Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Christmas Fallout

Happy Tidings, blog readers. I know that I should've posted this entry days ago, but one gift that I received in particular has consumed my life for the past week:

Super Paper Mario for the Wii. It's a pretty awesome game, but I fear that the gameplay went too quickly. I started on Christmas, and I'm already up to Chapter 8, the last chapter of the story.

I think that it's good enough to warrant a review of it in a later entry, but I make that promise too often on here. I also make the promise to give the ShamWow Guy a blow to the head via a Cricket Bat, but it too has since gone unresolved.

The term "Christmas Fallout" refers to a yearly entry on X-Entertainment.com. The site's overlord creator, Matt, shows off his gifts that his unseen family and mysterious benefactors who buy stuff off his Amazon Wish List got him for the big day. Naturally, the rest of the X-E blog readers join in and discuss the awesome and not-so-awesome stuff that Santa shoved down their stockings.

Without further delay, here is the rest of the swag that I got for Christmas:

(From my friend Steve)

(my big bro in my frat finally got me a good DVD after 3 Christmases)

(Two, in fact!)

All in all, a good haul. I also got the requisite cash, the 2008 HESS Truck, a batch of homemade cookies from another friend (delish, by the way, for the unlikely chance that she's reading), and a $25 Gift Card to Buffalo Wild Wings. As I mentioned on the start, Super Paper Mario has consumed my soul, which caused me to get extremely behind on my DVD viewing. I also know that I'm probably going to get to the American Dad set last, mostly due to the fact that I still haven't watched Volume 2. Which I received last Christmas!

I also extended the deadline for my Christmas Quiz (which is two entries below this one) to 11:59pm on January 3rd, due to...no entries. Was no one reading? Or was it really that hard? If you only know a few questions, do not hesitate to enter, because you'll probably be the only entrant!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Obligatory Christmas Entry!

Every year, Christmas arrives, yet it still manages to surprise the hell out of us. It seems like yesterday was December 1st, but BOOM! The big day has already come and gone, at least by the time you read this.

In lieu of actually contributing something of value today, let's check in with our good friend, Tingles The Christmas Tension!

Expect my Christmas Fallout Entry™ within the next day or so. Until then,


Oh, and check out my other blog, In 10 Words. It's updated each weekday, and has been serving up Christmas-themed entries all month long!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Christmas Quiz!

For the first time in quite a few years, my little slice of Earth might actually receive a White Christmas. Or what's left of last week's snowstorm, that is.

And what better to waste some time waiting for the Yuletide than with a little quiz about Christmas? Like my little games on Catch Phrases and Disney Songs in the past, it basically works the same way: I ask 20 questions, you send me the answers at my email address at beamingforbunnies@gmail.com. Whoever gets the most correct will be declared the winner. I'm not going to make the prize a "write an entry" prize this time. I still haven't received the entries from the last winners.

Since this time of the year is a slow time for internet viewing, I'll make the deadline 11:59pm on December 29th. UPDATE: I'VE EXTENDED THE DEADLINE TO JANUARY 3RD

And like the first two games, it'll start off easy, but #20 will be notoriously difficult.

1. What does Ralphie want for Christmas in "A Christmas Story?"
2. Who voiced Sam The Snowman in "Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer?"
3. What color is the bulb on top of Charlie Brown's lame Christmas Tree?
4. What does Frosty The Snowman say when he comes to life?
5. Who narrates & Voices The Grinch in the cartoon version of "How The Grinch Stole Christmas?"
6. According to "The Chipmunk Song," what does Alvin want for Christmas?
7. What organization tracks Santa's journey every year on Christmas Eve?
8. The names of Santa's reindeer are revealed in what poem?
9. What gas station releases a toy truck every year?
10. What holiday is celebrated during "The Star Wars Holiday Special?"
11. What is Odie's gift to Garfield in the "Garfield Christmas Special?"
12. In "A Charlie Brown Christmas," what part does Lucy want to play in the Christmas Play?
13. Who narrates "Santa Claus is Comin' To Town?"
14. What is Peter Griffen's favorite Christmas special?
15. Who are the two hosts of "A Claymation Christmas Celebration?"
16. In "A Claymation Christmas Celebration," what song do the Walruses ice skate to?
17. How many gifts do you receive on the 12th Day of Christmas?
18. What day is Festivus celebrated on?
19. How many Rankin-Bass Christmas specials and movies does Santa appear in?
20: Out of that number, how many times has Mickey Rooney provided the voice of Santa?

I apologize that math is slightly involved this time around.

If you're the Christmas-loving soul that I know you are, Santa may give you some goodies this year. Oh, and you'll probably win. There's that to look forward to.

