Thursday, December 28, 2006

Garbage Day in Swillburg

On 10pm, Christmas night, I was driving home after dropping STBEW and her boyfriend off at his apartment.

That I was dropping the woman that I'm still married to off at her boyfriend's apartment wasn't the weirdest thing that happened that night.

Because on the way home, I passed a barbershop. Inside the barbershop was a barber. He was cutting someone's hair.

At ten o'clock at night.

Christmas night.

Although I have never experienced such a thing, I can imagine that there might be an event happening at eleven o'clock at night--even on Christmas night--for which a man might want to look his absolute best--including a tight coiffure.

However, I don't think I have ever met a barber dedicated enough to his craft to come in on any night--especially Christmas night--at ten o'clock, to do this for a man.

I bring this up now, because up until this afternoon, I thought I had seen the weirdest thing I would see this week.

I was wrong.

Thursday is the traditional garbage day in Swillburg. We all put on our traditional garbage day clothes* for the festive ritual of racing our cans and recycle bins to the curb before the grand arrival of the right-hand-drive garbage truck. Although, some of the more 'progressive' Swillburgers are eschewing the first part of the tradition, called das selbstlos**, and put their trash out the evening, or even the day, before the Great Garbageman arrives.

Things were confounded even more by the arrival of a holiday earlier in the week, which was marked by singing, and gift-giving, and, for some, a 10 o'clock haircut, which moved garbage day back to Friday.

So, this afternoon, as I was driving off to do errands, I spied what has to be the weirdest thing I've seen all week:
What the hell was that?

Those look bags!Dayum...they are golf bags!

Twenty-three of them, in fact. Plus some lumber, and old end tables.

Twenty-three golf bags. Some in pretty decent condition.

So now, I must ask: What madness causes a man to think he needs twenty-three golfbags? Or is it something other than madness? If so, what? An ebay plan gone wrong? Or did he have twenty-four friends, all with the same idea of a perfect Christmas gift?


I have no answers. I merely remain open to the possibility that this may not be, in the end, the weirdest thing I see this week.

*Unlaced boots, yesterday's pants, and an open bathrobe
**'the forgetting'

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Wednesday, December 27, 2006

The Christmas I Had

The kids are in the other room playing the best multiderivitive game ever created--the LEGOS STAR WARS VIDEO GAME 2!

Wrap your mind around this: It's a sequel...of a video game ...of an iconic performed by a beloved toy construction system.

And it's fun.

And there's no tiny multicolored blocks to step on at 6 am.

And there's no broken lamps as collateral lightsaber damage.

Other highlights of this years Christmas:

Guys. Last Christmas, as my son pointed out, he only got ONE action figure. He pointed this out repeatedly. Blessedly, he waited until November this year to start doing this, but then, he's smart. This year, he got eleven--all six Marvel Legends Series 12 action figures,* plus two Marvel Legends face-offs.** He's had some pretty cool battles with them, with incredible plot lines and shifting allegiances. But then, he's smart.

Originally uploaded by You are here and it is now..

Pink. And the other colors as well, my daughter got a pink Game Boy*** and a bunch of games that are more designed for girls. Plus, a very professional art set, which she is very carefully using, and has done quite a bit of drawing. She's got some talent, and I'm hoping that Puddle (who is, after all, an exceptional artist, but has done nothing with it) might be willing to work with her on some stuff.

Bittersweet. I got a whole bunch of Steelers stuff, which I really like, but it kind of kills the buzz knowing that they were eliminated from playoff contention the day before. Oh, well. I got their entire playoff run from last year on DVD. I miss Jerome Bettis.

Music. STBEW loved the guitar that 'the kids' got for her,**** and my two youngest got ipod Nanos from their grandmother (yes, Nanos from Nana). I was going to buy a shuffle for Puddle, but found another MP3 player that held 2Gb, plus had an FM radio, for the same price as the shuffle, so he got that instead. And I downloaded all the music he had stored on my computer on it for him.

Books. A whole stack of them, from some of my favorite authors.

Movies and other DVD-based entertainments. Including the entire first season of my favorite cartoon--The Tick! SPOOON! Which was perfect, since the 26th is also a holiday in the Balloon Pirate family--known as Slug Day.******

But today is the 27th, and there's dishes to be done, floors to be vacuumed, kites to be flown and games to be played. Hope your Christmas was the one you deserved!


