I want to wish everyone both a Happy Halloween and a Blessed Samhain!
On the pre-Christian Celtic calendar, October 31 was Samhain, pronounced Soo-when or Sow-when, and it marked the day when the world of the living and dead where at the closest. It is also the end of year, with November 1 as the start of the next year. This day is one of the most important Gaelic/Celtic/Pagan/Wiccan/Druidic holidays of the year! And please do not worry about the devil–he is not a part of Samhain. There is nothing evil here.
Samhain/Halloween is a day to remember those who have passed and to think of the future.
This Halloween is special–we have both a full moon and a blue moon this year!
So, enjoy the day, dress up, have candy, party, and raise a toast and wish all a Happy New Year!
Today is National Coffee Day, and I am very excited about it. As a lover of coffee, and an avid consumer or the drink that I consider a food group, I want to spread the celebration!
Coffee is an essential part of my life and my work. I never write, teach, or prepare to do both without coffee. And I drink so much of it that I can go to sleep after a nice cup of rich coffee!
So, indulge and have a wonderful cup (or several) of the heavenly brew! No matter how your prepare it or where you consume it, enjoy a mug of coffee today!
“You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.”
“If you fell down yesterday, stand up today.”
H. G. Wells
“Courage is not having the strength to go on; it is going on when you don’t have the strength.”
“If I were not a physicist, I would probably be a musician. I often think in music. I live my daydreams in music. I see my life in terms of music.”
“If music be the food of love, play on . . .”
“Music is a higher revelation than all wisdom and philosophy. Music is the electrical soil in which the spirit lives, thinks and invents.”
Ludwig van Beethoven
White Christmas, the 1954 film about two former soldier who turn song and dance men and who help their former commander as he attempts to run a floundering ski resort, has special meaning to me. It stars Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, and Rosemary Clooney and was directed by Michael Curtiz. It features the songs of Irving Berlin. As a major piece of American film history, that would be enough to be of interest to me, but it has a much more profound connection.
My parents were both of “the greatest generation,” which is a description with which I agree. They were born and raised during the depression and were part of the multitudes of America who fought and supported World War II. My father was a Marine, and my mother worked in the Signal Corps. This group of Americans had a toughness that was forged in the fire of great tumult, both national and international.
My mother loved this movie, and it was a tradition in our family to watch it when it aired on television, which was, if I remember correctly, every Christmas Eve. If not that night, then it was always on a nearby night. Of course, as a child who was born a while after World War II, it was all ancient history to me then, but for my mother and father, it spoke directly to their lives and to their hopes and dreams.
Both of my parents have been gone for quite a while now, over 20 years–they were married for 48 years and died within 2 years of each other. As I have become older, I have learned to appreciate what my parents did for us, which, I have to admit, when I was young and stupid, I did not. To paraphrase Mark Twain, –it is amazing how smart my parents got as I got older. And I appreciate and try to continue some of the family traditions, including watching White Christmas, but now with my beloved wife. I still feel the connection to my Mom and Pop when I watch this movie. This movie speaks to the connection of people, of hope, of joy, of happiness, and of the power of music.
And I wish we would have a white Christmas, but I think it will not happen this year.
Perhaps next year.
I have several Christmas movies that carry great meaning to me and that I have loved over many years. I have written about them before in this blog, and I will continue to do so. Now, however, I want to make a new entry into my list of favorite Christmas movies.
The Man Who Invented Christmas is an extraordinary film that was released last year. It is a wonderful movie that explores the creative process of Charles Dickens as he wrote the classic novel, A Christmas Carol. The director is Bharat Nalluri, and this work is marvelous! We get a direct entrance into Dickens’ mind as he struggles with his writing. His characters appear and talk to him, which is an excellent touch.
The film is based on the book by Les Standiford, and the stars are Dan Stevens, Christopher Plummer, and Jonathan Pryce. The entire cast, without exception, give extraordinary performances. Christopher Plummer as Scrooge is especially brilliant. Dan Stevens should be recognized as one of the finest actors today.
This film delivers the message of Dickens’ masterpiece, that humanity should be the business of everyone, that money should not be the focus of our lives, and that we should all try to help each other. It will capture your heart and soul, and it is a film I recommend completely! On a system of 5 stars, I give it five!
Please, do yourself a favor, and watch this movie!
November 13 is World Kindness Day, a time that is designated to try to help people in the world be kinder to each other. It may seem like a basic idea, but in the chaotic and, often vicious, world which we inhabit, it is a very good idea. Too often, people are absorbed into their own lives and do not realize that helping other people, simply for the sake of doing it, can make both the helper and the world a much better place. A simple action can extend far past its initial occurrence and spread, like a wave traveling through space, to impact many others.
Take the time today to do one kind thing for another person. It does not have to be a large action; a simple act of kindness has the same importance.
And here is another idea: extend being kind into every day. Try to make being kind a part of your life.
Writers have many aspects to what they do, and creating a book is a large and arduous task. It often requires research, numerous drafts, editing, and proofreading to name some of the components.
And this is hard work.
But why do writers do this work if they do not enjoy what they do? I think most writers do take joy from their efforts, and I think they find reward in it. I would like to hear from you what you enjoy in the act of writing.
It would be completely legitimate, as I tell my students when posing a question to them, to ask me: what do I enjoy about writing?
Well, many aspects occur to me, but what I enjoy the most is the act of story-telling, of creating characters and seeing what happens to them.
So, I ask: what do you enjoy about writing?
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