Feliz Navidad.

Today’s Holiday Foto Fest submissions come from our stalwart reader Mary Beth Poole, out Los Angeles way, where, if it’s December, it must be time for Las Posadas:


The festival — posada means “inn” — commemorates the failure of Mary and Joseph to find so much as a Motel 6 open in Bethlehem during tax-collection season. Presumably, the festiveness of the occasion suggests that today’s Mexican-Americans wouldn’t turn the couple away, and would even fete them with tamales. deport.jpg(Note to self: Go down to Mexicantown today and buy some tamales.)

As for Casa NN.C, the other night we celebrated our long-standing tradition of I Can Never Remember: Do We Have Latkes for Hanukkah, or One of Those Other Jewish Holidays? Why, when we’re not even close to being Jewish? Because potato pancakes are damn tasty, that’s why. I’d sit down at the table of brotherhood with Osama bin Laden if the food was good enough. (Note, though, that Osama is thin as a rail. Figures. Probably lives on tea, fasting and self-flagellation.) Our other holiday traditions are pretty flexible — nothing like a major relocation to throw a bomb into those things. But we have them. mpcactus.jpgThey include decorating the tree, Kate rearranging the NOEL stocking holders to read LEON and eggnog French toast on Christmas morning. We are a small family; it works for me. Oh, and by the way, that is Mary’s backyard Christmas cactus, blooming naturally on schedule.

I have some linkage this morning, yes I do. A new blog, found via James Wolcott: Ken Levine, “the world as seen by a TV comedy writer.” Great Hollywood stories, told by someone who can really write. Whenever I find a new blog I like to go back to the first month of the archives, just out of curiosity. In Levine’s November 2005 archive: Porn Star Karaoke. Worth the visit.

I always thought the dividing line between a true big city and a wannabe was how the hometown folks handled the successful locals. Do they make a big honkin’ deal out of them, or play it cool? (For years I thought “Fort Wayne’s” was a permanent attachment to Shelley Long’s name, and she just dropped it so it would fit easier on a marquee.) You’d think, with Detroit’s rich and ever-evolving musical tradition, we’d be able to handle a Bob Seger concert without making our pop music writers break a sweat, but I was wrong:

The Freep, today: They waited a decade. Sometimes impatiently, sometimes forgiving. Always with passion intact. Wednesday night, at last, they got Bob Seger. In the most prominent concert of Detroit music since Eminem played Ford Field in summer 2003, more than 17,000 fans watched — and sang, and screamed — as the local icon lit up the Palace of Auburn Hills for his first hometown show in more than 10 years.

The News, today: When the crowd sings all of “Turn the Page,” word for word, loudly enough to almost drown Seger out, there’s obviously a lot more than a concert going on. There are innumerable layers of communal and personal memory kicking in, with Seger acting as the much-loved host and emotional touchstone.

Well, it is Bob Seger. I forget not everyone spend the ’80s listening to the Ramones and B-52s and snapping the radio off in irritation when “Roll Me Away” came on for the 11 millionth time. I really need to get out more. And to think, after two years in Michigan the only place I’m really interested in seeing Bob Seger is out on the water. (And he didn’t do “Heavy Music”?! Or “Feel Like a Number”?!? Those folks wuz robbed.)

Most people think genetic engineering of plants to make them resistant to disease and other stresses begins and ends with soybeans, corn and wheat. Nope.

Finally, the video that made Kate giggle all morning:

Me, too.

Posted at 10:22 am in Holiday photos, Popculch |

24 responses to “Feliz Navidad.”

  1. brian stouder said on December 21, 2006 at 10:57 am

    Mary – good stuff!

    Say – I just read good ol’ Nance’s (professional journalist, center-left) smack-down of Jon Olinger (elected official, center-right) on Leo’s Opening Arguments site (and not for nothing, it touched on kit-built motorcycles, which given Alan’s lively recent essay on complicated relationships with Harleys, made me smile!)