*Each of which came with a body part which, when constructed, built a seventh
**Which paired heroes against their greatest nemeses
***Game Girl?
****It was a really good used guitar at a very decent price, but I didn't feel right giving it to her, so it's a present from the kids.
*****During which we all sit around and eat junk food and watch movies, leaving a slime trail between the refrigerator and the couch.

Monday, December 25, 2006

'Twas the Night Before Christmas...

Yes, the presents are about two feet deep around the tree. I'm just waiting to make sure the kids are really asleep before I fill their stockings (they want them in their rooms tonight). Puddle is here too--he's asleep on a rollaway bed in the Tiki Room.*

In the morning, STBEW and her boyfriend will be over and we'll open presents. Lt. Trouble gets in town on the 29th, and we'll have a celebration then, too. So to recap: 3 kids, one ex and her boyfriend, and no eldest son. Not necessarily the Christmas I want, but the Christmas I have. And it will be fine.

Hope yours is a good one.


*It's what the kids call their playroom

Friday, December 22, 2006


Most folks are as happy as they want to be.
-Abraham Lincoln

The lights surprised me.

I actually did a double-take to make sure I was seeing what I thought I saw. After all, it could have been a reflection, of traffic lights, or some of the commercial lights that were still lit in this dingy part of town.

Actually, to call it dingy was being a bit hopeful. This part of town aspires to dinginess. It was downright decrepit. This dirty, old, red brick building was not some reclaimed uptown loft. It was a low-rent building where people with few options lived.

But there, above the cracked, decaying, and litter-strewn parking lot, was a solid-looking door. The kind of door one uses when security is a far higher priority than aesthetics. On the rusted wrought iron railing in front of it were Christmas lights. And not just a strand of Dollar Store lights slapped on, either. These were carefully strung, with an illuminated star wired securely underneath. The lights were distorted and reflected by the silvery tinsel that was carefully wrapped along the railing with the lights. It was more than bright. It was--tasteful.

And in the window, the cracked, dirty window, showed the unmistakeable shape and colors of a lit Christmas tree. In this place, this hopeless place, were people who, despite their circumstances, were still celebrating the season.

For the past few days I've been grouchier, angrier, and more depressed than I usually am at this time of year, for various reasons:
  • STBEW came over and used my kitchen and appliances to make cookies, and left my kitchen a mess.
  • I screwed up my checkbook, and now I'm $50 overdrawn on my account, and payday's not until Thursday.
  • The lock on the back door of my van is broken, so my kids have to climb in and out via the drivers' side door.
  • And I'm just plain lonely. I love my kids, but I wish I had someone else in my life
All of that, and more, colored my mood dark. Until I drove past that building.

There will always be problems. It's just the way life is. But regardless of how bad you think your life is, there are always things for which you can be grateful. I'm grateful I saw the lights.

Merry Christmas everyone.


Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Touble Update

Hardened in battle on the brutal streets of Iraq, 1Lt Trouble set the standard for the junior Security Forces officer in '05-'06. Deployed to Operation IRAQI FREEDOM as a 2Lt, he immediately assumed a tactical command role that would befit those more senior when he led 35 joint forces at Xxxx AB, Iraq in the defense of over 9,600 coalition forces and $5B in coalition assets.

Acclaimed by those over him, he was tapped to create an 80-person strong special security flight in light of upcoming Iraqi elections. Titled Operation GUARDIAN HUNTER, the sweeping security operation guaranteed the success of pivotal elections for the burgeoning democracy. Lt Trouble's flight personally secured ballots and enjoyed resounding success with zero hostile incidents. In conjunction with this "outside the wire" effort, he also led from the front and commanded coalition forces during daring offensive security sweeps that resulted in the capture of seven insurgents, and saved numerous lives.

Thanks in large part to his effectiveness and comprehensive tactical vision, he was time and again tapped to confront some of the most demanding defense force issues at Xxxx AB. Lt Trouble personally coordinated and led the high profile security detail for the Secretary of the Air Force and two separate visits by the Iraqi Vice President and demonstrated to our coalition partners the capabilities of a professional volunteer force. He further fostered host nations relations through his personal design of the Xxxx AB gate barrier program. Via his understanding of host nation agreements coupled with current force protection measures and standards, Lt Trouble developed a barrier plan that accommodated all the needs and still satisfied demanding security requirements. His innovation saved this forward base and the Air Force $25K+ through locally procured equipment, building materials and labor.

