Odin Wishes You a Merry Christmas!

With a Christmas film recommendation and a book about cheese.

Odin Wishes You a Merry Christmas!
AI-gen images are fascinating.

One of the fun things about weekly newsletters is the reminder to myself of just how much can occur in a hand-span of days. But, before all of that: Happy Yule and Merry Christmas to y'all!

This week, I've got some more interesting happenings from the world, but also more musings on theatre and acting (spurred by visiting one of the best theatre experiences I've ever encountered). More thoughts and updates on writing, too.


The seasons no longer turn for us. We're connected, all moments of the day, to the inexorable march of the machine. Our time is not our own: our time is owned and loaned by landlords, managers, corporations. Our very lives are occupied territory, and many of us are so hopelessly inured to this alien horror, so used to our subjugation, that we don't even realize what's happened.

But the Earth yet moves, and the Sun yet radiates, and all the glorious bounty of nature continues unabated despite our best efforts to warp and distort it into well-defined borders within our control.

The galaxy is there, even when you can't see the stars. The same is true for the cycle of the seasons. Even when your life is contained by concrete and the harsh whip of city lighting, nature roils beneath it all. Vast, bounteous nature binds us and our reality together.

When we forget this, art is there to remind us.

You are not a cog in a machine; you are part of something infinite and wonderful that is meant to grow and entwine with the world around it.

You can rediscover this truth through art.

On the solstice, my wife and I attended just such a piece of art. After a night of dining out under the stars, we went to The Imaginists to see their Nightlight interactive theatre experience.

The Imaginists are one of the most exemplary artistic collectives in the world, and their latest immersive seasonal experience is further proof of the quality of their work.

Taken through the hidden passages of reality, the audience walks their way into a storybook, through the bowls of the strange, and into a wintery ritual of uplifting self-discovery that has to be experienced to be understood. It's no mystery to me that, even after extending the run of the show by double, each performance sold out almost before tickets had opened.

You can read a lovely review of the piece in the SF Chronicle, here.

If you ever happen to be in the California North Bay, you should absolutely check The Imaginists out and see what they're offering. Donate, too, if you can, and help them keep doing this sort of incredible work.

All this ties into work that my wife and I want to undertake in the years ahead: as space-holders and meaning-weavers. We're called, deep in our beings, to make space for the arts in our world. And, art feeds art. This performance further solidified our own plans for the future in a way that excites me deeply.

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As I continue listening to the Spiritual Psychology of Acting podcast, I find myself enamored with the thought of returning to the stage. With the life I have at the moment, I couldn't do more than supporting roles in a production, but the internal drive to touch back in with the art is intense. I'm absolutely planning on springing for the Spiritual Psychology of Acting online course one of these days....

Acting was my first experience being immersed in an activity of my own choosing, as well as one that requires self-betterment as an active component of its craft. Theatre is an all-encompassing art, and acting flourishes in a space of deep engagement with a multitude of artistic expressions. The best artists are those who engage deeply with the world, who let the world imbue their beings and move through them self-reflexively.

Eventually, my ability to do that: to let the world move through me, began to falter. This was due to the trauma and stress I experienced during that phase of my life, the impact of which stayed with me for the next decade. I literally found it impossible to remember lines, or to stand in front of people and offer even simple presentations without physically shaking. Having never before experienced stage-fright, this was alien to me, strange and alarming.

It took a long while to move through that experience and find the other side. Little-by-little, I managed it; from readings of my poetry, to presentations for college, I found my footing again. But, my life had shifted, and the time required for the stage, let alone the renewed and continuous training that acting requires, had become unalterably occupied.

Now, that’s changing. My life is the outcome of years of self-reflexive work. And I’ve realized that theatre needs to be a part of that life again… and, how in a way, it never left. After all, I left the stage to study film, then left film to study writing. With theatre, all things are connected, all skills aspects that can be brought to bear during the creation of realms of imagination and vistas of possibility.

I don’t yet know how or when theatre will reemerge in my life, but I do know that its day will come. And that’s a day I’m looking forward to.

Speaking of the world

The weird truth of life is that we are over-connected and disconnected at the same time. But, a good artist is one who intentionally explores their reality: who is actively trying to take in the happenings of the world in order to transform them and offer them up in new form. And yet, sometimes, we just need to take a moment to experience joy and hope and fun. Even when there are horrors clamoring for attention just outside the door.

So, today, I've got a book on cheese to share with you.

That's not all that I could share.

I could also have science and politics: the serious work of a world deeply out of balance.

But, since this is a holiday, I, first, have a book about cheese.

Penn climate scientist Michael Mann shares lessons from Earth’s prehistoric past. Plus, how to taste, pair and love cheese from around the world with Tenaya Darlington. Are you a curd nerd — a cheese aficionado? Tenaya Darlington, aka Madame Fromage, takes us on a tour of the world’s cheeses. We’ll learn about tasting, pairing and sharing funky blues, salty Machengos and creamy Bries. She’s got a new book, Madame Fromage’s Adventures in Cheese.

Next week, I'll share more from the world as it currently stands, but, for now... bey merry and eat some cheese. Unless you're lactose-intolerant I suppose.

The best Christmas film you've never seen

If you're looking for the absolutely best Christmas film in the world, look no further than the 1940 The Shop Around the Corner starring James Stewart, Margarete Sullavan, and Frank Moergan (who you'll recognize instantly from The Wizard of OZ).

I don't say this lightly: this may be one of the greatest American films ever made. It's certainly the best Christmas film I've ever experienced.

Witty, snappily-directed, timeless in the best way. It's the story of the people who work in an ordinary shop, of two young people whose lives are more complex than they know, and of the true value of friendship and community, those priceless aspects of life that can never be commodified.

If you're looking for a film that will make you laugh, as well as one that will drop you right into a bucket of tears, this is the film for you.

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Wrapping up

Well, that's it for me today, folks. I hope you've been having a wonderful holiday season, however you celebrate. I hope that this Christmas day finds you surrounded by loved ones, and filled with the cheer of good drink and better food.

Go easy, or, if you can't do that... if you can't go easy... just go as easy as you can.


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