Archive for the ‘12 Days of Christmas’ Category

Just Like Christmas

December 22 2011

The perfect theme for travel day. Or any day. Well, Christmas day in particular. But, still.

I like those drums so much that I ripped them off for two songs I didn’t write (because I can’t write music). But if I could, “I’m Not A Very Good Person To Be In A Relationship With” and “Isabelle Huppert” would plagiarize this. Or, “I’m Not A Very Good Person (To Be In A Relationship With),” just for parentheses sake. This is a toughie.

“(I’m Not A Very Good Person) To Be In  A Relationship With” would be too arch.

Anyways, listen to this and fall in love again. Again, preferably with Christmas, but it’s so good I would say it’s not limited to just that. With snow, with Oslo, with Low (certainly), with Duluth, Minnesota, with me gesture gesture, with … beds.



I love you!



December 21 2011

One, well two, of my most prized possessions are a pair of VHS tapes that have been in my family for generations (assuming we use the more practically applicable definition in which a generation is, like, 7 or 12 years or so– enough time so that your references fly over heads, slang seems genuinely baffling, and the bands of your youth make their accustomed lifestyle money milking the reunion circuit with full album performances of the when people actually liked, or theme cruises, or both (Weezer) or enjoy a disturbing second life you don’t understand amongst folks not even born yet when they originally hit big (Green Day)).

He still looks like a child. An old child.

What Even Is This?


One of my most prized possessions is a pair of VHS tapes basically as old as myself. We got a VCR pretty early and, lucky for me, my parents were pretty into taping things off TV. The Mary Martin version of Peter Pan, Winnie the Pooh, Disney’s demi-live-action trilogy (Mary Poppins,1 Bedknobs and Broomsticks, and Pete’s Dragon), Lady and the Tramp, Ghostbusters, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Star Wars, I think those last two may have been me, Superman II But With A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving Taped Over Part Of It, and Et Cetera. Anyways, I watched these things into the ground, none moreso than the two tapes upon which we taped All The Christmas Specials (Every Single One Of Them).

The tapes have the All-Timers, the Mega Classics, the Four Lions of Jihad Crossout Font Christmas Cheer, the Oh Wait I Should Have Said ‘The Christmas Mount Rushmore’– Chestnuts!: A Charlie Brown Christmas, Rudolph the Red-Nose Reindeer, The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, and Frosty the Snowman. Of COURSE they have those —>> O.B.V.I.2

And the next tier down, too: Christmas Eve on Sesame Street , Sesame Street vs. Muppets Christmastime Clusterfuck, A Garfield Christmas Special Might Be Included On This Tier, Also Maybe A Chipmunk Christmas (The One With The Harmonica and ‘Money Money Money’)?, the Pee Wee’s Playhouse Christmas Special, and the feel-bad trilogy of the season Mickey’s Christmas Carol.


Why are they such dicks to their uncle and how did they not all die! Why do Chip and Dale gotta torture Pluto and why doesn’t Mickey believe him! Man’s best friend indeed slash I forgot about the one where Goofy is terrible at skiing! I guess it’s a quadrilogy! And what if my tape cut off when Uncle Scrooge gets sent to hell?! It didn’t, but for someone I bet it did!

The Nightmare Before The Nightmare Before Christmas

Straight To Hell

And then you have your The Night Before Christmas‘s, which I thought was ubiquitous until I was met with blank unknowing stares when I would try to rouse a round of “Even A Miracle Needs A Hand,” as well as your real shitpits like Apparently There Was A Saturday Morning Cartoon Of Snow White And It Had A Christmas Special Of Some Kind, and The Smurfs. But that’s not the point.

What Even Is-er This?

The point is, my parents in taping things off TV were inconsistent about their dedication to skipping the ads. Sometimes this would result in missing entire scenes from a movie so that I didn’t see the credits to Star Wars until those mid-90s re-releases. Other times they would remember thirty seconds into the ad, which would make skipping the ads for future me a real trick (especially pre-VCR-remote). But on occasion they would forego even trying and let every single ad through. I still can’t watch Ghostbusters without expecting that next week ABC will be showing Who’s Harry Crumb?, and I still can’t watch a Christmas special without thinking “Scared Ya! Didn’t I?!”. And That Is Why These Tapes Are The Best

This isn’t what they showed, but the internet doesn’t have what they showed/EVERY STOCK JOKE IN THE WORLD

The following is an anthology of some of the ads I remember from my VHS tapes. Each one is like a time capsule into which I’ve shoved a tiny piece of my heart. It was a poor choice, as for each one you watch you get that heartpiece and I’m down 0.00031% blood refresh capacity. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but it adds up.


Playskool Dinosaurs – “Scared Ya Didn’t I?”

Me and my sister can still sing this. Probably not every word– def not that second verse– but both “we can play with them real rough” and “Scared Ya – Didn’t I?” are basically trigger phrases. I hope to never learn/remember for what. Also: that kid sells it real good. Why isn’t he still doing anything? Or is he John C. Reilley now? Stepped in some kind of time pool, maybe, or travelled a light decade and then returned to Earth?

Note: so the guy who posted this video 4 years ago apparently had the exact same experience I had feat. some of the same ads. Sad/no wait, pretend it’s good somehow?

Honey Nut Cheerios – Bob Cratchit Bee

I would have felt much less sympathy for Tiny Tim if he was lived in a wax cell/was a grub. Scrooge was probably in the right– quit mystery dying and get back to work, Bees!

Child World/Children’s Palace – I Couldn’t Find One For Child World/Children’s Palace

I couldn’t find the campaign I remembered for Child World / Children’s Palace where they super heavily featured the castle, but this instead! I actually collected these before he died, so– that’s two-ish!3

Wendys, Apparently – Indoor Tent Safari of World Wildlife Fund Stuffed Animals

The night of their hunt always felt so nightlike, even when watching this during the day, or in college 17 years later. I do miss the amateurishness of child actors circa before Home Alone / I could have sworn this was McDonald’s.

Fruity Pebbles – The Sharing Season

Every so often you should probably just yell at people, “YOUR Pebbles!?” Or say something more applicable but in that voice. “Did you get my enrollment forms I faxed? I really need eligibility so I can get my kids glasses” “YOUR kids!?” Eh. Let’s workshop it / wait for a natural bridge.

McDonald’s – This Star Thing
“We Own The Stars”- McDonald’s
I know I was there, and that I saw it, and that it did actually happen, but I’m still skeptical that Ronald McDonald was ever a thing. How? How come? Why? Why.

Toys R’ Us – I Remember There Being A Seemingly Rather Long Low-Key Version of Toys R’ Us Kid Where Geoffrey Was Wandering Through The Cavernous Halls Of A Toys R’ Us Or Maybe It Was A Dream Because I Can’t Find It

Halls – Of Medicine

This felt real convincing as an ‘other place’ in a time before Packard Bell desktops and when you were dumber than a box of cough drops.

Finally – This One I Didn’t Notice Until Much Later

When editing software gets sophisticated + easy to use enough = this + Tree of Life. Such a smug dance he does, eating them. Even Barry Obama was a sad jerk with an ill-advised halfro once.


YOUR ill-advised halfro?!?




1. my favorite movie until Independence Day came along. Well, that and A Coal Miner’s Daughter (also taped off TV)
2. Only Buffoons Voice Inane… shit
3. Number one being (actually pretty nuts) guessing that Christopher Hitchens would die within the next 24 hours in the post I posted on the day Christopher Hitchens died.

Swum Swans

December 20 2011

I really wanted to do something with Comedy Options starring Rob Huebel’s awesome cover of (the dog version of) Jingle Bells, but apparently it is not online in a linkable form. So, go get it at earwolf [] I guess, and deal with this instead:

I genuinely like the song, but, I mean, c’mon.

Also, let’s say, this one:

It’ll come in handy as a reference point later. Speaking of which:

It’s probably better when it’s just Dolly Parton singing, or…

Oh, also this won’t fit anywhere elsewise and is one of my all time favorites:

“Ahh, that kills me. That’s totally festive.”

and, finally, this nonsense:


TWO BONUS CHRISTMAS COMEDY THINGS (to make it an even seven)


Another Lonely Christmas

December 19 2011

I’m going to see Prince tonight!

So, even though this isn’t all that great, and barely about Christmas, THIS:

Pre witnessing Jehovah / sorry, geese-a-laying / six geese a LAYING!