    …and then the predictable sputtering climax by the participant who got creamed (that would be Jon), followed by 3rd-party tut-tutting about why the thread should have deteriorated the way it did, blah blah blah, etc etc

    Seems to me the most interesting disgreements are between center-right and center-left folks, because they take each other seriously (and get mad!); harder left vs harder right is boring froth and frippery, exactly because the participants don’t take each other seriously.

    And this is certainly why I have always liked good ol’ Nance’s ‘graceful’ (!) writing

    (for a holiday treat, go to http://blogs.fortwayne.com/opening_arguments/2006/12/the_law_and_mor.html#comments )

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  2. Connie said on December 21, 2006 at 11:03 am

    My husband grew up next door to a kid named Leon, who always rearranged the Noel candles when he came over.

    My bff went to the Seger concert last night, courtesy of a company vendor with an Auburn Hills suite. Preceded by dinner at Ruth Chris’. Whereas I saw Seeger at the Brewery in East Lansing for a $2.00 cover charge. A long time ago.

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  3. Pam said on December 21, 2006 at 11:17 am

    Inflatable snow people are going down all over my town here in Ohio! It’s a big problem for local law enforcement. (Only in Westerville do they call the police for this kind of thing. No wonder the taxes are so high.) It’s kind of depressing seeing colored nylon where a lighted attraction should be. You know the guy on the corner who has all the yard decorations? Well, he has 2 HUGE inflatables. One is Snoopy on his dog house and the other is Sponge Bob. It looks rather tacky but I just love his exuberance with the yard art! His two blow ups get popped every night but he reinflates them every day without fail. So if the kids give up on his house, Kate will get to see them this weekend. Sponge Bob is fabulous! Makes me laugh every time I drive by.

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  4. nancy said on December 21, 2006 at 11:30 am

    I don’t think those inflatables are getting popped. I think people are just choosing to save a little electricity and turn the blowers off during the day, which makes the things lie on the ground like parachutes. This is the reason I think they fail as decorations, although I sort of like the giant Frostys, as they bring a certain abominable-snowman vibe to the neighborhood.

    As for Jon Olinger, well, I just snapped. I always wonder, don’t these people have ANY skepticism? Someone tells them, “Duh, the gummint sez you cain’t build you more than one-a them kit bikes in yer lifetime, and whar is that right?” And they believe it. Honestly, all I did was Google a few words, and within a minute had gotten to the truth — the restriction is on bikes you can build THAT DON’T MEET EMISSIONS STANDARDS, which seems to make all the goddamn difference in the world.

    I stay away from Leo’s blog because it makes me sad, most days. I should try to keep my promise more often.

    P.S. Olinger must be running his spell-check more often. The first comment of his I ever read, at FWOb, was about 10 words long and had three spelling errors in it.

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  5. brian stouder said on December 21, 2006 at 11:59 am

    And they believe it. Honestly, all I did was Google a few words, and within a minute had gotten to the truth

    That’s the key. It simply MUST drive professional writers/editors/journalists mad to see such factual flippancy from an elected official….and then HE actually dismisses your point on the grounds that you’ve never left the (fact-based) ‘ivory tower’ and RUN FOR OFFICE! (I remember Mark GiaQuinta making a similar point many years ago on the radio, and it made me mad! But at least HE had the additional virtue of having, like, FACTS on his side!!)

    And I suppose one might also gnash one’s teeth that center-rightists that know better didn’t call out Olinger…which is where the ‘team-sport’ aspect of political discourse comes into play, and which can be disheartening.

    But still, I bet if Madam Telling Tales is really really honest, she’d say it’s big fun to occasionally go on a bug-hunt in center-right-land, and puncture their more-garish inflatable political symbols

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  6. basset said on December 21, 2006 at 1:10 pm

    >>I forget not everyone spend the ’80s listening to the Ramones and B-52s and snapping the radio off in irritation when “Roll Me Away�? came on for the 11 millionth time.

    no, some of us spent the ’80s snapping the radio off in irritation when the Ramones and B-52s came on… and some of us consider Eminem a public nuisance. I might need to get out more too, but hey, we are what we are…

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  7. nancy said on December 21, 2006 at 2:02 pm

    You were a lucky man, basset. Where I spent the ’80s, the Ramones and B-52s never made it to radio. No, I’m wrong. Once the local station played “Rock Lobster” and cut it off in the middle, because, as the DJ said, “This is just too weird.” I was crushed.

