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Archive for the ‘Babies’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: THE HU-“Wolf Totem” and “Yuve Yuve Yu” (2018).

The HU are a band from Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia who plays what they call Hunnu Rock.  There are four guys in the band: Gala, Jaya, Enkush, and Temka.

They have recently posted two videos online (after having been a band for about seven years).

Two of the men in the band play the morin khuur (морин хуур), or horsehead fiddle.  It’s a traditional Mongolian bowed stringed instrument. It is one of the most important musical instruments of the Mongol people, and is considered a symbol of the Mongolian nation.  The third member plays a shudraga, a three-stringed lute-like instrument which I suspect is being run through some distortion pedals.

Their instruments are beautiful with intricate designs on the neck and the heads.

Despite the traditional instruments, The Hu play very heavy music.  The shundraga appears to be playing some heavy chords, while the morin khuur play lots of cool solos.

The first song, “Wolf Totem” opens with what sounds like 1,000 thumping drums.  The morin khuur plays a bowed melody as the chanted vocals come forward.

The vocals are something of a guttural growl, but it makes sense as what you might think a Mongol leader might sound like.  There may even be some throat singing.

I also like that there’s an eagle call at the beginning and end of the song.

The fact that the video includes a host of leather jacketed motorcycle riders chanting the choral HU is pretty awesome.  And the Mongolian scenery is breathtaking.

The second song is “Yuve Yuve Yu.”  I’m mentioning the video first because it contrasts nicely.  It shows all the band members inside, playing video games, watching TV–very Western stuff.  But when they open the door of their flat, they find themselves outside on the plains.

The first guy steps outside to find his shudraga.  The riff is a but more substantial on this song, but only slightly.  It feels less like a call to arms and more like a song.

Although with a chorus (in Mongolian) of

Hey you traitor! Kneel down!
Hey, Prophecies be declared!

This seems more of a call to arms than the other.

There’s a cool sliding violin riff an instead of the guttural chanting there’s  a relatively high-pitched sung “doo do do” melody.

Both of these songs are quite cool, especially the accompanying videos.  The band has received some attention for the videos (which is how I found them).  They’ve even got their songs on bandcamp.

I’m curious to see if this will translate into somewhat mainstream success in the west.

[READ: January 10, 2019] “Whisky Lullaby”

This excerpt from a longer story is perfectly written–I loved the way it was presented and how the “ending” was revealed (it’s an excerpt, so not the real ending).

Hamid is a Muslim man living in Scotland.  He has recently married a Scottish woman, Ruqiyyah, who had converted to Islam a few years ago.  She was seeking a partner and he was seeking citizenship.

“She had not always been Ruqiyyah, she once was someone else with an ordinary name, a name a girl behind the counter in the Bank of Scotland might have.”

As the story opens, Ruqiyyah is holding a bottle e of Johnnie Walker.  It is his Hamid’s bottle and she shouldn’t know about it.  She is very unhappy about the bottle.  Being an intense convert plus being Scottish, she takes things like this far more seriously than he does.  He knows it is wrong, but in the grand scheme of things, drinking (instead of writing his PhD thesis) is pretty harmless compared to black magic, adultery, abusing your parents.  This was human weakness and wasn’t Allah all-forgiving? (more…)

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SOUNDTRACKPoolside Yuletide: 51 Songs To Paint Your Holidays Pink Season’s greetings from roséwave, the soundtrack for living your best life (2018)

This summer, Lars Gottrich, my favorite All Songs podcast contributor, took some friends and started something called roséwave, which is:

Roséwave is a one-word joke I made on Twitter that was less about a genre (that does not exist) and more a lifestyle (that very much exists). Without thinking too hard, y’all can probably think of five pop songs one might tipsily shout along to, whether at karaoke, in the back of a cab, out with your besties spilling a little bit of the pink drink on your new shoes. This is how a spiraling playlist sprang from friends all over the country, just in time for the first official day of summer.

It’s terrible.  Ironically or not.  And yet there’s some good songs on the list too (Lars has great taste as well as terrible taste).  So for the holidays, he created a Roséwave playlist.

It is also terrible.

