Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Year's Eve

You all know how much I love lighting candles. You may also know how much I love angels. Put the two together? Awesome sauce.

May this lovely pine-scented angel candle light you (and my) way to a (hopefully) brighter New Year.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Thursday, December 29, 2011

My Year at the Movies 2011

Here are some (but not nearly all) of the movies and marquees I saw this year.

Holidaze: 12/29/11

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas Dinner

I was on my own Christmas Day, having spent Christmas Eve Eve at brunch with Superbadfriend and dinner with Dee and JB and Christmas Eve at dinner with Mom. I was well prepared, however, for a hearty Christmas dinner of pierogis with various fillings (potato, sauerkraut, cheese, meat, plum) garnished with garlic, red onions and green bell pepper. (See what I did there? Red and green? Christmas? hello? This thing on?) After dinner, moving from in front of the TV was pretty much an impossibility, but that hadn't been part of the plan anyway.

Holidaze: 12/27/11

Monday, December 26, 2011

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Holidaze: 12/25/11

From my more-than-slightly-strange home to yours, I wish you a Merry Christmas.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

It's Not Too Late... catch Donny & Marie for your Christmas Eve entertainment! (Or, maybe, it is.)

Holidaze: 12/24/11

I found a neat set of three hand-painted holiday glasses at a neighborhood second-hand store. Here is one of them, filled with water. (Water, I tell you--I would neeeeeever drink vodka straight in such a large, if highly festive, glass.)

Friday, December 23, 2011

Holidaze: 12/23/11

Another tree that looks a whole lot better than the one in Daley Center Plaza.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

On the Way to Work This Morning...

The Christmas tree below is in the Thompson Center. See how full and green it is? See how it has been decorated with care and attention to detail? Lovely tree, isn't it?

Unfortunately, the tree in the Thompson Center isn't Chicago's official Christmas tree. This is: I know the city it trying to save money by accepting a donated tree from the area rather than building a tree out of many, smaller farm-grown trees. Those cost more, and it takes more manpower to assemble and decorate that tree. I further realize that, since this is a donated tree selected from a group of trees from around the greater Chicagoland area, and thus you kind of have to take the best of what you can get.

But for fuck's sake, people--put some effort into it!

The Daley Center Plaza tree looks especially awful when viewed from the middle of the Plaza itself, where this picture was taken--the beige building behind the tree doesn't hide its defects like the Daley Center does (when viewed from the opposite angle). And the straight string of lights draped down the tree only enhance the careless, disheveled look of the thing, like the city workers decorating it beheld their efforts, shrugged and said, "Eh, good enough."

No. It's not "good enough." Not at all.

Considering that Chicago's Christkindlmarket has garnered considerable praise recently, with favorable comparisons to similar markets in Vienna and Dublin, our world-class market should be complemented by a world-class Christmas tree.

I'd rather have a series of smaller, finely decorated trees positioned strategically around the plaza--or, if it came down to it, no tree at all--than to have this embarrassment on public display.

The official Christmas tree of the city of Chicago should not look more shitty than what my neighbor down the block, with far less money and far fewer resources, can throw together.

On the Way Home Last Night...

You have to be fast to snap a shot of the CTA's holiday train. I was not fast enough. (A train passing in the other direction did not help.)

Holidaze: 12/22/11

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Boys Beneath the TV

Lined up beneath the TV screen are several vintage figures collected from various places. The one on the left is the newest, found at kitschy toy store Uncle Fun a couple of weeks ago. The rest were picked up either from the long-gone Wonderland Multivintage--the same place where the aluminum tree and the Angels Three came from--or were found amongst Grandma's Christmas decorations (as was Angelique.

Holidaze: 12/21/11

Is it just me, or does this decoration make it look like a two-headed reindeer. Beat that, Rudolph!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Ho, Ho, Ho!

Three times the Santas means the gifts get delivered three times as fast, right?

Holidaze: 12/20/11

"Naughty, you have been. Lump of coal in stocking, you will get. Hmm."

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Angel with the Flower

I've seen angels holding flutes, lutes, lyres and guitars. I've even seen angels holding bouquets. But a single, huge flower? Not really, no. Maybe that's why this angel stood out from all the others at the Dollar Tree. That, and she was the only one of her kind there, shoved all the way to the back of the shelf. She deserved to come out and celebrate the holiday atop my coffeemaker, did she not?

Holidaze: 12/19/11

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Holidaze: 12/17/11

This tree in a bank parking lot in Boystown is so much nicer than the one in Daley Center Plaza.

Friday, December 16, 2011

A Fistful of Rudolphs

One of the first entries I wrote for this blog when I started it 10 years ago (again, yikes) was about the TV Christmas classic, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. I've always identified with the outsider, the different kid, the freak. I still want to live on the Island of Misfit Toys--I think I'd fit in.

This could explain why I have so many Rudolphs.

My first ornament as a child was a white glass Rudolph, and that love of the "different" reindeer carried well into adulthood. The plush Rudolph in front has been around for years and was purchased at Montgomery Ward, where Rudolph's story first began way back in 1939 when Ward's copywriter Robert May came up with the story of the little buck everyone laughed at until they needed him to save their sorry furry asses. That original storybook was sold at Ward's years before the song (most famously covered by cowboy star Gene Autry) and the TV special.

The other Rudolphs accumulated over time. I found the flocked one on the left at Quake (the best second-hand toy store in the world, I tell you--and within walking distance of La Casa!). The semi-plush one in the middle was picked up at the neighborhood Village Discount Outlet for cheap--and it sings! The one on the right? That popped up at Walgreens this year. And all the way in the back? The book that started it all (well, a facsimile thereof).

Holidaze: 12/16/11

Thursday, December 15, 2011

These Angels Three

Angelique is not the only ancient angelic ornament on display this year at La Casa del Terror. In addition to her twin sister (on another shelf in the living room), there are these three little ladies that I found at a long-gone second-hand store in Wicker Park--the very same store, in fact, where I found the aluminum tree.

They all date back to the same era as Angelique (somewhere in the late 1940s or early 1950s) and are in pretty decent shape except for the one on the right, who apparently had a rough life before landing in my hands--she was intact, but had no face. Even though I possess virtually no artistic skills, I still managed to draw a passable, pleasant expression on her face and place her and her little friends in a well-lit corner of La Casa del Terror.

Holidaze: 12/15/11

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Christmas Unicorn

Quite some time ago, I had a friend who was really into unicorns. One Christmas, while wandering through a Carlton Cards store (which we used to have in Chicago, but they've all long since vanished here), I found a lovely and elegant Christmas unicorn.

So lovely and elegant, if fact, that I seriously contemplated keeping her for myself.

That would, of course, have been supremely selfish of me, so the Christmas unicorn was given as planned and received with much apparent approval and joy. I still wanted one for myself, but I was out of luck--Carlton didn't have anymore in stock, and stops at several other Carlton stores yielded no better results.

Fortunately for me, though, Carlton reissued that unicorn the following year and for a few holiday seasons after that, tweaking the color of the paint job a little each time. That next year, I had my unicorn and kept it high and prominent on my tree every year.

That is, in those years when I bothered with a tree at all.

This is not one of those years.

The reasons for this vary from year to year. Sometimes, I know that I'll be too busy during the holiday season and won't be around La Casa del Terror often enough to enjoy the decorations. Some years, the holiday spirit is extinguished early because of my job or my love life (or, more accurately and perpetually, the lack thereof) or whatever. And some years, I can't find a proper space in La Casa to place my "big" tree (and by "big," I mean the three-footer, as opposed to Grandma's 18-inch lighted tree, which stands in the living room window every year).

This year? A little bit of each.

My hours at work have been long. The personal loneliness/horniness that's always nibbling away at the periphery is front and center and nasty as can be (and not in a good way). And even though I cleaned the apartment thoroughly in October and have kept it reasonable straight since then, there is no open space where the "big" tree will properly fit.

The "big" tree, therefore, remains in its box in the closet, as does the aluminum tree, which is just as tall and even more of a pain in the yuletide to set up.

Still, I wanted the Christmas unicorn on display somewhere in La Casa, so now it's hanging out (quite literally) in my bathroom. An odd place to hang a Christmas ornament, I'll grant, but every time I see it, it makes me smile--and these days, I'll take all the smiles I can muster.

Holidaze: 12/14/11