Thursday, December 30, 2010

What I Got for Christmas

Hey everybody!  I hope you're still having a great yuletide season, even if we're in the home stretch of it.  I thought I would continue to blog throughout the week, but that didn't and won't happen.  I'm home with the family all week, so the blog is taking a back seat (as it should).  Still, I have a few minutes to pop in and let you know some of the cool stuff I got for Christmas.

A USB turntable that can convert vinyl records to mp3s.  I can't wait to start ripping some of the cool records I haven't listened to in ages!

Planet Hulk by Greg Pak.  I've been wanting to read this for a long time, and can't wait to read the major story that set the tone for Marvel Comics' Hulk franchise for the last few years and counting.

Come and Get It:  The Best of Apple Records.  The Beatles discovered from great talent during their brief stint as record moguls, and the cream of the crop is now available in remastered glory for the first time.

Peanuts: The 70s Collection Volume 2.  Do I really need to explain my love of Peanuts again?

3-in-1 Personal Trimmer:  'cause I'm hairy in certain places, OK?

Gift certificate for family portrait:  we've wanted to have a professional, traditional, family portrait for a long time now, and thanks to my wife's parents, we will!

What did you get for Christmas?  Let me know in the comments section.  Thanks!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas 2010!

I totally meant to post yesterday, but the day got away from me.  The big day is here, and I hope it's a joyous one.  I've loved sharing all this great Christmas stuff with you this month, and I'm happy to tell you that I'll have a couple of leftover items for you this week, as well as a New Year's Day post or two.  Until then,

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Disney's The Little Match Girl

If you know the story of the Little Match Girl, and you love Disney animation, this is for you.

Warning:  YOU.  WILL.  CRY!!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Eva Cassidy, "It's Not The Presents Under The Tree"

A few years ago, I bought a budget copy of Time-Life's Christmas music collection at Target; it's a condensed version of the much longer classic compilation available directly from Time-Life.  One of the songs, and the artist, featured was unfamiliar to me.  The song was "It's Not The Presents Under The Tree" and the artist was Eva Cassidy.

The song has an early rock'n'roll, girl group sound to it, and I found the song pleasant enough.  So each Christmas I listened to this song, not giving much thought to who recorded it.  I've discovered, just this year, her bittersweet story.

I'll leave the details to this Wikipedia article about her, but her vocal range and song selection were more diverse than this record indicates.  Unfortunately, she didn't get the chance to show more of the world her talent; she lost her life to melanoma in 1996.

Here is the Christmas song that introduced me to her.

Here is work that better displays her versatility.

Finally, here is her version of a song I love, Fleetwood Mac's "Snowbird." It's featured in the quasi-Christmas film Love Actually.


Monday, December 20, 2010

Christmas Music Videos 2010 Edition


You're busy, I'm busy, but we're happy.  Let's sing along to some holiday hits, or in this case, mostly obscure songs, and really get into the Christmas spirit!

Ray Stevens, "Santa Claus is Watchin' You"

Slade, "Merry Xmas Everybody"

Henry Rollins, "Twas the Night Before Christmas"

The Beach Boys, "Little Saint Nick"

Finally, a song that requires some explanation. Back in the 80s here is the Philadelphia area, a local artist named Alan Mann released a song called "Christmas On The Block." The song is about a real-life home for the blind in suburban Philly where the residents, although they couldn't see, put on some of the greatest Christmas light displays you could imagine. It's a very touching story and song, made all the more poignant considering the tragic loss of Mann at a young age. Please enjoy "Christmas On The Block."

If you enjoyed my selections here, I'll be posting more Christmas music videos exclusively on my Facebook page, so if we're not friends, let's be friends--it's Christmas, after all.


Friday, December 17, 2010

Mr. Bill's Christmas Special

Today I'm attending my job's holiday party, so I'm feeling light-hearted and festive. Please join me in this spirit by enjoying Mr. Bill's Christmas Special, filled with fun, frivolity---and claymation calamity.


