Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Watch Daryl Hall and John Oates Celebrate Christmas Together in Happier Times

Late last year, it was widely reported that all was not well between Daryl Hall and John Oates, whose musical partnership produced scores of hit records in the '70s, '80s and '90s, including 12 Billboard Top 10 singles and five #1s. It seems the two had some kind of falling out over ownership rights to their various songs, Mr. Hall sued Mr. Oates and now the whole matter is in court. You can read more about the gory details HERE

I liked a lot of the material Hall & Oates created, including some of their lesser known releases. I especially liked their 1977 album Beauty on a Back Street and the songs "Do What You Want, Be What You Are," "Sarah Smile" and the 1973 song "I'm Just a Kid (Don't Make Me Feel Like a Man)." which was the B side of their 1976 single "She's Gone." More recently, I've enjoyed a bunch of episodes from the Daryl Hall series Live from Daryl's House, which features a range of artists playing informally in Hall's living room. I'm less fond of the slicker pop the duo put out in the 1980s, which may be why I only recently tripped over a pair of music videos they released in 1983 to hype their two nearly identical versions of the holiday classic "Jingle Bell Rock." I couldn't find many differences between Hall's version and Oates', though frankly I didn't invest more than a minute trying to distinguish them.

Here's "Daryl's version" of the tune:

And here's "John's version":

Hard to believe these two characters are now facing off in court, although I suppose no partnership is ever truly safe from falling on hard times. It would be nice if they could work things out, right? Perhaps they could then give us a new unified version of their 1976 classic "Back Together Again."

Friday, February 23, 2024

Former President Jimmy Carter Honored with White House Holiday Ornament

Former President Carter
Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter will be honored with a special Christmas ornament this year, the White House Historical Association announced this week. The nation's 39th president, Carter, age 99, is the first living president to be honored by the Association with such an ornament.

Founded by former first lady Jacqueline Kennedy in 1961, the White House Historical Association has been creating and releasing official White House ornaments each year since 1981. The ornaments celebrate the history of the White House and the presidents who serve there. Sale of the ornaments help fund the Association, which raises money from private sources to maintain the White House and its furnishings.

The release of the 2024 ornament honoring Carter is detailed in the following video:

2024 Holiday Ornament

While the first several annual ornaments marked White House holiday traditions in general, the Association eventually established the  practice of honoring each former president with their own design. These have been done chronologically, and in 2024 it happens happens to be President Carter's turn. 

Elected in 1976, Carter served one term in office and served from 1977-81. Carter served during a particularly challenging time and faced a variety of difficult issues including a worldwide energy crisis, high inflation, a declining economy and the takeover of the American embassy in Tehran by militant Iranian students. Since leaving office 43 years ago, Carter has dedicated himself to a variety of worthy causes and is respected by people across the political spectrum for his selflessness and commitment. His wife, Rosalynn, died this past November, and Carter himself is currently in hospice care in his home in Plains, Georgia. 

The White House Historical Association featured the annual ornaments tradition in its The 1600 Sessions podcast two years ago, as you can see in the following video:

History will likely not record Jimmy Carter's presidency as an unqualified success, but President Carter will almost certainly be remembered as an honorable and principled man who dedicated his life to serving others and making this world a better and more just place for all.  

Monday, January 1, 2024

Happy New Year, and Welcome 2024!

Residents from around the world said goodbye to 2023 and welcomed 2024 today, with fireworks, speeches, parties and quiet get-togethers among friends, families and neighbors.

Australia was among the first countries to start celebrating:

Chinese families listened to a New Year's address by their president:

Folks in Singapore were treated to an especially beautiful fireworks show:

In Dubai, another magnificent show kicked-off from the world's tallest building:

And in New York's Times Square, locals and visitors participated in the traditional countdown and dropping of the Times Square ball:

Wherever you were and whatever you did to mark the occasion, I hope you have a happy, healthy and peaceful 2024!

Saturday, December 30, 2023

This One's About Cowbells, Not Sleigh Bells, But It's One of the Best SNL Sketches Ever

Every Saturday from Thanksgiving through New Year's Day, we open the vault to share a classic Saturday Night Live holiday-themed sketch to bring some fun and laughter to your holiday season. With Christmas now over and New Year's Eve just one day away I tried to find a funny SNL New Year's sketch, but there aren't any. Maybe that's because the show is typically on mini-hiatus from mid-December to sometime in January. Anyway, rather than run yet another holiday bit, I thought I'd share what to me remains one of the best SNL sketches of all time, the fabulous "Behind the Music" spoof of the recording of Blue Oyster Cult's "Don't Fear the Reaper" from Season 25 (2000), more commonly known as Christopher Walken's "Cowbell" sketch. It stars Walken as fictional music producer Bruce Dickinson, who repeatedly  prods band member Gene Frenkle (Will Ferrell) for "more cowbell."  Chris Kattan, Chris Parnell, Horatio Sanz and Jimmy Fallon are also featured. Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 26, 2023

Yes, It's Boxing Day . . . and Our Friends from the North Have Gifted Us with an Interplanetary Horror Show called "The Christmas Martian"

From my earliest memories, December 26 has been a day of decidedly mixed emotions. Sure, there are new toys and presents to enjoy, as well as a generous spread of leftover food and drink. And of course there are warm memories of the fellowship and fun of the preceding days. But there's also the let-down that invariably follows any big celebration, and for many of us age 16 and over the reality of the deferred costs incurred. 

In many parts of the world, December 26 is celebrated as Boxing Day, which extends the merriment and postpones the inevitable. At this address we've chosen to mark the day in a more realistic if not sadistic fashion by sharing some of the very worst holiday movies available in what we call out annual Boxing Day Horror Show. Think of it as a bucket of ice water to the face after a warm night by the fire.

This year's selection is a Canadian flick with a space-age theme called "The Christmas Martian." It takes place in a small town in Quebec province, where bizarre things have been happening. Residents have been seeing strange objects in the sky at night. A local shopkeeper sees an odd-looking character stumble into his store, wolf down a bunch of snacks and run away. A taxi driver sees a funny-looking woman come out of a phone booth and fly off into the air. As the grown-ups begin to investigate, Frankie and Kathy discover strange looking tracks in the snow while out looking for a Christmas tree. The tracks lead them to a spaceship and a visiting Martian wearing a fishnet stocking on his face who tempts them with candy and introduces them to a world beyond our own. As Frankie and Kathy get to know their new friend, the adults in town make a muck out of everything — and on Christmas, of all days! 

The story is bizarre, the dialogue is tacky, the special effects are awful — it's just the sort of thing you'd expect of our Boxing Day Horror Show!

The full video is no longer available on YouTube, but you can catch it for free for a limited time on Tubi, right HERE

To set the stage, here's a review of what you're in for. Don't say we didn't warn you!

I hope everyone had a pleasant Christmas and that we've managed to prepare you for the necessary return to reality with another miserable holiday movie. Want some further punishment? Check out some of our previous Boxing Day Horror Shows by way of the following links: