this, Chace. She will ruin you. She's already begun."


A Word for Wednesday

Langrage, Langrel - n, Langrel shot or langrage is a particular kind of shot used at sea for tearing sails and rigging, and thus disabling an enemy's ship. It consists of bolts, nails, and other pieces of iron fastened together.

I'm not entirely sure why these two words are listed together in the dictionary. They must have been interchangeable when Webster wrote his dictionary. Since then, each word has come to have a more specific meaning. "Langrel shot" is now synonymous with chain-shot and "langrage" refers to bags or canisters of junk (scrap metal, old musket balls, rocks, bolts, gravel, etc) that are then fired from a canon.

The London Encyclopedia of 1829 (or Universal Dictionary of Science, Art, Literature, and Practical Mechanics comprising a Popular View of the Present State of Knowledge) says this:

"Langrel shot, used at sea, consists of two bars of iron joined by a chain or shackle, and having half a ball of iron fixed on each end; by means of which great execution is done among an enemy's rigging."

Langrage is mentioned the story Nelson at the Battle of the Nile from Robert Southey's "The Life of Nelson." Here's a cut-and-pasted passage that (hopefully) gives you a little bit of the story not just the sentence that uses the word:

"The first two ships of the French line had been dismasted within a quarter of an hour after the commencement of the action; and the others in that time suffered so severely that victory was already certain. The third, fourth, and fifth were taken possession of at half-past eight. Meantime Nelson received a severe wound on the head from a piece of langrage shot. Captain Perry caught him in his arms as he was falling. The great effusion of blood occasioned an apprehension that the wound was mortal. Nelson himself thought so [...] When he was carried down, the surgeon, in the midst of a scene scarcely to be conceived by those who have never seen a cockpit in time of action, and the heroism which is displayed amid its horrors, with a natural but pardonable eagerness, quitted the poor fellow then under his hands, that he might instantly attend the admiral. "No !" said Nelson, "I will take my turn with my brave fellows." Nor would he suffer his own wound to be examined till every man who had been previously wounded was properly attended to [...] When the surgeon came in due time to examine the wound, the most anxious silence prevailed; and the joy of the wounded men, and of the whole crew, when they heard that the wound was superficial, gave Nelson deeper pleasure than the unexpected assurance that his life was in no danger."

So there you have it. I'm afraid it's not a very practical word. Unless you're writing naval-based stories, of course, in which case you can add this to your arsenal (especially if it's historical fiction, seeing it's a period word). Now, if I can think of names for the two boys I'm seeing in this scene (does anyone else have trouble with names? or is it just me?), I'll give you the story clip.

"Get down, get down, get down!"

I tackled Wat and rolled both of us into the side of the ship. I just had time to tuck his head under my shoulder before the langrage started to pelt down on me. It burnt through my clothing. I sat up, choking on the gunpowder in the air. Wat started fumbling with his pistol, trying to load the thing while casting panicked glances over the side.

"We're gonna die, Geoff." He was shouting and I could hardly hear him. "We're all gonna die."

"We're not going to die, Wat."

A man came swinging overhead. I shot him and he fell to the deck. I grabbed Wat by his neck and forced him to look at me, praying he didn't see any fear or doubt in my eyes.

"I won't let us die. Not today."

"Langrel shot!" I heard the Captain's voice. "Take cover, men!"

There was a frightful whistling sound and then a thunderous crack as the mast splintered.


In Which I am Easily Amused

I like laundromats.

They're a giant black hole that a ridiculous number of quarters disappear into, but I like them. I like that they smell like detergent and clothes hot out of the dryer. I like the background noise of swishing.

When my family first moved to Kentucky, I spent hours and hours at the laundromat with my older sister because we had no plumbing in our house for the first few weeks. And that meant hours of writing while drinking orange sodas (which are both really great things). So I'm kind of biased in favor of laundromats. I have a good history with them.

Anyway, our holiday project of replacing the shower in one of our bathrooms (it was supposed to take two days tops) turned into the bigger project of getting our soil pipe replaced. Plumbers were called. Plumbers did not show. Holes in the floor remain and the washer stands idle while the laundry-that-needs-washing continues to collect. Obviously, with ten people in the house we can't let it collect for too long without some of us running out of clean things to wear. This is another reason why I like laundromats. We pulled out two loads of essentials and headed on over.

