31 December 2012

2012:A Recap

Unbelievably, another year is drawing to a close. As I continue my uncontrolled spiral into middle-age, each year seems to pass even faster and that's certainly true of this year. Here we are - it's the last day of 2012.  It's an appropriate time to look back on the year that was.  Most importantly, I'm delighted to attest that the following did not happen:
We're still here
There was a lot of weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth over the anticipated end of the world that was slated, thanks to a non-existent Mayan prophecy, for just a few days ago. We're still here, people. However, if you really want it to be over, go download/rent the movie '2012.' The acting is so bad you will be looking to hang yourself from the nearest rafter. Speaking of hanging yourself from the nearest rafter, one of Satan's minions, Kim Kardashian, announced on the last day of this year, that she is spawning having a baby with Kanye West. If that's not a sign of the end of the world, I don't know what is.

On a much different note, things here in the Den look a bit different from what they did as 2012 dawned. We were living in the 'burbs of our beloved Chicago, where I was unemployed and knew that we probably wouldn't be in Chicago by the end of the year. Prayers were answered when I landed a great new gig and started in the beginning of March.  That began my five month fiesta of living in hotels and shuttling back and forth between New England and the Midwest. Good times.

While I got familiar with what would be our new life in this corner of New England, the stunningly patient and mighty fine SML remained in Chicagoland with the Boy while he finished school and she oversaw the sale of the house. Yet again, prayers were answered as our house sold in fairly quick order (for the craptastic real estate market that was Chicago earlier this year).  They joined me in June and they managed to do in three days what I could not do in months - find a house.  We were in a new home by the end of July. CAL came home from school at that point, just in time to help her mom get the house all set up.  We were 'home' in no time.

Home is conveniently sandwiched right in between Boston and New York City. We've been able to take advantage of both cities quite a bit since getting here. We've settled into a good groove here as well.  The Boy has adjusted well to a much, much smaller high school.  He's made good friends.  All in all, it's been a fairly good adjustment.

We've seen a bit of adjustment too. I'm not on the road as nearly as much now. While I did get back to France, China, and Singapore this year, I hardly traveled. One epic lost bag in Paris, but aside from that, travel was mostly incident-free. With me home more, the stunningly patient and mighty fine SML has probably earned her 'patient' title in spades.

We found ourselves adjusting to a changing family structure too.  Our Lady of Awesome graduated from college.  CAL turned 20. And then the Awesomes announced that they were on the baby train, thus making us grandparents. Grandparents! We could not be more excited for them and we are, selfishly, more than a little excited for what this means for us. While I'm still wrapping my arms around the idea of being a grandpa, I could not be more thrilled with the way this has all come together. It is a good thing.

So that's the 2012 recap of what went down in the Den. Feel free to go back through the year's posts for more highlights. Prayers were answered in droves this year. We've been blessed. We are grateful. We are looking forward to what 2013 brings. Thank you for spending some time in the Den this year.

27 December 2012


24 - it's more than just a number, people
24 hours - that's how many there are in a day
24, a Fox TV series, featuring the craptastic acting skills of one Keifer Sutherland
24 years - the number of years one Wendell H. Ford served in the U.S. Senate (I'm not making that up - Google it!)

But who cares about Wendell (with all apologies to Mr. Ford and his descendants, but I don't)...24 years today is the number of years that the stunningly patient and mighty fine SML and I have been married. Yep, it's our wedding anniversary.

Over the past several years on this day, I've paid homage to my wife in this forum.  The last thing people should take away from this is some kind of picture-perfect, Mormon Mommy blogger idyllic life that we are leading.  All you need to do is read a couple of posts here in the Den to understand that there's a reason (frankly, there's more than one) why my wife is called 'stunningly patient.'  And yet, she goes and does things like calling me 'the man of her dreams.' My wife has interesting dreams, let's leave it at that.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: I marvel to this day at how lucky I am. I could not be more lucky or more blessed. She is amazing. She's figured out how to give me enough rope without letting me hang myself. She's done an incredible job raising our three children. I was traveling an obscene amount when the kids were younger and so much was left to her to do alone. My children are who they are because of their mother's guidance, example, and love. It does not get better than that.

