And Hnau For Something Completely Different . . .

I only had three chapters to read last week in Out of the Silent Planet. I should have listened closer or reread it in the print edition because the discussion covered things that hadn’t occurred to me. But that’s the fun of taking a class like this. Digging deeper and looking at the story from different perspectives.

Waiting for Corey to Join the Webinar

Joined webinar at 8:53 PM 

Waiting . . . 8:57 PM 

Still waiting . . . 9:05 PM 

Webinar started at 9:06 PM 

Now waiting on Corey . . . 9:08 PM 

Still no Corey . . . 9:10 PM 

Now starting 9:11 PM 

33 people attending 

YouTube: Out of the Silent Planet: Session 4- All the Hnau Now Crowd Around 

Week 4 

Read: Chapter 16-18 

Date: January 29, 2020 

Welcome back to Mythgard Academy Session 4 of Out of the Silent Planet 

Announcements about regional Moots and MythMoot (four day annual event).  This week we announced Verlyn Flieger will be joining MythMoot.  New Book Arthurian Voices (book release party) and wrote a play called “The Bargain” inspired by Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (14th century poem).  Corey might be the Green Knight.   

New registration page (pretty bare bones right now).  A custom system written for Signum University. Shifting away from an expensive third-party software.  Don’t be alarmed.   

Corey recaps and sums up from last week.  Let’s see what happens when Ransom starts to encounter the other species.

    Continue reading “And Hnau For Something Completely Different . . .”

Hman HRansom Among Hnau Hrossa

Lewis Pokes Fun at Oxford Philologists

I’ve reached the point of hknow return in this third week of a five week course on Out of the Silent Planet led by Corey Olsen through the Mythgard Academy arm of Signum University. Please parden my use of a hnot-so-silent “H” throughout this post in honor of Lewis foray into the philological hrealm usually hrelegated to his fellow Inkling Tolkien. For my hnotes from week one and week two, please click on the appropriate week to return to those posts.

I’m listening via Hoopla Digital

I had hoped to publish this Thursday night, but the video for this week’s class has not yet been uploaded to Signum University’s Youtube channel. So I will hold off on publication until Friday evening or Saturday morning.

A tweet from @Mythgardian earlier this morning woke me up (at 3:58 am Central) but I was happy to see the video for session three had finally been posted. Now I can finally publish this post!

Joined webinar at 8:38 pm
Waiting . . . still at 9:04 pm
Starting at 9:12 pm
Waiting for Corey now still at 9:15 pm 

Starting now at 9:18 pm 

Week 3 

Read: Chapter 11-15 

 Date: January 22, 2020 

This is one of his two favorite bits of this book – Meeting the Hrossa.  We are going to try to go from his first meeting of this whole interlude all the way to the parting from the Hrossa.   

Week 3 ~ Hross and Hman


Upcoming Moots:  

Three open for registration:  

  • TexMoot on 8th of February in Houston 
  • Early bird registration for MythMoot VII “Defying and Defining the Darkness”; CFP should be out soon.   
  • SoCalMoot hosted at Netflix HQ 

MootCast is being done again this year for MythMoot.  Live access to any session you want to be in; you get recordings for everything; a wonderful way to participate and watch even if you can’t make it.   

Continue reading “Hman HRansom Among Hnau Hrossa”

Reorienting Ransom

I meant to post my notes from last Wednesday’s second week of the Out of the Silent Planet class but work life got very hectic and then I spent most of my last three day weekend until Memorial Day playing Aardwolf. I will do better this week, I promise – notes posted by end of week at the latest.

And I discovered a feature of GoToWebinar too late, at the end of the second session, that allows me to save the current slide as an image. Going forward, I’ll capture each slide so my notes make more sense to myself and others. Of course, I always include a link to the video of the session that’s published within a day or two by Signum University (see link above or click here).

Week 2 

Read: Chapters 6-10 

 Date: January 15, 2020 

8:53 PM ~ Joined webinar, organizer has not arrived.   

9:02 AM – Webinar started, but we’re holding.   

9:07 PM – Broadcast started; 41 attendees, 1 presenter 

Two moots in February 
Spring Semester started at Signum U.   
Continue reading “Reorienting Ransom”

Ransom Kidnapped

My notes from first session of Mythgard Academy webinar discussion on Out of the Silent Planet by C.S. Lewis.

