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1982-2022

"Forty YearsWe'll Never Get Back"

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The Holy Grail Press is dedicated to promoting work that standard publishers... you know, those with standards, might be reluctant to publish, which pretty much leaves poetry.  And let's face it:  No one publishes poetry.  So in the end, we’re left with a lot of free time.

 

 

Word of the Every So Often  

January 14, 2022

exophthalmic:  (adj.)  (pronounced:  exo-fa-thal-mic)  characterized by protruding eyes.  Marty Feldman made a career out of being exophthalmic.

 

What's New at the Press 

 

...What's Old at the Press 

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

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Ockham, without his razor 

8:11 am pst 

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

One Evening at at Town Counsel Meeting in the Not-so-old West

Thank you, gentlemen, for allowing me this opportunity to present a bid for your construction needs from the company that I so proudly represent, Swing Rite.  We like to think of ourselves as the Cadillac of Gallows.

 

First, let me congratulate your town – the sheriff and his posse, the judge and the jury, all the fine people, the citizens of this town, who wouldn't have it any other way, and, yes, those of you in this room tonight – for bringing those wicked Timmons Brothers to the justice they so truly deserve.  I don't need to remind you, though, that justice will not fully be served until the lawful sentence that was so deservingly passed down on them boys is carried through, until all three of those boys are "…hung from the neck until dead," if I might quote the judge. 

 

Gentlemen, you're going to need a gallows.  You're going to need a gallows that will not only get the job done, but get it done well.  Get it done with style.  A gallows your town can be proud of.  Gentlemen, what you need is a Swing Rite custom made gallows, crafted from the finest oak, and guaranteed to work first time, every time, or your money back.

 

Now I know there may be those of you here in this room, right now, who think building a gallows is an unnecessary expense.  When I rode into town I saw a nice, stout tree in front of the schoolhouse that would work just fine.  I imagine you're thinking the same.  Heck, we could throw a rope over any of the beams in this very room and get the job done.  But that's not what the public wants.  Those people who voted you into office want to see a spectacle.  They want to see a proper hanging, not some backwoods lynching. 

 

I also know you may be sitting here tonight wondering why you need to hire somebody to do something you could do yourselves.  I'm sure there are many men in this town who are quite knowledgeable when it comes to construction.  I'm sure there are men in this very room who built the homes they live in.  And those are fine homes.  I'd be proud to have any one of you build a home for my family.  But who here truly has the time, or the lumber, to build a gallows, especially to build it quickly, and to build it well?  You all have crops to tend, cows to milk, shops to keep.

 

But even if you did have the time and the inclination, might I remind you that a gallows is not the same as a house.  There are completely different architectural requirements, especially if you're wanting to execute three men all at the same time.  Weight ratios, snap differentials, sequential trap triggering.  These are just a few of the things our specialists have been trained to do.  Remember:  Just because you've seen a gallows after it's been built doesn't mean you know how to build one.  Why, that would be like trying to make your wife's Sunday layer cake only knowing how good it tastes.  I don't think anybody here would want a piece of that cake.

 

Seriously, though, it is true that Swing Rite does not build a cheap gallows, but gentlemen, this is not a cheap town.  It deserves a quality gallows for a quality hanging, something you'll be proud to show off to all those people coming in from out of town.  With Swing Rite, you get quality workmanship and attention to detail. 

 

Swing Rite, though, offers much more than just a gallows that your town will take pride in.  Swing Rite offers peace of mind, both from liability and just looking plain foolish, and nobody wants that.  Just imagine when the lever is thrown and nothing happens.  The trapdoor doesn't drop, and the public who has come to gasp in horror is denied that simple pleasure.  Or worse, imagine when that lever is thrown that not only does the trapdoor drop, but the entire structure collapses as well. Certainly you're not concerned about the safety of any of those men being hung, but what about the person pulling the lever?  What about the minister?  What if that structure falls and injures… or kills… folks there on the ground.  Women and children's lives could be at stake. 

 

Beyond the pain and suffering, there would be no end to the lawsuits.  And consider this:  What if, in all that mayhem, one, if not all of them boys you're trying to hang doesn't get hung?  Then you really got a mess on your hands.  Trying to go the cheap route, trying to cut corners, might end up costing you more money than you can afford.  Remember a couple of years ago, over in Prairie Flats?  They had a gallows collapse, one that was made by one of our competitors, a company that cut corners, and when they were done with all the lawsuits, they had to dissolve their town.  There wasn't enough money left in Prairie Flats to hire a dogcatcher, and the feller they were trying to hang… he got to go free.  They called it an act of God.  Gentlemen, the God I know doesn't cut corners, and neither should you.

