Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Highs and Lows of 2008 - The Highs

I'm a bit more on the ball with getting the "Highs and Lows" done this year. Last year I only had 90 minutes to spare! Once again, I'll be at home spending NYE drinking beer and watching bad movies on TV. And frankly, I'm OK with that. I'm sure there'll be a few of you online during the night who can ring in the New Year with me! Be sure to read the post below this one first!! It's my "Lows" list! Makes the "Highs" list much better (most have links back to posts). Two things that didn't make the list. First would be my three football teams breezing through the regular season with only one defeat amongst them. Pretty amazing. But they didn't make the cut, since 2 of the 3 failed to win their respective championship game. Secondly, as they were last year, would be the beer drinking sessions that I did with Moose, Rachel and Kamey. Even though they were fewer and farther between this year (actually, that should have made my "Lows" list), those are just a given...

"The 10 High Points of 2007"
(from less high to highest of the high)

10. Blue skies! - Seems like such a minor thing, but Helena was spared the lung-charring smoke from regional forest fires this summer. After having lived through what amounts as breathing in toxic waste for the past few years, this was a welcome gift. In general, the temperatures this year finally cooled down to "normal" for Montana, which was also a huge and welcome relief!

9. Big glasses! - Actually, he didn't wear them. After "The Great Elton John Ticket Fiasco" of 2007, it was announced that the Rocket Man himself asked to come back to Montana! While the ticket situation was minimally better than before, I was able to snag a couple of tickets. Way up in the far corner, but it's a small-ish venue, and I was at least in the building! Accompanying me was Megan, a former student and current grad student at U of M. While spending the afternoon with her was wonderful, the concert was phenomenal. We sang along with the rest of the thousands there, hitting the high notes that he can't reach anymore. Can't wait for the Elton John/Billy Joel concert to come someplace nearby next year! :-)

8. Blue Man Group! - These guys mix music, visuals, drama and comedy into a show that has to be experienced. Words just can't do it justice! But the real joy of this evening wasn't so much the concert as it was my company. Since this was at MSU, and N2 happened to be a freshman there, I asked if she wanted to go. Of course, she did, and we had a great time. It was the first time to "experience" her as a young adult, as opposed to "one of the kids" at our regular family things. I found her to be intelligent, a good conversationalist, and someone whose head was screwed on far better than mine was at her age!

7. Birthday cards! - It started slowly. I'm not one who checks his P.O. box on a strictly daily basis, but I got a birthday card a full month early from Q, who should know better. A couple of days later, I had two more. I could see a pattern starting here... For a full month before my actual birthday, I got a card a day from her! With the wonky postal service around here, sometimes I got two or three at a time, but I don't doubt for a minute that she mailed them out one per day! It was a wonderful (and pricey!) gesture, and one that was definitely appreciated! Thanks, Q!

6. Buzz! - July brought around the annual summer concert for the symphony. A free concert attended by 15,000-17,000 people, depending on who you're talking to. This involved a week's worth of rehearsals in two different locations, coordination of bringing in a grand piano, the set-up of a huge mobile stage, and the post-concert tear-down. The concert had a space theme, and we had Gustav Holst's The Planets narrated by Col. Buzz Aldrin, the second man to walk on the moon. Making it even more special is that the concert was on the 39th anniversary of that moonwalk. The weather cooperated better than it has in ten years, the production aspects all ran very smoothly, and best of all, I came out of the week physically unscathed! No blood, no broken bones! And really the best of all--Col. Aldrin autographed my own 39 year-old copy of the LIFE magazine pictured here!

5. Back! - As mentioned in the "Lows" of 2008, a very good blogger friend got married, got convinced that those bloggerfriends weren't important in her life, and she disappeared. Actually, not so much disappeared, but took herself out of the game. The good news--she's back! It's a good news/bad news situation though. She's not married anymore. But she's realized that all "those bloggerfriends" actually are important in her life, and now she's back! Maybe not quite the way she was, but she's back! She's got this silly notion that people will hold her actions against her. Pfffttt... Me? I knew she'd be back! Moral of the story? Way to many to tell. I'm just super glad that she's back (have I mentioned that yet?). Now if we can just figure out how we'll meet face-to-face (even though I did make that trip through Florida a couple of years ago...).

4. Birthday #3! - HNT made its debut in May of 2005, from humble beginnings (six of us) to the multi-million member phenomenon that it is today. Well, maybe not that big. But pretty big! The third anniversary was this past May, and I wanted to do something special for it. After spending lots of time trying to come up with something, it hit me. Get former members of HNT, who quit for a variety of reasons, to come back for sort of an anniversary "issue". In setting some parameters for this, I decided that I'd ask those who were there in HNTs infancy, but had dropped out after its first year. The pioneers who really kept this thing going, and endured some of the nastiness of 2006. I had hoped to maybe get a dozen people--I ended up with 46! I opened a new site specifically for the anniversary group (click on the icon here! I opened it up to the participants a couple of days early to check it out--it was like high school reunion week! Most of these people had lost track of each other. Personally, it was a ton of work, but it was heart-warming to have all of these people return for the week, and to re-connect with all of them!

3. Broadway! - Well, not Broadway, per se. But the touring version. Moose got us tickets to see Jesus Christ Superstar in Minneapolis in May. My love of this rock opera is well documented throughout my blog, including my own performance as King Herod. What made this version so good is that Ted Neely, who played Jesus in the movie version, was playing Jesus here. His voice was absolutely stunning, and possibly better than it was when the movie came out over 35 years ago. He's been portraying Jesus longer than Jesus was alive! Of course, I was there with Moose, so there was the requisite beer drinking and food eating and napping. Of course, naps wouldn't have been needed if a certain person wasn't snoring all night...

2. Blogger Babes! - August was the month that I got to meet three wonderful bloggers--Vixen, Stiletto Reflections, and Dana! First was my looonnnngggg drive through Wyoming (ugh!) during a nasty heat wave to get to Vixen's wedding. It was intimate, beautiful, and the beer flowed freely into the night (note their picture...). The drive back through Wyoming was made worse by my lack of sleep and possibility of a hangover. I'd do it again in an instant! One week later, Dana and her son Cam stayed through the weekend on their way to Washington. Apparently I didn't make too bad of an impression, as they came back through and spent a night the next weekend! It had been over a year since I'd met any bloggers, so I was really looking forward to these visits. These visits would have been my #1 High of 2008, if it weren't for this:

1. Broad Ripple! - Broad Ripple is the street in Indianapolis where the Wild Beaver Saloon is located. Where OsTour '08 ended the night in the midst of a weekend in mid-November. Due to cheap airline tickets, a somewhat botched planned meet-up, and a free weekend in my own schedule, I flew to Indianapolis to meet up with M, NY Diva, Dana, ASM, Salt & Pepper, A Living Diary, Flyboy, and American Honey. AND a lunch date en route with an unnamed blogger! No particular reason. Just a meet-up. And as in prior OsTours, this one didn't disappoint! We went into the weekend with apprehension about these other weird bloggers, and came out as friends! (well, I didn't. I'm used to these things) All I can say is that if you ever have the chance to do something like this, don't hesitate!

