This is a test.

This is a test.
November 30, 2012 Jon Armstrong
This is a test by Jon Armstrong.

I love the holidays. Love them. The girls and I shopped for a skinny tree and Leta picked one with colored lights. I showed them the ornament aisle and they picked some great ones, including trimmings. Marlo’s favorite after the ornaments that were shaped like vintage lights from the 1950s was a 20 foot string of silver disco beads. Leta picked an insane garland with plaid (I’ll have to get one or two more because it wasn’t nearly long enough) and we decorated the tree while listening to Christmas music. It was a great time. Marlo didn’t break any ornaments and nobody wandered off. I’m hoping that I can show the girls this shot and we can have some fun in the coming days and weeks taking shots of each other. This is the first Christmas that I think Marlo will be excited for the presents. Not just excited Christmas morning because, hey, free presents! but excited days prior to the scurry down the stairs.

The colors and bokeh in this image remind me of bad Christmas LPs that my parents had at the back of the stack. They would creep forward starting the day after Thanksgiving until they were all rotated up to the front and since we didn’t have a proper shelf or rack, the records were leaned up in against a wall next to the stereo. The antique Victor Victrola Talking Machine had been modified to hold a modern stereo and the remaining slots were packed full of the lesser played and more highly prized discs in the collection. You can see images of antique Victrola phonographs here, here and here. I believe the model we have is the XE-XVI. My mom has it in her living room with the 1972 receiver she bought my dad for his birthday. I remember for Christmas that year or next, my mom bought my dad a Dual turntable and my oldest two brothers had to sneak it in the cabinet without my dad knowing about it. I still cringe thinking about the damage done to that Victrola to make a modern stereo fit. I just remembered that my dad had built a Heathkit tube amp and that was jettisoned for the one my mom bought. Which was transistor powered. Maybe they were still giddy about NASA and the moon? I would love to hear what that Heathkit sounds like today. Still, it was a cool stereo case and always a conversation starter for guests. I recall there was some furious jigsaw work to retrofit that turntable, a lot of very loud talking and storming back and forth to the basement. And then a lot of Brubeck and Erroll Garner was spun. And my dad was happy. I was banned from touching the stereo for several years, but that didn’t stop me. It made me treat vinyl like I was a Smithsonian curator. Do not harm the precious Kansas album or your brother will give you purple nurples other painful reminder not to touch the Kansas. I always wonder if the Library of Congress has mint pressings of Led Zeppelin II, etc. Detours. Christmas music.

Whatever version we had of “The Little Drummer Boy” ruined that song for me until I heard the David Bowie/Bing Crosby version:

How much pot, acid and/or coke was consumed by the producers of the special coming up with that duet? I’d guess the very perfect amount. It’s the only version I can abide. And only three times a year. Maybe four.

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Affirmation: Don’t listen to the slaggy whores. Non-slaggy whores? Listen away.

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