Saturday, September 5, 2020

Meet the Books! - He Travels the Fastest

The seasonal Meet the Books! is back again! And it seems I shall live to post another day, for, in the time since the last one, I have acquired another archive novel idea to write about for this installment. Anywho, let's proceed to the rules of the link-up and to the questions. The rules are to answer the questions of the link-up using one of your WIPs, use the picture (if so desired), and link your Meet the Books! feature in a comment here so that I can see all the lovely posts. Things have been a little less orthodox lately, so I'm quite eager to hear about any projects - novels, poetry, musicals, biographies of Robin Hood, etc. Anyways, onto the questions.

What is the title?
The title is He Travels the Fastest, taken, as some more adept readers than I might guess, from a line of Rudyard Kipling's - "He travels the fastest who travels alone."

What is the genre? Time period?
The genre is most decidedly Comedy. 'Nough said. The time period is strangely specific for one of my books -  1930 in America, specifically starting in New York.

How is it written (POV, main character, etc.)?
I'll actually be trying my hand at something new for this one - third person omniscient. After much reflection on the matter, I now believe it is either impossible or quite difficult to write a splendid comedy in anything but a somewhat narrative style. (So, to m'dear Megan Chappie, yea, you have finally convinced me...)

What is the setting?
Like I said, 1930 in America. While starting in New York, it will traverse all along the country into California.

Who are the characters?
There are only a handful, really. The main character is

"Chess" Ridley, a middle-aged American traveling salesman. Having been relatively successful at his gig for many years and now being quite tired of the business (and busyness), he plans to retire quietly out West alone, traveling by himself. A nice, slow, leisurely trip West to some quiet, country home all to himself is the only castle on a cloud the practical (and rather grouchy) salesman allows himself. Finally, he's saved up enough that he can quit the business and do it... or, so he thinks.

Marquesa Helena de Marcos is an aristocratic widow recently immigrated illegally from Spain. Just escaped from Ellis Island, she is iron-set and determined to get to her alleged American relatives in California, whom she is quite convinced would make her immigration legitimate. She and her brood - did I mention her eight children? - have come to America knowing little to nothing about the country, other than some broken English and the praises of its faraway freedom... Her brood consists of...

Consuelo is the Marquesa's oldest daughter, a pretty young Spanish girl of twenty with a dry tongue and some very odd ideas about Americans. Unfortunately, she draws the eyes of American boys at the most inconvenient times...

Inez is the second daughter, seventeen, and also possesses the Spanish belleza. She does not like the looks of Chess or this country.

Nuncia is the third daughter, sixteen, who has a most intense fondness for "Senor Ridley," who she believes to be in truth a kind and artistic soul... Needless to say, Senor Ridley doesn't exactly share the sentiment.

Alfonso is the oldest son, fifteen years old, and is extremely protective of the family... to the point of almost getting in a fist fight with every relatively grown male who looks at them funny.

Clemenz is the second oldest son and fifth child, at eleven. He also loves a fight, though more for its own sake. He tries ardently to pick up American phrases, but usually fails.

Constanza is the fourth daughter and sixth child, at nine. She is fairly quiet, but seems to possess the singular characteristic of never seeing when the little ones do something mischievous...

Miguel, third son and seventh child, has to be the naughtiest boy alive. Only his mother's looks save him from being utterly throttled. He is nearly six.

Margarita, or Mari, the youngest of all, is sweet, but the inseparable companion of Miguel, which means she gets in trouble regardless of her better tendencies. She is four.

There may be other assorted small recurring characters, but non relevant enough to mention.

What does the plot consist of?
As hinted above, the plot begins with Chess's resolve to take a long, slow trip West to lone retirement. His fate changes, however, when he runs into the family of illegal immigrants, and they attach themselves to him with a will, thinking he can guide them to California. Thus, the trip across the country begins, with plenty mishaps, misunderstandings, and misadventures along the way, all while being distantly chased by the police.

What gave you the idea?
Eh. Sorta the title. A good title really inspires a novel like nothing else. I always liked the idea of an ironic title, and the best path of irony according to that quote is to make poor Chess travel as un-alone as possible.

Who are the favorite characters so far?
Seeing as only my writing confidante and Madam Megan have seen even the rough sketches of what it will be like, there's not really a good answer. Possibly Chess.

What is the favorite scene so far?
None, since it's just an archive idea, and there aren't any written yet.

Any drawings?
Not quite yet.

Any themes of music for the work?
Mmm... The possibilities tempt me, but, unfortunately, there are none as of yet.

Any snippets?

Strong point in story?
It will probably be the theme.

Weak point in story?
At the moment, the research. I've done some preliminary stuff, but I will have to research a lot more before actually writing it.

What are your plans for it?
To draft it, once I get a few current WIPs knocked out.

Any particular writing habits for it?
As I haven't written it yet, no, not at the moment.

If it were made into a movie, what would be your ideal cast for it?
Unlike my other archive novel ideas, I actually have thought about this. I think either William Powell or Fred Macmurray would be best as Chess (it would have to be a slightly older, slightly more disheveled version of either of them, though). I particularly see William Powell in his hobo dress from My Man Godfrey, for some reason. For the Marquesa, I see an older Delores del Rio. I don't know about the kids, though.

Anyways, that's the end of the questions. I hope you enjoyed the post, and I can't wait to see everyone else's Meet the Books! posts. Don't forget to link them up back  here so I can see! 

Thursday, August 27, 2020

The Pain of a Memory - Part X

All previous parts can be found here. [A Note: Read at your own peril. The present draft is uncouth an in need of remodeling. That, is, unfortunately, not a task of this day, so, for now, the only form of the book that can be posted is that which I post now. Apologies in advance for the confusing writing, as well as the gap between this and the last installment.]

Echo glanced ahead. The road was clear for many miles, but a village could be seen by it on the horizon. Echo sighed. The village was a marker for their journey. It meant that they only had a little over four more days to go until the Silver Forest, which was where the band of robbers supposedly were. And then it would be eight days back... fifteen days until he could see Ariff and Orlania again...


Anwynne looked down, still pondering over Rogan's discourse with her. Had her story, referring to the prisoner here, made any difference? Had Rogan detected its true meaning? Well, it had definitely gotten to him. There was no doubt of it. His swagger had been broken, at least for a moment, to show Anwynne's victory.

But then, had she really pulled anything over him? She still couldn't puzzle out his story. A boy...Who had Rogan been speaking of? Did the person even exist? Or was the story merely a distraction? But then, he surely didn't want her to be distracted from his proposition, and it was he who had interrupted the story after all. Then had it merely been to catch her off her guard with a re-asking of his question? Anwynne shook her head to herself. No, it hadn't seemed like a simple diversion... Somehow it felt like it was more than that... But what then? What had he meant by it?

A boy who had lost his best friend... lost in a war... a war that had raged for years... Hmm... Could Rogan have been speaking of the Great War, between Belestine and Nistria? It had only ended seven years ago, and had gone on for eighteen years before that. It could have easily been the war that Rogan had spoken of...

Was the story even true? And if it was, how did Rogan know it? Perhaps... Perhaps he had known the boy of whom the tale spoke...? Or, perhaps... Anwynne glanced down uneasily. Rogan had said the boy was not unlike the man in her tale... Perhaps the boy... the boy was the same person as that man... Rogan's prisoner. Perhaps this was why Rogan had cut the story off - merely because what had happened to the boy next was a terrible imprisonment at his hands.

Anwynne shuddered. If it was true... Only a boy...? She blinked away a furious tear. Only Rogan could be as inhuman as this.


Thursday, August 20, 2020

Ancilla Domini - A Poem in Honor of Our Lady

Ancilla Domini

A handmaid once did live in days of God’s good, golden earth;
She was the girl who knelt before Him,
He to whom she gave birth.

An angel came, declaring to her things mystic, absurd:
She was the girl who knelt before Him,
And so received the Word.

A nodded head her answer was, no doubt of Man to heed,
For she was the girl who knelt before Him,
Her “Fiat” her one creed.

A mother was she all His days as, growing, He prepared;
She was the one who knelt before Him
Before all others dared.

She walked with Him his weary way as Sorrow’s Mother, Heir,
And she was the girl who knelt before Him
As He hung, dying, there.

What pain did prick that purest heart when seeing naught but sin?
She was the girl who knelt before Him
When Man made mocking din.

The Word, unheard, did seem to go, in silence three long days,
But despite grief, she knelt before Him
When faded was His Face.

And when return-ed He from rest, new life rang in the lands,
And she was the girl who knelt before Him,
Kissed his pierc-ed hands.

To His Will stay’ng, though sorrowful, Maid did her Master miss,
She was the girl who knelt before Him,
Her heart heavy with His. 

But death’s bells came like sweet chimes tolling when united was she,
The girl who often knelt before Him,
With sweet Eternity.

Beauty’s Bliss, Divine Son, was her dolor there to drown,
For she was the girl who knelt before Him,
And He gave her a crown.


