Rolf’s German Bar and Restaurant – Gramercy Park, New York, NY, US
ARE YOU CHRISTMAS’D UP YET? DO YOU NOT FEEL THE FESTIVENESS?
Darlings, it’s Christmas Eve and while we support anyone who doesn’t observe the holiday and wish them as much peace as they can find in the midst of all this forced merriment, we, for our parts, are gigantic Christmas queens (you can take in a full month of posts on all of our Christmas decorations on Instagram if you don’t believe us) and we’re feeling the need to turn the jingle-jangle dials up to eleven this year.
If nothing else, Christmas comes at a time when the daylight has dimmed and the nights are long. Putting aside the consumerism, religiosity, and sometimes oppressive levels of forced cheer, it’s still a great time to light a candle, curse the darkness, and remind ourselves that light and warmth still exist out there, waiting to find us. So in that vein, regardless of your affiliation and beliefs, we wish you light in the darkness this year; we wish you hope for better days, and we wish for both that light and that hope to sustain you in whatever ways you require. We thank you all for staying with us through the utter weirdness of the last several years and we promise to do everything in our power to keep you entertained and distracted by frivolous nonsense in the year ahead. Stay safe!
(We’ll be back on Monday with some form of nonsense; trust.)
Christmas At The Castle
Actress-turned-princess Cleopatra Oettingen-Spielberg embraces Bavarian tradition for the holidays.
“I must admit, it took some getting used to,” says Cleopatra Oettingen-Spielberg of Oettingen in Bayern, the small Bavarian town (pop. 5,047, at last available count) where she made her home in 2016 after marrying Hereditary Prince Franz-Albrecht zu Oettingen-Spielberg. The lavish wedding celebration saw the local population swell by nearly 800 guests, but the everyday reality is far more laid-back. Previously, the former Baroness Cleopatra von Adelsheim von Ernest (who goes by Cleo) had lived in Paris, Barcelona, and Berlin, studying journalism and later pursuing an acting and modeling career—a prophetic casting saw her play a German princess in a 2015 German TV movie. Now a mother of two, she can’t imagine living anywhere else, particularly when the festive season rolls around.
11 New Year’s Eve Nail Looks To Ring In 2022
Bling it on.
The good thing about choosing a New Year’s Eve mani weeks in advance is that the look will work just as well for any holiday festivities you have planned leading up to the countdown. And while shimmer and glitter most likely come to mind for the occasion, there are plenty of other options that say “let’s party” without completely stealing thespotlight. Ahead, you’ll find New Year’s Eve nail art inspiration for just about every nail length and color preference. Whether it’s a full-on sparkle fest or a more classic black-tie color scheme, let your New Year’s Eve mani set the vibe for how you’ll be shining in 2022.
The Matrix’s Carrie-Anne Moss Has Some Advice For Handling The Metaverse
The actress reflects on training for action scenes, reuniting with Keanu Reeves, and the Matrixes deep within our minds.
“There’s something quite unique about doing a Matrix film. We’re really bringing the past into the present. It’s 20 years later for the characters of Neo and Trinity. It’s 20 years later for the world of The Matrix. It’s 20 years later for me and Keanu. We have so much more life experience.
I did a lot of work on Trinity. It wasn’t until we started fitting the character that I really grasped who she has become. We did a lot of training, which helped me to ground myself into the character and realize who she is now.
Even with all the preparation, in each moment between action and cut, I let all of that go. I would just be present. The biggest challenge today is to stay present. So, that was fun to practice.”
Inside The Mysterious Disappearance Of Chinese Tennis Star Peng Shuai
The 35-year-old went missing after accusing a state official of rape. Now she’s purportedly back—and recanting her claims.
Peng Shuai was at the top of her game. The 35-year-old Chinese tennis star and former world doubles champion garnered international acclaim for winning major titles at both Wimbledon and the French Open—helping put Chinese tennis on the map.
Then, one day in November, she disappeared from public view. After revealing on Weibo that she was sexually assaulted by a top Chinese official, Peng’s social media accounts got shut down and her name became unsearchable on Chinese search engines. The Women’s Tennis Association, along with a number of the world’s top tennis players (including Naomi Osaka and Serena Williams), voiced concern for Peng’s whereabouts. It didn’t take long for the hashtag #WhereIsPengShuai to trend on Twitter and Instagram.
