New Year’s Day: Reflection, Not Resolution

1930 was not looking so good, either.

Reflection without discipline can be self-indulgent, especially as the year draws to a close and a new one opens before us. So, let us impose discipline; avoid white-collar crime (there will be plenty in 2018); and focus on music, booze and books.

First, music is especially appropriate at this season, whether for reflection or not.  Here is the Miles Black Quintet, Jazz For The New Year:

As jazz critic for the Wall Street Journal (and JazzWax blogger) Marc Myers notes:

Sixty-three years ago, on New Year’s Day in 1955, pianist Teddy Wilson, bassist Milt Hinton and drummer Jo Jones went into a studio for Norgran Records and recorded The Creative Teddy Wilson, a 12-inch album.

When Norman Granz founded Verve a year later for Ella Fitzgerald, the Wilson tracks were soon reissued on the label with a new title—Teddy Wilson: For Quiet Lovers.

Read the entire post here, and listen below:

Benjamin Britten (1913-1976)

Then move to Benjamin Britten’s “A New Year Carol,” here performed by Anonymous 4:

If the end of the year looms like the end of time, try 1000: A Mass For The End of Time, also by Anonymous 4:

Next, unless you have impulsively sworn off the hooch, what to drink?

Scrooge serving a little smoking bishop (illustration by John Leech for the 1843 edition of ‘A Christmas Carol’).

Hot cocktails are always fraught; many of us do not do them well.  With arctic temperatures across the country, however, this piece on Cold Weather, Hot Cocktails from the New York Times is especially welcome.  The Rock and Rye Toddy and the Port Toddy  seem especially promising.

Generally, I am not a fan of tequila, but this Winter Citrus Tequila Highball  (from Emily Arden Wells at  Gastronomista) is worth a try.

Must be a crime novel in here somewhere. (image by Dr. Marcus Gossler)

Third, what to read?

Our last post had some suggested 2017 crime fiction.  Here, from The Rap Sheet, are some more lists collected and discussed by J. Kingston Pierce.

And, from The Rap Sheet’s channel on YouTube, the original trailer from “The Wild, Wild West,” which debuted on television in 1965, about a couple of Secret Service agents in the mid-1860s.  They had a train.  I loved it, especially all the technology:


Christmas: Cocktails and Crime, Choirs and Cool

No coal lumps here.

A few notes, as Christmas is upon us.

First, what to drink?

I don’t care for Bloody Marys; they’re too acid.  The best Christmas drinks for morning or lunch are milk punch and the French 75.

Here is a Garden & Gun article about (and recipe for) milk punch:

Holiday Milk Punch

And, just this past Thanksgiving, I shared notes about the French 75:

Thanksgiving Cocktails, Truman Capote, Puritan Poetry

Second, what to read?

Bells about to jingle.

This blog dwells on crime fiction, so consider these “best of 2017” lists from the New York Times —

— and from The Guardian, the Wall Street Journal, and The Rap Sheet.

Third, what to listen to?

I first read about jazz pianist David Ian at Wall Street Journal jazz critic Marc Myers’s Jazz Wax.  It’s wonderful Christmas jazz: soulful but clean, quiet but not boring.

Here is Ian’s take on “Good King Wenceslas”:

Crown was on sale Cyber Monday.

From the British Library, here is a fascinating post on Christmas coronations:

Throughout the Middle Ages, Christmas was a season of festivities and celebrations, just as it is today. 25 December was certainly a high point of this festive season, beginning the twelve days of Christmas which would last until Epiphany. On three occasions in the early medieval period, the Christmas Day celebrations may have been more extravagant than usual: on Christmas Day in 800, 855 and 1066, merrymakers also celebrated the coronations of the very first Holy Roman Emperor and two English kings with interesting legacies.

Read the entire post here.

Fourth, what to believe?

Few things match the choir of King’s College, Cambridge and the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols:

A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols is the Christmas Eve service held in King’s College Chapel. The Festival was introduced in 1918 to bring a more imaginative approach to worship. It was first broadcast in 1928 and is now broadcast to millions of people around the world.

The service includes carols and readings from the Bible. The opening carol is always ‘Once in Royal David’s City’, and there is always a new, specially commissioned carol. It is distinct from Carols from King’s, which is a carol service pre-recorded for BBC television, also broadcast on Christmas Eve.

Get the details here, and then listen below:

And what to make of Christmas Day itself?  I have considered it:

Advent Bible in a Year Blog: A Marshmallow World

Even if you don’t read my Advent post above, you need to watch a sharp-dressed Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra work through a classic of Christmas cool, it’s a “Marshmallow World”:

Merry Christmas.