Wednesday, December 12, 2012


In 1965 a movie was released that won multiple Oscars that year.  It wasn't a Christmas movie.  It literally had absolutely nothing to do with Christmas.  It was the story of the rise of the Third Reich and the effect it had on a family of singers in Austria who did not agree with the Nazi philosophy and escaped to freedom from Hitler's forces by climbing over a mountain range in the middle of the night.

Julie Andrews was in it and she did a lot of singing.  Beautiful singing.  There were lots of songs that went along the story line, again not having anything to do with Christmas.  During one scene, there is a thunderstorm carrying on outside and the children come to their nanny because they are scared.  Julie Andrews breaks into a song to ease the children's fears.  The song basically says to think of things that make you happy and the scary stuff will melt away.  Again, nothing to do with Christmas at all.

Now I am not sure why, how or when, but at some point in time "My Favorite Things" started showing up on Christmas albums.  These days it is played multiple times during the Christmas season as a classic Christmas song.  It is as much of a Christmas song as Three Dog Night's recording of Hoyt Axton's "Joy To The World".  "My Favorite Things" is not a Christmas song in my mind.  To the rest of the world it seems to be one of the great Christmas songs.  There isn't anything I can do about that no matter how much logic you throw at it.  It is now a Christmas song.  It is a done deal.

So since it is now a Christmas song, I began to think that at this time of Christmas, why not take the idea of this "Christmas" song and figure out what are a few of my favorite things.  Maybe it will have the same effect on my fear of Christmas as it had on the children in the film fears of thunderstorms.  Maybe, just maybe, if I think of a few of my favorite things, Christmas won't be such a terror for me as it usually is.  So, here are a few of my favorite things to take my mind off of Christmas.  Somehow I do not think this is going to work.

One of my favorite things is music.  I absolutely love it.  I love to play it on the piano, I love to TRY to play it on the guitar, and I love just listening to it.  I love almost any kind of music.  I love the old blues that Robert Johnson gave us and the folk music that Woody Guthrie brought to us.  I love the old true country western music of Hank Williams and Bob Wills to the outlaw country music of Waylon Jennings and Johnny Cash.  I like the top 40 music from Motown, Bread, and Three Dog Night.  The heavy metal sounds that came out of the seventies of Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, and Jimi Hendrix.  The music that spanned the era from Janis Joplin to Melissa Etheridge.  The jazz of Miles Davis and Charlie Parker to the Jazz fusion of Chick Corea and Weather report.  Crooners such as Sinatra, Martin, and Mathis from the past to the crooners of late like Harry Connick Jr.  Music is complex even when it is simple.  I love to hear different people sing the same songs with different arrangements.  Music amazes me.  Basically there are only twelve notes.  Think of taking those twelve notes and how the order that those twelve notes happen to be placed have given us thousands and thousands of songs with new songs being created with those twelve notes on a daily basis.  Add to that the lyrics that are incorporated into these songs.  Different thoughts and philosophies, love and hate, anger and sadness to happy go lucky songs.  I never tire of listening to music or watching musicians perform music.  Not a day goes by that I do not listen to music during part of the day.  Music is definitely one of my favorite things.

Another of my favorite things are movies.  I have admitted to my wife and I now admit it to you, the reader, that I do like "chick-flicks" among other genres of movies.  Movies are in the same category as music in a way.  Thousands of different stories with different endings and different moods.  There are horror movies that make your body twitch at a certain moment when the movie throws something at you that you are not expecting at all.  There have been horror movies where I am sitting watching and suddenly realize that every muscle in my body is tense and tight.  I love to watch good comedy movies where there is something SO exaggerated that it is total hilarity and you can't stop laughing and do not get tired of watching it over and over again.  My favorite type of film though, has to be an independent film.  Films that are made with low budgets and still manage to pull it off.  Movies that are so off the wall you often stop wonder what kind of mind could possibly think up a story line like this.  Movies that approach subject matter that no one probably thought would ever be approached.  Documentaries also make for a great movie, especially a good documentary.  I movie that dives into a true story that seems like it is not possible that it could ever happen.  Looking into people's lives and trying to understand why their lives are the way they are.  Movies, good movies, can be watched time and time again.  I love movies that give us Chaplin, Keaton, and Mae West to W.C. Fields and Peter O'Toole.  Kate Hepburn, Spencer Tracy, The Marx Brothers and Cary Grant.  Gregory Peck in "To Kill A Mockingbird" To Gene Wilder in "Young Frankenstein".  Sondra Bullock, Betty White, Albert Brooks to Mel Brooks.  The list of the stars, directors and producers is a very long list and continues to grow.  My latest favorite director/producers are the Cohen Brothers, Kevin Smith/Scott Mosier.  I never tire of watching a good movie.  Clint Eastwood will live forever because of movies as does Groucho and Grace Kelly.

Books.  How can books not be one of my favorite things.  I have had a relationship with books longer than I have been with music or film.  I prefer non-fiction history books.  Doesn't really matter what time in history the book covers as long as it is well written and teaches me something I didn't know before.  There is no limit to new things to be learned from books.  Researchers are always coming up with new discoveries or theories about history and the books keep on coming.  There are still books being written about the Lincoln administration as well as the Kennedy, Nixon and Clinton administrations.  They say that learning from history is suppose to keep us from repeating history.  I don't think that is always the case though.  I have seen times when history has repeated itself and once again we learn the same lesson over again.  Reading about history is much like listening to music or watching a movie.  Even if several books are on the same subject, they are different with different lessons to learn.  Books allows our imagination to give us a picture in our minds of what life was like in a certain period of time.  We are still learning about ancient Egypt as new discoveries are made and books are written about them.   History is constantly being made, as is music.  As humans we don't have to even try to make history while making history.  Everything that happens becomes history as things constantly change.  Books keep track of how history is viewed from one period to another.  A lot of old history books can be said to be out of date and wrong because new history books have been written that correct historical assumptions that were made in a history book fifty years before.  The thing is that even the old history books that are outdated, become a part of history.  It is a history of how we use to think, how we use to see things as opposed to how we now know as the truth.  Eventually though, what we write and read as truth now will probably be disproved in the future by someone writing a new book with new information and so the books that we read now also become a history on how ignorant we were about certain subjects at this point in time.  Books keep a record of where we were and who we were.  Books keep track of where we are and who we are and help to determine where we are heading and who we are becoming.  Books keep the essence of us alive for future generations.

 Well, those are just a few of my favorite things.  I have gotten those few things for Christmas through the years which justifies the song as a Christmas song I suppose.  There are other things that probably would be counted as some of my favorite things.  One would be any college sport that involves the colors black and gold, a tiger and the letters M I Z Z O U.  I love Missouri and Kansas City.  I love my family, both immediate and extended.  I love to drive.  I love anything mechanical and how it works.  I love science and new discoveries.

I suppose the theory behind the song that makes you think of your favorite things is suppose to open your eyes that your favorite things out number the things that are not so favorite.  I am not so sure that is the way my situation is though.  I have listed a few of my favorite things, dwelt upon them, as the song directs us to, but I am still scared of thunderstorms.  I am still scared of tornadoes.  I still dread Christmas for some reason.

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