Poolside Yuletide is the holiday playlist for both basics in warmer climes (hello Australia!) and those of us who need to escape the winter blues, or at least require a reflective mix of sweet and sad while staring out frosty windows. (We see you, “Blue Christmas” as sung by noted mope Conor Oberst.) Saxophones stream across Carly Rae Jepsen’s faithful, yet undeniably Queen of Christmas cover of “Last Christmas” and Bruce Springsteen’s high-kickin’ “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town.” There’s the drum-machine joy of Saint Etienne’s should-be-classic “I Was Born On Christmas Day” and the perfectly titled “Dashing Through the Snow in High Heels” by K-pop group Orange Caramel. PJ Morton puts a New Orleans bounce spin on “This Christmas” while Big Freedia twerks all over “Rudy, The Big Booty Reindeer.” A La Face Family Christmas offers not one, but two tidings: TLC’s bopping “Sleigh Ride” (Left Eye’s “giddiup, giddiup, giddiup and away we go” will single-handedly make your spirits bright) and a reminder that OutKast’s very first single was a “Player’s Ball” wrapped in “nonsense about some silent night.”

But your halls just aren’t properly decked without some classics, including The Supremes’ lush orchestration of “My Favorite Things,” Otis Redding’s “Merry Christmas Baby” and, yes, Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas” — Christmas doesn’t even begin until we hear this song, don’t @ us. We made Poolside Yuletide three hours long not just to soundtrack holiday parties and long drives home, but because we know the season contains every shade of e•mo•tion.

For the most part I do not like this play list.  But even if Lars has gone off the deep end into pop cheese, he is still Lars and he is able to dig out some great gems that I didn’t know about (and some old favorites too)

Here is the full list of songs.  Should you dare to find the playlist, it is here.

I’ve bolded songs I liked (using generous terms for “like” because it’s Christmas), but didn’t go into too much detail about anything.  Next year I’ll dig out some of these favorites and make a mix of my own.

Carly Rae Jepsen-Last Christmas
Saint Etienne-I Was Born on Christmas Day
DWV-Christmas Ain’t Christmas
Ronald Isley-What Can I Buy You
PJ Morton, HaSizzle-This Christmas
OutKast-Player’s Ball
John Legend-No Place Like Home
Joseph Washington, Jr-Shopping (okay)
Kayne West, CyHi The Prynce, Teyana Taylor-Christmas in Harlem
The Waitresses-Christmas Wrapping
RuPaul, Markaholic-Hey Sis, It’s Christmas (terrible but good but I may not ever listen again)
The Supremes-My Favorite Things (they’ve made this an xmas song with sleigh bells)
Fountains of Wayne-Valley Winter Song
Casey Musgraves Christmas Makes Me Cry
Bright Eyes-Blue Christmas
Chance the Rapper-Blessings
Whitney Houston-The First Noel
Britney Spears-My Only Wish (This Year) (surprisingly not bad)
Bruce Springsteen-Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town
The Killers, Toni Halliday-A Great Big Sled (nice to hear guitars for xmas, even if the song is bland)
The Spook School-Someone to Spend Christmas With (my favorite song on the list)
Natalie Merchant-Children Go Where I Send Thee
Khuangbin-Christmas Time is Here (slow and trippy interesting)
Otis Redding-Merry Christmas Baby
TLC-Sleigh Ride
Brenda Lee-Christmas Will Be Just Another Lonely Day
Mariah Carey-All I Want for Christmas Is You
Boys II Men-Let It Snow
Amy Grant-Emmanuel
Ariana Grande-Wit It This Christmas
Orange Caramel, Nu’est-Dashing Through the Snow in High Heels (K-pop)
Phoenix-Alone on Christmas Day
Yumi Zouma-December
Beyonce-Ave Maria (not that song, exactly)
Cocteau Twins-Frosty the Snowman
Phoebe Bridgers-Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
Tracey Thorn-Joy
Tom Petty-Christmas All Over Again
Taylor Swift-Christmas Must Be Something More  (I like the music but the lyrics are too preachy)
Michael McDonald-That’s What Christmas Means to Me
Kylie Minogue, Dannii Minogue-100 Degrees
Earth, Wind & Fire-December (a December version of their song September)
The Weather Girls-Dear Santa Bring Me a Man This Christmas) (goofy)
Big Freedia, Ms. Tee (Rudy, the Big Booty Reindeer)  (The first verse is funny, but no)
Justn Beiber-Mistletoe ( I don’t hate this. How is that possible?)
Feist-Mushaboom (is this a Christmas song in any way?  Oh, it mentions snow in the chorus)
Booker T. & The M.G.’s-Winter Snow (a little slow but I love Booker T.)
Aretha Franklin-‘Twas the Night Before Christmas (spoken word and funny)
Clarence Carter-Back Door Santa (the sample for Run DMC)
Eartha Kitt-Santa Baby
The Orioles-What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve

Boy there are a lot of songs that I hate up there.