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  8. Dave said on December 21, 2006 at 3:18 pm

    Nancy, do you by chance remember 2+2 (Is on my Mind), Seger’s regional hit from about 1967. When you mentioned Heavy Music, I thought you might. One of the first Vietnam anti-war songs I was ever aware of.

    Basset, Eminem IS a public nuisance!

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  9. nancy said on December 21, 2006 at 5:24 pm

    The title of the song was “2+2=?” and it was the B-side of “Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man.” Yeah, I remember it.

    Eminem would be less of a public nuisance if he’d chill out a little, but maybe, with his family and friends, that’s too much to ask. I’d like to see him smile once in a while.

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  10. basset said on December 21, 2006 at 7:06 pm

    well, let’s see, where WAS I in the 80s anyway… Bloomington… Terre Haute… Jackson, MS… Wichita, KS… and from mid-85 to now in Nashville. if I heard any of that stuff on the radio it was probably on 97WB in Bloomington because I worked there and couldn’t avoid it .

    I couldn’t whistle you a single Eminem song or chant or whatever it is that he does. or the B-52s either, for that matter. or the Ramones, except for that one about “beat on the brat with a baseball bat.”

    Seger, on the other hand, I can quote at great length. all depends on what speaks to ya, I guess.

    and if I could drop in this additional opinion… Willie’s new one, “Willie Nelson Sings the Songs of Cindy Walker,” is a by-damn genuine country record, and you don’t hear those hardly at all any more.

    None of that stuff that makes you feel like you’re at the pointy end of someone’s marketing strategy (i.e. that kid who opened for Seger in Nashville, Eric somebody – songs were totally forgettable but it was entertaining to watch him and the band move around and consider how his handlers had gone about packaging the product) – just good songs and Willie. I love to hear that steel guitar just bleedin’…

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  11. basset said on December 21, 2006 at 7:07 pm

    and after today, I promise to come up with better descriptions than “stuff,” or at least not use it more than once in a single post…

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  12. deb said on December 21, 2006 at 7:08 pm

    i know the frosty assault is seasonal and all, but for an even funnier video, google “fast food freestyle.” hilarious.

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  13. Ricardo said on December 21, 2006 at 7:15 pm

    “East Side Story” was probably only a local hit around 1965, Bob;s first recording. That’s why I thought it was a hoot when Bob was voted Best New Artist in 1975, locals knew all of his recordings. Some of the young people out in LA/OC are just now discovering his music, I read an an analysis of “2+2” recently.

    I thought Bob was finished when I heard him sing at the R&R Hall of Fame induction a couple of years ago. Too many cigarettes ruined his voice so he had to sing in lower keys. Stained his teeth too. Coughed a lot when he talked. I think he gave up smoking and lots of people should be thankful if he did. He certainly couldn’t sustain a concert tour if he was still chain smoking.

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  14. Joe Kobiela said on December 21, 2006 at 8:37 pm

    Good country radio no longer lives in Nashville, hasn’t for some time. I tend to listen to x-country and Americana on my xm channels 10 and 12, I really like Robert Earl Keen, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Charlie Robertson, Hank lll, Junior Brown.Shooter Jennings. This shit they call country coming out of Nashville, just blows. Ol Willie cant hardly be heard anymore, not to Mention Haggerd and Jones.
    Tim Wilson has a country rap song out on Bob and Tom that is just plain funny. Goes by the name of Clem & Emm. Say’s its country, its rap, its CRAP!!
    Peace out ya’ll

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  15. basset said on December 21, 2006 at 9:01 pm

    >>This shit they call country coming out of Nashville, just blows.

    my thoughts exactly. the country and coarse humor channels, and the BBC, are the only reasons I have Sirius in my pickup… “Murder on Music Row” pretty much makes the entire point in my opinion.

