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280 Dog Years


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  

May 27, 2022

wonk:  (noun)  often used derogatorily, a person who takes a particularly specialized interest in the minute details of a field of study, especially with politics.  You want to know about the influence of Russian immigrants on the passage of the infrastructure bill?  Then just ask Bill, he's our resident wonk.


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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Staying Dead

It was a complicated legal issue.  It was a lot more complicated than Charley Four-Fingers had ever expected.  Of course, all Charley Four-Fingers had been expecting was to remain dead.  That’s usually what happens when you’re shot twice in the head.  Charley didn’t remember being shot twice.  Truth be told, he didn’t have much memory of being shot once.  And he certainly didn’t have any memory of being dumped out of a boat in the middle of Winesap Lake with several cement blocks tied around his ankles.  What he remembered was waking up in the mud and muck that had until quite recently been the lake’s bottom, untying the ropes to the cement blocks that had sunk out of sight in the mud, and slogging his way to the shore.  That’s when things got complicated.

Charley Four-Fingers had been a contracted hit.  Frankie Marciano wanted Charley dead because Charley had killed Frankie’s brother.  That in itself had all been a big misunderstanding.  Charley had been trying to kill Frankie, mostly because Frankie had Charley’s finger.  It did, in fact, teach Charley not to go around flipping people off.  Granted, there’s a family resemblance, but it was still a pretty stupid mistake – not the cutting off of Charley’s finger, but the killing of Frankie’s brother.  So Frankie wanted Charley dead.  So Frankie hired Lennie “The Knife” Newsome.  Only Lennie doesn’t use a knife anymore.  He uses a gun.  Two shots, right to the head.  But then Lennie gets caught.  And then Lennie rolls over on Frankie.  So pretty much everybody ends up in jail, except, of course, for Charley, because he’s dead.  Only Charley doesn’t stay dead.

Call it a miracle if you want, but Charley comes walking into town just looking like hell.  You would, too, if you spent the better part of a year on the bottom of a lake after being shot in the head, twice.  Charley cleaned up pretty well, and you couldn’t even see the bullet holes if he wore a hat, and the lights were dim, and you stayed back, say, 40 feet.  Even at that, he wasn’t the kind of guy that you’d want over for the evening, unless you were having a Halloween party.  But then, he was pretty much that way before he was pitched in the lake.

At any rate, it was shortly thereafter that all the lawyers got involved.  The state contended that regardless if Charley came back from the dead, he had been dead, and therefore it was murder.  Frankie contended that you can only be convicted of murder, a conviction, by the way, that wasn’t too strong to begin with, what with there being no proof that he actually ordered the hit except what with what Lennie was saying, and then Lennie was only trying to save his own ass... where was I?  Oh yeah, Frankie was contending that it was a crock to be convicted of murder while the guy you supposedly had kacked was alive and well (mostly) and trying to figure out where his wife went with the insurance money, which was another legal problem by itself.  And Lennie was just confused.  I mean, should he give the money back?  After all, it was one of those unwritten professional promises that the people you were paid to kill should stay dead.  Of course, Lennie could kill Charley again, but Frankie would still want Lennie dead for rolling over on him, which made Lennie hesitant about giving back the money regardless, or, for that matter, killing Charley again.  Did that make sense?

But then everything was settled when all the contesting parties, with the exception of Charley Four-Fingers, were allegedly blown to bits in circuit court by the Guido Brothers.  They really were blown to bits, it was just the part about the Guido Brothers doing it that was alleged.  They were wanting to take over the Urbana District of town, the Guido Brothers, that is, although why anyone would want the Urbana District is beyond me.

Of course, that just left Charley Four-Fingers, and he wasn’t a problem at all.  He had killed Sleepy Marciano, Frankie’s dim-witted brother.  He was convicted in nothing flat.  After all, he had shot him on Public Access TV where Sleepy worked as a sound technician.  Channel 47’s ratings were never better.  They got the death penalty.  The prosecutor, not the TV station.

And it was there, on death row, that the priest came to visit Charley in the waning minutes of his life – Charley’s, not the priest’s.  With no hope of a pardon or a commuted sentence, the last thing the priest ever said to Charley was, “Aye, there’s no hope now but for a miracle.”

9:28 am pdt 

Monday, April 23, 2012

A Whole New Can of Worms


11:52 am pdt 

Friday, April 20, 2012



It can often be very difficult to pinpoint the origin of a word or a phrase.  For instance, who said, “Groovy!” for the first time?  What deprived mind conceived such a combination of letters?  Sure, you can trace its use back in documents, but that can take you only so far.  You may find that its first recorded use was in episode 62 of “Gilligan’s Island” (or not), but that doesn’t tell you that a writer for that show created the term, although I wouldn’t doubt if one did.  The word could’ve been in use in limited circles for years before then. 

