For Auld Lang Syne

>> Wednesday, December 31, 2008



May the coming year bring happiness, peace, and prosperity to you all, dear bloggy friends. Happy New Year.




Eddi Reader at the opening of the new Scottish Parliament, 2004.

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The World's most beautiful music: Patrick Cassidy's Vide cor meum

>> Tuesday, December 30, 2008


Vide Cor Meum is a song composed by Patrick Cassidy based on Dante's "La Vita Nuova", specifically on the sonnet "A ciascun'alma presa", in chapter 3 of the Vita Nuova. The song was produced by Patrick Cassidy and Hans Zimmer and was performed by Libera / Lyndhurst Orchestrathe, conducted by Gavin Greenaway. Singers are Danielle de Niese and Bruno Lazzaretti, who play Beatrice and Dante, respectively.

The song first appeared in the movie Hannibal, while Dr. Hannibal Lecter and Inspector Pazzi see an outdoor opera in Florence, and was especially composed for the movie. This aria was chosen to be performed at the Oscars in 2002 during the presentation of a lifetime achievement award to producer Dino De Laurentiis and at the 53rd Annual Emmy awards.

It was used later in Ridley Scott's Kingdom of Heaven, during King Baldwin IV's funeral.

Information Source: Wikipedia

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Today's entry postponed due to illness

>> Monday, December 29, 2008


I've been hit with one of the worst colds that I've had in...I don't remember when. So I beg your forgiveness for my lack of energy or motivation in regards to my blog. Now, if you will excuse me, I'm going to go and feed the poor cat, who has been waiting patiently, and then I'm going back to bed.

AAAAAACHOOOOO!!!

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Gender Bending Through the Ages: To Wong Foo

>> Sunday, December 28, 2008


After Vida Boheme,(Patrick Swayze), and Noxeema Jackson, (Wesley Snipes), win a major New York drag contest and a trip to Hollywood, they are persuaded to take the inexperienced drag princess, Chi-Chi, (John Leguizamo), with them. They hire a beat-up old Cadillac and set off for Los Angeles, but their car breaks down in a small town in the middle of nowhere. With just their wits and an endless supply of garish costumes, they transform the town and everyone who lives there--until homophobic cop Sheriff Dollard catches up with them...

Synopsis by Michael Brooke

The Four Steps to Becoming a Drag Queen:

1. Let Good Thoughts be your Sword and Shield
2. Ignore Adversity
3. Abide by the Rules of Love
4. Larger Than Life is Just the Right Size

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So I'm a sucker for baritones: Dick Haymes

>> Saturday, December 27, 2008


I remember falling in love with this sweetie when I was but a starry-eyed 14-year-old watching State Fair on television. Ah! Young love!

Dick Haymes (September 13, 1918 – March 28, 1980) was an actor and one of the most popular male vocalists of the 1940s and early 1950s.

He was born Richard Benjamin Haymes in Buenos Aires, Argentina. His Irish-born mother, Marguerite Haymes (1894-1987), was a well-known vocal coach and instructor. He became the vocalist in a number of big bands, worked in Hollywood on radio and in many films throughout the 1940s and 1950s.

He never became a United States citizen and avoided military service during World War II by asserting his non-belligerent status as a citizen of Argentina, which was neutral. In 1955, this act of his nearly caused his deportation to Argentina on an unrelated technicality in immigration law. During World War II, he was briefly detained at Ellis Island.

Haymes was married six times and had six children. His more notable marriages were to film actresses Joanne Dru (1941-1949), Rita Hayworth (1953-1955) and Fran Jeffries (1958-1964). His daughter Stephanie Haymes was married to Sir Elton John's lyricist Bernie Taupin

He died in Los Angeles from lung cancer, at the age of 63.

Information Source: Wikipedia

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A Window to My Soul

>> Friday, December 26, 2008


I've done it again. I've created another new blog, this one being of a more personal nature, a place where I can go to express my own journey, my spirituality, my hopes & fears, and my coming to terms with my life experiences. I invite you to come over and take a look!