1Lt Trouble clearly exhibited the traits that have come to be identified with the SF junior CGO, tenaciousness, audacity, bravery, foresight and dedication unparalleled by friend and foes alike. 1Lt Trouble is THE obvious choice this award.
That's what my son's Commanding Officer wrote in a nominating letter to the Air Force Central Command (or whatever it's called) for a national award for him. My son thinks it's a bit "over the top," and it probably is. Nonetheless, he's making great strides in the Air Force. He regularly finds himself in meetings and on panels where the next-lowest rank is a Lt. Colonel. And he's not just there to get the coffee, either.

Right now, he's back at his home base in the southwestern dessert, and was one of only 38 individuals (in a grouping of more than 1,000) to get an 'exceptional' rating in the AFB's inspection.

And tomorrow night, he's going to be on the field for the Las Vegas Bowl* as part of a flag detail at the beginning of the night. Yeah, he's only one of 100 who will be holding a giant flag at the beginning of the game, but he's on the field nonetheless. He'll be the blonde guy in a uniform.

I'm almost getting tired of telling him how proud I am of him.


*19th-ranked BYU (10-2) vs Oregon (7-5), 8pm ET, ESPN and ESPNHD

Monday, December 18, 2006


My street ends in a'T' inter- section. The crossing street borders a school with a nice little playground. Yesterday morning, as I was headed to a meeting, I saw a little boy on that playground. He couldn't have been more than three years old. He was having a great time on the jungle gym, climbing and sliding, and jumping, in the pure joy so few of us non-three-year-olds rarely experience.

He was completely alone.

I went immediately into Daddy mode. Where are his parents? Why is he alone? Who was supposed to be watching him?

I turned the corner and watched for traffic, a place to park, the little boy, and any signs of a parent, all at the same time. By now, he had slid down the slide, and was laughing and loving life so much that he had to jump up and down in joy. I saw him look for someone, someone who he assumed was there to share that joy, someone...

No one.

He looked this way and that, turning, turning, panic visibly rising as he suddenly realized he was completely alone.

I slowed to a crawl.

But suddenly, from behind a wall--surprise! Daddy and big sister came out of hiding.

I continued on my way, relieved that the boy was safe.

But wondering, at the same time.

Because I remember. I remember one time in a department store, stomping through it and looking at all the wonderful bright Christmas decorations, seeing things that looked so pretty and bright and I wanted it and...

No parents. My folks let me wander off alone, following me, seeing how long it would be before I realized that I wasn't with them any more. But there was a moment of panic. Of dread. Of the sudden realization that I was alone.

How long it lasted, I have no way of measuring. In my mind, it was hours. It was more likely seconds. They wanted me to learn a lesson. I was about three.

Is this cruelty? Is this appropriate? Is three too soon to learn the lesson that you have to be aware of your surroundings?

And is there a better way of teaching this lesson?


Friday, December 15, 2006


Updated below...

I got a letter yesterday from the School District. In the letter was the result of a test my son took. This was a statewide English test--part of a Board of Regents requirement, also rolled into the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) act. Which I hate.

Don't get me wrong. I'm all for high academic standards. What I don't like are unfunded (or, to be charitable, underfunded) mandates that increase the amount of paperwork while forcing teachers to teach to the tests, as opposed to getting their students to learn.


So this letter from the district explains to me that out of a possible 775 points on this English test, my son scored a 775.

And regardless of how I feel about the test, yes I was incredibly pleased and proud of him that he aced it.

But here's the thing: this test was given in January of this year. Eleven months ago.

As much as I dislike this test, it does give an estimate of how a child is doing academically. And the school district doesn't release the information until three months into the next school year? What good is a benchmark if you don't know what it is? What about the kids who did poorly? Half a semester has come and gone. Shouldn't parents know this information before the school year begins?

Too much of education is politics. Politics slow things down.

And yes, I'm writing the Superintendent about this. But I figured it's best to blow off steam here on the blog.

So yeah, you're sorta getting the rough draft of the letter here.

Okay. I'm done ranting. Enjoy your weekend.

12/16 10:47 pm: The mail today brought his statewide math score--merely nine months late this time. He 'only' got a 718 on this test, which tranlsates into a 93 average. We're trying not to be dissapointed.


