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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, February 23, 2021

3:28 pm pst 

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Shrove Tuesday (AKA Pancake Day, AKA Mardi Gras)


"Shrove" is the past tense of "shrive," to confess.  I shrive; I shrove; I have shriven.  Shrove Tuesday, then, is "...a day of penitence, to clean the soul, and a day of celebration as the last chance to feast before Lent begins..." on the next day – Ash Wednesday. (What Does It Mean)   Ash Wednesday, of course, is the day when the faithful are marked with a cross on their forehead made from the blessed palm ashes from the previous year's Palm Sunday.  Not only does this show one's sorrow for her or his sins; it also marks "the need to prepare for a holy death." (What is Ash Wednesday)


Ash Wednesday always falls 46 days before Easter.  When Easter falls, however, depends on the moon.  Easter is "...celebrated on the first Sunday that occurs after the first full moon on or after the vernal equinox,” which is also known as the Paschal, or Passover, Full Moon. (Paschal Full Moon)  46 days before that can be anywhere from as early as February 3 to as late as March 9.  (Castelow)  


Technically, though, Lent only has 40 days, which ties into "...the traditional number of judgment and spiritual testing in the Bible (Genesis 7:4, Exodus 24:18, 34:28, Numbers 13:25, 14:33, John 3:4)."  In particular, "Lent bears particular relationship to the 40 days Christ spent fasting in the desert before entering into his public ministry (Matthew 4:1-11)."  As such, Catholics are attempting to "...imitate Christ by spending 40 days in spiritual discipline before the celebration of Christ's triumph over sin and death."  (Why Do Catholics Practice Fasting and Abstinence During Lent) 


The other six days of Lent are Sundays, which are considered "feast days." (What is Ash Wednesday)  Therefore, Catholics are not required to fast on Sundays during Lent.  Indeed, some authorities believe it is biblically forbidden to fast on Sundays, because Sunday represents the day Christ was resurrected, and should always be a day of celebration.  (Should Catholics Fast On Sundays During Lent)  Now there's a technicality I wish I knew when I was a child, suffering without candy during Lent.  Go ahead and have that Snickers Bar.  It's Sunday!  As far as that goes, Catholics are not required (at least, not any longer) to fast during Lent at all, with the exception of two days:  Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. (Should Catholics Fast On Sundays During Lent)


And that abstinence, or fasting (whether you technically need to or not, or even whether you intend to or not), led to Pancake Day.  It's pointless (or so Sister Theresa would argue) to give up those things for Lent that you aren't indulging in to begin with, such as cigars, prostitutes, and crack cocaine.  Therefore, traditionally, people gave up those things they enjoyed, the "luxuries" of life, which included such things as flour, butter, and eggs.  The flour might keep for 46 days, but the eggs and butter... probably not.  So they feasted on all those perishable items on Shrove Tuesday.  And if you have flour, butter, and eggs, you've got pancakes.  Further, because those "luxuries" were those "fatty" items, Shrove Tuesday became known as "Fat Tuesday," or, in French, "Mardi Gras." (Willis)  So if you are giving up those luxuries of life for Lent, and one of those luxuries happens to be alcohol, then why not be hungover for 45 of the next 46 days?  Mardi Gras is the second most "drunken" holiday, following only the Super Bowl.  (The Top Ten U.S. Drinking Holidays)


In 2021, Shrove Tuesday fell on February 16.  In 2018, Ash Wednesday also fell on Valentine's Day.  It will fall on Valentine's Day again in 2024, and 2029, making for quite a quandary if you're planning on giving up sex for Lent.  Or, you can just make it easy, and give up Lent for Lent, which is something Sister Theresa probably wouldn't've approved of, either.



Work Cited


Castelow, Ellen.  "Pancake Day."  Historic UK.  Historic UK:  n. pag.  Web.  13 Feb. 2018  http://www.historic-uk.com/CultureUK/Pancake-Day/


“Paschal Full Moon.”  Wikipedia.  Wikipedia Foundation, Inc.  (26 Dec. 2017):  n. pag.  Web.  13 Feb. 2018.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paschal_Full_Moon


"Should Catholics Fast On Sundays During Lent?"  ThoughtCo.  ThoughtCo:  n. pag.  Web.  13 Feb. 2018  https://www.thoughtco.com/fast-on-sundays-during-lent-3970756


"The Top Ten U.S. Drinking Holidays."  BOTY.  Apocalypse, Inc. (2017):  n. pag.  Web.  13 Feb. 2018  https://botyapp.com/blog_top-us-drinking-holidays/


