Good King Wenceslas-Unbelievable Organ Arrangement

 Culture, Featured Video, Holidays, Music  Comments Off on Good King Wenceslas-Unbelievable Organ Arrangement
Dec 152012
 

This is a really cute and amazing organ arrangement played on the Mormon Tabernacle organ. I believe the arrangement is by the organist. It’s really fun to try to see how many other Christmas songs he managed to slip into it. In addition, it an amazing showcase of his skills and the capabilities of that organ. I hope you enjoy.

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U8EYtirfF4I]

Carol of the Bells-The Muppets

 Culture, Featured Video, Holidays, Music  Comments Off on Carol of the Bells-The Muppets
Dec 112012
 

I confess, I love the Muppets. I have since I was a kid, and I’d still watch their show if it was on. Here’s a version of Carol of The Bells with a few of their more interesting characters. Yes, it’s cheesy, but that’s what makes it fun, and isn’t that a whole lot of what the season is supposed to be about? Take a minute, and put a smile on your face. You won’t be able to help yourself.

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ysIzPF3BfpQ]

Not Christmas Without Some Anti-Gay Hate

 Gay Issues, Right Wingnuts, Society, TV  Comments Off on Not Christmas Without Some Anti-Gay Hate
Dec 072012
 

The anti-gay rights group, One Million Moms (which only claims a membership of 50,000, but has never bested about 15,000 signatures on any of their frequent petitions), his ho-ho-hoping mad over this completely offensive JCPenney ad, you know, because Ellen Degeneres is in it.

God’s gentle loving people had this to say about the ad:

JCP has made their choice to offend a huge majority of their customers again. Christians must now vote with their wallets. We have contacted JC Penney’s several times in the past with our concerns, and they will not listen. They have decided to ignore our complaints so we will avoid them at all costs.

I’d point out that this is the same group which has a Facebook friend/commenter who wrote, concerning a lesbian character on the “Person of Interest” TV Show, “The lesbian character should have been shot on sight, immediately, once her evil, abomination ways were discovered, right?”

Christmas Movie Survey

 Culture, Featured, Holidays, Movies  Comments Off on Christmas Movie Survey
Dec 052012
 

A Christmas Story Movie PosterWe’ve added a new survey. We’re asking you to name your three favorite Holiday movies for this time of year. If you especially like on that’s not on the list, let me know, and we’ll add it. My personal favorites are A Charlie Brown Christmas, Christmas Vacation, the old and sappy White Christmas, and the granddaddy of them all, A Christmas Story.

What are your three favorite Holiday Movies?

  • Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer (5%, 3 Votes)
  • Scrooge (5%, 3 Votes)
  • A Christmas Story (10%, 6 Votes)
  • Home Alone (7%, 4 Votes)
  • White Christmas (5%, 3 Votes)
  • How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2%, 1 Votes)
  • Home Alone (7%, 4 Votes)
  • Frosty The Snowman (0%, 0 Votes)
  • A Christmas Carol (5%, 3 Votes)
  • Miracle on 34th Street (7%, 4 Votes)
  • Charlie Brown Christmas (9%, 5 Votes)
  • Elf (10%, 6 Votes)
  • It's A Wonderful Life (17%, 10 Votes)
  • Christmas Vacation (10%, 6 Votes)

Total Voters: 24

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Una Voce Holiday Concert

 Culture, Entertainment, Featured, Music  Comments Off on Una Voce Holiday Concert
Dec 192011
 

Una Voce Holiday Concert Ad - 2011Sunday afternoon we attended the annual holiday concert for Una Voce The Florida Men’s Chorale. This was their 10th annual holiday concert, and Lay and me have been to each of them. The theater was very near, if not, sold out, and I believe straight couples might have outweighed gay couples.

It is always a highlight of my holiday season, and this year was no different. The first act is always lighter music tied together with a skit. This year the theme was a reunion concert of Vienna Boy’s Choir alumni. It was cute, but maybe just a tad overdone in some places. However, the musical selections were excellent, and challenging. Particular favorites were “Various Themes on ‘Fa-La-La-La'” arranged by Chuck Bridwell, and a melody that combined familiar Christmas themes with the styles of popular artists, including Lady Gaga, “Christmas Soup” Arranged by Richard Gregory, with additional arrangement by Jim Beaty. This was performed by an ensemble group known as the UV Rays. (I’m sure the pun is fully intended.)

Act two is always the more serious Christmas and holiday numbers, and every one of these pieces was beautiful, and extremely well performed. It opened with “Processional Alleluia” by Victor C. Johnson, and the Chorale was accompanied by a brass quintet. This was a beautiful piece. For me, the highlight of the concert was Franz Biebl’s “Ave Maria.” This was performed beautifully in a call and response style with an ensemble group singing from the back of the Hillsborough Community College Performing Arts Theater. That could easily become my favorite Christmas song.

I would encourage those of you in the Tampa Bay area to check out the groups website, and attend their next concert in the Spring. They always do a great job, and are getting better with each concert. The one concern I have is that they have gone through a lot of conductors over the past couple of years, with a new conductor for each concert. They would do well to hang onto the current Artistic Director, Dwight Thomas. He did an excellent job of pulling the very best from the group, and they seemed to be thoroughly enjoying themselves, and that should be what a group like this is all about. And it comes through in the performance when that is the case.

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3pr3Pu2akYg]

During the intermission, the brass quintet performed, and I recorded a brief sample for your listening enjoyment. You just can’t go wrong with brass and Christmas Carols.

 

Christmas 2010-A Good One

 Culture, Family, Featured, General, Holidays, Kings Mountain, Places, Weather  Comments Off on Christmas 2010-A Good One
Jan 032011
 

Well, Christmas 2010 has come and gone. Nothing left to do but pack up the decorations. I’d have to rate it as a pretty good Christmas. I think I managed to stick to a fairly tight budget, and despite a few arguments with Lay, we wound up with everyone getting something they really enjoyed.

I got my shopping and gift wrapping done well ahead of time this year. The decorations were up right after Thanksgiving, and the Christmas Cards went out just after that, so I never felt rushed or hectic personally. Work was a killer right up to the end though.

I drove to North Carolina the Thursday before. Friday, Robin and Don came over for dinner and we all attended the Christmas Eve service at Mom’s church. We hadn’t been in a few years, and that suited me as I didn’t like their pastor at all. They now have a new one, and he seems like a pretty good person.

Christmas Day was quiet most of the day. Jay and LeeAnn didn’t come until late that day, and then went to Jay’s family for the evening. That meant it was mostly just Mom and me, and that was fine. We didn’t notice, but it started snowing about 6pm. We went outside to go to Mom’s friend’s house, and a nice light snow was falling, and already covering the ground. It came heavy a few times. By the next morning, we had a beautiful snow, so we spent time outside on the sleds, and I drove uptown and got a few pictures. I made a video which you can watch below.

I drove home Sunday afternoon, and had no weather related problems. In fact, I made it home in 10 hours and 15 minutes, which pretty much constitutes a record.

[nggallery id=2]

The 22nd Street Santas

 Culture, Featured, Holidays  Comments Off on The 22nd Street Santas
Dec 282010
 

It’s been called Miracle on 22nd Street. A gay couple started getting hundreds of letters addressed to Santa Claus at their address on 22nd Street in New York City. They’ve been unable to figure how it was their address that got circulated as Santa’s address, but the miracle of it grew. While many so-called Christian organizations spent millions of dollars to defeat gay marriage initiatives and support themselves…FRC, AFA, Christian Family Coalition of Florida, Catholic Diocese of Minnesota, Bill Donahue of Catholic League who pays himself $400k per year, just to name a few…these two guys enlisted the help of friends and co-workers and went to work answering letters and helping children.

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t71til7wVn4]

Ghees, sounds like what that left-wing liberal hippy for 2000 years ago told us to do, doesn’t it:

Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

40“The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’

41“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

44“They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

45“He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

46“Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

Christianists Plan to Destroy Christmas

 Culture, Featured, Holidays, Religion, Right Wingnuts  Comments Off on Christianists Plan to Destroy Christmas
Dec 252010
 

Each day brings even more astonishment at how low some people can go to make a buck or get their 15 minutes of fame. Certain Christianists seem hell-bent on creating a contrived “war on Christmas” where none exists all for the sake of either raising money, or making a name for themselves. And in the end, I fear it may destroy a wonderful and important time of the year.

First, I’m just frankly sick and tired of hearing the Christianists act as though they are the ever-aggrieved. Stop with the whining already. You’re in a country whose population identifies as 76% Christian. You are NOT an oppressed minority, but boy do you love to act like it. And even if you were, and you hate it so much, why do you feel it’s  OK to actually oppress real minorities?

