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News and Views-February 11, 2007

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February 11th, Week of Valentine?s Day 2007

AwesomeDude News & Views

Brought to you in annotated audio by AwesomeDude?s Voice of Whimsy, TR

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Well, Guys and Dolls, it?s that time of year again, the week when bawdy boys with wings run around poking at the unwary and pricking at the unsuspecting loveless hordes.

No, no, it?s not Frat Rush Week, it?s Valentine?s Day 2007!

Wait, wait, hold the phone, just who the hell is this guy Valentine, anyway, and why are we kissing on Wednesday and eating his processed-sugar hearts?

Since you ask?I?ll interrupt your AD News for some timely TR Views?

A Brief History (in time, just) of Valentine?s Day: an irreverent revue

Well, mid-February has long been the traditional time to celebrate fertility, or at least to exchange torrid love letters, though a Hallmark card is a lot more common exchange in the 21st century. Back in the robust days of the randy Roman Republic, though, this day was sacred to the marriage of poor ol? Queen Hera to Zeus, King-o?-the-Gods and equal-opportunity philanderer famous for slipping the supreme sausage to pretty boys and maidens alike. He definitely kept busier outside the marriage bed than in it. Lucky Hera, huh?

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Thus, in his honor (or maybe that of his divine dong), was annually held in Rome a rather sexy festival called Lupercalia.

Lupercalia was kind of a citywide drunken street-party centered on a rowdy race run by the better-hung noble Romans, including actual serving magistrates and the cuter aristocrats. These worthies ran stark naked through the streets, their full Monty on happy display, striking inebriated bystanders with raw strips of bloody wolf?s hide.

Wow, and you thought what you heard about the 2004 White Party was pretty wild, huh?

Naturally, nascent Christianity gradually doused all this lewd fun, finally outright banning Lupercalia in the 5th century AD and declaring that the staid Feast of St. Valentine would replace it.

Okay, so who is he, dammit, and what happened?

Well, right about then, Europe hit the Dark Ages, and boy it was sure tough to get any nookie in those years, at least if you go by the clothes. Still, somebody?s always getting it on, right?, and Poets are wont to reflect this in their own weird, convoluted way. Chaucer, that prize pornographic penman, was the first who wrote about the long-recognized link between St. Valentine?s Day and hot monkey sex way, back in 1382: ?For this was on seynt Volantynys day, Whan euery bryd comyth there to chese [chose] his make [mate].?

Thus the Popes? stuffy and formal Feast of St. Valentine, that holy day designed to douse the carnal fires of panting pagans, had naturally regressed to what it always had been; yes, just another holiday excuse to get into somebody else?s pants.

Of course, even back then, Valentine?s Day was about not getting any, too.

The earliest surviving actual ?valentine? dates from 1415, and is a love poem written by Charles, Duke of Orl?ans, to his busty blushing bride, Bonne, not long after his capture on the field of Agincourt. As said horny husband was in the nasty old Tower of London at the time, far from France and short on babes, busty or otherwise, that valentine?s predictably wistful tone is easily imagined.

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Poor fellow, he spent a quarter century in the Tower, suffering British food and other indignities, before he was finally let go home to Orl?ans, by which time his beloved Bonne had died.

You know, it?s behavior like that that probably gave the English their unromantic reputation. Well, that and the general level of British dentistry. Or it could be the damp climate, making mold and mushrooms more likely to flourish than Love.

Okay, enough, what about this Valentine dude? Where does he come into this?

Well, Valentine, or Valentinius, who died (probably) 269 AD, was yet another scruffy Christian martyred in Imperial Rome, but he was one who managed to overcome the unstudly martyr?s reputation enough, they say, to make goo-goo eyes at his jailer?s daughter. Definitely an uber romantical-type dude, despite the whole hairshirt, gory death and Christian martyr schtick.

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He?s said to have passed the jailer?s pretty daughter a secret love note signed ?From your Valentine? that professed his passion?on the very night before his head was cut off. Imagine her surpise, getting that latebreaking romance bulletin.

Poor girl, some relationships are just not meant to be.

Fifteen hundred years later, just to keep things hopping (and after they?d made such a fuss!), the Catholic Church decided to pull out of the whole do-da Valentine shebang. So over the last hundred years, church officials have gradually removed the Honeybun Holiday from their official calendar and celebrations. Now mid-February is left to Saints Cyril and Methodius, whoever the heck they were. Nobody romantic, that?s for sure, not with those names.