There you have it. My "Highs" for 2008. With 3 hours to spare! Many of you are probably already at parties as I'm doing this. I hope that everyone is having a safe but fun NYE! Looking forward to a great 2009!!

The Highs and Lows of 2008 - The Lows
HNT is down a couple of posts...

Time for that annual recap of 2008. For the second year in a row, I found it difficult to come up with 10 real low points. Certainly there was strife in the world, but that doesn't count for this list. In fact, I really had to talk myself into justifying a couple of these. Some of these won't have a link to a specific post. This is what makes my "lows" list (the "highs" list will be coming shortly...):

"The 10 Low Points of 2008"
(from least low to lowest of the low)
10. No power - During the midst of the summer, as we were preparing for the big summer concert, I show up to the rehearsal site to find that electricians had turned off power to the room. They were in the midst of work, and no one had informed them that there was a group needing the room. We ended up in an hot, unventilated, stinky work-out room where big, smelly football players did their conditioning. It through rehearsals off, it was not productive, and it underscored the need for our own rehearsal facility.

9. In Cahoots/Mob Rules Horns - Didn't mention them much in 2008, because we are still enjoying our "hiatus". And that sucks. All is not totally bad, though! We have a gig in January! After over 16 months, we'll get together for a wedding reception! More to come next month, but this could perhaps be the beginning of our first comeback!

8. Cracking My Nuts in the Cold - The Arctic cold front, along with its snow and wind, decided to show up early this year--right in the midst of rehearsals for Messiah and Nutcracker. Particularly nasty was tearing everything down after our last Nutcracker performance, but not being able to load the equipment truck since it froze up. U-Haul was contacted early the next morning, and I got to load it by myself, in the -11° temps (wind chill not included). Honestly, it wasn't bad, but once again, it was a large monkey wrench thrown in the midst of standard post-concert activities.

7. Misrepresentation of HNT - This one still ticks me off. So much that I wrote two different posts about it within a couple of weeks of each other. And ending with my reposting the guidelines for HNT. It was disappointing that so many had never seen them before, and that so many were led to believe that HNT was something that it's never been. On the positive side, there were a handful of HNTers that thanked me for setting them straight, and that they weren't "weird" for feeling that they were somewhat forced or expected to do something they didn't want to do.

6. Valentine's Day - OK, this one you might not have ever read about. It's the day that a very good friend got married. And allowed her husband to convince her that I (and other bloggers) weren't an important part of her life. For many of us, she simply disappeared without warning. While I was certainly hurt, I understood, in a twisted way, why she did it. It does have a happy ending though (even made the "highs" of 2008!).

5. No trophies - After spending most of the season touting the great records of the UM Grizzlies and the Carroll College Fighting Saints, and the fact that they were both in their respective football championships on the same weekend, only 75 miles apart, they both came home empty-handed. While most Montanans expected at least one of them to win, it was a cold, cold weekend across Big Sky Country...

4. You'd expect better... - Two highly touted blogging extras have really been a disappointment during the second part of the year. Blogrolling, which manages that overly long blogroll on my sidebar, was hacked a few months ago. To their credit, "they" have been spending their time rebuilding the application from scratch. Unfortunately, managing the blogroll is not possible right now. I can add links, but I can't delete any. And hopefully they'll get the "recently updated" feature working again! Haloscan, on the other hand, was purchased by another company who immediately went in and added many of their own features at the expense of features that we all users came to love. I'm sticking with it, hoping that everything gets worked out. But I can't figure out why some other Haloscan users haven't had the same problems that I have...

3. Death - There was alot of that this year. As there is every year. But one particular blogger caught a double whammy that really affected me. In mid-April, her mother died after a too-short fight with cancer. It was expected, but not as quickly as it happened. Two weeks later, her father was found dead at his home. Completely unexpected. Totally unrelated. It hurt to read her sparse and brief posts. It hurt that it was happening to a good blogger friend. It hurt that it happened to someone that I'd actually met. Fortunately, she's got some good family support around her, but she and her siblings just went through their first Christmas without them. I continue to send prayers and good thoughts her way.

2. Disappearance - This one is about another close friend who seems to have gone into blogger seclusion. Again, this one is fairly well-known, but sort of dropped off the radar without warning. Well, the warnings were sort of there, if you knew her at all. Personally, it's been sad to see what was once the closest of friendships turn into total animosity. To sit back and see mistakes made with no ability to do anything about it. To wonder what she did for Christmas this year. Somewhat recently, I've noticed that she's been online elsewhere a few times, so if she's reading this--I hope you're doing OK. I hope you're finding some peace. I hope you're back on your feet and kicking ass.

1. Dad's health - Well, I suppose I should be thankful that he's waking up in the morning! Poor Dad has been enduring more health issues than I think he ever thought possible. He spent time in the hospital this summer after complications after a colonoscopy. He went in for heart surgery before Thanksgiving after his heart doctor found that his aneurysm had grown. And they found that as they were determining if he could stand further surgery to treat his bladder cancer (2007). He currently has two large holes in his groin where they entered his leg to get to his femoral arteries (one of which totally collapsed). The holes are just being packed open as they aren't healing properly. Through it all, he still maintains a smile and his humor. He's moving slowly, and you can tell that bothers him. It's not going to be too long before he'll never swing a golf club, I'm afraid (and that could mark the beginning of the end...). My dad is not the same man as he was even 3-4 years ago. But he's not frail, nor losing his memories, nor even an old man. But there's alot of changes, and one has to wonder when he'll get a break...
There you have it. The 10 Lows of 2008. I suppose I should be grateful that, when you get right down to it, the list isn't so bad! Off to work on the Highs of 2008 now!

End of Year Birthday!
(HNT is below!)

There's a lady in Michigan. Well, there's lots of ladies in Michigan. But for purposes of this post...there's a lady in Michigan. This lady is actually Canadian, but now lives in Michigan. Wife, mother, fun-loving friend. She's blogged for quite awhile, and got involved with HNT back in the early days. She was one of the first to blatantly disregard the guidelines and post numerous pictures each Thursday, but no one seemed to mind. This lady and I would often chat, and, as what usually happens (damn, I have the knack!), I got to know all about her. Because we chatted quite a bit. I would have sworn she was a Mystery Guest at one point, but I couldn't find her...

Anyway, after awhile, we drifted apart. I honestly don't really remember why. I seem to remember getting my ass handed to me on a platter by her for some post I put up. I can't remember what it was about. We got past it. But still, we drifted. I still check in on her from time to time. Most recently I come to find that her husband found her blog. Oops! And now her daughter. But she's continuing! I don't know yet if she'll have a post up today or not, but leave some birthday wishes for Chelle on her Christmas post. Let her husband see that there's alot of bloggy friends out here.

