Farewell RantingnRaven: A Greatest Hits Retrospective

Jennifer Ward (RantingnRaven) is leaving VampireNomad.com to pursue her writing elsewhere and we all wish her the best in her future endeavors!  Thank you so much for the time you gave us, Jennifer, and for all the words you created and shared.

In honor of Jennifer's departure and to celebrate her work on the site, Alan and I have selected three of our favorites of her posts to highlight.  Enjoy re-reading these gems, loves, and discuss your own favorite posts of Jennifer's in the comments.

Alan's picks:

'Terima Kasih (thank you) Indonesia Part 1' - Well done description of a place I'll probably never see, and I love the bit with the deer getting into her hotel room.

'Parenting is Parenting, Biological or Not' - I thought this was a wonderful and heartful explanation of what it means to be a parent.

'The Cheapening of the Written Word' - This was a discussion of the importance and difficulty of writing that I could really relate to.

Corinne's picks:

'Oh Monstrous Monday... it's you again' - I have a love/hate relationship with Mondays too and I always love a good musical exploration of a theme and Jennifer dove into both of those things in this post to delightful results.

'Debris' - Jennifer has a gift for poetry and this was one of my favorites.  The imagery in this really worked for me.

'The Zombie Apocalypse and our Seven Polygamist Husbands' - Honestly, Jennifer and I had some epic conversations so one of them was bound to make my top three.  But out of all the crazy conversations we had - coulrophobia, misogyny, Jem and the Holograms - the most entertaining and unforgettable has to be this one.  In which we got sidetracked while having a serious discussion about polygamy and ended up selecting seven hunky celebrities to be our fantasy husbands. 

Thank you for all you gave us, Jennifer!  Thanks for the good times.

And readers, don't be strangers.  Stay in touch with Jennifer on Twitter: @RantingnRaven.

xo

- Corinne Simpson and Alan Decker

 

Terima Kasih - Sama Sama

Thank you and you're welcome are two phrases used a lot in any language and Bahasa Indonesia is no different. A few of my original posts are about my experiences traveling around Indonesia and they were entitled Terima Kasih (thank you) Indonesia. 

It doesn't take much to be thankful and saying thank you is actually one of the greatest acts of kindness we can impart on others. 

Well, I'd like to take this time to say "Thank you" to Corinne, our site mistress and THE Vampire Nomad for hosting my words and stories and for providing me with a platform to do so. Being able to create has been a godsend. I've enjoyed writing and collaborating with Vampire Nomad and we have had some crazy conversations that our readership have been privy to. We cannot forget about our polygamy post. Of course, working with Alan and Nathan has been an amazing experience as well.  This is one talented group of writers.

Of course, I would be no where without you, dear readers. Thank you for commenting on and reading my words.

In the future, I look forward to creating my own brand and of course writing. As always, you can find me on twitter. 

Cheers.

Jennifer Ward

RantingnRaven on twitter

Ray Bradbury: Master of Allusion

Just a little bit of transparency here, I am reading Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 for the eighth time. No I am not a sadist; I am a teacher.  Every time I read this novel with my students, I am amazed at how many new understandings I have. This is the sign of a really well written novel. It has meat for us to feast on time and again. Bradbury is an allusionist and by that I mean he is able to feed us multiple allusions to set the tone and give us a clear understanding of his interpretations or the understandings he hopes the reader will have.

If you haven’t read Fahrenheit 451, I will summarize for you. It’s about American society in the future. All we know is that people live carelessly and have total disregard for one another and for life.   In this society reading is forbidden and fireman burn books. So instantly our perception of the roles in society are turned upside down. People are forbidden to think for themselves. Somehow reading books forces people to think for themselves and form their own thoughts.  The book is in three sections: The Hearth and the Salamander; The Sieve and the Sand; and Burning Bright.

Bradbury is the master of including little thought bombs in his literature. He leaves little quotes here and there to make us, the reader, think beyond the literal level. As an old woman’s book cache is pillaged and at risk of being burned by the fireman, she says:

“Play the man, Master Ridley; we shall this day see light such a candle, by God’s grace, in England, as I trust shall never be put out.”

In truth, most of my students have no idea what this quote means. But what this quote does is forces us to think. Why would Bradbury use this? What is its significance? Essentially, a man named Latimer said this to Nicolas Ridley when they were being burned for heresy for spreading protestant beliefs in England.  In the novel, the old woman actually burns herself with her books. She burns herself because she cannot live without her books. She holds strong in her beliefs, not unlike Latimer and Ridley.

Bradbury uses the protagonist Montag, a fireman turned crusader, as his voice to call out American society of the late 1950s. At this time, Bradbury and others really feel as though freedom of speech is being compromised because of communism; thus, they fear oppression. Bradbury is a polemicist and we see this in many of his works.  Consequently, he uses Montag to question his own dystopian society.

Midway through the novel, in The Sieve and the Sand, Montag no longer wants to burn and actually believes that what is contained within books is important. Montag wants to change society’s perception of books and thinking in general but he gets too excited and lacks clarity and the ability to plan a well-structured coup against the oppressor. An old English professor helps to guide him, but has this to say:

“Remember Caesar, thou art mortal.”