So, now that February 14th is pagan party-time again, does that mean we?ll have naked hunks running through the streets this Wednesday? ?Fraid not. Valentine?s Day has taken on a life of its own, far beyond the technical and torturously drawn-out machinations of the Church. So far beyond, in fact, that Valentine?s Day ground zero is a lot closer to Madison Avenue than it ever was to the Vatican.

What Valentine?s Day means to most is best expressed in Pounds, Dollars, Euros, Yen, Francs and Rupees?all with a multi-digit profit numeral attached.

What price love, eh?

Well, at Tiffany&Co, for example, the price of true Valentine Love starts around $1000 US and seems to rise, possibly geometrically, depending on how seriously you plan to be taken by the object of your affections.

For all of us in the 21st century, what we have instead of Lupercalia or lovelorn lines from London are endless pink&white advertisments for candy, flowers, cards, vacations and very pricey jewelry, each product touted as just-the-thing to get us into the pants, if not the fickle hearts, of our various beloveds.

Is it any wonder romantics are said to be an endangered species?

Either that or they?re written out of the Valentine?s Day equation altogether, their love weighed in the balance and found materially, or at least financially, wanting. ?Bite the coin of love? is the theme of many of these advertisements: does he or she love you enough?

And guess how you?re supposed to measure that? Ta-da-ching! You got it! Valentine?s Day means rising sales, creative ad cupidity, higher profits and solid investment returns.

Gosh, all this talk of sales and profit got me hot, but was it good for you, too?

Well, now that we're all in the hearts-n-flowers mood, where's Valentinius and his bad self? He's nuts, yeah, but romantic as all hell. Loving hearts over beating hearts, you betcha. And ol? lusty Charles in the Tower, longing for his bride while eating those nasty mince pies, what would he think?

Looks like nobody takes love seriously anymore. Shame on us money-grubbing Americans, right? It?s all our fault, surely.

Well, maybe not.

There are an awful lot of odd customs and lovers' rituals around the world that are connected to Valentine?s Day.

For instance, over in Japan and Korea, two countries deep into a whole Yank love-hate thing, Valentine?s Day has turned into an expensive proposition for women, especially working women, who are expected to shell out major bucks for fancy chocolates (called: giri-choko) for every single one of their male co-workers!

Of course, Asian advertisers then made it a ?two-fer? cultural misunderstanding and shopping bonanza by introducting White Day, a day when men are supposed to reciprocate by buying pricey candy and lingerie. Can?t you hear those romantic cash registers from here?

In Romania, the traditional holiday for lovers is Dragobete, celebrated on February 24th. In recent decades, Romania has joined the rest of the commercial western world in celebrating Valentine's Day, despite already having Dragobete as a native lovers? holiday. Naturally, a lot of Romanians, or at least the ones who don?t own candy shops, aren?t too keen on this; they say Valentine's Day is superficial, commercial and just imported Western kitsch.

Oh, say it ain?t so.

In Sweden and Denmark, it?s called ?Valentinesdag?. By whatever name, it?s not celebrated much by those chilly Northmen, at least there?s no big marketing push, but some people do take a little time that day to be warm and romantic with their partner, or to send a card to a secret love. Maybe even vice versa.

Too simple, though, right?

In some parts of Asia, loving couples celebrate the night with a candlelight dinner.

In Norfolk England, a guy named Jack Valentine is supposed to come to your back door and leave something sweet.

I think I dated him once. Sounds familiar?

In Korea, all the men who didn?t get any of those fancy chocolates and gifts from women on Valentine?s Day (these men are also known as ?losers?) are supposed to get together two months later on April 14th, Black Day, and have a big hot bowl of ?Jajangmyeon? (jah jahng myuhn-icky chinese noodles in black sauce). Yummy! Get together, eat noodles and whine I guess, so they?ll feel better about their collective love-connection rejection?

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Or maybe they just pig out and catch a game on TV with the guys. Romance is overrated, right, and 'bromance' is better?

Well, while you?re running your cost-benefit analysis on the price of hothouse roses versus sleeping solo, while you?re cooking up your dish of Jajangmyeon and crow, while you?re telling your friends that Hallmark has patented Love and you?re not buying any, ponder this:

If Valentine?s Day is overrated, if Romance is dead and Love is just a temporary chemical condition, something like a histamine reaction, then what were all these people thinking when they said these lines about Love?

