Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Year In Review: New Year’s, Lord of the Rings, Twilight, Movies, Music, Mayberry, Christmas, & More!!!

I've been busy!


New Year's Content:

2009 New Year's Resolutions of Gospel Artists
Featuring: DecembeRadio, Bob Halligan, Stephen Hinkle, Joanne Cash, Lyrycyst, Carried Away, Beloved, Kevin Levar, Mission Six, After Edmund, and Eliot Sloan (Blessid Union of Souls)
By Kathryn E. Darden | Published 12/28/2008 |

Top Ten Songs for New Year's
Songs from Robert Burns, U2, Barry Manilo, Relient K, Dan Fogelburg, Stacy Orrico, Ella Fitzgerald, Sir Cliff Richards and more
By Kathryn E. Darden | Published 12/6/2008 |

Lord of the Rings Content:

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King - Complete Recordings
Almost four hours of music on four CDs, containing the full score of the 2003 film, the final edition of the three complete recording releases of the film trilogy whose score earned with three Academy Awards, four Grammy Awards, etc
By Kathryn E. Darden | Published 12/30/2008 |

Nashville Symphony Scores with Lord of the Rings
Led by guest conductor Markus Huber, more than 200 members of the Nashville Symphony and Chorus performed in the Lord of the Rings Symphony at Belmont University's Curb Event Center on November 5, 2005.
By Kathryn E. Darden | Published 12/30/2008 |

Finding God in The Lord of the Rings: A Book Review
A review of the book "Finding God in the Lord of the Rings" by Kurt Bruner & Jim Ware.
By Kathryn E. Darden | Published 11/20/2008 |

A Man Like You
A poem about temptation and the corrupting influence of power inspired by J.R.R. Tolkien's Witchking in "The Lord of the Rings"
By Kathryn E. Darden | Published 11/9/2008 |


Music Reviews:

Brendan Soul - a Celtic Companion
A review of Carol Arblaster's Celtic CD, Brendan Soul
By Kathryn E. Darden | Published 12/30/2008 |

The Christmas Collection - Amy Grant
A music review of Any Grant's Christmas project for 2008, "The Christmas Collection" which contains 18 Christmas songs
By Kathryn E. Darden | Published 11/28/2008 |


Movie Reviews:

Ghost Town - Movie Review
Ghost Town, a romantic comedy starring Tea Leoni, Greg Kinnear, and Ricky Gervais just released on DVD and Blu-ray on December 28.
By Kathryn E. Darden | Published 12/31/2008 |

"Eagle Eye" Releases on DVD and Blu-Ray - a Review
The action/thriller "Eagle Eye" releases on DVD and Blu-ray on December 28, 2008, starring Shia LaBeouf, Michelle Monaghan, and Billy Bob Thornton
By Kathryn E. Darden | Published 12/27/2008 |

Kyle XY, Season II Review
Kyle discovers how he was scientifically created by Adam Bailin and he starts to train his extraordinary abilities. Kyle's link to Jessi XX are also developed and new relationships begin between Kyle and Amanda, Jessi and Declan, and Josh and Andy.
By Kathryn E. Darden | Published 12/26/2008 |

"The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea" Special Edition Review
A review of the sequel to The Little Mermaid as the adventures of Ariel, Eric and their aquatic friends continue in this new Special Edition
By Kathryn E. Darden | Published 12/23/2008 |

The Duchess - a Royal Disappointment
The Duchess, the story of a young noblewoman who marries Britain's most powerful peer and becomes the toast of London, arrives on DVD and Blu-ray December 28th from Paramount Home Entertainment.
By Kathryn E. Darden | Published 12/21/2008 |

Horton Hears a Who Releases on DVD - a Movie Review
A review of the movie "Horton Hears a Who" which just released on DVD and Blu-Ray on December 9
By Kathryn E. Darden | Published 12/21/2008 |

The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian Collector's Edition DVD - Review
Viewers are invited to return to the magical world of Narnia in the second installment of C.S. Lewis' timeless epic, The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian,
By Kathryn E. Darden | Published 12/15/2008 |

Twilight at Midnight - a Movie Review
I sink my teeth into the movie "Twilight" and discuss the highs and lows!
By Kathryn E. Darden | Published 11/27/2008 |

"The Day the Earth Stood Still" Special Edition Releases
The Day the Earth Stood Still will be released as a Special Edition Blu-ray Disc (BD) and a two-disc DVD on December 2, 2008
By Kathryn E. Darden | Published 11/25/2008 |


Christmas Content:

Christmas Slideshow - 2008
Sights and scenes from my 2008 Christmas memories
By Kathryn E. Darden | Published 12/30/2008 |

Christmas - What's in a Name?
What does Christmas mean and how does it relate to other festivals and celebrations during December?
By Kathryn E. Darden | Published 12/14/2008 |

Favorite Christmas Traditions of Gospel Artists
A look at some of the favorite Christmas traditions of popular gospel artists and entertainers
By Kathryn E. Darden | Published 12/18/2008 |

Cookies for Kids Hosts Holiday Book Signings to Aid Children with Serious Illness
Cookies for Kids will be hosting two holiday book signings in Nashville during the Christmas season to benefit children with life threatening illnesses
By Kathryn E. Darden | Published 12/15/2008 |

Favorite Christmas Albums of the Gospel Artists
Kevin Max, Lyracist, Tammy Trent, Bonnie Keen, Bob Halligan and 25 other gospel artists share their Christmas project recommendations.
By Kathryn E. Darden | Published 12/7/2008 |

Favorite Holiday Movies of Gospel Artists & Entertainers
A list of the movies recommended by gospel recording artists and other Christian entertainers including Kevin Max of DC Talk, Dan Meyer (sword swallower), Bob Halligan of Ceili Rain, and 30 more gospel artists.
By Kathryn E. Darden | Published 12/7/2008 |

Christmas Eve Church Services in Nashville, Tennessee
Churches, candlelight, communion, chorals, choirs, carols, Christmas eve services and Nashville, Tennessee. What's not to love?
By Kathryn E. Darden | Published 12/3/2008 |

Favorite Holiday Songs of Gospel Artists and Entertainers
A guide to the favorite Christmas songs from the musicians who perform them
By Kathryn E. Darden | Published 12/2/2008 |

Christmas Memories - What Christmas Means to Me
Looking back on my favorite Christmas memories
By Kathryn E. Darden | Published 12/3/2008 |

Five Christmas Projects to Consider in 2008
A look at Sara Groves' "O Holy Night;" Michael & Carrie Hodge's "The Heart of Christmas;" David Phelps' "O Holy Night: A Live Christmas Celebration;" Mandisa's "It's Christmas;" and Faith Hill's "Joy To The World"
By Kathryn E. Darden | Published 11/24/2008 |

A Tender Nashville Tennessee Christmas
Christmas Music, Christmas plays, performances, parades, lights and more!
By Kathryn E. Darden | Published 11/19/2008 |

Christmas in Iraq - a Christmas Poem for Our Soldiers
A poem of encouragement for our military troops in Iraq and all over the world
By Kathryn E. Darden | Published 11/13/2008 |


Mayberry Content

Mayberry Days 2008 - Photos
Photos from 2008 Mayberry Days in Mt. Airy, North Carolina. Be sure to read the article Mayberry Days' Spirits Not Dampened by Drizzles.
By Kathryn E. Darden | Published 12/13/2008 |

Mayberry Sparkles - a Christmas Poem
A poem about the lights in Mayberry during the Christmas season
By Kathryn E. Darden | Published 12/12/2008 |

My Mayberry Gift List
Just for fun, a list of gifts for the characters on "The Andy Griffith Show"
By Kathryn E. Darden | Published 12/11/2008 |

Admiring Andy's Authority on "The Andy Griffith Show"
Examining why Sheriff Andy Taylor had authority and Deputy Barney Fife did not
By Kathryn E. Darden | Published 11/30/2008 |

Remembering Don Knotts
My personal memories of meeting Don Knotts on two different occasions
By Kathryn E. Darden | Published 11/29/2008 |

