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Christmas Hangover

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I’ve been enjoying a mostly unplanned post-Christmas hiatus, after distractions, spontaneous napping, and (gods help me) post-holiday shopping got the better of me–yep, I increased my annual number of mall visits by 33% with a two hour dive back into the fray on Dec. 26th–and got a new pair of shoes for $40. (this has become a confessional blog, I guess).

I’ll resume with the usual, fitful volume of blather on January 1.  In the mean time, I’m left to look at the season in retrospect and I must admit the whole damned thing has a bit of a glimmer to it.  It was an odd year, with a late Thanksgiving that shortened the gap between the two holiday season pillars, but while the season blew by me, things went pretty well–from Thanksgiving through the storm of late-season parties–five in a span of two weeks, with New Years still to go.

We had a very nice Christmas, a little smaller than usual, but considerably less hectic.  Loved ones from North Carolina braved the wintry north to visit the weekend before Christmas, and somehow brought a breath of the south with them: it was 72 degrees on the 18th, a respite between a pair of cold, snowy snaps with temperatures in the teens.  That worked out pretty nicely, actually–we had the doors open wide for our Christmas Party on the 18th, got a lot of spirit-building white scenery before, and hey–a white Christmas after the meteorologists swore we’d see only green.  It was just like the eponymous Bing Crosby movie–White Christmas magic, pa rum pa pum pum.

And who doesn’t like a White Christmas?

My brother-in-law Bill, actually, who delivered his family to us from all the way up in Poughkeepsie (which actually is a real place; as a child I thought it was a made up town that people–like traveling ventriloquists and old school burlesque dancers, and maybe aluminum siding salesmen and Fuller Brush men–made up as an expression to show how far off the beaten track their dismal lives had taken them with a river and a bridge and…everything you ever dreamed a town called Poughkeepsie could have) with all the expected grumbling about the weather.  With Bill came two fantastic, all-grown-up nieces, Emily and Eileen, a super-cool nephew Tim, and his fiancee, Sarah.  Sarah turned out to be cool and fun–a big relief, even though the initial intelligence reports on her had been favorable.  You never know what you’re going to get, when there’s addition by marriage, (My wife’s family is still lamenting my arrival.) but it certainly appears that Sarah is a keeper.

We sat around, ate, talked, ate, drank, ate, talked some more, ate, drank, looked at pictures, and ate some more.  As holidays go, it was pretty close to perfect.  It felt too short–that’s how you know it’s a good holiday, when everyone isn’t eager to part.  Although, now that I think about it, the New Yorkers did seem to have some awfully vague explanations for the obligations that required them to leave on the 26th.

We’ve had some other activities and obligations–mostly fun stuff, but a little work here and there–so I’ve decided to reel in the blog thing for just a few days, since I’m ahead of my post-per-day forced march quota, thanks to all those cheap entries (photos, reblogs, and blurbs about Christmas records–who do I think I’m kidding?  I mean: jeez-oh-man.)

So, I’ll be back with the blinders on bright and early January 2–no damned way I’m doing a “resolutions” post, though–unless I do, which is quite possible now that I think about it.

I have been saving up some poetry (that got your pulse going, eh?) and other crap that isn’t hokey Christmas-related, and I’ve got some other new themes in store–and maybe I’ll even indulge a certain reader with a recipe here and there, though I’ll be damned if I’ll hand out the recipe for The Seventeen Pound Lasagna (which actually weighed 19 pounds, more or less)…but nice try asking.  I will give up this much: what you’re tasting is in your kitchen right now; there are no ingredients you cannot find in a typical rural low-volume grocery store.

So, that’s that.  Maybe I’ll post in the next few days, probably I won’t. Either way, have yourself a Merry New Years.  Throw one down for me.

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Some Woman Says She’s Gay–Bully For Her, But…?

I just noticed that Robin Roberts “came out” as gay, garnering congratulations from Ellen DeGeneres, Michelle Obama, and numerous other luminaries.  Those who know me, and those who follow this blog, have probably figured out that sexual preference-based bigotry is a subject that really sticks in my craw–as hate goes, it’s both lame and lazy: picking on people for whom they love.  She has my congratulations!

So, that leaves only one question: WHO THE HELL IS ROBIN ROBERTS?  If I have to google her, is she really a celebrity of such monumental height that her sexual preference deserves a prominent place in my news aggregator?  (She’s apparently the star of some TV show called “Gma”–is that a turkish word?  Onomatopoeia?  Maybe I should get more than channels 2-13 on the magic box?)

It occurs to me that our age is one in which we have more celebrities than regular folks, and I don’t know who any of them is.  Except Jennifer Aniston–I read about her in line at the grocery store all of the time–she’s getting pregnant all the time and has been for years, and must have a dozen kids by now.

http://www.eonline.com/news/494582/michelle-obama-ellen-degeneres-congratulate-robin-roberts-for-coming-out-as-gay

Got to go.  Those damned kids are playing in my compost pile again.

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Jimmy Stewart museum rebounds from adversity

It’s a great little museum…come visit.

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The Party Is Over

Santa works hard.  Santa plays hard.  Santa is The Man.328879565_ec36aa6c04

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Message From The Chinese Restaurant Assoc. of The U.S.

I suppose this is racist, and I’m a bad man for posting it, but I’m hoping everyone who sees it will have as much of a sense of humor about themselves as I do.  (I’m ridiculous, by the way, and totally worthy of a humiliating viral image.)  If this isn’t viral, it should be.

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Like Father, Like Son…

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These guys are related to me.

