I’m still digesting filet mignon and Yorkshire pudding and asparagus (all washed down with pinot noir), but before I collapse completely I thought I’d give a brief report on some of the goodies I got. Pride of place goes to the magnificent Criterion edition of Fassbinder’s Berlin Alexanderplatz (based on the 1929 Döblin novel, of which I have a beat-up and much-annotated copy); I saw the whole 15½-hour series when MOMA did a retrospective in 1997, and ever since I’ve longed to own it so I could watch it at my leisure, novel and maps at my side. Then there are Kate Brown’s A Biography of No Place, about the dreadful 20th-century fate of a borderland between Russia and Poland that’s been ethnic-cleansed and homogenized to within an inch of its life, and David Garrioch’s The Making of Revolutionary Paris, about the history of 18th-century Paris (a city in whose history I have an inordinate interest), and the winter boots, and the slack-key guitar CDs, and various other goodies. A thousand thanks to those who made this a memorable day: you know who you are!


  1. It sounds like you are doing the “Christmas thing” right. Thanks for the engaging blog (the thanks being my own humble gift). I’ve just moved into new digs at Trinity Episcopal (qua Anglican) Cathedral where I serve as Sexton henchforth. Following a fine 45 minute choir concert, Bishop Frade delivered a midnight mass homily on welcoming diversity into the church (in particular, gay participation). The organist regaled us with In dulci jubilio (Bach) and Von Himmel Hoch (Edmundson) by way of “postludes” as we egressed.

  2. Sounds great, and you remind me that a big part of our Christmas each year is the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols broadcast from King’s College Chapel on Christmas Eve. My wife introduced me to it; that moment when the boy soloist starts singing “Once in royal David’s city” is pure magic.

  3. Our overlap is Pinot Noir.
    P.S. If you visit Cambridge it’s well worth going to the chapel to hear Evensong – my brother was so impressed that he thought of forming Atheists for Evensong. (Perhaps modelled on my own “Atheists for saying ‘Merry Christmas'”.)

  4. I’ll join that organization!

  5. A.J.P. Crone says

    Yes, me too.
    How nice that you both listen to the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols, it’s something I’ve listened to on the radio on Christmas Eve ever since I was very young. My mother told me the other day that they have three trebles (boy sopranos) who are ready to sing the first verse of Once in Royal David’s City, and they tell the one who’s going to do it only five minutes beforehand, so he doesn’t have a chance to get too nervous. The funny thing about King’s is that, being the most left-leaning college at Cambridge, it’s probably also got the largest number of atheists. I think the Christmas Eve congregation comes from the town, though.

  6. John Emerson says

    They castrate three different boys for one part? That’s harsh.

  7. John Emerson says

    They castrate three different boys for one part? That’s harsh.

  8. town and gown together on the one day

  9. A.J.P. Crone says

    Harsh, yes. But fair.

  10. Yes, any sacrifice is worth it for such music.

  11. I gotta hand it to you, John and AJP, you guys know how to capture the Christmas spirit. I am sooo looking forward to New Year’s.

  12. We were iced in and everything in town was canceled, except for television reruns of The King’s Singers doing the Twelve Days of Christmas. The next day was a broadcast of a choir from Luther College, which wasn’t too bad, followed by *sigh* the re re rerun of Twelve Days of Christmas. Judging by their little mp3 clip, the BBC broadcast would be well worth searching for.
    Our diversity/gay sermon is usually delivered by a guest speaker in the middle of the summer, not during the Christmas and/or Easter high seasons. Unfortunately we lost our organist (and his partner, a composer) when they moved to somewhere in the Boston area last year; our church hasn’t been the same since.

  13. Still quietly reading, every time. Merry Christmas, Good Yule, Happy Hanukkah.

  14. It wouldn’t go with the filet mignon, but can I recommend for your Christmas Eve Norwegian meatballs in 2009 a glass of Haandbryggeriet’s delicious Norwegian Wood, a tribute to Norway’s farmhouse brewing traditions, made with juniper berries and juniper twigs, just as Norwegian homebrew is, and smoked malt along with dark malts. Don’t know if it’s available in the US, but it should be …

  15. Mmm, sounds good!

  16. David Marjanović says

    In dulci jubilio

    In dulci jubilo.

    Von Himmel Hoch

    Vom Himmel hoch ( = “from the sky/heaven high”).

  17. Point taken.
    Happy Monkey! Godt Nytår! (Og glædelig Bagjul, if you like puns.)

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