30 October 2004

Slow Going

I was going great guns on this site last year and this year is a bit slow. The car accident threw a big wrench in the works and I seem to have had some emotional repercussions from it. Also, we're going through a reorg at work and even more importantly, my mother isn't well and it's worrying me.

It's one of those atypical years that they talk about in Unplug the Christmas Machine. It happens, especially as you grow older. Once the car issue is resolved and I can see my mom (the two are tied together as we're driving to see her--if the body shop ever gets it fixed!), perhaps I'll be on a little more even keel.

But holidaywise I can recommend some things:

The new issues of Thanksgiving Ideals and Christmas Ideals are out. I like these Ideals season issues much better since they began using photography and better artists. I never could get into the old issues where they used very bad commercial art and tinted pages along with trite poetry. The modern fall editions, for instance, now have gorgeous photos of autumn leaves, and the Christmas edition has lovely snowscapes. The poetry, which has improved immensely, also contains lovely imagery, and the poems are interspersed with essays about the season and one or two articles about collecting antique items or profiles of historical people.

I received "Christmas at the Almanac Town Hall" a few weeks ago. It's delightful--it sounds as if several neighbors who play different instruments got together to play seasonal items for a gathering at a Grange supper or community dance. Also, just found out there is a new "Windham Hill Christmas" album out, called "I'll Be Home for Christmas." Anonymous 4 also has a new one out, "Wolcom Yule" I believe is the title, with medieval and Renaissance carols.

11 October 2004

How Fast the Earth Spins!

Here it is Columbus Day again! While there are no leaves to see here like up in New Hampshire, we have completed a long-anticipated job in our master bedroom. It was a tiring weekend and a very short one.

I picked up a nice Christmas CD at Walmart of all places: "Christmas Dinner," instrumental carols done on saxophone. I'm about to order another, "Christmas at the Almanac Town Hall," which is distributed by Yankee magazine. It's Christmas songs and carols done with guitars, fiddles, and other "homely" instruments, as the British would say. The result, as a reviewer on Amazon.com says, is as if you're hearing a band at a VFW hall in the 1930s and 1940s. I'm also about to order this year's Thanksgiving and Christmas Ideals.

I'm hoping this will be a lovely and memorable (in a nice way) holiday season. We have plans to drive north and visit my mother for Thanksgiving, taking the pets with us. We want to stop in Washington, DC, and see the new Air and Space building at Silver Hill and also the World War II memorial. But the best part will be being home and seeing the relatives, although, sadly, most of the older ones are ill. My mom herself is suffering from scalp cancer. She doesn't do much any more except go to church, to the supermarket, and to the doctor, so we're hoping we can show her some fun.

10 October 2004

Mediocre Drumming

I was interested to notice earlier this year that Sony Wonder would be releasing a stand-alone copy of Rankin-Bass' moving story of The Little Drummer Boy. Last year I did a nasty review of the version that was included as a bonus on last year's DVD release of R-B's classic Santa Claus is Comin' to Town. While Santa was pristine, Drummer Boy was a dreadful, dirty, dark transfer with parts of the soundtrack missing. I was disappointed.

I took the risk and ordered the stand-alone copy in the hopes that this new release would be a better version of the complete story.

No such luck. I'm arranging to return it now. Sadly, it's the same version as on the previous DVD. It's sad that the videotape version is better than this misbegotten copy.

(Ironically I'm just starting to watch my set of Make Room for Daddy's fifth season, from 1957. The episode quality, filmed ten years before Little Drummer Boy, is excellent.)