A FRIGID DAY FOR SHARING MY WORLD – Marilyn Armstrong

Share Your World on a Snowy Day – 12-3-19

It started snowing yesterday afternoon and hasn’t stopped yet. Sometimes, the snow has been mixed with rain and other times, it has been the “two inches per hour” blinding snow. It’s supposed to snow all night tonight with a heavy burst in the morning. I so badly wanted a nice cool snow-free winter. Oh well.

What’s your remedy for the Holiday blues?

North end of the commons – Photo Marilyn Armstrong

I don’t have that problem anymore. Not since I stopped spending half my annual salary on gifts for people who didn’t appreciate them!

Your favorite beverage (if it differs) during the holiday season?  If it doesn’t differ, just answer the ‘what’s your favorite beverage” part. 

I used to love eggnog. Homemade. But Garry and I don’t drink anymore and it’s so fattening. And the stuff they sell in the grocery just doesn’t do it for me.

This one has been asked before, but what’s your take on pumpkin spice?

I like some. I don’t think it belongs in absolutely EVERYTHING. I love the smell of it better than the way it tastes.

Is there is a person or god connected with your holiday? 

No. As far as how I feel about other peoples’ holidays, I absolutely do NOT care what you celebrate as long as you aren’t forcing it down my throat. Enjoy your celebration. I might be happy to enjoy it with you. I have nothing against Chrismas, Easter, or Ramadan. Or, for that matter, Hanukah. I love the food and the decorations. I even like church services and hymns.

I say “Happy Holiday” because I don’t always know what holiday someone is celebrating or not celebrating. We don’t wear patches that state our religious beliefs. When we do, we will all be damned.

Cee’s Flower of the Day


Share a song that you enjoy during this Winter season (whether it’s Christmas, Hanukkah, The Winter Solstice, Kwanzaa and so forth.


SYWeyesonworld

RAIN RAIN GO AWAY. PLEASE! — Marilyn Armstrong

Not only do I not feel well, but it has been pouring all week. Well, technically, it’s only “raining lightly” right now, but when I look out the window, it doesn’t look like “light” anything. It’s not only raining heavily, but it has been so dark it looks like the hour after sunset from morning until night.

I realized it’s after four so it really is getting dark, but it wasn’t much lighter two hours ago. And I just realized Thanksgiving is next week and no one has any plans … and with Christmas right behind it …

I’m not lacking in holiday sentiment. Just physically not feeling good and I don’t have money to spend, which always takes the “buzz” off the holidays. It’s going to be joyful, but mostly gift-free this year. I’m pretty sure that ALL of us are out of money and anyone who doesn’t have this virus, seems to have bronchitis.

It was so dark in my dining room, I really couldn’t take pictures. Too dark, even with a 1.8 mm lens. Supposedly it’s going to brighten up tomorrow, but it wasn’t supposed to rain today, either. Forecasts are becoming more like educated guesses.

Snow for the holidays is romantic. Pouring rain doesn’t capture the right spirit. Maybe the sun will shine next week!

CHICAGO CHRISTMAS – Rich Paschall

aka Chicago XXXVII, Rich Paschall

By now you have probably heard a lot of familiar Christmas music. It might be adding to the background noise at the mall. You may be hearing it in your auto on your Christmas radio station. You could be streaming that station on your computer or mobile device. You may even have a few old albums to put on the turn table or CDs to drop into your “boom box.” Whatever the case, the tunes may have been recycled for many years, even decades as Nat, Bing, Dean, and Burl; Frank, Perry, Gene and Andy, even Judy and Elvis bring you their “classics.” If you know at least 8 last names of the ten just mentioned, you may have heard their tunes a little too often. We have listed our favorites of these in our top ten tunes of Christmas Past, Dead Artists Edition.

More Christmas shopping, same Christmas songs?

It seems like there are about 20 songs in heavy rotation on the Christmas stations with another 20 sprinkled in from time to time. A newer artist might break into the play list this year, but will he or she stay there for long? The pop hit by the millenial artist is likely to fade away as quickly as the current release of the iphone. We always seem to go back to the same handful of tunes. Don’t you wish we could get some new holiday music?

