The Christmas origin story has taken a real beating on television in recent years.
The film factories don’t follow a script. The have a playbook. There are fixed characters, types. There are predictable situations. There are tried and true bromides. There are fixed plays. And there are utterly predictable endings in which the “true meaning” of Christmas is disgorged just before credits roll.
And the sudden appearance of the much-anticipated snowfall at the end is a complete surprise to everyone but the audience.
#1: FEVERED DREAMS: Still in a stupor, with the sun barely over the horizon, I started thinking about exercise — creating walking and running routes — both inside our compound and outside. Came up with some excellent ideas, both included steps — lots and lots of steps.
I concentrated really really hard to fix the routes in my mind, to gauge the aerobic benefits, and to estimate the caloric burn.
#2: AND THEN … Completely satisfied, I dropped my head back on the pillow and went back to sleep. My work here is done.
#3: KEEP IT CLEAN: Gave Moppit a bath. Then I took a shower. We both needed it. For different reasons.
#4: WHAT’S THE BIG IDEA: Today is a day for grand schemes I fantasized about building an online roots music festival. All the great roots cities — Chicago, St. Louis, Memphis, Nashville, Austin, New Orleans — must have radio stations dedicated to the kinds of music that defined them as the sources of blues, jazz, rock, Americana, swing, country.
When I was a rock music writer and starting to pull some juice, I proposed spending a summer traveling the country from music festival to festival filing reports from the road. The idea got about 30 seconds worth of consideration in newspaper time. Thirty seconds equals the amount of time it takes to say No!” in the real world.
I still think it was a good idea.
Instead, I got to spend two weeks that Spring, driving my kids to every theme park in Southern California to test out their newest attractions just ahead of the season debuts. To them, at least, I was a hero for about half the summer. You should have seen the expense check. There are A LOT of theme parks.
#5: SO, INSTEAD: I made lunch.
#6: BIG READ: And read some more of “The Invention of More.” While the book was published in 1940, the author pretty much nails our modern-day concept of holograms.
#7: GIFTING GONE WRONG: Neil Gaiman was offering free downloads of his classic “American Gods” until April 26 but, um, the download site @NetGallery and his publisher “weren’t ready.” Neil deleted his generous offer with a promise to iron out the “snags” and try again soon. If I were you, I’d “friend” Neil real soon. On Twitter: @neilhimself.
When in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes
I all alone beweep my outcast state,
And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries,
And look upon myself, and curse my fate,
Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
Featured like him, like him with friends possessed,
Desiring this man’s art, and that man’s scope,
With what I most enjoy contented least;
Yet in these thoughts my self almost despising,
Haply I think on thee, and then my state,
Like to the lark at break of day arising
From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven’s gate;
For thy sweet love remembered such wealth brings
That then I scorn to change my state with kings.
#9: WATCH:“Live with Carnegie Hall” Pianist Emmanuel Ax hosted an hour-plus broadcast with Yefin Bronfman and Marc André Hamelin from their homes. The informality of great musicians in their homes — Ax has grown a shaggy beard and his piano is out of tune slightly — is as endearing as their music is stunning.
Shows next week: Angélique Kidjo (4/2) and Joshua Bell (4/30). (Note to self: Learn how to spell “Carnegie.”)
#10: PODCAST:“Rabbit Hole” Episode 2. The series is exploring how the Internet is shaping minds (and ensnaring many of them). It is as disturbing as a slasher flick. Social media algorithms analyze your viewing habits then feed you more of the same, and more, and more and more. Imagine your kid watching an Alex Jones video and then seeing 10 more backed up on his recommended list. And it gets worse. Watch and know your enemy.
#11: MOVIE NIGHT: Another oldie, “Topper Returns” (1941) In a case of mistaken identity, Joad Blondel gets bumped off and comes back as a ghost to solve her own murder. Who else but America’s milquetoast Topper (Roland Young) is recruited to help. Just a lot of goofy B&W fun, except for the cringe-inducing role of Eddie “Rochester” Anderson as the easily-frightened chauffeur.
He does get off the best lines in the movie, including:
Eddie, the Chauffeur: “Doors closing by themselves. People talkin’ to nuthin’ and gettin’ answers. I’m going back.”
Clara Topper (a ditzy Billie Burke): “Back where?”
Eddie, the Chauffeur: “To Mr. Benny. Ain’t nuthin’ like this ever happened there.”