Remember: Send me an email with your answers to beamingforbunnies@gmail.com before 11:59pm on December 29th. UPDATE: I'VE EXTENDED THE DEADLINE TO JANUARY 3RD

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Carols For Christmas: The Ugly

It's finally down to being less than one week away from Christmas! It's my favorite week of all, second only to Shark Week.

But did a shark stick on a Santa hat and delivered gifts to all of the good guppies out there? Fuck no! That would be ridiculous and you should be injected with some kind of death serum for thinking that.

You know what else brings up that analogy? These Christmas songs! Yes, the songs in this particular entry didn't seem to be either good or bad, and deserved an entry for themselves.

The strange, the unecessary, the WTF. Enjoy.

Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer

It's that oh-so-simple story of Grandma chugging too much eggnog on Christmas Eve, then being the victim of an accidental hit-and-run with Santa's sleigh on her walk home. Morbid? Yes. Funny? Yes.

Depressing? Perhaps. It seems that in the end, the boy telling the story and his Grandpa were the only people who seemed to be saddened by Grandma's death. I would too, if my Grandma had sudeenly be killed on Christmas Eve by a mishap that would've been hard to explain to the doctors and life insurance agencies.

And like most novelty Christmas songs, it got the "Adaptation into a Dumb Christmas Special" treatment which featured Elmo's follow-up song "Grandpa's Gonna Sue The Pants Off Santa." I don't care what you say, Cartoon Network and CW/PIX11, it is NOT a classic, and never will be. The new "Miser Brothers Christmas" special seems more classic-worthy than that dreck of a lazy cartoon.

The Snowmiser & Heatmiser Songs

Speaking of the Miser brothers, their respective songs deserve a place here as well. Rankin-Bass was not only famous for creating hour-long adaptations of three minute Chirstmas songs, but they were also notable for introducing charaters that had nothing to do with the song at all.

Just think about it: Yukon Cornelius, SD Kruger, Burgermeister Meisterburger, Frosty's Wife Crystal, Jesus. In the case of "The Year Without a Santa Claus," we got Snowmiser (the guardian of the poles and all cold weather) and his brother Heatmiser (watched over the tropics and wants everything to be hot).

By the time that Rankin-Bass got to this special, they had pretty much given up on adapting good Christmas songs, and simply attempted to make their obligatory Christmas cartoon with an unrelated yuletide song awkwardly shoehorned into it. In YWaSC's case, it was Elvis's "Blue Christmas" sung by children to convince Santa to not call off Christmas because he got lazy when he caught a damn common cold. So what did the RB lyrical Gods do? Write their own songs, of course!

Now early on, Jules Bass must have realized that he can get two checks for writing slightly different lyrics for essentially the same song. This is where Heatmiser and Snowmiser come in. They had no actual role in anything, but were conceived to be sprits to be in charge of Christmas weather, and are constantly in battle over whether the world should have a "White Christmas" or a "Green Christmas." They were also noted to be hams for the camera, and love singing songs about themselves, while not realizing that neither of them are very original.

Snowmiser is Mr. White Christmas, he's Mr. Snow. He's Mr. Icicle and he's Mr. 10 Below. Friends call him Snowmiser because whatever he touches, turns to snow in his clutch. He'd never want to know a day that's over 40 degress. He'd rather have 30, 20, 10, 5, then let em freeze. He's too much.

Whereas with Heatmiser, he's Mr. Green Christmas and Mr. Sun. He's also Mr. Heat Blister as well as Mr. 101. They call him Heatmiser because whatever he touches, starts to melt in his clutch. Unlike Snowmiser, he'd never wants to know a day under 60 degress. He'd rather have it 80, 90, 100 degrees. Like his brother, he's too much.

What is it about 50 degrees fahrenheit that neiter brother wants to touch? Either way, I still like these songs. They're some of the better earworms out there, I'll give you that.

Christmas at Ground Zero

I knew you were wondering how Weird Al was going to factor into this. One of the two great Christmas songs that he recorded (the other being "The Night Santa Went Crazy"), it's also one of his most morbid. Regardless of its more ominous tone that it took after 2001, the song is actually a lighthearted satire for the Cold War. Such is Weird Al, such is this quite an awesome song. It's just the video that he made that always gave me the chills.

Joy To The World

This is the very sequence from Will Vinton's "A Claymation Christmas" that I mentioned back in the Good entry. Now that I'm 21, I imagine this scene was a serene and touching sequence with fantastic animation. The six year-old version of Galileo thought that the gradual zoom-in on that stop-motion Chapel was traumatizing for fifteen years.

