Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Hermit, the blog

Saturday was the 5th Annual Festivus For The Rest Of Us at Bone's. This year's total of 15 Festivites surpassed by one the all-time high of 14, achieved in 2006 and previously considered untouchable. Not only that, we had almost as many females as males this year -- which we'd never even come close to before, it's like the three-minute mile -- with a 7:8 ratio. Let's face it, around here that's as good as it gets.

There seemed to be two main grievances against me this year. One was that I'm non-committal. ("Whenever I ask Bone if he wants to do something, he says 'I don't know, that's still three days away.'" Blah blah blah.) Well, duh. I believe I've already delved into that here, like three years ago. So try and keep up.

The other major grievance was that I can sometimes be anti-social. Actually, I believe "hermit" was the term that was used. Answer me this: What's wrong with hermit? Why is everyone so down on hermit? I mean, Herman's Hermits was one of the biggest-selling bands of the British Invasion. And what about the hermit crab? It is one of the most lovable, easy-to-care-for of all the pets. It just doesn't like to go out a lot.

There was one added feature to this year's Festivus. After we ate, aired grievances and watched the Festivus episode of Seinfeld, we played a game of Scene It Seinfeld. I think we all know whose team won.

A couple other thoughts on Festivus: I'm more impressed by "Silver Pole" with each passing year. When I composed it, I never dreamt it would someday be a centerpiece of the Festivus celebration. Now it's become like the hot girl you somehow scored a few dates with in eleventh grade. You have no idea how it happened and you know you could never attain such heights again, but it still feels good to say, "Yeah, I did that."

Also, when one endeavors to do a thing like host one's own annual Festivus party, one never knows if that thing will be a flop like The Chevy Chase Show or if it will be something that endures for many years and changes people's lives, like Farm Aid. Thus, I am continually surprised at its inexplicable success and thankful to all those who never let me get too high by constantly reminding me of all the ways I disappoint them year after year.

And while I think it may violate some Festivus by-law to mention Festivus and Christmas in the same post, I'm doing it anyway. Some Christmas gifts of interest this year included a houndstooth toboggan, the New Kids On The Block Christmas CD (I only had the cassette!), and tickets to the Trans-Siberian Orchestra concert in Birmingham this weekend. We're gonna party like we're back in the USSR!

I really only received one true head-scratcher this year:

Ah yes, it's a silver elephant ashtray... thingy. At least, it looked like a tiny ashtray. I was later told it was a spoon-holder that goes on the stove. (Oddly enough, I needed one of those.) I just can't imagine the thought process that occurs for someone to see this item and think, "Ooo, that'd be perfect for Bone!"

What's even better is that I have no idea where it came from because, you know, I've never seen anything like it in my entire life, so I can't take it back.

That's all from Hermit Central. I wish you a new year filled with good health and all the things that make you happy.

I, of course, have yet to make New Year's plans.

"Woke up this mornin' feelin' fine. There's somethin' special on my mind. Last night I met a new girl in the neighborhood. Whoa, yeah, somethin' tells me I'm into somethin' good..."

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Although it's been said many times, many ways

Here we are in the midst of the fastest and--I do believe that old cliche--most wonderful week of the year. I threw a pork roast in the crock pot Monday. One thing doesn't have anything to do with the other. I just thought for historical record it should be noted that I cooked my first roast.

One of the highlights of my holiday season thus far has been having the opportunity to go caroling. I had either never been caroling or hadn't been since I was in school. It's hard to say as my memory gets foggy once you get past November.

Friday night, a group of ten of us loaded up in a rented church van. (Oh, the great tales that have started with that line.) We began by just going to houses of elderly people in the area that one person or another knew. But at the end of the night, we wound up at the nursing home.

Originally, we went there to sing for a specific person, but shortly after entering we found ourselves in an area where five or six residents in wheelchairs were sitting around. It just seemed like we should do something, so we sort of did an impromptu performance right there in the hall. After that, we wound up going to a couple of different rooms.

It was hard to see people who were in such bad shape. I wondered how frequently they had visitors. Or infrequently. I felt guilty when I thought about what my Christmas would be like compared to theirs. The image of a bedridden man mouthing the words to "Joy To The World" as we sang in his room--that will stay with me.

None of us said much as we left. It's hard to put the experience into words. But I think it's safe to say we were all affected. We were all glad we had decided to stop there, and I think to some degree, wished we would have gone there in the first place.

It was a re-centering of perspective, for sure. A reminder to be thankful for what I have. That time and good health are two things never to be taken for granted.

I'm off now to purchase a last-minute gift. I always like to go out to the stores a day or two before Christmas to soak up the atmosphere, be amongst the crowds, feel the cold, and hear Christmas music playing. You know, because I'm deranged like that. I dunno, that's a pure life moment for me. It only happens once a year, and the years--well I've learned to cherish them more as I go.

So Happy Festivus (today) and Merry Christmas from my humble abode to yours. I hope the season finds you in good health and good humor. But especially good health.

"Of all the gifts, love is the best..."

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A Trans-Siberian update

I'm sipping on my second cup of hot chocolate of the evening, listening to Trans-Siberian Orchestra. Anytime I hear someone say how nothing good came from of the fall of the Soviet empire, I remind them of TSO.