When trying to decide on the origin of the term 4:20, it’s even harder.  Those in the best position to know probably can’t remember.  4:20, for those of you who don’t know or can’t remember, has come to represent the entire marijuana smoking, weed toking, pot ingesting, and cannabis molesting sub-culture.  Just as every good beer drinker dutifully recognizes beer-thirty, every die-hard stoner recognizes bong-twenty.  4:20 – the time of the afternoon to get high.  And thus, the twentieth of April, the twentieth day of the fourth month, 4/20, has become the most sacred of all days for every red-eyed, munchie-craving stoner everywhere, who will all be happy to show you how they put the high in high holy days.

But why 4:20?  Why not 2:15?  9:37?  Noon?  All the above?

When trying to figure something such as where the term 4:20 originated, perhaps one of the best places to start is by eliminating the possibilities.  One rumor of where the term comes from is that there are 420 chemicals in pot.  Not true, says Americans for Safe Access, a marijuana advocacy group.  According to them there are “...483 different identifiable chemical constituents known to exist in cannabis.”  (Medical Marijuana)  And then they go on to list them, but you’ll just have to take my word on that. 

Another possibility was that 420 was the police code... somewhere... for weed addicts.  “We’ve got a 420 in Progress at the Disc Golf Course.”  Never mind that that’s redundant.  There’s one way to find out if that’s true.  In the terms of modern parlance, google it!  I simply put in:  “Is 420 a police code?”  It’s a well asked question, according to Google.  And the answer I found at an entire site devoted to squashing rumors was, “No.”  There are no police departments in the country that use 420 as a code for a couple of brothers passing a spliff.  (Mikkelson)

On the other hand, Senate Bill 420, which became law in California in 2003 made it legal to use medicinal marijuana.  (Senate Bill)  However, the term 420 was around long before 2003.  And I know that because while searching for the police codes, I stumbled across a site where somebody else had already done the work for me.  Aside from having found what they claimed was the right answer, they also debunked many others that I hadn’t even thought of, such as that the 20th of April is the best time to plant marijuana (as if a weed needs a best time!), or that when the Grateful Dead toured they always stayed in room 420.  (Mikkelson)  Wow.  Some people have really put a lot of effort in this.

According to a quasi-reliable source, 420 is believed to have come into existence in 1971 at San Rafael High School in San Rafael, California.  There were these twelve dudes, you see, and they all got into the habit of getting high every day at pretty much the same time after school... by the statue... at 4:20.  And that became their code.  You’re sitting in second hour algebra... or is it French... hard to tell, you can’t speak it... and your buddy nods and says, “420.”  Enough said.  And from there, quite naturally, it spread.  (Mikkelson)  All the cool stuff starts in California.

But is that true?  I mean, it’s not that I don’t trust Ms. Mikkelson, or Ms. Witmer, or Mr. Grimm, or any of the other numerous sources on the Internet that all confirm Mikkelson’s story.  But it’s just what my mama always told me:  Trust, but verify.  So I did.  I looked it up on Wikipedia.  And, by golly, there is a San Rafael High School.  And the High School has a statue of Louis Pasteur on its campus... the same statue where those darned stoners used to hang out each day at 4:20.  And get this!  Louis Pasteur has nothing to do with marijuana!  And if that’s not enough, it’s a high school.  And, really, if it’s on Wikipedia, then you know it must be true.


Work Cited

Grimm, Ryan.  “What 420 Means: The True Story Behind Stoners' Favorite Number.”  25 May 2011.  The Huffington Post.  19 Apr. 2012.  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/04/20/what-420-means-the-true-s_n_188320.html

“Medical Marijuana.”  7 Dec. 2006.  Pro/Con.org.  19 Apr. 2012.  http://medicalmarijuana.procon.org/view.answers.php?questionID=000636

Mikkelson, Barbara.  “Claim:  The Term ‘420’ entered drug parlance as a term signifying the time to light up a joint.”  13 June 2008.  Snopes.com.  19 Apr. 2012.  http://www.snopes.com/language/stories/420.asp

“San Rafael High School.”  2 Dec. 2011.  Wikipedia.  19 Apr. 2012.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/San_Rafael_High_School

“Senate Bill:  SB 420 Chaptered Bill Text.”  12 Oct. 2003.  California State Government.  19 Apr. 2012.  http://info.sen.ca.gov/pub/03-04/bill/sen/sb_0401-0450/sb_420_bill_20031012_chaptered.html

Witmer, Denise.  “What Does ‘420’ Mean?”  2012.  About.com:  Teens.  19 Apr. 2012.  http://parentingteens.about.com/cs/marijuana/a/420meaning.htm


9:08 am pdt 

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


Here at HGP we're mildly enthused to announce the re-publishing of Michael Soetaert's book of poems, Songs from the Road.  Read them while they're fresh!


5:20 pm pdt 

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Michael Soetaert Finally Does Something!

