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The Turnip

The TurnipThe Turnip

Turnips are awesome!

Said no one ever. I don’t even think I’ve actually even eaten a turnip in my life.

Once upon a time there were two brothers and they were both soldiers, but one was rich and the other one was poor. The poor one couldn’t make very much money off of soldiering so hung up his coat and became a farmer. He planted turnips. As the plants grew, it became apparent that one turnip was growing larger than the others. It grew and grew and grew until it would fill up an entire wagon just by itself. The man thought on what to do with this gigantic turnip. If he sold it, he would only get money for a little while. If hate it, it would just be gone because he could eat the smaller turnips just as well. He finally decided to give it to the king.

The king was impressed with the man’s turnip, being as it was the largest one he had ever seen. The soldier asked the king to accept his gift. He also went on to say that the king knew his brother, but no one knew him because he was poor. The king decided that all of this should be remedied and the man was provided with wealth, property and other riches.

The rich brother became jealous. He figured if his brother could get all of that for a turnip surely he could do better. He presented the king with gold and jewels. The king agreed that it was all very nice swag, but he had nothing tremendous to give the rich brother in return except for a giant turnip. HA!

The rich brother was irritated at all of this and contrived to kill his brother. He told him that he knew where some buried treasure was and that the two of them should go out and dig it up in a brotherly bonding experience. The brother agreed. So on the way, murderers attacked the brother. They were just about to hang him up in a tree when they heard hoof beats. They decided to abandon their murder, instead they put the brother in a sack and hung him in a tree.

The hoof beats belonged to the horse of a scholar. The brother called down to the scholar from his tree. He said he was learning all there was to know up in that sack. The scholar begged him to have a turn. The brother told him he had to wait an hour. So the scholar paced impatiently underneath the brother for and hour. After the hour was up, the brother told the scholar to let him down and they would trade places. The scholar let the brother down. He got out and then told the scholar to get in. The scholar got in head ride-side up, but the brother told him that would not do. He turned the scholar upside down, then hoisted him into the tree. He told the scholar he should already feel the knowledge rushing to his head. The brother then rode off on the scholar’s horse. He did send someone back to cut the scholar down in a little while.

The End

The TurnipObservations

Your brother tries to murder you, so you hang a student up in a tree, somehow, this doesn’t seem right. What of the brother? What does he do afterwards to the other brother? Does he just say, “Hey it’s ok that you tried to kill me”? (I really need to refresh my mind as to the placement of punctuation in concerns to quotation marks, so forgive any errors)

Like I said before, I don’t ever recall eating a turnip. Are they good? What do they taste like? I’m not really sure. I keep thinking of radishes, but turnips and radishes are not the same thing. I have had turnip greens though. I know people like how they taste, but I really don’t. More about turnips, your Jack O’Lanterns originated with turnips and not pumpkins. How sad. Stingy Jack carried around a hollowed-out turnip in his never-ending not-life-but-not-death with a light inside to light his way.

This reminds me of a Brer Rabbit story. Brer Rabbit was once in a tree, caught in a trap set by one of the other Brer animals. He tells another Brer animal that he’s making a dollar a minute up in the tree, so the animal decides he’s got to try for himself, thus Brer Rabbit gets free.

I’m going to Google a picture of a big turnip for this section of my post.

The TurnipThemes

Right, so the poor brother gave what he had, which was a giant turnip. It wasn’t of much worth. It probably wasn’t pretty. Eventually, it was going to rot, but this brother gave his only item of any worth, in any sense, to the king. The king repays this grand sacrifice by giving him many riches of worth in the eyes of men. The rich brother on the other hand, tries to buy more wealth, with the wealth he already has. It would be silly to repay wealth with more wealth, so a giant turnip is quite a novel idea. It’s sentimental and unique rather than that old, trite wealth and money everyone keeps talking about.

This story is about sacrifice. If you give up something of great worth to yourself, even though it’s not of great worth to the world, the general idea is that you’re going to be repaid handsomely. The second brother gave up what he already had and he had plenty. There was no real sacrifice there. The first brother was gambling of course, the king might not have given him anything in return, but this story has some religious undertones.