Thursday, December 14, 2006

By Popular Demand...

I miss Jim Henson. I miss John Denver, too, but I miss his dedication to his ideals more than I miss him as a performer.

I just plain miss Jim Henson.


Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Technical Difficulties

Due to circumstances beyond my control, I seem to be unable to comment on many of your blogs.

At first I thought it was just the beta blogs--none of which allow me to comment--but there are some non-beta blogs that will not let me comment either.

And I've tried a number of options. I've tried posting using the 'other' option, and even the 'anonymous' option, and I can't seem to get it to work.

Is it because I don't have a google account? What if I don't want a google account? Why should I be forced to use a 'beta' version of blogger? I don't want to find bugs. I want to post. If they release it as blogger 2.0, or whatever, then I'll use it.


This is harshing my buzz, man.

Anyway. I'm reading all of you.

And they better get this thing fixed soon, 'cuz it's obvious that you all need my sage advi...
heh. Almost got it out without laughing.


Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Honorable Mention

Like I said yesterday, we didn't win.

Here's our house:

And here was the winner:

Of course, they spent twelve hours on their decorations to our one.

The kids didn't seem to mind. We got an honorable mention certificate, which they liked:
The tree's slightly smaller than last year's monster. This one's only 7'3" tall. However. we did manage to stuff 100 more lights on it than last year, but we only put 50' of garland on.

The rest of the dynamics are similar.

The rest of the living room is similarly-themed:

Yeah, i got some Santas. Wanna make something of it?

And, of course, we also have a corner devoted to the special that was so bad it went past crappy and ened up on the other side of classic:
I've been told I have more than a passing resemblence to Yukon Cornelius. And yes, Sam the snowman has a rather unfortunately-placed stain. That's part of his charm.

There's some presents under the tree now. Lt. Trouble's gifts have arrived, so I put them under the tree, causing STBEW no small amount of consternation.

Screw it. It's my house, and my Christmas.


Monday, December 11, 2006


"Have I ever told you that you guys are awesome?"

I asked this of my kids as we walked to the library tonight. It's about four blocks away, so unless it's wretched weather, we usually walk it. Tonight, in between checking out the competition for Christmas decorations,* the kids were superheroes. My son was Stupendous Boy, and my daughter was Fantastigirl.** Together, they were fighting the evils of Below Averageness.

I asked these questions of them all the time, fully confident of the answer:

"Have I ever told you that I love you?"
"Have I ever told you that you're a genius?"
"Have I ever told you that you're beautiful?"
"Have I ever told you that your hair smells like boogers?"

The answer, of course, is always the same. Yes, of course I tell them these things. This is just saying the same thing, but in question form.

So tonight, when I asked them if I ever told them that they're awesome, I expected a response in unision, and I got it.



I was informed that, contrary to my belief, I had never told them that they're awesome. Handsome, beautiful, smart, booger-scented--all of these things I have told them, and more. But I have never told them they're awesome.

"That's what Mom tells us," my daughter said.

The information was given to me without rancor or resentment. They weren't ganging up on me, or trying to make me feel bad. They just answered the question asked them.

I'm not upset about this. Okay, maybe a little. I could have sworn I've used the word to describe my opinion of them. I certainly took the moment to inform them of their awesomeness, and they nodded, and continued their quest to vanquish the evil Doctor Subpar.

This isn't a big deal, I know. If the years had gone by without my never using that adjective to describe them, their lives would not change one iota. But it's a very good reminder to me of this:

Children notice. Children remember. Much more than we sometimes want them to. The passing comments, the praise, the slights. It all gets processed.

A good reminder for us all.


*We're finalists for best-decorated house in Swillburg. The winners will be announced at a party tomorrow night. I know we won't win. The guy down the street has totally kicked our asses. We don't have a single inflatable character anywhere.
**I was Captain Upsetstomach, but that's another story.
***The sound of a confused yeti, which, when I was heavier and hairier, I closely resembled.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Five Golden R(ecord)ings

Because I can't leave well enough alone, and because I like to listen to myself write, here are my five top Christmas Albums. I freely admit that some of these selections are distinctly nostalgic, I contend that each of them can also stand on their musicality. Here they are, ordered by issue date:

George Feyer-Echoes of Christmas
George Feyer is the Wally Pipp of cocktail pianists. A Hungarian World War II refugee, his skills and nearly limitless repertoire landed him a regular gig at the Cafe Carlisle in New York throughout the 1950's and '60's. The hotel was so enamoured of him that they decorated the cafe in a style reminiscent of Budapest. In 1968, he decided to take a couple of weeks off for a vacation. The Cafe hired a promising young pianist and singer to fill in for him while he was gone. That fill-in was Bobby Short, and Feyer never played the Carlisle again.

