Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah 2016

Happy Holidays to everyone!

Some positive stories to share, because we need positive stuff and hope at this time.

From NPR’s Goats and Soda blog, on stories on global health and development: An Ebola vaccine that might be safe and effective? That’s really good news! Hope this does work out well!

Also from Goats and Soda: 9 Feel-Good Stories from 2016.

An interesting profile on the new Cardinal of the Newark Archdiocese, in the NY Times.  The new Cardinal Tobin sounds humble and compassionate; here’s hoping that this will bring new hope to Newark.

At NPR: A Christmas story, indeed: a London restaurant to serve the elderly and homeless for free on Christmas, so that no one has to be alone on Christmas.

If it’s on PBS, it must be true: there’s a grain of truth to the idea that reindeers’ noses glow red (from Nature, on PBS, via tumblr).  Even if it’s not all true, it’s still nice to imagine, even if in infrared.

A NY Times article on the (crazy) lights of Dyker Heights, Brooklyn. I haven’t checked them out in years (at some point, they got very over the top and concocted for me, and anyway, I don’t hang out in Dyker Heights), but I’m sometimes amazed by how people make this into a tourist thing now.  Anyway, Gothamist had photos of what they thought were the best of the Dyker Heights lights for this year.

According to Gothamist: New York Public Library is putting on display its copy of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, which he annotated and used for his public readings.  The exhibit, “A Writer’s Christmas: Dickens and More,” is going on until January 8, 2017, at the Stephen A. Shwarzman Building.

About two weeks ago, I saw “The Hard Nut” at Brooklyn Academy of Music.  It got me in the right holiday mood, I have to say. I never quite get my (entirely secular) Christmas unless I get a Nutcracker fix.  Here is a video of the BAM TV spot from last year:

NY Times dance critic Alistair Macauley analyzes one of the party dance scenes of “The Hard Nut” in the NY Times earlier this month.

I’m pretty sure that I shared this on Triscribe; I know that I shared this on Facebook, but I’m too lazy to check. Anyway, here it is again:

I’m a sucker for a capella, but this is just great: over at NPR, presenting the Maccabeats’ parody mashup of “Hamilton,” with the Hanukkah story. A bad king (or some kind of oppressor); war; and history. Toss in a miracle. Serve. (the Maccabeats were/are a Yeshiva University group – their other Hanukkah video from last year is also pretty good too).

I apparently shared this previously on Facebook, but I can’t locate it (and I’m too lazy). The Maccabeats’ other memorable Hanukkah video, from 2012. (the NPR segment about here).

Oh, and a parody “Hamidolph” – Rudolph meets Hamilton, in a cappella by Eclipse 6.

The link to my post from last year on triscribe.

And this 2014 post included links to prior Christmas posts on triscribe.

Eventually, there’s the usual wall-to-wall Christmas NBA basketball on tv, and the return of Doctor Who, who might not have such an emotionally embroiled Christmas this time?  (the last two Christmas specials were heartrending – reminding of us of time running on us, but still giving us hope).

Happy holidays! Stay tuned for possibly another post as a year end thing.

Into December 2016

I can’t believe how fast the year is going.  On the one hand, 2016 has been such a crappy year (for any number of reasons – both personal and external), that’d it be good riddance. On the other hand, I’m not sure if we’re supposed to look forward to 2017.

November was terribly strange, to say the least – the least of which was Election Day’s outcome.   In all honesty, my blog post from that time, during the wee hours of Nov. 9, 2016, was trying to process that whole thing.  We need more people to vote and be active citizens, but I so don’t agree with the decision that arose from this Election Day.  I’m trying to respect and empathize with those who voted differently than I did, but I get the feeling that they’re not empathizing with those of us who disagreed with them – those who feel afraid and are about to be marginalized (and who have been marginalized as it was).

Everyone needs help and we’re all oppressed by fears and problems; how will everyone get help or can help each other?  Do we even want to help one another, or just some people?  (are we even candid enough to admit that we might feel that way?).

There are a lot of existential questions out there, after all.

So, I struggled with the balance of trying to go through stages of assimilating the current events, and trying to stay committed to what I’ve cared about – like, my writing.  National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) continued, but work and life really made it hard for me to keep fiction writing.

I managed to get to 50k words before midnight, on 11/29/16.  I really didn’t feel 50k was going to happen either, since this month has been so… well, what it has been.

Anyway, so from participant:


to reaching the goal of 50k words:


My project for this year’s NaNoWriMo was another attempt at a revision/continuation of my superhero story, but more of “a novella in short stories” idea, with “Variations of Masquerade” as the working title.  I ended it at around 51387 words or so (according to the MS Word count), and with the words “to be continued,” since it didn’t really end. But, with a little bit of time and plunging in, even when I didn’t really feel like writing, I got something more than I did for months of not-fiction writing at all.

What I really like about NaNo is that spirit of support – writing can very solitary, but sometimes, it doesn’t have to be.  And, yeah, while the idea of NaNoWriMo is about reaching a goal of 50k words, the real idea is to write at all.  It’s like marathoning – yeah, you should run 26.2 miles to win, but trying is still pretty awesome.  So, to all the WriMos / NaNo’ers – we did it again!

And, I wish we as a nation could learn to be more supportive and less polarized.  We’re facing a rather unpredictable future, and for the sake of the nation, it’d be nice if we can figure this out together.

On to December…  I have a lot of reading to catch up, and other tasks (that continuing war against clutter is not being waged by itself).  Lots of cool movies to watch, and so maybe December will be better. Maybe!

(cross-posted at

Election Day 2016

People have died for the right to vote in this country; American women didn’t have it until 1920. The right to vote means something.

I voted. I don’t agree with these few signs in the neighborhood for the Republican candidate, but presumably even these neighbors exercised their right to vote (let alone their right to free speech). Not thrilled at all about my vote for NYS legislators (ugh), but I was firm that I voted right for my federal legislators and the executive branch.

But, at this hour of Election Night, or the wee hours of the day after, I guess I’m trying to keep perspective.

The tough part of governing is always the issue. Can we hear each other out, put aside the pettiness, and be able to effectively work together? I’ll plead with us all here about that, whatever will happen going forward.  And remember: breathe. I’m trying to do my own meditative pause.  Let’s see what happens next.

(cross-posted at