"What Does It Mean...?"  This is Church.  ThisIsChurch.com (2010):  n. pag.  Web.  13 Feb. 2018  http://www.thisischurch.com/christian_teaching/shrovetuesday.htm


"What is Ash Wednesday?"  Bible Info.  BibleInfo.com (2012):  n. pag.  Web.  13 Feb. 2018  http://www.bibleinfo.com/en/questions/ash-wednesday-bible


"Why Do Catholics Practice Fasting and Abstinence During Lent?"  Catholic Answers.  Catholic.com (04 Aug. 2011):  n. pag.  Web.  13 Feb. 2018  https://www.catholic.com/qa/why-do-catholics-practice-fasting-and-abstinence-during-lent


Willis, Amy.  "Shrove Tuesday:  Everything You Need to Know About Pancake Day."  Metro:  News...But Not as You Know It.  MetroUK (13 Feb. 2018):  n. pag.  Web.  13 Feb. 2018  http://metro.co.uk/2018/02/13/shrove-tuesday-everything-you-need-to-know-about-pancake-day-7231953/ 


8:22 am pst 

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

According to Ms. Mary Ann Joblonski, HGP’s Journalism and History Editor,“Because most people dont know how to use apostrophe's, the apostrophe in Presidents day is often made singular, meaning only one president.  Therefore, the way I see it, each year I get to choose which president to honor by publishing the biographie's of some of our lesser known president's.'"'"  And this year, Mary Ann has chosen #23...


Benjamin Harrison (1889-1893)


There have been five sets of presidents who have shared last names.  For instance, William Henry Harrison (#9) and Benjamin.  Can you name the other four... without looking them up first?  The answers are at the end of this essay.


Politics ran in Harrison's family.  Aside from his presidential grandfather, his great grandfather was one of the original signers of the Declaration of Independence and a Virginia governor, and his father was a US Congressman from Ohio. (Benjamin Harrison)


Ben was born on August 20, 1833, in North Bend, Ohio, a small town in the extreme southwest corner of Ohio across the river from Kentucky.  (Benjamin Harrison)  Following a fairly idyllic childhood, Harrison attended college, graduating from Miami University in Ohio in 1852 with a degree in law.  Shortly after he graduated, he married his long time sweetheart, Caroline Lavinia Scott, and in 1854, the couple moved to Indiana where Harrison practiced law.  (Benjamin Harrison:  The 23rd President of the United States)


Harrison served from 1862 to 1865 as a Colonel in the 70th Volunteer Infantry for the Union in the Civil War.  Following the War, Harrison returned to Indiana, where he became increasingly involved in politics.  (Benjamin Harrison)  In 1876 he ran for the Governor of Indiana, but was defeated.  He was more successful in his bid for the US Senate, and served as a senator from 1881 to 1887.  (Benjamin Harrison:  The 23rd President of the United States)  Following the Senate, Harrison ran for the presidency.


It's easy for any candidate to complain about corruption during an election, especially without having to actually prove it.  However, the 1888 election had plenty of proof... on both sides.  Both parties, that of the incumbent Democratic challenger Grover Cleveland and Harrison, the Republican challenger, were guilty of paying people to vote.  After all, if you really don't care who wins, why not make a little cash with your vote?  Aside from that, the Democrats were accused of bribery, and the Southern Democrats (who sided with the Republicans) were busy suppressing the Black vote.  In the end, Cleveland won the popular vote by only 90,000 votes, but lost the electoral college (which is all that really matters) 233 to 168.  Four years later Cleveland ran against Harrison once again, winning this time. (Roos)  By the way, five presidents have lost the popular vote, but still won the presidency (and two of those lost both the popular and the electoral vote).  Can you name them?  The answers are also at the end of this essay.


Harrison's presidency was known for... really... not much.  There were the usual problems with tariffs and taxes.  There were various Acts that were signed into law (such as the Sherman Anti-Trust Act).  And there were alliances (such as the Pan American Union) and acquisitions.  Six states were added to the Union under Harrison (North and South Dakota, Montana, Washington, Idaho, and Wyoming), more than any other presidency. (Benjamin Harrison)


Mostly, Harrison's presidency was known for corruption, but not from Harrison.  Just everybody else.  (Benjamin Harrison)  Regardless, being honest yourself but being surrounded by people who are not is never going to help you win elections.


