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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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Tuesday, November 24, 2020

The Christmas Parade

The cold wind snapped across the littered parking lot, pushing sleet that lightly covered the windshield on the high school principal's truck.  After a few moments the wipers slid across the glass and revealed three men walking slowly across the gravel toward the truck.  One of the men was Santa Claus; he would've looked better with a beard.  Within seconds the windshield was misted over again.  When the wipers once more sequenced, the men were waiting at the truck for Mr. Anderson to remove the key and step out into the December morning.

"When do you want to start?" Santa Claus asked.

"I'm not in charge of the parade," Mr. Anderson answered.

"We know," said one of the other men  who had his ball cap firmly screwed on his head to keep it from blowing away, "but do you want the four-wheelers to go before or after the horses?"

"All I'm here to do is to make sure the queen candidate is here," said Mr. Anderson.

"You're going to announce her at the end of the parade, aren't you?" another man said from the comfort of his hooded hunting jacket.

"Only if necessary," replied Mr. Anderson.

"That's good," said the man in the ball cap.  "But what about the four-wheelers?"

Three four-wheelers were sitting in the near corner of the parking lot.  Two of the riders were taking turns popping their clutches and spinning gravel on the third rider, who was trying to get hers started, between cursing at the other two.  In deference to the occasion, they had wreaths attached with duct tape to their handlebars.

"I think the four-wheelers ought to go behind the horses," Santa Clause volunteered.

"Horse," the man in the hunting jacket corrected.  "We only got one horse, unless Larry shows up."

"Victor's got a horse," said the man in the hunting cap.

"He gots to go up front," Santa Claus reminded him.  "He's carrying the American flag.  The American flag always goes up front."

Out in the street near the intersection, Victor, who was dressed in his full VFW regalia, was trying to keep the American flag pointing upward with one had while hold the reigns to his jittery horse with the other.  Every time he seemed to have the horse calmed down, whoever was sitting in the firetruck would rev the engine and send him prancing around in circles.

"There's another horse," said the hunting cap.

"We can't count that horse," said Santa.  "It's pulling the Baptists."

Coming up the street was one slowly plodding horse, laboriously pulling a flatbed wagon.  Above the wagon a banner had been erected simply stating, "Jesus Saves."  Whoever had planned the banner hadn't planned well enough, for the letters became increasingly smaller and scrunched up the closer they got to the right side.  Several hay bales had been thrown on the wagon, upon which were seated members of the congregation.  It was hard to tell just how many might be there since they were all huddled tightly under a collection of quilts.  Muffled attempts at singing escaped from underneath the covers.

"So no one is really in charge of this parade?" asked Mr. Anderson.

Hunting Jacket replied, "Well, Larry usually runs these things, but I ain't seen him yet.  I figure if he ain't here by now he probably ain't gonna come."

"Larry's got the other horse," Ball Cap added.

From the back of a pickup truck parked in the middle of the street, several students whose banner announced that they were Cub Scouts had started throwing their candy to the half-a-dozen students who had gathered to watch.  Only they weren't gently throwing, and the students weren't collecting the candy to keep; they were throwing it back.

"OK," said Mr. Anderson, "we'll put Chester out front..."

"Who's Chester?" Santa wanted to know.

"The guy with the flag."

"No, that's Victor.  Victor's got the flag," said Ball Cap.

"Whoever.  The guy with the flag leads.  We'll put Santa in the rear, right behind the queen candidate, and everybody else can just fall in."

"Sounds good," said Santa.

"Then let's get going before we all freeze."

"We cain't go yet," said Hunting Jacket.  "The marching band ain't here yet."

"What marching band?" Mr. Anderson wondered.

"Why, the school marching band," said Ball Cap.

"I didn't know we had a school marching band," Mr. Anderson said more to himself than anyone else.  Santa replied just the same.

"Oh, we do, and it's a dandy!"

As if on cue, the marching band emerged from the walkway that ran between the high school and  the New Gym.  The music teacher was holding a banner that was really designed to be held by two people, which the wind kept trying to wrest from her hands.  On the banner, amidst various cleft signs and musical notes, were the words "NHS Marching Band."  It was actually a nice banner, or at least had been for the first thirty years of its life.  With luck, duct tape would see it through another thirty years.  The three members of the marching band followed behind.  There was a drum, a clarinet, and cymbals.  All the students had on the pants and jackets that made up the uniforms, complete with the fancy embroidery work that ran down the vest.  One of them was even wearing a hat.

"I'm sorry we were late," panted Mrs. Murgel, the music teacher.  "We were waiting for Ricky, but he never showed up."

"That's alright," Mr. Anderson replied.  "Just as long as you're here we're OK.  We'll put you behind Chester..."

"Victor," corrected Santa.

"Victor.  We'll put you behind Victor."

"You cain't put 'em behind Victor," said Hunting Jacket.  "The cymbals'll spook his horse."

"Hell, wind'd spook that old horse," Santa said to the appreciation of the other men.

"Alright, then, the firetruck follows Victor..."

