Friday December 29, 2006
It’s that time. I’m about 10 minutes away from hitting the road and going on an extended Fiesta.
I want to wish all Bronco fans heading to Glendale a safe trip (myself included) and hope we have the best New Years one could wish for.
To everyone staying home, enjoy the game on Fox, New Years Day. 6:50 kick off. Keep your eyes peeled for me, I’ll be the schmuck in orange in section 421!
You’ll all hear from me when I return.
Happy new year and GO BRONCOS!
Thursday December 28, 2006
I was going to write a post about the first divorced Christmas and how it sucked. How I had no decorations. How the memories were flowing around. How it was tough to get Christmas cards from people wishing me a much better 2007 (and making me remember how shitty this year actually was).
But, I’m not going to.
Instead, I’m going to write about my Christmas, what I got, what I did and leave it at that. None of you are stupid. You all know or can imagine that a divorced Christmas is neither easy nor fun. So why dwell on it?
So here goes.
Christmas eve was nice. Jess and I went to my parents for dinner before mass. It was a low key sort of deal. Pork tenderloin, roasted potatoes, salad. I did have a couple beers and a glass or two of wine. Just to relax. Of course, once I got to mass, those “relaxing agents” tended to work against me.
It was rather warm in the church and we were there 40 minutes early. So, there was a lot of sitting and waiting. Combine the drinks with the warmth and the soft Christmas music playing and I was hard pressed to not fall asleep. The yawn machine was in full effect.
The actual service was really nice. For one, it wasn’t at midnight, so that was a plus. Not to mention, that it wasn’t the “childeren’s” service either, so there weren’t a ton of screaming kids. The priest who said mass is an old favorite of mine from when I went to church in college. He was assigned to the Vatican for a while but apparently is now back. He is the type of guy who will slap kids ‘five’ as he’s walking down the aisle. Plus, he is a great speaker. So, it was nice all the way around.
After church, Jess and I went to her parents house where her family was getting together for drinks. Ironically enough, her parents live exactly 1 block away from where I used to live when married. Needless to say, its not always easy to be in that neck of the woods, but once we were in the house I was ok. We sat around, shot the shit, and had some more booze. Eventually, we broke out the Pictionary and Jess and I proceeded to wipe the floor with the rest of them. The game only ended when Goldy (Jess’s lab) somehow escaped the yard and was found after a short search munching on the neighbors trash. It was almost midnight and so we called it a night.
We spent Christmas day with our respective families. My family didn’t start the festivities until 10:30, so I had plenty of time to make it to my parents house. I stopped at Starbucks for a peppermint mocha and took my sweet time getting over there. I always find it interesting to be out on the streets when they are so empty.
Once I got there, we had brunch and chatted. It was interesting that we have apparently all grown up enough that nobody was chomping at the bit to get to the goods. Zach, my nephew, is only 2 and a half, so he didn’t have the pull to get us going earlier. Besides, he had already opened presents at his house! Speaking of Zach, he is the airplane freak of the world. He has dozens and dozens of “ae-panes”. The most fun ones are the ones that make a tremendous racket. (Sarcasm there…) He spent the day playing with all his new ones. He is obsessed.
So, after a leisurely meal, we got the show on the road. Stockings first. A couple years ago, we decided to split the stocking duties amongst the group. Each person in the family chooses a category from a hat, and buys stuffers for everyone to fit that theme. Mine was ‘sports & games’, so I got travel board and card games, and Boise State basketball tickets for my sis’s family. I got the usual gadgets, movie tickets, candy, and beef stick… all the things I like.
Then, we got into the gifts, proper. I got the one thing I really wanted, which was a Kitchenaid stand mixer. I like to cook, and when I had access to one of these devices (in the previous life) I really liked it. So, that was what I wanted. I got one in black. It is really cool, and works like a champ. We broke it out to make the mashed potatoes for Christmas dinner!
I also got all the kitchenaid accouterments (scraper, bowl, wisk, etc.). I also got a original one of a kind painting from my sis the artist to go in my bedroom. Her fiancee made the frame for it. It is very cool. From my nephew, I got a Boise State 3′ x 5′ flag (the only BSU item I received, remarkably enough). The funniest gift I got was the “Holiday 5 Pack”… which if you haven’t seen the commercial is a 6 pack of Heineken wrapped up with one missing. Classic.
