Thursday, January 31, 2008
There have GOT to be medievalists who are medieval warm period skeptics ... can anyone point me to scholarly articles that support NOAA's claim? Or is the consensus so strong that NOAA is ignoring the evidence contradicting their model that there really aren't medieval warm period skeptics among medievalists?
- Cronaca and The Punch Die both have posts growing out of a NYTimes article about the Black Death, and PD links us to a post by the son of a medievalist about the Death.
- Heavenfield tells us of the lost kingdom of Gododdin, a place so lost that I'd never heard of it before. It's an interesting post, so don't miss it.
- Jeff Sypeck reveals that the medieval denizens of Maryland, both Muslim and Christian, have united against the common foe: The Dragon Gods of Miniature Golf.
- Shana Worthen has an original poem about Hengest and Horsa at Ebbsfleet.
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
Some lines, of course, are a matter of interpretation. For example, when the poet writes, "Then saw I mankind's Lord come with great courage when he would mount on me," we can excuse it as a heroic rendering of the crucifixion -- after all, Jesus probably wasn't skipping along gleefully. Others, though, simply cannot be rectified with the Gospel accounts. Here are a few examples:
- Strong fiends seized me there, worked me for spectacle; cursèd ones lifted me. On shoulders men bore me there, then fixed me on hill; fiends enough fastened me. According to the Biblical accounts, Jesus carried the Rood himself. When he grew too weak, Simon of Cyrene bore it.
- The young hero stripped himself--he, God Almighty--strong and stout-minded. In the Gospel accounts, his clothes are removed and soldiers gamble for the garment.
- Then they worked him an earth-house, men in the slayer's sight carved it from bright stone, set in it the Wielder of Victories. Then they sang him a sorrow-song, sad in the eventide, when they would go again with grief from that great Lord. That the poet refers to the disciples as "warriors" (hilde-rincas) so often doesn't really bother me, since that is clearly metaphorical language designed to depict Jesus as a temporal lord. They didn't "work him an earth-house," though -- they used Joseph of Arimathea's tomb.
- The recently-retired Oxford Medievalist comes out of retirement to begin a new blog, The Punch Die, "a blog of history and numismatics -- that's coins for those of you playing at home.
- Steven Till offers up some medieval resources for those of you writing fiction set in the Middle Ages (or, I imagine, fantasy fiction).
- Jeff Sypeck travels back in time to the Viking era.
- News for Medievalists has several updates, including this news: Medieval Craft of Chainmail Gains Popularity. It's like they say about your wardrobe -- eventually, everything comes back into fashion.
- Steve Muhlberger points us to the blog A Commonplace Book: Deeds of Arms and other Matters Medieval and Otherwise.
- Over at Heroic Dreams they'll be making a paper medieval castle -- you know, a stronghold to withstand a long siege, or a barrage of staples. Don't skimp on the glitter!
- The Weird Medieval Animal this Monday was the basilisk -- or so I suspect. Every time I click on the link, my computer turns to stone.
- Heavenfield has has a bunch of interesting new posts of late, including one on the Lichfield Angel and one on King Œthelwald.
- Carl Pyrdum discusses Chris Matthews's failed attempt at a medieval metaphor. Swing and a miss!
- A fellow out at Princeton has started the Anglo-Saxon Narrative Poetry Project, translating the poetry bit by bit. So far he's working on Andreas. h/t In the Middle.
- The problem with In the Middle adding new folks is that now I have trouble keeping up with the links. They've recently asked the question, "Could Robots Survive the Middle Ages," have posted a delightfully-contrarian reading of a book review, and Karl Steel discusses the difficulty in countering Bring Out Your Deadism.
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
All this means that I've had to learn about 2nd Life -- and so far as I can tell, after several hours spent online, there are only two activities going on in 2nd Life: Virtual clubbing, and selling crap to other people for virtual clubbing.
I find this especially annoying because I had hoped to find medievalist activities going on. Now, supposedly there are medieval/fantasy-themed roleplaying groups, but they either have their events at such times that make me suspect they are based in Europe, or they aren't meeting at all. Last night, for example, I went to a "Renaissance" themed event, which turned out to be virtual clubbing by people dressed in Ren-style clothing. They were friendly, but not what I thought I was going to.
Has the medievalist community really not broken into 2nd Life, or am I just looking in the wrong places?
