A few weeks ago, while I was waiting for a clerk in a Canadian Tire, I noticed an arrangement of stocking stuffer suggestions: small, modestly priced things that could be tucked away. Batteries? Understood that.
But Comet? Reindeer games aside, I can't imagine anyone getting excited about that!
The Waitresses' Christmas Wrapping is one of my very favourite Christmas songs; it's no surprise I picked it for the very first seasonal mix CD I made for family and friends, a tradition that's run every year since 2000. I was intrigued to find this interview on the NME website with Chris Butler, who wrote the song ... especially to hear his regrets about the line "most of '81 passed along those lines."
We have some favourite movies in our house that get hauled out before and especially after Christmas. Familiarity doesn't breed contempt; with a few of them, it's hard to even count how many times they've been seen.
I don't get the annual love affair with Christmas sweaters, particularly the made-to-be-over-the-top kind that get pulled out at Christmas. The closest thing I have is a machine-knit sweater with a white-on-red colour. Oh well!
This is a tune we played on the Morning Show last week. Enjoy your eggnog!
The Polyphonic Spree released a cover of John Lennon's Christmas classic in 2005; last year, they dusted it off for a holiday-themed album, Holidaydream, and released this animated video to go with it.
I bought Cruel to Be Kind in 1979, and I've been a fan (maybe admirer is the better word) of Nick Lowe since. He's reinvented himself over the years, which I guess you need to do to keep a career going. When I heard he had a Christmas album in the works, I was surprised, but intrigued; I had never thought of him, for instance, as the cynical musician looking for a way to extend his best-before date. At 64, Lowe is hardly expecting to hit the Top 40!
Hey Rosetta! (see below!) is among the great! (sorry, can't stop using exclamation points!) artists in this year's holiday sampler from Paste magazine. A very fine annual tradition. Alson on this year's sampler: Great Lake Swimmers, Sufjan Stevens, Rosie Thomas and B.C.'s Current Swell.
You can't beat free, either ... although you may want to look at the tip option on the way to the download clicker.
Proceed as you were. Enter your particulars in the box below, and a link will appear quickly in your inbox. You'll get a zip file that can be opened up in a snap.
Three years ago, I tried something different: a musical selection each day connected to Christmas, arranged kind of like an advent calendar. It was fun, but was kind of a slog - making a commitment to do anything before Christmas can be like that!
Nonetheless, I'm going to try it again this year.
The first pick is by She and Him, the she being Zooey Deschanel and the him being M. Ward. She can see pretty much anything, he (him?) can play most anything, and their A Very She and Him Christmas release from last year is pretty sweet. This is their cover of Frank Sinatra's Christmas Waltz, which seems to be known to a lot of people through the first words, "Frosted windowpanes..."
These are some snaps I took outside Bergdorf Goodman's store on Fifth Avenue in New York during our visit in November. It's one of the stores that constructs knockout arrangements for their windows in the weeks leading up to Christmas, and we were not disappointed.
The store had different themes, each built around a different colour. One window was all about black and white. Believe it or not, these shots are in full colour, with no PhotoShop changes. The window really showed how a monochromatic display can be so inventive.
Not sure what makes the AT-AT walker from The Empire Strikes Back so likely to bring Christmas to mind, at least for some people, but it does. A couple of years ago, we liked one T-shirt design we bought a shirt for each member of the family. Today, I saw this: a gingerbread recreation. Published here.
Martha showed me this video earlier today, and it was so funny, I've been back to see it three times. A few things that seem to be the case: it was shot years ago, and the children here are now grown up; the little girl had not sung at all during rehearsals and was told to be heard during the real performance; the older girl with the halo in the back of the Nativity scene posted the video, recognizing its great humour.
Each December, beginning in the year our son was born, I've been making a mixtape for family and close friends of Christmas tunes. What started as a one-off stocking stuffer has turned into, well, a thing ... although probably it's better to call it a tradition.
Actually, it's fun to do. We sift through many, many songs (I have hundreds sitting in an iTunes folder) and each year I pick up more, just to complicate things. New releases this year, incidentally, include the tracks by She & Him, Jack Johnson, Joan Osborne, David Ian and Carole King.
This year's set includes some songs that have been on the long list for a long time; the Gary Burton tune, for instance, is on a jazz compilation that's one of the first Christmas albums I ever bought.
The mix is, as always, all over the place. Where else could you put Luscious Jackson next to Tony Bennett? There's some indie pop, made-for-martinis jazz, some Sixties soul (the Funk Brothers were the house band at Motown) and loungewear. There's even a song that has nothing to do with Christmas or any holiday, but their name after all is the Decemberists, they put the word "angel" in a title and I got the idea after seeing it on a Christmas anthology.
I love stumbling across unexpected chestnuts, and the one this year is Daniel Radcliffe singing a cover of A Christmas Carol - not by Charles Dickens, but Tom Lehrer, whose satirical songs I learned at a very young age from my dad's stereo.
Here are the tunes this year.
She & Him: The Christmas Song Vince Guaraldi Trio: Linus And Lucy Jimmy Buffett: Christmas Island Billy Paul Williams: Santa Claus Is Coming to Town Carole King: My Favorite Things Joan Osborne: Angels We Have Heard on High Jack Johnson: In The Morning Gary Burton: O Tannenbaum Emmylou Harris: The First Noel David Ian: The Christmas Waltz Duke Ellington: Sugar Rum Cherry (from the Nutcracker) Chuck Berry: Run Rudolph Run Darlene Love: Marshmallow World The Beach Boys: Little Saint Nick The Funk Brothers: Winter Wonderland Luscious Jackson: Let It Snow Tony Bennett and the Count Basie Big Band: Silver Bells The Pretenders: 2000 Miles Michael Bublé: It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings: Ain't No Chimneys in the Project The Alarm: Happy Xmas (War Is Over) Bruce Cockburn: Joy to the World Annie Lennox: In the Bleak Midwinter The Decemberists: Angel, Won't You Call Me King Curtis: What Are You Doing New Year's Eve? Daniel Radcliffe (and the cast of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying): A Christmas Carol
We weren't able to make it to the Mummers' Parade in downtown St. John's on Saturday (Nick and his schoolmates are dressing up today for a visit to local seniors), but I've enjoyed seeing pictures over the last day or so. Here's a video compilation I saw. Great costumes!
Dot Dot Dot is Morse code for the letter 'S,' the full message Guglielmo Marconi claimed to have received atop Signal Hill in St. John's in 1901. It ushered in the age of telecommunications. My maternal grandfather worked as a telegraph operator for Canadian Marconi on Signal Hill for many years.
As well, I have a habit of overusing the ellipsis when I write ... as frequent readers might notice.