Saturday, February 09, 2008

You haul Sixteen Tons, whadaya get?

What you are looking at is indeed a truly historic document in my household. When I showed this one to the Mrs. the very first time, she stopped dead in her tracks, was completely speechless, and nearly teared up. When I told my family about it, they wanted proof so here it is.

This is the first paycheck I've earned and received in 8 1/2 years.

When my son Alex was born back in November, 1999, I gave up my less than lucrative career in retail management and officially became a "stay-at-home dad". My wife was in the last few years of a geriatric fellowship in Michigan and looking ahead to the summer of 2000 when we would leave the metro Detroit area and back home again to Indiana.

Since moving here, my wife has worked relentlessly for a retirement home as its director of health administration. She had the inevitable task of taking a facility still stuck in the 1950s and transform it into a state-of-the-art, 21st century facility complete with separate areas for assisted living, physical therapy, and a one-of-a-kind Alzheimer's unit that's been recognized nationally.

During this period, I've been taking care of the house, raising the kids, making the beds, cooking the meals, and dabbling on the home computer. I've witnessed each one of my children grow from mewling and puking infants to the cute, strong, and sometimes obstinate kids they've become.

As the kids keep growing, so does the list of things to do with them. What began as changing a diaper and letting the kids crawl around has become scouts after school for Alex (pickup at 4:30), cheerleading practice with Maggie (6-7), Alex's basketball practice (7-8), etc. Starting this fall, my youngest daughter Josie will begin pre-school and another list of duties will no doubtedly be added.

Seeing all these changes, my wife has been contemplating a change of her own for the past year or so. That change became a reality this past week when it was announced that she would be leaving her position effective at the end of March, 2008. She will be spending more time with us all and working closer to our home here in Fort Wayne.

Several months ago, I mentioned in one of my last posts of the year that "I might be heading back to the workplace". The job I now have is very, very part-time and I can set my own schedule. This can change at any moment depending on what offer my wife will take concerning her new job.

We'll see what cards are dealt us... I'm still keeping this blog and will try my best to post as much as I can. But if you don't see any activity for a long while, now you know why.


Sunday, February 03, 2008

The Yuleblog Welcome Wagon

We here at the yuleblog are always excited to find new Christmas blogs. We've had a great roster of blogs to choose from in our "Links" section located in the top right hand corner of our template.

We're pleased to announce several new blogs have been added:

Cheerful Earful - Inkydog, a veteran of, has decided to pitch a tent and open his own blog! Inky has posted several wonderful rare Christmas albums (Hugo & Luigi, Helen O'Connell, Jan Garber) and we heartily welcome him to the neighborhood!

Sanity Clause's Shanty - Sanity Clause's blog really caught my eye this year. He has some remarkable stuff like Jimmy Jenson (The Country Singing Swede) and a too-cool-for-words full-length Christmas mix for 2007. This is a comp that makes you sit up and swoon with delight at the amazing sounds assembled. Well done Sanity!

Santas Working Overtime - The good people at Senses Working Overtime decided to create a Christmas only blog. There is always something here that will tickle your Christmas fancy: podcasts, stocking stuffers full of MP3s, always amazing Christmas artwork, and Christmas links, links, and more links! Keep up the overtime work!

Jingle Bell Rocks - Mitchell Kezin is an independent filmmaker from Canada who is creating a documentary about the fascinating world of alternative Christmas music and their obsessive compulsives (Andy Cirzan, Jon Solomon, John Waters, Eddie Gorodetsky). Stop by his site and/or his Jingle Bell Rocks blog where updates can be found!

Christmas A Go Go! - Taking a long winters nap at present, this blog brings together Christmas like minded people every November and December with some fantastic international finds, lots of Christmas MP3s, and links to some pretty cool Christmas sites and comps! Any chance of a Christmas in July?

