Citizen of the Month

the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Category: Blogging and the Internet (page 1 of 57)

Twelve Years of the Christmahanukwanzaakah Online Holiday

Thank you for the 12 years of fun!  Here are some random moments from the last twelve years of the Christmahanukwanzaakah concert, stating with 2006, the era before we even knew how to use video!  Thank you to everyone who participated over the years.    We’ll see about doing it again next year.

Happy Holidays from everyone on staff here at the Christmahanukwanzaakah organization.  

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2006

Il Est Ne Le Divin Enfant  performed by Elisabeth and Claire

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Ocho Kandelikas performed by Sophia

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2007

Light Up performed by Mark 

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Ner Li performed by Otir

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2008

A “Bloggy” Santa Baby performed by Kristy

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Grown Up Christmas List performed by Allison 

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Winter Wonderland performed by Tanis

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iPhone Ocarina Silent Night performed by Aimee  with Bryan and James

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It’s a Very Penguin Christmas performed by Marie and Family 

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2009

The Twelve Days of Christmas performed by Jenny

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His Eye is On The Sparrow performed Jenny

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2010

Santa Claus is Comin’ To Town performed by Jenn and Elaine

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Got Tell it On the Mountain performed by Bon and family

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Christmas in O’Hare written and performed by Noel 

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Santa Baby by Karen

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Winter Wonderland by Sarah

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2011

Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree performed by Elly 

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Baby, It’s Cold Inside performed by Alejna 

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2012

Christmas in Mississippi by Marty 

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A New Deal for Christmas by Danny  and family 

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I’ll Be Home for Christmas by Shaunessy

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The Christians and the Pagans by Alexis 

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2013

Mary, Did You Know performed by Diane 

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Hawaiian Christmas from New Jersey performed by Linda and Miles

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I Am Santa performed by JC 

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2014

Ang Pasko Ay Sumapit performed by Nenette and Miranda

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Skating performed by Angela 

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It’s Hanukkah Time in the USA performed by Neil 

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2015

Silver Bells performed by Elizabeth and Sara

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Bring a Torch, Jeanette Isabel by Sister Becky and Delaney

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Away in a Manger performed by Kristen Howerton and Friends

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2016

Across the Great Divide performed by Tamar  and Tom 

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Christmas, Don’t be Late by Veronica

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River performed by Anne

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2017

Hanukkah in Santa Monica performed by Ellen 

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Christmas Lights performed by Genie 

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The Twelfth Annual Christmahanukwanzaakah Online Holiday Concert

Happy Christmahanukwanzaakah!   Welcome to the 12th annual holiday concert!

What a crazy and upsetting year for America.   I don’t even know where to begin.   But let’s remember that throughout history, even  in the toughest times, people have found time to step away and find the joy in life.    Friendship and music.   That’s what this concert is all about.   If you enjoy the concert, and if you so choose, this year we are asking you to donate to RAINN, the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization.

Peace, love, empathy, and justice.   Whatever your religion.  Whether you believe or not.   Whatever.

Thank you to all the participants.  

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Adeste Fidelis by Kizz Robinson and Sarah Stopek

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“Simple Gifts” is a Shaker song composed in 1848 by Elder Joseph Brackett by Eileen Chong

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Hanukkah in Santa Monica by Ellen Bloom

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Christmas at Denny’s by Brian Thomas and Ty Thomas

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Yuletide Aquarius by Danny Miller

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The Wassail Song by Alejna Brugos

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From My Window by Lea Grover

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Happy Holidays by Tamar Jacobson

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Hippo Hanukkah by Sophia Lansky

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Roy Moore Campaign Song by Noel Katz

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Last Christmas by Marty Long and Kevin Long

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I Believe in You and O Holy Night by Cindy Louise Allen

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Christmas is All Around by Elizabeth Flora Ross

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You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch by Karl Erikson

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2,000 Miles by Linda Roy

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Silver Bells by Michelle Kosboth

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Christmas Lights by Genie Alisa

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Announcing the 12th Annual Christmahanukwanzaakah Online Holiday Concert

We’ve all had a tough year.  Society is falling apart.  Social media has become a leading cause of our misery.  Russia is spreading fake news.  Our President spends most of his time picking fights on Twitter.   We mistrust each other, and are angry with the world.

