Friday, December 30, 2022

The Ventures - Sleigh Ride

Surfing Christmas carols?  Yeah, baby!


Traditional - The Parting Glass

We are come hard up on the end of the year.  Modern New Years' Eve celebrations include the singing of Robert Burns' Auld Lang Syne, a traditional Scottish ballad.  But that's not the only song that was included in the party.  This one is older, perhaps almost two hundred years older.  It sings of the sorrow of parting, of reminiscing of times now gone.  The "parting glass" was the final toast offered to a departing guest, frequently served when the guest mounted his horse (i.e. a stirrup cup).

Burns referred to this song, so it was not only common but famous in his day - the music was incorrectly attributed to Joseph Haydn (!).  But the song dropped into obscurity.  It was Tommy Makem and The Clancy Brothers who re-introduced it into popular use; it became a signature number of theirs, and they would typically close concerts with it.

So this New Years' Eve when everyone dusts off the old Robert Burns, hoist a glass of cheer to the anonymous authors of this.  We even now saddle up to ride into the New Year; a parting glass is not too much to ask from 2019.

The Parting Glass (traditional)
Of all the money that e'er I had
I spent it in good company
And all the harm I've ever done
Alas it was to none but me
And all I've done for want of wit
To mem'ry now I can't recall
So fill to me the parting glass
Good night and joy be to you all

So fill to me the parting glass
And drink a health whate’er befall,
And gently rise and softly call
Good night and joy be to you all

Of all the comrades that e'er I had
They're sorry for my going away
And all the sweethearts that e'er I had
They'd wish me one more day to stay

But since it fell unto my lot
That I should rise and you should not
I gently rise and softly call
Good night and joy be to you all

A man may drink and not be drunk
A man may fight and not be slain
A man may court a pretty girl
And perhaps be welcomed back again
But since it has so ought to be
By a time to rise and a time to fall
Come fill to me the parting glass
Good night and joy be with you all
Good night and joy be with you all
To all our readers, we wish you a happy and healthy New Year!

Wednesday, December 28, 2022

Post-Boxing Day post about boxing

YARGB has a post up about the old school bare-knuckle boxers and how their exaggerated stance wasn't stupid.  To the contrary:

To modern eyes the stance of the old-time bare-knuckle brawlers looks ridiculous, but it actually served a purpose. Due to the risk of hurting their hands by hitting the bones of the skull, head punches were less common. Although they would hit the chin and face, most of the punches were thrown at the body. That meant the boxers lowered their defense to guard against body shots.

This is a nifty post that shows that (a) our ancestors were actually pretty smart and adaptable and (b) when we think they were being dumb, it's very likely that we're the ones being dumb because we don't know what they knew.

YARGB's post jumped out at me because of a nifty book that The Queen Of The World got me for Christmas: Mike Silver's The Arc Of Boxing: The Rise and Decline of the Sweet Science.  I ran across this on Dan Carlin's Hardcore History podcast when he interviewed Silver.  The podcast starts from the premise that Boxing is the only modern sport where the athletes of past ages are better than modern athletes.

This struck a chord with me.  Way back in the day, we used to enjoy Friday Night Fights on network TV.  This was back in the Muhammad Ali era and I used to really look forward to the show.  I was never what you'd call a devotee of the Sweet Science, but there's no question that the sport has degenerated into what Silver calls a "Human Demolition Derby".

Silver's book is convincing.  The lack of skill among today's boxers is glaring, even to a novice viewer like me.  The footwork is gone, the weave in is gone, the feint is gone.  Looking at some of Ali's matches on Youtube shows what we've lost.  "Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee" has turned into "take a punch to give a punch".  In Silver's view, the craftsmanship is gone.

I highly recommend anyone remotely interested in the subject to listen to Carlin's interview with Silver.  In this day of champions with 30 or 40 professional bouts, I hadn't known about Harry Greb, "The Pittsburgh Windmill" who fought 328 professional bouts.  Of course Greb had more skill than today's boxers, because he had ten times the experience.

Boxing was always a tough sport, but it wasn't as dangerous as it is today.  Fighters were much better matched than today; back then, being a "contender" meant so much that it became the centerpiece of the story in the film On The Waterfront.  There was much more of a focus on body shots (rather than head shots).  Defensive skills were sharp because a fighter had to fight often to pay the rent and if he got too beat up he couldn't fight.

