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Christmas with the Shumakers...

I called Starbucks in Cameron Village to see if they were open, and had gift certificates. They were open, but out of gift certificates. I called the one on Peace St. Open and had gift certificates left. I ran there, and bought Joe-Joe a gift certificate from Robert and me.

I stopped by the mailboxes at Avent Ferry shopping center, and mailed TCW mail to Robert and David, and a "thank you" note to Aunt Laura telling her that it meant a great deal to me that she wrote in her card, "Say hi to Robert," and that I wanted her to know that. We encourage what we reward.

I ran in to Robert's to see his Christmas tree, which was real niiiice. We headed to his mom's new place in Hillsborough, and arrived shortly before one. His mom was a little "discombobulated" as she was expecting Bryan and Jen at around 11 to help her out, and they hadn't yet arrived.

We had a nice variety of food, topped off with some beef tenderloin. It was all very good. I particularly liked both kinds of potato salad, the shrimp cocktail, the shrimp- and crab-cakes, and the bread and cheese (Cheddar, Gouda, and Havarti). Yum. We also had a killer coconut cake that didn't look all that grand but was to die for in taste. YUM.

We took a couple of family pictures, which turned out great with Robert's new digital camera.

We left just after 3, stopped by Robert's, where I dropped him off to get his car. Being the ever-thoughtful person he is, he suggested being let out right at the entrance to his place, so I could get to Joe's more quickly, as we were running a little behind.

Joe-Joe was ready when I arrived, at 3:41. Robert arrived shortly after me, we exchanged gifts, and Robert took a picture of Joe and me in front of Joe's Christmas Tree. Joe got me a ticket to see Josh Groban on February 4th. WOOHOO!

I dropped Joe off without incident at the airport.

Once home, we opened our gifts to each other, and then settled down for a long winter's nap, from which we awoke at about 8:00 wondering what to do with the rest of the evening. We decided to, just for the hell of it, run to Blockbusters to see if they might still be open. We printed off directions to a few houses that were pictured in the N&O as extravagantly lit with Christmas lights and scenes, to ride around and check out just in case Blockbuster was closed.

By the time we got to Blockbusters, it was about 8:40, and we were delighted to find out that they weren't closing until 10. I asked if they had What the bleep do we know?, and surprisingly to me, the guy hadn't even heard of it. Evidently, it's not out on video yet, which is what I expected, but thought I'd ask just in case.

At first we decided on Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind even though I'd already seen it. I liked it, thought it was neat, and thought Robert would enjoy it. Before checking out, we did one final sweep of the "recent" stuff, and came across an Isabella Rossellini film called The Saddest Music in the World.

Movie Synopsis: Isabella Rossellini stars as a beer baroness who, at the height of the Great Depression, sponsors a contest to find the world's saddest tune in this darkly comic, "beguiling and hallucinatory musical" (The New York Times).

It's 1933 in Winnipeg and the Great Depression is in full bloom. Beer Baroness Lady Port-Huntly (Isabella Rossellini) announces a global competition to determine the saddest music in the world, and musicians from across the globe pour into town to vie for the whopping $25,000 prize. Sobbing Mexican Mariachis, dour Scottish Bagpipers, woeful West African drummers and numerous other grief-stricken ensembles give it their all. Down-on-his-luck Broadway producer Chester Kent (Mark McKinney) and his amnesiac girlfriend Narcissa (Maria de Medeiros) return home to his native Winnipeg as the United States entry in the contest. He soon finds himself embroiled in a family reunion as treacherous and twisted as the competition itself. Ultimately, a cataclysmic fire and the machinations of fate sort matters out for the sad characters and the denizens of the saddest city on earth. Part musical melodrama, part tongue-in-cheek social satire, Guy Maddin's expressionistic film achieves a level of lunacy rarely seen since the Marx Brothers...


Before heading home to watch the movie, we did make our way to one of the lighted houses in Cary. It was okay, but not spectacular. The others were too far away, it was getting late, and we wanted to watch the movie.

Back home, we had nachos and cheese, and ham salad on some Hawaiian rolls. Yum.

We started the movie, which was just this side of being too bizarre. We stopped after a little while, made some kettle corn popcorn, and then finished it.

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