Chelle, this was a long time coming! Hope you can forgive the three-year delay!

Year's Favorite HNT
2008 Version

It was fun to go back and see what I passed off as HNTs during the year. Many I had forgotten about. Many I wish I hadn't seen again. But there were two different weeks that stuck out for me. As I'm sure that many of you will bypass the instructions and pick more than one, I will too. After all, I'm the one that wrote them! Interestingly, both weeks involved some sort of photo manipulation. I rarely (if ever) crop my pictures, let alone play with the images. But these both turned out pretty good, if I do say so myself!

The first one (and actually is probably my favorite) was a click-through from January. I had attempted to imitate the avatar of one of my favorite bloggers (Leesa), and was having little success. No wonder--she's cute. Me, not so much... Anyway, I was looking for a bit more effort on my part, so I took some more pictures. I dismissed many of them because of the mess in the background. As I found that I was running out of possibilities, I decided to get artsy-fartsy and go with the b&w treatment. Along with a high contrast and lower brightness. The result? I am amazed at the detail in my eyes (clicky-click to get the big picture!). And the gray hair on the side of my head. The stubble. The little veins in my nose that I've never really looked at. The lack of zits. It's a totally different picture than I think I've ever taken before. Might be some more of that coming in the future...

My second HNT that I thought was "favorites-worthy" was from February. I had used blue for when I went to the Blue Man Group concert with my niece. We had "RED" as a theme (rather than Valentine's Day) and I assumed that there'd be alot of green for St. Patrick's Day, so I was in a color frame of mind. I have hemmed and hawed about Photoshop (which I have installed, but rarely use), simply because of the learning curve. I generally want to know all there is to know with a software program, but I'm not willing to spend hours and days and weeks learning it. But I really wanted to try the color selection thing. After finding out that there's a couple of ways of doing it, I gave it a shot. Armed with a 5-lb. bag of M&Ms, and a very large beer stein, I took a series of pictures. If I'm selecting colors, I figured I should be as colorful as I could! The third picture never actually made it for HNT, but might be the be the best of the bunch. Again, now that I know how to do it, it'll probably creep in from time to time.

Red, red lips
Swivelin' hips
Movin' in some new blue jeans
Shufflin' sweet right with that beat
She can really shake that thing

Belt buckle
Shinin' day and night
When she shake that thing
Hope it's next to mine

I said, lord have mercy, my o'my

You been lookin' too good
I think you wanna shake with me
Baby I think you should

Belt buckle
Shinin' day and night
When you shake that thing
Hope it's next to mine

Please, please baby, I wanna say
You lookin' so fine
And if you hold mine next to yours
I'll hold you next to mine

Belt buckle
Shinin' day and night
When you shake that thing
Hope it's next to mine
~~ZZ Top (1999)
Reveal will happen tomorrow!
Figured I'd better do this now before forgetting! Our last MG of 2008 is the lovely Elle from Kink Unleashed! Be sure to stop by and check out her favorites of the year! Feel free to say hi, too!

Some great pictures for "...the Other HNT" this week, including a couple of people who came back for the end of the year, and one particular lady who is completing her New Year's Resolution! Be sure to stop by and leave comments for your fellow HNTers! NSFW, as always!
No New Year's wishes from me yet. I'll be posting my annual "Highs & Lows" of 2008 on Wednesday at around noon. I might even throw in some year-end thank-yous and things like that. There might even be a birthday wish to take care of, as well!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

TMI Tuesday #167 - Happy New Year!

1. Last week was "The Most Wonderful time of the Year", but what are your favorite 2008 memories? - There were four--in July, I got to meet Buzz Aldrin, which really did wonders for my inner geek. In August, I went to Vixen's wedding, and Dana came to town (twice!) during her trip to Washington to see family. In November, OsTour08 went to Indianapolis and I spent time with a great group of bloggers. Rather...friends.
2. What is the best thing you learned in 2008? - That plane tickets from Billings to Indianapolis are hundreds of dollars less than from any other points in Montana, to any airport near Indy. Means that future trips are not out of the question! But not before I get to Kalispell, MT...
3. On a scale of 1-10, how good was your 2008? - 8.5. Maybe could be coerced into saying 9.0.
4. What is your wish for 2009? What is your wish for someone else for 2009? - I don't generally look too far to the future. Continued good health for me and my family, I suppose. There's too many wishes for others to list here. I think there's one or two special friends that know what I'm wishing for them...
5. Where was the first place you ever passionately kissed? - I love the incongruity here... I'll assume that the parties in junior high don't count--how can you be "passionate" at that age? There was lots of kissing, though! From what I remember...we're talking over 35 years ago here. I'm going to have to jump ahead to college. Julie L. Mother's Day weekend. Family cabin in the hills. Oh, yes. Anything that I ever though of as "passion" before then was completely blown out of the water! Who knew that Jack Daniel's could be used as an emergency mouthwash??
Bonus (as in optional):Do you make New Year's resolutions? What is/are your's for 2009? - As mentioned above, I don't think too far into the future. Resolutions fall by the wayside as well. So I don't make them. I suppose if I were to do them, they'd include eating better, exercising, losing some poundage. But since I don't make them...

There you have it. The last TMI for 2008. Be sure to check out everyone else who's playing today!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Interviewed by Queenie!

I've done this previously here, but it's been awhile, and when I saw that Queenie was offering to interview bloggers, I had to jump in. I really like Queenie. Though the poor woman needs to experience what Christmas is really supposed to be like (as opposed to the flip-flops & shorts that she celebrated in...). Here are the "official" rules (be sure to check the bottom--you can be sure I've altered the "official" rules somehow):
1. Leave me a comment saying, "Interview me."
2. I will respond by emailing you five questions. I get to pick the
3. You will update your blog with the answers to the questions.
4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else
in the same post.
5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five
1. I have a thing for men in spandex so... if you could be any kind of super
hero, which would you be? What type of powers would you have and would you
be good or evil? Oh, thank God you didn't want to see me in spandex... I wouldn't want to be a specific superhero, but I want the power of shape-shifting (thank you Deep Space Nine). As a shape-shifter, I could become a bird, so I could fly. Or I could become a terrycloth towel, so invisibility wouldn't be needed. I could do just about anything that any other superhero could do. I would probably be good, but have a bit of a benign evil streak in me!

2. We all have our indulgences. The things we turn to when life is crazy
that just calm us or make us deliriously giddy. What is yours? My first answer would be music, but music is generally what makes my life crazy, so that wouldn't be the answer. Actually, I spend alot of time on my computer playing Sudoku. Without using any of the hints or help. I'm also a fan of crossword puzzles and those scrambled message thingies, though I haven't done either in awhile. When I get to doing those, I generally block out everything else, which has a nice calming effect. I don't know of anything that makes me giddy that doesn't also involve travel and money.

