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
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
...What's Old at the Press
Wednesday, March 31, 2021
8:34 am pdt
Oy Vey Virus
The HGP website has recently
become infected with the Oy Vey Virus. It’s a particularly malicious virus that converts all text files to Yiddish,
changes all music files into the soundtrack from Fiddler on the Roof, and all picture files to publicity photos of
Jerry Seinfeld. In order to clear our site of this virus, we will be back flushing all of our files between midnight
and 2:00 a.m. (Pacific time) this Thursday morning, April 1. Whereas this is the only way to absolutely clear our site
of this virus, there is the possibility that it can be distributed through any of our connections on the Internet, which includes
anybody who has ever visited our site. The IT Department here at HGP assures us that the chances of this virus actually
being back flushed into anybody else’s computer is relatively low. They don’t believe that it is necessary
that you disconnect from the Internet during this time, but they caution you not to open any emails that are in Yiddish or
that have the words “Oy Vey” anywhere in the address.
Monday, March 29, 2021
2:05 pm pdt
Grid Your Lions
9:30 am pdt
The Easter Bunny
Easter is quintessentially the
Christian holiday. The resurrection of Jesus, after all, is what the entire faith is based on.
But the Easter Bunny? Comon! To understand what the Easter Bunny has to do with
modern day Christianity, like most things, we have to go way back, in this case to the ancient Saxons who lived in northern
Europe before Jesus walked the earth. (Duncan)
The Saxon’s “goddess of dawn, spring, and fertility” was Eostre, or Eastre, (Soniak) and every spring they would celebrate her return “with an uproarious festival....”
(Correll-Wright) Included in that festival were various symbols of fertility, which included, quite naturally,
eggs and rabbits. (Soniak) After all, what could be more fertile than a rabbit? There
is a reason why people say, “Hump like bunnies.” Rabbits reach sexual maturity very quickly,
and they can become pregnant while they are pregnant. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise
to anyone that they have been a fertility symbol for a long, long time. (Easter Bunny)
It was in the Second Century after the birth of Christ that Christian missionaries made their way
into Northern Europe. Whatever one might think of the early Christian missionaries, they weren’t
stupid. They knew that if they were to have any hope of converting the Pagans, or staying alive, for that
matter, then they couldn’t tell them to stop having a good time. That would have to wait until later.
Therefore, it was common to allow the Pagans to continue celebrating their holidays, but in a more Christian manner,
and Easter was no different. (Correll-Wright) “The Eostre festival occurred around
the same time as the Christians' celebration of Christ's resurrection, so the two celebrations became one.”
The Pagans got Christianity, and the Christians got the bunny and the eggs. (Soniak)
In modern times, the first mention of the Easter Bunny was in 1682
by the German writer Georg Franck von Franckenau, who wrote about the “German tradition of an Easter Hare bringing Easter
Eggs for the children.” (Easter Bunny) The Easter Bunny made its way to America
in the 1700s with the Germans who settled in the Pennsylvania Dutch country. Originally, children would
build “nests” so “Oschter Haws” would place colourful eggs there... but only if they were good. (Duncan)
As the tradition spread throughout the country, the “nests” morphed into increasingly more elaborate baskets.
(Easter Traditions: Easter Bunny History) The first edible Easter
bunnies, which were made out of pastry and sugar, also come from Germany, dating back to the early 1800s. (Mooney)
So why does
the date for Easter Sunday hop around more than a bunny?
It wasn’t until 325 C.E. that Emperor Constantine, at the
Council of Nicaea, decreed that “...Easter shall be 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.
Of course, not wanting to make anything that simple, it couldn’t just be any old full moon. It
had to be an ecclesiastical full moon, which isn’t necessarily a full moon at all. (Paschal Full Moon)
it is necessary to differentiate between an ecclesiastical calendar, which is based on the cycles of the moon as it orbits
the earth and repeats itself every nineteen years, and a civil calendar, which is based on the earth’s relative position
orbiting the sun. The civil calendar is what most people in the Western world use to show up to work on
Mondays. The ecclesiastical calendar, which is based on 29 and 30 day lunar months, is what Easter is based
on. (Paschal Full Moon)
first day of each lunar month is known as an ecclesiastical new moon, which can vary up to two days from the actual new moon.
Between March 8 and April 5 is the vernal equinox, the first day of Spring in the Northern Hemisphere.