Act Like Somebody - a Mayberry Devotional
So many times we get such tunnel vision about the problems in our lives that we lose sight of the fact that each of us is special - we are all Somebody.
By Kathryn E. Darden | Published 11/27/2008 |

The Mayberry Poem - a Tribute to Mayberry Book Review
A Tribute to Mayberry is a collection of photos and poems about Mayberry and "The Andy Griffith Show"
By Kathryn E. Darden | Published 11/25/2008 |

Thanksgiving in Mayberry
A short acrostic poem about what a Mayberry Thanksgiving might be like!
By Kathryn E. Darden | Published 11/23/2008

The Badge - a Poem
A poem about a small-town lawman based on "The Andy Griffith Show"
By Kathryn E. Darden | Published 11/20/2008 |

Christmas in Mayberry
Imagine what Christmas would be like in Mayberry, North Carolina
By Kathryn E. Darden | Published 11/17/2008

Mayberry USA - a Great Place to Vist on the Web!
Mayberry USA is a discussion board with forums about the cast and crew of "The Andy Griffith Show"
By Kathryn E. Darden | Published 11/10/2008 |

Mayberry Days' Spirit Not Dampened by Drizzles
Review of this year's Mayberry Days festival in Mount Airy, North Carolina
By Kathryn E. Darden | Published 10/24/2008 |

Misc. Content

International Medal of Peace Presented to President George W. Bush
President George W. Bush received the "International Medal of PEACE" at the 20th anniversary of World AIDS Day on December 1, 2008
By Kathryn E. Darden | Published 12/2/2008 |

How to Promote Your Book on a Shoestring Budget - Book Review
A look at a book that teaches authors how to do the nitty-gritty of publicizing, promoting and selling their books
By Kathryn E. Darden | Published 12/13/2008 |

The Gift of the Magi - Donating Hair for Children in Need
A look at the whys and hows of donating hair to Locks of Love and Wigs for Kids
By Kathryn E. Darden | Published 11/27/2008 |

Christian Poet's Pen
Christian Poet's Pen is a blog where Christian Poets can publish their poems and exchange constructive criticism with other inspirational poets
By Kathryn E. Darden | Published 11/26/2008 |

New Wristband Proclaims "Thank You God, I Am Grateful."
Journalist creates "Thank You" bracelets to promote gratitude, hope and thanksgiving
By Kathryn E. Darden | Published 11/24/2008 | Read more »

Lucknow Railway Station Hires a Monkey-Man to Control Local Monkeys: Sometimes Truth Really is Stranger Than Fiction
The Lucknow railway station in India took drastic measures to protect their passengers and their property from monkeys.
By Kathryn E. Darden | Published 11/24/2008 |

A Christian Take on "Twilight"
Examining the themes of temptation and abstinence in the book "Twilight"
By Kathryn E. Darden | Published 11/19/2008 |

The Leaves of October - Photos
Fall colors and fall scenes. Read the accompanying "Leaves of October" poem!
By Kathryn E. Darden | Published 11/16/2008 |

The Leaves of October - Poem
Poem about the joy found in fall foliage - look for the accompanying slideshow!
By Kathryn E. Darden | Published 11/5/2008 |

November Nostalgia
Remembering an unusually beautiful November in Tennessee. View the accompanying Slideshow.
By Kathryn E. Darden | Published 11/10/2008 |

This Sword Swallower's Got Talent!
Sword Swallower Dan Meyer made it to the Quarter Finals on this 2008's "America's Got Talent," but that is only a small part of his interesting career
By Kathryn E. Darden | Published 11/6/2008 |

Ren Fest Photos
Photos from the Tennessee Renaissance Festival. For more info, read the article This Sword Swallower's Got Talent!
By Kathryn E. Darden | Published 11/7/2008

Thanksgiving Acrostic
A poem of thanks at Thanksgiving
By Kathryn E. Darden | Published 11/3/2008 |

Obama Limerick
A humorous look at Obama
By Kathryn E. Darden | Published 10/14/2008 |

