Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Xmas Season: Christmas-Eve-Eve

The Christmas story.. from Linus

Merry Christmas, yal, and Happy Holidays to those celebrating other December events.

The blog will return from holiday hiatus next week, with a Well-list, some 2016 goals, some great health and wellness resources and new music for the new year. (Or maybe the week after next.. we'll see what the post-holiday recovery looks like... stay tuned!)

Monday, December 21, 2015

XMas Music: (Some of) The Rest

A random selection of some of the songs on my holiday playlist... I'm sure I'm forgetting some favorites, and there's one in particular that I know I'm forgetting. It's driving me crazy. 

NeedToBreathe: Go Tell It On The Mountain

Patty Loveless: Christmas Times A Comin'

Rend Collective: Merry Christmas Everyone

Rend Collective: Shining Light

Harry Connick Jr: I Pray On Christmas

Jars of Clay: Christmas for Cowboys

More Music Mondays

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Wildcat Sports: Playing OSU, and Playing Catchup

I keep thinking we can put football away for the year, and it just keeps coming back. This drama this week:

We lost a coach

We kept a coach

A Cat goes to Boston

But with that out of the way, I've just got to lay it out for you -- between travel, a bout of illness, and a conflicting patriotic obligation.. I haven't watched basketball since Thanksgiving weekend.

Which is a terrible thing to admit, on a blog or otherwise.

We still have one loss, right? That wasn't a bad dream? And we traded Patrick Towles for a new player? And then the Nets declared a mid-season draft and moved the team to Brooklyn?

Today I'm jumping back in, (just in time for the Christmas hiatus, gah) and hopefully these trusty links can get me caught up and sorted out.

The State of the SEC

Me, Worry?

Who Are The Ohio State Buckeyes

Words to live by

Greetings to the newest Cat

Game: Today at 3:30 in New York City 
Next up: Dec 26th against L'ville

Don't forget to send Santa your letters for a win over L'ville, and a long run into March!

Hasta luego, and Feliz Navidad, yal.

More Wildcat Sports

Friday, December 18, 2015

Xmas Season: Season of Gratefulness

I have a long list of favorite December events -- Moravian lovefeasts, Old Salem, the Twin City Santa party, the Nutcracker, skiing, ice skating, the Mistletoe 5k, long runs through neighborhoods with lots of Christmas decorations...

In truth, this December has been a little bit rough... Last year, I just assumed that I would rest up, get better, and things would just get back on track, so the things I missed seemed temporary; I just kept pushing forward, fingers crossed, trying to hit the next.

But lately the letting go has felt more permanent.. I'm not just on a break from GOTR coaching, I can't even claim to be tangentially involved in downtown outreach.. Life has actually shifted.

It's okay to feel a little loss in the letting go, and grieving is an important process in accepting and moving forward with a chronic illness. But there are still plenty of things to appreciate this year, even if they are different, even if they sometimes seem small.

Small joys are not as small when you stop to revel in them. So I've been especially, intentionally focused on savoring all the small joys this season. Here are a few of 'my favorite things'...

My Favorite Warm Winter Accessories

Cozy Cashmere, Fuzzy Fleece.. There was a time when I first moved to Winston from Florida when I thought accessories were just for fun. It took many conversations that went something like: "My hands are so cold!" "Where are your mittens?!?!" " . . . . " to realize they were also functional. Add my favorite pair of boots, and winter is much much warmer.

Good Coffee

With friends at Pan E Vino, which has become my new spot, since it's near my neck of the woods and quieter than Camino's or Starbucks... or with my favorite old movies... or sitting at the kitchen table watching the cold rain, and being warmed by my favorite fuzzy socks, and a gray cat... Coffee is contentment, in all sorts of settings. Even on bad days, there is still good coffee.

Christmas Tree Lots

With full branches and twinkle lights, that make gray rainy days seem green and magical. I love that there are so many spots around town that light up like this over the holidays. I only wish there was a January equivalent, for when things get really dreary.

Moravian Stars

Speaking of Twinkle Lights.. I love driving through downtown, with Christmas music on the radio, and picking out the Moravian stars and wreathes.. It's so uniquely Winston; a nod to our history. Somewhere there exists a streetlamp with the perfect view of downtown behind it, but I just haven't found it yet.

A Community of Faith

Choir and handbells have replaced running as the center of my schedule, and I have been blessed to have been given such a gift. Everyone, but especially those with an illness, should be so lucky to have a group that extends grace, offers support, and accepts me as I am, limits, flaws, and all. When I realized I had to pick one thing for Winston December, it was the choir concert, with no regrets.

A Great City

The city of 'Arts and Innovation' working hard to live up to it's name... I love living in a city big enough to hold the School of the Arts, Wake Forest, Innovation Quarter... and small enough to enjoy all of it. I love going downtown, and seeing tech startups, foodie restaurants, hipster bars, and art galleries...

...and knowing that it's a city that is also tackling the big issues. The Rescue Mission; Samaritan Inn; The Overflow Shelters; City With Dwellings... Great folks, reaching out to the most vulnerable. I miss being a part of this good work but my heart is warmed by knowing that it is being done, and that it is as much a priority as the bio-tech research and factory lofts just a few blocks away.

Blue Skies and Sunshine

Despite all the dreary pictures, we've actually been lucky to have a lot of sunshine and warm weather this year, with lots of chances to sit outside and soak up some Vitamin D. This picture is from early Autumn, but we've had far more of these blue-sky days than we deserve and I am so grateful for them!

A Florida Christmas

I admit I am not looking forward to the drive, and I usually feel a little wistful for a colder Christmas and my own church (and bed). But the homestead is in the Sunshine state, so the family will soon be traveling and gathering, with a black lab, decked halls, palm trees, a Moravian star on the porch, and Christmas Cats under the tree.

And it will be loud, and a little bit chaotic, and there will be arguments over the last piece of pie (or who may have stolen the last piece of pie), and we will lose track of the animals... and it will be a wonderful celebration with the growing clan.

God found me this year in so many unexpected ways. I am grateful for the grip that he has on my life, in spite of myself, and in spite of my circumstances.

I am hopeful that 2016 will bring healing, and opportunities to move and think and work the way I used to.

But this year was not without good, and in fact there was a lot of good. Not the least, the lesson for finding contentment in less, and reveling in small joys.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Xmas Gifts: The $25ish Gift List

This year, the adult kids in the family decided to do a gift exchange with $25 gift limit, and it has been so much fun. I love the limit because it gets you to think a little creatively about what the person might like/use and also the chance to find something a little unique.

In past years, there were times when I thought I found the perfect gift for someone, but went with something else because I knew the other gifts would be more expensive. $25 Gift exchange. Highly recommend it.

Here are some things that I stumbled on while shopping for my gift-exchange-person that were great gift ideas... for someone else. (So I think I'm safe posting without giving away any hints).

At the same time, these are not a wish-list. (Important note for family members, who despite the note, will still call me later to see if it is a wish-list. It is not.) It's just stuff I thought was cool and fits in the under-$25 limit.


As usual, the Amazon links are linked to my affiliate account, but the rest are just open links to the sites.

If you're doing any online shopping, Ebates is great -- it helps you find discounts and get cashback at different sites. If you haven't signed up yet, you can support the blog by using my referral link.

Without further adieu, The $25(ish) Gift List:

For Almost Anyone Who Drinks Coffee And Has Ever Watched Star Wars

When your coffee needs a little kick.. extra sugar and the force. Coffee mugs are great, because they are an easy opportunity for folks to show some personality, without the commitment of a 12 piece stormtrooper-themed dining set.

Extra credit: a bag of your favorite local coffee, and a light-saber coffee stirrer (not pictured because I just made it up.)


Force Of Action Mug - ModCloth

For Almost Anyone Who Has To Wake Up In The Morning And Has Ever Watched Star Wars

Because: Storm Trooper Alarm Clock. And the Darth Vadar coffee mug will need minions.


Storm Trooper Alarm Clock - Amazon

For The Creative Type Looking For A New Project

Find a cool online class, like this one on SkillShare, and then track down the supplies for it, like this art-quality pen set, and drawing paper or journal.


Tombow Dual Brush Pen Art Markers - Amazon

For The Mystery-Solving Board-Game Lover

Clue is great, but I received 221 B Baker Street for a birthday in 4th or 5th grade, and loved it. Mystery-solving fun, and your board-game-loving gift-receiver probably doesn't have it yet.


221 B Baker Street Mystery Game Board Game - Amazon

For The Well-Traveled Nomad Nostagic For Her Home State

I love state-themed gifts for folks that have lived in different places. It shows a little thought went into remembering the gift-receiver's history, and it's an opportunity for them to share stories from that era.


State Seal TShirt - Scoutmob

View larger image of Large Popcorn BowlFor The Netflix Binge-watching Movie Buff

Add some popcorn and a giftcard for a movie download or theater ticket, and it becomes its own gift-basket!


Popcorn Bowl - Crate and Barrel

For The Organized Girl Who Can Always Use One More Accessory

Fun, cute, and useful for so many different things. Extra credit: add a small notebook and pens, or some hair ties, or a bracelet... (Confession: I could have posted about a dozen things from Scoutmob -- Check out the Art Prints, too)


Ocean Waves Print Zip Pouch - Scoutmob

For The Chef Who Can Always Use More Cute Kitchen Accessories: 

These are so cute, and so affordable. Mini nesting bowls, and for extra credit, add some measuring cups, or dish towels, or stirring spoons... so many options!

$2.95 Each

Baker Light Blue Mini Bowl - Crate and Barrel

Hopefully these were a good start to get the ideas going -- of course there are always books (I recommend the Wright Brothers to almost anyone, but especially Carolina or Ohio folks). And check out Bourbon and Boots, which has some really cute things for just over the $25 mark.

Also, don't forget to check out local craft fairs and farmer's markets! Winston has a couple secret ones that I stumbled on this year, which will definitely make an appearance on next year's blog.

Happy gifting, yal.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Xmas Music: The Old School Setlist

Frank Sinatra - Jingle Bells 
Kay Starr - December 
Andy Williams - The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year 
Nat King Cole - Christmas Song 
Ella Fitzgerald - What Are You Doing New Year's Eve 
Frank Sinatra - I've Got My Love To Keep Me Warm 
Seth Macfarlane* - The Man With The Bag

Frank Sinatra - Jingle Bells

Kay Starr -  December

Andy Williams - The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year

Nat King Cole - Christmas Song

Ella Fitzgerald - What Are You Doing New Year's Eve

Frank Sinatra - I've Got My Love To Keep Me Warm

Seth Macfarlane* - The Man With The Bag
*Stretching the definition of 'old school', but it's the sound that counts, right?

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Grace: Advent Hymns

Sunday Grace: from Advent Hymns - O Come, O Come, Emmanuel

O come, O come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

I usually don't write very much (or at all) for Sunday posts. 'Day of rest', etc. But I saw this article on 'OCOCE' and thought it was worth sharing. 

Advent is a complicated season, full of joys and sorrows.

The grief of a first Christmas without grandparents; 
the relief of having a brother home and not deployed; 
the stress of packing and planning and travelling; 
the quiet joy of a morning spent under Moravian stars and stained glass; 
the loss of everything I've missed out on this week, this season, this year;
the delight of hot coffee and old movies and good friends... 

Advent is a complicated season. We wait for a Savior who has already come, but who has promised to return. We rejoice in the Salvation that has already happened, but long for a world restored from sin and brokenness. 

In the weeks leading up to Christmas, we put ourselves in the shoes of Zechariah, Elizabeth, Simeon, and all the pre-Christian saints. We ponder the promises. We strain to see the dawn of salvation. But we know that when it comes, the waiting will not be over. 
The common tune, linked with these lyrics in 1851 by Thomas Helmore, captures the plaintive mood of longing. It is not the same as the exuberant “Joy to the world, the Lord has come,” or the vigorous and bounding, “Hark the herald angels sing, glory to the newborn King.”  
It is a wonderful thing that there are Christmas carols that are written for the real world of sorrowful joy, as well as the real world of exuberant joy. 

O Come Emmanuel is a good example, but better still is Longfellow's I Heard The Bells. I don't know of a hymn, Christmas or otherwise, that so well asks the questions 'what about pain', 'what about grief'. And declares the emphatic answer: The hope of the world has come, and lives.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Wildcat Sports: Army-Navy Edition

Rise and Shine campers, just when you thought football season was over, it's Army-Navy Gameday, yal! America's Game, but aside from patriotism, my brother is a West Point Grad, who played a little football during his time there so #BeatNavy day is an extra special day for us! #bragging #proudSister

Things to know:

The same folks who brought you the 'crooked K' on New Commonwealth Field also decided to rename America's oldest military institution. What the what is "Army West Point", exactly? We know what Army, USMA, and West Point are... but "Army West Point"s a new one and is annoying Old Grads everywhere. Also, everyone hates the new logo.

Navy had their helmets Hand Painted with ships on them. which is just stupid. Is this a football game, or is it a fashion show. It's a football game. And they don't even match! You're in the military! Uniforms by definition should be uniform! and they went and wrote stuff about 'torpedo's in all sorts of weird places... like on the palms of their gloves.

Okay, so Army decided to put branches on theirs, but instead of looking like they're ready for art class, they look like they are ready for battle. Let's just take a second and remember that football is a land war. Show up as pretty as you want to Navy, Army's going to walk on the field ready to play a ballgame, and looking like it.

The CBS pre-game report

Battle assessment from a USNA grad

The Keep-The-Faith Guide for Army fans everywhere

Army player to watch: Kelvin White. He can play every position. Literally.

Today 3:00 in Philly on CBS

"I want an officer for a secret and dangerous mission. I want a West Point Football player!"

Back to your regularly scheduled Kentucky update:

The game earlier this week was pretty good, and the guys seem back on track.

In crazy news, we're getting a new wildcat, who could start as early as next Saturday. Or maybe redshirt. Or... ? I gotta say I'm a little confused by all of this -- how is it allowed? what does it do to the team dynamics? If it wasn't Army-Navy week I'd probably overthink it. As it is, I'll just invoke the Keep Calm and Trust Cal philosophy.

Game today, same time as Army-Navy. I might have to venture out to a local watering hole to try to catch both. (Although I absolutely hate watching games without sound, so... dilemma.)

Navy has won 13 years in a row. It's been terrible. Last year was Army's real shot.. this year, Navy has a potential Heisman candidate... but on Army-Navy gameday, all bets are off. #ItsTime #GoArmy #BeatNavy

More Wildcat Sports

Friday, December 11, 2015

MinM*: ePatient 101 (a Preview)

One of the biggest surprises in my journey through illness has been the nature of the Medical System. I have friends who are doctors, nurses, physical therapists.. and yet I had no idea that it was its own subculture, with its own rules and workflow. And there is a big learning gap for folks as clueless as I was. (My PCP? Oh. You mean, my doctor. Gotcha.)

It turns out that showing up to the doctor's office and saying "I'm sick" doesn't always magically lead to perfect diagnosis-finding appointments. Actually, it turns out that calling the doctor's office to and saying "I'm sick" doesn't always lead to an appointment. I don't like being pushy, and I don't like making waves -- so it took a while to understand that part of the system is that you can prove to the gatekeepers that you are sick enough to need an appointment if you call back 3 or 4 times and request the waiting list. (There's a waiting list? I had no idea. Because no-one told me.)

But that's a blog post for another day.. The point is, that all of this gate-keeping was new to me. And on top of that, I had no idea how to walk into an appointment and explain all of my crazy symptoms that had just appeared out of no-where. Especially because, being sick, I was not thinking or communicating that well to begin with.

I still have a lot to learn, and am incredibly thankful for the patient communities that I'm finding through social media and other online resources. While the medical system isn't perfect, it is incredibly encouraging to see how many individuals, organizations, and entrepreneurs are out there working to bridge the gaps!

I was immediately interested when I heard about Intake.Me's new ePatient 101 course. Their patient chats on twitter have been an excellent source of info sharing, and they seem very tuned-in to the challenges that both patients and doctors face.

The ePatient course is still in the preview stage, and the next installment will be released December 16th. But if the preview is any indication, it will be a fantastic resource for patients and care-givers as well.
twitter Patient Chats

First of all, because I didn't know what the 'e' stood for before I joined Twitter -- an ePatient is Empowered, Engaged, and Educated. In practice this means organizing medical records, researching conditions, and asking informed questions.

I especially liked this summary from one of the linked resources (How To Be An Empowered Patient):
The ability to be an empowered patient, though, requires a few things. First, to be empowered, a patient has to have sufficient knowledge. 
Second, to be empowered, a patient has to be able to critically self-reflect. You cannot advocate for yourself unless you understand what you need and want out of a medical interaction. 
Third, to be empowered, a patient must have certain skills.
ASK Questions 
BRING Information 
CHECK Understanding

Each lesson includes a variety of elements -- short instructional video, quiz, and supporting resources like infographics or articles.

But the best part is the Assignment. A guided action-item that helps you organize your medical history and plan for better appointments.

Other highlights include: how to read scientific papers, leveraging resources like Medivisor, and obtaining and organizing medical records.

There are only two things I wish there was more info on --

The First: Suggestions for working towards a diagnosis (and what to do in the meantime). Medicine is a system of boxes, and when you don't fit a box with a pre-defined treatment plan, there's a lot of murky-ness to wade through.

The Second: more info on how to structure an appointment. It took me a long time to figure out that I was allowed to 'own' the agenda, and I still feel like I have a lot to learn. (eg: How to organize/explain symptoms, starting the appointment by recapping the action-items from the last visit, what to do if I feel like there's not a good plan in place for next steps...)

The ePatient101 course is still in the preview stage, with new content to be released, but it is off to a great start, and teaching people how to be better patients should have a big payoff for doctors as well. Look for great things from The course is, I hope, the first of several, and they are also creating software for tracking medical records on both the patient and provider side, which I want to look into asap. (My 'hacked' system using Google Forms worked well for tracking symptoms but not so much for summarizing them...)

They should definitely make any Entrepreneurial Medicine's One To Watch list.

Note: I am not affiliated with or ePatient101. Just a fan.

The short version of my crazy illness stuff

*Misadventures in Medicine: my crazy journey through the medical system, the stuff that's helped, resources, and lessons learned.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Xmas Stuff: The Ridiculous Gift Guide

Like everyone else with a blog I have a fun gift-guide in the works, but before we get to that, here are five gifts I stumbled on while online shopping that I am begging you not to buy.  For a variety of reasons the are just ridiculous items, that I truly believe no-one should own. (I apologize for the extra snark, but some rude folks at the store have left me somewhat Grinch-y. Just hoping the sarcasm is fun, and not over the top, and out of my system through blog-writing so the folks I'll see in-person today will be spared, ha!)

How to Split Wood

A book that explains how to chop wood and polish silver. You know who could teach you to chop wood? My dad. And when you're done with that, he's got some other chores for you. In my head I've re-titled this: "a sad commentary on the lack of skills-transfer between generations".

Inheritance Sofa

A $5,000 sofa that is useless for naps. 'Hand-crafted' out of belts and old army duffle bags. 'Ridiculously uncomfortable' is not a feature I look for in a couch. And the fact that they used actual vintage WWII army duffle bags for this is a travesty.

Make Your Own Ukulele Kit

Because musical instruments are not Ikea furniture. Sign up your friend for a workshop experience at a luthier's. Or give them a Uke, some lessons, and and tickets to a Jake Shimabukuro concert. But 'some assembly required' is a weird feature for ukulele's.

Toothpaste Tube-Wringer

A good rule of thumb - things that make mornings more difficult and complicated have no business appearing in Christmas stockings.

Friends T-shirt

When your hipster niece wears this 'vintage' t-shirt ironically, it is going to make me feel old.

Be safe out there, gift-finding is a treacherous business. 

(As usual, any links to Amazon are through Am-Associates, but the other links are not through affiliate programs. In all cases, opinions are my own.)

Monday, December 7, 2015

Advent Music: Vivaldi Gloria

The choir concert is next Sunday, and this year we're featuring Vivaldi's Gloria. As a girl who grew up playing Vivaldi violin concertos, it's been a wonderful treat to spend some time with baroque music. The later classical/romantic era stuff's pretty I guess, but the structured stuff's my jam.

It's been a treat to get back into music, while at the same time challenging to learn how to sing since that's not where my background is. (And I could write on and on about the therapy of choir singing... being in a community, physically challenging, the joy of being away from electronic screens for a few hours...)

Anyways, choir concert next week, and the program will include some more modern stuff and an appearance by 'bells (holla), and the worship team... And Gloria.

Download from Amazon

First Pres Winston-Salem
Concert: 3:00pm Sanctuary
First Pres Apps: Android // Apple

More Music Mondays

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Grace: from Advent Hymns

Sunday Grace: From Advent Hymns (Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus)

Israel's strength and consolation,
Hope of all the earth Thou art
Dear desire of ev'ry nation,
Joy of ev'ry longing heart.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Wildcat Sports: Calamity Jane Edition

Good Grief. Hibernate for a week, and the whole world falls apart. (And in much bigger ways than Sports, but today I'm sticking with the stuff played out on fields and courts.)

I'm not going to say the KSR road trip is to blame for the UCLA loss.. I'm just saying there's no such thing as coincidence... But perhaps a new set of road trip rules may be in order, or maybe they will have the sense to take a square of bluegrass or a Calipari Bobble-head or something for the next one.

Football seems ages ago, but the calendar says it says it was only last week. Bummer of a game, bummer of a season. In perspective, a 5-7 Kentucky season is not that bad but it hurts because we were so close to putting the pieces together.

My take has always been that I can accept that we're building a program, but the management issues are what's so frustrating (game management, play calling, counting of players on the field -- I'll stop complaining about it when it stops happening)

Shannon Dawson.. is the Billy Gillispie of football

The Recap and Look Ahead

A sad farewell and best wishes to Towles

Basketball had a rough week as well, but since I didn't get to watch the games, it doesn't sting quite as bad. They are still the team that beat Duke, and I'm giving them the benefit of the doubt that they will snap out of it and remember that.

What happened against Illinois State:

Rough game without Ulis

Rough game all around

What happened at UCLA: 

We were soft

We were outplayed

Whatever could go wrong, did go wrong

“You have to play with joy. You have to have fun playing. You can’t do that if the other team is punching you in the face and you’re not swinging back,” Calipari said.  “You’ll never play with joy.”

Next Up:

Wed Dec 9: Eastern Kentucky 7:00

Sat Dec 12: Arizona State 3:15

So no games this weekend, but that's what the UKBasketballLive Replay List is for. The only question -- whether to catch up on this week's games or pick a couple feel-good winners.

Friday, December 4, 2015

The Blog's Day Off

The blog is on Friday Hiatus due to migraines and other travel recovery. (It's been terrible, I haven't even watched basketball.)

Have a good weekend, do something Christmas-y -- big downtown party tonight or the Lovefeast at Wake (which you can live-stream if you can't be there), or the parade and tree-lighting.

I think my weekend plans will be groceries, chores, one of the Lovefeast options, Xmas movies, and maybe trying to finish the book that will not end.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Xmas Season: The Movie Shortlist

There's loads of music and movie options to help you hit 'play' on Festive (I've been saving that one for weeks, yal.) but my Must-See Xmas Movie list is pretty short.

However. A quick word on the most glaring omission: You can keep your 'Wonderful Life'. There, I said it.

I could write an essay on the reasons I dislike that movie. I'll just say, George Bailey got the short end of the stick, and in the end, the bad guy wins. Potter keeps the money, doesn't come clean about it, and doesn't get punished. Think about it -- sure George's life and livelihood are saved, but The Bad Guy Gets Away With It.

And for the love of all get-out would somebody please send the poor guy on a real vacation. I mean, seriously, he skips seeing the world to save the town over and over, the town can scrape that sort of cash together, and he never even gets a road trip to the Grand Canyon?

Ahem. So there are two clear winners, a solid third place candidate, and then the Hon. Mentions (I can hear the outcry from family members on relegating Grizzwald and Ernest to HM, ha!)

The Favorites:

White Christmas

The one true Christmassy Christmas movie of the bunch and tremendously relevant, with scores of post-9/11 vets leaving active duty for civilian life. You want heartwarming goodness-and-friendship-saves-the-day? Put the Capra movie down, I've got it right here. Plus singing, plus Rosemary Clooney and Bing Crosby. WC should be mandatory viewing for one and all.

Guys and Dolls

The one I always think is a Christmas movie, but kindof isn't -- UNCSA put on an excellent production of this last year, and it was a special treat to see it with mom. My all-time favorite stage musical, and who wouldn't love Marlon Brando as a lovable gangster who makes good on his markers? Well, okay, Frank Sinatra, for one. All the same, it's wonderful, and because it really can't be said enough -- the all-time best musical, ever.

Desk Set

The one I always forget is a Christmas movie, with all the stuff about outsourcing, automation, and 'efficiency experts', and stars EMERAC as an early Watson. But like any girl worth her salt, I'm a sucker for Tracy and Hepburn, and just love the glimpse into mid-century office life. Champagne all around, what could go wrong!

Honorable Mentions:

Love, Actually

File this in the same box as this week's Xmas CD if you must, but here's the thing - I watch this movie for one reason -- for the opening and closing scenes -- the actual, real people greeting each other at the airport. It's the all-time greatest bookend to a collage of what love looks like, in all sorts of messy ways. People from everywhere, from all walks of life, and all sorts of history, and the joy in being re-united. After 9/11 airports were different, and we were all different.. and somehow this is one of those movies that just hit me at the right time to stick.

Christmas Vacation

My mom wishes that we would stop claiming this is actually a home movie of our family, so I will not tell you we've had relatives stay in their Winnebago on our driveway. But if I said that my wonderful grandparents may have owned a recreational vehicle, and my siblings and I were lively enough that they preferred it to staying in the house...

Ernest Saves Christmas

I'm going to be honest, I haven't seen this one in forever, but it belongs on any good Florida girl's Christmas list because there are almost no Florida Christmas movies, and Of Course if there was going to be one, it would be Ernest Saves Christmas. Because Florida is Florida, even at Christmas. Added bonus: catch a glimpse of the old Orlando Science center. Memories...