Archive for the ‘Observations on the Strange and Unexpected and on Life Itself’ Category

A Time to Weep, and a Time to Laugh

January 14, 2020

You may recognize those words from the song Turn, Turn, Turn by The Byrds (and written by Pete Seeger), and earlier from the Book of Ecclesiastes in The Bible; in fact, I spoke those words at the memorial service for my father in 1998. And it’s so true at this time of year, when the list of celebrities who passed away during the year is published. Among those in 2019 were Doris Day, Peter Fonda, Cokie Roberts, Tim Conway, Bart Starr, Elijah Cummings, Peter Mayhew, Carol Channing, Ross Perot, Lee Iacocca, Georgia Engel, Gloria Vanderbilt, Toni Morrison, Peter Tork, Diahann Carroll, Luke Perry, Robert Forster, Valerie Harper, Kristoff St. John, Albert Finney, Katherine Helmond, Peggy Lipton, Rip Torn, Eddie Money, Rip Taylor, Ric Okasek, Ron Leibman, Carroll Spinney, Danny Aiello, Mel Stottlemyre, Frank Robinson, John Havlicek, Nick Buoniconti, Richard Lugar, and Birch Bayh. And let us never forget the US Service Members, Police, and Firefighters killed in the line of duty, protecting us. For me, the ones I don’t have around any more include my parents Lyman and Alice, my father-in-law Ray, my brother-in-law Jim and his wife Edna, my brother-in-law Mike, my sister-in-law Dottie, and our Aunt Joan, Uncle Joe, and Aunt Rita. But we did get one blessing ten years ago with our grandson Evan, and another 7½ years ago with our grandson Noah. So, remember to be thankful for those we do have close to us…

Feel free to leave a comment, and please come back – I write and post often!  And if you like what I have to say and how I say it, you’ll probably enjoy my novels as well.  They’re listed below, and you can read more about them on my improved website, designed and built by my son Don, http://www.randolphmase.com.  On my site, you’ll also find excerpts of my books that you can read – please check it out!

Randolph Mase, Fiction Writer

https://www.amazon.com/author/randolphmase

http://www.facebook.com/MatthewHoganMysteries

http://twitter.com/randolphmase

My Novels:

Death on Broadway

Death Beneath the Streets

Death in Central Park

Death at The Cloisters

Death Inside Diamond Head (under construction)

Nathan Hale

Happy New Year!

January 1, 2020

So here we are, 2020.  It seems that every year I’ve said, “I can’t believe how fast this year is going!”  And 2019 was no exception.  Overall, it was a very good year that included two great weddings and two great trips, and I’m confident that 2020 will bring more good things.  My wife and I had our usual New Year’s Eve activity – stay at home, enjoy a great meal of beef fondue, and watch the celebrations, particularly the ball drop at Times Square, a mere 60 miles from our former house.  Actually, I’ve never really had the desire to go there in person.  Being squeezed in with more than a quarter million other people (the official estimates the past few years have been much higher) doesn’t really appeal to me.

In case you’re curious, the ball is 12 feet in diameter and weighs almost 6 tons.  It’s covered with almost 3,000 Waterford crystal triangles, with the new patterns representing musicians working together for this year’s theme of Gift of Goodwill, and the lighting is provided by more than 32,000 LEDs in red, blue, green, and white.  Just for comparison, the first ball in 1907 was made of iron and wood, was lighted by one hundred 25-watt light bulbs, had a diameter of 5 feet, and weighed less than half a ton…quite a difference!

If you can’t make it to Times Square tonight (or if you’re like me and you don’t want to make it), you can watch it live at http://www.timessquarenyc.org/, starting just before 6pm tonight. Happy New Year!

Feel free to leave a comment, and please come back – I write and post often!  And if you like what I have to say and how I say it, you’ll probably enjoy my novels as well.  They’re listed below, and you can read more about them on my improved website, designed and built by my son Don, http://www.randolphmase.com.  On my site, you’ll also find excerpts of my books that you can read – please check it out!

