Saturday, December 31, 2011

Celebratin' New Year Like It's 1997

Have I ever mentioned that I'm a sentimental sap? I keep the dumbest things: brochures we picked up from places we've visited, those impossible-to-take-off wrist bands from whatever events we went to, or the star of the Infamous Water Bottle Story from our trip to Canada (we don't talk about it). That sappy sentimentality makes every December 31st (OK, the last two weeks of the year) even sappier than the previous three hundred sixty-four days. Of course, I keep the sappy to myself, 'cause that just gets ruddy old after a while; but on New Year's Eve, sappy is so acceptable that you appear to be cold and heartless if you don't show some kind of sappiness.
If you haven't already guessed, this post is going to get rather sappy.
Reginald Kitty is not amused.

Reflecting on the past year is an oft practiced New Year tradition, though is generally just a passing fancy in anticipation for the unknown, shiny wonders of the next year.
To that, I call bollocks, sir.
Is it just me, or does this annual anamnesis not get nearly enough credit? With as quickly as our lives are flashing before us, does it not seem prudent to do more than pause in its honor? It feels like just a couple of weeks ago that I wrote out last year's post on this subject (the website I found the photograph of the skeleton on gave my old computer a nasty virus, and I was terribly afraid I wouldn't get the post up on time [you know, 'cause the writing process for each of these posts also has a story]). Was it a year ago that we were discussing what had been such fun about 2010? When we discussed the quirks that make another passing year so memorable in that ten percent of our brains? And, more to the point, why the hell have I been calling this year 2010, and will I be able to remember that we are now treading into the questionable territory of 2012 (come on, ten percent, work for me, here)?
What about the quirks of this year? Before we head off into the hell storm that will be 2012 (and not because of the whole end of the world bollocks), let's bask in the glow of awesome that 2011 has been. Sure, it's had its fair share of bad times, but the ruddy awesome times far surpass those depressing bastards.
I feel I should warn you that we did some things I didn't blog about. And, since we're being honest, I think I kept the most interesting story of the entire year a total secret. I debated whether or not to mention this at all, but my mood over the last few days has been somewhat bizarre, so I figured I'd go ahead and tell the tale; honestly, it tickles me.
This may or may not have happened.

And I may or may not have been at it.
Like, the whole thing.

And I may or may not have wept like a little baby.
See, I was there. It's just that the only person that wanted my photograph was my mother.

And, um, a couple days later, when we saw Paul, this may or may not have also happened.

And I may or may not have wept again, 'cause I know that nothing I ever do in my life will ever be that cool again, and I know that is not an exaggeration.

Well, now that the story is out in the open, let's look at some other highlights of the year.

February - San Antonio
March - Wichita
May - Colorado
June - I think I just told those stories.
August - Mount Rushmore
September - Colorado; Corpus Christi
October - The McCartney Wedding; Red River; Plain White T's/Austin; London Bridge (um, yeah, that's another one we didn't talk about)
December - Vegas!

But, you know, it's not just about the vacations. It's the little things that happen, or that you do; they make up the delicate tapestry of life references, making it so that no one understands your references, and just looks at you like you're some kind of ape-like creature that may spontaneously implode if it continues to speak.

The things you choose to watch...

If you think I was going to wait until stupid American PBS got series two of Downton Abbey, you thought wrongly, sir.

Yes, The Bachelorette is a bigger deal at our house than The Bachelor. There, I said it. Whichever it is, we always scream "HI, CHRIS HARRISON!" at the beginning of every episode. It's tradition.

If you've never seen Jack Whitehall, go to YouTube. Really, right now, I'll wait. I had forgotten about him completely until we watched Big Fat Quiz of the Year ('cause there was no chance of America ever getting that one) and they used a clip from Fresh Meat in the television montage. I may or may not have watched the entire series in two nights (and I'm still on the fence about it, quite honestly; though it has its good points, and that's what pulled me through), and gone bonkers with clips from Mock The Week.