There are no outright religious references in this story, but it’s very similar to many religious parables. It even somewhat references a New Testament saying, “And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God,” found in Matthew 19: 24. There is no camel in this story and there is no heaven, it’s all metaphors, symbols and types. The king is your equivalent of God in this story. He realizes what a great sacrifice this one turnip is to the poor man so he grants him rewards beyond measure in return, or in religious talk, eternal salvation and heavenly mansions. The rich brother tries to buy his way into heaven, in a sense, with money. You can’t buy your way into heaven. The money was not a real sacrifice to the rich man, the king saw this and he rewarded the rich man with what he deserved, which was a turnip that was probably already going bad.

Also, consider the idea of the “last shall be first and the first shall be last.” The roles of the two brothers were exchanged when they met their judgement by the king.

Moving on, the story does not speak of any retaliation on the part of the first brother for the act of almost being murdered by the second brother. Maybe because he knows he is in God’s(the king’s) good graces and would do as the king would have and forgives his brother for this trespass, but that still doesn’t explain why he ties a student up in a tree.

I’m thinking the part of the story with the student is just a several-hundred-year-old way of making fun of nerds. People are always picking on other people who want to learn. They think it’s a stupid waste of time. Just you wait– we’re going to rule the world.

I also want to point out that some people think their “book learning” is so important. They think it’s the only thing that matters and they don’t need anything else to get by on life. Sure, you can be a professional student your entire life, but you’ve got to pay the electricity bill somehow. Common knowledge and working knowledge are also very essential to life. You cannot neglect an area of knowledge and get very far in life, if you do, it’s only by pure luck. This student had plenty of “book learning,” but he sadly lacked in common sense. Anyone with common sense would know that sitting in a tree, in a sack, was not going to make you any smarter, in fact, it’s probably going to make you dumber because the blood flow to your brain is probably going to be restricted somehow by being in a sack.

Overall

I’m sensing that this was not the original-original story. I could be wrong on that though.

Turnips for crying out loud!


 
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The Ungrateful Son

The Ungrateful SonThe Ungrateful Son

Well, this tale is short, sweet(not really), and weird. It’s so short I’m going to type the whole thing.

A man and his wife were once sitting by the door of their house, and they had a roasted chicken set before them, and were about to eat it together. Then the man saw that his aged father was coming, and hastily took the chicken and hit it, for he would not permit him to have any of it. The old man came, took a drink, and went away. Now the son wanted to put the roasted chicken on the table again, but when he took it up, it had become a great toad, which jumped into his face and sat there and never went away again, and if any one wanted to take it off, it looked venomously at him as if it would jump in his face, so that no one would venture to touch it. And the ungrateful son was forced to feed the toad every day, or else it fed itself on his face; and thus he went about the world knowing no rest.

The End

Observations

Out of all the crazy things, there is a story about a toad who lives on someone’s face. I guess there are worse things that could live on your face, but what are they? Toads can give you salmonella.

Now you may think that a toad would not eat a person’s face, but you know, you’re kind of wrong. I know you’re thinking that toads and frogs eat insects only. You’re wrong. The bigger the toad or frog, the bigger things it eats. Large frogs have been known to eat mice and birds, also other frogs. You may also be thinking that an amphibian creature would not eat a person. I think you’re probably also wrong on that count, but I could be wrong on that count. I do know reptiles are not picky about eating people. I once watched an episode of Fatal Attractions where a man died of an infected lizard bite and his lizards ate his face off, but reptiles and amphibians are not the same thing.

How does a chicken turn into a frog, I mean toad? Maybe we’re talking about the ergot laden bread again. Maybe the couple had been munching on some ergot laden bread, they started hallucinating and just thought this toad was a roasted chicken. They just happened to come down off of their high when the dad went away so they could see what the roasted chicken was in reality.

How do you look at someone venomously? I’m going to start looking at people in that manner.

