Monday, December 24, 2012

Winston's Christmas - Part Two

This is re-posted from last year.  Lots of tech problems with the DSL network - Merry Christmas from ATT!

Follow this link to Part One, if you're tuning in late.

Back to The Plan 
As he watched the truck recede into the distance, with his Christmas list on the old leather front seat, Winston stood stunned for a moment. "Maybe I don't have the list, but I've got most of it memorized!” There was no time to waste, now. Winston ran back up the hill to his bike. His feet mercilessly pounded the pedals of his trail bike slamming it into Turbo Warp Velocity. His head was swirling with the items of his list, trying to remember all of them, letting none slip away. As he reached the Brookridge Mall, Winston hit the ground running, leaving his bicycle on its side right next to the main entrance. He ran to the center court of the mall.

 But, something was wrong. It was too quiet in there, hardly any people. Santa was not in his customary place. “Maybe he's on his break” Winston hoped frantically to himself. 'Here Comes Santa Claus’ was blaring frantically from the ceiling, a jabbering chorus of of annoying adults trying to sound like annoying children.

A voice interrupted the music. “It is now 3:55 p.m. The Brookridge Mall will be closing in five minutes. Happy Holidays” The music cut back in, a frantic cacophany of Deck the Halls with blaring guitars and artificial snare drums.

Eyes wide with panic, Winston cut through Santa's village over to the registration desk. A teenager in an elf costume was talking on her cell phone. He tugged at her sleeve, to get her attention. She snapped her head around and glowered at Winston.

“Where's Santa?” Winston nearly shouted.

The elf-girl, annoyed, said “I'm sorry, we're closed.”

“I’ve got to see Santa!” Winston tried to keep the panic out of his voice.

“I SAID, I’m sorry, we’re closed. I need you to leave, now. Have a nice day.”

As he left, Winston said under his breath, “I need you to fall off a cliff”

And the cold, gray reality came rushing around him like an icy fog. Winston was too late. Jagged fragments of his utterly failed plan fell about him as he slouched out of the mall, and back into the cold late-afternoon sunlight. Santa would never know, now, what he wanted for Christmas. Even the reconstructed list (which could possibly be missing a few items) was worthless now. Just as his brother had been telling him -- Santa would make the assumption, since he hadn’t heard from Winston, that Winston didn't want anything at all this year for Christmas. Or, worse yet, Santa would think that Winston didn't believe in him.

As he headed back up the hill, he came to the spot where he had met the truck. He could see the skid marks his bicycle had made earlier, back in a happier time when he had been a Robot Ranger traveling full of hope at Turbo Warp Velocity. He had been on a mission - a Robot Rangers Expedition. Winston stopped his bicycle, no need to hurry now, and looked back down the hill. Under the last reddish glow of sunset, the lights of the town below were coming on. In the wind-less, chill silence, Winston realized how seriously his mission had failed. “Operation Giftwrap”— indeed. His words came back to mock him.

“Well, at least I got that old man’s damn truck started!” he said to himself, fighting back the tears. “I hope that old fool has a nice Christmas, in his stupid old truck!” In the early evening sky, a falling star winked brightly and briefly, or maybe it was just one of the town lights distorted in a tear.

Back home, Winston passed unnoticed through the front hallway, where his sister was on the phone with one of her girlfriends. “Yes, a pen and pencil set. A Stupid Pen and a Stupid Pencil in a little velvet box. Yes, I showed him the necklace in the catalog. But my father said 'it wouldn't be appropriate'. Too young, my eye! I'm 16.

A Valuable Lesson
In the living room, his older brother Joshua had already opened his present from Mom and Dad — a Remington manual typewriter. "Back to basics" his father had reasoned. “Computers make things too easy, and the Internet takes all the challenge out of doing research.” Joshua poked listlessly at the keys, pressing them randomly, just for the old-time sound they made as they hit the paper.

Winston, sat down, talking to nobody. From the kitchen, he could hear his father's voice talking to his mother “This should teach him a valuable lesson in cooperation”. Great. His own parents turned against him, too! A valuable lesson! That’s what he’d be getting for Christmas. A valuable, bleak, hopeless and empty lesson. He pretended not to hear, just staring straight ahead without seeing. .

