107th: If others talk at the table, be attentive; but talk not with meat in your mouth.
Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott
Website of the Day
You just kinda have to check this one out to believe it!
Today's Search Engine queries:
CHRISTMAS LETTER. Once again, I've posted our Christmas letter on the Internet. It may not be as personal as holding it in your hand--but it's a lot prettier on the net!
A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS
12 December 2004
Last night we attended my favorite party of the year: The Davis Enterprise's entertainment editor's annual Christmas party.
This is not just any old Christmas party. To visit Derrick Bang's house at holiday time (and probably other times too!) is quite an experience.
For Derrick is a Peanuts afficionado. One might call him a Peanuts nut. The world of Charles Schulz is definitely an obsession with Derrick. In fact, he wrote three books on the subject.
To visit his house is...amazing. Just for starters there's the outside of the house. You don't need to know his address--just look for the glow in the sky as you approach the house
The theme is all Peanuts and other cartoon characters, on the right there is a fence of candy canes, in the window upstairs are a bazillion Snoopys, and around the outside of the house, at the level of the top of the door is an electric train that's running. This year he added his own FM radio station playing nonstop Christmas music. We tuned in on our car radio and were able to get the station all the way to the corner. He said it's amazing what you can do with an iPod and an antenna!
Then there is his Christmas tree...
Every single ornament on that tree has a Peanuts theme. Every single shelf is filled with peanuts figurines. Peanuts ornaments hang on the wall going upstairs. Hundreds of tiny Peanuts figurines are placed in little cubby holes. Lots and lots and lots of stuffed Snoopies live in the upstairs room. There are posters and plaques, and hanging lights and framed photos and pot holders and...you name it. If it has something to do with Peanuts, it's in this house. I once asked Derrick if he held the Guinness record for Peanuts collection and he told me he didn't even come close.
As you move from the tree area into the family room, you face a brisk crackling fire that invites you to step up and warm your hands, until you realize it is a video on a television screen. Instead you are ushered into the kitchen where a nice mug of warm apple cider is placed in your hands, by Derrick's wife, wearing her Snoopy sweatshirt. (Derrick himself has a shirt with a whole lotta Snoopies on it.)
I will admit that I do not always approach holiday parties, where there will be lots of people I probably don't know, with a lot of enthusiasm. I am uncomfortable making small talk and always feel awkward.
There are usually one or two people at Derrick's party that I know and last night was no exception. I sat and chatted with Sally for some time until she and her daughter had to leave.
Ordinarily, this would be the time when I would find an excuse to hide in the bathroom for awhile until I could face the crowd again, for in truth there was really nobody there that I knew all that well.
But Derrick has provided for that. There are party games.
But not the sorts of games where you get embarrassed and hate to interact with everyone else. No, these are quizzes printed on paper. Everyone gets their selection and a pencil and you do as much or as little (or none) as you want.
I generally skip the "count the Snoopies in the family room" quiz I don't remember how many there were last year, but probably over 100). I also don't do well on the "there are 5 pictures, which one is different?" puzzles. The 5 pictures hang all over the house and it involves a lot of going back and forth, back and forth, up and down stairs trying to find the one that is different. Entirely too active for me.
Instead, I concentrated on three tests of trivia and mental agility. I did poorly on "The Charlie Brown Christmas Quiz," where you have to answer quite difficult questions about the very first Peanuts TV special. Questions like: "How many tufts of green growth does the little tree have when Charlie Brown and Linus first spot it?" or "Because A Charlie Brown Christmas debuted in 1964, it featured many characters who soon faded into obscurity and haven't been seen in the newspapers for decades. Name one."
I also didn't do as well as I thought on the "Who deserves the credit?" matching quiz. It consisted of 12 well known Christmas songs which you had to match up with their composers. The one that shocked me is--I have gone my whole life thinking Gene Autry wrote "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer" and instead he wrote "Here Comes Santa Claus." But I have to pat myself on the back for guessing that Meredith Wilson wrote "It's Beginning to Look at Lot Like Christmas." I just picked the song that sounded the most like it might have been written by the man who gave the world The Music Man, and it turned out to be right.
But I did best on a game called "Slay Write" where you had to decipher lines from Christmas Carols which had been twisted into phonetically similar--but apparently random--sentences. Like PEAS HONOR THEN MIRTH HE SMILED was "peace on earth and mercy mild" and then you had to give the carol it was from. There was a maximum of 48 points for that game, and 40 was a winning score. I just barely squeaked by with 40, and got to pick a prize.
Here--you try a few:
A PONDER HOW STOP RAINED EAR
I'll give you the answers tomorrow (I expect Jeri to e-mail me with the correct answers; somehow I have the feeling this is a quiz that's right up her alley).
Anyway, it was a fun evening and before we knew it we had been there three hours and it was time to go home.
Now we're getting ready to go to Walt's office party. Fewer people, but I won't know them either. And we won't have quizzes to work on. I suspect I'll make several trips to the bathroom to hide out.
Derrick's party gets 5 stars.
TRAINING REPORT: Sheila is going "down" on my command now. She's not happy about it. And she grumbles like a toddler when you tell him to pick up his toys, but she does eventually do it. We've also switched her to a better (Dave the Dog Trainer says), more natural dog food. He says in 3 weeks her coat will be soft and shiny. Our next session is on December 23.
PHOTO OF THE DAY
Just an eency weency sample of what the house holds