Karl Hagen's blog

4 Dec 2007
The notion that Beowulf's nudity in the movie can be justified by the original poem seems to be floating around out there on the web. I seem to recall Neil Gaiman himself making that claim in an LA Times interview several months before the movie opened, so perhaps that's the origin of the idea. (I can't find a link for this article, though.)

I'm afraid, though, that that's a misreading (or at least reinvention). The relevant passage starts at line 661.

Ða he him of dyde, isern-byrnan,

20 Nov 2007

I'm clearly not trying hard enough

Submitted by Karl Hagen
According to the Blog Readability Test, my blog has a high school reading level. I'm not sure if that's a good thing or not. Part of me feels that I need to work harder to obfuscate my writing lest someone question my academic credentials. Of course it could just be the algorithm. I presume that this site is using something similar to the Unix style command. When I run my ten most recent items (not all of which are on the front page) through style, I get the following results: readability grades: Kincaid: 9.2
19 Nov 2007

But it doesn't alliterate

Submitted by Karl Hagen
A cute review of Beowulf in verse at Slate. It would have been more impressive if the writer had tried to do it in alliterative verse. In fact, that's one of the things that bugged me about the bawdy songs that are sung in the hall in the movie. They're in ordinary rhyming song meter with nary an alliterating half-line to be found.
18 Nov 2007

The Scop's Oration

Submitted by Karl Hagen
In the movie Beowulf, The scop's oration during the "Beowulf Day" celebration is a bastardized version of Beowulf's fight with Grendel from the poem. It's a snippet of what we originally recorded, which managed to tell the whole fight, from Grendel coming off the moor to Beowulf raising Grendel's arm in victory in about 90 seconds.
11 Nov 2007

Oh Frabjous Day!

Submitted by Karl Hagen
While poking around in Google Books, I have just discovered that the wonderful Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of English Usage is available in full text mode. As far as I'm concerned, this is one of the few really worthwhile usage guides. Unlike most of the bozos who opine about how you should or should not write, the Merriam-Webster's folks actually look to see how reputable writers actually use language instead of just spouting off based on their personal whims, and they show a deep knowledge about the variety of opinion on various points of usage.
8 Nov 2007
In high school my favorite English teacher was Mrs. Stephens. She was strict, demanded quality writing, and rarely gave A's. And I still remember many of the little usage rules that she insisted on. In my maturity, however, I realize that she taught us many arbitrary rules that have little foundation in reality.


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