Archive for the ‘December, 2010’ Category

G. B. Shaw on Christmas

Friday, December 24th, 2010

Here’s one of FD’s favorite quotations.  It used to reside on a yellowed piece of newsprint, which was kept in a corner of FD’s desk blotter and was a great comfort during the office “Secret Santa” event.  FD has not tried to track down a citation for the source.  Shaw’s writings are so voluminous, it may be that he also said something nice about Christmas and at Cafe Press one can buy Christmas stockings and ornaments for the tree with quotations (though not this one!) from GBS.


Christmas is forced on a reluctant and disgusted nation by the shopkeepers and the press:  on its own merits it would wither and shrivel in the fiery breath of universal hatred; and anyone who looked back to it would be turned into a pillar of greasy sausages.


Thinking Ahead to the New Year

Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010

FD loves New Year’s Resolutions.  Some people might associate New Year’s Resolutions with unpleasant recognitions that one must diet, exercise more, spend less.  But FD sees the tradition of New Year’s Resolutions as an opportunity to underscore the need to do fun things and have more pleasure in life.

So, for 2011, FD is thinking of adopting the following New Year’s Resolutions:

1)  As in earlier years, always have a shopping bag available.  That way, if an impulse to purchase something hits, FD will have a bag and will not need to accept one from the merchant.  FD dislikes having to figure out if there’s a way to recyle or reuse bags that accumulate from shopping.  Also, FD likes to shop locally and help local small businesses, and providing a bag is also a way to reduce the merchant’s costs.

2)  Like last year, FD is hoping to discard/donate/repurpose at least one item every day.  FD wasn’t able to fully achieve this resolution in 2010, but every item that was discarded, donated, or repurposed help to either make room for something wonderful and new or to simplify and uncomplicate FD’s life.  Lots of satisfaction and pleasure from that.

3)  A new resolution for 2011 is to write a mailable letter every day.  FD’s way to support the post office and to keep in warm touch with friends.  Sure, phones and email etc exist.  But letters are special.  Also, FD loves to make homemade envelopes, and wants to use them, not just make them.

4) FD has the beginnings of four mystery novels.  FD likes the plot development, character development aspects.  What FD isn’t so fond of is actually writing.  But, FD is sure that small writing stints will result in some progress, so for 2011, FD hopes to write just a few hundred words a day.  If nothing else, guilt about those unfinished projects will be reduced.

So, no resolutions to reduce chocolate consumption or increase exercise. Just a few easy and fun habits.

History Mysteries

Thursday, December 9th, 2010

FD has a friend who enjoys historical mysteries and has especially enjoyed a series by Victoria Thompson, set in New York City during the “Gas light” era (here’s a link to VT’s homepage).  The idea makes sense — it should be doubly pleasurable to have both a mystery and history to read about.  But FD has not found historical mysteries as interesting as reading mysteries written in times that are now historical.  That is, it seems to FD that when one reads a mystery written in the 1920s or 30s, or 40s one can often get a better feel for the period than when one reads a mystery written today but set in the past.  Too often, contemporary writers seem to be too consciously placing the period details into the narrative and the reader notices them in a way that isn’t true in the same way when reading a novel written at the time.  Mystery novels of the 30s and 40s use the slang of the time in a much less self-conscious way, and describe homes, clothes, cars, and food in ways that are much more “natural” than what happens when a contemporary writer chooses to write a historical mystery.

Of course, the mystery novel has a pretty short history, so it’s not always possible to find mysteries written in a particular time period.  If one might enjoy a mystery set in the Roman Empire, or during medieval times, or even in Colonial America one must look to current authors.  There are many historical series being developed today; it seems that no historical personage or time period is safe from mystery writers — everyone from Freud to Abigail Adams is being pressed into sleuth service!  But FD is not sure that any of these novels will have achieve long-term popularity.