Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Canadian Content’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: THE EMPTY POCKETS-Snow Day (2018).

The Empty Pockets have sent me two offers to get their CDs for free (plus a nominal shipping charge, of course).  This second one was a Christmas CD.  I hadn’t listened to their first CD yet but I do love a Christmas CD, so I thought why not add it to the pile.

There are five songs on this CD and after listening to this I’m wondering if I don’t really like The Empty Pockets.  It’s hard to bass the sound of a band on their Christmas collection, but I was pretty bummed by this disc.

The first song is called “Snow Day” and it says it was written bu Daniel McCormick although I can’t find out who that is.  It has got a  kind of smooth rock feel which is okay for a Christmas song but doesn’t bode well beyond that.

Next up is a version of “Silent Night.”  And they commit a few atrocities in this song right off the bat.  You can make the song more rocking, but you cannot mess with the vocal melody.  And they do that right off the bat.  The thing that rally bus me though is Erika Brett’s voice which is just super loud and yelling and kind of all over the place.  Never out of tune or anything like that just waay over the top.  This is just too much.  The guys also join in on verses, although I don’t know who is who [Josh Solomon, guitar and lead vocals; Nate Bellon, bass and lead vocals; Danny Rosenthal, drums].  But honestly, no one needs to sing “talking ’bout heavenly host sing alleluia.”  One of the men sounds like Darius Rucker which is just kind of unfortunate.

“One More Kiss” is a big powerful song from Brett with good backing vocals.  She overdoes it a bit, but its poppy and catchy and is not tampering with a classic beautiful so, so that’s okay.

“Eskimo Lady” is a little cheesy (not to mention offensive).  It’s a little discoey and grows cheesier with each listen.

“All Eight Days” has a fun guitar riff–like they are doing a heavy metal solo, but the song is far from heavy metal.  I like that it’s about Hanukkah, and the lyric “Just like a Maccabee, i have to wait and see,” is pretty funny.  But the song just veers too far into pop singing I guess.

“The Tree That Refused to Grow” seems like a retelling of A Charlie Brown Christmas from the point of view of the tree.  Except we see into the Charlie character’s future.  I really want to like it but it just comes off as maudlin.

I’m especially bummed by this disc because they quoted Caddyshack in the note that accompanied it.  Sigh.

[READ: December 8, 2018] “Festive”

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 read this short piece and thought it was incredibly sad.

Then I watched a reading of it (on the Stephen Colbert show) and the audience was laughing quite a lot.  Perhaps it’s his delivery?  But I hate the clipped style of writing (probably true for a diary but awful to read or hear). (more…)

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

SOUNDTRACK: REN & STIMPY-Crock O’ Christmas (1993).

Certainly reaching the weird bottom of the list CDs in the Christmas collection here.

I’m not entirely sure why I even have this as I wasn’t a  huge Ren & Stimpy fan.  I assume I got it for free somewhere.  Anyhow, this is the kind of nonsensical disc that actually made me chuckle a few times as I listened to it again.  The songs are sort of parodies of actual classic songs.  But they’re not so much making fun of the Christmas song so much as using the Christmas songs to make up songs for their holiday Yaksmas.

If you know anything about Ren & Stimpy, you know that everything they do is gross, and this CD is just full of grossness.

The Wikipedia post about the disc is pretty thorough, so I’ll let it stand, with some of my one thoughts.

