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As we sit here on the edge of one year, and on the cusp of another, it's come time to reflect on all that 2015 has brought us, and everything that 2016 may have in-store. Our social feeds are filled with tales of triumph and sorrow, as our friends and colleagues both celebrate their victories, and mourn their losses. It's always this time of year, among the melancholy post-Christmas days when the "holiday high" wears off, that everyone either can't turn the calendar quick enough, or they wish to bask in a year of successes that they hope will never end. For our family, this was a great year - and professionally, it was likely my best year, maybe not from a financial standpoint, but one of adventure and accomplishment in all of the areas in which I'm hoping to achieve. Time for a little horn-tooting, because it's all downhill from here...

Published in James' Journal

With just two shopping days left until Christmas 2015, time is running out to find the perfect gift, but there's a one-stop shop that probably has a location right near you! I've been a Gold Crown Card-carrying fan of Hallmark for much of my adult life - my appreciation for Hallmark fueled by my mom, who started us on Keepsake Ornaments practically at birth. I've had several Hallmark items featured in my annual Holiday Wish Guide all season, but while I was traveling on some recent adventures, I returned home to a care package from my Hallmark friends in Kansas City - and that inspired this post. What was included was some right-in-the-money picks for our family, and a solid reminder that Hallmark has something for everyone. From thoughtful gifts, to the cards and wrap to present them in-style, they've got everything. I even did quite a bit of shopping there this season, but I can't show you what I bought... prying eyes on this site, if you catch my drift. 

If you're like me, there's a solid chance that goosebumps were activated the moment that John Williams' iconic STAR WARS theme began, accompanying a familiar yellow scroll that read EPISODE VII: THE FORCE AWAKENS when J.J. Abrams' entry into the iconic STAR WARS Saga hit theaters last week. With the on-screen action continuing for 2 hours and 16 minutes, Williams' score provided new, yet familiar undertones, leaving listeners like myself eager to revisit it by itself  to experience the nuances. Unlike previous scores, this one was recorded in Culver City - not London, and the first STAR WARS score to not feature the London Symphony Orchestra. Listeners might also notice some new tones in that famous "Main Title," and while the music was written by Williams, the opening and end titles were actually conducted by Gustavo Dudamel - Music Director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, hand-picked by Williams for the task. With the soundtrack now available for purchase (highly recommended), the folks at Disney Music have put up a full album stream, something you can hear below...

Published in Movies, TV and More

As STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS continues to thrill audiences around the Globe, there has been yet another awakening... this time in the family music department. Michigan purveyors of Americana, the DEEP FRIED PICKLE PROJECT have unleashed their new music video - one that invites audiences to join them on a journey to a barren wasteland far, far away from Jakku, to the place where audiences first met Luke Skywalker... "Tatooine." Set to the tune of "Rocky Top" (first recorded by The Osborne Brothers, but forever endeared to me thanks to the Kenny Rogers NASCAR movie, SIX PACK),  this bluegrass-fueled jam comes from the new JUG BAND EP (iTunes), and begins "Way back in the old-timey times, in a holler over yonder..."

Published in Family Music

Indeed, there has been an awakening. This is the news we've all been waiting for - STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS is THE movie that STAR WARS fans have waited 32 years to see, and around the world, the audiences have spoken... and records have been crushed! The Walt Disney Studios announced today that STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS has set a new all-time domestic debut record with an estimated $238M. With a five-day international debut of $279M, the film has taken in $517M globally.

Published in Movies, TV and More

If you listen very closely in the distance, you just might be able to hear the faint sound of sleigh bells headed in your direction. As the Holiday season moves toward it's thrilling conclusion with the arrival of Christmas on December 25th, millions of gift-givers are still seeking that perfect item for that special someone - and there's still plenty of time to get something cool, and at a cool price, too. My friends at GameStop are blazing toward Christmas with new markdowns and specials on some of the hottest games of the season, and they're also are great stop for some fun stocking stuffers - like Funko Pop! Vinyls, a few of which I picked up at our local GameStop just the other night. With last-minute convenience in mind, I'm giving you a few picks that are available now at GameStop - but that's not all! You could win a $50 GameStop Gift Card good for a little after-Christmas shopping! Ready to be a Holiday Hero?

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