For better or worse, this elf is OFF the shelf

“Prissy,” “Elfis” and “Sarge” who, unlike my wife’s character, doesn’t swoon or faint whenever I shake my hips — which is probably a good thing…

It’s been two years since I slipped into my sequined, teddy bear-caped, light-up jumpsuit (not to be confused with a different outfit my wife likes me to wear sometimes) to portray “Elfis,” a recurring character each year in our local production of the Holly Jolly Follies. My favorite reason for playing this Elvis-like elf (besides all the ‘nanner sandwiches and hip wiggling) is that I get to play opposite my amazing wife, who portrays “Prissy,” my sweet and completely lovable girlfriend.

Oh, and whenever I shake my hips, Prissy swoons and faints. This is compared to real life, when my wife just asks if I need some prune juice from the store.

The Follies is part variety show, part inspirational holiday story, woven together through the antics of the elves. Because of the large lapse of time since our last production, I had some concerns about re-discovering my “inner Elvis” although, thanks to working out regularly the last two years, my “outer Elvis” has left the building. Playing this character requires a Tennessee accent mixed with Elvis’ own unique speech cadence. It also includes a lot of hip shaking, hand gestures, Elvis poses and a clean shave.

Not to mention having to wear these shoes…

No arch support, traction or even room for Odor Eaters in these babies…

When we showed up for the cast read-through I was a little nervous, wondering if my inner Elvis would, like riding a bicycle, come naturally despite being dormant for so long.

Or if — also like riding a bicycle — I could ride headfirst into a parked car.

I listened as characters “Ruby,” “Sarge,” “Tinsel” and “Prissy” said their lines in perfect elf delivery leading up to my first words: “Well, if I know anything about Santa, it’s that he likes people to figure things out for themselves. That’s how we learn the most important lessons in life — uh-HUH!” (Swivel hips and strike pose)

Our full compliment of elves reacting to a magically appearing apple, which was similar to the reaction they gave to my magically disappearing beard…

I’m happy to say my inner Elvis (not to be confused with “little Elvis”) popped out like an old friend, complete with Tennessee drawl and the King’s distinctive cadence — albeit a little exaggerated because, well… theater. I’m also happy to say that my hip swiveling didn’t lead to an emergency chiropractor visit or even a slathering of Aspercreme.

We’ll be rehearsing through Thanksgiving before moving into tech week and then opening night Dec. 2 at our community event hub, the Florence Events Center. If you happen to be in Florence, Ore., that weekend (or want tickets to livestream the show from anywhere), I hope you’ll grab a seat and kick off your holiday season with the Follies.

Or at the very least, send your wishes to “break a leg” and prayers that I don’t break a hip.

Although, with all these rehearsals, my hip shaking is getting pretty darned good. In fact, I think my wife — while not exactly swooning and fainting — might’ve actually faintly swooned…

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Don’t let fruitcake anxiety ruin your holidays

imageNote: In observance of National Fruitcake Appreciation Day today, I thought I’d offer this rum-laced flashback…

Recent studies show that anxiety during the holidays is not only common but, in many cases, the result of FDAD — Fruitcake Disposal Anxiety Disorder. On one hand, your fruitcake is often given as a gift and therefore deserving of some measure of appreciation. On the other hand, you may have already tossed it into your neighbor’s yard, where it has become a chew toy for their pit bull.

This often leads to feelings of anxiety, particularly when you see “Buster,” still intoxicated with rum, struggling to dislodge the sugar loaf from his tightly-clenched jaws.

So, as a service to our readers, we assembled a group of psychiatrists to help provide insight into dealing with FDAD. At a cost of more than $200 an hour, we held an informative, three-minute discussion to create the following self-help guide:

I’m OK — You’re OK. But Give Me a Fruitcake and I’ll Kill You.

What follows is an easy, four-step guide to help FDAD sufferers control their fruitcake anxiety.  Continue reading Don’t let fruitcake anxiety ruin your holidays

Special Delivery: A cautionary Christmas tale

A blogger friend named Randall Willis once posted a beautiful poem that I’m always reminded of this time of year. In his poem, he used snow as an analogy for the magic that is constantly swirling around us — and how, like snow, it can quickly melt away and go unnoticed unless we make an effort to see it. What follows is a Christmas tale based on a true-life experience that I tell each year around Christmas. It’s a mixture of fact, whimsy, hope and my belief that a heartfelt wish is the cornerstone of life’s most important magical moments.

That said, my sincere thanks to all of you for sharing the magic in your own way, every day…
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imageHe looked very out of place sitting alone in the flight terminal, his arms folded over a Superman backpack, and large brown eyes peering out from beneath his baseball cap. A few seats away, a keyboard recital was being performed by a businessman wearing Bluetooth headphones and chastising someone at “headquarters” about overspending.

