Dedicated to…

Gabriel1

Poxig is based on my son, Gabe. As understood from the prequel of the adventures of Poxig, he is a troubadour of sorts. Indeed, my son is also pretty good with a guitar. Of course, he loves baseball more, but Poxig lives in world in which baseball would be anachronistic. In all honesty,  these perfunctory literary efforts are all dedicated to him. All illustrations are colored by him.

I was reminded that a great vocabulary is the hallmark of an educated person. This is essentially true of the misanthrope, as well as the scholar. I only wish that my son would develop a better vocabulary, and that is the focus of my literary efforts. It is understood by most parents that it is always a work in progress. I would definitely concur.

Any parents out there know that we imagine heights that our children may never reach. But that does not mean that we shouldn’t dream.  It just means that as they grow up, we should prepare them  for reality as best we can. That magical time which is called adolescence should be a time of character development. These are tender years, nonetheless.

ESL journeys

cartoonI’m taking a break from our regularly scheduled programming to make a few insightful comments about teaching ESL.

Erving Goffman once wrote: “Not then, men and their moments. Rather, moment and their men…” (Goffman, 1967) I wholeheartedly concur with regards to teaching ESL.  Any day, you never know what semantic rigmarole you are going to get involved in.

In grad school, I had a great teacher named Carolyn Fuchs, and she always said that prescriptive grammar has its limits in the ESL classroom. Better to be descriptive rather than prescriptive. Better to do bottom-up rather than top-down instruction.

I’m not sure this is always the best approach, however.  There are some times when the students are just not saying anything. Many or most of Asian learners are going to be in the silent period for a while, and that has a lot to do with the fact that they were subjected to top-down for a considerable period of their education. (No one can argue that the scarves that Chinese girls must wear to school is aimed at having them express their individuality!)

So back to Goffman, the teacher is merely a conduit for the moment.  It is not about “him” or “her” exactly. It is trying to create the right moments for learning. And all of the lesson planning is going to try to make the right conditions for that. Like building a fire, it is better to get kindling to set it ablaze. You have a better chance  at getting a roaring fire that way. You just really can’t shove the lesson plan down the students’ throats. (If it isn’t working, it isn’t working.)

Some of my readers may wonder why I think there is any overlap between  my comments on “eslteacher576” & YA fiction. Actually, I think this stuff stimulates the creativity that is so vital in the classroom. If not for them, then at least for me. I am well-aware that it is not about me. It is about student learning. I am often humbled with how little I can actually get my students to do.

If there is any takeaway, this is it: “Methods mork; teachers work.” Unless you’re ready to put in the work, the results are going to be harder to get.

We have a long way to go…

The wind whistled through the trees. There were many reasons to be upset, since the Naxos had been overthrown. He was a dragon who helped rule the nether kingdoms, and actually persuaded King Charles to avert his war with the Elves of Elvira. Did they have enough gumption to follow the dragon’s advice? He would have to go alone, & nobody knew whether this would lead. This was the last stand of dragons against the forces of darkness and black magic.

They decided to take Carr along for the journey. He had a red three cornered cap, with a feather in it. Carr was a master of red magic, & he could wield a rapier. They were still trying to understand the prophecy, & many or us were still puzzled. What would be the outcome of this omen? No one could decipher what was written on the obelisk:

“The earth is rotting, the sea is wild…”

They could not understand why this would apply to our country, Marginalia, but we were struck with terror. What was the reason of the earth’s rotting? No one could be certain, but the sage Sarda would know. Tefl drew his sword and made an ‘X’ in the sand. “This is Nitla pass,” said he, ” and we will go no further. We will camp here for the night.” Every one of them, including Carr,  gathered wood for the fire, while Tefl folded up the map. The sun was setting, and the sky was crimson red and burnt orange. The wind was dying down, and they could hear the jeweled scarabs making noise as they unfolded the sleeping bags.

Poxig talked of the fool on the hill that night. It was well known that on the top of Mt. Crump, the Jongleur lived, with his massive library. It was no secret that the imps had been trying to torch the library, but King Charles protected the great library with soldiers from the elite guard.

“We thought he might be nuts,” said Lakfi, “but he is actually intelligent.”

“I didn’t know, ” said Sheila Nesta, the translator and healer. “But I knew he tells riddles.”

“Won’t you tell one, Poxig?” said Lakfi.

“Ok. Here it goes. What flies but has no wings?” asked Poxig.

“That’s easy,” he said.

“Oh, then what is it?” she asked.

“Well, my money seems to fly away,” Tefl rejoined.

“Time.” he said.

“Ah, yes.” said Nesta.

“Well, there are many others, but I’ll let Jongleur tell you himself,” Poxig said.

Tefl grunted in assent. Due to the warrior code, he didn’t say much. He would only speak when he had something meaningful to say. Tefl was shining his metal helmet with a rag. As he cleaned his sword to get the imp blood off of it, he said:

“Sic Transit Gloria…”

“Glory fades,” said Nesta.