I love this film, OK? It's an historical drama about Lincoln, staring James McAvoy; what's not to love? Am I alone in this?

And we have silently lamented the loss of one of the greatest television shows of the last decade.

We've also been spinning quite a lot of ear candy this year.

Mentioned on this blog -- by name -- five times in the last year, yet no one in my family knows who the hell Jon Walker is. Educate yourselves, you filthy heathens.

These first two examples are proof that the Chicago area has consistently given us good music in the last decade (approximately). Also, my Nigel loves this song.

Yeah, Chicago's pretty great, but Britannia rules the airwaves.

I can't believe they put this on a Christmas album. It's beautiful, and relevant at any time of year.

I've seen this video several times, and I've yet to tire of watching Mr. Kane work the guitar pedals. Make of that what you will.

Can someone please remind me why people didn't like Dirty Work? Maybe it's the Fourteen Year Old Fangirl Syndrome, and they don't understand that the early twenty-somethings (such as these blokes) grew up with this kind of sound on the radio (or from older siblings), and think it's perfectly fine to put their own spin on it. Thanks, fangirls, for making me feel ridiculously old. I'll just go put on some Harvey Danger, and count my POGS. (Now that I'm older, I understand why my mother disliked it when her children -- aged eighteen, and six -- would sing this song. Sorry, Ma.) By the way, any fangirls that just so happen to be fourteen; that Harvey Danger song was released in 1997, also known as the year you were born. Is this the beginning of the generation gap, or has someone run off with my Zimmer frame?

So, I guess it's another year down. Sure, I skipped a lot of highlights: The Lamb Story, watching Geraldo Rivera accurately guess Bin Laden's death, John Stossel selling lemonade, or the Charles Xavier dream.
So what, I brought it back to James McAvoy; it's my blog, and I can.

There's so very much to continue to look forward to. You'll be reading about some of it in the near future, rest assured. Things that will undoubtedly creep into the blog are the newest season of The Bachelor...
Now accepting roses from the gentleman on the far left.

Paul's upcoming album (possibly albums? Come on, darling, we know you're working on one, just release it, already)...

Whatever other little bits and bobs I may find...

I don't care that this was just released. If this is the direction they're moving (you know, that would-fit-in-perfectly-with-All-That-We-Needed [please, tell me you know the album I'm talking about, folks] direction), things are going to get interesting.

And -- though I shall try to shut up, I know I shall fail -- the biggest thing in my entire universe, bigger than any album launch, or Bachelor Monday combined in all of history: election year.

Come on, Sarah. I know you filed all of the appropriate paperwork to run way back in May. Change your mind, save us from this stupidity. Please?

Until then, have yet another 90s kids blast from the past; I watched this as it aired, New Years Eve 1997. I remember being quite bored by the cartoons, so I went back and forth between Nickelodeon and TV Land. I was always boring, I know.

In all seriousness, happy new year, everybody!

Now we'll celebrate the mysterious cloud that is 2012!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Doin' The Reindeer Dance With Pirate Bob

Another Christmas is finally upon us; well, the Bufords, at least, since most of you folks celebrate on Christmas Day instead of Christmas Eve.

I hope everyone has written their letters to Santa; I know I have.
Actually, I'm getting concert tickets for Christmas. More on this in the new year.

So much work for one day, isn't it? Just think about it, as it's a good excuse for being on the Internet instead of with your family.
All of the shopping...

...and the wrapping...

...and the caroling...

All that for one day? For one-twelfth of the year, we throw ourselves into an alternate reality of activity, and do stupid things we wouldn't ordinarily be caught dead doing.

The question I always end up asking myself is, "is all of this really worth it?". The buying, the cooking, the stressing over gifts. To which I generally answer, "yes, because we'll all be dead one day".
So, now that we have contemplated one of the most fundamental meanings of this holiday, get on back to your family and celebrate, before they all wonder where the hell you went.
Before you leave, though, have a song or two to take with you.


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Poor Miles (Fi'e-Dolla-Now)

Have I ever mentioned how much I love the auto-post function here on Blogger? Well, I ruddy well do. Here you thought I was making posts regularly, when I was actually off on holiday! Ain't that a scream? All of last week, we were out in that desert oasis we so love; no, not a sandy island in some salty water - Vegas!

Would you like to hear some trip highlights?
Well, pretend, anyway. It's almost Christmas, and Santa can still change his mind.
Reginald Kitty is not amused.

* We got free tickets to a second-rate magic show. Now, this may sound like a waste of time, and you would be right; that is, until little seven year old Miles took the stage. The performer asked if there were any children in the audience who wanted to learn some magic. From my balcony seat, I saw little Miles being coaxed by his mother to raise his hand. Like an obedient lad, up shot his hand, without any care for the consequences of this action. Like a moth to flame, the performer snatched the boy up, and led the child up the stairs to the proscenium arch. Only, little Miles wasn't having any of it. He stood in front of us, his entire body stiff as a board, eyes wide with a mixture of embarrassment and fear. When asked simple questions, the poor boy just buried his face in his hands, and obviously wanted to fall right through the stage floor. By the end, he refused to speak. Have you ever seen a child's entire self-worth dissipate? It's simultaneously hilarious and heartbreaking. Poor Miles. I hope he's recovered from his trip to Vegas, 'cause he may never want to go back.

* Brookstone is a hilarious place to go, especially in Vegas. The store in the Venetian is a great place to watch foreigners explore the wonders of America. Now, I have no guarantee that the man I saw was foreign, but the odds are with me. He spoke not a word, and was dressed like this.
He observed all sorts of odd things, like massaging pillows and remote controlled hovercrafts with keen interest. His little shopping trip was going splendidly until he saw the noise machines. He picked up one of the more complicated models, and began pushing the numerous buttons. As the product delivered the sound it has promised on the box, he clicked the "off" button; at least, he thought he did. Thus, the frantic button-push-jitterbug began. Eventually, he sat the product back on the shelf, and shuffled away, hoping no one saw him break the machine. I saw him repeatedly look over his shoulder, until a saleslady silenced the broken model.
The lesson, children, is that some culture notes are practically identical. You break it, you pretend you didn't, and leave quickly.

* Only in Vegas can you look out the window as you have a leisurely croissant at 8:30 in the morning, and watch Spiderman walk though a parking lot, get in a car, and drive away. I think Spidy was a little drunk from the night before, though, because he had some serious trouble unlocking that car.
Where does Spidy take over for Peter? It should have happened before this point.

* I have discovered a new talent: guessing weights of M&Ms. I guessed 1.75 pounds, and it ended up being 1.76 pounds. That, my friends, is pretty damn good for delicious chocolaty candies.
Speaking of chocolaty goodness...
If ever I were to dream of food, it would be the chocolate praline (the first time I had one, it was called the Symphony) from Cafe Belle Madeleine.

* Since the first time we went to Vegas way back in the mists of time -- OK, 2006 -- The Strip has been deluged with street performers. Most of the time, they just annoy me, and add to my headaches. This time, however, there was actually a fun one: a bagpiper, playing the Star Wars theme. Unfortunately, the number was cut short when someone requested "Amazing Grace". Just as disappointment started to sink in, a girl screamed out, "awww, it's the theme to Titanic!". Laughter ensued.

* There we were, at the Coke store, slurping our Cherry Coke floats and minding our own business. Through the din of shopping tourists and the giant televisions playing music videos, I heard a familiar chord over the speakers. I looked back at the flat screens to see this.
I know it's blurry, but I was excited. Does it look familiar?

