Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Accio, Fantastic Beasts!

Re-enter the wizarding world of Harry Potter? Yes, please, NOW!

Wait. What??!!  I have to wait until November 2016??!!??  NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!

The New Year has not even begun yet and now there is a reason to kind of hope 2016 flies by!  J.K. Rowling and company really ought to be ashamed of themselves - this is aiding and abetting very unhealthy thinking!

And wait, wait! It gets better! Eddie Redmayne in the lead as Newt Scamander!

Ok, so this trailer is laughably lame. Absurd, pathetic, unsatisfying and oh for the love of all that is magical, can't they release this film in the spring instead?!?

This newly released movie poster, on the other hand, rocks! How will wizarding world fans ever survive the wait?

ACCIO, Fantastic Beasts!

Won't Somebody Think Of The Elves?

Only 10 days left until Christmas -- ARE YOU READY?!

Tree trimming, cookie baking, carol singing and memory making - there is a lot of fun and stress and activity and stress and JOY (and stress) in all the preparations this month for those who celebrate winter holidays.

So, just to take you mind off the unfinished TO DO list -- imagine for a moment how an ELF must feel just 9 days before it's load up the sleigh day! (Talk about stress!)

Bend your ear toward the screen and click on the little box below.  Listen to the Elf's Lament by The Barenaked Ladies (with Michael Bublé).

Elf:  I make toys, but I've got aspirations.

Elf's Lament

I'm a man of reason, and they say "'Tis the season to be jolly"
But it's folly when you volley for position

Never in existence has there been such a resistance
To ideas meant to free us
If you could see us, then you'd listen

Toiling through the ages, making toys on garnished wages
There's no union
We're only through when we outdo the competition

I make toys, but I've got aspirations
Make some noise
Use your imagination
Girls and boys, before you wish for what you wish for
There's a list for who's been
Naughty or nice, but consider the price to an elf

A full indentured servitude can reflect on one's attitude
But that silly red hat just makes the fat man look outrageous

Absurd though it may seem, you know, I've heard there's even been illegal doping
And though we're coping, I just hope it's not contagious

You try to start a movement, and you think you see improvement
But when thrown into the moment, we just don't seem so courageous

I make toys, but I've got aspirations
Make some noise
Use your imagination
Girls and boys, before you wish for what you wish for
There's a list for who's been
Naughty or nice, but consider the price to an elf

You look at yourself
You're an elf
And the shelf is just filled with disappointing memories
Trends come and go, and your friends wanna know why you aren't just happy making crappy little gizmos
Every kid knows they'll just throw this stuff away

We're used to repetition, so we drew up a petition
We, the undersigned, feel undermined
Let's redefine "employment"

We know that we've got leverage, so we'll hand the fat man a beverage
And sit back while we attack the utter lack of our enjoyment

It may be tough to swallow, but our threats are far from hollow
He may thunder, but if he blunders, he may wonder where the toys went

I make toys, but I've got aspirations
Make some noise
Use your imagination
Girls and boys, before you wish for what you wish for
There's a list for who's been
Naughty or nice, but consider the price
Naughty or nice, but consider the price
Naughty or nice, but consider the price to an elf

Wednesday, December 2, 2015


"Hurry Home", pastel painting, Karen Margulis

As I left town in the wee hours this morning for a brief trip, a quick-moving weather system blanketed Chicago in gorgeous cottony whiteness. Let's celebrate with a beautiful poem AND a video from Nifty's catalogue of favorite old movie songs!

London Snow

When men were all asleep the snow came flying, 
In large white flakes falling on the city brown,
Stealthily and perpetually settling and loosely lying,
Hushing the latest traffic of the drowsy town;
Deadening, muffling, stifling its murmurs failing;
Lazily and incessantly floating down and down:
Silently sifting and veiling road, roof and railing;
Hiding difference, making unevenness even,
Into angles and crevices softly drifting and sailing.
All night it fell, and when full inches seven
It lay in the depth of its uncompacted lightness,
The clouds blew off from a high and frosty heaven;
And all woke earlier for the unaccustomed brightness
Of the winter dawning, the strange unheavenly glare:
The eye marvelled-marvelled at the dazzling whiteness;
The ear hearkened to the stillness of the solemn air;
No sound of wheel rumbling nor of foot falling,       
And the busy morning cries came thin and spare.
Then boys I heard, as they went to school, calling,
They gathered up the crystal manna to freeze
Their tongues with tasting, their hands with snowballing;
Or rioted in a drift, plunging up to the knees;
Or peering up from under the white-mossed wonder,
'O look at the trees!' they cried, 'O look at the trees!'
With lessened load a few carts creak and blunder,
Following along the white deserted way,
A country company long dispersed asunder:
When now already the sun, in pale display
Standing by Paul's high dome, spread forth below
His sparkling beams, and awoke the stir of the day.
For now doors open, and war is waged with the snow;
And trains of sombre men, past tale of number,
Tread long brown paths, as toward their toil they go:
But even for them awhile no cares encumber
Their minds diverted; the daily word is unspoken,
The daily thoughts of labour and sorrow slumber
At the sight of the beauty that greets them, for the charm they have broken. 

