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19 December 2016
Vol. VI, No. 293

19 December 2016: The Best of “Weekly Hubris”

Our First Annual Winter Solstice Edition

Paul Manship’s “Prometheus” (1934) at Rockefeller Center. (Photo by Richard Berenholtz.)

Paul Manship’s “Prometheus” (1934) at Rockefeller Center. (Photo by Richard Berenholtz.)

From Elizabeth Boleman-Herring: This is a first, but we hope to start a tradition. Just ahead of the winter holidays, my fellow editors Tim Bayer, Ted Balk, and I have compiled a moveable (well, virtual) feast of essays featuring the work of 21 Weekly Hubris Columnists: Tim Bayer, Diana Farr Louis, yours truly, Dr. Sterling K. (“Skip”) Eisiminger, William A. Balk, Jr., Doris Athanassakis, F. Theresa Gillard, Anita Sullivan, Reiki Master Helen Noakes, Dr. William Ramp, Sensei Jerry Zimmerman, Alexander Billinis, Alan Gauvin, Meredith d’Ambrosio, Wayne Mergler, Michael House, Ted Balk, Burt Kempner, Claire Bateman, the late Sanford Rose . . . and a new column by Dr. Guy McPherson. Please share this week’s hubris widely, and enjoy reading us, one or all, at year’s end. We’ll be back in 2017 with new offerings. Thank you all, readers, writers, photographers, and painters, for sharing your gifts and your time over the course of this past, most difficult, year.    

Christmas with Motoki riding shotgun.

Christmas with Motoki riding shotgun.

Won Over By Reality

“Finally, A Xmas Montage Worth Watching,” By Tim Bayer

BRIGHTON New York—(Weekly Hubris)—December 19, 2016—Christmas music  reappears every December. Well, every October, in fact. What doesn’t pop up often is a truly creative interpretation of the holiday songbook that I (or anyone) might find entertaining. Though a bit of a rarity, this year I found just that elusive gem: a holiday music video worth watching. Enter Motoki, riding shotgun. (Read more . . .)

The iconic Greek family at their dinner table.

Eating Well Is The Best Revenge

“Xmas In Athens: An Ancient Greek Remembers (Best of “Hubris”),” By Diana Farr Louis

ATHENS Greece—(Weekly Hubris)—December 19, 2016—Crises bring up memories of other crises, and this country has had more than its share in the past hundred years: world wars, Balkan wars, a civil war, dictatorships, and financial upheavals. But there have also been times of relative calm and prosperity, so let’s look back to the kinder, gentler Athens of the 1930s for a dose of Christmas cheer. These are the reminiscences of my husband Harilaos, known to some of you as “Joy of the People,” a rough translation of his name. As a very youthful octogenarian, he does not live in the past, but I compel him to tell his stories over and over. So, in his own words . . . (Read more . . .)

Remembering Harry’s “mitzvahs.”

Remembering Harry’s “mitzvahs.”

Squibs and Blurbs

“On Being at Harry Simon’s Funeral (Best of “Hubris”),” By Jerry Zimmerman

TEANECK New Jersey—(Weekly Hubris)—December 19, 2016—I can’t believe I’m actually sitting in a pew at the funeral of my old friend and neighbor, Harry. What I really can’t believe is that this service is being held in the same room in the same funeral home that we used for the service of my late wife Rhona, almost four years ago. This could be bad. (Read more . . .)

Groceries

Groceries

Pinhead Angel 

“The Kindness Of Strangers (Best of “Hubris”),” By Burt Kempner

GAINESVILLE Florida—(Weekly Hubris)—December 19, 2016—“I could watch you shop all day.” That was a new one. When you reach a certain age, pick-up lines mutate from, “Sail my way, Dreamboat,” to “Hey, you don’t smell like Ben-Gay!” I stared at the round-faced, pleasant-looking young man ahead of me on line in the supermarket, determined to come up with a witty riposte. “Pardon?” (That wasn’t it.) “I noticed you while you were walking down the aisles. You seem like a very happy man.” (Read more . . .)

Snowdon’s Baryshnikov (1977): an athlete of God.

Snowdon’s Baryshnikov (1977): an athlete of God.

Skip the B.S.

