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Category Archives: War on Xmas!

a very special christmas special: “The Snowman” (1982)

Call me one of them liberal, east-coast, Volvo-drivin’, latte-drinkin’, public radio givin’, Obama votin’, gay marryin’, baby abortin’, Trader Joes shoppin’, tofu eatin’, 30 Rock viewin’, Salon readin’, book ownin’, French lovin’ elitists, but if you want to watch a story about a snowman who magically comes to life due to the magic of Christmas that doesn’t suck ox nor ass…. then you need to get with this jive, right here.

It’s The Snowman.  Maybe you saw it on PBS in the 1980s.  Or maybe you’re British and you saw it on ITV.  Anyway, it’s practically wordless, so I’m not going to say any more about it.  It’s just freaking magical and beautiful and I love it, so there.

 

 

Ok, this version cuts “Walking In The Air” into two pieces, so here’s the full song.  And here’s the 1983 intro, where we learn that the little boy grows up to be David Bowie.  Seriously.

And that means that, if you want, you can watch “Walking In The Air” with the sound turned down, and play this song instead.  But only if you absolutely must.

And: Merry Christmas.  We’ll do this again next year.

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a very special christmas special: “Frosty The Snowman” (1970)

Every Christmas special I’ve reviewed here, I’ve been able to find something to like.  Even Alf’s Special Christmas, which bothered me on several levels – I can appreciate what they were trying to do, even though it was completely wrong.   But, see, Alf’s Special Christmas was wrong in the same way that the restaurant screwing up your order is wrong – like if you ordered pizza with pepperoni, and got green peppers instead.   I don’t like green peppers, but green peppers are at least edible.  But there are some things that are just wrong, like, ordering a pizza with pepperoni and instead getting a broken lightbulb and a used syringe.

There’s no other way around it – I do not like Frosty The Snowman.  I’m not proud of this, because so many other people love ol’ Frosty and that hat of his.   I love Rudolph and The Year Without A Santa Claus and The Little Drummer Boy and all the other Rankin/Bass classics.  I’ll sit through A Garfield Christmas even though I don’t like Garfield anymore, just because his old TV cartoons aren’t bad.  I’ll watch The Star Wars Christmas Special all the way through and moan and groan like everyone else but I will get through it.

After watching Frosty The Snowman, I was shocked to learn that it was only a half an hour long.

I don’t know what it is about Frosty.  Maybe it’s the fact that the story has no meat to it whatsoever.  Maybe it’s the fact that the “Frosty The Snowman” song is just annoying and cloying.   Maybe it’s the fact that the animation is terrible.  And not charmingly terrible, either.  But – ok – I sat down and watched this thing, and here’s 10 things I noticed.  Take ’em or leave ’em.  If you love ol’ Frosty, feel free to send hate mail.  I stand by my position: Frosty The Snowman is bloody awful.

Watch it – if you must – and read my 10 things – below the cut.

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a very special christmas special, “John Denver and the Muppets: A Christmas Together” (1979)

As you are probably aware, based on my previous posts about A Muppet Family Christmas and The Christmas Toy, and my yearly exultations that The Muppet Christmas Carol is the best and most faithful film adaptation of the original book A Christmas Carol despite being narrated by Rizzo the Rat and Gonzo the Great, the Muppets and Christmas occupy roughly the same spot in my brain.  It’s that soft, gooey, marshmallow-like cluster nestled at the back of my hippocampus, near the base of my occipital lobe.  If you were to poke it, I would involuntarily start waving my arms around like Kermit.

However, I have never actually seen John Denver and the Muppets: A Christmas Together until today.  Part of this may have to do with the fact that it has never been officially released on VHS, and part of this may have to do with the fact that it came out the year I was born and I was too busy spitting up strained squash and eating stuff I found on the carpet to notice.   Either way, I found it on the Youtubes, and have decided to write about my experiences watching this holiday gem for the first damn time.

Aaaaaaand… push play.

