Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The Great Christmas Song Debate - Solved!

When it comes to Christmas songs, I prefer anonymous spooky choirs or the old timers - you know, your Bings, Dinos, and Franks. For the most part, I detest “rockin’” Christmas songs. I was going to say that the following are the few Christmas songs that came out after the year of my birth that I can tolerate, but I can see a couple that probably pre-date me by a couple years, and another few which would require research, and frankly, if you’re looking for facts (or coherent arguments) on the internet, this is probably the last place you ought to be.
“Blue Christmas” – Elvis
My mom played Elvis’ Christmas album every year while we decorated the tree. There’s a couple bad jams on there, but “Blue Christmas” is the one you’re looking for. For the most part, I require a certain amount of sadness or spookiness in my Christmas songs, and this one fits the bill nicely, especially this year, when it looks like we might not make it down to see my parents for Christmas.
You know how the news always talks about seasonal depression or holiday blues this time of year? Could you imagine anyone trying to explain such a thing to Jose Feliciano after hearing his “Felice Navidad?” Like I said, I prefer a little spooky/sad in my Christmas songs, but Jose just sounds so goddamn happy singing that I threw that requirement out.
Still on the happy song tip, I’m here to say that hate for Barking Dogs Jingle Bells is largely unjustified. Maybe because I always picture a room full of dogs sitting behind those bandstand things they had for like Duke Ellington or Count Basie. There’s a conductor in the room and he’s pointing his stick to each dog in turn who barks out his line. Hell, I even like that Chipmunk Christmas song.
“White Christmas” - Otis Redding. About halfway through you’re thinking, “Jesus, I hope it snows for poor Otis. He sounds really broken up about it.” Proof that you can sing a Christmas song without sounding like Kenny G taking a solo with Michael Bolton while being painted by Thomas Kinkaide.
When it comes to spooky sounding Christmas songs, you really gotta go with “Christmastime” from that Charlie Brown Christmas special. That thing is sort of the antidote to Jose Feliciano.
“Christmas in Hollis” - Run DMC. You know, I just like this one alright, but it’s better than Kurtis Blow’s “Christmas Rappin’.” I always like how DMC (or was it Run?) found a wallet with a million bucks in it, but turned it in to Santa, then got the money anyway for doing the right thing.
“We’re Gonna Have a Good Life”/”Slick Nick, You Devil, You” – Fishbone. This was only released on a 12”, and I searched for it for years. Thanks to the internet you can download it in like a minute. A-Side is a fast, horn-heavy retelling of “It’s a Wonderful Life,” with lines that run through my head every year I watch the movie. The B-side is done with handclaps and like two notes on a keyboard and details a kid finding the truth about Santa Claus. The song builds as the narrator observes the Santa “spilling Jack Daniels,” “playing punk rock,” and “smoking cloves” while stumbling through the house. The whole thing climaxes when the narrator finds Mad Dog in his stocking and starts screaming “I wanted candy” over and over. Finally, the narrator comes to accept the situation by the end, a little wiser, yet sadder.
“Fairytale of New York” – The Pogues. Probably the only Christmas song with the lines “You scumbag/you maggot/ You cheap lousy faggot/Merry Christmas your ass/I pray God it’s our last,” at least until they unearth some Rat Pack Christmas outtakes. The first lines, “It was Christmas Eve, babe/in the drunk tank” have to be among the best opening lines ever. This is one of those songs that can raise chills on my arms and at certain points, like that whole “I could have been someone/well, so could anyone” resolution at the end where the two battling singers realize that they’re the best they’re gonna get so they may as well stick together can, under the right circumstances give me that “It’s a Wonderful Life” eye welling. The chorus, where it talks about the NYPD choir singing “Gallaway Bay” is so uplifting that “Gallaway Bay” is one of my favorite songs, even though I have never heard it. Sort of like how that Nat King Cole Christmas song makes me want to eat some roasted Chestnuts, something I have never had in my life, and don’t really know if I’d like or not.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Scrooge Wins

