Monthly Archives: December 2013

A Very Gauthic Christmas, or My Favorite Christmas Songs

Since I haven’t posted in awhile, and since it’s the holiday time of year, I decided to post something festive. Maybe it’s that I had both the teenager and the baby with me for the last few days and the baby is conscious of presents and fun. Maybe it’s that I’m getting older, but I seemed to have been craving Christmas music lately. So I decided to post my favorite holiday music for you. Keep in mind, this list is not set in stone and could change by tomorrow, but it’s mine and I love it.

So…

10. Blue Christmas as sung by Bruce Springsteen

This is a recent addition to the list. By that I mean, it’s only a few years old. I’m not a huge Elvis Presley fan but one of my favorite songs of his is “Blue Christmas.” Back in 2010, Springsteen and the E Street Band played a show in Asbury Park, New Jersey that was taped. It was to promote his re-release of 1978’s Darkness on the Edge of Town and new album of previously unfinished and unreleased tracks from that era The Promise. The show featured only tracks that appeared on The Promise. Except for this song. I love the way Springsteen arranged it and the general atmosphere of the performance. Also of note, it would be the last “live” recording of Clarence Clemons with the band. He died the following June.

9. Happy Christmas (The War is Over) by John Lennon

Let’s call this one my Artsy Fartsy entry. I don’t know the words, it’s not on my iPod, but I still know it and like it. And it’s John Lennon. Come on.

8. Frosty the Snowman as sung by Jimmy Durante

I wouldn’t have even thought of this if not for a recent trip to the grocery store where this was playing. We grew up watching these specials and sometimes, the versions from those specials are what sticks. That’s the case here. Besides, it friggin’ Durante!

7. Jingle Bell Rock as performed by Hall and Oates

I love Hall and Oates. There. I said it. “Maneater.” “Your Kiss is on My List.” Egads, need I say more?! This song, along with its tongue-in-cheek hokey video, was a part of childhood I always loved. And I just like the song, too.

6. Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer by Gene Autry

Look, if you grew up with parents who came from the 1950s or 1960s, you had this song played every Christmas. Growing up, the Gene Autry original was my least favorite version. Now, it’s the version. Well, maybe except for…

5. Silver Bells as performed by The Chipmunks

Christmas with the Chipmunks was the Christmas album in my household growing up. I loved it. “Rudolph” and “Frosty” and so many others were done in that madcap Chipmunks way with Dave Seville yelling constantly at poor Alvin. It was my life, only instead of Dave it was my parents and instead of Alvin, it was me. “Silver Bells” was a rare exception. It’s sung by Dave Seville and is a little sad. As a kid, I liked it but it was…well…quiet. Now, it’s the only version of “Silver Bells” I hear in my head.

4. Christmas in Hollis by Run D.M.C.

If you were growing up in the 1980s, and you were open to rap, you love this song. The video is even better. I remember my parents being…shocked? upset? amused?…that I liked this song and probably thought it was just a phase. Yeah, well, guess who rapped it to a 1-year-old the other day? That’s right. This guy!

3. Santa Claus is Coming to Town as performed by Bruce Springsteen

I love the song “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.” I loved the stop-motion animated special. I did not love the Springsteen version. Until recent years. The video shown is good, but the original recording from 1978 (I think, maybe ’81?) is where it’s at. The verse after the sax solo shows a reckless abandon and joy that is pure Springsteen and pure rock n roll. It’s a fun song, okay?

2. All I Want For Christmas is You by Mariah Carey

Yes, I love this song this much. I am not ashamed. It’s a damn good song. I like the music. I love Carey’s vocals. It’s a song that makes me happy. So there.

1. The Chipmunk Song by Alvin and the Chipmunks

This is Christmas to me. This is my favorite song on Christmas with the Chipmunks. It is my favorite Christmas song, period. It made me laugh when I was a kid. I could relate to it. It was just fun. And it still makes me smile. Love it!

