Saturday, December 19, 2009

Song List

It dawned on me (after being told by a recievee) that those of you out there that received my Christmas CD might like a set list.

The thing is, each CD is pretty much different; not that clever on my part, I realize in retrospect.

Basically, there are two versions; Louder and Softer. If your CD has punk rock on it, that's a good indication that you got the more-or-less Louder version.

Here's the Louder list, more or less.
There's about enough music on the list for two cd's, so, obviously, your CD only has about half this music. The further down the list you get, the rarer the song is, I think.

Trim Your Tree -- Jimmy Butler: "Baby, I want to trim your Christmas tree..."
Silent Night-- Sufjan Stevens
Santa Claus-- Billy Childish and the Musicians of the British Empire: the sonics are mentioned at the beginning
A Gun for Christmas -- The Vandals; only on some CD's -- Headbanging Punk
Spotlight on Christmas -- Rufus Wainright "People love the working that does the best he can..."
White Christmas sung -- the late great Otis Redding
The original "You're a mean one, Mr. Grinch" -- sung by Thurl Ravenscroft, if you're interested
I Wish it Could be Christmas Everyday -- Severe " When the snowman brings the snow; Well he just might like to know ...
I Hate Christmas -- Snap-Her (You'll recognize it.)
Purple Snowflakes -- Marvin Gaye. It's the only song that features purple snowflakes and Marvin Gaye, you'll recognize it.
Please Come Home for Christmas -- Charles Brown, only on some CD's -- Blues
Merry Christmas--I don't want to fight tonight -- The Ramones.
Just Like Christmas by Low. On our way from Stockholm it started to snow.
At the Christmas Ball by Bessie Smith "Christmas comes but once a year....)
The Snow it Melts the Soonest sung by Anne Briggs; crystal-pure unaccompanied soprano
Just a lonely christmas sung by Diana Ross and the Supremes
So Much Wine by The Handsome Family (only on a few cd's) I had nothing to say on Christmas Day... Pop meets Deliverance.
The Christmas Song -- Leadbelly "Chicken crowing for midnight and its almost day."
2000 miles by The Pretenders; It's the one with Chrissie Hynde doing the vocals
River -- Joni Mitchell -- Thank you James.
Merry Christmas Baby -- Otis Redding (yes, again, but what is one to do?)
Holy, Holy, etc. -- Sufjan Stevens, again. I think most people only got one of Sufjan's songs. How do you pronounce that?
In the Bleak Midwinter -- Bert Jansch; Beautiful Baritone, guitar only.
Want a Present for Christmas -- Doc Bagley's Orchestra. Big Band, baby.
Mele Kalikimaka -- Bette Midler. Did you know that she was raised in Hawaii?
Hep Cat's Holiday -- The Cats and the Fiddler. I heard a snippet of this on some NPR show today.
Christmas Morning Blues -- Sonny Boy Williamson
Christmas 1979 -- Billy Childish and the Musicians of the British Empire, only on a few late-sent CD's
Merry Christmas, War is Over -- John Lennon
Fairytale of New York -- The Pogues (It was Christmas in the drunk-tank).
Jingle Bell Rock -- The Ventures, surf-rock instrumental
Let's Make Christmas Mean so Much -- James Brown
A Change at Christmas -- The Flaming Lips
Christmas Man Blues -- Bertha "Chippie" Hill
Empty Stocking Blues -- Floyd Dixon
Happy New Year -- Lightnin' Hopkins (you'll know it by the sweet menace in the voice.)
Oi to the World -- The Vandals

The Softer List.
Same rules as for the Louder list. I certainly made this much more complicated than I needed to.

Merry Christmas, I Don't Want to FghtTonight -- The Ramones, this song seems to have snuck over when I wasn't looking
Exulta Filia Syon -- Anonymous Four. Unaccompanied Hungarian choral music.
Christmas Time is Here --Vince Guaraldi Trio, it's from "A Charlie Brown Chrismas."
That Younge Childe & Adam Lay ybounden-- Westminster Abbey boys choir
Silent Night -- Sufjan Stevens
We're Goin' to the Country -- Sufjan Stevens (I know, but I love his Christmas music.)
The Holly and the Ivy -- Simon Preston and Westminster Abbey boys choir
This Little Babe -- Westminster Abbey boys choir
Who Took the Merry out of Christmas -- The Staple Singers
Thanks for Christmas -- XTC
Jingle Bell Rock -- The Ventures
Ave Spes Nostra -- Anonymous Four. More unaccompanied Hungarian choral music.
Santa isn't Here -- Crystalaires
A bit of Handel's Messiah
Just a Lonely Christmas -- Diana Ross and the Supremes
Corpus Christie Carol (for Roy) -- Jeff Buckley
If You Were Born Today -- Low
The Snow It Melts the Soonest -- Anne Briggs
Just Like Christmas -- Low
God Knows You've Got to Give to Get --El Perro Del Mar
It's Christmas! Let's Be Glad -- Sufjan Stevens
In the Bleak Midwinter -- Bert Jansh
You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch -- Thurl Ravenswood (such a great name).
River -- Joni Mitchell
Purple Snowflakes -- Marvin Gaye
Boogie Woogie Santa Claus -- Les Welch and His Orchestra
Hep Cat's Holiday -- The Cats and the Fiddler
At the Christmas Ball -- Bessie Smith
Mele Kalikimaka -- Bette Midler

Merry Christmas.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Actual Beautiful Christmas Song

I don't know how to pronounce his name, but I love his voice.