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Merry Christmas To You

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This has been my first full season of really active blogging–if a post per day even qualifies as active, and I’ve been pleasantly surprised with the satisfaction and encouragement I’ve gained from what, at first glance, probably seems like a fairly small circuit of interaction.  I’ve had a blast reading other folks’ blogs, though I haven’t had as much time as I would like to do justice to the tremendous volume of work generated just by the folks who have liked and followed my pages.  I’ll do better, I promise.

I’ve written as a hobby for as long as I can remember, and this blog is part of a concentrated effort to finish a novel (almost!) and maybe even make a buck off the damned thing.  I’ve tasked the blog with just helping me to think of myself as a writer rather than just a guy who writes when he finds the time.  So far, so good.

Thanks for that.  I’m especially appreciative of the few of you who read and “like” almost every post I throw up here–you guys rock, just like Santa, but I wanted to just take a moment to say “Merry Christmas” to everyone who finds this message.  I’ve having a blast.  Thanks.

Charles

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My Favorite Christmas Recordings #1 Steve Lawrence & Eydie Gorme: That Holiday Feeling

Bitter, cynical, and borderline misanthropic for most of the year, I reform for the holiday season and from mid-November to the last minute of Epiphany I’m all about the season.  Readers of Old Road Apples will find themselves under a constant barrage of holiday fare this season–from themed essays to book reviews to a countdown of my very favorite Christmas recordings.

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Here it is, Steve & Eydie standing tall at Number One!  Unexpected?  Maybe.  They would certainly be a dark horse on most people’s lists, but I’m not most people, and I’ve loved these guys since I was a little kid.  Remember those old promo anthologies I was talking about at the bottom of this countdown?  Steve and Eydie featured prominently in many of them, and those songs still resonate with me today.  I had a hell of a time finding it, in fact–the “new price” for this on Amazon is $42.95, which is robbery.  I bought mine for $24.95 from the artists’ web site and never looked back.

The title track is the first Christmas song I listen to each year, by tradition, because I’ve got that holiday feeling, of course.  The snappy little pop jazz duet is the perfect starting gun for the season, the cover of “Baby It’s Cold Outside” is easily as good as Dean Martin’s version, and “Hurry Home For Christmas” just dares you not to sing along–then sing again in the shower, on the stairs, in the car….

Some of the tracks have a big band sound more like the music of the 40’s, some of it like late 50’s Swing–it fits in with my favorite Christmas music milieu.  With huge bonus points for “Sleigh Ride”–the merriest song of the season.  I wish my friends and I had half as much fun as the whoopin’ and hollerin’ on that sleigh ride–and with those whoops and whipcracks at the end of the song, I turned to my wife yesterday morning and said “Is it just me, or does that sound like Steve’s giving Eydie a little spankin’?”

“I know!” She said.  “I just thought the same thing!”  We busted a gut.  You should too.

1. That Holiday Feeling
2. White Christmas
3. Winter Wonderland
4. The Christmas Song
5. Baby It’s Cold Outside
6. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
7. Santa Claus Is Coming to Town
8. Sleigh Ride
9. Let Me Be the First to Wish You Merry Christmas
10. Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!
11. What Are You Doing New Years Eve
12. Hurry Home for Christmas
13. That Ol’ Christmas Spirit
14. Happy Holiday
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My Favorite Christmas Recordings #2 The Carpenters: Christmas Collection

Bitter, cynical, and borderline misanthropic for most of the year, I reform for the holiday season and from mid-November to the last minute of Epiphany I’m all about the season.  Readers of Old Road Apples will find themselves under a constant barrage of holiday fare this season–from themed essays to book reviews to a countdown of my very favorite Christmas recordings.

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So, this isn’t a perfect album–it’s a wildly self-indulgent attempt by Richard Carpenter to create a sort of Christmas Magnum Opus, a collection of songs that range from orchestral to pop.  Much of it is brilliant, a bit of it isn’t–but all of it features the incredible, heart-breaking voice of Karen Carpenter.  And let’s be a little honest here.  I grew up on new wave and punk rock, but I am utterly and unapologetically in love with the tragic Karen Carpenter.  I’m two steps removed from fantasies of traveling back in time to try and save her from herself–two small steps.

The centerpiece of this record is “Merry Christmas Darling,” and that’s sort of like saying the centerpiece of the solar system is the sun.  It matters.  A lot.  In my mind, it’s the perfect Christmas song–romantic, sentimental, nostalgic, and a little sad.  Combined with Karen’s honeyed voice, it’s a mind blowing creation.  Pop music perfection.

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My Favorite Christmas Recordings #3 Ella Fitzgerald: Ella Wishes You a Swinging Christmas

Bitter, cynical, and borderline misanthropic for most of the year, I reform for the holiday season and from mid-November to the last minute of Epiphany I’m all about the season.  Readers of Old Road Apples will find themselves under a constant barrage of holiday fare this season–from themed essays to book reviews to a countdown of my very favorite Christmas recordings.

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So, it’s Christmas Day, I’m busy with family stuff, and I’ve still got 3 album entries and the second part of “Christmas Traditions” to write and post–go ahead and call fumble, I’ve clearly dropped the ball.

If there is a singular voice of Christmas in our home, it is Ella Fitzgerald–what can I say about this legendary singer that hasn’t been said before, and by people who actually know what they’re talking about.  She’s slick, she’s deep, but still accessible in the way the very best of these holiday records must be.  Literally, I’m short of words, and there’s no hyperbole that can tell you how rarely that happens.  It’s just a perfect album, everything you want, and like several others it could (and almost was) the number one choice on this list, falling short only on sentimental value–the two records ahead of it simply evoke more memories and traditions.  No Christmas collection should be without it.

Ella