By the time our laundry had finished drying, my sister and I were the only ones in the place. We had three quarters left. Everything in the vending machine was 85 cents. Fortunately, I had a dime. So my sister puts the money in and selects D4. Well, having never used a vendor before, she pushes the coin return halfway through the process and the machine stops. Our bag of sour Skittles was just barely hanging on the corner of the wire that had stopped mid-coil.

We kind of looked at each other and started laughing. She banged the front of the machine. No luck.

You know those people you see in the movies/advertisements who go ballistic and start practically attacking the vending machines to get their snacks? Well, I decided that was a good idea. Not quite to that degree, mind you. I was going with the general principle. So I stepped around to the side of the machine and gave it a big 'ole hip-bump.

The Skittles fell.

That was fun. Really, really fun :) Go ahead, you can laugh. I did. My family did. It's silly, I know. But I had the best little moment there in which I bumped a vending machine and the bump was effective. I'm tellin' you, it's the little things ;)


Meme Rhymes with Cream

I was all flattered last weekend when I found out that Ashley Nixon had tagged me in her meme. I still am actually, especially because it meant finding out that she loves my Word for Wednesday posts. Those posts have pretty much been the staple of this blog of late, so knowing that my followers actually enjoy and get something useful out of my posts is a very nice feeling :) Anyway, the first part of this meme is to thank the person who tagged you. Thanks, Ashley! *waves* And I'm going to take this opportunity to gush about her for a few sentences. She's adorable. Really, she is. She's one of those people who make you smile by just existing. Her personality is as open and happy and contagious as her smile (and she has a great smile). She wrote a book about pirates, called Cutlass, which is pretty cool if you ask me. And her writing space is what I would like mine to eventually look like: bulletin boards full of all things inspiring, some related to my writing, some not. If you haven't browsed her blog, head on over there. I dare you not to like her ;)

Do you think you're hot?

No. I'm cold. I'm cold roughly 90% of the time. I keep fleece blankets on my bed, even in the middle of summer. I always wear pants to the theaters no matter how hot it is outside because if I wear shorts, I'll shiver the entire movie. I think woodstoves, blankets, and giant, comfy sweaters are some of the best consumer goods available. I know I'm avoiding the question. I'm doing it on purpose ;) I loathe loaded questions and this is probably one of the worst: If I think I'm hot, then I'm a conceited, arrogant pig. If I don't think I'm hot, then I have self-esteems problems. I'm none of the above, so lets just say that I'm happy with the way God made me, and leave it at that :)

Upload a picture or wallpaper you are using at the moment.

I miss the "Once upon a time..." stories, don't you? They were so relaxed and quiet and settle-down-by-the-fire or curl-up-in-a-blanket kind of stories. And, if it's an oral story, there's so much more atmosphere and anticipation if you start with "Once upon a time" than slamming the listener into the action right at the start.

When was the last time you ate chicken meat?

This has to be one of the most random questions, haha. But, to answer it, I ate chicken yesterday. My Dad made chicken cacciatore. It was amazing.

List the songs you listened to recently.

Ok...um. Let's see.

"Oh, What a Beautiful Morning," from the musical Oklahoma!
"Make 'Em Laugh," from Singin' in the Rain
"Wherever You Will Go," by The Calling
"Light up the Sky," by The Afters
"More Beautiful You," by Johnny Diaz
"Born Again," by The Newsboys
"Can't Go On," by Group1Crew

What were you thinking as you were doing this?
That's its gorgeous outside, that I need to do an Italian lesson today, that I have a lot of studying to do, that I can't wait for Jiu-Jitsu class tonight because Sensei just came back from a weekend of seminars with Professor Sauer, and that I'm really, really thirsty.

Do you have nicknames?

My grandmother calls me Sweetpea. My youngest siblings and the little girl I nanny call me CayCay. People closest to me sometimes call me Cay.

Tag 8 people.

1. Christine
2. Cherie
3. Tamara
4. Huntress
5. Jen
6. Krista
7. Lori
8. BluestockingMum

Who's listed at number 1?

Christine. I found her on one of the discussion forums during Amazon's Breakthrough Novel Award contest. One of the most memorable comments I've received came from her. She wrote a rejection poem/lyric and it was fantastic. I've been following her every since. Oh, and she's Irish :)

Say something about number 5.

Jen is my Merlin and peanut-butter buddy. And she shares my love of musicals. She has excellent taste ;)

How did you get to know number 3?

