Holiday time-out for The Brew

We'll be back in business after the First

berries and snow

Dollops of snow would be a nice touch at Christmastime, but we’ll be lucky to get any, the meteorologists say.

Photo by: Fern Shen

Happy Solstice!

Today is the shortest day (and longest night) of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. From here on out, the days are going to be getting longer. Yes!

The Winter Solstice is just one of the holidays we’ll be celebrating, as we take off from Brewing until 2014.

(Not to worry, City Hall, we’ll be back in the New Year.)

In the meantime, if you’re wondering what the other holidays are that we’ll be marking (Saturnalia? Festivus?) don’t get too fancy. We’ll be opening some presents, chowing down and yukking it up with family members and following up the meal with a big hike, like many of you, probably.

Since we brought up the subject of solstices, the pivot points for the seasons, don’t ever get caught making the mistake some Harvard graduates famously made at commencement when a filmmaker asked: “What what causes the seasons?”

In the 1987 Snepps and Sadler film “A Private Universe,” the kids get it quite wrong, in spite of their fancy education.

Watch them bobble it in this clip from the documentary but first try and answer the question yourself. (We recommend you take this self-test before downing any spiked solstice eggnog.)

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  • stevefogleman

    Happy Holidays, Fern! At this time of year, as I reflect back on 2013, I want you to know that I appreciate the work you do. Here’s hoping that you, Mark and Brew readers have a happy and healthy 2014.

  • ushanellore


    It’s the holidays, O it’s the holidays,
    government mischief never laid to rest,
    the pols retired in their nests–
    meet their relatives and their guests,
    plot how to conquer and how to best–
    their enemies and their competitors–

    even as they laugh and jest,
    that peace on Earth is all they crave,
    that the Baby Jesus is their friend–

    collecting money as they go,
    from the rich whose glad favors
    are vital to their survival–
    the pols retired in their nests,
    are busy planning years ahead
    how to shore their sinecures,
    how to get the votes on board
    with varnished lies and promises–

    folks gathered by their Christmas trees,
    unwrapping presents with shouts of glee,
    tripping over their flat panels,
    Santa Claus somewhere about,

    Christmas cookies in their mouths,
    counting out their bounties wrong–
    singing, “I’ll return them” songs!”
    little do they realize

    that Christmas is a pol’s best friend,

    a time of headless rushing around,
    a time of fleeting joy to grasp
    and squeeze until completely dry,
    a time of gathered merchandise
    left to rot in closets deep–
    where if a person walked in and died–
    he too would become merchandise–
    in rigor mortis he would lie–
    returned to sender without a fuss,

    such is the Christmas drowsiness–
    fed on turkey tryptophan,
    the pols will tell us all is well,
    that the tanked economy–
    found its feet–
    at Christmas it was Incredible Hulk,

    Amazon will pirouette
    around its fleet of drones and crow,
    that what you want they’ll sense and know
    and get it to your very door–
    upon a humming thrumming drone,
    before you think your Christmas thoughts–
    be it Roquefort cheese or goose pate,
    silk curtains for your French windows,
    in fifty, nifty shades of gray,
    or royal purple or verdant green,
    Amazon will get it quick,
    close your eyes and simply wish–

    Such is the joy of Christmas time,
    when the cats are away–
    and the mice they play–
    fed on turkey tryptophan–
    drowsiness–it wins the day–
    to be vigilant 24 hours a day–
    to be mindful of those who make the rules
    the same rules they mash and pulverize–
    (one rule for Johnny, Lucy and Pat,
    another for the pols strutting in their hats–
    that is the glorious American way)
    is worthless during the holidays…