Friday, July 17, 2020

A Catholic American's Defense of Monarchy - Essay

[A note, and some background: I had a teacher this past year to teach American government. Needless to say, her seeming opinion on monarchy was that it is an inherent evil and incapable of being just or Christian or any of that. So for our year end project, this essay was born, to advocate just the opposite point of view. Without offense intended towards the teacher in question - her class was very informative and helpful aside from that - I shall produce the essay to ye like-minded or at least tolerant buddies. Unfortunately, because it's academic, it's a bit short and a bit less fun than perhaps is par. Enjoy, or enjoy skipping over to wait 'til next post.]
“For forms of government let fools contest; whate’er is best administered is best.”1 Thus does

the great poet, Alexander Pope, declare all governments acceptable if morally kept. For many years,

this has also been the teaching of the Catholic Church2: that there is no one government which is

specially fashioned for mankind, and no governmental form which is infallible. As an American, this

view can be difficult to accept. Many traditional Americans are taught from a young age that the

American form of government, a constitutional republic, is best, and no other form of government

coming before or after can rival it for Christian legitimacy, ethical standard, and a realistic

applicability in the world. It is this essay’s purpose, however, to challenge that notion in favor of

monarchy, a singularly unpopular idea in America. It is my aim to prove that monarchy can be

legitimate, ethical, and even realistic as a governmental form despite common doubts.

Monarchy’s legitimacy as a Christian form of government is often called into question 
in recent times despite having a long history of accompanying Christianity. Christendom is no 
stranger to kingdoms and empires in its long history, and not all of these institutions 
persecuted or were opposed to the Catholic faith. Even when the Roman Empire held the rod 
of power in the civilized world –that once great enemy of the Faith – Christian bishops and 
leaders told their flocks to obey the government and regard it as legitimate. Consider the 
words of Paul to the Romans, even after he has been arrested and scourged by the authorities: 
“Let every soul be subject to higher powers: for there is no power but from God: and those that 
are, are ordained of God. Therefore he that resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of 
God. For princes are not a terror to the good work, but to the evil.”3 Note that Paul makes no 
exception for kings or emperors; his statement is unqualified and general, admonishing all 
Christians to obey their superiors in all things but sin. Think of Christ’s order to “[r]ender 
unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”4 Christ seems 
to acknowledge Caesar’s authority, though Caesar was himself an emperor. “And do ye servants
submit yourselves to your masters with reverence and fear, as being the type of God,” reiterates the
Didache, an ancient pillar of Christian teaching.5 Once more, no exception is made for any kind of
master or what form this master uses to govern; in fact, if any governmental form is being promoted,
a sole master is implied in the latter two quotes. Christian teaching appears to urge obedience to the
law and the government, no matter what the form. If monarchy is not made an exception by Paul,
Christ, or the Church Fathers, then what Catholic has a right to make it so?

Monarchy’s history with the Catholic Church is not irrelevant to discussion of its legitimacy.
Many great saints have revered monarchical or even imperial authority at the risk of isolating
themselves from other Christians.6 Beyond this, a multitude of great saints have held the office of
king, emperor, or other sole ruler: saints such as Karl of Austria, Henry II of the Holy Roman Empire,
Louis IX of France, Adelaide of the Holy Roman Empire, Wenceslas I of Bohemia, and many, many
others. The Church proclaims it impossible for a saint’s complete life to promote evil,7 and yet many
of these saints died in their office unashamedly and in the good graces of the Church. It must
necessarily follow, then, that monarchy is not an inherent evil, and is at least capable of constituting a
legitimate Christian governmental form.

If monarchy is a legitimate and acceptable governmental form, the next question 
becomes that of its ethical status. Circumstances and times change, and many forms of 
government waiver in their justice depending upon how they are administered. The fact that 
saints have held kingship allows the possibility of justice, but not all men are saints. Perhaps a 
lesser man would fail at keeping an empire just; many have. This is true, however, of every 
governmental form since the beginning of time: it takes a good man to be a good ruler. In the 
case of a republic or democracy, the only difference is that it takes many good men to be a 
good ruler, which is far less easy to accomplish. The difference is made by the law, not by the 
number of men squabbling over the throne. In a just civilization, just laws govern the actions 
of every man, subject and ruler (or rulers) alike. With a truly just moral code governing the 
land, a sovereign, as well as his people, cannot help but be just.