Spent the rest of the day eating, drinking and generally feeling exhausted. I did break up the day by whipping my sister at Othello (the board game) twice in a row. I demoralized her to the point where she was looking to play my other sister to redeem herself. So that was fun.
Dinner was amazing. Beef tenderloin which was cooked to perfection. Vast expanses of medium rare in the middle. Unbelievable. It was so juicy and tender, you could literally cut it with the fork.
By the time dinner was over, I was absolutely spent. Exhausted. Done. Kaput. I came home and hauled my loot up to my apartment. I will admit that it was a little tough coming home to an empty place on Christmas night. But, what can ya do?
That was my Christmas in a nutshell. Now, I’m just getting ready for my adventure to Phoenix and the Fiesta Bowl. Keep watching this space, for I will have a number of stories to tell upon my return Jan 2nd.
Happy New Year, everyone.
Friday December 22, 2006
Hi Everyone… just a reminder that today is the shortest day of the year. It’s all downhill from here! I’ve always felt you should celebrate strange days (like today). Maybe stay in and watch a movie. While on the summer solstice, you can go out golfing or something. I don’t know, I’m weird like that.
We’ve just gotten a decent snowfall here and there is a chance that some of it might still be around on Christmas. I can’t remember the last white Christmas we had. It’s so very exciting…
Also, today is my last day of work until the 3rd of January. Merry Christmas to me, indeed. Of course, I have to use my vacation days (really… if I don’t use vacation, I won’t be paid. Office is closed and no one is working). But either way, I’ll get to lay around in my underwear and watch bowl games all week. Until I leave for Phoenix and the Fiesta Bowl! More about that (obviously) coming later.
If I don’t post again before Christmas, let me wish everyone a safe and happy Christmas one last time!
Tuesday December 19, 2006
Arguably the most famous line from any Christmas movie and bane of bb gun desirers (is that a word?) everywhere.
Since I already did my Christmas music list, I figured I might as well let you all in on my favorite Christmas movies as well. You’ll notice a certain lack of true holiday ‘classics’… because frankly, I don’t enjoy a lot of those movies. Well, that might be a little strong… they’re ok, but they simply don’t break into the top 10 in my list.
Again, as with the songs, these are in no particular order.
A Christmas Story – 1983
Except for this one. This one is first for a reason… it is by far and away my all time favorite Christmas movie. Actually, this one probably falls into my pure ‘favorite movies’ list as well. Nothing I have ever seen so perfectly captures what it is like to be a kid at Christmas. There is a reason that TNT does its “24 Hours of A Christmas Story” every year. I have been known to watch more than one of those showings consecutively. I’m sure I need not describe the movie. You have all seen it by now. And if you haven’t, or even worse, you didn’t like it, I’m sorry. Just leave now and never talk to me again.
There is one interesting aspect to this movie that I have noticed. Obviously, I have been watching this movie since I was 10 years old. Every year. I remember identifying so strongly with Ralphie as a kid. Knowing what you want and trying to figure out ways to make that happen… then the unbridled joy when it does. But, over the past few years, I now identify more and more with the Old Man. Throughout the whole movie, Darren McGavin is so perfect. The scene when he gives Ralphie the bb gun I now view through different eyes. I love to see the dad’s face when he gives that gift. I get excited for the dad, not the son now! Damn, I’m getting old…
Die Hard – 1988
Yes, this is my kind of Christmas movie. John McClane vs. the terrorists on Christmas eve. I don’t know if I’ve seen a movie with better, more quotable lines in it.
I do know this movie line for line and am probably not very fun to watch it with. (Am I, Jess?) I’ll just point you to all of the quotes… if I tried to list them we’d be here all day.
This movie did set the tone for action movies for years to come… everything was “Die Hard on an airplane” or “Die Hard on a ship” etc. Another one in my all time top 10 favorite movies.
Scrooged – 1988
’88 was a good year for Christmas movies. “Scrooged” is a modern retelling of the classic Dickens tale A Christmas Carol. Bill Murray plays an evil television exec, Frank Cross, who is in the Ebenezer role. Captain of industry, but a complete bastard.
