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Friday, February 3, 2017 09:06 AM
(Last updated on Monday, February 6, 2017 03:34 PM)
I Wrote a Book!
 by Fëanor

Well, I wrote the book a while ago. And then my brother drew and colored pictures to go with. And then he made a couple of physical copies just for us. But now! You can go and buy it yourself! On Amazon! It's only an eBook for now, but we're going to look into making it possible to buy a physical, printed copy, too. Anyway, here it is!

Ballyhoo, and Mom's Other Tigers

It's a children's book, in verse, about tigers, sort of. If you do purchase it, and like it, please leave a review on Amazon! I understand good reviews are a great way to help us generate further interest and more sales. Thanks much!

UPDATE: And now it's also available in paperback!
Tagged (?): Animals (Not), Books (Not), Children (Not), Personal (Not), Poetry (Not)
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Thursday, December 22, 2016 01:51 PM
Poems For Trump - Limerick 2
 by Fëanor

An entry in a series of poems about Donald Trump: #PoemsForTrump. Please feel free to join in! Use the hashtag and post your own limericks, haiku, sonnets, whatever, or even just post links to poems that make you think of Trump. Make the best of a bad situation by making/sharing art, and satirizing a terrible human at the same time.

The limerick form seems to work well for these, as they are short and traditionally filthy and mocking. Enjoy!

Says the creeper backstage as he spots her:
"Every year they get hotter and hotter!"
When the girl sees him spying
he just stands there crying,
"I swear I thought you were my daughter!"
Tagged (?): Poems For Trump (Not), Poetry (Not), Politics (Not)
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Wednesday, December 21, 2016 04:22 PM
(Last updated on Friday, December 23, 2016 10:44 AM)
Poems for Trump - The Jackal
 by Fëanor

An entry in a series of poems about Donald Trump: #PoemsForTrump. Please feel free to join in! Use the hashtag and post your own limericks, haiku, sonnets, whatever, or even just post links to poems that make you think of Trump. Make the best of a bad situation by making/sharing art, and satirizing a terrible human at the same time.

I already published this one in the poetry section of my site, but I wanted to post it again here, now that I've decided this should be a series.

Behind the poem: This wasn't in any particular poetic form; I let the form grow around the words, basically. It became a pseudo-sonnet, with a rhyming scheme that's similar to a Shakespearean sonnet, but with more lines. Also, the meter is anapestic tetrameter, and not the traditional iambic pentameter.

The Jackal or, At the Ceremony

At the fun'ral of truth, there were snickers and screams,

but no weeping at all. When the Jackal stood up

and he chewed up some words, they just split at the seams.

And his teeth were so white as he held up his cup —

when he toasted the body and drank his own health —

but his words were just gristle and sinew and flash.

"Have you seen this here suit? Though I say it myself,

it's fantastic, you know? Just the finest of flesh."

Setting cup on the corpse, he continued to speak:

"There's no body, you know. This is nonsense and lies.

I inherit, however." He wiped at a streak,

something red on his tie, while he swatted the flies.

"And a murderer? Me?" Then he laughed with a snort.

"Don't believe what you read... It's all mine now, by law,

you have given it freely. I'll prove it in court.

It is hate that makes right" — and he held up a claw —

"and it's might that makes cash. Only losers can die.

You all asked me to feed you, so turn up the lights.

On your right, on your left, have a look with your eyes —

they are fat, they are foreign; unlikely to fight."

And they licked at their lips and they said, "What a treat!"

And they all drew their blades and they started to eat.
Tagged (?): Poems For Trump (Not), Poetry (Not), Politics (Not)
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Monday, December 19, 2016 08:45 PM
(Last updated on Wednesday, December 21, 2016 04:16 PM)
A Limerick
 by Fëanor

An entry in a series of poems about Donald Trump: #PoemsForTrump. Please feel free to join in! Use the hashtag and post your own limericks, haiku, sonnets, whatever, or even just post links to poems that make you think of Trump. Make the best of a bad situation by making/sharing art, and satirizing a terrible human at the same time.

