Mowbury Park Walrus, Copyright Helen Wright
Oh shed a tear for the lonely Wearside walrus! For eleven long years he has sat alone, gazing across Mowbray Park and Winter Gardens in Sunderland, UK. Now friends of the park hope to raise the money to commission a companion for him.
“We thought it was right to do this,” said Sylvia [chairman of the Friends of Mowbray Park]. “The poem is The Walrus and the Carpenter, but all we have is the walrus. It could be any old walrus without its carpenter.
“It is unlikely though, if we get enough money to go ahead, that we will base the designs for the carpenter on the original drawings – as he might scare the children!
“We would prefer a kindly carpenter visitors can sit on. People always used to sit on the lions in the past, but they don’t seem to any more. Perhaps we can start a new tradition!”
Read more about the fundraising campaign and Lewis Carroll’s connection to Wearside on the Sunderland Echo website.
An article by “Explainer” Brian Palmer at Slate.com seeks to answer the question “What do you do on a Scientology Cruise Ship?“ ”They hang out in the Starlight Room, play shuffleboard, and achieve Operating Thetan Level VIII,” is part of his explanation. And, according to him, our favorite novel is also included in training routines:
"Alice: Ace of Diamonds" by Annie Rodrigue, deviantart.com. 5x7 watercolour, ink and acrylics on hot pressed watercolour paper.
Coursework on the Freewinds is a combination of independent book study, cooperative activities, and personal counseling sessions. In lecture halls, students complete lists of assignments that include reading book chapters and using modeling clay to demonstrate their understanding. They also participate in “training routines” to improve their communication skills. Classic examples include staring another student in the face for hours without blinking, or reading Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland to each other. [continue reading.]
A quick Google search finds dozensof other articles corroborating that AAIW is used. The Wikipedia article on Training Routines (Scientology) describes TR-4 called “Dear Alice” thusly: “The student reads several lines from Alice in Wonderland to the coach as if saying them himself. The coach either acknowledges the line or flunks the student according to whether the line is communicated clearly.” The footnotes reference Cooper Paulette’s 1971 book The Scandal of Scientology and Jon Atack’s A Piece of Blue Sky: Scientology, Dianetics & L. Ron Hubbard Exposed (1990). By the way, Jon Atack is a great name for a writer of exposés. Anyway, I wonder which edition of AAIW they use…
Secret supper clubs are all the rage, so we’ve heard (we’ve never found one). Right now, somewhere in Vancouver, the Swallow Tail Supper Club is entertaining diners with fine food, cocktails, and live entertainment on a Wonderland theme. Local blogger Ariane Colenbrander seems to be in on the secret:
The evening starts at the outskirts of a moonlit forest, where guests are greeted by a frantic White Rabbit, who ushers them down the rabbit hole, to a nostalgic world of childhood fairytale characters. The Mad Hatter pours tea and soup is served in a “Drink Me” bottle labeled either “Big” or “Small”. The bottle guests drink from will determine their next course. More...
According to the same blog, celebrity chef and Food Network star Bob Blumer may also be involved, though it is not clear how. The supper club will be operating for only a few more days—they don’t seem to be sold out yet. Tickets cost $129 a head.
Hugh St. Clair: interior designer, creative consultant, columnist for the Lady Magazine—and great-grandson of Alice Liddell. An article by Hugh appeared yesterday on the Huffington Post: What Was the Real Alice in Wonderland Like? Her Great-Grandson is Fascinated.
The short article contains no shocking revelations from the family vault, (except, perhaps, his admission, “As a child I never read Alice,“) but it is interesting to see what the family is up to these days. Do you think Lewis Carroll would have liked one of these armchairs for his rooms in Christ Church? It is upholstered in Hugh St. Clair’s own fabric, “Large Oval Flamingo.”
George Smith chair with Hugh St. Clair fabric
In celebration of Looking-Glass Day, we have a heart-warming report from guest blogger and LCSNA member Emily Aguilo-Perez in Puerto Rico.
Today, Friday November 4, 2011 I celebrated Looking-Glass Day with my elementary school students. Now, I am not sure if Looking-Glass Day is an “official Carrollian” holiday, but I like to find any reason to celebrate. This day was no exception.
To honor the day when Alice’s second adventure takes place and the day in which her age is “seven and a half exactly,” I decided to prepare a reading day for my students, who are in first, second, and third grade. For this, I put to use some of my Alice memorabilia and costumes to bring the story to life. Putting on my Mad Hatter’s hat and taking out my collection of Disney Alice in Wonderland plush dolls I began reading a short version of the story to my students.
For time’s sake I had to use a Disney version of the story, since it was shorter and had many pictures in them (and as we all know, Alice likes her books with pictures). So I opened my Little Golden Book titled Alice in Wonderland Meets the White Rabbit and began the adventure through Wonderland. In some of my classrooms I gave students a doll, so when their character was mentioned, they had to act out what was happening. With other groups I read the story and acted out the scenes using the dolls, similar to a puppet show.
Disney plush dolls I used for the story
What I truly enjoyed about reading the book was that students had fun, asked questions, and recognized the story and characters. Of course, this is mainly thanks to the two Disney film adaptations rather than the original books. However, this showed me precisely that through movies, children (and even adults) can develop an interest in reading great literature such as Carroll’s. My students were telling me what was going to happen next, they knew who the characters were, and they even acknowledged the differences between the animated Disney version and Burton’s adaptation. It also reminded me of how I first encountered the Alice stories – through the animated film – and it gave me hope that maybe someday my students will read and come to love the books as much as I do.
