Is Christmas ruined?

I overheard in a break room that “Working retail has ruined Christmas…” for the woman who said this. And that got me thinking. Is commercialism ruining Christmas?

Radio stations start playing Christmas music in November, or maybe even October. Do they do it to get the spirit going? No, they do it to catch radio listeners, and thus sell more ads.

Television, stores, nonprofits, and other businesses use Christmas to bring in or make more money. But what does that do to Christmas? Many of our cherished Christmas traditions were marketing campaigns during the holidays, including Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (Montgomery Ward Department Store) and Santa’s Red Suit (Designed by Thomas Nast in Harper’s Weekly, but which was popularized by Haddon Sundblom’s Coca-Cola campaign).

Even Dicken’s A Christmas Carol created some traditions we still use today.

To answer the question of a ruining of Christmas, it must be understood what Christmas is. And that answer is so many things to different people.

So celebrate Christmas your way, and find moments to enjoy the season. It comes just once each year…

Weekly Rundown

Yes, I think that has stuck. I like it. It’s kind of like my weekly check-in, but with less introspection. Just things that have caught my attention.

What I’m reading: Monsters Among Us: An Exploration of Otherworldly Bigfoots, Wolfmen, Portals, Phantoms, and Odd Phenomena by Linda S. Godfrey. I wanted to get one more seasonal read in before November. Well, what to say. Do you believe in spirit creatures, possessions, skin walkers, UFOs, or otherworldly portals? Or not? Either way, an interesting book broken down in case studies. 

Additionally, if you check out the @WerewolfReports bot on Twitter, you can keep updated on odd werewolf sightings… If you believe in that kind of thing.

What I’m listening to: Lore, from Aaron Mahnke. Specifically the Trick or Treat episodes from 2016 and 2017. But, listen to whatever you feel like. Or, watch the video series on Amazon Prime Video!

What I’m spending time with: Switching over my recording from Audacity to GarageBand. I host a radio show twice a week, which is prerecorded and aired on 107.1 WZEA. Until recently I had used Audacity. However, since updating the MacBook, my microphones don’t work for recording. There’s a cumbersome workaround, but I’d rather have a simple time making my episodes. So I’ve been looking at the GarageBand recording platform. It seems that there used to be a Podcast recording option, since removed, but it works fairly well. I’ll give it a try, and either continue on it, or switch back when the new update for Audacity comes out.

Other things of interest this week:

  • This article from Vice on what the absence of humanity would look like on Earth. It’s something similar to what I’ve been contemplating, like in Because one day we die. What do we individually leave behind? And, what as a species will be left?
  • Seth Godin on his late friend Lionel Poilane, who owned a bakery in Paris, Poilane’s  daughter Apollonia’s new book.
  • Looking to the future, my friend and I are planning a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail. Doubtful it will be next year, because I’m looking to do some fun work over the summer, prime hiking time. So the possible start is March 18, 2021. We’ll see how our plans go between now and then.
  • Maria Popova on Thirteen Years of Brain Pickings. A great website, with great weekly emails.
  • Another listen: Marketplace’s Conversations from the Corner Office with Walking Dead Content Director Scott Gimple.

Music consumption

Driving from a to b one day, I was thinking about the radio. I’ve had satellite radio for about a year, mostly to listen to Symphony Hall, Metropolitan Opera, and Broadway, but it isn’t a necessity. Early on, there was just wireless telegraphy. Over a century of radio broadcasting, with the first 60 years shaping the nature of music and entertainment.

Then it started to change. The take-home market, bootlegs, and audio recording devices for personal use. Not a phonograph, but cassette. As the size of data decreased, the ease of consumption increased. Now, thousands of songs are instantly available from the phone you’re carrying, likely hooked up to your Bluetooth in the car. Not thousands. Not millions. Every song ever recorded is virtually accessible in some way through most mobile devices. Not needing to carry cassettes, or cds, your tastes can expand, but your curatorial sense may be reduced.

We rarely listen to complete albums any more, so maybe we miss gems from our favorite artists. But we’re constantly exposed to new artists, ones we may have missed otherwise. As in all other arenas of modernity, it’s a trade-off we’re still learning to come to terms with.

More busy-ness

I’ve been working out a 168-hour timeline for the week, planning out days. Without overlap, it looks something like:

  • 56 hours – Sleep
  • 50 hours – Job
  • 10 hours – Writing
  • 10 hours – Dining/meal prep/shopping
  • 9 hours – Side hustle
  • 7 hours – Reading for pleasure / studying
  • 6 hours – Podcast & video recording/editing
  • 6 hours – Yoga/exercise
  • 4 hours – Music gigs
  • 4 hours – Meditation
  • 3 hours – Radio show
  • 3 hours – Nothing

Now, I rarely sleep 8 hours per night. I haven’t been as faithful in my yoga practice as I should be. And I do write sometimes during gigs when I’m not singing. So there is overlap.

The problems come when other things creep in and I have to decide which items to omit from the daily list. And things will crop up. Date night (which should be every week). The film that I just have to say (a lot coming out this summer). And other activities that require some measure of concentration on my part – I’m thinking of the garage that needs an overhaul right now.

And I look at Benjamin Franklin’s daily schedule in awe, and can’t help but wonder how he managed it. (Of course he didn’t, but it didn’t stop him from trying.)

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Video killed the radio star

I’ve been doing my radio program on musicals and local arts for about a year now. I think it’ll be a year next month. For it, I’m always playing around with different recording techniques, looking at new equipment such as microphones and audio interface. I’m not optimized for recording.

And yet, I get it done. It may not be perfect, but it’s complete. And every week I ship a new episode – because it’s airing on the radio. So it’s likely been one of the most important teaching tools for creating my art that I’ve been a part of recently.

After the video game broadcasts gets off the ground, my next goal is a podcast with another recording friend of mine. But since I usually lay out my laundry on this blog, I’ve not a clue what we’ll be talking about yet.

The technical

With a blog I’ve been working on for about three years (on and off), and other social media accounts I’ve had for longer – as well as the new website, a podcast, a radio show, and a new media showcase about to start production on Sunday, sorting through the technology requirements on a limited schedule is complicated.

Right now I’m working on batching blog posts so that I can have at least five done each day. The last two weeks were pretty well shot with rehearsals, a new office, and advisory council appointment orientation. As everything settles and I work on processing incoming data efficiently, I’ll lay out those inbox sorting techniques here (somewhere.)

Going forward

For the time being, committing to one day a week blog posting. Probably Mondays.

Feeling slightly reinvigorated after several weeks of lethargy and, to be honest, mild depression. I think the season sometimes weighs on me. Later this month will be the eight-year anniversary of the crash that took my grandmother. One of the defining moments of my life, and I believe that each year brings some relief, but with it new challenges.

I wanted to write about Halloween, and will later. A bit of a post mortem (no pun intended). I think it’s one of my favorite holidays, but I’m such a fan of most holidays that it’s hard to choose one favorite (Thanksgiving is one I’m on the fence about).

A couple other future posts include one on horror movies, the long-awaited reading lists (RA Salvatore, Patrick Rothfuss, and Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, to name a few), The Adventure Zone, my experiences in radio broadcasting, and some various theatrical experiences.

So, I’ll leave it there for today. I’ve started writing my morning pages again, a la Julie Cameron. When the seasonal affectations begin, it’s sometimes difficult to maintain focus. But, as has happened in the past, I slack off, then I pick back up. This is my meandering thought process anyway, and I find it best to write when the mind necessitates it.