Feyer recorded a number of albums on the VOX label in the 1950's, all with the 'Echoes of' theme. Although somewhat charming, they didn't capture the feeling of an evening at the Carlisle, where Feyer would play to--and with--the audience, joking and talking much the same way Victor Borge did with a classsical piano.

All of the 'Echoes of' records were essentially two cuts, because Feyer's style was to never stop playing; rather, he'd just improv his way from one song to the next, with his drummer and bass player along for the ride. I'm guessing that the recording sessions for these albums were pretty simple: roll the tape, and Feyer would play for eighteen or so minutes, pause briefly between songs and continue on for another eighteen or so. Forty-five minutes later, everyone was at the bar.

Echoes of Christmas is no different. It's two eighteen-and-a-half minute cuts of music, Christmas carols and standards, woven together. (If your media software doesn't insert a pause in between songs, you won't even know when the first cut ends and the second begins.) Even though it is very much a swinging, '50's style of music, you can nevertheless hear a very distinctive Hungarian style to his playing that, in my mind, harkens straight back to Franz Lizt, especially in the 'overture' part of the first cut. This was the album played by my Dad whenever my folks had a christmas 'cocktail' party, and it's the perfect music for drinking a cosmo while flirting on the divan. I don't think it's on CD, but I did find a site that offers a free download, and it sounds exactly like I remember it--right down to the slightly overdriven high notes.

Fred Waring and His Pennsylvanians-Now Is the Caroling Season
Although Feyer's music is the ultimate cocktail hour music, the ultimate cocktail owes much of its existence to Fred Waring. Trained as an architect and engineer, Fred used his musical success to propel himself into the home appliance business. Yes, the Waring blender is the brainchild of Fred Waring.* By the time this album came out, his blender company had been in business for more than twenty years.

Waring blended voices as well as his machine blended food. This is the world's best glee club at the top of its game. It was the number-one selling Christmas album in both 1956 and 1957. Gorgeous harmonies, sometimes playful, other times respectful, it's a wonderful choral work, and it is available on CD--and still in Full-Dimensional Stereo.

Vince Guaraldi Trio-A Charlie Brown Christmas
Fate was a big player in Vince Guaraldi's life. Guaraldi was just another working musician in San Francisco, trying to make a living, when he went into the studios to cut an album inspired by the movie Black Orpheus. He put out a single from that album, called "Samba de Orpheus," that was widely ignored by radio stations everywhere.

Until one DJ turned the record over. The song on the 'B' side of the single was a surprise hit, and made a decent-sized splash on radio stations around the country.

A documentary film producer by the name of Lee Mendelson, who was working on a documentary of a popular cartoonist, was trying to find just the right sound for a part of the film where the comic strip would be animated. As he was crossing the Golden Gate Bridge, Guaraldi's song came on the radio. The name of the song was 'Cast Your Fate to the Wind.' The cartoonist was Charles Shultz. Mendelson hired Guaraldi, who wrote 'Linus and Lucy.' The documentary film didn't go anywhere, but the cartoon part inspired Mendelson to do a half-hour cartoon special, to be aired on CBS. The broadasters aired the special with some misgivings. They thought the theme of the special, called 'A Charlie Brown Christmas,' was too adult for children.

Also, they thought the music sucked.

The soundtrack to this show is everything that the animation wasn't--mainly, smooth and sophisticated--but it somehow works. And it works just as well--it's just as evocative--without the supporting animation. The soundtrack is available online--or just stop off at your nearest Starbucks.

Mannheim Steamroller-A Fresh Aire Christmas
Although he has no kitchen appliances to his name, Chip Davis is an inventor of sorts as well. In 1976, he and William Fries invented a cowboy trucker named C.W.McCall, who rode the citizen's band radio craze to the top of the music charts with a song called Convoy.