And now we are on the cusp of grandparenthood and what an incredible experience that will be!  I think the both of us are reasonably convinced that we are still young and somewhat cool.  Apparently this is not true, based on a decision we made today that in the eyes of our children lifted us out of complete dorkdom.  As an anniversary present to one another, we retired our nearly nine-year old mini-van.  Our Odyssey did yeoman's service for us, but at 100,000 miles, a winter in the snowy New England hills is just not in its future. So a four-wheel drive GMC Yukon, which we pick up on Saturday, joined the Den today. Based on our childrens' reactions (two of whom who are adults - mind you), you'd have thought that the stunningly patient and mighty fine SML had been driving JoJo the Dog-Faced Boy's AMC Pacer of Fun for the last several years. Ridiculous. Silly.

24. Like I said, it's more than just a number. It's our 24th anniversary today. I'm eager for many more. As I count my blessings tonight, they will start and end with she who has put up with me for all these 24 years. She's done more than just put up with me. She's loved me and for that I am a better man. And I am grateful.

26 December 2012


Today we celebrate, as we have for what is now the 20th year, the birth of CAL, our second child. I, for one, cannot believe that she is 20. That leaves us with just one teenager left in the Den.  As far as I can tell, and it's not even been one full day yet, CAL has moved into her twentieth year with grace and style, which is how she rolls anyway.

Her mother and I continue to be enormously impressed at the young woman she has become.  It's been interesting to talk with her since she's been home (and it's wonderful to have her home for the next few months,  thanks to BYU-I's weird track system).  CAL is a double-major in elementary education and special education and since the horrific classroom slaughter in Newtown, CT, we've had a bit of time to get her perspective as a future teacher. While she is not yet in a full-student teaching position, she's in an elementary school classroom every week, observing, interacting, and teaching.  She says that there security training is next to non-existent but instinctually, she knows what she and the other teachers would need to do to protect their children. She's also pretty irritated at how some of the media is putting the blame for the shooter's actions for his suspected place in the autism spectrum. Suffice to say, she's not having it.

I'm proud of my girl. I'm proud of the young woman she's become. She makes me smile with her love of music, some of which I simply don't get (it's OK...since I'm now on the grandfather track, I can say things like that). She makes me laugh when she is willing to take me on in an epically embarassing throwdown in 'Just Dance 4.' She's just a lot of fun to be around. I'm glad she's home to celebrate with us.

Happy birthday, Princess!

24 December 2012

The miracle of the tamales

When asked to describe me, a variety of words/descriptors might come to mind, several of which may not be printable in a family-friendly venue such as the Den. That said, one of the words that I don't think is top of mind when describing me is 'sentimental.'

I'm not particularly sentimental, nor am I a slave to tradition. Except when it comes to Cinco de Mayo and Christmas.  Could there be two less similar days? Yes and no. So what's the link? The food. In the Den, Christmas is another reason to celebrate the glory that is Mexican food*. A key part of that celebration is the tamale. For years now, I've been responsible for getting the tamales on the Christmas table. There is something very special about a tamale at Christmas.  Here's some insight as to why from the good people at the New York Times. In southern California, that was never a challenge. It was overflowing in tamale goodness. In the 'burbs of Chicago, it got a little more challenging, but all was well once I discovered multiple options in Aurora and Pilsen.  It was awesome and made for memorable meals, year after year.

Since moving to New England, I knew tamales were going to present a problem. For about the past week, I've been searching, to no avail. This is what happens when you live in the heart of "Connecticut Yankee" country. I mean this is where people wear pants with whales printed on them without a hint of irony. Believe you me when I say tamales aren't on a lot of folks' menu here.

I would not be deterred. I embarked on the final phase of my Yelp-guided journey this morning. After finding two of the suggested places closed, I sent out a despondent desperate message on Facebook. It wasn't a message. It was a cry, a plea, for help. Within minutes, the beginnings of a miracle began to unfold. A post from my Bishop's ('bishop' is my local ecclesiastical leader - this man is great, I mean he has a 'Nixon Now' bumper sticker on his car) wife (a fellow anti-Mittite), pointing me to an area of Hartford that would fit the bill, with the hopeful words that there was still time to get the blessed tamales. This was now hour four of my fruitless search and I hightailed it towards Hartford.

