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“Christmas is at our throats again.”

Thank you for that, Noel Coward. It’s what oft was thought, but ne’er so well expressed for lots of people this time of year. But this year, the predations of the season take on a new and feverish tone. It knows if we’ve been bad or good, so we’d better watch out, we’d better….well, before we open any gifts, let’s make sure we get our booster shot, okay? 

1. Rent a hitman. Here’s the site to do it on. Just fill in the blanks of who you want dead and they’ll take care of the rest. So Wendy Wein from Michigan filled in the form and now faces up to nine years in prison. She didn’t know it was a spoof site that collects names of would-be murder-for-hirers and turns them over to the police. 

2. “Change the world one husband at a time.” Check out this interview with Mary Ann Sieghart, author of The Authority Gap, which chronicles the thousand natural shocks women are heir to at work. She mentions an app that tracks to the second how long and how often women are interrupted by men in a meeting or conversation.

3. The flowers that bloom in the spring, tra-la. Or in this case, the cacti that bloom in the room.

4. The worst meal ever. We’re not talking about greasy-spoon-bad. But Michelin-star, blow-your-savings bad. As the reviewer said about eating a 27-course dinner with friends at Bros in Lecce Italy, “There is something to be said about a truly disastrous meal, a meal forever indelible in your memory because it’s so uniquely bad, it can only be deemed an achievement.” Here’s the review, and the owner’s response.

5. Who got it right this year? Times go crazy; predictions go up. But here are the trends that actually trended this past year, from the backlash against Big Tech shooting up, to inequality rising, to low and stable mortgage rates. And here’s the predictions for next year.

6. Move fast and don’t break things. That’s not Facebook’s motto. It’s what we all wish we could do as quickly and well as these masters of their crafts.

7. The Royal Academy of Elton John. Years before becoming Princess Diana’s favourite artist, Sir Elton (whose original name was Reginald Kenneth Dwight and whose new middle name is “Hercules”), took piano lessons for five years at the Royal Academy in London. Last week, he funded a program for students from the top music conservatories around the world to take part in educational exchanges with the Academy. Among them are the Juilliard School in New York, and The Glenn Gould School of The Royal Conservatory of Music, Toronto.

8. You think cameras are small now? Soon, cameras will be the size of a grain of salt. I can see a whole new meaning for ‘selfies’.

9. In a world of change, Santas don’t. Retail may change. Faith may change. Holidays may change. But not Santa because, year in, year out, he gets trained the same way to be himself.

I hear next year’s course is taking applicants…..Speaking of training, here’s Liam Neeson doing his Santa audition.

10. In the delicious muck of big lawsuits. This details the fight between Cineplex of Toronto and Cineworld of London who was going to buy Cineplex, but who ended up in court when the pandemic forced movie theatres to close everywhere. Cineplex won, and here’s Justice Barbara Conway’s judgement of why she awarded them $1.2 billion.

11. Beyond the nutcracker. Here are two great dance shows to catch this season: the Scottish Ballet performs Rimsky-Korsakov’s The Snow Queen; and a documentary of Goh Ballet as it prepares in Vancouver and Toronto for….okay, okay…The Nutcracker. The Password is Dreams_2021.

Forbidden Words: The word you may not use in polite company this week is “pipeline.”

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