We need some joy.  And fast.      Yay for the 12th Annual Christmahanukwanzaakah Online Holiday Concert.

This year’s concert will take place on Sunday, December 17, 2017 right here online.  But we’re doing things differently this year.   Before all the videos are published online on this space, there will be a ONE TIME CONCERT done in real time (well sorta), broadcast on Facebook Live directly from under the world-famous Christmas Tree in Rockefeller Center.    How is that going to work?  Well, I’m going to brave the freezing cold and stand under the tree with my iPhone and introduce the pre-recorded videos one-by-one live on the official 12th Annual Christmahanukwanzaakah Online Holiday Concert Facebook page.   So if you are in the New York area on December 17 from 8-10, come on down to the tree and you can be a special guest!

It is time to hear YOU PERFORM!   YOU are the CONCERT.  That gives you about two and half weeks to work your magic.

Interested?  Sign up in the comment to perform.    Or contact me directly via email or Facebook.  You don’t necessarily need a traditional blog to participate, but at least have an online presence in Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, or Snapchat.   Be part of this long-running tradition!

Concert FAQ:

1.  Create a video (or audio) file of you performing a holiday song.  If you need technical help, ask me.

2.  You must be performing in the audio or video.   Don’t cheat and have your cute kids doing all the work.

3.  You can sing, play an instrument, recite poetry, dance the Nutcracker, or write a symphony.

4.  Once completed, post the video on a place like YouTube and send me the link. Or just send me the file via Dropbox or email, and I will post it on YouTube.   Try to get me all files and links by Thursday, December 14, 2017!  That gives you plenty of time to be creative.

5.  If you are too afraid to sing a song, send me a holiday photo to decorate the concert page.  It could be of your tree, menorah, or plain ol’ winter solstice if you are a heathen.

6.  The comment section is the sign-up sheet.    By signing up, we can see who is performing what, so we can avoid having ten versions of “Jingle Bells.”

7.  Most importantly — don’t be intimidated if you can’t sing.    We like to laugh at you.

Join us in the longest-running holiday concert online — The Christmahanukwanzaakah Online Holiday Concert, in it’s twelfth year!

Tickets are free.   But if you would like to donate to a worthy cause in honor of the concert, this year we have chosen to be supporters of RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization.

But be sure to join the Facebook page if you want to see the show live.  

Here are the past blockbuster concerts —

2006  2007  2008  2009  2010  2011  2012 2013  2014  2015  2016

Skating by Vince Guaraldi performed by Angela Reiner Downing of Fluid Pudding

20 Minutes on IM #4: With Sarah

You may notice that I start projects here, and then lose interest in them (note: I’m still on day 4 of my gratitude-post-a-day from six months ago),  One of these experimental blog projects was started and abandoned three and a half years ago – I called it “20 Minutes on IM.”    The idea was to IM with a friend on Facebook Messenger for a pre-arranged twenty minutes,  and then post the conversation online.   I was interested in crossing the boundary between public and private, which, even during the Obama administration,  was an outdated  and dangerous concept.    Now, it just seems crazy.

A month ago, I decided to pick up with this interactive experiment where I left off, and have an IM conversation with Sarah Gilbert.  We arranged for a time, and I told her that everything we say was going to be made public.  Everything.  Sarah naively agreed.

In reading over the exchange, one element stands out for me, and it has to do with my own sexism.  Even though Sarah is an avid cyclist, is there any reason for me to mention her “strong thighs” not just once, but twice! In the scheme of things, it is pretty mild, and Sarah took no offense, but this just proves the ramifications of the #metoo movement.   Even men who aren’t predators are starting to look at themselves – and how they treat women – in a new way.

Neil
Hello, Sarah

Sarah Gilbert
Hi Neil! It’s fun to talk to you formally…

Neil
we used to talk all the time on here, remember….

Sarah Gilbert
I remember the days. It’s hard to keep up with my love life without a lot of conversation

Neil
it has been making me feel sad lately that I am losing touch with people back from blogging days because there is nothing holding us together anymore.

Sarah Gilbert
We don’t feel the compulsion to go to the conferences as much anymore…

Neil
it really feels like after you graduated college and you move on

Sarah Gilbert
…and the conversation has shifted.  It’s fun to think about all the ways we have transitioned in storytelling though.

Neil
yep. Also life happens. It is hard to keep up.

