Bardofthesouth.com Holiday Issue
Date: November/December 2013
A Southern Missive: Containing special news, interviews, reviews, and articles, written by Rickey E. Pittman—award-winning author, storyteller, college writing instructor, folksinger, and songwriter. Read his complete bio here:
The Latest news from http://www.bardofthesouth.com/
*Award winning artist and illustrator Rod Espinosa is the illustrator chosen for Ariel: Therapy Dog of the Rio Grande Valley (Sarah Publishing 2014) a children’s picture written by Rickey E. Pittman and Norlene Chamberlain. This will be Pittman’s 6th children’s picture book and the first for Ms. Chamberlain. You can read more of Espinosa’s work, experience, and awards here:
*Dec. 9-13 The Bard, Ariel, the Therapy Dog, and Norlene Chamberlain presented a Very Ariel Christmas with school visits to 17 elementary schools in the Harlingen Texas School District. You can hear the song I wrote about Ariel
The Bard of the South has been booked for the main stage at the 2014 World’s Shortest St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Hot Springs, Arkansas, Monday, March 17. Jim Belushi will be the celebrity Grand Marshal for this event. Read more about the event here: You can listen to some of the Bard’s Scottish and Irish music samples here:
New Original Songs by the Bard of the South
“Miss Rio Grande Valley”- So many beauties have come from the Rio Grande Valley. Here’s a song about a man who falls for a beauty queen! (Model for single release cover is Tyler Zimmerman, Miss South Texas) Preview and order the song here: http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/rickeypittmanbardoftheso3
“The 13th Floor” – If you’re superstitious or if you’ve heard about the wild nightlife of Dallas, you are sure to like this song! (Model for single release cover is Amanda Brady) Preview and order the song here: http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/rickeypittmanbardoftheso4
These songs (along with other originals) will be on the Bard’s 4th CD, which should be available by Summer 2014. The CD’s theme is songs of Texas and the Rio Grande Valley.
The Bard’s calendar is filling up for the spring! Book the Bard of the South for your own school, library, organization, festival, church, banquet or other event. His positive, energetic presentation of stories and songs are sure to delight and edify those in attendance. His rates are reasonable and he pays his own travel and lodging expenses.
( 5.) This Week’s Article
The Story of Auld Lang Syne
It seems the whole world know at least the first verse. Those in the Scottish societies often know all the verses. Few know the story of how the song came about or many details of its author, Robert Burns. As we slip into a New Year, I thought this article would be appropriate.
Three simple words—meaning “old,” “long,” and “since”—combine to form a phrase that translates loosely as “time gone by,” “old time’s sake,” or, in some contexts, “once upon a time.” But the old Scots phrase so gracefully evokes a sense of nostalgia that it has been embraced throughout the English-speaking world. Every December 31, millions of us raise our voices in song to greet the new year, standing with friends and looking back on days past. The song we share has its roots in an old Scottish ballad about a disappointed lover and a popular dance tune that evoked a country wedding. (Read more here . . . ) http://www.themorgan.org/exhibitions/online/AuldLangSyne/
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A special Holiday Short Story: “Santa’s Little Helpers” by Rickey E. Pittman
It was the hottest Christmas Eve in Dallas history. I was on LBJ Freeway in North Dallas, and as usual, I was inching along in the gridlock, cursing the traffic when I wasn’t singing Merle Haggard’s song, “If We Make It Through December. I remember that as a teenager in Farmer’s Branch, I had this huge highway almost to myself, racing on my Yamaha 250 Enduro from Webb Chapel to Garland in just a few minutes. Dallas was no longer anything like the city of my nativity. I was quite a sight back then in my Easy Rider fringed leather jacket and my Billy Jack hat slung on my back. I held that image in my head for com for just a minute until I glanced down at the red velvet Santa suit I wore today on my way to work at Neiman Marcus to relieve the dayshift Santa.
I remembered the ghosts of those Christmas’s past—the happy faces of family and friends, that special gift from Diane—it seemed to relieve the loneliness and stress of Christmas present. I wouldn’t allow myself to be terrorized by thoughts of Christmas future.