Feels Like Christmas - Didn't get your fill of Christmas MP3s last year? Want to give your clicking finger a workout? Then this is the place for you! Every song has been submitted by the artist themselves (meaning 100% free and legal Christmas downloads), it's easy to navigate, preview, and DL! Stop by and put the RIAA back in their place!

Christmas Shario - Dave is a Christmas kind of guy. That's why this blog is fully devoted to Christmas in all shapes and forms: Christmas LPs, links, old time radio broadcasts on MP3, video clips, and some cool images of Christmas art in all shapes and sizes. You're bound to find something over there and tell Dave the Capt sent ya!

Twelve Months Of Christmas - The Tone King hails from Kansas City, Missouri and began this new and exciting blog last year. His mission is to post Christmas songs off the beaten path of songs you hear commonly in stores and on radio stations in December. By the looks of it, he's on the right beaten path! Welcome neighbor!

Tacky Christmas Yards - Many blog names are vague and have very little to do with what's published there. However, this title says it all. Posting your submissions of the gaudiest, over-the-top, and (yes, I'll say it) tackiest Christmas house displays, this is a visual feast or famine depending on your point of view. And it must be viewed to be believed!

Santa Claus Blog - Did you know the Big Guy has his own blog? I didn't believe it at first... but I started reading. The more I read, the more I was convinced this was the one and only Santa Claus! Subjects range from talking about his exotic trips around the world with Mrs. Claus to his college football picks (who knew?). Santa tends to ramble but what do you expect from a guy who mainly says "Ho Ho Ho" out in public?

If there's a favorite Christmas blog that you have that I don't have listed in the links, please leave a link in the comments section below. There's no guarantee it will go up in the links section immediately but when I get a moment, I'll check them out and possibly add them later.


Saturday, February 02, 2008

David Hasselhoff - The Night Before Christmas

This was a present from my good friend Jeff Fox of Jeffco Productions. Since 2001, Jeff and I have shared our love of Christmas music, both good and (as you can see) bad.

Each year, we've tried to come up with something so utterly mindblowingly bad that it's good. Jeff loves RuPaul's Christmas album and continues to send me one song at a time through his comps. I countered several years ago with William Hung's Christmas album and then a mindblowing album from Wendy Rose.

When this album was released back in 2004, it never reached the shores of America. The German people have embraced the Hoff the way French people embrace Jerry Lewis. When the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, who was on German TV singing and celebrating with an over the top jacket?

This Christmas album was strictly a German import but that didn't stop Jeff. He found a copy via BitTorrent and sent me a copy (really, Jeff, you shouldn't have!). I fully concede now that musically I can't find anything that can top this. You won the war, Jeff!


1.) Twas The Night Before Christmas
This retelling of Clement Moore's poem (6:40!) exceeds the recommended daily allowance of ham by 200%.

2.) White Christmas
Whoever mixed this buried Hoff's voice behind a loud acoustic guitar, woodwinds, and strings... not bad!

3.) Joy To The World
This one shimmers throughout (the synthesized glitter and sparkle is incredible). Hoff's voice is buried again!

4.) Deck The Halls
Starts off acapella (you can hear David's sneer come across). By the end, the backing vocals & instruments totally obscure the Hoff.

5.) Silent Night
This wasn't too bad (mixed okay and everything). When David gets "serious" and monologues towards the end, duck and cover!

6.) God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
I'm guessing the engineer had both fingers in his ears when this was recorded. The mix is horrendous.

7.) Hark The Herald Angels
Whaddya know? A song in which I can HEAR Hasselhoff sing! And why am I happy about that?

8.) The Christmas Song
One piano, one bass, one voice... perhaps the best song on the album.

9.) O Holy Night
David sounds like he's standing at the far end of a soundstage and singing his heart out... not a bad thing!

10.) Jingle Bells
"Come on, y'all... you know this one!" We thought we did Dave. Surprisingly fair - a heartbeat has been detected!

11.) Feliz Navidad
No, he didn't... Sweet mercy, he did! The 9-1-1 call should sound pretty interesting...