Fade in on the late John Denver, sprightly and alive and in the middle of his “Oh, God” heyday.   Because ‘tis the glorious season of Yuletide, he’s dressed like a Dickensian gent, resplendent with his purple top hat and all.  At this point, things could really go either way – of all the M.O.R. artists ever to walk this Earth, John Denver is the M.O.Riest.  For every heartfelt, aching ballad like “Leavin’ On A Jetplane,” there’s an “Annie’s Song.”   For every “Rocky Mountain High”, there’s a Coors beer commercial where a bunch of people start singing “Rocky Mountain High.”   And, of course, there’s that big old slice of bitter irony pie you have to mention when you’re a heartless bastard like me and someone brings up John Denver: “Leaving On A Jet Plane” was written by a man who died when his private plane crashed.  Either the jokes make themselves or they really, really don’t.  I’m still not sure how I feel about it.

And, either this is going to be the most goddamn heartwarming thing I’ve ever experienced, or it’s going to be 2 solid hours of molten Velveeta cheese.  Things don’t look so good when ol’ John starts singing “The 12 Days Of Christmas”, a song that’s only tolerable when Muppets are involved.

Thank God there are Muppets involved.  Fozzie screws up his lines, Miss Piggy adds some “ba-dump-bump-bumps” to her FIIIIIVE GOOOOOLD RIIIINGS line, and all is right with the world.

 

There’s more, after the break.

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niiice!: Atari commercial with Santa Claus (1984 or so)

What, you’re back?  It’s been TEN MONTHS.  Were you ever going to call?

Yeah, well, I got wrapped up in stuff.  Whatever.

Oh.  STUFF.  I see.  What in HEAVEN’S name were you doing this whole time?

Oh, you know, nothing important.  Just WRITING A MUSICAL AND BECOMING A FAMOUS RADIO PRODUCER, THAT’S ALL!!!

Sheesh.

Now, really, what I *shoulda* gone and done, is written one of those posts that said “Well, we’re taking a break from the action here at ol’ Geek USA….” but that takes time, and really, I had MUSICALS to write and RADIO PRODUCIN’ to do.  Things have calmed down somewhat, I’m back, etc.

Now, then…

Job willin’… (I gave up saying “God willin'” a while ago because, if God had intended us to blog, He would have added an eighth day onto the week – “and on the Eighth day, ye shall wallow in self-indulgence and fruitless nostalgia”, and really, it has nothing to do with God and everything to do with Job.  No, not “Job”, like the guy whose wife got turned into a salt lick.  JOB, like the thing you do to make money.  Although a lot of crap happened to “Job”, and when a lot of crap happens to you, it’s really hard to set aside time to blog about it.  Especially when a lot of stuff happens to you at your JOB.   Which is why, coming full circle here, if God had intended us to blog, He would have set up Bloggerday, right between Friday and Saturday.  You could also use Bloggerday to sometimes recover from Friday night without wasting all of Saturday in bed.   Taking a day off to recover from a hangover is probably the most self-indulgent thing anyone could possibly ever do, with the exception of taking a day off to masturbate.  As the only people who’d ever take a whole day off to masturbate are kind of gross and pervy anyway, and I don’t want them reading my blog, I’m not going to indulge them with anything more than the teensiest mention.   Go away, sketchy people.  Eww.  Where was I?)

Job willing… I should be able to do my annual Christmas special thingy again this year.  Until then, I’d like to treat you to the following commercial.   It’s a Christmas themed Atari commercial that takes place on a futuristic spaceship in the future.   Apparently, Santa Claus can find you anywhere, even in the somber chill of deep space.  In space, no one may be able to hear you scream, but Santa knows if you’ve been bad or good, so be good for goodness sake, Spaaaaaaaaace Cadet.  (Yes, that was an Alien/Burl Ives/Gorf reference.  I’M BACK, BABY!)

You’ll note how this is secretly a commercial for the failed Atari 5200 console.  You’ll also note that the sets and special effects are at least twice as good as Doctor Who’s were in the mid-80s.

 
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Posted by on November 8, 2010 in games, nostalgia, Uncategorized, War on Xmas!, youtube

 

cover #27: “Fairytale of New York”, The Pogues

Hey, remember that April Covers project I forgot to finish?  Welll….

As a holiday gift to you, my friends and family and acquaintances, I present my cover of “Fairy Tale of New York” by The Pogues, recorded/performed/produced by me with additional vocal help from my friend Julia Lunetta.

It’s one of the great bummer christmas songs, but it has a great lesson of hope and love at the end.  Ah, the Irish….

Note: if you’re unfamiliar with the song, there are a couple words in it you may not want dear grandmama and little Billy to hear.  It’s all within the context of the song, however, so it can be excused.

You can download it directly from Houndbite by clicking on this link.  You can also hear it, streaming, by clicking this link.

Have a merry merry and a holly jolly, ho ho ho, etc.

 
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Posted by on December 24, 2009 in April Covers, War on Xmas!

 

a very special christmas special: “Alf’s Special Christmas” (1987)

It’s that time of year again, when we gather round the electronic hearth and listen to tales, both old and new, that remind us at once of the coming of the new year and the passage of time, as well as what is was to once be young.  A TV christmas special, at its finest, is at once poignant and invigorating; funny and thoughtful, spectacular, but with the humblest of intentions.  At their best, they define for their audience what Christmas truly means in the broadcast media age.

Alf’s Special Christmas
… is not that.

Look, here’s the thing:  I’ve gotten more random comments about my write-up of Andy Williams and the NBC Kids Search For Santa Claus than I ever would have expected.  I seem to have lit a fire in the minds of America’s 30-somethings, all now reminded of this truly bizarre combination of homespun warmth and Hollywood shamelessness.  Now, everyone wants a copy of it, and it’s nowhere to be found.  Call it Andy978 and the Grown-Ups Who Used To Sort Of Wish They Were NBC Kids Search For Andy Williams and the NBC Kids Search For Santa Claus. On second thought, don’t call it that.  That’s a crappy title.

So, when I found yet another obscure NBC Christmas special on Hulu last week, I thought the stars were aligning.  I thought the Christmas Gods were smilin’ down on ol’ Andy.  There it was – Alf’s Special Christmas – starring good old Alf.   Always good for a laugh, that Alf.  I’d never seen the thing myself, but maybe – just maybe – someone out there had fond memories of it.  Even better, it was on Hulu.  It was on the internet legally.  Meaning: it wasn’t going to mysteriously disappear in a week after NBC/Universal discovered we were having fun with it.

“Hark!” I said.  “Here is where our Christmas season truly begins!  We shall watch this Alf’s Special Christmas, and yea verily, we shall make fun of it, and lo, our snark shalt bring us together in great joy.”  And so, with pen in hand, ready to
take notes, I pushed play.

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Posted by on December 2, 2009 in christmas specials, nostalgia, tv, War on Xmas!

 

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oh noes teh president obama sed sumthing meen >_<

See, this is why no sitting President has ever appeared on a late night talk show before.

In the middle of an innocuous discussion about the President’s bowling game (what is it with this guy and bowling?) President Obama said something dumb about the Special Olympics.

Take a look-see before NBC takes this down:

Now, I think the President was referring to Jay’s faux-condescending “That’s GREAT, Mr. President,” because in the Special Olympics, everyone’s a winner.  That’s how they roll, and good for them.

Still, get ready for false outrage from people who seriously think this sort of thing is offensive and relevant.

Waaaait a minute….

A cursory survey of the usual suspects finds most right-wing pundits and bloggers saying things like “it was dumb, this is why he needs a teleprompter, but it’s no big deal.”  So, again, we’re in a situation where the big story is “The President said something silly – WHAT WILL THE RIGHT WING SAY?” when, in fact, they’re saying nothing.

Look, they brought it on themselves.  And by “they”, I mean “the chattering class in general, left and right.” Over the last twenty years, this is what would happen:  A Democrat would say something dumb, and the right would feign outrage.  Or, Bush would say something dumb, and the left would feign outrage.  Knee-jerk responses to something the other “team” did.  That’s all it was.  We’ve come to accept it now.  So, now, whenever (Representative of Party X) says or does something offensive, the media immediately reports that (Representatives of Party Y) are outraged.  It’s lazy and it’s telling.

So…. did the President say something offensive about the Special Olympics?  Does this mean he hates developmentally challenged people, people in wheelchairs, and by proxy AMERICA ITSELF?   I dunno.  I’d rather hear it from the Special Olympics or handicapped people themselves, rather than from Michelle Malkin (or, more accurately, from Keith Olbermann telling me how Michelle Malkin’s going to feel.)

 
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Posted by on March 20, 2009 in politics, War on Xmas!