I spent a couple of hours past my usual bedtime last Wednesday evening with Corey Olsen and three dozen new friends discussing the first five chapters of Out of the Silent Planet by C.S. Lewis. I’m proud of myself for making it to the end of the discussion, which ended at 11:15 p.m. I’ve probably read the first book of the Space Trilogy a half dozen times since I first discovered it in the 70s as a pre-teen. I’ve never had an opportunity to do a serious in-depth reading and discussion so I am very excited about the opportunity presented by Mythgard Academy and a generous donation of a patron thereof.

While I participated live in the GoToWebinar session, where I could interact with Corey Olsen via chat, you can watch to the session via the Signum University Youtube channel (link to the playlist) or listen via podcast. Old habits die hard; even knowing the session was being recorded, I took transcript-like notes (because I can still type over a hundred words per minute and can easily keep up with a single person lecturing).

What follows are my notes from Wednesday’s first webinar on Out of the Silent Planet.

Continue reading “Ransom Kidnapped”

Let’s TALK About ‘A Little Princess’

This week the Lansing Community Library Adult book discussion group meets for the second in a three-part series on reading “Children’s Classics,” a Talk About Literature in Kansas (TALK) program sponsored by the Kansas Humanities Council (KHC).  KHC furnishes the books and discussion leaders for the Lansing TALK series. For more information about KHC, please visit

When: 5:30 p.m. Thursday, January 12, 2017

WhereLansing Community Library, 703 1st Terrace, Lansing, Kansas 66043 – 913.727.2929

Who: Sister Rosemary  (Rosie) Kolich is an assistant professor of English at the University of Saint Mary.  She teaches at both the main campus in Leavenworth and at the Overland Park campus.  She earned her PhD from Saint Louis University. One of the courses she team teaches is called Good Books, which pairs works from theology and literature with similar themes.  Sister Rosie joined the Kansas Humanities Council TALK program as a discussion leader in 2008.

WhatA Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett (1849-1924)

Burnett’s turn-of-the-century Cinderella story tells of a little girl who goes from riches to rags to riches again, all along maintaining her compassion and love for those around her.  After wealthy Sara Crewe moves into a strict girls’ boarding school, she learns that her father is dead, leaving her both penniless and an orphan.  Her faith in her father and her sense of justice enable her to overcome poverty, hardship, and abuse, and to create her own family and community.  Burnett, a playwright and novelist for adults before she wrote children’s books, never over-simplifies the complexities of a dangerous world; at the same time, she never forgets what it’s like to view that world as a hopeful child.

From WikipediaA Little Princess is a children’s novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett, first published as a book in 1905. It is an expanded version of the short story Sara Crewe: or, What Happened at Miss Minchin’s, which was serialized in St. Nicholas Magazine from December 1887. According to Burnett, after she composed the 1902 play A Little Un-fairy Princess based on that story, her publisher asked that she expand the story as a novel with “the things and people that had been left out before”.[4] The novel was published by Charles Scribner’s Sons (also publisher of St. Nicholas) with illustrations by Ethel Franklin Betts and the full title A Little Princess: Being the Whole Story of Sara Crewe Now Being Told for the First Time.[1]

Based on a 2007 online poll, the U.S. National Education Association named the book one of its “Teachers’ Top 100 Books for Children”. In 2012 it was ranked number 56 among all-time children’s novels in a survey published by School Library Journal, a monthly with primarily U.S. audience. It was the second of two Burnett novels among the Top 100, with The Secret Garden number 15.

♥ ♥ ♥

Please join us Thursday evening as we TALK about A Little Princess in the warm indoors forgetting momentarily the bleak midwinter outside.

Eclectic Adventures in Adult Group Reading

The Lansing Community Library Adult Book Group recently celebrated their first anniversary.  Since last year’s banned book celebration in September 2015, we’ve read a variety of fiction and non-fiction, classics, essays, award-winning fiction, graphic novels and touched most genres.

This month we try to solve the mystery of A Great Deliverance by Elizabeth George.  We’ll meet to discuss this book on Thursday, December 8, 2016 at 5:00 p.m. at the Library in Lansing, Kansas.