Alena Smith Created Dickinson—and Reinvented an American Poet
As the final season of Apple TV+’s surrealist comedy comes to a close, the showrunner reflects on her journey.
I wrote poetry in high school, and I read Emily Dickinson’s poems then. When I was in my early 20s, I read her biography by Alfred Habegger (My Wars Are Laid Away in Books: The Life of Emily Dickinson) and felt personally connected to her story—the paradoxes, ironies, and frustrations of her story, particularly her younger years when she was longing to be a writer in a world that wasn’t willing to see her that way. Also, I was obsessed with the way that Dickinson was able to see the infinite in the small, and that with this tiny postage stamp of experience that she had in her little room, her little house, her little garden, her little town, that she could write nearly 2,000 of the most enigmatic and captivating poems that have ever been written in the English language, most of which she never even shared with anybody and were discovered after she died. She struck me as this magical outsider artist. She was an icon of someone who committed themselves to a life of art, even in the absence of recognition.
Reese Witherspoon Nearly Cries While Talking About Her Nurse Mom
“My mother worked night shifts, she worked weekends, so I had to kinda take care of myself. My brother and I would make dinner and everything. She was so tired, but she just loved her patients,” Witherspoon said. “She did labor and delivery; she did neonatal intensive care. I would bring her doughnuts, her and the other nurses. And that’s how I feel whenever I see a nurse, because I think to dedicate your life to caring for people is one of the most noble professions that exists. Thank you for your incredible hard work, taking care of people during this very difficult time.”
Duchess Kate Decorated Westminster Abbey for Her Christmas Carol Service
Deck the halls! Duchess Kate got into the festive spirit before recording a special community Christmas carol service earlier this month by helping decorate London’s grand royal church, Westminster Abbey.
The Duchess of Cambridge spent time at the venue one day before the December 8 event, which was recorded for a special Christmas Eve broadcast, by helping prepare Christmas trees donated by the queen from Windsor Great Park and arranging wreaths donated by the Royal Horticultural Society, which the monarch is official patron of.
How A Christmas Carol Became a Classic
Inside the 19th-century story’s long, strange transformation into a holiday juggernaut.
It’s been 178 years since Charles Dickens, stung by commercial indifference to his most recent novel, Martin Chuzzlewit, spent six weeks walking deserted streets after midnight for inspiration, returning to his fashionable townhouse to madly scribble out a novella that would forever change the way we celebrate the yuletide. Ebenezer Scrooge remains one of the great villains of literature, “a squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous old sinner,” winding his way through the snowy back alleys of mid-19th Century London with a sneering “Bah, humbug!” at the ready for any urchin unfortunate enough to cross his path.
Joan Didion Has Died at 87
“It is easy to see the beginnings of things,” Joan Didion once wrote, “and harder to see the ends.” That author, journalist, style icon, and north star for a certain type of literary young person died today after a prolonged illness. She was 87 years old.
Didion may have been famous since the late 1960s, but hers was the rare sort of celebrity that never dampened her respectability. Not even modeling in fashion advertisements (for Gap, in 1989, and for Celine, in 2015) could shake her status within the literary world, nor affect the particular influence she held for the millions of readers who attempted to ape her style over the years. That meant everything from adopting a working wardrobe of leotards, suede wrap skirts, and long, unassuming silhouettes, to shaping their own habits after what they could glean of hers—whether via her bourbon-filled packing lists, her journal entries, or her surgically precise journalism. And why wouldn’t they? It was Didion, after all, who once wrote of Georgia O’Keeffe: “Style is character.”
On Self-Respect: Joan Didion’s 1961 Essay from the Pages of Vogue
Joan Didion, author, journalist, and style icon, died today after a prolonged illness. She was 87 years old. Here, in its original layout, is Didion’s seminal essay “Self-respect: Its Source, Its Power,” which was first published in Vogue in 1961, and which was republished as “On Self-Respect” in the author’s 1968 collection, Slouching Towards Bethlehem. Didion wrote the essay as the magazine was going to press, to fill the space left after another writer did not produce a piece on the same subject. She wrote it not to a word count or a line count, but to an exact character count.