The "Christmas In The Stars" album

You may know of the infamous "Star Wars Holiday Special," but what about its brother, the Christmas album "Christmas In The Stars?" Nine songs of the most bizarre combo of Sci-Fi and Christmas than your average holiday episode of "Dr. Who," with most of them being sung by none other than C-3PO himself. Featuring such classics as "Bells, Bells, Bells," "What Do You Get a Wookie For Christmas (If He Already Owns a Comb)?" and a duet of "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" between R2-D2 and John Bongiovi. Let's not forget 3PO's upbeat tune "The Odds Against Christmas."

It's notable for the sole reason that, unlike the TV abomination, the album is actually tolerable in that "so bad, it's good" sort of way. I've mentionee my KB Toys job before, and two songs in particular from this album ("What Do You Get a Wookie For Christmas," (embedded above) and "Merry, Merry Christmas") had shown up on the Christmas Muzak during nonconsecutive years. Since the mix CD repeated itself every 4 hours, they were among the select few songs that I had not only tolerated, but actually looked forward to listening to.

It's Beginning To Look a Lot Like Christmas

There's nothing really wrong with this song. It's just that every time that I listen to it, I always imagine that if someone decided to go on a killing spree that would make any action movie proud, this song would be playing in the background.

The Chipmunk Song

Ditto with this one. There's a sequence in my screenplay that currently exists in my mind where a Jason-esque serial killer sneaks up and then bludgeons someone with a machete as soon as the Chipmunks got to the "Christmas, don't be laaaaaaate" part. The strike would occur at the "laaaaaaate," followed by a quick cut to black to the next scene.

I just love the 1960's-ness of this song, a decade where requesting a hula hoop for Christmas was considered rebellious.

Is it strange that whenever someone first discovers this song, it was on a recording medium that's one step behind the norm? I first had the song on a cassette tape in the early 90's, when CDs and Walkmans were all the rage. I can imagine some kind finding the 45 of it when Cassette tapes were popular, and one where someone found an 8 track of it during 45's heyday.

Oh Come All Ye Faithful - Twisted Sister

Surely when we think of Christmas music, we think of the Long Island-based glam metal group "Twisted Sister." You may not, but I'm making it my life's effort to make it so, one poor soul at a time. When enough are amassed, then we'll see who has the eggs now, Mother.

They managed to take this ho-hum Jesus song, and make it awesome.

Simply Having A Wonderful Christmas Time

I stuck this song here because it seems to be the most polarizing Christmas song of them all. People either love it or hate this one. I, for one, happen to be a fan of the song. So what if it's got Paul McCartney wishing us Merry Christmas with cheesy synthesizer goodness? It was the 80's, it was the norm. That, and I love cheesy, synthesized 80's music.

That's it for The Good, The Bad & The Ugly of Christmas Songs. Check back here every day for more potential postings!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Carols For Christmas: The Bad

As I mentioned in the previous entry, in terms of Christmas music, there's a much wider ratio between awesome and crap compared to the songs for Halloween. And like I said at the end, this entry will focus on the bad, the worse, the crappiest of Christmas tunes!

Now, there are certainly good songs with really horrible covers (and every good and bad Christmas songs have their shares), but I'm only focusing on the songs where you just wonder how anyone thought that they were good ideas. I'm not even going to dignify this list with telling you the performers of these songs. One, because they're awful. Second, it'll be easier to replace the videos once youtube inevitably takes them down.

The 12 Pains of Christmas

Ok, I may have lied about that "original songs only" promise, but this take on the 12 Days of Christmas is original enough. The 12 things that Christmas does to piss you off seems like a good concept for a festive novelty song. But really, you really don't want to be reminded of these little tidbits...again. I'll admit, I do enjoy what seems to be Jason Alexander's voice and his increasing frustration over rigging up lights, as well as the voice for the Christmas Card Guy.

I just can't stand that little kid at all. Whatever Deity you worship, just shut that damn little kid up!

Feliz Navidad

I've never been a fan of this song. It's not BAD, but six years of working in retail with this and several other covers of the song thrashing my eardrums has taken its toll. If you listen closely, I'm pretty sure that they're saying "from the bottle of my heart." I know, Jose Feliciano says "bottom of my heart," but his accent just makes it much too vague. I hope I'm not the only person whose first exposure of the song came from Oscar The Grouch ice skating to it during the opening of "Christmas Eve on Sesame Street."

The cover by Charo (embedded above), notable for an accent thicker than IHOP Maple Syrup, definitely says "bottle of my heart." I would like to know what kind of bottle would be found in your heart. Hopefully something with enough alcoholic content to numb my senses from this playlist.