We’ve got wise cracks from Murray. We’ve got time travel with the ghosts, who are all very funny, especially Carol Kane as the corporal-punishing Ghost of Christmas Present. And we still get the feel good story woven in there too.
That final scene when Frank Cross interrupts the live broadcast on Christmas eve with his “I get it” speech is awesome. For a movie that is a pure comedy, it still manages to deliver on the ‘Christmas Spirit’ angle as well. I love this movie.
Trading Places – 1983
Apparently, ’83 was a good year too. This movie is from those years when Eddie Murphy really had his fastball. He was officially the funniest guy in America. This rags to riches and riches to rags story is also chocked full of very quotable lines (isn’t that right, Jason?) for years I have spent an inordinate amount of time quoting this movie. As it stands, this movie’s lines still make it into my everyday speech even without my recognizing that this is where they came from. John, I know you’re with me on this one. “It ain’t cool bein no jive-turkey so close to Thanksgivin… Yeah!”
But its not just the quotes that are so good. The whole movie is terrific. Not to mention, you get a couple bare boob shots including those of Jamie Lee Curtis. I think comedies in the 80′s were required to show breasts. It was a golden age in movie making…
Lethal Weapon – 1987
This movie turned Mel Gibson into a superstar and defined action-comdey buddy flicks for the next 15 years. Mel plays Martin Riggs, a suicidal detective who is depressed over his wife’s death. Danny Glover is his soon-to-be retiring new partner. Oil and water. The holidays are tough for Riggs as they get mixed up in a drug smuggling ring of ex-commandos. Things are tough for Glover as well who has to put up with Riggs, as well as get his daughter back from the gang that kidnapped her. And, as Mel has shown us recently, he does crazy in is every day life just as well as he does it on screen. A bit of a bonus there.
Interesting side note, this movie was directed by Richard Donner, whose very next movie would be “Scrooged”. The only director with 2 flicks on this list. Plus, his last name is the name of a reindeer!
An iconic 80′s action (and Christmas) movie all the way around.
Elf – 2003
A newer movie for this list. Will Ferrell plays Buddy the Elf, a human who was raised in the North Pole by Santa and his elves. Eventually, he is just too damn big and they send him off to find his real dad, James Caan, in New York City.
I love Will Ferrell. In this movie he plays Buddy with almost childlike abandon. He really does seem to capture that general vibe you get from kids who have too much sugar in their system and are all hyped up for Christmas. Caan is the perfect crusty old man which is a staple role in family holiday movies. I like how this movie doesn’t cheat us by having Caan’s character turning overnight into the over the top sappy guy. Instead, some of his ice is melted and he comes out of the shell a little bit, but he is still the same guy. Very well done.
“Buddy the elf… what’s your favorite color?”
How The Grinch Stole Christmas – 1966
I know, this was made for tv. I know its only 30 minutes long (22 if you cut the commercials). But I’m putting it on this list. (However, I’m still pretending that that Jim Carrey abortion “The Grinch” never happened)
When I was a kid, if you got to watch a cartoon in prime time, that was a BIG deal. We had 4 channels. You saw cartoons after school and on Saturday mornings. That’s it. But this was one shown at night. One that your parents would watch with you! When it made its yearly appearance, it was an event. Much like the Charlie Brown Christmas special or Rudolph.
Plus, it was Dr. Seuss… who to us kids was like a god. A good rule of thumb is to not trust anyone who didn’t like Dr. Seuss growing up. They’re just not right.
Plus, it was narrated by Boris Karloff for chrissake! How cool is that?
Love Actually – 2003
A surprise entry on this list, if I do say so myself. But, I figure I better have a film on here for the ladies.
This movie follows the loosely interconnected lives of 8 couples in London the month before Christmas. Some happy. Some, not so much. An amazingly star studded cast, it is practically a whose who for English actors. I’m pleased to point out that this makes Alan Rickman’s second appearance on this list (he was Hans Gruber in Die Hard).
The only thing I didn’t care for was shot taken at the US by portraying the President (Billy Bob Thornton) as a philandering ass-bag, just so the Prime Minister (Hugh Grant) could look like a independent hero when he says ‘no’ to the US.