Silver's book is an ode to a lost world - in my mind a much more interesting world than today's.  But the world is gone - Carlin asks Silver if today's boxing fans would like watching old bouts from the great fighters in the past.  Silver replies that they wouldn't, because they wouldn't understand anything that they saw.  It was a lot more interesting to watch back in the '70s, before it was nothing but knockouts and ear biting.

The podcast, the book, and YARGB's post are highly recommended.

The Universe doesn't care how nice you are

19 year old Emily Sotelo died of exposure on Mt. Lafayette, NH last month.  An avid hiker, she was trying to summit all 48 peaks over 4000 ft by her birthday.  It seems that she had only gotten into hiking a few years ago, and had no experience with winter hiking.  Here is a (partial) list of survival gear that she did not have:

  • Hiking boots (she wore "off road" sneakers)
  • Map
  • Compass
  • Matches
  • Flashlight or headlamp
  • Winter coat (she had a light jacket)
Not mentioned in the article from the UK Daily Mail, she almost certainly wasn't carrying a knife.  When the temperature drops to zero and the wind gusts to 60 mph, you can build a shelter of pine boughs covered with snow that will keep you alive - you burrow into the pine boughs and the snow will act as insulation.

If you have a knife.

Her mother had dropped her off at the trailhead before first light, planning on picking her up before noon.  When Emily was late, her mother reported this and a search party went out on a four day rescue effort.  They ultimately returned with her body.  The whole situation is a tragedy which - sadly - is entirely due to Miss Sotelo's woeful lack of preparation.

The mountains of New Hampshire are deadly, despite their low elevation.  The first weather station on the peak of Mt. Washington was chained to the rock to keep it from blowing away.  The new station looks like a medieval castle tower, built to resist 300 mph winds.  Its highest recorded wind speed of 231 mph was a world record until 25 years ago.

When I was a lad in Boy Scouts, winter (heck, and summer) survival readiness was hammered into us by the scoutmasters - all World War II veterans.  We always had all the equipment that Miss Sotelo left behind.  Heck, we would have winter campouts in February.  In Maine.  Everyone came home, with all their fingers and toes.

But we were ready, because our Scoutmasters made sure we were.  They knew that the Universe didn't care how nice we were.

Tuesday, December 27, 2022

The Christmas Cold

That would be mine.  We had to cancel Christmas dinner with friends - anyone who's had the good fortune to eat one of her banquets can imagine just how disappointed they must have been.  Tomorrow I hardly got out of bed at all.  Poor Wolfgang hasn't had his proper walks but since he's in his Golden Years he wasn't bouncing off of walls like he would have a few years ago.

It wasn't the 'rona - I did a home test which came back negative.  Not sorry about that - it wasn't a lot of fun a year ago.

But it seems to be a cold - 48 hours later I'm on the uptick.  Blogging should be back to normal soon. 

Sunday, December 25, 2022

Why we celebrate Christmas on December 25

Remember all that in the Scriptures about shepherds with lambs at the Nativity?  Lambs aren't born in mid-winter, and while the Holy Land isn't Chicago-cold, it does get real winter.  So no lambs in December.  So why do we celebrate Christmas on December 25?  [UPDATE: Normal America emails to say that actually lambs are born in November and December in the Levant.  He was nice about it - The Queen Of The World gave me The Look and told me to stop questioning the scripture!]

A lot of people know that this goes all the way back to the Roman Empire - not surprising when you think that the Emperor Constantine made Christianity the state religion of the Emperors in the 320s AD.  But a lot of people mistakenly think that the date for Christmas was chosen to coincide with the old Roman holiday of Saturnalia, a goofy end of year celebration where slaves were given the opportunity to act as masters for a day (as long as they really didn't try to).  No, it was something different, and more important for the development of the early Church, something that grew out of one of the most difficult times in the Empire's history and came from one of their very greatest Emperors.

The third century AD was a terrible time for the Empire, with a succession of generals usurping the Imperial crown and the empire assaulted by external enemies like the great Persian king Sharpur II.  Things got so bad that the Empire split into three pieces - a "Gallic Empire" in the West comprising Britain, France, and Spain; the rich eastern provinces of Egypt and Syria falling under the domination of Queen Zenobia's oasis city state of Palmyra, and a rump Empire of Italy and Africa.  It was really possible for a moment that the Roman Empire would simply dissolve - the bonds holding it together looked too weak to hold.

