Advent In An Hour: Dec 15

December 15, 2011 | By Brent Almond | DESIGN STUFF

On the 3,192nd Day of the Iraq War, my true love gave to me:

…and end to the war and troops home in time for Christmas.

Advent In An Hour: Dec 14

December 14, 2011 | By Brent Almond | DESIGN STUFF

On the 4th Day of Christmas, my true love gave to me:

FOUR TWEETING BIRDS! Because SRSLY, who calls anymore?

Advent In An Hour: Dec 13

December 13, 2011 | By Brent Almond | DESIGN STUFF

It’s gonna be a busy week, so I’m posting some quickies but (I hope) goodies… And since I’ve had several requests for subsequent “12 Days of Christmas” doodles, I’ve chosen to highlight a few verses that I had time/energy with which to be clever.

So… on the 3rd Day of Christmas, my true love gave to me:

THREE FRENCH FRIES! Hey, he’s my true love. He knows the way to my heart… and it’s not with poultry.

Advent In An Hour: Dec 12


As this is JJ’s third Holidays, we’re going full-bore, introducing him to lots of traditions so he can be good and indoctrinated in all things Apple Christmas by next year. Aiding in this process have been three awesome iPad/iPhone apps…

1) A Charlie Brown Christmas ($6.99, on sale for $4.99 for a limited time) is not only a great way to familiarize our son with everyone’s favorite Holiday special, but it’s also an interactive storybook. Its subtle, pop-up style animation is also peppered with little surprises (exploding snowflakes!) and as a gigantic, nostalgic bonus, it’s narrated by Peter Robbins… the original voice of Charlie Brown!

2) Toca Hair Salon (FREE) is a goofy little app akin to Wooly Willy (but way more involved), where you can trim, blow dry, color, accessorize and even grow hair on both Santa and a freaky-looking Christmas tree. Santa skeeved JJ out a bit, so we’ve been spending more time with Mr. Tree. Worth the download time just to see the blow dry effect!

3) Christmas Song Machine ($2.99) is a fun way to teach JJ to sing along to several Xmas favorites including “Jingle Bells,” “Silent Night,” and “We Wish You A Merry Christmas.” The voices (sorry kids, you’re no Sinatra. Or Muppets, for that matter) can get a little grating after a while, but nothing a little eggnog can’t remedy.

Advent In An Hour: Dec 11

December 11, 2011 | By Brent Almond | DESIGN STUFF, LESSONS LEARNED

String mittens used to evoke a warm, nostalgic feeling in me. Thoughts of childhood, simpler times, cute toddlers in puffy snowsuits, a la A Christmas Story. But that was before I had a cute, puffy toddler of my own.

Form my limited experience with these mitteny marvels, I’ve learned three valuable lessons:

1. Make sure you put the correct mittens through the correct arm holes. Because once you’ve got your little one bundled, wrapped and zipped up tights, there’s no going back. And you thought putting them on their chubby, little hands the right way was difficult…

2. If when the mittens fall off while your child is walking around, they will most likely be too long, get stepped on, and send your kiddo tumbling into the mud. Before you head out, check to see how long they dangle when un-handed, then tie the slack up in a loop behind your child’s neck.

3. Maybe you’re in a rush, you’ve popped said toddler into the stroller for a ride through the local park or neighborhood to see the Christmas lights. You realize how freaking cold it is and put the mittens on after-the-fact, string out. Do not do this. By the time you’re done with your stroll and you’re unbuckling your tyke to put him or her into the car, they will (if they’re like JJ) want to slide down and out under the bar of the stroller, leaving you with a tangled, twisted nest of mitten string, stroller straps, and chubby toddler limbs. All of which you are trying to unravel in the cold, in the dark, and in the busy parking lot with annoying Holiday revelers impatiently stalking your parking space.

Has anyone had luck with those clip-on mittens? Or invented opera gloves for babies, perhaps?

Advent In An Hour: Dec 10

December 10, 2011 | By Brent Almond | DESIGN STUFF, LESSONS LEARNED

Today’s Advent drawing was inspired by two quite different (some would call disparate) sources — Hillary Clinton and the Bible.

“The … perhaps most challenging issue arises when people cite religious or cultural values as a reason to violate or not to protect the human rights of LGBT citizens. This is not unlike the justification offered for violent practices toward women like honor killings, widow burning or female genital mutilation. Some people still defend those practices as part of our cultural tradition but violence towards women isn’t cultural, it’s criminal. Likewise with slavery, what was once justified as sanctioned by God is now properly reviled as an unconscionable violation of human rights.

