"No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another."
Tuesday, November 30, 2021
"No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another."
Monday, November 29, 2021
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הַעוֹלָם, שֶׁהֶחֱיָנוּ וְקִיְּמָנוּ וְהִגִּיעָנוּ לַזְּמַן הַזֶּה׃
Blessed are You, Adonai our God, Sovereign of all, who has kept us alive, sustained us, and brought us to this season.
Blessed are You, Adonai our God, Sovereign of all, who hallows us with mitzvoth, commanding us to kindle the Hanukkah lights.
Blessed are You, Adonai our God, Sovereign of all, who performed wondrous deeds for our ancestors in days of old at this season.
For those who would like a bit more background information, I've included the passages on Hanukkah from the books of the Maccabees and the Megillat Antiochus. The first passage relates to a reflection on Nehemiah's rededication of the temple and its own miracle. The second passage, on Judah Maccabee's rededication of the temple and the dedication of the festival. The final passage contains the story of the oil.
"Since on the twenty-fifth day of Chislev we shall celebrate the purification of the temple, we thought it necessary to notify you, in order that you also may celebrate the festival of booths and the festival of the fire given when Nehemiah, who built the temple and the altar, offered sacrifices.
For when our ancestors were being led captive to Persia, the pious priests of that time took some of the fire of the altar and secretly hid it in the hollow of a dry cistern, where they took such precautions that the place was unknown to anyone. But after many years had passed, when it pleased God, Nehemiah, having been commissioned by the king of Persia, sent the descendants of the priests who had hidden the fire to get it. And when they reported to us that they had not found fire but only a thick liquid, he ordered them to dip it out and bring it. When the materials for the sacrifices were presented, Nehemiah ordered the priests to sprinkle the liquid on the wood and on the things laid upon it. When this had been done and some time had passed, and when the sun, which had been clouded over, shone out, a great fire blazed up, so that all marveled. And while the sacrifice was being consumed, the priests offered prayer—the priests and everyone. Jonathan led, and the rest responded, as did Nehemiah. The prayer was to this effect:
'O Lord, Lord God, Creator of all things, you are awe-inspiring and strong and just and merciful, you alone are king and are kind, you alone are bountiful, you alone are just and almighty and eternal. You rescue Israel from every evil; you chose the ancestors and consecrated them. Accept this sacrifice on behalf of all your people Israel and preserve your portion and make it holy. Gather together our scattered people, set free those who are slaves among the Gentiles, look on those who are rejected and despised, and let the Gentiles know that you are our God. Punish those who oppress and are insolent with pride. Plant your people in your holy place, as Moses promised.'
Then the priests sang the hymns. After the materials of the sacrifice had been consumed, Nehemiah ordered that the liquid that was left should be poured on large stones. When this was done, a flame blazed up; but when the light from the altar shone back, it went out. When this matter became known, and it was reported to the king of the Persians that, in the place where the exiled priests had hidden the fire, the liquid had appeared with which Nehemiah and his associates had burned the materials of the sacrifice, the king investigated the matter, and enclosed the place and made it sacred. And with those persons whom the king favored he exchanged many excellent gifts. Nehemiah and his associates called this 'nephthar,' which means purification, but by most people it is called naphtha."
"Early in the morning on the twenty-fifth day of the ninth month, which is the month of Chislev, in the one hundred forty-eighth year, they rose and offered sacrifice, as the law directs, on the new altar of burnt offering that they had built. At the very season and on the very day that the Gentiles had profaned it, it was dedicated with songs and harps and lutes and cymbals. All the people fell on their faces and worshiped and blessed Heaven, who had prospered them. So they celebrated the dedication of the altar for eight days, and joyfully offered burnt offerings; they offered a sacrifice of well-being and a thanksgiving offering. They decorated the front of the temple with golden crowns and small shields; they restored the gates and the chambers for the priests, and fitted them with doors. There was very great joy among the people, and the disgrace brought by the Gentiles was removed.
Then Judas and his brothers and all the assembly of Israel determined that every year at that season the days of dedication of the altar should be observed with joy and gladness for eight days, beginning with the twenty-fifth day of the month of Chislev."
