J.L.'s Thought Matrix

A place to explore what to pursue.

At What Age Should You Start Ballet Classes?

When people are old enough to take an interest in ballet, they often think they are too old to start. Unless you’re trying to become a professional ballet dancer, however, this is a misconception. Here is a breakdown of what to expect when children start ballet at different ages.

No matter what age you start, remember that ballet is a combination of making art and becoming art yourself. Enjoy it, and bring something of your soul into the material world.

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Bad Day Tasks

I  have to clean out the basement today. I hate cleaning, and I hate the basement most of all. This has put me in a very bad mood. But it also reminds me of part of my life’s philosophy that was handed down to me from my dad.

One night, about a decade and a half ago, I was sick but not contageous, probably with asthma. I was talking to my dad and grumbling about whether or not to drag myself into work. My dad said that of course I should go in if I only felt a little sick. That way I could save up my sick days for when I felt great and use them to goof off. Believe it or not my employer allowed such things, what she called “mental health days”, if they were not abused.

What I gleaned from the experience was the idea that when your frustrated or down, you should dive into something unpleasent and get some work done. You’re already miserable, so chances are the task won’t make you feel much worse. You will get a sense of accomplishment. Plus when you swing back up to happiness your chores will be done and you’ll be free to enjoy it. This has worked wonders for me over the years. Perhaps it will work for you, too?

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Donald MacGilvary Translation

This is a translation of the famous poem Donald MacGilvary about the Jacobite Revolt in Scotland. The language is predominantly Scots, but I have translated it into modern American English with the help of the internet and a scholar in Scotland (I won’t put his name here, but let me know if you’d like to get in touch with him).

This would work well as part of a lesson teaching British Literature or poetry. The original sounds familiar, especially if you live in the Northeastern U.S. or you listen to a sound recording as you go through it. This is an excellent, in-your-face type of imagry. Plus it’s fun to read something loud and exciting for a change.

It is generally performed as a song, most famously by Silly Wizard. The poem was actually written many years after the revolt by James Hobb. Check out this link for the really fanstastic story behind it.

http://radiodedanann.blogspot.com/2010/04/story-behind-donald-macgillavry.html

This is the original:

Donald’s come up the hill hard and hungry,
Donald gane down the hill wild and angry,
Donald will clear the gouk’s nest cleverly;
Here’s to the king and Donald Macgillavry.

Come like a weighbauk, Donald Macgillavry,
Come like a weighbauk, Donald Macgillavry,
Balance them fair, and balance them cleverly:
Off wi’the counterfeit, Donald Macgillavry. 

Donald’s run o’er the hill but his tether, man,
As he were wud, or stang’d wi’ an ether, man;
When he comes back, there’s some will look merrily:
Here’s to King James and Donald Macgillavry.

Come like a weaver, Donald Macgillavry,
Come like a weaver, Donald Macgillavry,
Pack on your back, and elwand sae cleverly;
Gie them full measure, my Donald Macgillavry.

Donald has foughten wi’ rief and roguery;
Donald has dinner’d wi banes and beggary,
Better it were for Whigs and Whiggery
Meeting the devil than Donald Macgillavry.

Come like a tailor, Donald Macgillavry,
Come like a tailor, Donald Macgillavry,
Push about, in and out, thimble them cleverly,
Here’s to King James and Donald Macgillavry. 

Donald’s the callan that brooks nae tangleness;
Whigging and prigging and a’newfangleness,
They maun be gane: he winna be baukit, man:
He maun hae justice, or faith he’ll tak it, man.

Come like a cobler, Donald Macgillavry,
Come like a cobler, Donald Macgillavry;
Beat them, and bore them, and lingel them cleverly,
Up wi’ King James and Donald Macgillavry.

Donald was mumpit wi mirds and mockery,
Donald was blinded wi’ blads o’ property;
Arles ran high, but makings were naething, man,
Lord, how Donald is flyting and fretting, man.

Come like the devil, Donald Macgillavry,
Come like the devil, Donald Macgillavry;
Skelp them and scaud them that proved sae unbritherly,
Up wi King James and Donald Macgillavry!

Here is the translation: 

Donald has come up the hill hard and hungry,
Donald’s gone down the hill wild and angry,
Donald will empty the fool’s nest cleverly,
Here’s to the King and to Donald Macgillavry,

Come like scales, Donald Macgillavry,
Come like scales, Donald Macgillavry,
Balance them fair, and judge them with care,
Out with the pretenders, Donald Macgillavry.