3. Tell us about your dream vacation? Where would you go? How would you get
there? Who would be with you etc? Hmmm... I guess it might be fun to check out New Zealand. But Ireland holds my interest, too. As does Prague (family roots back there). There's just so many different places I'd like to see that none really stick out. I do think that there's a small tropical island somewhere with my name on it, though. Who would be with me? If I had the means, I'd through a huge OsParty and pay for everyone to be there (invite only, of course!).

4. Have you ever had any reoccurring dreams? Aside from the ones starring me
of course. :) Tell us about one that stands out. Well, other than the many different ones of you... I don't so much have a recurring dream, as I do have a recurring locale. I seem to have 4 distinct dreamscapes. All cities of differing sizes. And over the past few years, they almost all focus around musical performances. Actually, the preparation to musical performances. It's like a bad soap opera, which is often what it's like in real life. And they usually occur if I've had something to eat late at night like pizza or something with a sharp flavor (as opposed to a PB&J). If I had any artistic abilities, I could actually draw the buildings, the streets, the interiors. I couldn't name any people, or even describe them. I've never dreamt about bloggers (other than you), but a number of bloggers' essences (for lack of better term) have been involved. As well as a number of former students' (like Jane Doe's house, even though it's not at all like her house). Know what I mean? I can tell you that I've never had any sort of dream that resembles a nightmare. I've never woken up in a cold sweat from a dream, or abruptly from something in the dream. I've obviously never died in one of my dreams.

5. You hold a coveted title as host of the infamous HNT and OHNT. Aside from
the never ending supply of boobie shots, what is the best perk of that job? Two things, actually. First, it's opened doors. An unintended and unexpected perk. All sorts of doors, particularly to friendships. Frankly, with people I would not normally expect to be friends with. And that's a good thing. Secondly, and more importantly, the best perk is the trust that I've been given by so many. The OHNT would never work if people thought I would broadcast the names of those who participate. Same with the MGs who don't want to reveal. And it's extended far past nekkid pictures. People trust me with all sorts of secrets. I know more things about more bloggers than imaginable. Secret blogs, family lives, problems with other bloggers. You name it, I've heard it. And you can't believe how much I treasure that trust.

My change to the rules... I'm only going to do ONE interview, so the first one to comment, "Oh, Os, please interview me. I really, really want to do this with you!", I'll interview you (unless you're referring to something completely different...). And when you click on the link up above to check out Queenie, be sure to leave a birthday wish. Today is her birthday!!!


Sunday, December 28, 2008

Post-Holiday Stuff

It's funny how having back-to-back holidays, and three/four day weekends mess with your mind. Time to get back into the swing of things here! Hope you all had a great Christmas! Nothing exciting with mine, but it was the first time that all of us were together since mid-summer (other than S1 and BIL1.2, but they're out-of-state, which doesn't count--that sounds terrible, doesn't it?). Dad was moving slow, but was moving! In a new switch this season, we had a HUGE stuffed pork loin, which is out of the norm for us. Mighty tasty though! And the grandchildren have grown up. Sure, we put them at the kiddie table (which, in years past, has been the "guys" table), but they actually were more interested in talking with the adults after dinner, rather than retreating to the TV in the den, or falling asleep back there. It's still odd to see the two older nieces drinking wine, but I guess they've grown. Here's some of the more "presentable" pics from Christmas brunch on Sunday, and Christmas Day at my parent's (click 'em to big 'em!):

Dad and Mom at Christmas brunch/N3, Nephew, BIL3, BIL2, N2 & Mom

Post-dinner food coma (usually the "unbutton-the-pants" time)--Nephew, N3, S2, N2

While we were at dinner, the weather decided to drop a little snow on us. A nice, gentle snow. Very "White Christmas-y". This is what it looked like the next morning...

As I'm writing this, the temperature is 52° at mid-afternoon, and all the snow that we've accumulated over the past 3 weeks is melting quite nicely. I'm looking forward to the icy roads in the morning...

Sad news from the entertainment front. Eartha Kitt died on Christmas Day after a long battle with colon cancer. Though she was a singer/actress that could be found on Broadway and movies, her most recognizable character was perhaps as "Catwoman" on the original TV series from the 60s. As a singer, she had many hits, but easily her most recognizable one was "Santa Baby" (the original version, and still the best, in my opinion). Seems sort of fitting that she died on Christmas Day. She was 81 years old.

Don't forget next week's theme for HNT! We want to see your favorite HNT that you took this year. Even if you've only joined in for a short time, we want to see what's your favorite, and why. Click the link at the top of my sidebar for more details!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Spirit Checklist

It's almost Christmas, and I thought I'd run the checklist of my usual things that get me into the Christmas spirit. Didn't do too badly this year!

  • Messiah
  • Nutcracker (x2)
  • Festival of Trees dance (I really miss this one. Wish we were still together.)
  • Misc. church gigs
  • Herb Alpert Christmas
  • Spike Jones
  • James Taylor
  • "holiday" playlist on my iTunes
  • "holiday" playlist on Pandora
Movies/TV Specials
  • White Christmas
  • It's A Wonderful Life
  • A Christmas Story
  • National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (do I have this on DVD?)
  • The Santa Clause
  • The Santa Clause 2
  • The Santa Clause 3
  • Charlie Brown Christmas
  • How the Grinch Stole Christmas (the original, not the Jim Carrey abomination)
  • Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer
  • Tree (and all decorating) up
  • Smelly candles to make up for fake tree
  • Presents under tree
  • Christmas Eve with family at S3's (church gig)
  • Christmas Brunch with family at country club
  • Christmas morning brunch with Mom & Dad (in the morning)
  • Christmas dinner with family at Mom & Dad's (in the evening)
  • Gifts purchased as necessary
  • Gifts purchased and delivered as necessary
  • 2007 cards mailed out (I suck)
  • Cards/gifts received
  • Internet friends emailed/texted/chatted with as necessary (almost everyone...)
  • Christmas music 24/7 since Dec. 1st
  • Play the snowball fight game online (you simply must try it!)
  • Gift basket food all eaten (only got one small box of candy. businesses weren't very good at this this year)
  • Alcohol consumed on Christmas Eve day (at work)
    Kentucky moonshine (remarkably not bad!)
    Bushmill's whiskey (the good stuff - very smooth!)
    Absinthe (illegal in US until this year; black licorice-y)
    Beer (had to wash it down with something!)

  • Stand in line at post office
  • Stand in line at stores
  • Go to WalMart (thank God, no!)
  • Eat Christmas cookie (hopefully this afternoon!)
  • Eat Christmas fruitcake
  • Drink eggnog
  • Drink hot-buttered rum
  • Buy Tom & Jerry batter
  • Sing Christmas carols
  • Wear Santa hat (truly an oddity for me this season)
  • Drive around to see lights
  • Go to Christmas party (not invited to any...*sad face*)
  • Go to Midnight Mass
  • Wish all of you a very Merry Christmas!

