Saturday, December 26, 2009

My Favorite Carol

When I was growing up, there was one Christmas album that was a favorite of the entire family: "Tennessee" Ernie Ford's The Star Carol. The production may seem a bit overblown to twenty-first century ears - a full orchestra, large choir and the rich tone of Ford's powerful bass voice - but you can hear the vastness of the soundstage where the music was performed and the thrill of live performance in the recording studio (no overdubs here, baby!).

The record (which is no longer in print as a compact disc - but available for purchase as a download) features three carols composed by Alfred S. Burt and Wilha Hutson. Burt was a little-known jazz musician (and Michgan native, I will note proudly) who died in 1954 at the age of 33; Hutson was the organist at the Burt family's church. My favorite of these has always been Some Children See Him, a carol which speaks of Christ's appeal to people everywhere - and how love can transcend all the things that separate people. [Sure, that's just my interpretation - but I'll stand by it.]

I have combined my love for the song with a long-standing desire to diagram the lyrics of a song (ever since Capt. Dumbass posted this). I have included a couple of snippets from the song in my audio post - so be sure to have a listen. I hope you enjoy it.

[Click on the picture to enlarge.]

Happy Boxing Day!

Take care.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Velveteen Tree

There was once a "velveteen" tree, and in the beginning - though it was a nice tree, with a sturdy trunk of wood, textured to appear like the bark of a real tree, and branches that would fold up if the tree was inverted or laid on its side - it didn't seem like anything special. The man and the woman that bought the tree thought they were being practical. Real trees were getting more and more expensive - and it was such a bother to deal with fallen evergreen needles or worry about the dry branches catching fire some night while the couple was not at home. Besides, it seemed a waste to buy a tree that had, until recently, been a living thing - and then slowly watch it die.

So they bought a "fake" tree; but nearly everyone who saw the tree - its branches draped with lights and garland, hung with ornaments and candy canes, and topped with a beautiful angel - thought that it was real. The couple agreed that it was a fine tree - but it was not real to them. For a while, the "velveteen" tree was only used for those Christmases when the couple would be traveling out of town during the holidays. If they planned to be home for Christmas, they would buy a real tree - and the "velveteen" tree would remain another long year alone in its box, stuck in the basement or the garage. After a few years, the couple stopped buying real trees altogether and the "velveteen" tree was used exclusively. As time passed, those who saw the tree continued to remark about how real it appeared.

The couple had a daughter and then a son. As the years came and went, the children began to hang their expectations on the tree, like so many pieces of glittering tinsel - and often found their wishes fulfilled by the boxes and bags found underneath its branches on Christmas morning. The tree was ever-present in the family's holiday rituals: decorating, photos for the Christmas card, opening gifts. Where once only mother and father could hang ornaments on the highest branches or place the angel on top of the tree, now the boy could reach those spots most easily.

And so, after many years, the "velveteen" tree became real - rooted by the hopes and dreams of the children, watered by the patient care and affection of the mother. The tree was like a part of the family each Christmas - although no one had spoken a word about it. The father didn't seem to notice what had happened. In a way, it was strange that the news would be so tardy in coming to him; for he often spent time alone with the tree, late at night when everyone else was asleep, putting gifts in place, a hymn playing quietly, the only light in the room twinkling from the tiny colored bulbs on its branches.

But on one particular night, as he sat alone and looked at the tree, he realized it was true. There was no longer anything "fake" about the tree. It was a real and faithful friend - a part of Christmas that he could count on, that wouldn't let him down. Each branch was hung with ornaments of memory, not just glass or metal or wood - memories of his in-laws, his goddaughter, his children. Each string of lights or strand of garland was a cord that helped to bind together his family and friends, with a bond of shared experience, expectation and love. He remembered again that everyone, in large measure, decides what is real for themselves - so why not decide that life is really...good.

Christmas comes whether or not we are ready for it.
Get real - and don't let it pass you by.

Take care.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

In support and thanks

While getting ready to have dinner with friends, I saw a news blurb at Yahoo.

