Category Archives: Mark Twain

Mark My Words

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There are so many ways we leave our ‘marks’ upon others’ lives and

upon some small part of the world itself. It may be through your

writing, you have touched someone’s mind and heart. It may be by

your creating a painting, taking a photograph,  preparing a special

food dish, making something old, ‘new’ again for someone or. . .

I found the word, “mark” in the dictionary and would like to share

what meanings it has, along with a few expressions that include

various forms of the word, “mark”in them.

 

The definition for ‘mark’-

noun:

1. A visible trace or impression, (line or spot).

2. A symbol, name or other identifier.

3. A name, logo or other indicator.

 

verb:

1. To mark a visible trace or impression, (spot, line or dent).

2. To form, make or depict by making a mark.

3. To supply with natural markings, (a tiger is marked by stripes.)

 

My favorite use of ‘mark’ is the one I used in the beginning. It means

to contribute to others by making our ‘marks.’ This means leaving

our legacy and how we helped make an impression upon another’s

life. There are many books in the library which are ‘marked’ as either

psychology or philosophy. They contain the current meaning and

suggestions for leading a ‘purposeful life.’

 

I enjoyed a pastime in high school and college, along with many

years of going to my youngest brother and  later in life, my two

daughter’s races. The excitement and anticipation of the races,

builds almost like a ‘frenzy,’ when I picture their putting a foot

into a wooden block to ‘mark’ their place.

 

Then, an announcer says these dramatic words:

“On your mark. . .

Get ready,

Set,

Go!”

There are other races, such as cars, horses and drag racing, where

the word, “Go!” are accompanied by a gun shot given to ‘mark’ the

beginning of the race.

 

I have had many dogs in my life, both female and male, ‘mark’ their

territory. This was especially noticeable with my parents’ male dog,

Nicky, who would do this while we were walking in the woods, once

we ‘disembarked’ from their small RV, (actually a Transvan). Nicky

would like to sniff all the other places animals had been ‘marking’

their own parts of the woods.

 

In concert and symphonic band, our musical teacher and director

would ask us to use a pencil to ‘mark’ our parts. Where I sat, I was

in the woodwinds area, with the clarinet section.

 

Since I was always a ‘second row player’ I needed to ‘mark’ a harmony.

Rarely was I able to ‘mark’ the melody.  In marching band, we would

have to count our steps, playing different marching songs, along with

a few popular songs peppered into the mix. We would find our place

on the field or our ‘mark’ before we would perform or make a pattern.

 

If the truth be told, I rarely played the first two games of the season.

I would march trying to be accurate in the precise places I needed

to be. Finally, in the third football game I would be confident in the

way I marched and could play my clarinet.  Two guys, Armin K. and

Mike C., were the only players who ever commented or noticed. Of

course, I had my clarinet in my mouth and looked like I was playing!

 

A side note, I love details about grandparents, so hope you will

appreciate my Grandpa Mattson who would call my clarinet, a

“licorice stick.” This is a popular slang term which some in other

countries may never have heard! I want to tell you I still have my

wooden Selby clarinet and can ‘wet my reed’ and perform simple

songs and scales.

 

If you have a story about music and remember ‘marking’ your place

or listening to the metronome during piano lessons, please share.

 

The younger Mark Ruffalo, with Jennifer Garner was one of my

youngest daughter’s favorite Mark’s in the film, “13 Going on 30.”

My oldest daughter followed, “New Kids on the Block,” band for

a short ‘minute’ and liked Donnie’s brother, Marky Mark (also his

claim to fame was wearing Calvin Klein jeans. We listened to his

band, “Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch’s” version of the Beach

Boys’ song, “Good Vibrations.”

 

There are countless other “Mark’s” such as Mark Harmon who

was a ball player, actor in movies and continues to be in “NCIS.”

 

There was “Mark Anthony,” who Shakespeare focused on, as

well as his being a part of history.

 

Our great American author, Mark Twain left his ‘mark’ upon our

country’s literature. He shared remarkable stories of life upon the

Mississippi and going out West. His wry perspectives of the times

he lived in, along with honest character portrayals made a ‘mark’

upon my thoughts and writing, too.

 

I am sure you can think of other famous Mark’s to add. . .

 

There are many who enjoy the dramatic colors and designs of a

young teenager’s graffiti.  They leave their own distinctive ‘mark’

under bridges, overpasses and other cement or brick walls. I don’t

mind graffiti, as long as it is not upon a historical monument, in

a cemetery where respect should be displayed or designations of

being a member of a  ‘Gang.’