The Most Wonderful Time of The Year

This song in particular was added on request from my friend Steve. This song is just too jolly for my tastes.

His biggest concern towards this song is the lyric "scary ghost stories, and tales of glory, of Christmasses long, long ago." I think it's a reference to "A Christmas Carol."

All I Want For Christmas (is My Two Front Teeth)

This song and I have a relationship that goes back a few years. Back when I was in the Cub Scouts in Elementary School, the treat that we got for Christmas was that we got to introduce Christmas songs on a local radio station (it was WXBA, which operated out of Bay Shore High School if I remember right). The only song I got to introduce awkwardly? This one.

The song is one of those cases where it's just a bad song, with even crappier covers. Do NOT get me started on the cover by Theodore from Alvin & The Chipmunks. Ugh.

So This is Christmas (The War is Over)

In my eyes, one of the only stains on John Lennon's career. Just what war is he talking about that's over? The Race War? The Cola Wars? The Falklands conflict? It couldn't be the Cold War, as that ended 9 years after he died.

The one part that take a file to my brain? The chorus where they go "The waaaaaaarrrr iiiissssss ovvverrrrrrrrrr!!" Is that the harmony of several little kids, or just Yoko Ono's voice overlapped several times?

Christmas Shoes

No. Just...no. The saddest Christmas song that could ever be devised, and this is it. It's like three scientists were locked in a lab and were threatened to be gassed unless they could discover the formula for the most depressing Christmas song of all time.

There's a guy waiting in line behind a little boy buying shoes. Okay. The boy then gets sad that he doesn't have enough money to buy them for his mom. Aww, the little kid wants to get his mom a gift. But wait.

He needs to buy them because "there's not much time left." Wait, what?! Apparently, the boy's mom is dying and he wants to buy her some shoes so "she'll look good if she meets Jesus tonight." Okay, that's it, off goes the radio.

And the clerk just wants the money and doesn't give a damn that the mom is dying. That might seem mean to the rest of you, but this is actually my reaction when people don't realize that the pharmacy at my CVS closes at 6 on Saturdays and Sundays.

"But he's gonna die if he doesn't get his prescription!"
"Should've gotten here before 6, then."

As all Christmas songs go, the guy behind him finally gives in and decides to give the boy his change and the boy goes off on his merry way. Until the mom does go to meet Jesus, that is.

That's a really malicious God up there if the way he teaches the Guy to be more giving is to let this kid's mom die on Christmas Eve. I kind of like that.

Click here to see Patton Oswalt's take on the song. Speaking of which, my friend Pilver also rated this song on her Worst Christmas Songs list. Also, Click here for The Christmas Shoes entry for my other blog, In 10 Words.

Dominic The Donkey

This is truly the worst Christmas song I've ever heard. Whenever this song is played, it makes me want to grab a candy cane, whittle it into a shiv, and then drive it into my ear.

Simply put: not only is this song offensive to good taste and Christmas, it's also offensive to Italians, Donkeys, and Italian Donkeys. They are the most vulnerable group of them all.

My mom loves this for some reason. Perhaps it's because she's full-blooded Italian and the other half of my blood wants to murder every person involved with the creation of this song.

That's it for this entry. Next time I'll focus on The Ugly: The weirdest and most random of Christmas songs out there.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Carols For Christmas: The Good

The Christmas season is upon us yet again. If there's one factor that truly ushers in the Christmas season, it's the songs. Like the "Soundtracks For Summer" and "Haunts For Halloween" entries before it, everyone has their own set of songs that simply remind them of this joyous holiday.

But unlike Summer, whose songs vary in nature and genre that simply evoke heat and relaxation, and Halloween, which are awesome and are great for listening year-round, Christmas songs are only tolerable during that all-too-brief 25 day-or-so period. I say this due to our retail and radio systems wishing to blast festive cheer into our eardrums as early as October. When I used to work at KB Toys, I remember one year where the Christmas music started around mid-October and didn't end until Early February. Now that the store I worked at closed, I can finally tell the nonexistent fellow employees to go fuck themselves for letting overworked teenagers and parents alike be succumbed to Kidz Bop-esque torture.

And with the fact that Christmas is the greatest and most hyped holiday of the entire year, there's no surprise that there's an enormous plethora of songs to choose from. Unlike Halloween songs which have been proven before to universally awesome, there's a whole lotta muck with Christmas tunes. You have to pan through all of the "Now That's What I Call Christmas 57," "Has-Been Pop Stars That You've Never Heard Of Butcher Your Favorite Holiday Classics Vol. 3," and "Dogs Barking 'Hark, The Herald Angel Sings'" albums to get to the good stuff.