Themes

If you don’t share chicken with your dad a frog will eat your face. Maybe that should be a moral we tell our children. Look honey, I know you want to keep all your Halloween candy, but if you don’t share any with your parents, a frog is going to live on your face. It’s true.

This is pretty simple, you should be willing to share your food with your family, especially your chocolate.

Overall

I wonder if they called him Frogface for the rest of his life.



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Grimm’s Fairy Tales
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The Donkey

The DonkeyThe Donkey

I want to be a real boy! Look at that donkey shred on that lute! I don’t know if you can shred on a lute like you can shred on a guitar actually. I don’t know what extreme lute players call their feats of fingering the strings.

Once upon a time there was a king and a queen who had everything they wanted except a baby. The queen was very sad saying she was like a field in which nothing grew. They hoped for many years for children and one day it finally happened. The queen birthed a child, but it looked like a donkey. She was sad and said she wished never to have a child rather than have a donkey. She wanted to drown the donkey-baby in the river, but the king said no. This was their son, darnit, and they were going to raise him like a fine prince.

The donkey was taught in all the ways of being a prince. He was of a good disposition and could apparently talk. He also really liked music. He begged a lute master to teach him to play as beautifully as he could. The lute master thought that the donkey would not be able to play because he didn’t have human hands, but the donkey begged and begged, so the master relented. The donkey did learn to play, in fact, he learned to play so well that he soon surpassed the master.

Time went by and the donkey was out one day and happened to see his reflection in some water. This made him sad and he decided to go away from home. He took one faithful servant with him. They traveled a while before coming to a castle where a beautiful princess lived. Someone shouted for the gate to be opened, but no one opened the gate. The donkey sat down with his lute and started to play. Everyone was intrigued. Someone ran and told the king about this donkey that could play the lute. The king said to bring him right on in to the castle so he could see for himself. They asked the donkey to stay for dinner.

The donkey was like, “Whoa, wait a minute, I’m no normal donkey. I’m a noble donkey. I want to sit by the king.” The king was humored and said, “ok.” The king asked the donkey if his beautiful daughter pleased him and the donkey was like, “Yep, she’s pretty good-looking,” so the king also had the princess sit beside the donkey. The donkey behaved like a perfect gentlemen. Time went on. The donkey stayed in this castle, but he became sad.

The king asked him why he was sad. He asked him if he wanted money or land or power. The donkey said he didn’t want any of these things. The king finally asked him if he wanted to marry his daughter and the donkey said that might make him feel a little better. So the couple was married. The king stationed a servant in the marriage chamber to keep watch to make sure the donkey did not treat the princess badly on their wedding night.

When the donkey thought he was alone with his bride he stepped out of his donkey skin and was a handsome man. The princess really enjoyed herself. The next morning the king asked his daughter if she was sad that she didn’t have a real husband and she was like, “OH, I’ve got a REAL husband. I like him a lot. I had a great time! A really, really good time,” and she said all of this presumably before she ran out of the room blushing and had to take a cold shower.

The king was a little confused and had his servant watch again. The servant was like, “This guy takes off his donkey skin at night.” The king was like, “No way, that can’t happen.” The servant was like, “Well why don’t you come and watch your daughter have sex so you can see for yourself.” I added some wording in there because we were all thinking it. So the king went and watched and confirmed what the servant said. The servant suggested that the king throw the donkey skin into the fire and that his new son-in-law would have to keep his manly form. The king did this making sure to stay until all of it was burned up. He wanted to see how his son-in-law would react when he found out his skin was gone, so he stayed awake, all night, in his daughter’s bedroom watching.

In the morning the former donkey was concerned that his skin was gone. He knew he could not make his escape. The king, after stepping out of the corner, was like, “I like you this way. When I die, you can inherit my kingdom, just stay here.” The son-in-law stayed. The king died the next year and the former donkey ruled over the land.