About A Great Deliverance

To this day, the low, thin wail of an infant can be heard in Keldale’s lush green valleys. Three hundred years ago, as legend goes, the frightened Yorkshire villagers smothered a crying babe in Keldale Abbey, where they’d hidden to escape the ravages of Cromwell’s raiders.

Now into Keldale’s pastoral web of old houses and older secrets comes Scotland Yard Inspector Thomas Lynley, the eighth earl of Asherton. Along with the redoubtable Detective Sergeant Barbara Havers, Lynley has been sent to solve a savage murder that has stunned the peaceful countryside. For fat, unlovely Roberta Teys has been found in her best dress, an axe in her lap, seated in the old stone barn beside her father’s headless corpse. Her first and last words were “I did it. And I’m not sorry.”

Yet as Lynley and Havers wind their way through Keldale’s dark labyrinth of secret scandals and appalling crimes, they uncover a shattering series of revelations that will reverberate through this tranquil English valley—and in their own lives as well.

And Then What?

The continuing mystery of any book group is always what to read next.  And this time of year we start to see the ‘best of’ lists or, in the case of GoodReads, the annual Choice Awards (voting ongoing).  We’re scheduled through May 2017, so we’ve got some time to fill up the rest of 2017.

Continue reading “Eclectic Adventures in Adult Group Reading”

Book Review: The Martian Chronicles by Bradbury (2.5 Stars)

The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury

2.5 out of 5 stars

Recommended by the GoodReads SciFi/Fantasy Book Club August 2009 Selection

Read in August, 2009

Synopsis (courtesy Wikipedia):

The Martian Chronicles is a 1950 science fiction short story collection by Ray Bradbury that chronicles the colonization of Mars by humans fleeing from a troubled and eventually atomically devastated Earth, and the conflict between aboriginal Martians and the new colonists. The book lies somewhere between a short story collection and an episodic novel, containing stories Bradbury originally published in the late 1940s in science fiction magazines. The stories were loosely woven together with a series of short, interstitial vignettes for publication.

My Thoughts:

This collection of stories about Mars reminded me of Edgar Rice Burroughs stories. But where Burroughs entertained with adventures and action, Bradbury expounded on various themes, mostly anti-war and anti-establishment.

Continue reading “Book Review: The Martian Chronicles by Bradbury (2.5 Stars)”

Book Review: A Highly Unlikely Scenario by Cantor (3 Stars)

A Highly Unlikely Scenario or, a Neetsa Pizza Employee’s Guide to Saving the World by Rachel Cantor

3 out of 5 stars

Read in February 2014

Suggested reading for the Kansas City Public Library Adult Winter Reading Program “Stop Me If You’ve Read This One”

Publisher’s Synopsis:

In the not-too-distant future, competing giant fast food factions rule the world. Leonard works for Neetsa Pizza, the Pythagorean pizza chain, in a lonely but highly surveilled home office, answering calls on his complaints hotline. It’s a boring job, but he likes it—there’s a set answer for every scenario, and he never has to leave the house. Except then he starts getting calls from Marco, who claims to be a thirteenth-century explorer just returned from Cathay. And what do you say to a caller like that? Plus, Neetsa Pizza doesn’t like it when you go off script.

Meanwhile, Leonard’s sister keeps disappearing on secret missions with her “book club,” leaving him to take care of his nephew, which means Leonard has to go outside. And outside is where the trouble starts.

My Thoughts:

I read this new novel with every intention of joining the local real-life book discussion group.  I try to participate in at least one or two book discussion groups during the annual adult winter reading program at the Kansas City Public Library.  Continue reading “Book Review: A Highly Unlikely Scenario by Cantor (3 Stars)”

Book Review: A Walk in the Woods by Bryson (3 Stars)

A Walk in the Woods WalkInWoodsBrysonby Bill Bryson

3 out of 5 stars

Read in August 2013 for the Stranger than Fiction book club sponsored by the Kansas City Public Library