Sarah Gilbert
I want to talk about the secret single mom group but… you know the rules. Lots of conversations have had to be forced private.

Neil
Now of everyone I met online, you have probably had the most…. uh adventurous and chaotic last five years….without getting into too many details, there was divorce…. and some trouble there, and then relationship and some trouble there….

Sarah Gilbert
Yes! With the exception of overseas travelers, I’m pretty much tops in rambunctiousness.

Neil
hey, sounds like my life.  but at least you know how to have fun doing it.

Sarah Gilbert
Yes. I won’t get into the details here but let’s just say polyamory has been a wonderful horrible gorgeous painful adventure.

Neil
i am on record as advising you against it.

Sarah Gilbert
And my divorce was pretty much just the horrible painful part. I hear you and probably won’t follow your advice. ??

Neil
but during all this chaos you sort of changed focus from just writing to exploring your love of bicycles…you are so Portland. I think of you whenever I watch Portlandia.

Sarah Gilbert
Right. I’ve been storytelling a lot but found a whole new venue. Offline in the most extreme way. I even now am leading Portlandia tours!

Neil
there was an article lately that was a bit critical of the image of Portland and Oregon, saying that it is also a hotbed for white nationalism….. how do you feel about that…not as super liberal as we think…

Sarah Gilbert
Oh man. There is so much to say there. We’re a hotbed for everything

Neil
first you were working for a tour company? do you even own a car?

Sarah Gilbert
Well… I just bought a vehicle, but it’s for a tour company I’m starting

Neil
you have ridden bikes everyone ever since your kids were little

Sarah Gilbert
I haven’t had a personal vehicle since 2006!

Neil
don’t tell me it is a gas guzzzling SUV

Sarah Gilbert
Yes! My middle kid was a baby then.  No it’s a diesel Mercedes sprinter.  To carry lots of tour guests and their bikes ?? I worked for a bike tour company for three years….

Neil
maybe i will get yelled at for being sexist. but you have the strongest leg and thing muscles in your photos.

Sarah Gilbert
…really early on I started planning how I’d like to do it on my own.  Oh don’t worry about ME yelling at you.  I show off my legs on purpose ??

Neil
i kinda always visualized you as a dorky writier loner type…. do you actually enjoy dealing with the public? i mean customers….

Sarah Gilbert
Yes! I’m kind of an extrovert in some ways.  I love to talk

Neil
I’m doing my first photo shoot for a client and I’m wondering if I will really enjoy dealing with people as much as the photography itself.

Sarah Gilbert
It’s hard sometimes. People are not all ideal.

Neil
so first you worked for a company and now you are deciding to go on your own? I have to admit. You are the epitome of Just Do It. Isn’t Nike in Oregon?

Sarah Gilbert
Yes. I started the business as soon as the divorce finally finished with the asset but.  Haha yes.

Neil
remember when I told you to start a magazine…. and two days later yous started a magazine

Sarah Gilbert
Right outside the city.  I did!

Neil
you wanted to start a bike company so you freaking did it.  do you have competitors in this ?

Sarah Gilbert
I did! Ironically I started working for a driving tour company so I wouldn’t violate my noncompete

Neil
I forget the name. I’m sure it is named after a greek myth of something

Sarah Gilbert
Yep. Several other companies.  It’s called Cordilleran Tours.

Neil
is it a greek myth?

Sarah Gilbert
It’s named after mountain ranges (cordillera in Spanish) and the Cordilleran ice sheet that shaped everything in the Pacific Northwest.

Neil
so how does it work? People come to town, and how the heck do they know you exist?  you have to be an outdoors person to start riding in the mountains

Sarah Gilbert
The idea is that we can start here in portland and the mountains I love and then expand around the cordillera. We’re not going to be biking straight up mountains…

Neil
if i visited could I physically do this? how many miles do you go?  so you supply the bikes….?

Sarah Gilbert
…but the niche is, a little more active than normal.  Yes

Neil
so where do you go? hood river? the falls?

Sarah Gilbert
You’ve got to understand that normal tourists can often not walk up 1/3 of a mile to waterfalls. So this is just a bit more adventurous. 8-12 miles on bikes. 4-8 miles hiking.

