capriuni: A black field crossed by five parallel lighting bolts in blue, gold, green, red, and purple (Default)
By the way: This is a different melody than the one you’re probably used to, but as I understand it, this is the tune that Burns had in mind when he wrote the words down in the eighteenth century (and in this performance, there are also a couple of verses sung in Gaelic. so if you all of a sudden don’t understand what they’re singing, don’t worry [probably]).

Lyrics behind here. )
capriuni: A black field crossed by five parallel lighting bolts in blue, gold, green, red, and purple (Default)
The other day, I wrote something along the lines of: My favorite thing about Valentine's Day is the graphic design of the "valentines heart."

So today, I decided to act on that conviction, and made this:


Description: A primarily magenta "valentine heart" with highlights in yellow and green, featuring a stylized design of flowers and spirals that is symmetrical along the vertical axis.
capriuni: A black field crossed by five parallel lighting bolts in blue, gold, green, red, and purple (Default)
I've written about this before. Here's a comment I wrote on the subject, three years ago:

I kind of liked the day when I was a kid, but... )

One good thing about the holiday, though, is it gives comic strip writers, who have to produce 365 mini-stories a year, a writing prompt, and cartoonist Dana Simpson (of "Phoebe and her Unicorn") has risen to the challenge quite well, addressing both the weirdness and potential sweetness of the holiday.

Here's the weirdness I remember so well -- it's, oddly, both comforting and disturbing that the exact same traditions I took part in forty-two years ago can still be a "timely" subject for humor: "Phoebe and Her Unicorn" 2 February, 2016. Though, to be honest here, the really great thing about V-Day for a kid of single digit age, is that you can spend hours playing with paper, scissors, and glue, and get praised for it, instead of groused at for making a mess.

And here's the sweet side. Consider this one a Valentine to my circles: "Pheobe and her Unicorn," 4 February, 2016

*I still believe that the "valentine" heart is one of the best graphic design symbols our human species has come up with -- it's a shape that's been found carved into cave rocks from over 30,000 years ago. ... 'Course, there's a hypothesis that it was not associated with the central organ of our circulatory system, back then.
capriuni: A black field crossed by five parallel lighting bolts in blue, gold, green, red, and purple (Default)
Is to write some sort of Year-in-Review thing-a-ma-bob.

... But I'm just not feeling it.

So have another monster picture I drew back in January, 2014, with my compliments and thanks for your friendship (both collective and individual):

jan-11-14 monst

(Description: Ballpoint pen drawing of a round-bodied, bird-like, monster standing in profile, with a stubby wing, a single human leg and foot, a toothy beak with human-like nostrils, and a medium-length plumed tail. It is standing next to a flower whose blossom echoes the shape of the plume on its tail. Dated 01/11/14)
capriuni: A black field crossed by five parallel lighting bolts in blue, gold, green, red, and purple (Default)
Today, is -- at least for the next four-ish hours -- the first day of Saturnalia (the last day is December 23). So I am once again posting about bafflement that this is the holiday that's become synonymous with wickedness in our Christian hegemony, while Lupercalia got turned in to Valentine's Day and is shoved down the throats of kids as soon as they enter preschool.

Quick review for the unenlightened -- the Wikipedia article:

Note two points: First, the point of the gifts, and how the strength of the friendship was considered inversely proportional to the expense of the object -- gag gifts were especially prized, because their humor demonstrated that you understood the person you were giving them to. Second, note that they "celebrated" ancient rituals of human sacrifice by as a way to make the point that: "We don't do that anymore!" (Giving masks and candles instead of chopping people's heads off and throwing men into temple fires).

Sure -- it wasn't all sweetness and light. Saturnalia was also the season for gladiator battles. But, on balance, compared with the rest of Roman culture at the time, it was (apparently) pretty laid back and easy-going.
capriuni: A black field crossed by five parallel lighting bolts in blue, gold, green, red, and purple (Default)
Some of [profile] ysabetwordsmth's close family are dealing with a bad batch of mayhem. They're stuck in Albuquerque, need to get home to (As [profile] ysabetwordsmth puts it) "Chicagoland," and they need to buy a car sturdy enough to get them there. They've set up an emergency fund here:

And every little bit helps.

