In just five minutes and 29 seconds you can understand how to become a good writer by paying attention to "Count's Place," a 1962 recording by Count Basie and the Kansas City Seven.
Winter solstice festivities existed long before the birth of Christ. To liven things up on the shortest day of the year, people partied. Christians, seeing the party already started, decided to jump aboard and co-opt the celebration by saying it was a religious holiday. This gave them air cover. They could now justify their imbibing of spirits as, well, spiritual. Want to make the faith interesting? Keep Christ in April 24. Or any other lonely day on the calendar that's got nothing going for it.
Panic-stricken turkeys fleeing the first Thanksgiving.
True or false
The name Thanksgiving is transparent and it means exactly what it says: It is a day set aside to share a feast with friends and family and to be grateful for one's blessings.
False. It is widely misconstrued that Thanksgiving is a simple, transparently named holiday set aside to give thanks. But because it was established before the era of recorded communications – or eyewink emojis – no one was able to tell that the thanks part of Thanksgiving was sarcastic, i.e., "Hey, thanks to whoever left the gas tank on E!"
Also, nobody picked up on the snark of establishing the tradition of turkey, which is a bland, dry entree that is edible only if drowned in gravy, second only to fried liver – which must be smothered in onions – as a dish to be the least thankful for.
Then again, maybe that's the best test of gratitude. Being thankful for something that isn't really that good. It's baby steps for something bigger like: If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else?
If you know who said that, then you're ready for the next big holiday.
When you think about it, the first Thanksgiving was just a welcoming gesture for Americans who already lived on the continent to welcome the newest immigrants to their shores.
It's a rare window of time in your child's life. It could be a matter of months, even weeks. It's the time before you child understands the business model of the dollar store.
During this time you can take advantage of this fact and become a larger-than-life hero to that kid. Take your child window shopping. Go to lots of stores. Whet his or her appetite to buy. Point out things in windows. Check out items on shelves.
Refuse to buy anything. Then, when the kid is salivating with consumer desire, go to a Dollar Store and announce, "This is the last place we are shopping today. You can buy ANYTHING in the store."
You will seem like the Lord of Largesse.
Your child will squeal with delight. Enjoy this. In a few weeks, this kid will understand the meaning of the dollar store and may even be resentful that you tried to pawn yourself off as a big spender.
Till then, enjoy that moment of being the most generous, indulgent parent there ever was.
(As you get older, you can share the joy of shopping at these stores by dancing to this song):
I didn't take this photo. But it represents the poem well.
I saw an old woman helping an older woman
step up on a curb.
It was a beautiful moment
for all mankind.
Our gurus and seminars fill calendars
Earn us cred
To move ahead.
But today our mission: Do not
leave her behind.
All from a much-needed pause.
People in cars, obeying laws.
1. Fear of Pain
A countdown of five creates an intimidating sense of urgency that can be traced in American culture to "A Charlie Brown Christmas," a 1965 animated television special based on the comic strip Peanuts, by Charles M. Schulz. The global popularity of this Peabody and Emmy award-winning animated TV special has firmly entrenched "five" as a list number that attracts the attention of our inner Linus – and it has been proven to make us pay attention.
2. Research Confirms It
Google invested more than $30 million to confirm what we all pretty much knew. If it comes in a five, it can make a lot of fast impact on culture. From the Osmonds and Jackson Five to New Edition and New Kids On the Block to NSYNC and Backstreet Boys, content providers have taken the lessons of opportunistic music producers in mingling together five random things only to see the ROI go through the roof.
Want proof? Here are the Mills Brothers, whose 1931 recording "Hold That Tiger" was a #1 hit and it would still be on the charts today if it weren't for the fact that there were only four members of the band. Listen.>
3. Because It's a High FIVE!
It's so good you don't even need another person. Content best practices change continually. As the parameters of media consumers' attention spans further shrink, to make your five-point listicle even more effective, make it brief. Three is not only the new five, but three is a top contender for this year's Person of the Year at Time magazine.
It's not a super bowl ad. You won't find it in a book of the world's great ads. Apple had nothing to do with it.
But this televised cornhole competition is the best marketing. Why? It's a simple split screen. On one half of the screen – the competitors. The other half – the cornhole board, complete with the sponsor's logo.
In what other televised sport does the viewer stare, just stare, at the sponsor logo?
If you put a logo on an NBA backboard, you're still looking all over the place.
Only in sharpshooting or archery would you have a spot for a logo to be constantly watched – then, of course, blown apart – as if all the contestants were disgruntled former employees.
Kudos to Johnsonville for finding the perfect sport to sponsor, one in which the participants can hold the beanbag in one hand and a beer in the other, with rounds brief enough that the bratwurst doesn't burn.
Remember the parents who provided their kids with smoke and drink. "I'd rather they got it from me than from some stranger who's up to God-to-knows-what," they'd say.
(A letter to me from the president.)
Dear Mark M.,
I didn't write everything down.
#6 was nod – you don't see that on the list.
Mark Morelli is a New York Times Bestseller reader.