Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas

Holidays are joyful
There's always something new
But every day's a holiday
When I'm near to you
The Carpenters
It's Christmas morning here in Madison, Jacky is sleeping, the dogs are crashed as well, and the tree is full of presents, the stockings are hung and filled as well. It is without a doubt the most white Christmas in the history of Wisconsin as we have set a December record with close to 3 feet of snow. In fact it has a real good chance of being the snowiest month in the history of the state. But I promised not to complain about the weather, so I am biting my tongue. I wanted to take Christmas morning to thank quite a few people who have helped make 2008 a fabulous year for me.

I need to thank my 3 girls Jacky, Daisy Jane and Maggie. I spent a lot of 2008 apart from them. It was hard and I missed them and can not thank them enough for the support.

Hopefully, I don't leave anyone out of this grab bag of thank you's. Let me start with my family my parents and two brothers. We don't get together that much, but we sure have a lot of fun when we do, and for the first time in awhile we all got together and it made me really happy.

I need to send a huge thank you to the staff and owners at Fitness Ridge. I spent 11 weeks in their company this year. They have made an immeasurable impact on my life. Their kindness falls like rain and washes over me. Everyone there is amazing, caring, welcoming and accommodating. I send so much Christmas love to them and I don't want to single any of them out. I have my favorites but everyone there made my life so much better.

My fellow campers, and sweat buddies, fellow hikers, and swimmers, and terryaki bowl eaters, fellow treaders and circuit trainers, and chuck-o-rama pals, my Vegas friends and cohorts, my waking up at 6am and spending the next 12 hours working out partners. The staff at Fitness ridge is the blood but without a doubt you guys are the heart. There is no group of people that has meant more to me, made me work harder, made me appreciate what I have, and no group that has ever made me feel more loved. I'm afraid to do this because I know I will leave someone out but just know that every single person that I interacted with there had a positive impact on me. A special hug to Adriana, Caroline, Ronnie, Donna, Diane, Bonnie, Fran, Heather, Wendy, Nancy, Richard, Kelly Jeff, Heidi, Erin, Al, Janice, Ray, Linda, Cal, Karen, Trish, Leigh Ann, Pam, Beth, Meredith, Rachel, Suzanne, Gen, Cindy, Giselle, Diane, Kristin, Sabine, and most of all to the special angel who anonymously made it possible for me to return.

I need to thank all the people in Madison who helped make my whole year fantastic. All my volleyball friends, the staff at Club Tavern, the opponents in the sand, my workout partners Karen, Jenny, and Tanya. My old friends who I reconnected with, my new friends I made in 2008 of which there were more than ever before, Paul, Laurie and Jason, Tanya and Tim, Sara and Allison, Kay and Jamie. I need to thank my staff at Sunshine Daydream who make us the friendliest store in town. Thanks to my friend Tom and his family for a memorable show in Chicago. Thanks to all the musicians who brought me so much joy this year.

Finally thanks to all of you guys for riding along, especially those of you that take the time to occasionally comment. 2009 is going to have a change to the blog for the first 8 weeks of the year. I am going to use the blog as a food and exercise log to get me from the new year to the return to Fitness Ridge in March. I hope everyone has a magical Christmas and let's make 2009 the best year ever. Peace, Love, Joy and Happiness, Jim

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

All we can do is keep breathing.

I woke up this morning with a funny taste in my head.

Spackled some butter over my whole grain bread.

Something tastes different, maybe it's my tongue.

Something tastes different, suddenly I'm not so young.

Ingrid Michaelson

If you have been reading, or if you have been paying attention, or if you have ever met met me you know that I am pretty much a music freak so I thought I would had out some end of the year awards for music in 2008. And my definition of 2008 is pretty broad in that if I heard the music or it got noticed for the first time this year it can make the list.

I saw a ton of shoes this year two stood out for the music and one for the experience. My favorite show of the year was Jack Johnson at Alpine Valley. I'm sure I am repeating myself but there just are not more than 5 or 6 artists alive that could draw the crowd he did playing virtually by himself. The second show was Sara Bareilles in St Louis with Marc Broussard. I have confessed my love for this girls music since this blog began and she put on a great show, paid her respects to Stevie Wonder and the Counting Crows, and got her picture taken with me. Without a doubt the coolest concert experience for me was backstage at the REM show in Chicago. Just a really fantastic, fun time seeing the inner workings of a major band at on tour.

So the music itself: Top 5 Songs of 2008

5. Time the Conqueror by Jackson Browne, It was really nice to see Jackson with a new cd and the title track is a great song about aging.

4. Die Alone by Ingrid Michaelson, more about her later.

3. Madly by Tristan Prettyman, she gave us or first stage shout out and I am returning the favor here

2. I'm Yours by Jason Mraz, this really catchy tune is competing with Sara's Love Song for the song of the year grammy, I hope she wins but this is a wonderfully sweet song.

1. Boys with Girlfriends by Meiko, This tune is my favorite song of 2008, really well written, a wonderful melody and a funny well thought out message.

Album of the year 2008:

A couple of honorable mentions: The Counting Crows released a splendid album called Saturday Nights and Sunday Mornings. They are consistent as hell. Jackson Browne's Time the Conqueror, Jack Johnson's Sleep through the Static, and Sheryl Crow's Detours all wove great music with some political discourse and some fun. Jason Mraz' 3rd cd We sing, We Dance, We Steal Things was consistently strong from start to finish. Hotel Cafe released a fabulous Christmas cd that was a compilation of many of the girls who toured under their

However my album of the year for 2008 is Boys and Girls by Ingrid Michaelson.

