Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Tracks (aka TrAXE)

Greetings and Happy Holidays to All!

Brent had an idea a few months back. He suggested that we do a Christmas album. He and I and his guitar teacher from Texas, Chase, all thought it was a good idea. We put together some tracks, brainstormed for some silly/cool names, and came up with this:

The Band is "Smells Okay to Me"
The Album is "Christmas TrAXE: A Bag Full of Carols"

And it is up on for anyone who wants to take a listen. We arranged them all ourselves, and all but one of them are "Public Domain", so you can download those. (It's all free!)

We hope you like it, and if you do, we'll be putting it out as a CD that you can order (details will follow, in plenty of time for NEXT Christmas).

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Christmouse Time is Here Again

So there we sat, two "Br"s and two "T"s, watching Arrested Development, when the dog (one of the "T"s) exploded.

This wasn't the "IED dog harness" type of explosion; this was the "Loony Tunes many-feet blur" type of explosion, and since we haven't clipped her toenails in a while, it took her some time to get enough traction on our hardwood floors to go after... Der Maus.

The mouse made it behind the hutch in the dining room just as I finished a spectacular super-sectional leap. I am not bragging. My leap was made even more spectacular in that I went from a supine position on the swivel chair to full ballet extension, paused the DVD, and landed in the entryway in one smooth movement. The smoothness was only slightly ruined by the Snoopy-dance I did on landing, but since it was less violent than the dog's explosion, and it allowed me to slide gracefully across the dining room in a manner envied by Brian Boitano, I will not feign humility.

Of course, with all of this grace and smoothness, the mouse saw us coming and made a break for the illusion of safety that is the Girl's Room. He dove under their dresser, and I snapped on the light, shouting for the "Br"s to bring me "a shoe or something smashy!" (Both arrived in seconds brandishing goofy looks, and not much else.)

As I excavated old socks, graded homework, karaoke CDs (dang, I could have done "The Middle" at Festivus!), flinging them every which way and barking strategic orders at the others, and trying to get the stupid dog to sniff where the mouse was, NOT the end of my finger. Brent stood in the hallway. "Hey, I see him... he's back behind the hutch!"

So we re-mobilized.

The hutch has a back panel that touches the floor, and Der Maus had foolishly pinned himself back there. If I had had an X-wing fighter, I could have flown it into the little Death Star trench formed by hutch and wall, and blown him away. I blocked my end with a spare cardboard box from the recycle pile, and hollered for backup at the other end, thinking to enact the trash compactor scene instead (still on the Star Wars references for those who are lost). But before one of my storm troopers could get there, Der Maus slipped around the end of the hutch, and disappeared under it.

Now armed with the sneakers of a Texan, the two "Br"s and I arrayed ourselves around the three exposed sides of the hutch. We took turns shouting out nose sightings in a bizarre, non-violent version of whack a mole. We were discussing our next move - something to do with the vacuum cleaner - when he bolted.

He was a scruffy little streak of dark brown. A teen aged girl, a dog, and two grown men chased it the 15 feet from the hutch to the stove without disturbing a single hair on his furry little body.

Once under the stove, Der Maus disappeared. We move the stove, and poked into its many dark crevasses, but to no avail.

Saddened, disheartened, and wretched, we left the dog on guard and went back to the important business we were about before our world was turned upside down.

Vengeance for this humiliation will... be... ours.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Let Me Be Clear

As hard as it is to believe, we are edging into the second year of Barack Obama's first term as President. And just as hard (for some) to believe, the world hasn't ended. But this decade is about to, and I thought I'd get a jump on some of the year end reflection.

About this time 10 years ago, my family was in England, waiting for the world to end because we were told that computers were too stupid to know the date. While it was a relief to wake up on January 1, 2000, and find that we were almost all still alive, some of us were a little disappointed because that meant living through the hangover from the 11 tequila jello-shooters from the night (and morning) before.

About 10 years ago we saw the Supreme Court elect a President who rode to power on a promise to shrink government and usher in an age of prosperity. Slightly less than half of the U.S. population thought this was going to be great, and slightly less than half thought it would be awful. Who knew they'd both be right?

We came home to America only to find that the bubble of prosperity didn't apply to us, and while we tried to find our feet, we witnessed the most horrifying thing to happen to America in my lifetime. It changed us all, causing some of us to turn to religion and some to abandon it; it caused some of us to become more engaged and some to drop out in disgust. But as violent and frightening as it was for everyone, we have managed to pull through. I can't speak for everyone, but I feel like things are finally starting to settle down a bit.

And unlike any that came before (as I have said in other places) last year's election was the first that felt to me like a real choice: a choice between two candidates that I could live with. No one is ever "perfect", but finding even one realistic candidate has never happened to me before, let alone TWO! (Then the GOP nominated Sarah Palin and narrowed the field to one again.)

Since the election of Barack Obama, I have heard a lot of scary predictions from many of my friends about the horrors that would result.

Some feared that "the blacks" would run amok with a black President in charge; they predicted riots and race wars. That didn't happen, unless you count a Supreme Court nominee taking pride in her heritage as a "riot".

Some have proclaimed that our nation is about to become some combination of Socialist, Communist, AND Nationalist under this "radical" Democrat; and they've claimed to represent half the nation in this belief. Neither of those claims are true, unless you count a few thousand angry FOX viewers as "half the nation", and use their bumper sticker daffynitions of 20th Century ideology to guide your personal political analysis.

And best of all, while there haven't been any great, flashy hero moments in the past year, we have (mostly) weathered the economic fallout from the last decade without completely disintegrating... again, as many predicted we would. And I was really worried about that, because so little of our supposed "wealth" from the last decade was built on anything substantial. Housing bubbles, cooked books, "ponzi" schemes... who knew where it would end? But it looks like it will, finally.

There is a lot of work to be done. Nothing is perfect. But from where I sit, we're getting back on track. And I look forward to quarreling, quibbling, and empathizing with all of you over the coming ten years. I hope you'll be there to enjoy it, too.