Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Christmas Songs From Funny to Gay

I was with my good friend Browneyes this weekend and one of the things we did was drive by a house that had a synchronized Christmas light display.  The house was not as spectacular as others on the block (other homes were in the 2 to 4 million range and had brick exteriors a rarity in Southern California and huge doors) but what the house lacked in high end aesthetics it made up for in the display.  The low watt radio station pumped out Christmas music as the lights danced.  Browneyes was fixated on the display and liked the songs and even bought some on Itunes later.

This song was stuck in my head for two days

As we left we started to rank Christmas songs and found it caused some discord and almost devolved into an argument over Christmas songs.  We decided it was futile to move each others' opinion on Christmas songs so we moved on.  For some reason we did agree on a plan for Jewish kids to celebrate Hanukkah. We figured that since they don't do the Santa thing they could get their pictures taken with the Maccabee Brothers in front of a large Menorah.  Now that is capitalism my friends.

Jewish kids should revel in a holiday that celebrates a war victory rather than a fat man giving things away

As a result of the discord we stopped talking about the songs but this does not stop me from forming my own ranks.  I have decided that the songs will be in categories.


"Last Christmas" by Wham.

 No song seems to cause more arguments over its merits than this song.  It has been covered by many artist and is a staple of the season.  Google Last Christmas with the word gay and you will find many pro and con argument over whether the song is about a gay couple.  My ex loved this song and quite a few others.  I guess it is subject to whether you find the works of George Michael pleasing.  Just like the song "YMCA" with it's obvious homoerotic lyrics it is up to you.  My take George Michael wrote the song so nuff said.  You decide.


Tie between "Christmas Shoes" by NEWSONG and "Same Old Lang Syne" by Dan Fogelberg

When deciding on sad Christmas songs you have to decide whether your sadness is because you feel bad because you spent close to $2000 on toys for ungrateful kids, in which "Christmas Shoes" fulfills your need for guilt.  Or if your sadness is because you cheated on your long time girlfriend with a waitress at Chili's then "Same Old Lang Syne" is for you.  The biggest difference is that "Shoes" is rather sappy and will rot our your teeth faster than a mouth full of candy canes while "Lang Syne" will just make you drink more and on Christmas day eating at the few open resturants with other lonely people.  It is a hard choice.

So again sappy.



"Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer" by Dr. Elmo

This song is one that seemed funny at the time but after one play you wish to destroy the nearest stereo within reach.  This song even inspired a Christmas cartoon of the same name.  To be fair there are a lot of so called funny Christmas songs that are not even funny at all, sarcastic nods to the over commercialization of Christmas which in itself is funny since they are making money off their objection or unintentionally funny.


Tie between "Jingle Bell Rock" by Hall and Oates and "Simply Having a Wonderful Christmas Time" by Paul McCartney and Wings.

Now I have to admit that both songs alone are harmless and not funny. I feel bad for putting Hall and Oates in this catagory as I kind of made fun of them in a previous article.  I was reminded they were college friends and have not been subject to crazy allegations of excessive drug use.  Also it was pointed out that "You Make My Dreams" by them is catchy.  All true but it doesn't excuse them for hiring a bad video director. As for Paul McCartney other than his 1973 album Band On the Run it is kind of clear that his songwriting ability went south in comparison to John Lennon.  I put it this way, name one iconic song that Paul wrote after the Beatles and compare it to John's work and you have your answer.  However I give him "Jet" and "Simply Having a Wonderful Christmas Time".    The video is amusing.

Hall and Oates effort

Paul McCartney's effort


"Jesus Christ" by Big Star

It really isn't a true Christmas song in the strict sense of the word but for most of the country that knows little about this band it is a song that shows how good they were.  Big Star is one of those bands that once you find you say why didn't they become more popular.  All things considered they do have a legacy so they are successful.  Other underrated Christmas songs include "Father Christmas" from the Kinks,  or if you miss bubblegum music "My Christmas Card to You" by David Cassidy and the Partridge Family.  But in all seriousness I recommend you check Big Star and enjoy this somewhat Christmas song.


Best Christmas song "White Christmas" by Bing Crosby and Best Performance "Drummer Boy"  duet with Bing Crosby and David Bowie

Bing Crosby was many things, nice father is not one of them if you believe his eldest son's book Going My Own Way.  However you have to admit that "White Christmas" is just a song that everyone knows and can be used for many things.  During the Fall of Siagon the song was played to signal US Personnel and others to get out of Vietnam.  "Drummer Boy" is an old song but his duet with David Bowie in 1976 is just cool.  I give you both songs so you can decide.

Crosby and Bowie

"White Christmas"

I hope you enjoyed my list so I leave you now with the song that got stuck in my head.  Aren't I rotten.

Monday, August 23, 2010

What is Random?

This is my first post. I thank my longtime friend Pam Hermanson Camel for challenging me to write about my obsession with randomness. I start by answering the question, what is random? First there is the dictionary definition (meaning: proceeding, made, or occurring without definite aim, reason, or pattern) and there is my definition. My definition of random are those things that happen to us that either break our concentration during a serious or solemn occasion, (think someone coughing during a test, or if you are into lowbrow humor someone in church passing gas) or events or things however small that somehow impact you or someone else when the reasons given are based on ideal visions of the event. Now the second part of the definition needs some examples and I provide two dissimilar events from history.

November 9, 1620 the Pilgrims (actually they didn't call themselves that but that is another story) running low on beer go ashore on what is now Plymouth Bay leading to the establishment of a colony and eventually the basis for the Thanksgiving Holiday.