In short order, I found El Mercado. I also found that parking was at a premium, particularly where I could keep one eye on the car. I mean I was in the good car. Had I been in the Boy's car or the mini-van, I wouldn't have been so vigilant. I made multiple rounds of the block, searching for that parking spot. My search for a parking spot was fruitless and I was beginning to doubt that the search would be fulfilled.  It was then that I turned down a new street when I came upon this:

El Sarape Restaurante
Se vende tamales

Parking was available smack in front of the restaurant.  The sign, declaring that they sold tamales, drew me in like a moth to the flame. And right in front me, there they were. Tamales - pork and chicken - just waiting for me to buy them. I swear I heard an angelic choir singing as I gazed upon them. I think it was actually the theme song to the novela that was on the TV in the kitchen, but it was angelic all the same. A dozen of them were purchased and I was back in my car and on the way home in no time. For me, it was a miracle.

OK, miracle may be a stretch. More of a #firstworldproblem silliness, but for someone who is decidedly unsentimental, finding these tamales was awesome. It means a tradition I cling to will go on. It's something my family looks forward to and it will be great to be together tomorrow as we dive into this meal.

* - Don't get me wrong - we are keenly aware of the true reason for the season - celebrating the birth of our Savior. I so look forward to celebrating His birth tomorrow with my family. He is the real miracle of this season.

23 December 2012


From the late 70's, 1977 to be exact, as disco was reaching its zenith until 1981, Studio 54 in New York City was purported to be the world's most famous nightclub. It was the place to see and be seen in circles where that kind of thing mattered. As in so many things in pop culture deemed the "it" thing, the club's fame was fleeting and short-lived. By 1981, it was over, sold ignominiously by its ex-con owners. Its alleged coke-addled patrons moved on to the newest "it" place and Studio 54 never regained its former fame.

Studio 54 didn't amount to much. It didn't make it 5.4 years, let alone 54 years. It couldn't survive its own fame/infamy. Very little does in our pop-culture obsessed world today, except for the awful Kardashians, but I digress.

I know some people for whom the number 54 has some significance, especially today. They are decidedly not 'Studio 54' types. Never have been and never would be. I mean the man I am thinking of was more comfortable mowing the lawn in a suit, so hitting the glitter covered dance floor is beyond the realm of consideration. Of course, I speak of my parents.  Today, 23 December, would have been there 54th wedding anniversary.  They were married 50 years before my father died in 2009. In today's society, keeping a marriage together five years is seen as nothing short of wondrous, so my parents making it to 50 was frankly, a miracle akin to Moses' going mano-a-mano with the Red Sea and parting it.

I've told their story briefly here in the Den before in observance of their anniversary in past years. Here's what I know - I was born of goodly, and Godly, parents. They did their best as they started their family when most of their friends were already a ways down the child-rearing path. They did their best to juggle the demands of God, family, and professional work. My father never failed to put my mother first and make it clear that she was the 'Queen' in our home. Some today may call that old-fashioned, but I call it one of the reasons that theirs was a love affair of 50-plus years.  Theirs was a marriage that lasted, and I believe, will last for the eternities.  I am grateful for that and for their example. Eternally grateful.

It would be wonderful to be able to wish them both a happy anniversary today but that's not possible right now. I'll call my mom to be sure. I suspect my dad has been closer to her today than she might suspect. Even though death may separate us physically, we are never that far apart. In that, I am comforted.

20 December 2012

On the eve of the end of the world

It's over...allegedly
So the world has got its collective panties in a wad over a Mayan prediction of the end of the world at 6:12AM Eastern Time on 21 December 2012. Russians, whose growing interest in this blog is equal parts mysterious and terrifying, are hording vodka in advance of the impending doom. That seems logical.

As usual, we have this all wrong.  All wrong.  The Mayans never predicted the end of the world.  Read here for the background - fair warning, it's from NPR and I don't want to be the reason for a stroke from an unsuspecting reader who thinks NPR is a tool of Satan (it's not).

With all the hype, I've had the lyrics to R.E.M's "It's the End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)" banging around my head. What better to have rattling around in your head than an apocalyptic theme song? It's made better by the fact that it's sung by Michael Stipe, an American version of Morrissey. Nothing says 'end of the world' like ironic, plaintive, depressive activists.  If it is the end of the world as we know it, like Mr. Stipe, I do feel fine.

While the Mayan doomsday scenario seems to have been debunked, there is some rock-solid proof that the end is nigh: the McRib is back. What better, and by better I mean gut-wrenchingly appalling, food to usher us into the apocalypse! When all is said and done with this world, I am convinced three things will remain:

  • Cockroaches
  • The Kardashians, and
  • The McRib
I'll leave you to ponder that then on this, the alleged eve of the end of the world.