Halloween Content

Halloween in the Woods
Last year I hosted a Halloween party in my local state park, and the results were better than I imagined!
By Kathryn E. Darden | Published 10/28/2008 |

Halloween Slideshow
Grown ups having fun dressing up on Halloween in Ren Fest, Lord of the Rings, and Narnia-type costumes. Read the accompanying article Halloween in the Woods
By Kathryn E. Darden | Published 11/6/2008 |

Halloween Acrostic - A Halloween Poem
A look at Halloween and the ghosts that haunt us from a different perspective
By Kathryn E. Darden | Published 10/9/2008 |

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas - What's in a Name?

I love good literature, and for that reason, I am on several discussion boards to discuss writers like C.S. Lewis and J.R.R.Tolkien . I was somewhat bemused that when people began to post their holiday greeting between December 21 and 25, 2007, the posts all had titles like:

Happy Yule to All!

Happy Holidays!

Happy Hogswatch Night

Happy Solstice

In fact, I was the only person on two such lists to wish my fellow Tolkien and Lewis enthusiasts a Merry Christmas!

The yule was a Germanic festival featuring a sacrificial feast some time in late December to early January on a date determined by the Germanic lunar calendar. The winter solstice is an actual astronomical event which occurs between December 20 and December 23 each year in the northern hemisphere. Hogswatch is a fictional holiday occuring on Dec, 31 and Dec. 32. None of them has anything to do with the celebration on December 25 which is known as Christmas unless the yule actually falls on December 25 by coincidence some year.

The bard, Shakespeare, once asked the pertinent question: what's in a name? The holiday has a name - it's Christmas. When did it become necessary to completely remove Christmas from holiday greetings, especially on discussion boards for authors who were Christians?

I am not one of those who believes Jesus the Christ was born exactly on December 25, so I don't personally get into singing "Happy Birthday, Baby Jesus" on December 25. But the Baby was born, and the early church redeemed a couple of pagan celebrations and turned them into an annual day of remembrance for the night Jesus was born, calling it a "holy day," and naming a mass after the Christ child. Thus was born one of the major holy days/holidays of the Christian calendar - Christmas.

When did it become OK to forget what made the holiday a holy day? When did we decide as a society it was OK to take Christ out of Christmas?

President Ulysses S. Grant declared Christmas a legal holiday in the United States back in 1870. However, by the time I was born almost 100 years later, there was already a major push by atheists to remove God and Christ from everything from our coins to our pledge. My parents' generation was made of sterner stuff and didn't cave under pressure. But somewhere along the line the next generation began to lose the battle. Perhaps the attacks, which originally were blatant attacks, became sneakier as it became more and more politically correct to talk about including everyone, not leaving anyone out, not "offending" people with lighting Christmas trees and placing manger scenes, etc. Recently, some retail stores made the news by demanding employees NOT wish customers a "Merry Christmas." Manger scenes are banned from city property in many cities for fear of offending other religions or the non-religious, and Christmas trees are now frequently called holiday trees.

So, when did we as a society actually make the brilliant decision to leave Christ completely out of Christmas? Given a choice, have we as Americans really decided we will let the dictates and petty agendas of foreigners and special interest groups cause us to eliminate Christ from the Christmas equation?

Chanukah and Ramadan are also celebrated respectfully here in America. In Israel, however, Hashanah, Succot, Passover and Chanukah are national holidays. In Muslim countries, Ramadan is a public holiday. Here in America, a nation founded by Christians where Christianity is still the major religion, we celebrate Christmas as a national holiday, and people of other faiths are welcome and free to observe the day as they see fit.

I have no problem with calling the period between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day "the Holidays" as that period includes so many holidays, but the period right around December 25 has a name - it's Christmas! People who bend over backwards to accommodate every special interest group out there not only end up looking spineless as they been further and further backwards, but they also look pretty ridiculous. And if they bend any further backwards they will soon tip over and end up kneeling in front of the alter of political correctness, giving up true Divinity for a god made of human hands. This has already happened once before in the day of Moses, and it didn't end well for those who chose the golden calf over the Living God.