January 29, 1979 Brenda Ann Spencer opens fire on a San Diego elementary school killing two people and wounding several others. Her rationale as told to police was that she didn't like Mondays.

Two unrelated events, but caused by something really insignificant. The Pilgrims and their beer emergency led to the establishment of a colony and New England, and became the basis of America’s unique holiday Thanksgiving. The other event, a murder by a 16 year old girl based on her dislike of Mondays, (Yes, I know there was probably something more to it, but really sometimes you have to accept a person’s reason at face value, and a dislike for Monday fits the definition of a random reason.) foreshadowed something more sinister growing in our culture that sadly has become to be seen as normal.

Contrary to popular belief, history is riddled with examples of random ideas, events and things that have caused larger things or events to change our world. To ignore randomness comforts us, because people like to think big things shape us and not little things. Big is often seen as better. Many like to think that Lee Harvey Oswald acted with others; it bothers us that one man with a random grudge could change the world.

Many people hate randomness and the small things, but I love it. I like to have fun with it. I loved TV shows that based their premise on well off white people taking in orphan black kids to raise as their own. Okay, one orphan show had a struggling photographer raising a girl but you get the idea. These things mattered to me, and for others it might be reality TV, music, the Internet or anything but lets not pretend that we were affected in some way.  Accept it. 

 I loved the small and random things of my childhood that truly shaped me. It wasn’t my folk’s actions that defined me but rather their lack of actions. Don’t get me wrong, they did a great job in providing for me and my siblings, but my folks were drama free. No abuse, no drinking problems, or other strangeness, rather they loved us, cared for us, protected us and did a great job. They were boring and I love them for that and again thanks Mom and Dad.  I owe you tens of thousands for the food you bought for me.  Let me get rich quick and I promise to make a payment.  Someday.  Oh, let me get back to my topic.

What filled the gap were events from my youth, which I will explore in future posts, where such things as visits to other peoples home.  When my folks visited their peers for whatever reason I often I was expected to behave, fair enough, but also play with the other children.  Yet, I often was scared out of my mind because how do I put this, I found most of them disgusting. I don’t care how young you are, your bedroom shouldn’t smell like urine, sweat and other fluids ever.  What the hell where these kids parents doing.  Okay, rant over and more details in future random posts but still.  Other traumas were as a kid being invited to birthday parties and being disappointed because the kid’s parents thought carrot cake would satisfy a child’s sweet tooth. Another defining event was my next door neighbors who entertained me and my family with cops, open infidelity and other poor behavior.  I could go on, and will in due time.  Lets just say, your environment does matter. 

Other random loves of mine are current events. I love reading and watching current events, but not for the reasons we see or think about. An example is a little noticed story on the Taliban and what people see from the drones and find on Taliban abandoned laptops. I will explore this topic in a later post but from the words of one military official describing the Taliban most are absolute perverts.  Who knew that a group of people who pride themselves on piety and oppression of women would have some interesting personal and Internet viewing habits. 

It’s my love of sensational news events, horrible TV show ideas, pop culture, the cultural ramifications of the 1983 US Festival, Different Strokes, the Cosby Show, Facts of Life, wedding dance songs, and details that are really minor and other things that lead me to study, discuss and hopefully educate everyone on random things and have fun while doing it. However here is what will not be discussed in this blog. Really, you can’t avoid these topics completely but they will be downplayed to a great extent.

The biggest taboo will be Politics. This blog will be for the most part a politics free zone. If a politician is ever discussed it will be in the context of their actions and small or random detail. A made up example will be that politician with a rich background buying food at a McDonald's and only ordering a salad and not fries. I love it when such people who are more accustom to eating sushi decide to try greasy ribs, cheesesteaks or fried Oreos. Entertainment with a capital E.   Will a sex scandal be discussed?  Depends on what it is, how kinky and if the person is interesting at all.  If it involves Guatemalan poolboys then the answer will probably be yes. 

This blog will refrain from overtly personal attacks. I hate it when a writer or a TV personality calls a particular person stupid or questions their intelligence. It speaks to the inability of the writer to articulate a reason for their dislike and shows that the attacker is the one who lacks intelligence. If I don't like a person or think I will tell you why and in detail. You the reader are free to disagree with the reason or reasons, but at least I gave you one. However, if I do make a comment I will try to be humorous, civil or at least short. Lets try one.  OJ Simpson got away with murder and is a horrible person.  Did it work?  You decide. 

Finally, this blog is designed to be fun and get you thinking. I hate sites that seem to take themselves so seriously that they forget that the goal of any writing is to engage the reader and keep them coming back. No one wants to be scolded, to be lectured (unless you like that thing) be insulted, or bored. You want some entertainment. Hopefully I will do that for you.

I love a good story, a good insight, humor and insanity. So you will find stories about Scientology (one of my favorite topics), America, and discussions on politically incorrect subjects like the joys of smoking and drinking. Name one article in the press that has discussed drinking or smoking in a positive light. Yes, it’s unhealthy, but some people enjoy it. Why not talk about it. Why not talk about how stupid the stranger danger thing was in the 1980s. Or as I like to point out, some kids did get kidnapped, but I didn’t and odds are you didn’t either so I guess it really wasn’t as big as deal as you thought. Look I don’t know anything. I really don’t. I am still learning, living and enjoying life. I hope that as we move along that we all have fun, get our juices flowing. Oh, if I don’t anger someone during this process I will know that I have failed. I don’t want to be loved or seen as a messenger. That’s what egotistical people say when they are insecure.  As Groucho Marx said, "I wouldn't want to be a member of a club that would have me as a member."  I want to be just a facilitator in a journey of our experience. In short, I want you to come back. How random of me.