"...After this, the sons of Israel went up to the Temple and rebuilt its gates and purified the Temple from the dead bodies and from the defilement. And they sought after pure olive oil to light the lamps therewith, but could not find any, except one bowl that was sealed with the signet ring of the High Priest from the days of Samuel the prophet and they knew that it was pure. There was in it [enough oil] to light [the lamps therewith] for one day, but the God of heaven whose name dwells there put therein his blessing and they were able to light from it eight days. Therefore, the sons of Ḥashmonai made this covenant and took upon themselves a solemn vow, they and the sons of Israel, all of them, to publish amongst the sons of Israel, [to the end] that they might observe these eight days of joy and honour, as the days of the feasts written in [the book of] the Law; [even] to light in them so as to make known to those who come after them that their God wrought for them salvation from heaven. In them, it is not permitted to mourn, neither to decree a fast [on those days], and anyone who has a vow to perform, let him perform it."
Sunday, November 28, 2021
Today marks the first Sunday of Advent, where we remember the hope and promise of a coming Messiah, as well as looking forward to the promise of His return. We live in a similar hope today, looking forward to the second coming, when will be restored. We can understand that longing, that hope.
"The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined. [...]
For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The might God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this."
Saturday, November 27, 2021
Today marks the tenth annual Shop Small Saturday. To act as a counterpoint to Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Shop Small Saturday encourages people to shop local small businesses in this kickoff week to the Christmas shopping season. It’s a reminder not to overlook your local businesses. Your friends and neighbors. Those who often truly depend on this season to boost and maintain their businesses.
In 2021, once again, it’s even a more important reminder. The chains will and have largely survived this pandemic. The Wal-Marts and Best Buy’s of the world have made it, though perhaps a little changed. Your local gift store, your local clothing boutique, may well not. They may already be gone.
Likewise with restaurants. McDonalds will be fine, your mom and pop diner has likely already suffered and may not be there.
This Christmas season, more than before, look for ways to shop small. It’s worth the small premium you may pay. That money goes directly into your friends and neighbors. It keeps them employed. It keeps the lights on, in their business and in their homes.
Buy gifts from a local store. Get a gift certificate to a local spa or salon. Get side dishes or desserts from a local diner to go or just grab a gift certificate.
Look for ways to help out those local businesses around you.
And if you have a favorite business, check on them. Go out of your way to help them through.
This year has been rough, but Christmas is a time of year we remember that we get through this together. “To George Bailey, the richest man in town.” We give and remember it’s better than receiving.
So, from the product of a family business, Merry Christmas and Shop Small!
Friday, November 26, 2021
Today marks the day where retail businesses supposedly get "in the black" or turn a profit for the year. It still remains an odd name for the day, sharing the Black Friday moniker with financial and natural disasters. It's also slightly an odd pairing to have a celebration of thanks for what you have and then immediately go out to grab all the stuff you do not, but such is life.
The busiest shopping day of the year, celebrated with often ridiculous appearing sales to get you in the door. I've only inadvertently participated a couple of times (and usually much later in the afternoon). This year, like last, may be marked with a very different Black Friday. Questions surrounding supply, price increases, the pandemic still continuing along. Who knows what shopping will look like?
Growing up, the Friday after Thanksgiving was always one of my favorite days working at the store, because it was the day I got to decorate the windows for Christmas. That's translated into a day at home pulling down all the Christmas decorations and decorating the apartment.
We're not shopping today, but we are enjoying time off. I hope you and yours are able to enjoy the day as well. May your shopping go safely, work pass quickly, and all be enjoyable.
Thursday, November 25, 2021
"The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added... No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People.
I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union."
Tuesday, November 23, 2021
Who sings to the plants
That are grown for our plates?
Are they gathered lovingly
In aprons or arms?
Or do they suffer the fate
Of the motor-driven whip
Of the monster reaper?
No song at all, only
The sound of money
Being stacked in a bank
Who stitched the seams in my clothes
One line after another?
Was the room sweaty and dark
With no hour to spare?