“I said gifts for the immediate staff only. That means Carl, Jody, Jessica and what’s-her-name — the gal we hired last month,” he instructed, keyboard clattering continuously. “Yeah, her — Loni. But that’s it. I never said anything about the sales department. What? Of course you’re included with the immediate staff. Get yourself something.”

The boy shifted, causing his plastic chair to squeak a bit as he leaned toward the businessman. “Hey, Dad…”

For the first time, the man’s fingers left the keyboard, just long enough to wave his son to silence.  Continue reading Special Delivery: A cautionary Christmas tale

Low-calorie holiday treats that won’t cause diarrhea!

image Unless you’re a hyperactive nine-year-old fueled by Pixie Sticks and Hostess Cupcakes without an ounce of concern for weight-gain because concern is the ONLY ounce you’re going to gain this holiday season, then you’re like the rest of us trying to get through the next six weeks without looking like Jabba the Hutt’s stunt double.

What this means is finding a healthy balance between satisfying your God-given right to partake in all of those delicious holiday treats while, at the same time, adhering to the God-given Commandment to avoid gluttony.

Yes, the Lord does indeed work in mysterious ways. Take fruitcake for example…

No, seriously. Please take mine.

That’s because over the next few weeks I’ll be sharing quick and easy holiday recipe tips that are both low-calorie and delicious! And not just because “quick and easy” is my pet name.

Today, I am going to show you how to make a cup of hot chocolate that you can drink as an alternative to buttered rum or egg nog, which are not only high in calories but, depending on the alcohol content, can lead to makinge a snow angel in the front yard wearing nothing but a Santa hat.

In August.  Continue reading Low-calorie holiday treats that won’t cause diarrhea!

Santa Summit prompts Greenland ‘No-Fly Zone’

(There are only THREE SHOPPING DAYS LEFT before Christmas! But HEY! it’s also Flashback Sunday! That means you have a decision to make: You can either leave now and ensure the happiness of those you love by joining the hordes of desperate shoppers fighting over the last copy of Battlefield 4, OR you can stay here and read this week’s Flashback, secure in the knowledge that your back-up present — Beyonce’s new album — will be available as a free gift with any purchase of a Happy Meal starting Christmas morning. Whichever you choose, please be careful…)

Santa's Christmas Eve will go a little quicker now that he can skip Greenland.
Santa’s Christmas Eve will go a little quicker now that he can skip Greenland.
What makes email great is that it’s so darned easy to use. For example: If you come across something that absolutely HAS TO BE SEEN by everyone you know — like say a picture of a cat doing chin-ups — you can simply click a button and send it to 100 people. Or in the case of my favorite aunt who still hasn’t mastered this process, you can send that very same knee-slapping picture to one person — such as your favorite nephew — 100 times.

The reason I bring this up is because, if not for email, I sincerely doubt someone from Midland, Mich., would’ve gone to the trouble of sending me a photo of 176 Santas standing on the deck of a fishing boat off the coast of Greenland (And YES, this is primarily the kind of email I get.)

I should mention that we were one of 50 newspapers that received the photo, which was part of an announcement letting people know that classes at the Charles W. Howard Santa Claus School had come to an end. Continue reading Santa Summit prompts Greenland ‘No-Fly Zone’

Next year, we’ll do Christmas without the zombies

Last-minute shopping can be dangerous, especially if there's a sale.
Last-minute shopping can be dangerous, especially if there’s a sale.
As is our tradition, my wife and I made an excellent plan to get our gift wrapping done so that, on Christmas eve, we could bask in our accomplishment while drinking warm, spiked beverages and gazing introspectively at the twinkling Christmas tree lights, until we pass out.

And, as is our tradition, we once again found ourselves locked in the bedroom with rolls of ribbon and wrapping paper strung across the bed, passing the scissors and tape back and forth like a frantic game of “hot potato.”
As expected, our bedroom quickly resembled a CSI Christmas crime scene in which the holiday spirit had exploded… Continue reading Next year, we’ll do Christmas without the zombies

Santa Summit prompts Greenland ‘No-Fly Zone’

Santa's Christmas Eve will go a little quicker now that he can skip Greenland.
Santa’s Christmas Eve will go a little quicker now that he can skip Greenland.
What makes email great is that it’s so darned easy to use. For example: If you come across something that absolutely HAS TO BE SEEN by everyone you know — like say a picture of a cat doing chin-ups — you can simply click a button and send it to 100 people. Or in the case of my favorite aunt who still hasn’t mastered this process, you can send that very same knee-slapping picture to one person — such as your favorite nephew — 100 times.

The reason I bring this up is because, if not for email, I sincerely doubt someone from Midland, Mich., would’ve gone to the trouble of sending me a photo of 176 Santas standing on the deck of a fishing boat off the coast of Greenland (And YES, this is primarily the kind of email I get.)

I should mention that we were one of 50 newspapers that received the photo, which was part of an announcement letting people know that classes at the Charles W. Howard Santa Claus School had come to an end. Continue reading Santa Summit prompts Greenland ‘No-Fly Zone’