“Miming Emotion: Dance (Best of “Hubris”),” By Skip Eisiminger

CLEMSON South Carolina—(Weekly Hubris)—December 19, 2016—Dad won my mother’s heart at the Ft. Benning Officers’ Club by “bird-dogging her left-footed date.” I often heard that story growing up and, come adolescence, I figured I had the genes. But despite studying Floor-Play (“You too can dance on water.”), attending the Ft. Myer cotillion, and free-styling in the mirror as “American Bandstand” played Elvis, I was ever a hoofer unblessed by the muse. (Read more . . .)

F. Theresa’s abused doormat.

F. Theresa’s abused doormat.

Status: Quo Minus

“Love Thy Neighbor (Best of “Hubris”),” By F. Theresa Gillard

BOSTON Massachusetts—(Weekly Hubris)—December 19, 2106—You guys must be so tired of hearing about my housing escapades but, I tell you, it just keeps getting better. Seriously, I couldn’t make this stuff up. So, come to find out the lady downstairs is a wee bit beyond insane. Nothing strange about that. We’re all a wee bit something. Just so happens she, for some strange reason, became fixated on my “Leave” welcome mat. This I’ve already shared with you here. (Read more . . .)

I apologize, for everything.

I apologize, for everything.

By Way of Being

“Down On My Knees Before The Grinch (Best of “Hubris”),” By Elizabeth Boleman-Herring

PETIT TRIANON Florida—(Weekly Hubris)—December 19, 2016—The Hallmark Store is a place I avoid, for nothing says nothing quite like a Hallmark card. But, it was mid-December, I’d run out of photo-holding-holiday cards, and Hallmark was having a sale. Where we live, in north-central Florida, patience is not a virtue but an absolute necessity. The community here, especially at such emporia as Hallmark, is largely in its late 70s and 80s, and no one moves quickly or, often, predictably and rationally. More of us than not, hereabouts, are a few feathers short of a dove. (Read more . . .)

Perhaps the gesture frames an emptiness.

Perhaps the gesture frames an emptiness.

Small Things Recollected

“So, What Are We Doing Wrong: On Absent Mercies (Best of “Hubris”),” By William Ramp

LETHBRIDGE, Alberta, Canada—(Weekly Hubris)—December 19, 2016—It was an insignificant moment in a busy day. I had rushed, as I often do, from my office to the supermarket in search of a couple of easy dinner items. Purchases made, I was threading my way through the parking lot when I noticed two women talking beside a car. As I passed them, one spread her hands out, palms up, with a slight shrug of her shoulders, and asked the other, “So what are we doing wrong? Like, what are we doing wrong?” And that was that. They carried on; I carried on. (Read more . . .)

“Winter Bloom,” by Si Griffiths.

Epicurus’ Porch

“The Winter Solstice Confronts the Lazy Gardener (Best of “Hubris”),” By William A. Balk, Jr.

BEAUFORT South Carolina—(Weekly Hubris)—December 19, 2016—Like many another scion of Celtic forebears, I celebrate the arrival of the Winter Solstice. Like many another gardener, I rejoice in the coming of the coldest, darkest days of the year. To be sure, I complain about the cold, lament the lack of sunlight, and crave the warm sunny days of summer still to come. But midwinter’s chill has brought with it a time of repose and retrenchment in the garden: for many of its plants, and for the gardener, as well. (Read more . . .)

“Raging Blizzard,” Oil on Canvas, 20” X 30” (2006).

“Raging Blizzard,” Oil on Canvas, 20” X 30” (2006).

The Disappearing Land

“Deep Winter, Deeper Still (Best of “Hubris”),” By Meredith d’Ambrosio

DUXBURY Massachusetts—(Weekly Hubris)—December 19, 2016—This painting is the second of my three depictions of Peggy’s Cove, Nova Scotia. I love to walk in a heavy snow storm. Whenever I gaze at this painting, it draws me in; then transports me to another white-out, the great blizzard of 1978, when the snow was five feet high. People were walking in the blinding snow with wooden, tennis racket-like snow shoes. No cars were allowed on the streets of Newton, Massachusetts for five days. I shall never forget that storm. (Read more . . .)