Ingrid Michaelson is a 29 year old indie pop artist from Staten Island, New York. She gained some notoriety when her song "The way I am" was used for the Old Navy sweater campaign and also saw a couple of her songs used in Grey's Anatomy. It's a sweet heartfelt cd that deals with lots of acceptance and love issues. She made it work without the support of a major label and is touring nonstop taking her music to her fans.

Last night was the Sunshine Daydream Holiday Bash and it was a really good time. A little drinking, a white elephant gift exchange with some fabulous, some funny, gifts, and being able to thank my staff for being the friendliest staff in town. I hope you are somewhere warmer than me Peace and Warmth, Jim

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Only 13 shopping days remain!!

So I’m told, so the story goes

The people he knew were Less than golden-hearted

Gamblers and robbers

Drinkers and jokers

All soul searchers

Like you and me

His heart was full of love, love, love

Love, love, love

Love, love was all around

Dave Matthews, The Christmas Song

One week back in Wisconsin, lots of trips to the gym, back to playing volleyball, a new weight bench for the house and a trip to weight watchers where the scale said +3lbs. Which in reality I was pretty happy to see. It had been a month since I had been on the scale at WW and I was slightly relieved with the number which seems counterproductive but I knew there had been a trip to Florida, Thanksgiving, a Xmas party and a lot of sitting around watching snow and football. Winter presents a new challenge for me, not in the sense that I haven't faced 40 some winters but it's my first winter since fitness ridge and I am an outdoor exercise, give me some sunshine, kind of guy. I'm also a football addict and by addict, I mean serious Robert Downey-esque addict. I think sitting around snacking and watching football is a big share of my problem, so while it sadly is winding down a piece of me is happy that I can spend that time being slightly more productive. And by more more productive I don't mean watching every ACC basketball game.

So Christmas is rapidly approaching and I love Christmas. I have been shopping, and making lists, checking them twice and what not. I had a great time at a Christmas party Saturday. We have the Sunshine Daydream Christmas party this week which is always a blast. we finally got around to getting this years Christmas tree up and decorated.

That brings me to this weeks top five list which is the five greatest Christmas songs of all time:
5. The Most Wonderful Time of the Year by Andy Williams
4. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas by Frank Sinatra
3. Santa Claus is Coming to Town by Bruce Springsteen
2. The Christmas Song Dave Matthews Band
1. Merry Christmas Darling by The Carpenter's

As today's title says there are only 13 shopping days left until Christmas and to be honest we have not seen any bump in the traffic at the store. I'm not blaming it on the recession yet, more I am blaming it on the 8 inches of snow this week, and the continued temperatures in the teens, and the fact it gets dark at 4:30 pm. No matter what happens I'm not going to complain, I have had an amazing year, the store has had a great year, and I know 2009 portends for even greater things for me. Peace and Joy, Jim

PS If Bobby C or Eddie Hef is reading this could you guys email me or call me thx.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Back in Wisconsin

We may be different from the rest

Who decides the test

Of what is really best?

We're a couple of misfits

We're a couple of misfits

What's the matter with misfits

That's where we fit in!

Music and Lyrics by Johnny Marks
From the Rankin/Bass Production of "Rudolph, The-Nosed Reindeer"

Okay so I got back from Florida Tuesday afternoon landing in delightful 20 degree weather, waited outside for 15 minutes for the shuttle to my car, where I got to spend another 20 minutes scraping and chipping ice and snow off the car. But this is the last time I am going to bitch about the weather this winter. Everyone knows winters in Wisconsin suck and I choose to live here so I need to stop being depressed by it and I need to stop complaining. It's just the price I pay for living somewhere I love 9 months out of the year.

So yes on Thanksgiving day we did get my entire family together. We didn't have anyone else there to take a picture of us all but I can sort of piece the entire group of 12 together for you. It was the first time all 12 of these people have been in one place and the first time since my youngest brothers wedding in that my 3 brothers and parents have all been together. It was fun and I wish I could say that I thought it would happen more often but retail just makes it hard for us to get together at holidays and we are just a 1000 miles away from each other.

The next generation of Trudeau's, nothing but xy chromosomes in our gene pool.

My nephew playing hoops for Dr. Phillips High School. 9th grade 6'2" size 16 feet. I can still take him, at least in ping pong.

The other part of the trip was to see the Terps play in the Old Spice 8 team tournament at Disneyworld. Started off great with Maryland just waxing Michigan St. However reality arrived the next day with back to back blowouts by Gonzaga and Georgetown. I watched a ton of basketball these three days and without a doubt Gonzaga was the best team I saw. They are a legit top 5 team with three future NBA players on the court. No more Cinderella slipper for them.

With the year coming to an end I will be doing some best of '08 lists and I thought I would start with the best movies I have seen so far in 2008. I am very excited to see two movies that have not opened yet in Madison, Frost/Nixon and Milk so I reserve the right to revise my list.
5. The Bank Job A classic bank heist movie
4. Tropic Thunder Seriously funny and brilliant, easily the best comedy of the year
3. Changeling Clint Eastwood again delivers a wonderfully entertaining movie
2. Tell No One A wonderful French mystery that keeps you guessing
1. Roman de Gare Another French mystery movie, brilliantly told, and executed in a David Mamet sort of way. I loved this movie.
I am now back in Madison for the next three months with no major travel plans until March when I will spend along weekend in Vegas watching the first round of the NCAA tournament and then spend two weeks in Utah at Fitness Ridge. If you have any interest in joining me at one of these two locations let me know. One will be really fun and crazy, the other kinda fun and awfully rewarding. We are getting ready for Christmas at the store and just hoping for less snow and more shoppers. Can not believe it is less than 3 weeks away and you'd never know it was that close if you looked at our sales this week. Oh well, they have to shop sometime :) Peace, and Joy, Jim