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I am at my brothers house in Asheville again, and am downstairs in his studio using his cool macintosh with the wide screen and the big speakers. This is where I stay every time I come to visit. I need to visit more often.

I had a wonderful Christmas up here. I got here Christmas eve, and we had a nice seafood dinner. It's an old Italian custom to eat seafood on Christmas eve. Neither my family nor my sister-in-law is Italian. She just thought it would be a fun custom to emulate. It was a delicious dinner...fish stew and then linguini with clam sauce. After dinner I told my brother it was perversely ironic that I was the fat brother and he was the one who was married to the great cook.

Dinner conversation was interesting. I found out that my sister-in-laws parents used to live across the street from John Waters parents and that their son went to a day care center that was run by Divine's parents. Learning about connections like that is always interesting

Christmas day was fun. It was a lot of fun watching my niece and nephew open presents. I got my nephew a TMNT action figure and a pirate playset. I got my niece an Othello set and a robot dog. She loved the robot dog. I played one game of Othello with her. She got excited whenever she took the lead in the number of pieces. I didn't tell her until after the game was over that a better measure of success was how many side and corner squares you controlled. I know, I was taking advantage of a 9-year-old After my recent close call playing checkers with her, I wanted every advantage I could get.

She forgave me and apparently is still fond of me. She has taken to calling me her teddy bear. She likes to come up to me and say "Teddy!!" and wrap her arms around me. It seems odd for her or anyone to have a teddy bear that is at least 4 times her size, but maybe that is the point. I can see where a young girl might want the biggest stuffed animal on the block, and I feel honored to be said stuffed animal.

Christmas morning I heard Big Star's Jesus Christ on the radio for the very first time. I've been a fan of Big Star for a long time, and it was gratifying to here this song in the Christmas mix. It was never marketed that way (to be more precise, never marketed at all) but it should be. It's a song about the birth of Jesus. As far as I'm concerned, Big Star is the only serious competition to Gayla Peevey in the Christmas music category. (Although she does have two Christmas songs to their one.)

I got lots of cool stuff.Before I came up here, thecrimsonbat gave me the 2008 Mathematics Calendar. Elle had given me season one of The Office. I didn't have that, and didn't think to ask for it, but it was an excellent gift for me. Steve Carrell is one of my favorite comic actors. I've been watching it on my bro's great big Mac and have been enjoying it thoroughly. A couple of other sitcoms I got on DVD were the first season of The Bill Cosby Show (the one he did in the early 70's, NOT "The Cosby Show") from my brother and the entire series Stacked from my sister-in-laws parents (or as I like to call them, my ILORs).

My sister as usual spent way too much on gifts. I told her as much, but also as usual, didn't do it with a lot of conviction because I really don't want her to stop. She got me Blacklisted By History by M Stanton Evans, Target by Katherine Willey, Werewolves In Their Youth by Michael Chabon, and Options Made Easy by Guy Cohen. I have the best sister in the whole world.

I am fortunate to have such a generous and hospitable family. God bless us, every one.


I'm glad you had such a great Christmas in Asheville. Tell them all that Muff and I say "Happy Holidays!"