Merry gets around.
This time of year you hear it all the time. Merry Christmas.
But what about Merry and Bright? Who were they? Were they sisters? And let’s not forget the Merry Wives of Windsor or Merry aka Meriadoc Brandybuck. In the Lord of the Rings, Tolkein describes him as the “most perceptive and intelligent of the Hobbits”. So this week and in my own obtuse way, I offer you a new holiday greeting to use within the quiet riot that is your imagination. How about “Merry Medusa”?
Departing from my love of the long form essay, I’m presuming we all know the story of Medusa…the ugly woman with hair that sported the nastiest form of split ends, namely snakes. Anyone who looked at her was instantly turned to stone. Perhaps this is where we find the cultural origins of the phrase ‘cold stone b)(tch’?
What brought her to her bloody end? It was none other than Perseus, the hero of Greek mythology who figured out that maybe if he used his polished shield he could look at her reflections and not get stoned in the process. It worked. Talk about working around the technicalities of Greek protocol.
But it hadn’t started out that way. In the beginning, she was reported to be a beautiful maiden, golden-haired and one of three sisters – all the daughters of Phorkys and Keto, the children of Earth and Ocean. But after falling head over heels in love with Poseidon and breaking her vows of celibacy, her patron Athena was anything but pleased. Enter the snake hair. Legend has it that as time passed, Medusa’s own disgust for what she had become translated into the statue making prowess we all know her for.
Enter the holidays…more specifically all the family and friends so many of us look forward to being with. But wait a minute. So many of these same people drive us crazy. We’re so glad to see them arrive and even happier to see them leave. What gives?
I have a theory.
We may just see in our drunken uncle or chattering aunt the very things that bother us the most about ourselves. Thinking of the chaotic cluster of people swirling around us, it’s an easy leap to acknowledging one of the toughest tasks of being a better human is the courageous act of looking at ourselves for what we are rather than the masks we create of what we imagine ourselves to be.
So back to my premise of a new internal holiday greeting: Instead of being terrified of looking at ourselves directly as if we might turn to stone if we do, do what Perseus did. Look at your gathered assembly of friends and relatives and say to yourself, ‘Merry Medusa’.
One of the most unanticipated gifts they may give you this year is the realization that what really bothers you about them is actually what you’re scared of admitting about yourself. So use it. Run with it. Rely on your friends and family as polished shields in which you can view yourself without the disastrous side-effects.
My hunch is once you can honestly look at what you don’t like, it’ll be easier to embrace whatever that is as something as simple as that. No stone turning. No apocalypse. No punitive self-incriminations that lead to you putting coal in your own Christmas stocking. That my merry reader is the beginning of a new year without so much fear and paralysis.
I am all in. It’s time to renew my vow to myself. Please join me in lifting a glass and toasting us all. Merry Medusa.
Peter James O’Toole
(August 2, 1932 – December 14, 2013)
“Peter O’Toole, the legendary Hollywood star made famous by his leading role in 1962’s Lawrence of Arabia, died on Saturday, his agent Steve Kenis said.
O’Toole went on to be recognized as one of the premiere actors of his generation. He was nominated for eight Oscars, but never won until he was given an honorary honor in 2003.
O’Toole was born in Ireland and grew up in Leeds, Yorkshire. O’Toole honed his acting chops in the London theater, before he beat out Marlon Brando and Albert Finney for the role of Lawrence of Arabia.
“In a long list of leading roles on stage and in film, Peter brought an extraordinary standard to bear as an actor,” the President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins, said in a statement. “He had a deep interest in literature and a love of Shakespearean Sonnets in particular. While he was nominated as Best Actor for an Oscar eight times, and received a special Oscar from his peers, for his contribution to film, he was deeply committed to the stage.”
As the BBC reports, at first, O’Toole declined the honorary Oscar, telling the Academy to hold off until was 80, because he was “still in the game and might win the bugger outright.” At age 79, O’Toole announced that he was retiring from acting.