What about now?
I was thrilled to hear The Young Veins (or, as my dad calls them, The Blood Veins) in a public place; it was just a bit more special that it was in the hometown of Mr. Ross, I think. This song is also kinda special to me in that it was the very first song I heard from the Ross/Walker team (yes, I'm weird and remember that kind of thing; it's like a mental scrapbook [take 'mental' however you wish]). After I got over the shock of the situation, I started telling the general space how the video was initially shot, then filmed through a vintage television. I only started getting weird looks when I said "rock that solo, Mr. Walker". OK, so I fangirled, sue me.

* The Venetian has transformed itself into a Winter Wonderland.
The best part is the recycled plastic skating rink. The first forty-five minutes alone, I counted fifty people who fell over before I was told to shut up. It's like I told my mother, "I'm watching America's Funniest Home Videos live right now, don't bug me". We went back several times during the week, but that first group of suckers were still the best biffers of the lot.

* My camera was hit on more than I was. Note to self: next time, ditch the Wrinklies.
Aren't they cute? Now, buzz off.

* There was a film being shot all over The Strip while we were there. The best part of this was the Bellagio Incident. A boat full of crew workers was sent to unload giant sheets of wood onto an island in the middle of the Bellagio lake. They hitched their boat to the island, and began unloading. When about half of the load was on each vessel, disaster struck: both the island, and the boat started sinking from the weight of the wood. After much fuss, a corner of the island was sinking under the weight of the entire load, while the boat putted back to dock. The next day, the island had sunk -- wood and all -- in a tucked away spot under a bridge to the parking garage. What morons.

* The Arc de Triomphe at Paris. Check the slideshow.

Speaking of slideshow, would you like to see some photographs from the trip?
Remember, Santa's checking that list twice.

I Saw Murray Kissing Santa Claus

Have we talked about Christmas music this season? 'Cause I've bitten my tongue so long it's starting to bleed.
You wear those headphones, Santa, 'cause I don't wanna hear that bollocks.

Don't psychiatrists advise against bottling up such emotion? Well, pull out the corkscrew, kiddies, 'cause this bottle is about to blow.

Just for kicks and giggles, I have been paying attention to Christmas music this year -- I know, I know, don't pull out the holy water yet -- in an attempt to analyze just how terrible it is. It all started with one of my stupid, dry jokes about "The Little Drummer Boy", and grew into other stupid, dry jokes from there.

* The Little Drummer Boy
Banging a drum for a newborn baby; yeah, that's a good idea. In one version, the lyric is sung 'then he nodded', instead of 'Mary nodded'. To whomever changed the lyric: you do realize that babies' heads just lollop about, right? They have no neck muscles; he probably just had a little slip or something. (You laughed, see ya in hell.)

* I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus
'What a laugh it would have been if Daddy had only seen...'? Yeah, 'cause Daddy ought to know about that one.

* It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas
'A pair of hop-a-long boots, and a pistol that shoots is the wish of Bonnie and Ben'.
Bonnie? That's not a traditional male name; are you telling me that girls want hop-a-long boots, and pistols that shoot? All the little girls I ever knew wanted Barbies. I, on the other hand, had more sophisticated taste in gifts.
What do I mean had?

* Celebrate Me Home
I can't understand a bloody word; but what does 'celebrate me home' mean?

* Do You Hear What I Hear?
'Said the shepherd boy to the mighty king, "do you know what I know?"'. Yeah, a little shepherd boy is going to visit a "mighty king", taunting I-know-something-you-don't-know. That's how you get beheaded, kids.

* The First Noel
'They look-ed up...'. Look-ed? Really? Maybe it's my inner writer, but syllable counts MATTER. They exist for a reason. They are important. Think about it.

* The Christmas Shoes
What is the purpose of this song? I don't know, and I don't understand; like, at all. Did somebody sit down and say "let's write the dumbest, most miserable Christmas song we can devise"? And, more to the point, if 'Daddy says there's not much time', shouldn't little Johnny be at home with his Mama instead of in line to buy shoes? Does Jesus care if you're wearing a brand spanky new pair of shoes when you die? I hope not, 'cause I don't plan on wearing pants.

* Up On The Housetop
'Up on the housetop, reindeer paws...'? Hang on there just a second, reindeer have hooves, not paws. When I pointed that out to my mother, she, of course, took the I-LOVE-Christmas-music attitude of "maybe they meant reindeer pause; you know, like, they stopped". No, Mama. They did not mean stop; if they did, then the writing is weak, and deserves to be made fun of.
THIS reindeer has paws, but that falls under the heading of 'technicality'.

* Walking In A Winter Wonderland
'In the meadow we can build a snowman, and pretend that he is Parson Brown...'; later in the song, '...we'll have lots of fun with Mr. Snowman until the other kiddies knock him down'. So, the other kids must really be little sons of bitches to knock over a fake preacher, AND run other people out of a meadow. Public school really does encourage children to be terrible little creatures, doesn't it?

* No Place Like Home For The Holidays
'Gee, the traffic is terrific'? Look, folks, I've been stuck in traffic many times in my life: SoCal, Dallas, and downtown Chicago, just to name a few. Traffic is far from terrific. When we were little (and even now, come to think it), our mother would sing 'gee the traffic is horrific'. I'm inclined to agree.

* Santa Claus Is Coming To Town
'Elephants, boats, and kiddie cars, too'. Elephants? Who asks for an elephant for Christmas? They're endangered, people! My dad's friend, Ben, had something to do with this, didn't he? (Story time: when I was about five years old, I asked Santa for a pony. Three days before Christmas, Ben leaves a message on our answering machine asking when Daddy wanted him to deliver our new pony. I've been waiting for a pony from Ben ever since; fifteen years later, that joke has not lost any of its potency, and I mention the fact that Ben owes me a pony every time I speak to him. If you're reading, Ben, PAY UP.)
Let's hope that the elephant in the song is metaphorical; if so, I want an elephant next year (whoops, I'm having a Conservative moment, again).
Here's another thought to ponder: what the hell are 'rooty-toot-toots and rummy-tum-tums'? They sound like something you order at IHOP.

* Baby, It's Cold Outside
'Mother will be there at the door... Father will be pacing the floor...'. Um, it's called a telephone, honey. They had them in the dark ages before Internet and cell phones. They had this little wheelie thing that you stuck your finger in, and it clicked and spun. Sometimes, you could talk to a real live person, and they would connect you! Sweet Belinda of all that's good and cheezy! CALL HOME. Problem solved.

* Silent Night
It was before you started singing, Asshat. (I don't know why this was in my notes, but I nearly spit tea all over my screen when I read it; it had to be included in the list.)

* Little St. Nick
'Christmas comes this time each year'. Thanks, Brian, we didn't know that. I thought Christmas was bi-annual, and my life was just really flying by.

So, there we have it; just a few observations about some of your favorite carols. I say 'your' because we all know they aren't mine. Sure, there are some Christmas songs I like, but they don't get a lot of airplay.

Why do the videos with the best audio quality always have the dumbest video content?

Happy listening, folks. Only a few more days to go.
Santa, you are not Sir George Martin. Step away from the sound board.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Toffee, Cookies, And Puppies In The Snow

Is there anything more fabulously wintry than snow? Snow is magical in a way that words simply cannot describe; no matter how hard I try, I can never seem to spit out enough adjectives to do justice to snow. That's where my handy dandy Cannon camera comes into play; after all, isn't a picture worth a thousand words? So, take a look at the slideshow to look at those thousand words I am absolutely unable to articulate.

To warm up, I decided to make snowball cookies...

...and some pecan toffee.
These, I can describe: thems is good.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

We're Celebrating Our Leather Year!