  • 1. “Fleck the Walls” – 2:51 – Stimpy explains to Ren that it is Yaksmas Eve to the tune of “Deck the Halls”.  [Stimpy’s untiring happiness is really just too funny. As is Ren’s hair-trigger temper.  This is a pretty funny and gross wait to start: “Come on everyone pit on a hat made of garbage and lets go Yaksmas caroling.”  The utterly over the top seriousness of the backing vocals is icing]
  • 2. “Cat Hairballs” – 3:27 – Stimpy sings about the gifts he can make out of his hairballs to the tune of “Jingle Bells”.  [Gross, but catchy].
  • 3. “We Wish you a Hairy Chestwig” – 3:04 – Ren and Stimpy sing about the “chestwig” they’ve gotten for Mr. Pipe to the tune of “We Wish You a Merry Christmas”, wishing him a “hairy chestwig and a bucket of beards”.  [No idea what this is all about but it’s a funny concept].
  • 4. “It’s A Wizzleteats Kind Of Christmas” – 3:51 – Stimpy sings a song about Stinky Wizzleteats, singer of the “Happy Happy Joy Joy” song; his “souped-up sausage cart” is the basis for the album cover.  [Stinky Wizzleteats is a wonderfully ornery character.  Not based on anything else, so it’s all about the bizarre words].
  • 5. “We’re Going Shopping” – 4:39 – Stimpy drags Ren into the mall to do some Christmas shopping.  {I was puzzled that they talk about Christmas here.  The disc follows a thread of the two of them all day, with everything having a narrative.  The Christmas just seems like a mistake.  Although the shopping items are pretty fun].
  • 6. “Yak Shaving Day” – 4:22 – Ren and Stimpy stumble on the secret gathering place of the Gilded Yaks.  [I love the voices of the Yaksm how serious and pretentious their voices are.  Plus the rocking guitars in the chorus totally rule].
  • 7. “What Is Christmas?” – 3:19 – Stimpy and his son, Stinky the Fart, recall the events of “Son of Stimpy”.  [I listened to this song and thought it was so treacly and un Ren & Stimpy-like.  And then I looked this up and saw that Stimpy’s son is a fart, and that makes everything different.].
  • 8. “Cobb To The World” – 3:08 – Ren and Stimpy sing the song of “good king” Wilbur Cobb, a senile senior citizen, to the tune of “Joy to the World”.  [This is just bizarre and creepy]
  • 9. “Happy Holiday Hop” – 3:48 – Ren and Stimpy attend TV star Muddy Mudskipper’s holiday celebration.  [This song is so peculiarly straight, that it could almost work outside of Ren & Stimpy, aside from the whole Muddy Mudskipper part of course]
  • 10. “I Hate Christmas” – 4:23 – While Stimpy goes to bed, Ren sings the blues about his personal disdain for the holiday.  [Again, with the Christmas.  This is actually quite a downer.  Poor Ren.  But surely Stimpy must get him over the blues].
  • 11. “The Twelve Days of Yaksmas” – 4:24 – Ren and Stimpy count down the Yaksmas gifts of Ren’s cousin Svën Hoek to the tune of “The Twelve Days of Christmas”.  [Everything that makes fun of this preposterously long song makes me laugh.  This one is especially gross, but they have a great time with the absurd lyrics.]
  • 12. “Decorate Yourself” – 5:26 – Ren and Stimpy sing an anthem in the style of “We Are the World” about decorating oneself for the holidays.  [This song soars and flies and is so catchy it could have been an anthem for the ages “Don’t deck the halls or burn boughs of pine, hang your mistletoe where the sun don’t shine!”].

Sometimes it’s wonderful to be silly for Christmas.

[READ: December 7, 2018] “A Qualitative Study of Our Father”

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.

And here’s a Q&A with Levin.

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

This story is written in Levin’s words as “a kind of pseudoscientific research paper by a pair of siblings trying to make sense of their father via examining his behavior toward houseflies.”  It has epigrams from Shakespeare and Skinner.  The abstract, for of course there is an abstract, states that their father, a well-meaning human being likes to kill flies.  There;s nothing sexual or creepy about his desire to kill them, he just seems very placidly happy when he does. (more…)

Read Full Post »

SOUNDTRACK: SOUTH PARK-Mr. Hankey’s Christmas Classics (1999).

When this came out in 1999, I was a huge South Park fan and I didn’t celebrate Christmas very much.  So this was a wonderful anti-Christmas celebration.

Now, 19 years later (holy cow), this album is a fun holiday treat–one that can’t be played in front of the kids.  So it has become an adult-only holiday treat when S. and I are driving.  Most of the songs are still hilariously offensive and hold up really well.

“Mr. Hankey The Christmas Poo” by Cowboy Timmy is an intro, nothing special.  But things pick up hugely with song two, “Merry Fucking Christmas” sung by Mr. Garrison.  Hearing it sung in his voice is hilarious and it is so profane.  Thank you, Mr. Hat.  It’s a seasonal highlight.  As is Cartman’s “O Holy Night.”  He gets all the words right in this one and he has a choir behind him.  Even 19 years later, Cartman’s voice is still funny, especially singing this beautiful song.

The next song, “Dead, Dead, Dead” by Juan Schwartz and the South Park Children’s Choir is meant to darkly comic I guess (“someday you’ll be dead”) but really it’s just kind of dull and it feels endless even though it’s barely 2 minutes long.  But Mr. Mackey picks things up with his hilarious rendition of “Carol of the Bells”  Mmmkay.

Kyle’s “The Lonely Jew on Christmas” is pretty funny “And what the f*ck is up with lighting all these f*cking candles, someone tell me please” which is made even better with the appearance of Neil Diamond!  Shelley’s “I Saw Three Ships” is a one-note joke (she has braces and can’t say the letter S).  It feels too long at a minute, although “Shut up, turds!” could become a holiday catchphrase.

I didn’t know that “It Happened in Sun Valley” (sung adorably by Stan and Wendy) was a real song.  I didn’t know why it was funny.  I still don’t know if it is funny (Stan throws up when he talks to her which is kind of funny, but doesn’t really work in a song that is largely solid and enjoyable anyhow).  We like it and just ignore the barf.  Eww.

