Dancing With the Stars, NCAA edition

Today, 64 teams with big dreams and bigger hearts begin their pursuit of the the national championship. Every team, from the biggest brand-name universities to the smaller private colleges believes that the national championship can be theirs.  With Kentucky's epic loss to Robert Morris in the NIT, no less, there will be no repeat champion this year.  Who will shine in the spotlight?  Who will trip, fall, and leave the stage with their heads bowed and spirits bruised?  These answers will begin to be answered today.

There is a Cinderella awaiting "her" crown, usually the small college with big dreams and bigger plays that shock a higher-ranked team into elimination, and an early trip home.  Soon, the statistics gurus will be chin deep in factoids and sound bites, and the odds makers will be scrambling to keep up with it all.  With brackets filled out, and anticipation building, let the Madness begin!!!



I have had a love affair with pens from a very young age.  As a left-handed writer, I remember handing in cursive worksheets with smudges on them, and deciding that pencils were the bane of my fifth-grade existence.  When I heard that sixth graders were allowed to use pens in every class but math, I was ecstatic.  I loved the fluidity that pens offered, and when I used them my handwriting was mostly legible.  My goal was to acquire the best pens I could, and my allowance money was quickly disposed of as the search for "The Perfect Pen" began.  I began to understand the metric system, but only as it applied to the size of pen nibs. Yes, there is a difference between .6 and .7 millimeter nibs, if you look closely enough.  The lines they make are subtly different.

The boring blues, blacks, and reds of the lowly ballpoint pens pale in comparison to the peacock blue and fuchsia hues available in the nicer pens.  My hybrid cursive/manuscipt writing improved though my ink color choices did not impress my teachers.  Green was frowned upon, and hot pink was deemed too close to red, the "penultimate" choice of educators for corrections to be made.

Fast forward a few decades, and you will still find me carefully choosing the pens that will be gracing my shabby chic pen holder with their presence, next to the number two pencils, who always seem a little in awe of their glamorous new "neighbors."  Just wait, pencils, until the Queen of Pens, the Lamy Safari, arrives in all her finery.


R.I.P., cursive

The fine art of cursive writing seems to be in decline.  Many schools prefer to teach their students computer keyboarding skills, believing that these skills will serve the students better in the future.  I think the students are being short-changed.  If the family computer is viral, or there is an electric outage, completing that rough draft in  longhand will be impossible.  Because keyboarding classes are making penmanship classes a rarity, the student may not even be able to write in manuscript legibly, much less cursive.  Also, documents originally completed in script, such as the Declaration of Independence, may be unreadable by future generations who only recognize letters in simple fonts like Arial..

Like the hieroglyphics of the past, the cursive writings of more recent history may soon only be readable by scholars who specialize in "ancient" writings.  "The handwriting's on the wall."  Let's make sure it's legible, and keep it relevant!



It's 2012, and my literary resolutions are to blog & write more, and to read books I've had that are gathering dust on my bookshelves. These dozen or so books are like orphaned puppies; they want attention, and soon. I hope to venture to places created by Charles Dickens & Jane Austen, and read a book of short stories, something I've never done before.  When it's winter, there is nothing more relaxing than tuning out the world, and reading.  Literary adventures await, and I plan to enjoy the journey.


Some Thoughts on Christina Rossetti

I am currently reading a biography about the life of Christina Rossetti, the Pre-Raphaelite English poet, whose "In the Bleak Midwinter" is so popular this time of year.  You can read the text of the poem here: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/238450 

I have always been curious about the melancholy tone of many of her poems.  Many are tinged with sadness, and speak of longing for the respite of death.  Rossetti lived in England in the mid-1800s, a time when single women seeking employment were often encouraged to be governesses, then wives.  Literary genius was thought to be gifted largely to men, but increasingly, women were laying this myth to rest.  Also, the many imperfections of a worldly existence paled in comparison to the Heavenly reward awaiting a child of God.  

Angst was a vital component of creative genius, and Christina Rossetti channeled this into many of her works.  She used her God-given talent to lay bare her soul, and her poetry reflects this on so many levels.  Her works survive to this day because the emotions she repressed in her daily life poured themselves out onto the page via her pen.  I, for one, am grateful for her openness. 


A Font to Remember

It's time to come clean. My name is Leslee, and I'm a fontaholic. A fontaholic is one who, when presented with a body of text, takes more time choosing the font for the text than creating the text itself. There is a dizzying array from which to choose. Do I bore people to death with Times New Roman or Arial? Matisse can cause serious eye strain if the font size is too small.  If  Fiolex Girls is overused, no one takes you seriously. 

Many moons ago, at the esteemed university I attended (the "Harvard of western Wisconsin") the available font choices were few, and Pica and Elite were pretty much it.  Had there been more fonts available, I would probably still be in my dorm's basement, wondering whether to use Papyrus or Segoe Script for my final paper in Dr. Brohaugh's Shakespearean Tragedy class. 


A Little Pomp for our Circumstances....

Gas prices are high, national morale is low.  Leave it to our friends across the pond to raise our collective spirit with a pageantry unmatched by a simple love match, watched by billions of people worldwide.  William and Kate's wedding lived up to its expectations, and rewarded viewers with soaring voices and ceilings, and tidbits of trivia that only diehard royalty fans can appreciate. I, for one, am glad to know that William & Kate are cousins, 12 times removed. In addition to ancestry analysis, there were the fashion police.  They loved the dresses worn by Kate, and her sister Pippa.  They derided the prime minister's wife, Samantha Cameron, who was the only hatless guest at the wedding. Perhaps Victoria Beckham and Princess Beatrice, among others, should have followed Mrs. Cameron's example. 

There was the cute antics of a 3-year-old bridesmaid covering her ears to block out the crowd's noisy cheers. Later, the Duke & Duchess of Cambridge rode in an Aston Martin as they departed from Buckingham Palace.  For the couple that seem to genuinely love and respect each other, and for the worldwide audience, it was a day that gave new meaning to the words of English poet Robert Browning:  "Oh to be in England, now that April's there..."