Sunday, February 14, 2010

Friday, February 12, 2010


Irving Berlin is the American Shakespeare. Just as the Bard has a quotation for every occasion, so Irving has a song.

But, both parts of that description are equally important. Irving is "our" Shakespeare. At the same time, he was fiercely proud of being an American; a pride he expressed in the anthem "God Bless America." He also expressed his pride in and love for the United States in two historical pieces that he wrote for the 1942 film Holiday Inn, both of which we shall be featuring this month.

So, with compliments to Messieurs Berlin, Crosby and Co...

Happy Birthday President Lincoln!

Upon a February morn
A tiny baby boy was born
Abraham, Abraham
When he grew up this tiny babe
Folks all called him Honest Abe
Abraham, Abraham
In eighteen sixty, he became
The sixteenth president
And now he's in the hall of fame
A most respected gent
That's why we celebrate
This blessed February date
Abraham, Abraham

When black folks lived in slavery
Who was it set the darkie free?
Abraham, Abraham
When trouble came down from the shelf
Who's heart was bigger than himself?
Abraham, Abraham
The country's going to the dogs
They shouted loud and long
Then from a cabin made out of logs
The right man come along
And that is why we celebrate
This blessed February date
Abraham, Abraham

The U.S.A.'s united thanks
To one whose name was Nancy Hanks
Abraham, Abraham
She gave this land the finest son
Who ever went to Washington
Abraham, Abraham
Someone told him General Grant
Was drinking every night
He answered, "Go see if you can't
Get all my generals tight"
That's why we celebrate
This blessed February date
Abraham, Abraham

Thank the Lord for

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Juices Flowing Again

My friends and colleagues in the writers group were very sympathetic and generous with suggestions about how to beat the block I complained about in the last post.

I want to thank them all, again, very much!

We need Edmund to experience some Man versus Nature. This shouldn't be too hard, since he has never before traveled more than fifty miles away from home. I only have vague ideas about this as yet, but just knowing the material should be there is a help.

Next, he has an encounter with an old woman, who treats him kindly. But, since Edmund is not terribly observant, and generally is not the shiniest battle axe on the wall, or maybe I should say the sharpest, he doesn't perceive her true nature and, since he's pretty pigheaded, she is only able to give him relatively small, unimportant gifts; useful as far as they go, but limited.

However, the very existence of this episode created the need for a later, parallel or at least similar episode. The second person who encounters the kindly old woman is more perceptive, and thus understands that she is a witch wife, albeit not a powerful one. This second person is also rather more amenable to suggestion, so the kindly crone can give the second person some useful help.

These episodes also involve details that tie this story forward to another, set centuries in the future of this world. Indeed, I'll now have to start looking for ways to incorporate similar details into other stories set in this world.

In other words, while the problem of Edmund's quest and specifically his travels hasn't been solved, it no longer seems insoluble and overwhelming. I'm working again, and that's a marvelous feeling!

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Ups and Downs

Maybe the editing gig will be more fun than I expected. Still, never again! I don’t deal well with the guilt of judging a submission to be sub par and rejecting it. I do quite like reading the good entries though; so, I guess it all evens out. Got three months of it ahead of me, the deadline being April 30. Oh well, I suppose it’s good experience.

An experience that I’m finding a bit frustrating is the article for The Braille Monitor. The contact from whom I need a few more details in order to finish the article still hasn’t e-mailed me back. I suppose it’s time to light just a small fire under her. After all, she’s the one who wanted publicity in the first place. I want to get the article finished and sent to the editor before he completely forgets having talked to me about it. Hence the necessity of nudging the contact. Blah! I hate being pushy. But, if that’s what it takes, that’s what it takes. Sigh

By far the biggest problem of the past few days has to do with my high fantasy story, “The Lady of the Stars.” One member of my writers group made the just and reasonable observation that, if the Steorraburg (the palace that is home to the title character) is a place of legend and quest, it needs to be more than three days’ ride away from home. There is, it has always seemed to me, a compelling reason for the journey, especially the journey home, to be as short as possible, a reason that the reader, not having gotten that far yet, couldn’t be aware of. Still, his point is a good one. If I’m going to do this, I ought to do it right. After a few days’ thought, I have come up with a somewhat weak but workable way around the problem of the journey’s length.

But that minor success exposed a major, potentially project-stopping problem. I have nothing, nada, absolutely zipparoony in the way of minor, wayside adventures for my young, would be hero. No fragment, or scrap or shadow of an idea either in the computer or in the dim recesses of my mind. I always thought the violent imagery of racking or cudgeling one’s brains was extreme, hyperbole. I’ve learned better. Never before have both my personal slush pile and my imagination failed me...utterly and completely. I have no notion what to do except maybe to proceed with working on the parts I do have some vague notion about as well as with the swordsmanship research in the hope that inspiration might strike. But, it’s discouraging. I was enthusiastic about this project, and actually dared to voice the hope of finishing it in the foreseeable future. That audacity, that arrogance must have been what caused the problem that has drawn me up short. It’s very upsetting!

Oh well. Better go look at today’s batch of submissions. I meant to do it earlier in the day, but somehow the day got away from me.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010


listener makes her own candles. Above is a photo of newly made candles that she finished yesterday.

Candlemas is also known as The Feast of Our Lady of the Candles.

The feast's roots are traceable to the Celtic festival of Imbol. Also read this fascinating page from The Wheel of the Celtic Year to learn about the connections between St. Brigid and Candlemas. Thanks to Alan for these two links.

However you look at it, we're coming out of the darkness of Winter into the light of Spring.