--Robert Seymour Bridges

Saturday, November 21, 2015

It's Beginning To Look A Bit Like The Holidays!

Chicago received its first measurable snowfall of the 2015-16 winter season overnight!  It's beginning to look a bit like the holidays and that's Nifty's cue to start plastering holiday-themed music and poetry and videos all over NiftyIdeas.

Like this one:  Snowmen, a pretty song and a cute story -- what's not to love?


Friday, November 13, 2015

Storms Never Last

For your Friday music fix, something a little bit different: the country crossover duet of Waylon Jennings and Jessi Colter (Miriam Eddy):

Storms Never Last

Storms never last do they, baby
Bad times all pass with the winds
Your hand in mine steals the thunder
You make the sun want to shine

Oh, I followed you down so many roads, baby
I picked wild flowers and sung you soft sad songs
And every road we took, God knows, our search was for the truth
And the storm brewin' now won't be the last

Storms never last do they, baby
Bad times all pass with the winds
Your hand in mine steals the thunder
You make the sun want to shine

Storms never last do they, baby
Bad times all pass with the winds
Your hand in mine steals the thunder
You make the sun want to shine

Storms never last do they, baby.

 - Miriam Eddy (Jessi Colter)

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

November 11: Remembrance Day/Veteran's Day

November 11 is Veteran's Day in the USA, Remembrance Day in Canada and Armistice Day in the UK. In many other parts of the world, this date commemorates those who lost their lives in wars, particularly the first and second world wars (1914-18; 1939-45).  There is a slight difference between countries in what the focus is on this date: for Americans, whose solemn day for remembering war dead is Memorial Day in May, November 11 is a day to celebrate and thank veterans, past and present, for their service to their country.

Canadians and other British Commonwealth countries, as well as many other European nations, today's date is one of somber remembrance of the war dead. November 11, 1918 was when the Armistice that ended WWI was signed and in many of these countries, a moment of silence is observed at 11:11AM on November 11 (11/11) each year.

In Flanders Fields 

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow 
Between the crosses row on row, 
That mark our place; and in the sky 
The larks, still bravely singing, fly 
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago 
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow, 
Loved and were loved, and now we lie 
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe: 
To you from failing hands we throw 
The torch; be yours to hold it high. 
If ye break faith with us who die 
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow 
In Flanders fields.

By: Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918)
Canadian Army

This famous poem, a recital standard of many a middle school assembly, has an interesting backstory:

John McCrae was a poet and physician from Guelph, Ontario. He developed an interest in poetry at a young age and wrote throughout his life. His earliest works were published in the mid 1890s in Canadian magazines and newspapers. McCrae's poetry often focused on death and the peace that followed.

At the age of 41, McCrae enrolled with the Canadian Expeditionary Force following the outbreak of the First World War. He had the option of joining the medical corps due to his training and age, but volunteered instead to join a fighting unit as a gunner and medical officer. It was his second tour of duty in the Canadian military. He previously fought with a volunteer force in the Second Boer War. He considered himself a soldier first; his father was a military leader in Guelph and McCrae grew up believing in the duty of fighting for his country and empire.

McCrae fought in the second battle of Ypres in the Flanders region of Belgium where the German army launched one of the first chemical attacks in the history of war. They attacked the Canadian position with chlorine gas on April 22, 1915, but were unable to break through the Canadian line which held for over two weeks. In a letter written to his mother, McCrae described the battle as a "nightmare": "For seventeen days and seventeen nights none of us have had our clothes off, nor our boots even, except occasionally. In all that time while I was awake, gunfire and rifle fire never ceased for sixty seconds ..... And behind it all was the constant background of the sights of the dead, the wounded, the maimed, and a terrible anxiety lest the line should give way." Alexis Helmer, a close friend, was killed during the battle on May 2. McCrae performed the burial service himself, at which time he noted how poppies quickly grew around the graves of those who died at Ypres. The next day, he composed the poem while sitting in the back of an ambulance...

