Archive for December, 2010

But We Did Go To The Second House

Today, the family gathered for an extended Christmas celebration which my mother, father, sister, and I ALMOST did not make it to.  In my mother’s defense, we did go to the second house along the road.  Unfortunately, the correct house is now the third house as apparently within the last two years (the last time she must have visited her brother’s house) a new house was added.  We went up to the house, my sister rang the bell, and when no one answered I said “Just go on in.”  She tried the handle and it was locked.  A few seconds later, Mom’s cell phone rang.  Bob and Lu were watching from next door and called to inform us that we were indeed at the wrong house. Just then, the inhabitant of the house we were at appeared and saw our collection of folding chairs, gifts, and bowl of cole slaw.  He did offer to help us eat.  We all had a good laugh!  Guess Mom should visit her sibling (who lives less than ten miles away) more often. 😉  No one else went to the wrong house.

The gathering was very festive and full of fun and laughs.  As usual, Auntie Lu provided everything except for the cole slaw (which is a favorite of many) and Aunt Sandy’s goodie tray (which was nearly devoured by the end).

We had a very nice surprise from an unexpected visitor.  Unbeknownst to most, one of our cousins from Florida (whom most of us had not seen in more than a few years) had come up to visit and she arrived with her twin daughters.  I guess I should keep closer tabs on my facebook page.

Football games, kids  (under 18) opening presents, Grandpa falling asleep, and Chad being picked on all made for another perfect celebration.  Hopefully, we can exit 2010 (which has had its share of ups and downs) and look forward to an even brighter 2011.  Provided we can find the right destination 😉

Christmas Joy

As we all are in the midst of the hustle and bustle which this season brings, may we all pause and reflect upon the true meaning of the holiday. The miracle which the day brings as we celebrate the greatest gift of all! The love and warmth of our friends and family as we present our gifts not only to each other but in reflection to the wee babe who was born in a manger more than 2 millennia ago!

May all of you out in Tangent land find peace, joy, and love in abundance as we once again come to what I BELIEVE IS:

THE MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF THE YEAR!

MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL!!!!!!

[YOUTUBE]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nx0C5ZDi1rs&feature=related[youtube]

Emote BUT Hit the Note

Today’s lesson was fraught with insightful bits of trivia.  I learned that the “Many Mumbling Mice” warm up was attributed to one Theodor Geisel (better known as Dr. Seuss) in his ABC Book.  Or maybe it was K’s octo-, or nonagenarian (if he is still among us) college choir director.  The prolific author may have stolen it himself, a la his Grinch-y creation who (quite fittingly) stole Christmas from the Whos down in Whoville who liked Christmas a lot..

This week, I practiced two up-beat pieces and one ballad (working on two slower, emotionally charged selections).  Both brisk pieces have challenges of their own.  The first, I am having a bit of problems memorizing and the second contains the EVIL patter line which I did manage to do well WITH the words in front of me.  A bit of homework over the holiday for me.

The third piece has never sounded better.  Drawing the audience into the emotional context is key on this one.  However while focussing on the emotion, I was slightly pitchy but everything else was praiseworthy.  We are going to have t-shirts printed with the post title.

Much too soon, the clock tolled the half-hour.  I could not believe that it had gone so fast.  So, I went to BK to get food to go before I have to head to church for Midnight (11 o’cock) Mass rehearsal.

Throwing Bricks At The Huber

Misleading title but it works.  Tonight was the monthly board meeting for FCF and a festive mood was created.  Amongst other topics discussed was possible promotions to get the word out about The Wizard of Oz coming next summer for 4 sure-to-be spectacular performances.  One idea bandied around was throwing bricks at the crowds watching the annual Jubilee Parade.  Unfortunately, the idea was for FOAM bricks painted gold.  I probably could come up with some real bricks… not sure if any are still left from the demolishing of the old town hall  (haven’t really noticed lately).

After the meeting, I went to dinner and had a great time as always and a mysterious spirit paid for our meal.  All eyes turned to me when the waitress announced that out bill had been taken care of.  Honestly, it was not me this time.  Totally innocent THIS time!  Happy Birthday once again tomorrow, Taylor!