It is between those particular dates that only one ecclesiastical new moon will ever fall in any given year, and that
particular ecclesiastical new moon marks the beginning of the Paschal lunar month. The fourteenth day of
the Paschal lunar month marks the Paschal full moon (whether the moon is full or not), and the first Sunday after that “full
moon” is Easter. (Paschal Full Moon)
Based on when Easter will be, all of the various observances associated with Easter are dated backwards.
Lent, the Christian period of fasting, begins 46 days prior to Easter. It represents the 40 days
that Jesus spent fasting in the wilderness, plus the six Sundays that fall during that time. Sundays were
meant to be a day of celebration; therefore, they were not originally seen as fasting days. 46 days before
Easter is a Wednesday, Ash Wednesday. And the Tuesday before that Wednesday is Mardi Gras, which is French
for “Fat Tuesday.” If you were going to have to give up everything fun for the next six and
a half weeks, then it only makes sense to party all you can before that. And, of course, there is Maundy
Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday, Easter Sunday, and Easter Monday. As well, the Sunday after Easter
in England is known as Low Sunday, and the following Monday and Tuesday are Hocktide, which, apparently, you have to be British
to understand. (Correll-Wright)
the way, Easter in 2021 falls on Sunday, April 4.
Correll-Wright, Arlene. “The History of Easter
and the Easter Bunny.” Plancy Pages Publishing. 20 Dec. 2013.
“Where Did the Easter Bunny Originate From?” Life
123. 20 Dec. 2013. http://www.life123.com/holidays/easter/easter-traditions/where-did-easter-bunny-originate.shtml
Bunny.” 19 Dec. 2013. Wikipedia. 20 Dec. 2013.
Traditions: Easter Bunny History.” 2000. Easter Bunny’s.Net.
20 Dec. 2013. http://www.easterbunnys.net/easterbunnyhistory.htm
“Where did the Easter Bunny Come from? 10 Apr. 2009.
Farmers’ Almanac. 20 Dec. 2013. http://www.farmersalmanac.com/blog/2009/04/10/where-did-the-easter-bunny-come-from/
“Paschal Full Moon.” 16 Aug. 2013. Wikipedia.
20 Dec. 2013. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paschal_Full_Moon
Soniak, Matt. “Where
Did The Easter Bunny Come From?” 29 Mar. 2013. Mental Floss. 20
Dec. 2013. http://mentalfloss.com/article/21411/where-did-easter-bunny-come
Tuesday, March 23, 2021
8:56 am pdt
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.
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 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
So there you 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 silly so you can laugh at them. And it has spread
around the globe. That, in itself, should say a lot about humanity.
“April Fool’s Day History.”
2011. April Fools! 28 Mar. 2012. http://www.april-fools.us/history-april-fools.htm
“The Curious History of the Gregorian Calendar: Eleven Days that Never Were.”
2007. Infoplease. 28 Mar. 2012. http://www.infoplease.com/spot/gregorian1.html
Thursday, March 18, 2021
9:13 am pdt
Monday, March 15, 2021
9:59 am pdt
As many people already know, St. Patrick is the Catholic patron saint of Ireland, and
we celebrate his feast day every February 17, by wearing shamrocks, eating corned beef and cabbage, and getting rip-roaring
drunk. However, according to Philip Freeman, who is a classics professor at Luther College in Iowa,
"The modern celebration of St. Patrick's Day really has almost nothing to do with the real man." (1 St. Patrick’s
Day) Indeed, the entire celebration is pretty much an American invention.
The real St. Patrick started out as just Patrick, and he wasn’t even Irish. He
was born in Scotland around 385 CE to Roman parents who were there running the Roman colonies. When he was around 14, he was
captured by a raiding party and taken to Ireland as a slave to be a shepherd. (St. Patrick)
Though Patrick’s parents were Christian, Patrick apparently had
no interest in being a Saint at an early age. It was in Ireland, however, that Patrick became deeply religious.
