Friday, January 29, 2010

First John Barrowman "Sighting" of 2010

Can you believe we're almost a full month into the new year and we haven't had a John Barrowman sighting?

Well, thanks to a friend of mine who forwarded me a link this week, we've got our first one of the year.

Apparently the BBC TV folks and the American Fox TV folks are in talks to bring Torchwood (and Barrowman) to the States in the future.

(Ironically, the photo (above) that accompanied the story on The Hollywood Reporter's website included one character who is no longer on the show due to the character's untimely death.)

Sure. It's still in talks, and Fox doesn't always have the best reputation for sticking with the funky new shows on its schedule.

Sure. Captain Jack Harkness probably won't be allowed to be nearly as randy on American TV, but since the BBC folks will still be involved his lovelife might have a chance.

But, imagine if a season of the show lasted 26 episodes instead of only half that many.

I could work on dealing with that.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Diagonally? Really?

On my way to work this morning, just after I looked in the rearview mirror and noticed that someone from work was driving the car behind me, a large BMW something or other slid from my right into the lane in front of me. No problem. Lots of space. He sailed in, and then started moving to the left turn lane.

But, just as the BMW was changing lanes, a woman in a silver Infiniti decided she wanted to do the same thing. There was a major difference, though. The BMW had plenty of space. The Infiniti had barely enough.

So she accelerated, and I hit the brakes and the horn simultaneously. Luckily, my coworker in the car behind me had already dealt with the Infiniti trying to cut her off, and so she had been driving more defensively, too.

Next thing I know, I've slammed to a stop, and the Infiniti is diagonal in front of me -- half in my lane, half in the turn lane to our left. I rolled around her and pulled alongside. For the entire length of the red light, I sat and stared at her. She never looked my direction.

On the one hand, I guess I have to be happy that she obviously knew what she had done was wrong. On the other hand, my heartrate was so high from then until I got to work that I probably burned through a year's worth of adrenaline.

The light changed and the Infiniti was eventually able to straighten her car into the lane and drive away.

My coworker walked up to me in the office and said that she was ready to get out of her car and pound on the window of the woman in the Infiniti. But me, I was just glad that we -- and our cars -- didn't actually meet.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Word of the Day: Ephemeral

The word of the day for today is "ephemeral."

I learned it my first year in college in an "Intro to Theater" class taught by a wonderful teacher named Nancy Wheeler. I honestly don't remember much else about the class (although I think it was held in the basement of the South Dakota Art Museum, but I'm not sure). I know that we learned a bunch of other things, too, but the primary thing I still remember is that word.

I also remember that Nancy had this way of looking at you as if: a) you really already ought to know the answer to the question you just asked; and, that b) she had complete faith that you'd figure it out if she gave you enough time.

But... "Ephemeral," and the "ephemerality of theater" were things we talked about in class that have stuck with me all these years. You see, one of the things that makes theater a completely unique artistic entity unto itself is the fact that each performance is gone as soon as the curtain closes -- it's ephemeral. No matter how much it has touched the audience, it won't ever be the same again.

Yet, just like that long-gone class back in the mid-1980s, that word has stuck with me all these years. Sure. The class was ephemeral, but the memories (and many of the friendships) have remained for all this time.

Today, however, I found out through some college friends that Nancy Wheeler passed away last night. She'd been ill off and on for a while, and was just moved into hospice earlier this week. The news has sent ripples through the online community of my friends and acquaintances. And, although I hadn't seen Nancy in years, knowing that she's gone has left a tangible hole in my psyche.

Theater. Life. Ephemeral.

Thanks, Nancy.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Pizza and a Movie

Yes. It's a Monday and I'm supposed to be writing about a movie.

But the most recent movie I've seen was "The Hangover," which really doesn't have much to be said about it. It's a fairly fun, fairly raunchy, almost smart (at rare moments) movie, which I have to admit that I laughed at from time to time. Overall rating: B (It wasn't made to be a high class movie, but it had more potential than it fulfilled).

So, that said, I'd much rather focus on tonight's dinner. Christopher and I went out to dinner with a couple of friends to a relatively new pizza place called "Black Sheep Pizza." Their claim to fame around here is that they're the only coal-fire pizza joint in Minnesota. What does that mean? It means that the crust is thin and crisp around the edges -- and thin and just a little softer in the center.