***

Honorable mention goes to “Must Be Santa,” a song I never heard recorded but loved to sing in elementary school.

For me, Christmas isn’t a religious holiday. It’s a day (or time period) to spend with family and friends, to be together, perhaps exchange gifts, eat, and have fun. And enjoy some music. So have a happy Christmas, if you celebrate. If you don’t, go be with people you love, eat, and sing some songs anyway. We could all use a little more of that, right?

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Lunch with the Baby #1: DC Movies vs. Marvel Movies

I’ve decided to try my hand at vlogging. I’ll be trying to do a solo one at some point, but for now…Lunch with the Baby…

Celebrity Death & Decorum, or How Social Media Has Made People Angry Over the Wrong Crap

Saturday night my wife was about to go to bed when Courtney, my teenage daughter, said as she scrolled Twitter, “Do you know who Paul Walker is?”

Pamela and I looked at each other. “He’s from those Fast and Furious movies,” Pamela said.

“Yeah, well, he died in ‘a fiery car crash,'” Courtney said.

My wife and I both said, basically, “Oh no! That’s sad!”

That was about the extent of it. After she went to bed, I went on the iPad and was scrolling through my Facebook feed and Twitter feed. The news about Mr. Walker’s death was still pretty fresh but I already saw something unsettling. Someone (I don’t remember who) had posted to Facebook something alone the lines of: “150,000 people died today, but we’re all fixated on one celebrity.”

Over the course of the past two days, I’ve seen similar kinds of posts. A lot of them. On Facebook. On Twitter. I’m sure there are others out there.

Why?

It’s a lot like the essay I wrote about people liking to go out of their way to inform all the fans of a particular TV show, movie series, or game that they don’t watch it, but it’s uglier. Much uglier.

Unlike, say, Kim Kardashian or Paris Hilton or Snookie or any other reality TV star, Mr. Walker actually worked his ass off to achieve what fame he received, and it’s not as though he was out partying when his death happened. Yes, it appears he was in a speeding vehicle, but he had just finished a fundraiser for Philippine relief. Oh, and he had a history of helping those who’d been hit hard by disaster.

In other words, Mr. Walker did something that made a lot of people happy, and helped a lot of people, and now he was being mourned.

Now, before I’m accused of being a superfan of his, I’ll state that I’ve never seen the Fast and Furious movies (though Pamela and I were talking about them just that morning) and I honestly had to double check what his name was before I began writing this. I know only as much as I’ve read about or have seen on TV in the last couple of days.

The thing that annoys me is the flippant dismissal over the man’s death. Yes, he was a celebrity. Yes, he was a star of a series of popcorn action flicks. But he was also the father to a 15-year-old daughter. Like I am. He was 40 years old—four years older than I (and my wife’s age). He organized help for those who needed it. And he’d worked for most of his life to achieve what fame he had, and compared to most movie stars, he wasn’t necessarily the biggest name. Consider the Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson had more screentime in the recent Fast & Furious trailers and commercials than he did, even though Johnson had only done a couple of them.

That’s not to say that all the other people who died Saturday shouldn’t be mourned because they absolutely should. They all have families and friends and touched lives for the better. Unfortunately for them, they weren’t in one of the most successful franchises of the last decade or so. They were known outside of their local places or by those close to them. Mr. Walker was.

Instead of bitching about the public mourning of fans, and the media’s attraction to the story (which, let’s face it, is a huge piece of irony and is grisly, two things modern news loves), let’s use Mr. Walker’s death as a symbol to all those who died that day. His death becomes the face of those regular people who died that day, no less tragic, no less sad.

In other words, with all the silliness out there in the world, the racism and sexism, the growing socioeconomic chasm, the bigotry and hatred, let’s focus our energy on fixing those things instead of making people who lost someone they cared about in some way, whether it’s because they knew him or it was because they loved his movies, feel bad about their public mourning and the news outlets reporting of it.

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