    I used to play softball with some guys who were in that business – weird feeling when the end of the season cookout stops dead because a song our first baseman wrote is on the radio and everyone has to listen – and I was just appalled at how dehumanized it’s become.

    Hank Williams (and Cindy Walker and a whole bunch of others) wrote songs out of their own experience and feelings and then tried to sell them; now, though, they start with market research and write a song to fit. there’s a fax service that goes around the Row every day with the latest requirements… “we need a 2 1/2-minute mid-tempo song about divorce that doesn’t mention drinking or cheating, target audience is women 25-34,” that kind of thing.

    country music and stock car racing were a lot more fun before the big money came in – or, as I like to put it, “back when we were rednecks.”

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  16. nancy said on December 21, 2006 at 9:58 pm

    I once asked the program director of a country music station if she was playing any Merle Haggard, and — I still can’t believe this — she’d NEVER HEARD OF HIM. Yes, the program director.

    She loved that Faith Hill, though. And Shania.

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  17. Dave said on December 22, 2006 at 2:52 am

    2+2 is the B-side of Rambling, Gambling Man? Really? I didn’t know that, song I’m thinking of was on a regional label and being played regularly on local radio (WCOL-AM) about 1967, I associate it with the summer job I had that summer. Rambling, Gambling Man came much later, I’m thinking about 1973, I suppose I could Google it up if I were more energetic.

    I can remember when Bob Seger used to come and play Central Ohio roller rinks and places like that. Was it a place called Valleyview or something like that that was a big gathering place for rock and roll shows in Columbus way back then. Do you remember The Dantes? Terry Knight and the Pack, anyone?

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  18. Pam said on December 22, 2006 at 10:53 am

    Blowers? Those things use blowers? I had no idea! I thought they were raised with bicycle pumps. Learned something today.

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  19. Dave said on December 22, 2006 at 12:41 pm

    Looking at Bob Seger’s musical history and I discover that it was “Heavy Music” that was my summer song, so much for memory. 2+2 was released in January, 1968, was not the B side of “Rambling, Gambling Man”.

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  20. Kirk said on December 22, 2006 at 1:55 pm

    Valley Dale, Dave, if you’re still about this thread

    Dave Workman of the Dantes played around here for years in excellent blues bands

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  21. Marcia said on December 22, 2006 at 6:29 pm

    I’d sit down at the table of brotherhood with Osama bin Laden if the food was good enough.

    Oh, you would not. Forgive my motherly tone, but this is like a boast one of my kids would make.

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  22. Dave said on December 23, 2006 at 2:17 am

    That’s the place, Kirk, I just couldn’t pull it out of the memory banks. Dave Workman, if you google him, is out in San Francisco, playing guitar. I’m too old, old enough to remember when “Can’t Get Enough of Your Love”, was playing on ‘COL. Don’t think I’ll get teary eyed over “Little Black Egg”, though.

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  23. Ricardo said on December 23, 2006 at 3:57 pm

    Terry Knight was a DJ in Detroit, I believe WKNR before trying to sing. The Pack later became Grand Funk Railroad.

    There was a story this week about a whistleblower being tortured in Iraq by Americans. He claimed part of the torture was playing loud music day and night, heavy metal and country music. My first thought was “at least it’s good for something”.

    My best friend’s band plays Country Swing, which I do enjoy. We are going to see them at House of Blues Anaheim tonight. They will be in your town soon, Big Sandy and the Fly Rite Boys.

    There was a hue and cry a few months ago when the only Los Angeles country radio station went over to play Latino music. I’m not a fan of the modern country music, but I have a button tuned to classic country station (50s and 60s) on my XM.

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  24. thom said on November 13, 2007 at 9:00 pm

    Message for poster named basset: I also worked at 97WB during the 80s. What did you do there? Do I remember you? signed, “Patrick W. Thomson”

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