Randolph Mase, Fiction Writer

https://www.amazon.com/author/randolphmase

http://www.facebook.com/MatthewHoganMysteries

http://twitter.com/randolphmase

My Novels:

Death on Broadway

Death Beneath the Streets

Death in Central Park

Death at The Cloisters

Death Inside Diamond Head (under construction)

Nathan Hale

Kwanzaa Begins

December 26, 2019

I’ve learned a lot doing research for this blog, and the latest thing I’ve learned is about Kwanzaa. Most of you have probably heard of it, but I’d guess that most of you don’t really know what it’s all about (as was the case with me).

The official Kwanzaa website describes it as a “Celebration of Family, Community, and Culture.” Further words from the site add a little more meaning to that: “Kwanzaa brings a cultural message which speaks to the best of what it means to be African and human in the fullest sense.”

It’s a seven-day celebration (December 26 through January 1) created by Maulana Karnga in 1966, and today is observed by up to 28 million people around the world. Kwanzaa is based on seven principles:

  1. Unity – to strive for and maintain unity in the family, community, nation, and race
  2. Self-Determination – to define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves, and speak for ourselves
  3. Collective Work and Responsibility – to build and maintain our community together and make our brother’s and sister’s problems our problems and to solve them together
  4. Cooperative Economics – to build and maintain our own stores, shops, and other businesses and to profit from them together
  5. Purpose – to make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.
  6. Creativity – to do always as much as we can, in the way we can, in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it
  7. Faith – to believe with all our heart in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders, and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.

Not bad principles to live by, are they? You can learn more at their official website at http://www.officialkwanzaawebsite.org/index.shtml. Happy Kwanzaa!

Feel free to leave a comment, and please come back – I write and post often!  And if you like what I have to say and how I say it, you’ll probably enjoy my novels as well.  They’re listed below, and you can read more about them on my improved website, designed and built by my son Don, http://www.randolphmase.com.  On my site, you’ll also find excerpts of my books that you can read – please check it out!

Randolph Mase, Fiction Writer

https://www.amazon.com/author/randolphmase

http://www.facebook.com/MatthewHoganMysteries

http://twitter.com/randolphmase

My Novels:

Death on Broadway

Death Beneath the Streets

Death in Central Park

Death at The Cloisters

Death Inside Diamond Head (under construction)

Nathan Hale

Merry Christmas!

December 25, 2019

Most of us know that Christmas is a Christian celebration of the birth of Jesus of Nazareth. Over the years, however, it has expanded beyond Christianity, and other traditions and symbols have surfaced. Many of us don’t know the origin of things such as:

  1. The custom of erecting a Christmas tree goes back to Germany in the 1500s, and was perhaps decorated with paper flowers and candles
  2. Christmas lights, which actually started when early Christians, persecuted for their group worships, placed candles in the windows of houses where those gatherings would take place
  3. Hanging stockings popularly started when Saint Nicholas was looking for a place to put gifts of gold coins for the three daughters of a poor man; the only thing he could find were stockings that had been hung over the mantel to dry
  4. The modern-day Christmas tree ornament, known as a bauble, was first produced in 1847
  5. About that same time, candy canes were first hung on Christmas trees
  6. Christmas hymns have been around since the 4th century
  7. Even traditional Christmas Carols date back to the Middle Ages
  8. The first commercial Christmas card was produced in 1843 in London
  9. Santa Claus originated in Holland, and comes from the Dutch Sinterklaas, which means Saint Nicholas.

Whether your customs and traditions are Christmas, Hannukah, Kwanzaa, or even Festivus, enjoy the day and the season!

Feel free to leave a comment, and please come back – I write and post often!  And if you like what I have to say and how I say it, you’ll probably enjoy my novels as well.  They’re listed below, and you can read more about them on my improved website, designed and built by my son Don, http://www.randolphmase.com.  On my site, you’ll also find excerpts of my books that you can read – please check it out!