Santa nodded his approval of Mr. Anderson finally getting the name right.

"And we'll put the marching band behind the firetruck."

"We can't march behind the firetruck," Mrs. Murgel protested.  "No one would hear us over the noise from the diesel."

Mr. Anderson was tempted to say that that was the general idea, but decided it wouldn't've been professional.

"OK, then, we'll put you after the Baptists."

"That's not a good idea," said Hunting Jacket.

"Why not?"

"Well, for one thing, they'll both be playing music, which is probably not a good idea."

"I'd agree," Mr. Anderson quickly added, although he wasn't considering the possibility that their songs would clash.

"And another thing," Ball Cap continued, "Les has been having trouble with his stomach lately.  I don't think you'll want to walk behind him."

"Who's Les?" Mr. Anderson wondered.

"He's the Baptists' horse," Ball Cap explained.

"Then we'll put the Baptists behind the flag, the firetruck will follow the Baptists, the four wheelers can follow the firetruck, and the Cub Scouts can follow them.  We'll put the marching band behind the Cub Scouts, the queen can follow the marching band, and Santa Claus can bring up the rear."

"What about the other horse?" asked Santa.

"We can put him behind the Baptists."

The three men thought about it for a few moments.

"By golly, I think that'll work," Santa finally concluded.

As the parade slowly started down Walnut, the townsfolk came out of the warmth of their homes to huddle near the street as it went by.  The parade made it to the second house down from the school when the firetruck died.  After a few attempts at turning it over, the fireman inside stuck his head out and announced, "It's froze up!"  The excuse was readily accepted.

Hunting Jacket walked up to Mr. Anderson, who was still standing in the parking lot.  "I reckon we'll just call it quits here.  The firetruck ain't goin' nowhere, and the band's already played all the songs it knows.  We can use the Baptists' wagon to announce the Christmas queen on."

The wagon was a good idea.  Les, the horse, had laid down in the middle of the street, and since he was going nowhere, neither was the wagon.

"Oh, I don't think we'll need the wagon," Mr. Anderson volunteered.  "The girl who was elected queen didn't show up.  We'll just give the tiara to her on Monday, if she shows up then."

"I reckon that'll work," said Hunting Jacket.

Down the street, the homeowners had already gone back inside.  The Baptists had all abandoned their wagon, leaving Les on his own.  Victor and his flag were no where in sight.  Once the parade had begun, Victor had never looked back to see if the rest were following.  The four-wheelers were all chasing each other around in the field that the students used for parking, and the Cub Scouts were now throwing gravel at each other, having run out of candy.  The Marching Band had headed back to the building, only to be stopped by Ricky, who had finally shown up and now wanted to play his trumpet.  Since Mr. Anderson could see no reason to hang around any longer on a Saturday morning, he headed to his truck, only to be stopped halfway there by the trio of Santa Claus, Hunting Jacket, and Ball Cap.

"That was a right fine parade," Hunting Cap volunteered.

"Yes, it was," Ball Cap agreed.  "A dandy!  Best one we ever had."

"We sure appreciate all your effort," said Santa Claus, patting Mr. Anderson on the back.  "We couldn't've done it without you."

10:39 am pst 

Saturday, November 21, 2020

History of the Future:  Souls for Sale

April through August, 2035

Even though souls had been offered for sale from time to time on the Internet, buyit.com, on the hypernet, saw its first offer to sell a soul on April 14, 2035.  Clarence Tu Tzu Williams, as a joke, waged his soul to the highest bidder, starting at 500 adjusted new dollars.  Said Tzu, “What’s a soul anyway?  It’s somebody else’s idea of nothing.  If someone wants to pay me for nothing, I’ll take their cash, but I’d prefer euros.”  Though buyit.com never disclosed any of their financial records, it is widely believed that the soul sold for just under 2,000 a.n.d.

What followed can only be described as a craze.  Soon souls were the most offered commodity on the hypernet.  A standardized title, complete with notarization, was even developed for souls.  It is estimated that by early August, 2035, between 1.5 and 2.2 million souls were sold and bought on buyit.com.  However, in August, a young computational discovered that all of the souls had been purchased by only one individual.  That person’s name was never discovered, but it is estimated that he or she paid close to one billion adjusted new dollars, a record for any individual or corporation.  The souls were never offered for resale.

Soon after, the craze ended. 

11:06 am pst 

Sunday, November 15, 2020


"Seriously.  Do you think it makes a difference which one we choose?"  

10:07 am pst 

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Veterans’ Day

On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month – at 11:00 a.m. on November 11, 1918, the Great War (back when it was not yet necessary to number them) officially came to an end.  It was the War to End All Wars.  ‘Tis a pity it truly wasn’t.


A legislative Act (52 Stat. 351; 5 U. S. Code, Sec. 87a), which was approved on May 13, 1938, “made the 11th of November in each year a legal holiday—a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be thereafter celebrated and known as ‘Armistice Day.’” 


Whereas Armistice Day was originally dedicated specifically to peace and generally to honoring those who died in WWI, it was officially changed in 1954 to Veterans’ Day – a national holiday set aside to honor all of our veterans, which by then included WWII and Korea. 


Nowadays it is seen as “A celebration to honor America's veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good.”  Whether we view any given war, or any war at all, as far as that goes, as good or bad, right or wrong, there can be no debate over the sacrifice that those who have willingly gone to fight have made, and continue to make.  That sacrifice should not be recognized only one day of the year.  To those of you who have worn the uniform, to those of you who have made the sacrifice:  Thank you.



Work Cited


“History of Veterans Day.”  10 Nov. 2009.  United States Department of Veterans Affairs.  15 Aug. 2011.  http://www.va.gov/opa/vetsday/vetdayhistory.asp


9:03 am pst 

Monday, November 9, 2020

Friday the Thirteenth

This coming up Friday, November 13, 2020, is, as the name implies, a Friday that, by chance, falls on the 13th day of the month.  It seems the idea of Friday the Thirteenth comes from earlier superstitions that both the number 13 and Friday are unlucky.  When they come together… what do you expect?  Or perhaps it stems from the idea that celestial events that fall on arbitrarily numbered days portend some sort of cosmic sign.


In many cultures, 12 represents a “complete” number.  After all, it is the smallest number that can be divided by 2, 3, & 4.  Think of all the things we know that come by the dozen – months, hours, inches, apostles, the 12 tribes of Judaism, the 12 gods of Olympus, dice, donuts, and eggs.  Thirteen… just mucks things up.  As well, there are even old Norse and Jewish legends that say if 13 people dine, then one of them is going to die.  A good thing to keep in mind when inviting people to your Friday the 13th parties.  Just consider the Last Supper from Christian mythology.  It was on a Friday, and there were 13 present.  Why it is referred to as Good Friday is beyond me.


And Friday is unlucky because… well, it just is.  Really, nobody seems to have cared about Friday the 13th before the 19th century.  The earliest record in the English language of Friday the Thirteenth being unlucky is that of a British journalist in 1869, but since then we’ve developed all sorts of phobias.


“The fear of Friday the 13th is called friggatriskaidekaphobia (Frigga being the name of the Norse goddess for whom ‘Friday’ is named and triskaidekaphobia meaning fear of the number thirteen).”  Of course, not everybody sees Friday the 13th as unlucky. The Chinese, for instance, believe the number 13 is lucky.  But then, there are those who believe that it is unlucky to be Chinese.  Seriously:  Chinophobia is the fear of Chinese people, Chinese customs, and anything else Chinese.  As far as that goes, there a phobia for fearing American:  Amerophobia.  But why stop there?  Xenophobia is pretty much the fear of everybody who isn’t you, and Autophobia is the fear of yourself.  And then there’s Panophobia:  The fear of everything.


So is Friday the 13th really unlucky?  According to a study done in Britain, there are actually fewer accidents on Friday the 13th than other random combinations of week days and days of the months.  But that could be because, as the study pointed out, fewer people leave their homes on Friday the 13th, and on that day, overall, people tend to be more cautious.


Me?  I think I’ll err on the side of caution and stay in the house all day.


By the way, it would be a rare year that didn’t have at least one Friday the Thirteenth.  That one Friday the Thirteenth in 2021 will be in August.




Work Cited


“Amerophobia.”  2011.  Boredom Relief.  11 Jan. 2012.  http://www.blifaloo.com/info/phobias.php


“Chinophobia.”  2011.  Boredom Relief.  11 Jan. 2012.  http://www.blifaloo.com/info/phobias.php


 “Friday the 13th.”  27 Dec. 2011.  Wikipedia.  30 Dec. 2011.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Friday_the_13th


“The Phobia List.”  17 July 1995.  phobialist.com.  11 Jan. 2012.  http://phobialist.com/


“What Phobia is the Fear of Yourself?”  2012.  Answers.com.  11 Jan. 2012.  http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What_phobia_is_the_fear_of_yourself


“Why Friday the 13th is Unlucky.”  2012.  About.com.: Urban Legends.  11 Jan. 2012.  http://urbanlegends.about.com/cs/historical/a/friday_the_13th.htm



9:19 am pst 

Friday, November 6, 2020

The History of the Future:  The Collected Literary Works of Larry Jerkensen

June 24th, 2442:  After having been lost for over 400 years, the collected works of poet and essayist Larry Jerkensen were discovered on the Internet by a very bored 14 year old in Akron.  Larry intentionally lost his collected literary works on the Internet before his death in 2019,  because he believed his work was not appreciated by his contemporaries, and could only truly be appreciated with the perspective of time.  Those few acamedians that managed to read through enough to fake the rest, believed that Jerkensen’s lack of appreciation had less to do with perspective, and was mostly due to the fact that he just sucked.  However, giving Jerkensen the benefit of doubt, they intentionally lost his life’s work once again on the Internet.


June 24th, 2842:  Nope.  It still sucks.


10:38 am pst 

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