The End

The DonkeyObservations

This story is sexually charged. We don’t get that a ton from the Grimm’s stories, but it does come along every once in a while. This king knew this man was a donkey, but he married this donkey to his daughter anyway. So what was he thinking? He was thinking A) well it’s just a donkey it won’t try to have sex with my daughter because it’s a different species and everything will be fine, or B) this donkey is going to have sex with my daughter maybe I need to hire a court painter to hide in the corner and record some of this. How else was this supposed to turn out? So this family is completely ok with bestiality.

So moving on, the dad stations someone in his daughter’s wedding chamber to watch the events unfold. Seriously? Then, he goes and watches himself. Seriously? I forgot to bring the popcorn. Would you go and get some Jacob? Jacob is the servant’s name; I just named him.

After the wedding night the dad asks his own daughter essentially how the sex was. This is not a question parents usually ask their children. “How was it,” is not something many of us have been asked by our parents after having sex. What’s more is that the daughter was totally like, “Oh it was great!” Maybe she even went into detail describing why and how it was so great. She probably told her maids in waiting. “Hey, I know my husband looks like a donkey, yeah, well he’s not, but he’s still hung like a donkey,” which is actually kind of scary.

Now seeing as this is kind of weird and kinky, it’s not actually that weird. I’m not going to try to deny that the kinky parts of this story aren’t kinky because they still are and there is no fixing that. If you were royalty, back in the day, your parents made sure your marriage had been consummated. I haven’t really heard of anyone actually watching their children do the deed, but I’m sure it’s happened. More common, someone would be listening outside of the door to make sure everything went down. Then the next morning someone would snatch the sheets off the bed as proof. There are even traditions where the entire court would put the newly married couple to bed, by this I mean they would change the couple into their night-clothes, tuck them into bed, and then tell a bunch of dirty jokes. Then they would leave the room and go listen outside of the door, presumably getting progressively drunker.

This still doesn’t change the fact that a man watching his daughter have sex is really weird.

The DonkeyThemes

Despite all the sexual weirdness in this tale, they’re accepting people. They talk to this donkey like he’s a person. They treat him like he’s a person. They grow a relationship with this donkey. This king even lets his daughter marry this donkey because he feels bad for the donkey, or he likes to watch donkeys having sex with people, not sure which option it is. This donkey doesn’t look like them, but they treat him as one of their own. Kudos, people, kudos. That’s how we’re supposed to treat each other. We’re supposed to treat a person as a person no matter if the person looks like us or not, of if they’re a stripper, for example. In return for their acceptance the donkey is a very good friend and husband to the princess.

Again, we have this true form coming out. The true form only seems to come out when there is a sexual experience on the horizon. We’ve seen this in quite a few Grimm’s tales. I’m a lion, but at night when I want to have sex, I’m a man. I’m a polar bear, but at night when it’s time for sex, I’m a man. I’m a donkey, but at night when it’s time for sex, I’m a man. I’m a frog, but if you get naked, I’ll turn into a man. There could be something to all of this. Isn’t it supposed to be the other way around? Aren’t men supposed to be gentlemen the rest of the time, but animals in bed? I’m sure Sex in the City had something to say along those lines. I never really watched the show, so you’ll have to forgive any misquoted or non-existent references.

I’m sure someone could go on and on and on about this story motif, but I’m not going to, but I will talk about it a little bit. There is a term floating around called “sexual awakening.” This can mean quite a few things. In this story we really want to look at its meaning as it concerns a person becoming sexually mature. Let’s get serious here. Your childhood innocence ends when you find out what sex is. Your childhood really ends when you have sex for the first time. Sure, you may still be twelve years old when you have sex the first time, mentally, you’re still a child alright, don’t try to pretend otherwise, but in a societal sense, you’re an adult. You’ve crossed that threshold that brings you into the world of adult possibilities such as getting pregnant and catching STDs.

Our prince in this tale hit his sexual awakening so he seemingly changed from one form to another. He crossed a line. He threw off the skin of his childhood and became a man.

I wonder what the princess got. She seemed to enjoy it whatever it was.

