Amoeblog

Nature's a language, can't you read? -- Seasons in the Southland

Posted by Eric Brightwell, November 20, 2012 03:45pm | Post a Comment
A FEW GENERALIZATIONS ABOUT ANGELENOS

While I caution anyone attempting to make generalizations about a group as diverse and large as the 13 million or so people known as “Angelenos,” I have nonetheless made a couple of observations about a much smaller subsection, my Los Angeles friends, that I have to assume share more widely-held views with Angelenos with whom I'm not personally acquainted. Just one example; as far as I can tell, only in Los Angeles do people say things like “only in LA” about things that happen pritnear everywhere.

In this entry I'd like to address and reflect upon another completely nonsensical but widely held view – that Los Angeles (and presumably at least the entire Southland and possibly all of SoCal) has no seasons or weather.


Los Angeles's The Byrds weighing in on seasons...


IN ONE CORNER -- THE SPOILED BABIES

View of Griffith Observatory and Downtown Los Angeles

As far as most people are concerned, temperatures in Los Angeles are usually quite pleasant. The daytime average is 24 °C (75 °F). The warmest days rarely exceed 32 °C (90 °F) and rarely dip below 15°C (59 °F). When temperatures deviate from this narrow comfort zone, legions of thoroughly-spoiled (and acclimated) complainers express their indignation on various social media and to their friends. As someone who has truly suffered through 48 °C (118 °F) heat and -42 °C (-44 °F) I have little sympathy for our weather whiners -- we have it so easy!

Continue reading...

(Wherein we eagerly anticipate the death of leaves.)

Posted by Job O Brother, September 28, 2011 11:04am | Post a Comment


snow
Fairfax & Melrose

I’ve lived in Los Angeles long enough now to notice a two-degree temperature drop and the standard grey, morning haze lasting an extra hour and excitedly exclaim, “Fall is in the air!” It’s what I have to work with down here.

Autumn is my favorite time of year. I’m eager to cuddle up in coats, drink steamy brews, over-do holiday cooking, celebrate Walrus Day, and frankly, I like the melancholic pallor it casts o’er humanity – makes my fellow man seem more relatable than when they’re sweating and spiking balls over nets, behavior which makes me skittish and distrustful.

Of course I know this new chill in the air may be a tease; there’s always opportunity for Mother Nature to Alan Funt the situation. I’m not boxing up my cargo shorts and ice cube collection just yet, but I am eager. To prepare, I’ve hand-selected the finest mini-marshmallows to serve in cocoa (I myself hate eating marshmallows – they’re like sugar-sweetened, antique erasers, but ironically I delight in judging and organizing them), I’ve begun psychologically manipulating the boyfriend with subliminal messages while he watches The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills to favor Douglas Firs over White Firs, and I’ve taught my cats to knit their own sweaters. (To be honest, this last effort has been a real power struggle, with both felines putting up a lot of resistance and excuses:

Continue reading...

Happy All Hallows' Even

Posted by Eric Brightwell, October 30, 2008 08:05pm | Post a Comment
Vintage Halloween Card

You know those grinches that, on Valentines Day say, "I don't need a holiday to tell me when to express my feelings for my loved one" or, on Mothers Day say "I don't need a stupid holiday to tell me when to call my mom?" Well, that's one reason I like Halloween --because those bias keep their yaps shut for once. After all, it's unlikely that those negative nancies are going to say, "I don't need a stupid holiday to tell me when I can dress like Boba Fett and go door-to-door begging for candy from strangers." Like so many holidays, most of the customs are under threat of disappearance due to the media standardizing, simplifying and corporatizing its observance.

Vintage Halloween Card

Halloween origins

On Halloween, the boundary between the alive and deceased is erased or at least thin. It was observed as Samhain by the Celts and other Euros until 837 AD, when one of the popes decided to move All Souls Day from May 13 (previously chosen to capitalize on another pagan holiday -- The Feast of the Lemures -- on which day Romans would exorcise their homes of evil spirits) to its current date. Over time it has evolved from a harvest festival, to an opportunity to divine the future (in the 18th century), to an opportunity for children to obtain candy, to its current status as an excuse for drunken adults to dress like media figures or slutty versions of mythological beings.


Continue reading...

It's the Eve of St. Nicholas Day

Posted by Eric Brightwell, December 5, 2007 01:08pm | Post a Comment
It's already December 5th again. Everyone knows that I'm obsessed with holidays and St. Nicholas Day is one of my favorites. Most people have heard David Sedaris' story about Santa Claus vs. St. Nicholas and maybe some of us know that he was a Greek bishop in present-day Turkey who became the patron saint of children by resurrecting their little corpses and paying off debts of the living to keep them out of child sex slavery.
 
I know people still exchange gifts at least in parts of the Middle West. Fewer of us still stuff our shoes with carrots and hay for his white horse Amerigo (or in some places a donkey) with the expectation that tomorrow we'll find our initials in chocolate, chocolate coins or marzipan. Of course, if we've been bad there might be some salt or a bundle of sticks to get switched with.

In different parts of the world he's accompanied by different comrades.
 
Probably most well known is Zwarte Piet who is his companion in Flanders and the Netherlands. Originally Zwarte Piet was a nickname for the Devil and, after arriving from Spain, he threatened to stuff bad kids into his sack and take them back with him. In the 19th century, in typically misguided proto-Political Correctness, he was re-cast as a Moorish servant in blackface wearing colorful clothing from the Renaissance. Satan is too offensive, Moorish slavery is still unfortunately commonplace, so I guess it's not as tasteless. If you look up Sinterklaas on YouTube you will be shocked by the prevalence of blackface, which no one there seems to find remotely controversial. All the comments are in Dutch and I guess you don't see a lot of black people in Holland unless Urban Dance Squad is still around.

Happy Thanksgiving -- The evolution of Thanksgiving

Posted by Eric Brightwell, November 22, 2007 12:05pm | Post a Comment



December 4, 1619. 38 Brits got together in Charles Cittie. Captain John Woodleaf spake,

"Wee ordaine that the day of our ships arrival at the place assigned for plantacon in the land of Virginia shall be yearly and perpetually keept holy as a day of thanksgiving to Almighty god."

    Wahunsenacawhk                          Matoaka                                                       John Rolfe

They had reason to give thanks after rocky relations with the natives started to calm down. Previously, after Chief Wahunsenacawh's daughter Matoaka (nicknamed Pocahontas) married John Rolfe, relations between the two peoples had improved. In the spring, however, new leader Opechancanough's adviser and famed warrior/magician Nemattanew (derided as Jack of Feathers by the English for his feathered costume) was murdered by two Englishman disproving Nemattanew's claim that a magic oil made him immune to gunfire.

Opechananough

Continue reading...