Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The Ohio Historical Center

I have never been a big fan of Charles Dickens. He is too long-winded and his novels become tedious to read, although I will admit that there are gems to be had while wading through the rambling. His Christmas classic, however, is much easier to read than some of his other novels. It is short and succinct, and since everyone knows the story pretty well anyway, reading is easy. Because of this prior knowledge of the story, I was able to better enjoy Dickens' literary flourish.
Each year, the Ohio Historical Center hosts a Dicken's Christmas in their historical village. Actors
dress like characters from A Christmas Carol and tell stories about the time period and the village. You can make decorative evergreen pieces or paper Christmas boxes. Last year, my friends Theresa and Tim went with me, and we had a lot of fun. Tim danced with a group of people doing a reel and Theresa and I tried on old fashioned hats. They even offered refreshments in the town square.

I don’t know why so many lovingly sing of “chestnuts roasting on an open fire.” Those singers must not have ever eaten chestnuts, because they’re absolutely horrible. Theresa and I excitedly dug in our purses for quarters to buy ours for 50 cents each, but in the meantime Tim stepped up and bought them. We were each handed a very hot chestnut off of a miniature grill and told to wait until they cooled a bit before peeling off the shell. Once we felt we could handle the
temperature, which was in stark contrast to the cold winter night, we broke back the tough husk to reveal a dirty-white nut inside. It was smooth and round and it looked tempting, like the inside of a buckeye. We popped them into our mouths and began chewing, and then our delight changed to chagrin.
I cannot accurately describe the taste, only to say that the man selling them who told us they tasted like a combination of a nut and a carrot was wrong. The taste is mild, but if it tastes like a nutty vegetable, that’s one vegetable I will never eat again. The size of a chestnut is just large enough to fill the mouth without overcrowding it, but there is no way to stick it off to one side to quickly chew and then swallow. Instead you have to chew, and chew, and chew until all of your taste buds are flooded with this awful taste and your throat is closing, refusing to accept something so vile. Theresa spit hers out. I took one for the team, swallowing it all at once, some only partially chewed, glad to be rid of that atrocity. There is one thing I can say for chestnuts. They don’t have much of an aftertaste.
Days later, though, I still felt sick at the thought of them.

RADIO: Cinnamon Bear “Fee Foe the Gentle Giant”, JumpJump and the Ice Queen “unknown title”, Jonathan Thomas and his Christmas on the Moon “Whiskery Bill Meets the Walrus”

MOVIE: There are many versions of A Christmas Carol on film. Some of them are good and some of them are mediocre, but my two favorites are A Muppet Christmas Carol and A Christmas Carol with Alastair Sim. I watched both of them many times as a kid. 
I just revisited the Muppet Christmas Carol and I enjoyed it, maybe not as much as when I was in elementary school, but I think it tells the story well while adapting it to the Muppet cast. (I only today realized that they turned Jacob Marley into brothers Jacob and Robert Marley for this film.) I forgot how many musical numbers were in it, which sets it apart from other adaptations of the story
(as if using puppets wasn't enough). Michael Caine is acceptable as Scrooge, although his transformation is not as gradual or logical as in other versions.
And here we come to Alastair Sim who is often praised as being the best Scrooge, which I would agree with. He does an excellent job illustrating the transition from a cold-hearted, selfish man to someone who loves and accepts love in return. This version of the story is also remarkable because of the truly haunting depiction of Jacob Marley who howls as eerily as Dickens described. Seeing him wandering the streets in chains with the other lost souls will stick with you for a long time.
SONG: The Christmas Song by Nat King Cole

GIFT MEMORY: I love to read, and I read a lot of books. Naturally, since I'm interested in old stuff, I like old books, especially when I find forgotten authors who were popular between 1900 and 1960. One such author is Frederick G. Eberhard. I have not been able to dig up a lot of information on this man, other than the fact that he was in the medical profession and used his knowledge in his murder mysteries. I own all five of his books (unless there are others out there I have never heard of. If you know of one, please let me know!) and two of them were Christmas gifts: The Microbe Murders and Super-Gangster from my dad and my sister. They're not fantastically written, but they do have intense climaxes and they breathe the 1930s from the lingo to the social expectations to the character types. If you're also a fan of the culture of this time, do track these books down!

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