So -- can we give them a happy story to tell at next year's Thanksgiving table?
capriuni: A black field crossed by five parallel lighting bolts in blue, gold, green, red, and purple (Default)
...And performed by Raymond Cooke.

I just heard this for the first time a few minutes ago. And considering my circles, I couldn't think of a better "Holiday Greeting Card" to share with you all:

capriuni: A NASA photo of the planet Saturn in a "Santa cap" text: Io, Saturnalia (Saturnalia)
I posted this information a Year-and-a-Day Ago, but I tried to do something with embedding (I think), and got something wrong, so that all that showed up on my journal was nearly impossible to actually read. And somehow, I never caught it. ...I only caught it last night because Audrey commented that I probably made even fewer posts last December than I did this year, and so I went back and checked (I actually posted more).

So I'm trying again:

It all started when I got to wondering why we only seem to use "Merry" for Christmas greetings, and "Happy" for everything else. So I went to The Online Etymology Dictionary to look it up. This is what I found:

Old English myrge "pleasing, agreeable, pleasant, sweet; pleasantly, melodiously," from Proto-Germanic *murgijaz, which probably originally meant "short-lasting," [snip]. The only exact cognate for meaning outside English was Middle Dutch mergelijc "joyful."

Connection to "pleasure" is likely via notion of "making time fly, that which makes the time seem to pass quickly" [snip, again]. There also was a verbal form in Old English, myrgan "be merry, rejoice." [and a third snip].

The word had much wider senses in Middle English, such as "pleasant-sounding" (of animal voices), "fine" (of weather), "handsome" (of dress), "pleasant-tasting" (of herbs). Merry-bout "an incident of sexual intercourse" was low slang from 1780. Merry-begot "illegitimate" (adj.), "bastard" (n.) is from 1785. Merrie England (now frequently satirical or ironic) is 14c. meri ingland, originally in a broader sense of "bountiful, prosperous." Merry Monday was a 16c. term for "the Monday before Shrove Tuesday" (Mardi Gras).

I think that the link to "Short time" is probably key. The fact that "Christmas Comes But Once a Year," has always been key to its celebration, I think, since it's also always been tied to the passage of time -- at least, since the days when the New Year moved to January 1. The happiness you wish someone for their birthday is the the quieter, longer lasting (and less exhausting) sort.

There's also the association with music and singing (Fa-la-la, la, la, la-la-la, LA!), and bounty... And Christmas, is, at its core, a harvest festival. (All hail the Hogfather!)

So "Merry," in its proverbial DNA, contains all those ideas lumped up together. So its stayed tied to "Christmas" even though we don't remember why.
capriuni: A black field crossed by five parallel lighting bolts in blue, gold, green, red, and purple (Default)
1. Share my current earworm:

Tradition of the song snagged from the description ) ...Which I think is rather sweet...

2. Also called Cousin Toni to wish her a happy New Year and reestablish contact. She was not at home... I think she may be on her annual extended vacation with Bob.

3. Now on to my third thing -- My main desire for 2014: writing with an eye for making it public / publishable, and published! ...Starting with that anthology constructed out of "Plato's Nightmare / Aesop's Dream."

I'll put off worry and sorrow for another day.
capriuni: A black field crossed by five parallel lighting bolts in blue, gold, green, red, and purple (Default)
"Chosen Day"

What I love about Christmas is what it teaches me.

It teaches me that we, all of us, can take an ordinary day - just an ordinary day - and imbue it with meaning. We can create traditions around it, and we can celebrate it, and we can treat it as the most special, the most wonderful, the most exciting day of the year. We can choose to make something ordinary something special - just because we choose to. Some give this day a meaning from religious tradition, even though know one knows the precise day of the birth of Jesus - this day was chosen to be that day. Chosen. Selected. Some give this day meaning from a secular point of view as a day of family and a day when the hearts of children are uppermost in our minds. But no matter how it is seen, when I look out my window I see a grey day, with the sun giving little light and little warmth. It would be a day, any other time of year, that would be drab, featureless.