What Joan Didion means to us
Her last book, Let Me Tell You What I Mean, tapped into what made the late writer an icon.
For women who had read her essays and novels, Didion’s Everywoman persona — a measured voice that processed a world as it fell to pieces — was a conduit for their own emotions. She was their Superwoman.
“It took me some years to discover what I was. Which was a writer,” she explains. Then she quickly clarifies: “By which I mean not a ‘good’ writer or a ‘bad’ writer but simply a writer, a person whose most absorbed and passionate hours are spent arranging words on pieces of paper.”
Google Just Shared Each State’s Most Uniquely Searched Christmas Cookie—Did Your Favorite Make the Cut?
We see you, snowball cookies!
In the days leading up to the Christmas holiday, people from all over the country have been Googling various Christmas cookies, presumably as they prepare to bake some of their favorite festive treats. Given the yearly frenzy around holiday cookies, Google recently released a color-coded map that shows the most uniquely searched cookie in each state. The information was collected nationwide, from November 29 through December 6, 2021.
To clarify, the reason why you won’t see some favorites on the map below, such as chocolate chip cookies or gingerbread cookies, is because the data only encompasses queries that were over-represented in a state compared to the country as a whole.
The 35 Best Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa TV Episodes of All Time
Most TV shows tackle the holiday season in one way or another. Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa are great excuses to see your favorite characters trapped in zany and highly specific situations often involving hectic airport experiences, awkward gift exchanges and the occasional Santa suit. Our favorite holiday episodes all do one (or both) of two things: subvert the norms of their genres or of holiday content in general (see “Community’s” animated special), or go for broke when it comes to the comedic or emotional beats.
This time of year also provides an excuse to give kids’ shows the spotlight. The TV industry has a long way to go when it comes to the representation of different cultures. But they’re often the main sources of holiday content that isn’t solely focused on Christmas. Case in point: “Rugrats” is the show to appear on our list twice, in recognition of the earnest humor of its Hanukkah and Kwanzaa specials.
After you’ve finished lighting your menorah, kinara or Christmas tree, set your TV aglow with Variety‘s 35 favorite episodes for the holiday season.
What It Means to See Jesus
A new book, at once skeptical and devotional, considers visions of Christ from the early days of Christianity to the present.
A young man once told me that he had seen the face of Jesus in the trunk of a chestnut tree, the bark moving as if it were flesh. An older woman told me that Christ had appeared to her in the afternoon light that poured through her hospital window. A father who was dying of lung cancer confided that he had looked up at a crucifix years ago in a church and watched as the body hanging there writhed and wriggled, coming alive before his eyes; it had been so terrifying that he had never previously told anyone.
I cherish such stories, and collect them the way others do rare works of art or first editions or vintage cars. Even secondhand stories will do, which is why I took so much pleasure from Robert Hudson’s “Seeing Jesus: Visionary Encounters from the First Century to the Present.” Images of Jesus are all around us, but Hudson’s book is about people who claim to have really seen Jesus, the way the disciples did in the days and years after his death—crucifixion wounds fresh, descending and ascending from heaven onto hilltops, blinding rays of lights all about him: the sort of psychologically upending seeing we do in our lives from time to time, as when we see our ex-husband and go ashen, or see our future wife and blush.
The surprising brain benefits of exercising with others
I reviewed the evidence on dozens of so-called brain enhancers. Here’s what actually works.
In 2020, the world spent more than $7 billion on supplements that promised to enhance brain health. We may as well be setting that money on fire. The quest for the perfect IQ-boosting pill, memory game, or creativity elixir has not been a successful one.
If you’re seeking that one weird trick to improve your brain health, the best place to look might be your feet. That’s the conclusion I reached after my journey through hundreds of studies assessing brain zapping, microdosing, games, and other popular interventions for my book, The Tailored Brain. It turns out one of the only legitimate ways to tailor our brains has been available to us all along: physical activity.
The world’s largest space telescope is set to launch on Christmas. Here’s how to watch.
The James Webb Space Telescope is finally launching. But so much can still go wrong.
