Well, that was quite a year. Lots of unexpected events. Not the least of which was a country that was more upset with the state of government than Southern Man can remember voting in "more of the same." Oh, well.
Resolutions? We don't need no stinking resolutions, particularly as we're still working on those from last year. Especially the last one. Two years, now? Sheesh. But other than that things are progressing, slowly. There is a light at the end of the tunnel, and it's getting brighter every day.
New Year's Eve was spent with good friends from church, eating and playing games and eating and talking and eating and fellowshiping and eating.
And of course Southern Man picked up his first geocache of 2013 after the party before heading home to that cold trailer with plans to sleep 'till noon and then do as little as possible on New Year's Day. Happy New Year!
Teen Daughter The Younger's singing voice has deepened and matured and she has blossomed into something of a youthful version of Christina Aguilera. In particular she loves to sing the songs from the movie Burlesque, which is just what she did all the way up to the rendezvous with her mother today. So in honor of TDY here are a few songs that she particularly enjoys singing.
Why, yes, this portion of the U.S. Navy is pretty much the most powerful battle fleet ever assembled. Any one of the carriers - for that matter, any one of the amphibious assault ships - is a match for the entire military force of most countries. And Teen Daughter The Elder is a little part of it!
As always, the clan gathered at the Ancestral Manor for Christmas Eve for long-held family traditions: reading from Matthew, a lovely a capella rendition of Mary, Did You Know by Teen Daughter the Younger, lots of good food, and the gift exchange and stockings.
Three fine young Southern Nephews.
Adopted Youngest Nephew and Teen Daughter The Younger dig through their stockings. From the expression on her face there's some good stuff on that dance game.
Teen Daughter the Elder is marooned up north at Ft. Meade but she called and we all got to talk to her and wish her well. It was so cold that they refused to leave their barracks and apparently had enchiladas delivered to them. Southern Father doesn't remember the Army being quite so accommodating, back in the day.
The next day was Christmas Dinner at with Southern First Cousin Once Removed and her hubby and daughter.
Hubby was the only one who would sit still long enough for a decent pic.
And again Southern Man notes that the cell phone camera just doesn't cut it - these are the best of about forty shots - and that he's got to get a decent camera. But at any rate - Merry Christmas!
One down side of living at The Land is little or no Internet, so no blog updates. But not much has happened this week: worked half-days Monday and Tuesday, a whole lot of nothing Wednesday and Thursday (the plan was to mud and tape and sand the Sunset Room but it was just too cold) and errands and bowling with the gang on Friday. But tomorrow Southern Man and Southern Son drive north to pick up Teen Daughter the Younger for her Saturday-to-Saturday Christmas visit!
Southern Man had mixed feelings coming into this one. Yes, he and his friends found Tolkien in middle school and read the books together and picked the characters they would be (Southern Man cried when Gandalf died and rejoiced on his resurrection) and have loved the wonderful world of Middle-Earth ever since. And there's a special place in his heart for the Rankin-Bass animated films, particularly their charming adaptation of The Hobbit. And he's grateful that Peter Jackson and his crew put that world on film in such a marvelous fashion. And he's glad for midnight movies and people who share his sense of joy and wonder.
Especially pretty girls dressed as elves.
And now we have what is essentially a children's book, a comedic light adventure, filled with all sorts of unlikely events and silly dialog and with no hint whatsoever that Bilbo Baggins' ring is anything other than a magic trifle, expanded into a three-part epic trilogy. Well, Southern Man sees why. First (and cynically) given the well-deserved success of Jackson's trilogy The Hobbit is a license to print money and Jackson would be a fool to not avail himself of such wealth. But second, it's been clear from the beginning that Jackson was going to graft this whimsical tale of a journey there and back again with the much deeper back story that is scarcely alluded to at all in the book (in large part because Tolkien was still working it out). It also appears that Jackson - a fan himself - seems intent to spend his money showing us as much of Middle-Earth as he possibly can. Indeed, the first installment is as much A Brief History of the Third Age as anything else.
And so we open with some of the history of the dwarf-city under the mountain of Erebor (including such minutia as the discovery of the Arkenstone) and the devastation of the dragon Smaug. We have a darker Thorin Oakenshield, the king without a country on his quest to reclaim his throne, who gets a larger role in the Battle of Nanduhirion and an enemy thought long dead (they duel later in the movie and they might as well have announced on screen that they'd meet again; Southern Man guesses at the Battle of Five Armies). We see Radagast, the eccentric lover of animals who is mentioned but never met in the book, face the shadow of the Witch-King of Angmar and then lure orcwarg-riders away from the troupe. We have a lengthy meeting at Rivendell with Elrond, Gandalf, Galadriel, Sauruman, and (by proxy) Radagast, where in the book the business of the White Council is scarcely mentioned at all and little more than a plot device to separate Gandalf from the rest of the party for a time. Unlike Tolkien, Jackson isn't going to leave Gandalf's mysterious absences to the imagination; he's going to show us exactly what's going on, at every step on the way. This is both bad, and good.