This brings monarchy to its final test – its realistic applicability in the modern world. 
Because monarchies are not commonly seen in this time, it is often assumed that they cannot 
exist in this time. This is a most erroneous perception; it is like saying because faithful 
Catholicism is not commonly seen in this time, it cannot exist therein. Monarchy can, in fact, 
work well as a governmental form, and takes a far greater part in the modern world than is 
often assumed by republic- or democracy-minded Americans. Consider the structure brought 
about in the English monarchy so long ago; the Magna Carta, a governing law brought by the 
king’s courtiers, became the justice of the land. English monarchy exists to this day, despite its 
weakening by democracy. Many governments cannot survive without the support of a 
monarchy or ruling family. Consider many of the Germanic states, where the once-imperial 
Habsburg family still has prestige, a pillar stabilizing the central European countries despite 
the American attempt to filter them out of society, an effort which plunged Germany and 
Austria into humiliation and societal decay. Consider Lichtenstein and Monaco, Catholic 
constitutional monarchies which have had peace for decades,8 and enjoy financial and economic
success like few other countries in the world.9 In fact, many countries that began as monarchies were
prosperous and active until attempting to take on a democratic, republican, or dictatorial form of
government, and only then plunged into societal or financial degradation.10

Monarchy, then, can be legitimate, ethical, and realistic in theory and even in the 
modern world. Its Christian legitimacy is supported by Church teaching and history. The 
justice and ethical standard of a monarchy can be as virtuous as any other governmental form, 
and has many saints for its patrons (presidents and prime ministers are notably absent from 
the ranks of the Church’s declared saints). The stability and realistic tenability of a monarchy 
is proven by many successful examples in the modern world. In short, even the most 
American of minds cannot deny the truth of what the poet wrote, that “whate’er is best 
administered is best,”11 be it monarchy or republic.

1  Alexander Pope, An Essay on Man, Epistle III, l.303-304.
2  See Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1896, “…There is no solution to the social question apart from the Gospel.” See also Pope Pius XII’s Pentecost Radio Address of June 1, 1941 and Pope Leo XIII’s 1892 encyclical, Au Milieu des Sollicitudes.
3  Romans 13:1-2, Douay-Rheims Translation. All Bible quotes are taken from the Douay-Rheims Translation.
4  Mark 12:17
5  Didache 4:11
6  Think of St. Ignatius of Antioch, who wrote to his flock telling them not to rebel and break him out of prison, even as he faced being “ground by the teeth of the wild beasts.” (St. Ignatius to the Romans, ch. 4)
7  See CCC, 828: canonization of the saints is there defined as “solemnly proclaiming that they practiced heroic virtue and lived in fidelity to God’s grace… proposing the saints to [the faithful] as models…” All of the saints mentioned are fully and officially canonized by the Church except Bl. Karl of Austria, who has only been beatified as of yet.
        8 About 100 years and 70 years, respectively.
10 Consider more proverbial examples such as France’s Revolution of 1789, but also modern cases, such as Germany after World War I, or Russia’s regime, which both suffered governmental upheaval after the forcible removal of their monarchs.
       11 Alexander Pope, An Essay on Man, Epistle III, l.104.
(Apologies for the formatting and aesthetics issues. The blog, for whatever reason, has recently
decided that is doesn't like me, and will no longer serve me. Posts may be a bit trippy during its
little teenage rebellion before I get things figured out.)

Friday, June 26, 2020

Meet the Books! - Burn the Shakespeareans

Late, but better late than never, it's that time again - the time for Meet the Books! to see the light of day for a bit. It's quite possible that this will be the last full feature, as this is my last archive book idea to use, much less an actual WIP. I will, however, try to continue to post the questions and prompts about once every three months so that other bloggers may use the feature. And, remember, it's always free to be taken whenever one likes, late or on time, as long as one follows the rules.

(For a recapitulation of said rules, they are to link up your post here, so I can see it, give credit - using the picture, if wished - and answer the questions for one of your stories. Enough said.)

Anyways, let's get to it...

What is the title?
The title of this particular archive story of mine is Burn the Shakespeareans (and one of my much more better ones, if I do say so). I will explain that in a bit.

What is the genre? Time period?
The genre is a sort-of dystopian drama. I hesitate to use the word dystopian because of the implied sci-fi-esque setting and action and monsters and all that, but it fits in the very barest sense, of a vaguely post-disastrous, satirical, presumably future world setting. Which brings me to the time period - it is unspecified, to be gleaned by the keen reader or imagined by the insightful one. In my head, it looks rather like Lemony Snicket's stories - about 1930's-seeming, but modern.

How is it written (POV, main character, etc.)?
As usual with me, it's going to be third person limited. There are, however, a few main characters, as the story is split up between a few different trains of thought. When it's actually started, of course.

What is the setting?
Very possibly America. That's really all I can say generally without giving away too much. The more specific setting is an old, abandoned theatre in a small, Catholic town, where a group of now-grown childhood schoolmates are attempting to revitalize their long-lost Shakespeare company and the world's love of beautiful things.