    So raise your glasses to these holidays,
    and feel no guilt that you’ve been screwed
    by callous asses you’ve been Scrooged–
    by your boss, your spouse,
    your child gone wild,
    your congressman and your President–
    spending what belongs to you–
    like sailors drunk on shopping sprees–
    throwing what they collect from you–
    they preach high love and charity,
    they advice you prudence and austerity,
    they say the trend is simplicity–
    pare down and borrow not they say
    save for that gloomy rainy day-
    when you’ll have no safety net to tread–
    when you’ll have no social security,
    privatized it will be gone–
    eaten by the ilk of AIG–

    But what about the economy?
    What about Kindle, I-Pad and Nook
    or designer kettles in the malls
    or jeans with logos on their cheeks–
    or the Mizrahi high brow brand

    selling for a song and dance,
    in the corner retail store?
    If you hide at home and save,
    if you rebut Scrooge with Scrooge,
    the Incredible Hulk will fall–
    deflate and keel on jelly feet–

    Buy you must–and buy you must not–
    eni mini miny mo–
    that’s the contradiction bro,
    of living in these Americas–
    it takes a toll–
    the flashing lights,
    the throbbing orbs,
    the interlopers calling out,
    “Come hither need or need it not”
    and then there are the venal pols..

    “Save me!”, if I hear you cry,
    I will commiserate with you,
    I will not only sympathize,
    I will wipe your tears and cluck,
    with a grin upon my face,

    Usha Nellore

    • baltimorebrew

      Many holiday cheers to you, Usha, & other readers who make the Brew so lively and interactive. Informed sources tell us that “the little elves” will be back in ’14, providing more grist for our collective mill. –BB

  • Gerald Neily

    MY FAVE BREW ARTICLE OF 2013: There’s a whole slew to choose from, from Harbor Point to Smart Meters, as all Brew fans will attest. But for me, personally, the Brew story which most plainly reveals the way this city lurches from backroom deals to over-the-top promises to revisionist spin, was this Mark Reutter article from September 18, “City pledged to clear Labor Day weekends for Grand Prix races”:

    For me, The Brew has been an education. As a city planner, my association with the Grand Prix was the way it bowdlerized downtown and the city as a whole for the sake of something which had practically nothing to do with Baltimore or urban living. After the Brew’s coverage of the Grand Prix, I’ll never hear the words “Game Changer” quite the same way again. Just this past Christmas Day, The Daily Record posted this headline: “Rawlings-Blake: Red-Line project may be ‘game changer” (sorry, no Daily Record web links, no big loss.) And so it goes, onward to 2014.

  • July 31, 2015

    • Denita N. Hill hit upon a simple scheme to defraud the City of Baltimore. From her position as an accountant at the Finance Department’s payroll services bureau, she reissued “lost” employee checks to a friend, who then forged their names and deposited the checks into his own account. What made the scheme possible, according to […]

  • July 30, 2015

    • The city jail, a forbidding fixture of the East Baltimore skyline for more than 150 years, may be torn down under a plan announced this afternoon by Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan. Calling the facility “a disgrace” and “deplorable,” Hogan said the state facility would be shut down as soon as possible. The roughly 900 male […]

  • July 29, 2015

    • After weeks of stewing over Gov. Larry Hogan’s rejection of the Red Line, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake today said she has authorized the city’s transportation director to start looking for alternatives to the $2.9 billion light-rail plan. Asked for specifics, the mayor said just about everything is up in the air except her goal to “improve […]

  • July 27, 2015

  • July 26, 2015

    • It was the classic source of guns for a gun swap – family-owned firearms lying around the house, gathering dust and making their owners vaguely nervous. “My father passed away and I didn’t want them in my house, I wanted to get rid of them anyway,” said Baltimore resident Mitch Radford, Sr.,  at the “Computers […]

More of the Daily Drip »

Below the Fold

  • December 15, 2014

    •   “Ha ha, so not a surprise.” “Shocking…not!!” We get applause but also the occasional eye-roll these days for our accountability reporting – like last week’s piece about how tax cuts promised by the mayor as a selling point for Horseshoe Baltimore probably won’t happen, thanks to the casino’s lower-than-expected revenues. We get where the […]