Overall

I would wonder if anyone has turned this story into an erotic work of literature, but seeing as it’s named “The Donkey” I really wouldn’t count on it. That’s not a very sexy name for an erotic story.


 
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Grimm’s Fairy Tales
One-elevenbooks

Going a Traveling

Going a TravelingGoing a Traveling

First of all, let me explain why this is the picture for this post. I was looking for images related to this tale, so I went and Googled “Going a Traveling.” No illustrations for the tale showed up, but an image of the Tardis showed up that said, “Get in, Loser, we’re going time traveling,” but I kept successively clicking through the pictures until I found this one. Yes, I do know that is says, “We’re going shopping,” but it’s two deer in a freaking car going shopping. I think it’s funny; I’m sorry. So this is your picture for the post. These two fashionable deer are going to teach you how to buy the right clothes and antler accessories.

Once upon a time there was a poor woman who had a son who wanted to travel. He had the wanderlust. He kept begging and begging; his mom kept trying to talk sense into him. She would point out the fact that he wasn’t going to have any money if he went traveling. He said that was ok because he would keep saying, “Not much, not much, not much.” So he set off with “not much, not much, not much.”

He came to a group of fishermen and said, “Not much, not much, not much.” The fishermen were a bit confused by this, but they caught a lot of fish. They threatened him. The youth asked what he was supposed to say instead of “not much.” They told him to say, “Get it full, get if full.” So off he went.

He soon came to a gallows where a poor sinner was about to be hanged. He kept saying, “get it full, get it full.” The people who were there were not happy with this. They thought he was insulting him. They hit him a few times. The youth asked them what he was supposed to say instead. They told him to say, “May God have pity on the poor soul.”

So he went on his way saying, “May God have pity on the poor soul,” and he came to a pit where there was a knacker cutting up a horse. The knacker didn’t like this kind of talk and threatened to box the boy’s ear. He asked what he was supposed to stay instead. The knacker told him to say, “Let the carrion lie in the pit.”

So the youth walked on saying, “Let the carrion lie in the pit.” He said this as a cart full of people was passing. Their cart fell into a pit. The driver took his whip and cracked it on the youth who crawled back to his mother and never went traveling again.

The End

Going a TravelingObservations

These people are kind of mean to this kid. They take everything he says the wrong way.

A knacker is someone who cuts up horses, most likely to make glue.

It kind of seems like bad things happens when this kid talks. Maybe he should just keep his mouth shut. If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all. Thumper’s mother was very wise, but it’s too bad about Bambi’s mom.

Going a TravelingThemes

Traveling is fun. I like to explore, my husband on the other hand, does not. My family has inherited a healthy dose of “the wanderlust,” probably because we’re related to Daniel Boone and he was pretty much the king of “the wanderlust.” It’s neat to change your surroundings every once in a while and see new things. Traveling broadens your horizons and makes you smarter, but also, broker.

Not everyone thinks traveling is so awesome. They try to dissuade their children from wandering. They’re afraid their children will go out and see the big, wide world and never ever come back. It happens. If they can tell their children all the horrible things about the outside world, maybe that will dissuade them from their wandering ways. They try to be practical saying it costs a lot of money to travel. They may plead. They may beg. If the child is particularly stubborn, they go anyway, maybe even without help from the parent. Sometimes the parent will give consent, hoping that the child has a terrible experience, therefore, making them want to come home and stay. That’s what happened in this story.

I want to travel. No. You stay home. I want to travel. Well, ok. Mom I’m back, traveling sucked. See, I told you so, now rub Mommy’s feet.

Maybe it didn’t go down exactly like that, but it was something along those lines.

In this story, traveling can kind of be a metaphor for maturation. When you travel you go away from home, but when you grow up, you go away from your parents. This can cause a lot of anxiety on the part of parents. There are parents who would rather see their children in their arms forever, rather than out on their own as a functioning adult in society. You have to ask yourself, what did this boy do when he got back home? He took care of his mother. He worked the family farm. He died. The end.