Brief Summary:  Stretching from Georgia to Maine, the Appalachian Trail offers some of America’s most breathtaking scenery. After living for many years in England, Bill Bryson moved back to the United States and decided to reacquaint himself with his country by taking to this uninterrupted “hiker’s highway.” Before long, Bryson and his infamous walking companion, Stephen Katz, are stocking up on insulated long johns, noodles and manuals for avoiding bear attacks as they prepare to set off on a walk that is both amusingly ill-conceived and surprisingly adventurous. John Muir, Henry David Thoreau, and Peter Jenkins never took a hike like this. A Walk in the Woods showcases Bryson at the height of his comic powers. Meeting up with characters such as Beulah and her fearsome husband, “Bubba T. Flubba,” readers risk snakebite and hantavirus to trudge through swollen rivers, traipse up mountain steps, and develop a new reverence for cream sodas and hot showers. But Bryson also uses his acute powers of observation to conjure a poignant backdrop of silent forests and sparkling lakes, thereby making a gentle but unforgettable plea for the ecological treasures we are in danger of losing. Fresh, illuminating, and uproariously funny, A Walk in the Woods is travel writing at its very best.

Notes from Discussion Group:

Our leader, Richard, began our discussion by noting Bryson’s book made a good summer read and was definitely lighter than last month’s tome on Lewis and Clark’s expedition.  His first question asked if any of us had read any other book by Bryson.  None of us had, so Richard assured us that many of Bryson’s books are humorous.

His next question asked us if any of us had ever hiked before.  Richard had and at least one or two other people had hiked.  One reader even brought photos from their hike on the Appalachian Trail (AT).  We observed that deciding to hike the AT was a major undertaking for an amateur hiker.  We were curious if Bryson received a grant or other remuneration as an incentive to hike the trail.  The author is quite a prolific write, so it’s not inconceivable.  Richard mentioned that after A Walk in the Woods was published, Bryson received some criticism because he did not finish hiking the trail.

How did their treatment of Mary Ellen make you feel?

  • Many of us didn’t think they should have left her like they did
  • The talkative third wheel
  • Could have left her in a more populated area
  • She was an adult and knew the risks of hiking alone

We discussed the criticisms of Bryson’s depiction of southerners, specifically mentioning the incident with the Trans Am and 3/4 empty bottle of Wild Turkey.  One reader spent much of the hour searching for a paragraph that denigrated Georgia or Georgians, but she never did locate it.  I didn’t have an ebook edition so I couldn’t do a search through the text.  Bryson also poked (or slammed) Thoreau, which seems harsh coming from an author and a New Englander.

Why did Katz join the hike?

  • desperate
  • Running from life/debts

Did you like the style, where the author provides non-narrative bits?

  • history
  • conservation
  • research
  • roads built by the Forestry Department

I liked the non-narrative bits and noted to the group that this seems to be a ‘trend’ in non-fiction, at least all the non-fiction I’ve been reading and/or listening to for the last year or so.

Bryson wasn’t your typical hiker.  He didn’t really appreciate nature.  From comments from other hikers in the group, most hikers hike to experience the beauty of nature and wildlife.  Bryson, on the other hand, seemed to approach hiking the AT as something to check off a list.  Our leader read this section out loud to the group as an example:

Life takes on a neat simplicity, too. Time ceases to have any meaning. When it is dark, you go to bed, and when it is light again you get up, and everything in between is just in between. It’s quite wonderful, really.

You have no engagements, commitments, obligations, or duties; no special ambitions and only the smallest, least complicated of wants; you exist in a tranquil tedium, serenely beyond the reach of exasperation, “far removed from the seats of strife,” as the early explorer and botanist William Bartram put it. All that is required of you is a willingness to trudge.

Tranquil tedium quote.

Somewhat of a conflicted statement.  Yet, Bryson and Katz had their ‘Come to Jesus’ moment in Maine when they decided to ‘stop pretending we are mountain men when we are not.’

One of our readers vacationed on the beach and would often laugh out loud while reading.  Her friends insisted that she share what was so funny, so she ended up reading nearly the entire book out loud while sunning near the surf.

Did it bother you that they only completed 870 miles (39%) of the AT?

That distance is equivalent to walking from the Country Club Plaza to Buffalo, New York!  Still, it bothered me, and my husband, that he didn’t finish the trail.

Would you read more of Bryson’s books?

Our general consensus was yes.  Suggested readings included A Short History of the Earth and At Home, a history of the rooms in your house.

Interesting Tidbits for Further Reading or Viewing:

Reader’s Favorite Outtakes:

Our leader’s favorite bit involved the shoe lace incident with the yuppy campers.