Sometimes I get really into the music and start pretending I'm conducting the orchestra with a series of emphatic arm movements. I don't know if I'm conducting correctly. But according to Wikipedia, "There are no absolute rules on how to conduct correctly, and a wide variety of different conducting styles exist." So I would venture to say that I'm pretty close.

Occasionally, it gets so intense that I go straight from conducting to playing air guitar behind my head, then I transition seamlessly into air piano. It's a sight to behold. It's like Slash meets "Flight of the Bumblebee" meets Billy Joel.

As you may have heard by now (or read in the comments to my last post), my beloved Crimson Tide are the SEC Champions in football following a 32-13 victory over the Florida Gators. We also had the first Heisman Trophy winner in school history. 'Tis a good year to be a Bama fan.

I'm trying to enjoy this incredible run of success, I really am. Things are going so well. Maybe a little too well? It's making me nervous. I don't like to be the favorite, the talk of the town, the cat's meow, the bee's knees. I'd rather be the cat's hack, or the bee's thorax. I'm much more comfortable being the underdog. That's probably why one of my favorite cartoon characters was Underdog. Also, I like Eric Cartman, Handy Smurf and Rocky (of ...and Bullwinkle fame).

Now it is on to Pasadena to play for the national championship. Bama's last national championship came in the 1992 season. Then, I was nineteen -- full of hope, dreams, and theoretically, a future. Now, I'm thirty-six -- a solitary man with a messy apartment who sits online playing Scrabble, swapping pictures with friends of nieces and nephews, and mostly avoiding interaction with the other humans. Football is all I have. OK, so it's always been all I have, but it wasn't so obvious back then.

Between now and then, it looks like Bone's 5th Annual Festivus For The Rest Of Us will take place. This, despite my perpetual indecision and general disdain for committing to things more than three days out. The past couple of years, I've been thinking maybe this is the year I won't do it. Then invariably, people start asking about it. First, it's one person. Then two. Then -- well, two's pretty much all it takes. By that time, I've begun printing out the lyrics to Silver Pole and reminiscing about Festivi past.

And so, in the immortal words of Frank Costanza, "Festivus is back! I'll get the pole out of the crawlspace."

"There'll be meatloaf, maybe pizza, at the Festivus meal. After grievances aired, hearts are heavy. Then it's time for feats of strength, it's Frank Costanza's big scene. Festivus won't be o'er till someone's pinned..."

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Thanksgiving revisited

I was googling "can you put tennis shoes in the dryer?" last evening when it hit me, I should probably look into getting a life. But more than that, I needed to blog. So here goeth.

It may seem odd, and a bit late, to blog about Thanksgiving on the Thursday following the holiday, but perhaps it is closer to keeping with tradition than you think. I mean, do you really think the Pilgrims got up Friday morning and blogged? No, they got up early and waited for the morning news courier to ride into town so they could get the latest on the John Alden horse-accident scandal -- aka the story that "rock"-ed Plymouth. (Source: Bone's Revisionist History of the 1600's: Vol. 34.)

Alden claimed it was a private matter, but there were too many questions. I mean, who's going for a ride around the village at 9:15 PM? Unless your name is Paul Revere and the British are indeed on their way, it's a little bit odd. And an auger in the bridle? How does that even happen?

Thanksgiving with the Bones may not have been historically significant nor had as much media coverage as some, but it was no less special. Breakfast at Dad's has become the tradition for Thanksgiving morning in recent years. It sort of has a "Breakfast At Wimbledon" ring to it, and is every bit as classy. If we had our own reality show, you would have learned on this week's episode that the Bones prefer their eggs scrambled and Mountain Dew is the beverage of choice.

For lunch, I went with a bit of non-traditional fare, enjoying some Chef Boyardee Beefaroni. It wound up being just enough to tide me over until dinner at Mom's. The menu there was turkey and ham, dressing, cranberry sauce, green beans, macaroni & cheese, cucumber salad, corn on the cob, coleslaw and mashed potatoes, with strawberry pretzel for dessert. (Once again, no cherry pie. I bet Marie Callender's family had cherry pie.)

Friday was the annual Alabama/Auburn game, also known as the day you don't schedule your wedding or funeral, that is if you actually want anyone to show up. (Personally, I don't believe you should schedule them on any day when there's a game, but then again I was raised strict orthodox Bama, so I'm old school like that.) The good guys pulled out an exciting 26-21 victory, turning Black Friday into Crimson Friday, and making my momma cry.

It's so easy to take for granted these holidays, time with family, and always having plenty to eat. But Thanksgivings and Christmases seem to get here faster every year. And they never last long enough. Already it's December. I swear I don't know where the years get off to anymore.

I just remembered one more little anecdote from the weekend. After Breakfast at Dad's, he and I were in the garage putting a new hood lift support thingy on my Jeep. He gave me his annual ya'll-don't-spend-too-much-on-me-for-Christmas-this-year speech. Then waxing philosophical said, "Son, the older you get, the less important gifts become. What I really appreciate about the holidays is all of us just getting to spend time together."

Which I took to mean that Santa will not be bringing Bone a new laptop this year.

"Eat that turkey all night long. Fifty million Elvis fans can't be wrong. Turkey lurkey doo and turkey lurkey dap. I eat that turkey then I take a nap..."