Scrooge and Marley

“A Christmas Carol in Prose” by Charles Dickens has got to be one of the most popular short novels of all time. It’s been adapted hundreds of times; the story is a simple one of personal growth and redemption – and there’s extremely little religion in it.

It also helps that it’s old enough to be in the public domain, so anyone can do whatever they want with it.

Most adaptations neglect to expand on one part of the story. True, it’s not really that important, but let’s take a look at it anyway.

What sort of business is Ebenezer Scrooge in, and can we discover anything new about the character by examining that aspect?
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A Krampus Mix For You

It’s that time of year again.

This year, I thought I’d do something different – and make a playlist of songs about people who aren’t that keen on the holiday, for whatever reason. Or songs to that effect.

There’s nothing gross. Aside from being overplayed, “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer” is pretty sick, when you get right down to it. Nothing depressing here, either. They may be great songs, but Stan Rogers’ “First Christmas” and Tom Waits’ “Christmas Card from a Hooker in Minneapolis” are rather bleak….

I also note that animated TV shows have been doing some fun things in this vein; I’ve included three songs from that medium.

Oh, and to heck with Festivus, and Krampus is already tired. If you want to do something different for the holiday season, there are plenty of other non-standard Christmas traditions out there – like Wassail – that are available for you to try.

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Christmas at WFMU

If you’re like me (and I know I am), you get tired of the same old holiday songs being played on the radio by the second week of December – if not sooner. Fortunately, there is a radio station that doesn’t play by the rules. WFMU (91.1 FM) broadcasts from northern New Jersey, and is what is known as a “freeform” station. The DJs play whatever they want, subject only to FCC regulations. All but the tiniest fraction of their income is from listener donations, so they are beholden to no one. Think of it as a college radio station – but without the basketball games.

Around ten years ago, they started archiving their shows on their website – so you can listen in regardless of the constraints of time or space.

Most of their DJs have holiday specials of some sort – tune in over the next week to hear what they’ve come up with. Here are last year’s (mostly) holiday shows from my favorite programs for your “streaming” pleasure. You are definitely going to hear things you’ve never heard before. The descriptions are the DJ’s own….

Enjoy! And don’t say you weren’t warned…..

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A Christmas Mix For You – VI

Let me be honest. I’m getting tired of digging through and dredging up all the Christmas music out there. I’ve already shared the holiday tunes I thought were worthwhile, and had to dig around near the bottom of the proverbial barrel to fill up the last holiday mix (or two).

So the heck with it. This year, I’m just going to go through my collection, and without curating or even ordering the choices, just toss out every single version of “Jingle Bells” I have.

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Terry Gilliam’s Christmas Card

Made for the Christmas 1968 episode of the ‘children’s’ show Do Not Adjust Your Set.

Gilliam had moved to London in 1967, and was working as art director for London Life when his friend John Cleese (whom he had worked with in the US) introduced him to Humphrey Barclay, who was producing Do Not Adjust Your Set, which was written by and starred Michael Palin, Terry Jones, and Eric Idle. Barclay happened to be an amateur cartoonist, and loved what Gilliam was doing with his cut-out stop-motion animations. He pretty much forced the trio to include Gilliam’s works.

For the Christmas special, Do Not Adjust Your Stocking, Gilliam went to London’s Tate Gallery, and poked through their huge collection of Victorian era Christmas cards. He made copies, and just started playing around with them. “So the style just developed out of that rather than any planning being involved,” he would write in the Python’s ‘autobiography’. “I never analysed the stuff, I just did it the quickest, easiest way. And I could use images I really loved.”

A Christmas Mix for You – 2018

Well, here I go again. Another hour-plus of holiday music, both new and old, that you’re probably not familiar with. With this one, I’ve pretty much taken care of all the songs I originally felt like including way back in 2013. I can’t think of anything else that absolutely must be included. So if I post one again next year, I might just reissue that first mix.

