Thursday, November 23, 2006

We've Only Just Begun

When I was growing up, the Friday morning after Thanksgiving always found my mother following the same routine. First she'd put on an 8 track of the Nat King Cole Christmas album, then the decorations would begin to go up. I eventually bought her a cassette of the album, but not a CD. I should burn a copy of ours for her...

I love holiday tunes and I'd like to share with you, my perfect holiday mix:

1. The Christmas Song by Nat King Cole - As soon as those strings come in, you know the season has started.
2. Happy Holidays by Peggy Lee - Jazzy and bouncy.
3. Most Wonderful Time of the Year by Andy Williams - I'm a sucker for his old Christmas specials back when Donny Osmond and his brothers had more teeth than hair.
4. Christmas In Hollis by Run D.M.C. - A kick ass refrain - "Rhymes so loud and proud you hear it! It's Christmas time and we've got the spirit!"
5. Jingle Bell Rock by Brenda Lee - The Hall and Oates version is pretty good too.
6. Fairytale of New York - by The Pogues and Kirsty Maccoll. Darkly humorous (He: "You're an old slut on junk. Lying there almost dead on a drip in that bed." She - "You scumbag you maggot, you cheap lousy faggot. Happy Christmas your arse, I pray God it's our last!") and tear-jerking (She - "You took my dreams from me, when I first found you." He - "I kept them with me babe, and put them with my own. Can't make it all alone, I've built my dreams around you.")
7. Happy Christmas (War Is Over) by John Lennon and "Wonderful Christmas Time" by Paul McCartney. Imagine what kind of Christmas music they could have done together.
8. "White Christmas" by Etta James. If Bing was the king with his version, Etta is certainly the queen. Her's is underlaid by heavy, downbeat blues and her prologue about being in L.A. instead of the north is a great start.
9. Little Drummer Boy/Peace On Earth by David Bowie and Bing Crosby. Such a strange but beautiful collaboration. The first time I saw the video, I thought, WTF!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Stars In My Eyes

Because I'm bored at work...

Thirteen Roles I've Played On Stage And Thirteen Actors Who Played Them More Famously!

1. Scapino in "Scapino" - My first college role. Jim Dale (of "Harry Potter" audio book fame) played him in an early production.
2. Gandalf in "The Hobbit" - My first acting role in grade 8. Ian McKellen edges me out.
3. Falstaff in "Merry Wives Of Windsor" - Kevin Kline played him in one of the "Henry" plays in New York recently.
4. Alan Baker in "Come Blow Your Horn" - My first professional show. The Chairman of The Board - Frank Sinatra - played him on the silver screen.
5. Father Rivard in "The Runner Stumbles" - Played by Dick Van Dyke. In a TV movie no less!
6. Milt Manville in "Luv" - Take away a foot of height and one eye, add a trench coat and a beat-up car, what do you get? Yes, Peter Falk.
7. Joseph Smith in "Homage That Follows" - Bruce Davison (from X-Men) on the big screen.
8. Jacques in "As You Like It" - Kevin Kline again.
9. Dr. Gibbs in "Our Town" - Rudy's pop, Ned Beatty.
10. Pozzo in "Waiting For Godot" - The original Black Adder's papa, Brian Blessed.
11. Juror #11 in "12 Angry Men" - In 1997, Lt. Castillo himself, Edward James Olmos.
12. Herb in "Summertree" - The unsinkable Jack Warden.
13. Captain Keller in "The Miracle Worker" - Character actor, David Straitharn played him on TV a few years back.

Happy Turkey Day!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Talking Turkey

As everyone will likely be busy next Thursday, I'd like to post...

Thirteen Things I Like To Do On And Around Thanksgiving

1. Hang with the family.
2. Buy something at one of the few stores that is open. It is fun when they're almost empty of customers!
3. Watch Jodie Foster's "Home For The Holidays" on DVD. It is a but-gusting look at a family gathering on Turkey Day.
4. Catch some of the Macy's Parade.
5. Watch "Charlie Brown" Thanksgiving.
6. Try to get a look at some of the old "Friends" Thanksgiving episodes. "It tastes like feet!"
7. Not have to be anywhere except where my dinner is.
8. Watch an NFL game. Three this year with the addition of the NFL Network matchup!
9. Eat stuffing. Eat apple pie. Eat turkey. Drink wine.
10. Fall asleep somewhere other than my bed. Preferably with one of the kids or my wife sleeping on my shoulder.
11. Mentally prep for putting up the Christmas lights.
12. Watch Food Network's "Thanksgiving Unwrapped" and "The Secret History of Thanksgiving" and "Good Eats - Turkey". Rachael Ray's 30 Minute Thanksgiving gets honorable mention.
13. Plot of "The Very Barry Christmas DVD".

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Agony of The Feet

As many of you know, PGirl's parallel sister, Princess is staying with us this weekend. He daughter and son have come along too and we're having a grand time.

Last night, PGirl hosted a "Body Shop" party for Princess. The only folks who showed up were Mr. Social, Mrs. Social and a gal from PGirl's place of work. I made feta garlic dip, bean dip and bruschetta. The ladies brought some wine home along with the groceries.