 

I enjoy when my grandchildren take colored chalk and leave their

less than permanent ‘marks’ on sidewalks and the driveway. They

may ‘mark’ their place while playing hopscotch, by putting a rock

down on a square.

 

I did not see this in the definition but do think that ‘marking time’

can be a little like ‘sitting a spell.’ It could include putting slash

‘marks’ on a piece of paper, wall or even ‘marked’ by etching into

a stone wall. The ‘marks’ in prison or concentration camps can

make me weep.

 

When I buy a paperback book at a garage sale or the library

book sale, I don’t ‘value’ some of them as I should. If it is one

of those ‘beach’ or summer reading books, I may ‘mark’ my

page I left off reading by bending back a corner of the page.

Are you guilty of this ‘bad habit?’

 

In our ‘defense,’ sometimes it is easier than getting up to

find a piece of paper or a classy bookmark.

 

Book ‘marks’ can be such lovely decorative gifts. I have my

favorites in my ‘good’ books, which hold or ‘mark’ a special

passage I will read and re-read again. I have a silky one,

a cross-stitched bookmark, a metal one with a pearl-like

decoration and I have one which is in the shape of a paper

clip with a butterfly on the tip.

 

I have marked many passages in my Bible, since I received

it upon my high school graduation. The book has ‘marks’ and

underlined places. Tucked into the pages, there are several

pieces of paper with scribbles made by my children during

church.

 

One is quite funny, a ‘bunny ballerina’ by my oldest daughter

when she was 4 years old. The other is quite serious, drawn

carefully by my youngest daughter at around 8 years old of

Jesus on the Cross.

 

Although it is a name and therefore capitalized, I do like another

part of the Bible, which is in the New Testament which goes like

this: “Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.”

 

I have to close this multiple usages of the word, “mark”

with something I really enjoy.

 

Are

you

ready

for

the

BEST

use

of

‘mark?’

 

I absolutely love going to a store where it has many large signs

after the ending of each season.

These all say, “Mark Down Prices.”

I like the neon yellow, neon orange and even neon green signs

found in different departments.

 

Now, even better than the ‘Markdowns’. . .

are the ‘Slashing Prices!’

 

 

Rare Books

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The unique, exquisite first edition rare books collection is awe-inspiring.

This includes many books you will know and love. It includes international

books, on loan for a brief period, from September 29 until November 9, 2014.

A man named Stuart Rose, started collecting books that were special to him.

Rose’s collection began when he found in 1992, the First Edition of,

“Tarzan,”

by

Edgar Rice Burroughs.

Rose went on collecting past 2000 First Edition or

“One of a Kind” books.

There are 49 featured books,

displayed on

University of Dayton

campus,

in the

Roesch Library

First Floor

Gallery.

 

I love the title of the exhibition:

 

“Imprints

and

Impressions”

 

Part

of

the

“Milestones

in

Human Progress”

Program:

 

Highlights

from the

Rose Rare Book

Collection

 

There are directions online

you may follow to get to

the place you need to go.

 

Jane Austen’s

“Pride

and

Prejudice,”

Quote:

“The spoken word passes away, while the written word remains.”

 

Paul H. Benson,

essayist for the

Dayton UD Alum

Magazine

reminded

us of the

Essence

and

Importance

of:

Preserving books while time marches forward

some day society may feel we don’t ‘need’ them.

These are our own printed legacy and heritage.

(Not quoted, but read and digested. Explaining

and passing on my feeling of urgency to see this

magnificent book collection before it goes away.)

 

Here are some favorites of mine:

The

“Qu’ran”

Copied

in

Beautifully

Intricate

Calligraphy

by

Aziz

Khan

Kashmiri

(1864)

 

Galileo,

“Starry Messenger”

(1610)

 

Mark Twain,

“Adventures of Huckleberry Finn”

(1885)

 

Isaac Newton,

(Misspelled words,

intentionally copied as

Newton

chose to do.)

“Opticks

or a Treatise

of the

Reflexions, Refractions

Inflexions and Colours

of

Light.

Also,

Two Treatises

of the

Species and Magnitude

of

Curvilinear Figures”

(1704)

 

Ralph Ellison,

“Invisible Man”

(1952)

 

Virginia Woolf,

“A Room of One’s Own”

(1929)

 

J. R. R. Tolkien,

“The Lord of the Rings”

Hand-written

Proofs,

with final edits

done in pen.

(1953 – 1955)

 

Geoffrey Chaucer,

“Canterbury Tales”

(1492)

 

Rene Descartes,

“Discourse on the Method”

(1637)

 

William Shakespeare,

“Comedies, Histories and Tragedies”

(1632)

 

Nicholas Copernicus,

“On the Revolution of Celestial Spheres”

(1543)

 

*I would love to see*

Artistic

Illustrations

drawn by

Salvador Dali,

“Alice in Wonderland”

(1969)

 

There are more books to examine and admire.

