Hockey, Award Shows and Who I’d Like To Go For A Beer With

It’s a snowy Thursday and here are a few things going through my mine today:

I find the older I get the more I reflect on my life. Like when I was in my 30s I was one of the fastest skaters on my Industrial Hockey League team. I’m 63 now and even though I haven’t played hockey in about 15 years I still think I’m as fast as I once was. I’d get on my skates to prove it but I forgot where I put them.

Is it just me or are there are too many award shows these days. For me there should be the Oscars, The Grammys, The Emmys, The Tonys and for Canadian Content, the Junos. And that’s it.

If I were the host of the Oscars one of my jokes would be, “If this ceremony goes long, instead of ordering pizza like Ellen did a few years back I will be ordering a hamberders for everyone.”

I’m a regular Wheel Of Fortune watcher. The chance that someone would win $1 million on that show is astronomical. First off, you have to land on the $1 million wedge, then you have to win that segment to pick up the wedge, then you have to end up with the most money to go to the final round, then you have to correctly solve the last puzzle and then you have to land on the $1 million wedge on the final wheel spin. In the last week 2 people did it except for solving the last puzzle. I would have trouble sleeping especially since one of those puzzles was actually quite solve-able.

I admire how smooth Pat Sajak is and respect the chemistry he’s had with Vanna White for 36 years. Not a bad gig.

Pat Sajak is the kind of celebrity I think you could sit down and have a beer with. Others I’d like to splash a few over the breath with would be:

Lin Manuel Miranda

Jay Leno

Harry Connick Jr.

Jimmy Fallon

Seth Meyers

Tina Fey.

There’s others who I admire but I think it wouldn’t be a good experience to just go for a beer.

I discovered Goliath Netflix and did some binge watching. I quite enjoyed it. It is created by David E. Kelly and stars Billy Bob Thornton. I’ve always like Thornton as an actor but I really hated what he did when he was interviewed by Jian Ghomeshi. I thought it was bush. You can probably see it on YouTube.

I was sorry to hear that Russel Martin got traded from the Blue Jays to the Dodgers. But I’m optimistic that there are great prospects coming up for the team and the future is looking bright.

My sympathies to the family of Scott Reiter who passed away. Scott saved my butt on countless times when I filled in as vocalist for the Lethbridge Big Band. He was the sax player right beside me and he was the one that nodded when it was time for me to jump in with the vocals.

I like mild winters. The older I get the lower my tolerance is for -30.

I admit that I’m surprised that the Calgary Flames are doing as well as they are doing this year. However you don’t win the Stanley Cup in January.

Rehashing a couple of my old jokes: If I ever won the Lottery I’d probably end up being even since I’ve been buying them since 1976.

There’s a new wheat that’s being developed that is resistant to hail because it grows its own helmet.

Advertisements

The Call To Help

I had the wonderful opportunity to meet Major Donna Bladen at last year’s Coffee & Carols event at the Salvation Army. Donna is a new pastor for the Salvation Army Community Church. As we talked I had discovered she had been to Florida after Hurricane Michael tore a destructive path through many communities in that state. I asked her to share her story.

First off, welcome to Lethbridge. Tell us where you’re from and a little about what your life was like growing up.

I grew up in southern Ontario – in a Christian home where family and church were central to all of our social activity.  We were an active family which has given me many fond memories of summers spent at our family cottage in the Kawarthas and cross country ski trips in the winter.

Have you always been a spiritual person?

Yes, I have always had an awareness of God’s activity in my life.

What led you to a life in the Salvation Army?

I am a fourth generation Salvation Army Officer.  I was born into The Salvation Army, always had an awareness of the importance of seeing each person as a creation of God who deserves to be treated with love, kindness, respect and dignity.

How did you come about getting a post in Lethbridge?

In The Salvation Army we are appointed to ministries.  April of this year we received a call that told us we were on the move to Lethbridge, taking up the post as of July 1st.  We had lived in Edmonton for eleven years so were not surprised to be moving.  We were happy to stay in the province as my husband and I have four adult children, three living in Alberta and one in BC.  It is nice to be close enough to see each other on a regular basis.

What were your first impressions of the city?

We love the city of Lethbridge.  The community is large enough to have everything one may need and yet small enough to have a great home town feeling.  The landscape is beautiful and a bonus to be so close to Waterton National Park.  So far I am loving the winter!  Our church family here has been gracious and kind to us as we are settling in – a real friendly and warm people.

You were part of a team that went to Florida after Hurricane Michael. Was that something you volunteered for or were you assigned?

I went to Florida to offer Emotional and Spiritual Care.  I have been trained to go to these types of disasters and know that I may be called on at any time.  I was asked if I would be willing to go to Panama City.  Without any hesitation I said yes.  I saw on the news the vast devastation and if I could help in any way, I was willing.

donna1

How does one prepare for what you were about to see?

There really is no preparation to what you will see and experience entering into any disaster.  I have taken courses to prepare myself but it always hits you hard when you arrive on scene.  It’s not just the mass destruction but meeting and greeting people whose lives have been altered greatly.  One thing I always keep in mind is that I am there to help, there are no words to say….best to listen and respond to the needs as they present themselves.

What did you think when you first arrived?

I arrived days after the hurricane whipped through Panama City.  Basically a whole city without power.  Power lines down, trees cluttering the roads and laying on tops of houses and it was very hot, 35C plus humidity.  It was like stepping into another world.

Ultimately, what was your job?

Each day I went out with a feeding truck or to one of the distribution centres to interact with the victims of Hurricane Michael.  My main job was to listen.  Many needed someone to tell their story to.  It helps them process in the midst of the chaos.  If they requested prayer I was able to pray and offer words of hope.  Each day we were given updates as to where the victims were able to find resources they may need, so I was able to point them in the right direction to get their needs provided.

donna2

How did the victims react to you being there?

The victims knew The Salvation Army and many were very appreciative of the work of the Army.  I couldn’t count the times when victims approached me with arms wide open, crying and thanking me for being there.  When disaster hits, community matters.  The majority of the community came together, every NGO working together to do the most good for the people of Panama City.

What’s the most important thing you can do to help someone who has just lost everything?

I believe the most important thing is presence.  Taking the time to listen and journey with victims.  It’s not a time for false hope or platitudes, it’s a time it actively listening and responding to the needs present.

You must have met some great people. Can you tell us about one or two?

Yes I did.  One family sticks out in my mind because they had lost everything. They were living at their parent’s house who lived next door but was hardly touched by the hurricane. It was odd because their house was totally gone – it was literally a pile of their belongings on their lot. They had a little girl who stood there with us; looking at her toys in the ruble.  She was not allowed to touch the ruble.  We had stopped to give the family hot meals and supplies (no power in the parent’s house) but I was so bothered by the little girl not being able to get to her toys.  The next day myself and another volunteer we drove a distance to a Walmart to buy some toys for this little girl.  We delivered them to her. She was so happy.  Just before we were leaving she asked me, “Why are there hurricanes?”, a question I didn’t have an adequate  answer for.  I gave her a hug and said that I wasn’t sure why?  When I was hugging her she said thank you for being so nice.  I hope that in some small way we were able to encourage her heart and make a lasting impression on this little girl, that there is hope and that others truly care.

Did you feel you accomplished what you were meant to do?

I was there for fourteen days.  They were fourteen long, emotional and physically demanding days.  We slept in tents on cots, using out-houses and portable community showers.  I was ready to head home but did leave feeling like there was so much more to be done.  I am not sure one can leave a place like that feeling accomplished.  I do know that I did what I could and it was time for another crew to come in and take up the work.  I feel honoured to have helped in such away.

Are there things that could have been done better that might be implemented in the event of another similar disaster?

A disaster is just that – a disaster.  There is and always will be chaos.  You plan the best you can but it is impossible to get it all right.  What will work for one, will not work for another.

Upon reflection, what did you take away from your own personal experience?

Personally, I was affirmed in my belief that God is everywhere – in the good, bad and the ugly.  I saw glimmers of Him as I listened and comforted.  I heard many thank Him in the midst of the chaos.  I was also reminded of the power of community – so many neighbours getting together, helping one another.  From sharing generators, to helping remove trees from yard and sharing vehicles (many vehicles had trees or poles fall on them).  I wonder what kind of world we would live in if we took time to get to know our neighbours and share our resources in the good times?

Changing tracks for a moment. Name a song in your life that was playing that transformed your life.

“Great is Thy Faithfulness” is my favourite hymn.  I sang it in church with my Grandfather.

What are some of your goals for your time in Lethbridge?

I hope to be a transforming influence in the work of The Salvation Army here in Lethbridge.  I hope to encourage, uplift and bring hope and dignity to all who come across my path.

