Ringing on a Glass, Ringing in the Soul

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[If you are reading this on email, mobile device or tablet, for much better viewing with all features, please, click on the title of this piece thus allowing full-screen viewing.]

Anyone who has looked carefully at the masthead of this blog or read some of the introductory remarks will see and, perhaps understand, at least part of your dutiful scribe’s affection for Prague in the modern day Czech Republic.

Indeed, it was on a lovely evening when my bride and I decided to have a post-prandial stroll across the beyond-historic Charles Bridge. Suddenly, as carried on the cool breezes of the evening came the most wonderfully evocative sounds. charlesbridgedusk

[Evening on Charles Bridge]

Off we went looking to find the source of this aural dessert to perhaps end an otherwise lovely day.

Shortly, all were encompassed in the golden glow of the light-standards.

Couple at Night on Charles Bridge, Prague, Czech Republic

Couple at Night on Charles Bridge, Prague, Czech Republic

Just ahead stood an older man behind a table set out before him with dozens of wineglasses.  Each glass contained an amount of water which was just slightly more filled than the glass next to it.

Lightly dipping his long fingers into a pot of water, he began to ever so slightly move his fingers around the top of the glass, producing bewitching sounds never previously heard.

This gentleman’s repertoire ranged from classical music to popular tunes, even a few Christmas carols.

During a break, since my command of Czech is ‘limited’ indeed, in German, I asked this Maestro about his technique.

That short but stunning discussion humbled me.  What this musician was doing to entertain the crowd and earn his living had been ‘invented’ over 2,500 years ago… by the Persians, amongst others!

How about in Europe?

In 1638, Galileo spoke of a “wet finger around the wine glass” phenomenon in his “Dialogues Concerning Two New Sciences” or Discorsi e Dimostrazioni Matematiche Intorno a Due Nuove Scienze. (No, I’ll not embarrass by asking how many of you have read that!)

However, reputedly, the first musician to ever play classical music on a set of wine glasses was an Irishman, one Richard Pockrich.

In 1731, he created what he beautifully called an “angelic organ”.  That was a set of 25 wine glasses ‘tuned’ with water and mounted in a wooden box.   Mr. Pockrich became a virtuoso glass player and is known to have extensively performed, mostly in the British Isles.

Musician and composer Christoph W. Glück (Bohemian-born but considered German) was known to be a virtuoso glass player before becoming famous for his operas (especially, Orfeo ed Euridice or, ‘Orpheus and Euridice’ and Alceste).

Just to offer a hint of Glück’s genius, this glorious if too brief  “Che faro senza Euridice?” or “What will I do without Euridice?” as sung by, seemingly, every lady’s favorite, the formidably magical Siberian bass-baritone, Maestro Dmitri Hvorostovsky:

 Che farò senza Euridice
Dove andrò senza il mio ben.
Euridice, o Dio, risponde
Io son pure il tuo fedele.
Euridice! Ah, non m´avvanza
più socorso, più speranza
ne dal mondo, ne dal cel.

What will I do without Euridice
Where will I go without my wonderful one.
Euridice, oh God, answer
I am entirely your loyal one.
Euridice! Ah, it doesn´t give me
any help, any hope
neither this world, neither heaven.

In an effort to self-publicize, rather egotistically, Maestro Glück declared he was able to perform anything that could be done on a violin or harpsichord.  The mind boggles!

Inevitably, or so it seems to me, the very serious polymath, Benjamin Franklin, also got into the act. Having attended a glass music recital in London, not only did he announce he considered the sounds “celestial”, he had to do even better.

His improvement on the then-technique?  He cajoled a skillful glass maker to create a set of glass bowls.  Each would ‘nest’ inside each other and spin around on a rod.

With his tweaking of the system, the rims were very close to each other.  As a result, that allowed more notes to play simultaneously. In 1761, Franklin named it his “glass harmonica”, and thus yet another of his adornments of inventions.

By the late 1700s, “glass music” gained popularity all around Europe.

Mozart, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky and other famous composers wrote music for the glass harmonica.  Curiously, and like other flashes in the musical pan, by start of the 1800’s, all this largely died a death.

However, briefly at least, and as I now recall I learned from my psychology professor in Vienna, the German physician Franz Mezmer (think ‘mezmerizing’) induced hypnotic states in his patients via use of, yes, a glass harp!

When librettist Hugo von Hoffmanstahl worked with Richard Strauss on the gloriously beautiful opera,  “Die Frau Ohne Schatten” (‘The Woman Who Cast No Shadow’) and which premiered in 1919, Strauss included a glass harp as by then modified into a ‘glass harmonica’.

glassharmonica

[Glass Harmonica, early 20th Century]

So, why am I so crystal clear about my love for these ancient yet enchanting sounds?

Try Johann Sebastian Bach’s ‘Toccata and Fugue in D minor’, BWV 565

Or, for an astonishing combination of playing several individual parts, and then re-mixing these for a positively near-unworldly sensation, I’ve never been more moved by Johann Pachelbel’s redemptive ‘Canon in D’ than as you will hear it, here:

Now, go into the kitchen and break a few cheap glasses trying all this out.

No, far better, fill your glass with a nice Champagne or one of the Gruet Winery’s sparkling wines and experience the redemption Johann Pachelbel had in mind and intended for all mankind a mere 300 years ago!

May “Lift a glass” never mean the same, ever again!  Cheers!

—###—

Hat-Tips:

 Maestro Dmitri Horovstovsky

Website: http://hvorostovsky.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Hvorostovsky

Twitter: @Hvorostovsky

YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/HvorostovskyTV

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/hvorostovsky/

Maestro Robert Tiso’s details are here:

Website: http://www.roberttiso.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/cristallofonia/?fref=ts

Twitter: @roberttiso

Maestro Tiso’s latest album “Crystal Harmony” may be downloaded or purchased as a CD, here: http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/roberttiso4

Glass Duo

http://glassduo.com/en/glass-harp/history-of-the-glass-harp

https://www.facebook.com/GlassHarp.GlassDuo/

Also, credits to:

http://www.musicacademyonline.com/composer/biographies.php?bid=105

Wishes for the End Before A Beginning

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I’d like to take a poll, please, amongst others of you, Dear Readers, who have already long since reached this stage of life.

I refer to what I’ll call ‘Impending Grandfatherhood’.  Personally, I find that this gate through which I am due to pass makes me worry, and not merely about the health and future of our Little Bundle, but also, of lots and lots of other little bundles out there, and all around the world, and in all sorts of locales.

Indeed, for only a fleeting moment when, mere weeks ago, the American President ordered his minions to make a $400-Million Dollar ($400,000,000, or, €358,802,000, £300,135,000, or over ¥41.4 Billion) cash offering in material support to what one assumed would be towards Islamic terrorism, I wondered if any of this vast sum might actually ‘trickle down’ to those most needy.

We recall that the U.S. secretly flew that $400 million worth of currencies stashed inside wooden pallets which were stuffed with nary a single Dollar.

IranPalletOfCashSentToIranRather, this bootle was in Euros, Swiss Francs and other foreign currencies and arrived in Tehran on January 17.

That same day, four US citizens were magically released in exchange for seven Iranians held in the United States. “Nothing to do with the money!” minions tried to assure us all.

Good news for these men and their families, assuredly.  But what the Hell else is going on out there?, I wondered.

And then, I ran across this.

“I wish my mother had killed me in her womb….”

IranianBabyNewbornLyingInRags

Iranian Baby Lying in Rags

A report from the sale of unborn babies in Iran

What follows in this report is not just a commentary of an unpleasant event.

This is a report of a revolving, horrendous and tragic fact of life under the mullahs’ regime in Iran.

The fact that there are babies in Iran who have been sold even before they are born.

This is the story of Iran under the mullahs; sale of unborn or newly born babies…

Clipped from the News:

– Mahmoudreza M., admitted that he had bought nine baby boys and sold them each for 9 million tumans (about $2,500 each);

– L. was arrested with charges of trading babies;

– Amerik was arrested with related charges;

– A physician admitted to the sale of eight (8) newborn babies;

– A nurse admitted to the sale of 25 newborn babies;

– Destruction of a gang selling babies in Arak, in Isfahan, in Shiraz, Tehran…;

– A woman who had sold her own baby for 210,000 tumans (less than $100), is now trading babies for hospitals with a price range of 2-3 million tumans each (~$1000);

– Only in Isfahan 145 newborns have been sold for a total price of 5 billion tumans ($5,000,000).

Women are the most vulnerable social group in Iran and have naturally become the main selling point for babies. The trade starts with someone announcing the sale, and then the buyers will start with their offers.

Sales people:

– My husband left me when he found out I was pregnant. I had to sell my baby;

– I was a drug addict. I did not have the money to even buy the drugs. If I kept the baby, s/he would have been even worse than me. Wherever my child is now, it is surely a happier place;

– My husband was arrested when I was pregnant. I had to work to barely feed myself and my children. I had to sell this one;

– I was pregnant. When my husband was arrested, I had to sell the baby to pay the blood money and free my husband. If my husband is freed, and I can get some money, I will buy my baby back;

– I don’t know who the father of my child is. I sold my child to an unfertile couple;

– I traded my child before giving birth, to make the separation process easier;

– I cannot pay for my husband’s drugs. How could I feed my child?

– My husband and I are both jobless. We could not raise our child because we are too poor;

– I was married by force and got pregnant;

– I live in a cardboard box and had no space for a child.

Last year 780 addicted women died on the streets.

What would have happened to their babies if they were pregnant?  Such a wide source of supply will have a proportionate demand.

Not all the babies are adopted by infertile couples.

Those who are not bought or adopted by barren couples often have a dreadful fate.

Most of these babies are HIV positive before they are born.

Many are born prematurely or very weak or with disabilities, as a result of the physical conditions of their parents.

Most of these babies are sold to become the future beggars. Some of these children are deliberately blinded or disabled by gang members, to make them look more miserable when begging. [Emphasis mine].

Some of these babies become victims of those who trade human body parts.

Therefore many of the babies do not survive these initial abuses and lose their lives.

As if one can read in the eyes of such babies: “I wish my mother would have killed me in her womb”…

The solution to this catastrophic problem is neither boycotting the beggars with children, nor arresting them. The problem needs to be evaluated at its source and the supply chain, which is the socio-economic conditions of the families and the impossible, hopeless conditions created for women under the mullahs’ regime.

Note the following pieces of news:

In a hospital in Yaftabad, Tehran, a mother gave birth to twins, but was unable to pay the hospital bill.  The nurses took one of the twins hostage for 27 days to force the mother pay the bill in full.  The mother had paid 1.7 million tumans (about $500), but the hospital demanded $2,000 because she had twins.

The mother had to sell all her possessions to be able to release her other child. What would the mother do if she did not have the money? She could be a supplier.

A nurse mentioned that in some hospitals, there are middle men who pay the hospital bill as the first installment for the child.  He could be the market or the demand. According to the same nurse, very young mothers sell their children after getting an offer during their last days of pregnancy.

The root of the problem lies in the deliberate and purposeful mistreatment of women.

The corrupt Iranian welfare and social security system has no protective plan for the homeless or widowed women.

Tragically, in the Islamic Republic of Iran selling babies has become a way of providing for basic daily needs. The unprotected women sell their children as the last resort to find some income to feed other members of their families or simply hoping their newborn can have a better life than what they do.

When a woman is abandoned by her husband, she has no help from the government. Similarly, widows are not protected, nor women who are the caregivers or breadwinners of the family.

Many of homeless women have higher education but cannot find a job. Yet, they have no help from the government.

The Iranian government gathers its forces and organizes attacks on women to correct the way they dress or look, but does not spend the people’s money on the welfare of women and children.

The oppressive Iranian government is fully aware of the potential power of women in the society, and therefore tries to evade that threat by oppressing women in any possible way. [Emphasis mine]

The ray of hope for these subjugated women shines from the lines of the Iranian Resistance that is being powered and led by women for many years.  The fact that women can function, lead, organize and fight against the misogynist mullahs, empowers Iranian women and gives them hope for a brighter future.

But, can there be hope for a new day, when all the newborns in Iran would open their eyes to a promising, bright and shiny prospect?

This perhaps remote possibility reminds me of the poem, ‘Cradle Hymn’, by the 18th Century English poet, Isaac Watts, and now very recently set to ethereally beautiful music by the very young, relatively new on the scene Norwegian composer, Mr. Kim André Arnesen:

 

 

Hush my babe lie still and slumber

Holy angels guard thy bed

Heavenly blessings without number

Gently falling on thy head.

Sleep my babe, thy food and raiment

House and home thy friends provide

All without thy care and payment

All thy wants are well supplied.

Soft and easy is thy cradle

Coarse and hard thy Saviour lay

When his birthplace was a stable

And his softest bed was hay.

Lo he slumbered in his manger

Where the horned oxen fed

Peace, my darling, here’s no danger

Here’s no ox a-near thy bed.

Hush my babe lie still and slumber

Holy angels guard thy bed

Heavenly blessings without number

Gently falling on thy head.

Alas, for all these children in Iran, a place where we now know that nurses, of all people, take newborns for ransom, Serenity, Sanity and Humanity are towns yet to be even conceived much less to be built, or, possibly. to be one day discovered in the Islamic Peoples Republic of Iran (sic).

—–###—-

H/T:

National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI)Women’s Committee

http://women.ncr-iran.org/index.php/articles/2297-i-wish-my-mother-had-killed-me-in-her-womb

The fine, indeed brave ladies of the NCRI can be reached at their website:

http://www.women.ncr-iran.org/, also by

Twitter: @NCRI_Women_Comm,

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/NCRI-Womens-Committee/327704034026923

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/NCRIWomen

Kim André Arnesen, Composer

Website: http://www.kimarnesen.com

Facebook: http://www.kimarnesen.com/cradle-hymn-satb

Twitter: @KimArnesen

The work you heard was commissioned by The Nidaros Cathedral Girl´s Choir and conductor Anita Brevik, Trondheim, Norway, and premiered in Nidaros Cathedral on December 28, 2010.

 

 

 

 

 

 

BEWITCHED BY YOU SO

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Those who have previously read my thoughts before know that there truly seems to be a soundtrack to my life.

Per the USA “Billboard Hot 100” for the 17th July 1971, the Number One singer in the USA was Carole King. She had a double-sided hit. (Remember 45 RPM records? No, or never even seen one?)

On the lesser side was, “It’s Too Late”, with gloomy lyrics certainly not celebratory in any way.

However, on the flip side, and considering that this day was Our Wedding Day, the rather more  more ‘appropriate’ recollection is, “I Feel the Earth Move!

I feel the earth move under my feet
I feel the sky tumbling down
I feel my heart start to trembling
Whenever you’re around

Ooh, baby, when I see your face
Mellow as the month of May
Oh, darling, I can’t stand it
When you look at me that way

I feel the earth move under my feet
I feel the sky tumbling down
I feel my heart start to trembling
Whenever you’re around

Ooo, darling, when you’re near me
And you tenderly call my name
I know that my emotions
Are something I just can’t tame
I’ve just got to have you, baby, uh huh huh uh huh huh yeah

I feel the earth move under my feet
I feel the sky tumbling down, a’tumbling down
I feel the earth move under my feet
I feel the sky tumbling down, a’tumbling down
I just lose control
Down to my very soul
I get hot and cold, all over, all over, all over, all over
I feel the earth move under my feet
I feel the sky tumbling down, a’tumbling down
I feel the earth move under my feet
I feel the sky tumbling down, a’tumbling down,
A’tumbling down, a’tumbling down, a’tumbling down, a’tumbling down, tumbling down!

Well, we were all a bit younger then!

Those who have been married a while, or have parents or relatives or friends who have know that some times are simply to be endured.