A gold coin from Aurelian's reign
But the Empire was saved by emperor Aurelian, who brought the whole thing back together.  A grateful Senate awarded him the title "Restitutor Orbis" - Restorer of the World.  Mike Duncan in his great History Of Rome Podcast describes Aurelian as the Sandy Koufax of Roman Emperors - he didn't have the longest career or the most strikeouts or wins, but while he played he was simply unhittable - Left Hand Of God.  You really should listen to the first couple minutes of this podcast episode as it is Mike Duncan at his very best.

So in five short years Aurelian restored the Roman world.  But he wasn't just one of the best generals in Roman history, he was also a great statesman.  He turned his mind to why the Empire was so fragile; if he could knit it more tightly together he might be able to prevent a repeat breakup.  Aurelian believed that a big problem was that the Empire was a collection of diverse peoples - Gauls and Britons and Egyptians and Syrians who all had different cultures and beliefs.  In short, they had little in common other than the Emperor of the day and everyone had just seen how that had worked out.

And so Aurelian tried to overlay some commonality on his peoples.  Each worshiped their own local gods, but most of these religious systems were fairly flexible.  Aurelian introduced an Empire-wide cult, thinking that having some similarities would help create a common sense of Roman-ness.  Aurelian chose a cult that was popular with the Army since the closest thing that the Empire had to a single common institution throughout the Empire was the Army.

Sol Invictus was popular with the troops, the Unconquered Sun god.  Most parts of the Empire adopted this seamlessly as one of the many gods, although it seems that Aurelian seemed to believe that Sol Invictus was the only god who took many forms which were interpreted as the local deities. This was an emergent idea in the Ancient world and an expression in the chronicles say the one wax takes many molds.

Aurelian introduced his cult on December 25, 274 AD and it became really the first Empire-wide holiday.   He succeeded in founding a common belief across the Empire, perhaps succeeded more than even he hoped.  Because the idea stuck: Emperor Constantine didn't just introduce Christianity. It's from him that we get the word Sunday, since he decreed that across the Empire the weekly day of rest would be the day of the sun - the dies Solis.

And so the early Church had a challenge from a popular cult, but this was also an opportunity for them. Sol Invictus was the first half step towards monotheism and identifying Jesus Christ with the unconquered sun didn't actually turn out to be all that hard for the early Church Fathers.  Indeed, what is the message of Christ Jesus if not the story of the Unconquered Son?  December 25 stuck in the calendar.  It's been celebrated all the way down through the ages - ever since 274 AD.

It wasn't the silliness of Saturnalia that had to be co-opted, it was the Feast of the Nativity of the Unconquered Sun.  And so it became the Feast of the Unconquered Son. May today's feast be festive indeed.  You might even want to offer a toast to Aurelian Restitutor Orbis.  

Saturday, December 24, 2022

The Christmas Truce

One hundred and eight years ago on the Western Front, humanity broke out.  I post the background info below, but this scene from the 2005 film "Joyeux Noel" a very well done introduction to the subject:

The opening weeks of The War To End Wars were nothing like what we think.  In many ways it was worse for the men on the ground, which only makes the spontaneous outbreak of peace even more amazing.  The bitterness that the soldiers of both sides must have felt would have burned bright, and yet the feelings of the season overcame all that.

When we think of that war, we think of trenches, barbed wire, and machine guns.  That's quite a good description of the western front, but not until 2 or 3 months into the conflict.  Initially instead of a slog over No Man's Land, it was a war of movement, with massive armies covering hundreds of miles.  August and September 1914 saw men pushed to their limits because they had to march 15 miles and then fight the enemy, and then wake up and do it all over again.  And again.  And again.

The losses were unbelievable.  The first six weeks saw the following killed, wounded, and missing: 300,000 (France), 300,000 (Germany), 300,000 (Austria-Hungary), 250,000 (Russia), 200,000 (Serbia), 15,000 (Britain).  That last seems out of place with the rivers of blood from the other combatants, but Britain's army in 1914 was not a mass of draftees - rather, it was a small force of professional veterans.  15,000 was a quarter of the entire force.  

