Saturday, December 31, 2005


A very happy New Year, everyone.

My life is richer for your presence.

Thursday, December 22, 2005


Heh--It's been quite a week.

Just a few loose ends to tie up. My dear friend, Ray Wong, is spilling all sorts of made-up secrets about me, on his blog. Something about a wild evening involving Chippendales dancers and Maker's Mark. I told him not to drink so much whiskey. Sheesh, can I help it if the guy is a total lightweight?

It's been meme-madness, and this is apparently the meme Ray is playing with:
"Monday Meme - December 19
If you read this, if your eyes are passing over this right now, (even if we don't speak often) please post a comment with a COMPLETELY MADE UP AND FICTIONAL memory of you and me. It can be anything you want - good or bad - BUT IT HAS TO BE FAKE.

When you're finished, post this little paragraph on your blog and be surprised (or mortified) about what people DON'T ACTUALLY remember about you.

As always, I'd love it if you'd use the 's tag."

Urm...Knowing the bunch of you that post here, I'm a tad bit hesitant, I gotta admit...

Also, the ever-lovely Unique tagged me to write to a photo prompt. You can see the photo on her blog, here.

I sort of cheated, and borrowed a couple of characters from the book-which-shall-not-be-named-lest-its-name-

So here goes:

Somehow, sometimes, storms cleanse the heart that holds them. From complete devastation, you find a place of serenity and simplicity from which you can begin again. Erin was like that, for Matt.

For the rest of his life, his loves would be defined by Erin. He felt certain of it, sitting alone, contemplating the ceiling of his apartment. He even found a small amount of satisfaction in the thought.

Last but certainly not least, go take the My Words Matter pledge. If for no other reason, take the pledge because you do know the power of words.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Holly and Ivy and Stuff

Dawno posts a regular Monday Meme, over at AbsoluteWrite, in the blogging forum.

"Dec. 12th AWMondayMeme

List the holiday songs you know by heart, but only the ones where you know more than just the first verse."

I'm not actually going to do that. I know an awful lot of holiday songs, though; so Dawno's challenge started me thinking about the Christmas songs I love the most, and thinking about Christmas carols, in general.

I love the old songs, like The Holly and the Ivy, probably circa the mid 1700s, but I've seen at least one suggestion that the origins of the song pre-date European Christianity.

The holly and the ivy,
When they are both full grown
Of all the trees that are in the wood
The holly bears the crown
O the rising of the sun
And the running of the deer
The playing of the merry organ
Sweet singing of the choir

Musical historian William Studwell classifies "The Holly and the Ivy" as a folk song, and traces its origins to the Gloucestershire region of western England.

The Coventry Carol is another fine old song, from the mid 1500s. There are differing versions, here's one collected from Appalachia, called Lulle Lullay.

Lullay, Thou tiny little Child
Bye-bye, lulle, lullay;
Lullay, Thou tiny little Child,
Bye-bye, lulle, lullay.

Oh sisters two, how may we do
To preserve this day?
This poor Childling for whom we sing
Bye-bye, lulle, lullay.

Herod, the King, in his raging,
Charged he hath this day
His soldiers in their strength and might,
All children young to slay.

Then woe is me, poor Child, for Thee,
And ever mourn and say,
For at thy parting nor say nor sing
Bye-bye, lulle, lullay.

And when the stars in gather do,
In their far venture stay,
Then smile as dreaming, Little One,
Bye-bye, lulle, lullay.

Revelers going from house to house drinking, celebrating, and singing certainly seems to predate Christian traditions around caroling--after all, the Romans had Bacchus.

There are a number of wassailing songs and traditions. In my internet wanderings, I came across a modern version I hadn't seen, "Homeless Wassail":

"Wassail, wassail,all over the town,
Our cup is white and our ale is brown"
But huddled on the iron grate
we poor and hungry curse our fate.

cho: No wassail bowl for such as these
No turkey scraps, no ale nor cheese,
This Christmas Eve our heart's desire
Is a bottle of gin and a trashcan fire.

Good Christian, mind, as home you go
With dreams of holly and mistletoe
That the holly bears a dreadful thorn
For those who wake to a frozen dawn.

Oh, where is He, that holy child
Once born of Mary, meek and mild?
And whither peace, goodwill to men
Now and forevermore, amen?

All ye who dine with face aglow
In Reninensi atrio (in the Queen's hall---Latin)
Pray pause awile at pleasure's door
And sup some sorrow with the poor.

"Wassail, wassail,all over the town,
Our cup is white and our ale is brown"
This cold and hunger, pain and care
Sweet Jesus Christ, it's hard to bear.

Admittedly a bit far from the festivity of the more usual Christmas songs, but not far at all from the traditional charity associated with this time of the year.

The word "wassail" probably descends from an anglo-saxon "Wæs hal!"--which roughly translates as "be healthy" and resembles the more modern "to your health." (Hopefully I didn't muck that up too badly; I'd hate to make our redoubtable Dr. Nokes cringe...) I'm not one of those folks who needs to claim pagan roots for Christmas, though. I love how old it is, I love the centuries of weight of different cultures and traditions and ideas.

So Merry Christmas, my friends. I'm so very glad you're all here. I wish blessings and good health to you and yours in the coming year.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

December 7th, 1941

Photo of the explosion of the U.S.S. Shaw, from the National Archives.

A strange Pearl Harbor conspiracy site. Here's another one.

1177 souls died aboard the USS Arizona.

Here is a list of those killed in the attack on Pearl Harbor, both civilian and military.

The attack on Pearl Harbor was a defining moment in America's history.

I just wanted to take a moment, and remind y'all it happened today, in 1941.

Update: Jim Macdonald has a terrific post and timeline, and quotes FDR's post-attack speech, over at Making Light. The conversation in the comments that follow his post is fascinating and illuminating.

Terrorism or Free Speech

This is why the Bush administration is so desperate to curtail civil liberties. From today's New York Times:

In bringing the case against Mr. Arian in 2003, the department relied on the easing of legal restrictions under the antiterrorism law known as the USA Patriot Act to present years of wiretaps on the defendants in a criminal context.

In the conversations cited by prosecutors, Mr. Arian was heard raising money for Palestinian causes, hailing recently completed attacks against Israel with associates overseas, calling suicide bombers "martyrs" and referring to Jews as "monkeys and swine" who would be "damned" by Allah.

There are things about our freedom of speech that I'm deeply uncomfortable with. I'm deeply uncomfortable with neo-nazi propaganda. I'm deeply uncomfortable with right-wing Christian condemnation of homosexuality.

What do you guys think? Here are some deeply, deeply disturbing links to aryan-power and neo-nazi sites. Don't click, if you're uncomfortable doing so. I read friggin' everything, and this stuff turns my stomach.

Have we passed the place in our cultural history where it is either necessary or wise to continue to allow this stuff? Does freedom of speech still have a place? Does it still need to apply to these extremes?

I would argue absolutely, yes. I'm curious, though, what y'all have to say about it.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Tagged for a book meme

Tagged by Ray with another book meme--list 15 personal facts and/or preferences about books.

I can deal with book memes, so I'm happy to play.

Here we go:

1--Eudora Welty's prose is so delicious I love to read her aloud, to myself or to others--doesn't matter either way.

2--I actually love to read aloud just in general, now that I think of it. Some authors are better for it than others, though.

3--If I particularly love a book, I'll buy extra copies so I have copies to force on give away to friends and acquaintances

4--My favorite childhood books were The Black Stallion books, and The Happy Hollisters

5--I discovered spec-fic when I found a tattered paperback copy of A.E. Van Vogt's Slan in a box of old books in my dad's auto-shop waiting area--I was completely smitten and besotted with the genre, by the time I reached the end. I promptly read my way through Heinlein and Asimov, that same summer.

6--I wrote my master's thesis primarily on Stephen King's Pet Sematary--much to the bemusement and grudging admiration of my faculty advisor, department chair, and thesis committee. They liked it.

7--I'd rather read than watch anything on TV.

8--I usually have more than one book with me, everywhere I go.

9--I read as much or more nonfiction as fiction.

10--I can't go in a bookstore without buying a book. Or twelve.

11--I'm particularly addicted to How-To sorts of books: How To Tile Your Kitchen With Coconut Shells...How To Make Goat Cheese With An Oversized Tupperware and a Crock Pot...How To Raise Bees In Your Garage Without Being Stung to Death...

You get the idea, I'm sure.

12--I adore reference books. Especially books about words. The longer, more detailed the information, the better. Etymologies are soooooooo sexy...

13--I have too many books. I have books I literally haven't handled in years, but I cart them with me from place to place, whenever I move--and I can't bring myself to get rid of a single one of them.

14--I periodically reread much-loved books because the sense of familiarity is like catching up with a dear old friend. I have books I've read ten or more times.

15--I'm always a bit afraid, when I start a new book by an author I particularly like. I'm afraid this book will disappoint me. I'm afraid this book won't be as good as the author's others, and the let-down will taint the joy I feel when I get the next. It hardly ever happens that way. Still.

My god. Reading the above sounds downright...dysfunctional. Heh.

Okay, I'll tag Medievalist (on her blog of choice)--just leave us a link
Jen, on Creatif
Amy on Ruining My Eyes, if she happens to meander by
and Coyote Beta at Coyote Wild

(hint, hint: Someone should tag Frank, at Remaindered Random Musings
I would have, but I didn't wanna tag everyone I knew, so y'all could spread the love! *grin*)