But none the less, still an enjoyable holiday movie, and definitely one you can watch with your women, guys. It is sure to score you some extra points with the old lady that you can use this time of year! (Pssst… guys, there is a little gratuitous nudity in this one too)
National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation – 1989
Of course, no list would be complete without this movie. I will admit, however, that for years I resisted this movie. It just seemed that everyone loved this movie to the point that it turned me off. I think it might have had something to do with my feelings towards the people I knew who loved it more than anything. Disliking the movie out of spite.
But, in the past few years, I have re-discovered my enjoyment for this movie. Who can’t love the intrepid Clark Griswold who all he wants to do is have the best damn Christmas ever. And much like what happened on his cross-country journey to Wally World, things just don’t work out as planned.
And really, this movie has the best holiday blow-up ever captured on screen. Clark Explodes Listen to it here. “Clark, that’s the gift that keeps on giving the whole year…”
No to mention that this movie has given us a new term to describe that house on your block with the 25,000 imported italian twinkle lights… “Griswold-ian”
Well, there you have it. The short list of movies that I watch every year. I know, some of you will be appalled at what I’ve left off my list. Feel free to drop me a comment and lobby for your favorites. Who knows, maybe you can convince me to see them through new eyes and gain a new appreciation for them. Be it “Miracle on 34th St.” or “The Santa Clause” (which was actually pretty good, but has been killed by horrible looking sequels, that I refuse to see).
I’m interested to hear you opinions!
Merry Christmas everyone. Now, go watch a movie tonight!
Monday December 18, 2006
If you’re visiting here for the first time, Welcome! I hope you enjoy what you read and visit back occasionally! Feel free to drop a comment and say ‘hi’!
Also, thanks to everyone who liked my card. I love playing with Photoshop, and with Christmas cards it gives me a reason to show the world my abilities!
Thursday December 14, 2006
It is obviously that time of year again… Anyone who knows me knows I love Christmas music. I’ve got gigs and gigs of mp3′s and I pretty much play them constantly from the day after Thanksgiving until New Years.
Here are, in no particular order, some of my favorite Christmas selections. You may not be familiar with all of the songs and/or versions I’m speaking about, but they would be worth looking up.
Without further ado…
Sleigh Ride – Boston Pops
Probably my all time favorite Christmas song. This particular version (the symphonic with no lyrics to screw it up) is just so festive I get excited every time I hear it. I’ve been on one sleigh ride in my life, and yes, I did hear this song in my head during.
Jingle Bells – 2 Versions
First version is the Bing Crosby & the Andrews Sisters. Very upbeat, you can help but tap your toe. It’s great when the sisters break in with “jingle bells… ji-jingle bells… jingle alll the way-ay…” Also, this song appeared in ‘A Christmas Story’ so could be a reason I like it too. The other version is Frank Sinatra’s blusey slower version. Begins with the background singers, “I love those j-i-n-g-l-e bells… whoa… those holiday j-i-n-g-l-e bells…” Very smooth. It is pretty much the opposite of Bing’s. But no less terrific.
I’ll Be Home For Christmas – Bing Crosby
This song almost brings a tear to my eye, especially with Bing singing it. Being a WWII buff, when I hear this song I picture a lonely GI, stationed in the middle of the south pacific somewhere on Christmas. Sweltering in the sun… “Please have snow and mistletoe“. He’ll be home for Christmas, if only in his dreams. Heartbreaking.
White Christmas – Bing Crosby
Keeping with the Bing Crosby theme, you can’t ignore this classic. I just recently saw the movie, but have loved this song my whole life. Every year I hope and pray for a white Christmas, but it seldom happens around here anymore.
It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas – Bing Crosby
Ok, one last Bingo song. It’s about all the prep that people do when leading up to Christmas. I love seeing lights and decorations and the like. Makes me happy. Some day I want to go to New York City during the Christmas season and soak in that atmosphere. I also have a habit of singing that song to myself any time it starts snowing… even if its March. *shrug*
Holly Jolly Christmas – Burl Ives
You cannot have a Christmas song list with out Burl Ives on it. Plus, this was always one of my favorite songs to sing in elementary school, when they teach you all the lyrics to Christmas songs.
Let It Snow – Dean Martin
I love the song, because I’m one of those people who when it starts to snow, I hope it never stops. I don’t even ski or do anything in the snow, I just love it. Snow changes everything. Plus, I love Dino and this song was use for the end credits of Die Hard.