Only one punk band ever made a Christmas album

But it is the perfect anecdote to all those sappy Christmas songs we've been subjected to since, well, I think I heard my first scratchy Carol (sung, apparently by neutered elves, and heard over a scratchy loudspeaker) just after Halloween. Blech.

Warning. Warning. Warning. The Vandals do not write these songs for license by Wal-Mart.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Tim Minchin For Christmas

I'm not expecting big presents
but I'll being seeing my dad, my brothers, and brother, my gran and my mum
W'e'll be drinking white wine in the sun,
Waiting for you....

I really like Christmas, it's sentimental, I know.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

I'm getting into the holiday mood.

Whew knew that "White Christmas" was so soulful? This is my new favorite old Christmas carol.

And may all your Christmases be white.

Have a Jimi Christmas

I have often thought there was something inherently evil about the song "The Little Drummer Boy" because of the intense desire I have had for years to make my excuses and exit, stage left, as soon as I heard it playing. Heck, the fear of Christmas music is enough to keep me out of most stores for the entire month of December. But, now, I'm having to reevaluate. Jimi Hendrix (yes, that Jimi Hendrix) played a medley  of Christmas Carols -- including my bete noir -- for a Christmas show back sometime in those wacky 60's. Listen, and think longingly of these versions when you unexpectedly encounter "O Holy Night" at a particular vulnerable time.

It wouldn't be the Christmas season without the Ramones

Where is Rudolph, where is Blitzen?

I heard rumors Christmas was on its way

So, in celebration, a hint about what I want to find under my Christmas tree.

The video is fan-made. But it features aliens!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Just like Ian Curtis said

If you're in an exceptionally good mood, listen and be delighted. (Keep the Lithium close for emergencies, however.)

Ian Curtis, from Joy Division, singing the Velvet Underground song "Sister Ray." Ever since I first heard this song at about 14, it has filled me with such vibrant joy (something about the minimalist, yet inexplicably swinging proto-punk groove), that the Republican party (was there ever more nauseating version of the word "party?" ) would have made it illegal, had they known. But they never tuned to "those stations". Love this version. All these years later (and even factoring in the the anguish from not starting a band when I was fourteen) it still fills me with delight.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Wish I Could Do That!

Check these dancers out! Experienced milongueros may perhaps object to the clearly choreographed nature of this routine. (Real swing dancers roll their eyes similarly when lindy hoppers and jitterbuggers perform too many aerials.) But still, their routine is fun, elegant, imaginative and demanding. No wonder they are champions.

Make sure to get a gander at his two-tone shoes; they're spiffier than the Pope's!

Return of the Grievous Angel

I've been looking for some Gram Parsons--singer, songwriter, beauty, trust fund screw-up, poet, dead at 26--to put on the blog, but footage of the man is nigh unto impossible to find. However, here's one of my favorite songs of his in that youtube format where they give you a slide show. Can you spot Anita Pallenberg and Keith Richards? How about Emmylou Harris?

During my Youtube search, I found this stunning re-interpreted version by Evan Dando. I've gotta reevaluate him as a singer. Take a listen.

Here's my next-favorite song, sung by Ryan Adams and Emmylou Harris (she did the original harmonies.) Poor Ryan isn't quite the country singer Gram was, but the song is still a delight.

20,000 roads I went down, down down.
They all lead me straight home to you.

I saw my devil, and I saw my deep blue sea,
and I thought about a calico bonnet
From Cheyenne to Tennessee.

Just In Case You Thought You'd Seen Everything....

Take a look at this "organic armour". Paul Hersey crafts these pieces from rubber and adorns them with glass baubles and metallic finishes. He makes a variety of pieces to order and designs custom items as well. So if you have been looking for "fantasy" or medieval breastplates, bras, bracelets, crowns or similar items for yourself, your partner or your dog(!), you have found the right place.

This pooch sure is a head-turner in this regalia!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Finally, A "Journalist" Asks Some Real Questions

Too bad it had to be a comedian who dared to ask the Swiss Ambassador genuinely tough questions! John Oliver from the Daily Show does a fantastic job revealing what a lame excuse it is to fall back on "That's just our policy" when justifying their "neutrality" during WWII. (Unfortunately this clip begins with a commercial, but then you can skip ahead to around t=5:00 for Oliver's bit, or t=7:50 if you are really in a hurry and only want to see the most heated part of the exchange. Happy viewing!