This makes me think of two separate things, well one really. In the United States most of us are familiar with the Amish people. If you’re not from the States, the Amish are a religious group who shun electricity, the internet and much modern machinery. They talk like it’s the 1800s. They dress like it’s the 1800s and have some very unique customs. They want all their children to stay with their way of life, but, of course, not all of them do. When a child reaches a certain age they have a Rumspringa. This is essentially their adolescence. It means “running around.” The Amish people expect their children to make mistakes and flirt with the outside world during this time period. Some of them leave and travel and their parents hope they come back.

The Rumspringa time for Amish teens and the boy’s traveling in this tale are rites of passage. They go a little wild, or a lot, they see the world, maybe, and then they decide if they want home or away. The boy in this tale decided that home was much better than all the terrible things he encountered on his travels. I’m sorry his traveling experience was spoiled, but if he was so dense, maybe he at least needed a traveling companion to keep him out of trouble.

Overall

I wonder how far this boy actually got. It didn’t seem that he traveled very far.



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 Tracks by Louise Erdrich Tracks by Louise Erdrich

I picked up this book because I do really like reading about the lives of Native Americans be it fiction or non-fiction. This book captures a particularly hurtful period in the history of the Native Americans.

From the time of Columbus, the Americas have a rich history of pushing the natives aside so the new settlers can take over their land. At first, it was only the coasts, but this soon stretched to include the entire country, even a thousand miles inland. This book takes place in the north of the mid-west.

The natives were forced from their ancestral lands and given allotments or simply sent to a reservation. If they didn’t fulfill the tax requirements or whatever the government chose to levy on them to keep their allotment land, they were forced off again. This is a book about some of those people.

This book is narrated from two points of view. One view is from Pauline who becomes more erratic and out-of-place as the book goes on. One view is from Nanapush and older Native American man. When Nanapush talks he’s talking to a person. That person is Lulu. In the beginning of the book there is a family tree showing who Lulu is. This story is about the sad state of events that brought Lulu into being. Pauline plays a major part in making Lulu’s life a little less livable.

In the beginning, Nanapush found that the Pillager family had been stricken down with the sickness brought by white men. Everyone in the cabin was dead. Their orders were to burn the entire house with its dead inhabitants down to curtail the spread of the disease. Nanapush found one person alive, that person was Fleur and she was about seventeen at the time. She had been sick, but had survived. She was young and didn’t quite know what was going on. Nanapush took her home to his house after trying to burn down the cabin, but it wouldn’t burn.

Nobody else wanted to touch Fleur and there was a reason. They said she belonged to the god in the water. Fleur had almost drowned twice. Each time someone saved her, someone died. The water god always took someone in Fleur’s place. So the reluctance to take care of Fleur was founded in much local superstition. Nanapush ignored the superstition and took care of Fleur. He nursed her back to health. When she was well, she went her own way. She was always strange to everyone else.

Working in town was where she met Pauline. Pauline worked at a meat-packing/butchering facility and so did Fleur. Fleur could also play cards and took the men who worked there for all they were worth Pauline both admired her and envied her. One day the men were extra drunk and extra mad about having their money taken by an Indian woman so they attacked her. They all died, except for one of them. A storm came that only seemed to disturb the building the meat facility was in. Fleur went back to her family’s land after this. She lived on her own.

A young man soon came to Nanapush asking to catch Fleur because he wanted her. Nanapush told him how. Fleur soon had a baby on the way, that baby was Lulu. The people lived through hard times. There was sickness and famine. Pauling became first an older man’s mistress and then a novice at a convent. She had a bit of magic of her own. She caused things to happen without actually doing anything but using her mind. People forgot the superstition surrounding Fleur, but it was always there.

During one particularly harsh winter, back taxes were owed on the allotments. There was only enough to pay one, but Fleur was able to strike back spectacularly against the logging men who tried to claim her land.

Pauline changed for the worse.

