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Assorted ruminations on the day after Christmas:

Mistletoe: I didn’t see a single sprig of mistletoe this year. Is the tree-borne parasite becoming rare, or just the holiday tradition? Or, is there a broad-scale conspiracy to cut back on kissing during flu season? Mistletoe is often considered to be pestilential, but I was intrigued by an Australian study showing that mistletoe is actually good for forests, returning more nutrients to the forest floor than dead tree leaves. Both bird and insect populations increase when mistletoe is around — maybe they’re romantically inspired, too?

Movies: After much anticipation, it took me two tries to see The Hobbit all the way through. The first time, I was in the company of an 11-year-old, who got so scared that we had to leave 30 minutes into the ponderously inflated two-hours-and-45-minutes long first third of a relatively short book. At that age, I would have been frightened, too. What is worse, the scariest creatures in the flick weren’t even in the book. I have a number of gripes about what Peter Jackson did with Tolkien’s charming tale (don’t get me started), but the biggest is that a book written largely for children was turned into a movie that’s not suitable for children.

I haven’t seen Les Miserables yet, but I will. The reviewers think it’s uneven and stumbles under its own self-important weight, which probably means that I’ll like it. If the music is good and I’m crying at the end, that’s good enough for me.

Comics: Two of the comic strips from Christmas day made me smile. Dilbert‘s friend (pet? roomate?) Dogbert announced that he’d gotten Dilbert absolutely nothing for Christmas. “Nothing to unwrap, nothing to clutter the house, nothing to return, nothing to assemble, and not a single thing to feel guilty about.”

The minimalist Dilbert replied, “You totally get me.”

“It was the least I could do,” Dogbert said. Brilliant.

On a less snarky note, even though the Peanuts strips are decades-old reruns, I liked it. Perpetually crabby Lucy announced to Charlie Brown “At this time of year I think we should put aside all our differences and try to be kind.”

Charlie Brown asked, “Wy does it have to be for just this time of year? Why can’t it be all year ’round?”

To which Lucy replied, “What are you, some kind of fanatic or something?”

Let’s hear it for fanatics, all year ’round.

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