“Christmas Rock with horns”

Well, someone has brought along some new Christmas music. In fact they have seven new tunes, eight if you count the R&B and ballad versions of the same song. Chicago the band (not the city) has a new Christmas album. It is the third Christmas album released by the group. Chicago XXV: The Christmas Album was released in 1998 and had 14 tunes. It is one of my favorite holiday albums. Tha arrangements are unmistakably Chicago. It was re-edited and re-released by Rhino records in 2003 as What’s It Gonna Be, Santa, containing a total of 20 songs.

The next holiday album was Chicago XXXIII: O Christmas Three in 2011. Why O Christmas THREE? Perhaps because it is the 33rd album? Maybe because they considered the two previous releases of XXV as two Christmas albums? This time out they don’t just pass aroung the vocals to various band members, as usual. They also have some guest artists, Dolly  Parton, Bebe Winans, and America (the band) to join them. Steve Cropper makes a guest appearance on guitar on the only origianl song, Rockin and Rollin on Christmas Day.

When producer and original band member Lee Loughnane (trumpet, vocals) asked band members earlier in the year if they had any original Christmas songs, he expected a contribution or two. Instead, he received more than they could use this time out. If you thought picking the songs was going to be difficult, arranging and recording was going to be more of a challenge. The band was on tour most of the year.

The group decided to use the same method to record this “studio” album as they did for the previous album, Chicago Now.  They employed a mobile recording system they referered to as “The Rig.” This allowed them to rehearse and record on the go, utilizing hotel rooms, the tour bus and other stops along the way. Not all band members needed to be present at once, as various tracks could be sent by web portal and mixed later. It worked before and the band proved again that they can use the latest technology to achieve what older bands are reluctant to try; that is, record new albums.

Arranging and recording while continuing to perform means the guys are always working. If you think that “rock with horns” sounds just happens, then we will share a short “making of” video from the band’s You Tube channel. Notice at one point they are rehearsing and recording on the tour bus.

If you want to get the full dose of how it was done, you can watch Chicago Christmas (Making Of) here. This gives a much better insight into the collaborative effort. You see the guys together in a hotel room working out the harmonies and the parts for each. For a “band on the run,” it is the modern way to work.

Along with the seven new songs this time out, there is Sleigh Ride 2019, Here We Come A Caroling  and Robert Lamm on a non-Christmas but very timely song, “What The World Needs Now Is Love.” You can add this new one to your play list:

You can find the CD on Amazon, or the band website, or you can download the album.  Perhaps you do not want to pay for an album of songs you have not heard. It is not likely the Christmas stations will play them, so the band has a good idea for you. Just as they did for O Christmas Three, Chicago has posted all of the songs on their You Tube channel. You can listen to the entire album here.

The band is making some appearances to promote the new music. You can catch them in the Macy’s Thanksiving Day Parade playing tunes along the parade route.

Sources: “Chicago XXXIII: O Christmas Three,” Wikipedia.
Chicago,” chicagotheband.com
Chicago Band, You Tube Channel

SKULKING IN THE SHADOWS — Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Skulk

This is one of those words that sounds like what it means. Skulking in the shadows in the darkened alleys of Gotham. Bwa-ha-ha-ha! The man in the black coat and fedora gum-shoeing after him. And somewhere, a cop, an FBI agent, and private-eye are lurking, waiting for the moment of truth if there is any such thing.

Reindeer, sleigh, snow guy, and a path.

It’s a great, cold day here on the Atlantic coast. A good day for skulking. Even the birds seem rather sinister. I think I’m too tired to feel sinister. And we have an evening event. At least the hearings are over and I can go back to having a permanent nervous breakdown.

All the buds … and notice in front the one red segment. That too will flower.

Does anyone believe we are already supposedly “in the holiday spirit?” I’m not sure what that means anymore. I think it’s mostly about taking my tree from last year, plugging it in and making it ready to do its annual job as “tree of the holidays.”


Personally, before the subject comes up (again), I don’t care whether you say Merry Christmas, Joyeux Noel, Good Chanuka, Felice Navidad, or Happy Kwanza. Or just “Hi, how are you?”

I do not care! It’s the thought that counts … and a fat envelope full of greenbacks wouldn’t hurt either.

CHRISTMAS EVE 2018 – Garry Armstrong

It was a very enjoyable Christmas Eve. A drama free (dee-lish) dinner.

Everyone enjoyed their gifts including the furry kids who hadn’t destroyed their toys as of Christmas morning.

I had a long and delightful phone chat with my family. Two younger Brothers, cousins, and cousin-in-law. I was able to hear everyone clearly (first time!) with my cochlear implant. I think I was a bit giddy because I rambled all over the place, chatting about how the cochlear implant has changed my life.

We shared memories about Christmases past. Lots of laughter as I said goodbye.

Owen brought over a bunch of old ’78’s (Those of a certain age know what I’m talking about).

We listened to vintage performances of Christmas music performed by Bing Crosby, Mahalia Jackson, Gene Autry and Red Foley. Yes, Red Foley. “White Christmas” is still a signature song of the season and it belongs to Harry Lillis “Bing” Crosby.

One of the 78’s contained soundtrack music from the 1942 film, “Holiday Inn” in which Bing Crosby introduced Irving Berlin’s beloved “White Christmas.” Gene Autry’s “Rudolph, The Red-Nosed Reindeer” brought back a rush of childhood memories as did a rendition of “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus.” I found myself singing along — softly — because I sing off-key.

What a blast! Thanks, Owen.

I, too, wonder about the mince-pie mystery.

What happened to mince-pie? Marilyn and I have been searching in recent weeks for mince-pie, fresh or frozen.  No luck.  No answers.  I just read an online piece about a cache of mince pies discovered in England, stashed in a basement — from World War Two. A Mom’s gift to her Son in the army. The pies are over 70 years old. No mention of how they taste.

This still doesn’t answer our mince-pie mystery. Russian collusion?

Christmas Day is upon us. The house is quiet. The furry kids are searching for their toys. Santa Claus has been very kind to us. Yes, Donzo, there is a Santa Claus.

I suppose he forgot about you.

RUDOLPH AND OTHER STORIES OF CHRISTMAS SONGS – Rich Paschall

Some of the stories behind our favorite Christmas songs, by Rich Paschall

I did not know Dasher, Dancer and the gang until I learned the song. Of course, I learned it rather young, so perhaps no one had a chance to tell me. Besides, why would I want to get to know them since “they never let poor Rudolph join in any reindeer games?” But then one foggy something eve, I guess it was, I learned more about him.

rudolph-the-red-nosed-reindeer-the-movie-1998b

Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer was a celebrity in this part of the country long before he became an international hit. Chicago-based department stores and mail order giant Montgomery Ward had been giving out their own coloring books at Christmas time for years. Robert L. May, an advertising copywriter, was assigned to come up with a Christmas story in 1939 — and Rudolph was the result.

When his wife passed away, the retailer offered to take May off the project, but he went on to complete it. The resulting book was distributed, but World War II stopped its publication due to restrictions on paper use. Rudolph made a grand reappearance in 1946.

Rudolph might have faded into a mere footnote of Christmas lore had it not been for May’s brother-in-law, songwriter Johnny Marks. He turned the story into a song, which made Rudolph famous throughout the country.

The song led to sequels by May, and eventually to television and movie specials. Rudolph really did “go down in history.”

The animated Christmas special is now over 50 years old and children and adults still watch today.

The song was recorded by cowboy star Gene Autry. Legend has it, he was not fond of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, but his wife liked the song. Autry’s 1949 recording became number 1 on the charts. It was the first number 1 song of the 1950s and became the second biggest-selling song of all time, until the 1980s.  Another Christmas classic was already number one.

The Christmas Song is commonly called “Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire” and also has a Chicago connection.

Musician, singer, actor, composer Mel Tormé, a Chicago native and performer about town before hitting the big time, wrote the classic in 40 minutes one sweltering July day in California in 1944.

Mel spotted a few of the opening lines in a notebook by Bob Wells, a frequent collaborator, and went on to finish them and add music. Wells had just been writing down a few cold weather ideas to help him deal with the hot summer weather.

The song was subsequently recorded by Nat “King” Cole and his trio in June 1946, but Cole convinced the record label to re-record the song with strings. It is the second version, recorded in August 1946, that became a hit. Cole went on to record it again in 1953 and 1961. The 1961 version is the one you hear continuously throughout the season. The vocal performance of the last version is considered the best of Cole’s recordings.

Tormé recorded the song too. Years later he added a verse and a “coda,” which came from “Here We Come A-Wassailing.” In 1992, the composer of one of the best known Christmas songs of all time, finally recorded an album of Christmas songs. Legend has it that The Christmas Song was not one of Tormé’s favorites, but he was grateful for the royalties.

The all time best-selling song was written for a movie, but not for the movie of the same name. White Christmas was one of twelve songs written by Irving Berlin that were included in his 1942 movie Holiday Inn.

The romantic comedy musical starred Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire with a storyline about two performers in love with the same girl. Crosby loses out to Astaire and leaves the musical act to run an Inn that is only open on holidays. Astaire comes to the Inn after his dance partner (yes, that same girl) leaves him, giving us the opportunity to hear a variety of holiday songs by legendary songwriter, Irving Berlin.

In the movie, White Christmas is a duet when we first hear it, and when it reappears late in the story, the female character Lila, played by Marjorie Reynolds, sings it.  The song picked up the Oscar for best song of 1942.  The recording by Bing Crosby the same year has gone on to sell over an estimated 50 million copies of the single and holds the top spot by far. If you consider all of the compilation albums on which it appears it is likely over 100 million.

It is the overwhelming popularity of the song that led to a movie entitled White Christmas. Of course, Bing Crosby is back in another role, this time teamed up with Danny Kaye. Fred Astaire turned down the project.

White Christmas, like Holiday Inn, achieved great success, but its soundtrack never got a remix into stereo for release as an album. The master recordings were destroyed in a fire.

SHARING MY WORLD – Marilyn Armstrong

Share Your Merry World 12-10-18

What’s the worst topping you could put on popcorn?   (credit to Teresa for this one)

Anything other than salt and maybe butter. But I can’t eat it anymore. Too slivery for aging gums.

In what country did Silent Night originate?

I was sure it was Germany, but am now told Austria. Go figure, right?


WARNING! The following question is NOT meant to start a fuss.  It’s merely a good discussion question in my opinion.  Most everyone knows where I stand on this. If you feel like arguing about it, please give it a pass.) We’re all adults and sensible ones at that.  We can be mature about such things, right?


How would you react if there was irrefutable proof that God doesn’t exist? How about if there was irrefutable proof that God does exist?

I wouldn’t believe it regardless. You can’t prove (or un-prove) faith. It’s an opinion, yay or nay. Unless God personally drops by and shows me his a photo ID, it’s faith.

What is the scariest non-banned item you could take on to a plane?

I haven’t the slightest idea. I’m not even sure what IS banned and I have no intention of traveling by plane.

Which version of the holiday celebration do you and your family enjoy?  By this I mean do you follow Jewish traditions with Hanukkah; Christian celebrations with Christmas and (for those over the pond) Boxing Day; or some other festivities that I’ve overlooked?   Please do share with everyone!  I truly feel that this sort of question lets us know a little more about our fellow bloggers without getting too personal (i.e. revealing too much of private lives, which some folks prefer to keep private.)

We just have a little tree. We watch old holiday movies. Garry loves Christmas Eve church, but it always gets held right at dinner time, so we never get there. Which is a pity, because regardless of religion, I love Christmas Carols and know a ton of them. I learned them for Glee Club in elementary school. That was before we weren’t allowed to learn anything with religious content. I didn’t even know the songs were Christian. I just thought they were pretty.

Actually, thinking about it, I know more religious music than most people because, as a music major, I spent years learning Gregorian chant and other early Western music. I’m sure I had my mother very worried.

If you study music, an awful lot of it is religious. Western music started as chanting and “grew up” in churches. When you study music, it’s a long time before you emerge from religious music to “modern” music … and a lot of our modern music is based on old church music too.

I don’t think anyone should be forced to follow anyone else’s religion, but I also think trying to remove all traces of religion from the world is silly. You can’t do it. Religion and religious thought are woven into the way we think. It’s organic. Nor do I think there’s any reason why you can’t believe in god or gods — and yet be a scientist or mathematician. I have never understood why one thing negates the other.

Not all of the things we believe are Judaic or Christian, either. There’s a lot of much older stuff woven into modern thought. There are many reminders of more ancient religions which are part of “modern” thinking.

Sorry for going on so long. This was what I studied in school. It began with music but moved into religious philosophy. I wrote papers about it. I still dream about it.

The near decade I spent in Israel was no coincidence. Despite what I may have said, my travels had nothing to do with how many times I read “Exodus” (the novel by Leon Uris, not the second book of the Torah).

I needed to be there. Because I needed to understand. Things.