Did she have enough to eat?
Did she have a home anywhere?
Or did she live on the floor?
And where were the children?
Or was the seamstress the child
With no home of his or her own?
Who sacrifices to make clothes
For strangers of another country?
Let's remember to thank the grower of food
The picker, the driver,
The sun and the rain.
Let's remember to thank each maker of stitch
And layer of pattern,
The dyer of color
In the immense house of beauty and pain.
* * *
Let's honor the maker.
Let's honor what's made.
Monday, November 22, 2021
Friday, November 19, 2021
It's my favorite genre of film and of literature. I've spent the last couple of years reading through the works of Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, and James M. Cain. I've poured over the film careers of Humphrey Bogart, Robert Mitchum, Dick Powell, and Richard Widmark.
- The Thin Man - Endlessly quotable. Nick and Nora Charles are definitely couple goals, minus the alcoholism. Comedy with a touch of noir. The movie that defined gathering all the suspects in a room to identify the culprit. I love the book and I love this movie.
- Maltese Falcon - Noir at its finest. A wonderful collection of character actors. Bogart, Lorre, Greenstreet, Astor. Truly the stuff that dreams are made of.
- Who Framed Roger Rabbit? - I saw this at just the right time and it blew my mind. All those characters together at once. Interacting in inventive and appropriate fashions. A touch of noir, and a lot of cartoon greatness. Still technically impressive.
- Se7en - Again one that hit at the perfect time. Great performances by Brad Pitt, Morgan Freeman, and Kevin Spacey. The seven deadly sins motif. It led me to following directors, particularly Fincher. Neo noir with an incredible hook.
- The Third Man - Has the coolest shot of any in film ever made with Orson Welles' introduction. The zither soundtrack, a great speech about German innovation versus Swiss innovation. One of the best films of all time.
- In a Lonely Place - Perhaps Humphrey Bogart's greatest performance (as well as Gloria Grahame's). The best trick that it plays is that you truly do not know what to believe until the very end. Heartbreaking and wonderful.
- Sunset Boulevard - If it's not evident with Who Framed Roger Rabbit? and In a Lonely Place, some of my favorite noir films take place in Hollywood. This is no exception. An incredibly memorable opening where you start with the dead body and he explains how he got there. Probably the best film about Hollywood ever made.
- Nightmare Alley - A new discovery this year. Tyrone Power's darkest role as a con man who reaches the top and falls to the bottom. Haunting and deeply moving.
- Out of the Past - Quintessential Mitchum, who along with Bogart, was made for noir. Kirk Douglas, in only his second role, plays the heavy well. Perfectly lit by director Jacques Tourneur and his cameraman Nicholas Musuraca.
- Mildred Pierce - James M. Cain's seminal noir brought to the screen, with a tour de force performance by Joan Crawford, as the mother who will do anything to provide her daughter a better life. It goes wrong as only noir can. A true classic.
- Woman on the Run - A great B noir, that keeps you off balance for the entire film. Ann Sheridan provides a superb performance as a harried wife, seemingly unconcerned by the danger her husband is in as a witness to the central crime. The film follows her journey to find her husband and avoid the police at the same time.
Thursday, November 18, 2021
Mickey Mouse turns 93 today. Looks pretty good for a nonagenarian!
Ninety-three years ago today, Disney released Steamboat Willie in New York. Though the short was the third Mickey Mouse short to be produced, it was the first to find a distributor and be released, causing the Walt Disney Company to use it as marking Mickey's debut to the world. The short innovated cartoon shorts at the time by being the first cartoon short to have synchronized sound throughout the entire short. The magic of sound and comedy quickly propelled the mouse to the most prominent animated character of the time.
In the years since, Mickey has gone on to be a movie star, television star, comic book hero, corporate mascot, and theme park icon. To the point where the three circle silhouette is instantly recognizable. And where referring to something as being "Mickey Mouse" has specific connotations.
From a life long fan, happy birthday Mickey! Ears to many more years!
Thursday, November 11, 2021
The world remembers and celebrates the end of what was supposed to be the war to end all wars. The eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. Oh, were that true.