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Oliver's Travels - Switzerland
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorHealth Care Crisis

The difference between open-mindedness and cluelessness.

Plus, the narrator has a lovely british accent.

Friday, December 4, 2009

An Extraordinary Letter!

My father, a retired army officer who served in Germany during the late fifties, just received a wonderful surprise in the mailbox: an appreciative letter from a soldier who had served under him. It reads as follows. (I am withholding some names.)

Dear Captain F----------

I use the title of Capt. because that is what you were when I was a Specialist 4th class in the 318th, Headquarters Company in the Army Security Agency in Herzogenaurach, Germany. I was gratified to see your name in the Herzo Base listing.

I am writing you this letter because you may not know the impact your efficiency, fair treatment and kindness had on me and I am certain on many other men. Kindness seems a strange word to describe an Army officer and it's inclusion in a sentence with the other word, efficiency, seems a little incongruous. I will try to explain my thought.

I remember you replacing a "spit and polish" officer who seemed more interested in discipline than in getting our mission accomplished. We enlisted folks were cautious when you arrived, but relaxed and did a better job after we learned that you really cared about the mission and the personnel. If we got wind that an IG inspection was about to take place we went to extraordinary lengths to make sure that Captain F-------'s troops were more sharp for the inspection than any of the other CO's. We appreciated being treated as productive soldiers. We would not let any bad inspection report tarnish your record.

After working in management for several trucking companies, such as United Parcel, I opened a company of my own. I had worked for large corporations and continued to look for the heart and soul of those companies, but I kept bumping into their bureaucrats, computers and rulebooks. My natural inclination toward kindness in dealings with my subordinates had earned me the reputation of "too soft" among the top level bureaucrats. This was even though my crews were posting the best production and safety records. I believed the kind dealings with my employees were not only nice, but it was also very good business. "Spit and polish" micro-managers could achieve results only when they were continually on top of their underlings. The kind and efficient managers obtain good results when they are not even around. I knew this to be true because I had seen it work for you.

I started my company with one employee----me. On the year I sold my company we had 2,700 employees. People who worked for my firm, N------ C------ in City of Industry, Calif., still talk about it as the best place they ever worked.

Thank you for the great example. I feel certain that you must have felt the sting of "too soft" during your military duty, but you were right and THEY were wrong.


(name withheld)

P.S. I may not have been the perfect soldier, but I was pretty good. I do have a confession to make. I used to be able to sign your name to 3 day passes so well, that on one occasion you reviewed one and said "Yes, I can see that I signed it but I just didn't remember it." I apologize now that it's too late for you to put me on KP. I think I'll try one more time for old time's sake.

And then there is what appears to be my dad's signature!

The letter certainly boosted my dad's spirits. With tight budgets constraining holiday spending, this could be a great way to give someone from your past that you appreciate a real boost-----all for the price of a stamp and a little consideration. Let the conspiracy of kindness begin!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Where Food Goes to Die

Trying to find another cranny in my freezer after Thanksgiving this year, I realized (or rather, I stopped being in denial) that the leftovers and food we do not get around to eating before the 'use-or-freeze-by-this-date' and that we then shove into the freezer never seem to get used. Instead they wither away slowly as the moisture sublimes out of them and they develop third degree freezer burns. Meanwhile, I rarely buy food such as frozen veggies because I know that there is no room at home. Our freezer is no longer a place to store things we are planning on consuming. It has become a place where food goes to die.

I cannot provide you with pictures because my camera needs a new battery, and hey, some things are too gruesome, even for the internet.

But that changes today!!! I am doing a major purge of the freezer. Already I have found three ice-packs for injuries (wow, something to keep!) buried behind wads of inadvertently freeze-dried fish and some fresh(?!?) cranberries-----from last year!

It feels great to get rid of all that drek. But I do feel guilty for the food that did get wasted-----I suppose that is what kept me from throwing it out sooner. But now I am promising myself to be better. From now on I will only let myself use one shelf for leftovers and the like.

Looks like it's time for me to go buy some frozen spinach!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Another Day, Another Racist Attack

This full page ad just ran November 30, 2009, in the Washington Times. Although ostensibly, the chimps represent Congress, the courts and the media, the truth is, the far right just cannot resist putting monkeys in their imagery. Remember these two images?

They always have an excuse for the inclusion of monkeys, but clearly they simply get a childish pleasure out of expressing their scorn for Obama in this manner. Next they enjoy "getting away with it" because they then claim it had never occurred to them that people would make an association between Obama and monkeys. That's right, just make sure Obama's name appears in the largest lettering on the page and put pictures of chimps right beneath it, and no one will make that connection.....

The Washington Times should be ashamed of itself for accepting such an ad!