The space is small -- and we were told frequently pretty busy -- but the wait staff was incredibly friendly, and the open kitchen means you get to watch the chefs twirl the dough. (Kind of like a Shakey's for the 21st century.) We each ordered a 12-inch pizza, and our waiter cautioned us that it would probably be a lot of food for four people. But we assured him that we would be okay with leftovers.

By the time we were eating, there were a "hot salami and dried chilis" pizza, a "cheese with artichoke and cracked green peppers" pizza, a "mushroom, garlic, rosemary, and artichoke" pizza, and a "chicken and pickled peppers" pizza on the table. They all looked amazing. They all smelled wonderful. And, thankfully, they also all tasted great.

Okay, yes, we each brought home about half of our pizzas, but it wasn't because we didn't like them. In fact, I immediately packed mine up so that I can take it in to work for tomorrow's lunch. (Oh. In case you're wondering, mine was the chicken with pickled peppers. The peppers were rings of banana peppers, some mild, some spicy. And the chicken was shredded dark meat -- moist and full of flavor.)

Granted, I don't know that I've ever not enjoyed a meal with the people we were out with, but the food at Black Sheep Pizza gave even a blah Monday a good ending.

Oh. And the Black Sheep Pizza logo (below) is definitely a winner. That's almost reason enough to go there!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Rainy Day Blues

I have to say I never would have thought that I would be writing about a rainy weekend in the middle of January in Minnesota. But, well, considering that the past few days have left us with puddles everywhere -- which probably would have been a foot of snow if it had been colder -- "rainy day blues" are what I've got.

I've spent a decent amount of time this weekend going out and salting and sanding the sidewalks and driveway, but I'm sure that by tomorrow nothing will have made a difference. After all, there's only so much you can do when everything is covered in water and the temps are going to drop down into the low teens.

And have I mentioned that, on my way to work, there's a couple of pretty treacherous stretches of sidewalk? Even on the best of days there are areas that are steep enough that walking can be difficult. I'd suspect that, for the next couple of days -- if not weeks -- it will be much worse.

You see, in this part of the world, we're used to dealing with snow. Tons of it. Literally. But ice... well... that's just a whole different ballgame. I'm definitely not looking forward to driving any sidestreets in the near future, considering how bad they were prior to all of this.

There was one bright spot for the weekend, though. I got to spend about 45 minutes, yesterday working with "fluid mechanics" and engineering. Basically, that means that -- after seeing a car send out waves while driving through the intersection in front of our house -- I decided I needed to go out and try to uncover the storm drain on the side of the street.

When I was a kid, I would spend large chunks of time in the spring doing this kind of thing (as my parents can attest)-- usually followed by floating sticks in the new "rivers" and watching them eventually disappear in the culverts. Of course, this time of year most of those drains are covered by 3-foot-tall piles of snow and ice, but that just meant that I got to have a scavenger hunt prior to actually digging it out.

Eventually, I had a tunnel dug through the snow pile on either side of the drain, each connected to a canal which funnelled the run-off from a different portion of the street. Within about 10 minutes of breaking through, the street had mostly cleared, and the massive puddle at the corner of our sidewalk had turned into a few snow/ice outcroppings, instead of a flooded deadly-slick archipelago.

On the plus side, I haven't had to shovel any of this. On the minus side, I'm used to this kind of weather coming in March. Yeah. It's going to be a long winter.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Hate Crime Follow-Up - Blake Hayes

I know it's been a while since we talked about the friends-in-law of mine who were attacked out in New York City. (It was in September, in fact.)

If you remember it, this is the story of three young men (one of whom is Blake Hayes, a radio DJ in New York who is also active in the fight for gay rights) who were harrassed and attacked for being gay while walking down the street in Manhattan.

** Sidenote ** Christopher and I actually got to meet Blake -- a friend of our great friend Colleen -- when we were in NYC in October. We even, coincidentally, walked past the same place where the attack to place. It's amazing how much more intense a story like this becomes when you meet the person and see the places first-hand. ** End Sidenote **

The attacker (sorry -- considering that there were witnesses and the guy was caught on surveillance video -- I refuse to use "alleged" even though he hasn't been prosecuted, yet) was in the military and was allowed to just walk away by the police. You can read more about the attack here.

