Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Interview with David P. Murphy

David P. Murphy: He cares, esp. about your brain.
I was lucky enough to interview David P. Murphy. He is the author of Zombies for Zombies - The Play and Werk Buk: The World's Bestselling Inactivity Guide for the Living Deadwhich I reviewed recently. Here is the text, unedited:

What was your first exposure to zombies? How did you fare (frightened, laughed, bitten, etc.)?

Thanks for the interview, by the way.  Great to be here.  I believe my first exposure was this weird sci-fi flick that I saw as a kid, "Invisible Invaders."  Aliens take over corpses and threaten mankind--that sort of bubbly thing.  It scared the pants off of me as a kid and, thus, the zombie love affair began.


Besides yourself, who is your favorite zombie storyteller (can include authors, film makers, game designers, etc.)?

For me, Romero is still the guy.  I enjoy what a number of folks are doing with the genre but he IS the zomfather and NOTLD was scary and socially relevant, too.


What’s your favorite zombie movie?

I really enjoyed "Shaun of the Dead" but, for me, "Night of the Living Dead" is the bomb.  (I know, what a traditionalist.) I so much respect what that cast and crew did on a shoestring budget.  Speaking of cheap films, I watched "Hot Wax Zombies on Wheels" the other night and, surprisingly, that wasn't so good!

What’s your favorite zombie book (besides your own, of course)?

I'm a big comic book fan--probably a shocker, huh?  I've enjoyed parts of "The Walking Dead" quite a bit.

What’s your favorite zombie fighting weapon?

The trowel. Big seller for me.

In your Zombies for Zombies books, you give advice on how to deal with becoming a zombie. How did you come to see things from the zombies perspective? I thought I had a unique idea with looking at things from the zombie’s point of view, but I’m glad to see some else thinks like me (i.e., I’m not a lone wacko).

Oh, we're wackos but it's always better to know we're not alone!  I think in my overly politically correct, corporately motivated Z4Z world, zombies are like a minority. The Scarlet Shores Assisted Post-Living facilities house the "post-lifers" (think internment camps meet retirement homes) and even the Horde (the real zombies) is being preserved in Containment Zones. As for perspective, I just tried to feel minimized and that really seemed to help. 

How awesome is Daniel Heard (the illustrator) to work with? I love his work on Daniel Wilson’s books.

Mr. Heard is a mensch of the highest order and one incredibly talented artist.  I felt completely blessed to be able to have him along for the ride. We laughed A LOT while working on both books. And I think that Daniel Wilson fella is gonna have himself a nice career!

If you could pick one product from all the fake ads in Z4Z to be a real product, which one would it be and why?

What do you mean, "fake ads?"  Those are REAL ads!  Okay, so even though I'm a guy and don't really need a purse (or a European shoulder bag), the "Kool Klutch" is still kinda rockin' my world.  Just think: refrigerated meat whenever and wherever you'd like.


What was the inspiration for Chomps the Clown (if you feel okay to talk about it)?

I think I've been through enough therapy to talk about it now.  Clowns suck. I don't care how swell their intentions are--they're flat out creepy.  Therefore, a living dead clown would be even creepier.  Daniel and I had a lot of fun going there and then needed to take long hot showers.


How much work went into getting your Ph. Z.? Did you have to write a dissertation or do something more practical?

How one obtains a Ph.Z. is a somewhat private subject, but more will be revealed soon.  (Cue the pensive oboe...)

I was very impressed to see and hear your musical talents at your web site (http://www.davidpmurphy.com/)
. You’ve even written a musical. Any plans to cross the streams and write a zombie musical or zombie album?

Thanks for the kind words.  I've been a songwriter since I was a wee lad and I still actively pursue the craft.  And I LOVE recording and run a small studio myself. Re the musical, yes, it's called "anotherwhere" and my remarkable writer friend from the Bay Area, Laurie Fox and I are responsible for that pup. And regarding a zombie musical, I've thought about it, but nothing yet. There is, however over on the Z4Z website (http://zombiesforzombies.com/Site/Vidz.html), on the VIDZ page at the bottom, a video for a zombie disco/dance tune I did called "Do The Shuffle." The Shuffle is the name of a dance step from the first Z4Z book that was designed for the motor-impaired and the song features this lovely couplet: "there's no denyin' that beat, no fakin' that groove, it sure would help if your hips could move."  Now if only the Bee Gees would return my calls.


