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  1. Yep, it's that time of the year. What time? I hear you ask. It is the time when we are either thinking about or trying not to think about Christmas. It's also the time when many charitable organisations get the begging bowl out. I've already had my begging bowl out, been around the usual local companies and a few more. I've been lucky and received donations and promises of help from all that I have approached, and I am grateful for everything that has been received and promised. Now I've got the begging bowl out again. But I'm not asking anyone here for anything and I do not want any of you to send, or enquire about sending anything. I'm rattling the bowl on behalf of the charitable organisations local to you. Yes, local to you. As many know, I do what many others do and try to help people who find themselves homeless. What I'm asking is, what can you do? Can you afford to dig deep in your pockets and make a donation to a charity or shelter for homeless people near where you live? If you can then please give what you can afford, even if it's just the loose change in your pocket, they will be grateful for it and will use it wisely. Can you afford to give up some of your time? If you can then please volunteer to help them, they will be grateful for that too. Whatever you can give will be gratefully received, so please look up your local charities and organisations that help homeless people and donate to them whatever you can afford, whether it be time, money or both and if you can please continue to give throughout the year, homeless people need our help throughout the year, not just at Christmas time. I thank you in advance on their behalf and wish you all a Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays, whichever applies to you and your beliefs. I'll put the begging bowl away now, until next year, and thank you.
  2. Hi all. It's been awhile since i wrote a blog. I wrote a blog about Christmas last year on Dec. 26th, i was supposed to plan and do and not be stressed this year. How am i doing? Abysmally i think covers it, though i don't feel stressed particularly. This year the tree is up, so are some other bits and pieces scattered around and even a poinsettia, a traditional red one. However, there are zero presents bought. There is no baking because Michael found out during the summer He is diabetic. He's been doing so well with managing it, He doesn't want a houseful of goodies. I'll make the annual batches of fudge because most of it we give away. I can make Him a diabetic friendly cheesecake, egg nog and the English Trifle he loves so well. That'll make Him happy. Presents i think will be done tomorrow. For adults some little thing, gift cards and fudge. This year i just want to have a good time. Also i'm working Christmas Eve day so stuff needs to be done by Saturday the 23rd! I want to be with people i love on the Day, that's all i want. It's my wish that each of you have a wonderful Holiday Season and a Happy New Year. Thanks to all of you who read my work, who supported me. I love you all. tim
  3. We hope you had a great Christmas! As we march closer to the end of 2017, did you get the chance to read our previous holiday anthologies? Our 2004 Christmas Anthology: https://www.gayauthors.org/stories/browse/category/7-2004-anthology-christmas/ Our 2006 Winter Anthology Blizzard Theme: https://www.gayauthors.org/stories/browse/category/11-winter-blizzard/ Our 2015 Secret Santa Short Story contest: https://www.gayauthors.org/stories/browse/category/80-2015-secret-santa-short-story/ Also, this story was strongly recommended: We'd also like to remind all authors that we have four anthology themes for 2018 and a novella contest: Contests 2018 Summer Novella Anthology - Due April 15th, 2018 Anthologies 2018 Spring Anthology: Now or Never - Due May 15th 2018 Spring Anthology: Encounters - Due May 15th 2018 Fall Anthology: Fight Back - Due Nov 15th 2018 Fall Anthology: Good Intentions - Due Nov 15th
  4. As we head into the final days before Christmas 2017, it might be a great time to take a break from the hectic holiday season and reread some of our anthologies from Christmases Past. Our 2004 Christmas Anthology: https://www.gayauthors.org/stories/browse/category/7-2004-anthology-christmas/ Our 2006 Winter Anthology Blizzard Theme: https://www.gayauthors.org/stories/browse/category/11-winter-blizzard/ Our 2015 Secret Santa Short Story Contest: https://www.gayauthors.org/stories/browse/category/80-2015-secret-santa-short-story/ We'd also like to remind all authors that we have 4 Anthology themes for 2018 and a Novella Contest: Contests 2018 Summer Novella Anthology - Due April 15th, 2018 Anthologies 2018 Spring Anthology: Now or Never - Due May 15th 2018 Spring Anthology: Encounters - Due May 15th 2018 Fall Anthology: Fight Back - Due Nov 15th 2018 Fall Anthology: Good Intentions - Due Nov 15th
