Happy Friday the 13th!

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I hope all of you enjoy your day today and do not worry at all about the date. This is not a day that should cause any concern, unless of course you somehow had access to a time machine and were able to travel back in time to October 13, 1307 when the end of this organization was put into play by King Philip the Fair of France.  Apparently his name carried two levels of irony, because many reported that he was not handsome, and certainly his treatment of the Knights Templar shows he was not a man of honor.

He had many arrested on that day, and that began a time of great torture, horror, and death for those involved. So, certainly that day would have been a terrible day to be around on Friday the 13th!

If you had a time machine, perhaps you should choose a different, happier historical day!

But for everyone else, enjoy the Friday! Go out if you normally do, or stay home and enjoy a good book, but have fun, and please do not worry about the date!

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The Stone Arch Secret by K.D. Dowdall: A Five Star Book!

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This fine novel by K.D. Dowdall is a wonderful crossing of the genres of mystery and romance. Mixing genres has potential difficulties, but none of those exist in this sophisticated and engaging book. Rather than getting confused about where to take the tale, K.D. Dowdall skillfully infuses elements of both genres and effectively creates her own new genre: mystery-romance!

From the moment I began reading, I was pulled into the story in this book. The narrative moves between the contemporary mystery and the backstory with Lilly, Noah, and Dax. The tone of Karen’s story is subtle and complex, in which she weaves together a love story, grief for the death of a friend, mystery in an old town, and the threat of a well-drawn, compelling, and threatening villain.

One of the themes of the novel is the potential for corruption in religion and the consequences that can emerge from the combination of political power and, what is essentially a cult, in small town New England. K.D. Dowdall’s rendering of this political/religious threat is powerful and frightening.

K.D. Dowdall shows a mastery of history as well as using convincing dialogue with a welcomed restraint in her description of violence and threat. In all parts of this book, it is well-drawn and carefully crafted.

I will not give any spoilers in this review, but I will say that I recommend this book completely and give it a five star review. If you are a fan of books with a subtle and sophisticated writing style, a fan of mysteries, or a fan of romance, then you will enjoy this wonderful tale.

Please do yourselves a favor, and buy and read this novel!

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Quotations on Kindness

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“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle.”

                                                                                Plato

 

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“Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.”

                                                                              Desmond Tutu

 

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“My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.”

                                                                              Dalai Lama XIV

Quotations on Compassion

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“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle.”

                                                                  Plato

 

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“Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive.”

                                                                Dalai Lama XIV

 

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“True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring. ”

                                                               Martin Luther King Jr.

Favorite Horror Films of the 1940s: Cat People

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In 1942, producer Val Lewton and director Jacques Torneur, advanced the making of horror films by expanding the possible topics and boundaries. This extraordinary film is not one that relies on a standard “monster”; instead, Torneur employs psychological suspense and subtle development of terror.

This film offers a sophisticated and understated treatment of sexuality and its impact on people. The main character, Irena, a fashion designer, born in Serbia, and played by Simone Simon combines the modern world of high fashion in New York City with the old world beliefs that she is descended from people who are shape-shifters and who turn into big cats when sexually enticed and aroused. Torneur builds a new variation on the established theme of lycanthropy, in which a male changes into a wolf. Additionally, the film demonstrates the tension between science and superstition, the modern era versus the medieval times, and religion versus secularism.

While to a contemporary audience, this movie might seem dated and subdued, I believe it still carries great impact in its study of horror that is felt rather than seen, slowly created rather than visceral, and suggestive rather overt.

Cat People did very well at the box office, but it received a mixed range of reviews at the time. Since the 1940s, it has come to be seen as one of the more important horror films of the 20th Century.  If you have the opportunity, I recommend watching Cat People.

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Importance of Freedom of the Press

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In our current political climate, in which the Press has been attacked as somehow against the people, it is important to remember that a free Press was seen by the founders of the United States of America as a crucial element to keeping the nation free. Other thinkers have argued for the maintenance of the free Press as a necessary aspect of battling tyranny and supporting freedom. The Press is one of the institutions that must be preserved if the nation is to remain a free democracy.

One of the writers whose work most clearly illustrated the abuse of power and the effects of the suppression of the Press was George Orwell.

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“Freedom of the Press, if it means anything at all,
means the freedom to criticize and oppose.”

                                                                            George Orwell

 

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In an example of the use of the free press itself, Teddy Roosevelt said, in an editorial in The Kansas City Star, 1918:

“To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public.”

 

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Perhaps the most important words about the Press come from the paramount document for the country: The Constitution of the United States of America, The First Amendment:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

 

 

 

Happy Independence Day!

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I wish all a happy and safe 4th of July.  Please celebrate safely, have fun, and take a moment to remember all those who sacrificed to bring freedom.

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Let us also remember that freedom includes everyone of all races, religions, ethnicities, backgrounds, classes, sexual orientations, creeds, and neurodiversities–and any others I may have forgotten.  Freedom demands inclusion, not exclusion. We must always remember that. We are all connected. We, all of us, are the people.

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