Halloween is upon us again, and to get into the spirit, I thought I would head over to my bookcase and re-read a scary story or two. As a big fan of the great Victorian Gothic novels – “Dracula” and “Frankenstein” – I thought I would delve a little into the origins of Gothic literature and explore why these books remain so popular. Principally, “Gothic” refers to a style of architecture which developed during the Middle Ages; featuring tall, pointed windows, stained glass, flying buttresses, and soaring spires.  During the late… Read more »

It is late September here in North Texas, (and, I assume, in other places too), and the temperature has finally begun to cool down from the inferno-like heat of summer.  Even before the welcome arrival of autumnal air, you could tell that a change in season was imminent simply by entering a coffee shop or grocery store.  Wherever you look, you’re bombarded by the sight and smells of pumpkins: big, orange ones, weirdly shaped white ones, itty-bitty cute ones of varying hues, as well as suggestively… Read more »

Anyone who has witnessed the carnage that results from any “crafty” project that I have attempted, will testify that I am a horrible artist.  I took me 6 years to finally figure out how to create the Pilgrim bonnet that my girls wore at their pre-K’s annual Thanksgiving Feast! My drawings are on the sub-remedial level (stickmen!), and my painting is dauby at best. I can really only be trusted with coloring books and Lego sets.  Despite this aesthetic handicap – and as a distraction… Read more »

On this Valentines Day, I thought that it would be interesting to look at the origins of our annual celebration of love.  I was surprised to learn that it was not just a made-up “Hallmark Holiday” (although it has certainly been commercially appropriated).  Like many of our contemporary celebrations, Valentine’s Day has ancient origins. I found the following story on the NPR website.  It encompasses many of the theories surrounding  Valentine’s Day’s.  To avoid re-inventing the wheel, I thought I would share… Read more »

They’ve been conspicuous for weeks now. Along the greeting card aisles, in the floral displays at grocery stores and markets – valentines!  Like almost every holiday, Valentine’s Day is a mess of commercialism.  A meal in a restaurant that costs a certain amount every other day of the year, suddenly is priced double. Bottles of champagne, chocolates and long-stemmed red roses are thrust front and center of every grocery store display, forcing you to reckon whether your sweetie is worth the splurge (the answer,… Read more »