What can we look forward to that you’re doing next (if not the zombie musical)?

Well, I'm working diligently on a third book and it's hush hush at the moment but, I can tell you this:  it's illuminating.  (And no, that's doesn't mean it will make nice kindling.)

My turn to ask a question, please: When a zombie parent punishes a zombie kid, what the hey is that like?  No organ meat for a week? Go shamble in the corner? Help me out here.

How about a video answer:
video

So we make them clean the couch and they are not allowed to keep the spare change (or snacks) they find!

Actual, our situation is a little complicated. Our children have turned us into zombies, so they are our zombie overlords. It's hard to punish them (we actually fooled them into thinking cleaning out the couch is fun) when they are in control.

If we did have zombie children, I would definitely send them to bed without any fresh meat. Or shovel snow, we have a heck of a snow storm going right now and I'm not looking forward to shoveling the driveway.

Thanks so much for answering my eccentric questions, David Murphy. Best of luck!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Zombie Review: Zombies for Zombies: The Play and Werk Buk

Zombies for Zombies - The Play and Werk Buk: The World's Bestselling Inactivity Guide for the Living Dead by David P. Murphy


ZPAA rating

Mature teens and up

Gore level

4 out of 10--Slightly grisly black and white cartoon images of zombies (human, clown, and unicorn), the occasional internal organ (though your brain does appear quite often), some biting and bleeding (though these incidents are mostly described; there is a funny picture of a zombie biting a manikin).

Other offensive content

One of the short stories involves torture; occasional bad language; lots of misspellings, mostly using the letter "z" (if you find misspelling offensive).

How much zombie mythology/content

For a lighter comedy book, the mythology is well developed. Zombies are the result of the P1V1 virus outbreak, though a lot of them are contained in containment zones or in upscale "Scarlet Centers" if they are lucky enough, though there are also free roamers. The USA is reduced to 37 states and many cities have been combined like Sacracisco in California. All sorts of aids and coping mechanisms and strategies are referred to throughout the book in ads. Zombies are the eating flesh, shambling around sort, though mass transit for the undead is available in this world.

How much fun

In addition to amusing short stories, this book is full of puzzles and games to keep your brains sharp. Also lots of ads for services and products aimed at the living dead are sprinkled throughout, even a home shopping network and a dating service for the "post-lifers" out there.

Synopsis & Review

The Author, lovingly cradling a brain
One of the missions of this blog is to help people who have been turned into zombies. Who knew that other kindred spirits are also working on the same problem? In 2009, David Murphy wrote Zombies for Zombies: Advice and Etiquette for the Living Dead and has followed up with 2010's Zombies for Zombies: The Play & Werk Buk: The World's Bestselling Inactivity Guide for the Living Dead. The Guide's publicist was nice enough to send me a review copy, so how could I resist reviewing it?

The Guide is fully illustrated in black and white and includes short stories, puzzles, fake ads, advice columns, and other assorted bits of entertainment focused on making the post-life of a zombie more fun. It's a nice send up of that Highlights magazine we all used to read as kids. The puzzles range from far too easy to impossibly difficult (which I mean literally, some don't have solutions as you find out in the answer key). The fake ads for skin care products, drugs to help deal with undeath, the fine line of QualiCola sodas ("as real as you are!"), and other services and products are clever and make me wish I had such sponsors for my blog.

The post-infection world is surprisingly well thought out as I mentioned in the mythology/content section. The reader is led by the main characters in the guide: Diligent (the highly functioning zombie), Doris (the female lead), Doofus (the low-functioning horde member), Your Brain (which is your brain), Chomps the Clown (because what's more frightening than a zombie clown), and Horny, the Living Dead Unicorn. But there's a host of minor characters who reoccur often and give a lot more continuity to what could have been just an extended set of unrelated zombie gags.