Christmas has become a litmus test for our society, whether December 25 was the actual birthday of the Christ child or not. Whose day will you choose celebrate on December 25 - a day dedicated to God born in the flesh to live, die and be resurrected among us, or a day dedicated to political correctness? Christ makes the day a holy day. Christ gives the day its name. So when you are wishing folks well around December 25, remember - it's not the yule, the solstice, or any other holiday we celebrate then. The holy day has a name - it's CHRISTmas!

So from my house to yours, MERRY CHRISTMAS, everyone!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

My Birthday

Yesterday (December 19) was my birthday and if you must ask, I was 29... again! I had a very nice day - it actually started last night when my older cousin invited me up for my birthday/Christmas and fixed me my favorite meal, curried chicken. She used the recipe my mother brought back from India, so this is curry the way I like it best. It was so good, and she sent me home a casserole dish full! Of course I ate too much! Then I gave her grandkids the presents I had brought up, and it was worth the one-hour trip up just to watch them having so much fun with their presents!

Today some friends took me out for lunch downtown, and it was nice just catching up, and, yes, eating too much! It was Christmassy, too, with the decorations. Nashville is looking mighty festive!

Then tonight I had a dinner meeting with sword swallower Dan Meyer who caught me up on his exciting career and treated me to a birthday dinner at California Pizza Kitchen. The food was delicious! Why, yes! I DID eat too much! Thanks for asking! Dan has so many interesting projects in the works, you should all check out his MySpace page.

Then I found out the site Poets Who Blog had posted my poem Christmas in Iraq as the Poets Who Blog: The Seventh Day of Poetry for their "12 Days of Poetry" for Christmas!

To top it off, I got to work at Macy's until midnight! OK, so that wasn't the good part, but the rest of the day, except for my afternoon excursion to the DMV to renew my driver's license, was really nice!

Thanks to everyone who emailed, Twittered, posted, phoned, and sent cards! I have some of the nicest friends around!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Holiday Book Signings to Benefit Children with Serious Illnesses

Cookies for Kids will be hosting two holiday book signings for me in Nashville during the Christmas season to benefit the charity Special Spaces (Specialspaces.org). The organization has been given a storefront at Hickory Hollow Mall where they will sell gourmet cookies, do gift wrapping, and other special activities including my book signings!
I will be signing copies of my books The Mayberry Poem - A Tribute to Mayberry and How to Promote Your Book on a Shoestring Budget on Wednesday night, December 17 at 5 PM, and on Monday afternoon, December 22 at 2PM.

Cookies for Kids is located in the lower level of Hickory Hollow Mall near Sears in the "Real Estate" store front. Proceeds will benefit Special Spaces, a non-profit organization focused on making a difference in the lives of children with life threatening illnesses.

The Mayberry Poem - A Tribute to Mayberry
is a compilation of poetry about "The Andy Griffith Show." Each poem pays tribute to a character, episode, or theme from "The Andy Griffith Show" or simply honors the fictional town of Mayberry itself with its small-town values and simple "good ole' days" way of life. The poems range from humorous limericks to thought-provoking verses about the things that still make Mayberry resonate with viewers today. The book contains 204 poems about Mayberry written by over 60 different poets from 20 states as well as Washington, D.C. It also features photographs of Mount Airy, NC, the town where Andy Griffith grew up and which inspired Mayberry.

How to Promote Your Book on a Shoestring Budget takes authors step by step, through developing a marketing strategy, writing a press release, contacting the media, setting up a book signing, and much, much more.

Cookies for Kids will carry autographed copies of the book throughout the holidays, so if you cannot make it to one of the book signings, stop by and pick up a book and some cookies anyway! It's for a good cause! Call 615-530-8218 for more information.

For more details, read the longer article at Holiday Book Signings to Benefit Children with Serious Illness.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Christmas in Iraq



'Twas the Night Before Christmas in an Iraqi Town

Christmas in Iraq is a poem written for a soldier and his troop I sponsored in Iraq in 2005. It is my hope that this poem and others like it will be forwarded to our military men and women during the Christmas season so they will know they are not forgotten during the holidays.