O Holy Night Off

December 18 2011

It’s a classic. As beautiful as it is fucking nuts. Pompous as hell, or heaven– whichever one you think is more pompous. Harps are awful gilt, white the most supercilious unicolor design scheme, and have you even heard the names all those angels have? Sure, your Gabes and Mikes aren’t too bad, but Malachi? Seraphim? Sandalphon? Armisael? The One That Was An Eye With Those Goofy Eye Arms That Looked Like It Was Bought In A Lonely Housewife Doo-Dad Shop Circa 1991? Ludwig von Bi-tooven? Space Diamond? Every Single One Of Us I Guess?

"I really hope this isn't what wipes out humanity"

For some reason, no one's yet photoshopped a Santa hat onto Ode to Joy Kaworu...

While a different flavor of pomp from the oppressive tastefulness of Heaven’s gated community Christmas, Hell contrasts as an impressive vanside tableau of ridiculous and overblown production. And just as fussy, with its rings and themed floors and ironic punishments and nonsense hierarchies long that have long outlast whatever logic went into ordering them suchlike. Really…

  •     killing yourself is worse than killing hundreds of people who aren’t you?1
  •     and flattery is worse than either?2
  •     being gay is just as bad as owning and operating a Check Into Cash?3
  •     and checking your horoscope is just as bad as claiming to be the second coming (knowing full well you’re just premature pantsplatter)?4
  •     and dying before the year zero BCAD is just as bad as being a Hindu?5
  •     uh, how come waxing your car is one of the worst things you can do?
Waxy lady

Maybe because it makes you super lustworthy to the tiniest of waisted-dames?

But I digress. Pompousness (third circle, probably?) isn’t such a deal. It can work real well when the performance and tone are up to it. And what mortarboard-free circumstance is more deserving of pomp than the birth of your BabyGod? Maybe some dumb urn? Other than that I can’t think of one. So here’s to “O Holy Night,” the most pompous song about an outdoors birth ever.


Round One: Kid Division

Aled Jones

Wow. First out of the box and we’ve got a real front-runner. What a beautiful voice– really makes a shame out of how dumb all those angel names are, and OH. OHGOD. What The Hell Is That?!? Why are you shooting it from that angle? Did it’s tooth just sparkle???? Is that some kind of threat? What’s to stop a man from eating you once he’s shown himself willing and able to eat his own jawline? God, just turn it off. What a disappointment!

A little girl

Eh. That’s fine I guess. It’s def solid. I’m rill worried about those looks to the camera, but at least I didn’t have to watch her turn into the future Quiz Kid Donnie Smith version of herself halfway through the video. Nope. Everything depressing about her adulthood is pure speculation at this point. What a relief-ish!

Winner: A little girl


Round Two: Lilith Fair Bracket


That is a lot of instruments to do so little, they way underplay the bombast, and Jewel is not a particularly gifted or interesting singer, BUT she is wearing ridiculous leather pants so she’s not totally out of it yet. I’m not number one at fashion, but that can’t be a thing, right? Black top, brown leather pants, black clompity-heel boots? Nothing says Christmas quite like dressing like the water in a paintbrush rinse cup.

Tracy Chapman

Having only heard the first half minute, even though it is entirely ‘ee-ees’ that frankly fit neither the song nor (even) the next four minutes of this version, it’s still better than whatever it was that Jewel did (which was the epitome of forgettable insofar as I have forgotten it). This take might be half a Renn Faire but it’s at least the music half, not the shitty costume half.

Winner: Tracy Chapman


Round Three: Opera Nonsense

Celtic Women

Is this opera? I guess I just meant hi-falutin choral stuff. Real heaven-aesthetic tedium. Do they have good voices? I can’t tell. They certainly seem to be able to hit the notes they want to hit and project them, but are those the only criteria you have to meet in order to be considered good at singing in the extended world of People Who Can Actually Sing-Play Music And/Or Are Big Into Proficiency (i.e. real Benaroya Hall types but also musical fans probably (haut & bas))? These ladies flavorlessly achieve a kind of perfection as vanilla and unique as their equally unflattering (and sinless) dresses.6

Some Tenor

A tenor– that’s opera, right? Or at least opry? What exactly is happening on that stage? He’s cheesing it up pretty good, but he’s at least trying at it 103% as if it’s a real Thing to him. Plus he’s got a Marcus Bachmann quality that I find pretty appealing. When he invents a new and different note to explode right before the climax and then through the end, I’m on board. I probably wouldn’t go quite so Baptist as the crowd there about it, but I’d def get on my feet. And of my free will and not just out of socialized politeness even. He wins.

Winner: Some Tenor


Round Four: Guitar Bullshit

Trans-Siberian Orchestra

I do not appreciate the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. If I had to rank Orchestras in order of personal preference, it would go: Electric Light, The Young Person’s Guide to the (as narrated by Leonard Bernstein), all regular orchestras, Trans-Siberian, and Control Engine. FUCK Linux.


But at least what they do is still something. Unlike this Weezer version, which is nothing. Is this even them? A: It is not anything and therefore it can neither be nor not be them. Fart.

Winner: Trans-Siberian Orchestra


Round Five: Late 90s Pop Bubble


… more brown Christmas leather. Is there a tradition I’m missing? Like, some manger C-story about how the cow gave of his own flesh so that the Baby Jesus could have calfskin booties? Did they have cows in the desert? Can you make camel leather?  If not, then what does the middle east have instead of leather? I bet they had oxen. I bet they have ox leather. Fording joke. Anyways, this isn’t so bad. Too many ‘ooh-ooh-ooh’ trill(?)y parts, but they do the job. I like the bass part.

Christina Aguilera

I’m not sure what her hands are supposed to be communicating. Being on drugs, probably. Or just general discomfort and disorientation at having to wear person clothes. She really faces those last few notes out. Maybe schizophrenia?

Winner: *Nsync


Round Six: Comedy Option

South Park

Not that funny, but I do enjoy prod humor. The fill / attempt to mask forgetting the words is well-observed. Ugh. I don’t like who I am right now breaking this down. It’s fine!

Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip

Studio 60 never fails to crack me up. What crazy antics will their cast of hyper-serious ciphers get up to next! But, um, this version *is* a little worth a damn. Studio 60– Better Than South Park at: Brass Ensembles, Employing John Ennis, and Threatening Amanda Peet With Your Shitty Love.

Winner: Studio 60    [UPSET!]

Round Seven: Divasion (I’m Sorry)

Aretha Franklin & Billy Preston

So they fucked each other pretty sweet and thorough, I guess. Good for them, revisiting young lust in the context of celebrating the birth of the Lord.7 I wanted to like this more than I did. I like Aretha Franklin, I love what of Billy Preston I know, but this is good not great. I guess this song isn’t really a piano showcase, but what’s Aretha’s excuse? I’m not so familiar with her career, was there a sort of washed up stretch and then this was that? Or maybe a throat injury? She is really struggling even to bail on those notes. I guess she could just not care that much. Is she wearing a hair hat?

Celene Dion

As much as I wanted to like the Aretha Franklin/Billy Preston version I wanted to not like this but she does a pretty good job. It doesn’t quite live up to my weird pathological need to have these folks really destroy that big no… oh no, wait. It’s still going. Here it comes… Noel? Ugh. I don’t care for this even a little. Go Back To Quebec!!

Winner: Aretha Franklin & Billy Preston    [PARDONED BY FRENCH!]


Round Eight: Croon-off

Nat King Cole

A voice with a quality! What a treat / thank our tiny, slimy, just-unumbilicaled God! Goes polite on “night divine,” more restraint than I want, but class act all the way and an actual unqualified good job at it.

Ernie Ford and Gordon MacRae

Olde Timee TV footage: + 8 million points. That Walt Disney lookin’ moustache: +6 million points. The Men Duet Square Shoulder 20 Degree Head In-Tilt: +7 million points. PLUS THEY GO FOR IT.

Winner: Ernie Ford and Gordon MacRae    [DETHRONED!]