There once was a man from New York
who sold barrels and barrels of pork.
It was all second rate,
but he said, "This is great!"
So they made him the lord of the jerks.
Tagged (?): Poems For Trump (Not), Poetry (Not), Politics (Not)
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Friday, January 9, 2015 03:15 PM
More Poems!
 by Fëanor

It's weird, I didn't think I really liked writing poetry very much, because of the way you have to twist what you want to say to meet the strict structure of whatever form you're using. But I'm finding lately I like it for that exact same reason. Writing poetry is like solving a puzzle: how do I say what I want to say, given this set of rules? Being restricted in this way, having to word things differently than you normally would, actually tends to lead you to more interesting places, and forces you to be more subtle and complex.

So poetry has become my go-to Fun-a-Day project, but I wanted a new challenge, so I started researching other poetry forms and came across the ghazal, an ancient form that comes originally from Arabia and has only recently been adopted by English poets. It's a very different kind of form than I'm used to, with no set meter, no set length, very little rhyming, and very little connection between the various couplets, beyond theme and a small refrain. It seemed interesting, so I took a shot at it. Here's my attempt. I might try again in a while, as I was sort of figuring out the form as I went this time. Anyway, hope you like it!
Tagged (?): Poetry (Not)
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Sunday, January 4, 2015 03:11 PM
(Last updated on Monday, January 5, 2015 09:31 AM)
Fun Times
 by Fëanor

Poppy decided to do this thing this month called Fun-a-Day where you make a thing every day. Sounded fun, and also I've been wanting to get back into creative pursuits, so I decided to join her. The first two days I wrote a sonnet each day, and those became a two part poem I've posted here. The next day I made a little JavaScript widget which you can find here. The latter is a very simple, basic kind of thing that kids might enjoy. I might take some time later making it a bit fancier and more complex.

I'm not sure what today's fun creation will be! I have some ideas, so hopefully I won't fall off the wagon this early. I actually feel a bit tense about it, which is kind of the opposite of the point of Fun-a-Day I imagine. But I'm trying to just take it easy, do what I can do, and not get too uptight about it all. My problem is my ideas for projects tend to blow out of proportion pretty quickly and turn into something there's no way I could complete in one day. So I either need to tamp myself down and force myself to keep it small, or I need to allow myself to just work on something every day and not necessarily complete it.

Anyway, we'll see! Hope you like what I've done so far.

UPDATE: I wrote another villanelle!
Tagged (?): Poetry (Not), Programming (Not)
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Friday, June 10, 2011 08:26 PM
(Last updated on Friday, June 10, 2011 08:28 PM)
I wrote this thing
 by Fëanor

One of the things I admired most about Sarcasmo was her fearless determination to do and to be. If there was something she thought would be fun or exciting or fulfilling, she just went ahead and did it. Write a novel in a month? Sure! Try out for a role in a zombie movie? Absolutely!

I've been meaning to try my hand at poetry again for a while. Specifically, I've been wanting to write a sonnet. Today I thought, if I want to do it, why don't I do it? So I got home from work and I wrote this. I might tinker with it some more, but it's what I have for now. Thanks, Star. Happy birthday.

A framework; door. A lintel; sill. A breath
withheld. A liminality. A thrush
about to beat its wings. A border etched
with symbols. Threshold. Intake. Gently brush

a finger down a page's edge. A book
when read will write in you. Beware. Hold still.
A storm's about to blow. A knife. A crook-
ed line is drawn before the cast. The hill

reveals a mouth. A man is walking there.
He's sure he knows this place quite well. Or not.
He thinks he's almost found the fairy's lair.
A broken thing was killed and tied in knots

the way it was instructed in the text.
If only he'd remembered what came next.
Tagged (?): Personal (Not), Poetry (Not)
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Tuesday, August 10, 2010 10:29 AM
(Last updated on Friday, August 13, 2010 01:54 PM)
Book Report - The Epic of Gilgamesh
 by Fëanor

