One of the lesser holiday traditions is that of Wassail. Not just the warm apple-based drink, but the old Anglo-Saxon tradition of communal visits, drinking, and well-wishing. These days, our communities are a little too spread out for the door-to-door visits and the requisite drinking, but there’s no reason you can’t do it safely at home with your friends.


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Scoring the Holiday Displays

By now, you should be seeing plenty of holiday light displays out on people’s lawns. While it should not be a competition, one does get the sense that there are still a few people who try and outdo their neighbors. In any case, I do like seeing the different displays chasing away the darkness. And it is kind of fun to argue over whose is better.

So I’ve come up with a scoring system.

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Happy Repeal Day!

The 21st Amendment

Section 1. The eighteenth article of amendment to the Constitution of the United States is hereby repealed.

On December 5, 1933, Utah approved this amendment to the Constitution, becoming the last state needed to ratify it and thereby repeal Prohibition. So get out there and celebrate (safely, of course) your Constitutionally guaranteed Right to Party! Maybe the bars in your local community have a celebration planned (Charleston SC, Louisville KY, Tampa FL, Santa Barbara CA, and Washington DC are some of the cities where I’ve found festivities being scheduled). Or, just go to your favorite watering hole and buy a round for everyone.

Even if you personally do not drink alcohol, celebrate the fact that a minority of Americans, despite their best efforts and using every means they could, were in the end unable to restrict the rights of the majority.

A Christmas Mix for You – 2014

Over the years, I’ve been collecting Christmas music from all over the Internet. Last time I checked, I had over 3 GB of music. Most of it was obtained through the courtesy of other bloggers; some of it I have no clue where I got it.

A lot of holiday music is rather bland. There’s only so much you can do with “White Christmas”, after all. And radio stations don’t even try to have a little variety – they can’t even break out of the same three or four “novelty” songs. It’s a little sad, since there’s really a heck of a lot of good, fun stuff out there.

Here’s a sampling of some of my favorites, with notes where I have something to note.

If I were better at music editing, I’d probably merge these all into one single MP3 file where the volume levels are perfectly balanced. But I am not, so I beg your indulgence for any sudden shifts in tone.

By the way, the zip file also contains a couple of “playlist” files in different formats. I hope at least one of them will work for you.
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MOVIE REVIEW: Panic in Year Zero! (1962)

Ah, the Good Old Days of the late 50s and early 60s…. The days of Civil Defense drills, fallout shelters, and missile gaps… When people lived in fear of nuclear war… With some justification, since the United States’ war strategy was essentially “Launch everything!” We wouldn’t see such paranoia again until the days of Ronald Reagan and his “Evil Empire” rhetoric. During the 80s, there were a number of films that tried to address what might actually happen to ordinary people in a nuclear war. Panic in Year Zero! was there first.

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Book Review: Hammer and Tickle

Hammer and Tickle: A History of Communism Told Through Communist Jokes
Ben Lewis
Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2009

First off, this is the book version of a 2006 documentary about political humor in the Soviet Union. The nominal idea is to show the tightrope dance of those who dared criticize the regime through jokes. Just how much would you be allowed to get away with? Lewis interviews historians, archivists, and even some of those who actually made laughter at Communism’s expense. He even considers the possibility that some of it was allowed in order to defuse tensions amongst the people. If they are chuckling, they aren’t massing in the streets in protest. It’s a nice idea, but Lewis can’t seem to decide whether he’s writing a history or a joke book.

Lewis rather clumsily includes stories about his girlfriend, which detract from his narrative and weaken the overall work.

Oh well. At least there are the jokes:

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Dia de los Muertos

Because Halloween isn’t over until the dead have their day…

By the way, a tip of the warlock’s hat to all the other Cryptkeepers for sharing all their wonderful music, movie reviews, artwork, photography, commentary, and Halloween collectibles with us. It was a serious distraction at work checking in on everyone! I’d also like to thank everyone who stopped by here. I hope you will continue to do so – I’m hoping to be posting just as often during December for Christmas. And I am going to keep posting movie and book reviews, as well as my thoughts on baseball, and whatever else crosses my mind.