 

There is a special informative talk by former

UD graduate and famous person,

Daniel De Simone,

about the Rose exhibit on:

October 16, 2014,

7:00 – 8:30 p.m

 

Daniel De Simone is

Librarian at the

Folger Shakespeare Library,

Washington, D. C.

(Formerly worked at

Library of Congress)

Lecture topic:

“Why the Stuart Rose Book Collection

Matters in the Age of Digital Surrogates.”

 

Since I have two First Edition books that are not ‘rare’ nor very great condition,

I felt the power of words would be expressed better personally, if I told you about

my books.

“Magnificent Obsession,”

Lloyd C. Douglas

(1929)

P.F. Collier and Sons, Company

New York, New York.

The book begins with a physician given as, “Doctor Hudson.” His mental and physical

condition is described as “on the verge of a collapse,” along with “all but dead on his feet.”

We can all relate, in one way or another, to this man who is trying to be the best doctor

he can. Reminding us of that often expressed, “Physician heal thyself.”

Then comes a “twist of fate.”

I love this book, which was made into a movie. (Although, it changes some of the details,

making it a different story entirely.)

In the end of the book, another doctor is mentioned, if you were not aware of the accident

you might wonder who this character is. “Doctor Hudson” is no longer the focus. The reader

has come to know and love a different man, you see.

This story has turned from a solitary life of medicine to one where there is someone named,

“Bobby.”

He plans on boarding a train, then disembarking to go on a big steamer ship.

The love of his life, (you need to read the book to find out how he met her!)

“Mauve” approaches with what the author describes as, “a snug, saucy, cloche hat” on

her head and she is wearing, “a tailored suit of mauve that sculptures every curve of

her body.” She embraces him and the rest of the happy ending comes in his plans for

their future, where the Captain will marry them on their trip abroad.

 

My other favorite book, which my good and dear, deceased friend, Bob gave me. I have

written how I met him and our friendship grew, from playing games on a picnic table

in the park, to his watching my two grandsons playing on the gym equipment there.

This is an everlasting gift, his memory pervades into my soul, which is perfectly fitting

in the book he gave me:

“The Keys of the Kingdom”

A. J. Cronin

(1941)

Little Brown and Co.

Boston, Mass.

This is a Scottish tale, with a priest named Father Chisholm. It begins with his limping up

a steep path from St. Columbia’s Parish (church) to his home that is walled in by gardens.

He looks out on a beautiful view described by the author,

“Beneath him was the River Tweed, a great wide sweep of placid silver, tinted by the low

saffron smudge of Autumn sunset.”

What a way with words you have, Mr. A. J. Cronin!

You can picture his wonder in the lovely description.

The book is filled with simple treasures, nuggets of wisdom and throughout it,

deep philosophy. The book takes a crooked path, through periods of time,  where

you need to re-read at time, to orient to what part of Father Chisholm’s life you

are in. There is never any doubt in Father Chisholm’s love, belief and faith in God.

His encounters and adventures are vast and absorbing, including danger and

Eastern culture, too.

 

At the end of the book, it closes with the Father going trout-fishing with a poor,

country lad named, Andrew. There is less infirmity in his step. There is added

purpose for living implied. His path has come full circle, back home again.

His adoption of Andrew has given him a

second chance on life.

 

I hope you enjoyed the tour of my books I shared today

along with the fascinating examples to view,

Online tour given through photographs,

or in person at University of Dayton.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beginning a Week of Book Banning Awareness

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From September 21st through the 27th, the American Libraries Association has

declared this “Banned Books Week.” They wish to encourage our freedom to read.

The ALA’s slogan for this week is, “Discover What You’re Missing.” I think it is so

important to remind people of how recently we had books destroyed, censored

and banned in our country.

In my opinion, books on any subject are meant to expand our world views. They

open our eyes where we may hold insulated views. Some have been protected,

kept safe and ‘closed off,’ from what is being presented in their community or

‘tribe’ (or family.)There are some who home school, some who don’t believe

in public news, some who wish that all offensive subjects not be mentioned to

or around their children. I respect their freedom to do so and they have valid

concerns. But they must also be careful for ‘what they wish for.’ After having

a protected Catholic roommate my sophomore year in college go, ‘haywire,’

with her sudden freedom. Also, knowing a relative who sent her 3 daughters to

a Christian college, only to have one get married to a Catholic, a Jewish man

and another to live with a man out of wedlock, I think one must be careful

about what kind of life you are presenting to your children and family.

