The Old Poems and the Sea

The Old Man and the Sea

A while back, I recorded an episode of The Incomparable in which we talked about assigned reading. Love it or hate it, most of us had to do it in school. That was a really fun episode with rather a lot of catharsis. Man, we hated some of the stuff we had to read! There’s love in there too—in a few cases, love for books others hated! I recommend the ep if it sounds even the littlest bit interesting to you.

As so often happens, one podcast led to another. If you aren’t aware, John McCoy has a new(ish) podcast called Sophomore Lit, in which he and a guest talk about the books assigned to students. Incomparable panelist John Siracusa pointed out the overlap between our assigned-reading episode and Sophomore Lit, and John (McCoy) was happy to invite folks on to delve more deeply into a single book. You know me. I have trouble passing up an opportunity to podcast!

I sent him a list of books I’d read and remembered, and he asked if I’d be willing to talk about one of the almost-universally assigned books—Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea. And I was! If you’re interested in my thoughts on that slight volume, check out episode 10 of Sophomore Lit.

What I’ve got for you here is so much worse. Or better, depending on your perspective. You see, when I read The Old Man and the Sea in high school, instead of writing an essay about it, I wrote a poem. Or actually, two poems. Yep. I was an angsty teenager, and terrible poetry came to me as easily as breathing, so of course I was gonna choose that as a way of completing my homework.

Wonder of wonders, I still have the poems! I dug them out from amongst the rest of the dreck (and oh golly, is there some real dreck), and figured what the hell? Why not share them with the world. So without further ado, here they are. My freshman-year self would be so pleased to have her poems on the internet. If she knew what the internet was.


Santiago’s Story

Santiago was a fisherman
Who sailed in the Gulf Stream
For 84 days he caught no fish
To catch a marlin was his dream

The 85th day he rowed out far
Into the waters deep
He spoke out loud unto himself
‘Cause his own company he’d keep

He Dropped his lines into the sea
He kept them very straight
And soon he caught a tuna fish
An albacore he’d use for bait

Before too long he hooked a fish
It seemed to be quite strong
The marlin towed the little fish
It kept on swimming very long

It pulled the boat for 3 whole days
And then started to jump
Santiago held the line
Fast through his veins his blood did pump

When finally the fish got near
He took out his harpoon
He drove it deep into the fish
It died, but not a bit too soon

He tied the carcass to the boat
And slowly sailed away
But left a trail of blood
So knew there’d soon be sharks to slay

He tried to keep the sharks at bay
All night he fought alone
He lost his harpoon, knife, and club
Soon all left of his fish was bone

He sadly went straight home to bed
Let sleep take him away
He knew that soon he would wake up
And live to fish another day

Santiago was a fisherman
Who sailed in the Gulf Stream
For 84 days he caught no fish
To catch a marlin was his dream


Yep. That was a poem alright. Hey, at least there’s no question I read the book! I managed to squeeze pretty much all the events into these few stanzas. Economy of language? Eat your heart out Hemingway.

The second poem is a sequel to the story. Because that’s the sort of thing they ask you to do in high school.


Santiago’s Recovery

As you sit there staring out
The sea, it calls your name
You hear its voice
You have no choice
The longing in you stays the same

Until the day you sail again
Upon its waves so high
You’ll want to be
Out on the sea
To fish until you die


I have to admit, I’m rather fond of this one. I like the flow and the rhythm and the rhyme scheme. Maybe teen-me wasn’t as completely talentless as I thought.

Maybe.

I’m pretty sure I got an A. So I guess that’s something.

And to round things off, I figured I’d see what kind of poem I’d come up with at this point in my life. It’s doggerel, of course, but it was fun to exercise that part of my brain for a change.


A marathon and not a sprint
A war and not a battle
A contest drags as fish drags man
A soundtrack: solo prattle

The symbols flow, the symbols ebb
The bestial and the Christian
The story deep as the Gulf Stream
The plot thick as fish fins


Perhaps not much better than the efforts of past-me. I wonder if Mr. Rick would give me an A on this one? Methinks not.

I’ll give myself a C.*

.

.

.

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*Pun 100% intended.

 

 

Holiday (1938) – The Katharine Hepburn Project #3

It’s time for another installment of The Katharine Hepburn Project! I expected to watch Bringing up Baby next, but as it turns out, iTunes only has that film available to buy–there’s no rental option. I’ve already seen it several times and never really liked it, so I decided to skip it and jump straight to one of my favorite classic films: 1938’s Holiday.

Holiday

Holiday is a film I loved and lost. I’d seen it on American Movie Classics or Turner Classic Movies and enjoyed the heck out of it, but I never caught the title (or I did and forgot it because Holiday is such a weird and generic title for this film). Anyway, I saw it a few more times, and the name never stuck. I just thought of it as “that Cary Grant/Katharine Hepburn movie I liked a lot”. Imagine my delight when I discovered this movie, Holiday, is the one I loved so much way back when! I was so excited I bought the thing on iTunes so I can rewatch to my heart’s content.

[SPOILERS AHOY] Continue reading

The Boys from the Dwarf and a Big Polymorph

Time for another patron-inspired post! Want to get in on the action? Check out my Patreon page!

Red Dwarf Polymorph

I came to Red Dwarf by possibly the worst-best route ever. Technically, the first bit I ever saw was a very short (baffling) bit of “Meltdown” from series IV, but the first episode I ever watched properly was the final ep of series VI: “Out of Time”. My siblings and I were flipping through channels, and landed on PBS shortly after the episode started. We were riveted! When it ended, on one helluva cliffhanger, we dove for the TV Guide* to see when Red Dwarf would be on next.

