This Christmas has been tinged with sadness. Rick Parfitt, George Michael…and a man you haven’t heard of named Peter Cavan Sr. I grew up with his son Peter Cavan Jr. Pete was the best man at my wedding, and his dad Peter Sr. always treated me well. The Cavans made me feel like part of the family. In my first year of university, I decided to stay home from the cottage on Thanksgiving weekend, so I could study for my first exam undistracted. Alone that Thanksgiving, Pete’s family had me over for dinner. I’ll never forget their kindness. I always enjoyed Peter Sr.’s stories, of growing up in Germany during the Second World War. Those are tales you don’t hear every day. And he was funny. Peter Sr. was truly funny. Whether intentionally or not, I knew his stories entertained us for many hours over the years. I received the sad message on Christmas morning that Peter Sr. passed after a short battle with cancer, peacefully at home that morning.
So it is with profound sadness that I give you this year’s annual post-Christmas commentary. My entire family knows and loves the Cavans, and we hope Pete and Joanne know we are there for them.
As it does every year, Christmas began early for me, at our office Christmas luncheon on November 25. Just look at that food. When you like the people you work with, an office Christmas party is a very rare and special chance to unwind with them.
My sister hosted Christmas Eve at her new place. What a spread she put out! Cheesey good appetizers, steak fondue, cheese fondue (the surprise winner), and chocolate fondue to boot. The guests had a spirited debate on the merits of CD versus vinyl, with myself being the only holdout who still prefers CD. (I know I’m not alone, just ask rock journalist Mitch Lafon which format he prefers.) My sister did a great job of decorating her tree. Have a gander.
And now, on to the good stuff. Broken down into categories, let’s give’r!
Stuff You Listen To:
I have only played the Rik Emmett so far, given to me by Mrs. LeBrain who met Rik back in highschool as part of her guitar class. Pretty cool! It features a Triumph reunion on the bonus track, “Grand Parade”. The Queen set is six discs of radio recordings. The Rush set I am both grateful for and bitter about. This is the third time I’ve received Rush 2112 as a gift in the last five years! First as part of the Sector 1 box set, then the “deluxe edition“, and now this 40th anniversary edition which has some tracks not included on the deluxe (and a slew of artists covering Rush including Jacob Moon, Alice in Chains and Foo Fighters). However, the 40th anniversary edition doesn’t include the 5.1 surround mix of the album, meaning…you kinda need both. It’s sad that Rush reissues have become so exploitive.
The Keel reissue of The Right to Rock has a bonus track, a remix of “Easier Said Than Done”. And this is my first time owning any version of Jethro Tull’s first album, This Was.
Stuff You Read:
Stuff You Play With:
The Force Is With This Stuff:
Stuff You Watch:
The Sopranos set I orchestrated myself. Sometimes-contributor Thussy and I both always said: “If the blu-ray set drops below $100, we’ll buy it.” A few weeks ago he texted me that Amazon has it on for 24 hours only at just $80! So this Christmas holiday, we will be enjoying some Sopranos and Italian food.
Stuff That Transforms From Stuff Into Robots:
Pictured below are the official Transformers Titans Return Astrotrain figure and a couple very interesting third party figs. These are Masterpiece scale and heavy as fuck with plenty of die-cast parts. Please meet Generation 1 Decepticon Reflector, incarnated here as KFC’s Eavi Metal series “Opticlones”. Representing the Autobots is Dinobot Snarl, produced by the excellent Fans Toys in their Iron Dibots line as “Sever”. I long ran out of room for more Masterpiece figures (especially Dinobots)…but who cares.
Stuff That Flies:
I always wanted to try flying a drone. My mom and dad surprised me with this starter drone, and is it ever a lot of fun. I can almost get it to hover! Getting it to fly in the direction I want is still a challenge. So far there are no serious injuries. Jen has a couple bruises. I think my mistake was calling her into the room when I got it into the air, rather than when I figured out how the controls worked. That was a lesson there.
That’s another Christmas for the books! I hope each and every one of you had a safe and happy holiday. As I think of my friends the Cavan family, I ask you to remember that life is short. Tell the people who matter that you love them. Let’s try and make the world a better place in 2017.