The gridlock eased and I was able to increase speed. Cars were honking at me as they passed my 1963 Dodge Dart. I looked down at the dash and realized I’d been driving in 2nd gear. I punched the button that slipped the transmission into 3rd and made better progress. I ignored the hoots and hollers of the adults in the cars passing and focused on the smiling faces of the children. Their smiling faces helped me through the holidays and was one of the things that made me take this stupid job at Neiman Marcus. The college had budget cuts, and as the fall semester ended, I was one of the fatalities. So, to get me through the holidays, I became a Santa.
A radiator hose burst and the Dart’s engine started blowing smoke just as I pulled into the mall parking lot. “I guess I’ll have to take the sleigh home,” I said out loud. I put on the Santa beard, which I hated, because it was fake. I had tried to grow a beard many times but never could get past the point of looking like a wino. I was running late, I opened my bottle of Scotch and washed down a Vicodin, stuffed the bottles of whisky and pills into my Santa bag, and then hurried on inside.
My manager ran over to me. “You are so late, Santa! The day Santa left 15 minutes ago. The children are restless and the mothers are complaining! Hop to it!” I noticed the Christmas music over the intercom seemed louder today.
I punched in my time card and waddled past the Duck Dynasty Christmas display and over to the Santa throne. A line of kids and mothers extended nearly to the doors of the store. I had two assistants. There was an elf named Rudy—and yes, he had a very red nose. I think he was a bit too fond of the Christmas spirits. Then there was Mary, a beautiful young lady who took photos for the store. She wore a sexy red Christmas outfit you see on Playboy models in the December issue. She was cheerful and flirty, and seeing her was always a highlight of my Santa job here.
After I sat down, Rudy hollered, “First one coming to you, Santa!” He threw the first boy into my lap. “And what would you like for Christmas, lad?”
He handed me a list. I glanced at it and saw it was written in Spanish. “Feliz Navidad!” I said and set him on the floor. Rudy thrust a little girl in my lap. She was fine till I asked her what she wanted for Christmas. She took a look at my face and started screaming. “Rudy! We got a screamer here. Get her back to her mother!”
Mary ran up. “I’ll take her, Santa. Rudy’s had a slight problem and won’t be with us the rest of the day.“ She pointed to my left and I saw Rudy face-down on the floor. Two store security men dragged him away. A mother led her little girl to us. I motioned for the girl to come to my throne. Mary helped her into my lap.
“Have you been a good girl this year?” I asked. She nodded. “And what would you like for Christmas?”
“I want my daddy to come back home to me and mommy. He went to Iraq and never came back.” I was without words and glanced at the girl’s mother. She had tears in her eyes. She pointed up to heaven.
“Santa will do his best, but he’ll make sure you get lots of special things this year.” My voice broke a bit.
“Thank you, Santa.” She hugged me, slipped out of my lap and ran to her mother.
The next boy that Mary led up to the Santa throne had a demented grin on his face. I motioned for him to come forward. “Come on, lad! Tell Santa what you’d like for Christmas!”
He held his grin like he was some sort of demonic Mona Lisa, then ran up, pulled my beard down and popped it on my face, and then kicked me in the shin.
I shouted, “Crap that hurt!”
“You can’t kick Santa like that!” Mary said. “You bad little boy! Santa’s going to feed you to his reindeer!” She chased him but lost him in the crowd of shoppers. When she returned, she next led two teenage girls to me. “We want our picture taken with Santa!” one said.
Safely in my lap with the arms of these beauties around my neck, I realized how much I missed female company. Basically jobless, having to scrap for every dollar I made, and having come through a really messy divorce, I had no time for anything but survival.
On and on it went. Child after child, every one of them unique, with stories and needs and wants. Being a Santa is exhausting. I shut down the Santa chair just before closing. I went to the staff room and changed out of my Santa clothes. As I was leaving the store, Mary, still in her sexy read outfit, walked along beside me. It was then I remembered my car had died in the parking lot.
“Do you think you could give me a ride to my apartment, Mary? Then maybe come up for a Christmas Eve drink?”
“Sure. How could a girl say no to Santa?” She slipped her arm into mine. “We’ll have a drink to Santas everywhere. Merry Christmas.” She kissed me on the cheek and suddenly, Christmas didn’t feel so bad . . . .
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