[READ: December 23, 2018] “Legends of the Seoul Dogs”

Once again, I have ordered The Short Story Advent Calendar.  This is my third time reading the Calendar (thanks S.).  I never knew about the first one until it was long out of print (sigh).  Here’s what they say this year

Fourth time’s the charm.

After a restful spring, rowdy summer, and pretty reasonable fall, we are officially back at it again with another deluxe box set of 24 individually bound short stories to get you into the yuletide spirit.

The fourth annual Short Story Advent Calendar might be our most ambitious yet, with a range of stories hailing from eight different countries and three different originating languages (don’t worry, we got the English versions). This year’s edition features a special diecut lid and textured case. We also set a new personal best for material that has never before appeared in print.

Want a copy?  Order one here.

Like last year I’m pairing each story with a holiday disc from our personal collection.  But this particular Soundtrack comes from the deep NPR Christmas archive. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: NPR: The All Songs Considered Holiday Cruise 2018 (December 19, 2018).

Every year Bob Boilen and Robin Hilton “try to do something special for the holiday and it never works out.”  This year’s Christmas special sees them taking a cruise to Bermuda.  What could go wrong?

Every year I have loved the Christmas special–the fun music, the silly story, the guests. But this year’s was my least favorite so far.  And this is mostly because of the music and the guests.  The story was absurd and funny which I liked, but they really didn’t have any artists I was excited about.

Robin is of course unimpressed and concerned (given that they are sailing on Calamity Cruises) and Bob is as ever a gleeful optimist.  And there’s a strange recurring joke about rooms and cabins.

The show opens with a nice (unattributed) version of “Christmas on Christmas Island.”

There were some fun guests for sure, though.  They arrive at their cabin and find Mickey Dolenz (whose Paypal joke is quite funny, but he laughs a bit much at himself).  Most of the artists have a Christmas album out.  The Monkees-“What Would Santa Do” is a fun little ditty and it was written by Rivers Cuomo, so you can hear the Weezer in it.

Things kind of go south as soon as they look at the newspaper and see that William Shatner is lost at sea.

They meet Aloe Blacc on deck who says he created an album of new Christmas songs which were fun and dancey.  The song “Tell Your Mama” is okay.  Nothing special.  It is a little dancey, but maybe it’s not the best track on the disc.  I don’t know.

Robin goes on a journey and meets Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers.  “The Strangest Christmas Yet” is a fun song, but it came out in September so it’s not new or anything (which is what I tend to think this show is about).  But it’s enjoyable to hear Steve tell the crazy story.

Then Bob & Robin zipline along the ship where they run into Lucius.  They play the Lucius version of “Christmastime is Here,” which is pretty as most of their songs are but not very festive.  The story by Holly afterwards about hearing actual jingle bells is a highlight of the show.

Rodney Crowell also tells a funny story about playing basketball on the road.  Although his album is pretty dark, he says his album is about being Scrooge and looking for redemption.  They play “Let’s Skip Christmas This Year,” a bluesy romp that’s more fun than the title lets on.

The guys find themselves caught in the Bermuda Triangle and Shatner makes his appearance, “singing” “Blue Christmas” with Brad Paisley.  Shatner can’t overpower Paisley’s twang.

Up next is John Legend.  What I like about this is they try to talk to him about being lost and Legend is talking about his Christmas album–a funny spliced interview.  They play John Legend singing “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” with Esperanza Spalding. It’s pretty good but they do too much vocal acrobatics at the end.

As the show ends, the final joke is revealed thanks to a grant (great joke).  Although the show ends with another Shatner song, an over the top “Feliz Navidad.”