Neil
but oregon gets a lot of sports people

Sarah Gilbert
Hiking

Neil
i mean people who enjoy outdoors

Sarah Gilbert
We have a lot who live here…

Neil
not just sitting in museums

Sarah Gilbert
…but tourists are tourists. And yes we will supply bikes

Neil
not saying you are anti-intellectual.

Sarah Gilbert
🙂

Neil
just enjoy strong thighs and good books

Sarah Gilbert
I’m pretty fucking intellectual
😉

Neil
i saw you have a donut tour? i like that one.

Sarah Gilbert
Right! It’s called “beyond voodoo”

Neil
maybe you can do a tour with Powell Books as promotion

Sarah Gilbert
Because egregiously, voodoo Donuts is the most visited tourist attraction in portland

Neil
so first go for donuts and coffee

Sarah Gilbert
I like it. And then books. Well my meditative garden tour is a good example of something that takes a regular tourist attraction and then makes the experience a little deeper.  More spiritual

Neil
do u meditate now?

Sarah Gilbert
I go to the local gardens… Chinese and Japanese… and lead guided meditations

Neil
i think you never get depressed because you are always doing stuff….

Sarah Gilbert
Placing the history of the people and places in context with our own experience of them.  It’s true!

Neil
that’s my problem.

Sarah Gilbert
And yes. I meditate both on my own every night and in the midst of my workday. I take tourists to these beautiful places. And then steal away for five minutes to mediate

Neil
so how are you getting clients, or customers?

Sarah Gilbert
Meditate

Neil
do you have money to advertise yet?

Sarah Gilbert
Well the initial plan is to get listed on TripAdvisor. I really don’t have funds for a lot…

Neil
do they do it for free? i use tripadvisor

Sarah Gilbert
…we’ve found social marketing and relationships are the best

Neil
who is we? you have a partner?

Sarah Gilbert
I guess mostly me ??  Ok this is the complicated part. My boyfriend and I have talked about it for years…

Neil
you realize you have writing material staring at you from your own life….

Sarah Gilbert
…and there was this horrible upheaval in our life.

Neil
are you still talking now?

Sarah Gilbert
Well, he left. Yes.  And he still wants to work for me

Neil
or is this have to be cut out?

Sarah Gilbert
It’s complicated. I don’t know!

Neil
OK, we will talk about this later….

Sarah Gilbert
Ha

Neil
you already know my opinion.

Sarah Gilbert
But anyway, my various beautiful lovely people in my life will contribute in some way

Neil
do you have any time to write? I know that is important to you? maybe by focusing on this you are opening avenues for writing too

Sarah Gilbert
I have a lot of beloved tour guides in my world

Neil
by just defocusing on writing

Sarah Gilbert
I am working on juggling that now. One of my major outlets is these conversations I have with place. Via Instagram posts. I have an ongoing conversation with the Columbia Gorge. I call her Lady Gorge or Ms. Gorge.  Sometimes I am speaking to my lover(s).

Neil
i want to ask you something important before we bring up you new business again because time is running out.

Sarah Gilbert
But sometimes it’s to the divine self. Ok

Neil
you’re not ready for dating again, are you?

Sarah Gilbert
That is important. I don’t know. I’ve never been single this long

Neil
is it possible to find someone more…. conventional.

Sarah Gilbert
Six weeks now.  Haha no.  I’ll likely go more unconventional than ever

Neil
You’ve never done online dating stuff. You always meet in real life, right?

Sarah Gilbert
I have done online dating briefly. But mostly I only date people who already love me

Neil
I don’t even understand that

Sarah Gilbert
Sometimes it’s through social media. People fall in love.  And then I’m here.  It’s magic.  My last three major relationships were that.

Neil
I want to date again locally. but i get too distracted…. so trying to focus on work stuff…. not sure it is working though

Sarah Gilbert
People who knew me in some way and loved me.  so I’m connected to so many people. Like you.  And I’m super open. Like you.

Neil
anyway, time running out on this experiment and I have to be cruel. In case someone is visiting portland and wants to go on a tour…. how can they reach you?

Sarah Gilbert
People know when I’m available and start asking

Neil
cruel in meaning cutting us off.

Sarah Gilbert
Cordillerantours.com. 🙂  And you can reach out to me directly.  I LOVE doing custom tours. One of the reasons I started the business was to do really cool custom tours

Neil
oh crap we have so much we can talk about. we didn’t even bring up Trump. anyway, we can do that privately. Kinda missed talking to you. Sad that I have to do an experiment with you as an excuse.

