Monday, December 24, 2012

A Rink Rats Christmas

Hello friends,

On this day before Christmas, I have not a moment to write something interesting, smart, or funny (as if I ever do) — lucky for you all, I'm at peace with that.  I am visiting family and so writing seems less important than just hanging out, taking long walks through our festive neighborhood, watching hockey games, eating, eating, and eating.  But I did want to wish you the joy of this special season and a happy, healthy 2013.  2012 certainly brought its challenges, but as this year draws to a close, I can't help but feel very, very blessed. I wish all my friends the best for the holidays and peace and health to you all.


Rink Rats


1).  “Jingle Bell Rock” Bobby Helms        
2). “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree”  Brenda Lee
3).  “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town”  Bruce Springsteen
4).  “Feliz Navidad”  Jose Feliciano         
5). “Blue Christmas”  Elvis Presley


1).  Candy Cane Cocktail: Festive Christmas cocktails add to the cheery atmosphere. For this drink, combine 2 ounces strawberry vodka, 4 dashes white creme de menthe, 2 ½ ounces cranberry juice, and ice in a cocktail shaker. Combine well and strain into glasses. Use crushed candy cane as a garnish around the rim.

2). The Blizzard: Hot Christmas cocktails are a comforting beverage when it’s cold outside. In a glass coffee mug, stir together 1 ½ ounces Irish whiskey or rum, ½ ounce hazelnut liqueur, and ½ ounce Irish cream liqueur. Top with hot coffee and a dollop of whipped cream.

3). Eggnog Martini: This Christmas cocktail recipe puts a new spin on an old classic. Stir in your favorite brandy with either homemade or store-bought eggnog and ladle into glasses garnished with pumpkin-pie spice. If you’re feeling adventurous, try this homemade eggnog recipe

4). Mulled Wine: Warm Christmas cocktails are a toasty treat. Start by zesting and then juicing a large orange. With the flat side of a knife, bruise two cardamom pods and combine with the zest, juice, 6 whole cloves, 6 allspice berries, 6 whole black peppercorns, 1 cinnamon stick, 3 cups of fruity red wine, ½ cup of sugar, and ¼ cup of brandy in a large non-aluminium pot. Cook over medium heat for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring. Reduce the heat to low and continue to simmer until the flavors have melded (approximately 30 minutes). Pour through a fine-mesh sieve and serve immediately.

5). White Cosmopolitan: Perfect for a chilly, sophisticated Christmas cocktail. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice and then add 1 cup white-cranberry juice, 4 ounces vodka, and 2 ounces Cointreau. Shake to combine well and strain into large martini glasses. Serves 2.


If the festive season is not your season to be jolly there are plenty of great places to leave it all behind. Here are five ways to ensure that Christmas is kept at arm’s length - or even ignored altogether.

1). On a plane
Let’s bash a myth over the head: flights are not cheaper on Christmas Day. It’s just that less people want to travel on this day, so there are more seats available. Depending on which airline you fly (hint: go for Arabian carriers to avoid reindeer antlers and cotton wool beards on cabin crew) you might get a perfunctory Christmas greeting or a Turkey dinner, leaving the world to argue over games of Monopoly far below your feet. Best of all, land anywhere on Christmas Day and you’ll breeze through customs and into town with no queues at all.

2). Morocco
Morocco is the closest and most interesting place to most of western Europe which doesn’t celebrate Christmas. Moving a few degrees south brings you to the very non-festive Sahara, ancient souqs of Marrakesh and Atlas Mountains. There’s a risk someone may try to pull a cracker with you in the larger hotels in Marrakesh, so aim for a riad deep in the old city where you’ll be unlucky to see a Santa. Even better, spend Christmas Day itself exploring the spectacular gorges and Berber villages to the west of the city or surfing the dunes at Erg Chebbi - better than turkey sandwiches in front of the telly.

3). Ruabh Reidh Lighthouse, Gairloch, Scotland
On a far-flung peninsula in the wild north-west highlands of Scotland sits Ruabh Reidh lighthouse, which has been blazing out a warning beacon since 1910. Where better to wait out the festive season with a few close friends and a bottle or two of whisky? The lighthouse today offers rooms in a comfortable B&B with delicious home-cooked food. If there’s enough of you the whole house can be rented, and there are great walks to work up an appetite too.

4). St Petersburg
With festivities observed according to the Orthodox calendar, Russia largely celebrates Christmas Day on January 7. This means December 25 is just another winter day. So in St Petersburg you can tour the Hermitage, tour some of the city’s stunning churches or just keep warm in Prival Komediantov, one of the city’s best and most historic cafes. 

5). New Ireland, Papua New Guinea
As much a place to escape the entire world as it is to run away from tinsel and boring loved ones, New Ireland is a cracking place for an adventure. Once you’ve transported yourself and your bike to Kavieng, via PNG’s capital of Port Moresby there’s not much to do but potter along the Boluminski Highway that runs along the east coast of the island. Every few hours you’ll come to a fishing village, often set around a sandy beach. Here you can rest, stay a night, swim and snorkel. (It’s technically the wet season but you’d be unlucky to get more than a short drenching.)

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to: Mary Higgins Clark (85), Ten Danson (65), Robert Duvall (82), Carlton Fisk (65), Matt Lauer (55), Stan Lee (90), Annie Lennox (58), Walter Mondale (85), Denzel Washington (58).

REMEMBERING DANIEL INOUYE -- "The Senate lost one of the last of its legends Monday with the death of Sen. Daniel Inouye, a Hawaii Democrat who arrived a half-century ago as the complete Washington outsider yet grew to become central to the Capitol and even its soul. Inouye's quiet, restrained style led some to underestimate him. But he had a wit and shrewdness, too, combined with a record of genuine heroism and compassion for the underdog, having come of age amid discrimination against Japanese-Americans even as he served bravely in World War II. 'I have never known anyone like Dan Inouye. No one else has,' said Majority Leader Harry Reid in announcing his friend's death on the floor. 'A man who has lived and breathed the Senate.' ... At his death, Inouye was chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee and had earlier chaired the Senate Intelligence Committee when it was first formed in the 1970s. ...

"He was one of the last of a generation of World War II veterans that once greatly influenced the chamber. Both he and retired Sen. Robert Dole met at what was then the Percy Jones Army Hospital in Michigan, where they were both young men recovering from serious wounds. A third future senator, the late Philip Hart (D-Mich.), was also a patient and became their friend, and years later Dole would break into tears talking of that time and how much Inouye had meant to him. ... Inouye would beat Dole to Congress, arriving in the House as Hawaii's first congressman after it won statehood in 1959. In 1962, he won election to the Senate. ... Inouye himself had other dreams - to be a surgeon, an ambition shattered by his war wound. And he would sometimes talk to this reporter of how so many of those in his medical class were lost forever in the war. Among them was his friend, Jin Hatsu Chinen, who was killed in an artillery barrage and with whom he had once hoped to open a clinic."

TIME PERSON OF THE YEAR: Barack Obama. "Obama is the first Democratic President since FDR to win more than 50% of the vote in consecutive elections and the first President since 1940 to win re-election with an unemployment rate north of 7.5%. He has stitched together a winning coalition and perhaps a governing one as well. His presidency spells the end of the Reagan realignment that had defined American politics for 30 years. We are in the midst of historic cultural and demographic changes, and Obama is both the symbol and in some ways the architect of this new America. For finding and forging a new majority, for turning weakness into opportunity and for seeking, amid great adversity, to create a more perfect union, Barack Obama is TIME's 2012 Person of the Year.' See the cover.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL BOWL PICK OF THE WEEK – Saturday 12/29, The Alamo Bowl;  3:45 PM ET, ESPN: Texas (8-4) vs. Oregon State (9-3). The first big Bowl game for 2012 with two big time conferences going head to head, we like The Beavers of Oregon State to prevail – OSU 35 Texas 24.  Season to date (12-5)

COLLEGE HOCKEY PICK OF THE WEEK – Saturday 12/29, The Great Lakes Invitational; 3:30 PM ET, FSD: The Michigan State Spartans (5-10-2) vs. #8 ranked Western Michigan Broncos (1-4-1).  A rebuilding year for The Spartans, though you never know whats going to happen at The Joe – Western 5 MSU 2.  (Season to date (0-0)

NFL FOOTBALL PICK OF THE WEEK – Sunday 12/30, 5:00 PM ET, NBC: Dallas Cowboys (8-7) vs. Washington Redskins (9-6), the winner goes to The Playoffs. Another Tony Romo choke – Washington 24 Dallas 14.   Season to date (9-7)

THE SWAMI’S TOP PICKS – Oregon State 35 Texas 24, Western Michigan 5 MSU 2, Washington 24 Dallas 14, Kim Caldwell 3 Euro boyfriends on her trip.   Season to date (43-22)

DRIVING THE WEEK - Wall Street begins an extremely abbreviated trading week today, with U.S. stock markets closing at 1 p.m. ET ahead of tomorrow's Christmas Day holiday. Heading into the final few days of trading for 2012, the S&P 500 has a 13.7 percent gain, on track for its best yearly advance since 2009. Despite a Friday sell-off, the Dow and the S&P 500 still managed to post their fourth weekly gain in five weeks.

The few who do show up for work on Wall Street today may not have much to focus on other than the ongoing "fiscal cliff" drama, with no economic reports on the calendar and no earnings reports due for release. In addition, many of the major Asian and European markets are closed today and tomorrow.

Next week; 2012 Review, 2013 Preview.

Until Next Monday, Feliz Navidad.

Claremont, CA

December 24, 2012
#III-36, 141

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