I just don't have any Christmas spirit this year. I don't feel I had appropriate levels of Halloween or Thanksgiving spirit this year, either.
Part of my problem could be the week of 80 degree weather we've had recently, or the 'eh, we're not really going to do anything this year' attitude displayed by my friends and family. I mean, there aren't even any Christmas parties this year. Last year there were like 4 a week. How are my co-workers and friends going to be impressed by my karaoke abilities if I don't get a chance to drunkenly display them?
So in light of this, I feel it is time to reveal the worst parts about Christmas. Don't get me wrong, I love Christmas, but even the best holidays have problems.
Movies/TV
First off, A Christmas Story was funny like the first 300 times I saw it. With that crappy narration and horrible little rat-faced kid, it never fails to sour my post-present opening mood.
Polar Express - I've never seen it, but caught a clip of it a couple days ago. I admit, I'm probably biased since I hate CGI, but Jesus, what a creepy-ass collection of plastic retards. I would imagine you could make them all blow up if you asked them about love, just like in all the old Star Trek episodes.
Even as a kid who loved all those old Christmas specials, I sort of hated Frosty the Snowman. I'm not really sure why, but he reminded me of those adults who try to be friends with kids. Not really in a molestery way, but just in a substitute teacher 'hey, let's rap about our problems' way.
Food
One of the advantages to being married is that you get two to eat two holiday meals. I pretty much depend on that double shot of turkey on Thanksgiving and Christmas the entire year. So imagine my suprise when both sets of parents decided to make ham a couple years ago. Ham. Did the wise men offer Baby Jesus ham? No, they certainly did not.
You know, I've always really wanted to like gingerbread. I mean, you can make little houses and people out of it so you can indulge your inner Godzilla or Vlad the Impaler, but the stuff just never tastes as good as those generic sugar cookies.
Music
The Washington Post recently ran a story on the worst Christmas songs of all time. The winner was those dogs barking out "Jingle Bells," followed by that Chipmunk Christmas song. These people are as wrong on Christmas songs as they were in the lead up to the Iraq War. "Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer" is obviously the worst Christmas song ever. In second place? Just about any rock and roll Christmas song, of which I'm including "Jingle Bell Rock" and "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree." Not counting Elvis, have there been any good rock and roll Christmas songs? Why yes there have been. But you'll have to wait until my next post to find out.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Handsome Boy Modeling School

Dirty 300 pound guy comes up to the counter.
"Do you have any movies about male models?"
"Well, what exactly are you looking for?"
"Do you have anything that will show me how to walk like a male model?"
"Uh...try the third floor."

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Pirates of the Homophobic

This old guy comes up to the desk today screaming something about pirates. Once Oldie finally ambles up, I deduce he’s asking about that last Pirates of the Caribbean movie.

“TV said its been out since Friday. Do ya’ll have it in?”

”I don’t think it comes out until next week.”

“No, the TV’s been running ads all last week.”

“Actually, I’ve got Amazon up right here. There, see, next Tuesday.”

”Well, why would the TV be telling me about it for a week?”

”Well, you know, they run ads beforehand to get people excited about it.”

”I guess so. Go ahead and put a hold on that one for me. Here’s my card. I loved that first movie, but me and my brother had to walk out of the second one.”

”Yeah, I remember it being kind of long.”

”Wasn’t that, it was all the gay stuff in there.”

“Yeah, I ..wait…what?”

”Oh yeah, we couldn’t stand that stuff. Remember how they were all ghosts and were trying to get that girl? Well, of course he didn’t care anything about that, being the way he was.”

Oldie wandered off by that point, leaving me to wonder just what pirate movie he was talking about.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Lost in the Supermarket

I needed something sweet a couple nights ago. We had nothing but healthy stuff in the house, so I had to take a trip down to Winn Dixie, something I try to avoid, but when the sweets hit you late at night, sometimes you just gotta give in.

I’m standing in line waiting to buy my treats and this guy comes behind me with his wife and kids. He’s about my age and has almost completely grey hair. He’s also wearing an old Circle Jerks T-shirt.

“Hey, I used to have that same shirt.”

”Oh yeah? Man, they were a great band.”

“Yeah, I was actually listening to Group Sex in the car a couple weeks ago.”

”Yeah, that album’s gotta be in anybody’s top ten.”

“Growing up, I lived close to St. Pete, and I swear they played like every summer. Actually, they played the first show I ever saw, back in like ’85. After seeing them it was pretty much all over for me and I knew I was gonna be a punk rocker for life.”

”Yeah, they used to play Virginia constantly when I lived there back in the ‘80s. Even on those later tours when Keith Morris was all grumpy and would preach for 10 minutes before singing a song, it would still be a good time.”

“Heh, I remember those shows. Well, take care.”

“Yeah, see you later.”

I started up my car and started thinking (which was pretty hard, since I had “Paid Vacation” and “Live Fast, Die Young” now stuck in my head in an endless loop.

Who knows where I’d be right now if I hadn’t gone to that Circle Jerks show back in 1985? For one thing, instead of a wall of CDs, I’d probably have a bunch of real CDs in a bank earning interest for my golden years. Hell, I might be a doctor or lawyer right now instead of some chump driving to Winn Dixie for a box of Cocoa Pebbles in the middle of the night.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Unfinished Business

I woke up around 3:30 a couple mornings ago with an awesome idea for next year’s Halloween costume. This year apparently I went as Annoying Drunk Guy Who Tells Everyone What Their Problems Are And Sings Off-Key To The Misfits. I’m hoping to retire that one.

All I can remember about my costume is that I was wearing surgical scrubs. I’m pretty sure there was a fake head that I either held in a box or had attached to my shoulder to give the illusion of a two-headed doctor. None of those feel right, so I guess it’s sort of like Samuel Taylor Coleridge getting interrupted writing “Kubla Kahn.” Sorry to get all literary on you there, but I have the feeling that this costume was just that important.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Work Funnies

"Tell your staff to cut down on copier use. We need to save money."
"Seriously?"
"Oh yeah. The consultants we hired at a gazillion dollars an hour were very firm on that point."

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Crash!

Even back in high school, I was sort of an asshole about making people wear their seatbelts. Maybe because I realized I was a pretty shitty driver. I drove a ’77 Lincoln Continental, a huge chunk of Detroit metal, so I could afford to be. I got in a couple accidents where people hit me from behind. I’d pull over and do all the insurance stuff they told me about in driver’s ed, looking at their demolished front end. I might have a scratch on the back bumper or a broken taillight. A few weeks later I’d get an insurance check for a couple hundred bucks.

So yeah, I had been in accidents before.

My parents left me alone one summer and took my sister on vacation. I quit my job the minute they left in order to have more time to devote to building ramps, watching TV in the daytime (something that was not tolerated in the Adams household) and driving up to Tampa to go record shopping.

One afternoon I was driving down some back roads to Wendy’s. I wasn’t wearing a seat belt. I wasn’t driving too fast, although I always felt a bit more comfortable a good 5-10 miles above the posted speed limits. I saw this lowered pickup truck coming towards me. Holy shit. That dude’s not stopping for his stop sign.

Everything slowed down, just like in the movies. I remembered getting thrown around through the car, and I guess I hit my head pretty hard on the windshield. People were coming out of their houses and giving me water and telling me not to move. I kept telling them I had to get in the car, since I had a 20 dollar bill in there on the seat. Then I noticed my white Thrasher T-shirt had a pretty sizeable blood stain growing on it so I sat down like they told me.

The paramedics came and loaded me onto one of those board things with a bunch of stuff around my neck so I couldn’t move. I ended up spending a couple hours lying on this board in the hospital while they developed the X-rays of my head and stitched me up. Finally a doctor looks at my X-rays and says, “You know, you have some really bad sinuses.”

“Yeah, thanks, doc. How about doing something about the bleeding hole in my skull and I’ll just buy some Tylenol and Afrin twice a year, huh?”

So I get all stitched up and wait for a friend’s parents to drive me home. Everyone in the waiting room is looking at me funny so I go in the bathroom to check myself out. They didn’t clean me up or anything, so I had caked black blood all over my face, as well as a shaved patch on my head with my stitches poking out. After realizing that, I put on a little show, Frankensteining around the place to make people be quiet and stuff.

I woke up later that night with the worst headache I’ve ever had. I went to get some water and noticed this big toad sitting in the middle of the kitchen floor.

“Look man, I’m just going to pretend I don’t see you. Do whatever you want, just don’t be here when I wake up.”

And he wasn’t, proving that the lower animals do listen to reason now and then.

Later still, I found that the tow truck driver stole my $20 as well as my delicious Wendy’s hamburger. I took some pictures in front of my totaled car and marveled at the bumped-out spot in the windshield where my head hit. The rest of the summer when I wanted something I’d casually lower my head so the person I was dealing with could see my nasty scar for some extra sympathy points. The scar’s still there, by the way, right around my part. I am going to look ugly when I go bald.

Years later my parents told me all sorts of lawyers called trying to get them to sue the other driver, but they didn’t bite. Which sucks, because there were quite a few years there where I could have used some settlement money.

So yeah, kids, always wear your seatbelt.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Saturday, November 10, 2007

First Day on a Brand New Planet

So I started a myspace blog a couple years ago. You can check it out here. I just felt the world really needed to know about my attempts to view the Playboy Channel on my neighbor’s TV and my feelings on funerals and homemade ice cream. For a couple months now I’ve considered coming here into the grown-up’s web, but was always sort of afraid my family or bosses might stumble upon my salty language or descriptions of my baser thoughts and desires.

But you know what? It’s time to fly my freak flag high.

Naturally, since I made this template, I haven't thought of a damn story, review, anecdote or anything at all other than the fact that the cold weather has made the new wave and soul music sound really, really good.