Monday, December 25, 2017

Recommended Reading: Christmas Edition

"Every day is Christmas."  John Baptist Greco

I may not be Santa Claus, but I have loaded lots of goodies on my sleigh. (Apologies to Nat King Cole).

And now it's time for me to share them with you. So, here's my list of recommended readings on this Christmas Day, 2017   which, incidentally, is the first "White Christmas" in my part of the world in quite a few years. (Apologies to Bing Crosby).

Okay, okay. Enough corny references to Christmas songs. Without further ado, here are some Christmas-themed articles that are worth reading. We'll start with political articles, and work our way up to cartoon-related articles. 

Paul Craig Roberts makes a case for why Christmas is worth observing... even if you're a non-believer. Roberts publishes this article every year, so reading it has become a tradition of sorts for me. Yet each year, I find Paul Craig Roberts's Christmas column to be refreshing and increasingly relevant. I find it so compelling that I'm going to publish a few excerpts from it:

"The decorations and gifts of Christmas are one of our connections to a Christian culture that has held Western civilization together for 2,000 years.

"In our culture the individual counts. This permits an individual person to put his or her foot down, to take a stand on principle, to become a reformer and to take on injustice.

"This empowerment of the individual is unique to Western civilization. It has made the individual a citizen equal in rights to all other citizens, protected from tyrannical government by the rule of law and free speech. These achievements are the products of centuries of struggle, but they all flow from the teaching that God so values the individual's soul that he sent his son to die so we might live. By so elevating the individual, Christianity gave him a voice.

"Formerly only those with power had a voice. But in Western civilization people with integrity have a voice. So do people with a sense of justice, of honor, of duty, of fair play. Reformers can reform, investors can invest, and entrepreneurs can create commercial enterprises, new products and new occupations. [...]

"Power is the horse ridden by evil. In the 20th century the horse was ridden hard, and the 21st century shows an increase in pace. Millions of people were exterminated in the 20th century by National Socialists in Germany and by Soviet and Chinese communists simply because they were members of a race or class that had been demonized by intellectuals and political authority. In the beginning years of the 21st century, hundreds of thousands of Muslims in seven countries have been murdered and millions displaced in order to extend Washington's hegemony.

"Power that is secularized and cut free of civilizing traditions is not limited by moral and religious scruples. V. I. Lenin made this clear when he defined the meaning of his dictatorship as 'unlimited power, resting directly on force, not limited by anything.' Washington's drive for hegemony over US citizens and the rest of the world is based entirely on the exercise of force and is resurrecting unaccountable power."

Again, read the whole thing. It's so worth it.

Next on my list is this article by Matthias Leyrer. Leyrer argues for revitalizing the downtowns of US cities, asking customers to consider shopping at small downtown mom-and-pop stores rather than at big box retailers. He makes a convincing case that this would go a long way towards making Christmas great again. (Not that I don't think Christmas is great as it is, mind you. I just couldn't resist the temptation to paraphrase President Donald Trump's (in)famous campaign slogan).

What better way to end my list of recommended political readings and begin my list of cartoon-related readings than with an article that is both political and cartoon-related? In this article, Gracy Olmstead reflects on what the very difficult Christmas she endured last year and Dr. Seuss's How the Grinch Stole Christmas taught her about the true meaning of the season.

Before we move on to 100% happy articles, here's one last partly depressing article. Animator Mark Kausler shares a few of the Christmas cards legendary voice actress June Foray sent him over the years. As you may know, Foray passed away earlier this year at the age of 99. She was the voice of countless classic cartoon characters, including Granny from Looney Tunes (Warner Bros.), Rocky the Flying Squirrel from The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show (Jay Ward Productions), Jokey Smurf from the 1980s Smurfs animated series (Hanna-Barbera), and Cindy Lou Who from Chuck Jones's 1966 adaptation of Dr. Seuss's How the Grinch Stole Christmas (MGM).

And now for the 100% happy articles. First, my friend Joe Torcivia reviews Bugs Bunny's Christmas Funnies #1, a Dell comic book from 1950.

Finally, I invite you to check out some of my favorite Christmas-related posts from one of my favorite blogs: Don M. Yowp blog's on early Hanna-Barbera cartoons. Here's one from 2013. The neat thing about this one is that it includes links to Yowp's Christmas posts from 2010, 2011, and 2013. And here's Yowp's Christmas post from 2017, which includes links to his Christmas posts from 2014, 2015, and 2016.

Well, all these links should keep you happily entertained for the rest of the 2017-2018 Christmas season (which ends on January 6, 2018, in my book).

In closing, I wish each and every one of this blog's visitors a very Merry Christmas.                      

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