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A Christmas tradition

martyrdom of nicholas 2 by thomas christensen

Above: The Martyrdom of Nicholas 2, 2007, colored pixels, by Thomas Christensen and the master of Saint-Austremoine-Issoire.

Below: The Martyrdom of Nicholas, 2006, colored pixels, by Thomas Christensen and Francisco de Goya. (Last year I also listed the top ten seasonal songs that don’t mention Christmas.)

The Martrydom of Nicholas, by Francisco de Goya and Thomas Christensen

Wiccans Are Uneasy

NYT: Wiccans Keep the Faith with a Religion under Wraps.

The gist of the article is that wiccans worry that people will think they’re satanists.

Maybe education is the answer. Maybe what’s need is a Wiccanpedia. (Unfortunately, I’m already busy with my Publishpaedia.)

My Sweet Lord

my sweet lordLooks like the Roger Smith Hotel in New York has caved in to demands from the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights to remove the art piece My Sweet Lord by Cosimo Cavallaro. A six-foot-tall representation of Jesus on the cross made of chocolate, the piece has apparently offended the League more by its nudity than its calories. (Cavallaro, by the way, has also worked in the demanding medium of ham and cheese.)

All of which is just an excuse for the link below to Tom Waits singing “Chocolate Jesus.”

Amy Arbus’s NYC in the 80s

amy arbus photoThe Morning News is showing some of Amy Arbus’s images of New York City fashion, 1980s style. You know, when the city actually had a sort of alternative scene. Or, as interviewer Rosecrans Baldwin says,

Now that Manhattan is only habitable for the rich, New Yorkers love to look back to the mad ‘80s, when the Bowery was dangerous and apartments were affordable…. Between 1980 and 1990, The Village Voice ran photographer Amy Arbus’s “On The Street” photo-column, a page documenting downtown’s most vibrant, creative dressers and personalities, and now the greatest hits have been published by Welcome Books.

Sample photos and interview here

Another Volley in the War on Christmas

The Martrydom of Nicholas, by Francisco de Goya and Thomas Christensen

The Martyrdom of Nicholas,
by Francisco de Goya and Thomas Christensen

Top Ten Seasonal Songs That Don’t Mention Christmas

As a public service to those who will be entertaining Muslims, Buddhists, Wiccans, Jews, and the like this holiday season, I offer this list:

1. Deck the Halls
2. Frosty the Snowman
3. Gloucestershire Wassail
4. Happy Holidays
5. Jinglebell Rock
6. Jingle Bells
7. Let It Snow
8. Pretty Paper
9. Sleigh Ride
10. Winter Wonderland

The list is alphabetical. If ranked for best lyrics, the award would go to “Gloucestershire Wassail,” for these stirring sentiments:

Wassail, wassail all over the town!
Our bread it is white and our ale it is brown,
Our bowl, it is made of the good maple tree;
From the wassailing bowl we’ll drink unto thee.

Come, butler, and fill us a bowl of your best,
And we hope your soul in Heaven may rest;
But if you do bring us a bowl of the small,
Then down shall go butler and bowl and all.

Come here, sweet maid, in the frilly white smock,
Come trip to the door and trip back the lock!
Come trip to the door and pull back the pin,
And let us jolly wassailers in.

Wassail, by the way, is a spice punch drink. The name comes from the Old English/Norse “to be in good health.” I’ll drink to that.

“Are Editors Moribund?”

BBC NEWS | The Editors |

That’s the question the BBC is asking (link above). “What is there left when voices rise in debate without chairman or standing orders? You have babble, not Google,” they argue (an argument that is itself, of course, an editorial decision.) I don’t much care for the “chairman” analogy — I’m too much of an anarchist for that protofascist yearning for parental discipline — but it seems to me that the more the soup is stirred the higher the premium on a discriminating palate. As long as that palate can be recognized or appreciated.

Social bookmarking sites like Digg and Del.icio.us replace the editorial function with a kind of democratic free-for-all, largely unrestrained by any checks and balances. Which does present opportunities. But recent studies have shown that a small number of people are able to control most of the high-ranking articles on such sites through established networks.

Which system is better for protecting minority and alternative views? Are there other options? How can alternative viewpoints make themselves heard, when the whole world is tuned in to American Idol?

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