In the spirit of Janus

Last year, I rolled the dice with a New Year’s resolution blog. So how did the 2013 of my behavioral fantasy measure up to reality?

Buddy sun

Buddy on one of his last walks along the Merrimack River, Andover, Mass.

In the piece I talked vaguely about losing weight (I’m actually up a couple pounds, owing to overindulgence in yuletide sweets and too many lunches out), exercising less (my dog, Holly, is ailing a bit, and my other one had to be put down in late April, so my main form of activity — brisk walking along the banks of the mighty Merrimack River with my canine companions — has screwed the pooch) and my ridiculous novel remains unfinished.

Still, I consider 2013 a success. How?

Over the course of the year, I picked up a sweet summer freelance gig, which has turned into a surprising and serious full-time job. I’ve made a couple of new friends. And I feel like I’ve found my way (at least in part) to becoming (or returning to) the kind of person I want to be.

What’s more, I’ve generally stayed true to the “no complaints, no excuses” vow that constituted my true New Year’s resolution. In spite of a couple of personal setbacks, I can truly put 2013 in the “win” column. If nothing else, I’m still on the right side of the dirt.

So, this year’s resolution will be a repeat of last year’s, with one important addition: “Try a little harder.”

Like the Roman god Janus, from whom the first month of the year derives its name, I look simultaneously behind me and straight ahead.

And, on the whole, I like what I see.


When faith denies art

OK, I love Jesus and generally applaud others able to employ art as the means of conveying their own love for the “newborn king.”


Now where did I leave my keys?

After all, one needn’t travel to the Sistine Chapel to see sacred themes expertly applied.

But sometimes an artist’s devotion goes horribly wrong, and goes wrong over and over again, as in the case of the theme of Santa Claus kneeling in prayer over the baby Jesus.

I mean, are such paintings and figurines supposed to be equating Santa Claus with one of the magi, or perhaps God himself?

I’m a big fan of jolly old Saint Nicholas and am not in the least vexed by the spirit of gleeful commercialism that accompanies Christmas. Similarly, I’m no stranger to disturbing devotional art.


The left-handed guitar on the grave is a dead giveaway.

But Santa as eternal being attending the birth of the Lord is too treacly, infantile and, possibly, heretical to take.

I’d just as soon see the baby Jesus PhotoShopped onto the cover of “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” that is, if that weren’t already too busy proving the death of Paul McCartney.

At any rate, I hope you all had a Merry Christmas or even some joyous, nondenominational winter time off. New year’s coming!