It was a frabjous experience sharing my favorite story with my students! I just wish I could’ve had more time to play games, sing, or even have a Mad Tea Party. I hope you had a Wonderful Looking-Glass Day as well!
If you receive Google News Alerts for “Lewis Carroll,” as we do, you may begin to wonder
why our favorite author “dropped back to pass, but never had a chance as Jerod Maddox came flying in on the back side and sacked him to end the half.” Lewis Carroll
is the name of the quarterback for the Geneva County Bulldogs, a varsity football team in Hartville, Alabama.
A couple weeks ago, Geneva County left Kinston gimbling in the wabe, with a 9-8 win:
kicked through a 27-yard field goal with 4:30 left to lift the Bulldogs to victory.
Keep playing, Lewis, we’d love to finally see a Lewis Carroll in college football or the NFL one day!
Jehad Nga for the New York Times
An article on Libya in last week’s Sunday Times Magazine was topped with this surreal image of an abandoned teacup ride inside Muammar Gaddafi’s compound. The Surreal Ruins of Quaddafi’s Never Never Land made no mention of the improbable amusement park but the image – in which we see a spare teacup yards from the ride as if flung by a mad hatter, or perhaps a large explosion – is a fitting illustration for Robert Worth’s long and disturbing account of confusion and violence in the last days of Gaddafi’s regime.
For more on the teacups, you have to turn to the UK tabloid The Sun. In I played on Mad Dog Gaddafi’s Teacup Ride (August 25) Sun reporter Virginia Wheeler is pictured lounging in a teacup, presumably researching her account of this fairground built for “spoilt grandchildren” and other decadent finds within the Gaddafi compound. The details are few but the photo is pretty priceless (follow the link to see it). Wheeler looks like she is waiting for a few rebels to jump in the other teacups before they all go for a spin. Thanks all the same, but I think I’d rather go to Disneyland.
(Thanks to Alan Tannenbaum for spotting both these articles.)
Why do adults read Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland? One Cambridge academic thinks is might be “a symbolic retreat from the disappointment of reality.” Really? Really?
In yesterday’s online edition of the UK Independent, Rob Sharp, the arts correspondent, reported on a forthcoming book by Dr Louise Joy under the title “Why do adults read children’s literature? Blame modern life.”
Dr Louise Joy, a Cambridge University academic, believes classic children’s books, and the work they inspire, attract older readers because they give them things they cannot find in their everyday lives, including direct communication, tasty home-cooked food, and tolerance towards eccentricity. The researcher claims such books represent a “symbolic retreat from the disappointment of reality”.
“Books such as Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland and Roald Dahl’s James and the Giant Peach offer a world where self-consciousness is overthrown and relationships are straightforward,” says Dr Joy. “But relationships in the real adult world are often fraught by miscommunication and the impossibility of understanding one another properly.”
As we all know, in Wonderland relationships are entirely straightforward, no-one is self-conscious, and everyone understands each other perfectly. Could Dr. Joy have a point? But how would she explain the appeal of reading about junk food like cakes and comfits?
Sharp does give some room for dissenting voices and he quotes the current UK Children’s Laureate Julia Donaldson:
“Alice’s world can often be disconcerting and confusing in a dream-like way, something which struck me more as an adult than when I read it as a child [...] It’s hard to generalise.”
Children’s author Lil Chase compiled a list of her favorite made-up words in the Guardian today. What’s interesting is how many of the words, invented fancifully by literary wordsmiths, have simply become normal English words. ‘Muggle,’ from J.K. Rowling, now is used not only to mean “a non-magical person,” but more widely as being a person outside of some specific interest. Lil Chase lists A.A. Milne’s “heffalump,” Orson Welles’ “ungood,” and others, and of course Carroll:
"Coloured Jabberwock" by InsidiousTweevle (digital art, photomanipulation, ©2007-2011) based on American McGee's Alice, deviantart.com
After slaying the terrible Jabberwock, the boy in Lewis Carrol’s poem “left it dead, and with its head / he went galumphing back.” It’s thought to be a combination of the words “gallop” and “triumphant”. However, modern-day usage is different: picture a sort of ungainly, graceless way of walking with difficulty, the gait of a grumpy teenager, perhaps; perhaps how you might walk if you were dragging a giant jabberwock’s head.
My favourite made up word comes from The Simpsons and it describes all of the words above. It’s “a dubious or made up word, term, or phrase that is entirely plausible because it makes logical sense within existing language conventions”. But it’s best defined by simply quoting the script:
As two teachers stand at the back of the auditorium someone recites Springfield’s motto: A noble spirit embiggens the smallest man.
Teacher 1: Embiggens? I never heard that word before I moved to Springfield.
Teacher 2: I don’t know why. It’s a perfectly cromulent word.
Cromulent is an amazing word. I can’t believe I didn’t know it before. It’s like the word ‘sesquipedalian,’ which is a long word which means “a long word.”
The great country revival duo, Gillian Welch (with Dave Rawlings), released their first album in almost a decade, The Harrow & the Harvest. (It’s really good.) They went on Fresh Air with Terry Gross to schlep it, and at the end of the show, Gross asked them to play a cover, “to surprise us with a song that we might not think that they like.” They chose Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit,” and it’s a pretty damned beautiful cover of that song. Starting at 41 minutes into the show, Welch explains why they chose that song, and then their version of it gets cut off for the credits. HOWEVER, naturally, they’re hawking it as a special single on iTunes, for $1.29. Remember what the dormouse said… “That I can’t remember,” said the Hatter.