I really liked Zombies for Zombies: The Play & Werk Buk, so much so that it makes me want to read the original book.

Sample Text

Sally finds out about one of the zombie "assisted living" facilities in her new home town:

The evening before her adventure, Sally was talking with her new friend Rosa, a bubbly little Hispanic girl who was one year younger than Sally. When Sally brought up Scarlet Shores, Rosa's eyes grew wide and whispered several words under her breath that must've been in Spanish because they made no sense to Sally. Then Rosa proceeded to tell Sally everything that she knew about the place: no one was allowed to go near it; there were bad people in there who'd caught bad colds and they'd like to give you a cold, too; monsters lived on the other side of that fence and they'd love to escape and blow up a mall or move into your closet; and that even though the place looked fun from the outside, it wasn't. It had cooties--big cooties. Rosa yammered on and on and Sally eventually tuned her out, dreaming of dinner and candy.  (page 12)

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Turning the Tables

We had another fun time this morning at Jump!Zone (see our pictures here from Saturday's birthday party). For those who don't know, it's a giant room full of giant inflatable climbers that are super-fun for the two to twelve age range. Jacob loved it again and Lucy was raring to go too. They tried to pull the divide and conquer strategy on me, but luckily a playgroup mom was there to help with zone coverage. Jacob was pretty tired by the time we headed out. He told me, "I want to go home."

Naturally, we were planning to join the playgroup mom and her daughter for lunch at the local Panera Bread. Jacob took some convincing to go out to lunch. Lunch was a little frustrating. When we got to the counter, I gave Jacob a bunch of options (like mac and cheese or grilled cheese) but he chose a peanut butter sandwich. I guess I'll pack one next time instead of shelling out money for such a simple sandwich. I thought about forcing him to eat something else but decided the conflict wasn't worth it. We had a long wait for our food to come up. Eventually it did come and the children split the sandwich (Lucy had the yogurt that came with it). 

After eating, Jacob started looking sleepy. Then he started closing his eyes. Finally, he wound up like this:

Sleeping or a meditation technique, you decide!

A-ha! I thought, now the tables have turned and you will become the zombie, my little son. I had to carry him out to the car. As we drove up to Panera's front door, the mom brought out Lucy for the trip home. Jacob is a solid sleeper and he stayed out all the way home. I took Lucy upstairs and put her through her nap time routine while Jacob snoozed in his car seat.

When I came back to the garage, Jacob was waking up. So I put him through his nap time routine. This had the desired effect, or so I thought. After a call to mommy to relay the morning's events, I heard Jacob calling out. I went upstairs and he demanded that I cuddle with him. In fact, he did not want me to leave. I said I would go sleep in my bed. He countered saying he would come and sleep there too. That would defeat my purpose of actually going downstairs and getting things done, so I said we should stay in his room. Long story short, he never went back to sleep and I never escaped his nefarious cuddles. He turned the tables back on me!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Zombie Review: The Walking Dead, Vol. 6 This Sorrowful Life

The Walking Dead, Vol. 6: This Sorrowful Life (v. 6) by Robert Kirkman

ZPAA rating

Adults with high capacity only (use your judgment based on content summary below)

Gore level

10 of 10--Still plenty of zombies, along with severed limbs and heads and other spurting, bony, gross stuff. What pushes this to the max is an extended torture scene (human on human) that goes on for many pages and I wish I could erase from my memory.

Other offensive content

Some pretty bad language (f-bombs and such), heavy human on human violence (beyond the extended torture scene); an extra-marital affair that apparently will end soon.

How much zombie mythology/content

Classic zombies continue to roam the pages of this book, though the focus is definitely off the zombies and on the living non-dead.

How much fun

Wow, it did get worse than last time. Suspense is pretty high and so is the misery. The title is no joke. The only thing that kept me reading is that I am really interested in some of the characters. Plus, you shouldn't judge a work of art until you see all of it, a lesson I learned watching The Talented Mister Ripley. The problem is, when do you stop with an ongoing comic series?

