What’s in a Name: Claussen

Claussen:

  • Clausen is a Danish patronymic surname, literally meaning child of Claus, Claus being a German form of the Greek Νικόλαος, Nikolaos used in Denmark at least since the 16th century. The spelling variant Klausen has identical pronunciation (as does the often interchangeable Claussen).
  • The spelling variant Klausen has identical pronunciation (as does the often interchangeable Claussen). The two variants are number 34 and 85 on the top100 of surnames in Denmark. Occurrences of Clausen/Klausen as a surname outside Denmark and Schleswig-Holstein are due to immigration.
  • Dutch, North German, Danish, and Norwegian: patronymic from the personal name Claus, a reduced form of Nikolaus (see Nicholas).

Based on the name Claus (Klaus):

  • From the Greek name Νικολαος (Nikolaos) which meant “victory of440px-Icon_c_1500_St_Nicholas the people” from Greek νικη (nike) “victory” and λαος (laos) “people.” Saint Nicholas was a 4th-century bishop and the patron saint of children, sailors and merchants, as well as Greece and Russia. He formed the basis for the figure known as Santa Claus (created in the 19th century from Dutch Sinterklaas).
  • Due to the renown of the saint, this name has been widely used in the Christian world.

To summarize, the meaning of Claussen breaks down into son of Claus. Claus derives from the Greek Nikolas, which means “Victory of the People.” In short, Claussen means “Son of Victory of the People.” The name has origins in Denmark and Schleswig-Holstein, Germany, and that tends to be the source of anyone with a similar name to Claussen. The spelling is completely arbitrary.

What’s in a Name: Leslie

The following is from three sites about names and meanings:

  • UnknownFrom a Scottish surname, which was derived from a Scottish place name, probably derived from Gaelic leas celyn meaning “garden of holly”. It has been used as a given name since the 19th century. In America it was more common as a feminine name after the 1940s.
  • It is of Scottish and Gaelic origin, and the meaning of Leslie is “holly garden“. Also possibly “the gray castle”. Place name and name of a prominent Scottish clan, first used as a given name in the 18th century.
  • Transferred use of the Scottish surname taken from Lesslyn, a Bastion of Piliv Fortplace-name in Aberdeenshire. The name might be derived from the Gaelic elements lios (enclosure, garden, fort) and chuilinn (a holly tree) or liath (gray): hence, “garden of hollies” or “the gray fort.” The name, borne by a well-known Scottish clan, was not in common use as a personal name until late in the 19th century.

Basically, it comes done to two meanings: Holly Garden and/or Gray Fort.

Holly garden is interesting because holly is used to symbolize truth in heraldry. So truth becomes part of the meaning. The idea of a gray fort is connected personally to my habit of standing back and observing, like a fort on a hill. I am also very closed off at times, like a proper fort.

Fun fact: In the Harry Potter novels, holly is used as the wood in the titular character’s wand.

You Are Not Alone

perks_love we think we deserve

Perks quote

It is hard to describe how a few select books make me feel. They touch something in me and somehow make me feel everything. It is not that the books in question are lofty literature or anything like that. The actual writing—the words—can be very simple. I think it might have more to do with the voice and tone. In the two books I am thinking of, the voice happens to be male: Craig in Ned Vizzini’s It’s Kind of a Funny Story and Charlie from Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Both books/characters talk about things I understand, no matter the gender.

I really wish I had read both of these books at a critical point in my life—my mid-teens. I know this could have happened with Perks because it was printed in 1999. Funny Story was printed in 2006, when I was about 18 years old, so it would have been too late, maybe.

Funny_Story_frontBoth of these characters reflect something deep in me, something I think has to do with being bipolar, or at least knowing what depression—deep down blue depression—feels like. These books speak truths that no one told me about during those scary years. I wish someone had pressed a copy of Perks into my 15-year-old hands and said, “You are not alone.” Because, simply put, that’s what these books do; they each say, in bold letters: “You Are Not Alone.”

It’s that feeling when you’re all alone in a crowded room and your eyes meet someone and you know they know. You feel linked. And the moment may be brief but the fact of it is something you remember.

I know I’m not the only one to feel it because both Funny Story and Perks have been made into movies, in 2010 and 2012, respectively. I’m not the only one who wants a brain map from Craig or a mixtape from Charlie with the Smiths’ song “Asleep” on it (twice). These stories crack your chest open, reach in, and grab ahold of your heart.

All these words are only a glimpse of my true meaning. It is something you can only talk around but never name. And like only a few other books—The Giver, the Harry Potter series—these books will probably stay with me forever.