?I love you ?those three words have my life in them.? ~Alexandria to Nicholas III

?Soul meets soul on lovers? lips.? ~ Percy B Shelley

?Other men said they have seen angels, but I have seen thee and thou art enough.? ~ G. Moore

?One word frees us of all the weight and pain in life, that word is Love.? ~Socrates

?Love is a haunting melody that I have never mastered? and I fear I never will.? ~ William S. Burroughs

?Love is my religion and I could die for that. I could die for you.? ~Keats

?A simple I love you means more than money.? ~ Frankie Sinatra

?If I know what love is, it is because of you.? ~ Herman Hesse

And Shakespeare?s sweet Romeo, speaking of his Juliet:

"See, how she leans her cheek upon her hand! O that I were a glove upon that hand, that I might touch that cheek!"

And lastly, those timeless words of Love from the biblical Song of Songs:

"My beloved is white and ruddy, the chiefest among ten thousand. His head is as the most fine gold; his locks are bushy, and black as a raven. His cheeks are as a bed of spices, as sweet flowers: his lips like lilies, dropping sweet smelling myrrh. His belly is as bright ivory overlaid with sapphires. His legs are as pillars of marble: his countenance is as Lebanon, excellent as the cedars. His mouth is most sweet: yea, he is altogether lovely. This is my beloved, and this is my friend. My beloved is mine, and I am his."

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No sales tags or saints here, folks, just heartfelt human feeling.

To hell with cash registers. Come Wednesday, let?s celebrate something older, whether it?s the midnight madness of Lupercalia or a good old-fashioned medieval romantic impulse. Take hold of your heart and make your own Day in Valentine?s honor; live a little, love a little, for just a moment, in honor of centuries of lovers locked up alone in towers, in the names of legendary lost boys chased by Love Incarnate, love a bit for those generations of men and women who died broken hearted, for my grandfather who, when told his wife of over half a century was dead, just smiled sadly and slipped silently away into his final sleep. Take a minute, if you would, and mourn all the human happy endings?that never were.

Take a day to think about Love.

Say, why not this Wednesday?

I?d say that those writers I quoted were hitting the love target dead-center, and they all must have been thinking that Love is really pretty fantastic, with or without a Saint?s Feast, Tiffany gifts, noodles with the guys, Valentinius, or even Jack Valentine at your back door. Cupid or no cupid, Love ain't stupid. Nor was it invented by Hallmark, Avon and Saks Fifth Avenue. Guess who did invent Love?

Your species, your people, your family: silly ol' human beans. Guess what Love costs?

Everything or nothing, but you can't pay with your platinum card.

Friends, don?t fret when neither the Hope diamond nor a hunky new boyfriend are served up on Wednesday, that?s not what the day is about. That?s not what ol? Valentinius was about, either, if you get right down to it.

On this Wednesday, just take a moment or two; take time to love those who are already around you. Hey, one of them might turn out to be this year?s valentine, or even your new soulmate.

On the other hand, maybe he?ll just be good for a hug or overnight company, but hey, whatever, don?t knock it.

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Love in all its forms, from Lupercalia to Dragobete, from Tiffany jewels to cardboard boxes of candy, from friends or brief sweaty moments to forever-afters, is something special, a gift from God (or the-supreme-being-of-your-choice) and it?s a gift that?s pretty damn amazing.

With all the sweet and the sour, the good and the bad, the thrills and the chills: Love is still an awesome emotion, even here in the 21st century!

Celebrate the Heart this week. Get in touch with your heart, and let someone know you care.

TR

The Rape of Ganymede (by Zeus as eagle), by Rubens

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And now, finally, your Valentine?s Week AwesomeDude update?

We?ve got a flock of great new fiction for you this week at AwesomeDude!

New Serial Stories and Chapters

Josiah Jacobus-Parker has brought us Chapter 3 of The Kept, his spooky and stunningly written new novel about sinister, strange and spooky others who live among us. Don?t miss these first chapters of this great story! We?re proud to have Josiah with us at AwesomeDude!

Even more amazing is Pecman?s first novel in *gasp* four years! Exclusive AD updates have the Introduction and Chapters 1-3 of Pieces of Destiny by John Francis (Pecman) online! Don?t miss this fantastic all-new offering by one of the web?s best authors!

