It’s good to be at the end of another hectic week! Let’s look back on how things went:
This week I really enjoyed reading excerpts from Arabian Nights. I didn’t really like Aladdin as a kid, and my particular brand of American culture didn’t introduce me to much Middle Eastern lore, but it was genuinely refreshing to read about genies, sultans, and cunning heroes from Arabia.
I feel like I didn’t have a lot of storytelling energy to draw from this week, so I’m glad we’ll have the Story Lab option this week so I can recuperate. I was excited to start my Storybook project this week, though. I’m glad this is a semester-long project with plenty of opportunity for revision because I almost never write well on my first drafts, and I want to do this story justice.
I’m still having success in my other classes, though major midterms and essays are creeping closer once October starts. I feel like I’m working overtime every night trying to keep up with new homework and new assignments, but I always manage to get it done. I wish I just had a day to do as much work as possible (or a Saturday off, lol). I can’t believe it’s already the end of September! I’d like to find a spare evening this week to write my English Lit essay because that will take a load of stress off me.
I’ve been in a crafty mood this week because it’s grocery week, so I’ve cooked several new meals and my quarter of the refrigerator is loaded with leftovers. I love cooking because it’s a stress outlet, and it gives me another way to be creative and challenged in non-academic settings. I made a great bean-and-cheese quesadilla for lunch on Thursday, with guacamole, even though I set out to just make a simple cheese quesadilla. I also did a Crockpot shrimp boil on Friday, and tonight I made some amazing chicken Alfredo.
The football game last night was an event to say the least. Half-time was awesome (with explosions!) and it was neat to watch paratroopers land on the field right before we marched pregame. But the game itself was SOOO stressful. I’m mentally exhausted from it, and my throat is scratched up from ROARING during the final minutes. I’m so glad we pulled off the win because I would be nonfunctional after investing so much emotion into the game. Hopefully our overtime curse is broken now! Next week versus Baylor should be much more relaxed, and my parents are coming! It’s going to be nice to see them since I won’t be going home for Thanksgiving this year.
I can’t wait to hit this week running! Boomer!
Featured image: The 2018 OUDL snare line poses in front of a Howitzer tank before the OU vs. Army game on Saturday. Photo taken by a soldier on Jacob Willing’s phone.
A couple weeks ago, I started to keep a happiness jar. The goal was to write down something that made me happy that day and place it within the jar. I used a coffee mug because I have way too many coffee mugs.
Since two weeks have passed, I took the papers out of my mug and looked over the things I’ve written. There were a few days that I missed, but for the most part, I had a small collection of small things that made me happy, even on bad days. One of my favorites was when a friend asked me to lunch when I was sitting at home bored. I also tried a new coffee place and really enjoyed it. Many of the things that I wrote were small like that, but it still made me smile to look back through them, especially after a long and draining week.
Keeping a happiness jar definitely helped me accomplish my goal of being more positive. Every day, I found myself actively searching for things to be happy about or grateful for. To make this project more successful in the future, I think I’ll set a daily reminder on my phone so I don’t forget to put a paper in my mug. It’s cool how technology can do things like that! I suppose I could keep a note on my phone where I list everything, but I like that physically doing it forces me to take at least a minute to reflect on my day instead of just idly typing something.
I would recommend that everyone try keeping a happiness jar of some kind to see the positive effects of it!
I remember in elementary school, we had a computer skills class once a week in the library, and sometimes they tried to teach us touch typing. For me, it never stuck. It felt awkward and forced, so I never really learned how to type.
In middle school, though, I started writing large works, like my first novel. I was putting out hundreds of words at a time, and while I never sat down to learn how to touch-type, it kind of just…happened. I don’t have to look at the keyboard to type what I want, though I often do glance down as a way of “balancing” myself. Now, the way I touch type does not used the conventional finger assignments, which upsets the purists I’ve spoken with, but I wanted to see if my adapted touch typing could compare to the traditional method. Luckily, there are tons of online typing tests you can use to gauge your typing speed.
The first online test I tried was the KeyHero Typing Practice. I liked this test because it provided a different excerpt each time, and it provided detailed feedback about acceleration, deceleration, and types of errors. I did about 11 excerpts so I could get a good understanding of my average typing. For this test, that was 88.21 WPM with a 97% accuracy. My fastest round was 109 BPM! This test did not tell me how that speed compares to the average typer, but I was satisfied with my speed and my accuracy. I found excerpts easier when they were written in styles I’m more familiar with, like the YA prose of Mark Zusak and John Green, and the excerpts that were more technical or contained a lot of punctuation were more difficult.
The next test I tried was TypingTest.com, which espouses itself as the #1 online typing test. I only did this one once and chose to do the Aesop excerpt. I got 88 WPM, exactly the same as from the previous test! I also had 100% accuracy on this excerpt. The website rated this as a “Pro” score. It said the average overall score was 36 WPM, and the overall touch-typist score was 58 WPM. I think 58 WPM is pretty slow for touch-typing, honestly, or maybe I really am an outlier.