19 December 2012


There's a lot of this - comforting - going on 
Since the still too hard to absorb, let alone begin to comprehend, events of last Friday, when 20 children and seven adults were slaughtered by a madman, it's been difficult to think of much else. Living less than sixty miles from the site makes it all the more too close to home. It's all anyone can talk about.

It seems that there's comfort to be found in talking about it. The talk is now turning to taking action.  Not vengeful action for there is nothing to be done there, but rather, action to ensure this kind of violence does not affect another child, family, or community again. In my circle, people are resolute in the commitment to seeing that it doesn't happen again and that is comforting.

Comfort has been important in the last few days. I've been grateful to find comfort in my family.  CAL is home and the house feels complete again.  The stunningly patient and mighty fine SML made a lasagna last night and that warm comfort food, which is even better the second day, has done a yeoman's job in providing comfort.  I'm grateful to be surrounded by my family right now.

I've not had a lot of snark in me since last week's massacre. There's been a great deal of introspection.  I've been thinking of the families who lost their loved ones.  I've been thinking of the 'first responders' who have born the brunt of the horror of this.  I've thought much of the clergy who have been tasked with comforting the mourning families.  Regardless of the many faiths they represent, this cannot be an easy task and they have been in my thoughts and prayers. Their stories are compelling.  Jeff Benedict wrote of the experience of a Stake President from my church who rushed to the Parker family in Newtown as they learned of the loss of their daughter Emilie. Regardless of your faith background, it is a beautiful read. Read it here. I am in awe of what these men and women of God are doing as they serve those who are hurting so much.

It's comforting to know there are so many who are responding to the urge to do good in the face of this horror. Get on the #26actsofkindness bandwagon. Do something good, do something nice for someone else. Just because.

15 December 2012

The 5th

Five years on
The Fifth Dimension
Beethoven's Fifth
Fifth Disease
The Five Browns
Five Guys Burgers & Fries

Five. Today, 15 December, means that this post, with apologies to the Count from "Sesame Street," is brought to you by the number five. Why five? It's the fifth anniversary of the first post here in the Den.

Five years ago today on a snowy day in the 'burbs of Chicago, I opened up the Den with a post lamenting the snow.  648 posts later, I look out the window as I write this and the snow is falling. Remind me again why we left Southern California?  Seriously.  Remind me again.

This blog hasn't changed much in five years, I don't think.  It's been my space to unleash share my thoughts and take on things.  It's been a place to share what's happening in my life and that of my family , warts and all. My family certainly has changed in the last five years and I'm grateful that they've let me document it.  'Let' is probably being a little generous on my part, since I decide what gets posted.

I won't share the numbers behind the blog, but I'm gratified by those of you who've stepped to the plate and publicly acknowledged that you follow this written train wreck.  I've enjoyed most of all the comments.  I'm still trying to figure out the sudden surge of interest in the blog from Russia though.

So after five years, it looks like I'm here to stay. I hope you'll stick with me as well. Lots to look forward to, I think.


Today has been nothing less than surreal. Words fail describing what has happened. In a matter of minutes, 20 children and six adults were slaughtered a mere 60 some odd miles from our home. They were gunned down by nothing less than a cowardly madman. A cowardly madman who was armed to the hilt. It is absolutely senseless. I am gutted.

President Obama addressed the nation earlier tonight and his emotion was raw and visceral. 20 children will never see graduation or have their own families, as he put it, wiping away tears. The scope of this act is beyond comprehension. It hurts. It sickens. As the President so touchingly said, "They had their whole lives ahead of them."

And it begs a question - why are people permitted to carry assault weapons? They aren't hunting weapons. They are meant to do one thing and that is to kill a lot of people fast. That mission was achieved with sickening, gut-wrenching ease today. When the founding fathers spoke of the right to bear arms, it was NOT to ensure that movie theater audiences, mall goers, and elementary school children would be cut down by an armed maniac. But guess what? That's precisely what's happened in the last few months.

How many more people will have to die before we change our gun control laws? This madness has got to stop. I don't see how an anti-gun control advocate could sit own with one of the grieving Newtown parents and successfully defend their position. It grows more and more defenseless with each death.

This has to stop. Call your Senator, your Representative in Congress and tell them to make a stand against this madness. Make it stop. It.has.to.stop.