October followed up these million and a half with the Kindermord, the "slaughter of the children".  The generals were horrified at the losses, not so much because of the incredible human loss but because their forces were so rapidly depleted.  Trainees were rushed from basic training straight to the front.  At the First Battle of Ypres 60,000 of these kids were mowed down as they marched, singing, into the rifles of the Cold Stream Guards.  Amateur archaeologist, Blogger and FOTB Tacitus helped excavate some of these graves for reburial.

The German artist Käthe Kollwitz made a sculpture in remembrance of her son, Peter, killed in the Kindermord.  He, like most of his comrades, was 18.  You can see it if you go to the Vladslo German cemetery in Diksmuid, Belgum.  The grief and bitterness is captured in stone.

It may be that as many as 10% of all combat casualties of the entire war occurred in the first three months.  Only then did it settle down to trenches, barbed wire, and No Man's Land.  So if anyone was justified in holding a grudge, it was everyone in a trench on the Western Front on December 24, 1914.

And yet, this happened instead.
Image from the Illustrated London News, 9 Jan 1915
The Generals were less than amused, and cracked down in following years.  Captain Sir Iain Colquhoun was Courts-marshalled for his participation.  After they convicted him someone recalled that he was related to the British Prime Minister, and so they swept it all under the carpet.

Historians now occupy the field of battle because all the eye witnesses are now long dead.  All that we have are stories from those who remember those witnesses. But we know that December 1914 saw something unique in trench warfare: Christmas showed that the human heart still beat on the front lines.  This song from 1984 was back when some of those men still lived, and John McCutcheon tells of how some of them came to his concert because they heard the song on the radio:
All our lives, our family our friends told us we were crazy.  Couldn't possibly have happened to us.  Then we heard your song on the radio and said "See? See? We were there."

Christmas In The Trenches (Songwriter: John McCutcheon)
My name is Francis Tolliver. I come from Liverpool.
Two years ago the war was waiting for me after school.
To Belgium and to Flanders, to Germany to here,
I fought for King and country I love dear.

It was Christmas in the trenches where the frost so bitter hung.
The frozen field of France were still, no Christmas song was sung.
Our families back in England were toasting us that day,
their brave and glorious lads so far away.

I was lyin' with my mess-mates on the cold and rocky ground
when across the lines of battle came a most peculiar sound.
Says I "Now listen up me boys", each soldier strained to hear
as one young German voice sang out so clear.

"He's singin' bloddy well you know", my partner says to me.
Soon one by one each German voice joined in in harmony.
The cannons rested silent. The gas cloud rolled no more
as Christmas brought us respite from the war.

As soon as they were finished a reverent pause was spent.
'God rest ye merry, gentlemen' struck up some lads from Kent.
The next they sang was 'Stille Nacht". "Tis 'Silent Night'" says I
and in two toungues one song filled up that sky.

"There's someone commin' towards us" the front-line sentry cried.
All sights were fixed on one lone figure trudging from their side.
His truce flag, like a Christmas star, shone on that plain so bright
as he bravely strode, unarmed, into the night.

Then one by one on either side walked into no-mans-land
with neither gun nor bayonet we met there hand to hand.
We shared some secret brandy and wished each other well
and in a flare-lit soccer game we gave 'em hell.

We traded chocolates, cigarettes and photographs from home
these sons and fathers far away from families of their own.
Young Sanders played his squeeze box and they had a violin
this curious and unlikely band of men.

Soon daylight stole upon us and France was France once more.
With sad farewells we each began to settle back to war.
But the question haunted every heart that lived that wondrous night
"whose family have I fixed within my sights?"

It was Christmas in the trenches where the frost so bitter hung.
The frozen fields of France were warmed as songs of peace were sung.
For the walls they'd kept between us to exact the work of war
had been crumbled and were gone for ever more.

My name is Francis Tolliver. In Liverpool I dwell.
Each Christmas come since World War One
I've learned it's lessons well.
That the ones who call the shots won't be among the dead and lame
and on each end of the rifle we're the same.

This Christmas Eve, remember those caught up in the killing fields of Flanders, and the Ardennes, and Khe Sanh. And remember those who still stand post far from home and family tonight. 

(This is something that I've posted each year for quite a while) 

Have yourself a racist Christmas

It seems that Johnny Mathis was racist, or something.  Or he sang a racist song.  Two radio stations in Blighty are censoring this song because it's racist.  I guess that they didn't know that Mathis was Black and Indian (American, not south asian).  The song was the Christmas #1 hit in the UK in 1976.

Doesn't matter - in today's woke society there is no history and it's always Year Zero.

Le sigh.

I guess it's redundant to say that people who censor things like this are frivolous.  Sadly, these days they're inescapable.

Friday, December 23, 2022

Huron Carol/Twas in the Moon of Wintertime

Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:
And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

Philippians 2:5-8
We all know the story, that's the problem.  We know it so well that we don't think about the story, and what it means.  It helps to put the story in a different setting to make us think on the meaning again.

Huron Carol is the oldest Christmas Carol from Canada, and perhaps from the New World.  It was written in 1642 by Jean de Brébeuf, a Jesuit missionary to the Huron tribes.  It tells the story of the nativity in terms that were familiar to the Huron: instead of a stable, the baby was born in a lodge of broken bark.  Instead of three wise men there were three chiefs from far off tribes.  Instead of frankincense and myrrh there were gifts of fox and beaver pelts.  He wrote in their native language, as necessity called for.  If you would tell a tale, you must use words the listener will understand.

We are now hard up upon the feast of the Redeemer.  Amidst the holiday cheer, gifts, and yes, feasting, think on the familiar meaning as explained in a different tongue, a tale made new again.


The original words of the carol in the Wyandot language (Huron).
Ehstehn yayau deh tsaun we yisus ahattonnia
O na wateh wado:kwi nonnwa 'ndasqua entai
ehnau sherskwa trivota nonnwa 'ndi yaun rashata
Iesus Ahattonnia, Ahattonnia, Iesus Ahattonnia.

Ayoki onki hm-ashe eran yayeh raunnaun
yauntaun kanntatya hm-deh 'ndyaun sehnsatoa ronnyaun
Waria hnawakweh tond Yosehf sataunn haronnyaun
Iesus Ahattonnia, Ahattonnia, Iesus Ahattonnia.

Asheh kaunnta horraskwa deh ha tirri gwames
Tishyaun ayau ha'ndeh ta aun hwa ashya a ha trreh
aundata:kwa Tishyaun yayaun yaun n-dehta
Iesus Ahattonnia, Ahattonnia, Iesus Ahattonnia.

Dau yishyeh sta atyaun errdautau 'ndi Yisus
avwa tateh dn-deh Tishyaun stanshi teya wennyau
aha yaunna torrehntehn yataun katsyaun skehnn
Iesus Ahattonnia, Ahattonnia, Iesus Ahattonnia.

Eyeh kwata tehnaunnte aheh kwashyehn ayehn
kiyeh kwanaun aukwayaun dehtsaun we 'ndeh adeh
tarrya diskwann aunkwe yishyehr eya ke naun sta
Iesus Ahattonnia, Ahattonnia, Iesus Ahattonnia.


The 1926 English version by Jesse Edgar Middleton.
'Twas in the moon of winter-time
When all the birds had fled,
That mighty Gitchi Manitou
Sent angel choirs instead;
Before their light the stars grew dim,
And wandering hunters heard the hymn:
"Jesus your King is born, Jesus is born,
In excelsis gloria."

Within a lodge of broken bark
The tender Babe was found,
A ragged robe of rabbit skin
Enwrapp'd His beauty round;
But as the hunter braves drew nigh,
The angel song rang loud and high...
"Jesus your King is born, Jesus is born,
In excelsis gloria."

The earliest moon of wintertime
Is not so round and fair
As was the ring of glory
On the helpless infant there.
The chiefs from far before him knelt
With gifts of fox and beaver pelt.
Jesus your King is born, Jesus is born,
In excelsis gloria.

O children of the forest free,
O sons of Manitou,
The Holy Child of earth and heaven
Is born today for you.
Come kneel before the radiant Boy
Who brings you beauty, peace and joy.
"Jesus your King is born, Jesus is born,
In excelsis gloria."

Jean de Brébeuf is more properly referred to as Saint Jean de Brébeuf.  He was martyred by the Iriquois in 1649.

Thursday, December 22, 2022

Alison Krauss and Yo-Yo Ma - The Wexford Carol

If an Angel of the Lord would come down to Earth and sing a Christmas carol, it very well might be this one.  And the Angel might not sing like Alison Kraus.

