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!
Well, not a real Christmas special, even though it's called A Very Calvin and Hobbes Christmas. To see Calvin's demented snowmen come to life (the heart of animation, after all) is a treat. You can read more about it here.
Every December, I've read Kevin Major's The House of Wooden Santas to Nick, one chapter each night. I know I'm not alone here; the 24-chapter book is designed that way, and I've talked with plenty of people who have maintained that very tradition.
I was wondering what would happen this year. Nick is now 11, and thus two years older than Jesse, the protagonist in the book who discovers the Christmas spirit and friendship while his woodcarving mother produces a daily Santa and keeps the mean old landlady at bay. Would he still want to go through the nightly readings of our literary version of an Advent calendar?
The answer is definitely yes. He's reading novels and complex ones on his own now, but he still likes to be read to, and there's a twist; he likes to read to us, too, and tonight he read the chapter you see above (featuring Super Santa, one of my favourite carvings) to me. I loved it.
We haven't even gotten around to buying our Christmas turkey yet, but it's good to know some people already have leftover plans. I noticed this video fom BBC World, featuring Nigel Slater, and got hungry enough to share it.
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.