Mr. Social's daughter brought the kiddoe total to 5 and the two men were tasked with buying happy meals for shorty dinner. I figured that when we got back, the two of us would play with the kids and keep them away from the party. I was wrong.

Upon my return, I found the kids corraled into the back room.

In the living room, there were plastic basins filled with warm water. Five were ready for fresh feet, yet there were only 3 women who were there to be soaked. Princess doesn't count because she coordinates the whole affair. The extra basins were meant for myself and Mr. Social.

So, we did what any red-blooded, straight, American husbands would do to show our power over our wives.

We rolled up our jeans and took the plunge.

Mr. Social made a very good analogy. A Body Shop party is a lot like getting fleeced by a con-artist in the movies. The mark is led into a compromising situation where he is unclothed, tied up and ready to party. When it looks like the fun stuff is going to begin, the con takes the clothes and the guy's wallet and beats it out of there. The only differences are you lose your shoes here and you part with your money more willingly.

All kidding aside, it was pretty cool to get the foot treatment. After the lotion rub down, Mr. Social and I were sent from the room to watch the kids. I can only assume that this is the point in the evening where money changes hands.

Sunday, November 12, 2006


Please, please, please watch this performance!


I saw Sufjan Stevens' on Austin City Limits last weekend and I can't get the damn song out of my head. Granted, the butterfly wings were kind of intriguing, visually. But I really like the strings and horns in it. Apparently he's released two albums about states with songs about famous people or incidents from each.
"Jacksonville" is about Helen Keller.

There's some other footage out there where the whole band is decked out in gear like this:

I'm curious about what y'all think about this dude...

Wednesday, November 08, 2006


Yes, this is me.

A few weeks ago, a reporter from our local paper came by to talk about my new job. She told me the article would be out last Wednesday. I fully expected it to be tucked away by the crosswords and comics. By yesterday morning, it still had not come out. Then I got a call from the paper's photographer, wanting to take a picture. She came down to the office and snapped this lovely shot.

I think the headline should read "New Face At The Arts Council Is Looking Good....."

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Dancing Machine

Several weeks ago, I took PGirl Jr. to her ballet class. As I waited in the reception area, the new director of the company began chatting with me. We work with each other occassionally through my new job, so we had some business to discuss. After a few minutes of this kind of talk, she asked me if I wanted to be in "The Nutcracker". I've done a bit of theater in my time and have studied acting for 16 years, so I figured she wanted me for some background work. We theatre-types call this "dumb show". Having seen the ballet a couple of times, I knew there were some small parts in the party scene. I bit.

Me: "Do you need me to play a butler or servant or something?"

She: "You'd play the host."

I begin to sweat, having never danced in a show, ever.

Me: "That's not the guy who brings the girl the nutcracker, is it?"

She: "No. He's the father of the little girl who is the center of the show."


Me: "I'll do it."

She: "Good."

Me: "So I stand around with other adults and pretend to have a good time?"

She: "Yes. And you dance."


Me: "Oh. Do I have to buy a dance belt?"

I didn't have to buy one.

I've been rehearsing on Sundays for almost a month now. The artistic director, not a dyed-in-the-wool football fan, has scheduled most of the rehearsals during the Bills games. But I've survived so far.

I know how to do a cross step now and the people who play my wife and daughter answer my questions when I have them. There have been two kids who've played my son so far. I think the one I worked with today is the real one. I'm even having fun with the "dumb-show". When the other "party parents" greet my character in a reception line, I shake the men's hands and say things like, "Glad you could come to the party old-chum!" and "You still owe me money Roscoe!"

Last week's rehearsal kind of rough. I smacked a girl in the head with my watch and a kid who I had to stand behind smelled vaguely poopy, but I get that every week in my own house.

Anyway, I have to wrap this up and get ready for bed. A dancer needs his rest.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Reeling In The Years

So, an old fraternity brother of mine contacted last week through email. We talked on the phone on Wednesday night for almost an hour, catching up - thanks for calling Drew! In honor of nostalgia, I present to you...

Thirteen Things About My Fraternity

1. The fraternity was called Delta Sigma Psi.
2. A year or so ago, it became a chapter of the Tekes National fraternity.
3. We had a diverse bunch of guys when I was in there. None of the other Greeks could pigeonhole us or stereotype us.
4. One of my brothers - Dino English - is a drummer for the Dark Star Orchestra - A Grateful Dead tribute band that tours nationally.
5. I held three positions in my time with the fraternity - Alumni Affairs, Pledge Captain and President.
6. Brother Drew was president before me.
7. My presidency was successful for making the fraternity a lot of money (We saved money my waiting to drink at our own parties until the last hour.)
8. My presidency was unsuccessful because we gained very few pledges during my senior year.
9. Our pledging period only lasted a week.
10. We had it easy compared to some of the other fraternity pledges who had to march around a clock tower for several hours at a time and carry around bricks in their sweatshirts - don't ask, because I don't know.
11. About the worst thing that I endured was losing some sleep and some slight psychological torture.
12. I unintentionally made some brothers laugh during a particularly solemn ceremony during pledge week. This "incident" earned me a nickname for a brief time among them. I wish I could name it here, but I can't. It is a very Greek name though.
13. This year marks the 45th anniversary of Delta Sigma Psi. We've reached middle age!