Tuesday, December 18

Finally, my son David has stopped counting the days until the release of The Lord of the Rings.

Now he's counting the hours.

Much to my relief, his anticipation won't be in vain, either. The reviews are coming, and they're consistently ecstatic:


The New York Post


Another dumb personality quiz:

If I were a Dead Russian Composer, I would be Sergei Prokofyev.

I was born in the late 19th century and was a child prodigy, composing at a very young age. I kept this talent up, earning myself quite a name and fully exploiting the bragging rights. I was disliked by Stalin, however, and I died the same day he did. My most famous work is "Peter and the Wolf."

Who would you be? Dead Russian Composer Personality Test

Here's the funny thing: Prokofyev probably is my favorite Dead Russian Composer. Love that Fifth Symphony. Especially the second movement

Put up the Christmas tree. Yes, Ma'am, we're moving a bit slowly here - think about buying the thing for a few days, go look at one the next, wait two days, actually put the cash down for it, let it sit in the back sun room for a day getting used to the place, put it up the next, hang some lights, go to sleep. Tomorrow: decorations. Maybe.

(Actually), there's a good chance the tree will be covered with ornaments by 8am if Katie has her way.

Christianity Today has a list of "Books of the Year" offered by the John Wilson, the editor of Books and Culture. It's an interesting list, with a few titles I'd not heard of , but am now quite interested to read. He puts Muriel Spark's Aiding and Abetting on the list, which I don't think I would. At all. When it comes to fiction, I can't deny that my affections lie with Richard Russo's Empire Falls as novel of the year - it's a crime that it wasn't nominated for a National Book Award.
Some quick notes on my favorite Christmas CD's in the "popular" category:

A Light in the Stable from Emmylou Harris is a classic. Joseph particularly likes to groove to "Christmas Time's a'Comin'". Really.

Good News from Kathy Mattea is really a fine album. She was, I believe, the first to record a wonderful song which is gradually becoming a standard (someone played it at Katie's piano recital last night), Mary, Did You Know?

The Sweetest Gift from Trisha Yearwood is also very good - I particularly like Take a Walk Through Bethlehem and It Wasn't His Child.

And, of course, there's Dwight Yoakam. Come on Christmas which has its ups and downs, but can't be matched for Dwight's great version of Santa Claus is Back in Town and the truly bizarre Santa Can't Stay.

Finally, one of the great Christmas songs of the modern era is not on a Christmas album. It's on Robert Earl Keen's Live No.2 Diner album: Merry Christmas from the Family.

Here's an interesting little throwaway column by a Brit in The Guardian: John Sutherland writes about fifty-two things we do better in America. You might disagree with a few things: is it really "better" that "Happy Holidays" is overtaking "Merry Christmas" as the greeting of choice during the month of December? But then perhaps you'll be surprised as some other items he mentions, as this decidedly non-cosmopolitan reader was. Do they really not have busboys in British restaurants? Grocery stores don't have baggers?
Google continues to amaze. First, they come up with only the finest search engine known to humanity. Then they keep improving it - and I mean really improving it, as opposed to complicating it (cough...Amazon...cough). They've got an excellent image search ability now, and have all of Usenet's discussions forums from 1992 available for searching, too. Now they've come up with something really nifty: Google catalog search in which you can easily search a bunch of online catalogs in one step. If only I'd had this a month ago, when I was looking for....never mind.


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