Perhaps when times are rough, or when someone else you know has suffered a hardship, or an all-too-lengthy time away from one another, or a severe illness, or, on the opposite side, indeed, a delightful chat, a relaxing or inspiring trip, or even a close call, maybe that’s the day(s) when you say to yourself and to your partner: God only knows what I’d do without you!

Oddly enough, that phrase became another favorite musical moment between the two of us.

If you’re old enough to remember the name Claudine Longet, a very French chanteuse and for 14 years, wife of the late crooner, Andy Williams, you’ve likely shared this memory with us, and perhaps from the same recording we still have.

I may not always love you
But long as there are stars above you
You never need to doubt it
I’ll make you so sure about it

God only knows what I’d be without you

If you should ever leave me
Though life would still go on believe me
The world could show nothing to me
So what good would living do me

God only knows what I’d be without you
God only knows what I’d be without you

If you should ever leave me
Well life would still go on believe me
The world could show nothing to me
So what good would living do me

God only knows what I’d be without you
God only knows what I’d be without you
God only knows
[ x6 ]

From our younger days, and until today, the music of the late American crooner, John Gary, has always been for quiet, late nights at home.

If ever I would leave you, it wouldn’t be in summer
Seeing you in summer, I never would go
Your hair streaked with sunlight, your lips red as flame
Your face with a luster that puts gold to shame

But if I’d ever leave you, it couldn’t be in autumn
How I’d leave in autumn, I never will know
I’ve seen how you sparkle when fall nips the air
I know you in autumn and I must be there

And could I leave you running merrily through the snow
Or on a wintry evening when you catch the fire’s glow

If ever I would leave you, how could it be in springtime
Knowing how in spring I’m bewitched by you so
Oh, no, not in springtime, summer, winter, or fall
No never could I leave you at all!

Truer words were never written, spoken, or sung!

So, My Lovely, here’s to our next 45 years!

OlderCoupleHandInHandFocusonHands

Our favorite Gruet bubbly’s in the fridge.  Time for a toast!

Now, for that Anniversary Waltz around the kitchen!

Join us, please, Dear Readers!

To us, to you and your next anniversary, L’Chaim! To Life!

—###—-

Hat-Tips

Carole King

Website: http://www.caroleking.com/

Twitter: @Carole_King

Facebook: Carole King

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/TheCaroleKing

Mrs. Claudine Longet Austin lives a very private life with her husband in Aspen, Colorado.

 

 

 

 

Sacred Sacrifice, Shared in Blood

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Monday, 30th May, is Memorial Day in America.

This is the one day of the year when the battle-injured and The Fallen, from all and whatever the conflict, are honored, not only by the Great and the Good, but also, and more importantly, those genuine, decent, patriotic families Who Will Remember Them.

In the past half century, wars have indeed become both more ‘amorphous’, so to speak, and literally, more insane.

Women who encourage, indeed, strap suicide belts onto the very youngsters to whom they personally gave birth, say, eight or nine years earlier, ululate, scream Allahu Akbar (God is Great), and send these wee ones to their absurdly early, to say nothing about wholly “unnecessary” deaths!

In other words, the enemy not only attacks from anywhere and everywhere, but in ways most shockingly barbaric, or to the psyche of those reared in the broad ethos and longstanding Christian and Jewish faiths of Europe, North America, and other civilized lands.

Indeed, when it comes to jihadis and kindred islamists, they attack from any and every direction, against men, women and even babes-in-arms, and regardless whether one is in any sort of military uniform of not.

These cretins target total Innocents: women, children, grandparents; the most hale and hearty as well as the very weakest amongst us, the wee child to the most elderly.

‘Leaders’ (sic), especially those who have themselves have never worn the uniform of their Nation’s armed forces, refuse to accept that self-declared enemies are just that.

As a result, they simply refuse to acknowledge the plain-as-a-pikestaff lethal threats.

Will such ‘leaders’ move, swiftly, and with unrelenting lethal force to destroy those who would murder Innocents?

Staggeringly, no.  Never.

A few months ago, groups of men, by the dozens, were rounded up by jihadists, caged, and using some combustible liquid, were simply set alight, en masse.

One such unfortunate man happened to be a member of the Jordanian Army.

Jordan’s King, His Majesty Abdullah II, born of an English mother, educated in English schools including Sandhurst (near enough, Britain’s West Point) and a former Captain  in the Blues and Royals of the British Army, reacted precisely as a real leader might.

KingAbdullahIIOfJordanInBattleFatiques[HM King Abdullah II of Jordan]

A skilled-fighter pilot, with wholly-justified almost paternal rage, His Majesty personally led sorties which smashed into the tiniest of fragments those ISIS attackers responsible for the outrage.

Days ago, many more dozens men under ISIS control were tied up and individually dipped into vats of acid; thus a new war crime: Death by Dissolving.

Indeed, many may never before have read or otherwise heard about this latter outrageous act.

Nonetheless, most but especially western Nations’peoples, if not their individual “leaders” (sic) or governments, understand the real meaning of existential threats.

In this perhaps generations-long battle to ensure that all our children and grandchildren live in a better world than we ourselves inherited, the brutally sad fact is that some gave some, some gave all.

WomanLyingProneOnSoldierFianceGraveArlington

[Memorial Day At Arlington – Mary McHugh mourns her slain fiance Sgt. James Regan at the Arlington National Cemetery May 27, 2006, Memorial Day weekend. Regan, a U.S. Army Ranger from Long Island, was killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq in February, and this was the first time McHugh had visited the grave since the funeral. When he died, Regan was on his fourth combat deployment – twice in Afghanistan and twice in Iraq.]

I knew a man, called him Sandy Kane
Few folks even knew his name
But a hero, yes, was he
Left a boy, came back a man

Still many just don’t understand
About the reasons that we are free

I can’t forget the look in his eyes
Or the tears he cries
As he said these words to me

“All gave some and some gave all
And some stood through for the red, white and blue
And some had to fall
And if you ever think of me
Think of all your liberties and recall
Some gave all”

Sandy Kane is no longer here
But his words are oh so clear
As they echo throughout our land
For all his friends who gave us all
Who stood the ground and took the fall
To help their fellow men

Love your country and live with pride
And don’t forget those who died
America can’t you see?

All gave some and some gave all
And some stood through for the Red, white and blue
And some had to fall
And if you ever think of me
Think of all your liberties and recall
Some gave all

And if you ever think of me
Think of all your liberties and recall, yes recall
Some gave all
Some gave all

To those men and women who can hear or read these words today, may I say we are debtors to those who fell, or those who came home as only a fragment of the man or woman who left all that was sane and comfortable for Duty, Honor and Country.

To the families of The Fallen, may your loved ones Rest in Eternal Peace.

BoyAtDadsFuneralGrettingFlagI want my Daddy, Sir, not this flag”            [Nikolous Poulin, 5, with his aunt, Jennifer, holding flag covering his father’s coffin.  National Guard Specialist Dennis Poulin died in Germany of wounds suffered in Afghanistan. RIP]

Quite how the children of these families cope is an ever-expanding dimension of explaining The Unexplainable, and certainly to those who innocence we cherish, for their sakes, but which has been shattered in ways no child can ever even hope to comprehend.

To the rest of us, may we forever honor both The Fallen and their grieving families, and knowing their pain will never completely end.

—###—

H/T:

Mr. Billy Ray Cyrus  Website:   http://www.billyraycyrus.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BillyRayCyrus

YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/bluecadillacmusic

Twitter: @billyraycyrus

 

 

 

Loving Angel, Tender, Tough & Strong

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Today is Mother’s Day in America or, the equivalent to me of the always more expressive ‘Mothering Sunday’,  in Britain and The Commonwealth.

Legend has it that Mother’s Day celebrations can be dated back to ancient Greece and Springtime celebrations to honor Rhea, the Mother of the Gods, who herself was the daughter of Uranus and Gaia.

Not only was Rhea was the Mother of the Gods, she was also a goddess of female fertility, motherhood, and generation.