Sunday, November 7, 2021
It's the most wonderful time of the year...
That day we had an extra hour of sleep.
I hope you remembered to set your clocks back an hour, otherwise you are getting where you are going an hour early today.
At some point, I do hope we can get rid of all this spring forward/fall back nonsense, but for now, I'm grateful for the extra hour of sleep.
I hope you were all able to enjoy it and hope you have a wonderful day of rest.
Friday, November 5, 2021
The fifth of November,
The Gunpowder treason and plot;
I know of no reason
Why the Gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot!
Guy Fawkes and his companions
Did the scheme contrive,
To blow the King and Parliament
All up alive.
Threescore barrels, laid below,
To prove old England's overthrow.
But, by God's providence, him they catch,
With a dark lantern, lighting a match!
A stick and a stake
For King James's sake!
If you won't give me one,
I'll take two,
The better for me,
And the worse for you.
A rope, a rope, to hang the Pope,
A penn'orth of cheese to choke him,
A pint of beer to wash it down,
And a jolly good fire to burn him.
Holloa, boys! holloa, boys! make the bells ring!
Holloa, boys! holloa boys! God save the King!
Hip, hip, hooor-r-r-ray!
If I ever forget to post this on November 5, please check on me.
Now a celebration that is definitely appropriate given 2021 and our current situation, Guy Fawkes Day/Night. The celebration of the foiled plot by Guy Fawkes and his compatriots to assassinate the protestant King James I via explosives underneath the Parliament House of Lords. It was a symptom of the growing Catholic and Protestant divide in England, an attempt to install a Catholic head of state through regicide. The failed attempt lead to the execution of the conspirators and the introduction of more anti-Catholic legislation in England.
An annual celebration through the lighting of bonfires and burning of effigies of Guy Fawkes complete with grotesque mask to celebrate the survival of King James I. Members of the celebration would often wear Guy Fawkes masks as well.
This takes on new meaning this year with our own failed coup. Will we see effigies of the 1/6 insurrectionists? Will we remember their failed attempt with the proper scorn?
Do we seen any reason our own treasonous plot should ever be forgot?
I hope not.
|The now official Guy Fawkes mask|
Thursday, November 4, 2021
Today begins Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights. Diwali symbolizes the victory of light over darkness, good over evil, and knowledge over ignorance. Something we could all stand to celebrate.
It's a reminder that no matter how dark the night, morning is coming. A reminder for many of us, that though we belong to a different faith, good will ultimately prevail. A celebration of that first declaration - let there be light.
To any of my readers who so celebrate -
May the Diwali lights brighten your life and Rangoli add more colors to it. Have a blessed Diwali!
Tuesday, November 2, 2021
Though I have to say goodbye
Don't let it make you cry
For ever if I'm far away
I hold you in my heart
I sing a secret song to you
Each night we are apart
Though I have to travel far
Each time you hear a sad guitar
Know that I'm with you
The only way that I can be
Until you're in my arms again
This is not Halloween. It's not a "scary" celebration, despite the skull and skeleton imagery. It's a holiday of remembrance. It's a celebration of people that are no longer with us.
While we do not have Hispanic heritage in our family, the idea of a day set aside for remembrance of those that have gone before is resonating more strongly with me. Perhaps it's just because of the increasing number of people who have gone before me in my life, but it's becoming more and more important to me that I remember them. That I do not forget. To hold onto the memories that I have. Particularly with regard to those that passed on when I was very young, where my memories are becoming more fleeting. Those are becoming more and more precious to me.
This year, once again, remembrance takes on new significance. There are so many having to deal with loss this year. We as a nation are coming to grips with 740,000 people who have died this year from COVID-19. A global death toll reaching 5 million people. And we know that number will likely increase.
While I do not want to appropriate a holiday, I do want to take the time to pause and remember all the people who have shaped my life that are no longer with us. To remember and celebrate those lives that should not be forgotten.
I pray that we all take the time to remember those who have impacted our lives and to keep their story and their memory alive.
And for those celebrating today Feliz Dia de los Muertos!