In each of these cases, we came to learn that no practice or tradition trumps the human rights that belong to all of us. And this holds true for inflicting violence on LGBT people, criminalizing their status or behavior, expelling them from their families and communities or explicitly accepting their killing.

Of course, it bears noting that rarely are cultural and religious traditions and teachings actually in conflict with the protection of human rights. Indeed, our religion and culture are sources of compassion and inspiration toward our fellow human beings. It was not only those who justified slavery who leaned on religion, it was also those who sought to abolish it. And let us keep in mind that our commitments to protect the freedom of religion and to defend the dignity of LGBT people emanate from a common source.

For many of us, religious belief and practice is a vital source of meaning and identity, and fundamental to who we are as people. And likewise, for most of us, the bonds of love and family that we forge are also vital sources of meaning and identity. And caring for others is an expression of what it means to be fully human. It is because the human experience is universal that human rights are universal and cut across all religions and cultures.”

Hillary Clinton, UN Human Rights Day speech

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”

Luke 2:14

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Today is Human Rights Day. But as is often said of Christmas, every day should be.

Learn more about Human Rights Day. Read the full transcript or watch the video of Hillary’s speech.

Advent In An Hour: Dec 9

December 9, 2011 | By Brent Almond | DESIGN STUFF

I’m not sure if the apparel being donned is as much gay as it is obnoxious and tacky.

Advent In An Hour: Dec 8


Recognize this guy? If you immediately identified the distinctively simple form of a Fisher Price person, then you probably (like me) grew up in the Seventies. When asked, “What was the best Christmas present you ever got?” I can answer without hesitation, “The Fisher Price Castle!”

It had a drawbridge, a moving staircase that hid a secret passage, and a hot pink dragon! But the best was the trap door that led to the dungeon. I was mesmerized by the simple act of dropping the king, queen, prince, princess, knight, or Robin Hood dude down the chute, only to have them tumble down behind the yellow prison door of the dungeon. Nothing fancy: no lights, sound effects or 3D shenanigans. But it was awesome.

Fast-forward 35 years or so to this Thanksgiving. We were at Grams and Granddad’s house, and JJ was starting to grow weary of the blocks he’d pulled out and scattered all over the living room. I ventured into the basement where all the stuff us four kids had amassed over the years is stacked into a mini maintain range. In the far corner I spotted my beloved Castle. Unfortunately the princess, the knight and the hot pink dragon were nowhere to be found (sounds suspicious). And the horse was missing a couple of feet. But I brought it upstairs, put it in front of JJ, and watched as my son slowly began to explore the same toy that had given me so much joy as a youngster. And it was awesome.

I mentioned in a previous Advent post that I’ll be performing with the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington on December 16, 17, and 18th. Before each concert we’ll be collecting toys for Community Family Life Services, an organization that provides services for DC’s many homeless and impoverished persons. Please consider bringing a new, unwrapped toy to any of our four shows. There will be a table set up in the lobby of Lisner Auditorium to accept your generous and much-needed donation.

Advent In An Hour: Dec 7

December 7, 2011 | By Brent Almond | DESIGN STUFF, LESSONS LEARNED

This Christmas has been particularly fun because JJ is now old enough to get that something special is going on. We say “Night, night tree!” before bed each evening, he loves repeating his new favorite word “snowman,” and enjoys calling out all the colored lights. Which, in case you’re wondering, are wed, gween, bwoo, wite, peek, and aye-oh (that’s yellow).

It’s also been a bit of a learning curve… for all of us. A lesson Papa and I learned? Don’t put breakable ornaments where JJ can reach them. What JJ learned? Yes, it’s a ball. No, it doesn’t bounce.

Advent In An Hour: Dec 6

December 6, 2011 | By Brent Almond | DESIGN STUFF

Today’s Advent drawing celebrates the birthday of my brother, Bryan. My first instinct was to illustrate something musical and Christmassy, but that was too easy. And expected. While I still get chills up my spine every time I hear him sing, there’s more too him than that. There’s his generosity. His compassion. And of course his flair for the dramatic. He’s spent his whole life being compared to me (both in appearance and personality), but he’s surpassed me in many of the ways we’re similar (especially the dramatic flair part) and completely come into his own.

One example? I can doodle til the cows sheep come home, and even sing okay from time-to-time. But I’ll never be able to do this… CLICK ME PLEASE.

Oh yeah, what’s up with the sheep, you ask? I could tell you that it represents how Bryan sees himself as the black sheep, but that he’s really more a sheep of a different color, bringing inspiration and zest to our sometimes white bread family. But nah — you’ll have to ask him about the sheep. 🙂

Sorry B3, this post can’t be all nice — I am still your big brother after all. Happy Birthday! xoxox B1

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