  5. The Amazing and Wonderful Famous-Barr As I begin posting my series of Christmas short stories and novellas set in this department store, I am struck by how paltry and sad the Wikipedia entry is for this amazing company. In an effort to improve that article, I have created this short summary, which I hope to tweak and eventually add to wiki. My information comes from first-hand sources, primarily documents made by the company, such as employee newsletters and handbooks, and history books concerning the development of Saint Louis in the 19th century. Please feel free to leave me any feedback, as I do wish this material to be rock-solid and accurate. ---------------------------------------------------- Famous-Barr Overview: With origins stretching back to 1849, and hundreds of millions of dollars worth of annual sales, Famous-Barr was one of the oldest, largest, and most successful department stores companies in history. It was the flagship enterprise of the multi-national May Company, whose conglomeration of retail, department stores, and shopping malls were headquartered in the same downtown Saint Louis structure as Famous-Barr, The Railway Exchange Building. At the end of the 20th century, The May Company embarked on an aggressive expansion campaign, and by 2006, held more retail assets than their nearest rival, The Federated Department Stores Company. However, in that year, May merged with Federated, and all 30-plus Famous-Barr stores began operating under the 'Macy's' moniker. History: William P. Barr and Company William Barr was born in Scotland 1827 and immigrated to the United States as a lad at the age of thirteen. He entered the dry goods business in New York soon thereafter, and quickly rose to management positions. In 1849 he was entrusted by his firm with the capital to open a company in Saint Louis, which he did, and which quickly grew to be a major retailer and wholesaler. Barr's soon achieved financial independence, and through expansion and acquisitions grew to have no rival in the West. By 1880, the store had annual sales topping $2.5 million and moved into the Julia Building, thereby making it the largest retailer in the world. This impressive granite structure, completed in 1869, covered half a city block, fronted Sixth Street, and offered a basement level perfect for special events and promotions. The store took advantage of that fact, and for the Christmas season of 1880 offered the first-ever department store Santa Claus for children to visit free of charge. Two other stores, one in New York, and one in Connecticut, claim to be the origin of the tradition, but in the 1890's (well after Barr's); the NY store put an Santa actor in their window where no one could visit with him, and the CT store's owner dressed as Santa for a holiday parade, but was again not stationed in the store for visitors. Barr's originated the concept we know and love. By about 1900, Barr's occupied the entire block between Sixth and Seventh Streets, and Olive and Locust Streets, roughly 310,000 square feet of showrooms. In addition, they had a powerhouse, warehouse, wholesale division, mail order section, candy kitchen and bakery, plus shipping and receiving in a ten-story facility one block away at Saint Charles and Seventh Street. Famous Established in 1870 as primarily a men's ready-to-wear haberdashery, the establishment apparently had no memorable name above its door. Company history has it that an early customer arrived one day saying word of mouth was spreading rapidly in his rural area, and that the store was becoming quite famous in surrounding parts. The name Famous was instantly and officially adopted. The business grew rapidly, primarily due to the fact that ready-to-wear was a new concept in the 1870s, and Saint Louis firms like Rice, Stix and Company were in the vanguard of making affordable clothing in factory-like settings. The business grew rapidly, and became recognized as a leader of local civic pride with its entries in the Veiled Prophet Parades. They expanded their lines to full department store status with a move to an impressive structure in 1884, and then again to ever larger quarters in 1890, but still focused primarily on fashionable menswear. In 1892, tragedy struck. A fire damaged a part of the store's facilities and much of its merchandise. The insurance company paid off the claim, but seized the operations. This is where another immigrant and successful businessman enters the picture. David May bought Famous in a fire sale for $150,000. He had gone out as a young man from his native Germany to the Colorado gold rush. By the time he arrived, all the good claims were taken, but May looked around and saw the miners were flushed with cash but starved for clothes and other luxuries. He pooled his money and procured goods from wholesales like William P. Barr Company and made a fortune in Leadville. He opened his own mercantiles in many Colorado towns and cities, but kept his eyes on the big-time. The fire sale of Famous was his 'in' to one of the largest business markets in the United States (STL was the fourth largest city in the country) , and a foothold to compete against commercial giants like Barr's. May then formed a company to be a conglomeration of his different department store holdings, of which Famous was the new flagship enterprise. He procured a rental facility on Broadway and Morgan Streets, and the new Famous Company opened its doors in September 1892 with a gala event. May continued to purchase department stores in other cities, and each operated with its original name under the umbrella of The May Company, whose headquarters were established in the same building with Famous. Famous-Barr In the latter half of 1911, William P. Barr and Company was in disarray. Earlier in the year, the massive store had temporally closed its doors to begin demolition and construction of The Railway Exchange Building. As the upstanding businessman that Mr. Barr was, he retained the entire staff on salary, but made an arguable mistake in not seeking out temporary space to keep Barr's operations going during construction. Cost overruns, particularly due to the enormous building needing to be built atop an ancient sandbar, made the board members nervous. When Mr. Barr passed away, these gentlemen approached David May. The merger of The Famous Company and William P. Barr and Company occurred in 1911, and was finalized by the start of the new year. An advertisement in February 1912 announced the formation of the new 'Famous and Barr Company.' Ad announcing the formation of the new company from February 12, 1912. The newly merged company continued on with The Railway Exchange project and moved in on September 8th, 1913, making Famous-Barr the largest department store in the world on that day. This beautiful building, clad in ivory-colored terracotta, covers an entire city block, rises 21 stories, and provides nearly 30 acres of floor space, or in excess of 1,300,000 usable square feet. The structure remained the world's largest commercial building until the 40-story Equitable Building in Manhattan finally managed to offer more floor space in 1915. Operations thrived, with annual sales topping over $40 million in the early years – at a time when the Federal Budget of the United States was $69 million a year – and Famous-Barr became a model for progressive business practices, offering employee healthcare, retirement plans, 40-hour workweeks, and equal employment opportunities at a time when most companies did not. The store eventually expanded to provide more than ten full floors of retail space in The Railway Exchange Building, and The May Company's corporate headquarters took up a large portion of the rest of the facility. Plans were drawn up in 1940 to expand the operations with three satellite stores, but were shelved due to WW2. The expansion occurred after the war, and Famous-Barr was the first department store in the nation to have 'suburban' outlets. By 2006 and the sale of The May Company to its longtime rival Federated Department Stores, Famous-Barr was pulling in $1.5 billion in annual sales, and had more than 35 locations in 5 states, many of which have now been shut down by Federated.
  6. Myr

    Merry Christmas!

    To all of our friends that celebrate: 🎅Merry Christmas!🎅
  7. Well the blog title asks the question, so it too early to talk about Christmas? I hope not, but then this isn't necessarily what you think it's about. This isn't about my Christmas, well may be it is in a way, or even your Christmas, It's about what I and many other people have been doing lately and how it affects Christmas for others. Some of you may know that I volunteer with a local organisation that supports homeless people, as I'm currently not face to face with our clients I carry out many of the admin duties. The last few days have been taken up with end of month admin which is a pain, but for the last few weeks I've doing the rounds with the begging bowl approaching businesses that support us on a regular basis and others that I hope will support us. It's been a hard slog, the financial crisis that we are affected by has also affected many businesses, some of our support has been cut back and a few businesses that did support us have gone out of business, I'm hoping that some of the other businesses will come on board. You are no doubt wondering why I am posting this, well the answer is simple really, I'm rattling the begging bowl. No I'm not asking anyone to send me anything, so let's get that clear. Like I have already said I know that the current financial crisis has affected most of us and that is not good. But the same financial crisis has affected others far more seriously, the truth is many are now living below the poverty line, some have lost their jobs and others have lost their homes. It's not just adults that have been affected by this, there are many children suffering too. What I'm asking is can you help? If you can in whatever small way it is please look within your own community and/or look up local charities that help those in need in your area and contribute whatever you can. Even if it's only a few pounds/dollars it will help, if your local supermarket has a collection point for food for a local food bank any extra tins or packets of food will help them to help those that need it. All charitable organisations are struggling those in need so any donations will be gratefully accepted. Even all you can give is some of your time that's more than okay, volunteers are just as valuable. If you cannot afford to do so please don't feel bad, just do your best to get by, there is help out there if you need it. Thank you for reading this and if are in a position to help one of your local charities, on their behalf I thank you in advance.
