Monday, December 31, 2007

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Bilbo Turns 50 Today

Today is my birthday... and... it is just not any's my 50th birthday!Boy how times flies. I don't feel 50 but my drivers license and birth certificate both say I was born in Santa Cruz California on December 20, 1957, so, I guess that makes me 50 years old. Collaborating evidence is always difficult to refute..Although my birthday is today I actually celebrated my birthday last Sunday so I could share this special day with my friends, some, who had to travel out of town. All but one of my close friends was able to make the party and it was great to spend this day with so many wonderful friends and people I care about. Some of the friends I have known for over twenty years which made this a special, special, occasion... The food was great...the games were fun...and...while the dancing was a bit embarrassing everyone seemed to get a kick out of watching me fumble about my dining room floor not really knowing which direction I was headed next and everyone seemed to have a great time. It was one of the best days I have had, in many, many, years...and... It was one of those rare days one just doesn't want to end...and...although the day is now four days old the memories will never be again Jan, for making it all happen...You're the best...and...thanks to my two sons Paul and Wesley who were there...and...all the great friends who have remained loyal, all these years...Thanks to everyone who shared this day with me. I'll never forget...and...thanks for all the wonderful gifts, which included numerous gift cards from Barnes and Nobles, a couple of framed record albums of U-2, a beautiful silk shirt, some Pistachio nuts, a Gnome wall plaque, and last but not least, twelve beautiful fairy Christmas ornaments...

Bilbo's Birthday Cake

Opening My Presents

Bilbo Enjoying Himself

Playing Pinata

My Fairy Christmas Ornaments

Fantastic News

It's official....Peter Jackson and New Line Cinema has officially ended their feud and Jackson has agreed to write and produce the Hobbit. This is fantastic news. Personally I never thought it would happen because of the public comments made by one of the New Line executives about a year or so ago. One of the executives said that Peter Jackson would never do the Hobbit but I suspect there was just too much money on the table in the end to follow through with their threat...and... personally I don't care...all is forgiven. Jackson and his partner Fran Walsh are the right team for this project because they possess both the vision and the passion for such a monumental task. I have supreme confidence Jackson will pull this off even though the film industry has been suffering a slump the last couple of years at the box office.....Apparently Jackson will not direct the film which has led to numerous rumors about who will direct the film. Two names that have come up several times are Sam Raimi who directed Spider Man and Guillermo del Toro who directed Hellboy and Pan's Labyrinth. Both men have expressed interest if approached. Personally, I hope Del Toro gets the nod. Pan's Labyrinth is an incredible film and Del Toro has deep roots in fantasy and fairy tales. The Hobbit will have a sequel which is scheduled to be released in 2010 and the Lord of the Rings the two films will be shot simultaneously....I can't wait....and I look forward to following this story for the next couple of years and I'll pass along the latest news when I hear it....

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The Origin of the Nativity

When it comes to Christmas decorations I like to mix the secular with the sacred/religious….probably… because I am more interested in creating an artistic ambiance that is pleasing to the eye than I am about espousing a particular religious or philosophical statement about Christmas. So, my Christmas decorations include everything from Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer, to Gnomes, Viking Ships, Celtic designs, Cardinals, and Nativity scenes. Don’t ask about how Gnomes fit into Christmas, I’m including a separate blog entry on them later…. I have been interested in collecting Nativities ever since my in-laws gave my wife and I a beautiful hand carved Nativity Scene from Israel early in our marriage. While I currently only own two Nativity Scenes I do have numerous Christmas Cards which depict the birth of Jesus….

Prior to writing this blog entry on Nativity Scenes I decided to do a little research on the origins of the Nativity and here are a few things I learned about the history of the Nativity. According to tradition, and there appears to be historical evidence for this particular tradition, Saint Francis of Assisi introduced the first Nativity Scene in the 12th Century. Apparently, he put together a life size straw filled manger scene which was set outside the monastery between a real live ox and donkey and this manger scene was used to enhance the mass during Christmas. Over the years, this tradition spread across Europe and by the 16th century real life size Nativity Scenes adorned with gold and jewels were displayed in front of medieval churches and temples across Europe. By the 17th century famous artists in Italy were commissioned to carve miniature Nativity scenes out of wood, ivory, and stone….Originally, Nativity’s were called crèche which is a French word which means crib….and…it is believed the tradition of the Nativity was first brought to the U.S. to the town of Bethlehem Pennsylvania in 1741.
I believe the essence of Christmas ought to be about love and hope and Nativity scenes can be a potential important reminder that despite all the problems in the world there is always hope... and... God helps us all to not lose faith in hope and love and help us to restore hope to the world by helping us love one another in our own unique way with the talents God has given us all...

A Couple of my Nativity Scenes

Monday, December 10, 2007

My Favorite Christmas Cards

Since I am still in the Christmas Spirit I thought I would post some of my favorite Christmas cards I have received and collected over the years. I started collecting and keeping Christmas cards about ten years ago in an effort to use the cards for decorations each year. Some of the cards are as far away as Nepal and others were hand produced by friends. I don't get as many cards as I used too because I am single and I don't think people, in general, make the effort to send out cards as they once did, but whatever the reason, I enjoy sending and receiving Christmas cards. I hope you enjoy these cards...Merry Christmas

Folk Art Christmas Card

Celtic Christmas Card

Illuminated Manuscript Christmas Card

Christmas Card from Nepal

Rembrandt Nativity Scene

Father Christmas

Sunday, December 09, 2007