I decided to take a third typing test to try to confirm my average typing speed, and I chose the Speed Typing Online test. I didn’t like this test very much because of the font the exercise was written in and the way it didn’t scroll down; it just replaced lines at the top, which was disorienting. It was also different from the other test because instead of an excerpt with complete sentences, it was just a bunch of random words like “red” “house” and “staff.” Maybe that’s a perfectly legitimate way of testing typing speed, but it was strange because much of my typing instincts come from being able to string common phrases together fairly quickly. That being said, I got 89 WPM on the test at 97% accuracy.
I would say that taking these tests confirmed that my atypical touch-typing patterns are just as legitimate as traditional ones. I don’t think I need to improve my typing speed because it’s way up there, but I also don’t think I type that quickly on a regular basis. Most of the time I’m trying to conjure words into sentences while I’m typing; I’m not just copying things like in these tests. I do think it’s important to know how to type coherently (not hunting-and-pecking) because we use computers constantly now, and a slow typing speed is only a hindrance. Everyone should be comfortable behind a keyboard, even though the QWERTY arrangement doesn’t make much sense.
“I loved that movie!” I said to Cooper in the hallway. He looked exhausted and had a coffee in his hand because last night we had gone to the midnight premiere of Desert Saga, a new fantasy movie set in Arabia.
As the bell rang for first period, Cooper stood from where he lounged against the wall, and we walked to Mr. Vizir’s English class. I patted Coop’s service dog, Oliver, on the head. Cooper had epilepsy, so he had Oliver, a golden retriever who was trained to alert and respond to seizures.
“I feel like I’ve forgotten something,” Cooper said as we turned into the classroom. I was about to echo his thought when it hit me. In the room, our classmates shuffled through flash cards, scanned over books, and gave off a palpable air of stress. We had an exam today, and Cooper and I had forgotten about it.
Coop and I nervously took our seats at the far side of the classroom, and Oliver curled up under Cooper’s desk.
“Good morning, class,” Mr. Vizir said cheerfully as the tardy bell rang. He was a kind teacher who loved interacting with students. “How is everyone? And you, Ollie?” He winked at Oliver, who raised his shaggy head at the attention.
The rest of the class grumbled as they put away their study materials, and I feverishly wracked my mind for facts about Frankenstein. Mr. Vizir walked toward his desk, getting dangerously close to a stack of papers: the test.
Then, Cooper blurted: “Mr. Vizir, the craziest thing happened yesterday.”
Our English teacher loved wild stories, so he stopped and said, “Yes, Cooper?”
And so, Cooper attempted to pull off the most daring filibuster any of us had ever witnessed:
Yesterday, I was at my job at Jinn’s. It’s almost Halloween, you know, so I was putting out costumes. This man and his young daughter came over and were looking at the costumes, and of course, the little girl noticed Oliver.
“Daddy, look at the doggie!” she cried. She stretched out her hands, but her dad caught her by the back of her jacket.
“No, Allie, that’s a service dog. See his vest? You can’t pet service dogs because it distracts them from their job,” he said.
The girl looked sad, so I said, “He’s right, and you should always ask before petting anybody’s dog. But Oliver’s not busy right now, so you can pet him.”
While Allie was petting Oliver, the man asked me, “When did you get your service dog?” So, I told him the story of how I got Oliver:
You probably won’t believe it, but Oliver is my brother. He’s older than me, and it’s almost the anniversary of him becoming a dog. One Halloween, he was supposed to take me Trick-or-Treating.
We were walking around, going to houses, when some of Oliver’s friends found us. “Ditch your brother,” they said. “We found a super scary shed out in the woods.” Oliver ran off with them, leaving me alone. I was really young, and I didn’t know the way home, so I just walked into the woods where Oliver had gone. I realized I was lost, and I started crying. A woman found me, and I told her my brother had left me.
“Poor thing,” she said. “Let’s find your home.” She took me to her house, which was a cabin in the forest. When we arrived, she said, “Let me tell you a story about my sister.”
We raised chickens when we were young. My job was to feed them every morning and collect any eggs they laid, and my sister’s job was to feed them at night and make sure the coop was locked. One day, a fox came and saw our chickens. He wanted to eat them, but he saw how well my sister and I took care of them and knew he would have to play a trick. He turned into a human boy and came to my sister as she was locking the coop one evening.
He said, “Do you want to see my meteorite?”
“My mom says I can’t go off with strangers,” my sister responded.
The fox-boy looked shocked. “Not even for a meteorite? It fell out of the sky ten minutes ago! It’s beautiful and shiny, and if you don’t go see it now, a grown-up will take it away!”
