Christopher M. Cevasco, Author

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Ah, Spring is in the Air… Duck!

With spring in full bloom all around us, let’s take a moment to consider Russian composer Igor Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring (1913).  Of the complex score to this ballet, Leonard Bernstein once said it has “the best dissonances anyone ever thought up, and the best asymmetries and polytonalities and ployrhythms and whatever else you […]

S. marcescens: Grubbiness is Next to Godliness

The year was 1263. A priest broke the communion wafer in a church in Bolsena, Italy, and found blood on the bread! A year later, Pope Urban inaugurated the feast of Corpus Christi in honor of the holy wonder, and the bread-breaking is memorialized to this day on the walls of the Vatican in a […]

Boudicca: Queen, Warrior, Rebel, Mother

In the mid-1st-century AD, Boudicca and her husband Prasutagus ruled the British tribe known as the Iceni, who inhabited an area roughly analogous to modern Norfolk.  When the Roman Emperor Claudius conquered southern Briton in AD 43, the Iceni agreed to an alliance with Rome, preserving their nominal independence.  They and other Iceni nobles suffered […]

Geronimo: What’s In A Name?

Geronimo was an Apache man born in 1829 in what is today New Mexico.  At the time it was still considered Mexican territory.  After Spanish soldiers from Mexico killed his wife, mother and three young children in 1858, Geronimo devoted himself to raiding and terrorizing Mexican settlements on Apache lands.  When the U.S. Army tried […]

Mayday Mayday Mayday!

The first of May brings with it not one but two distinct holidays, each referred to as May Day.  On the one hand, much like the U.S. Labor Day holiday celebrated in September, May Day has been internationally recognized since the 1890s as a celebration of workers generally and, more specifically, the struggle of labor […]

Halley’s Comet – Part 1 (Intro and Early Records)

Halley’s Comet plays a significant role in my recently completed novel about events in 1066.  The comet has such a storied history, I thought a series of posts under ZOUNDS! was warranted.  Here’s the first of this series: 1P/Halley, as it’s officially designated, is the only short-period (orbit of less than 200 years) comet readily […]

Merkins…

From the racier side of history and etymology, we have the word merkin.  As the OED defines it, the word is either an obsolete reference to “the female pudendum” or—more amusingly—a “counterfeit hair for women’s privy parts,” as set forth in Grose’s Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue (3rd Ed, 1796).  The custom of wearing these […]

Prince William & 1066

I refer to the current prince, soon to marry Kate Middleton.  Unsurprisingly, the current British royals trace decent from the Norman, William the Conqueror, who in 1066 at the Battle of Hastings wrested the English crown from Harold Godwineson, last of the Anglo-Saxon kings.  Interestingly, William the Conqueror’s son, King Henry I, married a niece […]

First Cigarettes

Cigarettes have actually been around in crude form since the early 1600s and in recognizeable form since the 18th century.  Although they didn’t become widely popular in the United States until shortly after the Civil War, they were smoked during the Civil War.  Indeed, by 1864 the first federal cigarette excise tax had been imposed […]

Aztec Flower Wars

Although varying modern interpretations of the concept of a “Flower War” exist, Dominican friar Diego Durán (c. 1537-88) wrote in his The History of the Indies of New Spain (aka the Durán Codex) that the wars were instituted due to a major famine that took place during the reign of Moctezuma I (1440-1469). Believing the […]