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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.

 

 

 

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Sunday, October 7, 2012

We’ve Been Remodeling!

Here at HGP we have recently updated our entire “Plays” tab (formerly “Drama), and we’ve moved several things there that were currently elsewhere (such as “Zombies” and "Iselmatainia"), and we’ve added just a whole lot of fun stuff, such as makeup and costume plots from Dawgs.

As well, HGP now has the exclusive rights to several original plays by Michael Soetaert, including In the Beginning.  And if you are the first to produce any of them (as long as you are not professional), there are no fees at all! 

That’s right, it’s ABSOLUTELY FREE! 

You get to put on a play that you didn’t have to write, and it won’t cost you a thing... but only if you’re the first.  And if you put any of these on at a public school, I’ll even help you update your résumé!

5:47 pm pdt 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Holidays:  Columbus Day

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(Douglas Bennet’s “Christopher Columbus,” Seattle, Washington)

 

In a country where we carved a monument to four of our presidents on a mountain in the middle of what many Native Americans’ consider their most sacred ground, it really shouldn’t surprise anybody that we still celebrate Columbus Day.

We all know the story of Columbus.  After all, he discovered America!  Never mind the millions of people who were already living throughout North and South America and the Caribbean.  Never mind that the Vikings had been here on numerous occasions and even had established outposts in the New World.  (Columbus Day in the United States)  And never mind that there is fairly conclusive evidence that the North and South American continents had been reached by both Chinese explorers (Kolesnikov-Jessop) and quite possibly even Polynesian explorers. (Jones)  It’s Columbus whom we give the credit to!  And why not?  After all, it is his “Discovery” that led to the European conquest of the New World.

In actuality, Columbus “discovered” very little of the New World.  Instead of being seen as an intrepid explorer, he should probably be seen more as a “hapless navigator [who] misjudged the circumference of the Earth and landed instead on the Bahamas. He later sailed on to Cuba and to Hispaniola (now Haiti), which he mistakenly believed to be the East Indies,”  (Columbus Day:  Celebration and Controversy)  but he never got as far as mainland America. (Columbus Day in the United States)

Those places that Columbus actually made it to, as well as those he left for others to “discover,” were not barren lands devoid of human life.  It is estimated that there were between 90-112 million people living in the Americas prior to Columbus’ arrival.  That’s more than the entire European population at the time. (Dangl)  But not for long. 

Columbus almost immediately forced the natives into slavery, and he reportedly “imposed barbaric forms of punishment, including torture” on those who resisted. (Columbus Day) Indeed, on his very first day in the New World it is reported that Columbus used “violent force to enslave six natives.”  And, “While ruling as Governor and Viceroy of the Caribbean, Columbus killed [and then] paraded dead natives through the streets to deter unrest by the natives. Columbus also used force to make native peoples search for gold and to convert them to Christianity.”   (Columbus Day:  Celebration and Controversy)

And this is consistent with Columbus.  Before he became an explorer, he was in the business of transporting people from “West Africa to Portugal to be sold as slaves.”  Indeed, Columbus has the distinction of being the first person to bring slaves to the New World.  (Transform Columbus Day 2011)  As well, Columbus was the first to bring slaves from the New World back to Europe, shipping off “thousands of peaceful Taino 'Indians' from the island of Hispaniola to be sold into Spanish slavery.” (Columbus Day:  Celebration and Controversy)

But then, in all fairness, Columbus didn’t come to the Americas to celebrate diversity.  “Gold and conquest were the driving reasons behind the historic voyage.” (Columbus Day:  Celebration and Controversy)  That the native population was dying off in droves seemed to matter little to the Europeans.

By far the biggest killer was the diseases that the Europeans brought, such as smallpox and influenza, “which ‘would likely have traveled much faster than the European settlers themselves.’”  (Than).  For instance, it is estimated that 90% of those native people living in coastal New England died from Hepatitis A within three years, and, overall, “Within [the] first years of European contact, 95% of native populations died.”  (Dangl)  That’s between 85 million and 106 million people who died as a direct result of European contact – as a direct result of Columbus. 

And this is consistent with studies published by the National Geographic Society.  Research based on genetic studies shows that within just a few years of Columbus’ arrival in the New World the indigenous population reached an all-time low, which was caused by “a wave of disease, warfare, and enslavement in the New World that had devastating effects for indigenous populations across the Americas.” (Than)

If we give Columbus credit for discovering America, then perhaps we should give him credit for the genocide of upwards to 100 million people.  If so, he is probably the biggest mass murderer of all time... hands down.  What a guy!  In all fairness, Columbus is an historical figure that represents perhaps the worst in all of us.  But why do we celebrate such a figure?  For that, we give credit to the Italian-American community.