Randolph Mase, Fiction Writer

https://www.amazon.com/author/randolphmase

http://www.facebook.com/MatthewHoganMysteries

http://twitter.com/randolphmase

My Novels:

Death on Broadway

Death Beneath the Streets

Death in Central Park

Death at The Cloisters

Death Inside Diamond Head (under construction)

Nathan Hale

It’s Christmas Eve…

December 24, 2019

…and what would be more fitting than quoting the poem The Night Before Christmas, by Clement C. Moore or Henry Livingston (I never knew this, but evidently there’s quite a controversy about who actually wrote it.) My grandson Evan (and I’m sure his little brother Noah will also enjoy it soon) loves me to read this to him, so I’ll do exactly that tonight. Enjoy the holidays! 

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house

Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,

In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,

While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;

And mamma in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,

Had just settled down for a long winter’s nap,

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,

I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.

Away to the window I flew like a flash,

Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow

Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below,

When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,

But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer,

With a little old driver, so lively and quick,

I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.

More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,

And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;

‘Now Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!

On, Comet! on, Cupid! on, Donner and Blitzen!

To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!

Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!’

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,

When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky;

So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,

With the sleigh full of Toys, and St. Nicholas too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof

The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.

As I drew in my head, and was turning around,

Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound,

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,

and his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot.

A bundle of Toys he had flung on his back,

And he looked like a peddler, just opening his pack.

His eyes-how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!

His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!

His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,

And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,

and the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath;

He had a broad face and a little round belly,

That shook when he laughed, like a bowlful of jelly.

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,

and I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;

A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,

Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,

and filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,

and laying his finger aside of his nose,

and giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,

and away they all flew like the down of a thistle.

But I heard him exclaim, ‘ere he drove out of sight,

‘Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night.’

Feel free to leave a comment, and please come back often – I write and post every day! And if you like what I have to say and how I say it, you’ll probably enjoy my novels as well. They’re listed below, and you can read more about them on my improved website, designed and built by my son Don, http://www.randolphmase.com. On my site, you’ll also find excerpts of my books that you can read – please check it out!

Feel free to leave a comment, and please come back – I write and post often!  And if you like what I have to say and how I say it, you’ll probably enjoy my novels as well.  They’re listed below, and you can read more about them on my improved website, designed and built by my son Don, http://www.randolphmase.com.  On my site, you’ll also find excerpts of my books that you can read – please check it out!

Randolph Mase, Fiction Writer

https://www.amazon.com/author/randolphmase

http://www.facebook.com/MatthewHoganMysteries

http://twitter.com/randolphmase

My Novels:

Death on Broadway

Death Beneath the Streets

Death in Central Park

Death at The Cloisters

Death Inside Diamond Head (under construction)

Nathan Hale

Hanukkah Begins

December 22, 2019

As you may know, Hanukkah (Chanukah) is an eight-day Jewish festival of light that celebrates the triumph of light over darkness, purity over adulteration (I have no further comments about that right now), and spirituality over materiality. The festival began more than 20 centuries ago when a small band of faithful Jews drove the Greek army from the Holy Land and reclaimed the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. They could find only a little olive oil to light the menorah in the temple, and it miraculously lasted for eight days. Today, the eight candles are lit on successive days, the first on December 11 and the last today. Other Hanukkah customs include fried foods such as latkes and sufganiot; playing with the dreidel, a spinning top; and giving gifts of money to children.

And for a real treat, visit what’s billed as the world’s largest menorah, located south of Central Park. It’s 32 feet high, 28 feet wide, weighs 4,000 pounds, and will be lighted daily at 5:30 p.m. (3:30 on Friday and 8:00 on Saturday) from today through next Sunday.

Whether you celebrate and observe it or not, Happy Hanukkah!

Feel free to leave a comment, and please come back – I write and post often!  And if you like what I have to say and how I say it, you’ll probably enjoy my novels as well.  They’re listed below, and you can read more about them on my improved website, designed and built by my son Don, http://www.randolphmase.com.  On my site, you’ll also find excerpts of my books that you can read – please check it out!

Randolph Mase, Fiction Writer

https://www.amazon.com/author/randolphmase

http://www.facebook.com/MatthewHoganMysteries

http://twitter.com/randolphmase

My Novels:

Death on Broadway

Death Beneath the Streets

Death in Central Park

Death at The Cloisters

Death Inside Diamond Head (under construction)

Nathan Hale

Happy Thanksgiving!

November 28, 2019

The history of this holiday in the United States is uncertain at best. Some claim it started with Spanish settlers in St. Augustine, Florida an 1565; others look to the English in Virginia in 1619; still others claim it originated in 1621 with the settlers of Plymouth, Massachusetts.

Whatever the actual origin, Thanksgiving became a legal holiday here in the United States when President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed the bill making it such in December of 1941.

Today, of course, it goes beyond giving thanks for the harvest and all that we have; it’s a time for families, travel, shopping, and parades. And New York City is one of the leaders there, with its annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. The parade, which began at 9 this morning, follows a new route because of the closing of Broadway for the new pedestrian mall. It will still begin at 77th Street and travel south on Central Park West (Eighth Avenue) to 59th Street. Then it will turn onto Seventh Avenue and continue to Macy’s at Herald Square (Sixth Avenue and 34th Street). Although the 3-mile route is different, the floats and balloons and bands and performers are just as good as they always are, so enjoy the holiday!

Feel free to leave a comment, and please come back – I write and post often!  And if you like what I have to say and how I say it, you’ll probably enjoy my novels as well.  They’re listed below, and you can read more about them on my improved website, designed and built by my son Don, http://www.randolphmase.com.  On my site, you’ll also find excerpts of my books that you can read – please check it out!

Randolph Mase, Fiction Writer

http://www.randolphmase.com

https://www.amazon.com/author/randolphmase

http://www.facebook.com/MatthewHoganMysteries

http://twitter.com/randolphmase

My Novels:

Death on Broadway

Death Beneath the Streets

Death in Central Park

Death at The Cloisters

Death Inside Diamond Head (under construction)

Nathan Hale

Thank a Veteran This Veterans Day!

November 11, 2019

For Veterans Day last year I wrote a Facebook post to honor my ancestors who served in the military. In my genealogical research since then, I have discovered several more veterans. Here’s the updated list of my ancestor veterans, along with their relationship to me and when they served.

  1. Nathaniel Merriman, 8th Great Grandfather, 1630s
  2. Nicholas Byram, 7th Great Grandfather, 1670s
  3. Thomas Merwin, 4th Great Grandfather, 1750s
  4. John Hawks, 6th Great Grandfather, 1750s-1770s
  5. Samuel Mase, 3rd Great Grandfather, 1770s
  6. Moses Tullis, 5th Great Grandfather, 1770s
  7. Jan Van Dyke, 6th Great Grandfather, 1770s, killed in action
  8. Peter Elston Mase, 2nd Great Grandfather, 1810s
  9. Joseph Van Brunt, 3rd Great Grandfather, 1810s
  10. Adam Bommer, 2nd Great Grandfather, 1860s
  11. Sylvester Howell Mase, Great Grandfather, 1860s
  12. Jonathan Langdon Tullis, 3rd Great Grandfather, 1860s
  13. Charles Wesley Tullis, 2nd Great Grandfather, 1860s
  14. Aaron Thayer Tullis, Grandfather, 1910s, wounded in action

I wish I could thank each of these ancestors of mine for their service and sacrifice, but of course I cannot. But I urge each of you to say ‘Thank You’ to any veterans you know. Our veterans are one of the reasons we have remained a free and strong nation for all these years.

Feel free to leave a comment, and please come back – I write and post often!  And if you like what I have to say and how I say it, you’ll probably enjoy my novels as well.  They’re listed below, and you can read more about them on my improved website, designed and built by my son Don, http://www.randolphmase.com.  On my site, you’ll also find excerpts of my books that you can read – please check it out!

Randolph Mase, Fiction Writer

https://www.amazon.com/author/randolphmase

http://www.facebook.com/MatthewHoganMysteries

http://twitter.com/randolphmase

My Novels:

Death on Broadway

Death Beneath the Streets

Death in Central Park

Death at The Cloisters

Death Inside Diamond Head (under construction)

Nathan Hale

The Day of the Dead

November 1, 2019

We have yet another holiday…in Mexico this time.

In the past few years, I’ve learned a lot about Halloween. I also learned a lot about November 2, known in some cultures as All Souls Day. In Mexico, it’s a holiday called The Day of the Dead. According to a friend of mine in Mexico City, the day celebrates our relatives that have passed away, so that we do remember them. In fact, it’s part of the Mexican culture to laugh in front of Death today, and the photo above is one of an office decoration that my friend sent to me. He said the most famous celebration in Mexico today is in Michoacán State, at Janitzio and nearby Patzcuaro Lake, with many people attending the ceremony at night. You can read more about it, and see more photos, at http://www.mexicoinsmallbytes.com/november.html.

However you do it, it’s very worthwhile to remember and celebrate our ancestors…

Feel free to leave a comment, and please come back – I write and post often!  And if you like what I have to say and how I say it, you’ll probably enjoy my novels as well.  They’re listed below, and you can read more about them on my improved website, designed and built by my son Don, http://www.randolphmase.com.  On my site, you’ll also find excerpts of my books that you can read – please check it out!

Randolph Mase, Fiction Writer

https://www.amazon.com/author/randolphmase

http://www.facebook.com/MatthewHoganMysteries

http://twitter.com/randolphmase

My Novels:

Death on Broadway

Death Beneath the Streets

Death in Central Park

Death at The Cloisters

Death Inside Diamond Head (under construction)

Nathan Hale

Happy Halloween!

October 31, 2019

At this time every year, many of us have acquired our stash of candy and anxiously await the arrival of all those children seeking treats, including my grandsons Evan and Noah (shown in this photo of my daughter Jen’s family costumes this year – if you don’t recognize them, search for a 2004 movie with Ben Stiller and Vince Vaughn).  I don’t know about you, but I never gave much more thought to Halloween, until I watched a program on The History Channel about the history of this day. And that prompted me to do some research about Halloween and its traditions. For example, in the 8th Century, Pope Gregory III declared November 1 as All Hallows (Saints) Day, and the evening before became known as All Hallows Evening, later shortened to Halloween (actually Hallowe’en). And I also learned the history of some of the other traditions associated with the holiday:

Trick or Treating. The Celts left food and sweets around for the evil spirits to take and leave. Years later, in medieval times, poor people would go from door to door, begging for food in return for offering prayers for the dead on All Souls Day, November 2.

The Jack-o’-Lantern. Years ago, many Irish and Scottish people would carve a face into a turnip and place a lighted candle inside to honor the dead on All Souls Day. There is also the legend of Irishman Stingy Jack who tricked the devil into climbing a tree. To avenge this, the devil placed a curse on Jack – he was forced to wander the earth with the only light he had: a candle inside of a hollowed turnip. Thus the name.

The Wearing of Costumes. The Celts also believed that at summer’s end (the same time as Halloween), spirits passed by. Of course, the spirits of ancestors were invited into the home, while evil spirits needed to be warded off. To do this, the Celts wore costumes and masks to disguise themselves as evil spirits, thus escaping harm. And of course, today, we see the full range, from the simple to the elaborate and bizarre.

So enjoy the day, but remember the traditions…

Feel free to leave a comment, and please come back – I write and post often!  And if you like what I have to say and how I say it, you’ll probably enjoy my novels as well.  They’re listed below, and you can read more about them on my improved website, designed and built by my son Don, http://www.randolphmase.com.  On my site, you’ll also find excerpts of my books that you can read – please check it out!

Randolph Mase, Fiction Writer

https://www.amazon.com/author/randolphmase

http://www.facebook.com/MatthewHoganMysteries

http://twitter.com/randolphmase

My Novels:

Death on Broadway

Death Beneath the Streets

Death in Central Park

Death at The Cloisters

Death Inside Diamond Head (under construction)

Nathan Hale


%d bloggers like this: