22 December 2011

Welcome To Winter...
That's right, friends...today is none other than the Winter Solstice, where here in the Heartland of Fort Wayne, Indiana, it's a balmy 40 degrees.
From here on, the days will be getting longer once again.
Here's the WIKI on this date in whatever "ology" that it pertains to, which is more than a few:
It's interesting to note that WAY back in 46 BC (or BCE for you modernists), Julius Caesar originally established the 25th of December as the "official" date of the European Winter solstice...
It wasn't until 1582 that Pope Gregory XIII decided to restore the correct correspondence between seasons and the CIVIL year.
This only deviates a day or so every 3000 years on the Gregorian calendar (22 Dec).
Lucky for US, hmm?
With that little morsel of useless information aside, let's press on...
*** Last evening, I sat myself down, and watched Disney's Prep and Landing...again, along with the new 1/2 hour special Prep and Landing 2 - Naughty vs. Nice...and they were BOTH wonderful for this old "child".
Both shows will air TONIGHT on ABC (check local times for listings), and I think children of every age will find these shows a marvelous addition to the standard holiday fare. Kinda gives part of the "magic" of Christmas back to you...if only for an hour...or perhaps maybe...even longer.
And that brings me to the center of today's shrubbery maze...
*** I have my favorite things when it comes to holiday viewing.
There are specific movies and specials that always "help to make this season bright".
This also goes for music and certain songs that I really NEED to play at least once during this time of year.
-- First up, Christmas just ain't the same without hearing the soothing voice of Nat King Cole singing THE CHRISTMAS SONG (which was written by Mel Torme, along with Bob Wells).
The song was penned during a blistering summer (in about 40 minutes) and was first performed in 1946 by the Nat King Cole trio...and a later version incorporated a FULL orchestra, conducted by Ralph Carmichael...(yes, THAT one...the guy who wrote ALL that contemporary CHRISTIAN music!)
This arrangement was the one recorded in "stereophonic" sound in 1961, and is considered the DEFINITIVE version, and the one MOST listened to.
Not bad for a Grammy HoF inductee from 1974, hmm?
After that, toss in some Perry Como, a little Manheim Steamroller, Some Neil Diamond, and I am SET for Christmas.
Oh, and anything by ANY choir group, chorus, or chorale (doing the standard Christmas hymns and songs), and I am good-to-go!

You just HAVE to toss in Handel's MESSIAH...no better way to close out Christmas.
-- When it comes to MOVIES...lots to choose from.
Now, I'm not really into all the "newer" flicks, with a very few exceptions.
I DO enjoy the Patrick Stewart version of A Christmas Carol (got the DVD), although I don't see it airing anywhere this year...just the George C. Scott version (which isn't all that bad) is on. But MY favorite is the old Alistair Sim version made in the UK back in the early 50s, and if you're fortunate, you can get a DVD with a COLORIZED version that is brilliant.