Finally, I headed over for my nephew/Godson’s Christmas concert which had been postponed from last Monday when we had our first pre-winter storm.  As always, the Huber is a glorious site for a concert of any magnitude but it just creates a magical, festive atmosphere this time of year.  This season, it is easy to see why the Junior High and High School bands combine: the senior High only has 10 members.  Get some of those choir members to join.  The concert was wonderful!  Everything from selections from How the Grinch Stole Christmas (one of the band director’s personal favorite holiday specials… who am I to argue) to a few jazzy selections (didn’t really care for a jazz arrangement of Silent Night… call me a traditionalist).

A few of the choral pieces took me back almost 20 years.  A more traditional Silent Night ALWAYS creates nostalgic, bittersweet memories.  As Jeff remarked, at least we could stand for the final song: Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus” from Messiah.  I wasn’t sure if anyone was actually going to stand until one brave soul got to his feet.  Two seconds later and I would have risen.  I have always said that ending a concert with the piece is a sure-fire way to get a standing ovation. I’ve often wondered what would happen if the performance was not up to par.  After an hour and a half, I don’t think anyone wanted to sit down again.

Manny Returns

Last night, while the parents went to a holiday gathering I got to stay with some of my favorite little ones for a few hours.  If I’m not mistaken they get a full two weeks for holiday break?!  I think our own school doesn’t dismiss until Wednesday.  As always, I had a ton of fun!

Little Beebs was put down for his nap being promised that I would be there when he woke up which (I am informed) put him down almost immediately.  It did take him a few minutes to get the grogginess of sleep out of him when he first arrived.  Get him busy on his new tool kit and we were all good.  Although, I think the cordless drill might be running out of juice.  So, I showed him the joy of pounding nails in with the hammer.

Sammie was captivated by her new digital camera.  Carrying it around like an old pro snapping pictures here and there.

Dis was her normal, cute self.  We cuddled on the couch and spent some time watching Spongebob.  I must be outgrowing the adventures of the denizens of Bikini Bottom but delighted in the kids’ excitement every time the sponge came on the scene.  Later, the three little ones played Thomas while Manny terrorized the train as the monster who kept throwing boulders from atop a cliff.  Thankfully, I had dinner ready so I could put the Tank Engine to bed.  Fold up kid size playsets are the best… only took a few minutes to figure out how each part folded up.

I did get to bring gifts for the little ones for Christmas and one for the young lady, Taylor on her birthday. Hopefully, the four can share the joint gift I bought.  I thought it was a fun way to enjoy the holiday.  But Taylor really has grown from the little girl I met nearly 5 years ago into a very helpful, mature, and fun pre-teen.  While changing a little package of my own, Taylor was quick to answer a phone call and to release the hounds.  Although SOMEHOW! “Beasel” got into the garage and created havoc or at least paw prints and diaper breath.

C&L and I did get to play a game when they returned and after the game was finished, I knew that we were all ready to say good night after a long weekend.  An evening filled with fun and the unexpected (PSHEW!) as always.

Christmas Two-Fer

Looking for a bit of Christmas spirit (not THAT kind of spirit)?  My nephew Alex, Megan, and I found a smattering at the Huber tonight as the Village Players presented a duo of one act plays.  Things got started with an adorable retelling of the immortal Nutcracker story.  Most of the cast was made up of children with a few adults in the mix to keep things under control.  There were whole families taking part in some of the roles!  And what would the tale of little Clara and her Prince on a magical Christmas Eve be without the classic music of Tchaikovski’s ballet.  There were also some of the dances thrown in:  The Waltz of the (ADORABLE) Snowflakes, The Chinese (Tea) Dance, and of course The Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy.  And the Snow Queen really sent shivers down my spine.   BRRRRRRRRR!  And WHO was behind the Owl Clock who kept popping up in rhyme?