My sister loved shiny things, so she followed the boy to a field, where they found a large rock.
“That’s no meteorite!” my sister said, looking at the perfectly normal rock.
The fox-boy feigned glumness. “Oh no! It must have cooled off already, so it’s not pretty anymore. Who would have thought that space-rocks would just be normal rocks?”
My sister was smart, and she knew the rock had never been a meteorite, but she hadn’t guessed the boy’s trick. She stomped home, but she was so upset about the incident that she forgot to lock the chicken coop. The next day, all of our chickens had been eaten!
Then we heard boyish giggles and whispers outside. Sure enough, it was my brother Oliver and his friends sneaking around the old shack.
“How could you leave your little brother all alone on Halloween?” the woman said when she saw Oliver. “Maybe this will make you more loyal.” Suddenly my brother was gone, replaced by a golden retriever puppy. I took him home and told my parents what had happened, but they couldn’t do anything about it. So we had Oliver trained to be a seizure dog, and that’s why he’s with me all the time.
After I finished my story, the man seemed unsurprised, and he said, “I thought I noticed something human about your dog.” His daughter picked out a costume, and before they left, the man gave me a coin. I tried to tell him that I can’t take tips, but he told me it was for changing Oliver back into a human! I would take it out now and show you, but I need to get a new seizure dog first.
We held our breath as Cooper finished his series of tales and Mr. Vizir said, “That does sound exciting, Coop.” His eyes flicked to the clock and sighed. A heartbeat later, the second period bell rang across the school. The entire class erupted in a cheer. “And you’ve talked yourself out of an exam. We’ll try again on Monday!”
Author’s Note: This week I read excerpts from Arabian Nights, which is a frame story like the one I’ve written here. The general premise is that a sultan takes a new wife every night and kills her in the morning. One day Scheherazade, the vizir’s daughter, decides to put an end to this and volunteers to marry the sultan. Every night, she tells part of a story. The sultan wants to hear the rest of the story, so he spares her life day by day. However, because the stories are nested within other stories, Scheherazade never really finishes the original story, which saves her from the terrible fate. I wrote this as a lighter-hearted version of Scheherazade’s procrastination because many students can relate to trying to distract a teacher to avoid a quiz.
There are white spaces where the story changes levels. We begin in Level 1, where the protagonist and Cooper go to class. Then, Cooper start Level 2, where he talks about the man and girl in the store. Then, Level 3 is Cooper’s story about how he got Oliver. Level 4 is the woman’s tale about her sister. From there, the levels ascend until we’re back in the classroom.
The Arabian Nights stories also feature a lot of casual magic and times where humans are changed into animals as a kind of punishment. I threw in several allusions to Arabian Nights, too, in the names of characters and the movie.
The Arabian Nights’ Entertainments by Andrew Lang and illustrated by H.J. Ford. Web source.
Image 1: High school hallway lockers. Source – Pexels.
Image 2: Golden retriever service dog. Source – Flickr.
Having Aladdin begin as a lazy boy provides room for him to change and grow as a character
The geography of the story is interesting, as Aladdin comes from the East and the magician comes from far to the West. I like how this gives the story a large scope.
Aladdin’s relationship with his father seems important, as repeating his father’s name gives him courage. He feels ashamed that he could never please his father by learning a trade.
Genies in this story have the power of transportation, which is one thing that allows the story to have such a broad geography.
Aladdin finds himself with such power by commanding the genies, but he’s still a petulant boy, asking the genies to do work for him instead of doing it himself.
In this story, wealth shows how much desire a man has to marry a woman. In other stories, men must fight battles or complete trials to show they’re worthy, and in other cultures, it’s just a mutual relationship between the man and the woman. Aladdin’s world is certainly different from how we do things.
So ultimately, by marrying the princess and becoming rich, Aladdin learns enough to lead the Sultan’s armies. I don’t really like that theme.
I can see a sort of similarity between the magic lamp and Tolkien’s One Ring, in that they both provide the user with great power, but that power comes at a cost.
Roc: a giant bird of prey in Middle Eastern mythology.
“You and your wife and your palace deserve to be burnt to ashes…” This quote makes me think that the genie resents Aladdin and what he’s done, which is an interesting point of view that isn’t explored in this text.
It’s interesting that the storyteller feels the need to continue the story beyond the “happily-ever-after” ending at the end of Part 3. I think it relates back to the idea of the frame tale, and that the magician’s part of the story needed to be resolved after Aladdin had won his prize. I also wonder if quelling evil magic was also a common and necessary storytelling element in Middle Eastern fables.
The Arabian Nights’ Entertainments by Andrew Lang and illustrated by H.J. Ford. Web source.
Image 1: Silhouette of an Arabian palace. Source – Max Pixel.
Image 2: A giant roc carrying an elephant. Source – Wikipedia.