This teaches me that we have the power, collectively, to determine something special, something to be celebrated, just because we want to - and because we want to we call will it into being.

Here is a link to the whole piece.
capriuni: A black field crossed by five parallel lighting bolts in blue, gold, green, red, and purple (Default)
It struck me as intriguing that, in U.S. American vernacular, we only ever use "merry" for Christmas greetings, and "happy" for everything else. I've never come across the sentiment "Merry Birthday," for example.

So, of course, I had to go check out the word at
capriuni: "This calls for CAKE" with plate and fork (Cake!)
(Note: I actually focus my celebrating on the New Year/my birthday [the 12th-18th of January])

Ever since I was a kid, I've loved to make up recipes in my head -- even though I don't have the means to actually make any of them ... So would you? If I post my ideas here, would you try converting them to recipes and making them (and tell me how they turned out)? No need to send me the results; I'd just like to know they saw the light of day and the dark of someone's tummy.

I am an omnivore with no dietary restrictions -- but PLEASE feel free to adapt to vegan or gluten-free, or whatever...

The 1st real recipe I remember working -- Mom helped )

These are definitely not suitable for the mail )

Variations on Peanut Butter Cookies )
capriuni: A black field crossed by five parallel lighting bolts in blue, gold, green, red, and purple (Default)
First. Cute overload of the day, or week, or month, or until the next time I squeal out loud at an image on my screen: Linked Tails (photo of three harvest mice siblings perched on a branch, holding tails the way humans hold hands)

Second. Re: Feeling ... not so much left out as pushed out of Valentine's Day (it's the only holiday I can think of that puts people in a second class based on relationship status, and for those of us who have been historically and culturally discouraged from thinking about having relationships, well... yeah. And being the sort who doesn't like feeling left out and bitter, I spent yesterday trying to think of a positive alternative way to frame it -- or a new one (my old fall back of it bringing a shot of bright color into the grey depths of winter doesn't work as well in Virginia as it did in New York).

This is what I came up with: For the Romans, it was a fertility fest celebrating the founding of Rome, and the suckling of Romulus and Remus by the she-wolf... According to the Christian story (aiui) Saint Valentine became associated with lovers because at one point, married men were exempt from the army, so the Saint would perform marriages as an act of civil disobedience. So I propose that we singletons of that bent use the day to celebrate conscientious objection and other "loving" acts of social change... (hey, "pinko" is already a color associated with it!)

Third. Working on a YouTube video of my "harvest" poem... which is why I haven't been talking here much (which is why I was researching mice to draw).

Fourth. Still need to schedule an inspection of my central heating/AC

Fifth. Need to schedule repairs to the van (may be the transmission). :-/

Sixth. After 30 or so years, This Old House is finally doing a series on wheelchair-accessible design. My feelings, they are mixed. On the one hand: yay! On the other hand, it's still being framed as "Something we should do for our elderly family members." (And again, disability = elderly, rather than disability = everybody). Also, it's a two-storey house and the downstairs is being converted into a self-contained, one-storey, living space with the upstairs being renovated for future live-in help if needed... And once again, I'm thinking that that would probably have been the better option for me to adapt my New York home instead of moving down here...

Seventh: OMG! Asteroids! Meteorite! Eek!
capriuni: A black field crossed by five parallel lighting bolts in blue, gold, green, red, and purple (Default)
In Memoriam (Ring out, Wild Bells) by Alfred Lord Tennyson )

And the other day (Yesterday? or was it the day before?) I got the idea in my head to write my own poem, following these sentiments-- but from a Humanist/Agnostic/Atheist perspective, instead of a Christian one.

Something about how, although, strictly speaking, picking one day as the New Year is arbitrary-- there's really little difference between one minute and the next, even if we give those minutes, days, years, different names.