Well. It's taken 4 months, but there is some semblance of an outcome on the horizon. It seems that the military guy was found to be on assignment in Great Britain, but -- with a little prodding -- that isn't stopping the NYC police from following up on the charges.

This leaves me both frustrated (knowing that it took 1/3 of a year just to get the guy charged) and hopeful (knowing that at least something might be happening to him -- and that it might mean that crimes like this will be taken more seriously in future).

If you want to see more details about these latest developments -- and you probably should -- you can find the story in the New York Daily News, or in an interview with Blake from the New York CBS affiliate.

Thursday, January 21, 2010


Let me start by saying that, to the best of my knowledge, no one at my work reads my blog. If they do, well, they're about to find out what I was thinking all day today.

You see, my boss was gone today (and will be gone tomorrow, as well). In response to that, many of my coworkers were a lot less... well... structured than usual with their days. When the day started, people were walking all around our mostly-open-space office and chatting about pretty much everything possible. Now, I'm perfectly fine with socializing in the office, but for some reason everyone was chatting REALLY LOUDLY.

Gradually, everyone settled in and started working by around 10am. And then there was a prospective client in for part of the morning, so the loudest of the loud talkers was in the conference room, talking and laughing and flirting her way through another sales pitch. That was better (after all, there was a closed door involved), but still the sudden bursts of laughter were a bit jolting.

The early afternoon was mostly quiet, and then, around 4 (we all leave at 5), all sorts of chaos started up again. Everyone was talking back and forth across the room, playing some random games having to deal with subjects that made them all sound a whole lot like junior high.

Now, as I've said, I'm all for having a friendly fun time at work. But... well... during all of the messing around that was happening, my work inbox was filling faster than I could empty it. And, when you're used to working in a mostly-quiet office, trying to focus on minute details with yelling and giggling happening around you is pretty darned close to impossible.

So I left work today without getting nearly as much done as I'd wanted. And dreading what the office environment is going to be like tomorrow.

Here's hoping there are a few cases of 24-hr (or at least 8-hr) laryngitis tomorrow...

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Annie and Daniel Adopt a Plan

Or, more correctly: Annie and Daniel have a plan to adopt.

Here's the deal. Two very good friends of mine (and Christopher's) whom I've known since I lived in Baltimore -- and whom Christopher has known for a few years, now -- have started to search for a human sibling for their adorable dog George. (Yep. That's them, below.)

I really wish I could think of more to say, but mainly I just keep coming up with things like "I can't imagine the wonderful life a child would have with them" and "These two not having kids would be a serious waste of human parenting potential." And, well, neither of those things seems to say enough.

I encourage you to take a look at their website: , and to help to spread the word by forwarding that out to your friends. OR you can help simply by joining their group on facebook "Annie & Daniel - Looking to Adopt" (because if you join, then your friends can see it, and they can join, and... and...).

There's a lot of information on both of those sites, with great photos and explanations of why they are going about their adoption search in this way.

Here's hoping that -- if we spread the word well enough -- in the not-too-distant future, I will be able to tell you about taking a trip out to Washington for a baby shower!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

I Meant To Blog Today

Yeah. I meant to blog today. I really did.

It just didn't happen.

But thanks for checking in, anyway.

Feel free to post comments, though.

I'll try to be back tomorrow.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Pillow Talk

I have been "babysitting" one of my Netflix movies for a little over a month. It was simply one of those situations where I got a movie, and just never quite had the right time to watch it.

In the meantime I've cycled through a bunch of other discs (including most of the 80s TV series "Voyagers!"). And Christopher and I have been finding other things to watch either from our own DVD library, or from things we've recorded off of TV. But, in the middle of my long weekend at home alone, I decided Sunday afternoon was a time for a good 1950s screwball romantic comedy. So I broke out "Pillow Talk."

If you don't know anything about "Pillow Talk" it's pretty much the ultimate in Rock Hudson/Doris Day movies. (These are the same movies Rupert Everett's character refers to in "My Best Friend's Wedding." But that's another story.) The movie puts Doris Day's sweet, yet spunky, Jan at odds with Rock Hudson's smarmy, womanizing, Brad. To make matters worse, Jan and Brad share a party-line telephone and so Jan is subjected to Brad's womanizing ways before they even meet.

