Lazy Sunday XCIV: My Favorite Things

Today is the 99th edition of Lazy Sunday; it is also my birthday.  I’m getting to that age where my birthday is still enjoyable, but also serves as a reminder that I’m on the wrong side of my thirties, slipping towards forty ever-faster.

It’s also that point in my life that I’m becoming more aware of my own mortality.  Youthfulness compensated for poor dietary choices and succulent overeating in fifteen years ago; now, I’m feeling more and more the ravages of delicious indiscretions.  I also find I don’t sleep as well (usually) as I once did, and I will ache in places that never bothered me before.

That said, I’m still fairly spry, and while my on-stage antics might not be nearly as acrobatic as they were in my twenties, I still manage to huff and puff my way around a stage—and onto coffee tables, if need be.  Anything to entertain the crowd.

With that, I thought I’d celebrate Lazy Sunday and my birthday with some of my personal favorite posts:

That’s it for this birthday Sunday.  If you’d like to celebrate with me, considering giving yourself the gift of subscribing to my SubscribeStar page for $1 a month or more.

Regardless, Happy Sunday!

—TPP

Other Lazy Sunday Installments:

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Flashback Friday: Christmas and its Symbols

It’s Christmas!  Another magical day to celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

2020 was a tough year, but Christ is mightier than The Virus.  Thank God—literally!—for sending His Son.

Have a wonderful, safe, loving Christmas Day.  God Bless all of your for your support and generosity, and for being such amazing readers.

Here’s 25 December 2019’s “Christmas and its Symbols“:

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Doodles for Christmas

Seeing as it’s Christmastime, I’m taking a more light-hearted approach to posts this week, focusing on Christmas and the fun and music surrounding it.  To celebrate Christmas (and Festivus, which is today), I decided to share some of my favorite Sunday Doodles with you.

Normally Sunday Doodles are exclusive for $5 a month and higher SubscribeStar subscribers (and $3/month subs get doodles the first Sunday of the month), so think of this retrospective as a small Christmas present to you, my loyal readers.  If you want the full commentary on each doodle, though, you’ll have to subscribe.

The Very First Sunday Doodles – “Rose-Tinted Glasses” & “Cheeks”

These two doodles were from the first Sunday Doodles, dated 11 November 2019 (Veterans’ Day!).  “Rose-Tinted Glasses” has appeared as the “featured image” on posts before, but the Peter Griffin-esque “Cheeks” is new to the free site.

Sunday Doodles II – “Disco Dracula” and “The Hardcore Monsignor”

You can tell early on I was still going strong with my doodling A-game, as this second Sunday Doodles—from 18 November 2019—suggests..  “Disco Dracula”—who looks like a character from a 70s Blaxploitation film—and “The Hardcore Monsignor”—derivative of Monsignor Martinez from King of the Hill—are both awesome looking dudes.  “The Hardcore Monsignor” has been on the free site before, though I can’t remember the context.  “Disco Dracula” looks particularly spooky—and funky!

Sunday Doodles V – “Sophisticated Baby” & “The Toxic Drooler”

These doodles from the fifth Sunday Doodles (8 December 2019) feature two chunky babies of wildly different backgrounds.  “Sophisticated Baby” cracks me up every time I see it, especially the martini and the cigar.  “The Toxic Drooler” is what happens when I find a green pen on the ground and have time in a faculty meeting.

The Latest Sunday Doodles – #58!

As you can see, dear reader, you’ve missed out on a lot of Sunday DoodlesThe most recent edition, from this past Sunday, 20 December 2020, features some Christmas cheer, so I figured closing out on “Snowman” and “Christmas Tree” would be a fitting end to this post:

There you go—a small taste of the fun you’re missing.  I love a good doodle, and I’d love for you to get more of them every Sunday.

Subscribing is a great Christmas gift to yourself—and to yours portly!  ‘Tis the season, after all.  *Ding!*

Merry Christmas!

