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an apology….

….to the many friends I have been neglecting lately.

I can’t go into details, but there’s a lot of negative things going on with me lately, so the blog, as usual, gets short shrift.  I value all of you, your comments, your emails, and, of course, your own writings.

I beg a little further indulgence.  Hopefully things get back to normal around here.



New nest for the raven

I tied up some loose ends in the previous post, but I wanted to give this little tidbit its own space.

In case you haven’t noticed by now, “Murder of Ravens” has its own domain, “”. Those good people at WordPress sell domain names for a measly $15 per year, complete with the redirect from the “” domain where all the WordPress blogs are housed. You don’t have to buy the domain from WordPress, but given my lack of technical expertise on these matters, it was just easier to buy it from them since they take care of all the technical junk for you.

Why did I do this, you ask? No really good reason, apart from the ego gratification of having my own domain, plus the fact that “” seems a little snazzier and is certainly more streamlined than “”.

The only really salient point here is that while it is NOT necessary to change your blogroll or bookmarks, (the old URL simply redirects you to the new one), you SHOULD use the “” URL if, for some strange reason, you actually feel compelled to link to this blog. Otherwise I may never be made aware of it, since the link won’t show up in my blog stats. Since I really do like to thank people who are kind enough to give me a link (even if I am a bit tardy in doing so), using the new URL will ensure that I see the link and can thank the linker.

I should also mention that there is another blog with a similar name, murderofravens.COM. That is NOT me. I only found out about this when I found I wasn’t able to register, since it was already taken.

As you might imagine, this was a trifle annoying. After all, one puts a great deal of thought into coming up with a catchy, original name for one’s blog. When I started it, I don’t think I knew three people who even knew what a “murder of ravens” was, so I figured I was being pretty darn original, if I do say so myself. Now I find out that some clever soul has thought up the same name. Oh, well. I suppose cyberspace is big enough for two “murderofravens”.  And besides, .org has a little more cache, I guess. 😉

As always, thanks to all who are so generous with their time and continue visit my little corner of cyberspace.



Tying us some loose ends…

April is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.

“The Waste Land”
T. S. Eliot

T. S. Eliot was so right. He could have added “and makes Smith ponder what an egregious blockslacker he is”. It has been suggested to me that I should trademark “blogslackery”. Others have suggested I have already done this. And so, without further ado, I intend to clean up some odds and ends…..

First and foremost, I wish to thank everyone who was so kind as to leave comments on my recent posts, especially the last three poems. While poetry makes up a regrettably small percentage of my overall output, the poems are easily my favorites, and the comments left on them mean the most to me. I couldn’t help notice that the word “Wow” was used more than once. Anytime I can make some of the many fine writers who make up our blogging circle say “Wow”, I feel that I have truly accomplished something. I only wish I had it in me to write more of them, but alas, the muse only whispers in my ear once in a while. I remain in awe of writers like Ali and Angelica who write more quality poetry in a month than I do in a year.

Speaking of comments, I once again must apologize for being so slow to respond. However, I am happy to report that I have finally gotten caught up in this department. For those of you who actually care what I think, any comment left in the last month or so has been replied to.

In the “pat myself on the back” department, I noticed recently that “Murder of Ravens” was actually mentioned in The Providence Journal Bulletin! Columnist and (I think) sports Editor Art Martone had written a piece on Joe Torre, and referenced my post on Joe Torre to make his point that even Red Sox fans respected the deposed Yankees manager. For those who are interested, Martone’s piece can be read here.

Also in the “pat myself on the back” department, I passed the 50,000 his mark some time ago. Of course, blogslacker that I am, the event came and went, and I had already passed 60,000 before I even noticed. And, naturally, by the time I actually got around to writing this I was 69K. Well, it IS my favorite number, after all.



Tag! I’m it.

I was recently tagged by, of all people, my favorite atheist, “Bad”, over at “The Bad Idea Blog”. I must admit that I was somewhat astonished to be tagged by this highly intelligent, eminently readable, but somewhat dour individual. But on the other hand, it IS a literary meme, so perhaps it’s not so discordant after all.

The rules of this meme go like this:

1. Go to page 123 of the nearest book.
2. Find the 5th sentence.
3. Write down the next 3 sentences.

Pretty easy, as far as this sort of thing goes. This is undoubtedly why he tagged me with this in the first place: anything more involved and I probably would never have gotten to it, inveterate blogslacker that I am.

As it turns out, I happen to be re-reading J. M. Barrie’s “My Lady Nicotine”. Barrie is, of course, far more famous as the author of “Peter Pan”. In fact, Wikipedia makes no mention at all of this work in their entry about Barrie (a work extolling the pleasures of smoking is far too politically incorrect for Wikipedia, presumably).

The book was originally published in 1890, and recounts the adventures of Barrie and his four bachelor friends, Gilray, Marriot, Scrymgeour, and Jimmy (Jimmy’s last name is Moggridge, but for reasons revealed in the book, he alone of the four friends is always referred to by his first name).

While this book is comparatively obscure, it is actually rather popular with us pipe smokers. What makes this book so interesting (at least from my perspective) is that the stories are all related through the prism of the smoking habits of each of the five friends. While cigar smoking is occasionally referred to, it is the pipe which is usually at center stage in each of the short vignettes presented by Barrie. The five friends’ love of a particular mixture, known as the “Arcadia Mixture”, forms the central theme of the book.

Whether you smoke or not, the book is an extremely entertaining visit to late Victorian England, viewed through the eyes of someone who was there. Barrie’s subtle wit is in fine form here, beginning with the first chapter, in which he informs the reader that he has given up smoking. At the beginning of the chapter he is strident (like most reformed smokers) in his declaration that “I am much better without tobacco, and already have difficulty in sympathizing with the man I used to be”, yet by the end of the chapter he grows wistful, and as he launches into his series of tales, we see where his heart truly likes. Strangely, in the description of the book, the reviewer for seems to have complete missed the irony in this chapter.

As an interesting footnote, Barrie was close friends with the creator of Sherlock Holmes, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Doyle paid a subtle tribute to his friend in “The Crooked Man”, in which Holmes says to Watson, “You still smoke the Arcadia mixture of your bachelor
days, then! There’s no mistaking that fluffy ash upon your coat.”

So, without further ado, here is my contribution to the meme. Oddly enough, this particular passage has nothing to do at all with smoking.

I stood up and gazed. She was perhaps a hundred yards away fro me, but I could distinctly make out her swaying, girlish figure, her deerstalker cap, and the ends of her boa. (as, I think, those long furry things are called) floated in the wind. In a moment she was safe on the other side; but on the middle of the plank she had turned to kiss her hand to some of her more timid friends, and it was then that I fell in love with her.



Sorry, everyone…..

I’ve been attending to some personal issues, which hasn’t left me much time for anything else.  Thanks to everyone for all the kind words.  I’ll be back soon, I promise.


taking up a glowing cinder with the tongs and lighting with it the long cherry-wood pipe which was wont to replace his clay when he was in a disputatious rather than a meditative mood" ~ Dr. John H. Watson ************************
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