I'll get to an official review of 2006 soon enough, but let me do a quick recap of my holiday season. Mostly it was filled with the following:
1) Dog whispering. My mother-in-law is a fan of the show The Dog Whisperer, so we told Tivo to record a few. Since last week was apparently Dog Whisperer Week, Tivo toiled all week long recording umpteen episodes of the show. We watched many of them.
The show ain't bad. The host, Cesar Milan, has an undeniably impressive ability to get dogs to behave. Basically he convinces them that he's the alpha dog and they're part of his pack, thus they must submit to his benevolent will. This is a neat and entirely intuitive technique, but you kind of get the idea after half a dozen episodes. Disappointingly, he never whispers to them.
2) Explaining Tivo to old people. The average age of our visiting in-laws was about 75. They're savvy folk, but trying to undo decades of traditional TV watching was fairly unfruitful. Each time one of them attempted to operate the Tivo remote, I made sure to sit on my hands so that I didn't accidentally rip it out of their grasp in frustration. I'll never be the Geriatric Whisperer.
3) The Beatles 'Love' Album. Like many defunct and partially dead groups, the Beatles have released a new album. This one, mostly created by Beatles producer George Martin, has taken tracks and sound snippets from over 100 Beatles recordings and remixed them into 26 new, yet recognizable, songs. Some tracks are only freshened up a bit from the original, whereas others are a real mash-up, weaving elements from two songs into one. The production is fairly reverential and has a light enough touch to still let Beatles fans enjoy the essence of these classic songs, but the new mixing also gives the listener a chance to be pleasantly surprised by their well-worn favorites for the first time in a long time.
Often after we finished listening to this album, we'd start it all over again.
4) Apples to Apples. One of our Winter Present Tree Day gifts was a game called 'Apples to Apples'. Each player in this game gets a set of 7 cards with proper nouns on them like "The Midwest" or "The JFK Assassination" or "The Internet". Then each player has to pick one of these 7 cards that best matches some adjective like "funny" or "irritating". Sometimes you don't really have a good match, so you're left trying to convince the Judge player that "The Gulf War" really is "delicious". When the judge selects your proper noun card as the best match for the adjective, you win a point.
We played this game several times. My favorite moment came when Hank, in a moment of competive clarity, realized that the game was entirely subjective and her accumulation of points was dependent upon other people agreeing with her noun-adjective matching. She mulled this over while examining her anemic set of points and then blurted out, "You're all idiots! When I play Monopoly with idiots I get to win, but in this game I'm going to lose!"
I love her.
5) High School Musical
I wish I could have hired a better blogger to sit through the umpteen viewings of this movie that I saw the last week so that they could write the perfectly snarky blog post for me. I can't do this justice. Just know that High School Musical is a sugary-sweet Disney made-for-TV musical that has become must-see viewing for an entire generation of people younger than you.
I've seen the movie. I've seen the sing-a-long version of the movie. I've watched my daughter do High School Musical karaoke. Every moment of the last week that my daughter was allowed to watch TV, that's what she wanted. I think even my eyes and ears have cavities now.
6) Wii hunting. I've made two more early-morning trips to Target. I'm still Wii-less. Waaah!
Winter Present Tree Day has something for everyone, but no Wiis for mees.