McCrae was moved to the medical corps and stationed in Boulogne, France, in June 1915 where he was named lieutenant-colonel in charge of medicine at the Number 3 Canadian General Hospital. He was promoted to the acting rank of Colonel on January 13, 1918, and named Consulting Physician to the British Armies in France. The years of war had worn McCrae down, however. He contracted pneumonia that same day, and later came down with cerebral meningitis. On January 28, he died at the military hospital in Wimereux and was buried there with full military honours. (wikipedia)

Please remember to thank a veteran for their service!

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Isn't That Just Ducky!

Hello there!

Can I have a treat?


OK, I really wanted a snuggle.


Isn't that just Ducky!

A Puppy Poem

You can't buy loyalty, they say
I bought it though, the other day;

You can't buy friendship, tried and true,
But just the same, I bought that too.

I made my bid, and on the spot
Bought love and faith and a whole job lot

Of happiness, so all in all
The purchase price was pretty small

I bought a single trusting heart,
That gave devotion from the start

If you think these things are not for sale,
Buy a brown-eyed puppy with a wagging tail.

Author Unknown

Saturday, November 7, 2015

SISTERS Saturday!

Happy Saturday, NiftyReaders!

For a little Saturday Inspiration, I give you Rosemary Clooney and Vera Ellen singing and dancing this classic number from Irving Berlin's White Christmas.

I'm excited to be seeing a stage adaptation of that musical this weekend at Drury Lane in Chicago. CAN. NOT. WAIT! The reviews have been fantastic and I was delighted to see that one of my favorite stage performers, Sean Allan Krill will be playing the role of Bob Wallace (the Bing Crosby role in the 1954 film version), so I am pretty sure that I am going to love this production, just because of that fact alone!  (Anyone who was lucky enough to catch Sean Krill in Chicago Shakespeare Theater's spring production of Sense and Sensibility will understand what I am talking about -- oh and looky here! I happen to have a link to a glorious montage from that wonderful musical!).

This particular number has been one of my favorite film songs for a long time and since my own sister will be arriving tonight for a long anticipated visit, it is the perfect musical Saturday inspiration. The movie White Christmas has long been "our" holiday movie and this song in particular always brings smiles and laughter.  By happy coincidence, the Drury Lane production of the musical coincided nicely with our visit and so we will be able to attend together. Yes!

Enjoy your Saturday!

Friday, November 6, 2015

Thank Gods It's FreyaDay!

The Inscrutable Cat

She crouches, a silent golden sphinx,
And thinks and drowses and yawns and thinks . . .
Of cosmic riddles old as Osiris?
Behold her there like a fur-swatched heiress,
A jewel-eyed hedonist whose mind
Is filled with the thoughts of her occult kind:
Herself and her own desires. In short,
Will I let her stay on the davenport
Or put her out? And dare she try
To capture a goldfish by-and-by?
Veiled and inscrutable, she hunches
And ponders profoundly how soon lunch is.

-- (Georgie Starbuck Gailbraith)

Greetings, humans.

It has come to my attention that you have been deprived of my presence for some time. This outrageous situation must be rectified at once, and I have instructed NiftyWriter to correct it immediately, on pain of my everlasting disdain.

The pathetic humans believed I would be mollified by their offering of wine and ridiculous kitchen linen. It is foolishness like that which causes me to despair for humanity.

Nothing can assuage the pain of such disrespect! However, I will condescend to accept tokens of atonement and abject groveling.

This is a step in the right direction, human. 

Going forward, all laps become my personal thrones. The photo on the right depicts a reasonably good start.

Although, I notice there are no delicious treats being proffered here.

See to it that I am left undisturbed for several hours.  Your legs are numb and you need to get up? I don't want to hear it.

Have you forgotten that I have been ignored for well over a year on NiftyIdeas? Yes, I will never let that egregious fact be forgotten.

The world has been deprived of me for too long and it is necessary for me to take matters into my own paws.

The world has also been deprived of updates on the terrible twosome, aka Apollo and Artemis. This is perhaps for the best. They continue to display behavior unbecoming to cats and both of them bring shame upon my kingdom our household daily.

I shall commence redoubling my effort to restore order and serenity in the Kingdom of Freya.

Thank gods it's FreyaDay!

Look at those two. Just look at them! 

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Happy Hallowe'en!

Happy Hallowe'en, NiftyReaders!

For your viewing and listening pleasure, a classic for the holiday!

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Thorsday Tonic - Listen, Smith Of The Heavens!

Hallowe'en approaches -- one of my favorite holidays and probably the most eagerly anticipated event in the year for most American and Canadian children.

I'm just getting warmed up again after a prolonged hiatus (life happens, NiftyReaders!), and what better way to do so than with an amazing piece of music based on an ancient song to a Norse god?  It's the ideal warm up for Hallowe'en, too!



Sunday, February 22, 2015

Snowy Evening...Frost

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

- Robert Frost