A last smile for “The Pig Whisperer.”

Dispatches from The Esso Club           

“Pig Whisperer for a Wedding Day (Best of “Hubris”),” By Ted Balk

CENTRAL South Carolina—(Weekly Hubris)—12/19/2016—It had been a while since an opportunity to spend quiet time sitting with a pig had presented itself. So, when Jeff asked, I quickly accepted, even though it meant missing my regular Saturday morning Yoga class. The occasion was the celebration of the second birthday of Jeff and Lesslie’s son, and my good buddy, JB. They were going all out, as is their wont, with a party including four generations of family as well as 50 or so close friends. When possible, in this part of the southeastern US, the central focus for a big party of this sort is the cooking of a “whole hog.” Jeff was doing a hundred-pound pig (45 kg), which takes around twelve hours of close, if not constant, attention, and he needed help. (Read more . . .)

Skagway, Alaska.

Skagway, Alaska.

Above The Timberline

“The Alaskan Way Of Death (Best of “Hubris”),” By Wayne Mergler

ANCHORAGE Alaska—(Weekly Hubris) December 19, 2016—An old friend—Bev—died back in January of this year. I attended her funeral then and the family’s visitation. Tomorrow, she is going to be buried in a cemetery plot here in Anchorage. But, wait, you might say: This is July! She’s been dead for six months! And, yes, you would be correct to say that, and I would have to respond, stoically, that this is the Alaskan way of death. (Read more . . .)

Now when we are lonely as we are always lonely it’s because we miss the free space.

Speculative Friction

“When I Was Your Age (Best of “Hubris”),” By Claire Bateman

GREENVILLE South Carolina—(Weekly Hubris)—December 19, 2016—when I was your age/there used to be something between units of information that was not itself information this substance was so exquisite so fine-spun that we were altogether oblivious to its presence it possessed inexplicable powers it could part to let a thought pass through and then close behind it without making the sheerest sound it transported millions of glances and gazes without entanglement there is no doubt that this era which lasted throughout most of history was the most wondrous of (Read more . . .)

Strongyli Kittens II

Out of Santorini

“Strongyli Kittens, Portfolio I (Best of “Hubris”),” By Doris Athanassakis

IMEROVIGLI Greece—(Weekly Hubris)—December 19, 2016—This portfolio of ten Black & White images represents the first offering of works by photographer Doris Athanassakis at Weekly Hubris. Athanassakis lives in Imerovigli,  a caldera-side village on the volcanic island of  Santorini. Of Greek and Austrian heritage, Athanassakis has been photographing her island home, its architecture, and its myriad residents, all her life, and her work comprises an ongoing and lifelong meditation upon her stunningly unique surroundings . . . and herself in them. (Read more . . .)

Thracians in traditional dress.

Thracians in traditional dress.

Roaming East Roman

“Drinking with Thracians (Best of “Hubris”),” By Alexander Billinis

CHICAGO Illinois—(Weekly Hubris)—December 19, 2016—I love crossing borders, whether official ones with their lines and barriers, or “Schengen” borders, which give the dangerous illusion that intra-European Union crossings matter as much or less than those of US states. That said, I particularly love those “fuzzy,” cultural lines of demarcation, which have no visible controls, barriers, or bureaucracies, but may mean far more in present, past, or future than the ones involving wire, passports, and officious guards. (Read more . . .)

Mother and Father: murmurous, eternal presences.

Waking Point

“Murmurous Absences (Best of “Hubris”),” By Helen Noakes

SAN FRANCISCO California—(Weekly Hubris)—December 19, 2016—If I were to recall 2012, I would remember the long months of slogging through darkness towards a distant pinpoint of light. I would describe the year as a seemingly interminable, exhausting journey towards a moment of immense clarity. For 2012 was the year of my mother’s death, a year of endings and beginnings, a year that taught me to forgive, release, and bless the one person who shaped me in the womb and out of it. And while this shaper, this sculptor of my strengths and weaknesses, was baffled and, at times, appalled at the shape I took, she knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that it was her chisel that had cut and scraped me into the woman I had become. (Read more . . .)

Alan Gauvin’s current audience

Alan Gauvin’s current audience

Maine Cat

“Welcome to Maine (Best of “Hubris”),” By Alan Gauvin

HOULTON Maine—(Weekly Hubris) December 19, 2016—When my career in music flatlined a few years ago I was forced to return to the Ferrari restoration shop I helped found in 1979 with an old high school chum and, although I had enjoyed this work in the past and was highly skilled, my labors having garnered “1st in Class” awards at the Pebble Beach Concourse and other prestigious shows around the country, returning at this time of my life was the end of the road in more ways than one! Having started playing clarinet at age six, I began my professional career at age 17 and, by my 20’s I was traveling the world with Jimmy Dorsey, and then Woody Herman, Buddy Rich, Gerry Mulligan and, later, Ray Charles. By the 1980’s, all such road bands were rapidly disappearing and, after three failed marriages and a boat load of drugs and booze, life on the road was untenable. (Read more . . .)

A Thai “Spirit House,” or “San Phra Phum,” meaning “Abode of the Land’s Guardian Spirit.”

A Thai “Spirit House,” or “San Phra Phum,” meaning “Abode of the Land’s Guardian Spirit.”

On The Other Hand

“Rewilding Religion (Best of “Hubris”),” By Anita Sullivan

EUGENE Oregon—(Weekly Hubris)—December 19, 2016—There is a term ecologists use to describe one of their land-conservation strategies: “rewilding.” For the lay person, the word means pretty much what it says: a plan for systematically re-introducing plant and animal species that would have been native to a land area at a much earlier time (before humans, ideally), but that have been crowded out by newer ones that humans brought along when they moved into the area. (Read more . . .)

“Trenches, 1917,” Wilhelm Heinrich Otto Dix.

Dolors & Sense

“The Four World War Ones (Best of “Hubris”),” By Sanford Rose

KISSIMMEE Florida—(Weekly Hubris)—December 19, 2016—World War One broke out three times (nearly) before it finally broke out. In the same place and for the same reason: the conflict between Austria-Hungary and Russia over hegemony in the Balkans—the powder keg of Europe that German “Iron Chancellor” Bismarck once said was not worth the bones of a single Pomeranian grenadier. But which was to become the graveyard of many thousands. (Read more . . .)

"Round The Horn," Kenneth Horne, Kenneth Williams, Hugh Paddick, Bill Pertwee, Douglas Smith and Betty Marsden.

“Round The Horne,” Kenneth Horne, Kenneth Williams, Hugh Paddick, Bill Pertwee, Douglas Smith and Betty Marsden.

The Polemicist

“International Truth Day (Best of “Hubris”),” By Michael House

LONDON England—(Weekly Hubris)—December 19, 2016—Not one of my readers in 20 (assuming I have 20) will know about the wonderful UK radio comedy show of the 1960’s and 70’s, Round the Horne. Four very funny men and one very funny woman produced skits and sketches years ahead of their time. It was the first radio show to include gay humor: the censors didn’t stop it because they didn’t understand it. One of the regular sketches was entitled “Kenneth Horne, Special Investigator.” He was called in to examine a terrifying new phenomenon—public figures who suddenly started telling the truth. It started with a judge at the Old Bailey letting a hooligan off with a caution with words to the effect: “Don’t worry, Mate. I often do the same sort of thing myself, but they can’t touch me for it, me being a judge.” (Read more . . .)

Guy McPherson and Paul Henry.

Guy McPherson and Paul Henry.

Going Dark

“Born in Captivity,” By Guy McPherson

SAN ANTONIO Belize—(Weekly Hubris)— December 19, 2016—This interview, by Paul Henry, of Dr. Guy McPherson, first aired on November 24, 2016. Paul Henry: We are heading for mass extinction—there you go—that’s it—end it there—as humans destroy their own habitat. That is the no-holds-barred message from climate change expert Guy McPherson from the University of Arizona. Some label him an ‘eco-terrorist.’ Others say he’s an anarchist. But could he just be a realist? Guy is now in New Zealand on a speaking tour and joins me now. Great to see you again. Guy McPherson: Likewise, Paul. PH: Last time I spoke to you, um, 2014, and you snatched any hope of the future for me and my family—it was doom and gloom. Has anything changed since then in your account of things? (Read more . . .)

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