Three years ago today, the Turret Full Of Ravens was officially started! Can you believe it's been three years? I can't.
Something you may find interesting, dear reader, is that this blog was not my first introduction to blogging. Believe it. A few months before my sister pestered me into starting the very blog you're reading today, she pestered me to blog on MySpace (back when MySpace was still somewhat cool). I went back and read the two posts I made there, and laughed heartily. The first blog I ever wrote was to publicize Banned Books Week; yes, I'm big on Banned Books Week, sue me. The second talked about keeping "your fingers, toes, arms, legs, and eyeballs crossed for a US Boosh tour, not only because it should happen, but because it's fun to see what people say about your unusual position... you'd be amazed how many strange faces people can make". Later in the post -- as a post script, actually -- I said "You may also want to keep your fingers, toes, arms, legs, and eyeballs crossed for a Paul McCartney tour sometime soon... because we need one of those even MORE than the Boosh. YAY, PAUL!"
In the words of Frank Turner: "time may change a lot, but some things, they stay the same".
Reginald Kitty is not amused.

Now that we've gotten past those very awkward stages of blogging, and forged into whole new worlds of awkward blogging, let's break down some numbers about the 2011 blogging year.
Out of the fifty posts made during this year, there have been a total of 178 videos.
They break down as follows:

Songs - 65
Beatles - 21
Beatles Without Songs - 8

"Other" - 59

Britcoms - 17

Bachelor/ette - 8

Total posts dedicated solely to music - 13

And, let's not forget about good ol' Reginald Kitty; he appeared 40 times in 30 individual posts this year.

Another interesting statistic you may not be aware of is that the "Hipster Versus Anachronism" post is the most viewed in the entire blog's history. Believe it. That post is generally what brings folks to the blog in the first place. So, if you found us via that post, and decided to hang around, we're glad you've stuck it out.
Something I always like to make sure I do in the anniversary post is thank you, dear reader, for spending some time on this peculiar little slice of the Interwebby. That anyone on the other end of that lighted box decides to read what I'm typing on my end of the magical keyboard makes my jaded little heart all warm and fuzzy. Since I've taken notice of my blog stats (and I don't know how accurate those are), I've seen readers from Latvia, Qatar, Finland, Bulgaria, and a host of other countries crossing the threshold that this blog is. What started out as a project that would keep my sister happy has turned into something much bigger -- and more fun -- than I expected back in 2008.
So, before we embark on our fourth year, let's keep with our Mr. Gee-esque tradition of bringing together some of the more notable posts in some kind of rhyming pattern.

As another blogging year ends,
And before the next one begins,
Let's look back on these days,
And see what stupid things I had to say.
There were funnies in color, if they weren't blacking out.
And Paul gave us reasons to scream and shout.
There was talk of the 90's, and my Zimmer frame,
YouTube, green shorts, and mentions of Dames.
We talked about music -- acoustic or not --
Of choppers, Chris Harrison, and how fangirls shop.
We met Katie, Mr. Do-Its, and Bonzo,
Had snow days, and Anthology's no-go.
I'm socially awkward, but it doesn't hurt,
That's only 'cause Tom Higgenson likes my shirt.
We cannot forget the wordplaying hipsters,
That our kitchen caught fire, and the tropics make me bitter.
We won't go to Nebraska, Shep looks like a dog,
There was a very special wedding, and confessions on the blog.
So, now we begin year number four --
Strap your self in, 'cause there'll certainly be more!

So, as I like to say...

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Thirty-One Years

This is such a busy time of year. As a college student, I've just wrapped up finals week; society at large is preparing for whatever holiday they celebrate around now. Maybe you're making plans to travel, or getting ready to have people over to your place for some kind of get together.
Whatever you're doing today, make sure to think about John Lennon; remember his values, and the kind of man he is. Think of his legacy, and the beautiful impression he has on the world.
Yes, this is the thirty-first anniversary of a terrible day, and is always marked in my mind; but instead of marking a premature event, I think of that legacy, that impression, those values, and John, himself. Generally, I also like to think of him smiling.

To me, he is as alive as ever, just in a different way; and, perhaps, that's something else to reflect upon today.


Is It A Subscription Box, Or Something More Sinister? (It's A Subscription Box. Maybe.)