Naxos

 

Poxig exits

There were so many reasons to have trepidation, since Poxig and his companion Jancuis were entering the evil swamp. They saw through the maw of hades, for all the imp-beasts had overtaken the swamps. Returning to the path, the talking trees began chanting.

”∑ομα, ∑ομα”

The Greek word for bodily personhood was not immediately lost on  them. They knew that the magic that surrounded them was of an evil nature. The trees were bending under  the weight of the dark magic that oppressed all living things. Poxig tried to keep focused on his courageous self, for the light magic that could dispel the gloom was far from them.

“When do you think we will reach Wyckham Hall?” asked Jancuis.

“We aren’t far from it,” Poxig replied, “but I can’t hear anything beyond the screaming trees.”

“Why are they chanting?” he asked.

“They mourn for the dead that the imps have slain,” Poxig grimly remarked. “The imps feast on the swamp animals. They leave nothing in their wake but ruin and destruction.”

“For this reason, we must make it to Wyckham Hall and restore order to this place overrun by imp-beasts.”

They journeyed further into the murky wasteland looking for signs of life. The wind whistled through the tops of the ancient trees. One misstep would bring them further from the path that led to the dark mansion. Poxig could himself no longer be persuaded of the virtue of venturing further into the evil swamp. It was likely that the muck all around them, and the shrieking imps with their blood-curdling cries would overcome them.

“We will need the help of the ancient spirits tonight,” Poxig mumbled.

They had despaired of ever getting through the wasteland, and then appearing through the midst of a fallen tree, they came upon the dark shadow cast by a decrepit old mossy manse.

“Wyckham Hall!” Jancuis said.

“At last!” Poxig returned.

poxig

 

 

Nitla Pass

Poxig came to the edge of the waterfall. He looked over the side, and viewed the abyss below. He knew these falls because he had been here as a boy. Underneath the waterfall was a grotto where he used to bring his wooden action figures. Now, as a man, he had a different view of Nitla Pass. It was a place where Manichean forces would fight for supremacy.

There was only another hour until the Orc-Wizard Darxon and his armies of darkness would arrive. He had been responsible for the fall of Wyckham Hall, and the soul-possession of Sir Belhomme, who had become an orc himself. The cruel magic of Darxon could only affect those who had turned to the dark side of magic, which the once great knight had done. Poxig had known him many moons ago. His new orc name was ‘Trink-Zelfo.’

It would be only a few short minutes before the demonic hoards would take over this region. All the trees in Nitla Pass would be chopped down and burned, and the vegetation would be stripped. As for the waters of Nitla Pass, they would turn to blood-red. And with all of this havoc wreaked on his favorite place to come as a boy, Poxig could only think of retreat to the armed forces of King Charles I, whose army was the only worthy adversary of such an evil force…

2016-04-29 15.17.46

See a sample here:  the great journey

Comeuppance

Sheila wrote the next line, not realizing it was Koiné Greek:

‘Εν ‘αρΧη ην ‘ο λογος ην προς τον Θεον, και Θεος ην ‘ο λογος…

She realized that this was the first line of the prophecy of the gospel.

It was a short order because she had come this far, and it didn’t seem like the cosmic order of the universe was going to change for her. But she prayed nonetheless that the dice would roll in her favor.

There was a sense in which the justice that was inherent in the universe would come to her, and Dostoevsky’s floating ax would describe her fate. She looked at Poxig, who gave her a quick glance. Then, she returned to her prophetic wanderings.

“Is it possible that each will receive his or her comeuppance?” she said.

“Yes, since the cosmic order of the universe could not be altered,” Poxig returned. But Poxig didn’t flinch. The still ax in space still terrified him. It was the absurdity of evil, that the great Dostoevsky had described.

 

 

Vow

 

I am currently trying to take a vow of silence on the book until I write a substantial portion of it.

Here are some of the French photos I have done on the translation of Pierre & Jean by Guy Maupassant.

The Serious Man

This is a desultory post, which means that it may not see human eyes. I do hope that ever  more I may advertise the ridiculous stuff that is part and parcel of my YA novel. I’m still working on it in various notebooks, and it may appear in whole or in part on this website. I am also an ESL teacher, so that may also work to your benefit, reader. Nothing but the most pithy statements will find their way on this website. I did want to give you the very first paragraph of my novel which is still under construction:

“Poxig was a generally nice elf who was of little repute. He spent long nights in front of an obsessive mother named Velouria who took all his time which chores and little tasks of various sorts. He was struck with the need to go out at times and walk, which was the ‘winter of his soul.’ He took his beat up guitar in order so that he could become a troubadour. This was the problem he had faced since his decision to make his way through the episodes of his former life. You see, there was a peculiar way about this fellow. He couldn’t see what the purpose was of his difficult life and decided to set out on his own. He came at once to the village of Excelsior and put down his baggage, determined to make it as a bard of old tales. ”

Ok, so this isn’t in its final form yet, but it is kind of a sui generis right now.