An Open Letter to Stephen Fry

Mr. Stephen Fry is a recent hero of mine.  I must admit that before I watched the 2nd season of Bones, I did not know who he was.  But I’m glad I decided to look into the work of Fry, beyond his role as Gordon-Gordon.

Fry in Bones

Fry is an actor, comedian, writer, activist, humanist, and general know-it-all when it comes to many subjects.  Here is a short video (3 mins) narrated by Fry on the subject of happiness and humanism: 

He is also an active member of the GLBT community and he has made a BBC doc on the attitudes towards homosexuality around the world, called Out There.  Here is a link to the BBC: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p01fttn0

But the reason I found Stephen Fry most endearing is not his views or his personality (though he is fascinating).  I connect with Fry because he and I share something at the core of our being: we are both bipolar.  In the mid-2000s, he made a doc, again with the BBC, about what it means to be bipolar in the world today and many of the factors that enter into a person’s life if they are bipolar.  I highly recommend this two part doc and have a link to the first part here:

Why am I writing this, you may ask?  Yes, I am an anglophile to my greatest depth.  Indeed, I find Fry’s accent, like many of his countrymen, to be irresistible.  However, it is Fry’s humanity that charms me the most.  He gives bipolar disorder a face; not the face of a “mad” person, but a human face of great diversity and range, full of people who have and will give humanity great things despite their suffering.

After reading Moab is My Washpot, an autobiography by Fry from 1997, I see that he has suffered like my father and so many others, simply because he was born before there was proper/healthy care for those with mental illness.  He was finally diagnosed at age 37, but his battle began during boyhood.  My diagnosis came at roughly age 14, after suffering for two years or so.  We have both felt the highs and lows of this mental illness–the mania and the depression, each with its own struggles.  As he points out, speaking out is the only way to fight the stigma and tell people what the reality of this mental illness.

For anyone with bipolar or a family member or friend, I strongly encourage you to watch his doc, The Secret Life of The Manic Depressive (video above).  Talking about mental illness is the only way to help those who do not know what they are experiencing, the pain they feel, the ups and downs.  Mania and depression are not normal behavior and you need help.  There is so much life out there that you are missing or feeling that drug called mania that disrupts your whole life, that speed or slowness that no one understands…  It is all part of this new normal that each bipolar person needs to come to and develop until it just seems normal.  No, others do not always understand, even if they try their hardest, they are not in our head.  This is mental illness and one of us is visibly bringing to light: Mr. Stephen Fry.

And my hope is to add myself to that list of people trying to help others or speak out, from Carrie Fischer to No Stigma to Stephen Fry.

In short, I don’t care about his politics, though I do love his talent, I am a fan and fellow advocate of Stephen Fry.  And I can not wait to see what more he gives to the world, via books, television, film, documentaries, and so many other gifts that you’d have to ask him about it.

The Character of Faith: One Tough Chick

Faith is the dark image of Buffy.  She didn’t grow up with the love Buffy experienced, sFaith_Lehanehe has different issues with liking and leaving guys, and she was in a rougher place when she was chosen.  It doesn’t mean that she’s bad.  She slipped like everyone does (and can), especially in the Buffyverse, and she paid for it.  She lost her only friend and exiled herself from the outside world.  Then she gets busted out by Wes, whom she hurt (badly) and goes to fight for the good guys back in Sunnydale

Faith is the Angelus to Buffy’s Angel character.  Like Angel/Angelus, one character isn’t singularly good and one is evil; its more than one happily leans one way while the other struggles down the path of righteousness.  As its been pointed out, Buffy isn’t always good.  She has slipped the line a couple of times.  No one is perfect all the time.  And no one is bad all the time.

I love the character of Faith; she’s everything that Buffy maybe wants to be but could never be.  She’s sexy, flirty, sometimes careless, tough, and she’s a brunette for Pete’s sake, which clearly shows that blonds don’t always have the must fun.