After intermission, O. Henry’s classic tale of unselfish, sacrificial gifting was presented.  What better way to remind us all what the Christmas season is all about than by seeing a young couple give what they “think” is their most valued possession in order to purchase a gift for their true love.  Be it by reading the printed story, seeing it presented on stage, or watching the Mickey and Minnie version, The Gift of the Magi has always been a personal favorite of mine.  And the narration wasn’t bad, either 😉

After the performance, my trio greeted the cast… most of whom I have either worked with previously, been directed by, or been reviewed by (“a raised eyebrow speaks volumes”  still cracks me up!).  Travis received his giant nutcracker director’s present… very appropriate.  No present for Amber, yet.  And of course, my young companion had to endear himself to everyone.  Calling Miss Mare “a gift from God?!” Honestly…

I did forget how much I adored the two sets.  The Nutcracker was full of fun colors, a giant tree, over-sized sweets, and the razzle-dazzle of the season.  The polar opposite was true of the second show.  The young couple’s (by the name of Young, coincidentally) abode was dark and dreary.  Both sets captured each tale beautifully.

A really fun evening full of friends and Christmas magic.

Voyaging Through The Winter Wonderland

Yes, yesterday found our first major storm of (the not even started) winter.  Saturday night’s forecast said not to expect any white stuff until the afternoon.  Well… as I was walking to work at 7:50 AM, there was already a dusting and more falling.  After work at 2, I walked home and spent the afternoon watching some holiday classic specials which have been DVRing faithfully awaiting the time when we could share in their viewing.  Later, we watched one of Mom’s favorite holiday movies, White Christmas.  Old sentimental fluff but I must admit that it puts me in the holiday mood every year.  Tidbit… several people think that the immortal Irving Berlin tune originated in this movie.  However, it really debuted in an earlier Bing Crosby classic, Holiday Inn.

Today, since schools were all closed (and even delayed last night), my brother decided to take his kids to the third Chronicles of Narnia feature, Voyage of the Dawn Treader.  Since a more local multiplex did not have a matinee, we decided to brave the blowing blanket of white for the big city.  Until we got on the Interstate, the going was rather rough.

The movie itself was wonderful.  I have it on good authority that it the movie is once again very faithful to the novel.  The seven Narnia books are each quite a bit shorter than the Harry Potter installments so I was not really surprised. The thing which surprised me was the switch from Walt Disney to Fox 2000 studios.  Apparently, the last film in the series (Prince Caspian) fell quite short in box office expectations and the Mouse House backed out of the remainder of the movies.

I have not read the book for some time so I did not know fully what to expect.  I knew the basic plot but little of the details.  But it was very good!  I can’t say what my favorite is because it is a series and definitely cannot stand on its own.  If you have seen or read any of the installments, you know that the series is a thrilling allegory.  Yet you do not have to be a devout Christian to appreciate the story.  Just going in and expecting a thrilling adventure is really all you need.  Growing up reading and re-reading all of the books,  I did not take the time to note every Christian symbol.  I could spend hours detailing C.S. Lewis’ theological mind… but I won’t.

Hope everyone enjoyed and was safe during the first winter storm of the season.

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A Bear-y Rockin’ Holiday

AH… the holiday programs continue.  Last night, my first grade niece, Alyssa, and fifth grade nephew, Alex had their Elementary Christmas Program.  Unlike Elizabeth’s production of Seussical, Jr. last weekend, every student in grades K-5 were involved.  However, the evening was divided into 2 (or three if you count the 6th grade guitar class) musical extravaganzas.

The youngest 3 classes presented A Bear-Merry Holiday in which the Kindergartners were dressed in brown as Grizzly Bears.  The first grade group as white Polar Bears.  The second graders transformed into either Black or Panda Bears  Some of the highlights of this show were the angry, rapping grizzlies who promised to “be good.”  However, when they thought they were not being watched, returned to their rappin’ ways.

“Panda-monium” found a group of pandas chasing each other in a circle… not much room on the stage and one nearly fell down; however, I think this might have been slightly intentional as the near stumble looked a bit choreographed.

After two intermissions (after the K-2 were finished and following the guitarists),  it was time for the big kids to present Santa’s Rockin’ Christmas Eve.  The televised variety show featured an array of musical talent everything from a 60s Motown girls group, to a bluesy Mrs. Claus, to a Beatles-esque fivesome (ok, the Beatles were the fab 4) who made the girls swoon and feint.