Well, to fulfill that last one...I wish I could wish each and every one of you a very Merry Christmas personally. I caught most of you that I felt I needed to, but still missed a couple. May this Christmas be especially rewarding to each and every one of you! And particularly (in no particular order) to those I associate with the most, old and new: Moose, Kamey, Rachel, M, Jessica, Carnalis, Biscuit, Dana, Vixen, Queenie, Robyn, Ms. I, Ella, Cowgirl, NY Diva, Q. I wish you all the very best!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Three Christmas Wishes HNT

When I first started this in 2005, it was such a great hit that people insisted that I do it again. And so it continues. The premise--choose three bloggers/HNTers to receive your Christmas wish. They can be from the heart, or humorous, or fantasy. There's no limitations. Other than the three chosen should be bloggers that aren't necessarily close friends. The reason being that you'll probably be sending that person a card or gift in real life anyway. And to avoid being #4 in a particular person's "circle of three", when you thought you were #1 or #2! Anyway, I hope you all gave this some thought! The biggest complaint I hear about this theme is that it's so hard! Good!

Without further ado--my three Christmas wishes:

Southern Sage
For Sage, I've chosen two gifts. First, the Roget's International Thesaurus. With the word "stellar" circled and cross-referenced. In red pen.
Secondly, a large can of every man's favorite lubricant, WD-40. To take care of that sticky "a" key on his keyboard. I don't know why it's sticky, nor do I want to. Merry Christmas, Sage! Haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!


For Carnalis, I chose one of those big full body pillows. Sure, they're intended for pregnant women (and I'm not choosing that as her Christmas gift!), but I think they'd be a great addition to the bed! Hell, I'd love to have one! So for some of those long, lonely nights you've been having, one full body pillow. For long comforting nights of cuddling. With a slightly perceptible scent of trombone slide oil permeating the fabric. And if your kids want to join in the cuddling, there's plenty of room for them, too! Hope you have a great family Christmas!! Love ya!

NY Diva

Nothing profound to say here. For NY Diva, I want to get her a Gorilla. She knows why, and that's all that matters! Have fun with it! ;-) Hope you have a wonderful Christmas!

Well, after a couple of starts/stops, we've got ourselves a Mystery Guest! I'm not sure if these were an early gift from Santa, or for Santa, but I think we can agree that they're a great gift for us! This MG is fairly new to our little world, and she's doing it among all the other turmoil she's dealing with in her life. But she's a fighter! Doing what she does best--being sexy, single, and just a tad sassy!

She'll be revealed later today, but if you think you know who it is, do stop by and wish her a Merry Christmas!
Well, if my little blurb didn't give it up...the MG is the lovely Cher over at Sexy, Single, Sassy Mom. Stop by and say hi!

Lots of nekkidness over at "...the Other HNT". Even some continuing Christmas-related pictures! Be sure to stop by and check your fellow HNTers out! Leave some comment love for them too! Yes, it's NSFW!
Final HNT of the 2008 is next week! Choose YOUR favorite HNT of 2008 of the ones that you posted. Not your favorite one of Vixen or Dana or 13Messages. Unless, of course, you happen to be one of them... We want to see the one of YOU that is your favorite, and give your reason(s) why. Check the details more by clicking the link at the top of my sidebar!

Finally, I'd like to take this chance to wish all of you a very Merry Christmas! Or Happy Hanukkah! Or whatever particular celebration you're enjoying this week! Not in a zillion years did I think that "Half-Nekkid Thursday" would turn into this wonderful community that it has. But I'm so glad that it did! Thanks to each and every one of you for making it as fun as it is! To those I'm a little (or a lot) closer to, I hope to make the rounds to wish you each an individual Merry Christmas. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

TMI Tuesday #166 - Merry Christmas!/
CD Recommendation

1. What present do you hope ends up under your tree? - Honestly, I don't have anything specific I'm hoping for ('to hope for' would imply a possibility of actually getting it!). If I had a Christmas Fairy who would grant it, it might be a no-limit, pre-paid, open-ended gift card to the Apple store! Of course, I might have a virtual Christmas tree that would need some things sent for putting underneath. I think you know what I'd like...
2. What present are you most psyched about giving (PLEASE be vague or ignore this question if the recipient reads your blog)? - Actually, the recipients have already received them. Special Christmas tree ornaments. I'm hoping to see a picture of them hung on their trees.
3. Do you prefer to give or receive? - I'll assume this refers to Christmas gifts. I actually prefer giving, but often feel inadequate for not having the means to do "better". On the other hand, if I receive a gift, something that's obviously had some thought or personal touches involved mean much more to me than something that's flashy and expensive. Just got something like that in the mail today! (thanks, sweetie!)
4. What is your favorite part of a sexual partner's body? - I seem to remember that it's the upper chest/collarbone/neck.
5. What is your favorite part your body - the one you hope a sexual partner will find or pay the most attention to? - Ooh, if a partner spent a great deal of time massaging my feet, hands and face, I wouldn't care if anything else happened the rest of the night. Well, that's not quite right, but you know what I mean...
Bonus (as in optional): [Idea blatently stolen from Os and his HNT wishes.] What Christmas wishes would you grant to whom? - Should I be calling the Blogger police or something?? Nice try--you're going to have to wait another day to see my answer to this!

If you've played along, be sure to let everyone know at TMI!
I've mentioned before that I really like most parodies of Christmas songs. There's no one quite as good at it as Bob Rivers. Rivers is a DJ at KZOK-FM in Seattle. Since the mid-80s, he's put out 5 CDs (plus compilations) of Christmas songs and carols. And there's not a bad one in the bunch! Similar to "Weird Al" Yankovic. But even better! Imagine "Oh, Little Town of Bethlehem" sung to the melody of "House of the Rising Sun" (which works quite well, actually!). Or alternative Christmas lyrics to classic rock standards ("Jesus' Birthday" to the Beatles' "Happy Birthday"--uncanny how close it sounds!). But it's not limited to rock. Handel's "Hallelujah Chorus" with the lyrics of the "What's It To Ya Chorus" (really--sing some of these to yourself!). "Chipmunks Roasting On an Open Fire", "The 12 Pains of Christmas", "I Am Santa Claus" (think Black Sabbath's "Iron Man")--the list is too long to put here. If you're looking for a bit of stress relief, and some bits of semblance to your "normal" Christmas music, you'll love these! And really, couldn't we all use some of that?

Sunday, December 21, 2008

It's Christmas Week!

I'm tired--going with bullets tonight.
  • Griz lost Friday night.
  • Saints lost Saturday afternoon.
  • Not a good weekend for Montana football.
  • Watched game Saturday with the young lady who is in my former position as pep band director at Carroll. A former student of mine. And good luck charm, apparently. I won over $300 playing keno while watching the game!
  • Had the family Christmas brunch this morning, with only half the family around. Still nice though.
  • Might have a coolant leak in my car. Hopefully not anything major...
  • Waiting for Kamey to come into town tonight from Alaska. More beers to be consumed!!
  • Anyone realize that Christmas is this week???