Michael Soetaert has published his Collected Poems online.  Of course, where he collected them from is up for grabs, but we offer them for your entertainment and derision just the same.


1:32 pm pdt 

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Opening Day

The possibilities are endless
on Baseball's Opening Day.
The popcorn's fresh, the beer is cold,
on Baseball's Opening Day.

Brett can bat a thousand,
Cleveland can go all the way.
Anything at all is possible
on Baseball's Opening Day.

Saberhagen can win thirty,
Ryan can no hit five,
Ripkin will last forever,
and keep his streak alive.

Anything can happen.
Anything at all.
The beer man can be right there
before you ever call.

Every team is perfect.
Every arm is fine.
Every ball is waiting to be hit
in-between the lines.

Tomorrow things'll be different,
but tomorrow's another day.
For now the possibilities are endless
because it's Opening Day.

6:33 pm pdt 

Monday, April 2, 2012

Giovanni’s Back!

After an extended period of unparalled inactivity, Giovanni Pizza, our botanical editor, has finally decided to do something, though definitely not very much.  Giovanni will be archieving the Papa Pizza Show, an obscure series that ran briefly during the early ‘70s.  As a childhood actor, it was on that show that Giovanni got his start in show business, and apparently his finish, too.

4:20 pm pdt 

Sunday, April 1, 2012

April Fools’ Day

The original Julian calendar was supposedly invented by Julius Caesar in 45 BCE.  Oh, come on!  Like Julius Caesar tinkered with the calendar as a hobby.  “Why, yes, Antonius, I’ve always fancied myself a calendaror.”  More than likely, one of his royal subjects came up with it and probably didn’t even get a raise.  But that guy… that guy was good.  He had leap days all over the place and an entire week for celebrating the New Year.  On top of that, his calendar was fairly accurate.  It was off from the real solar calendar – how long the earth takes to make a lap – by  just 11½ minutes a year. (Snowden)  It’s going to take a while to be noticed.  But eventually, it’s going to be noticed.

In 1582, Pope Gregory, also a noted calendaror, noticed.  He became aware that there was a ten day discrepancy between the Julian calendar and solar calendar.  So he whipped up a new  calendar, which is something that a Pope can do, and in the process got rid of those ten days and cleaned up the whole leap year thing, bringing in the “divisible by four hundred rule.”  Most European countries were still afraid of the Pope, so they went along, but England wasn’t, so they didn’t… not for another 200 years when it just got embracing to always be eleven days behind the rest of Europe.  And there you have the Gregorian calendar, which most of the Western World still uses to this day. (Snowden)

But we’re not there, yet.  When Pope Gregory rearranged the calendar, along with skipping over 10 days, he seriously screwed with the New Year.  Previously, folks had celebrated an entire week from March 25 to April 1, which is pretty much Spring.  Gregory got rid of the week-long celebration and moved New Year’s Day to the god-forsaken month of January – right smack in the middle of Winter. (April Fool’s Day History)  I wonder how he got that through Congress.

Mind you, this is in 1582.  It’s not like you get on the evening news and remind everybody to turn their calendars ahead at 2:00 a.m. this Sunday morning.  It took many years for some people to get the word.  And then there were the holdouts who refused to change. (April Fool’s Day History)  What business does the government have in telling us what time it is, anyway?

Originating in France, which somehow seems appropriate, the folks who were just a little slower at picking up this whole calendar thing, those who still thought April 1st was the New Year’s Day, were labeled “fools.”  And, by golly, if you got somebody who is that dumb, let’s see what other dumb things the Yokel is willing to do!  So they would send them on silly errands.  They would invite them to non-existent parties.  In short, they would pull pranks on them.  And when they ran out of legitimate fools to pull pranks on, they just started pulling pranks on each other.  And who doesn’t like a holiday devoted to pulling pranks?  April Fools’ Day quickly spread throughout Europe.  In fact, the famous “Kick Me” sign made famous at the Dwight D. Eisenhower Junior High School in Denver, Colorado, originated as part of Scotland’s solemn observance of April Fool’s Day. (April Fool’s Day History)

So there have it.  April Fools’ Day is not based on some earlier religious high holy day.  It’s not the solemn observation of some senseless war that nobody remembers.  It doesn’t mark anybody’s or anything’s liberation or impendence.  It doesn’t mark the birth or death of anybody famous.  And it wasn’t even made up by greeting card companies or jewelers to increase their sales.  It is simply a holiday devoted to making other people look stupid so you can laugh at them.  And it has spread around the globe.  That, in itself, should say a lot about humanity.


Work Cited

“April Fool’s Day History.”  2011.  April Fools!  28 Mar. 2012.  http://www.april-fools.us/history-april-fools.htm

Snowden, Ben.  “The Curious History of the Gregorian Calendar:  Eleven Days that Never Were.”  2007.  Infoplease.  28 Mar. 2012.  http://www.infoplease.com/spot/gregorian1.html


6:51 pm pdt 

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