'Twas the night before Christmas in an Iraqi town;
And our brave U.S. forces had all just hunkered down.
Not a Humvee was moving, not a Jeep stirred the sand
As troops dreamed of their homes, each and every man.

Some longed for their sweethearts, other men missed their moms,
Others missed sons and daughters not seen for so long.
Sugarplums would be nice, but much nicer to be
At home with their loved ones 'neath their own Christmas tree.

When what to their wondering ears should be heard,
But the faint sounds of carols, music and joyful words.
At first heard so faintly, then the sound grew and grew --
The sound of your loved ones singing carols for you.

For you are not forgotten, you are not alone;
You are missed by the people you keep safe at home,
And we remember you as the Christmas bells ring,
As you're watched by the Christ Child whose carols we sing.

For no matter how far from your home you may be,
There once was a Babe born for you and for me.
So hark to the carols as their music draws nigh,
And look to the stars in the Iraqi sky.

Remember the star which on Bethlehem shone,
The star that still guides those who yearn to be Home.
So as Christmas Day dawns over here, over there --
Merry Christmas to you, with our love, thanks, and prayers.

© 2005 By Kathryn E. Darden

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Why Do the Heathens Rage? Jack Black's Tastless Video

Why do non-Christians think it is OK to mock our beliefs, parody Jesus, and insult Christianity? If we parodied Mohammad or Buddha like these B-list Hollywood types and their sycophants parody Jesus, why, we would be intolerant or hate mongering. But these actors and the morons who applaud them are guilty or the same kind of bigotry and hate speech they so gleefully accuse Christians of every time they spread the kind of intolerant idiocy featured in Jack Black's latest tastelessness. Actually, they are guilty of much worse, one, for their hypocrisy, and two, for their blasphemy.

Perhaps you would think it equally funny if Jack Black portrayed someone you loved and respected - a religious leader, a parent -- and make a total mockery of what they stood for?

Most of the people snickering at this are the same people who would be insulted if we insulted an animal or cut down a tree, but make fun of Jesus and what he stood for, well SURE! THAT'S OK!

It's OK to offend Christians, but not OK if we stand up for values they find offensive. Anyone else see a double standard here?

I hate stupidity, and I have no tolerance for the PC, tree-hugging, amoral, Christian-bashing, PETA fringe crowd that is trying to push their immorality down my throat with such nonsense. Something this stupid makes me laugh in derision while I mourn for a world which persists in turning away from what is holy, righteous, and Divine.

Psalm 2 (King James Version)

1. Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing?

2. The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying,

3. Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.

4. He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the LORD shall have them in derision.

5. Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure.

6. Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion.

7. I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee.

8. Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.

9. Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel.

10. Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth.

11. Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling.

12. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

What Christmas Means to Me: Pagan Roots or Christian Traditions?



Christmas is my favorite holiday -- in fact, the holiday season is my favorite time of the year. I have always loved Christmas, and fondly recall our family traditions at this time of year. Even when my father was stationed in India and we lived there for three years during my childhood, family photos show my brother and me sitting amidst our presents under the Christmas tree which was some kind of Indian evergreen and looking much like any other Christmas tree but decorated with traditional Indian garlands of metallic cords and sequins as well as the decorations my mother brought with us. Our native housekeeper and his family piled traditional garlands of marigolds on our gifts and tables. Some of the metallic Indian garlands became part of our annual Christmas tree decorations. The marigold garlands, however, with their ties to Hinduism were left behind in India.

There is some dispute among Christians as to how appropriate it is to put up a tree and celebrate a holiday which has its share of pagan roots. At the private Christian school I attended in the 7th grade, I learned that there is little evidence Christ was born on December 25, or even in December. I have studied the myths and facts behind Christmas for 30 years. If you would be interested in a relatively brief overview of Christmas trees, Santa Claus, Moloch, Boniface, Druids, Saint Nicholas, Adam & Eve Day, and more, please read my article What Christmas Means to Me: Pagan Roots or Christian Traditions?