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I try, but mostly I can't shut up...


Hey friends, sorry to be gone so long. So much happening that I've gotten behind. Since my last post I've been to El Salvador and Jerusalem. Can you believe it? I'll be catching back up on my posts in the coming weeks, because it's all hitting the fan again right away. Emma and Steve are coming from England at the end of the month and then we're going back to Jerusalem to work on the Mt. Zion archaeological dig at the end of June. I know, right?

But today, I'm asking for a favor. Please read below and go vote for the On the Same Page Literary Festival so we can get some fab air time on our local NPR station. This year's Festival is going to be gangbusters. Here's who we have coming: Daniel Wallace, Philip Gerard, Wiley Cash, Wilton Barnhardt, Georgann Eubanks, Donna Campbell, Alan Hodges… That's some serious literary talent, folks!

So, please, read and vote:

The Arts Council needs your help. WFDD (fabulous NPR radio station in Winston Salem) is having a contest called ARTS AWARENESS, to win $4000 worth of marketing. There are 44 community organizations in the region that were accepted into the competition, and ON THE SAME PAGE LITERARY FESTIVAL is one of them!

We have until May 31st to garner as many votes as we can. You can vote every day and you can vote for 3 organizations each time, if you want. Catchlight Gallery is the other “local” group in the running.

It’s easy to do. Click on this link: https://polldaddy.com/poll/8025788/ (or copy it into your browser), then scroll down to On the Same Page (it’s all listed alphabetically), click on the little box, then go to the bottom of the page and click on “Vote.” That’s it! After you vote, you can see how many have voted for us and what percentage we are of the total votes cast. We’re not doing too well yet! So get on the computer EVERY day and vote for the Literary Festival. It is great exposure for us and if we were one of the winners, the bonus of the free advertising would be wonderful.

Please share this with family members and friends. We’ll only win, if we get the numbers up and the votes in. Remember, you vote every day!

Thanks for your help and support! Read More 
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It's Back!

Today we brought our piano out of storage and home. I should say "we" means Ben Fox from Fox Brothers Moving in Boone brought our piano out of storage. It's been in a climate-controlled concrete box for 5 months and we've been wondering what we were going to do.

I had reconciled myself to selling it and even toyed with the notion of donating. But damn… it's just not something that sells. Too big, too pricey, too, well, nice. And, this place we moved to -- it's perfect in just about every way --- except for the "piano question."

Now, we've decided on a rejiggering of things in this new (old) and smaller (thankfully) place. Originally, Henry was going to have his guitars and equipment in the finished basement downstairs. And, we up-fitted the detached one-car garage to be his office/study. Then, in December, he had a change of heart. And, I'm really glad.

Billy put in a new floor and painted in the downstairs office. With a bathroom right there AND the fact that Ginny the cat can be his study buddy again, I think Henry's happy with the rearrangement.

The garage room already looks like a great music space, even though it's all messy at the moment. The piano looks fabulous. I predict it will be very inspirational for us both. And, it won't be a bad place to visit either, with musical friends. Think I'll get my flute out in the next couple of days, too... Read More 
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Christmas Movie Review Vol. 4

It's Sunday and one hopes that means some good stuff, doesn't it? Especially for us here because we've got the predicted ice storm underway. I woke about 4:00 a.m. and it was 33 degrees and raining. By 7 or so, it had dropped a couple of degrees and ice began to form on the trees and deck. I'm leaving the outside lights on today to maybe make the ice look a little less threatening and a bit more festive. Late this afternoon the freezing rain is supposed to turn to all rain. Let's hope it does. It's time for the Ashe County Chorale Society Holiday concert and I really will miss singing tonight if it's a bust. Policy is that unless it's totally impassable or we've lost power at the Civic Center, the show will go on, even if it's just the singers with our spouses in the audience. It's probably not much more than a mile or two over there from my house, so I'm thinking I'll likely be a part of the hardy crew that makes it no matter what. Send good weather karma friends.

All of which means that I'll not see movies tonight, and if we lose power, maybe not today, either!