By the way, just so you don’t misunderstand, I felt all three of these choices

were find and acceptable choices. It is just the fact the parents had tried to

prevent this ‘kind of thing,’ from happening, that I mention it at all.

Creating awareness of censorship and banning books may seem ‘foreign’ to

ones in their twenties who may live in a city where this has not recently

happened. Historically, it is no so far in the distant past, as one may think. It

is also part of many cultures’ and countries’ current practices. Awareness of

the dangers in such behavior, burning books, taking black markers and

removing words, opinions, and whole passages of different perspectives is

so important for everyone to recognize.

The definition of ‘ban’ that applies to this practice is defined as to prohibit

especially by legal means or social pressure some form of information.

Censure or condemning through public opinion.

The definition of ‘censor’ is to examine in order to suppress or delete

harmful or dangerous material.

The major problem in both banning and censoring is “Who is doing this?”

Who has the authority to choose what we are able to read, write or talk

about?

The subjects of McCarthyism, Apartheid, Racial Issues and Governmental

Control are the ones that “leap to mind’ and produce a cold hand upon my

heart.

Do I think the military servicemen should have had their letters censored,

for fear of accidentally getting into the hands of our enemies? I would not

wish to make a decision that might cause death or infiltration of the enemy

in times of war.

Do I think that some subjects are ‘gross’ and upsetting to my mind? Yes,

but again, I would not wish to impose my thoughts upon others. I don’t

feel this would be fair or just behavior.

While teaching my first year of middle school, in 1979, I was in a small

town where the principal and the superintendent were from cities. They

said it was important to not feel that parents should dictate how their

students be taught. They made me feel comfortable about approaching

them with topics. Sixth grade Language Arts, along with English, Spelling

and Current Events were part of my instruction responsibilities. We had

team teaching, where the students moved from classroom to classroom.

Once I found out I was expecting my second child (my first miscarriage

had been the year before) I asked when it would be appropriate to tell

the students. We were going to be riding in a bus, in the winter months

to a swimming pool, I would be helping the kids to learn floating and

Life Saving techniques. I would be wearing a maternity bathing suit by

then. They suggested telling the parents in November and I listened to

their more experienced advice. We also were having Sex Ed discussions

in the Science classes. I was a little embarrassed as students would see

my belly expanding, but it turned out they loved getting in a line after

lunch in December to feel the baby move. Then, I would have them put

their heads down, as they rested and listened to the chapter book, “The

Yearling,” by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings.

What books do I think of that have been banned? Without referring to

a list, I imagined “Clockwork Orange,” from my high school readings.

I pictured and remembered that the word, ‘nigger,’ was considered very

controversial and some schools and libraries during the Civil Rights

Movement, mistakenly removed the book, “Huckleberry Finn,” from

their book shelves. The third immediate ‘banned’ book I could think of,

was “The Scarlet Letter.”

Why ban “Clockwork Orange?” Graphic language,  the governmental

control and the futuristic idea of mind control over a criminal. The main

character is injected, I believe if my memory serves me well, with something

that causes him to have pictures of violence and he suffers excruciating pain

from this. Why should we accept this book and not ban it? This is an intriguing

start to a whole new genre of books, which opened our minds to possibilities

and also, made us aware of the dangers of choosing how a criminal should be

punished. Do we have the right to do this? It can also be argued, do we have

the right to kill a man because he killed or committed dangerous acts. Our

legal world, with a ‘jury of our peers,’ makes those kind of powerful judgments.

Why ban “Huckleberry Finn?” I think fear of repercussions and misunderstandings

during a very dangerous, emotional period of our times. We can look at this

rationally, knowing the language was supposed to depict what was acceptable

during Mark Twain’s time. Why accept the book? Because it is an outstanding

story that does cross racial barriers and shows a black man and a young boy in

a fantastic piece of American literature. Their unique friendship and reliance

on each other shows a trust unexpected between two such characters, prior

to Mark Twain’s writing this book.

Why would “The Scarlet Letter,” which has a 19th century woman wearing a

red “A” across her chest be considered censorable? I think some would say

go ahead and promote this book. It holds their own judgments of the situation

on adultery. I am not sure if it is on the banned books list, which I had decided

when I set out to write this, that I would not ‘peek’ at the list until I finished my

opinions or had a chance to ‘editorialize.’ I think it may have been on the list

but would take it off, due to my determination that usually the WOMAN is

given the scarlet letter, not the man who was part of the couple engaged in

adultery. This is an antiquated viewpoint, but sadly this is still held in some

form or other, which is not the time nor place to talk about why this still goes

on.