 Donald would run over the hill if he wasn’t held back.
As if he was wild, or bit by a snake;
When he comes back some people will be thrilled,
Here’s to King James and to Donald Macgillavry.

Come like a weaver, Donald Macgillavry,
Come like a weaver, Donald Macgillavry,
Pack on your back, and consider them cleverly
Give them what they deserve, my Donald Macgillavry.    

Donald has fought with bandits and thieves.
Donald has dined with the starving and beggars,
It would be better for Whigs and politicians,
To meet the Devil than Donald Macgillavry.

Come like a tailor, Donald Macgillavry,
Come like a tailor, Donald Macgillavry,
Push your way through, poke them cleverly,
Here’s to King James and Donald Macgillavry.

Donald’s the fine fellow that bears no arguing,
Threatening the king, nitpicking new rules and ways,
Old ways may be gone, but he will not balk, man,
He will have justice or he will take it by force, man.

Come like a shoemaker, Donald Macgillavry,
Come like a shoemaker, Donald Macgillavry,
Beat them, poke holes in them, and string them together cleverly,
Up with King James and Donald Macgillavry.

Donald was lulled with flattery,
Donald was blinded with lots of property.
Beatings ran high, but nothing came of it, man,
Lord, how Donald is scolding and accusing, man.

Come like the devil, Donald Macgillavry,
Come like the devil, Donald Macgillavry
Slap them and scold those that proved so unbrotherly,
Up with King James and Donald Macgillavry!

 

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Is “Dear Frankie…” Realistic?

Spoiler alert! This gives away the end of the movie! Also, if you are less than 10 years old have a parent read this first!

The film Dear Frankie, Directed by Shona Auerbach and Dear Frankie Posterwritten by Andrea Gibb  is a truly wonderful film. Many people, like me, set out to see it because Gerard Butler plays the stranger. It’s the weirdest experience, because he finally appears at about the midpoint. By then Emily Mortimer, Jack McElhone, and cast have you so engrossed in the story that you’re surprised to see Gerry.

Some have described this movie as a “fairy tale”. The basic premise is that a boy’s mother has taken him away from an abusive father and is moving him often so they can hide. She writes letters to him from a pretend dad, supposedly from a ship, only to have that actual ship dock in Glasgow harbor where they live. After much heart-wrenching deliberation, the mom hires the stranger to come play Frankie’s dad. They appear to get away with it until, at the end, Frankie writes a letter for his mom to forward on to the stranger, explaining that he knows the truth and inviting him to come back and visit some time.

Most adults to whom I’ve described the movie are horrified at the entire thing. How could she lie? And how could she keep lying and risk hurting him? Most find it quite a leap that Frankie isn’t angry and bitter at his mom and the stranger. Yet an experience with Santa Clause taught me otherwise.

I was talking to a group of fourth graders in religious education. I mentioned the myth of Santa Clause, figuring that they were old enough to know the truth. As luck, or fate, would have it, there was one girl who still didn’t know. But her reaction nearly brought me to tears. It wasn’t, “You mean my parents have been lying to me all this time?” Instead it was, “You mean my parents have been buying me all of these presents for years and not taking credit for it just to make me happy?”

Frankie in the story is nine and a half, just about the age where Santa Clause begins to lose credibility to even the most ardent believer. Though initially Frankie believes the stranger is his dad, there are just too many holes in the story to hold water. Once he deduces the truth, it’s very clear to Frankie that the whole setup was just for him. They wanted him to win his bet and keep up a good face in front of his friends. They wanted him to have a good memory of his “dad”, if even for two days. He was old enough to understand, but young enough to appreciate.

The adults all seem to come up just a bit short in this film, just like in real life. It’s impossible to raise a child perfectly. Even if you did you’d have given them a very strange outlook on life. Frankie used his experience to move on into adolescence. Listen to your kids, and trust them to help you find the way to raise them.

 

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Hello world!

As Charlotte would say, Salutations!

This is my first blog at wordpress. I’ll be shifting over my one post from my other blog as soon as I find it. Please be patient with some empty categories while I start to fill them up. A special shout-out to all of the people who made the movie “Julie and Julia” possible, especially the original author. You mde me realize, I have thoughts too!

 

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