Here goes: ABC Fam has the vile Santa Baby bullshit on today… there's a sequel? Eww. Snowglobe is promising however and on at 10 this morning. I will miss the second new Cameron Mathison offering at 8, which I will definitely try and pick up when it's on later on. He's just borderline goofy enough for my taste, and not hideous to look at, either.  Read More 
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Christmas Movie Reviews Vol. 3

Here are the highlights! It's getting to be tough to track everything, so I'll try to hit the highlights here. "The Santa Clause" franchise gets started tonight on ABC Family channel. The first and third ones are on…what happened to the 2nd? I think these are pretty good stuff, I don't hate the kids, and I like the idea of Santa getting impressed into duty. ha ha ha ha "The Christmas Blessing" with Neil Patrick Harris is also on tonight. It's a sequel to the earlier story about the red shoes for dying mother. I like the realistic kids in this one. On Hallmark today/tonight there are several goodies which I've already reviewed: The Christmas Ornament, A Princess for Christmas and The Christmas Card are good. The rest is very bad schlock, including the stuff on the Hallmark Movie Channel.

Fair warning, though, to you Christmas movie fans -- one of the unfortunate side effects that accompanies the watching of Christmas movies is the commercials. Ugh. During the day it's all Medicare supplement plans and that jackass Fred Thompson hawking reverse mortgages all day. Towards evening it switches to a lot of Christian Mingle and you don't even want me to get started on that topic. Let's just say that Henry calls it "Christian Dingleberry" -- I think that is just the right amount of repugnant. I find myself in a troubling consumer target group. Oh dear.

Thank god "Christmas in Connecticut" was on this morning. A dose of finely acted black and white was a boon. Read More 
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Christmas Movie Reviews Vol. II

Well, not a stellar day in Christmas movie land but a few bright spots. Here in the mountains of North Carolina, we are being deluged with rain, which is somewhat worrying for us at the new/old house. All of the work on the outside (ripping down old aluminum siding on dormers, etc.) is done EXCEPT for the new gutters we need. Of course we're expecting a couple of inches of rain or more in the next 24 hours, so we'll be watching possible trouble spots. Oh well. That's progress, right?

Beginning tonight and into tomorrow things are supposed to get less wet and more fluffy though! Last predictions are for 1-3 inches of snow for us and we'll take it! I would love to go out for a tree on Friday with a little white stuff out there. Fingers crossed.

As for movies today in the wet downpour, you don't need to cross your fingers… you're screwed. There's a plethora of bad wedding/marriage dreich to be had and a couple of them include wedding/marriage Santa relatives shite which is way beyond even my tolerance level.

"The Christmas Song" is kind of fun though and you might give it a shot. It at least has some musical people in it, and features school choirs, which always gets my nostalgic attention. If you're brave and a Carrie Fisher fan, you might make it OK with "It's Christmas, Carol" although Carrie looks a little carved-scary if you know what I mean. "Christmas with Tucker" is a new dog movie this year that I haven't seen yet, so I will try to catch this one. Hat tip to Anne Lawing, the magnificent hair stylist, who has a dog named Tucker. I will check it out for her and let her know if she needs to watch it.

Tonight is one of my favorites, "November Christmas" which while sappy, has two of my favorite actors -- Sam Elliot and Northern Exposure's John Corbett. Both are heartthrobs for grownups, if you ask me. :) It's at 8 p.m. on the Hallmark Channel, so you basic cable folks will probably be able to get it.

Happy Thanksgiving Eve Eve, friends! As always, your comments and alternative reviews are gratefully welcomed. Read More 
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By Popular Demand - Chris' Christmas Movie Reviews - Volume 1

I've been posting Christmas movie reviews on Facebook the last week or so, and they seem to be quite popular. So, at Henry's suggestion, I am moving the process over to my blog and will link it up with Facebook. Holiday cheer to my blog and my Facebook friends.

Vol. 1

Here's how the weekend is shaping up for Christmas movies, I'll do some organization by theme. And boy, are there some icky trite themes going on…

An Accidental Christmas, Under the Mistletoe, A Bride for Christmas, All I Want for Christmas: all of these are in the getting-divorced-parents-back together, or, finding a spouse for widows genre. Who knew there were so many widowed young parents out there -- especially uber attractive young mothers with odd or quirky-looking children? The message here has nothing to do with Christmas and everything to do with the idea that there's no way to be single and happy…You MUST MUST get married! No other life will be fulfilling. Bleh.

Help for the Holidays, All About Christmas Eve - here we have the evil corporations/workaholics vs. blindly and sappily naive Christmas celebrants clashing to predictable and oh-so-stereotypical result. Not thought-provoking; more like barf-provoking.

Mistletoe over Manhatten is another entry in the bad Santa's children theme I've mentioned before. This one is a barf-worthy combination of the workaholic/divorce-ridden themes as well. Just eww.

And, of course we have the usual and customary Christmas Carol rip-offs or updates in the form of Kristen's Christmas Past starring nobody I'm interested in getting to know.

Moonlight & Mistletoe - stars Tom Arnold. I need say nothing more.

New ones (at least to me): Window Wonderland and Fir Crazy- I will give these a chance. There's also a Dolly Parton feature I haven't seen before called A Country Christmas, which has possibilities as long as it's not too cornpone and I am not forced to listen to a lot of what passes for country music these days.

Good ones to catch: Trading Christmas is kind of fun and features a hilarious couple of scenes involving a clothes dryer in the basement. Lucky Christmas is not bad either. Both of these feature a bit more realistic characters who are "regular" people, which is probably why I like them.

Naughty or Nice is not a bad premise, but really is probably too long to be good - a mall elf finds Santa's Naughty or Nice list with predictably mixed results. On Strike for Christmas is interesting; I would watch but not be sad if I missed it this year. In this movie Daphne Zugnia plays a harried mom who is sick of doing everything for Christmas while her lazy-ass family sits around expecting it all to be just the way they like it. For some, this will of course resonate. If you're feeling put upon by your family watching this movie might make you feel better. :)

Home for Christmas is about about a newly-homeless woman and it would be good if she didn't get rescued by a man. Boo on the writers here; it could have been an interesting story.

I like Love at the Christmas Table with Danica McKellar (The Wonder Years and West Wing). It is a romance, but a small story surrounded with lots of typical family shenanigans, which are pretty fun.

OK - that will get you guys through the next few days. Opinions and counter-reviews welcome. Read More 
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In Aberdeen

Whirlwind would be a good word to describe the past couple of months. First there was the move to a new (old) house. It's a wonderful home and a great decision for us, but moving, even if it's only a few blocks, is just such an unmitigated pain.

Then there was the annual On the Same Page Literary Festival. Splendid is the word for this event. Great attendance, wonderful authors, and promising prospects for next year, too. But, it does make my feet hurt just thinking about it.

Next we whisked off to Scotland for a couple of weeks of scholarly pursuit by my Henry with our Professor friends, Janey & Peter, at the University of Aberdeen. That's what the pictures at right are all about. It's been a tremendous trip for Henry's academic pursuits. We have been treated like VIPs by all. But, my head is a little sore from thinking so hard; I can only imagine that Henry's is banging around inside his skull. Hanging around with really, really smart people for extended periods of time is challenging -- in a very good way, of course. Read More 
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WORDKEEPERS - Saturday, August 17

Come on out for Wordkeepers on Saturday, August 17, here in beautiful downtown West Jefferson. Hear some always great original prose and poetry from local/regional writers. It's free. We have refreshments (including wine!) and feature original music at 3 and readings at 4:00. Email me to reserve your spot if you want to share a 5-minute bit of your own original writing.  Read More 
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On Baseball Love

Here is the piece I read at Night of the Spoken Word here at the Ashe County Arts Center. Keep in mind when you're reading that it was written to be READ, and so excuse quirks of punctuation and grammar designed to help me in the performance. The truth is that by the time I finished writing this essay, I had to spend most of my editing and "tarting up" time cutting it, so it would fit into my 5-minute time limit. It seems I have a lot to say on this topic. And yes, I did wear my Tiger jersey to the event, the home jersey, the one with "Sparky" patch on the sleeve.

On Baseball Love

A few weeks ago, a friend asked me “Why do you love baseball so much?” Now, a lot of times people ask me a version of this question in a kind of snooty way. What they’re really saying is: “Really, baseball is so boring.” Or “Oh, baseball, that appeals to the tobacco-chewing sort, right?” But his was a serious question. He was honestly trying to figure it out.

So I’ve been thinking a lot about how to answer this baseball love question… I talked to one of my baseball-loving friends about it. He told me he always reminds his snobby writer friends of all the truly great writing about baseball. Ah ha. He was on to something there…  Read More 
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Night of the Spoken Word 2013

Saturday, May 25, is Night of the Spoken Word here in Ashe County. An annual event, it spawned Wordkeepers and the Mountain Memoirs Anthology that Scot Pope, Julie Townsend and I began a few years ago.

The event starts at 7:30 at the Ashe Arts Center, here in West Jefferson. Come on out and hear many of the contributors to Mountain Memoirs. I'll be reading an essay I've been working on about baseball. Read More 
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