Good people all, this Christmas time,
Consider well and bear in mind
What our good God for us has done
In sending His beloved Son
With Mary holy we should pray,
To God with love this Christmas Day
In Bethlehem upon that morn,
There was a blessed Messiah born.

The night before that happy tide,
The noble virgin and her guide
Were long time seeking up and down
To find a lodging in the town.
But mark how all things came to pass
From every door repelled, alas,
As was foretold, their refuge all
Was but a humble ox's stall.

Near Bethlehem did shepherds keep
Their flocks of lambs and feeding sheep
To whom God's angels did appear
Which put the shepherds in great fear
Prepare and go, the angels said
To Bethlehem, be not afraid
For there you'll find, this happy morn
A princely Babe, sweet Jesus, born.

With thankful heart and joyful mind
The shepherds went the babe to find
And as God's angel had foretold
They did our Saviour Christ behold
Within a manger He was laid
And by his side the virgin maid
Attending on the Lord of Life
Who came on earth to end all strife.

There were three wise men from afar
Directed by a glorious star
And on they wandered night and day
Until they came where Jesus lay
And when they came unto that place
Where our beloved Messiah lay
They humbly cast them at His feet
With gifts of gold and incense sweet.

Help Big Country save his Grand-daughter

This post is going on the side bar until BCE has his Gran back, but for those who haven't heard, be's in a legal battle royale with his (step) daughter and her boyfriend to get custody of his Granddaughter, Ariana.  She used to live with BCE and Wifey but the Mom took her from Florida to Tennessee.

Never one to walk away from the Good Fight, BCE is fighting (in Court) to get her back.  As you can imagine, this take a LOT of coin.

Here's the description of the situation from the GiveSendGo page:

Adriana Grace came into this world on October 26, 2020 in Kingsport Tennessee. She's a beautiful and inquisitive 22 month old, who means the world to her Gigi and Papi. Unfortunately, her parents are completely incapable, if not downright dangerous. Her birth father/donor she was born to is an abusive person, small minded, petty and viscous. He suffers from 'small man syndrome' (4'11-5ft only) and enjoys hurting smaller and weaker people, especially women and children. He's also someone who has previously lost custody of her older sister Kylie, as well as his child from a previous relationship. He has a slew of arrests for Domestic Violence, (8 arrests, one felony conviction) and her Mother, my step-daughter, Emily suffers from extremely well documented mental health issues from the age of 5 until present day, never mind that she's lazy, entitled and incapable of any sort of basic human decency. Needless to say, they should NOT be raising this child.

I knwo that the economy is in the toilet and money is tight, but even $5 or $10 helps.  BCE is a good man, and this is a Good Fight.

Wednesday, December 21, 2022

Last minute Christmas Shopping for the hard-to-shop-for

The Child Chucker gag gift box.

Each of the sides has tongue-in-cheek marketing blurbs on the many amazing uses for the Child Chucker device.

I mean, it's just a box - put a boring old sweater in it.  But this will for sure make people do a double take.  And quite frankly, who among us hasn't considered this at least once?

The Queen Of The World's daughter got this for one of the (teen age) grand kids.  Maybe this is a subliminal message?


Sunday, December 18, 2022

Irving Berlin - White Christmas

I never really much liked the 1954 film "White Christmas".  While commercially successful, it always struck me as pretty frivolous.  And the title song had been introduced a dozen years previously, in "Holiday Inn".

Still, this song has achieved iconic status, which says a lot.

Saturday, December 17, 2022

Alan Jackson - Let It Be Christmas

This is a Country song for people who don't like Country Music.  Alan Jackson wrote this, and he's about as Country as anyone - but this is essentially a traditional Christmas song that Bing Crosby or Nat King Cole could have recorded if they had lived to 2002.  No slide guitars or banjos, just traditional sentimentality.

I like this song a lot, but you know how sentimental I am.  And I'm not the only one - not only did this reach #6 on the Country chart, it also reached #27 on Billboard's 200.