11 December 2012

The Quiet Car

Living in this little corner of New England now makes getting into New York City a different experience.  When we lived in Chicago, I was the King of the Same-Day Turn (6AM Theater of Cruelty Non-Stop to LGA on Mother United with a 6PM-ish, depending on the rage of Mother Nature and the angry ones at the FAA, return back to ORD). With NYC just about 125 miles away, no more flying is required, but I don't like driving into Midtown if I don't have to so I'm all about, wait for it, Amtrak. Say what you will about this government-owned operation, I'm digging them.

Aside from the cluster that is Penn Station, I am a total fan of the Amtrak now. And I'm an even bigger fan of the Quiet Car.  The what, you ask? It's a designated car on the train that is free from ringing cell phones and inane conversation. It's a quiet slice of heaven. It's also self-policed by those riding in that car.  Pity the fool who decides to start yammering into his cell phone about the latest deal he closed and how ridiculous his boss is. He'll very shortly be told to shut his yap (the politeness of this request depends solely on the obnoxiousness of the conversation being conducted on the phone) by one or more of his fellow passengers. Ignoring this rule is not to taken lightly.

What I enjoy most about the Quiet Car (QC) is that it is indeed quiet.  My ride is about three hours in each direction and when I score a seat in the QC, that time is mine to read, to think, and to just enjoy the quiet.  It's never library quiet as the trains aren't exactly "Whisperliners," but it's quiet enough to recognize how nice it is to have that, well, quiet.

There's a lot to be said for some periods of silence, for reflection, and simply, some time out.  I find I get that in the QC and I appreciate that. I'm sure it's a sign of my getting older that I relish that time, but I can't help it. There is so much distraction in the world and it's nice to have put some of that away, even if for just a few hours. So I'll continue to take advantage of rides in the Quiet Car whenever I can.

08 December 2012

And so the lights were hung

Well there's no denying that the Christmas season is upon us, no matter how I wish it weren't. I don't say that simply because of my Grinchian feelings toward so much of the detritus associated with this time of year. Christmas means the year is over and I am amazed at how fast each year passes as I continue this slog through middle-agedness.

It also means that I am forced delighted to drag out one of the Satan's playthings, the Little Giant Ladder, and hang the outdoor lights. Any tool / appliance that requires multiple viewings of the DVD instructions just to figure out how to unfold the demonic thing is something that must not be underestimated.  And yet, each year what do I do? I tempt fate and drag it out to hang the lights.

Given that we are in a new house this year, it took a little longer to figure out just how to get the lights hung. Thanks to the stupid placement of the electrical outlet, stringing the lights along the front of the house involved geometric equations. Geometry and I did not get along in high school (I walked out of the class the second week in, never to return, as I was the only senior in a class full of freshmen), so why some thirty years later would I be able to figure out such equations hanging off a stupid ladder?  Did I mention that it was misting and that I was wearing my most slippery cross-trainers?  Another excellent decision, I might add.

After a couple of false starts and some creative cursing (yes, there will be some repenting at the end of the day), the lights got hung. The stunningly patient and mighty fine SML has, as she does each year, done a phenomenal job beautifully decorating the house for Christmas. The least I can do is hang the lights outside. This much I know, it is only a matter of time before that ladder folds in on me or I slip off as I tend to hang the lights whenever the weather is bad. I guess nothing says Christmas like a little trip to the ER, cursing Santa all the way. Maybe next year...

02 December 2012

Sunday Service

A typical Sabbath observance here does not begin at 4AM, nor does it include shovels or respirators.  Today was an unusual day.  It was an awesome day.

Nearly fifty of us, including the stunningly patient and mighty fine SML and The Boy, from our little ward (parish, for those not familiar with Mormon lingo), met at 530AM, and after a brief Sacrament, we jumped in our cars and headed for Far Rockaway, NY, to join Mormon Helping Hands to provide relief from Huricane Sandy.

Believe it or not, nearly five weeks after her furious attack on the East Coast, Sandy still looms large for far too many of her victims.  It was positively surreal to drive around Far Rockaway, taking in the damage.  The air is still heavy with the smell of, well, mold.  The wreckage of flooded homes is everywhere.  The presence of the NYPD is pervasive and has all the feel of marshal law.

