Archive for December, 2005

2006 To Read List

One of my goals in 2005 was to read 15 books, and I easily surpassed that goal (I’ll be finishing book #20 1/2 this week), so now it’s time to look forward to 2006 and pick out some books that I’d like to read. I didn’t get to all the ones I wanted to hit this year and have lost interest in some of them (particularly Bourdain’s, as he’s more of an ass than I originally thought). But, here are a few I hope to hit in 2006:

What’s on your to-read list for next year?

Sometimes blog entries write themselves

This is one of those experiences that afterwards I turned to Huyen and said, “Blog entry.” She agreed.

On Friday night we were heading down to Huyen’s stepfather’s place on Smith Mountain Lake for Christmas. She and I packed into the car with her mom and Amina. We got on the road late and didn’t make it there until 1am. About 30 minutes before midnight, we stopped off at one of Virginia’s infamous rest stops for a quick break and to let Amina stretch her legs.

As I came out of the men’s room, I saw a man standing and talking with Huyen about Amina. When I went into the men’s room, he was talking to someone else about their dog. I joined the conversation and he told us about how he was working on a book called How to Please Your Pet. I nodded politely and smalltalked for a bit more while Huyen got Amina back into the car. He asked me, “Do you like good books?” and before I could answer, headed back to his pick-up truck and grabbed something for me.

That something was a copy of his first book, How to Please a Woman. His second book, How to Please a Man is coming soon, with the pet edition to follow that.

“I’m sure you guys will get something out of that,” he said, pointing to the book. “And you know what the number one most important thing is in a relationship? Communication.” Not exactly a groundbreaking realization, but at least he didn’t say something like, “Hot, steamy, wild sex!” because I don’t think I could have taken that kind of advice standing mere feet away from a gross restroom.

I shook his hand and we went our separate ways. Considering how creepy it is to be handed a complimentary book (at a rest stop, no less) that explicitly details how to please a woman, he was actually a nice enough guy. Perhaps I should take notes from his marketing plan when it comes time to sell my book…

Final Vinyl

I made the mistake (well, not really a mistake) of going to the thrift store after lunch. I tried to buy their three wooden 100-cassette holders, but they wouldn’t sell them since they’re being used for storage. Foiled!

But, I did flip through their records and came across someone’s excellent collection of exotica, jazz, and ragtime as well as a few scattered obscurities. They’re normally $1.00 a piece, but today was 75% off of everything (at a thrift store that = dirt cheap… a guy walked out with probably 50 books for $11), so they were only 25 cents a piece. Good stuff.

Though, admittedly, I didn’t really need to buy a large stack of vinyl two days before Christmas…

Favorite Christmas songs

With the approaching end of the time period where Christmas music is permitted — my rules state “the Saturday after Thanksgiving up to and including December 26th)” — I’ve gone through most of my standard yearly playlist. After all is said and done, there are three Christmas songs that I most look forward to listening to during December:

  • Arthur Fiedler’s “Sleigh Ride” – There’s a radio recording my parents made back in the mid-1970s of holiday music that we’d listen to every year, complete with news and weather forecast, and Fiedler’s version of “Sleigh Ride” was on there. Hearing it brings back those childhood memories.
  • Ella Fitzgerald’s “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” – There’s something so cute and endearing about the song itself, and Ella’s lightly swinging take on it makes this the quintessential holiday song for me. I also enjoy Bert and Ernie’s version of this song from Christmas Eve On Sesame Street.
  • Michael Franks’ “Christmas in Kyoto” – I’ve mentioned this one a few times since I first heard it last year on WPFW during a short drive home from the supermarket. It’s over-the-top cheese, but self-aware enough that its cheeseness becomes a plus. It’s a catchy tune with a clever little story and is certainly the only Christmas song ever to mention Akira Kurosawa.

Now, if you’re ready for the flipside of things and want to hear the worst/strangest holiday music, check out Attic Beats 018.

ADD3k

ADDreviews hits Review #3000. Holy crap, that’s a lot of opinion spewing.

Thanks to Robert, Corey, Rob, Chris, and Scott for contributing to bring us to this point.

Sallie Mae can officially bite me

10:47am eastern time on December 20, 2005. A very important time in my personal history.

My student loan is now paid off.

Kiss My Glass

Hey… good news: I think the glass is finally working its way out of my toe.

I won’t tell you why I think that because it might gross you out a little.

Blow-ups Blow

One nice byproduct of having Amina around is that we are out in the neighborhood a lot more. We don’t have a fenced-in yard, so when she needs to go out, she gets a walk.

I’ve noticed during the holiday season that our neighborhood is pretty festive. Lots of decorations. But a disturbing trend I’m noticing is the use of those giant blow-up fixtures of Santa, Frosty, and reindeer. These monstrosities used to be limited to car dealerships, but now they come in a still-too-large “personal size” for home use. Otherwise tastefully decorated houses have these in their yard and it really takes away from all the other work they’ve done hanging lights. And why this year to get all popular? Last year there were maybe one or two, but now I can count half a dozen with two blocks of our house. Can anyone explain their appeal?

Amina doesn’t like them either. And she got really freaked out when Santa rode by on a fire truck last night. Also, I misheard the lead car’s announcement as “Come outside! Here’s comes Santa Claus!” as “Go inside! Lock your doors!”

Three’s company

A few weeks ago, Huyen and I fell asleep on the couch downstairs. At about 2am, we moved upstairs to bed, but I decided to take Amina out first to see if she needed to go. She stood on the porch, not feeling like a walk, so we went back inside and up to bed.

Huyen and I got in bed, turned the lights off, and were ready to go to sleep. I looked over and saw Amina standing there, staring at us, rather than getting into her bed by the door. Odd. And a little creepy.

I pet her a little bit and encouraged her to go to bed, but she just did a combination of standing-sitting-laying on my side the bed, looking a bit anxious. I thought that maybe she decided she needed to go out, so I got up out of bed and opened the bedroom door to see if that was what she wanted. But, she didn’t move. I closed the door and tried to coax her over to her bed, but she wasn’t having it. I turned my head for a second before walking back over to her and in that time, she had hopped up onto our bed and laid in my spot.

In the six months she’s been living with us, she’s never shown any interest in sleeping on our bed. But that night started what has become a trend: the two of us sharing our full sized bed with Amina.

Now, a full size bed is fine for the two of us. It’s not huge, but it’s enough space. But throw a 62-pound coonhound on the bed, and it starts to feel crowded. We’ve already talked about getting a bigger bed, just so we can accommodate the dog better.

We’ve become “those people.” The people that have both a rain jacket and a cold-weather jacket for the dog. The people that carefully monitor their dog’s diet and read labels for dog food as closely as they do for their own food. And now, the people that let the dog sleep on the bed with them.

But, you know, I don’t think that becoming one of “those people” is a bad thing.

Weekend in review

This was one of the most productive weekends I’ve had in quite a while. We did a lot of housecleaning (including some gross work behind the fridge) in preparation for Huyen’s mom, who will be in town for two weeks starting this weekend. We were happy to find Method products at Target, as they helped with the particularly grimy behind-the-fridge junk.

Amina got a bit sneaky this weekend and paid for it, poor girl. She stole half my vegetable curry when I answered the door on Saturday. It had onions in it, though, which can be extremely toxic to dogs, so the vet had me induce vomiting with hydrogen peroxide. Fortunately, it worked and everything came back up and she’s doing fine. You’ll be happy to know that she swallowed entire sweet potato fries without even chewing. Just like her daddy.

We saw The Vulgar Bulgars at the public library on Sunday afternoon and they were awesome. They’re a klezmer band along the lines of The Klezmatics. Their self-released CD is simply excellent.

The week ahead is going to be busy, but I’m actually looking forward to it. I’m in the holiday spirit and avoiding Grinch-like tendencies for the most part.