So no one terribly exciting for this journey, but there are a few good Christmas songs to add to your favorites.

[READ: December 21, 2018] “The One Who Is”

Once again, I have ordered The Short Story Advent Calendar.  This is my third time reading the Calendar (thanks S.).  I never knew about the first one until it was long out of print (sigh).  Here’s what they say this year

Fourth time’s the charm.

After a restful spring, rowdy summer, and pretty reasonable fall, we are officially back at it again with another deluxe box set of 24 individually bound short stories to get you into the yuletide spirit.

The fourth annual Short Story Advent Calendar might be our most ambitious yet, with a range of stories hailing from eight different countries and three different originating languages (don’t worry, we got the English versions). This year’s edition features a special diecut lid and textured case. We also set a new personal best for material that has never before appeared in print.

Want a copy?  Order one here.

Like last year I’m pairing each story with a holiday disc from our personal collection, although today’s soundtrack is an NPR special.

This story shows the conflict between native culture and white culture.  It’s unclear when it is set, but at least the white doctor does sterilize his instruments.

Nona is about to give birth and she is having a very hard time. Her water broke, but she has been pushing for days with no luck–the baby is breached. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACKAMY GRANT-Tiny Desk Concert #813 (December 17, 2018).

Amy Grant is “The queen Christian pop” and as such I have no use for her.

Amusingly this Christmas-themed Tiny Desk Concert was organized by Lars Gotrich who also loved death metal.

Lars explains his connection to Amy:

Growing up in the ’90s, there was never a Christmas without Amy Grant’s music. Home for Christmas, in particular, was a favorite around our household, its string-swept nostalgia wrapped around the family den like a warm blanket and a plate of cookies. So when I invited the Nashville pop singer to perform our annual holiday Tiny Desk, I had to bring my mom.

When I saw she was playing I feared the worst–bland inoffensive pop and offensive Christian music.  But rather, this Concert proves to be bittersweet with two songs about Christmas that welcome Christmas but also know that it’s not always perfect.

“As I’ve gotten older, sometimes I’ve realized the bravest thing you can do at Christmas is go home,” she tells the Tiny Desk audience after performing “To Be Together,” from 2016’s cozy, yet lived-in Tennessee Christmas. “Sometimes the bravest thing you can do is open the door and welcome everybody back.”

Her band sounds tight–piano and acoustic guitar and a cool five string bass.  Her backing singers do a nice job–and while it hovers along the line of too much for me, she reins it in nicely.  And “To Be Together” is really a lovely Christmas song.

And that’s when it all comes home for Amy Grant. “Tennessee Christmas,” written 35 years ago, takes on new meaning here — this was the first time she’s performed the song since her father died this year. You see her eyes glisten, and her voice catch on the final “tender Tennessee Christmas,” everyone feeling that wistful tenderness and offering some back in return.

If you don’t need therapy before Christmas…hang on you’re gonna need it after,

To shake out her sadness, Grant dons reindeer antlers (generously provided by someone at NPR because of course someone at NPR keeps festive wear on hand) and dashes through a delightful version of “Jingle Bells.”

This version of “Jingle Bells” is almost manic in its speed and juxtapositions of slow and fast.  It’s really great.

[READ: December 20, 2018] “Christmas Triptych”

Once again, I have ordered The Short Story Advent Calendar.  This is my third time reading the Calendar (thanks S.).  I never knew about the first one until it was long out of print (sigh).  Here’s what they say this year

Fourth time’s the charm.

After a restful spring, rowdy summer, and pretty reasonable fall, we are officially back at it again with another deluxe box set of 24 individually bound short stories to get you into the yuletide spirit.

The fourth annual Short Story Advent Calendar might be our most ambitious yet, with a range of stories hailing from eight different countries and three different originating languages (don’t worry, we got the English versions). This year’s edition features a special diecut lid and textured case. We also set a new personal best for material that has never before appeared in print.

Want a copy?  Order one here.

Like last year I’m pairing each story with a holiday disc from our personal collection, although I do love to include a Tiny Desk Christmas Concert like this one.

This is an actual Christmas story (or three) by the Canadian master of comedy, Stephen Leacock. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: CHRISTMAS AT DOWNTON ABBEY (2014).