What I liked

I liked all this superstition surrounding one person. Generally, we’re just people. We can do some pretty amazing things, but one of us really isn’t any more important or mysterious than another one of us, but Fleur is. Fleur belongs to the water god. People admire her and fear her. Fleur even plays into the idea that she belongs to the water god. I think it’s neat how Fleur becomes larger than herself. She becomes a legend in her own way much the same way someone like Davy Crockett has become a legend.

This book largely concerns the importance of land to a Native American. Some of you may not feel that particular type of pull. Some of us have had families living in cities and suburbs for so many years that we tend to forget the importance land can have upon us. Whether you like it or not, we are creatures close to the land. The more you live off of the land personally, the closer to it you are. They don’t call the Earth, Mother, for no reason. These people risk losing their land and, therefore, a piece of themselves. It would be very difficult to be in that situation. I think Fleur’s reaction and vengeance are not out of the ordinary in considering this.

What I didn’t like

The story seems a bit broken. It’s not though. The story is all there, it’s just that it’s a bit hard to follow. We jump between Pauline and Nanapush as they both talk about Fleur and the mark she left on their lives. They seem to be opposing. They are opposing. They’re cruel to one another. It seems that each of them wants Fleur to belong to only them. We kind of get two versions of the same story. We get the story through Nanapush then we get the story through Pauline. Nanapush’s story telling seems to remain fairly constant, but Pauline’s ways become erratic and hectic as life has dealt her some very difficult times.

I almost feel that both Nanapush and Pauline could be very untruthful about the series of events that happened. You want to trust that your narrator is telling you the truth, but they may not be.

Overall

This was an interesting look at some mysterious people.



books about native americans, Louise Erdrich, lulu, nanapush, pauline, Tracks, Tracks by Louise Erdrich, water god
Erdrich-Louise, Family dynamics, Fantasy, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Mystery, Social Commentary
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Book Haul: April 12, 2014

Book Haul: April 12, 2014Book Haul: April 12, 2014

Oh camera on my Kindle Fire HDX, you keep disappointing me. Really, I’m going to have to switch back to the Rebel, if only it had a share to WordPress function…sigh.

Well, I only ended up with two books. I have never read either of them, but I hear things. People keep talking about these two books so I figure I’m going to have to read them some time, just as one day I’ll really have to read Sense and Sensibility, Emma, and Pride and Prejudice. One day, people, one day.

What I got

Book Haul: April 12, 2014East of Eden by John Steinbeck

I’ve never read this book. I keep hearing people talk about it though. I don’t remember exactly what they say about it, but if everyone keeps talking about it, there must be a reason. I did hear once upon a time that this book is a little risqué, but I could completely have that confused with another book.

According to the inside flap this book is about a man who moves to California. His wife has twins and she  doesn’t fare so well afterwards. The twins grow up to be completely different personalities.

I’m sure there is more to this book than that. I really liked the drawing on the front though It’s a very detailed ink drawing. It’s neat. I haven’t read a lot of Steinbeck before so I don’t really know what I’m getting myself into when I read this.

Book Haul: April 12, 2014The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera

This is another book I haven’t read, I haven’t read the author before, and I keep hearing about it. Apparently there is also at least one movie based on this book. I keep hearing people say, “Oh this is one of those books you should read.” Why? I don’t know why, but everyone keeps saying it.

The rule I like to follow is that if a book is popular it probably has some merit to it. It may not be a literary masterpiece, but people like it for a reason. That isn’t to say unpopular books are without merit, they totally have merit, it’s just that for some reason a popular book has sparked the interest of the people at large. I do like to know why. What has sparked the mass appeal of one book over another. I have to read the book in order to find out why.

What I spent: $1.00

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Simeli Mountain

Simeli MountainSimeli Mountain

It seems I’ve heard this story before, lots of times in fact. Well, you’ve heard this story before as well, it just goes by a different name.

Once upon a time there was a rich brother and a poor brother. The rich brother would not give any money to his poor brother and the poor brother struggled to put even bread on the table. One day he was out near a mountain. The mountain was bear and naked. He was observing the great mountain, unlike anything he had seen before, when he heard riders. He got into a thicket.