But-- But -- BUT -- the very act of collectively, as a society, to agree to let go of the past and take a deep breath full of hope-- this is still and always be, a moment and an action of profound Grace. And, like anarchy, it has little meaning done alone, but a great deal of meaning when done as a society.

I don't think I will complete this poem before midnight, my time (little more than three hours from now). But maybe I'll complete it before the passing of Orthodox Christmas...
capriuni: A black field crossed by five parallel lighting bolts in blue, gold, green, red, and purple (Default)
It had been ages since I'd truly written flash-fiction (though I used to write a-story-in-a-day fairly regularly when I was a teen), and then, at around 4 pm, Christmas afternoon, I got the idea for a "drabble" I could slip into [ profile] gordon_r_d's inbox; 100 words would take an hour, tops (right, if you include all the edit and polish?). And it kept growing, and growing, and growing... And eventually, I realized I was creeping dangerously close to the 10,000 character limit (and over five hours later). But in the end, I succeeded in writing a complete story in more-or-less one sitting (don't worry--I took breaks for biological needs).

I also realized, as I was finding a way to resolve it, that, at least when it comes to "What the Holidays [trademark] mean to me..." that it was damned autobiographical. So, with [ profile] gordon_r_d's kind permission, I present to you:

Crinkleminkle's crushmess... crunchmuss... SOMETHING-yacallit )
capriuni: A NASA photo of the planet Saturn in a "Santa cap" text: Io, Saturnalia (Io!)
I haven't gotten around to writing a new holiday song, yet... but I did, just now, finish making a video of a song I wrote a while back, and recently tweaked.

Yes, I know that for the southern half of the planet New Year comes in the summer. I'm a northerner, and I originally wrote this as a Secret Santa present for another northerner back in '06. My antipodean friends are welcome to change those lines around to suit the circs.

Anyway, the image at 2:55 is of Jakob and Wilhelm Grimm listening to a story from Dorothea Viehmann -- who was the actual source for a great many of the stories in their collection, and incidentally, the woman Wilhelm would eventually marry (he's the one leaning forward in his seat, hanging on her every word). ...I love the chickens wandering in and out... Anyway, I included that illustration specifically because this December is the 200th anniversary of the first edition of their first volume of "Children's and Household Tales," and figured they deserved a tip of the hat.

Here's a link to the Wikisource page that has the illustration and text of the article that went with it:

Also: Achievement unlocked! I managed to get the closed captioning track done right in the first try. \o/ (It really is a lot easier if you don't bother counting the fractions of seconds).
capriuni: A black field crossed by five parallel lighting bolts in blue, gold, green, red, and purple (Default)
*Twoot!* Happy New B'ak'tun!

Yup! It's the Mayan version of the New Millennium!

And yes, that's all it was ever going to be -- even in ancient Mayan mythology.

Let's hope the next 394.26 years is better than the last 394.26 years...

Be good to each other, people!
capriuni: A black field crossed by five parallel lighting bolts in blue, gold, green, red, and purple (Default)
As I said, in a recent, circle-locked post, Saturnalia is my favorite of the Publicly-celebrated Winter Bash festivals (or would be, if it were still publicly celebrated). So much so, I made a new icon to celebrate, just now :-)

I first learned about the holiday in high school Latin Class, and, one year, a combined Latin Class party (all the Latin students from fifth to twelfth grade -- 11-18 year-olds) was the one time in my life I got to actually celebrate it in an organized way.

This is what I learned way back in my personal Days of Yore:

Once upon a time, after Saturn was deposed from his kingship of the Gods, he came to Earth, and taught humans all about agriculture: how to plow the earth (pointing out how the wild boars did it, with their tusks... and it was based on that inspiration that humans figured out the plough).