Nickolas James? has Chapters 1-12 of his revised and reissued Bodega Bay online for us at AwesomeDude! Don?t miss this great boyhood story: read two updated chapters every week.

Our multi-talented AD Emu, Camy, brings us Seraph Chapter 9 this week! It?s a sure is a great tale, Camy (and we promise not to pull out any feathers?)

Holy Hall Prefect, Batman, Joel?s boarding school adventure, Mystery and Mayhem at St. Marks, is up to Chapter 16b! Don?t miss a moment!

Backdating a bit, Sequoyah?s Saga of the Elizabethton Tarheels now has 12 Chapters online, while Jamie?s Scrolls of Icaria has hit Book Two Chapter 18! Ragnarok, that great collaboration between AD Authors EleCivil and Ryan Miller has three chapters online so far and more on the way!

Novels that completed at AwesomeDude recently include: One Night in December by Terry O?Reilly, Prom by Cole Parker, Another Day in Paradise by WBMS, And Dream My Dreams of You by Jay B., The Garden by Nevius and the amazing (and 'awesome') novel Masquerade by Josh, author of The Least of These.

New Short Stories and Audio

We have five short stories up on the front page of AwesomeDude for your Valentine?s Week reading pleasure.

We have two stories each by AD Authors Graeme and Camy, plus a brand new one from Cole Parker, AD?s author of the awesome exclusive anthology, Celebrations Across the Calendar!

From Graeme, we first have ?Homeless?, a heart-wrenching story about a young boy?s time on the streets, and then ?Dating Again?, a great fictional story of fatherhood?s dating perils from a real life dad and author of the adorable Family Snippets, found in our Drawn From Life section at AwesomeDude!

From Camy, we have two spanking-new short stories, ?Nyquist? and ?What Do You Think??, with yet another coming later this week! Fun and playful, don?t miss any of our Camy?s offerings!

From Cole Parker, we have ?The Fight?, a poignant teen story of boys, friendship, challenges, manhood and dignity, but with a definite dash of Love. Don?t miss another great storytelling leap into the trials of teenage years courtesy of AD Author Cole Parker!

Oh, and kids, be sure to always listen to ADR whenever you?re reading online! Just click the ADR logo at upper-left AD mainpage or input and access this URL via your Desktop: http://rs5.radioserver.co.uk:8170/listen.pls

Read safely and securely, always read with ADR in the background or on your headset! Don?t take chances with your reading environment, stick to the best: AwesomeDude Radio! AWESOME music from playlists assembled by YOU, our loyal AD readers, streaming direct and nonstop from the jungles of Borneo!

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Accept no substitutes! Demand ADR for your unparalleled reading pleasure, all day and every day! Free! Easy! Fun! Fantastic!

DUDE?S PICKS: Courage and Passion by FreeThinker and ?Something About Tom? by Tragic Rabbit.

Listen to mp3 of author TR reading that latter tale: Wimpy button is available on the ?Something About Tom? story page itself, which is linked alongside FreeThinker?s novel Courage and Passion in the lower-right Dude?s Picks area of our AwesomeDude mainpage.

If you?ve got a tale :icon10: you?d like us to look at, send it to TR at story-editor@awesomedude.com after reading the updated Story Submission Guidelines on the AD front page. Always CC The Dude at dude@awesomedude.com.

Poetry Submission Guidelines have also been updated! Send poetry submissions to Gabriel Duncan at poetry-editor@awesomedude.com

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SICK RABBIT UPDATE: Yes, okay, it?s true, TR is and has been quite sick, the horse is audible on today?s audio, but he?s trying to kick free and get back in the groove?etc (throw in a random bunch of other corny cliques).

So please be patient.

He feels lousy but is sick of being sick, so please bear with his mistakes a bit longer as he chugs diet cr?me soda and dry-swallows Tylenol while typing.

Till next Christmas would be nice. He?s sorta sure he?ll have himself together by then...

:icon_geek:

Okay, boys and girls, that's all the news that?ll fit. Well, most of it.

Have a great time reading! Next update will be on February 18th.

Kisses?

TR

READ 'It Can't Happen Here' by Sinclair Lewis!

"Sometimes there?s a man, I won?t say a hero because what?s a hero, but I?m talking about The Dude here, and sometimes there?s a man and he?s the man for his time and place, he fits right in there, and that?s The Dude. ? ~The Big Lebowski

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