Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas Spirit(s)

Feliz Navidad, X-Mas Peeps!

As someone who's incessantly accused of overt hum-buggery (?) I feel that I must defend my festive reputation.

So, here it is, folks:


(10) Life-Threatening Weather  I'm a bit of a snowstorm masochist, which is totally left over from growing up in Stephenville, Newfoundland.  At the risk of evoking charges of blow-hardery with such phrases as "BACK IN MY DAY..." I do have to make the claim that Old Man Winter seems to have gotten a helluva lot more pussified over the years.

Age may be clouding my memory a bit, but when I was a kid it would usually start snowing around the first of November and not let up until around May 23'rd (if it was a good year).

During this time you'd also get about three or four rip-roaring storms that would last for days, barricade you indoors and then threaten to trigger a veritable rash of Donner Party re-enactments.

Even now I can't resist the urge to don johns that are long (try saying that five times real fast), strap on my boots, en-parka-nate myself and then venture out for a long walk during white-out conditions.  Let me tell, Holiday shoppers, if you actually make it back alive from such a harrowing expedition you'll never again feel guilt over staying indoors until the second week of June.    

This one dove-tails nicely with...

(9)  Outdoor Shenanigans  As I get older and my circulatory system begins to approximate that of an eighty year old shut-in, I'm becoming increasingly unlikely to take advantage of this one.

But if you can force yourself to go outside for some skating, skiing, snowshoeing, sledding, or even just marinating in a snowbank while wearing a ski-do suit, you'll regress back to fuzzy childhood Christmas memories faster then William Hurt goes feral in Altered States.

Bonus points if you linger outdoors long enough to flirt with Mr. Hypothermia, make it back to your heated womb-like home and get pulled back from the brink of death with the timely administration of six gallons of stout, marshmallow-infused hot chocolate.  Regardless of your denomination, nothing will get you praising Sweet Baby Jesus quicker then a near-death sub-zero experience ...

(8) Tempting The Collapse Of Your Local Church Down On Top Of Your Head  Look, I've been accused of making Bill Maher look like Pat Buchanan but there's still something uniquely magical about being guilted into going to church once a year.  I don't know if it's the aroma of self-righteousness or incense, but when you're interred in a large, spartan, echoey chamber being bored into the preliminary stages of Alzheimer's you're quickly reminded of the true "Reazon for Da Seazon", yo.  Also, occasionally you can luck out and score a talented choir who, if they have any skillz whatsoever, can really raise the hair on the back of your neck.    

Which bring me to...

(7) Christmas Carols That Don't Suck.  I really 'effin despise cutesy contemporary X-mas caterwauling.  As far as I'm concerned "I Saw Mommy Knobbing Santa Claus", "The Little Drummer Nerd" and "Jingle Bell C@*k" are all auditory death.

I much prefer olde skool Holiday tunez.  And by olde skool I mean friggin' Medieval.  Frankly, you just can't top A-list material like "Silent Night, "O Holy Night" or "Good King Wenceslas".

Testify for me, York Minster Choir!  

Not bad, huh?  I have to admit that "Oliver Reed's" shout-out at the 1:56 mark kinda scared the poop out of me.  Overall, though, I think it was worth the little falsetto kid sacrificing his testicles, don'tcha think?   

Honestly, I have no friggin' clue who this Wenceslas cat was and/or what part of the world he was supposedly king of.  And frankly the song's lyrics are more incomprehensible then Pearl Jam's "Yellow Ledbetter", but, hey, it's still a bitchin' tune.

Speakin' of "kings"...

(6) ♪♫ Blue x 4 Christmas ♪♫  Y'know, they say that the world is divided into Elvis people or Beatles people.  I firmly place myself in the latter camp, but damned if this melodic tune doesn't have me reaching for the spiced eggnog and pondering a Holiday-themed suicide note.

Damn my parents for their overt brain-washery!  They played the ever-lovin' shirt out of this album when I was a kid and now that I'm home I'll prolly hear it another ho-ho-ho-jillion times.  Well, at least it's a better heavy rotation option then that godawful new Coldplay track.

(5) You're Supposed To Cut Up Not Across, Right?  Like I said before, most "contemporary" X-Mas songs blow reindeer d!@%, but there are a few notable exceptions.  Notably this 1987 remake by these four, young, enterprising lads from Dublin called "You Two".

Keep your eye on these guys, I really think they're gonna go places...

Cripes, why are all the Christmas songs I like depressing as s#!*?   WARNING: Every one of these tracks should be chased with a handful of Xanax...

(4)  "I Am The Ghost Of Christmas...yada, yada, yada"  I absolutely lurves Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol.  Although I must shamefully confess that I've never read the original novella (but I did read the crap outta David Copperfield), I've seen a slew of cinematic and T.V. movie iterations produced over the past sixty or seventy years.

I love the classic Albert Finney version, the extra-grumpy George C. Scott television movie, The Muppet Christmas Carol and the Disney adaptation starring Scrooge McDuck (man, talk about casting to type, huh?).

Here's one of my favorites, which is surprisingly bittersweet and unnerving for what's supposed to be a vapid sitcom.

(3) The Ballad of Max The Indomitable   Now, I'm talkin' about the classic Boris Karloff narrated, Chuck Jones animated How The Grinch Stole Christmas from 1966.  

So many memorable moments: Roast Beast, Who Hash, Max's martyrdom, the Grinch's prototypical and gleefully evil expressions, his snake-like method of locomotion and his triumphant redemption.

Honestly, if this nasty green bastard can come back from the brink of Bloefeld-level super-villainy, there's still hope for all of us, n'est pas?

Oh, and for the love of Jesus, Mary and Joseph (what?), don't wean your kids on that execrable Jim Carrey abomination from 2000.  Y'know, I'm talkin' about that crass piece of cinematic "product" which featured a marketing tie-in with Visa, A.K.A. "The Official Card of Whoville".

Wow, way to miss the entire f@#$%^& point, you greedy jack-holes!

(2)  Good, Grief  Nothing actimivates my feelings of Christmas nirvana quite like watching this poor, bald-headed manic depressive go through the motions every year.  Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown features a strong anti-corporate message, vintage animation,  authentic voice work from actual kids and a groovy jazz soundtrack to boot.

Despite (or perhaps because of) the anachronistic presence of characters like Peppermint Patty (who I suspect was probably evicted from Occupy Minneapolis last month), this perennial favorite seems even more timeless, important and relevant every year.

I can't help but crack up every time Snoopy goes spastic on top of Schroeder's piano and then slinks off under his withering glare.  Or when the pint-sized musician treats Lucy to a virtuoso performance which culminates with a one-fingered toy piano rendition of "Jingle Bells".

And again, although I'm just two steps away from official "heathen" status, I still well up like a sniffly little b!%$^ whenever Linus takes the stage to deliver his "true meaning of Christmas" speech.  By the time the kids transmute an alder branch into a Douglass Fir using Snoopy's Christmas lights and then start crooning "Hark The Herald Angels Sing" I get messier then Chris Crocker talking about Brittney Spears.

(1) Christmas "Spirits" (Fo' Reals, Yo!)  I.E. Guinness beer, Gabbiano Chianti and/or copious amounts of El Kapitan.

EPIC  I could never conceive of having the time to do this within my own lifetime, but kudos to people who do...

FAIL  Proving democracy still works:

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