Desperate Ravings #2 – The Pickup Artist of 1896

Once upon a time I held the respect of Isabella Jane Hill Flores.

She had, at an early age, decided she was going to be Girl Iron-Man and has, admirably I think, done a good job of focusing on math and science and disciplined thinking and strategy… at least for an eight-year-old.

… Once upon a time…

Today if you ask her which parent she thinks is smarter, me (the primary breadwinner) or her mommy (the infectious, more accessible @BastardStory) she will laugh at you.

“Mommy has a Masters Degree in Physics,” Bella will declare, and with contempt. “Daddy studied poems. Poems!”

You see, I had a strategy backfire a couple of years ago. Mommy was always there, kind, and focused primarily on taking care of the kids. They loved — and of course still love — her, but I didn’t feel they were showing her sufficient awe (Katherine really is one of the most impressive persons I know). So I informed my Girl Iron-Man-to-be which of us had the full-ride advanced degree in Physics (though she went into publishing and later conventional advertising pre-full-time mommy); and which of us studied poems. Poems!

I got it half-right. At least she now respects mommy.

So on the subject of poems, longtime readers know that in the years before FiveWithFlores, my online handle was madmanpoet. Paul Jordan (and I would guess relatively few others) have figured out that I stole that from the wonderful Dar Williams song Are You Out There.

But anyway, at the age of 18, freshly off my first national publication (in a poetry journal) I decided I was going to devote my college years to British poetry (Americans, in my 18-year-old estimation, couldn’t write). One of the poets I most liked was A.E. Housman; today’s assignment was a piece I fell in love with in the spring of 1994:

Today’s Assignment – The Pickup Artist of 1896

OH see how thick the goldcup flowers
  Are lying in field and lane,
With dandelions to tell the hours
  That never are told again.
Oh may I squire you round the meads        
  And pick you posies gay?
—’Twill do no harm to take my arm.
  ’You may, young man, you may.’
Ah, spring was sent for lass and lad,
  ’Tis now the blood runs gold,        
And man and maid had best be glad
  Before the world is old.
What flowers to-day may flower to-morrow,
  But never as good as new.
—Suppose I wound my arm right round—        
  ‘’Tis true, young man, ’tis true.’
Some lads there are, ’tis shame to say,
  That only court to thieve,
And once they bear the bloom away
  ’Tis little enough they leave.        
Then keep your heart for men like me
  And safe from trustless chaps.
My love is true and all for you.
  ‘Perhaps, young man, perhaps.’
Oh, look in my eyes then, can you doubt?        
  —Why, ’tis a mile from town.
How green the grass is all about!
  We might as well sit down.
—Ah, life, what is it but a flower?
  Why must true lovers sigh?        
Be kind, have pity, my own, my pretty,—
  ‘Good-bye, young man, good-bye.’

-from A Shropshire Lad by A.E. Housman

Please make sure to pay attention to your spacing and punctuation in this one; it’s both tricky and rewarding.

Here is a short, two-minute, recording of YT & Bella that illustrates just why:

Same deal as yesterday!

1) Copy today’s assignment, by hand, and in triplicate.
2) Upload to
3) Like this post!
4) Become eligible for fabulous prizes!

On the subject of “fabulous prizes” here are yesterday’s winners —

The winner of a $10 gift certificate from GatheringMagic: Sonja Boschman

The winner of a $10 gift certificate from LegitMTG: David Weitz

The winner of a $10 gift certificate from ManaDeprived: Shaun Louis Korb

The Story So Far…
In order to qualify for those prizes, Sonja, David, and Shaun wrote out a short segment from Gwen Stefani’s Early Winter and uploaded their work to the Desperate Ravings HOMEWORK page:


Why do you act so stupid?


You know that I’m always right.

(in case you were wondering my homework for today has been up there for hours!)

The Gwen segment perfectly encapsulates how I feel about the comments from some — especially combative — commenters and forum denizens. It is important if you are going to write down your thoughts and present them to large groups of people — and certainly if you expect to be paid for them — that you can develop some sense of confidence (that your words are worthy of publication, and to be appreciated by others), and a bit of a thick skin (haters gonna hate).

I love a lot about Gwen, but really, really, thank her for the above fourteen words.

Secondly, one of the classic openings in the Magic writing game is the asking of a question. To wit:

I wanted to prime the Desperate Ravings pump with a super simple one, and one of the best — and reminiscent of likely the absolute most influential and important articles — despite its being an easy and simple one to start us off right… Even if the question itself (“why…”) wasn’t a particularly useful one.

If you think you’re late to the game — that’s okay! You might have missed the first day’s $10 gift certificates, but you have until June 13 to complete all seven Desperate Ravings assignments in order to qualify for one of the big prizes.

The Desperate Ravings Calendar:

  • June 4, 2012 – Desperate Ravings assignment #1, $30 in gift certificates went to Sonja, David, and Shaun!
  • June 5, 2012 – (today) Desperate Ravings assignment #2, $30 in gift certificates to Like-ers and contest participants
  • June 6, 2012 – Desperate Ravings assignment #3, $30 in gift certificates to Like-ers and contest participants
  • June 7, 2012 – Desperate Ravings assignment #4, $30 in gift certificates to Like-ers and contest participants
  • June 8, 2012 – Desperate Ravings assignment #5, $30 in gift certificates to Like-ers and contest participants
  • June 9, 2012 – Desperate Ravings assignment #6
  • June 10, 2012 – Last Desperate Ravings assignment, #7
  • June 12, 2012 – Everything is due! Shortly thereafter we will finalize an additional $150 prizes, a personalized coaching call, and the possibility of Desperate Ravings – Flashback.

I hope you guys are having fun.


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