But we also have the unexpected guests and subsequent party at Bag End, complete with song both whimsical and moving. We have the three comic mountain trolls, portrayed much as in the book, and even the great stone giants at play (or at fight - it's hard to tell with stone giants). We have pretty speech by the Great Goblin under the Misty Mountains, who (just as in the book) recognizes the long-lost elf-swords Orcrist and Glamdring on sight. And we have the Riddle Game, played to perfection by Andy Serkis' schizophrenic Gollum and Martin Freeman's Bilbo.
It's likely that when this is all over someone will pull a Phantom Edit and carve a much lighter Hobbit out of all this.
But for now Southern Man is just fine with seeing all of the pieces. He and the midnight-movie crowd were certainly pleased, and the next two Christmas movie seasons won't be here soon enough.
And now the followup to yesterday's celebratory post about the induction of Rush and Heart into the R&R HoF - groups that ought to be in and aren't, and groups that are in that shouldn't be.
We begin with a pair of questions that apply the KISS test:
How in the world did _______ get into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame before KISS? Why in the world is _______ in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame while KISS is not? They don't look much different today than they did thirty years ago.
Disclaimer: Southern Man is not a KISS fan. Indeed, in his college days (Nazarene private college) KISS was often upheld as the exemplar of the satanic evil that was rock-and-roll. But, fan or not, you've got to admit that KISS had a substantial impact on rock, particularly on live performance where they were at the forefront of the "arena rock" wave.
Like 'em or not, this band can rock. At least when they're not playing Beth or I Was Made For Lovin' You. Hey, maybe that's what's holding them back.
Southern Man's favorite KISS story: First semester of freshman year, a good friend's roommate was a hard-core KISS fan. He had brought a fairly elaborate stereo and all of the band's albums and stayed up all night Sunday night listening to them through headphones.
Then he slept through the first day of classes.
Why, yes, he did flunk out first semester and Southern Man replaced him as friend's roommate second semester.
A Joan Jett story: way back in the day when she was still relatively unknown and playing small venues a guy in the front row held up a sign saying "$100 for your panties after the show!" She saw it and mouthed back "I'm not wearing any!" That should put her in the R&R HoF, right there. She sure put on a good show earlier this year.
It's always dangerous for a little-read blog like this to solicit comments but what the hell - if you have an opinion on a band and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, post it.
Added later - wow, I'm still editing the post and we already have a nomination.
Well, it's about time - the mighty Canadian progressive-rock trio Rush has finally - finally! - been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. And announced on 12/12/2012, which isn't quiteRush Day but it's close enough.
Also, Heart. It's about time the girls got their due as well.
Southern Man's musical tastes have varied over the years, but those two have been in his top-ten list since - well, high school. He saw Heart on their very first solo national tour, way back in the day; they put on an absolutely terrific show and were so overwhelmed by the enthusiasm of our Southern City crowd that they played a seventy-minute encore. A hundred concerts later, that one still ranks as one of the best. Back then you could get a concert ticket and a t-shirt and get change back from a ten-dollar bill. And Rush is a constant favorite; Southern Man sees them any time they're within a few hundred miles of Southern City.
So in celebration here's some Rush. And some Heart. And tomorrow we'll examine the bands that should be in the R&R HoF and are not (number one on that list must be Kiss) and others that are and shouldn't be.
Once a month the local geocachers get together to eat and drink and be merry. It's usually small and casual but December is special and there's a fairly large gathering complete with door prizes and a gift exchange and such so Southern Man grabbed the gift he got stuck with at last night's church singles party and headed to the south side of Southern City.
The event was at a fine BBQ place near the big Air Force base.
In line for food!
Geocaching is a kid-friendly activity. This young lady handled the mike for the door prizes and gift exchange.
Geocachers are great people and it was a lot of fun to see old friends and meet new ones.
Jazz legend Dave Brubeck passed on yesterday, one day shy of his 82nd birthday. His quartet re-wrote the rules of jazz in the fifties and sixties and he continued to perform well into old age. In tribute, here are a few clips of this great man of music.
He counted up the other day and realized that, up to a couple of years ago, he'd been on ten first dates in his entire life.
Well, before you write Southern Man off as a complete loser, we note that eight of those led to long-term relationships. With one first date that was not followed by a second (this was the girl that Southern Mother had picked out for him) and Southern Man's one-and-only one-night stand. Well, we went out a few more times, but there was only one night. So Southern Man has been in relationships pretty much continually from high school until a few years ago when the most recent LTR fell apart. Or collapsed into fiery ruin. Whatever. Which means that these last two years have been...different.
In that last two years Southern Man's been on about a dozen more first dates. And one second date.
So, Southern Man has to learn to date again. But the marketplace is different. He's different. For one thing, he's not all that keen on dating anyway. But he does actually has some idea of what he wants in a relationship. So, here are the Six Rules for Dating Southern Man.
To get the first date, you must be slender and attractive.
Not slender? If Southern Man can haul his tired carcass to the gym three times a week, so can you. Also, see this diet post. Not attractive? There's a seventy-billion-dollar-a-year industry eager to help you out. Avail yourself of it. And if you're offended by that, too bad: girls screen (and reject) guys by attractiveness and physique far more vigorously than we do. You reap what you sow.
To earn a second date, you must on that first date present yourself as feminine and sweet.
And that right there is why Southern Man hasn't been on many second dates. The girls in his target demographic take great care and pride in assuring him how independent and self-reliant they are and that they have a house and a car and a job and don't need anything from him and that this is all about having a friend and going out and having fun. Well, at least at first. There's always that tease of "if things work out..."
Well, God programmed male DNA to (among other things) seek out a woman and care for her and protect her. Don't need a man to take care of you? Southern Man wonders why you are on this date. Trying to show off how tough you are? Don't you realize that men seek feminine characteristics in their partners, not masculine ones? Sadly, professional divorced women that have been on their own for a while have little choice but to adopt masculine traits or perish by the wayside. It really shows, sometimes. Southern Man sees lots women presenting themselves on dates with the (masculine) characteristics that they themselves seek in their partner, blissfully unaware that we could hardly care less about their income or job or car or number of square feet in their rent house. And they often project their "I'm a strong 21st-century woman" vibe with sarcasm (lots and lots and lots of sarcasm) and snarling and sneering and outright criticism. Do they have any idea how powerfully unattractive that is? Unattractive enough that Southern Man never called for a second date, anyway.
And, yes, "sweet and feminine" is more important than "slender and attractive."
So the last two steps are hypothetical, as no one has yet gotten past the middle pair. And if no one ever does, that's just fine; better to do without than to settle for less. But to be in a relationship with Southern Man (with the expectation that he will one day endow thee with all his worldly goods, et cetera) you must provide the two things that men seek most in their partners: emotional comfort and physical pleasure.
Men need someone to lean on, a little bit, at the end of the day, and let them know that they're respected and loved and wanted and needed and didn't screw up too badly that day and here's a hot meal and a beer just for you. And physical pleasure includes sex but there's a lot more to it than that. The mother of Southern Man's children gave the best footrubs ever. Southern Man made it through many a long day at work anticipating that particular treat. What do you have to offer your hard-working boyfriend at the end of the day?
And, yes, the promises of emotional comfort and physical pleasure are the most important of the six.
As the song says, how can Southern Man find a woman like that? And what does he have to offer that she wants in a relationship? Only time will tell. In the meantime he will continue to diet and work out and improve his live as best he can and (as an early commenter has already reminded him) seek out God's will and walk on the path He lights for me and not worry too much about dating for the time being.
In which Southern Man and Southern Parents and Southern Sister finish the two-day road trip back to Southern State.
And as promised we arrived at the Ancestral Manor at one-ish, Southern Sister dropped Southern Man off at the airport at two-ish, and Southern Man swung by the office to take care of beginning-of-month bill-paying and update the blog (for one thing Southern Man now knows how to add mouse-over text to photos so he will abuse that feature for a while). Pics will be added tomorrow when he downloads the camera. But now it is time to go to The Land and relax for the rest of the day!
An antique(ish) fire engine in front ot the hotel.
Southern Man promptly headed out to geocache and eat (at a Steak and Shake, which we don't have in Southern State) and then returned to soak in the hotel hot tub and swim with Youngest Nephew. With the longest leg of the drive done today we should be home by mid-afternoon tomorrow.
posted by Southern Man @ 2:00 PM
is a thirtysomething*CS/STEM educator in the Midwestern USA. After many years at church-affiliated liberal-arts universities he now teaches at a state school (lower salary, better benefits, and hardly any drama at all) and works in a building named for a dead politician.
He started blogging in the summer of 2006 shortly after his wife of sixteen years divorced him and this blog began as an account of
how he copes with the unsettling process of learning how to live as a single parent and deal with visitation and physical custody and all the other stuff that comes with divorce
and has evolved into an outlet for writing about his adventures and opinions on travel, geocaching, politics, religion, film, music, relationships, preparations for the upcoming zombie apocalypse, and whatever.
*Southern Man will be stating his age in hexadecimal until further notice.