Interesting Literary Facts for Halloween

29 10 2013

Great post including the blog followers comments regarding “trick or treat” and other Halloween literature.

Interesting Literature

‘It was a dark and stormy night…’ as Sir Edward Bulwer-Lytton began his 1830 novel Paul Clifford (and, in doing so, gave us perhaps the most famous – or infamous – opening line of them all). Since Halloween is looming, we at Interesting Literature thought we’d blow the dust off some mouldy tomes in the Gothic library here at the Castle, in order to bring you some of the most eye-watering literary facts and fancies from the season.

Halloween – or Hallowe’en, as in ‘All Hallows’ Eve’ – is a Scottish term, first recorded in print in 1556 (where it’s spelled, almost unrecognisably, ‘Halhalon’). This Scottish origin of the specific word ‘Halloween’ was continued when Robert Burns wrote a poem titled ‘Halloween’ in the late eighteenth century, which can be read here. The first reference to a Jack-o’-lantern (or pumpkin lantern), however, is, unsurprisingly, American: it’s found in a short…

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Who’s Winning…

24 10 2013

The War on Drugs ?

Click on the above and watch the John Legend music video in the upper right corner. If you live in Mexico like I do everything will work but you won’t be able to watch the film the website references unless you have VPN software.

Yesterday I posted about my addiction to sport. In many ways it’s similar to drug addiction. Watch this short video…

The Science of Drug Addiction

What are the alternatives that work best to combat addiction (another word for compulsive behavior that has a negative effect on the quality of life)? The answer is not incarceration. The War on Drugs has been waged for 40 years by a country with 5% of the world’s population and 25% of its prison population. 1/4 of those in prison in the USA (600,000) are there for non-violent drug offenses. The numbers also tell us that the % of blacks in prison for drug offenses is inordinately skewed when compared to the % of blacks who make up the drug user population. Dr. Carl Hart tells us in “The Science of Drug Addiction” that when given positive alternatives crack cocaine addicts disprove the theory that once a crack cocaine user always a crack user.

I’ve had enough war in my life. My country tis of thee sweet land of liberty? I think not. The wars we’ve fought have been losing propositions for everyone but the military, defense industry and now the prison industry. In war someone wins and someone loses. It’s the same in sport. The best lesson coming from sport for me was…it’s not all about winning and losing it’s about how you play the game. Somehow I think that lesson has been forgotten by many of my brothers and sisters in the USA.


Seamus Heaney, you are missed.
Rest in Peace


My Life as an Addict

24 10 2013


If you’ve been wondering where I’ve been you are about to find out. I went to REHAB for sports withdrawal. Until the release of League of Denial I wasn’t sure I could stop watching NFL football but now I can. I raised my kids in the 80’s and 90’s in Philadelphia with weekend male bonding rituals. Friday and Saturday it was PSU and their high school football games, Sunday it was the Eagles. We knew a little about concussions but had no clue RE: CTE – the real issue when it comes to head trauma not concussions as the NFL would have us believe. I was a smoker too until it became clear that tobacco was going to cut my life span significantly if I didn’t stop. Soo…I stopped. Now it’s time to stop football as we know it.

The Concussion Crisis

Peter King’s words on – “I think football will survive the storm. Too many love it; it’s the cornerstone of too many communities in America. High school games on fall Friday nights, college games on Saturdays, the pros on Sunday.” – fall on deaf ears for me. When we consider how our Friday nights are spent with football or any sport as the cornerstone of our communities we need to take pause as John Milton did writing On His Blindness.


When I consider how my light is spent
Ere half my days in this dark world and wide,
And that one talent which is death to hide
Lodg’d with me useless, though my soul more bent
To serve therewith my Maker, and present
My true account, lest he returning chide,
“Doth God exact day-labour, light denied?”
I fondly ask. But Patience, to prevent
That murmur, soon replies: “God doth not need
Either man’s work or his own gifts: who best
Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best. His state
Is kingly; thousands at his bidding speed
And post o’er land and ocean without rest:
They also serve who only stand and wait.”

The American tragedy is being acted out partly in its fanatical belief in the efficacy of sport and the values taught by winning and losing. Life is a complicated process not a game with time outs for commercials. Let’s stop trotting out those sailors and soldiers to sing God Bless America and America, the Beautiful. For most of the world sport is not the patriot’s game the USA media would have us believe. I chose to stand and wait with Milton for a new song. How about?

Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven
Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
Blessed are…

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