Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Has this blog been abandoned?

Maybe, maybe not.

The Christmas song thing got boring.

Christmas came.

Planning for the new homeschool year is happening.

Housework needs to be done, kids need to be read to, a dog needs to be walked.

I'm sure there'll be fun blogging times ahead. Well, maybe.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Wintry Mix

That has been our weather forecast for much of the last few weeks. And I am sick of it. A little rain, a little sleet, maybe some snow, then some freezing rain, then some regular rain to make it all messy. This morning the surfaces are covered in a very thin sheet of ice. The rain is coming.

We need some real weather! When we moved from Oregon (where we got one good snowfall every year or two) we told our kids we'd have snow! In our yard! More than once per winter! But no. Last year we had a morning to sled down a hill at a nearby church. That's it.

OK, I know winter starts today and there's a long way to go, but... it's hard to be optimistic. Especially when the people living in my old house in Oregon have had days and days of sledding down their (my!) hill!

I am not done with the Christmas songs, but have been busy baking, and watching A Christmas Story, and complaining about the weather.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Great Christmas Songs #13

"O Holy Night" should be sung by a strong male voice, but I couldn't find one. This is nice though.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Great Christmas Songs #12

I am running out of songs. I guess I don't like as many Christmas songs as I thought I did. But all the Christmas cds came out of storage this weekend, so I'm sure more will come up.

"I Saw Three Ships" seems like a kids' song to me, but maybe it's because there are usually children singing it.

There are a lot of versions of this song, including one by Sting and Jon Anderson (of Yes). And that brings up a question: a lot of singers who I wouldn't expect believe in Christianity sing Christian Christmas songs. (Now that is a weird sentence and makes me wonder how there can be a nonChristian Christmas song.) Now maybe they are Christians - don't go calling Pharisee on me for questioning peoples' faith and all that. Somewhere, somehow I "heard" that singers will just sing a good song; it doesn't matter if they believe the words or not. So a musician might want to play violin or sing in Handel's Messiah because it's great music and they don't care about the words. I don't know how that could be true, but I can't say it's not.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Great Christmas Songs #11

In my research for this project, I've come to realize that I've been confusing two songs for a long time: "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)" and "Please Come Home For Christmas." You could see the problem. But they don't sound alike at all. The first is just a fun pop song. Here are two versions, one by Darlene Love and the more familiar (to me) by U2.

"Please Come Home For Christmas" is a blues tune, pure and simple. I like the Eagles' (Don Henley) version the best. Loads of people have recorded this song.

I just think these are good songs. They aren't about Christmas but we only listen to them this time of year. Maybe they seem good because I don't hear them often.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Great Christmas Songs #10

"Christmas All Over Again" is really just a fun pop song with a Christmas theme. I am not a big Tom Petty fan but I look forward to hearing this at Christmas.

The video accompaniment is the '70s tv show "Scarecrow and Mrs. King." I knew it was the '70s because of the hair. I'd forgotten about Kate Jackson's mullet.

The other choices were images from "Desperate Housewives" and one with random shots including monkeys in Santa suits. Or maybe they're chimps, I don't know. Whatever. Dressed-up monkeys disgust me and I won't have them here.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Special edition Christmas song

Because this is not one of my favorites, in fact I despise it, but I think my big brother used to like to annoy me with this song.

Isn't that what big brothers are for?

As I was playing it just now, my dog came running into the room barking, wondering where the intruders were. Good watchdog!

Great Christmas Songs #9

"O Come All Ye Faithful" is such a beautiful song but sometimes seems too familiar. I can remember singing it in Latin in church long ago. There are so many versions but I came across this one by Martina McBride which I think is just wonderful. I had heard her name before but never her voice.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Dog hair and polar fleece...

do not go well together.

Actually, that's wrong. They do indeed go well together. In fact, they are inseparable.

Great Christmas Songs #8

"Do You Hear What I Hear" is not a particular favorite of mine but it was my Mom's so here it is. I just realized I have no idea what my Dad's favorite Christmas song was, if one existed. Probably he didn't like any of them much.

I think her favorite version was Perry Como's but the youtube on that one didn't sound so good, so here is Bing - close enough:

And here is a more recent rendering by Third Day

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

One Weird Christmas Event

There is an organization here that puts on a Christmas event wherein people can dress up and have their photos taken in a nativity scene. So your kid could dress up as a shepherd and kneel in front of the manger and have a photo op with a statue of Jesus as a baby.

But it gets better!

You can put your own infant in the manger and have his photo taken as if he were Jesus. Or she, presumably. Actually it sounds as if Mom can dress up as Mary, Dad as Joseph, etc. Fun for the whole family.

It didn't say how much the photos of your baby as the Messiah cost.