 

The Office of Intellectual Freedom gets reports and complaints. They usually

get the most “challenges” to freedom from the public wishing to ban books

after the Top 10 Book List is published.

Here are the Top 5 out of a list of Top 10 the OIF received after the 2013 Top Ten

List was published:

1. “Captain Underpants,” by Dav Pilkey.

The complaints were: Offensive language and unsuitable for age group.

2. “The Bluest Eye,” by Toni Morrison.

The complaints were: Offensive language, sexually explicit, violence and unsuitable for age group.

3. “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian ,” by Sherman Alexie.

The complaints were: Drugs, alcohol, smoking, offensive language, racism, sexually explicit and

unsuitable for age group.

4. “Fifty Shades of Grey,” by E.L. James.

The complaints were: Nudity, offensive language, religious viewpoints, sexually explicit and

unsuitable for age group.

5. “The Hunger Games,” by Suzanne Collins.

The complaints were: Religious viewpoints and unsuitable for age group.

Hmm…I would have added violence possibly.

Overall, there are large numbers given on the official website of the Office of Intellectual Freedom

of the population that wish to restrict our reading materials.

 

 

The funny thing that someone in my life mentioned about censorship, I am

not quite sure who, but he asked this thought-provoking question:

What book has many adult themes within its pages, including adultery,

fornication and murdering one’s family members, but is considered

‘acceptable’ by those who wish to forbid and censor books?

(The Bible, he answered.)

What books came to mind, when I first started this post, that may be on past

banned books lists?

 

Nelson Mandela’s quotation seems apropos:

“For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains,

but to live in a way that respects and enhances

the freedom of others.”

 

Follow Your Bliss

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Andrew McCarthy was one of my ‘heroes’ in movies of the 90’s.

He was a quiet, unassuming young man in some of them, the

best friend in others, along with being the love interest

in “Pretty In Pink.” (My daughters grew up watching him and

I was always glad he kept his actions, for the most part,

clean cut and decent. There were several including “St. Elmo’s

Fire” where he was included in a group that was called the

“brat pack,” which was different by a generation from the

“Rat Pack” which included Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin.

In both groups, carousing and drinking was an element, for

some, they were mostly going through a phase but Andrew

McCarthy admits to being an alcoholic and becoming sober in

1992.

Andrew made his ‘fortune’ in movies, then went on to become

a director, along with his new pursuit of being a travel

writer for “National Geographic Traveler.” It has been a

year since he had his book published, “The Longest Way

Home: One Man’s Quest for the Courage to Settle Down.”

In this book, he uses an unusual approach with his travel

writing, going through his anecdotal life’s journey up

until he took off to explore the world. He uses his varied

experiences as actor, director and writing production

scenes to look at the way nature, history, and landmark

places fit into his world view.

He likes more the idea of the journey, rather than the

outcome. He likes meeting varied peoples, like when he

rode along with hundreds of Brazilians in hammocks,

their scenery the length of the Amazon River.

He enjoyed a two month long trip through 7 countries

to see, from South Africa through to Tanzania. There

are photographs, for readers that like visuals, in his

gorgeous book. In 2005, he took his 8 year old son to

the Sahara Desert. The vastness of the sand, his seeing

the distinctive mountains of sand, had an impact on his

life.

Another wonderful and life-changing trip was on the

“Camino de Santiago,” which begins in France and crosses

the Pyrenees Mountains, and ends in Santiago de Compostela.

He felt that trip ‘changed his life,’ probably the most.

(Read more about this, and other travels in his book or

in book reviews!) His discoveries in Laos, Cmabodia and

Viet Nam ‘thrilled him.’

In a quotation that reveals Andrew McCarthy’s world view

and philosophy:

“People don’t travel because they’re afraid. I don’t think

it’s (about) time. I think it’s fear. If we traveled the

world, we’d be less fearful of people, and if we were less

fearful then, the world would react to us less fearfully.

My goal is to change the world, one trip at a time.”

Andrew’s “hero” and mentor for his trips goes back to Mark

Twain’s cross country, American journeys in his lifetime.

Here is one of McCarthy’s favorite Twain quotation:

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness.”

Andrew McCarthy, also a husband and father, sometimes feels

‘lonely’ at home. He tries to explain ‘loneliness’ to others

by saying it is like missing opportunities and adventures.

Compared to being on the road, where he never feels ‘alone.’

Because of seeking and finding others in places that he will

learn more about, loneliness is different during his travels.

There is an expectancy and excitement to being away from home,

in an unfamiliar place. Although I did not see the word ‘bliss’

anywhere in his reviews or interviews, I feel Andrew McCarthy

has found just that.

How will you find your ‘bliss’ in this new year of 2014?