Today's CD is "It's a Spike Jones Christmas". This is one that you sort of need to be a fan of Spike Jones to truly appreciate. And then you also have to be prepared to not get the "glug-glugs", belches and slapstick arrangements that you might expect to hear from a Spike Jones recording. These are more traditional choral arrangements, with just a tinge of the novelty style that the City Slickers were known for. This one is a CD that will grow on you if you let it. It has become a favorite of mine for years. There's the classics "All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth" and "Nuttin' for Christmas", and a couple of other novelty arrangements, but most of the album is filled with medleys of traditional carols and songs, as well as lesser-known ones like "Chrismas Island". I do recommend this one, but you probably need to be in the Christmas spirit ahead of time...
Don't forget this week's theme, and the fact that we're doing HNT a day earlier than normal! Check the link at the top of the sidebar for details!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Championship Weekend!!

Friday night, 8:00PM EST, ESPN2
Montana Grizzlies vs. Richmond Spiders
NCAA FCS Championship

Oof--that was ugly.
Saturday afternoon, 12:00 noon, CBS College Sports
Carroll College Fighting Saints vs. University of Sioux Falls Cougars
NAIA National Championship

Many thanks to the vast majority of you who included your Christmas trees (or other holiday cheers) to this week's HNT! Be sure to give some though towards next week's theme (remember, it's a day early next week!!). Feel free to "gift" someone you might admire, but don't really "know" all that well. And don't forget that half-nekkidness is on hiatus for the week (except for the truly exhibitionist amongst you...).
I found a video of Diana Krall performing "Jingle Bells" that I thought you might like. This is more up-tempo, and less sultry than some of her stuff. Still, it's a fun song!

Today's Christmas CD is another jazz offering, this time from Russ Freeman, leader and guitarist for the jazz fusion group The Rippingtons. Not really a household name, but well-known among jazz enthusiasts. On "Holiday", he presents the standard Christmas classics, but in the "sound" of the Rippingtons. Lots of horns, guitar, and not much in the way of vocals (which is fine with me!). Other songs are solo acoustic guitar. Probably my favorite song of the CD is "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" which is NOT one of my favorite Christmas songs. The Latin style applied to it really puts it over the top! "This Christmas" (another one of my least favorite songs) is also done quite nicely. Freeman has brought together a nice collection of different styles and sounds with this album. Again, not one of my top ten, but certainly one that comes out every year!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Christmas Tree HNT

Oh, it's happened. I have mentioned in past posts that the Christmas tree wasn't going to go up this year. No time, incredibly hectic schedule every day since Thanksgiving, no desire to bother with such little time--all of these pointed to the lack of a tree this season.

Then Monday rolled around. The cold has really done a number on things around here, including my mind. Maybe it was the -11° temps (where your nose hairs freeze together--God, I love that feeling!) I had to deal with while working outside for 2 1/2 hours. Maybe it was the chills at work where the thermostats had gone on the fritz and left me in my sweaty shirt and 58°. But it was probably a wonderful chat I had while at work (trying to stay warm) that turned the tide. In looking back, there wasn't even anything specific said, but all of a sudden, it hit. That huge wave of Christmas cheer whapped me up alongside the head like a baseball bat. Well, maybe a whiffle bat. In any case, the fickle penguin of paradise chose to sprinkle me with the spirit of Christmas!

I had one more performance on Monday night, but I came home as soon as I was through, and immediately put the tree up. While watching the football game (though that got turned off pretty quickly). I had the tree up and was in bed by 9PM! I put the lights on Tuesday night and the ornaments go up Thursday night. I'm finding that, since the first half of December didn't allow it, I'm cramming all of my month's worth of Christmas spirit into this last week! Hell, if I had money, I'd even get started on some Christmas shopping!!

In years past, I did the half-nekkidness in the reflection of the ornament. This year, I've got the tree reflected in the window, along with the neighbors across the street watching. You might have to click it to big it, and then look for me! Don't worry--I didn't post the naughty one!


Have a love affair........

.........With my feet

Warmly caressing

Gently embracing

My toes......

My heels and ankles.........

But they are fickle creatures

And without warning

One of them will decide

To strike out on it's own

Leaving the warmth of my home

To seek solace elsewhere......


I don't know

Socks have secrets......

They won't reveal

~~Karen Quinn-Tostado

I won't reveal this Mystery Guest, either!

Lots of people who joined in over at "...the Other HNT" this week. Even some Christmas goodness over there! Stop by and leave some comments! Your other HNTer friends would appreciate it! Still NSFW...
Don't forget next week's theme! Details can be found by clicking the link at the top of the sidebar. This one is actually tougher than it seems--don't put it off! Try to come up with three recipients other than those that you'd be sending a card/gift to anyway! And for those who haven't read between the lines--you don't really need to post any half-nekkidness next week (should be a relief for those of you swamped with holiday activities!).
Diana Krall is probably the hottest vocalist in jazz today. Not only gifted with a sultry alto voice and stunning looks, she is a better pianist than singer. Her only questionable action has been marrying Elvis Costello (damned musicians...). As a CD store manager back in the day, I was lucky enough to get my hands on two promo Christmas EPs that her label put out. Also included a 1998 calendar, with gorgeous photos of her for each month. While the EP only had three Christmas songs on it, it (and the calendar) quickly became collector's items (on a side note, I got her to autograph one of them when I saw her in concert a few years ago--she seemed surprised to see it!).

Apparently the attention it garnered led to the release of a full album, "Christmas Songs". Some songs feature a full jazz orchestra, while others are much more intimate with her regular quartet. I often describe her voice as the one you'd expect to hear in an old black & white movie, where the camera moves through the smoke-filled lounge, focusing on the sultry blond in the corner, singing to no one in particular. Probably the voice that Jessica Rabbit really has. She uses the same tone on many of these songs. And her piano solos are superb. Some might even say stellar. If I had to recommend a single jazz Christmas album to someone, this would most definitely be it. Not straying too far away from the "norm", yet different enough to not get tired of. And that voice...


This story caught my attention. "Semen Quality Linked to Intelligence". I don't think it's referring to brain food...

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

I'm Done! (TMI next post down...)

First things first. I won't be online tonight. My mom needs her power cord back, but mine hasn't come in yet. I'll stay on for as long as the battery lasts...
My performance duties for the month have ended!! Fifteen days in a row of rehearsals or performances or equipment loading or equipment unloading or, well, you get the idea. Sunday was the killer day. First of all, the cold. The weather forecasts were dead on--sub-zero temperatures, wind and snow. I dressed in my tux (no time to change) and headed for a rehearsal with a choral group here. Of course, it ran long, and 7 of us had to get to Nutcracker. We all made it, but it would have been nice to have a little down time inbetween. While there, I tried to start the equipment truck. It simply laughed at me. Well, not really--the thing was dead. The truck I'd need to clear out our equipment immediately after the ballet, and immediately before the choral concert 90 minutes later. The cold sucked out every bit of life from the battery. Fortunately, I'm a "go-with-the-flow" sort of guy. More on that in a minute. The choral concert went well (for my particular part, anyway), and I headed home. I was in bed and asleep by 9:00. Totally exhausted.