Rhea means “flow” and “ease.” As the wife of Kronos (‘Time’), and as Queen of Heaven, she represented the eternal flow of time and generations.  As the great Mother (‘Meter Megale’), the “flow” was menstrual blood, birth waters, and milk.

She was also a goddess of comfort and ease, a blessing reflected in the common Homeric phrase “the gods who live at their ease (rhea).”

When Rhea’s husband, Titan,  heard a prophecy that he would be deposed by one of his children, he took to swallowing each of them…just as soon as they were born!

Clever as a proverbial fox, Rhea bore her youngest, Zeus, in secret, and hid him away in a cave in Crete.

In Zeus’ stead, she presented Kronos with a stone.. wrapped in swaddling clothes… and which he promptly devoured!  Linger on that thought for a moment!

From that must come the fallacy that the steaks which Dads attempt to try to fix as a fancy lunch for the mothers in their lives turn out rock hard?

Nah, I just made that up.

In the Far More Sane department, would you find it odd that Edgar Allen Poe,  in his short, tragic life, who wrote some truly dirge-like, indeed dark, frightening poems (especially ‘The Raven’) also had a very soft spot?

Edgar_Allen_Poe_1898

[Edgar Allen Poe, 1809-1849]

His Poem, “Sonnet – To My Mother” sums it all up:

Because I feel that, in the heavens above,

The angels, whispering to one another,

Can find, among their burning terms of love,

None so devotional as that of ‘mother’ —

Therefore by that sweet name I long have called you —

You, who are more than mother unto me,

And fill my heart of hearts, where Death installed you,

In setting my Virginia’s spirit free.

My mother — my own mother — who died early —

Was but the mother of myself; but you

Are mother to the one I loved so dearly,

And thus are dearer than the mother I knew;

By that infinity with which my wife

Was dearer to my soul than its soul-life.

As one can immediately see, since his own mother was by this time deceased, Poe was actually honoring and addressing his Mother-in-Law and aunt, Maria Clemm.

All this adds to enhancing the curiosities of Life, and how a wee baby must struggle to take in a new, almost wholly incomprehensible world.

BabyJapanese

A far more modern, perhaps even more touching poem, “Mom”, is written and set to music, here:

Little baby told God, hey I’m kind of scared.
Don’t really know if I want to go down there.
From here it looks like a little blue ball
That’s a great big place and I’m so small.

Why can’t I just, stay here with you?
Did I make you mad, don’t you want me too?
God said oh child, of course I do
But there’s somebody special waiting for you

So hush now baby, don’t you cry
‘Cause there’s someone down there waiting whose only goal in life
Is making sure you’re always gonna be alright
A loving angel tender, tough and strong
It’s almost time to go and meet your mom.

You’ll never have a better friend
Or a warmer touch to tuck you in
She’ll kiss your bruises, your bumps and scrapes
And anytime you hurt
Her heart’s gonna break

So hush now baby, don’t you cry
‘Cause there’s someone down there waiting whose only goal in life
Is making sure you’re always gonna be alright
A loving angel tender, tough and strong
It’s almost time to go and meet your mom.

And when she’s talking to you make sure you listen close
‘Cause she’s gonna teach you everything you’ll ever need to know
Like how to mind your manners, to love and laugh and dream
She’ll put you on the path that bring you back to me

So, hush now little baby, don’t you cry
‘Cause there’s someone down there waiting whose only goal in life
Is making sure you’re always gonna be alright
A loving angel tender, tough and strong
Come on child it’s time, to meet your mom

How about that line, “Loving angel, tender, tough and strong…

Mother-and-LaughingBlueEyedBaby

To all you ladies who are The Givers of Life, have been or will be a mother by natural means or who have adopted a child, speaking for us male ‘bystanders’, you are or were the Centers of Our Universe.

And, so says every one!

Happy Mothers’ Day!

—-###—

Hat-Tips:

MomSongwriters
Wynn Varble and Don Sampson

The Gentlemen of the a capella group “Home Free”                                                         Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/homefreevocalb0and
Twitter & Instagram: @homefreeguys

Edgar Allen Poe Society of Baltimore                                                                                       Website: http://www.eapoe.org/

Twitter: @EdgarAllanPoe

 

 

In a Flash, Life!

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America’s first President, General George Washington, remarked that all men must “Labor to keep alive in our breast that little spark of celestial fire we call Conscience.”

But there are other celestial fires that spark and burn deep in our souls.

The late funnyman who, as we found out, was near enough a manic-depressive, Robin Williams, remarked that “we’re only given that little spark of madness, and that we mustn’t lose it”.

I’ve always preferred to believe in the adage I’d heard since childhood that a ‘spark of kindness can start a fire of love’.

‘Fires of love’: What an apt description for the burning desire that a man finds overtaking all his senses when, finally, he meets The One, the most wonderful woman on the planet, and he will give his all to woo and win her.

Who knew that passions really do ‘spark’, and at a level which is, after all, truly what the most-lasting love is all about?

 Bright Flash of Light Marks Incredible Moment Life Begins When Sperm Meets Egg

Human life begins in bright flash of light as a sperm meets an egg, scientists have shown for the first time, after capturing the astonishing ‘fireworks’ on film.

An explosion of tiny sparks erupts from the egg at the exact moment of conception.

Scientists had seen the phenomenon occur in other animals but it is the first time is has been also shown to happen in humans.

“To see the zinc radiate out in a burst from each human egg was breathtaking.”, said Professor Teresa Woodruff, Northwestern University

Not only is it an incredible spectacle, highlighting the very moment that a new life begins, the size of the flash can be used to determine the quality of the fertilised egg.

 Conception1Northwestern

[Researchers from Northwestern University, in Chicago, noticed that some of the eggs burn brighter than others, showing that they are more likely to produce a healthy baby.]

Conception2Northwestern [Eggs flash as they meet sperm enzyme, capturing the moment that life begins] Credit: NORTHWESTERN UNIVERSITY]

The discovery could help fertility doctors pick the best fertilised eggs to transfer during in vitro fertilisation (IVF).

“It was remarkable,” said Professor Teresa Woodruff, one of the study’s two senior authors and an expert in ovarian biology at Northwestern.

“We discovered the zinc spark just five years ago in the mouse, and to see the zinc radiate out in a burst from each human egg was breathtaking.

“This means if you can look at the zinc spark at the time of fertilization, you will know immediately which eggs are the good ones to transfer in in vitro fertilization.

“It’s a way of sorting egg quality in a way we’ve never been able to assess before. “All of biology starts at the time of fertilization, yet we know next to nothing about the events that occur in the human.”

Currently around 50 per cent of fertilised eggs do not develop properly and experts believe that faulty genetic code could be responsible.

Some clinics take videos of the egg developing to try pick up problems early, while others check for genetic mutations, but that is an invasive procedure which can damage the tiny egg. Often it is just down to a clinician decided which eggs look the healthiest.

But the new findings could give and extra indication that an egg is flourishing. A video of nine human eggs coming into contact with sperm enzyme showed two flashed much brighter than the rest.

“This is an important discovery because it may give us a non-invasive and easily visible way to assess the health of an egg and eventually an embryo before implantation,” said co-author Dr Eve Feinberg, who took care of the patients who provided eggs for the basic science study and collaborated with the research team.

“There are no tools currently available that tell us if it’s a good quality egg. Often we don’t know whether the egg or embryo is truly viable until we see if a pregnancy ensues.

“That’s the reason this is so transformative. If we have the ability up front to see what is a good egg and what’s not, it will help us know which embryo to transfer, avoid a lot of heartache and achieve pregnancy much more quickly.”

[The top right and bottom left egg flashed brighter showing they were healthier  Credit: Northwestern University]

The bright flash occurs because when sperm enters and egg it triggers calcium to increase which releases zinc from the egg. As the zinc shoots out, it binds to small molecules which emit a fluorescence which can be picked up my camera microscopes.

Over the last six years this team has shown that zinc controls the decision to grow and change into a completely new genetic organism.