Saturday, January 26, 2008
For the scholar who already knows a bit about these texts, they aren't much help. For example, there wasn't a single thing about Beowulf that I didn't know pretty much off the top of my head. On the other hand, what I knew about Baha ad'Din could have been printed in 76 point font on a postage stamp, so I found the podcast on Baha ad'Din's The Rare and Excellent History of Saladin to be lacking ... I found myself wanting much more.
Gabriele isn't aiming at guys like me, though -- these are aimed at students in his classes, and in that way, the podcasts are extremely useful. Students rarely read the introductory material in the books we assign, but I suspect listening to a 4-minute podcast with a few droll comments is the kind of assignment a student might just do.
Aside from the gee-whiz element and easy convenience that might just coax students to learn this introductory material before class, I suspect the podcasts have another important element that could encourage participation in class: The names of all these figures are pronounced. Very often, I think, students are intimidated to participate in class because of uncertainty about the way the names of the characters are pronounced. How do you say Sulpicius Severus? Eusebius? Sergius? Fulcher? Ibn al'Qalanisi? His podcast on Beowulf even has an anecdote about overhearing a conversation in which a man doesn't know how to pronounce Beowulf's name even after having seen the Zemeckis film the night before! I wonder if Prof. Gabriele is finding that his students are speaking with greater confidence about these texts; perhaps we'll get a full report at the end of the semester.
What about the non-scholar, non-student? For you, these podcasts might be ideal little nuggets. We're all busy people, and can't read everything. Just a few minutes listening to a podcast on a particular medieval text might be enough to tell you whether you want to read that text yourself, or whether you'd rather skip it. After all, as Chaucer reminds us, "The lyfe so short, the craft so long to lerne," so you've got to use your time in the best way; Gabriele's podcasts help you do just that.
So, in short, Gabriele's podcasts: Nothing new for scholars, essential introductions for students, and bite-sized tastes for the rest of us. On Tuesday in Brit Lit I, when we start on Beowulf, I plan to direct them to his Beowulf podcast.
In closing, let me also direct you to another of Chaucer's comments, that might just as well have been applied to Prof. Gabriele.
Friday, January 25, 2008
- Jonathan Jarrett discusses unbelief vs. false beliefs in medieval and contemporary contexts.
- Henchminion muses about possible connections between medieval lepers and zombies.
- Heroic Dreams has a review of Medieval Seige Warfare -- which, believe it or not, is a book and not a computer strategy game. I've noticed trebuchets and catapults on the TV a lot lately; what's with all the sudden interest?
- In the Middle has a post about the best-dressed medievalists. Ironically, when I arrived in class today without a bowtie, one of the students protested, and after a bit of discussion he decided that he couldn't learn as well without my tweed & bowtie combo.
- Medieval Material Culture had a flurry of links over the last couple of days.
- Highly Eccentric has declared Archbishop Wulfstan of York the person of the year. This is what I get for waiting so long to respond to my meme-tag; someone has stolen my guy! I suppose here's where I should come out of the closet: I actually have a World of Warcraft character named Wulfstan, who is loosely based off this historical person.
- The Heroic Age directs us to the "Alfred the Great: Warfare, Wealth and Wisdom" exhibit to be held in Winchester 2 Feb - 27 April. Larry Swain also directs us to a 10-minute video of the opening of a Roman coffin, which I've embedded below. Just in case you're wondering, Indiana Jones does not swoop in with fedora and bullwhip to steal it at the end.
- Back in the States, the Medieval Club of New York announces the presentation of a delicious-sounding paper February 15th: "The Saint and the Chopped-Up Baby: Shaping the Image of St. Vincent Ferrer."
- I normally don't print links sent to me by commercial enterprises, but International Listings has the Top 25 Most Beautiful Castles in the World. The only one I've ever visited is Casa Loma. Note that this is not a countdown list, but is divided by region instead.
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
- Got Medieval finds a new use of the word "medieval" in the global warming debate.
- Heavenfield's Person of the Week is Aethelwald of Lindisfarne.
- Per Omnia Saecula's Weird Medieval Tribe is the Hippopodes. Oh, Manolo, can't you help these poor people?
- In the Middle has a post about controversy over repatriating the Lewis Chessmen. I suppose it's hard for us Americans to understand the importance of these kinds of issues to people who live in tiny countries like those in Europe.*
- It's not really medieval, but New Kid on the Hallway has a post about why she teaches history, spinning off from a similar literary post from Dr. Crazy. I might just respond here if I find the time.
