Greece vs. Rome

So I posted earlier about how we like to listen to Pepys while we are in the car. But this Christmas, driving back to Toronto, we listened to Boris Johnson versus Mary Beard in a debate about which ancient society was better – Greece or Rome. It was informative, fun, funny and I like both debaters immensely. It certainly goes without saying that those who compare Boris Johnson to Donald Trump are mistaken. I cannot imagine Trump – or, for that matter, Justin Trudeau – being in Boris’ intellectual league.

Sir Roger Scruton

A great loss – I feel as I did when Hitchens died.

A few appreciations: Essay from the Times Literary Supplement; Roger Scruton and the Burden of non-Conformism; Scruton himself on Why Beauty Matters; wonderful obit from National Review; Scruton again on how identity politics destroys freedom.

Lucky for us he was British. The UK has a robust media culture which allows for more dissent than the one in Canada. There could never be a Canadian Scruton, sadly.

Epiphany

Yes, it was yesterday. I missed it. Well, I didn’t miss it. I was here – I just forgot to post. I wanted to post something because I love the story of the Epiphany, and also, it was my late brother’s birthday – he would have been 71. So in tribute to Alan and to the day, a recording of Alec Guinness reading Eliot’s “Journey of the Magi.” There does indeed exist a clip of Eliot reading it, but he doesn’t read it as well as Guinness. One can be a brilliant writer, I guess, but lack theatrical flair or the gift of phrasing. Guinness has both.

Tips for Extroverts

I am an introvert – the only one – from a family of extroverts. In this way only, I can relate to Barron Trump. I am an introvert (I am so extreme in this regard a friend of mine calls me a “Shiite introvert”) and as today is apparently “World Introvert Day” – very odd, indeed – I had a thought I wanted to share with my dear readers. Why are there so many articles with titles like “New Year’s Tips for Introverts” (seriously, have seen several of them this week), or “How Introverts can Improve their Social Interaction” and so forth?

We are not the annoying ones! Extroverts are! We don’t need to improve our social interaction – we avoid it, which is a blessing to all. If only extroverts would do the same.

How about “Tips for Extroverts: Stop Bothering Everyone with your Incessant Talk and Opinions and Ideas, not to mention your Very Presence,” or “Guess what? You are not Witty, Mr./Ms. Extrovert. You are just a Nuisance,” or “Extroverts – for Once in your Damndable Life, just Stay Home and Be Quiet, Because People don’t Actually like your Exuberance!”?

Et cetera.

Trust me, extroverts. No one will miss you at the party. NO ONE. And on that note, I wish you a happy World Introvert Day. May we all celebrate on our own, in our own homes.

Roaring Twenties?

Or perhaps, as a friend of mine says, they are more likely to whine. Millennials and such. Speaking of, the last decade started with this article, which remains 100% true, says this GenXer.

What a decade (yes, I know that technically the decade ends at the end of this year, but shush up, pedants) it has been – my mother gone at nearly 93, my auntie at 90, my uncles at 96 and 95 – not unnatural deaths, of course. Dear God, give me their longevity, and not just that, but their quality of life till the end, their insistence on keeping active and contributing. (One small example – my uncle Paddy worked till the age of 78, and not because he had to.) And there were two unnatural deaths, for lack of a better term. My beloved brother at 63 and one of my closest friends from high school at 49. Make hay, et cetera.

There were many celebrity deaths this year – I never got around to posting about so many of these people who were meaningful to me. Well, I did write about Doris. And Diahann. And a couple of my fave writers. What I didn’t do on this site was mention how much I liked Rip Torn – oddly, my mother and I both had a crush on him. He was quite a handsome devil in his youth, and even into his 60s, but then became rather debauched from alcohol. The great Zeffirelli is gone (obituary in Italian) – he was extraordinary and a friend of another extraordinary Italian, Oriana Fallaci. I believe they both understood how much the West was/is threatened, largely by our own complacency.

Other great figures gone: Herman Wouk; Harold Bloom; Clive James.

And how could I have failed to post about Valerie Harper? My only excuse is that between late August (when she died) and about a week before Christmas, I was extremely busy with work. So all I can say is, Val, we loved you. Thank you. So many clips from which to choose, but I do so adore Rhoda Morgenstern’s comments about makeup, from the 6 minute 15 second mark on here (and yes, young people, that is indeed Marge Simpson as Rhoda’s sister):

And those of us who have struggled with our weight (a constant battle for me) always love this MTM episode:

Rest in peace all, including the decade (again, shush up, pedants).

New Year

Happy New Year from Dean, Frank and the Ding-a-Lings. Which begs the question…were the Ding-a-Lings a different group from the Golddiggers? Did they precede them/morph into them? I remember Dean and the Golddiggers from my childhood, but I have no recollection of these Ding-a-Lings. Ah well – glad to have discovered this, for ’tis delightful: