Friday Four: A Few Christmas Movies for Grownups, and How to Help Aleppo

This was one of those weeks that got away from me, what with erranding, gift shopping, holidaying and trying to fit a workout in here and there. The weather here has been on the polar vortex/blizzard-y side, and it makes everything sooooooo muuuuuuuch slooooooooower. This weekend I have a few family things, but I’m hoping otherwise to just chill, wrap a few presents and watch a few movies. Hope your week has been a good one — here’s what lit up mine.

+ I finished the entire Neapolitan series from Elena Ferrante this week and…WOW. I read a lot of contemporary literature and rarely would I say much of it will likely be read 200 years from now. It’s not that people aren’t writing great novels, but how often do you read something that expands an art form in a way that is both emotionally compelling and artistically innovative? But Ferrante’s epic of female friendship and feminine identity is so very monumental. It was one of my resolutions in 2016 to read this series, but I’m so glad I made the time and effort, and even sacrificed some sleep to spend time with such vivid, multidimensional characters.

+ Since I spent most of my spare time this week reading like a fiend, most of my other cultural consumption was pretty nil. We did listen to a bit of the Hamilton Mixtape around the house — we’ve been listening to the cast soundtrack over this past year and we have tickets to see ‘Hamilton’ this spring in Chicago, which I am stoked about. Here’s a bit of Kelly Clarkson singing one of the saddest songs from the soundtrack:

+ We did also manage to watch a few Christmas-themed movies for grownups as well, after putting our little one down for the evening. My favorite is Love Actually, if only for Bill Nighy’s ridiculous Christmas song, and I’ve always loved Scrooged, since Bill Murray is so good in it — but this year was the first time I saw Terry Zwigoff’s Bad Santa, starring Billy Bob Thornton. It was crude, profane, awkward, freakish and absolutely funny in many parts — I can see why it became kind of a cult film over the years.

And here’s that terrible but hilarious Christmas song in Love Actually.

+ I don’t have anything very insightful to say about what is happening in Aleppo and Syria in general, except that the chaos and violence are absolutely horrific. When a society absolutely breaks down and there is no structure or recourse to safety or even civility, the brutality that results is almost enough to make you lose faith in any essential goodness of ‘humanity.’ I know it’s the year end, our dollars are stretched and we already have our favorite charities and causes — but please help an utterly forgotten and god forsaken part of the world.

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