It’s Friday – More Strange Christmas Videos Just For You!

Week #2.

Every year I try to bulk up the Fridays with some music videos that might have escaped your attention. Some are repeats of previous years (love them) and some are new.

So, turn down the speakers on your desk at work, and get busy wasting corporate bandwidth!

It ain’t ABBA, but Bjorn Again with Little Drummer Boy.

Okay, quit your whining. I know you want more ska. But you’ll have to settle for Bob Marley doing White Christmas.

So, can you get to a more diametrical opposite of a ganja smoking dude from Jamaica than Pentatonix? Probably not. Here they are doing Silent Night.

Like that? I thought so. Here are The Temptations doing Silent Night.

Nothing says Christmas like The Three Stooges. I Want A Hippopotamus For Christmas. (On a personal note, my mother hates this album. I memorized it, much to the glee of my father – a fellow Stooges fan – and regularly sang it all the way through, very loudly. Because there is no other way to sing with The Stooges.)

Not enough to satisfy you? Well, here’s another Stooges classic: Wreck The Halls With Boughs Of Holly.

Enough merriment. This is a serious holiday. To whit, Run DMC with Christmas In Hollis.

This next pick was random, but few are in greater contrast musically than Dean Martin with White Christmas.

Let’s wrap it up today with Benny Goodman. Yup, Jingle Bells by the King of Swing.

Please follow me on Twitter, and “Like” the Facebook author page. Don’t forget to subscribe (the box is on the right side of the page) to be eligible for free e-books and other benefits! Oh yeah – grab a copy of Assault on Saint Agnes if you’re of a mind.

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Assault on Saint Agnes is now available. Just click this link to find all the options! (I recommend the autographed copy. It’s cheaper than from the big stores, I scribble in it, and you get it mailed within 5 days. We all win.

When you finish reading any book (especially mine) please review it at www.amazon.com, www.barnesandnoble.com, and www.goodreads.com. Your review increases the chances of someone looking for a new book greatly. Authors appreciate your review, even if it is just “I thought this was a good read and will give it to my dog to chew. I especially liked the ending, because it made me feel better when he killed all of the main characters. (no spoilers, please)” Those few words (more than 20, fewer than 1,000 is ideal), and a 1-5 rating, make or break how the search engines find us. Thanks in advance.

Posted in Christmas videos, music, popular culture, Santa Stuff, Uncategorized, video | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Watcher In The Doorway.

Sunday my rescue Sheltie, Stormy, was teaching me about Christianity. Pheh, you say. No, read on and you’ll see why a good shepherd helped me feel the season even more deeply.

Please follow me on Twitter, and “Like” the Facebook author page. Don’t forget to subscribe (the box is on the right side of the page) to be eligible for free e-books and other benefits! Oh yeah – grab a copy of Assault on Saint Agnes if you’re of a mind.

Sunday I had an event that would require me to leave part-way through church. As I’d put in a 13 hour day on Saturday with the red suit (not counting travel time) I elected to sleep in and get some beauty sleep. I need beauty sleep. I will hit a church service Monday on my way to work, so the guilt level was low.

As has become the tradition, when I looked out into the hallway from my bed I saw Stormy sleeping with her back to me. She stands guard and watches the stairs when I’m sleeping. On the mornings when my wife is up and about before I am, Stormy stays at her post until I get up, not leaving the doorway to so much as go out and relieve herself, or get a drink of water. She takes her job seriously.

After I’d consumed caffeine, taken a shower, and combed the beard out I started to apply my face. Yes, that beard won’t whiten itself…yet. While I’m very much gray, and get it bleached a couple of times a year, it looks yellow under the camera. So some Ben Nye’s Snow White is in order to get it camera ready.

While applying the secret sauce, I noticed a nose poking into the bathroom. Stormy very rarely comes in there when I’m around. We joke that it’s her office, but she doesn’t just check on what’s going on in there as a normal thing.