Again we are given an allusion. We know instantaneously that Montag is not invincible. If history serves as a reminder, Caesar was murdered for trying to make social and governmental reform.  When Bradbury makes this allusion, we can see that Montag is going to struggle to reform his society and someone who he believes is his ally will stand in his way.   We are forced to have an understanding of history or at a minimum do a little bit of research.

Not all authors can infuse a multitude of allusions in a text without their work becoming too arduous for the reader. Bradbury never underestimates the intelligence of his readers and he probably knows we could handle all the allusions. I just love how well written Fahrenheit 451 is and how Bradbury makes the reader think. We cannot be passive readers when we read his work and I think that is exactly the point. Bradbury is a master allusionist  (I know this is not a word, but I’m channeling Shakespeare here).

 

~Jennifer Ward

RantingnRaven on twitter 

Olympic Spirit

 Canadian Flag. Jennifer Ward

Canadian Flag. Jennifer Ward

Normally, I do not like watching sports in any capacity; even a sport that I play. Sure watching a game in person is always much more exciting, but I am normally the person in the crowd that is talking and misses the gold medal winning goal.

For instance, when Sidney Crosby scored the winning goal for Canada at the 2010 Olympics, I was talking to my friend and I missed seeing the goal happen. I only know it happened because everyone was screaming and cheering in my friend's living room.

You wouldn't know it from the outset, but I am very patriotic. I will not sing any other national anthem but "O Canada" as I believe it is sacrilegious. So for some reason when the Olympics are on, I am engaged. Maybe it's Canadian pride; I am not sure. All I know is that I will watch whatever sport is being profiled. I also check social media frequently to see what happened overnight. I love the human spirit and hearing how awesome Canada is because we have team spirit and even better than that we believe in what is best for humanity.

Before the games started, Canada was at the forefront of human rights for LGBTQ persons. We became upset over corporations not taking a stand for the rights of all human beings. In Sochi, our Olympians turned activists showing their pride and honour for Olympians such as Sarah Burke that have died in sport. Furthermore, we are empathetic for our four legged friends in Sochi that are being euthanized. We have also seen Canadian Olympian, Gilmore Junio, give up his spot on the team so that one of his teammates, Denny Morrison, can compete instead. Now there is a social media movement to have Junio be the flag bearer for the closing ceremonies. 

Canada we are cool! I am so prideful during the Olympics that it fills my whole being. Somehow, the minutia of life affects me less and I am happier. I feel the elation of every medal win and the sorrow of the losses. Honestly, I do not care if an athlete medals or notl as I know they have worked so hard just to represent our fine country.

In 2002 when Salt Lake City, Utah hosted the Winter Olympics I felt like most Canadians, excited about hockey. I felt an immense amount of pride for our women and men’s hockey teams. Actually, I was a little happier for the women because as women we cannot play professional hockey and make money doing what we love. *When the loonie was placed under the ice, in some way, we owned the ice for these games.

My longstanding memory of the 2002 Winter Olympics women’s gold medal hockey game is skiing. Yes, skiing. I opted to wake up early this day and go skiing in the beautiful mountains surrounding Vancouver, British Columbia. As my car winds up the mountain to the base of the ski hill, I am reminded of the buzz of the Olympics as it hums on the radio. As I approach the parking lot to unload my skis, I see hordes of skiers lined-up waiting for the chairlift to warm up to carry the kamikazes to their destinations. I quickly get my day pass in order and clipped to my jacket. My goggles are donned and the click of my boots into my skis indicates that it is time to fly. Chugging up the chair lift, I can hear the radio from the lift operator’s room—Olympic coverage.

Toward the mid afternoon, the sun is blazing and the temperature on the mountain is above zero. It is really heavenly. There is almost no need for a winter coat. Since the snow is a little softer, I decide that I’ll try the moguls. Once, twice, three times, and my knees are still intact. I look around and there is not a soul on the mountain. What luck! I have the mountain to myself, but it is eerie. I approach the chair lift and only the operator is there. I ask him what’s going on and he tells me that everyone is in the chalet watching the women’s gold medal game. I can hear the game’s moderation on the radio as I approach the top of the run. I take the shorter run so I can make my way to the chalet to catch some of the game. As I come down the hill, a wave of emotion encapsulates me as the whole chalet is screaming. The women won! The women won!

So there I missed it. I always miss these epic moments in history. I guess I can say that I know where I was when these wins happened. This year, though, I plan to be home or at least paying attention when the Canadian women and men’s hockey teams take gold again.

~Jennifer Ward

RantingnRaven on twitter

* after publishing this post, a lovely reader informed me that it was Trent Evans that placed the loonie under the ice. ~Thank you. 

Debris

Sometimes when I first wake up, even before my eyes open, my mind goes to poetry where only fragmented cognitive processes live. This is the anaesthesia of my REM sleep wearing off. This is my morning's smatterings of thought. 

 

Cut here, along this fine line

Cut there, with complete precision

Remove this, it’s only grey matter

Remove that, it won’t matter

Flatlining.

Intubate.

Shallow breath.

Treble line pulsing.

Move in again

Move out, leaving no trace

Fuse this experience, together

Fuse what’s tethered

Scar tissue embellished, raised

Where nothing grows

Well…nothing of substance.

 

~Jennifer Ward

RantingnRaven on twitter