Sarah Gilbert
Yes. I’m game to changing this frequency ??

Neil
ok maybe i will come next spring and go on tour too

Sarah Gilbert
I missed you too.  Yes!

Neil
what do you do on winter?

Sarah Gilbert
I will make a special Neil tour

Neil
is is still ok to go out?

Sarah Gilbert
Work a little less. But yes

Neil
doesn’t get that cold,does it?

Sarah Gilbert
I probably work 30 hours a week in November.  Compared to 55 in August

Neil
well, listen, best of luck to you, and now I will go offline and scold you about your men.

Sarah Gilbert
With driving tours this summer I racked up crazy miles and hours. And women

Neil
Good bye Sarah!

Sarah Gilbert
I can’t wait.  Goodbye !

Neil
ha ha

2016

Imagine a Hallmark Christmas movie. It’s about a beautiful and scrappy Southern single mom who falls for a city slicker who lives in New York City.  He says that he is a writer and photographer which apparently doesn’t mean the same thing in the North because it doesn’t require making a real living. Still, being an aw-shucks optimist, she thinks that he is the bee’s knees. He actually adores her too, but whenever he finds himself in a real relationship, he always has one foot mired in doubt. He constantly says stuff like, “this is too complicated,” “we live in different cities,” “we don’t like the same movies,” and things like that.

Eventually, our Southern heroine gets fed up with the New Yorker’s negative thinking, and as Christmas approaches, through pure serendipity, she meets a divorced Southern gentleman who only lives ten minutes from her home.

He is perfect. He loves the same football teams as her son and he can whip up the best fried chicken in minutes. Most importantly, he knows how to treat a lady. They make plans for Christmas together.

Meanwhile, back in the city of the birthplace of Trump,  the evil city slicker,  a complete ne’er-do-well with the carpetbagging black heart of a true Yankee, is suddenly awoken with jealous feelings. He sends her emails trying to make her feel guilty for finding her own happiness, attempting to manipulate her with the fancy words he picked up at some Ivy League university. What will our heroine do? Who will she choose? The true and honest local boy with the heart of grits, or the fast-talking neurotic big city jerk who only wants what he can’t have?

I think we know the end of that movie. I mean if it is a Hallmark Christmas Movie and not some Martin Scorcese film.

That was my 2016.  I am the villain.   Which usually is the best role in a movie.   But not in real life.

 I didn’t blog that much.  I have no blogging recap like in the old days.

That was my 2016.

Oh, yeah, in November, I went to Hillary Clinton’s Big Election Night Ball at the Javits Center where she was to be crowned the next leader of America.

That was my 2016.

Also, I took a lot of photographs. Some came out good.

But I’m healthy. My mom is healthy. Most of my friends are healthy.  And I’m still friends with the Southern girl.  So, it wasn’t that bad.

The Eleventh Annual Blogger Christmahanukwanzaakah Online Holiday Concert

Happy Christmahanukwanzaakah!   Welcome to the 11th annual holiday concert!

It was a tough political year for many of us, and there is much uncertainty in the world.  But let us remember that camaraderie and music are important forces for good.   They can inspire us, touch us, and lead us into battle.   There is work to be done in 2017.  Our system has failed many, especially those that are already marginalized.    One non-profit organization fighting for justice in our educational system is Being Black at School.  

Being Black at School is a national nonprofit advocacy organization focused on addressing the complexities of being a Black student in the American education system.   Our mission is to utilize data and policy analysis to foster a movement for schools that are safer and more equitable for Black students.

Please help them by donating what you can.    You can read more about their mission on their website.

Happy Holidays and enjoy the show.  