In the four years (almost) that she’s been with us, she’s seen me do this ritual at least
sixty times. But today she was watching with rapt attention.

I never know how much she understands of what we say. I do know that she likes being addressed as a thinking creature. Kissy noises and baby-talk are not on her list of favorite things. She’s clearly very smart, has a huge vocabulary for a dog that came to us late in her life, but I never really know what’s just me babbling and what’s understood.

I explained to her that I was Santa Claus and that I had to change my appearance so that people would recognize me as him. That stopped me in my tracks. Do I really think that I’m Santa Claus? No. But with or without the beard whitener I try very hard to present the image, and act the role, of who Nicholas of Myra really was in this life. Sometimes I’m on the money. Sometimes not. But the makeup is of little consequence.

It’s the tone of voice. The listening to people. The gentle touch on an arm, or the top of a head. The engagement of each person as an individual. Mostly, however, it’s the love. I truly love the people who come to see me as Nicholas.

That might sound funny to those who have never had the blessing of putting on the Red Suit. But it made me ask myself if I followed Christ. Oh, I’m a Christian, but do I really follow Him?

I spent the next few hours on a couch, taking pictures and smiling. But the whole time, I was examining my values and my behavior.

The answer is that I try pretty hard. Yes, I’m still a foul-mouthed cynic with a taste for the bizarre. But I do pay attention to what He says. I try to listen. I try to treat others well. I try to be kind to animals, honor children, and keep the sink empty. I fail a lot. But that’s not what He asks of us: He’s all about the trying, and accepting His love.

And that, folks, is how a Shetland Sheep dog named Stormy got me thinking about God today. Deep critter, good friend, a joy in my life, and a blessing.

Have a great week. Stop in Friday for more Christmas music videos.

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Assault on Saint Agnes is now available. Just click this link to find all the options! (I recommend the autographed copy. It’s cheaper than from the big stores, I scribble in it, and you get it mailed within 5 days. We all win.

When you finish reading any book (especially mine) please review it at www.amazon.com, www.barnesandnoble.com, and www.goodreads.com. Your review increases the chances of someone looking for a new book greatly. Authors appreciate your review, even if it is just “I thought this was a good read and will give it to my dog to chew. I especially liked the ending, because it made me feel better when he killed all of the main characters. (no spoilers, please)” Those few words (more than 20, fewer than 1,000 is ideal), and a 1-5 rating, make or break how the search engines find us. Thanks in advance.

Posted in dogs, Love, Santa Stuff, Stormy, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Annual Tradition Returns: Christmas Music Videos You Didn’t Know About.

Every year I try to bulk up the Fridays with some music videos that might have escaped your attention. Some are repeats of previous years (love them) and some are new.

So, turn down the speakers on your desk at work, and get busy wasting corporate bandwidth!

Let’s kick 2016 off with Christmas Feeling Ska by The Maytals

What would Christmas be without the blues? John Lee Booker Christmas With The Blues

Changing the pace, The Carpenters I’ll Be Home For Christmas

Overseas once again for Shonen Knife with All I Want For Christmas

Finally, proof that even super bands fail now and again. KISS with White Christmas

On second thought, I couldn’t leave that horrible taste in your mouth. Thus, a palate cleanser with Frankie Lymon It’s Christmas Once Again

Please follow me on Twitter, and “Like” the Facebook author page. Don’t forget to subscribe (the box is on the right side of the page) to be eligible for free e-books and other benefits! Oh yeah – grab a copy of Assault on Saint Agnes if you’re of a mind.

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Assault on Saint Agnes is now available. Just click this link to find all the options! (I recommend the autographed copy. It’s cheaper than from the big stores, I scribble in it, and you get it mailed within 5 days. We all win.

When you finish reading any book (especially mine) please review it at www.amazon.com, www.barnesandnoble.com, and www.goodreads.com. Your review increases the chances of someone looking for a new book greatly. Authors appreciate your review, even if it is just “I thought this was a good read and will give it to my dog to chew. I especially liked the ending, because it made me feel better when he killed all of the main characters. (no spoilers, please)” Those few words (more than 20, fewer than 1,000 is ideal), and a 1-5 rating, make or break how the search engines find us. Thanks in advance.

Posted in music, popular culture, Santa Stuff, Uncategorized, video | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

It Has Begun: Santa Season Underway.

Each year, for almost two decades, my life flips upside down for six weeks. I put on the red suit, and Joe vanishes.

This year, as is tradition, I started out with a charity event. Highlight? The little boy with the necktie who cried tears of joy. He’d worn his very best, because he’d never met Santa before and wanted to make a good impression.

He did. He opened a lot of hearts that morning, including one of my volunteers from the University of Minnesota Women’s Athletics Department. She was moved by the joy, and sadness, of some of the children who came to see me. I hope my explanation helped: they might be terribly ill, but today they’re all just little children going to see Santa. Their dreams and wishes outweigh the illness for the moment, so rejoice with them.

I think she did.

This is an excellent opportunity to talk about the young women (and one young man) from the University of Minnesota who showed up this year. My head elf, Paige, dances pretty much non-stop for three hours and keeps the children focused on the camera operator (His name is Dick, but he’s shy….) I asked her how she did it, and she showed me her watch: she’d burned off 1200 calories before 11 in the morning.

Each year this crew of amazing young people come out and help with the cookie decorating, ornament and card making, and keeping everyone moving in the right direction. At 7:30 on a Saturday morning when I was sleeping in during my freshman year… hmmm, could be why the sophomore year was rather abbreviated – but I digress.

If you listen to the media and the old fogeys my age, today’s youth have nothing. I beg to differ: Paige and her crew are what I would like every young person to be – outgoing, helpful, kind, in for the finish. All of them worked very hard to help our guests have a great day. I was very impressed. Makes me proud of my alma mater.

Please follow me on Twitter, and “Like” the Facebook author page. Don’t forget to subscribe (the box is on the right side of the page) to be eligible for free e-books and other benefits! Oh yeah – grab a copy of Assault on Saint Agnes if you’re of a mind.

The incredible employees at Blue Sun.

The incredible employees at Blue Sun.

The second event was also great fun, and one that I will be repeating this coming Sunday. (Full schedule is up at http://www.santajoe.com/schedule.html) I had the pleasure of hanging out with the crew at Blue Sun Soda & Sweets Shop.

Just what everyone needs: the excitement of Santa, combined with enough sugar to stun a rhino! Seriously, I left with a case of assorted sodas. Yes, it’s premium stuff and premium prices, but you literally can’t get 99% of these flavors anywhere else.

santa-joe-unwrapping-taffybue-sun-santa-joe-truck

It’s not just the soda and candy, but the style of the place. I have known the owner, Mark Lazarchic, for many years. This was the first time we were able to work together. I’m very glad we did. You see, Mark not only provides good wages and benefits, but he’s the epitome of a small business owner who risks it all to have a vision come true. santa-joe-mark-blue-sun

So, this Sunday head on over between 12 and 3 to see Santa, stock up on soda and candy for the holiday stocking stuffers, and experience a very unique business. Here’s a link to the joint’s map.

holding-a-little-hand-at-blue-sun

The pictures today, were compliments of Amore Fotography and Events. Soledad, the owner and photographer, is tremendous with children, and I loved working with her!

over-the-shoulder-santa-joe

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Assault on Saint Agnes is now available. Just click this link to find all the options! (I recommend the autographed copy. It’s cheaper than from the big stores, I scribble in it, and you get it mailed within 5 days. We all win.

When you finish reading any book (especially mine) please review it at www.amazon.com, www.barnesandnoble.com, and www.goodreads.com. Your review increases the chances of someone looking for a new book greatly. Authors appreciate your review, even if it is just “I thought this was a good read and will give it to my dog to chew. I especially liked the ending, because it made me feel better when he killed all of the main characters. (no spoilers, please)” Those few words (more than 20, fewer than 1,000 is ideal), and a 1-5 rating, make or break how the search engines find us. Thanks in advance.

Posted in Santa Stuff, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Little ‘splaining For The Arts Community

It’s been a while since I committed professional suicide. I’m overdue. I say that because I am a professional actor by all definitions. I’ve been in motion pictures (that’s me in the background, actually got paid once…,) television commercials, radio commercials, stage productions, personal performances, voice over on industrials (training films, etc., ) and had to sign a SAG/AFTRA waiver once upon a time.

Some might laugh at that list, but here’s the reality: I’ve managed to pay my mortgage off 14 years early by virtue of the money I’ve made pretending to be someone else. Mind you, credit card fraud can do the same thing, but I actually make enough acting every year to make modest car payments and house payments (if I had either…) That qualifies me as a professional actor. Santa, just so you know, is an acting job in many ways. Because if you stink at it, the next performance will be in your kid’s living room, not at the lens end of a camera.

How will this blog be professional suicide? Glad you asked: some of my contacts in the industry are … rabid. That’s the word. They are social justice warriors who will deny me work because of my thoughts on this topic. These folks, sadly, will ignore the fact that I do a decent job for their agency and keep my mouth shut on set. Instead, they’ll peg me as a conservative Christian supporter of Donald Trump, and immediately know that I’m in charge of the new camps where gay people, all immigrants (legal and illegal,) and people any less white than The Donald will be interned and then paid less than “us.”

So I imagine. Mind you, this is not everyone in the community of arts. Lots of fine, open-minded people that I’ve worked with for years. They will continue to offer/not offer me roles based on my abilities to perform, my appearance (I make a very unconvincing six-year-old girl,) and my availability. I cherish them, regardless of their political views, sexual orientation, color, or disabled parking sticker. They treat me well, and have engaged in a professional relationship that I value.

Having said that, there are a few who will not let it go, and that is unfortunate. I’d name names, but it’s better to be on the decent and prudent side in the event that I’m wrong. After all, its’ hard to judge a book by its cover, or an actor by their Facebook rants.

Let me tell you what it’s come down to for me: I’ve watched the war in the arts community over the weekend regarding the cast of the Broadway play Hamilton. (No link, you’ll see why soon.) I am saddened that performance, and art, are being overshadowed by the need to lecture, hector, and push an agenda from the stage. To quote a great wit, “Shut up, and sing.”

To summarize what happened, Vice-President Elect Pence was in the audience. He was booed by the audience. Following the performance, one of the main characters gave an address to the audience regarding the new administration. Some have said that Pence was already gone. Doesn’t matter to me. The “fourth wall” was broken, and that’s unacceptable in my opinion. (Unless you’re Mel Brooks. He can get away with it…)

Please follow me on Twitter, and “Like” the Facebook author page. Don’t forget to subscribe (the box is on the right side of the page) to be eligible for free e-books and other benefits! Oh yeah – grab a copy of Assault on Saint Agnes if you’re of a mind.

Whether or not Mike Pence was recently elected to high office, or if he was a plumber whom the characters knew because he’d flooded the dressing rooms by accident, it was wrong to call him out and lecture him (absent or not) in the fashion the cast did. Some have defended the actors, saying the producer/director put them up to it – horsefeathers. The man paid for a ticket to a performance and was entitled to enjoy his evening. End of story.

The excuse of the progressive left is that: Pence is in a unique status and thus has no private life due to his potentially great power and influence; he is fair game to be lectured to, excoriated, exposed, ridiculed, or praised on any given night he his in public; the speech given by the cast member was polite; the actor is an HIV positive man and thus entitled; he’s black and thus entitled; the cast is part of the LGBTQ community; the arts are a special place for a social voice; (Tired of this crapola yet?) Pence should have known that this might happen, and was asking for it; this wasn’t a performance of Arsenic & Old Lace (that’s my favorite one thus far) and so his social consciousness was in need of raising if the opportunity presented itself… Blah. Blah. Blah.