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A Wintry Sonnet





A Robin said: The Spring will never come,

And I shall never care to build again.

A Rosebush said: These frosts are wearisome,

My sap will never stir for sun or rain.

The half Moon said: These nights are fogged and slow,

I neither care to wax nor care to wane.

The Ocean said: I thirst from long ago,

Because earth’s rivers cannot fill the main.-

When Springtime came, red Robin built a nest,

And trilled a lover’s song in sheer delight.

Grey hoarfrost vanished, and the Rose with might

Clothed her in leaves and buds of crimson core.

The dim Moon brightened. Ocean sunned his crest,

Dimpled his blue, yet thirsted evermore.



Christina Rossetti




Piano Concerto 23 in A major, ADAGIO by W.A. Mozart

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Gloria!

>> Thursday, December 25, 2008



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The promise of rebirth

>> Wednesday, December 24, 2008



A newborn child with eyes so bright
You are, indeed, a wondrous sight
Your skin is soft; your features small
But, you are loved by one and all
I know tears fell from cherubs’ eyes
As they embraced you with goodbyes
Before you flew from high above
To grace us with God’s gift of love.

~ Jill Eisnaugle




Gloucester Cathedral Choir: In the Bleak Midwinter

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Christmas magic!

>> Tuesday, December 23, 2008




Watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don't believe in magic will never find it. ~ Roald Dahl


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Ancient Carols: God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman

>> Monday, December 22, 2008


"Like so many early Christmas songs, this carol was written as a direct reaction to the music of the fifteenth century church," writes Ace Collins, in Stories Behind the Best-Loved Songs of Christmas. It was the most popular of the early carols, sung for centuries before being published in Britain in 1833, when it appeared in Christmas Carols Ancient and Modern, a collection of seasonal carols gathered by William B. Sandys, though its incipit was in William Hone's "List of Christmas carols now annually printed" in Ancient Mysteries Described, 1823. The author is unknown.

It is referred to in Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, 1843: "...at the first sound of — "God bless you merry, gentlemen! May nothing you dismay!"— Scrooge seized the ruler with such energy of action, that the singer fled in terror, leaving the keyhole to the fog and even more congenial frost."

Information Source: Wikipedia

This recording features Loreena McKennitt performing the traditional carol employing the use of ancient instruments. It has a very distinct Middle Eastern flavor that makes this performance very unusual and compelling.

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So I'm a sucker for baritones: Robert Goulet

>> Sunday, December 21, 2008


The original Broadway Lancelot. The man with the golden voice. No one could sing it like Robert Goulet. If you really want a treat I encourage you to go over to his official website and click onto the link of his holiday favorites, (or click onto the direct link that I've provided below). They've graciously posted an entire MP3 album of Goulet's holiday hits!

Robert Gerard Goulet (November 26, 1933 – October 30, 2007) was a Canadian-American Grammy- and Tony Award- winning entertainer. He rose to international stardom in 1960 as Lancelot in Lerner and Loewe's hit Broadway musical Camelot. His long career as a singer and actor encompassed theatre, radio, television and film. Enjoying most of his career in the United States, he later took permanent residence there (Goulet was an American citizen, having been born in Massachusetts and raised in the United States until the age of 13). He did seek Canadian citizenship later in life, owing to his parentage.

On September 30, 2007, Goulet was hospitalized in Las Vegas, where he was diagnosed with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, "a rare but rapidly progressive and potentially fatal condition." On October 13, 2007, he was transferred to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles after it was determined he "would not survive without an emergency lung transplant."

Goulet died October 30 at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, while awaiting a lung transplant. He was 73 years old.

Information Source: Wikipedia

Click here to hear more of Mr. Goulet's Holiday favorites!



Robert Goulet sings the Cesar Franck Panis Angelicus

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The Winchester Cathedral Choir: Away in a Manger

>> Saturday, December 20, 2008




So sweet, so simple.
What could be more lovely than this?



