The Most Romantic Night of the Year?

By Evangelia Kindinger

Photo credit: Tom Rickhuss on Unsplash

On October 28, the Hallmark Channel launched its annual “Countdown to Christmas.” During the eight weeks before Christmas, the channel will broadcast 21 original movies that are all about Christmas and the spirit of the holidays. Established in 2001, the Hallmark Channel is a subsidiary of the company that has provided many Americans with sappy greeting cards for all occasions. The Christmas movies continue with the company’s tradition of kitsch, especially romantic kitsch, as shown in not-so-subtle titles, such as A December Bride (2016), My Christmas Love (2016), or Marry Me at Christmas (2017). Christmas, it seems, is not primarily about celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ – or, like in my family, food – but about finding love in the midst of snowy landscapes, hot cocoa, and conveniently hung mistletoes.

Read more »

Tweet Me a Story:
Twiction – The Perfect Stocking Stuffer

By Maryann Henck

One week before Christmas and no gift in sight?
Allow me to assist you out of your plight
For who really wants one more thoughtless gift?
Doomed to be piled on the re-gifting snowdrift
So why not create a story to tweet
In 140 characters – short and sweet

Stocking

Well, actually in 280 characters or less as Twitter has recently doubled its tweet length. No Twitter account or money is required – just a bit of time. There’s no reason to fall under the glamour of the pre-holiday commercialization craze. All you need is a seed for a story that you can let grow and trim back into shape. You can do the old-school thing and write or type it on a decorative piece of paper. Then just stuff it into a little stocking. Of course, you can text or WhatsApp your gift of twiction as well. In search of ideas? Then take a peek at some of the twiction from my creative writing students.

Read more »

From Comma-kazi to Comma-Sutra: Or You Too Can Learn to Love Commas

By Lynette Kirschner

Photo credit: NASA Goddard MODIS Rapid Response Team

Grammar doesn’t tend to be a topic that students are enthused about. Whenever I mention it, many of my students roll their eyes. To really get a non-reaction, all I have to do is mention punctuation and their eyes glaze over. Not a pretty sight. However, grammar – and more importantly punctuation – is essential, so I have tried many ways to make this topic clear and interesting.

There is always humor, which will catch their attention, but most likely not clarify the finer points of punctuation. The famous comma for cannibals quote (“Let’s eat grandpa” as opposed to the more humane “Let’s eat, grandpa”) can make students smile once they understand. So now I have more of their attention. But that is just the beginning. Read more »

Topping off Thanksgiving Traditions: Turkey with Cranberry Sauce

By Sabrina Völz

ThanksgivingThanksgiving is a day for spending time with family and friends as well as sharing culinary delights, such as turkey, dressing (a Mid-Western word for stuffing), mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, relish trays, salads, cranberry sauce, and pie for dessert. I still have nostalgic feelings for the days when Thanksgiving was about the only holiday that hadn’t been ruined by commercialization.

I like the holiday and cherish childhood memories. In my family, there was never talk of the Pilgrims or any national Thanksgiving folklore, as it was more or less celebrated as a religious holiday, as a day to give thanks for all of life’s many blessings. After eating a Thanksgiving feast, the majority of the family on my mother’s side played 500 (a card game) literally for hours, while others watched football games and Thanksgiving parades. But each family who celebrates Thanksgiving will have their own traditions.

Read more »

American Hustle

By Kai-Arne Zimny

“As far as I could see, people were always conning each other to get what they wanted. We even con ourselves. We talk ourselves into things. We sell ourselves things we maybe don’t even need or want by dressing them up. We leave out the risk. We leave out the ugly truth.”  – Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale)

Photo Credit: Wolg Gang

New Jersey, late 70s – Fraudulent duo Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale) and Sydney Prosser aka “Lady Edith Greensly” (Amy Adams) get caught in the act by FBI agent Richie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper). Smelling an opportunity for fame and recognition, the agent decides to offer the crooked couple a dishonest deal that would force them to gather incriminating evidence against four other people. To avoid prosecution, Irving and Sydney agree, not knowing the object of the FBI’s investigation: several corrupt congressmen, ruthless mafia boss Victor Tellegio (Robert DeNiro), and most spectacularly Camden’s popular and big-hearted mayor Carmine Polito (Jeremy Renner). Polito’s ambition to create jobs by revitalizing Atlantic City’s casinos might make him susceptible to bribes by a fake Saudi sheik. A game of deceit and conflict ensues, not making Irving’s personal dilemmas – evolving around his unpredictable wife (Jennifer Lawrence) and his beloved adoptive son – any easier …

Read more »