In the experiment, scientists use sperm enzyme rather than actual sperm to show what happens at the moment of conception.

“These fluorescence microscopy studies establish that the zinc spark occurs in human egg biology, and that can be observed outside of the cell,” said Professor Tom O’Halloran, a co-senior author.

For a peek at the flash itself, click here and see the wonder!

In a companion paper published in Scientific Reports on March 18, a zinc spark is shown at the precise time a sperm enters a mouse egg.

This discovery was made by Zhang, a postdoctoral fellow at Northwestern.  Little is known about the events that occur at the time of fertilization, because it is difficult to capture the precise time of sperm entry.

The study will be published April 26 in “Scientific Reports.” [End Quote]

As at least some of you regular readers know, my life runs on soundtracks which seem to be produced from somewhere deep in my soul and which ‘sync’ with what’s going on around me.

Reading this ‘sparked’ thoughts about the majesty of Life, the crescendo of a loving relationship between a husband and wife which creates their flesh realized as the gift of a child.

Amongst music’s best of the steadily, passionately building crescendo which takes Life to another level of glorious explosion is the late French composer Camille Saint-Saens’ Symphony Number 3.

Commonly known as the ‘Organ Symphony‘, SaintSaens himself admitted that the Symphony No. 3 was his greatest work. It was his last attempt at the symphonic form, and the composer claimed that he gave he gave everything he was able to give to this masterful piece.

Even that ‘fits’, so to speak, with the anatomical discussion above.

Here’s to Love!

Here’s to Life!

Here’s to New Life and Lives to come!

—###—

Dedication:

This column is dedicated to one very special couple and to all parents-to-be & grandparents-to-be everywhere!

Hat-Tips:

The Daily Telegraph (London) http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/2016/04/26/bright-flash-of-light-marks-incredible-moment-life-begins-when-s/

Professor Teresa Woodruff, Ph.D., Website: http://www.woodrufflab.org, Twitter: @teresakwoodruff

Professor Thomas V. O’Halloran, Ph.D. Website: http://www.chemistry.northwestern.edu/people/core-faculty/profiles/thomas-ohalloran.html

Dr. Eve C. Feinberg   Website: https://fcionline.com/our-center/meet-our-doctors/dr-eve-c-feinberg/

 Orchestre National de Lille   Website: http://www.onlille.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/orchestrenationallille

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/ONLille

Twitter:  @onlille

 

 

 

 

The Desert School of Frozen Minds

Another Golda Meir…for the Arab World?

SaudiTVNewsreaderNadineAlBudair

An Enlightened, perhaps even titanic mind, lovely face, rather pained eyes, plain-spoken delivery of harsh truths?

Sometimes surprises come from the most unexpected people or places, and which makes the surprise even more jarring, even mind-bending.

On previous occasions, together we’ve shared stories of people who are beyond merely ‘remarkable’.

Indeed, sometimes it is because of the location where events occur and how people react to those events, usually dire or outrageous events, that certain people find their inner courage and stand-up and stand out.

When certain circumstances dictate, indeed require one’s taking a stand, it is at those times when individual bravery, gutsiness, or sheer gall often come to the fore.

Typically, such occurs against the backdrop of the drab, when the omnipresent Official Great Silence acts as morphine to the minds of most.

There is, apparently, something about some Saudi ladies, never the men, or so it seems, but the gals, which prompts them to speak out, most articulately, forcefully, bluntly.

When they do, it seems to oftentimes be what, at least in the non-muslim world, registers as total good sense, finally!

As you will see, it’s happened, again.

[Please click on the link, here, to play video:] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ceGqB4raTZo

SaudiTVCommentatorNadineAlBudair LARGE format

Saudi TV Host Nadine Al-Budair Takes to Task Apologists Who Claim Terrorists Have Nothing to Do with Islam and the Muslims: They Emerged from Our Schools and Universities

Saudi journalist and TV host Nadine Al-Budair recently criticized the “hypocrites” who say that the terrorists “do not represent Islam or the Muslims.”

“After the abominable Brussels bombings, it’s time for us to feel shame and to stop acting as if the terrorists are a rarity,” she said, in an address that aired on the Saudi Rotana Khalijiyah TV* on April 3. “Why do we shed our own conscience?” she asked. “Don’t these perpetrators emerge from our environment?”

Following are excerpts:

Nadine Al-Budair: Whenever terrorism massacres peaceful civilians, the smart alecks and the hypocrites vie with one another in saying that these people do not represent Islam or the Muslims. Perhaps one of them could tell us who does represent Islam and the Muslims.

We witness people competing in an attempt to be the first to prove that everything that is happening has nothing to do with the Muslims, and that the terrorists are highway robbers and homeless alcoholics and drug addicts. We all know that the number of the homeless in Europe is very high. They sleep in the streets and beg for alms, and some of them are alcoholics or drug addicts, but we do not expect these addicts or criminals to even consider coming here and blowing up a mosque or a street in our city. It is we who blow ourselves up. It is we who blow up others.

Why do we shed our own conscience? Why do the sheikhs, the pundits, the journalists, and all the Arab officials insist upon [not] using their conscience when they point to the perpetrators?  Don’t these perpetrators emerge from our environment? Don’t their families belong to our society?  Didn’t anyone you know – someone from your city, a neighbor, someone from your street, a relative, a nephew, a grandson, a father, or a mother – go to Syria or Iraq to wage Jihad?

After the abominable Brussels bombings, it’s time for us to feel shame and to stop acting as if the terrorists are a rarity.

We must admit that they are present everywhere, that their nationality is Arab, and that they adhere to the religion of Islam. We must acknowledge that we are the ones who gave birth to them, and who have made them memorize the teachings of all the Salafi books. We must admit that it is the schools and universities that we established that told them the others are infidels.

We must admit that we all – our different sects and faiths, the Sunnis and the Shia – adhere to one school and one school only: the “freezing of the mind” school. Don’t ask! Don’t think! Don’t resist orders! Welcome to the Arab Mashriq*.

We should acknowledge that it is our religious upbringing that has driven these youth away from the Quran, and has drawn them closer to its interpreters, to the point that a Muslim now has 1,000 holy books, from which he draws fatwas and information, whereas the Quran has been made intellectually inaccessible.

What makes us laugh and cry at the same time is that the people who spilled the blood walk at the dead man’s funeral and cry. The people who encouraged the terrorists, invented fatwas for them, and called to support their false rights in Syria, in Afghanistan, in Pakistan, in the Philippines, in Morocco, in America, in Egypt, in Saudi Arabia, in Lebanon, in Africa – and the list is endless, with the last incident taking place in Europe…

Now the old supporters (of terrorism) have the audacity to declare that they denounce bombings everywhere, and that the killing of civilians constitutes an attack on the religion. Where are the sheikhs of yesterday? Why don’t they have the courage to declare that they are the ones who said that Jihad is obligatory, and who legalized political wars, using futile and disgraceful exegeses, which permit killing, enslavement, and destruction?   […]

Consider this spunky lady’s poise, her direct, comprehensible remarks as she speaks, clearly with passion and from the heart to her viewers.

Indeed, she has spoken out about her people in the past.

Writing in her column for Al Rai, a Kuwaiti newspaper, she criticised the Muslim people over their attempts to blame the Western world for their problems. She wrote: “It is strange that we condemn instead of apologising to the world.

ISISFlagCarriedByFighterBackToCamera - large    Nadine says terrorists are ‘no longer a rarity’

“It is strange that we condemn instead of addressing what is happening in our midst.”

Even with all that spunk, consider that the minute she sticks her nose outside the Saudi studio building’s doors, unless she is in full hijab, covered head to toe in black robes most akin to a bin bag, and with only a slit for her eyes to be able to scan where she goes, she faces both a whipping, on the spot, and a fine, and perhaps even arrest by the Saudi ‘morality police’.

So, back out into the desert heat, and again into the world of frozen, suspicious minds.

