Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Holiday Greetings to All for the 2020 Season

Well, it's been quite a year, hasn't it? I'm sorry to have waited so long to post so much as a quick greeting, but it's been surprisingly tough to muster up the requisite spirit to jump into my customary holiday preparations this year. I've been laying low since March through the lockdowns and everything else this crazy year threw at us, and I only pulled together this year's holiday mix over the past several days. I can't say I'm especially pleased with the outcome. It's not easy to find the right balance between acknowledging the pain and challenges we faced in 2020 and the joyful optimism we've come to expect from each holiday season. But this year's mix is called All Alone on Christmas and it's it's available now on my holiday music website

Unfortunately, I won't be sending actual CDs to my holiday list this year. Preparing and circulating hundreds of CDs involves considerable time and it seems fewer folks each year have working CD players. Besides, after 15 years, I feel it's probably time to find some other ways to express the holiday spirit. 

Thankfully I'm well and healthy this holiday season, and I'm looking forward to the new year and the changes it will hopefully bring. My best to all for the new year, and thanks for your kind words and holiday cheer over the years!

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

It's the "Have We Hit Rock Bottom Yet?" Edition of the Boxing Day Horror Show

Greetings, Dear Readers, and welcome to another edition of the Boxing Day Horror Show, an annual event in which we post a perfectly dreadful holiday-themed video each December 26 in order to help the transition from the excitement and anticipation of the pre-Christmas season to the melancholy and torpor of the dreadful hangover that follows. Think of it as a pail of ice water to the face as you're nodding off in your favorite armchair in front of a crackling fire. BACK TO REALITY, EVERYONE!

Let's start by taking stock:
  • We've got a president who took office despite receiving some 3 million fewer votes than his competitor who cheerfully allowed the federal government to be shut down just days before Christmas as a means of securing billions of dollars to build a useless wall on our southern border to mollify the racist minions that put him in office;
  • An ongoing investigation into this same president's alleged collusion with our country's enemies has already led to a slew of resignations and indictments as well as evidence that the president conspired to violate federal election law by paying off a woman he is alleged to have slept with while his wife was at home with their newborn son;
  • In the midst of destroying our relationships with our best longstanding allies, our current president seems intent on cozying up to some of the most dangerous dictators in history . . . 
No, no, no -- I'm not going down that road today. This is a holiday music blog and as angry as I am about the disgraceful state of our national affairs at the moment I shall try to keep those issues off to the side as much as possible. But let's not soon forget that this president ridiculed a 7-year-old girl on Christmas Eve for still believing in Santa Claus. Anyone left out there who doesn't think that our current president isn't fit to shine Franklin Pierce's or Warren Harding's boots?

So it's on to this year's show, Santa and the Fairy Snow Queen, a 1951 train wreck produced by Sid Davis, who is best known for creating a string of "social guidance" films, which his Los Angeles Times obituary describes as "dark, cautionary tales crafted to frighten captive classroom audiences away from even thinking about misbehaving."  A friend and former movie stand-in for John Wayne, Davis got his start as an extra in the "Our Gang" series in the 1930s. A high school drop-out, he claims his penchant for preachy, judgmental motion pictures was based on his interest in helping young people avoid some of the mistakes he'd made. I have to admit that this makes me look at his works in a whole new light. Kind of makes me think a bit more about the title of this one, too.

Now, please enjoy Santa and the Fairy Snow Queen:

Saturday, December 22, 2018

John Malkovich Is Filled to Overflowing with Holiday Cheer

We've taken to celebrating the gift of holiday comedy each year by posting a classic clip from Saturday Night Live each Saturday from Thanksgiving through New Year's Day. This week's clip features the monologue from actor John Malkovich's third appearance hosting SNL back on December 6, 2008. This one's filled to the brim with holiday cheer as Malkovich subjects the children of various SNL staff to a toneless rendition of the holiday classic "Twas the Night Before Christmas," complete with a series of gloomy observations that may send viewers straight to the liquor cabinet:

Sunday, December 16, 2018

My Christmas Time Philosophy, Part 3

Let's continue with the next three tracks on this year's mix:

Track 9
I Like Christmas (But I Can't Stand the Cold), by Tangarine (2013)
Tangarine is a Dutch folk duo consisting of twin brothers Sander and Arnout Brinks. They've been playing and writing songs together since they were 12 years old, and initially served as their own promoters and business managers as well. They were signed to the Excelsior label in 2013 and subsequently released an album called Seek and Sigh and this non-album holiday track:

Track 8
Hanukkah Hymns, by the Cast of Saturday Night Live, featuring Alec Baldwin (1998)
Alec Baldwin's been a key SNL player for the past couple of seasons portraying an appropriately idiotic Donald Trump, but he's got a history with the show that goes back many years. In fact, he's hosted the show a record 17 times -- more than any other performer. The eighth track on My Christmas Time Philosophy is an audio version of a 1998 clip featuring Baldwin as the pitch man for a fictional holiday album called Holiday Hymns:

Track 7
Jingle Bell Rock, by BoDeans (1989)

I first heard of the band BoDeans way back in 1987 -- not in connection with anything the band had done per se, but rather because a couple of the founding members sang back-up for Robbie Robertson on several of the tracks from his first wondrous solo album, Robbie RobertsonSam Llanas (credited as Sammy BoDean) also appeared on the video for one of the album's most memorable tracks, "Somewhere Down the Crazy River," which was directed by Martin Scorsese:

It's a long way from the sultry summer heat of that track to the snowy world of the Christmas song, but I remember reading once that BoDeans had cut a few Christmas tracks over the years and so I went searching for them as I started pulling together the tracks for this year's mix. The first of the two BoDeans tracks I've included this year is a tune called "Jinga Bell Rock," which was released in 1989 as a double-sided 45 RPM single backed by a tune called "Christmas Time." I'm embarrassed to say that the track list for most of the CDs I distributed this year refers to this track as "Jingle Bell Rock," which, of course, is not correct. "Jinga Bell Rock" is an infectious tune that's likely to get stuck in your head for a long while once you listen to it, but I can think of far worse tracks to have stuck there.

Back someday soon with more.