We have been making rather merry and I have family visiting. I could, perhaps, have planned something ahead of time as I have been known to plan, but I confess I did not feel up to it. I thought perhaps I should cheat and just post pictures of the food we made and have been eating. But that doesn’t seem like an adequate confession.
I confess to guilt that I am not generous enough, that I do not reach out enough, and that I think of comfort before action. I am not Catholic, so I don’t know how to classify that sin. Continue reading “Full Confession”
A few weeks ago, I highlighted a recent sentiment that Christmas lights make everything better. This is no accident. Tomorrow is the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year in the northern hemisphere. Our body clocks can’t wait for that turning of the tide and, over centuries, our cultures have created one tradition after another to add lights which stave off that darkness. That desire for more light is built into us at the core, even at the cellular levels, within our circadian rhythms.
Hall, Rosbash, and Young won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine for studying the phenomenon of circadian rhythms. The basic notion of a circadian cycle is one tied to a 24-hour biological clock, a circuit fundamentally tied to the length of a day, split between sun and darkness. Life cycles, for everything from plants to fruit flies to human beings, have adapted to that 24-hour pattern. Scientists have known for years that key processes that regulate sleep, hormone production, metabolism, and behavior are linked to these patterns. The Nobel scientists figured out why.
et tunc curat
ludo mentis aciem,
dissolvit ut glaciem.
like the moon
you are changeable,
and then soothes
as fancy takes it;
it melts them like ice.
–Carl Orff, Carmina Burana,
O Fortuna (Stanza 1)
I was listening to an economist discuss projections of the market for 2018, and it struck me how much this reminded me of King Arthur. The connection? The medieval idea of the Wheel of Fortune, a prism which could help us view the world in proper context and settle our turbulent emotions just as it did centuries ago.
Now, this is not the game show with Pat and Vanna that has filled the after-dinner TV slot for decades. Although those who know about the enduring notion of Fortune surely find it amusing that this show has displayed such enduring popularity.
The basic idea of the Wheel of Fortune, if you recall from your world history days, is that those on top of the wheel — kings, rich men, landowners — enjoy the bounty of the earth, while the poor and the peasants struggle at the bottom. But the wheel always turns and even kings and emperors now high will eventually be struck low. We’ve seen this played out in history and can understand the dynamic. Dictators who overstep their power are brought down. Wealthy playboys waste the inheritance that their thrifty parents worked years to create. Meanwhile, others rise out of poverty to amass their own financial empire or to create their own new political followings. Continue reading “King Arthur and the Stock Market”
One of my biggest gripes about Christmas is people griping about Christmas.
This is a time of year when hearts are opened, and festivities are unloosed. We’re allowed to be in a good mood just because, and there are a lot of becauses. Because family is coming to visit that we haven’t seen in a long time. Because we’re going to make our favorite Christmas pie/cake/cookies/divinity/souffle/crab dip. Because we thought of a good gift for a Certain Someone. Because the office workers put those decorations up in the lobby that we could never afford in our own house but look so-o-o-o good. As I deliver a couple of guidelines for the holidays, one guideline I would start with is the “be merry” part of Eat, Drink & Be Merry. The first rule of Christmas is let’s chill out about rules around Christmas.
The Real War on Christmas
It has been custom for the last several years for those who deem themselves more saintly than others to declare that there is a war on Christmas. This is, in part, because there are more people in the world, particularly in America and, over time, they celebrate a broader range of traditions. Not everybody celebrates Christmas in the same way; not everybody celebrates Christmas; but everybody likes holidays, don’t they? Continue reading “Christmas Rules…(Ebenezer Drools!)”
A lot of angst-filled snippets are filling social media over Kenneth Branagh’s new version of Agatha Christie’s classic, Murder on the Orient Express. People don’t want to see it because no one could be a better Poirot than David Suchet. Or they loved the 1974 production with Albert Finney so much, what could surpass that? Branagh’s moustache looks silly. Who does he think he is? Why mess with the “original”….etc. etc.?
Time out. Let’s talk about covers.
The Beatles Love It When Other People Do the Beatles
A cover is a remake. It should be different but pay homage to the original. There’s an interesting side discussion about whether the word “cover” was specific to white bands covering black artists’ material which you can read here . Let’s bypass that issue; the notion of a cover is more generic in today’s vernacular. Mozart covered Bach. West Side Story covered Romeo and Juliet. Continue reading “Under the Covers of Murder at the Orient Express”