- The Heroic Age has a nice set of links to news articles.
- FYI, I've finally finished listening to all of Matthew Gabriele's podcasts, and I'll probably post a short review when I finish grading the big stack of papers that hits my desk in 40 minutes.
*The first time I went to Europe, I landed in Vilnius and had to be driven from the airport to Klaipeda, on the Baltic coast. Having an American sense of size, I assumed it would be a long drive, and that we might go late into the night. Imagine my surprise when I discovered you can drive across the breadth of the entire country in three hours.
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
Makes a perfect Valentine's Day gift! Remember, ladies, if your man doesn't get you a copy of Global Perspectives, he's definitely a cad and is probably cheating on you.
Also, if you don't read my own contribution to the book, "Global Literature, Medieval Literature, and the Popal Vuh," you should be ashamed to show your face in decent company. In the old days, people like you were taken out behind the woodshed and beaten.
Please also note: Readings from Global Perspectives have been shown to cure the gout, cancer, ague, and assorted skin disorders in laboratory rats. Corpses buried with Global Perspectives do not show normal signs of corruption even after several years. None of these claims has been validated by the Food and Drug Administration because the scientists who were supposed to study them were too engrossed in reading the articles.
Monday, January 21, 2008
- Start off here: Highly Eccentric is hosting Carnivalesque, with all sorts of linky goodness.
- Scribal Terror has a post about dog-headed St. Christopher.
- Jeff Sypeck has a review of Simon Armitage's translation of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, which he sums up by writing, "Having focused on diction while skimping on form, Armitage failed to engage me."
- Mary Kate Hurley discusses her upcoming article on blogging and Old English.
- If you are able to make it to Louisville between January 22nd and April 20th, the Speed Art Museum is hosting medieval treasures from the Victoria and Albert Museum. h/t Medieval Material Culture Blog.
- Heavenfield has a belated Folklore Friday, this installment being St. Aldhelm's Loathly Lady.
Therefore, I propose the following MLK day traditions: Little boys all dress up like MLK (little girls like Rosa Parks) and go door-to-door. When people open the door, the children cry out, "I have a dream!" and the adults have to fill their bags with goodies. Then, that night, when all the kids are asleep, Rosa Parks will drive a bus full of gifts into the neighborhood, and MLK will slide down the chimney and leave gifts under the MLK Day shrubbery (purchased from Roger's Shrubbery on Highway 8). Instead of sending cards, we'll send each other letters postmarked from Birmingham jail.
Of course, there will also be local variations. For example, the Chicago River will be dyed rainbow colors, McDonalds will have seasonal shakes, and in New Orleans all the boys will dress up like Rosa Parks and all the girls like MLK.
So, now, if any foreigners ask you how we celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, you'll have a ready answer. Perhaps when Labor Day rolls around I'll have some suggestions for that one too.
Friday, January 18, 2008
- Medieval Material Culture tells us about Kiosque, an exhibit that allows you to look at detailed images of manuscripts. More at the Royal Armories Museum here and here.
- Deogolwulf has a curmudgeonly fewtril in praise of chivalry.
- Scribal Terror gives us more about Saint Guinefort the dog (not found in Farmer's Oxford Dictionary of Saints).
Thursday, January 17, 2008
That's not to say that all original posting will be on hold until then. One of the things I'm doing, for example, is listening to all of Matthew Gabriele's podcasts so I can report on them to you. I listen to them on my daily run, so I ought to finish them in the next day or two (unless the weather turns nasty).
Until there, here's your Morning Medieval Miscellany:
- Jeffery Hodges has a meditation upon curiousity that features Bernard of Clairvaux.
- Heavenfield discusses whether St. Augustine (of Canterbury, not the City of God guy) established a church on Ely.
- Heroic Dreams has a post on medieval weapons, as well as one on mysterious halberds. Perhaps a Wordhoarder can help with the Case of the Mysterious Medieval Halberds.
- Speaking of weapons, Musings from a L.O.O.N. has a post with lots of images of armor (you've got to scroll a bit to get to the armor).
- JJ Cohen posts his syllabus for his "Myths of Britain" class, and discusses the role of Wikipedia in scholarly publishing.
- And for the scholars out there (whether they cite Wikipedia or not), The Heroic Age issues a CfP.