If anything, Harrison should be known for his stand on racial equality.  He opposed the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, and he was in favour of educating the children of former slaves, believing "...that education was necessary to help the black population rise to political and economic equality with whites."  As well, he sought to pass legislation that would protect the civil rights of Black Americans, in particular, their right to vote in the South.  Unfortunately, not even his own party supported these issues. (Benjamin Harrison)


Even more unfortunate is that Harrison didn't extend, or even try to, civil rights for Native Americans.  It was on his watch that 146 Sioux (if not more) were massacred at Wounded Knee. (Benjamin Harrison) 


Harrison's first wife, Caroline died at the White House while he was in office, probably from tuberculosis. (First Lady Biography)  In 1896, following his presidency, he married Mary Lord Dimmick, who was the niece of his first wife, and nearly 30 years younger than Benjamin.  (Spetter)  Harrison died five years later, on March 13, 1901.



And Now the Answers!


The five sets of presidents that have shared the same last name are John Adams and John Quincy Adams, William Henry Harrison and Benjamin Harrison, Andrew Johnson and Lyndon Johnson, Theodore Roosevelt and Franklin Roosevelt, and George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush.  Of those five sets, all but one were related to each other.  John Quincy Adams (#6) was the son of John Adams (#2).  Benjamin Harrison (#23) was the grandson of William Henry Harrison (#9).  George W. Bush (#43) was the son of George H. W. Bush (#41).  And Franklin Roosevelt (#32) was a fifth cousin (whatever that might be) of Teddy Roosevelt (#26).  It was only the Johnsons – Andrew and Lyndon – who were not related to each other. (US Presidents Who Were Related to Each Other)


However, just because you don't share a last name doesn't mean you're not related.  James Madison (#4) and Zachary Taylor (#12) were second cousins.  And Franklin Roosevelt, aside from being related to Teddy, was related to a total of 11 presidents, both by blood (the Adamses, the Harrisons, and Grant) and by marriage (Madison, Taft, Taylor, Van Buren, and Washington).  (US Presidents Who Were Related to Each Other)


Those presidents who won the presidency but lost the popular vote are John Quincy Adams, Rutherford B. Hayes, Benjamin Harrison, George W. Bush, and Donald Trump.  The last three, Harrison, Bush, and Trump, won by having more electoral votes.  J.Q. Adams and Hayes, on the other hand, not only lost the popular vote, but they also lost the electoral college vote. (Roos)


Little known election stuff:  One does not win the presidency by simply having more electoral votes than her or his opponent (a plurality).  One must also have a majority of the electoral votes – more than half.  So if there are more than two candidates who get electoral votes, it's possible none of them will get a majority.  And if that's the case, then it is left to Congress to decide who, among the top three electoral vote getters, becomes president.  Their decision need not have anything to do with the number of votes the chosen winner originally got, either electoral or popular.  In the case of John Quincy Adams, he lost both the popular and the electoral vote to Andy Jackson, but the House of Representatives chose Adams nevertheless.  Yeah.  You wanna talk about people screaming about corruption. (Roos)


Hayes "victory" was not quite as straight forward.  When the chads had settled, neither he nor the only other opponent, Samuel Tilden, had a majority of the electoral votes.  Tilden was one shy of the majority (he needed 185), and Hayes only had 165.  But there were still three states (Florida.. again, Louisiana, and South Carolina) worth a total of 20 electoral votes where the results were contested.  The final solution was to create a bipartisan Federal Election Commission, which ultimately decided to give all 20 of those electoral votes to Hayes, making him the president, and a lot of other people unhappy. (Roos)




Work Cited


"Benjamin Harrison."  23 Jan. 2021.  Wikipedia.  27 Jan. 2021.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benjamin_Harrison


"Benjamin Harrison:  The 23rd President of the United States."  The White House.  27 Jan. 2021.  https://www.whitehouse.gov/about-the-white-house/presidents/benjamin-harrison/


"First Lady Biography:  Caroline Harrison."  National First Ladies' Library.  27 Jan. 2021.  http://www.firstladies.org/biographies/firstladies.aspx?biography=24


Roos, David.  "Five Presidents Who Lost the Popular Vote but Won the Election."  23 July 2020.  History.  27 Jan. 2021.  https://www.history.com/news/presidents-electoral-college-popular-vote


Spetter, Allan B.  "Benjamin Harrison:  Life in Brief."  2021.  Miller Center.  27 Jan. 2021.  https://millercenter.org/president/bharrison/life-in-brief


"US Presidents Who Were Related to Each Other."  21 Feb. 2017.  Factmonster.  27 Jan. 2021.  https://www.factmonster.com/us/government/executive-branch/us-presidents-who-were-related-to-each-other#:~:text=John%20Quincy%20Adams%20(the%206th,12th%20president)%20were%20second%20cousins.