(2 St. Patrick’s Day) It was in a dream, when Patrick was 20, that God told him to escape
to the coast, and it was there that he hopped a boat back to his native Scotland. Safely home, Patrick
had yet another dream where he was told to return to Ireland, which he did, but not until 433, after he rose all the way to
Bishop in the Catholic church. Upon his return to Ireland, he reportedly converted one of the tribal chieftains
who had intended to kill him. From then until the time of his death on March 17, 461, Patrick, along with
all of his disciples, pretty much converted all of Ireland to Christianity, performing miracles and building churches along
the way. (St. Patrick)
even though Saint Patrick is one of the most recognized saints in the world (right up there with St. Nicholas and St. Valentine),
he has never been officially canonized by the Catholic church. But that’s not surprising, since the
Catholic church had no formal canonization process until the 12th Century. Instead, saints were
pretty much chosen by popular acclamation and then more than likely blessed by the local clergy. (Roberts)
Even though he had a good run in Ireland,
it took awhile for St. Patrick to gain popularity anywhere else, including Ireland. (Roach)
It wasn’t until the 1970s that St. Patrick’s day became anything more than “a minor religious holiday”
in Ireland. Since then, though, it has become much more of a celebration, showing that the Irish know how
to cash in on a good thing, and that good thing was happening in the United States. (Roach)
Not surprisingly, St. Patrick’s
Day is celebrated more in the United States than it is in Ireland. Eleven percent of American citizens
claim Irish ancestry, which comes out to around 35 million people, which is more than seven times the population of Ireland.
(St. Patrick’s Day) As such, St. Patrick’s day has become more a celebration of ethnic
solidarity than celebrating the life of a saint. (Roach)
St. Patrick’s Day celebrations started out slowly in the United States as just a few scattered
banquets in Irish strongholds, such as Boston. It was in 1762 that the first St. Pat’s parade was
held as Irish soldiers, who were there with the British, marched in New York City “to reconnect to their Irish roots.”
By the 19th Century, the parades had spread across America, and so had the colour green. It
was in 1962 that, for the first time, the Chicago River was dyed green. (Roach)
With anybody that becomes larger than life, there are many things associated
with that person that grow as well. Some, such as the shamrock, are probably true. Others...
not so much. As the legend goes, Patrick used the shamrock to explain the Trinity, and it has been associated
with him and the Irish ever since, (St. Patrick) although actually wearing a shamrock only dates back to the 17th
Century at the latest. (Roach) Even though St. Patrick was originally depicted in blue,
it is also from the shamrock that the colour green became associated with St. Patrick’s Day. (2 St. Patrick’s
As for banishing the snakes from Ireland,
it is true that there are no snakes on the island, but it is also true that there never was. More than
likely, the snake legend was an allegory for removing the evil, non-Christian ways, from Ireland. (Roach)
With drinking on St. Patrick’s Day... What
can I say? The Irish love to drink. They rank fourth in the world for per capita beer
consumption (behind the Czech Republic, Germany, and Austria – the US ranks 13th). (List of countries)
However, on St. Pat’s Day, the sell of Guinness (the quintessential Irish beer) more than doubles worldwide.
(Roach) In fact, St. Patrick’s Day comes in second only to New Year’s Eve on the top
ten list of drunkest holidays. (Fitzpatrick)
with drinking copious amounts of beer on St. Patrick’s Day is the tradition of having corned beef and cabbage.
Like many other customs associated with the Irish Saint, this did not begin in Ireland. The actual
Irish dish is cabbage and bacon, but in the late 19th century, when Irish immigrants in the United States couldn’t
afford bacon, they used corned beef as a substitute, and it stuck. (Corned Beef)
As far as Leprechauns go, there doesn’t seem to be any direct
connection with them and St. Patrick’s Day. Leprechauns, who originally were depicted wearing red,
are mythical Irish fairies who cobble shoes and hide their money in pots at the end of the rainbow. (Berry) They
seem to have come along for the ride with everything else Irish that has been exploited for St. Patrick’s Day celebrations.
It is also from leprechauns that we
get the wholly American “tradition” of pinching people who don’t wear green on St. Patrick’s Day.
It was believed that leprechauns would go around pinching people on St. Patty’s Day. However,
the colour green made one invisible to leprechauns, and you can’t pinch what you can’t see. So
to remind people not to get pinched by leprechauns if they weren’t wearing green, they would get pinched.
It is said that on
St. Patrick’s Day everybody is Irish. And that may be true. But even if you’re
not, you’re still invited to the party... as long as you bring the beer. And don’t forget to
Berry, Allison. “Happy St. Patrick’s Day! A Brief History
of Leprechauns.” 17 Mar. 2012. Time News Feed. 04 Mar.
24 Feb. 2014. Wikipedia. 04 Mar. 2014. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corned_beef#Saint_Patrick.27s_Day
Fitzpatrick, Laura. “2.
