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

Happy New Year!

January 1, 2018

So here we are, 2018.  It seems that every year I’ve said, “I can’t believe how fast this year is going!”  And 2017 was no exception.  Overall, it was a very good year that included settling into our new house, and I’m confident that 2018 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 friends holding hands for this year’s theme of Let There Be Friendship, and the lighting is provided by more than 30,000 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

http://www.randolphmase.com

http://www.facebook.com/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

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Kwanzaa Begins

December 26, 2017

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

http://www.randolphmase.com

http://www.facebook.com/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, 2017

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 (which started last evening), 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

http://www.randolphmase.com

http://www.facebook.com/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, 2017

…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 – 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

http://www.facebook.com/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 12, 2017

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 today and the last on December 19.  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.  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

http://www.randolphmase.com

http://www.facebook.com/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 23, 2017

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 its 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

http://www.facebook.com/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

 

Celebrate Veterans Day!

November 11, 2017

Most of us know that today is Veterans Day.  And some of us have a valued day off from work.  But how many of us have ever given thought to the history of this day or, more importantly, what it means?

The history goes back to World War I, which officially ended when the Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919.  However, fighting had actually ceased seven months earlier when the Allies and Germany agreed to a temporary cessation of hostilities, at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month; in other words, 11:00 am on November 11.  One year later, President Wilson declared the first Armistice Day.  It became a legal holiday in 1938, honoring those who had fought in World War I.  In 1954, after many Americans had lost their lives in World War II and the Korean War, the holiday was renamed Veterans Day, honoring all American veterans.  There’s a very good video explanation and tribute at http://www.va.gov/opa/vetsday/.

The Veterans Day National Ceremony was held today at 11:00 am, with a color guard honoring American veterans at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery.  Let us all remember them, including those who are currently in hostile action.  I’ll quote the dedication of my book Nathan Hale:  “To all those who have risked their lives to protect the freedom of our great nation.”

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

http://www.facebook.com/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, 2017

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.  And here I am as Obi-Won, protecting my beautiful spider.  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 also 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

http://www.randolphmase.com

http://www.facebook.com/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

Thanks a Lot, Rachael Ray

October 24, 2017

I’m not much of a Rachael Ray fan, but my wife Kathy is, and she watches and/or records most episodes of her show.  Over the past ten years, Kathy’s made many of Rachael’s recipes, and most of them were very good, which I attribute to the recipes and my wife’s cooking skills.  But post-meal cleanup is another matter.  If you’re preparing the meal in a TV studio with a staff of employees to clean up, it’s not a problem (on one recent show, I counted 3 pots on the stove and another on the counter, three bowls on the counter, along with a food processor and many cooking utensils).  But I don’t have that luxury; on several occasions, it took me almost an hour to wash the pots, pans, and cooking utensils, including a couple of breaks to dry ones to make more room in the drain rack.

So on behalf of those of us who love to spend much of our lives washing dishes:  thanks a lot, Rachael Ray.

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

http://www.facebook.com/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 Columbus Day!

October 9, 2017

It’s interesting that when I was going to school or working, I viewed holidays simply as another day off.  Now that I’m doing neither, I find myself trying to learn more about each holiday.  Take today – Columbus Day – as an example.  Before it was moved to the second Monday in October, Columbus Day was always celebrated on October 12.  I always assumed that it marked the birth of Christopher Columbus, but it actually marks the date when he arrived in the Americas.  It’s not only a US holiday, but is celebrated throughout Latin America and even in some European nations.

On this day and other holidays, take the time to discover more about the meaning of the day.  It’s interesting stuff!

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

http://www.facebook.com/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


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