Wednesday, December 28, 2005

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly - My First Anniversary

Well, it's close now and as usual I can't think of a thing to write about, but also as per usual I refuse to let that stop me. One year of blogging and I've used way more than my fair share cyberspace, abused the English language, and refused to be confined by a strict and structured syntax. I'm a grammatical outlaw! The posts have run the gamut from Really Really Horrible (most of the early stuff, Sundown, my distinctly strange idea re: calendar keeping - my apologies) to the Not Too Shabby (The Gospel, the boob drama, My Musical Epiphany). I got a few comments, only one of which was spam! (note to workfromhome dude - thanks! I open the junk mail when nothing else shows up in my mailbox). Each one was a thrill - it's a big ole cyber world and it's an honor just to be nominated. Noticed! I mean, noticed!

Anyway, it makes me happy.

And it's ALL About Me.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Friday, December 16, 2005

Bestest! Christmas! Songs! Ever!

In no particular order and subject to change without notice.

1. Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town – Bruce and the E Street Band. The intro makes me smile every single time.

2. Please Come Home for Christmas – The Eagles. I know they’re the Group Everyone Loves to Hate, but I love their version of this song. Schmaltzy growls, tinkling piano, a man who can sing ‘send salutations’ with a straight face – well, that’s not quite fair – he sings everything with a straight face.

3. Frosty the Snowman – Jimmy Durante and Rudolph, The Red-Nosed Reindeer - Burl Ives. Television staples of my formative years. I have a birthmark around my nose that gets, um, inflamed, shall we say, in cold weather. Mean kids used to tease me. I took great solace in Jimmy and Burl's tender songs.

4. I’ll Be Home for Christmas – Leon Redbone. I wanted to put him up for Frosty as well, but that seemed like overkill. A credible, understated cover of a classic. He also used to sing an All detergent commercial.

5. White Christmas – Bing or the Drifters. I love Bing’s voice and the way he uses it, more of an instrument than ‘A Voice’ – this is the definitive by-the-fire-with-the-one-you-love version. The fun, traveling to Grandma’s version with four hopped-up-on-sugar kids belongs to the Drifters. Da dooby do!

6. Joy To the World – Blind Boys of Alabama and Aaron Neville. Normally, I like men to sound like men when they sing. Aaron Neville is the exception, and this song is particularly striking to me because he’s singing way on up there and the Blind Boys are filling in all the steps on the ladder, with that gravelly growly bass just suggested, like a whisper from God.

7. Baby It’s Cold Outside – Brian Setzer with Ann-Margret. So, Setzer’s voice ain’t really up to this song, but Ann-Margret! Wow! She gets to play me in the movie.

8. Oi! To the World – No Doubt. Two minutes of ska-punk and also fantastic for over-sugared children. Nice little morality tale, to boot. Better than the Vandals' original (heresy, I know).

9. Up on the Housetop – Jimmy Buffett and the Coral Reefer Band. The surf guitar version. Christmas is for sharin’. Share that wave with me, dude.

10. Fairytale of New York – the Pogues with Kirsty Maccoll. Happy Christmas, your arse! The seedy yet sublime side of Christmas and my Favorite. Pogues. Song. Ever.

Honorable Mentions:

Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy – David Bowie and Bing Crosby. I remember watching this on tv back in the day. Set new levels for weird: Space Oddity meets Crooning Relic.

Gettin’ In The Mood (for Christmas) – Really, almost anything Brian Setzer does with his Orchestra works for me. Horns! Guitar! Jump! Jive! Wail! This is a cool reinvention of In the Mood that always has me reaching for my Christmas Creepers and a couple of tats. I just wish I could dance!

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Polishing My Hump

I’ll be the first to admit it: I hate snobs. I don’t necessarily mean members of the aristocracy or Daughters of the Revolution, although they can certainly meet the requirements. I mean anybody who thinks they’re better than me, more qualified, more entitled, more something that I’m not. Yes, I’ve got a 2 ton chip on my shoulder and I’ve earned it, baby. I also detest bullies and when the two combine, well, could there be two less attractive personality traits? I think not. Let’s call the snobbish side “Paris” and the bullying side “Ashlee”. When they merge into the creature we’ll call Parishlee, the synergistic effect might be scientifically fascinating to behold but few of us can appreciate that fact. We’re too busy being Pissed Off To The Power Of Infinity. I wouldn’t call myself a violent person, but many’s the time I’ve longed to bust my knuckles on smug smile.

Years of frustration later, I realize this is my own little (or maybe not so little) snobbishness. I’m so anti-snob, I’m a snob. At least I’m not a bully about it.


Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Jingle Bell Boogie

Or, How I Learned to love Christmas Music

First admission: I’ve always loved Christmas music, so I didn't have to learn to love. One of my fondest memories is of going caroling with my neighborhood gang when I was approximately a kindergartner, looking up into the starry skies, bellowing Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer. I saw Santa flying his sleigh across the horizon, and I believed. Ok, now as an adult, I realize that was probably a satellite or an airplane or perhaps the figment of a sugar-frenzied imagination. But why let reality spoil the magic?

Second admission: my favorite way to fill up the gaps and holes in my tattered spirits is to practice judicious retail therapy. Me and my soul-soothing MasterCard have ridden out so many emotional storms together. New babies. First days of school. Graduations. Birthdays from Hell. Bosses from Hell. I can shop happy, I can shop sad. I shop, therefore, I am.

Third admission: I am a music freak. Not a music geek—I’m not that smart (or that anal), but to me, music is necessary. Like air. And Advil. I didn’t realize how necessary until the Great Musical Drought that began—well, before eBay. Literally. When it ended, I was like a sponge in the Gulf of Mexico. And I’m still playing catch up.

To recap: Christmas. Shopping. Music. Let’s head over to Amazon and see what’s in my shopping cart!

Brain Setzer Orchestra – Boogie Woogie Christmas.

Big band. Big hair. Big ups! Sleigh bells ringare ya listenin’?

Jimmy Buffett – Christmas Island.

Yes, it’s Christmas in Margaritaville. Kick off your flip-flops and find that large shaker of salt. Everybody’s favorite pirate was looking at fifty when he put this album together, and Merry Christmas, Alabama is a loving Christmas card to all the ports he’s known before. A surfer dude Up on the Housetop and an island version of Jingle Bells take the holiday into some uncharted (but fun!) waters. You have my permission to skip his cover of Happy Christmas (War is Over) – why, Jimmy, why? In penance, he gives us Ho! Ho! Ho! And a Bottle of Rhum, a bouncy ode to holiday stress and quite possibly the first Christmas carol to ponder the physical toll a brick chimney takes on Santa’s buns. It ain’t rocket science, but it’s fun.

Leon Redbone – Christmas Island

Same song, different singer and what a difference! Champagne Charlie brings that growling baritone to Christmas Island, looks for Frosty, goes to Toyland, gets lost in a Winter Wonderland—in short, he makes some vintage Christmas fun. (There’s No Place Like) Home for the Holidays and I’ll Be Home for Christmas bring some Capra-esque nostalgia home—close your eyes and you’ll think you’re in a 40’s train station watching the snow come down—will you be home for Christmas? That Old Christmas Moon and Christmas Ball Blues will give the grownups something to dance to after the kids are in bed.

The Blind Boys of Alabama – Go Tell It On The Mountain

If I could only give you one reason to buy this album, it would be Joy to the World. With Aaron Neville’s help, this song transcends the ordinary, soars above the fantastic right up into the sublime. My. Favorite. Version. Ever. The Blind Boys of Alabama (yes, that’s their real name) throw down some of the leanest, meanest, praising-est sounds since Mahalia Jackson. Add Tom Waits, Chrissie Hynde and Mavis Staples. Stir once and apply liberally to your auditory instruments!

John Prine – A John Prine Christmas

‘It was Christmas in prison, and the food was real good…’—has there ever been a truer sentiment? Haven’t been to prison? Well, don’t let that stop you from enjoying Christmas with John Prine. He hasn’t been to prison either. Most of the songs on this aren’t exactly Christmas songs. The first two only mention Christmas in passing, but they’re two of the best songs Prine ever wrote, so look on them as a gradual and seasonal easing into the holiday mode -- that November gloom we all trudge through before the anticipatory arc of the holiday season. Mr. Prine is one of my favorite singer/songwriters and honestly, if he did John’s Polka Favorites or Uptown Boy – Prine sings Joel, I’d buy them.

to be continued....

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Elvis v. David Lee Roth

Costello, that is. Let's play!

Elvis radiates intelligence. David Lee Roth oozes sleaze.

Elvis has a 25+ year career. DLR used to be in Van Halen, and they asked him to leave. twice.

Elvis has a receding hairline with a tasteful cut. DLR has a receded hairline and stole Courtney Love's extensions.

Elvis wears black suits with snappy ties. DLR wears spandex animal prints.

Elvis covered My Funny Valentine. DLR covered Just A Gigolo.

Elvis is UCLA's first Artist-in-Residence. DLR is Howard Stern's replacement.

Elvis has worked with Paul McCartney, Burt Bacarach, Lucinda Williams and Chrissy Hynde, amongst others. DLR used to be in Van Halen. and was asked to leave. twice.

Elvis was on a Simpsons episode. DLR was a Behind The Music episode