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All that said, she grows out of being a vehicle for the third season plot about the power of being a slayer and becomes a full character in her own right.  Faith finds a father-figure of her own in Mayor Wilkens, much like Giles is Buffy’s pseudo-father; their relationship, when it is looked at without the “evil” involved, is pure and sort of sweet.  He cares for her completely, as a daughter, and even looks after her in death.  For Faith, she finally finds a man she can depend on; no doubt she had daddy-issues of her own before coming to the Hellmouth, leading to her feelings about men.  Wilkens doesn’t ask much from her, just to kill a few people, poison Angel (partly revenge for Angel not going with Faith earlier), things that Faith is willing to do anyway; he helps focus her energy, her powerful slayer gifts, for the evil side.  He has been alive for 100 years, lost his wife when she died naturally, and might just be lonely even if he is going to be a pure demon.  This is something that has been standard from season 1, villains who are just as human as the heroes.  The Mayor may be evil but he is also loving and caring, just like everyone else.Fuffy

“Writers keep writing what they write…”: My Love for Fall Out Boy

I’ll admit it right now, I’m watching the extended, full length version of FOB’s “Young Blood Chronicles” as I write this (for the first time, but not the last).  But I’ve been a Fall Out Boy fan for a very long time.  This is how old I am: I remember buying a copy of “Take This to Your Grave” from a Sam Goody when I visited the Mall of America.  Yep, pre-iTunes, when you had to go out and buy music and the only chance you had to preview it was MTV or those booths at music stores that I avoided because I don’t know where your ears have been, so I’m not putting those headphones on my ears.  Sam Goody is a distant memories for most 20-somethings; for those who don’t remember, it was a go-to for the latest CD (or tape) back in the day.

That’s how it all began for me, “Take This to Your Grave.”  This was part of my teenage anthem, along with similar bands, such as Good Charlotte,  Simple Plan, and Sugarcult, later Hawthorne Heights, Panic! at the Disco and many more.  Songs from this album will always be close to my heart.  They got me through the bad times of teenage-dom and bipolar alike.  Whenever I hear the start of “Grand Theft Autumn/Where Is Your Boy” I can’t help but sing along.  The song titles are fun and set the tone of what was to follow for this band.  The vocals were raw, filled with emotion, and the lyrics are so complex at times, you’d need a decoder ring (look it up, kids).  These were a bunch of suburban Illinois kids singing the lyrics of my heart as a young teenager.  If this had been there only record, I would have played it until I had to buy a backup copy.  But, to my joy and delight, there would be more to come, more to love, more to sing in the car when the world was shitty and dark.

When things were really hitting the fan for me, the greatest thing happened.  Fall Out Boy reached into my head and sang everything I thought, the good and the bad, in their second full album, “From Under the Cork Tree” in 2005.  “Our Lawyer Made Us Change the Name of This Song So We Wouldn’t Get Sued” hits the ground running and I love the fact that the first words Patrick sings are basically, “Don’t listen to this, put it down and walk away.”  This is the one that launched FOB into stardom, if you ask me.  MTV played the videos for “Dance, Dance” and “Sugar, We’re Going Down” and Hot Topic sold merchandise  which I bought, trying to be goth/emo/whatever-the-hell.  I was cool for once, part of what was happening at that very moment.  And I had claimed this band before anyone knew about them, the thought that most fans have about their favorite band hitting the big time.

By this time I was writing poetry and, oh boy, you can see the influence printed large on some of my early stuff.  (Hey, its an homage, right?)

Then, I honestly think Hollywood went to their heads, because I liked the next two albums, but I didn’t “get” them, to tell the truth.

Suddenly, Jay-Z was rapping on one of the tracks and the song titles were written without vowels.  But I enjoyed most of it; it was just too shiny and happy at times for someone in the grips of depression or great if your bouncing off the walls with mania.  The one song that hit me straight on was “Golden,” which expresses everything I think is wrong with image vs. reality aka I will never impress you with what I do, so what does it matter who I am inside.  These were the FOB lyrics I wanted: witty and thoughtful, not too flashy or “pop.”

And, in my opinion, the weirdest of all, “Folie a Deux.”  Everyone was in love, and I’m listening, thinking, “WTF? Do I just not get it?”  This was the height of Hollywood Pete and the gang for me, the problems of celebrities and rock stars, not kids with problems.  The lyrics were still great, but their weren’t my lyrics anymore.  I never felt the need to “detox just to re-tox” at any time.  The songs titles became even weirder, like “Disloyal Order of Water Buffalo,” a reference to “The Flintstones” cartoon.  “I Don’t Care” was great for shouted that you didn’t give a damn about the world, and “What A Catch, Donnie” was great to sing to, especially when they bring in lines from previous songs.  But, I don’t know, it didn’t feel like my Fall Out Boy.  It had become the band of the people; younger, happier people who didn’t have real problems in their happy little lives.

And that’s where it ended.  No one brought up the band for a while and knew that was the end.  I thought, “Well, they’ve moved on, and so will I.”  So, I grew up (which I do not recommend) and Fall Out Boy became a part of my past.  I went to college and listened to whatever was popular, mixed with “grown up” music, that I enjoyed but didn’t love (unless you talk about Death Cab for Cutie, but that’s another topic).