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photo by Karen Delaney Dino

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Tim Minchin’s White Wine in the Sun performed  by Eileen of Eileen Chong

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photo by Bonnie Stewart of The Theory Blog

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The Peace Carol performed by Elly of  BugginWord 

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photo by Erin Cooper

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A British Christmas performed by Noel Katz of  There’s Gotta Be Music 

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photo by Pam of Outside Voice

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Joy performed by Elizabeth Robinson  (Kizz) of  117 Hudson and Sara Stopek

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photo by TL Roberts

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Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah  performed by Angela of  Fluid Pudding 

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photo by Carol of Buttercup Counts Her Blessings

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Christmas, Don’t be Late by Veronica (with help by Kacey Musgraves)

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photo by Louise Gleeson of Late Night Plays

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Madre Tierra performed by Charlie Miller with Danny Miller

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photo by Deborah Grinter of Blossom Bombs

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Hark the Herald Angels Sing performed by Lara Bolte

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photo by Laura

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Sugar Plum Holiday performed by Jenny Kelly and family

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photo by Jane

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Los Angeles Jingle Bells performed by Ellen Bloom of LA is My Beat

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photo by Maggie Christ of Magpie Musing

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Across the Great Divide performed by Tamar Jacobson and Tom Jacobson

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card from GK Khalsa

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River by Joni Mitchell performed by Anne Riotto

photo by Loukia of Loulou’s Views

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Auld Lang Syne performed by Elisa Camahort Page  of SheKnows Media

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photo by Lotus Carroll

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God Rest Ye, Merry Gentlemen performed by Tina Rowley

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photo by Martin Karaffa

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Happy Xmas performed song by Marty, Kevin, Christopher, and Colin Long

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photo by Jessica Rotenberg

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We Wish You… performed by Alejna of Collecting Tokens and family

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photo by Judy Carrino

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Black and White performed by Neil Kramer of Citizen of the Month and Junius Harris

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photo by Karen Rivers

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Here are the past blockbuster concerts —

2006  2007  2008  2009  2010  2011  2012 2013  2014  2015

See you at next year’s event!

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NYC, The Five Boroughs, the 2017 Calendar

 

 

I’m always curious about what the kids want for Christmas and Hanukkah each year, so I’ve been talking to a lot of my friend’s children, asking them, “What gift are you hoping Santa Claus brings you this year?” I was expecting the answer to be some trendy Japanese Pokemon/Furby type toy, so I was shocked when your kids answered in one voice, “This Christmas I want a 2017 Calendar of New York City Photos!”

I many not have kids of my own, but I care a lot about your kids, especially about making them happy. I’m assuming you want the same for your children. They ARE the future. That’s why I’m offering these NYC photos of the five boroughs for only $16.99! Not $17. I’m beginning to understand how business works. Only $16.99!

You can buy this NYC calendar on my ETSY SITE.   Tell me what you think of my oddball choices of  NYC photos, not one skyscraper or famous site in the bunch.

 

Announcing the 11th Annual Blogger Christmahanukwanzaakah Online Holiday Concert!

11THChristmashanukwanzaakah-1

 In 2006, when this annual concert started, it was a celebration of the  internet.    Blogging was an avenue for the sharing of personal stories.   Even if you lived in the most isolated rural town in Alaska, you found yourself, through online storytelling, befriending black bloggers in Baltimore, gay bloggers in Los Angeles, and Jewish bloggers in New York.   Christmahanukwanzaakah  was our buzzword for our changing world — one of inclusion, diversity, and empathy.

We were naive.   As our virtual world grew, the problems of the real world flooded in, and eleven years later, when we thing of the internet, we think of the worst aspects of society — the  hate, bigotry, and trolling.  

In 2008, we voted in Barack Obama, the first African-American president.   In 2016, we voted in Donald Trump.

This year’s concert is not just a celebration of the season, but an affirmation of the moral underpinning that connects all religions and creeds –

‘Don’t do unto others what you don’t want others to do unto you.’

Yes, we love to share our stories and photos with our friends, but we also need to remember to protect each other, speak up against the bigotry that poisons our nation, and make a difference, no matter how small.    

Especially now.  

This year, for the first time, I will be asking for  small  donations, both from concert  participants and viewers, for “Being Black at School,”  a brand-new national nonprofit advocacy organization focused on addressing the complexities of being a Black student in the American education system.

I wanted to end the concert last year because I thought we all had enough of “blogging” as we knew it.   We had moved on to more practical ways to connect with others.   But I get a feeling that we all could use a bit of love, joy, and community this year.   And singing.  

Here are the past blockbuster concerts —

2006  2007  2008  2009  2010  2011  2012 2013  2014  2015

This year’s concert will take place on Tuesday, December 20, 2016  right here online.

It is time to hear YOU PERFORM!   YOU are the CONCERT.  That gives you about a month to work your magic.