  8. Wow! It's been over a year since my first and only blog post! Yikes! Well, fear not. I have returned. Some of you may have forgotten about lil' ole me since I haven't been active for several months (not to say that I don't lurk in the shadows of GA stalking you all... like Batman. But without a cool costume. Unless you count fun pajamas as a cool costume? Because right now I'm wearing bright yellow pajama pants with Homer Simpson's face all over them, and a yellow shirt with his face on it too. I match! And I'm so yellow that I look like a giant freaking banana or something... hmm...giant banana. I wonder whether that is appropriate imagery for GA. Maybe it's the perfect imagery for GA? Anyway, I digress...). If you have forgotten about me or are just hearing from me for the first time, my name is Dylan! *waits for applause* *crickets* Well nice to meet you, a**holes. Jk! * * * * * Now then, let's get down to business (to defeat...the Huns). 2014 is over, and we're moving into a bright new year! Sure, there are still war, famine, and disease in the world, but I'm confident that we'll be able to find enough goodness this year in ourselves and in others that will balance it all out. And if any of you should fall upon hard times this year, I sincerely wish you all the grace and strength in the world to overcome those rough patches. I'm glad 2014 is over. For me, it started out grand and beautiful, but then crashed and burned near the end. My girlfriend, Ariel, and I became closer than ever in the beginning of the year when we realized that we may want to spend the rest of our lives together. Even though we're in our older teens and many people would say that we didn't really mean that or were stupid, I honestly believed I wanted to spend the rest of my life with her. I still do... Anyway, we got 'engaged to be engaged' in January 2014. I asked her to be my wife one day and gave her a beautiful promise ring. She said yes, of course, and it was the happiest day of my life so far. But it was not to last... In May, she started to have slight feelings for her best friend, Johnny. Ugh. That guy is an a**. TOTAL douche in my eyes, but of course a ton of people love him. He's the star kicker for our varsity football team. He's not really popular, per se, but out of the people who know him, many love him. I met him in Freshman year, and he used to tease me EVERY day when I saw him by calling me "faggot". Yeah, THAT kind of a**hole. Then, when I started dating Ariel in sophomore year, I think he got jealous that I could win over such a beautiful girl. So, one day when I was sick at home, he sleazed his way over to talk to my girlfriend. And before I knew it, they were best friends. But of course, I didn't want to be that douche who tells his girlfriend who she can and can't be friends with! So I let them be friends...even though he wuld tease me all of the time in front of her. Ugh I loathe him. Well anyway, in May she cheated on me by kissing him. And she didn't tell me until the summer. Well, I forgave her because I loved her far too deeply to let her go. But lo and behold, the feelings for Johnny grew stronger and she broke up with me the week before my birthday (yes, REALLY!) and started dating him the same day. It was really, really hurtful...we had been together for 2 years. Then she told me I wasn't allowed to talk to her family anymore, which sucked... and 3 weeks after they started dating, I found out that she was wearing a promise ring from him and they had already 'done the do'. It took US a year to do either of those things...so like wtf, man? haha Anyway, besides that unfortunate series of events (yes, I'll stop prattling on about my stupid love drama now ), my dad has been sober for over a year now! I'm so proud of him! And...I got a new cat! Her name is "Halle" Halloween. Like "Halle" Barry, but furrier. She's a black short-hair. Which makes sense actually with the Halle Barry thing, because she was freaking Catwoman! I just realized that!!! Haha. Halle is a very goofy cat. She likes to play tag, and absolutely loves tablecloths. I put them on the table, she pulls them off! It's like she's... a frustrated interior decorator or something, I swear! My dog watches her like a form of television... she's the dog's entertainment! Hmm...I started my senior year this year, and I started applying to colleges. Scary process! But I've heard back from one already, and I've been accepted at San Diego State University! *Parties like it's 1999...then realizes I was only 3 then (#awkward)* Anyway, I'll wrap this up! My year has been filled with many good and bad things, as I'm sure all of yours were! And I wish you all the best going into this next year, as I already said. Thank you for letting me vent and practice my jokes Love you all! And Happy New Year! Cheers, Dylan
  9. A couple of weeks ago someone mentioned the s*** word. And then I heard there fell s*** at some places. I think it's safe now to think of the Ch********* word, especially together with a story. A month from today, I will post the first chapter of my new/ old Ch**story Baby, it's Cold Outside. Sneak peek: I was on the subway, the hood of my jacket still drawn over my head against the nasty weather, mentally going through the list for the big dinner I had planned, when I heard Peter's distinctive laughter. I would have recognized it anywhere, these deep rumbling chortles that always made me feel warm inside. Surprised, I looked back over my shoulder and saw him talking animatedly to a woman I didn't know. It was too early for him to be on this train. Then I smiled. He wanted to surprise me and be home early before he had to go on that business trip tomorrow. I gathered the cloth bags filled with groceries from the floor between my feet, ready to join them, when Peter lifted his hand, stroked the woman's hair, and leaned in for a kiss.
