Archive for the ‘Fitz-James O’Brien’ Category

“Minot’s Ledge” is not just a poem; it’s a notoriously dangerous shelf of rocks outside Boston Harbor. The lighthouse built there almost always had its feet wet. Here’s a pretty spooky webpage about the lighthouse and its history.

“Minot’s Ledge”


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It’s almost time for the Winter Olympics. Here’s a poem about pairs skating that’s even more suspenseful than watching the competition!

And yeah, I know the direct link for manual download doesn’t seem to be working real well. I wish I knew what to do about it.

“The Skaters”

2 minutes, 43 seconds

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I actually managed to get a little podcasting done! So here’s another New Year’s story from Fitz-James O’Brien, because back in his day in New York, Santa and Kriss Kringle came at New Year’s. (Apparently back in his day, midnight was quiet except for bells, too.)

This one is about two street children who are still awake at midnight, waiting for Kriss Kringle to come. Yes, this is O’Brien. Yes, it’s gonna be sad. Hankie alert!

Please note that archive.org’s audio pages have changed. The only streaming link is over to the left side, and so are all the file-playing ones. You can still access individual soundfiles by going to the “individual files” or “http” links on the page. This will produce a pop-up window. I am going to keep providing links from here, which should also still work. (They’ve also changed their editor for file information, so I may actually be able to fix some problems that have been bugging me.)

“Three of a Trade”
15 min.

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“Our Christmas Tree” is a poor but proud man’s comparison of his Christmas tree to a millionaire’s.

“The Prisoner of War”, which O’Brien wrote in December 1861, is about a Union soldier whose best friend is imprisoned down South.

“Our Christmas Tree”
2 min.

“The Prisoner of War”
4 min.

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The creepy Christmas story becomes a creepy New Year’s Eve, as the Wondersmith’s evil plans move into their final phase. Beware the Wondersmith!

Btw, I knew I’d heard that phrase before. I have a fairy tale book about the Gobhan Saor called The Wonder Smith and His Son. (It came out in 1927.) Wayland, Mimir and Regin are also called “wonder smith”, so the term may come from Norse kennings. Wherever it comes from, it’s a good title, ne?

Section 4: “The Manikin and the Minos”
Section 5: “Tied Up”
Section 6: “The Poisoning of the Swords”
Section 7: “Let Loose”
46 min.

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This week, the honor of the name demands that I begin to read Fitz’s creepy Christmas chronicle of bloody Romany revolution on the sidewalks of New York — by magic!

I’m torn about this story. On the one hand, there’s no denying that it’s a very clever and scary little urban fantasy. It deals with contemporary issues (nationalist revolution), and uses traditional figures of legend alongside unused ones, like organ grinders and American birds. Furthermore, it weaves in real Romany legends and beliefs very cleverly. On the other hand, it also makes use of European stereotypes, including those against the Romany. And that whole rant against “Christians” doesn’t make sense, for example. Rom who live in Europe and America are usually Christians, though they also hold their own beliefs. (Against gaje (non-Romany), you maybe could see the rant. I suspect editorial interference, myself.) Still, it’s a good story as long as you bear the truth in mind, and includes a very unusual romance.

So don’t give this one to the kids, okay?


Section 1: “Golosh Street and Its People”
Section 2: “A Bottleful of Souls”
Section 3: “Solon”
45 min.

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First, my strep throat slowed me down. Then going back to work slowed me down. And now hundreds of people rushing to upload before Thanksgiving have slowed archive.org down. (Surtees is up; check my catalog link to archive.org if it doesn’t get up in time for the morning.) But all the same, Clan Honor must be served.

“An Arabian Nightmare” is a cute little story about a medieval Arab merchant who travels on business to Russia, stays the winter, and ends up having an interesting encounter with beings straight out of the Arabian Nights.

For those who are keeping score, the latent moral of the story is perfectly appropriate to those of us Christians about to celebrate Thanksgiving. (Heh!)

“An Arabian Nightmare”
18 min.

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