Of course, once Brad realizes he can't charm Jan in his usual ways, he creates a Texan good-ole-boy alter ego named Rex Stetson. Courting and exposure ensue, of course, and... eventually... a mostly happy ending. (I already said it was a 1950s screwball romantic comedy. Telling you it has a happy ending is NOT a spoiler!)

Of course, all these years later, knowing that Rock Hudson was gay, the movie takes on a whole different level of humor. The wink-to-the-camera jokes. The "you-know-what-I-mean" asides. I found myself laughing almost as much at what wasn't said as I did in response to what was said.

Oddly enough, I found myself both happier and a little sadder because of all of those inside, after-the-fact, comedic moments. I was thrilled that Rock and Doris (and Tony Randall) thumbed their noses so blatantly at the Hollywood machine, while still flying under the censors' radar.

But I was also bothered by knowing the fact that, eventually, Doris Day would have to watch her lifelong friend Rock Hudson die of AIDS, having never been able to enjoy an open and honest life as a gay man -- even in the usually accepting world of Hollywood. And, worse yet, I know that even in this day and age there are a lot of people who are fine with that.

Of course, this might all be easier to handle if it could all be treated as ancient history. But there are still plenty of people afraid of losing their livelihoods (in Hollywood and everywhere else) if they come out of the closet. And there are still a whole list of "universal" rights and privileges not available to gays and lesbians.

So, while on the one hand I thought the movie was really fun. I was left with some measure of... well... angst after watching it.

Overall rating: A-. It was pretty forward thinking and ahead of the curve in 1959, but it made me think to much in 2010. (Okay. So it probably deserved an A+ for covering both of those things, but since my ratings are subjective, and since I ended up kind of sad at the end of a happy movie, I'm sticking with the A-.)

Saturday, January 16, 2010

I'm Reed Fish. Or... Well... Not Really...

I know that Monday is usually my movie review day, but I just finished watching a DVD of "I'm Reed Fish" and I wanted to talk to someone about it.

But Christopher is in England, so he's kind of out for chatting about a movie. And since it's almost 9 on Saturday night, there's a good chance that a lot of people are watching football (I used to live in Baltimore, so calling people during a Ravens game is bad), or -- since a lot of people I know are in other timezones -- it's just too late to call.

But, anyway...

"I'm Reed Fish" is a movie within a movie (don't worry -- it's not confusing) (oh... and that's not really a spoiler, although now it won't be as much of a surprise for you as it was for me), and it's about coming of age and coming to terms with your life as it is.

Yeah. It's one of those movies. You know, the movies where the 20-something protagonist is having a life crisis because he doesn't like where his life is going. And we're supposed to feel sorry for him because he's the protagonist, even though he's also screwing up the lives of everyone around him.

And, because I'm kind of tired of all of the angst-filled movies where 20-somethings are having mid-life crises, I really started to hate the movie about a third of the way through it. But I just kept watching. Honestly, I think I may have stuck with it because I really liked the music. Schuyler Fisk (a woman I had never heard of) not only plays a character in the movie, but also performs two songs in it, and I was really taken by her. So I stayed with the movie.

Somewhere along the way, I reconnected with it. I'm not sure why. I think it might have been when there was a caller on Reed's radio show asking for the fire department to be sent out because a peacock was running back and forth on the road. When Reed's response was "The fire department? Why? Is the peacock on fire?" I was back into the movie. There was something so perfectly absurd about the conversation -- which also struck me as straight out of my own psyche -- that I had to pay attention.

Granted, I came to the end still frustrated by the amount of angst this kid was wallowing in, but I also found myself kind of rooting for everyone in the end -- for better or worse.

Overall grade: B-. Although I mostly loved the cast, it tried a little too hard for the movie-in-a-movie bit at times, and... although I think most of you would like it, I don't think you should expect a life-altering experience.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Enough of the Navel

Okay. So I got more comments than usual on yesterday's post.

Yes. I know there was only one comment posted on here. But I had one other comment sent directly to me. Sadly, those two comments were more than I've gotten in one day in quite a while.

While you might think that it would lead me to do more pondering of imponderables, I thought that, maybe, one posting of that nature per week (or so) was probably enough.

It seems only appropriate to shift gears and, instead of navel gazing, take a gander at the world at large.

And it's been a pretty rough week for the world.

There was the massive earthquake in Haiti (there's at least a partial listing of aid agencies accepting donations on the CNN website).

