28 December 2010

Can the Feast of the Holy Innocents be tragic and romantic simultaneously?

You bet.

Today, according to the calendar of the Roman Catholic Church, is the Feast of the Holy Innocents.  The feast commemorates the gospel story of King Herod's murdering of all young boys under the age of two in the vicinity of Bethlehem in an attempt to kill the newborn king about whom he had been told by the Magi on their way to pay him homage (Matthew 2:16). 

(I'm pretty sure, it's only at Christmas time when one uses the phrase "pay him homage"!  We need more homage paying the rest of the year, I believe.)

So, the tragic part of my blog's title question is pretty obvious, "but how's this in any way romantic?," I hear you asking. 

Well, on our honeymoon in late May/early June 1988, Martha and I went to the annual Spoleto Arts Festival in Charleston, South Carolina, at which one of the many excellent performances we attended was a new production by the Ensemble for Early Music of the Twelfth-Century musical drama from the Fleury Play Book," Herod and the Innocents -- in Latin -- at St. Patrick's Catholic Church!

Honeymoon memories of a wonderful trip and remarkable performances...Now THAT'S romantic!


23 December 2010

The word of the day is PRIORITIES

Sure, the tree remains undecorated, but the struffoli is made (by younger daughter and me...with excellent advice from the wife).

It's almost Christmas!

A Little Christmas Heresy

My latest blog for Blue-eyes.com...a take on Sinatra's recordings of Christmas carols

One of the best Christmas quotes EVER

...from the Head soundtrack album by the Monkees:

Frank Zappa: "That song was pretty white."

Mike Nesmith: "I'll tell you something else, the same thing goes for Christmas!

Crowd gasps.

19 December 2010

I think I've got "That Holiday Feeling" now!

     I've never understood the demise of the Bing Crosby/Perry Como/Andy Williams-type of Christmas special.  They were special (the only time all year you'd see them); they were cost-effective (a few wintry sets with fake snow and lots of candles), and they were straightforward (a hour of singing songs of the season).  They always happened in December (no matter how early Thanksgiving came!), they manged to evoke Christmas memories from kids from one to 92 (whether they had memories to evoke or not), and, most importantly of all, they signaled that Christmas was indeed coming.
      Well, just that signal has been sent by Playhouse on Park with their cabaret That Holiday Feeling that closed this afternoon.  Directed and choreographed by Darlene Zoller, with musical direction by Colin Britt, the show intentionally and successfully brought back a flood of memories of my own watching Bing and Perry and Andy with my parents in the 60s and 70s.  (Confession: I always wanted to be Nathaniel Crosby).
     Singing a wonderful collection of familiar and not-so familiar songs, the talented cast of nine performers manged to be sentimental and funny and lyrical and sweet without ever becoming saccharine (or succumbing to the times' seemingly inescapable need for irony).
               Kevin Barlowski's funny "It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas"
               Dante Jeanfelix's energized "The Most Wonderful Time of the Year"
               Jenna Levitt's "River" (a song new to me, and, while not a new favorite, sung wonderfully)  
               Rick Fountain's mousy performance of "Rockin' Around the Christmas 'Cheese'" (despite not being able to sing most of his other numbers due to laryngitis)
               the male quartet of Kevin, Dante, Rick and Colin on the very witty pseudo-union-protest song "Elf's Lament"
and my personal favorite of the afternoon
          Becky LaBombard's "Christmas Stays the Same" (another song new to me but one that captured the show's ethos so perfectly and delivered with such warm sincerity that I wanted it to be reprised at program's end instead of the title song).
     These favorites should in no way suggest that remaining cast members (Carolyn Bell, Carolyn Cumming, Hillary Ekwall, and Victoria Thornsbury) somehow didn't deliver on such winning tunes as "Santa Baby," "Man Wanted," "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus, and "I'll be Home for Christmas, respectively, but, if every number's a highlight, then none is, of course.
     In sum: from start to finish, my younger daughter and I enjoyed ourselves tremendously and wished, as we were leaving the theater, that it had been snowing.  Bing, after all, would have wanted it that way.
     Here's one vote in favor of a Playhouse on Park cabaret becomes a holiday tradition.      

I wordled Sinatra!

This word cloud was generated from the introduction to Sinatra: But Buddy I'm a Kind of Poem (Entasis Press, 2008).

An Ava Gardner Cloud!

A cloud of the introduction to my anthology Ava Gardner: Touches of Venus (Entasis Press, 2010)!

17 December 2010

Let the Holidays begin!

1. Semester grading is finished.
2. Much Christmas shopping is already done
3. Two (more) holiday parties this weekend.
4. Once Upon a Mattress at Classical Magnet tomorrow.
5. That Holiday Feeling at Playhouse on Park on Sunday.
6. I have no chairing responsibilities anymore.
7. See #1 again.

Glad tidings of great joy!

13 December 2010

Sinatra: Verse versus Biography (Happy Birthday 2010)

Here's my Blue-Eyes.com blog in honor of Francis Albert's 95th Birthday!

Check out the book, David Lloyd's The Gospel According to Frank (New American Press).

12 December 2010

"It's a Wonderful Life" 2010

Zuzu Bailey (in George's arms near the Xmas tree): Look, Daddy, teacher says that whenever a bells rings an angel gets her bra and panty set.

George Bailey: That's right, Sweetie; that's right.  (Hugs Zuzu tighter.)  Way to go, Clarence!  (George winks.)

11 December 2010

Quick takes on Xmas

1. We bought our tree and got it in its stand in the house in just over an hour (a new record)!  We'll decorate it within the next week.  (Christmas is coming...)

2. I don't expect much from a Salvation Army keeper of a kettle, but, if I'm gonna put any money at all in there, I do expect a little bell-ringing and a "Merry Christmas."

3. The holiday films and music videos that Comcast has "On Demand" are just pathetic.

4. And, y'know, "Xmas" isn't taking Christ out of Christmas at all; its origins are the first two Greek letters of the name "Christ": Chi (X) and Rho (P)...which you may have seen in any number of places superimposed, as they are here:

09 December 2010

05 December 2010

Which BLANK are you?

Paradoxically, perhaps, the more time I spend on Facebook, the less in touch with almost everything I seem.  As Fb-ers know, there are all of these little "tests" that one can take and share ("Which Beatle are you?" "Which Hogwarts teacher are you?" "Which Star Wars Episode II character are you?" "Which Stieg Larsson girl are you?", etc...), none of which I really know enough to care about...well, except the Beatles one, and then I'm either Pete Best or Cynthia Lennon, so who cares?

I wish I had whatever technical knowledge one needs to create my own tests, but then I realize mine would surely be the ones no one else would take:

Which Cotton Mather opus are you? (7 possibilties depending upon how you answer the questions): The Magnalia Christi Americana, The Biblia Americana, The Christian Philosopher, The Wonders of the Invisible World,  Bonifacius, or Manductio as Ministerium


Which minor pop performer are you?: Toni Basil, Nick Gilder, Gilbert O'Sullivan, Sanford and Townsend, the 1910 Fruitgum Company


Which Montefusco are you?: The father, the mother, the priest son, the daughter married to the non-Italian, the non-Italian...

Well, you get the idea.  For the time being I'll just keep not taking the quizzes and not making up any of my own...

well, except maybe "Which Sinatra album are you?"