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The New York Jew and the most beloved Christmas song in American history

>> Friday, December 19, 2008


Holiday Inn is a 1942 film starring Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire, which featured the music of Irving Berlin. The film features twelve new songs, one brief use of "Oh How I Hate to Get Up in the Morning," written in 1917 for the World War I musical "Yip Yip Yaphank" which was reprised on Broadway in 1942 under the title "This Is the Army" and a complete reuse of "Easter Parade," written for the 1933 Broadway review "As Thousands Cheer". An original song from this movie is "White Christmas", a tune that is still very popular in the United States.

The song that would eventually become "White Christmas" was originally conceived by Berlin on the set of the film Top Hat in 1935. He allegedly hummed the melody to Astaire and the film's director Mark Sandrich as a song possibility for a future Astaire-Ginger Rogers vehicle. Astaire loved the tune, but Sandrich passed on it. Berlin's assignment for Paramount was to write a song about each of the major holidays of the year. He found that writing a song about Christmas was the most challenging. When Crosby first heard Berlin play "White Christmas" in 1941 at the first rehearsals, he did not immediately recognize its full potential. Crosby simply said, "I don't think we have any problems with that one, Irving."

Information source: Wikipedia

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The music of Black America: The Boys Choir of Harlem

>> Thursday, December 18, 2008


The Boys Choir of Harlem (also known as the Harlem Boys Choir) is a choir located in Harlem, New York City, United States.

Founded in 1968 by Dr. Walter Turnbull at the Ephesus Seventh-day Adventist Church in Harlem, the choir grew to be more than just a performing group. The Choir Academy of Harlem also for some time ran a school overseen by the New York City Department of Education and had at its peak a student body of over 500 boys and girls, though they were evicted from the school facility in 2006.

The choir is internationally known. Performers receive rigorous voice training and perform many types of music, including classical, hip-hop, R&B, jazz, and gospel music. Over 150,000 people see the choir live each year across the United States as well as in Canada, France, Japan, The Netherlands, and the United Kingdom. The Boys Choir of Harlem are also the recipients of a Grammy. Unlike its Austrian cousin, the Vienna Boys Choir, the Boys Choir of Harlem does not adhere to a policy of including those young men who have not reached puberty. The range of the music performed is such that it requires natural boy sopranos whose voices have not yet changed and more mature voices of teenagers like tenor and bass voices.

The choir has performed on soundtracks for films including Glory, Malcolm X and many Spike Lee films and has performed for Presidents at the White House, and dignitaries at the United Nations. It also performed live for the visits of Nelson Mandela and Pope John Paul II. It performed on Chicago rapper Kanye West's song, "Two Words" and "Jesus Walks." The choir also performed "America the Beautiful" to open WrestleMania XX. Following the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center, the choir performed "God Bless America" at the Cantor Fitzgerald memorial service in Central Park, as seen in In Memoriam: New York City 9/11/01. The boys' voices have also appeared on albums with Michael Jackson, Kathleen Battle, Luciano Pavarotti, Quincy Jones, Kiss and many more.

In 1995 they performed in The Wizard of Oz in Concert: Dreams Come True a musical performance of the popular story at Lincoln Center to benefit the Children's Defense Fund. The performance was originally broadcast on Turner Network Television (TNT), and issued on CD and video in 1996.

The choir for many years enjoyed the sponsorship of the City of New York, which gave them free use of the Arthur Schomburg School on East 127th Street in Harlem by former NYC Mayor David Dinkins. However, the choir has lost this support through a series of scandals. First, a lack of financial controls led to the program running up a $5 million deficit. Second, in 2001, the choir's chief counselor sexually abused a student and Dr. Turnbull did not fire him or report the abuse to authorities. As a result, in early 2006 Dr. Turnbull and other choir staff were kicked out of their long-time home. The Choir has now relocated to the Metropolitan Community Methodist Church.

The majority of the choir's members are African American or Hispanic.

Dr. Walter Turnbull died at age 62 on March 23, 2007 in a New York City hospital. He had reportedly suffered a stroke months earlier.

Information Source: Wikipedia

This video features Soprano Kathleen Battle with the Harlem Boys Choir in the mid 1990's.

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Simply glorious!