(If you’re familiar with Red Dwarf, you probably know where this is going. Sigh.)

We dutifully hit the couch the very next week, ready to find out what happened after the explosion that seemingly killed the wacky characters we’d quickly come to love—only to be very confused. The episode title was “The End”. That in itself kinda made sense, but it most emphatically did not pick up where the previous episode left off. In fact, it soon became clear we were watching the very first episode of Red Dwarf ever. What the heck?

After a bit of research (which was much harder in those days!), we discovered not only had we caught the last episode of the most recent series (and PBS was wrapping around to start at the beginning of series I), but the show had been cancelled, and there were no more new episodes coming! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!** Continue reading

Kickstarting a Long-Neglected Skill

Uncanny Mag KS Pic

I’m going to start at the end. The pic above is from the latest fundraising video I’ve put together. I’ve written before about how proud I am to be on the staff for Uncanny Magazine. And right now we’ve got a Kickstarter going to fund Year Two of the magazine. There are some awesome stretch goals we’re still hoping to hit, so please take a look! This video is “the end” because it’s the most recent of the very few videos I’ve produced in the last several years. The opportunity to use these skills again is just one more reason I’m grateful to Uncanny.

Dusting off old skills is a weird thing. I hesitate to use the phrase “it’s like riding a bicycle” because it’s been so long since I’ve ridden a bicycle, I suspect I’d fall right off if I tried. When it comes to video editing, however, I am happy to report that I didn’t fall on my face. In fact, the experience was more like riding swiftly downhill on a beautiful day. Okay. I’m getting sick of this metaphor. Let’s just say I remembered more than I expected and had much more fun than I imagined I would.

As you may know, my bachelor’s degree is in Communication Arts with a concentration in Radio, TV, and Film. I focused heavily on the video production side of things—taking as many production classes as I could (both in the studio and out). I even did a couple semesters of independent study for credit—producing (and co-starring in) a movie-review show for the local cable access channel.* Continue reading

Cool People Doing Cool Things – Issue V

Today’s quick roundup of my cool friends and their cool creations is writer-focused, which I find very exciting. Reading is one of my favorite pastimes, so I’m always grateful when one of my pals creates something new for me to read. Come to think of it, there’ve been rather a lot of writing-based creations in these posts. Check out the first, second, third, and fourth installments and see for yourself!


Cool Person: Kelly McCullough

Kelly McCullough is a writer of science fiction and fantasy, herder and blogger of cats, and connoisseur of scotches. You may have read his Webmage and Fallen Blade books. Or you may have shared some delicious scotch with him at a convention. I highly recommend both activities. You know how you sometimes meet someone for the first time and go “Yup. This is a person I connect with. Thank you Universe/Fate/Random Chance for placing my path across his.” That’s how I felt after meeting Kelly.

Let me tell you, I was mightily relieved when I discovered he can write so well. Which brings me to…

Cool Thing: School for Sidekicks

metal porthole; Shutterstock ID 82146736

School for Sidekicks came out yesterday. I’m already three-quarters done with it. I’d be further along if I hadn’t fallen asleep reading it.

But WAIT! Let me explain how that’s a compliment. Continue reading

Webcomics – Prehistoric Edition

Dinosar Comics 1

I recently stumbled across my notes from an Incomparable episode we recorded way back in 2014. I thought I’d pull them together and flesh them out to make a series of blog posts because web comics are cool goshdarnit! Check out my posts on Sluggy Freelance, Questionable Content, and The Order of the Stick!

Dinosaur Comics

Dinosaur Comics is the brain child of Ryan North. He’s Canadian! But that’s not why I like the comic. I like it because it’s funny and inventive. Every strip uses the same artwork, so you might think it’s not exactly a haven for creativity. Au contraire! Being constrained by the form has made Ryan stretch to find other ways of making it interesting. And boy howdy, does he succeed. Continue reading

Alice Adams (1935) – The Katharine Hepburn Project #2

The Katharine Hepburn Project is alive and well! You may have noticed I didn’t stick to my pledge of one-movie-per-month in June. I thought I’d do two in July to make up for it, but I’m swiftly running out of time. We’ll see if that happens. If not, August becomes the double-up month! Anyway, on to our feature.

1935-alice-adams-2

Alice Adams, the next Katharine Hepburn movie available (chronologically) on iTunes, is a portrait of a young woman who wants desperately to belong to the “in-crowd”. Sadly, she can’t because her family is poor. The film opens with her preparing for and attending a dance at a rich girl’s house. She’s purchased a powder puff she’s very proud of, and she’s added new flounces to disguise a two-year-old organdy dress. To add insult to injury, her unwilling brother is her escort. He spends most of the night playing craps in the coat closet with the staff.

Alice spends most of the time hovering in the hallway, pretending to be waiting for her escort and looking longingly at the fellows passing by, hoping desperately that someone (other than “Fat Frank Dowling”) will ask her to dance. Eventually, our hunky male lead, Mr. Arthur Russell, does just that. This is the youngest I’ve ever seen Fred MacMurray, and golly gee whillikers does he look just like Benedict Cumberbatch. I have to admit I wasn’t a fan of this movie, but it gets a thumbs-up in the eye-candy department. Continue reading