12.) We Wish You A Merry Christmas
David's two daughters help to wish everyone a Merry Christmas... cute!

13.) Please Come Home For Christmas (duet with Gwen)
The only original song on the album, Gwen sings her part in German. Quite odd all around.

14.) Stille Nacht
Das Hoff singt dieses auf Deutsch... und läßt den Monolog... verflucht aus! (See below)

I have sat and listened to fourteen straight songs by Hasselhoff... I am dizzy, I am still alive, and, strangely, I am hungry for beer and sauerbraten.

At some point, Hasselhoff will accept the obvious, embrace the campiness surrounding him, and become the next William Shatner. David has flashed glimpses of this with his appearances in the films "Dodgeball" and "The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie" but nothing yet with records (a la Shatner's "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds"). When that happens, watch this album finally get released in America and rake in the $$$$.

BTW, if you haven't checked out Jeffco Productions, what are you waiting for? Chock full of his handiwork, Jeff has a Christmas section that's tough to beat. Did you know it's perfectly legal to post copyrighted albums in Canada (for the moment)? You'll find some rare and amazing Christmas LPs for the taking!

Jeff, thanks for the gift of the Hoff! I think I drew even this year when I sent you this Tori Spelling Christmas movie, no?


Friday, February 01, 2008

De 20 mest önskade julsångera (EMI-Sweden)

Of all the CDs I received as Christmas presents last year, the one you see here is the most special for many different reasons.

My friend Scott McMeen was travelling on business through Sweden shortly before Christmas last year. While shopping at a Swedish version of Target, he discovered this CD and thought it would fit in perfectly with my Christmas music collection.

Scott's family and I have been close since my first encounter with First Presbyterian Theater nearly four years ago. His wife Deb was one of my first co-stars in 2004 and took me under her wing immediately. Deb and I played two at-odds married Cub fans in the play "Bleacher Bums":

Then in 2006, I decided to act again in a play and discovered Deb and I were co-stars again. I played an Italian tenor (think Pavarotti) while she played a rich dowager (think Margaret Dumont) in the play "Lend Me A Tenor":

Scott and Deb's daughters (Courtney and Kelly) have babysat my children, helped me out at the theater as stage managers and light board operators, and even travelled with me last year to the Chicago version of "The Fest For Beatles' Fans".

In late 2006, Deb was diagnosed with leukemia and began chemotherapy. With her endless optimism, we all knew it was a matter of time before Deb would be released and auditioning for another play.

However, the playwright in the sky had other ideas and we lost Deb on March 19, 2007. At the funeral, I was named an honorary pallbearer and was the last speaker at her memorial service. I asked the assembled congregation to give my fellow co-star one final standing ovation with shouts of "bravo" - a fitting sendoff to a fellow thespian.

"De 20 mest önskade julsångera" is yet another addition to the growing number of Swedish Christmas songs in my collection. Some of these Christmas songs have come from Anna-Lena Lodenius' amazing comps, others have come from new album finds from the vinyl bins, and now this.

Sung in Swedish by well established Swedish artists (Ingmar Wixell, Ung Ton, Rolf Björling), many of these beautiful Christmas melodies take on a whole new life. "Nu så kommer julen", "En dörr på glänt", "Tomtarnas vaktparad" and especially "Sjömansjul på Hawaii" (a Swedish Christmas song about Hawaii?) are extremely catchy and the tunes will rattle around in your head after hearing them.

The standout tracks are "O, helga natt", "Bjällerklang", or "Stilla natt". To hear "O Holy Night", "Jingle Bells", and "Silent Night" in Swedish is priceless. It's amazing how much more wonderful these songs sound when sung in a foreign language.

EMI issued this compilation and it's available through their Swedish website (look at the top row middle to find this one).

Tack så mycket for the CD Scott! Looking forward to some of that award-winning guacamole at your Super Bowl party this weekend!