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