It’s Christmas week. The kids are home and enjoying their biggest Christmas wonders — a second dance mat for Dance Dance Revolution so that two of them can stomp the house down at once, and a full-out Guitar Hero III setup with two guitars so they can prance and preen and destroy hotel rooms after the gig. But this means that my living room is filled with the sounds of Heart, Kiss, even Foghat — playing songs that I didn’t like thirty years ago, and that I certainly didn’t think would find some insidious way to worm into my life all these years later. Couldn’t there be a DDR with, oh, I don’t know, good music? Or perhaps Guitar Hero IV: The Synth Band Years? Just sayin’.
On the first day of Christmas I need my true love to give to me about another 30 days in December. It’s a month with too much to do. Forget about shopping, decorating, pagan tree assembly — we’ve also had four Nutcracker performances, three school concerts, two major snowstorms, several Girl Scout activities, one niece’s birthday, and a big-ass flat tire. Most years we’ve gotten all the gifts out of the way by Thanksgiving, but this wasn’t the year for that, so we’ve made trips to the mall during shopping season, something that normally just isn’t within my capabilities. Plus, we’re hosting this year, so there is still all the food to buy, which, having not gotten done today, means a weekend trip to the supermarket. I’m shuddering already.
On the other hand, my good friends Cracker have sent a link to a video of sorts featuring the best new Christmas song since The Waitresses’ “Christmas Wrapping” — Cracker’s magnificent, all-season “Merry Christmas, Emily”:
It turns out that the key to my love of the holidays over the last number of years has been my absolute avoidance of malls anytime between Thanksgiving and, say, Valentine’s Day. (And most of the rest of the year, too.) But some orders haven’t worked out and yesterday required us to go to the mall(prompting the eternal Halo Jones battle cry of “I’m too young to go to the mall!”) Nothing crushes my spirit more than humanity at the mall at Christmastime. Never should have gone. We accomplished exactly one thing in three stops and went home ready to bite the heads off of rabbits. Thanks, Retail America, for reminding me why e-commerce is so great!
Nearly through the annual Nutcracker
grind wonderment. Part of the fun is the road show, where every year we get to experience communities in western Massachusetts we’ve never before visited — experiencing them in the cold, snow and dark. Always a quaint, lovely town that we promise to visit again in the summer — and then never do. This time it was the lovely little town of Great Barrington. And we were in a lovely renovated theater, the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center, a rare example of an ornate small theater — the kind of which there used to be several in every city. For the most part only the grand movie palaces have survived, and few of those, so this was a special treat.
This was a two-night deal, with a dress rehearsal Wednesday night and performance last night, so a double-grind of late-night driving, bag suppers, and, for both parents and performers, a lot of waiting around. Dress was stressful and went late but the drive was fine and on the way back I said, “At least we’ve got clear weather — not like some of those nights driving down the Taconic in ice.”
So, little did I know that while we were taking in the rarefied Nutcracker air, the first major storm of the season was coming in. Before noon yesterday, the dump began, and generalized panic ensued. Schools were closing, roads were a mess, and once again the question of whether the Nutcracker is worth dying for came up. But the show must go on and there’s a reason I have a big Xterra with four-wheel drive and massive clearance, so I might as well use the thing for its divine purpose. And really, despite all the snow, the driving wasn’t awful, and we made the hour drive in an hour and a half, not bad at all.
But that wasn’t the case for everyone — some were delayed, some got caught behind a road-closing crash, and some decided not to come at all. So pre-show (while the earlier show was going on) was a flurry of Nutcracker census-taking, trying to determine how many mice, mini-mice, angels, soldier, and clowns were in attendance, on their way, or among the missing. In addition, there was a battle scene that still needed rehearsing, and the only place to do it was the downstairs lobby, smaller even than the cramped stage. In the end, there was a nearly full complement of soldiers and mice, but there was a woefully small complement of angels, so some of the battle players were pressed into service as second-act angels, having to learn the dance in a matter of minutes, scurrying for borrowed white tights and a hair arrangement approximating the regulation angel braids. But when they were onstage, you would never have known. The soldiers slew the mouse king in perfect time, and the angels fluttered about wonderfully.
Only two more shows to go, these right here at the Egg. But snow’s predicted, just to make it exciting!
Driving to get daughter. Cold, wet, rain on top of yesterday’s ice, and I’d much rather be huddled under a blanket with warm cider than out driving in the slop. Crest the hill and a bus is coming the other way, and its electronic banner is flashing “HAPPY 4TH OF JULY.”
It’s not funny!
I feel the need to start by saying that I’m not some kind of Kirsten Gum fetishist. I liked her on OLN, and I mentioned her once or twice on my blog and that has led to an ENDLESS stream of hits on my blog, which have not slowed down even with her long absence from TV. But a huge increase in searches recently led me to check around and find that Kirsten has re-emerged as the host of a show on the Travel Channel called Cash and Treasures. So take yourselves over there.