I also like the Henry Winkler version (An American Christmas Carol), and they never show THAT either.
The Polar Express has become a new favorite of mine, because it marvelously captures the essence of Christmas for the young-at-heart...and the visuals are stunning. Has a good storyline as well.
And you just HAVE to have White Christmas in the mix somewhere...used to be SUCH a nicer life WITHOUT cell phones, and depending on ROTARY DIALING...lol!
You can add Miracle on 34th Street AND It's A Wonderful Life in there, too. And yes, even A Christmas Story becomes tolerable for me.
But, if you want something a bit more "modern" and yet STILL manages to capture the holiday season, you can always watch The French Connection OR Die Hard...BOTH movies have a Christmas "theme" in them...take the time to watch them, and you'll see what I mean. And don't forget Christmas Vacation...the "original" version with all the great cuss words included...
One thing I DO miss are ALL the Christmas SPECIALS they USED to have on TV...!
Dean Martin had one, As did Perry Como, The Muppets, Andy Williams, Dinah Shore, Glen Campbell...the list was ENDLESS...hell, they even had "all-star" musical specials with everyone singing ONLY Christmas songs...(at least they DO still show A Charlie Brown Christmas...but NO Garfield's Christmas...oh, well - got THAT DVD, too.) there is nothing that even comes CLOSE to THOSE days of TV viewing...and especially nowhere NEAR the quality of stardom and music.
(somehow, a "50 cent Crimmus Speshul" doesn't cut it for me...wonder WHY?)
Guess (c)rap music isn't quite as "uplifting and hopeful" as holiday music...yeah, that's GOTTA be it.
People can say what they want to about what we have TODAY to watch and listen to, but when you get down the BASIS of what Christmas is all about...you just HAVE to return to all those "standards" that we grew up with.
I suppose if there's one undeniable aspect to ALL this, it's that there IS always...hope.
And NOT the kind that "the O" tossed at us 3 years ago...we're talking the REAL DEAL here - the whole God coming to Earth thing and redemption, and charity...the WHOLE NINE YARDS as they used to say.
(And the "9 yards" things comes from the military - refers to the standard LENGTH of a belt of .50 cal ammo...in case you were wondering)
Yes, friends...welcome to Trivia R Us...LOL.
(no one ever wants to play Trivial Pursuit with me any more....)
*** Lastly today, shopping at the last minute...a prerequisite if you're the MALE of the species.
I can honestly say that I am now among that ever-growing number.
Didn't used to be that way. Time was, I'd have all the stuff I needed purchased well in advance of the season.
When I was a lot younger and spent my time "courting", I was a shop-a-holic.
(note to prospective suitors of the female set - never spend money on sapphire rings and fur jackets when there's no commitment. All you do is give nice presents to someone who will wear them with the NEXT guy...trust me on this one...LOL)
Yeah, painful as it was a lesson to be learned, I can make light of it these days...a little.
Thankfully, it never fully throttled-back ALL my charitable pursuits.
And, I think THAT is the lesson that was really learned...NEVER stop being the person you were meant to become.
Doesn't matter how many times you're knocked to the mat, or how often you take one on the chin, you get back off and get back in the fight.
What matters is that you keep TRYING, and that goes for anything you do or chase after in life.
It's OK to rest a spell, but you never give up...just like that old poem says
And Christmas is the perfect time to hone such "skills"...don'cha think?
We'll see you tomorrow for the special "Friday before Christmas" edition, but in the meantime:
Be well, make a difference to someone today, and...
Stay SAFE out there, America.


CWMartin said...

Hey now, are you cutting in on my music gig? LOL (After all, "six degrees" was YOUR IDEA.)

ms nk rey said...

A Christmas Story is my very favorite Christmas movie.. I guess because I had boys?? 2nd favorite is National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. So many great quotes.. Don't get me wrong I love the oldies too. and I did not know the origin of "the whole nine yards" always something to learn in your blog posts.

Bob G. said...

Fbe it for me to shoulder my way past you in line at ANY music store...you know me.

Besides, it's not so much SIX degrees, as much as it is maybe 2-3...right?
I thought the reference to Carmichael was cool...we sang a LOT of his music in the choirs I was in a long time ago.

Nice to know that Nat King Cole and I have something in common...(okay, make that FOUR degrees...LOL)

Thanks for stopping on by today and commenting.
Always a pleasure.

Stay safe (and choir-filled) up there at "Scrappy Pond"

Bob G. said...

I didn't do the thing Ralphie did when I was young...musta led a sheltered childghood...(not).

I did get my tongue stuck to a CREAMSICLE once...JUST once...LOL!
(and it was in SUMMER...go figure)

I like Christmas vacation too, but it's MUCH better with all the cussing AND no commercials Iand thank God we still have a BETA TAPE copy to watch...!!!)

Gonna have to get the DVD...next year.

Hey, thanks SO much for spending some time here today and commenting.
Much appreciated.

You stay safe (and snug) down there.