 

I want to thank all of you taking the time to listen to my presentation.  I apologize if it seems that I'm a bit over-enthusiastic, but it's hard not to be when you believe so strongly in the quality product you so proudly represent.  I know there are other men waiting just outside that door.  They're waiting, just like me, to come in here and bid on building your town a gallows.  These are fine men, don't get me wrong.  And I'm sure all of the companies they represent could build a gallows that would get the job done, and probably for less money.  But here's a thought I'd like to close on:  Gentlemen, you get what you pay for.  I'm sure you've all heard that before, but that doesn't make it any less true.  It was my own dear grandmother who first taught me there is no substitute for quality, God rest her soul.  I don't imagine there's a man in this room who hasn't heard the very same thing from his own dear mother.

 

Thank you, gentlemen.  I wish you all a pleasant evening.  Oh, on an aside, Swing Rite also makes quality playground equipment, if any of you are in the market.

8:45 am pst 

Tuesday, January 4, 2022

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Bum Steer 

11:28 am pst 

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Toys in the Attic

When I was young, there was this kid who everybody made fun of, but he had some really nice toys, and he was really a nice kid, so I played with him.  But I never admitted to my other friends that I did, because they all thought he was a dork, and I didn't want them thinking I was a dork, too, for playing with him.

 

But it always bothered me.  It bothered me at the time when I was playing with that kid, and the memory haunted me ever since.  Because it was just wrong to pretend to like somebody when you're with him, but to laugh at him behind his back.   

 

It bothered me so much that I decided to make things right, even after all those years.  So I decided to find that guy.  And I did.  He was still living in the same neighborhood, in the same house, where he grew up.  So I bought the tickets and I went back home.  I pretended it was just to visit my folks, but the real reason was to find that guy after all those years and apologize to him.  The old house wasn't hard to find, and when I knocked, it was him.  He was older, sure, but I still recognized him.  And he recognized me.

 

Standing there, on his porch, I told him how sorry I was to have done that, how sorry I was that I had been such a jerk all those years ago.  I didn't expect his forgiveness.  I just wanted him to know that I was sorry.

 

Standing there, on his porch, is when I found out that's why he had been playing with me all those years ago, because he liked my toys.  Because he felt sorry for me.  And just like me, he hadn't told his other friends he was hanging out with me because he thought I was the dork.  I was somebody they made fun of when I wasn't around.  The only difference was that he had no intention ever of apologizing to me.  In fact, he hadn't thought about me once since the fifth grade.  Standing there on the porch.  There's an awkward moment.

 

10:10 am pst 

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

An Old Fashioned Christmas

The next time you get invited to an Old Fashioned Christmas, be sure they specify how old.

 

The biggest problem with trying to be exact about Christmas is that nobody really knows when Jesus was born.  The strongest biblical clue is that it was in the Spring, maybe, during the lambing season, when the shepherds “...were out in the fields, keeping watch through the night over their flock....” (Luke 2:8)  If it had been in the middle of the night in the dead of winter, like most sensible people and their sheep, they would’ve been inside where it was warm.  But, really, that’s not strong evidence.  (McGowan)

 

As well, there are no records of Christmas celebrations from early Christian writers.  There was even one Christian writer, Origen of Alexander, who, around 250, wrote that celebrating anybody’s birth was a pagan practice to be avoided.  (McGowan)  I bet he never got any Christmas presents.  It was less than 100 years after Origen of Alexander, however, in 336AD, that we have the earliest record of Christmas being celebrated.  And it was only 14 years after that, in 350 AD, that Pope Julius I  “officially declared that the birth of Jesus would be celebrated on the 25th of December.”  (Why is Christmas Day on the 25th of December?)  Changes came quickly in the Roman Empire after Constantine I signed the Edict of Milan in 313, “which finally ensured religious tolerance for Christians.”  (Constantine the Great Rules)

 

One of the theories as to why Christmas is on the 25th is that, supposedly, Mary was told by an angel on March 25th that she was going to have Jesus, which is still celebrated as the Annunciation.  You simply go nine months forward from there, and that’s December 25th.  (Luke 1:26-38:  The Message)  Once again, though, there is no specific reference to that date in the Bible, even if you squint.