A sound penetrated Winston’s thoughtful wall of despair. A regular thumping noise seemed to come from inside the wall of the living room next to the front door, repeating at one-second intervals. From the kitchen, Winston's mother said, “Winston, what's that noise? What's going on out there? ”

Joshua could see that Winston was just sitting limply in his chair. He taunted — “Maybe it's Santa's reindeer on the roof with your stuff. Maybe we should all go out and help you bring in the big haul! HAHAHAH!” Winston jumped up, ready to punch his brother, but paused when the thumping noise stopped.

The sound of a truck door slamming. Winston froze as, one second later, an explosive POW! was followed by a deep roaring engine-sound that resonated with something recent in his memory. Winston bounded for the front door, and ran out onto the lawn looking down the road. But all he could see was a cloud of dense dark-gray smoke covering the road, tinged blue in the cold Christmas Eve moonlight. The engine sound was fading, and Winston thought he heard someone shouting “Merry Christmas” over the engine's roar.

Winston turned back to the house. It was unbelievable. The thumping sound they had all heard was explained. Packages were stacked on the front porch, on both sides of the front door. The veranda was FULL of gift-wrapped presents, and all of them had Winston's name on them!

Joshua put the typewriter in the attic, only to discover it a few years later. The attic became his “garret” from which he still writes all of his best-selling novels.

Megan began doodling with her pen and pencil set, and, as anyone who frequents art galleries will tell you, the rest is history.

And Winston? — Well, let's just say, he's in the Package Delivery business. And, yes, he works on holidays...

Merry Christmas!  "God Bless Us, Every One!"

The preceding is a work of fiction. If you notice any resemblance to real persons living or dead, then I did it right.  It was originally written for a Christmas variety show about 10 years ago, and has been re-written many times since.  Maybe this is it.

Thanks for listening and contributing. I'd love to hear from you.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Winston's Christmas - Part One

This is reposted from last year - I'm working on only a dial-up modem until after New Year's thanks to ATT.  Thanks for your patience, and Merry Christmas!  Part Two tomorrow!

One week before Christmas .
“Hey, kid, I don't care if you don't get any presents or not, but no matter what you say to Santa Claus, if Mom and Dad don't find out what you want for Christmas, you won't get anything!”   With Christmas less than two days away, Joshua was trying to reason with Winston, his younger brother.  

But Winston held his hands up, covering his ears. “Nope. Santa Claus is the only one who can handle a list this big. ”

“Hey, Nitwit! . Do you really think you're going to get everything on that list anyway? It must be eight pages long”

Nine,” Winston snapped.

"What Ever!” Joshua shouted, pulling out his I-phone. After a few flicks and clicks he quoted stridently: “Do you realize that if each child in the world gets nothing more than a medium-sized Lego set at 2 pounds net weight, Santa’s sleigh would be carrying 321,300 tons, and that’s not counting Santa himself. Conventional reindeer in the Ukraine can pull no more than 300 pounds. So we'd need 214,200 reindeer. This increases the payload - not even counting the weight of the sleigh - to 353,430 tons. Just for comparison, this is four times the weight of the Queen Elizabeth.”

Oh why don't you just take your facts and go text them to somebody!” Winston snarled.

“.... Just sayin’ “  Joshua taunted back.

Christmas Eve
It was THE DAY OF. . . Winston had eluded his family's repeated entreaties to please let them know what was on his Christmas list.  These now-wrinkled pages were Winston’s most carefully guarded possession.  “For Santa's Eyes Only”.

His parents were frustrated to the point of anger. It would probably teach them all a good lesson if nobody got anything this Christmas.” Winston's father said loudly his mother, in hopes of being overheard by the children.

The Plan

But now, it was three o'clock, and deployment of The Plan commenced right on schedule.  In scripted moves that he had been rehearsing for weeks, Winston jumped into his parka, grabbed the neatly-folded list, threw on his gloves, jammed on his helmet, and stormed out through the kitchen into the garage. Through his head was racing the theme song from “Robot Rangers”, his favorite Saturday morning show.  Winston was a card-carrying Robot Ranger. He was well-versed in the techniques and strict training the Rangers used to "Keep the World Rolling by being Ready".

He punched the garage door opener button - he adjusted his helmet as the door rumbled up. Then he pushed the “down” button, meanwhile jumping on his all-terrain bicycle and streaking out of the garage before the door closed, missing his rear fender by fractions of an inch.. His bicycle was a specially modified Robot Rangers Turbo Cycle. It gave him a feeling of independence to be able to ride the half-mile down to the mall whenever he wanted to, without asking his parents or his brother or sister for a ride.

