Friday, December 25, 2009

An Old Christmas Carol

For all my readers who may be facing tough times and may be tempted to despair this Christmas, I present the following. When you're caught up in the debate between Scrooge and Fred, choose Fred:

"What’s Christmas time to you but a time for paying bills without money; a time for finding yourself a year older, but not an hour richer; a time for balancing your books and having every item in ’em through a round dozen of months presented dead against you? . . . keep Christmas in your own way, and let me keep it in mine.”

“Keep it!” repeated Scrooge’s nephew. “But you don’t keep it.”

“Let me leave it alone, then,” said Scrooge. “Much good may it do you! Much good it has ever done you!”

“There are many things from which I might have derived good, by which I have not profited, I dare say,” returned the nephew. “Christmas among the rest. But I am sure I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round—apart from the veneration due to its sacred name and origin, if anything belonging to it can be apart from that—as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys. And therefore, uncle, though it has never put a scrap of gold or silver in my pocket, I believe that it has done me good, and will do me good; and I say, God bless it!”

—Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A New Christmas Carol

Just when you thought all the great Christmas songs and carols had been written, along comes this new item from composer Gerald McClain:

This Christmas Joy
by Gerald McClain

In swaddling clothes to us arrive,
This Jesus Christ, our hopes revive!
In Marys arms, her little boy:
This tiny babe, death to destroy.

Was not in clouds, come down to reign
But from a girl in labor pain; (Revelation 12: 2)
Not in a throne was he to lay
But in a manger full of hay.

Welcome to Him from us today,
This Christmas joy, in us to stay.

From foreign lands their homage paid:
To Bethlehem, the star did say.
Fall prostrate where did shepherds come;
Laid out their gifts a costly sum.

Then in a dream: from Herods gaze,
Another path to home was made.
A furious king proclaimed forthright
That innocents shall loose their life.

Though in a world with evil known,
This Christmas joy, Love has outshone.

Give glory to the Fathers Son:
Begotten of the Holy One.
Though evry part is from the same,
The Word to us in flesh he came.

A preview of the coming years,
A final act to wipe all tears:
From nursling small to mature man,
Fulfillment of the Godheads plan.

All praise and laud and glorious powr,
This Christmas joy, tis Jesses flowr.

Gerald McClain
© 2005 Musique de McClain

I think this piece has a lovely "neo-medieval" or "neo-Renaissance" feel that appeals to my antiquarian sensibilities. I like older, more out of the way hymns and carols that haven't yet been turned into Muzak, and that you don't hear every time you go to that most godless of places, the mall.

Mr. McClain has also written a French language composition "Une voix dans Rama" (A Voice in Ramah) commemorating the Slaughter of the Innocents described in Matthew 2: 18 (Douay-Rheims version):
A voice in Rama was heard, lamentation and great mourning; Rachel bewailing her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not.

Hat tip to Patrick Archbold of Creative Minority Report for posting some Christmas clips from YouTube, which in turn prompted Mr. McClain to post links to his compositions.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Life Imitates Art?

I once had plans for a fiction project that I ultimately dismissed as too silly. Something involving the discovery of priceless artifacts with mystical powers, evil druids on the loose in Ireland and America, and, oh yeah . . . costumed crime fighters. Sort of a superhero/urban fantasy mashup. Justice League with a Celtic accent. Ridiculous, right? Then along came this item from Irish blogger Deiseach that sounds like something straight out of the story I was planning to write:

It seems that in April of this year, the Irish police were investigating a burglary at a drugstore in County Roscommon and recovered not only the loot from the robbery but also priceless Irish artifacts dating from approximately 2000 B. C. that the original owner of the shop kept in his safe. His daughter, who took over the business after he died, had seen the artifacts but had no idea how old or how valuable they were. The artifacts, a gold necklace and two gold discs, will be turned over to Ireland's national history museum for study and safekeeping. Here's a link to the story in the Irish Independent newspaper and a link to the story as reported by RTÉ, Ireland's national TV network.

Something about this story just strikes me as so weird. Did the guy know what he had? Did he have the artifacts appraised, or did he at least take them on "Irish Antiques Roadshow" or something? Did the thieves know what they were stealing, or were they just looking for cash and drugs? Why did the guy just keep the stuff in his safe and not tell anybody, least of all his family? We'll probably never know. Weird. Just weird.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

I'm Dreaming of a White Trash Christmas

It's Christmas party season, and I've been singing this song pretty much compulsively for the last several days now, so I guess it's OK to share it with you guys. It's Robert Earl Keene's "Merry Christmas From the Family." The song and the video are priceless. Enjoy.

A tip of my Texas ten-gallon to Dale Price of Dyspeptic Mutterings for alerting me to this great song. BTW, I swear that Christmas at my house isn't (much) like this. Really.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Insert Japanese Monster Movie Joke Here

Our colleague KT Cat reports that giant jellyfish are threatening Japan's fishing industry. No lie. Here's the story as reported by the Australian affiliate of Fox News:

The official story is that Global Warming, um excuse me, Global Climate Change and pollution are partially to blame, but has anybody investigated the link between these events and all the nuclear tests in the 1950s? After all, those tests led to a rash of appearances by men in rubber monster suits, and the destruction of uncounted numbers of plywood cities and toy tanks and airplanes, as this documentary footage reveals:

This looks like a job for UltraMan and the Science Patrol:

Can they save the day? Gosh, I hope so!