  10. Marketplace, roasted nuts, reindeer, crystal ornaments, ice skating, holly branch, slippery staircase, and a tray of fruit pastries.
  11. It's one of those things. I really can't explain it, but I do dream about a particular department store quite frequently. When I was six years old, my 1st grade teacher took our entire class on a holiday fieldtrip. We toured the big downtown stores, and were told to keep a tight grasp on each other's hands as we went along. At one, after huddling our cold noses against the plate glass to see the display windows, we went into the warmth. Massive chrome escalators – taller than me! – carried us up into the clouds, while our teacher pointed down to the floor. There, arrows were built right into the terrazzo to guide our way up to the next level, and Christmas was all around as we followed that magic path to ascended ever higher into the massive store – we were there to visit Toyland on the 8th floor, and Santaland on the 9th. That Christmas wonder seeped into my bones that day. It was in the smells, the music, the decorations, and most especially, it was keenly written on the happy faces of shopper and Famous-Barr staff alike. It's been brewing in my heart and soul for many years now, but I want to write a series of stories in praise of Christmas in that place, and over a number of years. I plan on writing 6 short stories, and 2 novellas, each covering a different Christmas season for years ranging from 1880 to 2006, and naturally, all centered on the downtown store of Famous-Barr. The first two installments are ready for this holiday season, and I thought I would offer a preview. So, without further ado, here is an excerpt from Katie's Sketchbook, Christmas at Famous-Barr 1976. Please let me know your thoughts. Katie's Sketchbook Preview: Part 2 – A Cast of Visitors Scene Two: "How do you do?" It was the end of their long day in the park; Katie ran into the house and left the door open. While Sloan was coming in, he heard her father's voice: "No running in the house" and "Get washed and changed – we're going out for dinner." As Sloan closed the door, Richardson appeared at the wide opening leading into the living room. Sloan went right up and started kissing. Richardson did not resist, but Sloan paused, as Richardson also did not engage. The younger man opened his eyes. Richardson's peepers were shining emeralds, but a bemused smirk played about the right corner of his mouth. "And what did I do to deserve that?" the older man inquired. "Nothing – like usual. We haven't seen each other since before Thanksgiving…and – and maybe I missed you." "Maybe, huh?" Sloan's response was to draw Richardson back into a bear hug. Movement from within the living room caught his eye just as Richardson sheepishly informed him "We have a guest." A six-foot-two-inch-tall woman advanced with an extended smile and hand. "How do you do? I'm Julia Child." The young man from Ohio weakly attempted to shake her hand while still latched onto Richardson. Mouth partially agape – until he swallowed the lump in his throat – Sloan finally managed to stand at Richardson's side and respond. "You most certainly are – " She interrupted with a friendly head-toss. "Now, don’t pay any attention to me whatsoever, boys. It seems you were in the middle of a most charming welcome home." Now, both 'boys' blushed. Sloan glanced to his side, thinking how Richardson had failed to mention exactly which celebrity he was shepherding around town. Katie came bounding in. "Hi! You're The French Chef, aren’t you?" "Yes, I suppose I am. You've seen me on TV, have you?" "Oh, yes! My dad said you were coming to town, and he watches you all the time – he's a good cook too, you know." Ms. Child raised her attention from the girl onto Richardson. "I'm sure he is. We've spent a good portion of our time together discussing food." Katie's enthusiasm began animating her whole body with heel-to-toe rocking. "You should have my dad make his famous Mississippi Mud Pie for you. Do you like chocolate?" "I do, and that very sounds nice." Richardson grew rigid next to Sloan's side, and interjected. "Katie, I could never presume to cook for Julia Child." The French Chef, unflapped, but bending down to Katie's level, told the girl, "Thank you for the reference, young lady. I may have to insist that he make it…" Her eyes drifted up to Richardson "Because I always follow local culinary recommendations." Richardson turned all-shades, and Sloan just wanted to laugh. Instead he said, "Well, I too can vouch for Richardson's amazing skills in the kitchen." Julia smiled. "And can you cook as well?" "Nope. But I am an expert eater." Ms. Child laughed, and placed her hand warmly on his forearm. "Dear boy, you sound precisely like my husband. Paul praises my cooking skills, and can even enjoy my failures." Sloan's face took on some color. "I didn't mean to suggest…Richardson…never 'fails' at food, at least not for me." The smile on Julia's face made Sloan believe he had just touched the woman in some way, but he was not sure how. (to be continued in October...)
  12. my love and hate list is too long to post but one of my "loves" is The Little Drummer Boy. It's been recorded so many times by different artists and you've probably heard most, but maybe not this version by the legendary Marlene Dietrich https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=ugLpyQaYIl8
  13. Poetry Prompt 16 – Carol Let's Write a December Carol! Okay, don’t groan and don’t shake your head. This prompt will be more flexible than you probably have in mind. First, what is a Carol? In our brains it is probably just the word we use to label any old Christmas song on the radio, but believe it or not, its roots are far from church, and it's not tied to any one religious tradition. My edition of the Harvard Dictionary of Music[1] informs us that 'Carol' derives from the French 'Carole,' which is the name of a circle dance (what we in North America would call a 'square dance'). The author says: "[Caroles were] associated in English with the early pagan dance-songs performed in celebration of the winter solstice, a ritual which later merged with that of Christmas." The author also says Caroles possibly used a poetic structure known as the Virelai, and for our prompt, we shall follow that tip: it's a part-song alternating between a chorus and several verses. So, although Christmas Carols are probably familiar to us, the modern ones in celebration of Nature are probably not. Let's begin by looking at some Carols of this type. Here is Ein Lied hinterm Ofen zu singen, by Matthias Claudius from 1782. Der Winter ist ein rechter Mann, Kernfest und auf die Dauer; Sein Fleisch fühlt sich wie Eisen an, Und scheut nicht süß noch sauer. War je ein Mann gesund wie er? Er krankt und kränkelt nimmer, Er trotzt der Kälte wie ein Bär und schläft im kalten Zimmer. Er zieht sein Hemd im freien an und läßt's vorher nicht wärmen und spottet über Fluß im Zahn und Grimmen in Gedärmen. Aus Blumen und aus Vogelsang weiß er sich nichts zu machen; Haßt warmen Drang und warmen Klang und alle warmen Sachen. Doch wenn die Füchse bellen sehr, wenn's Holz im Ofen knittert, und um den Ofen Knecht und Herr die Hände reibt und zittert; Wenn Stein und Bein vor Frost zerbricht und Teich und Zehen krachen: Das klingt ihm gut, das haßt er nicht, dann will er tot sich lachen.- Sein Schloß von Eis liegt ganz hinaus Beim Nordpol an dem Strande; Doch hat er auch ein Sommerhaus im lieben Schweizerlande. Da ist er denn bald dort, bald hier; gut Regiment zu führen; und wenn er durchzieht, stehen wir und sehn ihn an und frieren.[2] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KJbXQ_oG7hI Structurally, we can see this Carol is made of quatrains, which alternate between a rhyme scheme of a-b-a-b, and c-c-c-c. The 'c' section forms a chorus of sorts for the verses sandwiched above and below it. Being rhymed the same each time gives these middle sections the feeling of a refrain, even though the text is different each time. Here is another example of this type written by Malcolm Sargent, and called the Nature Carol: Coral, amber, pearl and shell, Gifts we gather from summer seas, Find and bind make love the spell, Take our gifts if they charm and please. Aloha! Aloha!, Hanaw, hanaw, aloha! Aloha! Aloha!, Hanaw, hanaw, Aloha! Ruby, onyx, rain and dew, Weave a crown with your jeweled light, Show and know whose world is new, Who is prince of the day and night. Aloha! Aloha!, Hanaw, hanaw, aloha! Aloha! Aloha!, Hanaw, hanaw, Aloha! Meadow, orchard, field and vine. Melon, grape and maize are here, Leaf and sheaf with tendrils twine, Bring your harvests far and near. Aloha! Aloha!, Hanaw, hanaw, aloha! Aloha! Aloha!, Hanaw, hanaw, Aloha! Mountains, flowers, trees and hills, Laugh and sing where His blessings fall, Wind and waves, lagoons and rills, Shout His love who is Lord of all. Aloha! Aloha!, Hanaw, hanaw, aloha! Aloha! Aloha!, Hanaw, hanaw, Aloha![3] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BdoqZUaVB9w In terms of structure, we again have a verse section made of a quatrain rhymed a-b-a-b. Here the chorus is repeated verbatim and sticks to a simple c-c couplet. That brings us to Charles Dickens (lol), and his A Christmas Carol. The novella has five parts, which he termed as 'Staves.' A Carol for him had five stanzas, and he intended his book to be a joyous song of praise to the Christmas spirit. These types of Carols arose at the beginning of the 18th century and evolved into the Christmas songs we know of today. In fact, one – God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen – is even quoted in A Christmas Carol. As it's a 'perfect' carol to reflect the Christmas aspect of this type of poem, let's look at the lyrics. God rest you, merry gentlemen, Let nothing you dismay For Jesus Christ, our Saviour Was born upon this day, To save us all from Satan's power When we were gone astray. O tidings of comfort and joy, For Jesus Christ, our Saviour was born on Christmas day. In Bethlehem, in Jury, This blessed babe was born And laid within a manger Upon this blessed morn The which his mother Mary Nothing did take in scorn. O tidings of comfort and joy, For Jesus Christ, our Saviour was born on Christmas day. From God our Heavenly Father A blessed Angel came, And unto certain Shepherds Brought tidings of the same, How that in Bethlehem was born The Son of God by name. O tidings of comfort and joy, For Jesus Christ, our Saviour was born on Christmas day. Fear not, then said the Angel, Let nothing you affright, This day is born a Saviour Of virtue, power and might; So frequently to vanquish all The friends of Satan quite. O tidings of comfort and joy, For Jesus Christ, our Saviour was born on Christmas day. The Shepherds at those tidings Rejoiced much in mind, And left their flocks a feeding In tempest, storm and wind, And went to Bethlehem straightway, This blessed babe to find. O tidings of comfort and joy, For Jesus Christ, our Saviour was born on Christmas day.[4] As far as structure goes, this Carol follows the basic lyric pattern we studied earlier: 8-syllable lines followed by 6-syllable ones. This holds true (mostly even in the chorus section). As for rhymes, the poet contented himself with an a-a-a pattern on lines 2, 4 and 6 (thus in the first stanza, we have: dismay; day; astray). So now, if you are contemplating writing one, where do you start? It seems to me the Carol arises from a spiritual place. It's about connection with the natural world around us, or though the heart and soul with the higher power that gives rise to all human emotion. I'd say to relax and take a moment to feel and reflect. Perhaps your Carol will be about the extremes of temperatures this time of year (cold for the northern hemisphere, and hot for the southern). Perhaps your Carol will be about good-fellowship or renewal, which seems to be a common thread through most of the many holidays in this final month of the year. The prompt: write one Carol suitable for the month of December. It can be a Nature-inspired song, or one based on any of the many holidays in the 12th month: Winter Solstice, Saturnalia, Hanukkah, Milad un Nabi, Christmas, Boxing Day, Kwanzaa, New Year's Eve, or even Festivus (for the rest of us).[5] Have fun, but provide a lyric set of stanzas (I'd say about 4 or 5) and a refrain. Use any metre or rhyme scheme you feel is best. -------------------------------------------- [1] 18th printing, 1967, by Willi Apel; pages 122 & 123 [2] Translation kindly provided by Aditus. A Song to Sing by the Fire: The winter is a righteous man, Strong like stone and enduring; His flesh feels like iron, And he does not shy from sweet or sour. Was ever a man as healthy as he? He never suffers nor ails, He braves the cold like a bear and sleeps in cold rooms. He puts on his shirt outside without warming it up first and scoffs at toothache and colics in his intestines. He doesn't care for flowers and birdsongs; He hates warm drinks and warm songs and everything warm. But when the foxes are barking, when wood wrinkles in the stove, and servant and master rub their hands and tremble. When stone and bone break from the frost and ponds and toes crack That sounds good to him, that he does like then he laughs himself to death. His castle of ice is far away near North Pole on the beach; But he also has a summerhouse In our lovely Switzerland. Sometimes he's here, sometimes he's there; to govern over us; and when he passes through, we stand and gaze at him and freeze. [3] Copyright 1960 by Oxford University Press. http://www.joe-offer.com/folkinfo/songs/pdf/674.pdf [4] As printed in Christmas Carols Ancient and Modern, W. B. Sandys, editor; 1833 London [5] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Festivus
  14. Aditus, Cole Matthews, and I are proud to announce what has been keeping us so busy over the past couple of months. We have each written eight stories, poems, memories, or personal vignettes--so a total of twenty-four goodies we will share every day starting December first and ending on Christmas Eve. Aditus will post each treat, but the author will be kept secret until the end of each week. We would love to hear our readers' predictions and guesses as to who wrote which story either in a review or in this thread. We will respond to reviews and reveal the correct authors on the Saturday of each week during December. Please feel free to share your own holiday traditions, memories, and experiences here. We would love to have a discussion about any similar experiences our vignettes inspire. We are all very excited to bring you this calendar. We hope it brings as much joy to you as it did to us while we were creating it.
  15. So, Sasha started a topic on what sort of nice stuff everyone got. I want to know what sort of weird stuff you all got! I mean, we all have that one relative or friend who just gives really odd presents. Not necessarily bad presents, just stuff that you'd never think to ask for or want or ever buy for yourself, and that make you wonder, why on Earth would this person get me this? Mine was from my brothers' mum. She got me The Encyclopaedia of 5000 Spells. Yup, you read that right. A bona fide spell book, with spells and incantations from pretty much all cultures and all eras. It has instructions on how to make magic mirrors, bind familiars, make a woman stay in the house (!) and curse your enemies. Now, I have absolutely no problem with people who believe in magic or practice Wicca or anything like that, but I don't. (I would call myself a skeptic, except that puts me in the same category as several douchebags I'm not interested in being associated with.) Neither, as far as I know or can possibly imagine (and I've known this woman since I was born), does my brothers' mum. So what in the name of everything unholy would make her think to buy me this book? Of course, flipping through it I've come up with all kinds of interesting fantasy and horror story ideas, so I'll definitely have to thank her the next time I see her for getting me such an awesome gift!
  16. So, I was a bit inspired by the Christmas Tree topic, but thought I'd take it a step further. I'm interested to know about traditions that are particular to where you live, or even to just your family. We have users here from all over the world, so there is so much to choose from. Do you celebrate Christmas? If not, do you celebrate any other holiday around the same time? What do you eat? Do you decorate your house? Do you get a visit from Santa Clause? I really want to know! A thing we do in Scandinavia that I think is pretty unique is the televised advent calendar. Every day in December, there's a short episode of an ongoing story that culminates at Christmas. It's made for kids, and you can buy a calendar in the shops where you open a door every day and there's a picture related to the story. It's how I knew it was nearly Christmas when I was a kid, was when I sat down at 7 in the morning, before school, and watched the advent calendar on telly.
  17. Ok, plain and simple please suggest me some Christmas flavored LGBT movies. So far, I've found only "Make The Yuletide Gay". It's a 2009 comedy about a gay college student who "straightens up" for the holidays as he visits his family and on a turn of fate his boyfriend appears on his doorsteps as an unwelcome surprise with altogether hilarious consequences. It's funny to the hilt but emotional as well. Worth a watch. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1305714/?ref_=nv_sr_1
  18. Christmas is on the horizon and I just wanted to start a thread and build a playlist for the upcoming festivities. Post your classic Christmas song below and links up to it on Youtube. I'll go first, Jona Lewie- Stop The Calvary:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5hVEdE0O5tA
  19. I saw a post for classic Christmas songs. But I have always enjoyed the silly ones, so I decided to start my own post. They can be anything, from silly versions of classic Carol's, to silly Christmas Rhymes. My Favorites are the silly versions of While Shepherds Watch Their Flocks By Night Some are: While shepherds wash their socks by night All seated round the tub A bar of sunlight soap comes down And hits one in the mug While shepherds watch their flocks by night All tuned to BBC An angel of the lord comes down And turns to ITV While shepherds watch their flocks by night All eating fish and chips An angel of the lord comes down And charges them two pound six And my all time fav - with thanks to The Vicar of Dibley While shepherds watch their flocks by night All seated on a bank An angel who was bored came down And taught them how to - MERRY CHRISTMAS. Over to you.
  20. I travel and love to learn how other people and other places celebrate life. I live in the U.S. So our Holiday traditions are pretty widely known. I'd particularly like to know how the summertime countries celebrate Christmas and the new year. And of course if your holidays are not Christmas but some other event then please, share your celebrations with us. If you have a unique tradition in your home for the holidays I'd love to hear about it whether you are from the U.S. or somewhere else. Happy Holidays!
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