Howdy Hi Friends and Relations of we Nicolini-Bertsches and a very warm holiday greeting!If you did get a paper copy, you may notice a slight difference in the wording. This is the penultimate draft, modified to be robot-resistant. All that matters is the same, though.
When we say "very warm" we mean very warm. We're writing this on a sunny 81 degree Tucson winter day. Hard to believe that Christmas is upon us when we're running around in bare feet and sleeveless shirts, but indeed Christmas is two weeks away and another year has passed since we sent you our annual holiday greetings.
Well life in Beanland (a.k.a. Skylarworld) has been all the fury this year. She started Kindergarten in August and is absolutely loving it. It's no surprise that her talents are developing in leaps and bounds and that her strength is art. Barely six years old, our "art machine" is producing work at such an accelerated pace that we had to build her a new workshop to keep up with her projects. She has already been awarded a "Certificate of Outstanding Achievement in Art" at her new school. We are the proud parents indeed. No further surprise either that she also loves languages and geography. And she spends hours doing equations on her calculator too!As a family, we have expanded our pet menagerie in a variety of animal forms. We still have the basic six – Thing One and Two (cats), Tim and Marie (Box Turtles), Mac and Felicia (Desert Tortoises) but have added an aquarium with a variety of critters. Our current aquarium pets are a Beta named Fish (name changes daily depending on mood), two aquatic frogs -- Fred and Franco Nuevo (a.k.a. New Frank who replaced the deceased Old Frank), and a snail named Mr. Brown. We had another snail named Mr. Yellow who couldn't handle the Tucson winter and is now resting in Heaven with the other short-lived aquatic critters of the Nicolini-Bertsch household. We've learned that fish and such do not live very long, so we enjoy their company as long as they hang around and then send them off with fond farewells.
Family trips this year were confined to California, but we went many times: three trips to the ocean in northern San Diego county, three trips to Disneyland, and a delightful week in our ancestral home, the San Francisco Bay Area, made possible when our friends Jillian and Doug went to Europe and let us stay in their apartment for a week. Thanks, guys! It was great to take it easy and see so many old friends. Peaberry's Coffee started to feel like our neighborhood café. And Skylar acclimated to the blue-state cool in no time. Highlights of our southern California adventures included Skylar's first forays on a boogie board – she loved the surf – and her new interest in roller-coasterish rides such as Splash Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. The Bean has become an awesome traveling companion.
The visitor list was short but sweet this year. Chris and Dan brightened mid-January by spending time with us during Fiesta De Los Osos. Kim also met some of her online friends who were here for Fiesta. Then Sami and Andrew came for a wonderful stay at the end of the month. Other than two visits from the always-welcome Grandparents Bertsch, though, we didn't have anyone else from out of state. Know that, if you are receiving this letter, we really want you to visit us sometime. You can e-mail us – the LJ way – to make plans. If you're in Arizona, we want to see you!
Kim, of course, is still movie obsessed. So far this year, she has seen 72 movies in the movie theater and is planning on adding an additional three this week. Her Top Ten picks for the year are an eclectic/eccentric mix of high-art, avant-garde and documentary films with a smattering of mainstream-presence. Here's Kim's Top Ten for 2004: Dogville, Metallica: Some Kind of Monster, Tarnation, I Heart Huckabees, Five Obstructions, Birth, Saddest Music in the World, Code 46, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead. Oddly there are two Lars Von Trier films and two films that have both Lauren Bacall and Nicole Kidman in the cast. And whoever would have guessed that a documentary about a heavy metal band and a film starring the dreadfully mainstream Jim Carrey would make the cut? Life, and movies, are full of interesting surprises.
Charlie didn't see nearly as many films as Kim did, but wants to put in a word for the mainstream fare of I, Robot, Shrek 2, and Troy, all of which were also on Kim's missed-the-cut list, as well as The Motorcycle Diaries, Goodbye Lenin, and, for all you Bush-voters out there, Fahrenheit 9/11. Skylar votes for Polar Express, which Kim and Charlie found endlessly fascinating to think about, even if it didn't get the best reviews. Both of them found plenty of time to think hard about film writing the notes for quite a few International Arts Society features at the U of A. It's nice to have an appreciative audience for one's thoughts.
Charlie also composed his popular music top-ten. Due to the firing of his editor at New Times and the drying up of his Punk Planet outlet, he didn't get to think about music as intensely as in 2003. But the albums he liked got a more thorough hearing. The one he listened to most was Modest Mouse, Good News For People Who Love Bad News, which was everywhere but still sounds great on the hundredth listen. Here's the rest of the list of new material: Richard Buckner, Dents and Shells, Sonic Youth, Sonic Nurse, Mouse on Mars, Radical Connector, Giant Sand, Is All Over the Map, P J Harvey, Uh Huh Her, A.C. Newman, The Slow Wonder, Pedro the Lion, Achilles Heel, TV On the Radio, Desperate Youth, Bloodthirsty Babes, and Camper Van Beethoven's savagely savvy return in New Roman Times. He also enjoyed the new Cure album, despite its rather lame lyrics. The music highlight of his year, however, was the double-CD reissue of Pavement's Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain, replete with thirty-nine more tracks than were on the original album. Best of all, the nice man at Matador Records sent it to him for free and a few days before the release date too.
Time to say goodbye. We miss you all and want to wish you the very best for the year to come. Merry Christmas, Joyful Kwanzaa, and a belated Happy Channukah to every one of you.
Kim, Charlie, and Skylar
Peace be with you.