Winston spoke through his imaginary helmet microphone to an imaginary control tower as he shot out the driveway. “Robot Ranger Winston leaving exit hatch for completion of Operation ‘Giftwrap’ Fifteen Hundred Hours - over!”. His first burst of energy propelled him to the top of the hill. Once he had crested the hill, it was time to deploy “Turbo Warp Velocity”. Head down, Winston pedaled as hard as he could downhill to achieve as much speed as his trail bike could safely handle, the bike frame nearly disintegrating from the demands of Turbo-Warp Velocity.

Winston glanced up - INFORMATION OVERLOAD!  The first thing he saw was that he was fast approaching a completely blocked road. A stopped truck entirely blocked Winston's downhill lane. A car approaching uphill completely cut off hope to escape to the left. At his present “Turbo-Warp Velocity”, the brakes on his Robot Rangers Trail Bike were incapable of stopping him before he either hit the stalled truck or put himself head-on with the oncoming car.

Snap decision - his adrenaline-pumped system gave him a lucid picture of what must be done. Winston jumped the bike over the shoulder and up the curb - a Robot Ranger was capable of making lightning-fast life-and-death decisions!  As Winston began to congratulate himself on his quick thinking, he tried to bring the two-wheeler to a halt. Although the bicycle had hit the ground on both wheels, still Winston lost his balance. Bike and rider slid on their sides to a skidding halt in the muddy brown grass, stopping halfway past the truck’s right side, muddy but intact.
"You OK?"
From the uphill vehicle, Winston heard the voice of his next-door neighbor shouting at the truck’s driver “Get that heap off of the road if it doesn't run!” and tromped the accelerator to drive away tires squealing and engine revving.  He lay for an instant in the grass. Winston’s jangled eyes focused on the “heap”  At first he saw it sideways, then upright, but some of the details were hard to comprehend at first.  Winston rose to his feet. The truck was black, and old, very old -- an antiquity.  Although it resembled a pickup truck it was like no pickup Winston had ever seen. The headlights stood up on mounts by the front fenders, like an old Model T, and the wheels had spokes. There were running boards under the doors, and the cargo box was made of wood. And the truck was undeniably very heavily loaded; it sat very low on the chassis springs.  An old yellowish-brown canvas tarp was carefully tied over the entire load, so Winston could not see what the truck was carrying. As he watched, from the front of the truck, the engine groaned like a tired, very old horse, and then was silent.  Under the truck, Winston could see the driver's feet as he got out of the truck.

As the driver walked around the truck, Winston got up, and began brushing himself off. The truck's driver was a large, old man with long, curly, gray, almost white hair. He looked at Winston with eyes almost as gray as his hair.  “You OK, kiddo?” the driver asked.

I’m OK, I didn't hit anything. But, Mister -  why did you stop right in the middle of the hill?  Nobody ever parks there.” Winston said indignantly.

"So Far to Go...."
She just quit, and now it sounds like the battery's dead, too.” the old man said. There was a weariness in his voice as he said, almost to himself. “And I've got so far to go...”

Winston knew he had to help this man, however he could. You don’t sit through all those Saturday morning shows without learning the Code of the Robot Rangers.  It’s one of the precepts by which a Robot Ranger lives:  A man's ride is more important than anything else.

That makes two of us, Old Timer”, said Winston in his best Robot Ranger's no-nonsense voice. “Let's see if we can get this thing started... Allow me.” Winston swaggered over to the driver's door, and, although he was not old enough to drive, opened the door and climbed up to sit behind the wheel. Each episode of Robot Rangers contained a semi-educational theme, and Winston always used this as a justification for the vast amounts of time he spent watching the show. Each week, Ranger Bob would explain some scientific principles that made things work, usually transportation-related.  “Don't smell gas, so she ain't flooded” Winston said, sniffing the air. He turned the ignition key. The engine gave a single shudder.  WUH -- and nothing more.

Winston paused, as he remembered Ranger Bob’s imperturbable, calm "airline-pilot voice".  Panic is your worst enemy in an emergency.  Winston thought back to a segment he had seen about Ranger Bob starting an old farm tractor, trying to remember the steps.

Winston said to the old man. “Maybe we can pop the clutch. It's a perfect setup, an old-timer truck, pointed downhill, and all.” Not certain the plan would work, but with nothing really to lose by trying, Winston clicked the ignition key to the right, then got out of the truck. “Now, hold down the clutch” he told the old man, “and I’ll push from behind. When I say NOW!,  you let the clutch go. We’re only going to get one chance at this, so everything’s got to go perfect the first time”  

The old man nodded, and his sad gray eyes looked trustingly at Winston.  The plan was to force the engine to turn, using the truck’s forward momentum to turn the engine, perhaps to start it running. It had worked on that old tractor for Ranger Bob.

The old man climbed into the truck and pushed the clutch pedal down.  Winston got behind the truck, and pushed. Nothing happened.  Even pointed downhill, he had to rock the heavily loaded truck back and forth a few times until it finally started to roll forward. The truck gradually picked up speed. Soon, the truck reached a speed faster than Winston could run. That’s when Winston yelled “NOW!”

The truck lurched, a low groan of overworked metal, and an explosive backfire.  With a low throaty rumble, the engine roared to life. A cloud of blue smoke formed behind the truck, as it roared down the hill. “WOO HOO!” Winston danced a little high-five dance in the road, then suddenly, his face turning to panic, he slapped the pocket of his jacket, and then began running after the truck, shouting, arms waving. “Hey, wait! My list!  It’s on your front seat! Stop!” The truck was already at the bottom of the hill. Winston just stood in the middle of the road. His shoulders sagged as he realized that the black truck was not going to stop. The dull red tail lights receded in the light of the fading Christmas Eve afternoon.

Continued Tomorrow!

background ========================

I wrote this story about 10 years ago for a Christmas variety show. I've been re-writing it ever since.  Hope you can tune in tomorrow for the second part.

Thanks for listening and contributing. I'd love to hear from you.

Monday, December 17, 2012

The Barnyard Bird's Christmas

Technical note:  ATT has provided such useless service that my connection is reduced today to a dial-up modem I improvised without their help.  Sorry for the lack of a picture, but upload speed is so slow, I'm afraid the post would time out before it uploaded.  God bless us, every one.
Did I ever tell you the story of the little barnyard bird?

Once there was a little barnyard bird.  He lived and played all day around the barnyard flying around, sitting on the fences, drinking from the watering troughs, and enjoying his first summer on this beautiful wonderful earth.

But the summer began to fade, things began to change around the old barnyard.  The once-sunny skies were gray, the soft summer breezes grew more harsh and cold

"I can't leave my barnyard.  I've been so happy here, and I'm sure someday I'll be happy again" said the little bird. "But it's so cold here!  I'm shivering so much that I can hardly chirp!"  

And the days got colder still.  The barnyard bird paced in small circles on the floor of the cow-yard, shivering and chirping to himself about how very, very cold he was.  "Oh, what shall I do -- if only I could know a little warmth again" He sang a mournful and sad little bird song.

And then, as if in answer to his prayer, a huge cow-flop fell upon him, completely covering him in an abundant mess of  slimy brownish bovine offal.

A stunned silence.   Then the little barnyard bird poked his tiny head out through the top of the cow-pie, and realized how his life had just been changed in answer to his prayers. The first thing he discovered was that he was no longer cold.  He looked around himself in amazement.  The barnyard was still blowing with blustery winds, the bird was now protected from the sting of the wintery winds by the warmth of his surroundings.  "I may be covered in fresh manure, but at least I'm not freezing any more."  realized the bird. "And, there's even some corn in here"  he said, pecking at the delicacies he had just discovered in his new home.

The little barnyard bird was so happy, that he began tweeting a joyous little Christmas Birdie Song.  The cows in the yard tapped their hooves to the catchy little birdie ditty.  The barnyard pigs grunted in time with the joyous song of winter warmth rediscovered.  The barnyard cat opened an eye, and perked up an ear.  He said to himself, "Now, who can be singing the little Birdie Song so late in the season?"  And looking out at the barnyard, he spotted unlikely sight of the little bird's tiny chirping head poking out of the dung-pile.

The barnyard cat jumped to the top of the barnyard fence, and in a graceful arc, landed on the bird, and swallowed him in one gulp.

Thanks for listening and contributing. I'd love to hear from you.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

How Do I Get to Carnegie Hall? - PRACTICE!

Mid-December, 1959.  The afternoon sun is so low in the sky that  the classroom is filled with an unaccustomed dazzling brilliance.  Sometimes Miss Schoenicke would even have to draw the drapes across some of the windows, to reduce eyestrain at our desks, or perhaps to keep us from making shadow animals on a neighboring wall. 

This is the time of the season in a parochial school when the three R's became Rehearsal Rehearsal Rehearsal.  The Christmas program was coming up - the Big One.  This one packed TWO services so full you could hear the floors creak and all the normal echoes were absorbed by the intently listening crowds.  We didn't know all this at the time - we would have been terrified.  We were just in first grade, but we could sense that something very very important was in the works.

Even the first grade was expected to pull its own weight.  The relentless pressure and inter-class competition was on.  The regular memory work (you had to memorize a Bible passage or hymn verse and recite it on demand in class) was replaced by recitations and song lyrics from the upcoming program.  And this stuff, you HAD to know.  This wasn't just the Bible, this was something far more important.   Parents were alerted, and my mother heeded the call.  Home became a boot camp of Christmas parts, my brother and sister and I had to recite the day's allotment perfectly, or there would be no peace..  

The time normally spent on many other classroom subjects was now spent in drilling the recitations and songs relentlessly.  Group rehearsals over in the church were a new thing.  The director (Mr. Matthes) was shouting instructions from the balcony, and the school children were arranged by classes in the pews.  It was the first time we had been in the church without being at a service.  We stood and faced the back of the church as our parts came up. Our teacher motioned when we were to rise, and we were all to turn around together, the same way, the same speed, so it looked nice. 

And there were numbers in which ALL the classes were involved. Different age groups learned different vocal parts.  The middle grades did the alto part, or "second voice" as it was called, and the upper grades did the tenor part ("third voice").  We could hear the other classes practicing their parts through the hallway - it was strange that they sang the same songs we were learning but they sang a different melody.  I concluded of course that as one grew older, the melodies one was allowed or perhaps compelled to sing would change. It was such a revelation the first time we, the "first voice" sang the song in the church, and the other grades sang the song with their melody, and together, it was just beautiful.  To be part of something so grand was thrilling to me.  We were all singing the same song, but it sounded so, well, angelic  when the three voices harmonized.  Forget that some of us were singing "glerrrrria" and some were slurring the notes together, sounding sloppy, as the director was quick to point out.  Couldn't he hear how great we sounded?  Let's sing it again!  Gloria in Excelsis Deo!

As my friend Norman, who was also there at the time, said:  "We've provided people with a lot of musical "entertainment", and entertained ourselves along the way.  I think it's been a harder life than I ever imagined it would be, but we got music as the gift, the guide, the goodwill, and the blessing that keeps on giving (on both sides of that coin, if you get my drift).  No good deed goes unpunished.  But for every time it blows up in your face, if you get one smile that wasn't there before, it's worth it.  Plus we got coffee, beer, and tobacco as consolation prizes.  Not bad at all." And I quote him out of context, and without his permission!  Pay as You Go, Dude!

Thanks for listening and contributing. I'd love to hear from you.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Simulated Alligator Wallet

Re-posted from December 2011.  I've been awfully busy giving my all at a new job.  Maybe you missed this one last year - shame on you!  Julie is too good to be missed, and it was a rare and joyous opportunity to work with her.

The night before the show, Julie called me to ask if I could substitute for an injured piano player - Bette had fallen and could not perform.   A Christmas show - no prob.  I had "done my time" in the Great American Christmas Songbook - if you ever need a piano player or accordioniste for a Christmas show, give me a call - Salvation Army tested and ready to go.  And Bette was not seriously hurt in her fall, she's on the mend, and I hope to see her at our New Year's Day gathering.

It was my privilege to work with Julie Alonzo-Calteaux, one of my favorite Milwaukee singers. With a hurried Saturday morning rehearsal, we made a few adjustments (She didn't think it was appropriate that I sing "Sisters" with her - what a relief!) and by noon we had the show ready to go.

Here's one of the songs from the Saturday show - Thanks to Julie's husband Bill for the excellent camera work.  That's me on piano.  A hilarious rendition of an Alan Sherman parody on the standard "The Twelve Days of Christmas".  

Merry Christmas to you all!. I'd love to hear from you.

Thanks for listening and contributing. I'd love to hear from you.

Sunday, December 9, 2012


Seventh Grade.  Hormones stirring.  Adults who had never met you began to have prejudical ideas about you, assuming that all young teens were rebellious.

"Up to this point, you've been spoon-fed on milk."  Mr. David Eggers began.  We were all wondering "Now what did we do?"

He continued.  "You've been sheltered here in a parochial school, and haven't been prepared for the realities of the world."  

"You've all heard about temptation.  But do you know how it really works?  Of course, if the Devil came up to you, and asked you to hold up a bank, most of you wouldn't do that.  But temptation doesn't work like that.  It's not usually that obvious. Here's how temptation really works:"

Mr. Eggers went on to relate a story about coming home from the school late one night (that was about 10 pm back in those days).  Downtown was deserted, and then he spotted his old school friend Arnie, who was now a night watchman, making the rounds.  Arnie worked for the Merchant Police, an organization hired by downtown businesses during the hours that the businesses were closed.  He got out of the car, and walked awhile with Arnie.  They came to a filling station.  Arnie was in charge of re-stocking the soda machine.  Using his key, he opened up the door of the machine, restocked it, then selected a Coke for himself, and one for his old high school chum, Mr. Eggers. 

Mr. Eggers, seeing that nobody was paying for this Coke, that it was "on the house" as it were, (wink, wink), and he hesitated.  "Come on, Dave, have a soda"  Arnie held out the bottle.  Mr. Eggers shook his head. "No, we really shouldn't - it's not...." Arnie forced it into Dave's hand.  

An embarrassed pause.  Mr. Eggers resumed, in a menacing soft voice that always scared me when he used it: "How many of you would have done the right thing, let that bottle fall to the ground, and turned around to run from ... temptation? Regardless of what your friend says to you?  Because THAT's temptation, and no matter how insignificant the amount seems to you, stealing is stealing."

Although I have had lots of disagreements with church doctrines and dogmas since the day I started reading the Bible for myself, I believe that in this world there are not quite as many "gray areas" of uncertainty as people say. Every day one meets "complicated" people who, by insisting that they live "in shades of gray". are merely attempting to avoid accountability for their own actions. 

In this season of light, let the light shine!

Thanks for listening and contributing. I'd love to hear from you.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Christmas on the Rocks

There was something wrong with my date stamp at work the other day.  I looked down, and the stamp impression on the incoming mail said "Dec 2, 2012".  Then I realized that it wasn't the date stamper that was off, but me.  How did it get to be December - the year has spun by so quickly. More changes in my life than any other year on this earth.  A totally new job, after 30 years at the old one, new friends, new unfamiliar work situations, I'm taking the bus to work instead of my mini-van. I'm working downtown, in a 30-story skyscraper.  And I'm over 60 now.  So, rather confused, still spinning dizzily from the drop-kick of life, I went for lunch at the Cousins Submarine place in the ground floor of the Wells Building, and coming over the speakers was "The Little Drummer Boy"  - not some new contemporary condescending interpretation "Come they told me, look at Mee-Hee-Hee"  No, this was not American Idol, this one was not for the judges, it was for the audience.  This was the Harry Simeone Chorale. They simply told the story they have been telling since the late 1950s.  The little poor boy with "no gift to bring that's fit to give a king", so he plays a tune for the Baby Jesus on his drum. And it simply ends "Then He smiled at me, pa rum pum pum pum.  Me and my drum." Gets me every time. Music says things in such a way that you hear something new each time you listen to a song.

But there has been another song has been running through my head lately.  It is one of those Christmas songs that never gets played on the radio at Christmas, but in my family my mother brought out the record every Christmas. So I finally went into the basement, dug it out from box #4H08 in the archives, and uploaded it as an *.mp3.

It's a story told in German about sailors being bashed to bits on the dangerous rocks of the Rhine river, because they were beckoned there by the song of the irresistible Lorelei.  The Lorelei were beautiful sensuous little spiritual songstresses, or Lieden Madchens. .  They appeared to sailors at night, and beckoned them to bring their ships over for... for... well you know what sailors want.  But when the gullible sailors would steer the ship toward the ladies, they would find that they had crashed their ship on the dangerous rocks of the Rhine river - an illusion cast by the wicked but beautiful Lorelei..  Passen sie auf!

So how, may you ask, did this become to be a Christmas tradition in my family?  My mother's favorite Christmas record was the original version of The Little Drummer Boy, by the Harry Simeone Chorale, ask the guy crying in the sub shop. Die Lorelei was on the flip side of the record.  Performance by the Junior Voices of the Harry Simeone Chorale, something like a do-it-yourself Vienna Boys Choir.  So, whenever you'd put on a stack of 45's (try to explain that concept to someone born after 1990... well,  you see each disk has one song on it, and you arrange them on a spindle.... never mind, go flick your little computer thingy....) And when you flip the stack of discs over, the other sides would play.  "Ich weiss nicht was soll es bedeuten, dass ich so traurig bin.", which means "I don't know what it means, this feeling of grayness."

Thanks for listening and contributing. I'd love to hear from you.