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
- JJ Cohen watched The Backyardigans: Tale of the Mighty Knights. I only saw about the first ten minutes before I had to leave for an appointment. I was a little surprised by the rock music, and asked my kids if that was the usual soundtrack for the Backyardigans. They looked at me with scorn and replied, "No, daddy. It's a baby show."
- Per Omnia Saecula gives us the allocamelus, the animal that gets medieval on both your ass and your camel.
- Sarah Winters will be speaking at Nipissing University on "From the White Witch to the Dark Mark: Evil in Children's Fantasy Since WWII."
Monday, January 14, 2008
I couldn't agree more! Furthermore, I humbly submit to you other adaptations that have given the "kiss of life" to their dreary originals:
- The Christopher Lambert Beowulf, which was the first savior of the poem.
- Weekend at Bernies II, which finally resolved all those unresolved issues from the original Weekend at Bernies.
- Hannibal, which was a marked improvement over the historical Hannibal.
- Dr. Jekyll and Ms. Hyde, which gave the kiss of life to the Stevenson original.
- Mansquito, which is a definite improvement on Mansfield Park.
- Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein -- if Mary Shelley had any talent, she'd have written that screenplay instead.
- Franklin and the Green Knight, which improves on Sir Gawain.
- Cormac McCarthy's The Road, which improved on Jack Kerouac's On the Road with the addition of more baby cannibalism.
- Van Helsing, which improved greatly on boring ol' Dracula.
- The town of Hamlet, Indiana, which is like Shakespeare without all the "prithees."
- Ishtar, which brought only honor and praise to the Sumerian goddess.
- World War II, which had the kind of climactic ending World War I lacked.
- Judge Dredd, which improved upon the concept of social justice.
- Paris Hilton, who has entertained far more drunken Frenchmen than Paris, France.*
- The "Bible Adventures" video game -- just the facelift that boring old book needed.
As you can plainly see, old stuff is boring. New stuff is always better. New stuff with special effects and big marketing campaigns are best.
*Oooof! Yes, I know, a very cheap shot ... I just couldn't help myself.
Sunday, January 13, 2008
The Dictionary of Old English project announces with joy the release of the first online version of DOE: A to G in December 2007. Highlights of the new publication include:the first release of the letter G, as well as revisions of the seven previously published letters; a more powerful search engine which enables Boolean searches on two or more fields of a DOE entry as well as Boolean searches within a single field; the hotlinking of Latin short titlesto their bibliographic references; and, most excitingly,the hotlinking to the OED (as long as your university has access to the online OED) for those Old English words which have a later history.
DOE: A to G online is distributed by site license both to institutions ($200 per year) and individuals ($75 per year).Further information is available at the DOE website: www.doe.utoronto.ca
h/t Heroic Age
You know, whenever I mention the DOE, I always feel like I should have Sesame Street-style sponsorship: "This posting has been brought to you by the numbers 5 and 7, and by the letter G."
Does anyone know of names of actual medieval pets?
- Cronaca points us to an article about an Anglo-Saxon burial ground for executed criminals. I learned a new Old English phrase I had never heard before: heafod stokkan, or "head stakes" -- probably the stakes on which the heads of criminals were mounted.
- Heavenfield has a round-up of her history-meme tags ... and I confess, the guilty party who still hasn't done his part is I.
- Jennifer Lynn Jordan compares two very different views the New York Times has taken on the Beowulf movie when it was first released and now.
- In the Middle gives us Karl Steel's review of Claustrophilia: The Erotics of Enclosure in the Middle Ages.
- If you happen to be in Michigan, Medieval Material Culture tells us of an armor exhibit in Midland.
- Highly Eccentric offers links to various online sites offering Old English grammar help. Most of these are probably well-known to this community, but it bears re-linking.
- News for Medievalists has had a couple of big updates lately, so head on over there if you haven't for a while.
- Becoming Charlemagne got a mention today in the New York Times Sunday Book Review. Hooray, Jeff!
- The Swain reminds us of Raymond Clemons and Tim Graham's new book, Introduction to Manuscript Studies, and announces Graham will be teaching his four-week intensive graduate seminar on paleography and codicology. I took P&C from Graham at the Newberry Library in Chicago, and it was great. I highly recommend it ... plus, he's a really nice guy.
Thursday, January 10, 2008
- Heavenfield has two posts on Marie de France's Life of Saint Audrey.
