Saturday, April 3, 2010

Favorite Easter Story :))

Happy Easter, everyone! Here is another post that has nothing to do with books, but this is an Easter story that I've heard for years and probably some of you have heard it, too. So in honor of Easter, here is

The Empty Egg (apparently based on a true story)

Jeremy was born with a twisted body and a slow mind. At the age of 12, he was still in 2nd grade, seemingly unable to learn. His teacher, Doris Miller, often became frustrated with him. He would squirm in his seat, drool, and make grunting noises. At other times, he spoke clearly and distinctly, as if a spot of light had penetrated the darkness of his brain. Most of the time, however, Jeremy just irritated his teacher.

One day she called his parents and asked them to come in for a consultation. As the Forresters entered the empty classroom, Doris said to them, "Jeremy really belongs in a special school. It isn't fair to him to be with younger children who don't have learning problems. Why, there is a five year gap between his age and that of the other students."

Mrs. Forrester cried softly into a tissue, while her husband spoke. "Miss Miller," he said, "there is no school of that kind nearby. It would be a terrible shock for Jeremy if we had to take him out of this school. We know he really likes it here."

Doris sat for a long time after they had left, staring at the snow outside the window. Its coldness seemed to seep into her soul. She wanted to sympathize with the Forresters. After all, their only child had a terminal illness. But it wasn't fair to keep him in her class. She had 18 other youngsters to teach, and Jeremy was a distraction. Furthermore, he would never learn to read and write. Why waste any more time trying?

As she pondered the situation, guilt washed over her. Here I am complaining, when my problems are nothing compared to that poor family, she thought. From that day on, she tried hard to ignore Jeremy's noises and his blank stares.

Then one day, he limped to her desk, dragging his bad leg behind him. "I love you, Miss Miller!" he exclaimed, loud enough for the whole class to hear. The other students snickered, and Doris' face turned red. She stammered, "Wh-why that's very nice, Jeremy. N-now please take your seat."

Spring came, and the children talked excitedly about the coming of Easter.To emphasize the idea of new life springing forth, she gave each of the children a large plastic egg. "Now," she said to them, "I want you to take this home and bring it back tomorrow with something inside that shows new life. Do you understand?"

"Yes, Miss Miller," the children responded enthusiastically- all except for Jeremy. He listened intently; his eyes never left her face. He did not even make his usual noises. Did he understand the assignment? Perhaps she should call his parents and explain the project to them.
That evening, Doris' kitchen sink stopped up. She called the landlord and waited an hour for him to come by and unclog it. After that, she still had to shop for groceries, iron a blouse, and prepare a vocabulary test for the next day. She completely forgot about phoning Jeremy's parents.

The next morning, 19 children came to school, laughing and talking as they placed their eggs in the large wicker basket on Miss Miller's desk. After they completed their math lesson, it was time to open the eggs.

In the first egg, Doris found a flower. "Oh yes, a flower is certainly a sign of new life," she said. "When plants peek through the ground, we know that springis here." A small girl in the first row waved her arm. "That's my egg, Miss Miller," she called out.

The next egg contained a plastic butterfly, whichlooked very real. Doris held it up. "We all know that a caterpillar changes and grows into a beautiful butterfly. Yes, that's new life, too."

Little Judy smiled proudly and said, "Miss Miller, that one is mine." Next, Doris found a rock with moss on it. She explained that moss, too, showed life. Billy spoke up from the back of the classroom, "My daddy helped me," he beamed.

Then Doris opened the fourth egg. She gasped. The egg was empty. Surely it must be Jeremy's, she thought, and of course, he did not understand her instructions. If only she had not forgotten to phone his parents. Becauses he did not want to embarrass him, she quietly set the egg aside and reached for another.

Suddenly, Jeremy spoke up. "Miss Miller, aren't you going to talk about my egg?"

Flustered, Doris replied, "But Jeremy, your egg is empty."

He looked into her eyes and said softly, "Yes, but Jesus' tomb was empty, too."

Time stopped. When she could speak again, Doris asked him, "Do you know why the tomb was empty?"

"Oh, yes," Jeremy said, "Jesus was killed and put in there. Then His Father raised Him up."

The recess bell rang. While the children excitedly ran out to the schoolyard, Doris cried. The cold inside her melted completely away.