Proposition 8 (banning gay marriage) is making its way through the courts in California (and can be tracked on multiple sites, including at least one live blog).

In case you missed it, in the past week the first gay marriage happened in China -- a country known for being decades behind the rest of the world for civil rights -- took place. Who would have thought that the US would suddenly be behind China in the fight for equal civil rights for gays?

Major airlines raised their luggage fees. Again.

A cold snap hit southern Florida, while up here in Minnesota we're having a January thaw. Buy your orange juice before the price goes up.

Jay Leno and Conan O'Brien have been duking it out for NBC latenight. (Personally, as little as I currently watch them, I'm even less interested now that the animosity is all over the airwaves.)

The Consumer Electronics Show happened in Las Vegas last week. I have no idea what that means. But Christopher does, so I figured I'd mention it.

People have actually reported being depressed with the "lack of possibility in the real world" after having seen the movie "Avatar." No. Really. As in "going to the doctor to be treated for depression" depressed. Having not seen the movie, I guess I can't speak from any level of experience. But... well... I could understand it if it was a movie like "Under the Tuscan Sun" or "Summertime" or "An American in Paris" or -- if I'm in the mood for food -- something like "Chocolat" or "Babette's Feast." But "Avatar"? Really? With everything going on in the world, I just can't imagine being that blue because of a movie filled with blue people.

Wow. Maybe I should go back to navel gazing...

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Navel Gazing

Today is the third day this week where I thought to myself, while driving to work, "Well, at least it's Thursday." Thankfully, today I was right.

Today, however, is also the first full day that I'm home alone while Christopher is off to London with a friend of ours. They're over there for an extended weekend, and although I'm really excited for them, I'm also a little distracted by it.

Of course, one moment's distraction is another moment's possibly inappropriately tight focus. This in mind, I find myself pondering some imponderables tonight...

1) Why does snow, when driven on enough, become the texture of sand?

2) How, if a bottle of wine (at least 4 glasses) costs about $12, can a restaurant sell each glass for $7?

3) If the airlines want us to stop bringing carry-ons, why do they keep charging us more for checked bags? Are we supposed to all travel in only one set of clothes for an entire vacation or something?

4) Why, when people call me on the phone (at my work) and ask for someone by first name -- and I have to ask for more information -- do they feel the need to get snarky about it? Worse than that are the people who get audibly offended when I ask for their own names. And worst -- the people who speed over their names, and then get upset that I have to ask for them to repeat what they've said. Why can't they all just figure I'm trying to help them?

5) Why is dryer lint almost always grey? I mean... I have very little grey clothing, but my dryer lint is almost always grey. Why?

And, finally, with the title of the post in mind...

6) Why does navel lint seem to be bluish-grey almost all of the time? Or... wait... is that just me?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

De-Christmasing the House

When I had had just about enough of editing on Sunday afternoon, Christopher and I decided that it was time to de-Christmas the house. We've been known to leave the decorations up longer in the past (after all, if your Holiday party is in January, you can't take the tree down until then, right?), but last weekend it just seemed like it was time.

It's strange how much faster things come down than they go up. I hauled the boxes out of the basement, and Christopher and I set about the living room pulling things off the tree and off the walls. We packed up all of the Christmas cards which had taken over the top of the buffet. We took down the lights. We boxed up ornaments. We wrapped up the houses from under the tree and around the room.

Mostly, even I had to admit that it was good for it all to come down. Except...

Just a week or so before we put up the tree, we had finally decided that the massive houseplant which Christopher had had in the corner of the living room needed to go away. It had been around for years, but was no longer thriving -- at least in part due to the fact that it was too tall to get any natural light on its leaves. It had started to list farther and farther to the side, and... well... it was time for it to go.

We dealt with the now-blank wall at the end of the living room pretty well for a few days, then put up the Christmas tree. The tree actually took up a lot less space in the corner than the plant had filled. So we kind of looked at it as weaning ourselves off from the plant.

But now we're back to nothing in that corner but the corner. It's weird. And, somehow, it really makes me want spring.

Monday, January 11, 2010

"Broken Embraces"

I've been meaning to write about the movie Christopher and I saw last week, but I kept getting off on other tangents. And then, over the weekend, I spent pretty much all of my on-the-computer time editing something for work. So, here we are on Movie Monday, and I finally get to write about it.