8:38 am pst 

Thursday, February 4, 2021

Six Word Stories 

Often attributed to Hemmingway, the challenge of a six word story is pretty straight forward – to tell a complete story in only six words.  Here, at HGP, we've never turned down a challenge, except for those challenges we turned down.  So, in that spirit, we offer the following six word story:


Rental scooter abandoned on the bridge.

8:32 am pst 

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Valentine’s Day

There really was a person named Valentine who really became a saint.


As the legend goes, Valentine was a Roman who was martyred on… yup, you guessed it, February 14, in 269 A.D.  The Roman emperor at the time, who was affectionately nicknamed Claudius the Cruel, reportedly banned all marriages in order to get men to join the military, reasoning that if the men weren’t married then they would be more willing to join in with his campaigns.  Hmmm… sex or carnage… that’s a tough choice.  Valentine, doing his part for the Empire, secretly married couples.  And Claudius, doing his part for the Empire, had Valentine dragged out in the streets, beaten to death with clubs, and then beheaded.  Luckily, that custom wasn’t widely adopted.


Long before Valentine, though, February 14 had been celebrated in honour of Juno, the Roman goddess of women and marriage, among other things, including fertility.  One of the Roman customs on this day, which was then known as the feast of Lupercalia, was for young girls’ names to be drawn from a jar by young boys, and then they would be each other’s sexual partners for the following year.  Flowers were optional.


In 469 A.D. Pope Gelasius (remember him?) deified Valentine, making him the patron saint of lovers and finally giving him a first name – Saint.  And February 14 was officially set aside in his honour.  Pope Gelasius also sought to make St. Valentine’s day a bit less… fun.  He tried to change the custom of drawing a lover’s name to that of drawing the name of saint that you would then try to emulate over the next year.  And, yes, there is really a patron saint of celibacy, in fact, there are several.  Among them are the obvious:  St. Mary and her husband St. Joseph.  Then there’s St. John, who has been argued to be superior to Peter since he never married.  Go figure.  As well, there is St. Jerome (the patron saint of librarians), who ardently supported celibacy, and St. Marie Goretti, a fairly recent saint, who chose to die rather than succumb to the advances of a young man.  Suffice it to say, there’s not a whole lot of saints’ names that you could draw that would be anywhere near as fun as the celebration used to be.  Suffice it to say that was a custom that didn’t garner many followers.


The first Valentine was supposedly sent in 1415 from the Tower of London by the imprisoned Charles, duke of Orleans, to his wife.  A Miss Esther Howland is credited with having sent the first Valentine’s card in the United States, sometime in the 1800s, and from there commercialization took over, as it is wont to do.  Over one billion dollars are spent each year by men buying chocolates alone, and Valentine’s day is decidedly the biggest day of the year for florists.  Heck, one website will even sell you a heart shaped Jell-O mold which is bound to impress even the most reluctant lover.


Cupid, by the way, was the son of Venus, the Roman god of love and beauty.  Whereas Cupid is now thought of as a gentle boy who helps bring lovers together, his quiver originally held two different kinds of arrows – silver tipped arrows that would cause you to fall passionately and desperately in love and lead tipped arrows that would do just the opposite.  Imagine the fun you could have with those babies!



Work Cited


“About Valentine’s Day.”  Holiday Insights.  15 Jan. 2012.  http://www.holidayinsights.com/valentine/


Ovid.  Metamorphoses.  Rolfe Humphries, translator.  Bloomington:  Indiana University Press, 1955, 16-17.


“St. Jerome:  Doctor of the Church.”  Catholic Online.  15 Jan. 2012.  http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=10


“St. Maria Goretti, Martyr of Purity.”  July 2002.  Youth Apostles Online.  15 Jan. 2012.  http://www.youthapostles.com/newsletters/2002-07.html


“Valentine’s Day History and Things.”  Picture Frames.  15 Jan. 2012.  http://www.pictureframes.co.uk/pages/saint_valentine.htm


“Valentine’s Day:  Not What it Used to Be.”  2012.  Wilstar.com.  15 Jan. 2012.  http://wilstar.com/holidays/valentn.htm


8:30 am pst 

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