What advice do you have for someone contemplating a life of service to God?

Trust and Obey.  God is faithful – it’s His work.

Final Thoughts?

Thank you for allowing me to share my experience.

The Splendid Spengler With Dustin Nielson

For those of you who know me you would be aware that I have been a long-time fan of the Spengler Cup which is the oldest club team hockey tournament in the world. It takes place every year in Davos Switzerland and for some reason I just became fascinated with it. Canada sends a team made up of mostly pros who play in Europe. Many of them are former NHLers and there has been a great history of players who have a connection to Lethbridge being named to that team like Zach Boychuk, Wes Walz and Stacy Roest. When I mentioned on my Facebook page that the tournament was coming up I got a comment from an old friend and former Lethbridge College instructor Derek Debolt that the guy doing the play-by-play was Cranbrook native Dustin Nielson who was one of Derek’s former students. I reached out to Dustin and he graciously answered these questions while flying back home after Canada’s heartbreaking shoot-out loss to a Finnish team in the final.

How would you describe your life growing up in Cranbrook?

Quiet but busy because I grew up on a farm in Wycliffe BC smack dab between Cranbrook and Kimberly. We sold the farm and moved into Cranbrook when I was 15 because myself and my sisters had become too involved with sports.

Talk about your decision to go Lethbridge College & what it meant to you.

I always wanted to be a broadcaster and didn’t want to go too far from home so Lethbridge was the perfect choice. Funny story, I didn’t actually get into the broadcast program the first I applied. I was devastated so I went to the U of L for a year and reapplied.

Take us through your resume of where you went from College to what you are doing now?

Starting in the summer of 2003:

3 months CKVH High Prairie News

8 months AnySportAnytime.com in Edmonton doing junior/college play by play online/Save on Foods haha

5 months Lethbridge Bulls sales/PR

4 months AnySportAnytime in Edmonton again.

4 months Leon’s Furniture

6 months Country 95.5 weekend news/Lethbridge Bulls PR

2.5 years Country 95.5 News / Hurricanes colour analyst for one year

2 years Fort McMurray – Rock 97.9 Morning Co-Host, Country 93.3 News / Oilers Barons Play-By-Play

1 Year in Fort Mac I also doubled as the Bureau Reporter for CTV Edmonton

Ten Years Morning Host on TSN 1260 (2009-2019)

1 Year Sherwood Park Crusaders play by play (2009)

9 Years U of A Golden Bears Football and Hockey Play By Play (10-19)

1 Year Canada West Football Conference Play By Play (2018)

Tell us about when you got the call for the Spengler Cup.

It kind of came out of nowhere. I got an email from TSN Executive Producer Paul Graham asking for some time to chat. He called later in the week and offered me the opportunity. I had done play by play for TSN in 2015 for the FIBA Women’s World Basketball Championships and I had emailed him a new demo every six months since then.

Who were some of your influences in play-by-play?

Bob Cole, grew up with him. Chris Cuthbert, Gord Miller, Kevin Harlan and one of my favourites ever…Brad Curle. (Calgary Hitmen play-by-play guy)

What were your first impressions of Davos?

Beautiful city. Passionate about the event.

Describe the atmosphere leading up to the tournament and right to the finale.

It’s a football crowd at a hockey game. The party would start 2 hours before the first game and continue long into the night. Every night.

How would you describe the level of hockey that is played for this tournament?

I’d say it’s just slightly below the American Hockey League. In fact the AHL champions came over to this tourney one year and lost a game 7-1.

What is your sense of how big of a deal it is for the Canadian guys to play for their country in Switzerland?

It’s a really big deal. Especially for a lot of the guys who didn’t have a lot of experience playing on the World Junior team. It’s also made more special because they are all encouraged to bring their families.

What is your process for learning all of those European names?

I actually got lucky. A website called HockeyProspect.com actually has the proper pronunciations for the majority of the guys when you sign up for a free account.

What sort of off-ice stuff were you able to do?

Sadly there really wasn’t a lot of free time. I arrived on the 24th and took a day to settle in. We had a nice dinner on Christmas with our broadcast crew but once the games started it was a production meeting at 10:00 AM. Final prep and getting ready until 1:00. At the rink from 2:00-11:00 calling two games a day.

Dustin2

Having a good chemistry with your color man is vital. How easy/hard was it with your guy during this tournament?

It was super easy. Doug Honneger has been the color analyst for 15 years and is a wealth of knowledge so it came together nicely.

How expensive is it to be a tourist for this tournament? (I want to go one year. How many Swiss Francs do I need?)

It will be expensive, probably not a trip you could do every year. If you were going to stay for the week I’d say you’d need 1500FR for spending plus hotel/tickets etc.

Former Lethbridge Hurricane and First Round Draft Choice of the Carolina Hurricanes Zach Boychuk had a great tournament. Why in your mind has he not been able to stay in the NHL?

Good question. He’s lit this tournament up two years in a row. Only thing I could think of is he’s missing the top level explosive speed for a guy his size. He makes more over there than he would in the AHL though.

Shoot Outs for Championships. Discuss.

Horrible way to decide the game but a super exciting event to broadcast!!!

And now for a few random questions. Name a song that was playing when a significant event happened in your life. In other words, when you hear that song, it brings you right back to that moment.

Macklemore, Downtown, danced with my boy to that song every evening for about a year when he was little. It happened often but will always remind me of those times. He will be 4 in March.

Did you ever know Broadway Star and fellow Cranbrookian Brett Carver and could you have ever gone into theatre?

I never knew Brett but the name certainly sounds familiar. I was named Top Drama student in Grade 8….so…maybe haha

What was the best advice you got from your professors at College. Feel free to name names.

Veryl Todd. Two things. If you are getting into broadcast to make money you will be disappointed and if you are stuck in the same place for two years while working your way up you probably don’t have the chops and might as well move on to something else.

He was blunt at the time but he was right.

The winner of the Stanley Cup this season will be………..

Tampa Bay Lightning. Too deep front to back. They’ve been close in recent years.

Final thoughts about Davos, The Spengler Cup and Canada’s participation in the oldest club tournament in the world.

I’ve always been a fan of the tournament and wanted to attend. Having an opportunity to broadcast it was a dream come true and hopefully I get to do it again. It’s a very cool event for Canada as it always Canadians all over Europe to come together for the holidays and try to win something for their country.

My Johnny 7 Gun And Other Memories Around Christmas

As the title of my Blog suggests, here are a few random thoughts which occurred at a random time. Those thoughts may or may not have gone through the right hemisphere of my Cerebrum:

December 29 is the one year anniversary of my dad’s death. This was my first Christmas in 63 years that he wasn’t around. I’m not looking for anyone’s sympathy. I choose to relish in the celebration of the life that he had. He made it to 93 and I’m thankful we had many conversations about death and dying and I know he is now in a very happy place with my mom and his many friends.

Speaking of Christmas, thanks to my wife I was overjoyed to get a new supply of underwear and hankies. I’m good for 10 years now.

Some people are grossed out but I’ve always been a hanky guy. Don’t judge me.

I always said that I could never buy a fake Christmas tree. I loved the pine smell and it was just the way we did things as a kid. But they’ve made some pretty nice artificial trees over the years that come complete with lights. Mine can be set up in 5 minutes and put away in 5 minutes. And you don’t find pine needles in January anymore. It’s one tradition I’ve changed.

It used to be a sacrilege for me to not make it to some kind of New Year’s Eve party. These days I’m lucky to make it to 11pm after I watch the Times Square Ball fall.

I have to admit without snow on Christmas, you don’t get the same Christmas feeling. I’m not necessarily complaining. I’ve had plenty of Christmases in my 63 years when I’ve had lots of snow and it stayed until March. I’ve embraced El Nino.

I spent Christmas 1978 on a beach in Motueka, New Zealand. I was on my “I need to find myself” tour of Hawaii, Fiji, New Zealand and Australia. A fellow traveler I met on my journey was a Swiss guy named Urs Burkler. Even though we didn’t spend a lot of time together we exchanged addresses and we’ve actually stayed in touch for 40 years. I just got my annual e-mail from him last week. There is always a fart reference from him and I will return a fart remark. You just can’t take the farts out of the boy. I’m hoping to one day meet up with him again, maybe in Davos Switzerland for the Spengler Cup.

I’ve mentioned it many times but I have this weird love of the Spengler Cup in Switzerland. It’s on my bucket list of things to do. This year I learned that the guy doing the play-by play is a Lethbridge College grad, Dustin Neilson. Watch for a Blog interview with him after the tournament. I’ve been quite impressed with his ability to call a game.

Happiness is when you get a scratcher at Christmas and you think you won $10 but when you go to cash it in you actually won $25. It happened to me for the first time ever and I’ve been doing a lot of scratching over the years.