After decades of planning, engineering, many delays, and some controversy, it’s finally happening: The James Webb Space Telescope is set to launch at 7:20 am Eastern on Saturday, December 25, making it a long-awaited Christmas present for scientists around the world. (Though further delays are possible. Earlier this week, NASA was eyeing a Christmas Eve launch but changed plans due to bad weather.)
After the telescope launches from French Guiana to a point nearly a million miles away from Earth, it will become the largest telescope in space, capable of showing humanity regions of space (and time) never seen before.
NASA, which is launching the telescope in collaboration with the European Space Agency and Canada, will broadcast the launch live, with a feed scheduled to start at 6 am Eastern. You can stream it below.
Travel as Healing
Wellness vacations now go far beyond massages and diet advice, instead offering a respite from physical and mental stress. Here’s what to expect.
Before the pandemic, when Mary Calliste, 32, traveled, she would try to hit as many tourist attractions as she could. But in early December, Ms. Calliste, who works in the financial services industry out of Plainfield, N.J., went to Guatemala and stayed at an eco-friendly hotel called Lush Atitlán. There, she ate vegan meals, walked around the natural reserve and listened to music. And loved it. From now on, she said, “I see myself incorporating a lot more of my needs into my travel instead of what I can see.”
Beware the Elf on a Shelf, Privacy Watchdogs Warn
Privacy organizations acknowledge that the elf isn’t the biggest security threat, but they say that he teaches children the wrong lessons about accepting surveillance.
As spies go, he is undeniably adorable.
The Elf on a Shelf, a rapidly growing phenomenon based on a 2004 book by Carol Aebersold and Chanda Bell, has become a beloved Christmas tradition for many families. The elf hides in a different spot in the home each day in the weeks before Christmas, reporting children’s good behavior and misbehavior back to Santa Claus. For many children, finding the elf’s new location each morning is a highlight of the season, while parents get to exercise a bit of creativity.
The elf is not, several privacy organizations were careful to clarify, the biggest threat the world faces.
Iceland Is Known For Its Extraordinary Landscapes — See the Best of the Ring Road Through a Photographer’s Lens
On a drive around Iceland’s Ring Road, photographer Frédéric Lagrange captures the extraordinary landscapes that define nearly every aspect of life on this volcanic island, and Icelandic poet Sjón reflects on the country’s beauty.
In Reykjavík, the northernmost capital on the planet, the two quintessential buildings are Hallgrímskirkja, the Lutheran parish church, and Harpa, the music hall. The former towers up from a hill in the center of the old town, pointing toward the heavens. The latter sits down by the harbor, with a view of the bay that opens wide to the Atlantic.
Hallgrímskirkja is dedicated to the memory of one of Iceland’s most loved poets: the pastor and Baroque psalmist Hallgrímur Pétursson, who died of leprosy in 1674. This house of God takes the shape of an álfakirkja, or elf church—a testament to the somewhat eccentric Christianity practiced on this island. Icelanders believe that the huldufólk (“hidden people”) who populate the isle hold their masses in rock formations in the mountains. The base and spire of Hallgrímskirkja imitate the magnificent columns of hexagonal basalt, found throughout the country, that helped inspire these tales—for the people of old considered them to be sure proof that the land itself was sculpted by the hands of ancient forces, mythical or biblical. Until the mid 19th century, church services in Iceland did not include choral music; the Icelanders’ only chance of hearing wondrous choral harmonies was if they happened to pass an elf mass being celebrated in the wilderness.
18 Stunning Castles Where You Can Live Like Royalty
All in the picturesque British Isles.
All across Ireland and Great Britain, opulent estates are easier to access than you might think. With acres of manicured gardens, historic architecture paired with updated furnishings, and aristocratic activities, these castles have been carefully restored to receive discerning guests looking for an over-the-top getaway, or provide a private setting for weddings, family gatherings, or corporate retreats. Whether you are looking for a more traditional hotel experience and want to book a single room, or are planning to indulge all of your live-like-royalty dreams for a weekend and rent an entire castle, these 18 luxurious estates in the U.K. and Ireland are some of the most charming options.
[Photo Credit: rolfsnyc.com]
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Musical Monday: White Christmas