- Among a bunch of medieval tidbits, Per Omnia Saecula leads us to the podcast for the Metropolitan Museum of Art's exhibit, "Set in Stone: The Face in Medieval Sculpture." I haven't had a chance to listen to it yet, so I'm not sure how it works as a stand-alone podcast (vs. a guided tour through exhibits you can't see if you aren't listening to it at the Met). If any Wordhoarders listen and want to comment on its worth below, feel free.
- In the Middle has a post on the phrase "mock medieval" -- and now I have to read Marcus Bull's book, Thinking Medieval: An Introduction to the Study of the Middle Ages.
- K.A. Laity has some images of The Simpsons Bayeaux Tapestry.
- Heroic Dreams has a post about medieval-style castles in America during the Gothic Revival.
Wednesday, January 09, 2008
In a bit of a tangent, I was messing about in Second Life for my interdisciplinary class on constructing humanity and race, and discovered that one of the family names you can take for your avatar is "Boccaccio." I tried for "Beowulf Boccaccio," which was already taken, and settled on the less-metrically-pleasing "Chaucer Boccaccio."
Tuesday, January 08, 2008
- In the Middle won the Cliopatria Award in the category of Best Group Blog! Huzzah!
- Per Omnia Saecula really gets my goat.
- Cinerati suggests a replacement for Dragon magazine and Dungeon magazine: Kobald Quarterly. This is more geek-culture than medieval, but I thought I'd throw it in anyway.
- Do clothes make the man? Steve Muhlberger suggests that, in the case of mail-shirts, they just may have.
- In two very similar posts, Scribal Terror discusses the Three-Hare design.
- Jonathan Jarrett offers criticism of medieval scholarship that uses obfuscating language, and he compares it to "the Carolingian court élite trying simultaneously to mysticize their special knowledge and recruit people to share it."
Monday, January 07, 2008
My apologies, folks, but I will not be discussing these issues publicly. Having lived abroad and been in precarious and life-threatening situations myself, I know how dangerous it can be for a foreigner to say anything about sensitive situations in his host country. Anything I say could be interpreted as having come from my family, which then in turn could offend one side or another. If you know me personally and want to talk about it in private, I'd be more than happy to answer any questions you have, but nothing public.
Of course, many of you may feel the need to do something, even if you aren't sure what exactly you can do. Prayer for the country is always a good thing. If you want to contribute something materially, you can learn more about the Brown Family Mission on their website, or you can contribute money to the Kenya mission through Christian Missionary Fellowship International. If you want even greater involvement, CMF has service opportunities among the Maasai and the Turkana.
What I found interesting about the book is that it uses knighthood as its central theme, but it's really more about raising a Christian boy who grows up to be a decent man. The evangelical Christian focus is no surprise, since the book is a "Focus on the Family" resource. Since I'm an evangelical Christian myself, both the medieval theme and Christian focus were welcome.
Evangelical Christians have a mixed relationship with medievalism. Though they sometimes borrow medievalist terms, for the most part the word "medieval" draws connotations of Catholicism that many evangelicals see as mostly a spectator religion.** While there are some groups like Campus Crusade for Christ, the word "crusade" there is used as the blandest of metaphors; it isn't like CCC is trying to drive the Muslims out of the Holy Land, or like they use a lot of medieval iconography.
The disconnect between the medieval and evangelical works both ways. I have found that medievalists tend to be the most Christian of scholars in English Departments. Even those who are non-Christian generally demonstrate a great degree of respect for Christian thought. The ethic seems to work like this: Scholars of the medieval have to gain familiarity with the important Christian thinkers of the Middle Ages, and so even when they disagree with them, they are familiar enough to respect them and see the notion of the "superstitious medieval church" as the kind of phrase uttered only by the ignorant. In other words, lack of respect for Christian thought is often thought of as a lack of scholarly acumen.
For that same reason, then, medievalists tend to view proper Christianity as more Catholic, especially in such areas as liturgy. Anglicans and Lutherans, by following similar forms to Catholics, are at least recognizable, but evangelical denominations tend to be ignored or considered "low Church" in both senses of the word "low."