I was thinking about how hectic life used to be when I was in radio because when I first started out there was no such thing as voice track. Someone had to be in the studio 24 hours a day. We had the choice of working either New Year’s or Christmas. Since I lived at home and some of the other announcers were from other cities, I always chose to work Christmas. There were a lot of remotes at Anglo Stereo & Photo and at Smiths on 13 Street North right up to Christmas Eve. I barely had time to do my own shopping.

Remember when Lethbridge Centre used to be jammed packed with shoppers? Who remembers Black Sheep Boutique and Kelly’s Stereo Mart?

Who remembers the Tower of Flashing Lights atop 1090 CHEC? The lights used to flash in time with the music being played. It was a reminder to donate a Toy to Toys For Tots. I thought it was one of the best Christmas promotions ever.

My favorite toy ever was my Johnny 7 Gun. It had a grenade launcher and plastic bullets. I was into war stuff back then.

He was a quirky guy but I always appreciated that Steve Kotch used to do his yearly bus tour of Christmas lights in the city. RIP Steve.

My Cerebrum has just gone blank. Have a great weekend everyone. Watch for an upcoming episode of Cool Cars, Interesting People with former RCMP Inspector, Lloyd Hickman. It’s got some very interesting stories to tell.

The Precious Child CD-14 Years Later

It’s been 14 years since the Precious Child CD came out. It was a collection of 20 Christmas songs by local artists with money going to the Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Society of Southern Alberta. My oldest adopted daughter has FASD so it was a cause near and dear to me. It all started early in 2004 with mostly a discussion among my Global TV colleagues Erv Fehr & Chris Oates. Could we record all those songs, get them on a CD and have them ready for December? Our budget was $0. It was a daunting task. First thing, get the performers to donate their time. That was probably the easiest thing to do. The musicians in this town are incredibly giving and especially when it was for a great cause. Part 2. How do we record them? We couldn’t afford a recording studio and it was unrealistic to expect a freebee based on the amount of time it was going to take. We managed to find a multi-track unit at the King of Trade and to my surprise they were willing to let us borrow it for a few weeks. This was about November. It was time to get moving. Keep in mind we still didn’t have CDs, CD cases or a concept of what the actual album would look like. First thing was to get the songs done. I think our mantra may have been along the lines, “If you record them something will happen…” Not the greatest mantra but we forged on. There were a lot of phone calls and a lot of scheduling to do. The criteria we gave to the musicians was simple: Do a Christmas song. It could be a traditional or they could do an original. Of the 20 songs, there were three originals. Some recording sessions took less than 20 minutes. Some were two to three hours. Some musicians were really picky and needed to do things over and over, some said, “Here’s what we got…put it on the CD.” My mind is a bit of a blur as to how we managed to get 20 artists to do 20 songs. Some were recorded at the Global studio, some we went out on location and five artists recorded their own and provided us with the completed version. We filmed almost every performance and played them on Scene & Heard.

I never got frustrated by anyone’s desire to take the time to get it right. It was their reputation on the line and I respected that.

To my surprise, the stuff we recorded turned out to be pretty darn good quality given what we had and the amount of time we had to do it.

We still needed the actual CD to transfer the music to along with the CD cases, the artwork, the Artists photos and their Bios. We lucked out and everything got donated. CDs were donated by A&B Sound, CD cases were donated by Staples, Graphcom helped with the printing and we got art work from 6-year old Baily Murtland.

It was a Christmas miracle. It somehow came together and we had a decent product that people could enjoy at Christmas.

Precious2.jpg

Here’s some personal thoughts and recollections from all of the songs:

-Daddy Looked A Lot Like Santa by Trevor Panczak and Rough Stock.

Trevor was one of my first calls and he didn’t disappoint. We met him and his band on farm somewhere near Taber if memory serves me right. The song was basically recorded live with all of Rough Stock. I remember keyboardist Rob Habetler was skeptical about how the recording was going to sound but he ended up being quite pleased. It’s a great song to start the CD off.

-Happy Christmas-War Is Over by the Chevelles

The Chevelles are one of my favorite group of guys who have been together as the same unit for a long time. We showed up at a gig they were about to play and recorded it on site. It was a great song choice for the guys to feature the vocals of Tim Carter and Dave Chomiak. My one big regret is that we somehow got a clicking sound throughout the song and didn’t catch it before we pressed all the CDs. Wish we could have done that one over.