The Christmas Song – Nat King Cole
This song (Chestnuts roasting on an open fire…) is just an all around tremendous song. Written by Mel Torme but perfected by Nat King Cole. The don’t make songs like this any more. Makes you feel warm inside when you hear it.
(There’s No Place Like) Home For The Holidays – Perry Como
There is no truer statement than that. There IS no place like home for the holidays. No matter how far you have to travel to get there. Not many songs out there dealing with the travel aspect of the holiday. “I met a man who lives in Tennessee he was headed for Pennsylvania and some homemade pumpkin pie“. Everyone is going in different directions but all for the same reasons. Terrific.
O Tannenbaum – Vince Guaraldi Trio
You know the song, but the artist might not ring a bell. It will if I tell you, “A Charlie Brown Christmas”. This is the group that did all the music for that special, including the song “Christmas Time Is Here” which is also good. It starts very traditional with just a piano, but when the snare and the bass come in and it downshifts into smooth jazz territory. It is the kind of song I want to be somewhere sitting with a mixed drink in a comfy chair listening to.
Sugar Rum Cherry (Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy) – Duke Ellington
Keeping with the jazz theme, this is one of the coolest songs ever. I highly recommend finding a copy. It’s from a disc called “Jingle Bell Jazz”. Takes the old Tchaikovsky classic and puts a slow groove to it. Bongo drums, muted horns, light cymbals. Just very very nice. Bob your head.
Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas – Lou Rawls
From jazz to soul. This version of the song is the one I want to hear. Rawls has a terrific voice and it is so smooth you could wrap this song up and wear it as a coat. Another ‘mixed drink, comfy chair’ song. “From now on our troubles will be miles away” is a great line. I visualize a dark room with the tree blinking on Christmas night. Relaxing with the people you most love. “through the years we all will be together, if the fates allow.” and I hope they do.
Good King Wenceslas – Glenn Miller Orchestra
From jazz, to soul to swing. This is one of the few versions of this song that I enjoy, and I really enjoy it a lot. From a 2 disc set called “In The Christmas Mood”. I do love big band music and this fall right in line with that. It starts with some saxophones playing the main tune. I wish I knew more about music to know what it was called how they are playing, but that first 30 seconds is my favorite part. I will listen to it over and over.
What Christmas Means to Me – Stevie Wonder
I really like this song, but most versions of it are done by pop singers I don’t really care for. This particular version, however, comes from the early 70′s when Stevie Wonder was the biggest thing since sliced bread. He has an awesome voice. Comes from a disc called “Motown Christmas” with a lot of Jackson 5, Smokey Robinson, Diana Ross and the Temptations. Stevie also sings “Ave Maria” which amazing.
Adeste Fideles – Various
I just love this song, especially when its done by an opera tenor or something. This is my favorite ‘church’ Christmas song. I remember being a kid and sitting in Midnight Mass for an hour before it started (had to get there early to get a seat) and with nothing else to do, I sat there and memorized the latin lyrics, which is basically just a verse to “O Come All Ye Faithful”. Granted, it wasn’t exactly taxing, but it gave me something to do that didn’t get Kim and I in trouble. That song has stuck with me ever since.
Eric Cartman Sings
I am a big South Park fan. Eric Cartman is one of the ‘kids’ on that show and just his voice makes me laugh. So, on the South Park Christmas album from a few years ago, he belts out a couple songs. The first one is “O Holy Night” which is just perfect. “It is the night with the Christmas trees and pie” as Eric tells us. “Jesus was born and so I get presents“. Classic. From the same album is “Swiss Colony Beef Log“, which is about the ubiquitous gift baskets people give for the holidays. See, Eric’s neighbors always get his family a beef log, but their out of town this year. So, no beef log. But, in the end, Grandma comes through. Way to go grandma!
The 12 Pains of Christmas – Bob Rivers
Another comedy song that I have loved for a long time. It is not Christmas until you hear this song, at least in my book. I think it is so great because it is the flip side of all the Christmas joy and details everything that can make you crazy this time of year. From wrestling with Christmas lights to entertaining creepy in-laws. Its all in there. “Now why in the hell are they blinking!?”
Must Have Been Ol’ Santa Claus – Harry Connick Jr.