[Please click on the link, here, to play video:] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wb0Jmy-JYbA&nohtml5=False

We’re caught in a trap
I can’t walk out
Because I love you too much baby

Why can’t you see
What you’re doing to me
When you don’t believe a word I say?

We can’t go on together
With suspicious minds (suspicious minds)
And we can’t build our dreams
On suspicious minds

So, if an old friend I know
Stops by to say hello
Would I still see suspicion in your eyes?

Here we go again
Asking where I’ve been
You can’t see these tears are real
I’m crying (Yes I’m crying)

We can’t go on together
With suspicious minds (suspicious minds)
And we can’t build our dreams
On suspicious minds

Oh let our love survive
Or dry the tears from your eyes
Let’s don’t let a good thing die
Oh honey, you know
I’ve never lied to you
Mmm yeah, yeah

We’re caught in a trap
I can’t walk out
Because I love you too much baby

Why can’t you see
What you’re doing to me
When you don’t believe a word I say?

Don’t you know I’m caught in a trap
I can’t walk out
Because I love you too much baby

Don’t you know I’m caught in a trap
I can’t walk out
Because I love you too much baby

Don’t you know I’m caught in a trap
I can’t walk out
Because I love you too much baby

Don’t you know I’m caught in a trap
I can’t walk out
Because I love you too much baby

Don’t you know I’m caught in a trap
I can’t walk out
Because I love you too much baby

Don’t you know I’m caught in a trap
I can’t walk out
Because I love you too much baby

—###—

*[Ed. Notes: (1) “Mashriq” is the region of Arab countries to the east of Egypt. This comprises the countries of Lebanon, Jordan, Syria and Iraq. Since Israel is not formally recognized by the Saudis, amongst others, they use the word ‘Palestine’.]

(2) Rotana Khalijia Televison, based in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, was originally launched as a musical channel broadcasting mainly music from the Persian Gulf region. Later on, it became a general viewing channel airing films, television series and lifestyle programming.  This is but one part of the Rotana Group, owned by Saudi billionaire Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal.]

For another story of what is perhaps an even more blunt, spunky, beautiful, plain-spoken Arab lady Shams Bandar, whose ultimate boss is also Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal, see, https://scottbrownscerebralcaffeine.wordpress.com/2016/02/06/trillions-fears-shams/

Hat-Tips

The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) http://www.memritv.org/clip_transcript/en/5436.htm

Website: www.memri.org

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Middle-East-Media-Research-Institute-MEMRI/14310874716

Twitter: @MEMRIReports

The Daily Mirror (London) http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/world-news/newsreader-begs-muslims-take-responsibility-7716399

Website: www.mirror.co.uk

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/dailymirror

Twitter: @DailyMirror

Al-Rai Newspaper, part of Al-Rai Media Group, Kuwait City, Kuwait  (all publications in Arabic, only)   http://www.alraimediagroup.com/

 

 

 

 

 

‘Heaven Enters in My Dreams’

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We all know the saying that one’s life changed as a result of a single event.

Very likely, it’s happened to all of us in one way or another.  If not, yet, hang on.  Assuredly, it will happen.

Whether it is wonderful news, or bad news, or just sort of middling news, things just happen.

The news of a few days ago prompted me to think of children, wee babies, babies now in utero indeed, and indeed, frankly, far more seriously than ever I had done before.

Those of you who have previously tried to corral my thoughts know that, let’s just say for some quirky reason, my mind often adds a ‘soundtrack’ to my thoughts or impressions.

Typically, that just happens, spontaneously, like the sunrise and sunset, and without any conscious effort on my part to do so.

In this case, the sweet, no, idyllically sweet, music that forced itself into my mind was itself the story of small innocent children.

As the theme began to trail in my head, I received a one-line email from a colleague in Europe:  “Poland: Redux 1941?” with a weblink.

In other words, this seemed to be an obvious reference to Nazi-controlled, and an almost by then- obliterated Poland.  Here’s the text of that link:

BabyHandHeldByAdult

Poland Considers Banning Abortion After Baby Born Alive Dies Screaming for an Hour by himself;  24-week-old died in agony with no medical care

WARSAW (ChurchMilitant.com) – After a baby in Poland born after two botched abortion attempts was allowed to die after screaming for an hour, a national debate has re-opened over whether abortion should be banned in the country.

Witnesses say an abortion performed March 7 at Holy Family Hospital in Warsaw resulted in the birth of a live 24-week baby, who was left to scream in agony for an hour until he died.

BabyNewbornCrying

Personnel did not help the child in any way.

After the baby survived the administration of abortifacients on Friday, the doctor induced birth on Sunday, leaving the unborn baby on the changing table crying alone. No anesthetics or other care was given to the baby.

Anna Wiejak, the Polish reporter who broke the story and who is a member of the SOS Foundation to Save Unborn Children, told ChurchMilitant.com:

“The scream of this child was so traumatic for the personnel that they declared that they will never forget it.”

One of the medical staff reported the incident to Fr. Ryszard Halwa, a Catholic priest and director of the SOS Foundation. According to Wiejak, the employee desires to remain anonymous because of fears he may lose his job “just like a former director of this hospital, professor Bogdan Chazan, who was fired over a year ago because he refused to abort a baby.”

The SOS Foundation then informed the media and legal authorities about the incident, which has now exploded in international media.

The hospital insists it acted within the law. Spokeswoman Dorota Jaslowska-Niemyska said tests on the patient, who was near the end of her 23rd week of pregnancy, showed the unborn child had Down Syndrome. The spokeswoman claims the dignity of both mother and child were respected. She refused to comment further as to the details of the procedure.

In a statement issued shortly after the event broke in the media, the Polish Bishops Conference condemned the incident, affirming, “We believe that every person, especially one who is completely helpless and dependent on us, should be of particular concern. This is a concrete way of realizing the commandment to love one another.”

And [Archbishop] Henryk Hoser of Warsaw, through his metropolitan Kazimierz Nycz, is considering removing the name “Holy Family” from the hospital. “With great regret I received the information [about the baby],” said Nycz, “which significantly undermines the sense and the right to maintain such patronage” by the hospital.

Poland bans abortions except in the case of rape or where the mother’s life or health is in danger. It also permits abortions in the case of fetal abnormalities only up till the point of fetal viability.

The SOS Foundation along with other pro-lifers in Poland are calling for criminal charges to be brought against the hospital for its failure to save the child’s life. The Polish Doctors Code of Ethics states that an unborn child is a patient deserving of medical care, and the Polish Criminal Code deems a newborn a “child” with legal rights and protections.

The prosecutor’s office has launched an investigation into the hospital to see if proper procedure was followed during and after the abortion. On Friday, the spokesman for the prosecutor’s office, Michael Dziekański, said the investigation would examine whether there was a criminal violation of the law, which requires that medical care be given where “the fetus has become capable of living outside the pregnant woman’s body.” Such a crime would result in up to eight years’ imprisonment for the offender.

Pro-lifers are also holding demonstrations outside the hospital calling for justice and for an end to abortion.

Catholics are hoping the recently installed conservative government will revisit the issue and ban all abortions. Since coming into power last October, the ruling Law and Justice Party has issued reforms more in line with traditional Catholic teaching. Its latest plans involve banning prescription-free morning-after pills as well as in vitro fertilization. Last year, Deputy Prime Minister Jaroslaw Gowin commented that using morning after pills amounts to “express abortion.”

In response to the outrage and after being approached by the SOS Foundation and the Polish Federation of Pro-life Movements, the Polish parliament has agreed to create a special committee to draft a pro-life bill.

According to Wiejack, “The main problem is that the prime minister, Beata Szydło, is going to defend the present law, which is called abortional compromise, but I believe that if we have a chance to speak with Mrs. Szydło, she will change her mind.”

She continued, “Besides, this government really needs the support of the citizens, and over 70 percent of Polish society is pro-life. … [M]ost politicians of the Law and Justice party are pro-life. … [T]hat’s why I think it shouldn’t be a problem to gain the majority to pass the bill prohibiting abortion.”