-Run Run Rudolph-New School Rock

I’m a huge fan of vocalist Bridgette Yarwood. I’ve told her on numerous times she needs to audition for America’s Got Talent. They recorded the song on their own and really rocked it out of the ball park. (That’s a good thing)

Back For Christmas-Ascetics

This was one of the original songs. Much respect for the guys to do this. This was another one that was recorded by the musicians.

Mary, Did You Know- Barb Marchuk with Kevin Tolley

I’ve done a ton of interviews with Barb over the years and admire her talent and Christian beliefs. It was a great acoustic version of the song.

The Christmas Song-Jeff Carlson.

I’ve been a long-time friend of Jeff and have enjoyed his New West performances. This was a great serious choice to show off his inner Tony Bennet. The pianist was Herb Hicks who actually appears in four of our songs. We recorded this at Herb’s house.

Blue Christmas-Wes Hillyar

Wes is a character. I loved this version of Blue Christmas. I remember we recorded the song and found out later there were some technical difficulties. We had to get Wes back to do another version. He was reluctant to redo it but we convinced him and I’m glad he did it.

I Saw Three Ships-John Wort Hannam with Tyler Bird & James Haney

We did this song at Global and did numerous takes. The final product was worth it. And I’m a big fan of John.

Little Drummer Boy- Tom Dooley

Tom did all the instruments on this one so we did some overdubs. The last part of the song is Tom free-forming.

Silent Night-Glen Montgomery

Glen recorded this song on his piano at his studio at the U or L. He played it perfectly. We asked him to do another for safety. He played it exactly the same. This version of Silent Night is beautifully haunting and is one of my favorite tracks on the CD.

Deck The Halls-Musaeus

We recorded this at the Recital Hall at the U of L. They were a very talented and very professional foursome.

Oh Holy Night-Blaine Hendsbee with Gregory Knight

Blaine has performed in many major concert halls in North America. When he hits one of the high notes in this song, it sent shivers up my spine. This too was recorded at the U of L Recital Hall/

Frosty The Snowman-Herb & Bob Hicks

This is the second appearance for Herb who along with his brother did an entire CD of Christmas songs. We borrowed one for our CD.

Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer-The Greetergrammers

This was my version of the classic song. We had some fun with it. We being Jeff Carlson, Dave Mikuliak, Lloyd Pollock and yet again Herb Hicks on piano. This was also recorded at Herb’s house. Because the Greetergrammers have never been about perfection we only did 2 takes and took the first one.

Holly Jolly Christmas-Tom & Curt

I had to get the legends of the city on this CD. This was recorded at Global and we did some overdubs with the guitar solo from Tom Price. In the final mix, the timing was slightly off. Wish we could have redone this one.

Santa Claus Is Coming To Town-Lethbridge Big Band

We recorded this at the CCH band room. I wasn’t sure how that big of a band could be recorded properly but it turned out to be another one of my favorites on the CD. Herb Hicks is the soloist on the piano.

Jingle Bell Rock- Passion Lizards

Another song that was recorded by the musicians. My good friend Kelly Roberts is on vocals and guitar and another great rockin’ version of the song.

Can You See The Light-Karen Romanchuk

This was the second of three original songs on the CD. It was recorded at Global. I have great respect for Karen and her song-writing abilities.

Winter Wonderland-Manda Paskuski

This was recorded by Manda and some of her musician friends. The copy we got was kind of rough and we had to do some enhancing. She is a great vocalist and I would have liked to do this one over again.

Tonight-Bamboo Guppies

This was the last song we got that was written and recorded by Jason Eveleigh. The lyrics are quite simple but the tune was really catchy with a nice little vocal effect in the middle. It actually blew me away with how Christmasy it was. Jason told me he just recently sang the song at a Christmas party. I’m glad it’s still in the repertoire. It was a great way to finish off the CD.

We sold the CDs for the Christmas season of 2004 and sold a few more the following year. We were able to raise about $20,000 for the FAS Society.

There were certainly times when I said, “This is hopeless, we’re not going to get this done!!” But thanks to many community minded people it became a reality.

Thanks to everyone who bought one and Merry Christmas everyone!!

A Couple Christmas Memories

I was remembering when I was a kid that the Lethbridge Herald would put on their front page how many shopping days were left until Christmas arrived. I used to love that. My level of excitement would increase as the days decreased. There’s no question that Christmas was my favorite time of the year. There were traditions around our house. We always got a new tree with that fresh new Christmas tree smell which I loved. We’d all gather around the tree and watch my dad struggle to get it to stand up straight in the cheapest tree holder known to man. (I carried on that tradition in my adult life until I said, “Screw this we’re getting a fake tree with a proper base.”  I never had to mess with that again.)

My favorite part was throwing the tinsel after all the lights and ornaments were strategically placed in the branches. I’m sure my mom was irritated at how clumpy the tinsel would get because I’d get eventually get impatient with single strands. That was too much work. The tree would always look great and it just added to the excitement. It was predetermined that when Christmas came, I would get the presents that Santa placed under the right side of the tree. My brother would get the left side. I assume my parents mailed Santa well in advance.

We always had the same manger set. Naturally it had porcelain figures of Mary, Joseph and the Baby Jesus along with a few sheep and the three wise men. One of our wise men had an unfortunate accident early on and for years only had one arm. (Must have been a mine accident from digging for Frankincense.) The stable was made of thin wood. It wasn’t very sturdy but it surprisingly survived for many years.

Stockings got hung and I remember we would get tons of Christmas cards. It was fun to see the daily mail delivered. I’m guessing mailmen at Christmas would have lost weight and developed massive bi-ceps. The reason we would get so many cards was that my mother would send so many cards. She would spend hours at our dining room table writing to friends and relatives. The better she liked you, the more she wrote. I tried to keep that tradition going but it’s safe to say I haven’t bought a Christmas card in over 20 years. Back then you had to buy the card, write in the card, write the address on the envelope, buy stamps, put the stamp on the envelope and then go to the mailbox. Good Lord, that’s way too many steps.

That morphed into me just e-mailing a few select people.

And then that stopped. I kind of feel guilty about that but then again anyone I really want to keep in touch with, I do throughout the year with Facebook or e-mail.

This will be the first time in my life when I won’t have either my mother or my father at Christmas time. My mom passed away 11 years ago and my dad passed away just after Christmas last year. They both loved this time of year. I cherish the traditions we had when I was a kid and I am so thrilled that my kids have developed traditions of their own and are creating great memories for their kids.

And so, time to get those last minute gifts (See you at 7-11 getting scratchers on Dec. 24)  and wait to find out when The Sound of Music and It’s A Wonderful Life come on TV.)

It’s A Wonderful Life-A Live Radio Play

Hope you can come out to our little live radio play this week. It’s an adaptation of the beloved movie “It’s A Wonderful Life.” When I say radio play what we’re doing is going back to the 30s and 40s when actors would get on a stage with a live audience and broadcast a show onto the radio where millions of people would be at home listening. (That was before Netflix.) All of the actors are assigned roles and we read the scripts dropping the pages on the floor as we go. We also have a sound effects guy who rings a doorbell or makes thunder plus we all get assigned some duties like opening a door, slamming down a phone, or walking in snow. That’s where we get a box of Cornflakes, a pair of shoes and hand-walk the shoes through the corn flakes to make the perfect sound.

Foly

Jason Eveleigh the sound guy

I get to play Clarence The Angel for the most part but I also have a few other characters that I do. Everyone else in the show with the exception of Tony Deys who plays George Bailey does multiple voices. Ultimately you can go to the Immanuel Lutheran Church, sit down and close your eyes and experience what it might have been like back when the main form of entertainment was listening to your old Motorola. By the way, for the radio enthusiast, there are number of vintage radios that will be on display out in the lobby.

The Sunrise Rotary Club had asked us to do that show last year as a fundraiser and we got a great response from the audience. As a result we were asked us to do it again this year. The entire cast of Tony, Stephen Graham, Morgan Day, Sheila Matson, Jordana Kohn and McKade Hogg are back and we are all thrilled to have the opportunity. (Especially since we don’t have to memorize anything. I find the older I get, the more I…um…I forget.) Money raised will once again be used to support local projects.

tonymorgan

Tony Deys as George Bailey and Morgan Day as Mary Hatch

The show runs Thursday and Friday night at 7:30 and then a Saturday matinee at 2pm. The crew has done a wonderful job of making the stage very festive and I like to think it’s a nice way of getting into the Christmas Spirit. The Immanuel Lutheran Church is located at 20 Rocky Mountain Blvd. West. Tickets are just $20 and are available at the Enmax Centre or on line at www.enmaxcentre.ca

Hope you come because if you do, I’ll finally get my wings.