So, why the use of the knight metaphor in this book? Author Robert Lewis's explanation could have been written in the introduction of almost any book of modern medievalism:
This medieval figure casts an impressive masculine shadow. Clothed in chain mail, brandishing a sword, and mounted on an invincible steed, the knight remains even today a symbol of virile manhood. Vestiges of knighthood still dot our cultural landscape, from our language to our ideals to our traditions [....] Even though historians would probably say the knight once popularized by literature was more an ideal than a reality, still he remains a powerful metaphor. In fact, I would be so bold as to argue that knighthood -- despite some of its shortcomings -- offers any dad a powerful outline for his son's successful journey to manhood. (11-12)
Lewis interprets the metaphorical outline of manhood in knighthood as boiling down to four principles:
- A Real Man Rejects Passivity (i.e., doesn't avoid social responsibility)
- A Real Man Accepts Responsibility He subdivides this into three categories: a will to obey, a work to do, and a woman to love. This strikes me as a good thumbnail sketch of knighthood in romances of troubadours.
- A Real Man Leads Courageously
- A Real Man Expects the Greater Reward He cautions that all of the above require duty and sacrifice, but that the knight can expect non-material rewards, such as an honorable name, respect of his community, etc.
In the end, the knighthood metaphor is of limited usefulness for describing the childrearing methods Lewis is proposing. At one point, he abandons it altogether for a volleyball metaphor (leaving me visualizing knights in plate armor on the beach spiking the ball). Perhaps the greatest usefulness of the knighthood metaphor isn't in its ability to describe raising boys, but rather in its ability to capture the imaginations of boys and inspire them to aspire to honorable manhood.
*I find all these slickly-marketed packages annoying. Stuff like that leads me to think that Rick Warren has, on balance, left a negative legacy for other evangelicals.
**Yes, I know that there are Catholic evangelical groups like the Fellowship of Catholic University Students. I'm talking about stereotypes here, not necessarily the reality.
Thursday, January 03, 2008
- Jeff Sypeck gives a positive report on his mini-trebuchet.
- Sypeck also has a "Best-of" round-up from 2007.
- In the Middle has a "Best-of" round-up too, helpful organized by poster.
- Highly Eccentric reports on Roger Bacon's Mega Ray of Death.
- Michelle of Heavenfield tagged me in a meme, which I'm not so much ignoring as responding to very slowly.
- She also gives us this picture of St. Genevieve in a boat filled with giant sausages, flipping people off on the shore.
- I've missed two Weird Medieval Animals during my blogging lacuna, the hydrus and the Cynocephali tribe.
- BBC tells us that medieval diets were healthier. If so, that's a happy coincidence. Without refrigeration, the diets were whatever grew within a reasonable distance. h/t Per Omnia Saecula.
*That's X-mas, with an inside joke for medievalists, who know that X-mas was not a proto-Festivus aggressive secularization of Christmas, but was instead a typical scribal abbreviation of "Christ" in manuscripts, with the Greek Chi-Rho (which I can't figure out how to reproduce in Blogger) truncated down to "X".
Wednesday, January 02, 2008
Here we can see the dragon's cave. There was a sliding door inside the castle leading to the cave. Note the bedding, as well as the iconography above -- apparently, in the happy, hippy 70's*, the dragon and the knight were friends. In our adventures, sometimes they were friends, and sometimes they were enemies. Note the vine climbing the castle wall; there's a very nice vine on the tallest tower, and more than once people scaled the sides.
And finally, the interior. The staircase swiveled out, revealing a secret hiding place big enough for a Little Person to hide in. There was a balcony (though we never did any Romeo and Juliet scenes). The owl is sitting on a sign pointing to the village -- years later, after we got other Little People sets, the village began to take shape, and included a farm and an airport.** The owl, black cat at the foot of the stairs, and the suit of armor behind the secret stair led to many adventures in a haunted castle.
One last thing to note: When flicked, the springy flag at the top of the tallest tower would give a satisfying twang. While that was not important for any of our stories, it didn't stop us from twanging it at every opportunity. More than once the princess would escape the castle by pulling down on the flag and then catapulting herself as far as the spring would fling the little peg princess. Apparently, in my imagination, princesses were hardy enough to survive a very great fall.***
*An era that gave us such travesties as disco, Jimmy Carter, and non-violent Tom & Jerry cartoons.
**Little-known fact: Most medieval manors had an airport.
***I'm not sure what that fractions book is doing in the background, since all the kids currently living at my parents' house are either too young or too old to be studying fractions. Maybe the king and queen were promoting an mathmatical education campaign among the peasants.