There were more individual character roles in this production and I would have to say that my favorite was the quick talking, frequently “ad-libbing” emcee Swingle Kringle (brother of the guy in the red suit who everyone was waiting to make a surprise appearance) who was often admonished for his penchant for going off the cue cards.

When Santa finally arrived, he did not come alone.  He and his back-up group performed the traditional holiday Disco hit, “S.A.N.T.A.”  I think the costumes could have been a bit more creative for that number.  Perhaps not the traditional garb of a police officer, construction worker, Native American, biker dude, and military guy but a little more than just the jolly old elf in his polyester suit.

After the performance, we came home for our annual viewing of the 1938 version of A Christmas Carol.  One tidbit gathered from the pre-show introduction:  Scrooge was originally supposed to be played by Lionel Barrymore who had for years performed the role over the radio and was the original choice.  However, just before filming was to begin, Mr. Barrymore took a nasty fall and was unable to be in the film.  He would create a role just as curmudgeonly (love that word) some eight years later, Mr. Henry F. Potter, himself. Tonight, the Muppet’s take on the Carol is on.  Haven’t seen that one in years!

Another fun-filled holiday extravaganza.  Monday night (weather permitting) I will take in my final concert at the glorious Huber… weather permitting of course.  We could be in for a bit MORE of the white tonight into Sunday.

A Vocal Workout

I am happy(?) to inform all that my voice lesson today was ALOT of HARD WORK 😀 I loved every minute.  During my warmup (does sound like a workout, yes?) I was offered three pointers on reaching those high notes:

  1. Bend your knees slightly (already knew that)
  2. Hold your hands out palms down and turn them up as you hit that soaring note (I tried that once and it DID WORK!)
  3. Squeeze your glutes together.  (Haven’t tried that one)

Today, I chose to work on some of the “power pieces” which I am on good standing to perfect.  Boy oh boy maybe next week I’ll mix it up with some novelty songs.  As it was, we only made it through two selections but a lot of work was put into polishing them up.  I think it is much more draining to perform a song that is driven by heavy emotion than lighter fare.  But one of these pieces is one of my favorites so of course I am going to focus a bit on it but man what emotion it carries with it!

I even surprised myself by the emotional impact I created.  When it was over, I did feel like I had been on a roller coaster of turmoil and angst.  And I don’t want to perform them until Spring?!  Imagine the possibilities!  I did get to have a little gingerbread cookie on my way out!  Who could ask for anything more?

A Person Is A Person No Matter How Small

Another fun-filled weekend!  Friday,  I invited a trio of lovelies to take in Elizabeth’s elementary school’s production of Seussical, Jr.  It was a cute show and what A LOT of work!  THIRTY-FOUR songs and a group of 58 youngsters on stage the entire time.  I have no idea how much more is involved in the full-scale edition of the musical but I remember how daunting a task of a 21 song show was especially for the director.  For those of you who do not know, the musical combines the tales of Horton the Elephant who Heard a Who and Hatched the Egg.  Along with Horton, we were entertained by the Cat in the Hat, JoJo (the son of the Mayor of Whoville and his wife), Gertrude McFuzz, Mayzie LaBird, and other characters from the pages of Theodore Geisel.  I have found myself humming the signature piece from the show “Oh, the Thinks You Can Think” for the last few days.  Unfortunately, the youngest of my three companions did not make it through the entire 90 minute production.

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Saturday night,  I was the leader at mass which went really well as celebrated the Second Week upon the journey to celebrating the Birth of Our Savior.

Following mass, I headed out to another fun-filled game night with an 80s flare.  I decided to wear my Indiana Jones t-shirt.  One of the other party-goers was REALLY creative and came as the White Cosby in slacks and colorful sweater.  He even brought a box of Jello Instant Chocolate Pudding (after his search for Jello Pudding Pops turned out to be fruitless).  While playing Life, we had The Goonies playing with no sound which somehow made it go quicker.  After Life, the 9 of us formed teams for a round of Trivial Pursuit 80s style while Christmas Vacation went on without sound.  About 1:30AM without a clear champion, the game broke up and I bid adieu since I had to be up in 5 1/2 hours for work.

A fun weekend filled with great friends!

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