The Saturday Six - Episode 297

1. Have the Christmas trees you or your closest relatives have put up more often been real or artificial?

Real, for most of my life anyway... The only time *I* have ever put up an artificial tree was when I found that *lovely* 2 foot fibre-optic tree - and even then, that was in addition to the larger natural tree... (I couldn't help it, honest... the fibre-optic trees with their scintillating colours just astound me...)

2. How do you prefer Christmas decorations on a tree to look: more uniform within a certain color scheme or design or with a lot of variance?

I've done both... I've done themed trees with peach and ivory gauze ribbons, venetian blown glass peaches and milky opalescent orbs for ornaments, with orange and white lights... I've done the traditional tree with any and every ornament that takes our fancy... I can't say which I prefer... There's an element of fun getting specific things for a themed tree, but it's just as exciting to open up boxes full of old holiday decorations and finding dear old treasures you cherish...

3. Christmas ornaments as a Christmas gift: good idea or bad?

My personal take on this is - Bad... You never do know what a person's tastes run to in ornaments, and there's nothing worst than giving a gift that is regulated to the bottom of the box unless you (the gift-giver) visit for the holidays... The second reason I think it is bad, is that quite often, these ornaments are *not* personal... The giver has several dozen of them made up and passes them out like after dinner mints... Maybe this is a good gift for your boss or co-workers to whom you aren't close, but for anyone you call friend - well this just says, "I couldn't be bothered this year to think of anything *you* would like, so here, have a default present..."

4. Take the quiz: The Christmas Tree Test

You Are Warmly Compassionate

During the holidays, you take time out for yourself and the people that you love the most.

You try not to get caught up in the hustle and bustle. You prefer to stay inside your warm home as much as possible.

You believe that the holidays are all about the little things. Being and reconnecting with those closest to you.

People are important to you, not gifts. Love is the best gift in the world.

5. What’s the most unusual Christmas tree you remember from your childhood?

Our "cactus tree" in Arizona... Lacking any naturally growing fir trees, and the trees in the lots which looked half dead, we decorated a large potted cactus... We strung lights on it (carefully!) and hung small ornaments from the needles... In the end, it looked quite festive, if a little odd...

6. What’s your worst Christmas tree experience?

About 5 years ago, when we bought a tree, brought it home, got it decorated, and then it snapped in half - it had had wood rot at the core... Thankfully, we were able to get a replacement tree, but the ornaments that broke in the fall were lost forever...

The Sunday Seven - Episode 215

Name your picks for the seven most-awkward moments of the year.

(In no particular order)

1. Nov. 2009 - Tiger Woods & Mistresses (Yes, plural!)

If that's not awkward, I don't know what is... The shame and embarassment he's feeling now is totally deserved, but it's still quite awkward to have revealed that you are not only having an affair, but with *multiple* mistresses... Speculation has the count at anywhere from 3 to 13 mistresses now - I imagine the actual number is probably somewhere between that... On the other hand, his wife seems to be no prize either if current rumours are true - it has been reported she may stay with him, regardless of this scandal... Not only is this completely stupid, given his track record, but she has apparently maneuvered a renegotiation of her prenup with Tiger... What!? It's called *pre*nuptual for a reason - as in, the agreement is fixed *before* the marriage is made... She might have been entitled to compensation when she was the one wronged, but now it seems she's decided to angle in the adultery pond for more cash in return for her "support" of him now... Maybe these two really do deserve each other...

2. March 2009 - Madonna, Malawi, & the Chanel Sweatsuit

Madonna visited the African country of Malawi to adopt a child... Now, Malawi is among the poorest countries in the world, it has a low life expectancy and high infant mortality.... And it's estimated that 1 million children have been orphaned there - due either to extreme poverty or the AIDS epidemic that's sweeping through 14% of their population - so I applaud her in wanting to adopt and save a child from that terrible life... BUT! In what *had* to be the most awkward display of thoughtless wealth, Madonna landed in the country in a Gulfstream V, wearing a Chanel tracksuit that retails at the New York store for about $2,800... Yes, I *know* she has a lot of money... Yes, she should be able to enjoy it as she pleases... But I found it rather gauche and insensitive of her to show up to one of the most impoverished nations on the planet in such attire... Just as you don't show up to a black tie affair in jeans and a t-shirt, you probably shouldn't show up in a dirt poor African village wearing an outfit that costs more than some people's mortgage payments... The money she spent on that outfit could have fed several Malawi children for months - so combining the purpose of her visit and her wardrobe choice = big awkwardness...!

3. February 2009 - Joaquin Phoenix on David Letterman

There is so much I could say about this... All of it horrifying... I'll let the clip speak for itself...
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4. October 2009 - The David Letterman Affairs

And speaking of Dave and awkward moments - it must have been an awkward morning when he woke up and realised he'd have to choose between being blackmailed or publicly humiliated.... But in Dave's defense, he manned up, admitted the affairs, and publicly (and contritely) apologised to his wife... As for Robert Joel Halderman, jealous beau and blackmailer of Letterman - well I imagine he's having a few awkward moments of his own at moment...

5. October 2009 - Falcon "Balloon Boy" Heene on Larry King

I have so much sympathy for this child, whose awkward moment was forced upon him by parents who were more interested in pursuing fame and fortune than teaching their child how to live an ethical life... When Wolf Blitzer and the boy's father ask him why he hid, it's a pitiful sight to watch: he squirms uncomfortably in his seat, and pauses several times as he says, "Um... you guys said... that um... we did this for the show..." His eyes are looking everywhere but at the camera or his parents... He knows somehow he did something wrong, but he's not sure what he's supposed to say... His inadvertant admission of the hoax is met simple by a dismal "Yeah..." from his father, and a high pitched "No..." from his mother... His father then attempts to plaster over this blown gaff by talking rapidly and inanely of why he thinks his son hid, but it's obvious at this point in the interview that something is not kosher about this whole situation... How sad that this honest child will probably never get the encouragement to remain honest with parents like that...

6. October 2009 - Barack Obama & the Noble Peace Prize

Now many people might not find this an awkward moment, but I do, for one reason - it's a little embarassing to be asked, "But what did he accomplish to deserve the prize...?" and be forced to answer, "Well, not much... *yet*..." For me, as a ex-pat who is always getting asked these sorts of things by my Romanian and Hungarian relatives it's a little squirm-worthy... Because while he *has* worked towards getting the world community and opposing nations to talk civilly to each other, it hasn't yet borne fruit, so to speak... So the Norwegians seem to have stretched the terms of the award rules a bit on this one, insofar as Obama hasn't actually accomplished the goals of the prize, though he did more than most at trying to achieve them... Let's hope the President uses this as a benchmark of where he wants to be before he leaves office...

7. November 2008 - Palin and the Masked Avengers

Okay, I cheated on this one... It's not from this year... But it's *still* the most amusing awkward moments I've ever seen/heard... And it gives me an excuse to share it here... But beware, it may cause you to feel sympathy for Sarah Palin - at many points, you are squirming yourself at how gullible she's being... *grin*
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