cover-thanksgiving November 25, 2015

The Obliteration of Thanksgiving, and Halloween is Next

November 23, 2015



As we head into Thanksgiving week… everyone take a deep breath. Fall and winter used to have a certain stately holiday pace to them: first came Halloween, with its witches and goblins, skeletons and black cats.  The venerable pumpkin and the reds, yellows and oranges of Autumn rolled smoothly into Thanksgiving.  There used to be […]

Joan Larsen Thinks Outside the Christmas Box: New Ways to Make the Holidays Last Year-Round

November 18, 2015



By Joan Larsen   All right. . . I am going to be honest with you this Christmas season. I have been an inveterate gift giver all my life, almost racing – as the days get close to the holidays – to fulfill the dreams of all my friends and family. I am sure you […]

Revisiting and Re-Living: the Beginning of the End of European Tolerance?

November 16, 2015



Extremism threatens everyone, but ordinary citizens who happen to be Muslim have the most to lose. After the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris, we wrote the following piece.  Now, following the coordinated terrorist attacks in Paris last Friday, it seems more relevant than ever.  Extremist violence in Europe is escalating, and nowhere is this more […]

Joan Larsen Presents: There Was a War, A Great War, and Now it is Over

November 11, 2015



By Joan Larsen From the collection War Letters: Extraordinary Correspondence From American Wars, by Andrew Carroll, 2002:   Aboard the SS Regina   Dear Mother and Father, Now that it is all over, what is there to look back upon? The fifteen months in France have been like a book with strange chapters, a book […]

Why Child Care May Never Be Well Compensated

November 9, 2015



It’s because of the limited availability of parental dollars to pay for the service. Marketwatch published an interesting chart this week, showing how those who care for our nation’s children are compensated at a lower rate than bellhops, car cleaners, and even parking lot attendants. Why is this? Child-care workers are entrusted with our nation’s […]

Joan Larsen Presents: Favorite Bond Girls of All Time

November 4, 2015



By Joan Larsen   The latest James Bond movie – SPECTRE – is about to hit the screens in the United States . . . a week after London’s world premiere. Yes, I think we have all noticed that most of the latest films don’t seem to draw crowds as they once did. But James […]

The Plastic Convenience Trash Nation

November 2, 2015


Or maybe, the Plastic Convenience Trash Planet. The other day I discovered that there is such a thing as a pre-packaged alcoholic beverage called a “Twistee Shot” (there is also a similar “Twisted Shot.”) It’s a little two-chambered plastic shot glass with a foil lid. Peel and drink. How handy. Or crass and lazy, depending […]

Joan Larsen Presents James Bond: Shaken, Not Stirred – The Iconic Destinations of All the Bond Movies

October 28, 2015



By Joan Larsen, adapted from Chris Leadbeater, “Around the World with Every James Bond Film,” Travel Section, The Telegraph, October 24, 2015. Spectre. The James Bond of old is back . . . achingly cool, tackling the action and the romantic scenes with an almost boyish relish that is – well, almost impossible to resist. […]

The Annual Halloween Parade of the Offended: Give It a Rest!

October 26, 2015



Dang, people, get a grip. If everyone who’s offended by some costume or other gets their way, there won’t be a Halloween at all anymore. Apparently, 1 November is not the Day of the Dead in the US, nor is it All Saints’ Day. No, it is the Day to Be Righteously Offended About Other […]

Joan Larsen Presents: Out of the Blue – My Life Among Whales

October 21, 2015



By Joan Larsen   I was at the Ends of the Earth – this time so far South on the curve of the world, standing on ice so thick and slick, that it seemed a momentary slip would send me careening away. Beauty not seen anywhere else on Earth was around us, stunning us as […]

Why are Women Criminals for Drunk Driving, but “Victims” of Drunk Sex?

October 19, 2015



The live social-media broadcast of a DUI in progress should remind us about who is really responsible for drunken decisions.   23-year-old Whitney Beall live-streamed her own drunk driving misadventure via Periscope, and ended up arrested for DUI. No surprise, but check out the 11-minute video at Huffington Post. Listen to her repeated comments about […]

Joan Larsen Introduces: The Avian World’s Showiest Males

October 14, 2015



By Joan Larsen The love lives of birds really hadn’t been one of my greatest interests in life.   But on our expeditions to my favorite places in the southern hemisphere of our world – like Australia, New Zealand, New Guinea, and some pretty unknown islands that abound down there – we were guided down trails […]

No, Gun Violence is Not the Fault of Gun Manufacturers

October 12, 2015



Here we go again: some loser commits a high-profile crime that goes viral in the media, and then we have the predictable calls for gun control… some of it sensible, some, well… less so. My current peeve is with those who want to blame gun manufacturers for the actions of criminals who use guns in […]

Joan Larsen’s Adventures: Touching Down on the World’s Most Dangerous Runways

October 7, 2015



 By Joan Larsen   I remember the passengers on that plane screaming as we came in far too low over one of the most beautiful beaches in the Caribbean, the wheels of our plane almost grazing the sunbathers only a few feet below. No one had told us that us that St. Maarten’s Princess Juliana […]

Kim Davis and False Christianity

October 5, 2015



According to the teachings of Jesus, Kim Davis is an adulteress and hypocrite right now. Not just in her past. I’m not a Christian. I’m not trying to convert anybody, one way or the other. However, as a sometime scholar of the Bible (for actual grades!), I do think it bears mentioning that Kim Davis […]

