11 men I'd love to hug other than my husband

As many of you know, about a year and a half ago I was called out of the audience at a national conference by none other than movie star Andy Garcia. He invited me to the front of the stage, in front of hundreds of conference attendees, so he could simply give me a hug. (If you missed that story—or just want to giggle about it again—you can read "On Andy Garcia and me" here.)

Now, when I met (and hugged) Mr. Garcia, I was shocked, surprised, delighted! I never, ever expected such a thing might come of my writing in a movie review of Garcia's latest film that I'd love to give the guy a hug. So if that is all it takes to get a hug from a man I admire—simply putting it down in writing for all the Internet to see—here are eleven other men I'd love to hug...and why:

men to hug

David Sedaris. He doesn't seem the hugging type, so Mr. Sedaris would likely...

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The Saturday Post

To help get you in the Christmas mood this Saturday morning, here is my very favorite version of "Ave Maria." It gives me goosebumps each and every time I hear it.

It's by Chris Cornell (of Soundgarden, Audioslave and solo fame) accompanied by the band Eleven and recorded for A Very Special Christmas 3, which benefits Special Olympics.

(Note: This ain't your typical grandma music, but that's the way I roll. Now you know.)

No video, just the song. I've included some info and the lyrics, borrowed from a heavy-duty Soundgarden fansite.

This version of the "Ave Maria" text is not the traditional Catholic prayer (Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum...), but an excerpt from Sir Walter Scott's poem "The Lady of the Lake." The tune that Chris Cornell chose was originally composed by Franz Schubert (1797-1828), who used the first two verses of the text below translated into German by Adolf Storck. However, Cornell performed it in its original English (though not in Old English as was publicized; it's in Elizabethan English) and the recording is something akin to a duet between Cornell and Eleven's Natasha. Executive producer Linda Feder was quoted as saying, "They felt very strongly about wanting to do a traditional song, a classical piece, something that might turn young people onto classical music."

The English text included in Cornell's version is below; the first two stanzas were used by Schubert:

1. Ave Maria! Maiden mild!
O listen to a maiden's prayer!
For thou canst hear though from the wild
Thou canst save amid despair.
Safe may we sleep beneath thy care,
Tho' banish'd, outcast, and reviled;
O Maiden! hear a maiden's prayer -
O Mother, hear a suppliant child!
Ave Maria!
  3. Ave Maria! stainless styled!
Foul demons of the earth and air
From this their wonted haunt exiled
Shall fee before thy presence fair.
We bow us to our lot of care
Beneath thy guidance reconciled;
Hear for a maid, a maiden's prayer;
And for a father hear a child!
Ave Maria!

Ave Maria! undefiled!
The flinty couch we now must share
Shall seem with down of eider piled,
If thy protection hover there.
The murky cavern's heavy air
Shall breathe of balm if thou hast smiled;
Then, Maiden! hear a maiden's prayer;
O Mother, list a suppliant child!

Ave Maria!

Today's question from "The Christmas Conversation Piece":

If you were Santa Claus, what food and beverage would you want children to leave for you?

My answer: I would like PIZZA PUFFS because I love them, can no longer find them, and I'd bestow lots and lots of wonderful gifts upon any child who had a few to share with me. To wash down my Pizza Puffs, I'd like a steaming mug of hot cocoa with a heavy splash of Baileys -- to keep me warm on the ride, of course.