—TPP

Sunday Doodles LVIII, 20 December 2020 - Snowman

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Stop Amending the Classics, Bring Back Melody

This time of year, this blog focuses big time on Christmas carolstheir histories, the theory behind them, their compositions, etc.  One of the great joys in my life is playing and singing these carols.  They are sweet but powerful musical retellings of the Birth of Jesus.

One thing I’ve noticed, though, is that churches have taken these classics and, in an attempt to check the “contemporary Christian music” box, added unnecessary and musically-boring codas to them.  This past Sunday, my parents’ church’s praise team was leading the congregation in a stirring singing of “O Come, All Ye Faithful“—and then tacked on a needless extra chorus written in a modern style.  The additional chorus was okay, but it paled in comparison to the majesty and tunefulness of the carol it amended.  The church went from a lusty chorus of socially-distanced congregants to a few people mumbling along to the tuneless new chorus.

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Christmas Break Begins!

Well, here it is—the week of Christmas, and the beginning of my glorious, two-week Christmas break.  If this blog post feels a bit like I’m rubbing in readers’ faces the bloated excess of education’s vacation time, my apologies.  I will note, though, that if you spent hours everyday as a surrogate parent to other people’s children, you, too, would want two weeks off at Christmas.

Indeed, I would argue that more professions deserve more time off at Christmastime.  Naturally, I realize that many folks save up their hard-earned vacation days to do just that:  enjoy a week or so with their families by the yule log, sipping eggnog and hot cocoa in their festive Cosby sweaters.  What I’m advocating for, though, is a widespread cultural movement—maybe even to the point of declaring some federal holidays—in the days leading up to and/or immediately after Christmas.  It always blows my mind when people work a full day—even a measly half-day—on Christmas Eve.

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Lazy Sunday XCII: Christmas

It’s almost Christmas!  It’s been a wonderful Christmas season, and I’m looking forward to time with friends and family.

Seeing as Christmas is just five days away, I thought I’d dedicate this week’s Lazy Sunday to posts related to this most joyous of holidays:

  • Napoleonic Christmas” – As featured in “Lazy Sunday XCIV: 100 Week Review,” this post improbably became my second most popular post thanks to WhatFinger News sharing it on their main page last December.  The post examines an interesting revisionist take on Napoleon from a PragerU video, and the Prager connection is why WFN shared the post.  Napoleon is a fascinating figure, a man Beethoven admired—then reviled—and someone who completely changed the trajectory of modern European history—for better or for worse.
  • Christmas Eve” – My brief riff on Christmas Eve, which I characterized as “the most magical, mystical part of Christmas time,” this post explores that mysticism—that sense of ancient legacy and tradition—inherit in the night Christ was born.
  • Christmas and Its Symbols” – This post features analysis of a daily devotional from Daily Encouraging Word, which discussed the symbols of Christmas.  We Protestants tend to be practical, literal folks, but we lost some of the magic and mystery of the season—and of our faith more generally—when we abandoned symbolism for literalism.  Christ and Christianity took old pagan symbols and repurposed them to tell the Good News of the Gospels.  Talk about meeting potential converts where they are.
  • Singing Christmas Carols with Kids” – I’m blessed to teach music for a living, and a substantial portion of my side income comes from teaching private lessons.  This post celebrates the fun and joy of singing Christmas carols with young people, an activity which links us to our ancestors and our faith.

That’s it for this pre-Christmas Sunday.  Stay warm, have fun, and have a Merry Christmas!

—TPP

Other Lazy Sunday Installments:

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TBT: O Little Town of Bethlehem and the Pressures of Songwriting

Christmas is looming large—a mere eight days away—and I have been enjoying an unexpectedly quiet exam week.  After returning from Orlando Monday evening, I’ve enjoyed some sleepily productive time at home, writing Christmas postcards and letters, watching movies, and enjoying the warm glow of my Christmas tree.  I’ll be spending next week with family, and all the hustle and bustle of my niece and nephews, so this quiet time at home has been a welcome calm before the joyous storm.