Joan Larsen’s Life Stories: Love is in the Air – Aloft in the Goodyear Blimp

September 30, 2015



By Joan Larsen   The latest news: the fabled Goodyear blimps are retiring after being in the skies for the lifetime of everyone reading this. With its fleet so near the end of its life-cycle, Goodyear and Zeppelin have again worked together in the next evolution of airship design. I have been to Akron and […]

Cartoon Review: The Oatmeal

September 28, 2015



Hello, all.  I had something deep and thoughtful in mind for today, and managed to get it sort of half-written, but… well, distractions.  Life intervenes, and all that.  So instead of my usual curmudgeonly rant, I will introduce you to The Oatmeal. Cartoonist Matthew Inman is the pen behind this hilarious, spot-on collection of comic […]

Joan Larsen Presents: The Unexpected Delights of a Painter and His Gifts

September 23, 2015



By Joan Larsen Out of the blue – truly out of the blue – a gift of a short film arrived in my mailbox. The accompanying card – from my dearest friend – read: This is for you. Sit down, put in the film — and prepare to be enthralled by this rather young English […]

Teen Pregnancy: The Old, Old Story

September 21, 2015


Scything-Peasant profile

It is the old, old story. Young love, flaring passions, secret, unprotected sex… an unintended pregnancy… and life-changing consequences.  Adolescence instantaneously ends, and two young people are flung, unprepared, into adulthood. Here is a glimpse backward at how things once were… A far cry from how they are today. Just some food for thought. A […]

Joan Larsen Presents: My Touching Encounters With Mountain Gorillas

September 16, 2015



By Joan Larsen I crouched low, my eyes already tearing with emotion, as this mother gorilla – so close to me – showed off her new baby to me. There was no fear but instead, intense pride – and love. Mother to mother, I thought – a universal feeling. I was not afraid. Instead, in […]

Financial Planning Has No Gender

September 14, 2015



It’s basic math, and the most important lesson is: start as young as possible. Lila’s credit union has just considerately sent her an invitation to a financial seminar for women. “Join [a lawyer, a Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor, and Financial Advisor] for this complimentary, no-obligation educational seminar, tailored to women ages 35-60. We’ll discuss the […]

Joan Larsen Introduces Eileen Rockefeller: Letting Go

September 9, 2015



By Eileen Rockefeller So often, in the ups and downs of life, it seems to be our friends that are our “glue”, the people who hold us together, sharing our joys and our sorrows. We are grateful. Today I am absolutely delighted to introduce you to a woman who is all that to me, and […]

Bandshell (Maybe Forever?)

September 7, 2015



By Lauriate Roly One of my greatest pleasures is hearing a band playing in an outdoor bandshell.  From earliest childhood days that I can recall, listening to music being played in the open air is just about the most beautiful feeling there is for me. The music is raw.  No enhancing sound devices involved and […]

Joan Larsen Travel: Searching for the World’s Most Beautiful Waterfalls

September 2, 2015


Iguazu Falls

By Joan Larsen Over a lifetime of travel, I have always looked for those hidden wonders of nature – mostly so far off the beaten track that they are not known by most travelers.  Some of the most spectacular hidden treasures have been waterfalls that had to be flown into or hiked into in quite […]

The Paternoster Elevator: You’ll Never See This in the US

August 31, 2015



This recent article about Germany’s paternoster elevators brought back a lot of memories! It seems that the German government was pushing to shut down the few remaining paternosters as a safety hazard (and as you read on, you may agree with them!), but German citizens pushed back just as hard to save the quirky elevators, […]

Joan Larsen Encore: Get Lost in Iceland

August 26, 2015



By Joan Larsen So close yet so remote. So magnificent that it beats out all comers on our planet. Until now, it has been my own secret hideaway on this earth – Iceland, the magnificent. For years, Iceland has drawn me back again and again like a magnet.   And once you too have received the […]

Donald Trump: Dangerous Rhetoric

August 24, 2015



Trump’s brand of intolerant, divisive rhetoric is mightily reminiscent of a certain historical figure. Four years ago, in 2011, Donald Trump was crashing around the Presidential campaign like an obscene bull with Mad Cow Disease.  This is what we wrote at the time (go to the link for the full text): Donald Trump has thrown […]

Joan Larsen Encore: Close Encounters of the Grizzly Kind

August 19, 2015



By Joan Larsen     August, 2015, Yellowstone National Park … and yet another hiker dead, killed and mostly eaten by a grizzly bear while hiking in the Park. The man, an experienced hiker, actually worked in the park and knew its dangers. Hiking alone especially is not recommended. All visitors are instructed to carry […]

Dorothy Stewart McElhaney: Best Obit EVER

August 17, 2015



A friend pointed out this obituary, which appeared in the Richmond Times-Dispatch last Tuesday. We have written previously that what matters in life is what you can pack into that little dash that appears between your birth date and your death date. Well, what a jam-packed dash this lady had, and what wit and humor! […]

Joan Larsen Encore: Bora Bora – A Glimpse of Paradise

August 12, 2015



By Joan Larsen By now, the world has heard the news of Jennifer Aniston’s and Justin Theroux’s posh wedding at their Bel Air, California mansion. But it was the lesser print that caught my eye: Jennifer and Justin, along with the largest wedding entourage I have seen, were spirited off to one of the most […]


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