You know how your friends link their friends who link their friends? Well, that's what happened. I honestly don't remember the link-path I followed to Tamara. But I started following her, she followed me and that's pretty much it. Her and her husband and ridiculously cute together, just so you know.

How about number 4?

She has an awesome screen name. I mean, how can you not follow the Huntress? Seriously, though, we found and mutually followed each other back when the blog awards were making the rounds. If I remember correctly, she actually started the Blog on Fire award...gave it to Cherie, Cherie gave it to me, and that's how I found out about Huntress.

Leave a message for number 6.

Krista, I remember how disappointed you were about the ABNA results and how I wished I could cheer you up and make sure you didn't give up hope. Now look at you! Your manuscript is with an agent who wants to represent you! Looks to me like you found the golden jellybean :)

Leave a lovey-dovey message for number 2.

Cherie, you are a gem. An utter gem. You've been the most encouraging and constant presence on my blog from Day One. I don't know how you manage to be a wife, mother to your little ones, keep your blog so full of all things informative, amusing, and inspiring, and leave so many wonderful comments all over the blogsphere. You're incredibly sweet and one of my favorite parts of awards and memes is the excuse to brag on you. My Dad said to me once, "I think Cherie really likes you." I said, "Well, I really like Cherie." And that pretty much sums it up :)

Do number 7 and number 8 have any similarities?

They're both writers, working and hoping toward publication. Other than that, they don't have any similarities that I know of. Lori is an amazing artist - her anime drawings are just fantastic. BluestockingMum has the most admirable spirit of fortitude and persistence.

OK. I think I got covered everything I was supposed to in this meme. Now I just have to go tell everyone I tagged that they're IT!


A Word for Wednesday

We are back in business, with "L" as the letter of choice :) So without further ado, I give you...

Lambent - a. [L. lambens, lambo, to lick.] Playing about; touching lightly; gliding over.

And just to have a very well-rounded understanding of the word's meaning, from the Miriam Webster dictionary:                     
                                        1. Playing lightly on or over a surface
                                        2. Softly bright or radiant
                                        3. Marked by lightness or brilliance especially of expression

I think this word is just begging to be used. It would be such a great addition to any number of descriptions. Think of it. A lambent flame. Lambent purity. Lambent wit. Oh, the possibilities are endless. This one little word can add so much atmosphere to a sentence.

Walt Whitman used it in the title and the body of one of his poems, Old Age's Lambent Peaks.

"The touch of flame--the illuminating fire--the loftiest look at last,
O'er city, passion, sea--o'er prairie, mountain, wood--the earth itself,
The airy, different, changing hues of all, in failing twilight,
Objects and groups, bearings, faces, reminiscences;
The calmer sight--the golden setting, clear and broad:
So much i' the atmosphere, the points of view, the situations whence
we scan,
Bro't out by them alone--so much (perhaps the best) unreck'd before;
The lights indeed from them--old age's lambent peaks."

There's so many ways to use this word that I'm really not sure how to use it in a narrative. Should it describe the setting? The character? Both? An attribute of either one? I don't know. But I promised myself I would write these story clips on the fly, so here goes:

"It was bliss to feel the ground under my feet. Even the sharp pricks from stones were welcome. My mother would scandalized if she saw me running through the woods as I was with my corset was unlaced, my hair fallen down, and my dress bunched up high enough to expose my ankles and a glimpse of leg to the night. Father would scold me for my impropriety, but he'd be hiding a smile in his frown, just as he always did. Neither would forbid me, though. I had been running to the lake after our dinner parties for years, and they knew it right well.

It was my refuge. Every rule, every expectation, every disquieting arrangement for my future vanished when I was there. No suitors could call on me. No meddlesome women could ask after my affairs. And I did not have to shower smiles on anyone. I did not usually mind the society my parents and I kept, or the behavior that was expected of my position, or the plans my father made on my behalf. I even liked it most days. But there were times when I needed my lake. Time to breathe and think.

The forest opened ahead and I was on the lake shore in a moment. I put one foot in and then the other, watching the cool, dark water cover my toes and lap up to my ankles. It was so tranquil here. Gentle waves dipped and curled under the lambent purity of moon and starlight. Fireflies winked at me and the host of frogs and insects made a symphony all their own. This place was etched into my very soul but still I tried to store every detail in my memory.

Memories were all I would be able to take with me for I was to be wed in a fortnight."