 

The most logical reason is probably because the Catholic church was trying to horn in on everybody else’s fun.  The 25th of December falls really close to the Winter Solstice, and nearly everybody on the planet recognizes the darkest day of the year.  The Romans, Jews, Mesopotamians, Persians, Greek, Norse, Celts, and assorted Pagans, as well as certainly many others living in the Northern Hemisphere, all whooped it up on or around the Winter Solstice.  And many of these celebrations were... well... let’s just say that drunken orgies didn’t resonate too well with the Pope.  But those Popes weren’t stupid.  As Gregory the Great wrote, in 597, “...the pagan rituals [should] not be removed ‘upon the sudden,’ but rather be adapted ‘to the praise of God.’”  (The Celebration of Christmas)

 

Of course, with over 38,000 different Christian sects, not all of them, even today, recognize December 25 as Christmas.  Some, like the Coptics, who never got the word that the calendar had been changed, celebrate Christmas on January 7,  (Why is Christmas Day on the 25th of December?) and some, like the Armenian church, thumbed their noses at Pope Julius I and went on doing things as they had always done, and still do.  (The Celebration of Christmas)  And then there are the Jehovah’s Witnesses, who, aside from the whole Pagan thing, believe that in Luke 22:19-20 Jesus commanded us to celebrate his death, not his birth.  (Why Don’t Jehovah’s Witnesses Celebrate Christmas?)

 

For those of us wanting to celebrate Christmas on the 25th of December, even with Pope Julius I’s proclamation, it still took 400 years for Christmas to “...become common throughout the European continent.”  (Conversation Starters)  The Feast of the Nativity, as it was originally called, spread first to Egypt by 432. It reached England by the end of the 6th Century, and finally to Scandinavia by the 8th Century. (History of Christmas)  And even then, it wouldn’t be anything we’d recognize today.  The problem was, Christians were told to celebrate Christmas, but they were never told how.  So, almost predictably, it often turned into “a drunken street party,” (Conversation Starters) but now after Church, of course. (History of Christmas)

 

Then came the Puritans, bless them, who came into power in England in 1645.  Recognizing Christmas for what it had become, they canceled the debauchery altogether.  The Puritans, in turn, brought their version of religious intolerance to America when England finally had enough and booted them out.  (Conversation Starters)

 

Increase Mathers, one of the Mathers Boys, stated in 1687 that “the early Christians who first observed the Nativity on December 25 did not do so thinking that Christ was born in that Month, but because the Heathens’ Saturnalia was at that time kept in Rome, and they were willing to have those Pagan Holidays metamorphosed into Christian ones.”  Still, there were many who celebrated Christmas in one way or another, though it was illegal to do so in Massachusetts from 1659 to 1681.  (Keleman)  Even after the Puritans were marginalized in America, Christmas didn’t catch on because it was essentially seen as a British holiday.  In fact, December 25th, 1789, was a regular work day for Congress,  (Conversation Starters) which seems really crazy, not because Congress was working on Christmas, but because they were working at all.

 

Slowly, what we now recognize as Christmas came into being in the early 1800s.  The traditions we most closely associate with Christmas, namely that it is a holiday that emphasizes peace on earth and good will to all more than a drunken orgy, can be attributed to two authors, Washington Irving and Charles Dickens.  Irving, in particular, doesn’t appear to have created his version of Christmas from any actual customs.  In short, he made it all up, in particular, how everybody suddenly gets along, regardless of social class, just because it’s Christmas.  (History of Christmas)  It wasn’t until 1870 that Christmas because a Federal holiday.  And by the mid-1920s, pieced together from the various customs of its immigrants, Christmas in America pretty much looked like what we’ve come to think it’s always been – the tree, lights, gifts, and Santa Claus. (Conversation Starters) 

 

 

Work Cited

 

“The Celebration of Christmas.”  2000.  MotherBedford.com.  11 June 2014.  http://www.motherbedford.com/Christmas.htm

 

“Constantine the Great Rules.”  1996.  National Geographic.  11 June 2014.  http://www.nationalgeographic.com/lostgospel/timeline_10.html

 

“Conversation Starters:  When did Christian begin to celebrate Christmas?”  2005.  The Rock Christian Church.  11 June 2014.  http://www.hcna.us/columns/history-of-christmas.htm

“History of Christmas.”  2014.  History.  11 June 2014.  http://www.history.com/topics/christmas/history-of-christmas

 

Keleman, Lawrence. “The Origins of Christmas.”  SimpleToRemember.com:  Judaism Online.  11 June 2014.  http://www.simpletoremember.com/vitals/Christmas_TheRealStory.htm

 

“Luke 1:26-38:  The Message.”  2002.  Bible Gateway.  11 June 2014.  http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Luke+1&version=NIV

 

McGowan, Andrew.  “How December 25th became Christmas.”  07 Dec. 2012.  Bible History Daily.  11 June 2014.  http://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/biblical-topics/new-testament/how-december-25-became-christmas/

 

“Why Don’t Jehovah’s Witnesses Celebrate Christmas?”  2014.  JW.org.  12 June 2014.  http://www.jw.org/en/jehovahs-witnesses/faq/why-not-celebrate-christmas/

 

“Why is Christmas Day on the 25th of December?”  2013.  WhyChristmas.com.  11 June 2014.  http://www.whychristmas.com/customs/25th.shtml

8:27 am pst 

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