Music Review: Rod Stewart “Merry Christmas Baby”

Merry Christmas Baby CDI admit that my CD collection has an excess of 100 Christmas albums. I am a Christmas music junkie. Despite my considerable musical collection, and the fact that I have been preparing for the Edmonton Singing Christmas Tree since April, I still get excited when new releases come out each year.

This year’s top Christmas pick is Rod Stewart’s “Merry Christmas, Baby”. Stewart’s first-ever Christmas album is my top choice to make spirits bright come December.

Just like he did for the “American Songbook”, the two-time Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, adds his raspy, well-seasoned voice to holiday classics like “White Christmas,” “Silent Night,” “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town, “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”, along with “Auld Lang Sine” . Throughout the album, Stewart, cleverly, takes the traditional melody and turns just a couple of notes around to keep your attention wrapped. In my opinion, the album’s most noteworthy moments are the duets.

On “Winter Wonderland,” Stewart, partnered with Michael Bublé, croon to set the seasonal mood by stirring up images of blanketed, snow-covered streets, snuggling by a cozy fire, hot chocolate in hand. The flamboyant Cee-Lo Green joins Stewart on the title track adding a Motown flavor to the Christmas classic. While, producer, David Foster plays the Rhodes piano, adding to the retro vibe.

“We Three Kings” was a surprise selection to me. Mary J. Blige infuses her soulfully passionate vocals along with a gospel choir, to this dynamic arrangement. “What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?” features a virtual duet with Stewart and Ella Fitzgerald, showcasing one of my favorites trumpeters, Chris Botti.

Merry Christmas, Baby” includes one original track: “Red-Suited Super Man” composed by Stewart, David and Amy Foster and featuring Trombone Shorty. It is a light-hearted, fun tune worthy to be included among all of these gems.

“Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow” is punctuated by the incomparable Dave Koz on sax, giving the composition a little more sass than this seasonal standard usually receives. Stewart offers a touching cover of the Disney favorite “When You Wish Upon a Star” as a perfect fit to a collection of songs conveying the innocence of childlike faith, hope and joy.

If you’re looking to add some joyful sound to your Christmas festivities, or if you have a Christmas music junkie in your circle of friends, this is worth the investment.

A History of Social Media [Infographic]

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I’m going to let you in on a well-kept secret.

There’s nothing new about “social media.”

Further, most online social sharing still happens outside of social networks.

From the very first email sent by researchers in Switzerland in 1971, to modern sites like Google+ and Pinterest, the Internet, and the valuable content it distributes, have always been social.

The very purpose of the Internet (every blog, website and virtual gathering place within it) is to let people connect, communicate, and collaborate.

So the concept behind Facebook, LinkedIn, and other social networking tools isn’t new. These sites just give us new, sexy, and easy-to use ways to do what we’ve always wanted to do online — exchange ideas and information.

The Internet has always been social, and it always will be. Still not convinced?

Here’s a handy timeline that might dispel any further historical myths about the true nature of the Internet, and where we’re all going with it, together

The Beatles: Love Me Do single (50th Release Anniversary)


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source: TheMissingGraph

The grand piano gets a modern makeover [video]

piano2It isn’t often one sees something as iconic as a grand piano get a makeover, but Peugeot Design Lab decided to buck tradition and bring this essential instrument into the modern age.

Though traditionalists may scoff at the sleek exterior, don’t jump to the conclusion that this startling instrument wasn’t lovingly and painstakingly crafted, as can be seen in the video below. It might not be your grandfather’s grand, but at least it’s not a synthesizer.


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read all about it here.



As a lifelong musician and music teacher for over two decades, I have discovered that music impacts us in powerful ways. It can evoke strong emotions, make us want to tap our fingers and feet, and even help with learning and memory.


fb_frame_1With the Oct. 1 deadline rapidly approaching when the conforming loan limits for Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) will be lowered, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) recently called on Congress to move swiftly to extend the current loan limits to prevent further damage to the already fragile housing market and lackluster economy.

“Congress must act now to prevent the loan limits from reverting to lower levels,” says NAHB Chairman Bob Nielsen, a home builder from Reno, Nev. “A drop in mortgage loan limits would reduce housing demand, and place downward pressure on home prices in major markets. This would exacerbate the current housing downturn, trigger more foreclosures, impede job growth and endanger the fragile economic recovery.”

As a result, NAHB is engaged in a major grassroots push and association members are being urged to contact their members of Congress and seek their support for immediate efforts to extend the current loan limits.

If Congress fails to act, the loan limits will revert to the lower levels for high-cost areas established under the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008.

The national ceiling for mortgages securitized by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac or insured by the FHA, would drop from $729,750 to $625,500 and the formula for establishing area loan limits would become more restrictive, producing decreases for areas in addition to those currently bound by the national ceiling.

Loan limits are based on a percentage of median area home prices. A recent NAHB study found that if the limits are allowed to revert to 2008 levels, millions of homes would no longer be eligible for Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and FHA funding and would have to be financed with mortgages requiring higher interest rates, fees and down payments and more stringent credit standards.

While the changes would affect only a minority of counties in the nation, those areas represent large concentrations of homes and population. The counties affected by the changes in the FHA limits contain nearly 60 percent of all owner-occupied homes; the counties affected by the Fannie-Freddie changes contain nearly 30 percent of all owner-occupied homes.

Bipartisan legislation to extend the current federal home loan guarantees is pending in both chambers of Congress, but with the Oct. 1 deadline looming, time is running short.

“Credit conditions for home builders and home buyers are already extremely tight,” says Nielsen. “Reducing the loan limits would further restrict overall mortgage liquidity and make it even more difficult for potential buyers to purchase a home. Congress must not allow this to happen.”

Spectacular Underwater Bedroom in Maldives

Sleeping underwater amongst marine life is something many of us could only daydream about. For some lucky travelers, this dream has now turned into a reality.

A little over five years ago, Conrad Maldives Rangali Island opened the very first undersea restaurant. To celebrate their anniversary, the restaurant offered guests the chance to not only eat under the sea, but sleep under it as well. The 12-seat restaurant, which sits 16 feet below sea level of the Indian Ocean, was converted into a private bedroom suite for two, complete with a private champagne dinner and breakfast in bed. The view of the vibrant coral reef that surrounds the encased clear glass is utterly breathtaking.

The rest of the resort, which is above water, isn’t too shabby either. The Maldives hotel boasts 50 luxurious water villas, 79 exotic beach villas and 21 fabulous spa water villas with private treatment rooms. Stunning living areas are arranged around courtyards with a fountain, while huge outdoor garden-bathrooms offer a taste of the tropics, enormous glass doors substitute for walls and ingenious landscaping ensures total seclusion.

Above Ground

TENT Commandments


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