Twelve men came. They were thieves. They cried to the mountain, “Semsi mountain, Semsi mountain, open up,” and the mountain opened up. The thief went inside. Once they were in the mountain shut itself. After a time they came back out.

The man wanted to know what all of this was about so after all the thieves were gone, he went to the mountain and said, “Semsi mountain, Semsi mountain, open up,” he went inside. There he saw gold and treasures. He gathered what he could and went home. He was able to buy food for his family and he also helped the poor. After a while, his money because low and he asked to borrow a measure from his brother. He asked twice and the brother was suspicious about what the measure was being used for, so the third time he put pitch in the bottom of the measure. When he got it back there was a bit of gold in it.

He accosted his poor brother about the gold piece. The brother confessed everything about where he had gotten his new-found wealth. The rich brother went to the mountain and cried, “Semsi mountain, Semsi mountain, open up.” The mountain opened and he went inside. He stuffed his pockets full and grabbed as much as he could carry. When it came time to leave, he could not remember the correct name of the mountain. He cried, “Simeli mountain, Semeli mountain, open up,” but that didn’t work. He couldn’t remember the name at all.

Well, the thieves came back and they caught him red-handed. They told him they had noticed that some of their riches were missing and they would catch the thief eventually. This was the third time this has happened. The man wanted to say it wasn’t him, it had been his brother that stole their riches and this was only his first time, but he didn’t get to say anything because they chopped his head off.

The End

Simeli MountainObservations

Does it sound familiar? Of course it does. Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, Aladdin, and the Arabian Nights are all places you might have heard this tale. This tale is clearly an import. The names are even somewhat similar as far as the mountain. Sesame? Semeli? Semsi? They’re all pretty close. I did look it up and Semsi is sometimes used as a boy’s name, but most likely, the word “Semsi” in this book is a bastardization of the word “sesame,” which is akin to the traditional “open sesame.”

This makes this story probably one of the older tales in the Grimm’s anthology. You may be thinking, “What is a tale of Arabian origin doing all the way in Germany in the 1700s(roughly)? Here is the thing…at one point some Arabian countries did kind of invade Europe. Spain actually has a history of the Moors living there. It would not be improbable that someone of Arabic origin or who had worked near the Moors or any other Arabic people in Europe to have found their way to Germany from one of the countries that had an Arabic presence. Of course when the story got there, maybe the Germans at the time couldn’t pronounce “sesame” so it just changed to “semsi” or they misunderstood the word as pronounced by the original speaker of the story.

A “measure” in this tale is like a basket used to measure grain. The poor brother was using these grain baskets to carry his gold back and forth.

Simeli MountainThemes

Don’t be a greedy pig.

Thou shalt not covet.

Your eyes are bigger than your stomach

I’m sure there are more one-liners I could use here.

This guy is already rich. He’s got money, probably coming out the wazoo, but he’s a jerk. He’s a jerk to his own brother. He probably makes the excuse of, “Oh, he’ll just go and buy drugs with it.” Mmm…opium. He’s a jerk! I could maybe understand his reluctance to impart some of his riches to the drunk guys begging on the corner, but your own brother? Shame on you.

So he’s rich, then he gets jealous because his brother has found some wealth. He’s thinking, “Oh if my brother has money, my poor slob of a brother, then there must be money in it for me somewhere.” So he snoops around. He finds out and thinks, “I’m going to take all of this pirate booty for myself,” but he’s too greedy. He’s too eager. He forgets the important words he should know and that is his undoing. He takes on too much, too fast. As a result, he ends up without a head. That’s harsh.

Kids, this is what happens to you when you covet your sibling’s toys. Well, that’s what you could tell your kids when you’re reading this story to them to make them behave, you know, for all of three minutes.

Overall

It’s just German Ali Baba. That’s all this story is. Does he wear one of those hats with a feather in it and not a turban?



ali bab, covet, greed, grimm’s fairy tales, grimm’s fairy tales simeli mountain, open sesame, poor brother, rich brother, semsi mountain, Simeli Mountain, theif, versions of ali baba
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