"The Childe...More restless than the swallow in the skies..." -Lord Byron, Childe Harold's Pilgrimage

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Out with the Old, In with the Aging

This blog gets less of my time and energy these days. Expect that to continue in 2014. It's a gift for you friends and family who stop by once in awhile. You will be missing less. Still, stop by, please. I like the slow uptick in my analytics.

The reason for this blog's neglect is good. In the last few months I have written a lot. Most of this writing comprises a long term project: a novel. Some of the output heads for contests. In 2014 I plan to continue this habit of focusing on putting my writing in front of professional editors and contest judges.

In the meantime, I hope the winding down of your holidays goes well, Reader. My holidays were choice, thanks mostly to the efforts of friends and family. Thanksgiving, a holiday I remain cynical about as a matter of honor, softened my heart a little. Thanks go to a coworker who invited me to a family gathering. Fellowship resulted. I abstained from patronizing my coffee shop even though it was open. The day was good.

For Christmas I rented a car and travelled to Kentucky to visit my parents and my sister's family. The rental car office gave me a free upgrade to a Chrysler convertible when the intermediate Sedan earmarked for me got stuck in the mud at a nearby shop. I accepted the upgrade because my lunch break was almost over.

Ah, cruising through Ohio late in a December evening with the top...up. Silly, pointless luck getting that free upgrade. Cruising in a convertible in the dead of winter. Wondering what the hell several buttons in the car are for. Dodging potholes and right-wing pundit radio stations. Hoping I don't roll over physically or ideologically as I run the Death Star trench that is freeway construction in Dayton, Ohio. Cursing my dumb luck to get a useless upgrade in winter and...hey, look at that cutie in the next lane also driving a top-up convertible. Hey, fellow convertible driver, care to join me for coffee and waffles in Wapakoneta?

Still, it was fun to gauge the reactions of coworkers and family as I approached with unexpected class! Christmas is a holiday I continue to love with minimal cynicism. I don't know why my fellow humanists are trying to popularize a new atheistic holiday in December when Christmas has proven so pliable already--a spiced mix of Christian and Pagan and Secular. Me and Christmas are getting along just fine.

I feel no special enthusiasm for the New Year. I live in a country that seems increasingly driven by fear, anger, and--as Facebook status updates routinely demonstrate--sloppy writing. Yet, the opportunities for a good year are plentiful. Bonding with two of my wonderful nieces and nephews over eggnog and bootleg Disney clips on YouTube reminded me of the promise of youth. Come on, New Year. Let's dance!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Considering 'Love Actually' with NPR

The folks at NPR brought to my attention that some people hate the movie Love Actually. In fact, this Christmas season the debate between thoughtful lovers of the movie and bitter foolish haters has reached fever pitch--this year being the film's 10th Anniversary. For an excellent debate on the matter, check out NPR's awesome pop-culture portal, Monkey See: 'The Case for - and Against...'

As a detached observer, sworn to objectivity, my interest in the Love Actually debate is, shall we say, platonic. Like many guys, I encountered this film when a girl I cared for deeply and wanted to make out with made me watch it. Given that the film is the cinematic equivalent of cake and ice cream, the viewing was far from tedious. Suffice it to say, the movie has its attributes and meets the needs of a certain demographic prone to effusive displays of...effusiveness.

Lacking the chemical dependency some people exhibit toward romantic comedy, I have not re-watched Love Actually this Christmas season. I do not feel a need to. Besides, as a trained critic, I tend to find the milder temperatures of late winter and early fall a more agreeable time to reexamine the film's technical and cultural merit while eating a Hershey's Symphony Bar.

At any rate, for those of you who adore the film, but more especially for those who flog it with your base cynicism, I call on you to follow the below link to a wonderful, laughable, and likable video tribute to one of Love Actually's most famous scenes.

The NPR 'Jump' for My Love

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Cosmos Highlight for December 2013

Every now and then, usually in the early morning, I look up for three to five minutes and watch a bright point of light arc silently overhead. It never ceases to inspire me.

Click on Image for Larger Version 

On December 6, 1998, International Space Station assembly began
Image Credit: NASA

From the full caption at nasa.gov:
"On Dec. 6, 1998, the crew of space shuttle mission STS-88 began construction of the International Space Station, attaching the U.S.-built Unity node and the Russian-built Zarya module together in orbit. The crew carried a large-format IMAX® camera, used to take this image of Unity lifted out of Endeavour's payload bay to position it upright for connection
to Zarya."