Saturday, December 21, 2013

Happy Winter Solstice!

...at least to those in the northern hemisphere of planet Earth, otherwise known as Sol 3, etc.

Happy Summer Solstice to those in the southern hemisphere...

Or, as I see from the technical definition, happy "day in which the solstice occurs."

These days people know it's the solstice because they looked at a calendar (or it said so on some computer somewhere). Perhaps we're missing something now that we no longer figure out the solstice through painstaking observations of sunrise, sunset, angle of the sun, shadows, etc. etc. No more big stone monuments to mark alignments, etc. etc. Bah humbug!

But to celebrate, my younger daughter decided we should open our Christmas (Midwinter?) presents today. Well, ok, their winter break has already started, so this way they have more time to play with their new toys. She's lying there behind me singing "Jingle Bells" impatiently...

In retaliation, I'm starting up my Christmas playlist on my computer. ("It's too rock!" she says. "I thought it was supposed to be more classical. I want my presents now!") In a fit of nostalgia, I downloaded a couple hours worth of holiday music yesterday. Many many years ago, I used to have so many disks of Christmas carols and play them non-stop for the whole week of Christmas.

I blame the school music teacher! At the concert last week, in introducing each of the pieces, she mentioned Mannheim Steamroller and asked if anyone had heard of them. Well, of course I had, but back in the day I never owned any of their albums. Probably at the time I thought "bah, bastardized pop versions of the songs... way too synthy." But the school orchestra playing the Mannheim Steamroller arrangement of the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies (from the Nutcracker) ("Faeries") was so cute. Since they got to borrow some percussionists from the band, they managed a much fuller sound than usual. (The school orchestras are normally sadly feeble, lacking winds and percussion.) So... now I have half an hour of Mannheim Steamroller tracks. Ok, I still think it's "bastardized pop versions with too much synth", but hey, they're cool bastardized pop versions... and I did find a few acoustic renditions (which, yes, I thought sounded better).

I also downloaded Leroy Anderson's "Sleigh Ride". I remember that was one of my favorites from the good old youth orchestra days. That and the Cantique de Noel/O Holy Night (the phrase "Fall on your knees!" stuck in my head.) Plus a bunch of songs that Amazon.com is offering for free. Free stuff!

Speaking of "free stuff", off to open the presents!

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