That said, what an experience it was to don our yellow vests and knock on the door of a family that had been waiting for help.  The Puerto Rican couple who we met and worked with could not have been more gracious.  It must have been a bit overwhelming to have more than twenty people swoop in, but it was amazing. With our respirator masks firmly in place, we went to work.  We took a water-logged basement down to its studs in a matter of hours.  Linoleum was ripped up as was a cast-iron tub that weighed a ton.  My foot can attest to that weight since it got dropped on my left foot.  As more and more debris piled up in front of this couple's home, more than one neighbor appealed for help as well.  We did what we could but there is still so much to be done.  The scale is truly epic.

After breaking for lunch, we were able to tackle another water-logged basement. This homeowner has still not been able to return home and the water in his basement was only pumped out yesterday.  Yesterday!  It hardly seems possible in a resource-rich nation like ours that five weeks have passed and homes are still water-logged.

With daylight disappearing, we had to call it a day. We could have stayed for days as there is still so much to be done.  I could not have been prouder to be a part of this group today.  Everyone worked so hard.  It was easy to forget yourself in the work, knowing it was making a difference.  There was no expectation that those people we helped today show up at one of our services in the near future.  We were there to help and to bless the lives of those who have had it rough of late.  The funny thing is that we were the ones who were truly blessed today.
Getting started
Insanely heavy tub
Clean up conga line
I can't say we'll have another Sabbath like this again soon, but it was awesome!

01 December 2012

Christmas Songs - The List

While waiting on an oil change and alignment on the stunningly patient and mighty fine SML's mini-van this afternoon, I was subjected to a non-stop barrage of Christmas music which included the song, "The Christmas Shoes." For the two you who have not been subjected heard this song (you should be grateful), it is an oozing maudlin pile set to music.  It is awful and it is one of the songs that makes me go all kinds of irritated Grinch this time of year.

Probably not the shoes the kid had in mind for his dying mother
With more than enough time on my hands at the dealership, after hearing this and a couple of other train wrecks, no thanks to 24/7 holiday music on every radio station, I got to thinking about the Christmas songs that are responsible for my loathing of this music. So, in no particular order, here's a few of the high, or low, lights from that list:

"The Christmas Shoes," NewSong - as noted previously, it's oozing, maudlin claptrap that goes straight for the jugular of weepy sentimentality. It's also why Christian pop is perceived as more cheesy than the entire state of Wisconsin.
Any Christmas song by Celine Dion - Our Lady of Quebec takes no prisoners when it comes to blowing out a song.  Tradition be scorned, my friends, as Celine will shatter any of your favorite carols with overextended notes and a screeching octave reach, rendering them impossible to enjoy again.
"Santa Baby," Madonna - Madge trying to channel Betty Boop with horrifying results.
"O Holy Night," Christina Aguilera - With the gusto she lends to this reverential hymn, you figure X-tina thought this song was about the doughnut shop on Sepulveda that she was going to hit on her way home from that recording session.  Much like the doughnut holes, she should have left this one alone.
"Wonderful Christmastime," Sir Paul McCartney - for this mess, Paul should have had his "Sir" title stripped.  This one gets in your head in much the same way the creature from "Alien" made himself at home within that poor guy's gut with the same gory results.
Any Christmas novelty song by anyone - there are just too many to list here, but you know the ones, like "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer."  If only the same had happened to the lyricist of that song before pen was put to paper...

To prove that I'm not completely soulless and filled with bitterness at this time of year, first you can thank me for not including audio/video files of any of the travesties listed above.  You're welcome.  Secondly, here's a peek at some of the Christmas music I do like:

"The Messiah," Handel - this is exquisite, absolutely exquisite. The story of our Savior's birth and mission set to Handel's music is as good as it gets. There's a version that the London Symphony Orchestra did that is in heavy rotation this time of year for me. The Mo'Tab has a version that knocks it out of the park as well.
"Do They Know It's Christmas?" Band Aid - most will probably say that this song should be in the list of horrors cataloged above, but I just can't do it. This almost single-handedly sums up my musical experience in my late teens and it managed to get people to think about the famine that was destroying Ethiopia at the time.  It was the 80's, remember? Not a decade known for its collective concern for the welfare of others.  Besides watching it today you can play a game called "Dead, Rehab, or Jail."  See how many people you can pick that fall into those categories.  If you default to Boy George or George Michael, you'll pretty much sweep the game.

I know I'm in the minority here on my distaste for the Christmas music scene.  It certainly didn't help that I worked retail in high school at a year-round Christmas store.  That will scar you for life. But I'll just hunker down with the music of "The Messiah" for next 24 days and all will be well.