Monday morning found me at the local U-Haul to pick up a truck to move the equipment we'd left overnight. From 7:40-10:10 in the morning, I worked in the -11° cold, loading/unloading equipment, delivering other equipment, and working up a sweat. Honestly, it wasn't too terribly bad. I was dressed for it, and as long as I kept moving, it was fairly nice. Even the nose hairs freezing together wasn't so bad! It was worse when I got to work, where the thermostats broke down over the weekend. It was a whopping 58° at my desk. In my sweaty clothes. The hot shower when I got home was heaven on earth!

The cold seemed to perk up my Christmas spirits, as did a particular chat yesterday. I find myself in the mood! Not prepared, mind you, but in the mood! I'll have more to write about the things I thought about in the cold. But right now, I'm played out. And very glad that I don't have anything coming up soon!
Don't forget that this week is Christmas Tree HNT!! Click on the link at the top of my sidebar to get the details! Hope to be back soon!

TMI Tuesday #165 and a CD

1. What is the greatest age difference between between and a SO? Older or younger? - Have you noticed that no one ever sees the grammatical problems with these questions? Probably would be about 6 years younger.
2. What is the greatest age difference between between and any sexual partner? Older or younger? - I think I'm going to have to say between 18-20 years younger. Hmmm...might have some explaining to do on that one. Or not.
3. Have you started your holiday shopping? Is it done? - To which holiday are you referring? Doesn't make any difference. The answer would be the same, regardless...
4. What are the chances there will be a "naughty" present under the tree this year (either from you or for you)? - If there's going to be anything "naughty", it's going to be from me TO me. Unless some of you have something planned for my virtual Christmas tree! This would be a good time to mention the "Collection", wouldn't it? ;-)
5. What is your favorite holiday song? - It varies from day to day, but currently, it's "It Happened In Sun Valley". Not really a Christmas song, per se. Originally a minor hit for the Glenn Miller band in the 40s, I much prefer the version found on the South Park Christmas album. Rarely does a remake outdo the original, but in this case, the South Park guys really nailed this one! Except for the pukey sounds... Unfortunately, the song that I have found myself singing to myself at the most inopportune times is also from that album--"The Lonely Jew On Christmas".

Bonus (as in optional):Do you have a preferred time of day to have sex? If so, why? - I'm confused by this question. And did you mean with another person?
I was going to hold off on a CD recommendation tonight, as I should be in bed, but since I mentioned it above... It's the South Park Christmas album "Mr. Hankey's Christmas Classics". This is certainly not everyone's cup of eggnog. If you're a fan of South Park, then you're probably a fan of this album. If you think that SP is the crudest, most vile crap you've ever seen, then you'll probably think the same about the album. Not all of the songs are crude, but the ones that are make up for the others. If you haven't heard this album, and aren't afraid of explicit lyrics (on a Christmas album???), you might like some of this. It does help if you're a SP fan, though!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Cracking Nuts, Cold, Cords, Concerts, CD

It's Sunday morning, almost 10:00, and the temperature is -14°. Not too much of a breeze, but every little bit hurts. Good news is that the sun is shining in a gorgeous blue sky, with nary a cloud in sight. That means that it feels warmer. Honestly, I love winter days like this. But it's still frickin' cold!
First performance of the Nutcracker was last night. Not the best of performances from the orchestra's standpoint. Maybe it was fatigue from the rehearsal in the morning, or just a general lack of focus, but there were a couple of key entrances missed by one particular brass player, which frankly made the rest of us nervous after he missed the first one. Comes down to a matter of not knowing the music well enough to know when to come in. Anyway--we have another shot at it this afternoon. Hopefully he'll be prepared. (btw--I was, of course, damned near perfect!)
Today is a long day for me. Prior to the afternoon performance, six of us have a dress rehearsal for a different concert. It's only about 5 blocks away from the Nutcracker, so we'll be back in plenty of time. Then their concert is tonight and tomorrow night. Good thing I look good in a tux! Throw into the mix the Nutcracker tear-down. It was decided that, instead of loading the truck in the bitter cold (no sun, and it will be windy tonight), I'll do it by myself on Monday morning. Also keeps the percussion equipment out of the cold overnight. Anyone want to come help me?
To answer Vixen's question in the last post--the replacement cord has been ordered, but Mom has been kind enough to let me use hers in the meantime. Fortunately, she's not online as much as I am!
Have to mention my Grizzlies!! I missed the game, but got constant texts from a friend with the scores as they happened. The Griz went on the road to beat James Madison University and advance to the championship game of the FCS. It avenged their loss to JMU in the championship game of 2004. Now the Griz face the Richmond Spiders for all the marbles. In their only previous meeting, the Griz beat them in Missoula, 34-0 (or something similar).

If I hadn't run off to Indy last month, I'd seriously consider this for OsTour '08. The Griz play their game in Chattanooga, TN on Friday night. Carroll plays their championship game in Rome, GA on Saturday afternoon. The two games are only 75 miles apart!! Oh, well. The best seat for the game will still be in front of a TV screen.
I heard a stat last week during the Carroll game that, since 2000, two of the top three winningest football programs in ANY level of football are UM and Carroll College. Not a bad distinction!
Today's CD recommendation is "Christmas Eve and Other Stories" by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. I was totally blown away by this album when it came out in 1996. While there's a couple of gems (and a couple that aren't quite as sparkly), the star of this CD is "Christmas Eve/Sarajevo 12/24", a melding of "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" and "Carol of the Bells". You've probably seen the YouTube video with the Christmas lights in sync with the music (which has spawned numerous clones). The whole CD is a mix of strings, screaming guitar solos, and heavy-metal rhythm section. Think "Mannheim Steamroller meets Metallica". Sounds like an incompatible union, but TSO has spent the last decade performing their Christmas magic to sold-out houses across the country. In fact, there's actually TWO TSOs that make the rounds at Christmas. Sort of a TSO-East and a TSO-West. I know people who have seen them in concert, and from all reports, the concerts are superb.