Somehow I made it through my entire college career as an English major without ever reading The Epic of Gilgamesh in its entirety. When I found poppy's copy of the 1989 edition of Maureen Gallery Kovacs' translation on the bookshelf the other day, I decided to correct this error. I was surprised to discover how fragmentary our knowledge is of the original source material. In fact, the tablets that the epic was written on are literally fragmentary, so that various sections of the story have to be recreated from other versions of the story, and other sections are just lost entirely. Even the portions that we do have can be a mystery at times; thanks to the obscurity of the ancient language and the alien cultural context of the story, the translation often devolves into guesswork, with certain phrases and terms remaining almost completely opaque (for instance, the mysterious "stone things" on the boat that Gilgamesh destroys near the end of the tale). But out of this mess a rather compelling and universal story ultimately arises, about a man named Gilgamesh who becomes best friends with his enemy, the wild man named Enkidu. Gilgamesh and Enkidu go on various adventures together, but finally Enkidu dies. (Oops, spoiler!) Gilgamesh grieves terribly at his friend's death, not the least because it has made him aware of his own mortality. He goes on a long journey seeking the secret to evading death, only to discover it doesn't exist.

Interestingly, the man Gilgamesh visits seeking the secret to immortality is essentially the prototype for Noah. He was warned by one of the Gods that a flood was coming to wipe the Earth clean of humanity, and that he should build a boat and put himself and his family aboard, along with any livestock he could find. The boat is taken up by the waters and eventually runs aground on the side of a mountain. He releases various birds to discover if there is any other land nearby. The sense I got from the introduction and notes is that a lot of the story of Gilgamesh is made up of earlier stories, and that the story of Gilgamesh was itself then retold and reused in various ways. That's storytelling for you.

I was a little disappointed that there wasn't more to the relationship between Gilgamesh and Enkidu. I'd read so much about it, and yet in the story itself, it basically just says, "then they became friends," and that's it. A lot of the story is surprisingly abrupt like that.

The opening of the poem is oddly schizophrenic. It starts by stressing how awesome and amazing Gilgamesh was, only to then move immediately into a story about how he was oppressing his own people in some vague way and that the Gods had to send Enkidu - essentially a wild, beast-like version of Gilgamesh himself - to straighten him out. It's never really clear what's so great about Gilgamesh, actually, as he spends the entire poem either failing to do things, whining about things he has to do, or succeeding in doing things that end up biting him in the ass later. But it's Gilgamesh's failures and his mortality that give the story its humanity and make it accessible (to the extent that it is).

I can't say The Epic of Gilgamesh is a fun beach read or anything, but it is interesting in the way it highlights the places where great gulfs separate us from ancient peoples, and the places where we are not even a footstep apart.
Tagged (?): Book Report (Not), Books (Not), History (Not), Language (Not), Poetry (Not)
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Monday, May 24, 2010 09:43 AM
On the Viewer - Beowulf (2007)
 by Fëanor

I finally got around to watching Robert Zemeckis' computer-animated, motion-capture film adaptation of everybody's favorite epic Old English poem. Well, I didn't really watch the whole movie, but I saw large portions of it, including the ending, so I think I got the gist. If you haven't seen the film yet, you might want to skip the rest of this post, as I'll be dropping some pretty big spoilers.

Neil Gaiman and Roger Avary wrote the screenplay, and man did they totally alter the story! And seeing as how I actually really enjoy the story, and the original poem as a whole (what can I say, I was an English major), I found it hard to get over all the changes they made. The original poem tells a relatively simple story about a man who was essentially an ancient superhero. He is ridiculously strong and incredible. He kills two monsters, becomes a king, and then many years later, kills another monster, and in the process, dies. The end. The movie adds many more layers and connections to this story - secrets and lies and twisted sex. It makes Beowulf into a flawed and fallible man (Beowulf actually says in the movie that he wants to be remembered as a flawed and fallible man, which is a pretty corny line), when the point of the original story was that he was not that at all - he was effing Superman! The original poem was also written by a man looking back on heathen heroes and legends from a Christian perspective, and recasting them and their actions from that perspective. But the film tries to take the perspective of the heathens, and Beowulf even gets a line where he trashes Christianity. There's also gratuitous nudity and gratuitously disgusting violence. I mean, did we really need to see Grendel bite that dude's head off and chew it like that? Did we really need to see Beowulf punch Grendel in the side of the head until he busted his eardrum open and juice came out? Ugh. Speaking of Grendel, the film's conception of him is very unsettling: he's presented as a large, angry, disabled child. It's a little hard to cheer Beowulf on when he's fighting this thing. And the computer-generated people aren't nearly as impressive as Zemeckis seems to think they are. Sometimes their faces seem realistic and manage to convey real, human emotions, but other times they just look like dumb, wooden masks.