We enjoyed Downton Abbey quite a lot, so it seemed natural to get the Christmas CD collection.  Well, it turns out you don’t need to have any appreciation of the TV show to enjoy this CD.

Aside from the opening Downton theme, everything else on the disc is a traditional British Christmas carol–secular and non-secular.

But it’s not an awkward cast recording.  There are a couple of cast members who sing, but they were known for the singing already:

Julian Ovenden who played Charles Blake sings a lot of songs.  Ovenden has sung musical theater with many orchestras.  His voice is great.  Elizabeth McGovern, who played Cora, has also had a singing career.  Between them, they sing six songs–all classic carols.

The rest of the album features The King’s College Choir Of Cambridge on fourteen songs and Kiri Te Kanawa who sings 6 songs.  There is more classical instrumental (and not) music that fills out this 2 CD set (45 tracks in all).

It’s not to say that there is no connection to the show.  Jim Carter (Mr Carson) recites ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas over some music.  It’s quite lovely and he has a great voice for recitation.

As far as tie-ins to TV shows go, this one is fantastic.

But if you like old-fashioned Christmas carols, this is a great album for Christmas.

[READ: December 18, 2018] “Strategies Against Sleeping”

Once again, I have ordered The Short Story Advent Calendar.  This is my third time reading the Calendar (thanks S.).  I never knew about the first one until it was long out of print (sigh).  Here’s what they say this year

Fourth time’s the charm.

After a restful spring, rowdy summer, and pretty reasonable fall, we are officially back at it again with another deluxe box set of 24 individually bound short stories to get you into the yuletide spirit.

The fourth annual Short Story Advent Calendar might be our most ambitious yet, with a range of stories hailing from eight different countries and three different originating languages (don’t worry, we got the English versions). This year’s edition features a special diecut lid and textured case. We also set a new personal best for material that has never before appeared in print.

Want a copy?  Order one here.

Like last year I’m pairing each story with a holiday disc from our personal collection.

I loved the way that this story (translated from the Spanish by Miranda France) started as one thing and slowly turned into something else entirely.

Señora Eloísa was in a car getting driven back home.  She was very tired from her travels and wished to just close her eyes and let the soothing engine noise take her away.  She was on the verge of sleep several times, but the driver of the car kept pressing her to stay awake.

She felt compelled to make small talk with the driver, but regretted it instantly.  She felt she had given away too much information.  So when he asked if he could smoke, she allowed allowed it as an act of consiliation.  She regretted not taking the coach.

The driver kept saying how happy he was to have someone to talk to.  He himself was quite tired having not slept very well the night before and he felt that she was keeping him awake.  “Please talk to me” he said.

She talked about the rain and then about an essay she wrote once.  It had to do with beggars–about which she clearly knew very little.  She wrote in her essay that rain was a blessing for beggars–since they live under a blazing sun all day long, they must love the rain.

Even with this, whenever she paused she heard “Please talk to me.”  Annoyed, she pressed on.

She told the story of a woman, possibly a beggar but possibly not–she did have on nice clothes, anyone could see.  The woman was standing in the middle of a traffic jam in the heat.  Señora Eloísa’s husband didn’t see the woman but Señora Eloísa couldn’t take her eyes off of her standing in the street with that heavy baby .

She hadn’t mention the baby at first and the driver was puzzled. She snapped that of course she had mentioned the baby.  She then proceeded to admonish the driver and her (absent) husband for not understanding how hard it is to carry a heavy baby in the heat.

As the driver trues to change the subject, she quickly pulls it back to the heavy baby and the story suddenly changes into something else entirely.

This was a strange story to be sure, and there’s a lot there for one to unpack.

To learn more about this piece, here’s a Q&A with Liliana Heker.

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SOUNDTRACK: VERVE-Remixed Christmas (2008).

One of my favorite Christmas CDs is the Christmas Remixed discS (1 and 2) which adds some fun beats and loops to some old standards.  Generally speaking I don’t love remixes.  They are usually just longer with louder, danceable drums.  Although remixing old songs does tend to modernize them, which I do like.

I was pretty excited to see that Verve records has made one as well, using their back catalog.  I assumed it would be just as wild and fun.  But it turns out either Verve has very few Christmas songs in its back catalog or the remixers are kind of low on ideas.

