An Interesting Valentine’s Option

“The gift of a knife shows that you trust her and love her,” was the basic sense of the commercial on the radio. I blinked, then had to agree. No one in their right mind* gives someone edged (or other) weapons as a gift unless they believe that said tools won’t be used against the giver.

Brigit, over at Mausers and Muffins, has done “things not to get your beloved for Valentines Day” in the past. Let’s just say that there are women who like stuffed animals and un-requested appliances. And then there are the women who prefer Hoppes 9 to Royal Secret when it comes to perfumes. A wise man knows which one is his light-of-love and plans accordingly. Continue reading

Books That Shape You

No, not that one about weight-lifting that made everything click, or the aerobics instruction guide. 😛

I’m thinking of titles that were just what you needed at a certain point in your life, or that served as a touchstone (perhaps still do), or inspired you to hold on more tightly and try one more time (“Mary Ellen Carter” books). They might be associated with a religion, or perhaps not. Continue reading

The Ramblin’ Soldier

I was listening to the sound track to Sharpe’s Rifles while driving to and from Day Job, and musing on the Napoleonic Wars and the men who fought in them. I’d also assigned some readings on South America in the period between 1800-1830. One of those excerpts mentions in passing the role of the English (and other) mercenaries in the wars of liberation against Spain.

People got around! For whatever reason, veterans of the wars against Napoleon turn up all over Latin America, in India, probably in Africa, in the US and Canada and elsewhere . . . wherever there was work, adventure, the prospect of money, or just because. I suspect the same is true today, perhaps on a lesser scale because (one hopes) Western military service no longer ends with a pat on the back, a small payment, and being turned out to make one’s own way without any support or training for the civilian world. Continue reading

He Never Returned, and He Never Returned

If you are of a certain age and musical inclination, you know the rest of the chorus, and the story of Charlie on the MTA.

Bob Shane, one of the founders of the original Kingston Trio, passed away late last month. He was 85. I grew up listening to their LPs, of which Mom and Dad Red had many, along with music by Odetta, the New Christie Minstrels, Ian and Sylvia, the Limelighters, and other “folk” groups from the 50s and 60s. I didn’t get all of the asides and jokes, and Mom had to explain a few of them, or just said, “Later, dear.”

I really liked their live recordings, because of the banter and joking, and the wit. They were not really folk musicians like Alan Lomax, Jean Ritchie, and others, because they wrote a number of their songs, but they became the folk music of the time, and they captured the sense of the old ballads and bawdy songs. “Charlie on the M.T.A.”, “Scarlet Ribbons*,”Zombie Jamboree,” “John Birch Society,” and others still play in my head from time to time. Some were social commentary (“Which Hat Shall I Wear,” “John Birch,”) but they were also humorous.

Here’s a slightly bawdy number, with a verse that could never make it on radio today:

And of course, poor Charlie, forever trapped beneath Boston’s streets:


And one of my favorites:

*Just who composed “Scarlet Ribbons” was settled by a lawsuit between Jean Ritchie and David Guard of the Trio.


Called to the Council is Live

Return once more to the world of Shikhari and the adventures of Auriga “Rigi” Bernardi, Martinus, and friends!

Trouble simmers on Shikhari. Tension among the Staré spills into the human world, and a change in human leadership signals possibilities good or dire. When a hunting trip becomes a running battle, Rigi finds herself pulled into a Game. A Game she dare not lose.

Wife, Mother—Huntress, Wise. Rigi and her allies must tread warily. If only to avoid misplaced stuffed animals, and wildlife that doesn’t know when to stay away.