Trans-Siberian Orchestra vs. A little girl
That Trans-Siberian Orchestra guy is real good at playing guitar, but that A little girl is equally good at not being in Trans-Siberian Orchestra. Winner: A little girl

Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip vs. Aretha Franklin & Billy Preston
It’s ironic: the version by the all-time great soul singer and the legendary session pianist is funnier than the version from the comedy show (well, show about comedy) while the version from the show that couldn’t Be More disappointing isn’t. Winner: Studio 60

Some Tenor vs. Tracy Chapman
CHASE: CUT Winner: Some Tenor

*Nsync vs. Ernie Ford and Gordon MacRae
7 Dudes a-harmonizing. Picture them together, deciding how to run it. *Nsync is definitely arranged in a semi-circle behind these two. Then label people make them change. Then Ernie Ford and Gordon MacRae served our country in Word War Fucking II and the only service the *Nsync kids ever did in was -ing Lou Perlman. Also their version is worse. Winner: Ernie Ford and Gordon MacRae



Studio 60 vs. A little girl : There is something that just feels right about Studio 60 getting beat by a 7 year old girl. Winner: A little girl

Some Tenor vs. Ernie Ford and Gordon MacRae : I don’t want to spoil anything, but this is the real finals. Ultimately though, out of all of these versions, only Some Tenor sung the fuck out of it (a) and (b) won me the farthest over. Bonus: on third watch, really loving the piano guy Going For It. THIS is what Christmas is– Fucking Ridiculous and (Selma Jezkova Style) Camera Real Big And Up Out Of The Roof slightly decrepit opulence. Winner: Some Tenor





And the winner of the first annual “O Holy Night” Off is … Bing Crosby!
C’mon. Are you kidding me?

Bing kills it. Plus you should have suspected something was up when there was a crooner category and it didn’t have him in it. Bing from the rafters, Bing with the folding chair. Der Bingle, from the top rope, or from behind with a belt, beating that song like he provided it with chromosomes.

The ref is too busy watching to care.

1. suicide = “violent against self”: 7th circle, middle ring; murder = “violent against people and property”: 7th circle, outer ring
2. flattery: the eighth circle’s second ditch on the basis that it is fraudulent; if someone’s B but’s got a saggy gut and bad skin and dumb eyes DO NOT stipulate that they are BW– Your Eternal Soul Depends On It!
3. sodomy v. usury = both “violent against nature” (7th circle, inner ring)
4. astrologers v. false prophets: eighth circle, fourth ditch
5. all unbaptized go (at best) to Limbo regardless of virtue
6. I REALLY didn’t think this thing was going to be so mean-spirited!
7. Note: huh, turns out Billy Preston got arrested for sexually assaulting a 16 year old Mexican boy he hired as a day laborer in 1991. So, I guess I misread that interaction…

Drummers Drumming?

December 17 2011

Before I could stay up as late as I wanted, before moving out of the house, I used to tape things I otherwise couldn’t access. Not every night, and I used the same tapes over and over again. I was the friend with the Simpsons mix tape– the VHS with all the best episodes. We’d watch them over and over until all the lines stuck. Until we could tell which episode it was from the first shot after the credits, let alone the first act inciting/fake plot. If they’re in church about to sing I. Ron Butterfly it’s “Bart Sells His Soul”; if they’re having a yard sale it’s “Two Bad Neighbors.” Season Seven, you guys– only idiots and prudes think it was all downhill after season 4 (slash 5 slash 6).

Anyways, it was mostly Conan (and later Adult Swim) that I’d tape. I wish I still had the VHS’s so I could watch classics like “Battle of the Billionaires” or “Puppets’ Last Words Channel” or the Late Night Third or Fifth Anniversary Special or Polly the NBC Peacock. Of these things only the 5th Anniversary Special still exists in internet clip form (“My clips…“), and any trace of Polly The NBC Peacock’s existence seems to have been scoured from the face of the earth. That was on so many times and was so good! You dumb idiots! Oh no wait I lied — IT”S THE STAMATOPOULEST!!!


Bonus clip/check THIS out:

Thank God for Sadaam Hussein


The point is, two of my favorite Christmas things are from an episode of Conan I taped when and then watched over and over again when I was 15 or so. Conan’s unbridled delight in getting to control that insane robotic Santa and the undecorated couple’s matter of fact dismissal of the ice toilet. What else do you want from Christmas? If your answer was either a) Santa taking a dog from behind in his gift sack or b) a Trumpeter Terl then don’t worry. You Have Been Taken Care Of:

And then, after that, there is something so damn charming about Tom Hanks, at the peak of his super stardom, putting up with getting dumped on like that seemingly on the basis of just liking Conan a lot.

When life offers you a dog skeleton, you grab it and run.

Merry 4th Day of Christmas