Pantheons are families of deities. They help us make sense of the world as we know it They usually help provide an answer to human existence.
Sumer is the earliest known civilization in Mesopotamia. They worshipped a bunch of gods who were all related to one another. These deities generally had a sphere of influence or sponsorship, and the entire theme of their mythology was that nature is more powerful that humanity.
Egypt also had a bunch of gods, who were headed by the king of the gods, Ra. Many subsequent pantheons had this kind of ruler. Egyptian pharaohs notably used the gods to lend credibility to their reigns, saying they were gods reborn on Earth. The Egyptian gods and their stories revolved around death, such as in the story of Osiris, where he gets mummified and resurrected as the king of the dead.
Greeks and Romans:
Demigods: The offspring of gods and mortals, usually with some kind of special power. Examples: Perseus, Heracles, Achilles, Aeneas, etc. Heroes: mortals favored by the gods. Examples: Odysseus, Atalanta, etc.
Dionysus as a foreigner god; That’s an idea that would be interesting to explore; what happens if gods cross cultures?
Romans: adopted and adapted the Greek gods and goddesses; used historical mythology
Aphrodite always cheated on Hephaestus. Hephaestus caught her with Vulcan and embarrassed her in front of everyone.
The stories of the gods parallel the flaws of human families. They mirror human nature.
Heracles: his own worst enemy; sometimes makes very bad decisions.
Hera tries to kill the offspring of Zeus’ affairs.
Heracles has a fatal flaw like all Greek heroes, but instead of hubris (the most common) Heracles’ flaw is wrath/rage. He kills his wife and children and can’t control his strength. This flaw can be seen in how he accidentally kills the first centaur he meets, how he kills Hippolyte, and how he kills the centaur who kidnapped his wife, which ultimately leads to his death.
Changes name to “Heracles” in order to appease Hera; Changing a name often symbolizes a change in a person’s character.
Has to complete 10 labors to atone for the murder of his children and become immortal, but 2 of them get disqualified, leading to the full 12.
Crash Course Mythology Ancient Mediterranean Pantheon Videos. Web source.
Image 1: The Greek gods from the British Museum. Source – Flickr.
Image 2: Heracles fights the Nemean Lion. Source – Wikipedia.
Scheherazade is brave and benevolent. She doesn’t just wait until she gets picked to be the wife; she actively wants to stop the Sultan.
However, she’s also reckless and doesn’t seem to fear the consequences if her plan doesn’t work. She doesn’t make a back-up plan, and she risks her father’s and sister’s lives as well.
The Sultan is portrayed by the narrator as a good man with an extreme reaction to a bad situation. Because his first wife was unfaithful, he believes all women are untrustworthy and evil. He’s not a good ruler because he’s not wise enough to see how erroneous that is, and that’s maybe why Scheherazade can trick him into keeping her alive.
The Merchant and the Genius:
This is some extreme metafiction here. It’s all about how stories are so compelling, and they’re all stories about stories, stories within stories. I’ve always liked the idea of frame tales, but I’ve never tried any before. I really like how Arabian Nights accomplishes it, and every story seems to allude or correspond two the plight of Scheherazade.
Genie: Genies are really interesting supernatural creatures from Middle Eastern traditions. They’re also called “jinns” or “djinns,” which I’ve also heard of, but I didn’t know they were the same as genies. They have a wide variety of interpretations, from demons to pagan spirits. They can possess humans, and they sometimes have special powers, like wish-granting or transportation. They can be summoned and controlled by human sorcerers. Due to the wide variety of cultures that have genies in their myths, there are many different kinds of the spirit-creatures.
The First Man:
It’s interesting that this story features a woman who was scheming and evil, like the Sultan thinks all women are. Is Scheherazade including that to keep him interested, as it makes it more believable for him?
I like the metamorphosis aspect of this story, and it’s interesting that magic is seen as a fairly normal thing.
The Second Man:
This story is very reminiscent of the parable of the talents, where three slaves are each given money but only one of them is wise enough to use it properly.
In both of the men’s stories, being changed into an animal is a punishment instead of taking life.
What is a vizir? (Wikipedia) –The highest ranking advisor to a king or ruler in the Middle East.
The King of the Black Isles:
I really enjoyed this story because the King of the Black Isles seems like a kind young man who has bad luck. The characters are benevolent and clever, and they help save a bunch of people who have been captured. I’m not really a fan of how most of the villains in these stories are enchantresses/women, but again, that could just be Scheherazade’s tactic to keep the Sultan listening.
The Arabian Nights’ Entertainments by Andrew Lang and illustrated by H.J. Ford. Web source.
Image 1: Desert driver in Dubai. Source – Max Pixel.
Image 2: The Sultan and Scheherazade. Source – Wikipedia.
Image 3: The Fisherman and the Genie. Source – Wikipedia.