I’m generally not one for traditions or custom. I tend to see these as the enemies of thought and imagination. (Ralph Waldo Emerson: “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.”) I have always craved the new, the roads I haven’t yet traveled. Trying a new restaurant is more fun than revisiting an old haunt.
That said, tradition and custom can act as an anchor, a reference point, or just a comfort. I do have a few customary comforts. For instance, my bottle of champagne on the Solstices (one for sorrow, one for joy). Also, for New Year’s and my blog anniversary.
On Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, it’s watching as many versions of A Christmas Carol as I can.
Time for another round of notes — bits and pieces too small for a post and which, for whatever reason, don’t seem likely to ever grow into a post (or even a Brain Bubble con carne). Best of all, from the perspective of many readers, not one single shred of math or contentious ideas!
These notes posts generally have an undercurrent of “spring cleaning” — the whole idea is to help reduce my ever-growing pile of scraps of paper with half-baked ideas. Actual spring cleaning is upon us, so I’m even more vested in seeing how much I can clear away. I even have some notes devoted to the very idea itself.
So without further ado…
A Very Merry Christmas (or Seasonal Equivalent) to One and All! My wish for everyone is a peaceful and joyful day of good food, good friends, good relaxation, or whatever you wish this season. Ideally you aren’t traveling today, but if you are I hope your journey is swift, easy, and safe.
My wish to see the “Christmas Star” came true, and I also got a white Christmas (in the nick of time). There was also a wish about an election that came true.
So the year is ending nicely I think; worthy of some celebration.
How real is Sherlock Holmes, and what is the nature of his reality? On the one hand, Holmes is a fictional character from writer Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, but on the other there is a Canon of 56 short stories and four novels defining that character. It’s hard to deny at least some reality to something so well defined.
Others have extended the concept of Holmes far beyond the original in books, movies, TV shows, and more. The original texts are in the public domain, so there is considerable freedom to explore the idea of a crime-solving duo comprised of a brainy detective plus a faithful sidekick.
As a result Holmes has a well-defined center and very fuzzy boundaries!
At this point in the season, various versions have already aired more than a few times, but tonight marks the first time for me to sit down and popcorn out on A Christmas Carol (by any other name). And sometime this week I’ll read the online version at Gutenberg. It’s one of my all-time favorite stories!
Today also marks the beginning of the one-week Christmas Countdown. Each day brings a short controversy-free, technology-free, gluten-free, fat-free, sugar-free, chemical-free free range Christmas post with a link back to a post from the Christmas Cycle in 2012. Considering the viewing schedule tonight, the link can only be to A Christmas Carol. (You can watch the Mr. Magoo version there!)
And each day, below the fold: Christmas Music!
The post’s title is the name of a trope, and while you may not know it by this handle, you have probably run into it. Perhaps from someone combining the terms “old hat” and “just” — or maybe using the more continental “cliché” (ooh la la) about something once revered as ground-breaking. The trope arises from not recognizing the originator of ideas now in common use. For example, Airplane! and Die Hard seem lost among all the similar films that followed.
But this post really isn’t about the trope or the Seinfeld TV show. The title just makes a neat kick-off point and offers some connective tissue. I really do mean I don’t find Jerry Seinfeld all that funny. Ironically, I think the man is a comic genius, and I have high regard for his comic acumen. Yet his stand-up routines leave me cool.
So this post is actually about stuff I don’t find funny (and why not).
Is it just me or are the first four paragraphs of Dickens‘ A Christmas Carol both brilliant and hysterically funny? There seems a significant mood change beginning in the fifth graph, but the first four always crack me up. Combined with his preface, he opens with a joke (a few, really) and has me at hello.
In just a bit over 300 words, Dickens does riffs on the deadness of doornails, the ancestral wisdom in simile, and the ghost of Hamlet’s father that are practically stand-up comedy (mentioning a ghost foreshadows his own tale). We learn that Marley is (definitely!) dead and that he and Scrooge were partners. We learn a bit about their character, particularly Scrooge’s.
One could write an article about those four paragraphs (but I didn’t)!
Most of us have traditional ways of celebrating or observing the re-occurring events in our lives. An anniversary might call for dinner at a certain restaurant. A promotion or sale might call for buying a round of drinks. The great life milestones—births, graduations, weddings, retirements, deaths—all come heavily freighted with traditional behaviors.
For me, an important tradition at Christmas time is watching—and reading—the Charles Dickens classic, A Christmas Carol! I think it is one of the most engaging, endearing, wonderful and important stories ever. It is a story of redemption and re-discovery of lost joy. And it is an affirmation that how we choose to live our lives matters.
Plus it has ghosts!