Synopsis & Review

Three of our characters continue to languish in the misery of Woodbury. The town is run by "the Governor," a man who keeps people entertained by having gladiator matches guarded by zombies. The townspeople love it, or at least are distracted by it. Losing a gladiator to another more enthusiastic one, the Governor decides to send in Michonne for a little variety. Meanwhile Rick is recovering from losing his right hand that the Governor chopped off last issue. He gets in good with the town doctor and his lovely assistant. An opportunity to escape comes up and they go for it. But will they all get out (what have they done with Glenn, anyway?) and what will they find back at the prison?

The story remains very compelling. It's a hard book to put down, until you get to one point where I found it very easy to put down. MAJOR SPOILER HERE: My main objection to this issue is the extended "payback" Michonne gives the Governor. In the last issue, all we heard of the Governor torturing Michonne was some dialogue, which allowed our imaginations to fill in the details. In this issue, we get pages and pages of Michonne's fingernail plucking, limb chopping, eye gouging revenge in the goriest detail possible in a comic book. It's really more disturbing than anything I could imagine. Clearly, she is depicted as being crazy so maybe the author doesn't want the reader to condone her actions, but dwelling so graphically on the nuts and bolts of what she does only sickens. The author could have made his point with one or two pages, not the twelve we get. END MAJOR SPOILER

Aside from this incident, the rest of the story is very exciting and thought provoking. Should the doctor join Rick in fleeing the town? The townspeople need him, but so does Rick's pregnant wife. Should the doctor's assistant come too? Can they trust the townsman who wants to lead them out? What are they willing to sacrifice to get back the prison, or to make sure the people at the prison will be safe?

Sample Text

Rick on how he's feeling about the people in his life: "I'd kill every single one of the people here if I thought it'd keep you safe. I know these people--I care for these people--but I know I'm capable of making that sacrifice. I find myself ranking them, sometimes--looking at them and thinking--who do I like the most--who do I need the most--just in case something happened and I had to choose. I've seen so many die already--I have almost no attachment to these people anymore... And I could kill any one of them at any moment for the right reasons. Does that make me evil? I mean...isn't that evil?" Wife: "I--I don't know." Rick: Neither do I."

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Book Review: Potty Training for Boys the Easy Way

Potty Training Boys the Easy Way: Helping Your Son Learn Quickly--Even If He's a Late Starterby Caroline Fertleman, MD and Simone Cave. Da Capo Press, 2009, 126 pages, $11.95 US.

We head into the Martin Luther King Day holiday as of this posting, when we are going to take another crack at potty training Jacob. My wife will be handling the boy while I run interference with Lucy. Wish us luck!

Brief overview of content:

The book goes over the basics of potty training with the focus entirely on training boys. The method is more relaxed. Starting at about 12 months, parents look for signs of readiness and introduce potty training ideas and the actual potty as the boy becomes mature enough to use a bathroom. They advise having positive early exposure: seeing mommy and daddy use the bathroom, letting boys pee in the bathtub as an early practice or awareness of what is happening, etc. The authors recommend what equipment to buy and what not to buy for potty training. When the time to train comes, their program uses sessions of about an hour that is convenient for parent and son. The step by step plan is straightforward involving getting in big boy underpants (or nothing at all), having a drink, sitting on the potty, hopefully peeing or pooping there. Accidents should be met with a positive attitude and encouragement to try again later. Positive feedback is encouraged throughout the book. After a successful session, the authors review what to do for the next few days, then the next few weeks and finally beyond the one month mark. The system should work in two to six weeks depending on the readiness of the child and how many sessions are done. Problem solving, night training, and common medical problems are also explained.

Author overview:

Blurb from the back of the book: "Caroline Fertleman, MD, a leading pediatrician, and Simone Cave, a health editor, conduct lectures and write extensively on parenting topics."

Recommendations:

1. Read cover to cover vs. consult as needed.

It's a short read, so going cover to cover is pretty easy. Some of the advice is common to other books, so skimming over parts is definitely possible. The index is quite extensive, so consulting is a snap!

2. Readability.

The style is very relaxed, second-person writing, making for an easy read and instilling confidence in the reader.