"Broken Embraces" ("Los Abratos Rotos") is a Spanish film by Pedro Almodovar. If you've never seen a movie by Almodovar... well... they can be a little out there. He's been the driving force behind movies like "Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown" and "Tie me up! Tie me down!" and -- more recently -- "Volver" and "The Flower of My Secret."

One of the primary things that all of the movies have in common -- or at least the ones I've seen -- are strong central female characters and some rather uncommon plot twists. And, when he finds a woman he likes working with, he stays with her -- the last two movies both had Penelope Cruz in lead roles.

Picture from Sony Pictures Classics

But, anyway, back to "Broken Embraces"... I saw that someone had called it a "big sloppy wet kiss for the movie industry" but I wouldn't really go that far. It does have, at its center, a director and screenwriter (the same man), and the people he has come across over the years through his work in the movies. One of those women, with whom he becomes romantically involved (don't worry -- that's not a spoiler), is Penelope Cruz's character. Mishaps occur. Missteps are taken. And we get to see what happens when editors use their powers for evil instead of good.

But I have to admit that my favorite things about the movie were the stunning visuals. The scenery was lovely. Cityscapes and seashores, alike. And Penelope Cruz... well... she's one of those women you sometimes forget are so beautiful. But, then, she shows up in a movie like this and takes your breath away. Wow. If the movie shows anywhere near you, I'd strongly suggest going -- even if it's just to watch it all and let it wash over you (after all, it's subtitled).

Overall rating: A. Probably could have been an A+, but I'm still a little confused by one of the jumps backward in time.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Getting Honked Off

No. That's not a euphemism.

You see, when I lived on the East Coast, I got kind of used to people honking their car horns if something was wrong. On the West Coast basically no one uses their car horns. And, here in the Midwest (or the Upper Great Plains, or wherever I am), people do pretty much anything they can to avoid using their horns.

But, as I've mentioned, I used to live on the East Coast and got kind of used to people using their car horns. It's not really meant to be rude, it's just a way to make sure that people know you're there -- or that you have a complaint about something that they've done.

So, well, I am pretty much the only person I know who honks his car horn out here. I try to only use that power for good, and not evil. In fact, I usually say out loud in my car "Don't make me honk at you" a couple of times before I actually do it.

Why am I telling you all of this tonight? Because, as I was leaving the parking garage after work today I pulled up behind some big jeep-y truck-y thing. (For argument, let's say it was an Xterra.) So I'm sitting being the Xterra waiting for it to move forward and pull into the street.

No traffic going by.

Xterra not moving.

Still no traffic going by.

Xterra still not moving.

A car goes by, and I can see in silhouette that the driver is holding a phone up to his ear and doing something in the passenger seat.

I honk.

The idiot in the Xterra rolls forward, and turns into traffic. And... well... almost gets nailed by the cars coming from both directions.

Yeah. Apparently even after I honked Xterra guy didn't find it necessary to actually pay attention to what was going on around him. Gotta love that.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

"Open" is About to Close

As you may remember from about a month ago, I have been lucky enough to have had some of my writing included in a really cool photography exhibit called "Open to Interpretation." (If you don't remember that, you can read about it, here.)

The reason I'm bringing it up again is because I wanted to remind you all that the exhibit ends this coming Sunday (the 10th), so there's only a very few days left to go see it. If you happen to be in the Minneapolis area, I'd suggest going to the Hopkins Center for the Arts one of these next days to check it out.

(If you haven't been there, before, the Arts Center is gorgeous -- with a full wall of south-facing windows. So if you go on one of these cold, but sunny, days you can truly get a great view, and try to remember what it's like to enjoy warm sunshine.)

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Twelve Questions for Twelfth Night

According to the calendar hanging on my closet door, today is "Twelfth Night." You know, as in the twelfth of the twelve days of Christmas.

In the stories and/or mythologies of much of Christianity, this was "Epiphany Eve," since it was the evening before the Magi are said to have shown up on the manger doorstep with those ever-practical baby gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.

Traditionally, it's supposed to be the end of the Christmas holiday. And (according to something I just found online), it marked the end of the winter Holidays which started with -- get this -- All Hallows' Eve (aka Hallowe'en).

Be that all as it may, these days I think most of us think of the twelve days of Christmas in the same way: from that song. Yep. These are the days of Christmas which start out with that pear tree-sitting partridge, and end with (at minimum) an extra 50 houseguests; 22 more birds swimming, laying and/or calling; and 5 gold-tone rings.

I've always been kind of fascinated by the whole song. I mean, it's open for a whole lot of interpretation. In the spirit of the day, I pose you the following twelve (-ish) basic questions:

1) Is the gift-giver giving new counts of the same gifts each day? For instance, on day two, do you get 2 French hens and ANOTHER partridge in a pear tree? Or do you just get the hens, with the partridge carrying over from the day before?

2) Are the rings really gold? Or are they just golden?

3) Do all of the people stay forever? Or are they just there to pipe and milk and drum and leap and dance for the duration of the party?

4) Do the maids a-milking come with their own cows?

5) Where do you get a pear tree in the middle of winter, anyway?

6) How can you tell if a hen is French?

7) Are they calling birds? Or are they colly birds? And if they're colly birds, what the heck are colly birds? (I know what a collie dog is, but I'm pretty sure that's not the same thing.)

8) Who decides which order the people show up? Why do some people have 10 lords leaping in, while others have 11?

9) If you don't live near a pond of some kind, how do the swans keep swimming? Or are they brought to you in a big tank, kind of like getting a goldfish in a baggie?

10) Why do those lords leap, anyway? Is it because they're trying to avoid all of the eggs that those six geese keep a-laying?

11) Do you suppose the pipers piping and the drummers drumming are playing something which the ladies dancing can actually dance to?

12) Is the gift-giver financially responsible for the upkeep of all of the gifts? Or is the recipient responsible for tending the flocks, feeding and housing the entertainers, and doing something with all the milk the maids produce?

And, finally, do you suppose any of the days are returnable without a receipt?

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Happy-ish New Year

I know I'm not alone in the fact that the changing of the years is sometimes as much about looking back -- or off to the sides -- as it is about looking forward.

I've been doing that a lot over the past 72 hours or so. I found myself reflecting by myself while we were in the middle of our festivities on New Year's Eve. And that has continued for the whole weekend. Lots of looking at what has gone on in the past year (or years), and thinking of the people in my life whom I don't see often enough.

I guess, if I were going to commit to a resolution (and I'm not saying I am), I want to spend more time getting in touch with people in the coming year. And, yes, I consider myself to be one of the people in that.

I think we probably all get to a point from time to time where we feel like we're not paying enough attention to ourselves. Otherwise we wouldn't have multiple Sunday nights where we have a kind of dread about getting up to go to work on Monday morning, or hating the clothes we have in the closet.

So here's to a happy new year. One where keeping in touch becomes part of the routine, and not just part of the patter.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Wow. That's Chilly.

I hadn't intended to write about the weather, today.

I was going to talk about New Year's Eve and the fact that Christopher and I didn't get home until about a quarter-to-three in the morning of the 1st. In that posting, I was going to mention that we had a great time with old and new friends in the "evening." Then I was going to tell you about the brunch we had with a couple of people over to celebrate the New Year with Kir Royale and pancakes.

I was definitely going to mention that I watched the Rose Parade (or at least most of it, until our guests came over) so that I could see the Boy Scouts of America float which one of my sisters and brothers-in-law spent eight hours using tweezers to put split peas on. And I thought I might mention how glorious the sun was this morning when I woke up.

Then, as I was watching TV this morning, Christopher made a kind of "wow" sound while looking at his computer. When I walked into the office, he was looking at the Weather Channel's homepage. He said he had seen a bunch of people commenting online about how cold it was, and so he pulled up the site. The current temp (at about 9am) was listed as negative 19 degrees Fahrenheit.

I went online and started poking around and found that -19 was actually in the middle of most of the reports. Friends were excited about cars that started at -25. Friends were talking about going out for the day at -24. Friends were commenting on the chill in the air as far east as New York City (where, comparatively, it was balmy at 28 degrees ABOVE zero).

The high today got to 1 above, according to the TV weather.

Now, yes, I know that this part of the world is famous for it's cold winters. But the really cold stuff usually comes later in January. This cold snap was kind of unexpected in its early appearance -- and it's sudden severity. I promise to not complain about the weather every day until spring.

Well. At least not here.