The first official celebration of Columbus Day in the United States was in 1792, “when New York's Columbian Order–better known as Tammany Hall–held an event to commemorate the historic landing's 300th anniversary.” (Columbus Day)  One hundred years later, In 1892, “President Benjamin Harrison issued a proclamation encouraging Americans to mark the 400th anniversary of Columbus' voyage....”  (Columbus Day)  It was in 1937 that Columbus Day was declared a national holiday by President Franklin D. Roosevelt,  (Columbus Day in the United States) “largely as a result of intense lobbying by the Knights of Columbus, an influential Catholic fraternal benefits organization.” (Columbus Day)  Not content with just a national holiday, in 1971 President Nixon declared Columbus Day to be a Federal Holiday, meaning that federal employees, among others, now get the day off. (Columbus Day:  Celebration and Controversy)  It was also in 1971 that Columbus Day moved from being observed on the traditional day of October 12 to the second Monday in October.  (Columbus Day in the United States)  Columbus Day continues to be celebrated across the United States through various events, such as parades and even special church services.  Although, “Most celebrations are concentrated around the Italian-American community,” especially in San Francisco and New York.   (Columbus Day in the United States)

Columbus Day is, understandably, not without opposition, which “...dates back to the 19th century, when anti-immigrant groups in the United States rejected the holiday because of its association with Catholicism.”  More recently, Columbus Day has been opposed by Native Americans, who see it as “...an event that indirectly resulted in the colonization of the Americas and the death of millions. (Columbus Day)  The result of this opposition is that many communities across the United States, and even entire states, have stopped celebrating Columbus Day.  For instance, Columbus Day is no longer “a public holiday in California, Nevada and Hawaii.” (Columbus Day in the United States)  In Hawai‘i it has become Discoverer's Day, “which commemorates the arrival of Polynesian settlers,” (Columbus Day) in South Dakota, Columbus Day is now known as Native Americans’ Day, and in Berkeley, California, it is known as Indigenous People’s Day.  As well, Columbus Day is known as Dìa de la Raza (Day of the Race) in many Latino communities, both in the United States and throughout Latin America, and since 2002 it has become Dìa de la Resistencia Indìgena (Day of Indigenous Resistance) in Venezuela. (Columbus Day in the United States)

Columbus Day, regardless of what you call it, will be observed in 2012 on Monday, October 8th.


Work Cited

“Columbus Day.”  2012.  History.com.  02 Oct. 2012.  http://www.history.com/topics/columbus-day

“Columbus Day:  Celebration and Controversy.”  12. Oct. 2009.  Education Insider.  02 Oct. 2012.  http://education-portal.com/articles/Columbus_Day_Celebration_and_Controversy.html

“Columbus Day in the United States.”  2012.  timeandate. com.  02 Oct. 2012.   http://www.timeanddate.com/holidays/us/columbus-day

Dangl, Benjamin.  “1491:  The Truth About the Americas Before Columbus.”  10 June 2006.  Upside Down World.  02 Oct. 2012.  http://upsidedownworld.org/main/international-archives-60/320-1491-the-truth-about-the-americas-before-columbus

Jones, Terry.  “Abstract: Polynesian Contacts with the New World.”  2012.  Archeological Institute of America.  02 Oct. 2012.  http://www.archaeological.org/lectures/abstracts/5824

Kolesnikov-Jessop, Sonia.  “Did Chinese Beat Out Columbus?”  25 June 2005.  The New York Times.  02 Oct. 2012.  http://www.nytimes.com/2005/06/24/arts/24iht-chinam.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

Than, Ker.  “Massive Population Drop Found for Native Americans, DNA Shows:  Genetic data supports accounts of decline following European contact.”  05 Dec. 2011.  National Geographic.  02 Oct. 2012.  http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2011/12/111205-native-americans-europeans-population-dna-genetics-science/

“Transform Columbus Day 2011.”  2011.  Transform Columbus Day Alliance.  02 Oct. 2012.  http://www.transformcolumbusday.org/

 

2:10 pm pdt 

The History of the Future: The Last Nobel Prize

The last Nobel Prize of any kind was issued in 2053, when the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Mbutu Mugombi, who was the current leader of the Glorious People’s Republic of South Central Africa.  Mugombi was awarded the prize for what the committee called “humanitarian restraint.”  After all, they reasoned, he only killed 200,000 of his own people, when “he clearly could’ve killed a lot more.”  Said one committee member, “You know, if the only thing good you can say about somebody is that he could’ve been worse, and he’s the best you can find, then it’s probably best that just quit trying.”

And it was probably just as well, since the committee had run out of money in 2048, having invested heavily in shady land deals on Neptune.  In that year, when the last Nobel Prize in Physics was finally awarded to the toaster (which the committee considered, in retrospect, to be the last invention that truly improved anybody’s life), the prize consisted of a check for a dollar ninety seven, a coupon for a free breakfast at Shoney’s, and an unframed certificate that had been printed off by a printer that was clearly out of ink.

Though several attempts were made to revive Nobel Prizes in the following years, it was deemed to be “a lot of work.”  “And,” said one promoter, “for what?  Hell, we don’t even get free beer.”

1:53 pm pdt 


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