I’m also fairly surprised at just how few actual Christmas songs are here.

1. Count Basie “Good Morning Blues” (Real Tuesday Weld Clerkenwell Remix)
This is probably my favorite track on the disc.  It’s got a fun looping piano melody which is added to by a trumpet and some strange sound effects. This is in fact a Christmas song, I wonder why it’s not sung more.
2. Louis Armstrong-“Zat You, Santa Claus?” (The Heavy Remix).
There’s heavy winds blowing which may be in the original.  Overall it feels like there’s not that much remixing going on.  Still a fun song.
3. Ella Fitzgerald-“What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve” (Magini Vs. Pallin Mix).
It starts distant and muffled then bursts through via harps.  The music is definitely different, but not crazy or anything. I’m assuming the only remixed element is the bigger drums that come in.  It’s a fine version, but nothing especially fun.
4. Billie Holiday-“I’ve Got My Love To Keep Me Warm” (Yesking Remix).
There’s a Jamaican element to this song, including a guy with a heavy accent shouting.  That whole reggae element is an interesting twist.
5. Louis Armstrong-“What A Wonderful World” (The Orb Remix) 
The intro is looped.  After several loops complete with shushing sounds, an electronic bass comes in with loud drums in a regular loop.  But the vocals are  pretty much the same.  This is of course not a Christmas song by any stretch of the definition.
6. Shirley Horn “Winter Wonderland” (Christian Prommer Remix)
This is made bouncy with a slightly funky bass line and kind of sultry drums. Slowed down with a funky slightly bass line. Vocals are slow and trippy.  The vocals sort of don;t work either–they feel like more of an afterthought.
7. Jimmy Smith “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” (Oh No Remix)
This is the most radical song on the disc.  The bass is crazy, the tone is crazy.  The whole thing has a kind of sinister feel.  I love the whole thing.  There’s some keyboard soloing, some menacing horns riffs and no vocals.  It’s wonderful how much this doesn’t sound like the song and yet you can tell that what it originally was.
8. Nina Simone “I Am Blessed” (Wax Tailor Remix) 
This opens with vinyl crackling.  A funky drum is added, but otherwise I don’t think much has been modified.  It’s a pretty song and the drums add to it, but it is not a Christmas song.
9. Dinah Washington “Silent Night” (Brazilian Girls Remix)
This is a full on dance song with a kind of conga rhythm.  Dinah is mostly just repeating “silent night, holy night” with no other vocals.  Normally I don’t like messing with this song, because it is so beautiful.  But Brazilian Girls has deconstructed the song so much that I now rather like it,
10 Mel Tormé “The Christmas Song” (Sonny J Remix)
The Velvet Fog is accompanied by some electronic and techno beats.  His voice is reduced to a loop of “know how to fly” for much of the song although his other verses do come through from time to time.  They manipulate his voice in interesting ways too.  I rather like this one.
11. Nina Simone “Chilly Winds” (Fink Remix) 
Quiet looping of piano and repeats of “chilly winds don’t blow.”   This is also not a Christmas song and seems the largest stretch, except that the winds are cold.

So there are certainly some fun songs here, but overall, it’s far less successful than the other remixes.

= Not a Christmas song.

[READ: December 11, 2018] “Mister Elephant”

Once again, I have ordered The Short Story Advent Calendar.  This is my third time reading the Calendar (thanks S.).  I never knew about the first one until it was long out of print (sigh).  Here’s what they say this year

Fourth time’s the charm.

After a restful spring, rowdy summer, and pretty reasonable fall, we are officially back at it again with another deluxe box set of 24 individually bound short stories to get you into the yuletide spirit.

The fourth annual Short Story Advent Calendar might be our most ambitious yet, with a range of stories hailing from eight different countries and three different originating languages (don’t worry, we got the English versions). This year’s edition features a special diecut lid and textured case. We also set a new personal best for material that has never before appeared in print.

Want a copy?  Order one here.

Like last year I’m pairing each story with a holiday disc from our personal collection.

I enjoyed this story for a number of reasons.  Primarily, I think because the narrator is so inadvertently unreliable (which in the interview, Jessica doesn’t really mention).

It begins with this line: “My former friend is an elephant trainer.” (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: CHRISTMAS All-Time Greatest Records (1990).

This is one of those Christmas compilations that S. or I buy every year.  This one came from S.’s stockpile.

This one is meant to be on the traditional side, with a few surprises thrown in.  Amazingly there are songs on this compilation that we don;t have on other ones.  I mean, how many different versions of these songs are there (Answer: quite a lot).  This collection is almost entirely unique in that there are about ten songs that don’t appear on any of our other collections.  Cool.

BING CROSBY-“White Christmas” is a classic, but man, it’s kind of a downer.  It’s not nearly as much of a downer as…

“I’ll be Home for Christmas” which is a truly lovely song and everyone loves singing it.  And yet, lyrically, wow, it’s a bummer.  “I’ll be home for Christmas, if only in my dreams.”  It was written for soldiers overseas during WWII.  This version is by GLEN CAMPBELL it’s quite slow and somber.  His voice is quite nice too.  When I listened to it I had no idea it was him.

NAT “KING” COLE-The Christmas Song is one of my favorites.  It’s great to hear it every year.

LENA HORNE-“Winter Wonderland”  I have a bunch of Christmas songs by Lena Horne, but again, not this one.  This collection really is rather unique.  Lena puts a fun zing in most of her Christmas songs.  Maybe its time to get a collection of just her.

THE BEACH BOYS-“Little Saint Nick” is much more fun now that I’ve seen it live.

LOU RAWLS-“Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” this has a swinging side (even if the tempo is slow).  Rawls’ voice is pretty great I must say.

ELLA FITZGERALD-“Silent Night” I love this song and I love Ella, but I don’t love this version of this song for some reason.

TENNESSEE ERNIE FORD-“The Star Carol”  One of these things is not like the others. I actually never heard of this song before.  And Ford’s voice is crazy operatic.  I hadn’t realized the slight country angle on this disc until this song which sounds not-country, but with that name.  It’s a weird song to have amid these others for sure.

BING CROSBY-“Do You Hear What I Hear” Bing is back.  I love this song, it’s a lot of fun to sing, and Bing makes everything better.

MERLE HAGGARD-“Silver Bells”  This country addition is also weird.  It doesn’t sound like a country song, but Merle still has that accent.

DEAN MARTIN-“Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” Eight years ago I said this was one of my most-hated Christmas song versions.  I don’t really feel that way now, although the things that bugged me then are still weird to me:

I guess it’s supposed to be funny or cute, but I don’t understand why he starts messing around with the song and sings: “Rudy, the red beaked reindeer” or why he suddenly busts out the pseudo-German: “Rudolph mit your nose so bright/Won’t you guide mein sleigh tonight?”  It’s just weird.

Was it cool to make Santa German in 1959?  Were we over the war by then?

And I hate the way the backing guys all chant “Rudolph” like it’s some kind of threat.

Of all the classic crooners, Dean is my least favorite, but maybe I just need to embrace the possibility that all Dean Martin songs are Drunk Dean Martin songs.

BING CROSBY & THE ANDREWS SISTERS-“Jingle Bells”  Bing is a little over-represented in this collection, but The Andrews Sisters are always under-represented.  This has a manic piano opening and some over the top horns, but the Andrews Sisters are always a hoot.  This is a marvelous ending to the collection and again, one more song that I don’t have anywhere else.

[READ: December 6, 2018] “The Glamour of the Snow”

Once again, I have ordered The Short Story Advent Calendar.  This is my third time reading the Calendar (thanks S.).  I never knew about the first one until it was long out of print (sigh).  Here’s what they say this year

Fourth time’s the charm.

After a restful spring, rowdy summer, and pretty reasonable fall, we are officially back at it again with another deluxe box set of 24 individually bound short stories to get you into the yuletide spirit.

The fourth annual Short Story Advent Calendar might be our most ambitious yet, with a range of stories hailing from eight different countries and three different originating languages (don’t worry, we got the English versions). This year’s edition features a special diecut lid and textured case. We also set a new personal best for material that has never before appeared in print.

Want a copy?  Order one here.

Like last year I’m pairing each story with a holiday disc from our personal collection.

This is the story of Hibbert who was normally conscious of two worlds but who, while visiting a mountain town in the Alps became conscious of a third.  (more…)

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