O’Toole died in a London hospital following a long illness. He was 81.”
and (story and pic) http://www.biography.com/people/peter-otoole-9430474
Joan de Beauvoir de Havilland
known professionally as Joan Fontaine
(22 October 1917 − 15 December 2013)
“LOS ANGELES, (Reuters) – Oscar-winning actress Joan Fontaine, one of the last of the leading ladies from Hollywood’s Golden Age whose career was marked by a storied and bitter rivalry with her older sister, Olivia de Havilland, died on Sunday at age 96.
Fontaine died in her sleep Sunday morning at her home in Carmel, California which overlooked the Pacific Ocean, after having been in failing health in recent days, said Noel Beutel, a longtime friend of the actress.
“She was an amazing woman, she had such a big heart and she will be missed,” Beutel told Reuters, adding that she had had lunch with the actress just last week.
Among Fontaine’s most memorable films in a Hollywood career spanning four decades and some four dozen films was the Alfred Hitchcock thriller “Suspicion,” co-starring Cary Grant, for which she won an Academy Award in 1942, beating out her sister in the competition. The honor gave Fontaine the distinction of being the only performer, actor or actress, ever to win an Academy Award for a starring role in one of Hitchcock’s many movies.”
Thomas Robert “Tom” Laughlin
(August 10, 1931 – December 12, 2013)
“Billy Jack” star Tom Laughlin dies at 82
“NEW YORK – Actor-writer-director Tom Laughlin, whose production and marketing of “Billy Jack” set a standard for breaking the rules on and off screen, has died.
Laughlin’s daughter told The Associated Press that he died Thursday at Los Robles Hospital and Medical Center in Thousand Oaks, Calif. Laughlin was 82 and Teresa Laughlin, who acted in the Billy Jack movies, said the cause of death was complications from pneumonia.
“Billy Jack” was released in 1971 after a long struggle by Laughlin to gain control of the low-budget, self-financed movie, a model for guerrilla filmmaking.
He wrote, directed and produced “Billy Jack” and starred as the ex-Green Beret who defends a progressive school against the racists of a conservative Western community. The film became a counterculture favorite and the theme song, “One Tin Soldier,” was a hit single for the rock group Coven.”
Sources: http://www.cbsnews.com/news/billy-jack-star-tom-laughlin-dies-at-82; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tom_Laughlin and pic: http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2013/12/16/251584740/billy-jack-creator-tom-laughlin-dies
Like this week’s post, this may not be a typical Christmas carol, but for some reason it has always held special poignancy for me during the holidays. Sing along…enjoy…especially the key changes during the bridge.
In my little town
I grew up believing
God keeps his eye on us all
I still believe. Such a thought may well be the very essence of all that is good in the Season. Click on the album cover below and enjoy with all the best to you and Yours from me and Mine.
Simon & Garfunkel – My Little Town
SOURCES, PHOTO CREDITS and ATTRIBUTIONS:
Banner Coastal Redwood Forest by Eric E Photography is used with permission.
More on Medusa and her place in Greek mythology: http://www.greekmythology.com/Myths/Creatures/Medusa/medusa.html
christmas_medusa_by_elfwoodsilverwing-d4gbjnh: Christmas Medusa by ElfwoodSilverwing Digital Art / Drawings & Paintings / Fantasy©2011-2013 ElfwoodSilverwing: http://elfwoodsilverwing.deviantart.com/art/Christmas-Medusa-269277245; Lord of the Rings Merry: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meriadoc_Brandybuck; thefamilystonepic: http://directorisin.blogspot.com/2009/12/family-stone.html; Medusa’s Ancient Magic by seana fenner: http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/ngm/photo-contest/2011/entries/90533/view/; My Little Town album cover (A WordPress blogger): http://youhearthat.wordpress.com/2012/03/26/you-spin-that/; medusa by alexi francis (A WordPress blogger): http://www.alexifrancisillustrations.co.uk/wordpress/medusa/
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