D e c e m b e r   2 0 0 4

Guest Writer

'Tis the season ...
Sweetness overload
by Kurt Dahlke

t's 4:30 p.m. and starting to get dark. This still causes confusion among many. "I can't believe it's getting dark so early," they opine. I guess they missed it every other year of their lives.

Nonetheless, it is getting dark early, and it's still weird. If you're not out conducting business in what seems like the middle of the night, maybe it's time to cuddle up near the fire with a hot toddy. Doug Fir on East Burnside is a likely candidate for cozy-after-work drinkin', while NoPo's tiki icon, the Alibi, is still my favorite.

If you ignore the night, maybe it will just go away.

Isn't it getting late earlier these days?

And if you're out embracing the night, say 6:30 or 7:30, be careful. It's cold, crazy and cursed, for wherever you go it will be Christmas.

No offense if you enjoy Christmas – it's pretty warm and fuzzy as monopolies go.

But a cloud intrudes on the warm and fuzzy vibe. There's the lingering question of what happened to Wu Tang rapper O.D.B., who died recently in-studio at the tender age of 30-something.

I mention this only because Bastard (he sported many, many names) counted among his monikers Big Baby Jesus. And for some of us, Big Baby Jesus is what Christmas is all about.

For others, it's about the decorations.

Those who'd prefer not to have an apparently insane 68-year-old Minnesota woman spasmodically decorate her world in mid-80-degree Christmas-in-July splendor tend to shy away from the festivities. It's easy: just stay at home and unplug the TV. And if you must drive somewhere, don't. You're risking forced exposure to the radio.

Normally, the old and the square get quite a bit of enjoyment from the radio – the only thing that dulls their rancor toward other drivers. But at This Time of Year, many stations switch exclusively to playing Christmas songs. To these ears, endless repetitions of certain songs make me want to hurriedly ram something down Santa Baby's chimney ... Right Now!

Exercise some restraint by turning radio volume to zero. You'll appreciate the ability to focus on those around you swearing at and flipping off everybody else.

Many fat mammals hibernate in the winter, but fight nature if you must. There's a plethora of cheery, sparkly, Christmassy things to do to get your lard out of the larder and into the frosty. And, for once, I'm not talking about beer.

Into the frosty: shattering that icy sheath around your heart.

If you insist on spreading joy to the world you might start at the Oregon Symphony's Yuletide Celebration, Dec. 18-20. The symphony promises "gorgeous sets and a whole chorus line of tap-dancing Santas" for its celebration, but the grandeur can't possibly mask all the Christmas music you love. Hey, maybe the overload of sweetness augmented by full symphony strength will shatter that icy sheath around your heart.

You might even still have a chance to witness the symphony's righteous and rousing "Gospel Christmas," Dec. 3-5, but tickets for this event have a habit of selling out early.

Or, you could risk insanity to make it to Portland Revels Singers' "Christmas Revels" – where you may find the succor of a little cynicism along with the sweet holiday crooning. Choruses of adults down through to cherubic tots will help illustrate this Shakespeare-inspired story of a country town horn-swoggled into providing Winter Solstice entertainment for Queen Elizabeth I and court.

With period instruments and dancing to tape the package shut, it's a good bet this will be fine entertainment for "discriminating" revelers. Yeah, you know who you are. Enjoy the "Revels" the first and second weekends in December.

Mixed reviews last year for David Sedaris's "The Santaland Diaries" saved some of you the horrors of holiday-evening commutes. Mayhap this year you'll hop on MAX or some other form of mass transit and give the "Diaries" (Dec. 7-24) another chance at Portland Center Stage.

You can't get much more sardonic than Sedaris, so this could be a nice way to "spend time with the family." Be warned, though. You'll also see Truman Capote's "A Christmas Memory," a "poignant ... bittersweet ... heartfelt tale."

It's way beyond cliché to reject the trappings while vowing to focus on the Real Meaning of Christmas. But I'm saying to heck with that, too.

The Real Meaning of Christmas should be in play year-round. Is it the best we can do to pay it lip service two months out of every year?

Year-round lip service: When a horn is not a horn.

It's not like I hate Santa or anything. He brings me presents and that's always nice.

But that one year when I was four? And I asked for a horn, with fantasies of Benny Goodman and the Pink Panther theme in my head? And I got a cheap plastic bugle?

I knew it was over and I've never been the same.

E-mail Kurt at orangeandorange@msn.com, and don't miss his previous reports.

site design / management / host: ae
© 2001-2005 nwdrizzle.com / all rights reserved.