Let It Be Christmas (Songwriter: Alan Jackson):

Let it be Christmas everywhere
In the hearts of all people
Both near and afar
Christmas everywhere
Feel the love of the season where ever you are
On the small country roads
Lined with green mistletoe
Big city streets where a thousand lights glow

Let it be Christmas everywhere
Let heavenly music fill the air
Let every heart sing
Let every bell ring
The story of hope and joy and peace
And let it be Christmas everywhere
Let heavenly music fill the air
Let anger and fear and hate disappear
Let there be love that lasts through the year
And let it be Christmas, Christmas everywhere

Let it be Christmas everywhere
With the gold and the silver, the green and the red
Christmas everywhere
In the smiles of all children asleep in their beds
In the eyes of young babies
Their first fallen snow
The elderly's memories that never grow old
Let it be Christmas everywhere
Let heavenly music fill the air
Let every heart sing
Let every bell ring
The story of hope and joy and peace
And let it be Christmas everywhere
Let heavenly music fill the air
Let anger and fear and hate disappear
Let there be love that lasts through the year
And let it be Christmas, Christmas everywhere

Let it be Christmas everywhere
In the songs that we sing
And the gifts that we bring
Christmas everywhere
In what this day means
And what we believe
From the sandy white beaches
Where blue water rolls
Snow covered mountains and valleys below

Let it be Christmas everywhere
Let heavenly music fill the air
Let every heart sing
Let every bell ring
The story of hope and joy and peace
And let it be Christmas everywhere
Let heavenly music fill the air
Let anger and fear and hate disappear
Let there be love that lasts through the year
And let it be Christmas, Christmas everywhere
Christmas everywhere
Christmas everywhere

Private Snafu

The Queen Of The World found this gem from World War II - animated War Department cartoons used to teach recruits.  The main character is Pvt Snafu, here getting in trouble by not maintaining his weapons:

This was the brainchild of Frank Capra, who pretty much organized Hollywood for the War Effort.  Warner Brothers beat out Disney for the contract, not only under bidding them but not requiring things like merchandising rights.  This episode (and a bunch more) was directed by Chuck Jones and has a very Looney Toons feel.

And the voice of Pvt Snafu?  Mel Blanc, of course.

Friday, December 16, 2022

A Christmas Story - Zombie version

I stole this from T-Bolt's archives.  His passing sure was a loss for our community.

Thursday, December 15, 2022

Wednesday, December 14, 2022

Thurl Ravenscroft - You're A Mean One Mr. Grinch

For years I thought this was sung by Boris Karloff, but he only narrated the show.  It was actually sung by Thurl Ravenscroft - the voice of Tony The Tiger.  And yes, Dr. Seuss wrote the lyrics.

You're a mean one, Mr. Grinch! You really are a heel You're as cuddly as a cactus You're as charming as an eel Mr. Grinch! You're a bad banana With a greasy black peel!

You're a monster, Mr. Grinch! Your heart's an empty hole Your brain is full of spiders You've got garlic in your soul Mr. Grinch! I wouldn't touch you With a thirty-nine-and-a-half foot pole!

You're a vile one, Mr. Grinch! You have termites in your smile You have all the tender sweetness Of a seasick crocodile Mr. Grinch! Given the choice between the two of you I'd take the seasick crocodile!

You're a foul one, Mr. Grinch! You're a nasty, nasty skunk! Your heart is full of unwashed socks Your soul is full of gunk Mr. Grinch! The three words that best describe you Are as follows, and I quote "Stink, stank, stunk!"

You're a rotter, Mr. Grinch! You're the king of sinful sots! Your heart's a dead tomato Splotched with moldy, purple spots Mr. Grinch! Your soul is an apalling dump-heap Overflowing with the most disgraceful Assortment of deplorable rubbish imaginable Mangled-up in tangled-up knots!

You nauseate me, Mr. Grinch! With a nauseous super naus! You're a crooked jerky jockey And you drive a crooked hoss Mr. Grinch! You're a three-decker sauerkraut And toadstool sandwich With arsenic sauce!

I'm told that Mike Rowe of "Dirty Jobs" fame (and professionally trained opera singer) does a mean version of this.


What are the best Christmas sweaters made from? 

Fleece Navidad.


Monday, December 12, 2022

The Past is a Different Place

 I remember these toys. If you got all the kids in the neighborhood together, we might have had all of them. We played army, cops and robbers, cowboys and indians. Later we got BB guns and slingshots. It was a very different place and time.


Sunday, December 11, 2022

The Carpenters - (There's No Place Like) Home For The Holidays

You can't describe this song without the word "iconic".  It's an iconic song, recorded by Perry Como in 1954, and this version is iconic - really the only version that you hear these days.  That's a bit unusual because it didn't really chart very high when it was released in 1984.  Perhaps it's because Karen Carpenter's vocals are liquid gold, and perhaps it's because she died before the album was released, but there's a depth (dare we say a bitter sweetness?) to this version that makes it the platonic ideal of a Christmas song.

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky - Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy

The 1940 film Fantasia is unique in film history, presenting a series of classical numbers animated by Walt Disney's very imaginative artists.  It was a great commercial success from the time where the mass audience was simply expected to appreciate great art.  Sic transit gloria mundi.

Tchaikovsky wrote The Nutcracker explicitly as a Christmas story.  Disney's animators did an outstanding job providing a winter spectacle.

Friday, December 9, 2022

Rest In Peace, Squadron Leader George Leonard “Johnny” Johnson, MBE, DFM (RAF – ret.)

The last of the Dam Busters has reported to the Final Muster.  Ave atque vale. 

As always, Dwight has the scoop.


Did you hear about the shepherd who got a traffic citation while driving in town?

He did a ewe turn.

Monday, December 5, 2022

Been busy

 It's The Queen Of The World's any my anniversary:

I'm back from the land of no wireless access, which was chosen for that very reason. You see, we've been busy.

The Queen Of The World and I tied the knot over the weekend.  I wasn't meaning to leave her behind when I move to Maryland at the end of the month, and there was a solution to that problem.  Happily, she said "yes".

I'm a lucky man:

The Queen Of The World and I were on a motorcycle trip to the beach. We'd only been dating a few weeks, and she was fun (and pretty as a picture), so off we went.

It ended in an accident. The bike went down fast, and hard. I broke a lot of bones and was in the ICU for days. Fortunately the fall didn't hurt her badly.

But I was the lucky one, because over the next few days I saw what an extraordinary woman she was. She arranged a rental car and trailer, got the bike loaded, and got the (very drugged up on pain killers) Borepatch home. And then took care of me for the weeks it took me to heal.


And so I realized that I hadn't fallen three feet that day, I'd fallen hopelessly in love with an extraordinary woman. Sure she was fun (and pretty as a picture), but she also was fiercely loyal and had a spine of tempered steel. I didn't stand a chance, and quite frankly would have had to have been the biggest fool on earth to let her get away.

So apologies to you, Gentle Reader, for the lack of posting.  But I've been distracted by an extraordinary woman.  No offense, but you play second fiddle to that - I hope you understand.

And so, while I would normally post Christmas music, this one is for my sweetheart, The Queen Of The World.

Sunday, December 4, 2022

St. Ambrose - Veni Redemptor Genitum

St. Ambrose is often described as one of the four Latin Doctors of the Church*, influential theologians who established the foundations of the church in the fourth century.  Unlike his compatriot Doctors, Ambrose was a most unusual saint.  He was the Roman governor of the province around Milan when he (kind of accidentally) became bishop of Milan.  He was quite popular as Governor and when the crowd was beginning to get rowdy debating who would become the next bishop, someone called out his name as a suggestion.  Suddenly it was a done deal

Except there was this little problem: not only was Ambrose not a priest, he wasn't even baptized as a Christian.  The crowd wasn't about to let minor issues like that stand between them and their new bishop.  So Governor Aurelius Ambrosius became Bishop Ambrose.

He was a force to be reckoned with, even excommunicating Emperor Theodosius the Great (I think that this was the first time this had ever happened).

He also composed the first Christmas Carol, Veni Redemptor Genitum (Come, Redeemer of the Nations).  It is still performed today, 1650 years later.


Veni, redemptor gentium;
ostende partum Virginis;
miretur omne saeculum:
talis decet partus Deum. 

English translation:
Come, Redeemer of the nations;
show forth the Virgin birth;
let every age marvel:
such a birth befits God.

Now the Christmas season is upon us.  It seemed right to start our annual christmas music posts with the very first Christmas carol.

* The others are St. Jerome, St. Augustine, and St. Gregory the Great.  It was sort of a Murderer's Row lineup of the early Church batting order. 

Friday, December 2, 2022

Amy Grant and Marc Martel - The Christmas Waltz

I heard a jazz version of this by Jeff Goldblum.  Who knew he could sing?   Spoiler Alert: he really can't.

But this is a fine song, well done by Amy Grant (Mrs. Vince Gill) and Marc Martel.