Then I sent this email to Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska:

Senator Nelson:

If recent news reports are correct, your decision to support the health care legislation currently before the Senate will clear the way for its passage. While neither of us may view the bill as a perfect piece of legislation, I believe that it will help many Americans and be, on the whole, a step forward in making care available for everyone in this country. I am sure that you will receive much correspondence in the wake of this decision, both positive and negative. I hope that, whatever the reaction, you will remain firm in your decision.

It is often difficult to know what is "the best thing to do" - but I think it is clear that something must be done. Thank you for having the courage to help ensure that something will be done.
Take care.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Blogging Blackmail

So while cleaning up stuff I leave lying around the house recently, my old lady my lovely wife, the Middle-Aged Woman, came across an antique Father's Day card that the Boy (at the time of the card's creation not yet twelve years old) made for me.

Ah, yes! There's nothing quite like the lechery of an eleven-year-old...

I find the old card on my desk the other morning - where she's left it to pique my interest. And when she sees me, the first words out of her mouth are:

"So, did you see that Father's Day card I found? 'Cause if you're not going to blog about it, I AM."

[Don't worry - if you click on the picture, you can see it nice and big.]

Right - like she doesn't have enough time and material to blog about her own stuff without ripping me off!

So I promised myself that I wouldn't do any blogging until all my employees year-end reviews are done (which they are not). But threatened with the treacherous wench's this blackmail, I have relented momentarily.

Let's hope nothing else good blog-worthy happens until my reviews are done.

Take care.

PS: Miller Lite? ICK!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

RTT: Blogus Interruptus

  • Work is really starting to get in the way of my blogging. I have some of my best ideas in the morning, when I've got to prepare myself for gainful employment. Do you realize how difficult it is to type and brush your teeth at the same time? I've thought about using my little digital voice recorder in the car on my way to the office - but it just seems like an unhealthy amount of distraction while operating heavy machinery.

  • Sleep is really starting to get in the way of my blogging. Oh how well I remember those golden days when I would stay up until 1 or 2 (or later) in the morning finishing off a post. With the sun going down so early, it's getting harder and harder to convince my body that 10:30 pm isn't way past my bedtime. And I must confess - I do love to sleep. After sex and eating (they constantly vie for supremacy), sleep is about my favorite thing.

  • Theater is really starting to get in the way of my blogging. I might have been able to hack preparing for just one play - but when the Middle-Aged Woman decided she wanted to participate in the Christmas play, my priorities got thrown out of whack. I thought it would be nice to do some theater together for once. But having rehearsal two days a week really starts to eat away at your leisure time.

  • Reading is really starting to get in the way of my blogging. After getting through a torrid run of He Read/She Read posts in late October & early November, I had to take a reading break to make sure I could devote attention to memorizing my lines for The Odd Couple. But in the last couple weeks, I polished off Cormac McCarthy's The Road and started Jasper Fforde's The Eyre Affair. All this, when I'm really supposed to be reading Neil Gaiman's Good Omens. I promise I'll try to acquire the book this week, Amy - I swear!

  • 30Rock is really starting to get in the way of my blogging. Not that I'm planning my week around a TV show. Nosiree, it's far more serious than that. With my Roku player's ability to stream films and TV shows from my Netflix account, I can watch the entire first three seasons of 30Rock whenever I want. Of course, that has too frequently been in groups of 4 or 6 or 10 episodes at a time. For those of you who have (like me, until recently) never checked this show out - you owe yourself the chuckles. Just keep in mind that I take no responsibility for any addictive behaviors that may result from following this suggestion. But all the cool kids are doing it.

  • The holidays are really starting to get in the way of my blogging. Who wants to spend a lot of time writing when there is pie to be eaten?

  • Life is really starting to get in the way of my blogging. But I noticed that my number of followers has actually increased over the last couple weeks when I have posted ABSOLUTELY NOTHING - so maybe my whole concept of what attracts people to this blog is wrong.

    I guess, in my little "Field of Dreams", if you ignore them, they will come.
Take care.

PS: Go visit Keely at the Un-Mom willya?!

Don't make me tell you again!