This entry, the first in a short series, will deal with my favorite Christmas songs of all.

Holly Jolly Christmas - Burl Ives

I love "Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer" as much as the next guy, but realizing that Santa was a total dick throughout the whole special kind of dampens its enjoyability. Thankfully, the God-Like Burl Ives as our narrating snowman manages to counterbalance this with his legendary pipes. It might have arrived at the end of the special, but his version of "Holly Jolly Christmas" always manages to welcome the season every single year. Thanks to my current job at CVS, I get to hear this tune every single day. Not a bad deal, if I may say so.

Note: I wanted to embed the version from Rudolph, but the quality was too crappy. Why is there only 1 video of that on youtube?

Last Christmas - Wham

If there's one song by Wham that I can admit to enjoying, it's "Last Christmas." I was born in 1987, but I'd like to imagine that this was how people in the 80's actually celebrated Christmas. I'd also like to say that I'm a fan of the Jimmy Eat World version of the song, but in all fairness, Wham came first. So there.

Father Christmas - The Kinks

This economic implosion getting you down? Feeling like those Salvation Army Santas are now mocking you with their bells all a-clanging, their convenience to good deeds, and their ability to identify three prostitutes at a time? Are you wishing that they could be on the business end of your coal-inducing wrath? Well, never fear, The Kinks feel the same way!

Christmas Eve/Sarajevo 12/24 - Trans-Siberian Orchestra

Star Wars vs Star Trek. Dropkick Murphys vs Flogging Molly. Luxembourg vs Portugal. It always seems like everyone you ask either likes one group or the other. In terms of awesome orchestral Christmas music, it comes down to Manheim Steamroller vs The Trans-Siberian Orchestra. Fortunately for you readers, I'm in the camp of fans of the latter group. On the other hand, blogging friend Pilver is a fangirl for Manheim Steamroller.

Her loss. So why did I choose this song over their more well-known "Wizards in Winter," which, like Manheim Steamroller's "Deck The Halls," was also famously synched to house lights? Just give the above video a listen. It stands as one of the most beautiful pieces of music that I've ever listened to, and I've had my share of listening to the classic Classicals in Music 100 (which, on a digressing note, was NOT Music 101, which happened to be Music Theory).

Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer - The California Raisins

Gene Autry. Burl Ives. Your Third Grade class that was forced to sing it at your elementary school's winter concert. We've all heard this song from just about anyone who had a voicebox. It's a pretty hard song to muck up. Hell, I'm not alone in which that I've added "like a light bulb" and "...and Monopoly!" after the corresponding verses when I was a kid. I don't still do that. Nope, no way.

That being said, the version sung by the California Raisins for Will Vinton's "A Claymation Christmas" was hands-down the best version that I've ever heard. It was an excellent Christmas special, and it's a damn shame that it's not being shown on TV anymore. It's currently on DVD with its lesser known Halloween and Easter counterparts, but like most Christmas specials out there, watching it on TV with the commercials included somehow seems right.

This sketch, the last one of the special, was a perfect way to close out the show. Wallace & Gromit wouldn't appear on the scene for a few years, so the California Raisins were the most famous Claymation Icons out there. And in that great Will Vinton way, not only is the animation awesome, and the song is fantastically performed, it performs a Christmas show rarity by being genuinely funny.

"There goes the last bus!"
"So call me a cab."
"Hey man, you're a cab!"

It was definitely a palate cleanser from that nightmarish "Joy To The World" segment. I still don't know why that one scene freaked me out as a kid. Perhaps it was the fact that a claymated Chapel moving gradually larger into the frame triggered some sort of "religious evil" reaction in my mind.

Christmas in Hollis - Run DMC

Hip-Hop used to be fun, people. We used to rap about Mom, collard greens, and Run DMC finding Santa, thereby helping him save Christmas. Now the only red and green I keep hearing about is about people busting caps in their peeps to watch money rain out of them, or something or other. It all seems to blend together to me these days.

Fairytale of New York - The Pogues

Sadly, the ultimate "FAIL" of Pilver's list was the omission of this song. Dear heavens, do I think that this song is beautiful. Just every moment of this song is fantastic, and it actually reaches out of my jukebox, opens up my ribcage, watch the money pour out, and touch my heart. I'll be a man and admit that I've cried to this song. Depending on the year, they were either tears of joy or tears of depression of loves lost.

It's your atypical love song about drunks, dreams, and love at Christmas time. That, and I loves me some dreary Irish music.

That's it for today. Tune in next time for The Bad. Until then, check out X-Entertainment's Christmas Jukebox, where you can hear these and other great Xmas tunes to get your nog on.