But I was wrong, it wasn’t over at all, just stalled a bit.  The year 2013 came and they were back, baby!

“Save Rock and Roll” was the sound I wanted and longed for over the years.  My boys where back and all grown up!  I had progressed in life and they had as well, and now we met again as old friends.  The sound was mature and well-rounded, the lyrics were genius, and the feel was back.  It had all come full circle.  Here I was in a new part of my life and Fall Out Boy was there to greet me and congratulate me on making it through the hard times.  With guest artists from Country Love to Elton John, I couldn’t believe it could ever be this good, nay, Great!  Here was the wit and the love I had longed for since 2009.  Patrick, Pete, Joe, and Andy were all at their prime and I could not have been happier.

To tell the truth again, I didn’t sit down to write this entry.  It just sort of happened.  I had to finally share my thoughts for my fellow fans and everyone else out there.  But this brings me to the best part of the story (for me, anyway).  I get to see one of my favorite bands in their hometown (area) in July. I simply can not wait.

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In the meantime:

Let me ask you, “ARE YOU READY FOR ANOTHER BAD POEM?”


MONTUMENTOUR was awesome!  Epic!  The bands all rocked hard and I sang along with all my heart.  I will never forget it as long as I live.

“I’ll never be a theatre person!” Part 1

Driving down the highway on a rainy day in March, I sing-along—complete with gestures and choreography—to the original Rent Broadway cast soundtrack. This is just one example of what I find myself doing often: enjoying any of a variety of musicals.

I don’t sing well. And I’m not being humble. I know I’m partly tone-deaf and have the range of that only some witty comment could convey. My hands tend to be more coordinated than my feet, which is my excuse for lacking all ability to dance. I just love to sing in the company of my home or car and find an exciting, indescribable vibe from watching a live show. I don’t even mind if I can only get my hands on a movie version or just a soundtrack.

There’s something about a great musical, where the characters have no other way to express their feelings and find the only way they can communicate is through the power of a soaring musical rifts and some well-crafted lyrics. Musicals come in all forms: live shows, movies, soundtracks, Internet broadcasts, and even television. People bursting into song, alone or in a group, are not that strange in my world.

Though I am new to the world of the musical, green on the Great White Way, I do have some clear favorites: Annie, my first play I ever acted in; Rent; The Phantom of the Opera; Wicked, based on the characters’ of L. Frank Baum’s The Wizard of Oz; Reefer Madness the musical movie; Singin’ in the Rain, a classic; Spring Awakening, an awesome, blasting show; and television’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer… to name a few.

Joss Whedon’s excellent shows Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the spin-off Angel, along with Firefly and his other works, are insightful views into human nature. In his Buffy episode “Once More, With Feeling” (6-7), Whedon and his crew constructed and composed over 40 minutes of music, lyrics, and choreography. The show achieves all this while still carrying the story along and continuing the different character arcs. And it was all within an episode of your everyday television for Joss Whedon.

“Once More, With Feeling” may be set in the fantastical world of Sunnydale, but there are many awesome musicals set in the “real” real world.

One of my personal favorites is Rent, about a group of 20-something friends, living and dying in New York City within one year—from Christmas Eve 1989 to Christmas day of 1990. The musical, a world-wide hit that has been running on Broadway, finishing after 12 long years in 2008, is about the AIDS epidemic during the 1980s and 90s and the lives of those infected and affected. All with rock, R&B, gospel, and pop music and story-carrying lyrics that move and let the audience laugh and feel along with the characters that reflect real people to connect with. Rent is what the world would be if every emotional moment resulted in a song.

“I’ll never be a theatre person!” Joanne, Rent.

I would have said this very phrase if I’d known it, about five years ago, during the summer of 2003. As I didn’t know this line, I said something to the effect of “I can’t sing or act.” Well, those raw facts may be true, but it didn’t stop me from taking an unseen leap into the world of live theatre via a high school play my junior year, Annie.

I could say that’s how it all started, a high school production, but I slowly realized that that is wrong. I was interested in musicals long before high school, before I knew what a musical was and that singing in the movie wasn’t typical. Apparently, I grew up with musicals, in the form of movies that my Mom would pop in the VHS player. From what I remember, the list includes the following: The Music Man, Sound of Music, My Fair Lady, Singin’ in the Rain, and The King and I. If you played any of these classic movie musicals, I would be able to join in without even thinking about it.