3. Helpful to a parent?

The book seems like a great program if you get started on time (and if you have a boy to train). The laid-back approach is good for rambunctious boys and would definitely cut down on the stress of potty training.

4. Did we use it?

We did not use it for several reason. First and foremost, we are too late! Their program starts around twelve months and our boy is three years old as I write this. Also, we have a younger daughter and what to do with younger siblings isn't covered. I suppose the training sessions are short enough to be done during the sibling's nap, but Lucy sleeps at the same time as Jacob. If we had read this book two years ago, things would probably be very different.

Sample text

What the program will be like: "If you follow our 'potty-training sessions' approach, there will be very few accidents and hopefully no tears. It may take a little longer than other methods--probably two to six weeks depending on how many sessions you fit in and how quicly your son learns--but because it's such a relaxed way to learn, the chances of future problems and setbacks are minimized." [p. 44]

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Achilles' Heels Aren't Just for Greeks Anymore

We had an epic errand run today that ended with a very important (but not entirely useful) discovery. Rather than bore you with all the details of how we went to the grocery store to stock up, dropped off some mail in a mailbox, went to the Borders in Annapolis to get a reserve book which is the subject of an awesome podcast, traveled from there to Third Eye Comics to get my comics fix, wandered from the comic shop to Best Buy where Jacob could try out the drums, and ate lunch at Wendy's, I'll cut to the chase and say that I've discovered an Achilles' Heel for Jacob.

If you don't know and didn't follow the link above, ancient warrior Achilles was made practically invincible when his mother dipped him as a baby in the River Styx. The water made his skin impenetrable but, of course, his mom had to hang on to something while dipping him, so his heel did not get covered. He became a famous warrior surviving many battles till that literally fatal day when he was shot in the foot with an arrow, killing him.

Lots of other nearly invincible beings have similar weaknesses. Think of Frankenstein's Monster who, like the Scarecrow in Wizard of Oz, is afraid of fire. Or Superman, who goes haywire in the presence of Kryptonite. Or werewolves, who are hard to kill unless a silver weapon is employed. Or 1950's housewives, whose mastery of the kitchen can only be vanquished by the presence of a mouse.

What about Jacob? As we left Best Buy, I discovered that Lucy needed a diaper change (no, a poopy diaper is not his weakness). So rather than try to make it home, which would take 25 minutes, and rather than change her in the van, which was freezing cold, I decided we should go to lunch at the nearby Wendy's (no, fast food is not his weakness). Our first stop would be the bathroom for a quick and refreshing change. As we approached, Jacob shrunk back and asked if we could go in the ladies room. I told him we couldn't, and didn't understand why he was so reluctant to go into the men's room. Was he too used to going with mommy? Was he simply mistaken?

Then I heard the problem. Someone was drying his hands. The sound of hot air hand driers is often pretty loud and we could easily hear it outside that bathroom. Jacob is quite cautious about them. So I told him we could wait until the drier was done blowing. The guy came out and we had to wait another minute before going in. It was the standard minimalist men's room: one stall, one urinal, one sink, one hand drier. We got into the stall and I went to work. Someone else came in, did his business, washed his hands, and started up the drier again. Jacob paled. I told him we were safe in the stall and we would not leave until the drier stopped. As I finished up another guy came in and started it up again. So Lucy's clean diaper was in place for a while before we were ready to leave the men's room stall. Luckily, we did make it out and had lunch.

It's nice to know that Jacob has a weakness. The only problem is the lack of ways to exploit it. Really, we want him to be comfortable going into a bathroom. We want him to be able to wash his hands and not dry them on his pants. Further, the only real inconvenience was to me. Any suggestions on how to use this knowledge (other than writing a blog post, of course)?

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Divide and Conquer Strategy

Jacob and Lucy were perfecting their "divide and conquer" strategy the past three days on our business trip to New Jersey. The strategy comes in two varieties: either they separate mommy and daddy and try to wear us down individually or they take turns taking shots at us. Both methods were used in the past four days.