A few things that struck me as odd and fascinating: during his fight with Beowulf, Grendel seems to exhibit various magical abilities - when he enters the mead hall, the fire turns blue and swirls upward with a howl, and unless I was misunderstanding what I was seeing, he moves a spear with his mind in order to stab one of the warriors. Also, as Beowulf is ripping Grendel's arm off, he shouts a quick speech by way of introduction which sounds almost as if it were cribbed from John Gardner's Grendel (a fascinating, postmodern reimagining of the poem from the monster's perspective that I highly recommend) rather than the original poem: "I am Ripper... Tearer... Slasher... Gouger. I am the Teeth in the Darkness, the Talons in the Night. Mine is Strength... and Lust... and Power! I AM BEOWULF!" By that I kill you?

Despite my misgivings about the movie's changes, I have to admit the story the movie tells is a pretty strong one that seems, at least on the surface, and judged on the qualities of modern narrative, more cohesive than the original. It has one, continuous plot-line with various strong themes running through it: the desire for power and glory can poison and destroy you; the sins of the fathers come home to roost; never have sex with Angelina Jolie because she'll have a baby and it will be really annoying. (That last one is a moral I'm sure Brad Pitt can appreciate. Zing!)

But seriously. I have to admit that the story Gaiman, Avary, and Zemeckis tell here is pretty intriguing and moving, and the open-ended and highly evocative conclusion is very powerful. The suggestion that the reason Beowulf's story has survived and that we know it now is because of the deal he made with Grendel's mother is an interesting, metatextual one. Plus Beowulf's fight with the dragon is amazing. When he's chained to it by his arm, and realizes that in order to win he will have to cut his own arm off, and that this is the very way he killed Grendel - wow. In his attempt to stab the dragon in the heart, he drops his sword, and ends up having to swing himself back by his severed arm, swoop in, and rip the dragon's heart out of its chest with his bare hand. That is just about the most bad-ass thing of all time.

So really I'm of two minds about the film. As an adaptation, it's pretty much a failure, as it completely alters the source material. But as a reimagining and commentary upon the source material, and as a film considered on its own merits, it's actually not bad.

One good thing it did: it made me want to read the original poem again. So I took our copy of Seamus Heaney's celebrated verse translation down off the bookshelf and start reading it finally. In fact, I started reading it aloud to poppy and Griffin. I kind of wish I could read it in the original Anglo-Saxon, because I bet that would sound really cool. There are prose translations of Beowulf, and I remember reading one that I enjoyed, but I definitely prefer the translations that stick as close as possible to the original format. I like Old English poetry, with its kennings and its alliteration and its caesuras. I appreciate that Tolkien used a similar format when writing the poetry of the Rohirrim in Lord of the Rings. Speaking of which, I was fascinated to read in the introduction to Heaney's Beowulf how instrumental Tolkien was in changing the way the poem is read and appreciated.

But I've wandered a bit far afield here, so I'll stop now. The point is: if you want to avoid reading Beowulf for your English class and think you can just watch the movie instead, you're wrong.
Tagged (?): Books (Not), Movies (Not), On the Viewer (Not), Poetry (Not), Tolkien (Not)
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Monday, September 7, 2009 03:05 PM
(Last updated on Tuesday, September 8, 2009 08:42 AM)
 by Fëanor

Fëanor pours the entire internet into the Recyclotron, and only the best links come out the other end for you to enjoy.

Tagged (?): Animals (Not), Art (Not), Celebrities (Not), Comedy (Not), Comic books (Not), Diablo 3 (Not), DIY (Not), Dogs (Not), Dollhouse (Not), Facebook (Not), History (Not), Links (Not), Movies (Not), Music (Not), Photography (Not), Poetry (Not), Recyclotron (Not), Star Wars (Not), Toys (Not), TV (Not), Twitter (Not), Video (Not), Video games (Not)
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Welcome to the blog of Jim Genzano, writer, web developer, husband, father, and enjoyer of things like the internet, movies, music, games, and books. For a more detailed run-down of who I am and what goes on here, read this.

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