Anyway, the track list and link are below the jump.

By the way, I think I’ve managed to balance the sound levels properly this time. Found a freeware music editor that lets you “normalize” sound files in a “batch process”.

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Yet Another Holiday Message from Our Sponsor

For some reason, this doesn’t come up on the lists of “Best Holiday Commercials”, though the knock-off one by Budweiser with their Clydesdales does. It’s got great simplicity, great visuals, great music, and it isn’t trying to sell you anything. It’s just a one-minute long Christmas card from the Miller Brewing Co. to everyone:

I don’t watch much TV these days, so I haven’t really noticed what’s current in holiday TV ads. But there’s one sort that really gets my goat – those car ads where the husband buys a new car for his wife. The ones where the car has the big ribbon and bow on it.

I know that we shouldn’t expect TV World to be an accurate reflection of reality – but who does this? Who buys a luxury car for someone as a Christmas present? Yeah, there are people who a so stinking rich that they could if they wanted to, but those aren’t the people shown in the ads.

The couples/families in the ads look to be upper middle class. The sorts of people that would not be making a major purchase – like a luxury car – without full knowledge and consultation of everyone. I can picture the wife, when the cameras stop rolling, saying, “Wait a minute. How much did you spend on this? And where did you get that kind of money? What about the monthly payments? Who’s paying the insurance on it? What made you think I would want to have this exact car?” And then snowballs (because it’s always a snowy scene in these ads) and worse being thrown about in anger.

Then there’s the subtle sexism in the ads. You never see a *wife* buying the car, do you. A lot of TV ads have what could be called “reverse sexism” in them. The husband/man tends to be shown as stupid, sloppy, forgetful, and incompetent – the wife/woman is the one who somehow fixes everything. It doesn’t tick me off that much; I figure it’s a sort of payback for all the sexism against women over the decades (or centuries). If you don’t believe that this exists, next time you see a TV ad with a husband and wife, imagine it with the roles reversed….

Anyway, enjoy your holidays. And may you get something that’s actually practical and useful – and doesn’t require any extra payments on your part.

 

On the Holiday Window Displays

Since I was in Manhattan recently, with time to kill, I took the opportunity to stroll up Fifth Avenue and check out the big holiday displays – Lord & Taylor, Saks, Tiffany, Bergdorf Goodman.

L&T had their usual fantasy scenes. I couldn’t get close enough to Saks to see what was in their windows, but they did have their big light and sound show on the facade.

Pro Tip: The best way to see the Rockefeller Center tree? Come at it from Sixth Ave, or one of the side streets. It is practically impossible to approach it from Fifth Avenue, because that’s where the mob of humanity is forced into tight passageways. Approach the tree from another direction, and you can get right up to it!

TIffany featured some nice winter scenes with silver and diamonds. Bergdorf Goodman saluted NYC cultural attractions in their windows.

While I have no problems with any of the displays, I do have some ideas for things I’d like to see…

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A Christmas Mix for You – Vol 4

Well, it’s that time again.

I’ve kind of fallen into the common trap with these collections. You gather all your favorites, and find you have too many for one collection. So you pick a few to go in Volume 1, and then add a few that didn’t quite make the cut to the batch for next year. And then the next year, you find you’ve got only a few “favorites”, so you do your best to pad out the collection to make something worth putting together and sharing. Then, you realize you somehow forgot a few, but four or five songs do not really make a “mix tape”, so you pad it out with general stuff that you hope people like…

Well, there it is. I’ve got a few more (three or four) that I could toss out next year. Kind of like stocking stuffers when compared to the big gifts. Or I could just repost the first Mix from 2014. We’ll see what I feel like next November, when I start thinking about this.

Anyway, here’s the link:

http://www.dropbox.com/s/lcdt2075r2ln0ka/Chirstmas%20Mix%204%20-%202017.zip?dl=0

And here’s the list of songs:

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