Another reader or two got a kick out of the author poking fun at southerners.

My favorite bit was when Katz drug his bulk and baggage upstairs the night before they embarked and Bryson looked at his wife and says ‘Don’t say anything.’

My husband thought the author’s obsession with all that could go wrong on the trail in the first part of the book provided the most laughs.

Personal Observations:

Neither my husband nor I thought this was a great book.  Yes, it had it’s moments, but I consider it a weaker non-fiction offering than what we’ve read as a group so far this year.  I’m also a bit perturbed in that I prefer to listen to non-fiction, rather than reading it (either printed or via ereader) and the audiobook I checked out from the library happened to be an abridged edition read by the author.  I detest abridgments and I’m not overly fond of authors reading their own work.  Bryson didn’t do a bad job of narration and could import appropriate dramatic and humorous overtones, but a professional voice actor he is not.  I guess that’s less important in the non-fiction world, but diction and elocution are still a plus.  My husband did not care for his voice at all, often characterizing it as a bit whiny.

The best parts of the book turned out to be the first and last sections, where both the author and Katz hiked together.  The middle section drug on, almost torturing us, like that section of the AT in Pennsylvania.  The last part, where Katz went missing, I felt, was very well written.  Bryson almost had me convinced that Katz had committed suicide, but thankfully I was proved wrong.

I’m not sure I could recommend this book to other readers.  As I’ve said before, non-fiction is not my normal reading experience.  I joined this group to broaden my reading horizons.  This venture down the AT with Bill Bryson wandered a bit, sometimes stumbled, but did shine occasionally.  Hence, my three star rating.  It was a good read, but not a great one.

Next Up for Stranger Than Fiction:

AboutThisLifecoverAbout This Life: journeys on the threshold of memory by Barry Lopez

Stranger Than Fiction

Sometimes humorous. Sometimes serious. Always nonfiction.

When: Every Fourth Wednesday at 7 p.m.
Where: Plaza Branch
Contact: Dick Henderson at 816.701.3481

Book Review: Undaunted Courage by Ambrose (4 Stars)

Undaunted Courage: Meriwether Lewis, Thomas Jefferson, and the Opening of the American West by Stephen E. Ambrose

4 out of 5 stars

Read in July 2013

Large, thick books do not scare me.  If you’ve delved into my blog here at all, you’ll quickly learn that I read constantly and I read epic fantasy for fun.  The longer, the better.  The more characters and plot lines, even better.  With one exception, or wait, two exceptions.  I tried but didn’t like G.R.R. Martin‘s Game of Thrones series and Steven Erikson‘s Malazan Book of the Fallen.  Not my cup of tea.

So when July rolled around and saddled me with the 521 page Undaunted Courage by Ambrose, I barely batted an eye.  I even took a stab at actually reading the print edition our Stranger Than Fiction discussion leader handed out to us last month when we turned in our Unbroken copies.  I think I made it a couple of hundred pages before I decided listening to the audiobook would be faster (and less painful on the eyes grammatically).  I checked out the audiobook on CD from the Kansas City Public Library.  One thick 521 page paperback translates roughly to twenty-one hours and twenty-seven minutes (21 hr 27 mins) of narration.  While technically, I could have completed listening to this audiobook in less than one day, practically and physically, I can only handle about two to three hours a day of listening, with long breaks between to give my poor eardrums a rest.    The disadvantages to listening include the absence of 1) maps, 2) illustrations and photographs, 3) footnotes, 4) end notes  and 5) the bibliography.  The greatest advantage to listening to the audiobook was not having to learn how to properly pronounce the names of less commonly known objects, tools and places.  Luckily, I had the best of both worlds at my fingertips.

I learned an incredible amount about Lewis, Clark, Thomas Jefferson, the Louisiana Purchase and the Corps of Discovery Expedition to find a water route to the Pacific Ocean via the Missouri River.  Since I grew up within twenty miles of that river, I also grew up with the names “Lewis & Clark” plastered on various road signs and parks.  While I had some idea of the adventures of those early trailblazing frontiersmen, Ambrose provided me with an incredible wealth of detail and anecdotal gems to keep me forging ahead.  One of my favorite moments involved a nearly indestructible grizzly bear and four members of the Expedition.

I finished listening to the audiobook edition with just 26 hours to spare.  After a full day of work in the same building, I arrived just a few minutes past seven o’clock to a nearly full meeting room.  A couple of the usual suspects were missing, but I thought nothing of it since it’s summer time and many normal people take vacations.  I arrived in the middle of a conversation involving the August 2013 edition of Car & Driver, specifically the review of the 2013 supercharged Land Rover Range Rover, which was tested in the Bitterroot Valley in Montana and specifically mentioned the Lewis & Clark expedition.

Our discussion leader soon roped us back into discussing Undaunted Courage by relating a hand-written note he received from one disgruntled Stranger Than Fiction reader.  That person only made it to page 28, where they couldn’t stomach the ‘run on sentences’ and ‘sixteen adjectives for the same word’ or the fact that it appeared the author was being ‘paid by the word’ to write.  ‘Life was too short and there are too many good books to waste time with such poor writing.’  I made the comment that long sentences were the norm for early 19th century writing, but apparently Ambrose was being accused of this egregious error.  Our leader did confirm that he found a sentence written by Ambrose that surpassed one and a half pages.

We moved on from that dead-end when one of the readers mentioned that they watched all four hours of the Ken Burns’ documentary of Lewis & Clark, which our local PBS station, KCPT, conveniently re-aired in mid-July.

At least one reader struggled with this book, commenting it felt too much like being in a history class.  She half-expected to see questions at the end of each chapter.

Our leader began posing questions to spark discussion, one of the first being on our definition of “discovery.”  Only to the Western World (aka Europeans) could any of these plants, animals, rivers, mountains, etc. be considered “discoveries.”  To the Native Americans, none of it was new or unknown.  He also asked or mentioned a scenario wherein Native Americans hopped on a boat and visited Europe, is it still considered a “discovery” because all of that would be new to them?

We also discussed Sacagawea and the plight of Native American women.  Are they just footnotes in history?  Were most of them little better off than slaves, doing the majority of hard labor for their communities?

And speaking of slaves, how about poor old York?  He had a good sense of humor, but was mistreated and not freed upon his return.

With respect to Manifest Destiny, the Corp of Discovery Expedition was just the first phase (and the origin of the phrase).  There was a religious aspect – God deemed Europeans should have the North American Continent from short to shore.  Our leader asked us if this was similar to eminent domain today? Or was it just theft?

We discussed Jefferson, and by extension, Lewis’ policy towards the Native Americans.  Their vision of an American Trade empire and the integration of the Native Americans proved an impossible mountain to scale.  The ‘civilizing’ of the Indian Nations by forcing them to become peaceful among themselves and then ultimately wholly dependent upon America was either naiveté or hubris or both.  With the exception of the Mandans and the Nez Perce, the Expeditions’ interactions with the Indian Nations were strained at best and left a legacy of lies and distrust that resulted in even worse relations for generations to come.

Does man ever progress without harm?

At this point, our leader recommended another book by Ambrose entitled Nothing Like It In The World about the transcontinental railroad.

On a lighter note, one of the readers related that her favorite story from Undaunted Courage involved the collapsible boat.  Recently, some archeologists believe they have found it near Great Falls, Montana.

I related that my favorite story involved the grizzly bear that refused to die and jumped after two of the Expedition’s men from a twenty-foot high bluff into the Missouri after being shot eight times.

We returned to the more depressing tale of Lewis’ death.  Our leader asked us if we believed it was murder?  We all agreed it was not murder, unless you consider suicide self-murder.  Some contributing factors could have included the amount of mercury consumed by Lewis (and the rest of the Expedition).  One of the readers noted that archeologists today have no trouble tracing the Lewis and Clark expedition because of the incredible amounts of mercury still present at their campsites.  Other contributing factors includes Lewis’ alcoholism, use of opiates, lead poisoning (from being shot), he could have been bipolar and/or recurrence of malaria.

Suggested field trips included the Lewis & Clark museum in Nebraska City and Ft. Osage in Missouri.

After some more tangential and heated discussions on right and wrong, good and evil, our leader brought us back down to Earth and distributed next month’s book of a much lighter fair:  A Walk in the Woods by Billy Bryson

Looks like next month I may get to encounter bears … again.