Great Christmas Songs #7

"Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence," like "O Come O Come Emmanuel," is not a Christmas song but rather an ancient hymn. And like the other, it is just best sung in church. This is the only halfway decent video I could find of it. I find the scriptures on the screen annoying. Fitting they may be, and certainly worth reading and pondering, but I find it a distraction when I want to focus on the song. The lyrics can be found here.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Great Christmas songs #6

OK, the Beach Boys have no business singing Christmas songs but... how can anyone not love "Little Saint Nick?"

Monday, December 08, 2008

Merry Christmas, indeed

Aahhh.... some common sense... a breath of fresh air.

Merry Christmas, Merry Christmas, Merry Christmas

Via Instapundit comes the news that Amazon has now banned the term "Christmas" from one of its advertising campaigns. It is now, on Amazon, "12 Days of Holiday," rather than "12 Days of Christmas." (This has since been changed back to Christmas.)


So, my Christian sisters and brothers, feel absolutely free to greet me with "Merry Christmas," and I'll greet you right back. You can say "Happy Hannukah" as well, or "Happy Kwanzaa." Say, in other words, what you feel. The important thing is to not be afraid.

My favorite line: It's a holiday season because it's Christmas.

Yes indeed.

Via, yeah, Instapundit.

"Why do you hate Western society....

so much that you want to see it destroyed?"

Asked here (via The Corner). Actually the question is asked as a followup to:

Whenever anyone points out the undeniable fact that multiculturalism is a cancer slowly killing Western culture, it is customary for left liberals to angrily demand to know why that individual hates people from other cultures. But one need not hate anyone to prefer the continued existence of one's culture and society.

Why is that so hard for some people to understand?

Related thoughts at Roger's Rules. (ibid.)

End of civilization, coming soon

Yes, I am being dramatic.

From the Telegraph:

Oxford University Press has removed words like "aisle", "bishop", "chapel", "empire" and "monarch" from its Junior Dictionary and replaced them with words like "blog", "broadband" and "celebrity". Dozens of words related to the countryside have also been culled.

The publisher claims the changes have been made to reflect the fact that Britain is a modern, multicultural, multifaith society.

But academics and head teachers said that the changes to the 10,000 word Junior Dictionary could mean that children lose touch with Britain's heritage.

There's a list of words taken out. Many, many animal and plant names. Kids don't need to know what a newt is? Or what "poultry" means? The Christian words are basic words: disciple, saint, sin - and not as many as might be indicated by the article's headline. Also gone are some words related to the monarchy, including, well, monarch, coronation, and decade (I don't get the connection there).

There are some good additions, such as "common sense." Surprised to see that one!

Read the whole thing, and check out some of the many comments. (I could not read them all.) Naturally as with any set of reader comments there are silly things being said. But of course anyone complaining about the changes is... wait for it.... racist!

Great Christmas songs #5

It was hard to find a good version of "O Come O Come Emmanuel;" so many are too slow and ponderous, or the singers are over-emotive, even over-wrought. Here are two that are OK but not exactly right to me. Really, it sounds perfect in church with a bunch of amateurs singing. I guess that's how it was meant to be sung.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Great Christmas songs #4

Gotta have some Elvis! We have this cd and my girl always complains (whines, really) when we play it. Dad loves to annoy her by singing it loudly. He's got that deep voice and sounds pretty good. This year we played it and she finally admitted that "it's OK, it's just not my favorite."

Speaking of favorites, other than "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" these aren't really in order of preference. That's first mostly because until youtube came into my life, I rarely heard it. Even the oldies station doesn't play it much during the season. It's hard to choose a true favorite.

What's yours?

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Great Christmas songs #3

This was going to be a daily project, posting songs for Christmas. But haha, who am I kidding.

"The Hallelujah Chorus" is such a well-known piece of music, but there are many other choruses in Messiah that I love more. So here are a bunch to listen to.

For Unto Us a Child is Born (the favorite in this house):

All We Like Sheep

And He Shall Purify

Really Messiah should be listened to from start to finish. I used to get a little snoozy in some spots when we'd see it performed live, but that was probably from the lateness of the hour and the wine at dinner.

It is, of course, not a Christmas "story" at all. But this is when we tend to listen.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Great Christmas Songs #2

Rearrangements of classic Christmas carols/hymns don't usually do much for me, but I think this is just a beauty:

We got our tree today, the earliest we have ever gotten it. It'll probably sit in the backyard for a week till we get around to getting it in the house. I don't usually like starting Christmas too early but I'm in the mood this year. And, we were at Lowe's anyway. Yeah, we bought it at Lowe's. It's a balsam, new for us; we usually go for the Doug Fir. Should have done so this year in deference to our Oregon roots (haha) but it sure looked good.