Three months later, Jeremy died. Those who paid their respects at the funeral were surprised to see 19 eggs on top of his casket... all of them empty.

I love stories like this that deal with teachers and their students. I want to be a teacher when I graduate, so that's one reason this story has always stuck with me. Happy Easter, everybody!

Cinema Weekend

I’ve gotten very off-schedule with my posts (sorry!) so I wanted to go ahead and try and get back on track.

Now I have something to tell you all: as a child, I was…a Disneyholic. My parents were former Disneyholics, my friends were Disneyholics, I even had some teachers who were closet Disneyholics. Growing up in the 90s, Disneyholism was the norm: new movies like Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, The Lion King, etc. were not only hugely popular, but the trusty, handy VCR brought Disney classics to light once more.

And there was one classic in particular that I enjoyed – Fantasia. When I was a baby/toddler, my parents would put on the movie to get me to calm down or go to sleep or whatever. There was something relaxing about a bunch of flowers dancing around to the music of the Nutcracker Suite. That’s not to say that the movie was a boring snoozefest or anything, it just had a calming effect on me. Years later, Fantasia 2000 was released, and I made my poor parents take me to see it every day for a week. I know, I was a music-and-animation loving nerd. Some girls had crushes on Shawn from “Boy Meets World” and I had crushes on Mickey from “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” (he totally rocked that blue hat) and those gorgeous centaurs from the “Pastoral Symphony.” Dishy! To be honest, I think I’m still a little obsessed with Fantasia/Fantasia 2000: I watch those movies all.the.time. When I’m doing homework, I’ll absently put the DVD into my computer and play it in the background.

Music + animation = Amelia’s personal fantasyland.

So here’s some awesome history on the film:
- Fantasia was released in 1941 (dude, it’s old!) That was before WWII!
- It was the 3rd full-length animated Disney film
- The film cost a whopping (in 1940s pre-war America) $2 million to make – of which $400,000 went exclusively to sound and recording techniques.
- While the film wasn’t considered a box office success (hey, we weren’t mobilizing for the war yet so it was still Depression times…give ‘em a break!) Fantasia has gone on to become one of the most popular films of all time and is today considered a classic film.

Featured Music:
“Toccata and Fugue in D Minor” by Johann Sebastian Bach
“Nutcracker Suite” by Pyotr Tchaikovsky
- This is the one with the dancing flowers, an underwater ballet, and closes with little (nude) fairies
“The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” by Paul Dukas
- Mickey the sorcerer and the evil possessed brooms
“The Rite of Spring” by Igor Stravinsky
- This is the one with that chronicles a “history” of the earth, from its beginning to the time of the dinosaurs to their extinction…
- While I liked this Disney segment, I eventually saw a ballet production of The Rite of Spring…and it freaked me out severely. It’s one of the freakiest things I’ve ever seen… future blog post on that!
“The Pastoral Symphony” by Ludwig van Beethoven
- Here we see an idyllic scene from something out of classical mythology (Dionysus, before he was sentenced to be the director at Camp Half Blood): nymphs, centaurs, centaurettes (a controversial Disney invention…in that they’re totally topless! Oh, the fast-paced, live-it-up world of the 1940s, indeed!), fat little cupids, and an obese, jovially-inebriated Dionysus and his weirdo donkey. I think I loved this segment best!
“Dance of the Hours” by Amilcare Ponchielli
- Besides “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice,” I’d say this is the other most famous segment associated with Fantasia. This is the one with the hippo ballerina and the rogue crocodile! Better than Romeo & Juliet!
“Night on Bald Mountain” by Modest Mussorgsky
- Hmmm, and here’s the scary, disturbing segment of the film. I’m really surprised Disney got away with this in the 1940s. If you’ve seen it, you’ll know what I’m talking about. My parents would always scramble into the room and grab for the “fast forward” button right before this segment, or else I’d frighten the neighbors with my screaming.

If you haven’t seen Fantasia, I highly recommend it! The musical selections are wonderful and the animation has a beautiful, timeless quality to it. Fantasia 2000 is just as enjoyable. There’s just something relaxing about the visual stimulation of animation with the lull of classical music. A fine combination, in my opinion, and that is why Fantasia is one of my all-time favorite films!
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