The next little skit is so offensive as to be utterly  hilarious.  It begins with Hitler singing “O Tannenbaum” and then Satan trying to make him feel better by singing about it being “Christmas Time in Hell.”  We often wonder why the guys chose the celebrities that they did to put in hell.  Did they particularly dislike the named people or were they just trying to upset as many people as possible.

Chef only gets one song on this CD, but his hilarious take on “What Child is This” (called “What the Hell Child is This?”) is amazing.  It’s white so it cannot be mine.

The skit “Santa Claus is on His Way” sung by Mr Hankey is weird because it is taken from the episode and relies on a visual joke that doesn’t translate to the CD.  But again, Cartman is back to redeem everything with the ultimate Christmas song, an ode to Grandma and the “Swiss Colony Beef Log.”

“Hark the Herald Angels Sing” is, I assume a rip on Peanuts with the kids of thee “South Park Children’s Choir” all singing it (badly).

Parker and Stone showed their amazing musical genius (ultimately put on display with Book of Mormon) with “Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel” sung by The Broflofskis with Eric Cartman and Stan Marsh.  Basing the melody around the Dreidel song, they add four or five people singing at the same time and it sounds fantastic.  Cartman’s lyric is stunningly perfect “I have a little drediel, I made it out of clay, but I’m not gonna play with it cause dreidel’s fucking gay”) fits so perfectly rhythmically that its uncanny.  Stan’s dad’s love for Courtney Cox which you hear clearly at the end is in fact the only thing he sings throughout the song which is also genius.

“The Most Offensive Song Ever” is pretty offensive.  Perhaps it’s after 19 years of listening, but it seems more and more obvious what all of Kenny’s mumbled words are.  Mary!

I don’t understand the joke with “We Three Kings” by Mr. Ose. Is it just that he’s Chinese?  It’s less than a minute but is pretty irritating.  The disc’s closing “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” sung by Mr. Hankey with Stan, Kyle and Cartman is a fun ending but it only helps you realize how short the disc actually is (especially if you skip those three or four lame tracks).

Merry Christmas everyone.  When you’re old enough.

[READ: December 2, 2018] “Sunflowers”

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 typically dislike war stories.  They’re probably great for soldiers, but not for me.  Both because I think war is awful and because soldier stories are usually all the same: lots of boredom (for them) and then something horrible happens. (more…)

Read Full Post »

SOUNDTRACK: CHEF-Chocolate Salty Balls (single) (1998).

This single itself is not a Christmas song (obviously).  But “Chocolate Salty Balls” is really catchy (with great organ) and is pretty funny.

The Christmas songs are the other two that are included with the disc.

They both come from South Park commercials or interstitials or something that was aired on TV back in the heyday.

The third (and weaker) song is Ned Gerblansky and Uncle Jimbo singing “Oh Little Town of Bethlehem.”  Ned is using his “cancer kazoo” to drone his way through the song.  It’s kind of funny.  But the real joke is that his batteries die and the whole song is less than a minute long.

The real treat is Cartman singing “O Holy Night.”  There is a second version that comes on the South Park Christmas album and it is also wonderful.  I have a hard time choosing which one of these I like more because that one is done well (but is still funny) and even has backing singers..  In this one, Kyle is given a cattle prod and is allowed to shock Cartman every time he messes up.  Which he does a lot.  Like, “Jesus was born and so we give presents, thank you Jesus for being born.”  This leads to a lot of cursing and screaming and a hilarious moment where he sings a beautiful operatic “divine.”  “Damn, Cartman.”

It cracks me up every time.

[READ: December 4, 2018] “Counselling”

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 story is about a woman making questionable decisions. (more…)

Read Full Post »

SOUNDTRACK: SPIKE JONES-Let’s Sing a Song of Christmas (1994).

I like Spike Jones’ comedy music.  I feel like my dad was a fan.  I know he knew a lot of Spike’s songs, whether or not he knew they were from Spike, I don;t know.  So when I was looking for non-traditional Christmas music, I saw this and thought it would be a zany collection of songs.

Well, it is not.  In fact I remember being really disappointed at the time because it’s pretty straightforward.  Although now, some 14 years later, I listened to it again and realized it’s a lovely collection of Christmas music.  There are some “funny” songs, but they’re more traditionally funny and not so zany.

This is a collection of twenty songs and my version has pretty much no information about the songs.  But the recording is top-notch if you like mid-50s, big band, “very white” (my term) singers.  The City Slickers and the City Slicker Juniors along with The Jud Conlon Singers take on all of these classics:

Jingle Bells Medley: Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town / The Christmas Song / Jingle Bells; Rudolph, The Red-Nosed Reindeer; Silent Night; Sleigh Ride;  Snow Medley: The First Snow Fall / Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow; Deck The Halls Medley: Deck The Halls With Holly / Away In A Manger / It Came Upon A Midnight Clear / The First Noel; White Christmas Medley: Winter Wonderland / Silver Bells / White Christmas; Hark Medley: Hark, The Herald Angels Sing / O, Little Town Of Bethlehem / Joy To The World / O, Come All Ye Faithful; Christmas Alphabet Medley: Christmas Alphabet / Merry Christmas Polka / Christmas In America; Victor Young Medley: It’s Christmas Time / Sleep Well, Little Children and What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?

They also do a couple of songs with the Saint Victor’s Boys Choir:  The Night Before Christmas Song and Christmas Cradle Song.

Interspersed with these songs are the ones featuring George Rock.  Rock is the quintessential voice of “All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth.”  You know the one where it’s clearly an adult, but somehow he sounds like a tiny kid.  Well, that was George Rock.  And Rock has a pretty fascinating history himself.

A large man, he attended Wesleyan University on a football scholarship, before turning pro as a musician at the age of 20. His first national exposure was in the Freddie Fisher’s Schnickelfritz Band. In 1944 he signed up with the Spike Jones Band.

It must have been fun to see the large guy singing like a little kid.  This collection includes, “Two Front Teeth” as well as “My Birthday Comes On Christmas,” and “(I’m The) The Angel In The Christmas Play.”  They also had a few songs sung by actual kids, The City Slicker Juniors.  They perform “Nuttin’ For Christmas,” “Frosty the Snowman” and “Here Comes Santa Claus.”

None of these songs are particularly funny, but I think people laughed a lot easier back then.  Nonetheless, if you’re not freaked out by the voice (or wondering why anyone would WANT to say “Sister Susie sitting on a thistle,” these songs should raise a smile.

This collection would work well on random with all the modern Christmas songs at your holiday festivity (as long as the volume is mixed loud enough).

Interestingly, I can’t find the cover of my CD version (only a cassette version of it).  So I must have a less popular version that the one that’s above.

[READ: December 3, 2018] “Endless City”

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 story comes from Mason’s The Lost Books of the Odyssey (apparently it was printed in the first, small-press edition, but not the second major-press edition, which seems weird).

So, this is, as the book title notes, a side story of Odysseus .  What a weird, thankless project it seems to add to The Odyssey. (more…)

Read Full Post »

SOUNDTRACK: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964).

Back in the early days of CDs (1996), it was exciting when things that you never expected to see available were right there for the asking.

Who knew anybody wanted a CD of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer?

Unlike the Grinch CD, this CD contains only the songs from the TV special.  It’s all about Burl Ives.

The first half of the disc contains songs from the movie as sung by Burl Ives (and others).  None of the songs are longer than two and a half minutes (except for a medley that’s over three minutes).  Anyone who loves the music (even if you are irritated by how mean everyone is to Rudolph) will love having these songs in rotation:

Jingle Jingle Jingle (Stan Francis);  We Are Santa’s Elves Vocals (Videocraft Chorus); There’s Always Tomorrow (Janet Orenstein); We’re A Couple Of Misfits (Billie Richards, Paul Soles); Silver And Gold (Burl Ives); The Most Wonderful Day Of The Year (Videocraft Chorus); A Holly Jolly Christmas (Burl Ives, Videocraft Chorus).

And a special shout out to the singers listed above who aren’t Burl Ives and who apparently never got acknowledged for their work (including the mysterious Videocraft Chorus),

The second half of the disc contains the instrumental versions of the above songs, whether interstitial or just stripped of vocals, I’m not sure.  There’s not as interesting, honestly, but you know the disc couldn’t be only fifteen minutes, right?.

[READ: December 2, 2018] “Slower”

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 second story in the advent calendar is quite a downer.  It starts dark and gets even darker as it moves along.  Except that the main character (whether protagonist or antagonist is not always clear) has a positive outlook that never seems to fade. (more…)

Read Full Post »

SOUNDTRACK: How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966).

Back in the early days of CDs (1996), it was exciting when things that you never expected to see available were right there for the asking.

Who knew anybody wanted a CD of How the Grinch Stole Christmas?

This CD contains the entire narration from the movie.  He even narrates Cindy Lou Who in this version.  The songs are included–and are even interrupted by the narration–as in the movie.

The rest of the disc includes four songs from the movie, sung by the original artists.  You get “Welcome Christmas” as well as a reprise of it and “Trim Up the Tree” sung by the Whos in Whoville.  The final song is “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” sung by the irrepressible Thurl Ravenscroft and his amazing voice.

Does anyone need to listen to this?  Probably not, but it is fun to listen to without having to sit down and watch a movie.

[READ: December 1, 2018] “Sea Monster”

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.

Most of the stories have nothing to do with Christmas.  In fact, some of them are quite dark and unhappy.  But others are just kind of weirdly enjoyable.

This story is weirdly enjoyable. (more…)

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »