Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A Carol You Will NOT Hear on Radio: Blessed Are the Peace-Makers

Most people do not know that Longfellow wrote the poem "Christmas Bells" during the U.S. Civil War.  Later on it was set to music with 2 of its stanzas missing (Bowdlerization!) and re-titled "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day".  Just before he wrote it, his wife had died in a house fire and his eldest son had gone into the Union Army.  Longfellow was also a part of the 19th century Transcendentalist Movement and was an Unitarian.
So without further ado, here is the complete "Christmas Bells."  May our prayers for peace and enlightenment come true.

 "I heard the bells on Christmas Day

Their old familiar carols play,

And wild and sweet

The words repeat

Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And thought how, as the day had come,

The belfries of all Christendom

Had rolled along

The unbroken song

Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Till, ringing, singing on its way,

The world revolved from night to day,

A voice, a chime

A chant sublime

Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Then from each black accursed mouth

The cannon thundered in the South,

And with the sound

The carols drowned

Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

It was as if an earthquake rent

The hearth-stones of a continent,

And made forlorn

The households born

Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And in despair I bowed my head;

"There is no peace on earth," I said;

"For hate is strong,

And mocks the song

Of peace on earth, good-will to men!"

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:

"God is not dead; nor doth he sleep!

The Wrong shall fail,

The Right prevail,

With peace on earth, good-will to men!"

Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Honour of Your Presence...

Of course, you will need to be properly dressed:

Now, the most important question is:  Who is your favourite Mr. Darcy....

Monday, September 20, 2010

Speak Like Jane Austen Day

I have cringed for many years over the decline in spoken English.  I realize that "slang" expressions can make a language richer; however, the arrival of spin and Newspeak in no way enhances the character of our language.

Friday, July 23, 2010

New Archeo-Thrillers by Will Adams: Is Daniel Knox the Next Indiana Jones?

I have just finished the first two archeo-thriller novels by Will Adams, a new author from Great Britain: The Alexander Cipher and The Exodus Quest.  These have just been recently released in the USA.  In them he introduces us to his hero Daniel Knox -- and soon-to-be permanent assistant Gaille Bonnard, the daughter of his late mentor.

Egyptology has always been fascinating for me even though I am more classically focused myself (pre-Hellenistic).  The author's what-if's are not ridiculous -- and Library Journal says:

In a welcome respite from the glut of Christendom-shattering, artifact-protecting, Secret Order thrillers, debut author Adams offers up something new ... a plausible, fun heist-thriller that compels the reader to wonder, What if?

Thank the gods for this!!  The historicity of the novels is very good -- probably too good for a reader who believes in the absolute historical truth of the Torah and Tanach (The Exodus Quest).  However, for me, it was a breath of fresh air that an author has actually utilized the most recent scholarship available.

I was excited to find his third book available through book sellers on ABE Books ( since it has not yet been published in this country. 

I don't want to ruin his plots for anyone; however, The Alexander Cipher proposes a location for the Tomb of Alexander and The Exodus Quest concerns Ahkenaten and the Amarna Period.  I highly recommend these to you and I am convinced that you will not be disappointed (as I have been recently with books in the same genre).

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Austenesques, Part 2

I am pleased to recommend the first two novels by Monica Fairview: The Other Mr. Darcy and The Darcy Cousins.  Even though these novels place Elizabeth and Will in secondary positions, they are both very diverting in their own right -- and even suggest further stories based on the characters.
In The Other Mr. Darcy we are introduced to Robert Darcy, Will's cousin from Boston, Massachusetts.  He is stuck in England due to a blockade.  The story picks up at the day of Darcy and Elizabeth's marriage, when Robert first encounters Caroline Bingley.  Her transformation is actually the main subject of the novel.  Ms. Fairview has much of Austen's tone, which is a hard thing to duplicate.
In The Darcy Cousins we are introduced to the sister and a brother of Robert's.  However, even though there is a lot of plot concerning Clarissa and Anne de Bourgh, the novel is actually about  Georgianna Darcy and the pitfalls she faces on her way to love and happiness.
I will definitely read the next book by this author.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Angelology: A Review

Danielle Trussoni's first novel, Angelology, has garnered many wonderful reviews (New York Times, Book List, etc.), so I was really looking forward to reading it.  It's not an awful book; however, I believe that there needed to be more editorial suggestions given to its author.  A major section of reminiscence was rather wooden.  In addition, I was never sure if this was memory/dream or a verbal explication by the character.
The mythical basis of the novel also needed a better rendering as well as the history of "angelology".  Almost forty years ago while I was an undergraduate I took a wonderful course in Biblical literature (Torah, Tanach, NT, and Aprocrypha).  The main basis for the novel's universe is a few lines from Genesis and the very late (1st century BCE) apocryphal Book of Enoch, which is one of the main sources for the so-called fall of the angels.  There is one small notice in Genesis that a group of angels who watch over humanity decide to marry the daughters of men.  Their children were called giants or nephilim.  As far as I know, there was no prohibition of this by Yahweh (nothing in Genesis).   However, later authors (Enoch) posit that this was in fact the case.  (This is not the so-called fall of the Light-Bringer, which again is a very late story.  He is in fact the angel who tests Job.)  As can be seen, these particular mythoi are very confusing. 
Now, as many readers of this blog already know, I do not live in a bifurcated world, one of pure whites and pure blacks.  However, the author posits a bifurcation between the nephilim and humanity:  nephilim = black/evil; humanity = white/good.  However, the angelologists appear to me to be quite immoral and unethical in their own way.  In addition, I felt a degree of regret/tristesse underneath the surface.  In many ways I thought that the angelologists created their own enemy.
So, I am interested in seeing how the author will be able to get everything out of the mess she has already made.  I did like the ending in some ways -- not in other ways.  I'll leave it for you to decide.
Yes, the book has been optioned and there will be a sequel.
I would rate this between a C and a B.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

New Blog Design

I would like to take this time to express my thanks to Lyndzi and the other designers at The Cutest Blog On The Block for the re-design of this blog. 
In honour of this, I have posted a new music player from my MixPod featuring the wonderful dance music of nineteenth century Vienna.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Good Dreams: James McNeill Whistler's Peacock Room (Arrangement in Blue and Gold)

Oh, my!  I think I have finally found my ideal bedroom.  The room was designed around 1876-77 in London.  Enjoy!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

A Wonderful Parable

This parable was written by one of the lovely women on the Wing-Nut Watch Group on Ravelry:


Jesus and His disciples came to a town, and in the square of that town He preached and He called to the people to come and be healed.

And those with ailments and those covered with sores and boils and those afflicted with all manner of maladies sought His healing.

Jesus approached the first person, a man who lay on a litter, his pain and suffering writ on his face. As Jesus knelt to lay His hands on the man, Peter stepped forward.

“Wait Lord, ” he said. “Are you a participating provider for this man?”

Then Andrew said “Should we not determine whether he suffers from a pre-existing condition?”

Matthew added, “He may be so ill that it would strain Your resources to heal him. In that case, You should not try. Let him seek help elsewhere.”

Then James son of Zebedee and John chimed in. “Why do You not ask for payment?” asked James.

“Surely it is not fair to those who pay their healers if You heal these people without cost,” John pointed out.

“After all,” said Simon Zealot, “what if his condition was brought about by the way he lived? Should he not bear responsibility?”

“I question whether You should heal the children,” said James son of Alphaeus. “Their parents should be working to pay for their care.”

“Indeed,” said Thomas, “if You heal them every time they will never learn personal responsibility.”

“Then they will always rely on the support of others,” said Philip.

“Besides, aren’t there better people to help?” argued Bartholomew.

“They should pull themselves up by their bootstraps,” proclaimed Thaddeus.

Judas Iscariot stared from one disciple to the next. “Oh for crying out loud!” he said. “They don’t have BOOTS!” But they paid him no heed so he went to find an inn and wine.

And Jesus?

Jesus wept.

(Copyright D. Scanlon 2010)

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Neo-Anarchists & Neo-Fascists: A Contradiction, Yet....

Bob Englehart: The Hartford Courant

Anarchy and Fascism seem like an incompatible duo; yet, they seem to being double teaming in the so-called Tea-Bag Movement.

Ordinarily, I wouldn't use Wikipedia; however for a brief thumbnail description of Fascism, it's fairly good.  The following is excerpted from it -- deja vu, anyone:

Fascism is a radical and authoritarian nationalist political ideology.
   American Exceptionalism comes to mind here

Fascists seek to organize a nation on corporatist perspectives; values; and systems such as the political system and the economy.
   which, as we all know, only concerns the bottom-line:  there is no room for humanitarianism, ethics, or morals in a society like this 

Scholars generally consider fascism to be on the far right of the conventional left-right political spectrum, although some scholars claim that fascism has been influenced by both the left and the right.

Fascists believe that a nation is an organic community that requires strong leadership, singular collective identity, and the will and ability to commit violence and wage war in order to keep the nation strong.
    Darn it all if anyone looks "different" or is different than the mythical norm that these yahoos believe is real.  Of course, this means that Amerinds are strangers in their own land.

They claim that culture is created by collective national society and its state, that cultural ideas are what give individuals identity, and thus rejects individualism.
   Yes, that they do.

In viewing the nation as an integrated collective community, they claim that pluralism is a dysfunctional aspect of society, and justify a totalitarian state as a means to represent the nation in its entirety.
    see above

(They advocate the creation of a single-party state.)
     They haven't gotten to this point quite yet.  Still, all of us out here who call ourselves Progressives definitely "have to be watched" because of our seditious tendencies.  This is classic projection of one's self onto another.

Fascist governments forbid and suppress openness and opposition to the fascist state and the fascist movement.
   Ah -- those hippies in the 1960s were just like us.  Sorry, they aren't -- and weren't.  I know because I was in college at that time.

They identify violence and war as actions that create national regeneration, spirit and vitality.
    I believe that this view came into fruition with the made up war against Iraq.  However, it may have been even earlier (Grenada, anyone).

Fascists reject and resist autonomy of cultural or ethnic groups who are not considered part of the fascists' nation and who refuse to assimilate or are unable to be assimilated.
    This is because we're all alike -- NOT!

They consider attempts to create such autonomy as an affront and threat to the nation    See above (I will be writing an essay concerning this as a feature of a salvationist religion which has gotten too big and considers itself The Universal Truth (TM).)

 Fascism is strongly opposed to core aspects of the Enlightenment and is an opponent of liberalism, Marxism, and mainstream socialism for being associated with failures that fascists claim are inherent in the Enlightenment.
    It is also anti-education (real education -- not the politicized  types as seen in Texas, Oklahoma, etc. -- which also includes creationism as if it was real science).  They'd much rather have their children stupid and ignorant because that is somehow safer.

Fascists view egalitarianism, materialism, and rationalism as failed elements of the Enlightenment.

They oppose liberalism — as a bourgeois movement — and Marxism — as a proletarian movement — for being exclusive economic class-based movements.

They present their ideology as that of an economically trans-class movement that promotes ending economic class conflict to secure national solidarity.
     Don't believe that for a second!

They believe that economic classes are not capable of properly governing a nation, and that a merit-based aristocracy of experienced military persons must rule through regimenting a nation's forces of production and securing the nation's independence.
    Let's admit it:  they don't believe in freedom.  The Gadsen flag is a travesty in their hands -- we need to take it back from them!

Anarchy is nothing more than the state of being without a government of any kind.  Of course, the secondary meaning is chaos.  At times this can be accompanied by nihilism, which is the doctrine that nothing can be known as well as scepticism to all knowledge and all reality.
The para-military militia movement, which is now aligned with the "Baggers," is anarchistic.  They are actually looking toward the Balkanization of the United States.
I have tried to use judicious language in this post, which has been difficult, since I would love to take the virtual 2X4 to these people in the attempt to wake them up and make them ACTUALLY think about what it is that they are doing.  However, a constant diet of the out-right lies of cluster-Fixed/Faux "News," many politicians of the GOP persuasion (Palin, Bachmann, Boehner, et al), and just pure laziness on their part has me in despair for our country.  I am not a Christian; however, I believe one of the gospels had him say while he was being crucified, " Father, forgive them, they know not what they do." 

Friday, April 16, 2010

Saturday, April 3, 2010

"Austenesques" and Others

As can be seen under the 52 In 52 Challenge, I have been reading a number of "Austenesque" novels.  These books can be charming and convey the tone of Austen to a degree.  There are those, however, which are total travesties.
The chief among these is the novel by Sharon Lathan, My Dearest Mr. Darcy.  Where can I begin to describe the totality of a wreck that this novel is?
1. On almost every page there are numerous modern anachronisms, including the use of language -- where was this writer's editor?
2. There was entirely too-too much bodice ripping for my taste along with treacly - gooey endearments (again, on almost every page).  Austen is rolling in her grave!
3. To top it all off, she then went for the Christian market!  (This made absolutely no sense at all.)
4.  Other than all this, the basic story line really wasn't that bad; but, it was all I could do to finish it.  All in all, I would give this a D/D-.  Read it if you like to stare at car wrecks.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

An Open Letter to Conservatives

I signed into Ravelry today (Ravelry is an on-line community of knitters, crocheters, yarn dyers, spinners, etc. ) so that I could check out if there was anything new in some of my groups.  Anyway, on Wingnut Watch one of the moderators had posted a link to a wonderful blogpost by a gentleman calling himself American Dad.  It was an open letter to conservatives where he took probably most everything ugly they have been doing and citing proof of their lies.  It has already gone viral, as the link I'm giving is for another blog which posted it (the original citation was too long -- it is a TPM blog -- and I couldn't get the whole thing.  Anyway, please go to  for a wonderful, fully cited essay.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Doing My Bit To Help Jon Stewart's Beck Satire Go Viral!

On Thursday night Jon Stewart of The Daily Show had an inspired 15 minutes skewering Glenn Beck in the greatest parody/satire since the 18th century!  See it here:

If he doesn't get an Emmy for this, the awards are rigged!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Olympics: Boring Pairs Final

Even though I have not watched figure skating in recent years, I really enjoyed it when I did. However, I was extremely disappointed in the pairs final at the Vancouver Games, which was broadcast on Monday night. I have never witnessed anything so boring in my life! It seemed to me that every programme was the same. There was almost no individuality -- and no new moves. I thought that the short programme would have all the required elements; then the long programme would show off interesting choreography. However, it was not to be. Terpsichore was not involved at all this year -- and probably was not even in attendance.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

The State of the Union

I liked the President's speech last night. He said many things which needed to be said -- and, there, in front of us all, our so-called distinguished Representatives and Senators from the GOP sat on their hands with smirks on their faces. It was nauseating. How I wish I had a 2X4 that could reach to Washington so that I might knock some sense of real love for their country into whatever brains they might have. However, they don't have any because they sold them to their corporate and tea-bagger owners. They don't make any kind of sense any more. Everything out of their mouths is rote. Even Chris Matthews, who gives the "better" GOP mouthpieces a forum, is getting disgusted with them when they attempt to change the questions they have been asked. Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt are turning in their graves. The current GOP IS NOT the party of Lincoln. Any real moral stands they once had are long since gone. I am so disgusted whenever they use that descriptor that I can't see straight. Yet, so many people allow themselves to be snookered by these vile creatures. Take off your rose-coloured glasses and see that they are naked!
I really admire President Obama for entering the fiery furnace at the GOP shin-dig in Baltimore. I wouldn't have been so nice, even though he did call them "liars" (not his word) and "hypocrites" (not his word) to their faces. I'm just not able to "make nice" with that particular group because they play with loaded dice and cards up their sleeves. Yes, I am calling them cheats, thieves, liars, and hypocrites.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Atlantis, Vatican Conspiracies, Codes -- Oh, My!

A myth which has entranced almost everyone in the Western world is the story of Atlantis, that golden city lost to us because of its inhabitants' hubris. The story has sparked the imaginations of many writers since Plato who use it as a basis for their story telling. Over the years I have read a number of these novels: Clive Cussler's "Atlantis Found," Thomas Greanias' "Raising Atlantis," and just recently Charles Brokaw's "The Atlantis Code." The last two also involve Vatican conspiracies to supress the truth of the discoveries because of fear that their church would be diminished and the people know too much about the mythic substructure which underpins this particular religion.
Needless to say, none of these is great literature. And, even though I am not a fan of the Roman Catholic Church, it would indeed be a major news item if there were any real, current conspiracies being cooked up by the Vatican. The Galileo Affair is now such an embarassment to them that it would indeed be supremely foolish of them to do anything of this sort.
Of the three titles I mentioned, "The Atlantis Code" has the most ridiculous underlying myth. The writer would have you believe that the Garden of Eden and the Tower of Babel were a part of Atlantis. In addition, he posits that there was a "first son" who brought a special book, which was violently taken from him by the Atlanteans. This attempt to posit Christianity's supposed truth from the beginning of time is what the 4th century CE creed writers tried to do. In addition, I was upset that the hero "allowed" the Roman Church to hide away the book. However, maybe I shouldn't have been so surprised at all since he named him Lourds (ie. Lourdes or Lords). I am really wondering what type of academic the writer really is. The writing is fairly good and I must admit that I liked Natasha, the Russian police inspector, who is drawn into the story due to the fact that her sister is murdered as a part of the plot. The bad guys are really, really bad, as you probably can expect from a novel of this genre.
"Raising Atlantis" Roman connection is with a former nun who is sent by the pope to try to stop the excavation. It is directly said that people should be kept ignorant of this "for their own good." Yeah, sure. Barefoot and pregnant. Right now I don't know if I am going to read the two sequels to this or not. Reviews for the third in the series haven't been good and it has been stated that he got the plot for it directly from Clive Cussler's "Atlantis Found".
Cussler is fun; and, although he is occasionally wooden as a writer, they are great beach reads. He is definitely over-the-top and in great form in this novel.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Hypocrisy Watch: Do As I Say, Not As I Do

I have a finely set Hypocrisy Meter. There are, of course, The Usual Suspects. The entire GOP is in a category all their own. However, there is one group in particular who will scream "persecution" when I mention them: so-called "moderate" Christians. The reason I am placing them in this category is because of a call some of their leaders made to moderate Muslims to abjure the Jihadists, theocrats, and other assorted wing-nuts who populate that religion. Of course, almost every religion has its own jihadists, theocrats, and wing-nuts. However, these fine folk do not seem to find it necessary that they, in turn, PUBLICALLY abjure the jihadists, dominionists, theocrats, and assorted wing-nuts in their own religion. I do remember that somewhere in one of the gospels that Jesus said something to effect of tending to the log in your own eye before telling another person to tend to the sliver in his. So, no soup for you today!