St. Patrick's Day.” 17 Mar. 2011. Time Lists. 04 Mar.
Haq, Husna. “St. Patrick’s
Day: Why do we wear green?” 17 Mar. 2010. The Christian
Science Monitor. 04 Mar. 2014. http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Society/2010/0317/St.-Patrick-s-Day-Why-do-we-wear-green
“List of countries by beer consumption
per capita.” 29 Jan. 2014. Wikipedia. 04 Mar. 2014. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_beer_consumption_per_capita
Roach, John. “St.
Patrick's Day 2011: Facts, Myths, and Traditions.” 16 Mar. 2011. National
Geographic News. 04 Mar. 2014. http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2011/03/110316-saint-patricks-day-2011-march-17-facts-ireland-irish-nation/
Roberts, Patrick. “Ireland's patron Saint Patrick was never canonized a saint by the Catholic
Church.” 01 Mar. 2013. IrishCentral. 04 Mar. 2014.
2014. Catholic Online. 04 Mar. 2014. http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=89
“St. Patrick’s Day.”
2014. History.com. 04 Mar. 2014. http://www.history.com/topics/st-patricks-day
“St. Patrick’s Day.” 04 Mar. 2014. Wikipedia.
04 Mar. 2014. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Patrick's_Day#Wearing_of_the_green
Wednesday, March 10, 2021
8:48 am pst
You know: Spring forward and Fall backward.
That way, by turning our clocks ahead in the spring, we get an extra hour of daylight, and by turning it back in the
fall, it just makes winter that much more depressing.
is estimated that “More than one billion people in about 70 countries around the world observe DST in some form,”
with those countries south of the equator observing Daylight Saving Time from October to March. For
instance, most of Canada uses Daylight Saving Time, as well as all of Mexico and the EU. Because countries
that are close to the equator don’t need extra sun, they typically don’t observe Daylight Saving Time at all.
Then there’s China. China, which technically should have five time zones, only has one:
China Time (which is eight hours ahead of Greenwich Time). And China does not observe Daylight Saving
Time at all. So there, rest of the world! The weirdest, though, is Australia.
Because various regions do not participate in Daylight Saving Time, and because the continent has three different time
zones, there are both vertical and horizontal time zones (and some of those time zones are only thirty minute shifts). (Gettings)
No matter what part of the world you’re in, the time shifts over
(if at all) in the wee hours of Sunday morning. In the US, it shifts at 2:00 a.m., and in the EU, it shifts
at 1:00 a.m. That way today doesn’t suddenly become yesterday, and the only confusion it truly causes
is with the closing time of some bars. (When we change our clocks)
In the United States, Daylight Saving Time is not observed in Hawaii, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto
Rico, the Virgin Islands, and, with the exception of the Navajo Indian Reservation, by most of Arizona. It
used to be that in Indiana, those counties in the part of the state that were in the Eastern Time Zone did not observe Daylight
Saving Time, while those that were in the Central Time Zone did. However, to make things more... sane,
the entire state switched over to Daylight Saving Time in 2006. (Saving Time, Saving Energy)
So why do it at all? The idea behind Daylight Saving
Time is simple: We like sunshine better than darkness. The vast majority of us would
rather enjoy a sunny summer evening, when we’re more than likely to be home from work, than a sunny summer morning,
when, if we’re not working, we’re probably still asleep. In theory, messing with the clocks
doesn’t change the amount of sunlight that falls on any given day, but to test that theory you would actually have to
get up before noon. And besides, would you rather it be dark when you went to work, or when you got home?
But rarely has a law been passed simply because we like it.
There needs to be more concrete reasons than that. And there are... maybe.
It is believed “that DST could be linked to fewer road accidents and injuries. The extra hour of daylight in
the evening is said to give children more social time and can boost the tourism industry because it increases the amount of
outdoor activities.” Daylight Saving Time is also said to save energy because less artificial light
is needed in evening hours. However, whether any of these benefits are true or not is still to be definitively
proven. (Daylight Saving Time — DST.) For instance, it is argued that just as
much artificial light is needed to get ready for work in the morning as is saved in the evening. And who
really cares what time it is when you’re on vacation? As well, by moving the change-over date to
November it was also hoped that it would reduce the number of fatalities on Halloween night, when “Children’s
pedestrian deaths are four times higher ... than on any other night of the year.” However, it’s
questionable whether it actually did, since it appears that the children just waited until dark to go out anyway. (Incidents
and anecdotes) It is also reported that Daylight Saving Time also cuts down on traffic fatalities, because
it is far safer to drive in daylight, and more driving is done in the evening than in the morning. On the
other hand, more pedestrians get run down in the newly dark part of the evening in the week following Daylight Saving Time,
as well as the week just before. (Rationale and original idea)
If you don’t like Daylight Saving Time, and many people don’t, then blame it on Benjamin
Franklin. It was Franklin who first proposed Daylight Saving Time in 1784 as a means of saving lamp oil.
His cause was then championed by Englishman William Willet (1857-1915), who spent a fortune in lobbying, but was never
able to get it passed in his lifetime. (Rationale and original idea) In 1916, Germany was the first country
to officially institute Daylight Saving Time, and Britain soon followed, but it really wasn’t until 1925 that England
finally got it figured out. From there, it quickly spread throughout Europe, and then a good part of the
rest of the world. (Gettings)
From the outset,
especially in America, Daylight Saving Time has caused confusion. It wasn’t until 1883 that the United
States and Canada even adopted standard time and time zones (mostly so the railroads could run on time), but even then, it
took 35 years, in 1918, before the Standard Time Act became law. That same law also established Daylight
Saving Time. However, that part of the law was repealed a year later, making Daylight Saving Time a local
matter. During WWII, most of the United States was on “War Time.” We simply
went on DST and never switched back. (Daylight Saving Time — DST) Britain even featured “Double
Summer Time” during WWII, so they could conserve energy, turning the clocks ahead a full two hours in the summer, and
one hour in the winter. (Rationale and original idea)
After the war, however, the United States returned to the chaos that had been. (History
of Daylight Time in the U.S) For instance, following WWII, any local government was free to decide
when it would start and end Daylight Saving Time, if they even observed it at all. “One
year, 23 different pairs of DST start and end dates were used in Iowa alone.... And, on one Ohio to West
Virginia bus route, passengers had to change their watches seven times in 35 miles!” Not only was
this confusing, but it was costly. “Extra railroad timetables alone cost the today's equivalent of
over $12 million per year.” (Incidents and anecdotes) It wasn’t until the Uniform Time Act
was passed in 1966 that Daylight Saving Time approached anything that could be called standard. (History of Daylight
Time in the U.S)
By the way, even
though Daylight Savings Time (“Savings” with an ess) is in common usage, it technically (and grammatically) should
be Daylight Saving Time (“Saving” sans the ess). “Saving” is a participle that
modifies “Time.” It is a saving daylight kind of time. (When we change our clocks.)
So now you not only can grumble about turning your clocks forward or backward, but you can grumble about grammar, too.
Saving Time — DST.” TimeandDate.com. TimeandDate.com (2012):
n. pag. Web. 13 Aug. 2012. http://www.timeanddate.com/time/dst/
Gettings, John, and Borgna Brunner. “Daylight Saving Time.” Infoplease.
Sandbox Networks, Inc. (2007): n. pag. Web. 13 Aug. 2012.
“History of Daylight Time in the U.S.” Naval
Oceanography Portal. Naval Oceanography Portal (19 Feb. 2016):
n. pag. Web. 13 Aug. 2012. http://aa.usno.navy.mil/faq/docs/daylight_time.php/
“Incidents and Anecdotes.” Daylight Saving Time. Web Exhibits
(2008): n. pag. Web. 13 Aug. 2012. http://www.webexhibits.org/daylightsaving/k.html
“Rationale and original idea.” Daylight Saving Time. Web
Exhibits (2008): 13 Aug. 2012. http://www.webexhibits.org/daylightsaving/c.html
Time, Saving Energy: Daylight Saving Time: Its History and Why We Use It.” The
California Energy Commission. The California Energy Commission (2012): n. pag.
Web. 13 Aug. 2012. http://www.energy.ca.gov/daylightsaving.html
“When we change our clocks.” Daylight Saving Time. Web Exhibits
(2008): n. pag. Web. 13 Aug. 2012. http://www.webexhibits.org/daylightsaving/b2.html
Monday, March 8, 2021
8:34 am pst
Let’s face it. Nobody would give a rip about
the ides of anything, much less the Ides of March, if it hadn’t been for William Shakespeare. In
his play Julius Caesar, he has the Soothsayer warn the doomed ruler, “Beware the ides of March.”
Shakespeare isn’t known for his historic accuracy, he pretty much got this one spot on. There really
was a Julius Caesar, he really had made himself dictator, he really wanted that position to be permanent, and there really
were a bunch of people willing to kill him in order to stop that from happening. And they did... well,
at least they killed him. (Handwerk) Ironically, in trying to stop a dictatorship, Brutus
and his cohorts actually started a civil war that led to the even worse dictatorship of Augustus. (Ides
From earliest time, before Shakespeare
and Caesar, the ides of every month were sacred to Jupiter, the chief Roman god. There were sacrifices
and feasts and a good time was had by all, except maybe the sheep. As well, in the old Roman calendar,
before King Gregory mucked everything up, March was the first month of the year, with ceremonies lasting through the ides.
(Ides of March) There was even a special goddess just for that day, Anna Perenna, the goddess of
the New Year. (Gill) Tied into all of that, the Ides of March pretty became the equivalent of tax day,
that day of the year when you paid your debts.
“Ides,” which means “to split,” marked the middle of every month in the Roman
calendar. However, to put it always on the same day would make sense. So in March, May,
July, and October the ides fall on the 15th, and in every other month on the 13th. (Handwerk)
It apparently took the Romans awhile to figure out that dates work better if you don’t base them on the moon.
In general, the phrase “Beware the Ides of March” has come
to mean “Beware any Fateful Day,” which seems a bit redundant. (Gill) But
should we really fear the 15th of March? Aside from Caesar’s death in 44 BCE, the French
began a brutal raid of Southern England on that day in 1360. A cyclone in Samoa destroyed six warships
and killed over 200 sailors in 1889 (although it may have prevented a war). In 1917, on the 15th,
Czar Nicholas II gave up his throne, which brought in the Bolsheviks and led to execution of the Czar and his family (including
Anastasia). In 1939 on the Ides of March, Germany occupied Czechoslovakia. In 1941 at
least 60 people died from a blizzard on the Great Plains. In 1952, setting a new record for a single day,
it rained 73.62 inches on the island of La Réunion, out in the Indian Ocean. If that weren’t
enough, in 1971, on the Ides of March, CBS cancelled “The Ed Sullivan Show,” which marked the beginning of the
end for all variety shows. Then in 1988 NASA first scared the bejeezus out of everybody by telling us the
ozone layer was disappearing. And in 2003 the World Health Organization issued a warning for SARS, a particularly
nasty malady. (Frail) And let’s not forget the band “The Ides of March,”
which had the hit song “Vehicle,” but nothing else. Nor can we forget the 2011 film by that
same name which starred George Clooney. (Gibson) So maybe we should truly beware the
Ides of March.
Frail, T.A. “Top
Ten Reasons to Beware the Ides of March.” 4 Mar. 2010. Smithsonian.com.
3 Mar. 2014. http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/top-ten-reasons-to-beware-the-ides-of-march-8664107/?no-ist
“Not Just Julius: The Many Meanings of The Ides of March.” 15 Mar. 2011.
Time NewsFeed. 3 Mar. 2014. http://newsfeed.time.com/2011/03/15/not-just-julius-the-many-meanings-of-the-ides-of-march/
Gill, N. S. “Beware the Ides of March! Julius Caesar and a Look at the Romans' Ides of
March.” 2014. About.com. 03 Mar. 2014. http://ancienthistory.about.com/od/caesar1/g/idesofmarch.htm
Handwerk, Brian. “Ides
of March: What Is It? Why Do We Still Observe It?” 15 Mar. 2012. National Geographic
Daily News. 3 Mar. 2014. http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2012/03/120315-ides-of-march-beware-caesar-what-when-shakespeare-quote/
“Ides of March.” 27 Feb. 2014. Wikipedia. 3
Mar. 2014. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ides_of_March
Tuesday, March 2, 2021
4:24 pm pst
Albert Einstein reads his books
while Mrs. Einstein sews and cooks.
He sits and thinks deep, deep, thoughts
while Mrs. E. darns his socks.
And while Mrs. Einstein scrubs the bath,
Al sits downstairs working math.
takes out the garbage and washes the floor,
cuts out coupons and goes to the store.
She mows the lawn and does the
she fixes the roof out over the porch.
She scrubs the toilet and unclogs the sink,
and all the while
Al sits and thinks.
And when Al finally comes to bed
with abstract concepts still filling his head,
to tell the Mrs. his thoughts so deep,
but Mrs. Einstein is sound asleep.