They started off in the hotel's swimming pool. Now you may have seen the (entirely accurate) reports of snow storms on Friday and Saturday. Clearly, our hotel had an indoor pool with a hot tub on the side. Jacob loved the pool. His favorite game was Cliff Hanger, where he'd hang on to the edge and make a circuit all the way around the pool. The pool was a fairly cold on Wednesday and Thursday and was tolerable on Friday and Saturday. I suspect they heat it on the weekends when there's more patrons to take advantage of it. At any rate, Jacob didn't seem to mind the cold so much, but mommy and daddy did. So did Lucy. All she wanted to do was sit in the hot tub and play with the bubbles and foam that the jets created. Neither child should have spent a lot of time exclusively in either pool, so we had to do a lot of switching. The switching was rather unwelcome to the children, so they went back to their favorite quickly. Of course, Lucy attached herself to me and Jacob to Angie, so we parents also had to switch from pretty cold to pretty warm water and back and forth quite regularly. Eventually we had to get out and go back to the room, which was more unpopular than switching pools. Yikes!

Then we had to eat out a lot which was a big challenge. Jacob has lost all his "sit quietly and wait for the meal" skills. To be fair to him, he was sitting and waiting two or three times a day, so his reserves must have been depleted by overuse. One night we went to a Chinese restaurant. Luckily we were the only patrons, because Jacob became a wanderer. He'd go to the window to see the traffic. He'd go to the plant to see how it was doing. He'd go to the fish tank and count the fish. We should have had him count the pebbles in the bottom of the tank, maybe that would have kept him occupied. Anyway, by the time the food came, he was not interested in sitting or eating. Eventually, I had to give him a time out to get him to settle down. He never really ate until we got back to the hotel and had snack time before bed. Our best night was when we got frozen dinners (pasta & meatballs and mac & cheese) and ate them in hotel's breakfast area. Double yikes!

The coup de grace came at night. Jacob would cry out in his sleep for ten or fifteen minutes with us trying to shush him. By the time he settled down, Lucy started her shift of moaning, crying, and standing in the crib demanding attention. Usually a bottle would settle her, but one evening I had her in my lap for twenty minutes before she let me put her down. Angie and I increased our sleep deficit on this trip, because the children still woke up at their usual 5 a.m. to 6:30 a.m. times. Triple yikes!

We came back on Saturday, through more snow. Hopefully we can recover on Sunday before heading into another week of the usual life. No more pools for the foreseeable future. Meals will be mostly at home. I'll probably take the children out for snacks once or twice a week to build up their "sit and eat" skills. And having them back in their own separate bedrooms is quite a blessing. I hope we get plenty of sleep tonight. We need it!

Lucy makes a break for it! Jacob heads the other way off camera.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Book Review: Big Ideas for Little Kids

Big Ideas for Little Kids: Teaching Philosophy through Children's Literature by Thomas E. Wartenberg. Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group, Inc., 2009, 150 pages, $24.95 US.


Brief overview of content:

In this book, Thomas Wartenberg describes the process he has developed for teaching elementary school students (first to fifth grades) basic philosophical topics and ways of thinking and communicating. This is accomplished by a guided classroom discussion of popular children’s picture and chapter books. In the first part of the book, he gives his overall point of view: Children are naturally inquisitive which is precisely what you want for philosophy. They are natural-born philosophers. The classroom atmosphere then needs to be more learner-centric, where the students seek out knowledge under the guidance of the teacher, rather than teacher-centric, where knowledge is moved from the teacher into the student by a highly controlled process. He then discusses how to play the “game of philosophy” (see the rules below), wherein the children learn to discuss and refine and defend their points of view on certain topics. They learn to engage in a philosophical dialogue.

In the second part of the book, he reviews the basic curriculum he has developed, provides some guidance and samples for lesson plans, and describes how to lead a philosophical discussion. The great thing here is his explanation that even if you know nothing about philosophy, you can still facilitate a philosophical classroom discussion. His undergraduate education students do it all the time without previous philosophical training and you can too.

In the third part of the book, he goes through eight children’s books and the philosophical topics to which they apply. Sets of appropriate discussion questions are included for each book. These are not the only books that can be used. Each year his students use these books but substitute in one new book and develop a lesson plan and teaching resources around that new book. This information is then posted on his website, so there is always an expanding set of resources and texts to use.