Who are the characters?
There are a lot of main characters, but the one I'm most tempted to call the protagonists is

Justine Kendall, the usual leading lady of a resurfaced childhood Shakespearean troupe. She was always the leading lady in the old troupe too. Troubled, doubtful, and newly expectant on top of it all, she's undecided about the troupe's rebirth, and is unsure whether to even take part. She is partly the coordinator of the troupe, along with her husband,

Stefan Locke, one of the leading men of the troupe. A strong man, very confident in his faith and in his wife, and definitely the pillar holding the troupe up. He used to be an assistant director when the childhood troupe was around, and it was mostly his idea to try and bring it back.

Drew Kendall is Justine's wayward younger brother. Originally uninvited, he showed up to see Justine and stuck around for kicks. He's a long fallen-away family member, and rather a black sheep of the town after leaving it for the world. He was never a consistent part of the original troupe either, but he wants Justine to pull strings and get him a job doing leading roles. Needless to say, he's a bit of a crack in the glass of old childhood friendships.
Interview with Academy Award-winning costume designer Jacqueline Durran on her costume design for Macbeth.

Benedicta, or Bena Staunton is Justine's best friend, and one of the most faithful old returning members of the troupe. She's one of the only ones who's really kept things together in the town this whole time, and so she's wary of anything that might cause a new split, for more reason than one. She's supporting a few family members single-handedly, and is constantly in fear of going blind, a process already started, as it would lose for her any ability to provide, work, or help herself.

Elliott Scott is another returning member, mostly for chorus and small parts. He's also stayed in the town most of the time, but only after having an, um, unpleasant experience outside. He believes the troupe is doomed to fail. He is deadly afraid of the outside world, and what may happen if their endeavor to bring the Bard back succeeds.

Is Hamlet fat? The evidence in Shakespeare for a corpulent prince of Denmark.

Charles Fawkes, or just Fawkes is the old troupe's leading man, returned mostly at Stefan's request and to help get everybody's lives back together. He left the town, but he's got a good head on his shoulders, and thinks the world of the troupe, particularly a certain
Dahlia Grey, an old chorus member too young to have met Fawkes before. She is Elliott's best friend from a long time past, though does not return romantic affection to either him or Fawkes.

Tristan Leare is the only new member joining the troupe. He is a slight older than the rest of them, and moved to the town as a young man just as their childhood troupe was performing its last play. He's been gone for years, and has come back seemingly just to lose himself in the beauty of the stage. No one knows too much about him, but town rumors say he's a foreign fugitive.

What does the plot consist of?
There are many plots, not one. The main event tying everything together is the effort to bring back the art of the stage to the town and the country by rebirthing the Shakespearean troupe, but lots of little subplots will litter the story, including some of the ones hinted at in the character descriptions. And, obviously, it will get more intense than that, and there will be some fire and burning because why else would I name it Burn the Shakespeareans...? But I'm not going to say too much about that part because I don't want to give spoilers.

Keanu Reeves is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list 26 Actors Who Have Played Hamlet

What gave you the idea?

Mostly, the title. I always kind-of wanted to write a drama/dystopian sort-of thing, and had sketched out some random character and plot ideas, so I grafted the spur-of-the-moment title onto the sketches, and it fit like a jigsaw puzzle. Also, my sister. That was the first title I'd ever thought up that she agreed was any good, so I had to use it.

Who are the favorite characters so far?
None really, since it's not been written and therefore not read.

What is the favorite scene so far?
Again, none yet.

Any drawings?
Not at the moment, unfortunately.

Any themes of music for this work?
Eh, sort-of. It's complicated. But one song that definitely has recurred in threads of the plot is Saint-Saens' "The Swan."

Any snippets?
Nope, not yet.

Strong point in story?
The imagery is going to come through very strongly, I think. The few draft scenes I've written and the theme elements I'm playing with have so far been very successful as far as painting a picture of the story go.

Weak point in story?
Well, for one thing, it's not written yet. Also, I think that getting some of the characters through correctly without sidetracking the story is going to be challenging. Also, I have a sinking feeling that Elliott is just a plagiarized Harry Beaton from Brigadoon...

What are your plans for it?
To write it, once I get a couple more current WIPs finished.

Any particular writing habits for it?
I'll let you know when I start writing it...

If it were made into a movie, what would be your ideal cast for it?
Hmm, way too far ahead... I'm not sure I have any solid cast choices at the moment, unfortunately.

Well, that's all for now, folks. Hope you enjoyed the post, and that you'll follow up with your own - I'll be checking the comment box here for links, and awaiting some splendid story info. For now, though, I shall sign off, and wish you all a good evening.