I like Harry. He has a great voice and the New Orleans vibe of this song is awesome. Another of those songs you can help but move your body to when you hear. Plus, the story of the song is just fun. A kid gets a ride with Santa. “It must have been ol’ Santa, cause I saw his big red hat and I know my mom and dad can’t fly like that.” You can’t have a song list without some fantasy like that in there. Every kid wants that opportunity. I know I did.
Please Come Home For Christmas – Bon Jovi
Some times known as “Bells will be Ringing”, this is a song about being alone on Christmas. His baby’s gone and he has no friends. Sometimes you just like to have a good slow depressing song. This is the one. Occasionally you don’t want the happy kid friendly songs… you want an adult song of woe. I know I do.
All I Want For Christmas Is You – Mariah Carrey
Yes. I have Mariah Carrey on my list. I’m not normally a fan, but she does such a great job with this song I can’t help but like it. Plus, it’s a little more modern than a lot of my songs and it shows up in a lot of movies and other pop culture places. Kinda like the polar opposite of the last song. Relationships are part of Christmas and this is a great way to express those feelings.
Baby, It’s Cold Outside – Various
I’m not sure if I have a favorite version of this song. It has been done so many times so well, that a lot of them are great. Everyone from Dean Martin to Vanessa Williams. I even have a great version with Ella Fitzgerald and Louie Armstrong. This song was also part of my favorite scene in the movie Elf. What I love about this song is that we have all been in that situation. You’re with someone and you KNOW you should leave, but by god you don’t want to. She is trying to convince herself to leave, worried about her parents and the neighbors but just can’t come up with a good enough reason to brave the cold. I just get a great mental picture of the scene when I listen to this song. Of course, it really has nothing at all to do with Christmas, but then again, a lot of so called ‘Christmas Songs’ don’t.
I could probably go on and on, but I’m going to wrap this up. I only have one Frank Sinatra song on this list, but I love his Christmas stuff (“Silver Bells“, “A Christmas Waltz“, “Mistletoe and Holly“). Quick list of stuff I left off… “Let it Snow” by Boyz II Men, “Jingle Bell Rock” by Bobby Helms or Randy Travis, “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” by Brenda Lee, “What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve” by Diana Krall, “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters.
Bottom line, I love Christmas music. Leave me a comment of your favorite songs. Especially if they’re something I might not have heard before. I would love to expand my collection!
Merry Christmas Everyone!
Well, right now as a matter of fact.
Apparently, metal prices have soared in recent months. This has caused the raw metals in those coins in your pocket more valuable than the face value of the coins themselves.
The metal value of a penny is now at 1.12 cents, while a nickel is valued at a whopping 6.99 cents. An amazing turn of events, I think.
Before you entrepreneurs out there start getting any ideas out there, you should probably be made aware of this. The government has already stepped in to outlaw the melting down of currency for the express purpose of selling the raw materials. We’re not talking about a slap on the wrist either. Five years in the hole and $10,000 fine.
Of course, I’m wondering how they would know? I’m no metallurgist or anything, but once something is melted, doesn’t it lose all resemblance to what it was before? I don’t have a metal smelter in my apartment to test this theory out, but I would think if you melted a penny and say, shaped it into a small duck shape or something, could you tell it was once a penny? Say, you have a few solid bars of copper and zinc. You take them to you local neighborhood raw metal dealer (?) to sell them, are they going to say, “I think these used to be COINS! Call the feds!”?
I guess this is a case of laws only stop the honest criminals…
Sunday December 10, 2006
Friday December 8, 2006
It’s Christmas time again, and I’m back in an apartment. Due to the fact that I have rather limited amounts of space available in my place, I decided to put up a stylistic Christmas tree.
Yeah, it ain’t fancy, but it gives me the Christmas light glow that I wanted. I don’t have any presents to put under it anyway, so there you go.
It’s official. I’ve got the best dad in the world.
In order to procure his son (and son’s friend) tickets to the much anticipated Fiesta bowl, said father waited in line for over four hours at the athletic ticket office. Not exactly the excitement capital of the world.
If you think the son is not eternally indebted to him, you’d be crazy.
Also, a big thanks also goes out to Bob, who waited in line with dad in order to get the much needed third ticket to the game.
True American Heroes, right there.