While I was originally blown away by the album, I'm not quite as excited about it as I used to be. It's like everyone is in on the secret now, so it's not as "special" as it used to be. When it first came out, I was the manager of a local CD store here. It was like I'd heard this "Sarajevo" arrangement before, so I did some digging. Sure enough, a year before, in 1995, the heavy-metal band Savatage put out an album called "Dead Winter Dead", sort of a rock-opera about the recent war and other events in Yugoslavia. Not really something that would appeal to most headbangers, but one of the cuts was "Chrismas Eve/Sarajevo 12/24". Other cuts incorporated other classical composers, including Beethoven and Mozart. Who knew that a heavy metal band liked classical music?? Because of the moderate success of "Sarajevo", most of the members of Savatage spent the next year making TSO a side project to produce a Christmas album. The phenomenal success of that album cataputled TSO to the forefront, and Savatage sort of slipped into obscurity. I'm not even sure if they're still together as a band. But TSO continues on strongly!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Checking in

Just having an opportunity to check in, as I know you're all terribly concerned! Rehearsals haven't been too terribly bad. Some minor hassles, but certainly nothing to get worked up over. Tonight's dress rehearsal will be an open rehearsal (meaning there will be an audience). We don't normally do that, but those in charge worked out a deal with our two major sponsors of this concert to open it for them. Both of them work with some social charities in town, so they've invited them to come. We'll have over 800 underprivileged kids/families showing up for this! At first glance, that's thousands of dollars of free tickets going out. Though, in reality, a vast majority of them would not come if they had to buy a ticket, so we're doing a good thing. I think we're going to milk this for all it's worth!
Not looking forward to Sunday, however. The high for the day is forecast to be -4°F. That's the HIGH. Wind chills are possibly going to get to -50°. I am SO not looking forward to loading the equipment truck. Fortunately, I should have some help (I'm screwed if I don't). I have about 90 minutes from the end of Nutcracker to get to another performance. I have to have everything loaded by then. I'm not overly optimistic, but I think it can be done! If the truck starts...
Big disappointment about tonight's rehearsal--the Griz are playing their semi-final game against James Madison TONIGHT, not Saturday afternoon. I can't begin to tell you how bummed I am about that. The game is on ESPN2 tonight, so please watch and cheer for me! Texts with current scores will be greatly appreciated!
Still behind on surfing, and will probably not leave comments this week. Just no time. I'm glad to see that a few of you have mentioned the themes for the rest of the month. Go check out the details for each at the top of my sidebar!
Today's CD is really one of my favorites. I mentioned in a prior post that country Christmas music is really not something I like, but this is nothing like country music. With a somewhat limited selection of Christmas songs (really, how many different ones can YOU name?), I'm always on the lookout for different and original versions of the standards. And SHeDAISY has a winner here with "Brand New Year". These aren't your standard arrangements of songs, by any stretch of the imagination! And barely a country twang to be heard! Personal favorites include "Hark the Herald Angels Sing/Carol of the Bells", "Deck the Halls", and an original--"Santa's Got a Brand New Bag", which can be heard during the closing credits of "The Santa Clause 2". This is DEFINITELY in my top 5 for Christmas. Go buy it!
Sad news from California. Pin-up icon and early Playboy Playmate Bettie Page died yesterday. Her images were found all over as the sexual revolution of the 60s was ushered in. It's estimated that over 20,000 amateur pictures of her exist, doing the most mundane things. Bettie Page putting on stockings. Bettie Page walking the dog. Bettie Page sitting in a chair. But she always looked good doing it! A timeless beauty. You can check out her obituary here.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Nutcracker HNT

Might have known this would happen... My power cord has fried. I'll stay around as long as the battery lasts. Then I'll catch you from work. Grrr....
It's official. Not having computer access on Wednesday night really, really sucks. I'll get around to you as soon as I can...
As noted in the post below, things have been pretty busy these past few days. And things get busier in the next few days. So much so that I missed spending any time with S1 who flew into town for a few days. I got to see her for about 10 minutes on Saturday. Missed out on the family dinner on Sunday.

My blog surfing has suffered too, but that was anticipated. And as one commenter noted, it's all worth it. And for all my bitching, it really is, and I'm really in an element that I love. Though, for those keeping track, I might have injured myself again. I'm not sure. I felt a "snap" somewhere between my left wrist and the tip of my ring finger. Now it just feels stiff, but hurts if it's bent back some. Glad I'm right-handed!

With all the time spent with the symphony, I haven't had any real chance to take any half-nekkidness (not even in the church--sorry Evening!). I really hate recycling my HNTs, but I might be off the hook here. I don't believe that this particular picture has been an official HNT yet. Which isn't to say that it hasn't seen the light of day before. This is from quite a few years ago, at a "come-as-your-favorite-Christmas-character" Christmas party. Notice that no one else did...

I've never seen you looking so lovely
As you did tonight
I've never seen you shine so bright
I've never seen so many men
Ask you if you wanted to dance
They're looking for a little romance
Given half a chance
And I've never seen that dress you're wearing
Or that highlights in your hair
That catch your eyes
I have been blind

The lady in red
Is dancing with me
Cheek to cheek
There's nobody here
It's just you and me
It's where I wanna be
But I hardly know
This beauty by my side
I'll never forget
The way you look tonight
~~Lady in Red - Chris De Burgh

Sorry. It's almost tomorrow, and it's the first chance I've had back to reveal our lady in red. Many of you recognized her as Another Suburban Mom! Be sure to stop by and check out the cookie exchange on Friday!
A new wrinkle at "...the Other HNT" this week. The guys almost outnumber the girls. At least at the time that I'm typing this. Even a little bit of Christmas cheer over there, too! Be sure to stop by and leave comments. Yes, it's NSFW.
Be sure to check out the December themes over there at the top of the sidebar! The first one kicks in next week! The short description--I want to see your Christmas tree (along with your half-nekkidness). If you celebrate something other than Christmas, then whatever's appropriate! Click on the specific dates up above for more details! Suggestion: start thinking about the Three Wishes HNT now. It's not as easy as it sounds!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Long day yesterday...

Work on the Nutcracker is progressing, but not without the little hitches that make life so much more interesting. The "Messiah" performance went splendidly Sunday night. The audience was very appreciative--five minutes of standing ovation at the end. And whistling. In that church. That sounded odd to me. Anyway, we tore everything down and had the truck loaded in almost record time that night. I don't want to bore you with all the hitches, but so far, they've been relatively minor, and things are moving forward on schedule. The newest, and potentially ugliest, hitch will come on Sunday after the performance, when the temperature is expected to plummet near zero. I HATE loading the truck in the cold. At least it's not expected to snow....

Yesterday was spent unloading the truck (by myself), setting up the orchestra's chairs and stands (by myself), then heading to another location to set up for rehearsal (by myself), and then changing my mindset to that of musician. I hadn't been home all day, nor had I gotten a chance to eat. I got home shortly before 11 last night, but not before ordering a pizza. Oh, if they only offered that with the ibuprofen topping...
Today's CD is "Boney's Funky Christmas" by Boney James. Boney is a jazz sax player, but not one of the "biggies" (you'll never find a Kenny G CD in any collection of mine, but that's an entirely different rant). I'm not sure exactly why I like this album. Generally, jazz Christmas albums don't quite blow me away. This came out in 1996, and is full of the over-produced, synthesized instrumentation that was common for jazz of the day. Perhaps it's the simplicity of "Jingle Bells" that begins the CD--just sax and bongos. Maybe it's the good arrangement of "This Christmas", a song that has been done so badly by so many. Maybe it's the fact that BIL2 absolutely loves this album too, and he's one not easily impressed by anything that's not James Taylor. As a background CD for a Christmas party, this one works very well. Better than most. On my top 10 Christmas list? Probably not, but I like it.