Thursday, December 16, 2010

Merry Christmas Mr. Bean Clips

The title of the post says it all.  Here are two hilarious scenes from the British TV special Merry Christmas Mr. Bean, starring comic actor Rowan Atkinson.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Christmas Raccoons

Today I offer yet another semi-classic from the famed Nelvana animation studios.  I consider this special a bridge between the trippy, 70s-era style of animation to more traditional animation (at least slightly).  The Christmas Raccoons involve a family of sibling raccoons who team with a human park ranger and his children in protecting their forest from a Scrooge-like developer--who happens to be an aardvark.  Just go with it.  This special led to a short-lived series for the Raccoons.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Monkees Christmas Episode

Today's post involves two of My Favorite Things:  Christmas and the Monkees.  They're one of my alltime favorite bands, and I say that with no irony.  The Beatles, the Stones, the Monkees; I put them right up there.

I also love their TV show.  Here, the boys babysit a precocious Butch Patrick and teach him the meaning of Christmas in the appropriately named "Monkees Christmas Episode."  Enjoy!

For more great Monkeeing around at Christmastime, go here and here.  Thanks!

Monday, December 13, 2010

A Family Circus Christmas

Today I present a program I've wanted to find again for years but couldn't until now. This is A Family Circus Christmas, based on the popular newspaper strip starring a fictional version of creator Bill Keane's family, especially the children:  Billy, Dolly, Jeffy, and PJ.  I've only seen this once or twice but it has stayed in my memory since I first saw it.

It has particular resonance for me this year.  This is my first Christmas without my father, whom I lost earlier this year.  I hope-- in fact, I know--he will be around for his grandchildren the way Grandfather Keane is here (I still miss you, Dad).


Friday, December 10, 2010

TV Funhouse, "Christmas With Tingles"

Although Christmas is supposed to be a joyful, fun time of year, it also has more than its share of stress and, well, tension. Where does this come from? Tingles, the Christmas Tension! Learn more about Tingles courtesy of Robert Smigel's Comedy Central series TV Funhouse.

A word of warning: despite the animation, this is not for kids--at all.  Enjoy this PG-13 post!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Famous Studios, "Snow Foolin: A Screen Song"

Today I offer a delightful "Screen Song" cartoon from the extinct animation studio Famous Studios, a division of Paramount Pictures.  They created many great cartoons starring Popeye and Casper, among others.  Another series of cartoons they made featured a Mitch Miller-like singalong to which the audience could "follow the bouncing ball."  This charming one is set on the first day of winter.  Sing along to Jingle Bells!  Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

John Lennon 1940-1980

I'm taking a break from the Christmas folly to commemorate a very sad anniversary, and of course I won't be the only one doing so.  I won't bother detailing John Lennon's impact on the world, as there are plenty of other testimonials out there that will do that much better than me.  What I will say is this:  it's not so much the fact that John is no longer with us, but the way he left us.

It shouldn't have happened.

If he had passed due to an illness, that's one thing.  Even if it came about by an unfortunate accident, that's another.

He was murdered.  A man you preached peace and love was taken by one of the very instruments he spoke out against.

It shouldn't have happend.

He should be with us now.  He should be making music now.  He should be engaging with fans young and old now.  But he can't do that because of one disturbed person.  That, ulitmately, is what makes his loss so sorrowful, so tragic, so stupid.

The only way to make peace with his death is to act on his belief in the sanctity of humanity, the need for love, for peace, for being in harmony with one another.  Far easier said than done, believe me, I know.  But damn, we better try.  Every single day.


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Gumby, "Scrooge Loose"

Today, the clay-animated favorite Gumby and his donkey friend Pokey (the original Shrek and Donkey?) deal with Ebeneezer Scrooge, who has escaped from the book A Christmas Carol to wreck havoc in Gumby's world. Bah Humbug indeed!  Enjoy!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Re-post: Gift of Ages

I rarely re-post material I've already featured, but this video is so special I think it's worth repeating. I first posted this right before Christmas Day last year, so many people might not have seen it then, so I'd like to present it again.

This video was made by a DeviantArt member, and it's touching and beautiful. I almost cried the first time I saw it. If you celebrate the traditionally spiritual aspect of the holiday, you will likely love this. Thanks!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Recession Santa

The economy's so bad, even Santa has hit the skids! From the comedy troupe The Wookcreek Faction, please enjoy "Recession Santa." Thanks!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Sesame Street, "Chanukah with Veronica Monica"

As tonight starts the celebration of Chanukah, here is a brief history lesson for young and old alike, courtesy of TV mainstay Sesame Street.  Host Veronica Monica (voiced by SCTV alum Andrea Martin) teaches the origin of the holiday.  Please excuse the brief appearances of Elmo.  Happy Chanukah!