And stop with the, “this is a Christian nation,” already. Quote after quote from the founding fathers make it clear they were working aggressively to keep religion and government separate for the good of both. Good heavens, you can’t, in reality, keep making the claim this country was founded by Christians. Certainly, within the group of founders and those who fought that first war for freedom there were Christians, but there were Deists, Atheists, Buddhists and Muslims.

And for crying out loud, stop commercializing Christmas, insisting on throwing it in the face of everyone else, and acting like everyone in this country is out to destroy your holiday. Christmas is a holiday, but be realistic about it. No credible scholar has any reason to believe that December 25 is the real day on which Jesus was born. From times long before the advent of Christianity there have been mid-winter festivals and holidays to give people hope for a better time. Early Christians realized they needed to be part of that, and created their own celebration about hope, and I’m glad they did. And now, instead of being about light coming into the world, the Christianists commercialize Christmas even more by insisting that retail outlets be sure to observe the holiday.

Christianists now launch an annual campaign insisting on businesses and everyone else in America participation in their holiday. In the end, the true meaning of the holiday is lost on everyone, and it no longer holds that special place on the calendar. It becomes just another excuse to create fear and hate, to keep the checks coming in. How cynical these people have become, and I fear, if they continue to be supported in these hateful exercises, Christmas will be lost to us all.
So please stop insisting that commercial businesses insert themselves into my holiday celebration. I’d prefer that businesses NOT insist on being a big part of my Christmas, and I believe these Christianists, who force their beliefs on others, do the holiday a disservice by insisting on its further commercialization. Christmas is NOT about the signs hung in Walmart, it’s about the hope a new birth.

I enjoy the stories of Christmas. They’re about hoping for no rational reason and then witnessing hope fulfilled. The mean miser of the town hates Christmas, has a few nightmares, and then wakes up to take care of those he once scorned. An embittered heart grows three sizes and that old Grinch finds the strength to put back all the presents, decorations and holiday dinners he had taken. Workaholics remember to come home. Friends show up for the lonely. The destitute get help. I enjoy that people try to have a merrier attitude, and act more friendly.

I love the music of Christmas. How can you not enjoy many of the songs I’ve posted here over the past few days. Those familiar songs and Carols bring that warm feeling of family and shared experience.

I love the attitudes most people have during the holidays. We are so often neglectful of others during the rest of the year, but somehow, this time of year brings out our better angels. We can be mean and spiteful in our rhetoric, and work to create division instead of working to come together, but once a year we celebrate hope. We celebrate peace. We celebrate doing right by each other, and then rather amazingly go out and attempt to do it.

So that’s the kind of Christmas I want. A holiday about hope, love, peace and light coming into the world, and I don’t care if you wish me Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, or a gay Festivus. My feelings of hope and excitement are not diminished, and I don’t see you as a lesser person so long as your wishes are good tidings.

And that is my wish for you…GOOD TIDINGS OF GREAT JOY TO ALL PEOPLE, AND PEACE ON EARTH, GOOD WILL TOWARDS MEN.

Take a Few Minutes Out of Your Day

 Culture, Holidays, Music  Comments Off on Take a Few Minutes Out of Your Day
Dec 252010
 

This is selected especially for this Christmas Day and is something to make pause in reverence.  Kathleen Battle and Frederica von Stade sing a medley of carols concluding with “Angels We Have Heard On High.” timpani, Brass, strings and two amazing singers. That’s Christmas.

Ave Maria

 Culture, Holidays, Music  Comments Off on Ave Maria
Dec 232010
 

Kathleen Battle and Christopher Parkening Performing Bach / Gounod’s Ave Maria Live at the 1987 Grammy Awards. I have the CD of these two, and it is remarkable. What a beautiful performance of a wonderful piece of music. In case you never knew this Gounod wrote the melody superimposed over the Prelude in C Major, so it’s the Prelude that Parkening is playing.

Still, Still, Still

 Culture, Featured, Holidays, Music  Comments Off on Still, Still, Still
Dec 202010
 

Many years ago, when I lived here in Tampa the first time, I attended the Gay Men’s Chorus Christmas Concert at the Tampa Theater. The ceiling there is painted blue and has tiny lights in it simulating a night sky. I hadn’t noticed that until the Chorus sang this song and my eyes were drawn upward as I enjoyed the music and saw this amazing sight overhead. I think this has been my favorite carol ever since.