The book has an appendix with a list of helpful books and websites and a list of references (though there are no footnotes in the book).

Author overview:

Blurb from the back of the book: “Thomas E. Wartenberg is professor of philosophy at Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Massachusetts, and has been working with educators on teaching philosophy for children for more than a decade. He is a member of the American Philosophical Association Committee on Precollege Instruction in Philosophy, and his other books include Existentialism and Thinking on Screen.”

Recommendations:

1. Read cover to cover vs. consult as needed.

The first two parts are fairly linear and need to be read as wholes in order to get the benefit of what he’s written. The third part, where he goes over how to use individual stories, is easily read out of order and can be consulted as needed if you want to try it out with a group of children and already have one of the books mentioned.

2. Readability.

For the product of a philosophy professor, this book is delightfully non-technical and highly readable. He’s still precise in what he says but doesn’t get mired down in special philosophical language.

3. Helpful to a parent?

In case you didn’t know it, the ancient Greek philosopher Socrates was executed by the Athenian government for impiety and corrupting the youth. He was considered a gadfly who constantly pestered anyone he met with questions, trying to figure out what they really thought and if they were logically consistent. Often he would tie them in uncomfortable mental knots from which they could not escape. If this wasn’t annoying enough, he taught others, especially young punks like Plato, to do the same. So let that be a warning to you: if you teach your child to parlay like a philosopher, you’d better be ready to argue out your own opinions and decisions. “Mommy said so” and “Daddy said so” won’t cut it once you’ve gone down this route. On the other hand, you will have a more intelligent and expressive child. “Precocious” is the word for that, isn’t it?

4. Did we use it?

Jacob and Lucy are still too young for this, but I would like to try it out. It seems like you need a group of kids in order to achieve the proper effect. Maybe we can get a playgroup together and experiment on them. Finally, the tables will be turned! Though turning your children into philosophers is probably a lot better for them than your children turning you into zombies is for you.

Sample text

On the rules for the “game” of philosophy:
1. State your position on an issue—that is, answer a question that has been asked—in a clear manner after taking time to think.
2. Figure out if you agree or disagree with what has been said.
3. Present a real example of the abstract issue being discussed.
4. Present a counterexample to a claim that has been proposed.
5. Put forward a revised version of a claim in light of criticism.
6. Support your position with reasons. [table 4.1 on p. 33]

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Forgotten Classics Posting

I've posted another fairy tale to the Forgotten Classics podcast blog. It's a little story by Hans Christian Andersen called Great Claus and Little Claus. I was trying to get it done in time for Christmas (what with "Clauses" and all in it), but Christmas has been full of fun travel that didn't allow for much recording and editing time. I am pretty happy with the results.

The other exciting part of it is that it is the debut of my own part of the feed which I'm calling "Forgotten Tales." The focus is on fairy tales, folklore, myths, legends and other such stories. I'd already done two podcasts of tales from the Brothers Grimm. I plan to do a lot more branching out in the future, including some Native American stories, Aesop's Fables, and some Polynesian stories too (I have a book from Hawaii and another from Guam with lots of stories to choose from).

As a distinct part of the podcast, I created my own bumpers. Originally, I wanted to get some music that sounded like Grieg's Peer Gynt Suite. After some searching around, I finally just went with parts of the Peer Gynt Suite. The best part of doing that was taking the time to just sit and listen to the music. Too often I'll put on classical music and treat it like background noise while I'm doing something else (like writing a blog!). Focusing on listening to the music made me realize how delightful the composition is, its use of repeated themes and the amazing way it builds up to the ending. I really do need to take more time to just sit back and listen to great music without any distractions.

Also of interest, Julie from Forgotten Classics has a new podcast/blog called A Good Story is Hard to Find. The first episode is about the zombie apocalypse novel The Reapers Are the Angels by Alden Bell. I haven't read the book or listened to the podcast yet, but will soon. Next up for discussion is Serenity, Joss Whedon's big screen follow up to his short-lived TV show, Firefly. It's bound to be great, people!