Recommended diversions

“A Man for All Seasons”

Robert Bolt’s award-winning play was released as a movie in 1966, winning six Academy Awards that included Best Director and Best Actor.

Recently I showed this film to several of my English history and literature classes. Besides its powerful examination of conscience and obligation, “A Man for All Seasons” offers a performance by Paul Scofield as Thomas More that is virtually unsurpassed in film. Scofield relies exclusively on his facial expression and tone of voice to reveal to us the interior thoughts and emotions of More. Unlike most movies today, whose moral tonalities seem composed for third-graders rather than for adults, “A Man for All Seasons” forces its viewers to ask themselves questions about their own sense of honor and commitment.

Here is one of the great aspects of the Internet: hundreds of commercial-free radio stations. As I write these words, I am listening to a station composed entirely of a capella Christmas music. At this Web address you’ll find stations offering sounds from classical music to rap, from country to jazz. Listeners who seek even greater access and VIP treatment — meaning preferred access to stations, which do fill up in terms of listeners — may pay a fee to become preferred customers.

Letters as gifts

This is the season I require many of my students write a letter to a loved one — their parents, siblings, grandparents, friends — to explain how much that person means to them. This classroom project offers a fitting end to a semester of writing essays in that it demonstrates quite effectively the power of the written word. After writing the letter in class — a letter that I myself don’t read, incidentally — the students seal it up, and I mail it the next day. As I tell the students, letter writing is so rare that a written declaration of appreciation and love will be more of a treasure than they might imagine. Anyone may compose a letter along these same lines: grandparents to offer their advice and experiences, parents to grown children, and of course, friends to friends. So start the New Year by writing (or typing) a letter to someone you love. Forget the phone or the computer; it’s not the same. Write the letter and give someone you love an unforgettable present.

Russian tea

While watching your movie, listening to the radio or writing letters, brew up some of this delightful concoction that 40 years ago became such a hit. Though people use cinnamon and nutmeg to enhance this recipe, it works fine to use various proportions of Tang and instant tea.

— Jeff Minick

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