Archive for the ‘Christmas’ Category

Christmas is coming.

Friday, September 23rd, 2016

I’ll post another reminder after Thanksgiving, but remember: clicking on Amazon links, or using the search box, gives us a small kickback on your purchases, and allows us to indulge our penchant for small electronics, knives, books, and movies from the 16 page list, “A partial and incomplete list of movies we might want to watch or have talked about watching (with annotations)”.

(I maintain that as a Google Doc which is shared with a few friends. I’m not sure I want to share it here, and if I did, it would be read-only. But if you ask directly, I might think about it…)

(Speaking of the Amazon search box, is anyone having trouble with it? It seems to be working okay for me, and I thought I replaced that when Amazon end-of-lifed the old version, but Lawrence made a comment to me the other night about it not working…)

I don’t expect gifts: the thoughtful and pleasant people who hang out here are more than enough of a gift for me. However, as an administrative note: if you are someone who feels inclined to purchase a gift for me, please do not purchase this book. Thank you.

(However, I wouldn’t object to a book on goat raising. Especially those Nigerian dwarf goats. I have been trying to persuade my mother that she needs a dwarf goat, or some dwarf cattle, to keep the Corgi company and give it something to do besides park itself under the bed.)

(Via. The funny thing is, I’d actually heard of this guy, or at least his toaster project. I would be more interested in the toaster, though it strikes me as an inferior version of “I, Pencil”.)

TMQ Watch: December 29, 2015.

Tuesday, December 29th, 2015

We hope all of our readers had a good Christmas, and that Santa or Krampus brought you everything you wanted. Sadly, Robot Santa Claus failed to bring us everything we wanted, as far too many of our enemies remain alive. Maybe in 2016. Or maybe we should submit our wish list to Morbo.

It looks like TMQ got what he wanted; a Panthers loss. Does this mean what we fear it means? After the jump, this week’s TMQ

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And what was in those ships?

Friday, December 25th, 2015

I think if you do it two years in a row, it becomes a tradition, and you have to keep doing it.

Also, I really do like this song.

Merry Christmas, you guys.

A Christmas Story.

Thursday, December 24th, 2015

I’ve been threatening to tell this one for a while now. What pushed me over the edge was this (because, hey, Christmas story), and a conversation with my mother about the first “Star Wars”, which filled me with nostalgia. (Or that may have been indigestion from a combination of three cup chicken and the pills I’m taking; sometimes, I can’t tell the difference.)

(We were trying to reconstruct the circumstances around seeing “Star Wars”. My father took my sister and I to the theater at Greenspoint Mall in Houston (which was the closest good one) to see it first run. My younger brother didn’t go with us, because he was roughly 2 1/2. So the questions that came up were: what did we do with him, and when did he first see it? I always thought my dad took us as just a nice gesture, while my mother thinks she had a Tupperware party going on that night and wanted to get us out of the house.)

End of introductory digression.

One year, over the Christmas break from school, I decided I wanted to read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. I’m pretty sure I was in middle school at the time, and to this day I can’t explain what motivated this: perhaps I thought it had a cool title, and I may have read about it elsewhere.

Anyway, I checked it out of the school library and brought it home with me.

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Art, damn it, art! watch (#50 in a series)

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2015

I don’t remember how this originally came up – I’m pretty sure it was by way of someone’s Twitter – but over the weekend Mike the Musicologist and were discussing odd gingerbread constructions. I wouldn’t exactly call them “houses”…

I got to wondering: has anyone ever done a gingerbread Fallingwater?

That would be a “yes”, Bob. And the conversation moved on from there. But I had it in the back of my mind: could you do a gingerbread Guggenheim? Doesn’t seem like it should be that hard, should it?

The answer is also “yes”.

And a gingerbread Tate Modern. And five other museums.

(Now I want to do a gingerbread Reichstag. Mostly because at the end of the Christmas season (which, as we all know, is January 6th), I can pour brandy on it and set it on fire.)

TMQ Watch: December 15, 2015.

Tuesday, December 15th, 2015

After last week’s “slit your wrists” opening, we were hoping to find something light and funny for this week. We didn’t have much luck, alas.

We did briefly consider doing something with “All I want for Christmas is a goat”. But then we listened to “Holy Night”. Or at least we tried to; we had to shut it off 30 seconds in. With all due respect to ActionAid, they could use this to torture prisoners at Gitmo.

So the heck with trying to find something light and funny. Let’s just jump into this week’s TMQ

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Yearly administrative note.

Friday, December 4th, 2015

This is your yearly reminder: if you use the Amazon search box on the right hand side of the page to buy stuff, I get a small kickback.

Said small kickback, as you all know, goes to purchasing toys for crippled orphans supporting this blog, mostly by enabling our purchases of Robert Ruark and Jack O’Connor books, along with other crap in general.

(Speaking of Ruark, I’m reminded that I have two historical notes coming up back to back before the year is over. One of those should be of some interest to Lawrence…)

(And speaking of Lawrence, I would be remiss if I did not note, as I do every year, that books from Lame Excuse Books make fine presents for the holidays, especially if you have SF or horror fans on your shopping list.)

I believe I recommended Amy Alkon’s Good Manners for Nice People Who Sometimes Say F*ck last year, but I’ll plug it again as she deserves it.

Another book that was loaned to me by a friend, and that I’ve almost finished – I will be purchasing my own copy, so I have no qualms about recommending it – is Susan Cain’s Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. I somehow missed this when it came out in 2012, but it’s a very good book about the psychology of introversion, how to cope with being an introvert, and how to cope with significant others/family members who are introverts (if you’re an extrovert) or extroverts (if you’re an introvert).

I don’t see a shipping date for Archer Season 6 yet, but How to Archer: The Ultimate Guide to Espionage and Style and Women and Also Cocktails Ever Written made me laugh more than a cheap TV tie-in book by some anonymous ghostwriter had any right to. (But get the Kindle edition, or a used copy.)

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Edited to add: Also. If I’ve managed to irritate you, please consider supporting the fine folks at Popehat through their Amazon link instead.

Also also: I haven’t given them any money, but I’ve always been kind of fond of the HouChron‘s “Goodfellows” program.

Also also also: the Reason Foundation is having their annual fundraising drive. And they will accept bitcoins, too.

Random notes: January 16, 2015.

Friday, January 16th, 2015

I’ve written previously about Al Martinez and the “get the boy his peaches” story.

Recently, some questions were raised about the story over at Romenesko’s site. I didn’t post about this at the time because it didn’t seem link worthy: more “can anybody help me track down the original story” than “it never happened”.

Well, the amazing Larry Harnisch took up the gauntlet and managed to – more or less – track down the original story. Part of the problem seems to be that Al Martinez was working from memory, and apparently combined two stories into one: the dying boy and the peaches did take place, but not at Christmas. But there was another dying boy who craved watermelons at Christmas.

I can say from personal experience that after writing thousands of posts about Los Angeles crime that it’s impossible to remember them all and that the details can erode — which is why newspapers have clip files and why reporters ought to refer to them before writing anything.

Quel fromage!

A Brooklyn man who claimed the police manufactured gun-possession charges against him had his case dismissed on Thursday, amid two investigations into the practices of a group of police officers in the 67th Precinct in East Flatbush.

And all the bells on Earth did ring…

Thursday, December 25th, 2014

Merry Christmas, everyone.

Christmas thoughts.

Wednesday, December 24th, 2014

Before I went to sleep last night, I spent some time with an old friend: Robert Ruark.

He wrote memorably and well about Christmas. I like something he said, in one of the “Old Man and the Boy” essays, about the smell of Christmas:

The old-fashioned Christmas smell was predominantly that of crushed evergreens against the constant resiny scent of a snapping fire. One was a cool, smell, the other hot, but both joined forces in delightful companionship. This aromatic back drop was overlaid by the heady odors that drifted from the kitchen, the sage which went into the turkey stuffing predominating.
The whole was tinctured with spices and by alcohol, because brandies and wines were lavishly used in the preparation of sauces and in building the fruit cakes. There was, as well, an infusion of tropical scent, as the infrequent Christmas citrus fruits the opulent golden oranges added an oily sharpness to the mixture. This was counterbalanced by the clean, cidery bite of the hard, white-fleshed, scarlet apples. Bright Christmas candies the clover-shaped and heart-shaped sugary ones you never saw at any other time of the year and the striped hard ones with the soft centers helped the greasy Brazil nuts along, as did the winy aroma of the great clusters of raisins, sugary-sticky to the touch. The spices that went into the eggnog or the hot Tom and Jerrys stood off the warm friendship of the rum that gave character to the cream.

It’s almost like being there. Ruark had been dead for several years when I was a boy, but I remember similar Christmas smells; maybe not as many, or as strong, but I do remember them from my childhood. I never really got the taste for raisins, but we always had the Christmas Hershey’s Kisses; somehow, I remember them tasting better than they do now.

These days, people buy chemicals in a bottle and call that the smell of Christmas.

Maybe it isn’t all bad: today, the Old Man probably would have lived another ten or twenty years. I wonder if the Old Man would have thought it was worth the trade, though.

(The quote above is from a not-terribly-well OCRed version of The Old Man’s Boy Grows Older at archive.org. Here’s another one for you, if you’ll hold still for it, though it doesn’t have much to do with Christmas:

Perhaps I am not very clear here, but what I am getting at is that my teen-age group possessed, legally, all the death-dealing, injury-wielding weapons that are now owned clandestinely by the “bad” kids. There was a certain pride in being trusted. My cousins and friends and I used to go off on a Saturday picnic into the local wilds with enough armament to conquer the county rifles, shotguns, knives, scout axes and were not regarded as a serious menace to the community. Or to each other.

)

Like an oncoming train.

Tuesday, December 23rd, 2014

Christmas is coming. But you don’t have a lot of time to shop and get physical objects delivered.

What to do? What. To. Do.

Well, if the object of gift giving has a Kindle or something like it, ebooks make fine gifts. And they can be delivered, even on Christmas morning.

I just finished, and enthusiastically recommend, Brian Krebs’ Spam Nation: The Inside Story of Organized Cybercrime-from Global Epidemic to Your Front Door. It isn’t quite the general book about spam I was expecting. His Krebsness is mostly writing about the Russian pharmacy spam gangs and their internecine warfare. There’s a lot of good stuff in Spam Nation; I’d recommend it for anyone in your life who has a interest in computers, computer security, or spam.

Another book that I really enjoyed this year is Amy Alkon’s Good Manners for Nice People Who Sometimes Say F*ck, an etiquette guide for the modern age. Much of her advice is based on the latest developments in cognitive science, too, so it isn’t just a list of arbitrary rules. Also enthusiastically recommended, for just about everyone. (With the possible exception of very small children. But if you have a late pre-teen or teenager on your list, I think they could get a lot out of this.)

Merry Christmas to me! (Part 2)

Tuesday, December 23rd, 2014

I like Joe R. Lansdale.

I like free stuff.

Joe’s Bullets and Fire is available for free on the Kindle.

(Hattip: Mike the Musicologist. Stuff from Joel’s Classical Shop makes swell gifts this time of year. And remember, the Twelve Days of Christmas begin on December 25th, and don’t end until January 6th. So you’ve got plenty of shopping days left!)