Interested?  Sign up in the comment to perform.    You don’t necessarily need a traditional blog to participate, but at least have an online presence in Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, or Snapchat.   Be part of this long-running tradition!

Concert FAQ:

1.  Create a video (or audio) file of you performing a holiday song.  If you need technical help, ask me.

2.  You must be performing in the audio or video.   Don’t cheat and have your cute kids doing all the work.

3.  You can sing, play an instrument, recite poetry, dance the Nutcracker, or write a symphony.

4.  Once completed, post the video on a place like YouTube and send me the link. Or just send me the file via Dropbox or email, and I will post it on YouTube.   Try to get me all files and links by Monday, December 19, 2016, the day before the concert!  That gives you plenty of time to be creative.

5.  If you are too afraid to sing a song, send me a holiday photo to decorate the concert page.  It could be of your tree, menorah, or plain ol’ winter solstice if you are a heathen.

6.  The comment section is the sign-up sheet.    By signing up, we can see who is performing what, so we can avoid having ten versions of “Jingle Bells.”

7.  Most importantly — don’t be intimidated if you can’t sing.    We like to laugh at you.

Join us in the longest-running holiday concert online — The Blogger Christmahanukwanzaakah Online Holiday Concert, in it’s ELEVENTH blockbuster performance!

Skating by Vince Guaraldi performed by Angela Reiner Downing of Fluid Pudding

Writing for Self, Writing for Reader

disney

This is a post about writing online. It is written for myself, just to clarify something in my own mind, but I’ll share it with you anyway because if you also write online, maybe you have had similar thoughts.

Yesterday, I posted about the trip I took with Jana to Walt Disney World.  I titled it, “Walt Disney World: World of Laughter and Tears.” Clever, huh? Originally, I named it  “Walt Disney World: A World of Laughter, a World of Tears,” which  better matches the lyrics of “It’s a Small World,” but when I googled the title, I saw it was already taken by TEN OTHER writers!

Still, I liked the post.   When I started out writing it, I had three objectives, and I satisfied all of them.

1) Show off some new photos of Walt Disney World since I didn’t feel comfortable posting a million of them on Instagram where I would be mistaken for one of those dreaded Parent Bloggers.

2) Prove to my friend Danny that I could effectively mock the Disney ethos AND kiss Disney’s ass at the same time, just in case I ever want free tickets to some social media event there.

3) Prove to my friend Tanis that yes, I could go away for the weekend with a bright and attractive woman, and not have her break up with me.

Mission Accomplished to all three.

But did I really prove anything? And is this real writing?   What type of writer am I?   The stakes are so low.  It’s almost childish.

Recently, I had bookmarked this article titled “6 Simple Ways to Get More People to Read Your MEDIUM Posts.” (via Medium).  I read it yesterday while travelling in the subway.   The writer had very strong opinions about online writing.

You have to SELL your ideas in Medium, and the best way you can do that is to make it about people. Don’t say “I did this and that”. SAY, “You can experience this and that.” … why?… Because the viewer wants to learn something FOR himself. Not about you..

Let’s say you really want to tell a personal story about yourself and your horrible experience at a night club.

Don’t say, “I went there, I did this, and this happened, and then this happened…”

Start with something like,

“Don’t make the same mistake I did when you go to a NIGHT CLUB.”

See how that changed everything? ..The prospective? To other people?..

You can ALWAYS make any personal story about others if you told them what they can learn from the experience and how they can take caution so they don’t end up doing the same thing you did.

By the way, It could be a HAPPY story too.

But don’t write, “I went to Disneyland and did this and this and that, and it was amazing.”

No, you should start with something like,

“Here’s how YOU can maximize your trip to Disneyland with these simple (but essential) tricks.

I looked back over my last post. Immediately I notice that I failed to even write the traditional “I went to Disneyland and did this and this and that, and it was amazing” post.  My post is a slight of hand, nonsense to fill the space until I have enough nerve to say publicly that I had a nice time with Jana.

Now, let’s imagine I come home from Walt Disney World, but with a different perspective, one of professional writing. The first question I would ask myself if “Now that I’m home from my trip with Jana, how can I best use my writing and/or photography skills to make at least a measly $100 by sharing something about my experience?” I know.   $100.   But better than nothing, right?