Abortion was first legalized in Poland in 1932, when it was permitted under limited circumstances. That law was expanded under later Communist rule to allow abortion on demand. After the fall of Communism, abortion was outlawed in 1993, with the three exceptions above remaining.

Poland remains a predominantly Catholic country, with approximately 90 percent of Poles describing themselves as Catholic.

“The impact of this case was unprecedented,” Wiejak told ChurchMilitant.com. “There were even conversions.”

She commented on the meaning of this case for the abortion agenda:

This case has shown something which was covered by silence — I mean the scream of a baby dying in pain because of abortion. Every abortion means pain for the child killed in the womb. … Abortionists really do know what they are doing. They really do know, and they lie in saying that the unborn child is only a bunch of cells, that it doesn’t feel anything. This scream of a baby that we heard in Poland exposed all these lies. People are angry — angry at the medical doctors, angry at the politicians, angry at media because of pro-abortion propaganda, angry at the whole political system. They really do want change. [End Quote]

Now, as I said at the outset, you understand why normally I do not write on such topics.  Today is an exception.

Remember I mentioned that when I first read this, I’d had a musical theme running in my head?

My thoughts were of the German legend of Hansel and Gretel, and one of the sweetest melodies ever penned, or so say I, by the German composer Englebert Humperdinck, for his opera of the same name.

[To avoid any confusion, my thoughts were of the real German-version born in Germany not Arnold Dorsey, a Welshman, born in Wales, and who chose ‘Englebert Humperdinck’ as a stage name for some odd-to-whacko reason and in competition to his fellow Welshman, Tom Jones.]

In the second act of the opera, while out picking berries, Hansel and Gretel find themselves not only lost in the woods, but, worse and far scarier still, as nightfall looms.

“When Hansel calls out, “Who’s there?” only an echo replies.

Gretel thinks she sees ghostly figures coming for them and cries out for her parents. Out of the mist, a little man appears with a sack on his back. It’s the Sandman, and he sprinkles his magic sand on them to help them sleep.

The children say their Evening Prayer (“Now I lay me down to sleep”) and fall into a deep sleep as not merely one, but rather fourteen (14) angels appear to watch over them.

Enjoy this version of ‘Abendsegen’ (‘Evening Prayer’) from “Hänsel & Gretel” sung here by Juliane Banse, soprano as Gretel, & Elisabeth Kulman, mezzo-soprano, as Hansel:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=91h8uxAUOKI&sns=em

[If this fails to play, please click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=91h8uxAUOKI&sns=em]

Abends will ich schlafen gehn,
vierzehn Engel um mich stehn:
zwei zu meinen Häupten,
zwei zu meinen Füßen,
zwei zu meiner Rechten,
zwei zu meiner Linken,
zweie die mich decken,
zweie die mich wecken,
zweie die mich weisen
zu Himmels Paradeisen.

The wonderful English translation, of both first and second verses, is here:

When at night I go to sleep

Fourteen angels watch do keep

Two my head are guarding

Two my feet are guiding

Two are on my right hand

Two are on my left hand

Two who warmly cover

Two who o’er me hover

Two to whom ’tis given

To guide my steps to heaven

 

Sleeping softly, then it seems

Heaven enters in my dreams;

Angels hover round me,

Whisp’ring they have found me;

Two are sweetly singing,

Two are garlands bringing,

Strewing me with roses

As my soul reposes.

God will not forsake me

When dawn at last will wake me.

When at night I go to sleep

Fourteen angels watch do keep

Two my head are guarding

Two my feet are guiding

Two are on my right hand

Two are on my left hand

Two who warmly cover

Two who o’er me hover

Two to whom ’tis given

To guide my steps to heaven

May there have been at least fourteen angels guiding that wee Polish baby boy, who had the temerity to arrive, flawed, as he did, back to Heaven and into the arms of a God who, just perhaps, will not forsake him.

RIP.

—###—

Hat-Tips:

Article by Christine Niles, M.St. (Oxon.), J.D., March 24, 2016; http://www.churchmilitant.com/news/article/abortion-debate-sparked-in-poland-after-baby-born-alive-dies-amidst-agony  Twitter: @ChristineNiles1

The performance of Humperdinck’s “Abendsegen & Traumpantomime” (‘Evening Prayer and Dream Pantomime’) you saw was given as part of the “Festliche Adventsmusik aus Dresden” (“Ceremonial Advents Music Festival from Dresden”), shown on ZDF-2 Television (Zweites Deutches Fernsehen) on 1 December 2012 by the Sächsiche Staatskapelle Dresden in the beautifully restored, utterly divine Frauenkirche (Church of the Our Lady) of Dresden, Germany, under the baton of Maestro Christian Thielemann.

FYI – As of this writing, Maestro Thielemann does not have a website.  When many have asked him why, his reply is classic:  “von Karajan didn’t have one!

Juliane Banse, soprano  Website (English):   http://www.julianebanse.com/index.php/en/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Juliane-Banse-official-site/121254641303115

Twitter: @Enailui1

Elisabeth Kulman, the Viennese mezzo-soprano, contralto
Website (English): http://www.elisabethkulman.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/elisabeth.kulman.fan

Twitter:  @ElisabethKulman

Staatskapelle Dresden, making gorgeous sound and splendor since 1548

http://www.staatskapelle-dresden.de/en/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Staatskapelle-Dresden/100631256653018?v=wall

Twitter: @StaatskapelleDD

Frauenkirche Dresden, constructed during the years 1726-1743, then hugely damaged by bombing in World War II, now beautifully restored

Website:  http://www.frauenkirche-dresden.de/startseite/

Website (English): http://www.frauenkirche-dresden.de/en/home/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/frauenkirche.dresden

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/FrauenkircheDresden

Twitter: @frauenkirche_dd

‘SOS Foundation to Save Unborn Children’ or, in the original Polish language,

‘Fundacja S.O.S. Obrony Poczętego Życia’
nr KRS 0000215438
ul. Nowolipie 9/11, lok. 75
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“This darkness you cannot fight”

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One of the oddities of the life of the late United States Supreme Court jurist,  Mr. Justice Antonin Scalia, a staunch traditionalist , was his love of good music, especially music by sung by great tenors.

ScaliaAntoninSeatedLaughingInRobe

Having, sadly, now left us and gone deeply into “this darkness you cannot fight”, consider this a reflection and bon voyage to a soul most assuredly already ‘Gone Home’.

Night time sharpens
Heightens each sensation
Darkness stirs and wakes
Imagination
Silently the senses
Abandon their defenses

Slowly, gently
Night unfurls it’s splendor
Grasp it, sense it
Tremulous and tender
Turn your face away
From the garish light of day.
Turn your thoughts away
From cold, unfeeling light,
And listen to the music of the night.

Close your eyes
And surrender to your darkest dreams.
Purge your thoughts of the life you knew before.
Close your eyes,
Let your your spirit start to soar.
And you’ll live as you’ve never lived before.

Softly, deftly
Music shall caress you
Hear it, feel it
Secretly possess you
Open up your mind
Let your fantasies unwind
In this darkness that you know you cannot fight
The darkness of the music of the night

Let your mind
Start a journey through a strange new world
Leave all thoughts of the life you knew before
Let your soul take you where you long to be.
Only then can you belong to me

Floating, falling
Sweet intoxication
Touch me, trust me
Savor each sensation
Let the dream begin
Let your darker side give in
To the power of the music that I write
The power of the music of the night

You alone can make my song take flight
Help me make the music of the night

RIP.

ScaliaDiesLadyLibertyKneelsWeeps

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The singer on the clip above was Richard Liszt, yes, a great-great grandson of that other Liszt, Franz.

Mr. Liszt’s Website: https://www.classicalsinger.com/sites/showsite.php?user_id=24479                                                                                                Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/richard.liszt
Twitter: @rliszt

 

 

 

 

 

Trillions, Fears, & ‘Shams’?

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Not so long ago, I found myself explaining the importance of personal monetary management to an audience of younger people and from all sorts of backgrounds.

