My Work

Friday, January 30, 2015

Groundhogs and Amethysts

February, shortest month of the year, even in those years where it’s slightly extended. This year, February is not taking the plunge, will be limited to just twenty-eight wintry revolutions about its axis. Often one of the coldest months of the winter, and filled with myth, love, and folklore, the name is derived from an ancient Roman ritual. Februa was a purification ritual, but what we are purifying isn’t spelled out.

"Surely as cometh the Winter, I know

There are Spring violets under the snow."

R. H. Newell

Wine plays a big part in the month, with the gem stone amethyst leading the way. Amethystos is a Greek work meaning not drunken and was considered sacred to that marvel of wine drinking, Dionysus. Amethyst can be as dark as a fine cabernet, and some goblets are either colored that way or are made from the gemstone.

"Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire:  it is the time for home."  

  Edith Sitwell

Love plays a big part in the month. Amethyst is the favored gem for one’s seventeenth wedding anniversary, and I shan’t leave out Valentine’s Day. There are several religious saints named Valentine, so we just grouped them all together and celebrate the day on February fourteen. Chocolate makers celebrate the day more than lovers, probably, as do greeting card manufacturers. Sorry for taking the romance out of it there. Florists often are seen doing little dances of glee, and romantic dinners followed by knee-bending and promises fill out the scene.

Lupercalia, a Roman holiday of little note, is supposed to have some relationship to Valentine’s Day, but after a dozen Google searches, I’m going to let it go at that. Thank you, Shakespear.

"Away in a meadow all covered with snow
The little old groundhog looks for his shadow
The clouds in the sky determine our fate
If winter will leave us all early or late."
  Don Halley
Groundhog Day was once a very popular folk type day, actually around the world. Ground hog, marmot, den living furry critter, whatever the name, in many societies if the little guy sees his shadow on or about February 2, we will have six more weeks of winter. Now, for the fun part of all this. From February 2 to March 21 is just about six weeks, the furry piece of bear bait is right. And just how does one celebrate ground hog day. I like sausage and eggs, myself.
Until next time, read good books and stay regular. Will you join me on facebook from time to time?
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Wednesday, January 21, 2015

This is wonderful!!

This is the cover art from my new novel. Release date is still a ways down the line and will be bally-hooooed from the top of every mountain when it happens.

Isn't that cover are magnificent? I want to run right out and buy that book! Have a great day ...

Until next time, will you join me on facebook from time to time?
Or Tweet with me, darlin’?

Saturday, January 17, 2015

January ... Hold That Door

January, for many of us is a month of nothing. We start the month off with horrible hangovers and nothing happens after that. There aren’t any huge rib cook-offs, no big chili contests, hard to go to the beach or plan a picnic, and Maui is just too expensive.

On the other hand, if you live in or near the mountains, winter sports can be fun if they are followed up with hot buttered rum or something similar to it. Aprés ski is improperly named. ‘After anything outdoors where you come back in covered in ice’ would be a better phrase.

Visits to galleries and museums can be enjoyable if the visit is followed by a long Italian dinner in an elegant setting in which every employee sounds like your favorite cousin from Napoli and great bottles of chianti are on every table, full at your sitting.

Going to the movies used to be fun, but when a two hour session that costs more than that Italian dinner we were discussing, and the theater is filled with people talking on phones, children yapping like your neighbor’s terrier, and gum on upholstery, it’s just not the same as it was a few generations ago.

When I was ten-years-old, back in ’48 thank you, Mom would give me a quarter on Saturday morning and I could go to the movies, double feature, news reel, cartoon, and serial, have popcorn or a soda, and come home with a nickel.

Doesn’t it just rip your knickers when an old grouch says thing like that?

Not always the coldest month of the year in the northern hemisphere, January is named after the Roman god Janus. Janus is supposedly the god of doors (why a door would need a god is something for another late night round of bourbon type discussions), the month opening the door to the rest of the year.

There are some in Europe that consider it the wolf month. Cold, snowy, wind blasting sleet right through the walls of the abode, and you can almost feel a big bad wolf just waiting its next meal. Just outside that front door you thought just squeaked a bit. Wind? Wolf?

In my case I finished 2014 with a short story published in The Story Teller Magazine, and signed a publishing contract with Solstice Publishing the first week of January. Then, I got a note from the fine folk at Frontier Tales that they will publish a short story of mine in May. I can’t wait for the next eleven months, ‘cause the wolf at my door is just friendly as all get-out.

Don’t let anyone tell you there’s nothing going on in January.

Until next time, will you join me on facebook from time to time?
Or Tweet with me, darlin’?

Friday, January 9, 2015

Stay With Us, Charlie

Satire in all its relevance. The dictionary simply calls satire a literary work in which vices, foibles, and etc. are held up to ridicule and contempt. Sarcasm. Those of a thin skinned nature are not apt to see the humor in satire, may even feel bullied, but it has been the backbone of humor probably from the first time someone made fun of another’s actions, beliefs, or thoughts.

Satire has been a large part of political reporting since the time of the first political reporter, and more often that not, in the form of a cartoon. When one thinks about the concept of the free press one should immediately think political satirical cartoon, for it cannot exist without a free press.

Some are calling religious satire blasphemy, which would take it off the menu, but let’s take a closer look at that. Priests fondling little boys is vividly heinous, but reporting on such behavior is not blasphemy. The actions are not accepted by way of anything written in the bible, so it should be open to satire, sarcasm, reporting.

The exact same thing can be said for Muslims killing women and children of different faiths because they won’t convert.

It isn’t the faith that is being satirized, it’s the way the faith is being manipulated by some within the faith, and done with mirth and humor. In a free society, satire is an important way for us to see the foibles of those wishing to foist something off on us. Without that sarcasm we wouldn’t know about shady deals, evil entanglements, or religious terrorists.

Are you old enough to remember some of the wonderful cartoons that came out of the Watergate scandal? How about Bill Clinton’s escapades with his Lolita in the blue dress? Cartoons brought the deeds to a simple visual level that said, one, just how inappropriate the actions were, and two, how downright funny they were. And you can bet that Tricky Dickey and Uncle Bill were furious when seeing them.

None of the above should ever be justification for wanton murder, whether by religious terrorists or flagrantly stupid politicians. If the answer to a free press is to kill the messenger, then that segment of society doesn’t deserve a free press. I vote for a free press, wild and wooly satire, and an open and free society.

On an upcoming blog, I’ll question where the international intelligence community might have been napping prior to the assault in France, and why a government police agency would respond to an armed assault unarmed? 

Until next time, will you join me on facebook from time to time?
Or Tweet with me, darlin’?