Now to make some money out of this, I would need to pitch some story idea to an outside website or publication. Which one? And what is the pitch?

Of course, the story is already there, hidden in the middle of the post, when I write this sentence —

 “Can romance be found at a Disney theme park, a location crowded with crying children, stressed out parents, and senior citizens aggressively driving their rent-a-scooters like the extras in a Mad Max film?”

That’s it. That’s the story. Everything else is the piece is irrelevant to a reader looking for content.  This becomes a post about me using my experience to HELP OTHER PEOPLE decide if they should go with their girlfriend to Walt Disney World. That is a successful pitch for a travel or dating site, no?

Now is the bigger question.   Do I want to help others to “maximize the romance of going to Walt Disney World?”  Do I want to write this post?  Not really.

But that’s another problem.

 

The Tenth Annual Blogger Christmahanukwanzaakah Online Holiday Concert

holidays

Welcome to the The 2015 Blogger Christmahanukwanzaakah Online Holiday Concert! It is my honor to be with you here for the TENTH year of this concert.

Ten years!  Can you believe it?  Who knew that so many bloggers were also such talented singers and musicians?  And some even brave enough to sing so poorly?  I’m proud that we kept this concert running for ten years, and embraced the concept of diversity long before it was a social media trend.

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Munich’s Traditional Gay Christmas Market photographed by Marty of Deutschland uber Elvis

It’s been a fun run.   I’ve met some cool people during these concerts.  One year we  attracted an audience large enough to fill Radio City Music Hall!  I even turned down two offers of concert monetization; it just seemed wrong.   Commerce and Commercialization have absolutely nothing to do with the Holiday Season, right?  I know it sounds corny  because it is such a cliche,  but the concert was always about the community.

Jeez, that did sound corny.

Eh, what the hell.  It’s the holidays.  Embrace the corny.   So, to paraphrase Tiny Tim in the politically-correct version of “A Christmas Carol” – “A Merry Christmahanukwanzaakah to us all; God bless us, every one!”

Here are a few of the performers from the last decade who brought a little bit of joy each year:

Thanks again, and may we all be happy, healthy, and creatively productive in 2016!

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poster 1

First Concert Poster, 2006, of Jamelah

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Holiday “Hamilton” performed  by Jenny of Oh Jenny Mae

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Second Concert Poster, 2007

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Silver Bells performed by Elizabeth Robinson  (Kizz) of  117 Hudson and Sara Stopek

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Third Concert Poster, 2008

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Cool Yule performed by Elly Lonon of BugginWorld

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Fourth Concert Poster, 2009

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Holiday Imagining by Angela of Fluid Pudding

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Poster 5

Fifth Concert Poster, 2010

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Little Toy Trains performed  by Marty Long of Marty Suttle Long

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Concert 6

Sixth Concert Poster, 2011

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Wouldn’t it Be Loverly? performed by Danny Miller of Jew Eat Yet and his son, Charlie Miller

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Poster 7

Seventh Concert Poster, 2012

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Away in a Manger performed by Kristen Howerton of Rage Against the Minivan with Beer and Hymns members Chad Markley and Lauren Francis

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Concert 8

Eighth Concert Poster, 2013

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I Love New York at Christmas Time performed by Neil of Citizen of the Month and Jana of Jana’s Thinking Place

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Con cert 9

Ninth Concert Poster, 2014

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It’s The Time of Year performed by Noel Katz of There’s Gotta Be a Song, with help with his family.

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Concert 10

Tenth Concert Poster, 2015

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Bring a Torch, Jeanette Isabel by Sister Becky Swanson and Delaney

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menorah

photo by Tabatha at So Tabulous

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Ner Li performed by Tamar of Mining Nuggets

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pissing

pissing boy ornament photo by Veronica

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Can I Interest You in Hanukkah by Bonnie of Theoryblog at Crib Chronicles with Oscar and Posey

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photo by Alejna from Collecting Tokens

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Ava Maria performed by Cindy Louise Allen

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joy

photo by Annette Kiesow

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Jingle Bell Rock performed by Ellen Bloom, from the first concert in 2006

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Thank you for another year of online friendship, debate, drama, following, unfollowing, Tinder dating stories, laughter, and comfort during times of sadness.

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Here are the past blockbuster concerts —

2006  2007  2008  2009  2010  2011  2012 2013 2014

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