But the year before, Davis, a composer and record producer, fused classical music with electronic rock, and invented a band called Mannheim Steamroller (which was, at the time, just him and his keyboards), and invented a record label (American Gramophone) to put out his records. His album, entitled Fresh Aire, was a hit. A big enough hit that Davis had to actually put a band together for the name, and they put out three more albums before 1988, when he released A Fresh Aire Christmas.

I think there's now four Mannheim Steamroller Christmas albums, plus another group, called the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, that does a similar thing, and both groups tour nonstop through November and December. It's turned into quite an industry.

I like the original electrorchestrock album the best. Yep, I electrorchestrock it old-skool. I won't go into to much detail because I doubt that any of you have NOT heard this album.

And finally:

Barenaked Ladies-Barenaked for the Holidays

Did you know that when Steven Page and Ed Robertson first got together to perform, they planned on being a comedy act? Not surprising, for anyone who has ever seen one of their concerts, or listened to some of their songs. I'm glad they decided to do music with some comedy mixed in, instead of vice-versa.

I love this album, and I'm pissed that I can't find my copy. If I can't find it by the weekend, I'll download it from their site. Ten bucks is cheaper than a CD anyway, and the boys get something like half of it directly into their pockets (as opposed to the twenty-five cents per they get from their old label). Hell, I may even get their Hanukah CD as well.

Well, that's what's gonna be playing on the ol' victrola when we unwrap presents Christmas morning. What will you be listening to?


*Although he didn't technically invent it, Fred Waring did supply the patent-holder with the capital needed to develop the blender, and when things weren't working out, he fired the inventor, and worked the bugs out himself.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

More Fun With Numbers

No, no more math.

Instead I'm going to do the list that Terry put on her website yesterday.*

It's the 'Five favorite Christmas Songs' list.

The thing you need to know here is that I'm a Christmas guy. Right now, there's sixty-seven Santas and nineteen nutcrackers in my living room, as well as an entire set of plushies from the Rankin-Bass Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (airing Friday night on CBS, kiddies!), including not one, but TWO different Yukon Corneliuses.**

And I'm not even feeling all that Christmas-y this year. Maybe this list will help.

First off, there's no way that I can just list five. I can't even get my list down to five sub-categories. But lets start by dividing the songs up first into 'Secular' and 'Ecclesiastical.'

What can I say? I was a member of two choirs, three choruses,*** and a madrigalia when I was younger. Regardless of your views on faith, these are some of the most beautiful and profane songs, and a joy to sing, especially in close harmony. And we did some wonderful arrangements. Mostly traditional, but often with a fantastic bass line that went countrapuntal to the other three parts. Which, if you're a bass, makes up for much of the dreck we sang the rest of the year.
  • Hymns and Chants
  1. Veni Veni Immanuel
  2. Angels We Have Heard on High
  3. Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
  4. Adeste Fidelis
  5. Silent Night
The first song is the most ancient, a Gregorian Chant from Advent, the middle three are from Christmastide, and technically shouldn't be sung in church until after Christmas. And is there anyone who doesn't know the story to the fifth?

  • Carols
  1. Good King Wenceslas
  2. Une Flambeau, Jeanette, Isabelle
  3. Good Christian Men, Rejoice!
  4. Gloucestershire Wassail
  5. We Wish You a Merry Christmas
Carols predate the Christian church, but, like the holiday itself, the church co-opted them. These are best performed outside, in the snow. I also was a member of several bands (I played trumpet), and sometimes a few of us would take our instruments out and play a few and sing a few. Ah, memories.
  • Standards
  1. The Christmas Song (Chestnuts roasting on an open fire)
  2. Silver Bells
  3. I'll Be Home For Christmas
  4. Have Yourselves a Merry Little Christmas
  5. White Christmas
The songs your parents (okay, for a lot of you, your grandparents) played on their Hi-Fi's every year. All from the forties and fifties. These are all American classics, and will always be timeless.

  • Modern
  1. Happy Christmas (War is Over)-John Lennon
  2. Christmas Song-Jethro Tull (Hey! Santa! Pass us that bottle.)
  3. I Believe in Father Christmas-Emerson, Lake, & Palmer
  4. Run Rudolph Run-Chuck Berry
  5. Christmas Wrapping-The Waitresses
I know, I know--they're all two decades older or more. It's my list. Don't like it? Make your own list.

  • Novelty
  1. Santa Baby (preferably Eartha Kitt's version)
  2. I'm Gettin' Nothin' For Christmas-Ricky Zahnd and his Blue Jeaners
  3. I Wanna Hippopotamus for Christmas-Gayla Peevey
  4. Zat You, Santa Claus?-Louis Armstrong
  5. All I Want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth-Spike Jones and His City Slickers
Of the five, I'm guessing everyone knows either the song or the singer, with the possible exception of number three. 'I Wanna Hippopotamus" is a lively tarantella, sung by the pre-teen Peevey in her best Teresa Brewer imitation. It was released in conjunction with a campaign to get a hippo for the Oklahoma City Zoo. It worked. The song raised three grand.

That's enough for tonight. My next post on the subject will be my top five Christmas albums

*I'm not linking to her site until she gets a needle and lances that thing.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Subtract This, Pal!

Solve this problem in two different ways, and write about how you solved it:


That was the problem that nearly drove my son to tears tonight, and made me want to go out and find Misters Houghton and Mifflin, and subtract some consciousness from their respective noggins.

He wasn't upset because he couldn't solve it. He did it in his head. Then he did the two-line subtraction that he's known how to do since he was six.

He was upset because he now had to figure out another way of solving it. Another way? What other way is there? It's subtraction, for fuck's sake. You remove one amount from another amount. End of story.

What do I tell him now? 'Let's figure out some bullshit way of making this subtraction problem far harder than it needs to be, because apparently we have to know more than one way to do this. Is there a politically correct way of subtracting? Maybe we should add, and keep adding until we get beyond infinity, and maybe eventually the number will come all the way back around and end up a factor of eighteen away from the original number!'

Screw it. Do the math. I'll check it. You'll get it right anyhow. Every time I think I find a mistake, you show me that I'm wrong about it.

Sometimes I wish they would leave my child behind.

Maybe then he'd be free to pick up a book and start learning.


Sunday, December 03, 2006


Source: Terry.

1. Yourself: Improving.

2. Your boyfriend/girlfriend (spouse): Divorcing.

3. Your hair: Curly.

4. Your mother: Fading.

5. Your father: Departed.

6. Your favorite item: Camera.

7. Your dream last night: Busy.

8. Your favorite drink: Milkshake.

9. Your dream car: Volvo.

10. The room you are in: Office.

11. Your ex: Recovering.

12. Your fear: Arachibutyrophobia.

13. What you want to be in 10 years? Successful.

14. Who you hung out with last night? Kids.

15. What You're Not? Suave.

16. Muffins: Croissants.

17. One of your wish list items: Vacation.

18. Time: 11:30 pm.

19. The last thing you did: Backspace.

20. What you are wearing: Salamanders.

21. Your favorite weather: Mild.

22. Your favorite book: Discworld.

23. The last thing you ate: Cheeseburger.

24. Your life: Busy.

25. Your mood: Anxious.

26. Your best friend: Missed.

27. What are you thinking about right now? Kids.

28. Your car: Serviceable.

29. What are you doing at the moment? Procrastinating.

30. Your summer: Segmented.

31. Your relationship status: Nonexistant.

32. What is on your TV? Penguin.

33. What is the weather like? Raining.

34. When is the last time you laughed? Dunno.

Your Salutation? Yeharr

Friday, December 01, 2006

All I Want for Christmas is...

A Darth Vader Snowglobe!

Isn't it adorable? There's the Dark Lord of the Sith playfully kneeling in the snow, quite possibly on the planet Hoth, happily making a li'l Death Star snowfort! Isn't it to die for?

I'm sure the folks on Alderaan think so...that is, they would, if they weren't a bunch of superheated atoms.

This is how much of a geek I am: My first thought when seeing this was, I kid you not:
Why is Vader kneeling in the snow to make this? He's so strong in the Force, he can simply command the snowflakes to assemble themselves into a Death Star!

My second thought* was that this was the second-worst Star Wars tie-in since the Anakin Skywalker children's book.

Children's book. Featuring the proto-Vader.

I remember thinking What next? What other evil character can we make a kids book out of? I know--"Young Hannibal Lecter Feeds His Puppy!"**

Yeah, sometimes I miss standup.


*after slapping myself for having the first thought

**to the neighbors.

Light a Candle for AIDS Research

For today only, Bristol-Meyers Squib is donating $1 to AIDS research for everyone who lights a candle on thier website.

Go light a candle, and pass the info on to your friends.