During his reign on Earth, before civilization got too advanced, there were no social classes, and everyone lived as equals, and no one did any more work than was necessary (and since there was a God of Fertility on premises, very little work was needed to get things to grow). This was the Golden Age of Man, and there was peace, and no wars, etc. And then, as people acquired more wealth, they started to stratify into social classes, and develop slavery, and start coveting other clans' lands, and so forth, and they, too, banished Saturn, and began to worship Jove as the supreme god.

But for a week, around the winter solstice, Saturn was welcomed back to the world, and, to make him feel at home, we humans are asked to try our best to act like we did during the Golden Age, when social class is forgotten, and masters serve their slaves at dinner, and people spend more time playing than working, and official government bureaucracy stuff is put on hold... Basically:

"Grandpa is coming to stay for a week! Can we at least try to be extra nice to each other, to make him feel at home?"

Of course, it's make-believe. The slaves are not really free... and everything goes back to normal on the 24th, so even when they're given the "liberty" of voicing criticism of their masters, it can only go so far.

And yet, there's an acknowledged value in "acting as if" -- just to practice exercising those thought muscles.

In my high school Latin party, that one year, it started with the Seniors (or at least those who'd been studying Latin for the full seven years) reenacted the liberation of Saturn from bondage: one played the role of the God, himself, in a long yellow, robe/toga, and wearing a fake cotton wool beard. He came in wearing paper chain-and-shackles, which the the student acting as priest tore asunder. Then, "Saturn" gave a speech in Latin all about the values of human equality and peace, and freedom. And then, he went around and handed out (what would have been, in "Roman times") little cakes that were shaped like the god Saturn (only, those being unavailable, our Latin teacher went out and bought a couple dozen Santa-shaped, red-sugar-dusted, butter cookies from a local bakery).

Then, since we were excused from our other afternoon classes, we shared a meal of Italian food, and honey-glazed cakes for dessert, while each of the different aged students put on short skit parodies of Roman mythology.

Then, right before we left to get on our buses home, we sang Christmas carols in Latin.
Anyway, it's always kind of baffled me why Saturnalia, out of all the old Holy Days, is the one that has become the most demonized as Teh Evol by the Christian Evangelical types, while Lupercalia, was allowed to survive, be sanitized and prettified (That is: transformed into Valentine's Day), and pushed onto schoolchildren as a series of mandatory class activities (though my aide, who has been working for a young school boy at nursery school, kindergarten, and now first grade, tells me that Valentine's Day is no longer pushed in school... which I think is a healthy trend).

Valentine's Day origins (content warning: discussion of animal sacrifice and D/s sex) )

So, on Monday and Tuesday, I was browsing through YouTube to see if I could find anyone reading excerpts from Martial's (Roman Poet) Saturnalia Epigrams (little comic verses about -- or sometimes in the voice of -- different Saturnalia presents). Sadly, I could not. I did, however, come across many Christian Evangelical videos espousing their hatred of the holiday, and by extension, all the jolly, fun, parts of Christmas.

And then it occurred to me (the proverbial light bulb, or considering the context, Saturnalia candle): Lupercalia may have been filled with sex and violence, while Saturnalia at least gave lip service to peace, equality, and freedom. But Lupercalia was turned into lovey-dovey day, and Saturnalia became equated with evil because it :::Drum Roll::: CELEBRATES ANARCHY!!!!


Now, a note on the shadow / dark side of the ancient worship of Saturn: it was acknowledged, in the ancient Roman myths, that while he ruled over the Earth, Saturn did demand human sacrifice as part of his cult, and to be presented with the heads of his victims as offerings. Over the course of several centuries of observing Saturnalia, contemporary Romans came up with varying ways to acknowledge this practice without actually performing it, including making offerings of masks of human faces or offering and burning candles shaped like people. For modern folks who want to observe Saturnalia, may I suggest offering the heads off a few of your gingerbread people? Just a thought.
capriuni: A black field crossed by five parallel lighting bolts in blue, gold, green, red, and purple (Default)
A wee bit more sincere/sentimental than the last one:

I gotta say: I prefer this cover to the Pogues' original... Less... snarly?

Lyrics )


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