As an example of how not to manage one’s affairs, naturally, I cited the U.S. federal government’s spending habits.

Like most others, I’d forecast that every man, woman and child in the U.S. would shortly share a portion of a record $20-Trillion debt.

Trillion!‘, you might gasp.  Let’s be clear. One billion is one thousand million. One trillion is one thousand billion.

For some perspective on just how big a trillion Dollars is, consider this:

One trillion Dollars is the number 1 followed by 12 zeroes; or, 1,000,000,000,000.

Or, think of it this way.

One trillion $1.00 bills stacked one on top of the other would reach nearly 68,000 miles (say, 109,400 km) into the sky.  That is about one-third (1/3rd) of the way from the Earth to the moon!

Akin to not being too keen about some neighbor’s sleeping with your wife, finally, at least some Republicans are hardly ‘over the moon‘ about the growing size of the national debt.

Some seven years ago now, my former classmate and now U.S. Senate Republican Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, warned that that Americans have become desensitized to just how much money that is.

“To put a trillion dollars in context, if you spend a million dollars, every day, since Jesus was born, you still wouldn’t have spent a trillion,” McConnell famously said.

CNN checked McConnell’s numbers with noted Temple University math professor and author John Allen Paulos.

“A million dollars a day for 2,000 years is only three-quarters of a trillion dollars. It’s a big number no matter how you slice it,” Paulos said.

Here’s another way to look at it.

“A million seconds is about 11½ days.

“A billion seconds is about 32 years, and a trillion seconds is 32,000 years,” Paulos said.

“People tend to lump them together, perhaps because they rhyme, but if you think of it in terms of a jail sentence, do you want to go to jail for 11½ days or 32 years or maybe 32,000 years?

“So, they’re vastly different, and people generally don’t really have a real visceral grasp of the differences among them.”

By that measure, 20 trillions is 20 times 32,000 years or 640,000 years!

Although, yes, I confess to be the son of frugal parents and grandparents, those are not the only reasons I find myself a spending and deficit hawk.

One frets, mightily, how it will be possible to pay off a staggering $20-Trillion debt.

Granted, the West in general (save now for the EU, given the impending social collapses in several cities, indeed nations) has in the past managed to ‘muddle through’,  although sometimes only after truly horrific interludes, e.g., general strikes, hyperinflation, wars, etc.

With all this rampant gloom, it was a total shocker to see a spirited, impressive defense of the West and Western social mores in particular coming out of, from all places, the Middle East!

Far more staggering even than that is when such praise comes from a native of the region who is herself a mere ‘chattel’;  e.g., the ‘property’ of some man, whether her father or her husband, depending upon her marital status, and all according to the Koran.

The Saudi-born singer Shams Bandar (also known mononymously as “Shams” or “Shams the Kuwaiti“) recently declared that she was renouncing both her Saudi and Kuwaiti nationalities for the sake of European citizenship.

As of this April, the by then 36-year old will still be the Arab world’s goddess of both the ‘Arabpop’ and ‘Khaliji’ musical genres.

In a recent interview with Egypt’s ‘Dream TV’ channel, this thoroughly-Westernised, Western-dressed lady spiritedly defended her decision, and how!

Host: Are you trying to sell the notion that foreign citizenship is the Paradise that will save you from the Hell of the Arab world?

Shams Bandar: Do you want me to be a hypocrite or not?

Host: I want the truth. Is it Paradise?

Shams Bandar: Of course. At this time…

Host: People will accuse you of treason, of collaboration, and the selling out of the Arab cause.

Shams Bandar: I have been accused of that for a long time now. It’s nothing new. Foreign citizenship… It’s not that I’m happy with the way things are, but let’s not deceive ourselves. Why tell ourselves lies?

The Syrians are scattered in the world’s oceans, dying by the millions on a daily basis… Iraqis are dying by the millions… All the Arab countries have closed their borders to them.

What can these wretched people do with their Arab citizenship? How does a suffering Syrian benefit from his Arab citizenship, when his children and family have been killed and his life has been destroyed?

His own Arab brethren do not let him in.

What if he were a British citizen? Wouldn’t the British Embassy send a ship to get their citizens out?

Why are we lying? Why aren’t we telling the truth? I’m not forcing people to get foreign citizenship.

Host: But it is these countries that caused the catastrophes of the [Arab] peoples. I wouldn’t portray these countries as life savers.

Shams Bandar: They are not life savers. But in Britain or America… Note that I am against the policies of their governments. I always say so.

But show me where it says in their constitutions that you can chop people’s hands off, stone people, execute them in the streets, or do all the things done by ISIS and the Islamist movements, which are harmful to Islam.

Do you see in the American Constitution and law any of the things perpetrated by our Muslims?

Can we say that they do these things in the West too?

Why would they, when their constitutions are all about the respect for humanity? Let’s not get into what they do in secret, because I have no proof of that.

Host: What about their barbaric, bloody, aggressive conduct…

Shams Bandar: I see no evidence of that. All I see is laws, legislation, and constitution.

Can anyone convince me that in America or Europe, they do what ISIS is doing to the Syrians, to the Yazidis, or to the Iraqis?

Why do we pin all our problems on the West? For 1,400 years we have been slaughtering one another, just because one of us prays one way and another prays a different way.

America wasn’t around 1,400 years ago. It wasn’t around even 300 years ago. We have been fighting and shedding blood for 1,400 years, and now we are blaming America and Britain?! [End Quote]

ShamsBandar

Perhaps it’s the fatherly instinct in me, or since this young lady and our son are essentially the same age,  I, and I daresay many of you will deeply admire this young woman’s intellect and sheer spunk, given her links to Saudi Arabia, and the barbarity of that regime.

Consider the status and fate of her Saudi ‘sisters‘, wrapped up in the cloth version of a black bin/garbage bag.

To me, Shams comes into the West or New World not merely, quintessentially, as a pilgrim, but indeed a pilgrim who is in need of the greatest protection, to say the least.

Even before we call on Your name
To ask You, O God,
When we seek for the words to glorify You,
You hear our prayer;
Unceasing love, O unceasing love,
Surpassing all we know.

Glory to the father,
and to the Son,
And to the Holy Spirit.

Even with darkness sealing us in,
We breathe Your name,
And through all the days that follow so fast,
We trust in You;
Endless Your grace, O endless Your grace,
Beyond all mortal dream.

Both now and forever,
And unto ages and ages,
Amen

One hope she finds “unceasing love”, although that is not something I expect her to encounter, or assuredly not from islamist governments and their venomous agents.

One lives in hope.

Assuredly, ‘Shams’ just hopes to live!

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Hat-Tips:

Ms. Shams Bandar Al-Aslami records exclusively for the Rotana label, yet another business owned by Prince Al-Waleed Bin Talal bin Abdulaziz al Saud, a Member of the Saudi Royal Family, and mega-billionaire businessman.
Twitter: @ShamsOfficial
For one example of her typical Arab-pop singing style, etc., see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9M8RuEkKzXo

U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell of The Commonwealth of Kentucky
Website: http://www.mcconnell.senate.gov/public/
Twitter: @SenateMajLdr & @mcconnellpress
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mitchmcconnell

Original text for “Pilgrims’ Hymn” by Stephen Paulus, Ph.D.
Website: http://stephenpaulus.com/
Twitter: @StephenHPaulus
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/stephenpaulus.inc
edited and revised by Michael Dennis Browne.

Performed by the Choir of The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, under the direction of Dr. Gary R. Schwartzhoff
Website: http://www.uwec.edu/
Twitter: @UWEauClaire

The Milwaukee Art Museum is, genuinely, both an architectural and an artistic treasure. Designed by the Spanish architect, Santiago Calatrava (@S_Calatrava, http://www.calatrava.com), this is a must-see on everyone’s list.
Website: http://www.mam.org
Twitter: @MilwaukeeArt
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/milwaukeeart

CNN: http://www.cnn.com/2009/LIVING/02/04/trillion.dollars/

DreamTV: Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Dreamtveg/  Twitter: @dreamonlinetveg