Despite the lack of serious deadlines (other than waiting for final exams to roll in so I can grade them), I’ve managed to get quite a bit done, and I hope to get a bit ahead on the blog.  I enjoy writing daily posts, but it’s nice knowing I have a few posts squared away some days in advance, as it relieves some of the pressure to produce.  I’ll be doing more throwback posts and the like as Christmas approaches, as it’s the time of year when we’re all scaling back our efforts and taking a bit of a break.

That all goes to the point of this TBT post, “O Little Town of Bethlehem and the Pressures of Songwriting.”  The story behind the sweetly iconic carol is one of last-minute inspiration and hasty songwriting.  There is something about the intense pressure of a time-crunch that turns the coal of writer’s block into glistening diamonds.  Not every songwriter works this way, but I know for myself that a hard deadline does wonders for motivating this songwriter’s pen.

Indeed, during the height of distance learning in the spring, I fully anticipated I’d be churning out new hits, maybe even finalizing a long-delayed follow-up to my piano-and-vocals debut, Contest Winner – EP.  Instead, I squandered my newfound time (well, “squandered” is a strong word—I quite enjoyed taking that time to work on the blog, to travel, and to do the other things I’m usually unable to do).  Without a deadline pushing me to create, I didn’t get anything done!

Or maybe that’s just my excuse.  Regardless, I imagine it’s something many songwriters can relate to, and it’s certainly the story behind “O Little Town of Bethlehem.”

With that, here is December 2020’s “O Little Town of Bethlehem and the Pressures of Songwriting“:

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TBT: A Little Derb’ll Do Ya: Haydn’s “Derbyshire Marches”

The blog of late has been focusing more and more on culture, specifically music.  That makes sense because I am, after all, a music teacher, and am increasingly moving away from teaching social studies.  That’s never been truer than this year, where I am teaching, among other things, a detailed Music Appreciation course covering the major works and stylistic periods of Western music.

This focus is also a result of a desire to move away from the constant flux of politics.  More and more, I’m coming to believe that the best way to improve our lot is to focus on creating culture and building our communities.  Decentralized, localized bulwarks against progressivism offer one peaceful form in which like-minded conservatives and traditionalists can continue to live freely—at least to some extent—and happily.

So in casting about for a TBT post this week, I stumbled upon this one from 16 December 2019, “A Little Derb’ll Do Ya: Haydn’s ‘Derbyshire Marches.’”  My Music Appreciation students and I have been discussing Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven, and have listened to a number of their works this week in class.

Joseph Haydn lived a remarkable, long, and successful life.  He grew up poor, and his early musical experiences involved hearing and singing the folk tunes of his native Austria.  He spent his childhood singing in a church, but was turned out when his voice changed.  He then made ends meet teaching music lessons and taking side gigs, slowly teaching himself how to compose.

His fortunes changed at 29 when he joined the Hungarian Esterházy family as their Kappelmeister, writing and composing a mind-boggling amount of pieces (at one point, the family staged two operas a week in their personal theatre in Hungary, all of which required Haydn’s pen and conductor’s baton).  But the position—difficult as it was—made Haydn wealthy and secure.

Even in spite of his workload and an unhappy marriage, Haydn maintained a positive attitude, and adopted an optimistic, humorous outlook on life.  It shows in his compositions, which are light-hearted, whimsical, joyous—and fun.

With that, here is 2019’s “A Little Derb’ll Do Ya: Haydn’s ‘Derbyshire Marches’“:

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Midweek Movie Review: Fatman (2020)

Being Christmastime, it seems like the season for reviewing holiday classics. That said, I’ve never been one for Christmas movies in general, with the exception of off-beat films related to the holiday.

For example, I consider Die Hard (1988) a Christmas movie—perhaps the best Christmas movie—as well as Gremlins (1984).  But other than It’s a Wonderful Life (1946), of which I have fond memories of watching at my late grandfather’s house late one Christmas night as a child, I don’t tend to go for sappy Hallmark Channel Christmas movies (sorry, Dad).

There is now a new addition to that list:  2020’s Fatman, starring Mel Gibson as a jaded Santa Claus with business problems—and a price on his head.

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