>> Wednesday, December 17, 2008


Mere words cannot describe the emotion that surges through me when I listen to someone sing this fabulous Mozart "Laudamus Te" from his Great C Minor Mass with such energy, joy, and enthusiasm! This is how Mozart is to be sung! Brava, Ms. Fleming!

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You never know what the elves are up to while you're asleep

>> Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Steph did this last night while I was asleep. I never know what kind of surprise I'm going to awaken to when I get up every morning, but this one busted me up so much that I had to re-post it here.

Send your own ElfYourself eCards

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Ancient Carols: The Wexford Carol


The Wexford Carol (Irish: Carúl Loch Garman) is a traditional religious Irish Christmas carol originating from County Wexford, and specifically, Enniscorthy (whence its name), and dating to the 12th century. The subject of the song is that of the nativity of Jesus Christ.

The song is sometimes known by its first verse, "Good people all this Christmas time."

Information source: Wikipedia


Good people all, this Christmas-time,
Consider well and bear in mind
What our good God for us has done
In sending his beloved Son.
With Mary holy we should pray
To God with love this Christmas day;
In Bethlehem upon that morn
There was a blessed Messiah born.

The night before that happy tide
The noble Virgin and her guide
Were long time seeking up and down
To find a lodging in the town.
But mark how all things came to pass;
From every door repelled alas!
As long foretold, their refuge all
Was but an humble ox's stall.

There were three wise men from afar
Directed by a glorious star,
And on they wandered night and day
Until they came where Jesus lay,
And when they came unto that place
Where our beloved Messiah was,
They humbly cast them at his feet,
With gifts of gold and incense sweet.

Near Bethlehem did shepherds keep
Their flocks of lambs and feeding sheep;
To whom God's angels did appear,
Which put the shepherds in great fear.
'Prepare and go', the angles said.
'To Bethlehem, be not afraid:
For there you'll find, this happy morn,
A princely babe, sweet Jesus born.

With thankful heart and joyful mind,
The shepherds went the babe to find,
And as God's angel had foretold,
They did our saviour Christ behold.
Within a manger he was laid,
And by his side the virgin maid,
Attending on the Lord of life,
Who came on earth to end all strife.


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Gentleness, kindness: Begin with yourself

>> Monday, December 15, 2008


Be gentle with yourself. Be kind to yourself. Be patient with yourself as you learn the new ways of thinking. Treat yourself as you would someone you really loved. ~ Louise Hay



Natalie Dessay - Ruhe Sanft, Mein Holdes Leben, (Sleep Softly, My Dearest Love), by W.A. Mozart

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Monday Movie Meme


My bloggy friend, Willow, posted this on her blog this morning so I thought I'd give it a try. You have to list movie favorites alphabetically choosing movie titles that start with A,B,C...and so forth. This wasn't easy, but I managed to come up with one for every letter!

Amadeus
Brigadoon
Color Purple, The
Dial “M” for Murder
Elizabeth
Far and Away
Gandhi
Hours, The
Immortal Beloved
Julia
Kundun
La Vie en Rose
Moonstruck
Notting Hill
One True Thing
Princess Bride, The
Queen, The
Rear Window
Sense & Sensibility
Tootsie
Untouchables, The
Valmont
While You Were Sleeping
X-files, The
You’ve Got Mail
Zorro: The Gay Blade

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Gender Bending Through the Ages: Bing & Danny are "Sisters"


Who could forget this incredibly funny scene from White Christmas where Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye don the Haynes Sisters' feather fans and do a lip sync routine to "Sisters"? White Christmas co-star Rosemary Clooney stated that most of this scene was ad libbed, and the laughter you hear from the audience isn't a laugh track, but the actual laughter from those both on and off camera.


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Deck the halls with boughs of holly

>> Sunday, December 14, 2008

Decorating for Christmas at Steph and Nettl's house.


Full view of the living room from the stairway.

The niche in the entry.

On top of the hutch.

Lights over the bar.

Kitty found her spot.


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The World's most beautiful music: Tchaikovsky's "The Nutcracker"


The Nutcracker Op. 71, is a fairy tale-ballet in two acts, three scenes, by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, composed in 1891–92. Alexandre Dumas père's adaptation of the story The Nutcracker and the Mouse King by E.T.A. Hoffmann was set to music by Tchaikovsky (written by Marius Petipa and commissioned by the director of the Imperial Theatres Ivan Vsevolozhsky in 1891). In Western countries, this ballet has become perhaps the most popular ballet, performed primarily around Christmas time.

The composer made a selection of eight of the more popular numbers from the ballet before the ballet's December 1892 premiere, forming The Nutcracker Suite, Op. 71a, intended for concert performance. The suite was first performed, under the composer's direction, on 19 March 1892 at an assembly of the St. Petersburg branch of the Musical Society. The suite became instantly popular; the complete ballet did not achieve its great popularity until around the mid-1960s.

Information Source: Wikipedia

Featured here is the great Bolshoi Ballet Company of Moscow in The Waltz of the Flowers. This is probably one of the most visually stunning settings of this particular ballet that I've ever encountered!

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Christmas with Julie and Mozart

>> Saturday, December 13, 2008


Imagine my delight when I discovered this little gem on YouTube last night! Julie Andrews and John Denver, (as Mozart), are featured with The King Singers in the 1987 television Christmas special, The Sound of Christmas.

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How we got the tradition of the angel on top of the tree

>> Friday, December 12, 2008


When four of Santa's elves got sick, the trainee elves didn't produce toys as fast as the regular ones, and Santa began to feel the Pre-Christmas pressure.

Then Mrs Claus told Santa her Mother was coming to visit, which stressed Santa even more.

When he went to harness the reindeer, he found that three of them were about to give birth and two others had jumped the fence and were out, Heaven knows where.

Then when he began to load the sleigh, one of the floorboards cracked, the toy bag fell to the ground and all the toys were scattered.

Frustrated, Santa went in the house for a cup of apple cider and a shot of rum. When he went to the cupboard, he discovered the elves had drank all the cider and hidden the liquor. In his frustration, he accidentally dropped the cider jug, and it broke into hundreds of little glass pieces all over the kitchen floor. He went to get the broom and found the mice had eaten all the straw off the end of the broom.

Just then the doorbell rang, and an irritated Santa marched to the door and yanked it open. There on the front porch stood a little angel with a great big Christmas tree.

The angel said cheerfully, "Merry Christmas, Santa. Isn't this a lovely day? I have a beautiful tree for you. Where would you like for me to stick it?"


And so began the tradition of the little angel on top of the Christmas Tree.

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My favorite "White Christmas" video


I found this last year and loved it, so I decided to share it again this year. Enjoy!

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It's not Christmas without some Messiah

>> Thursday, December 11, 2008


And here to sing "Rejoice greatly O daughter of Zion" from Handel's Messiah is the fabulous Renee Fleming.


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Ancient Carols: The Coventry Carol

>> Wednesday, December 10, 2008


The "Coventry Carol" is a Christmas carol dating from the 16th Century. The carol was performed in Coventry as part of a mystery play called The Pageant of the Shearmen and Tailors. The play depicts the Christmas story from the Gospel of Matthew. This carol presents the Massacre of the Innocents in which Herod orders all male infants in Bethlehem killed. The lyrics of this haunting carol represent a mother's lament for her doomed child. It is the only carol that has survived from this play.

It is notable as a well-known example of a Picardy third. The author is unknown; the oldest known text was written down by Robert Croo in 1534, and the oldest known printing of the melody dates from 1591. There is an alternate setting of the carol by Kenneth Leighton.

Information Source: Wikipedia

This version of the haunting and beautiful Coventry Carol is Sung by Loreena McKennitt from her "Winter Garden" album. (Note that McKennitt does not employ the Picardy third in her version of the carol.)

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It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

>> Tuesday, December 9, 2008


Steph helped me put a tree up last night and before we knew it, my good friend Perry Como came strolling by and decided to grace us with a song.

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ILD!

>> Monday, December 8, 2008


I heard this song on the radio this morning and I thought of you. It has always been one of the songs that I felt summed us up perfectly. You are the greatest gift that I've ever received. To say "I love you", is an understatement.

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Christmas Time is here


Christmas time is here
Happiness and cheer
Fun for all that children call
Their favorite time of the year

Snowflakes in the air
Carols everywhere
Olden times and ancient rhymes
Of love and dreams to share

Sleigh bells in the air
Beauty everywhere
Yuletide by the fireside
And joyful memories there

Christmas time is here
We'll be drawing near
Oh, that we could always see
Such spirit through the year
Oh, that we could always see
Such spirit through the year...



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Okie sings the blues

>> Sunday, December 7, 2008


I've created a new blog dedicated entirely to politics, news, current events and social issues entitled, Okie Sings the Blues, so that I can keep this blog devoted to music, arts, culture, family, and the like. For those of you who enjoy reading my political perspectives, I invite you to link to it and visit often, as I intend to keep it updated daily, just as I do this one. I'll keep the politically oriented posts that are currently archived in this blog, but I will no longer post entries of a political nature here. I hope to see many of you there!

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Where are the Wonka kids now?: Charlie Bucket


I don't know about you, but I well remember when and where I saw the classic 1971 film, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. And since then, I've seen it numerous other times and have enjoyed watching it with my own children. I've only just learned that a British documentary about the Wonka kids was released in 2007, where the five got together and shared about their experiences of making the beloved film and about where their lives have taken them since. I was around the same age as all of these children when the film was made, so I relate to them as part of my generation.

I found the documentary, After They Were Famous: Willy Wonka, on YouTube, divided into five parts, which is perfect for presenting the five videos along with a feature for each child.

I chose to feature first, Peter Ostrum, who played the young hero of the story, Charlie Bucket. Peter was born on November 1st, 1957 in Dallas Texas, but grew up in a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio. He landed the part of Charlie after he was discovered by a casting agency through a play he did at the Cleveland Playhouse children's theater.

"It was the pre-video era, so they took a few Polaroid pictures and tape-recorded me reading from the book," Ostrum recalled. The casting agents returned to New York, offering nothing more than "Don't call us--we'll call you if we're interested." Approximately two months later, however, they did call, and he went to New York for a screen test. Another month passed before he got the word, "Pack your bags and be ready to fly to Munich, Germany in 10 days to begin filming."

One of the things Ostrum treasures from his German odyssey was being 12 and living abroad. "It was sort of like being an exchange student for five months," he said. The film was shot prior to the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich. "They were building the Olympic city at that time, and that was exciting."

"Everybody thinks that acting is such a glamorous profession, but it's a difficult profession." After the picture wrapped, the studio heads were prepared to offer him a three-picture deal if he signed on the dotted line.

So what did Ostrum do? He said "no" to acting and went to veterinary school instead. After he finished high school and led a really normal kid's life, he went on to veterinary school, graduating from Cornell University in 1984. Yep! that's right! "Charlie Bucket" takes care of dairy cattle in Glenfield, NY and loves it! He has a wife and kids and is leading the life he says that he always dreamed of and is very happy with his choice to pursue veterinary medicine instead of acting.

Information source: Dr. Ostrum and the chocolate factory, AVMA Journal website

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To drive the cold winter away

>> Saturday, December 6, 2008


All hail to the days that merit more praise
Than all the rest of the year
And welcome the nights that double delights
As well for the poor as the peer!
Good fortune attend each merry man's friend
That doth but the best that he may
Forgetting old wrongs with carols and songs
To drive the cold winter away.

Tis ill for a mind to anger inclined
To think of small injuries now
If wrath be to seek, do not lend her your cheek
Nor let her inhabit thy brow
Cross out of thy books malevolent looks
Both beauty and youth's decay
And wholly consort with mirth and sport
To drive the cold winter away.

This time of the year is spent in good cheer
And neighbours together do meet
To sit by the fire, with friendly desire
Each other in love to greet
Old grudges forgot are put in the pot
All sorrows aside they lay
The old and the young doth carol this song
To drive the cold winter away.

When Christmas' tide comes in like a bride
With holly and ivy clad
Twelve days in the year much mirth and good cheer
In every household is had
The country guise is then to devise
Some gambols of Christmas play
Whereat the young men do the best that they can
To drive the cold winter away.


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Blow thou winter wind

>> Friday, December 5, 2008


Blow, blow, thou winter wind.
Thou art not so unkind
As man’s ingratitude;
Thy tooth is not so keen,
Because thou art not seen,
Although thy breath be rude.
Heigh-ho! sing, heigh-ho! unto the green holly:
Most friendship is feigning, most loving mere folly:
Then, heigh-ho, the holly!
This life is most jolly.
Freeze, freeze, thou bitter sky,
That dost not bite so nigh
As benefits forgot:
Though thou the waters warp,
Thy sting is not so sharp
As friend remember’d not.

From As You Like It
by William Shakespeare






Chopin - Etude Op.25 No.11 ('Winter Wind') - Sviatoslav Richter

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Prop 8: The Musical

>> Thursday, December 4, 2008


A funny and rather irreverent look at bigotry.





See more Jack Black videos at Funny or Die

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The music of Black America: Nat King Cole


Nathaniel Adams Coles (March 17, 1919 – February 15, 1965), known professionally as Nat King Cole, was an American musician who first came to prominence as a leading jazz pianist. Although an accomplished pianist, he owes most of his popular musical fame to his soft baritone voice, which he used to perform in big band and jazz genres. He was the first black American to host a television variety show and has maintained worldwide popularity over 40 years past his death; he is widely considered one of the most important musical personalities in United States history.

The family lived in the Bronzeville neighborhood of Chicago. Nat would sneak out of the house and hang outside the clubs, listening to artists such as Louis Armstrong, Earl "Fatha" Hines, and Jimmie Noone. He participated in Walter Dyett's renowned music program at DuSable High School.

Inspired by the playing of Earl Hines, Cole began his performing career in the mid-1930s while he was still a teenager, adopting the name "Nat Cole." His older brother, Eddie Coles, a bassist, soon joined Nat's band, and the brothers made their first recording in 1936 under Eddie's name. They were also regular performers at clubs. In fact, Nat got his nickname "King" performing at one jazz club, a nickname presumably reinforced by the otherwise-unrelated nursery rhyme about Old King Cole. He was also a pianist in a national touring revival of ragtime and Broadway theatre legend Eubie Blake's revue, "Shuffle Along." When it suddenly failed in Long Beach, California, Cole decided to remain there.

Cole's first mainstream vocal hit was his 1943 recording of one of his compositions, "Straighten Up and Fly Right," based on a black folk tale that his father had used as a theme for a sermon. Johnny Mercer invited him to record it for the fledgling Capitol Records label. It sold over 500,000 copies, and proved that folk-based material could appeal to a wide audience. Although Nat would never be considered a rocker, the song can be seen as anticipating the first rock and roll records. Indeed, Bo Diddley, who performed similar transformations of folk material, counted Cole as an influence.

On November 5, 1956, "The Nat King Cole Show" debuted on NBC-TV. While commentators have often mistakenly hailed Cole as the first African-American to host a network television show, an honor belonging to jazz pianist and singer Hazel Scott in 1950, the Cole program was the first of its kind hosted by a star of Nat Cole's magnitude.

It initially began as a 15-minute show on Monday night, the program was expanded to a half hour in July 1957. Despite the efforts of NBC, as well as many of Cole's industry colleagues—many of whom, such as Ella Fitzgerald, Harry Belafonte, Mel Tormé, Peggy Lee and Eartha Kitt worked for industry scale in order to help the show save money—The Nat King Cole Show was ultimately done in by lack of a national sponsorship. Companies such as Rheingold Beer assumed regional sponsorship of the show, but a national sponsor never appeared.

The TV show was ultimately canceled because potential sponsors shied away from showcasing a black artist. Cole fought racism all his life and refused to perform in segregated venues. In 1956, he was assaulted on stage during a concert in Birmingham, Alabama (while singing the song "Little Girl") by three members of the North Alabama White Citizens' Council (a group led by Education of Little Tree author Asa "Forrest" Carter, himself not among the attackers), who apparently were attempting to kidnap him. The three male attackers ran down the aisles of the auditorium, towards Cole and his band. Although local law enforcement quickly ended the invasion of the stage, the ensuing "melée" toppled Cole from his piano bench and injured his back. Cole did not finish the concert and never again performed in the South. A fourth member of the group who had participated in the plot was later arrested in connection with the act. All were later tried and convicted for their roles in the crime.

Cole, a smoker of three packs of cigarettes a day, died of lung cancer on February 15, 1965. Valentine's Day, the day before he died, he did a radio interview, stating: "I am feeling better than ever. I think I've finally got this cancer licked."

Information source: Wikipedia

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When it snows, ain't it thrillin?

>> Wednesday, December 3, 2008


In the meadow we can build a snowman,
And pretend that he is Parson Brown...


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Winter comes

>> Tuesday, December 2, 2008


In the depths of winter I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer. ~ Albert Camus, French philosopher and writer, 1913-1960


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It's official: The U.S. is in recession. No shit Sherlock! What gave you your first clue?

>> Monday, December 1, 2008


A government study was released today that offcially confirmed the "R" word. The study reveals that we've been in recession since December of 2007. I wonder how many millions out of the pockets of U.S. taxpayers it took to figure this one out?

On a related note--I just found out today that we're not getting bonuses this year. I work in a real estate office, so no big surprise here. I'm just thankful that I still have a job! Perhaps I'll get a bigger income tax refund to make up for it.

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My under $10 Christmas gift list


Because this year's financial crisis has hit our family pretty hard, we've opted to forego an expensive Christmas and put our emphasis on family time and fellowship. We're still going to give gifts, but we've chosen to limit the cost to $10 or under per person. So here's my list!

1. winter gloves
2. scented soaps
3. moisturizing body wash w/poofie-thingy (What do you call those things?)
4. pedicure stuff (nail polish, foot cream, cuticle remover, etc.)
5. soft, fuzzy, warm sockies
6. Burt's Bees lip balm (any product by Burt's Bees)
7. anything lavender scented (body spray, soap, body wash, lotion, room spray)
8. bargain classical music CD's (can find them at Hastings) My favorite composers are Mozart, (duh!), Handel, Brahms, Faure, Liszt, Chopin.
9. gourmet hot chocolate and a mug
10. anything chocolate
11. costume jewelry--especially bracelets (Thrift stores have great costume jewelry!)
12. Ross gift card
13. Sonic gift card
14. trouser socks (black, tan, creme)
15. Christmas ornaments

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It's almost Christmas! It's time for snow!


Snow snow snow
Is
Falling
From
The sky
And
It is a
Winter
Wonderland
Out there
Believe
Me

Aldo Kraas


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Gender Bending Through the Ages: Mozart gives us Cherubino

>> Sunday, November 30, 2008


In early 1786, Mozart and his brilliant sidekick, Lorenzo DaPonte, collaborated to bring us what has become one of the world's most beloved comic operas, Le Nozze di Figaro. Along with a host of popular and endearing characters in Susanna, Figaro, Cherubino, and the forlorn Contessa, Cherubino stands in the forefront as probably the most popular and beloved of any single character in the history of opera.

Mozart and DaPonte knew the sexual power that androgyny held over persons of the 18th century and so they sought to entice their audience with that power by using a woman in the role of a 14-year-old boy. The audience, knowing that they were seeing a woman in breeches, were treated to what were then, sexually explicit scenes where Cherubino was seen breathing heavily over both Susanna and the Contessa in the Contessa's bed chamber and even frolicking "innocently" with them upon the bed. It no doubt drove audiences mad, and perhaps forced many a man to cross his legs or lay his hat discretely upon his lap to conceal his excitement.

In this scene, the amazing Frederica Von Stade, (affectionately known as "Flicka"), is Cherubino along with Ileana Cotrubas as Susanna in the 1973 Glyndebourne Festival production of Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro.

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