Seriously? I don’t remember telling any of my agents that I have chronic migraines (mercifully few, lately) or kidney stones. I also didn’t mention my disabled veteran status, nor the fact that my hearing is fading and I’m pretty close to deaf in one ear. Nope. I foolishly expect to be hired because I look/sound like what the casting director had in mind, and I did a good audition. Heck, had I known that being ill with a horrible disease would get me a role, or at least a second audition, I would have capitalized on my Dengue fever a few years back. That should have scored me network television role at a minimum of three episodes, speaking character. Nowhere in my understanding of acting is there a codicil that you can be rude to your guests because of your age, illness, disability, or politics.

We have, unfortunately, lost almost any trace of civility in political discussion of late. I am blessed in that I share my life with a bunch of really outstanding people who are so far left that they might be Wobblies in another era. Yet we are all friends, congenial, and have fascinating discussions. Most of those discussions highlight how much we have in common versus our differences. It is possible to be in the same room with someone else and let them alone. Including the theater.

I perform, most of the time, wearing a red suit. Can you imagine what the result would be if I did anything but love, and pray for, the children that come to me? I may dislike their parent’s attire, their political opinions (often worn on their sleeves) or their choice of pets, but how is it right to inflict that on them when I’m being retained to entertain? I don’t think this need apply just to me, but to the theater in general.

If I go to a comedy club and the comic is known to hate white people, I’d kind of figure I was going to get a performance I won’t enjoy. Same thing with Bruce Springsteen. The dude can rock, I enjoy his songs, but he’s a total pain in the butt with the lectures. Sorry, I won’t pony up money for that silliness.

But I do attend events where I’m not the majority. I attend events with different outlooks politically. I attend events with ethnic groups that may never understand me, nor I them. But I go into those events knowing I take risks to my comfort with my purchase of a ticket. I do it because I might find something I truly enjoy, or expand my horizons. You don’t get to speak a couple of languages, do manual labor, and computer science without stretching some personal boundaries.

But in a Broadway theater? I refuse to buy the argument that it was “the actor’s safe space” and they were entitled to speak out once it was violated. I think they owe Mr. Pence an apology. And a refund. Same for the rest of the audience, whether or not they agreed.

You see, they paid to see the play. Not the demagoguery that followed.

If you, as a performer, choose to pursue social justice over your craft, you will find yourself restricted to audiences that think like you. You will never get to teach with an outstanding performance. You will never bring new material to the stage that deserves an audience that could grow from the performance. You will be consigned to the open mike night at the local coffee shop, not swaying millions of potential advocates with your classy way of presenting the message. I present as argument number one a certain Sir Sidney Poitier.

Come see me as Santa this year. I promise not to lecture you. Even if I despise you on a personal level. That, my fellow artists, is why it’s called a profession: you take the customer’s money and deliver a product as requested. Save the rest for the local coffee house or bar after the performance.

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Assault on Saint Agnes is now available. Just click this link to find all the options! (I recommend the autographed copy. It’s cheaper than from the big stores, I scribble in it, and you get it mailed within 5 days. We all win.

When you finish reading any book (especially mine) please review it at www.amazon.com, www.barnesandnoble.com, and www.goodreads.com. Your review increases the chances of someone looking for a new book greatly. Authors appreciate your review, even if it is just “I thought this was a good read and will give it to my dog to chew. I especially liked the ending, because it made me feel better when he killed all of the main characters. (no spoilers, please)” Those few words (more than 20, fewer than 1,000 is ideal), and a 1-5 rating, make or break how the search engines find us. Thanks in advance.

Posted in acting, political, popular culture, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment