Getting in the Spirit

A Newsy Post you can Sing Along With

Life is Beautiful (1997)

The time between Halloween and New Year’s Day seems to go by faster every year.  I’m doing less than I used to, on purpose, but it still feels like activities, responsibilities, even the passage of hours speeds up.  The political signs have all disappeared, and the leaves have turned.  I like the energy.  It’s more positive than before.  I believe better things are up ahead.

We’ve had fun parties at friends’ houses, and we even (gasp) hosted TEN people for a salmon dinner at our house.  We happily over-ate, and didn’t drink too much, and our company was clever and talkative.  That’s how we observe the holidays.  We visit and eat and sing together.  We don’t shop for material gifts, except to give some to members of a few families we help support through church and the Urgent Care clinic.  Aside from that, our “gift” is to do more nice things for everyone we encounter, and make the time to do them a priority.  Shower the people you love with love.

We had visitors from California in town for a week, a married couple, old pals, and her mother.  One of Victor’s chief joys in life is singing Karaoke.  He has a wonderful attitude about performing, and he’s fearless.  Rather than being an artist in search of how to correctly express a message, his energy is primarily focused on understanding what his audience would enjoy, and maximizing his strengths.  Vic looks over a crowd, and goes over what songs the DJs have backing tacks for, and matches his choices to the listener’s interests.  If it’s an older, quieter crowd, he might choose jazz standards or blues.  But younger folks want stuff they can dance and shout to.  That’s what being an entertainer is.  You maximize your chances of success by pleasing people.  His trademark is carrying and playing hand-held percussion while singing, usually egg shakers.  Here’s a typical crowd-pleaser that he sang:

Me, I’m terrified of solo singing, even with good background tracks.  My solution is to always assume another persona besides my own, which is what I used to do as an actor to overcome my severe shyness.  Each time I went to another Karaoke venue with Victor, I would sign in under a different name.  By the time I was called up to sing, I had a whole backstory for “that guy”, and I sang as the character would.  For example, at Sirens, an energetic pub of distinction, I was “Sparky”.  I chose Joe Jackson’s “Is She Really Going Out With Him?” a bouncy, cheerful melody sung by a bitter, jealous loser:

And at the Hilltop Tavern, I morphed into “Dmitri”, who sang “Back in the USSR”, after dedicating it to “disappointed GOP voters, wherever you are.”

One seasonal leisure activity I engage in is quite indulgent.  I TiVo holiday-themed episodes of old TV shows like Frasier and Mary Tyler Moore, and collect movies on the hard drive that I know will encourage me to cry freely.  Once my on-call shift is over, I put my feet up and bawl contentedly for a couple of hours.

Spice, our 13 month-old guide dog puppy (in training), loves the new deck.  She can run all along the front of the house now, and alternate between watching the outdoors (dog TV) and looking in the windows.  She selects a toy to carry, and will run ahead of us trying to entice us to chase her and get hold of the toy, so she can play tug o’ war.  I have never met another being who is so cheerful and satisfied with so little.  All she requires for complete happiness is a couple of cups of water and dry kibble, the opportunity to go out back and pee once in awhile, and 4-6 hours of close interaction and activity per day.  When the sun goes down, she gets cuddly and likes to fall asleep with her head on my shoe.  I’m watching my dog to learn how to be simpler.


Filed under Cinema, Emotions, Metaphysics, Music

12 responses to “Getting in the Spirit

  1. Michael, er Sparky – your rendition of “Is she really going out with him?’ was wild! I love your summation of Christmas activities and how they do not include endless shopping or Black Friday type stuff. And I am glad to see that you enjoyed Night of the Hunter, which I think is one of the best movies ever. I remember my brother and I watching it as early teenagers and how much we loved it! Talk about evil without actually showing any blood and gore- it is so much spookier than any horror movie nowadays. As I write this, Zeppie Dog is sleeping with his head on my lap. And the card I need to mail to you and Mary is still in my purse ( lost it for about a week). Tonight we are supposed to have high winds and lots of rain for the next three days. I hear that we missed the stormy weather up there by maybe a day. Came at the best time. And the salmon dinner was great! I will make sure that Victor reads your review of his performance….

    • Ah, so happy you had a good time. We did too! It was also fun to get to know your Mom! Mary knew her, but I didn’t. I had a great time getting terrified with Victor, and overcoming it. Come again soon.

  2. Love, love karaoke evenings. I have to admit, though, I need a few glasses of wine to really get going.
    I love your generous spirit, Mikey.
    I’m also looking forward to spending some quality time with family and friends over the holidays.
    Your puppy is looking awesome.

    • Thank you, Butterfly. Spice will be graduating in January, unless she goes into season, in which case she’ll be leaving sooner. Either she will become a breeder, and the gift of her temperament will be multiplied, or she will empower another human – or if she fails the medical, we will get her back – win / win / win.

      I used to need alcohol to temper my inhibitions too! I’m trying to practice more “feel the fear, and act anyway” these days. I would LOVE to sing with you. I’ll dream about that. Have the merriest of Christmases.

  3. I love karaoke and had a great sing-a-long with this post, Mikey 😀

    Spice is so cute! What a beautiful puppy 😉

  4. Oh goodness! If I were to sing, I would scare people. I’m so happy you are having such an enjoyable time and learning simplicity from your dog. I could take some cues from you. 🙂

    • I think scaring people is rather fun myself, but you could also try my “pretend to be someone else” method when you sing! Sing in different foreign accents, calling yourself by different names. You could be Zandra, from Murmansk, wear long scarves, and sing everything with a Russian accent, accompanied by extravagant modern dance gestures. (“Ve VISH yoo a merry CHREES-MOSS, ent a HAHPEE noo yyYAH!”)

      Seriously though, anyone can learn to sing, and doing it even though you are afraid to is a great physical and spiritual exercise.

  5. Pie

    I remember your posts about singing some time ago. It’s great that you have a go at karaoke… whoever you are!

    Spice is looking great. Calling the outdoors dog TV is genius. I’m going to use it.

  6. galenpearl

    What fun in the true spirit of the holidays. I had lots of family here for Thanksgiving. We all went to a potluck at my church and took up three round tables all by ourselves! My favorite scene was back at my house when my nephew was trying to teach us all to juggle using satsuma oranges. Oranges were flying everywhere! Only one of us actually managed to juggle anything (it wasn’t me), and then we ate all the oranges.

    Also love Spice’s win/win/win future.

    Happy Holidays!

    • Thanks, Galen. It pleases my thrifty Gaelic genes that all these opportunities are available to us to have a wonderful time together, that don’t cost any more money than what we would already spend living alone.

      I’m going to a birthday party tonight. No gifts. We’re just getting together to eat, laugh and dance around. It’s good for us all to spend some time acting like teenagers. Yay, holidays!

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