Friday, December 25, 2015

25 Days of Christmas Songs: Day 25- "Christmas With a Capital C" by GoFish, featuring Brad Stine

And so I end this list the way I began it- by offending people. Lest we forget the true meaning of the holiday, remember this is CHRISTmas, with a capital "C".

And here is your Christmas present! A second song to enjoy. Christmas is about many things. But ultimately, it's about the cross of Christ. Were it not for Christmas, there would be no Easter. And were it not for Easter, there would be no salvation for you and me. Remember that as you spend time with your families and recall how the greatest Christmas present of all has already been given: Jesus Christ.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

25 Days of Christmas Songs: Day 24- "One More Sleep Till Christmas" by The Muppets

I play this every Christmas Eve. It always seems to get me in the spirit. Merry Christmas, everyone!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

25 Days of Christmas Songs: Day 23- "The Chimney Song" by Bob Rivers

Possibly my favorite Bob Rivers Christmas song. Another ear worm. Try not to be weirded out. :)

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Monday, December 21, 2015

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Saturday, December 19, 2015

25 Days of Christmas Songs: Day 19- "Avengers Christmas Carols" by The Avengers (and the still amazingly talented James Covenant)

James has done it again! Enjoy everyone's favorite Marvel characters singing a few Christmas ditties. (Also, his game Black-White is still in development, but it still looks pretty awesome.)

Friday, December 18, 2015

25 Days of Christmas Songs: Day 18- "I Want A Hippopotamus For Christmas" by Gayla Peevey

Well, if you return all the gifts like Allan Sherman suggested yesterday, maybe you can afford a hippo for Christmas? Definitely an old song. And certainly a strange one. But hey. If hippos float your boat...go wild!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Christmas Favorites: The Best Christmas Pageant Ever

For once, I'm actually going to review a book. This particular book is very special to me, because it's one my grandmother and I read every Christmas. We'd pull it out and read it out loud and laugh, and laugh, and laugh. If you've never heard of it, I recommend getting a copy. You won't be sorry. So, without further ado:

The book is told from the first-person narration of an unnamed school age girl. It tells the story of her family, the small town they live in, and her church's Christmas pageant. It also tells the story of the Herdman kids. The Herdmans are, according to the author, "the worst kids in the history of the
world". All six of them have mischievously terrorized practically everyone in town at one time or another, including each other. Ralph, Imogene, Leroy, Claude, Ollie, and Gladys all live in an old maintenance garage at the end of town. They try and squish one another with the garage doors, they have an almost demon-possessed cat, they have absolutely no respect for authority, and they've violated so many rules that everyone speculates that most if not all of them will end up in prison eventually.

Through a rather convoluted series of events, they're also the entire main cast of the town's church Christmas pageant. The entire town is coming to see it, too, just to see what the devious little miscreants will do to the time-honored portrayal of the holy family. That is, if the play even gets performed at all. Between chaotic rehearsals, a jealous diva, and a cavalcade of petitioning parents demanding the Herdmans be thrown out completely, there may not be a Christmas pageant this year, let alone the best one ever.

For those who haven't read it, I won't spoil too much. For those too lazy to read the book (which actually isn't very long), there is a movie version of it. But the funniest parts of the book are mostly in the narration, so a lot of nuance is lost in the film version. You'd still get the basic plot but it wouldn't be nearly as enjoyable. You can watch the whole movie below if you like (it's just under an hour long) but I really recommend getting the book on this one. I can almost guarantee that if you do, it will become a favorite family tradition.

25 Days of Christmas Songs: Day 17- "The Twelve Gifts of Christmas" by Alan Sherman

No one does Christmas like Allan "Hello Muddah,, Hello Faddah" Sherman. What do you do with all that worthless stuff you get gifted?

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

25 Days of Christmas Songs: Day 16- "I Yust Go Nuts At Christmas" by Yogi Yorgesson

Not sure if it's the goofy mock Swedish accent or the accurate description of Christmas commercialization and family dynamics, but this one seems to get funnier every year.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

25 Days of Christmas Songs: Day 15- "Chipmunks Roasting On an Open Fire" by Bob Rivers

Bob does it again! For everyone who gets aggravated at hearing the Chipmunks' Christmas Song for the 5,000,000th time.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

25 Days of Christmas Songs: Day 13- "Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer" by Elmo & Patsy

I know it's a bit more popular than some of the other ones I've posted, but it's just too goofy to not include.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

25 Days of Christmas Songs: Day 12- "12 Days Medley" by Straight No Chaser

This a capella group is good at what they do. Enjoy this medley of "12 Days" and other Christmas songs.

Friday, December 11, 2015

25 Days of Christmas Songs: Day 11- "Make It So" by Captain Picard (and the amazingly talented James Covenant)

If you know me, you know I'm a nerd. There's nothing that makes a nerd happier than Captain Picard singing Christmas carols. Unless it's the Doctor singing Christmas carols. (Quick! Someone get on that, pronto!)

He advertises his game at the end. Feel free to watch that part or not. I think it looks kind of interesting, to be honest.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

25 Days of Christmas Songs: Day 9- "I'm Gettin' Nuttin' for Christmas" by Stan Freberg

There have been several covers of this song, but in my opinion, none comes close to this zany version by the inimitable Stan Freberg.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Christmas Favorites: The Muppet Christmas Carol

Ok, ok, ok. So, out of all of the A Christmas Carol movie versions, this one is hands down my absolute favorite. And I know what you're thinking. "But it isn't true to the book! Isn't that kind of a big deal for you?"

Well, normally, yes. I'm usually a pretty big stickler for movie adaptations staying true to their source material. But I'm giving this one a pass for two reasons: 1) its target audience is little kids. Come on. How faithful can you expect it to be? And b) while it may not be true to the letter of the book, it's certainly true to the spirit of it. I can't think of any other version of this story that will give me the warm fuzzies like this one does. So, let's dive right in, shall we?
The first Muppet film made after the death of the amazing Jim Henson was a very big deal. Would the franchise be able to survive without his visionary genius behind it? I think this is proof that it most certainly could. And were he alive, I think he would have been proud of what his son Brian was able to accomplish with this film. I love positively, absolutely everything about it.

Most versions don't include any sort of narration, or, if they do, very little. I find that rather sad because a lot of the magic of the story isn't so much the plot itself as it is Dickens's fantastic way with words. In this version, Dickens himself is actually a character, tour-guiding you through the story personally. Of course, Dickens in this case is the Great Gonzo, but that really only makes it better. As he tells the story to Rizzo, we see the other Muppet characters assume roles in the story, something the Muppets had never done before. Kermit and Piggy are Mr. and Mrs. Cratchit, with nephew Robin as Tiny Tim. There's Fozzie Bear as Fezziwig (or Fozziwig, in this case), Sam the Eagle as Scrooge's schoolmaster, and Statler and Waldorf as Scrooge's former business partners Jacob and Robert Marley. (See what they did there?) Several other new Muppets were created for the various roles of the three Spirits of Christmas. All of the performances are, of course, brilliant. It's hard to make a piece of felt emote to the point where we get misty-eyed, but the Muppeteer performers manage to pull it off big time.

But Muppeteers aside, the best performance in this entire film is Michael Caine's Scrooge. As far as I'm concerned, he is Scrooge. There will never be a better one in my opinion.  Playing the role of Scrooge is already a monumental task. Playing opposite Muppets and interacting with them as though they were as real as you or I is a monumental task. Being able to do both and do them well is nothing short of genius at work. It's a testament to the acting abilities of a Hollywood legend and I'm glad he did.
Hats off to you, sir!
But perhaps the one thing that makes this my favorite version of this movie is the music. After all, what's a Muppet film without a good soundtrack, amiright? There isn't a bad song in this movie. Seriously. The soundtrack of this film alone will put you in the holiday spirit. You're already heard one of them if you've been following my 25 Days of Crazy Christmas Songs series. It's got a Broadway quality to it. The songs are fun, catchy, touching, and very well written and performed.

There is one gripe I have about the film, and it really has nothing to do with the film itself, but rather what the editors did to it after its theatrical release. The scene in which Belle and Scrooge call off their engagement originally had a song called "When Love is Gone". It was included in the initial print of VHS tapes, but was cut out of later prints and the DVD version. Most of us 90s kids who were fans of the movie just the way it was were sorely disappointed. The reasoning behind the cut was that younger kids found it boring, but those of us who were old enough to truly appreciate the film for what it was have been petitioning Disney (who was the distributor at the time and currently owns the rights to the Muppets) to put it back in subsequent releases. Thus far, our cries have fallen on deaf ears. It's a real shame because its absence leaves a huge (and rather obvious) jump cut right in the middle of the film, and makes the end-of-movie reprise sounds out of place. (Sound Familiar?) If you can get your hands on an original uncut VHS, by all means do so. If not, well, then, enjoy this.

Seeing as how that's my only problem with this movie, I say again and again and a thousand times again, if you haven't seen it, definitely do. With warmth, wit, a good dose of humor, and a nod to Someone who "made lame beggars walk and blind men see", it's sure to become a holiday classic in your family.

25 Days of Christmas Songs: Day 8- "Eight Polish Foods of Christmas" by VeggieTales

I know I only promised one "12 Days" parody per week, but 1) This song was too good not to include and b) it isn't really 12 anyway.

Also, it's my blog. Now loosen your belt and prepare for some very filling Polish food.

Monday, December 7, 2015

25 Days of Christmas Songs: Day 7- "Blue Christmas" by Porky Pig

I originally had "Here's Your Sign: Christmas Edition" on here. But since the geniuses at WB Studios have decided to make their video unavailable for embedding (thanks a lot there, fellas) I brought in one of my back-ups.

He may not be Elvis. But Porky's sure gonna miss you this Christmas. Presumably because he's going to be the Christmas ham. Just don't tell him that.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

25 Days of Christmas Songs: Day 6- "Chanukah Song" by Adam Sandler

Since I'm 1/4 Jew, and since tonight is the first night of Chanukah, there's no way I couldn't include this one. (My apologies for the drug reference at the end, but it is Adam Sandler.)

Saturday, December 5, 2015

25 Days of Christmas Songs: Day 5- "It Feels Like Christmas" by The Muppets

In fact, not only do I not hate Christmas, I actually like it (in small healthy doses). But of course, as a Christian, I also have the Christmas spirit all year round. This song helps remind me of that. Less hysterical and more sweet today. Cuz I'm awesome like that.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Christmas Favorites: A Christmas Carol (Robert Zemeckis version)

It's perhaps the greatest Christmas story of all time. (Other than, you know, the ACTUAL Christmas story.) It's been done and redone dozens if not hundreds of times. Some versions are good. Some, not so good. A few stand out to me as being noteworthy, though. And so, I will attempt to review my favorite versions of the Dicken's classic tale, A Christmas Carol.

I won't bother to rehash the plot because pretty much everyone knows this story. However, since each version puts its own twist on the tale, I will include spoiler warnings for individual points.

The first version I will review is, perhaps, the most recent. I'm talking of course about the Walt Disney/Robert Zemeckis version.

I originally got to see this film in all its IMAX glory, and two words came to mind: mildly impressed.

First, the "impressed":

Very true to the book. You'll be hard pressed to find one with more book-accurate dialogue. Animation was fantastic. The 3-D effects helped draw you into the story, not just play it up for the "ooh, aah" factor, and I found it all very sophisticated and clean-cut. During the screening, kids in front of me were reaching up to grab animated snowflakes, it was that realistic.

The acting was unparalleled. The emotion displayed by the characters (both in voice and by the animators) was believable, if not entirely true-to-life. My biggest fear when I first heard about this version was Jim Carrey playing not one, not two, but three roles. Technically four if you count the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, but as that character has no lines, I'm sticking with three. I was worried that rubber-faced Carrey would totally goofball his way through the film as some sort of slapstick caricature. Imagine my surprise to discover that Carrey managed to tone down the goofy factor just enough in the serious moments and bring them out when appropriate (such as after Scrooge's "conversion" or as the jolly Ghost of Christmas Present). His Scrooge is very believable, without being cheesy. The rest of the actors do a superb job. A lot of A-listers are in the film, which usually isn't a huge selling point for me. But in this case, it soars. The motion capture animation has a LOT to do with that, I think. because you're not limited to just seeing a drawn character and hearing a voice that doesn't quite fit it. The characters are animated to have similar features to the actors' own, so it just fits. Gary Oldman's Bob Cratchit blows all the others away. I don't think I'll ever find a better one (well, a better human one, but more on that in another post).

A slight warning for those of you planning on seeing this with the kiddos: after the screening I attended, some parents were shocked that the movie would be so dark and scary, but I felt it was necessary. This is, after all, a ghost story. If we're going to be drawn into the story with Scrooge being frightened out of his wits, what's a little creepy factor for us, the viewers? Several jump scares and spooky spirits might frighten your youngest viewers, so just keep that in mind.

And now, the caveats. The parts of the movie that left me only "mildly" impressed.

I have but two gripes. And this is where those pesky spoilers come into play, so ye be warned!

1. The sequence in which Marley's jaw pops loose during his big "beware your fate" speech detracts from the solemnness of the moment. I thought it an unnecessary addition that did nothing to advance the story line or add any understanding of the character. It just felt so out of place.

2. The big "chase" sequence during the visit of the third ghost. A lot of shoe leather, in my opinion. The several minutes dedicated to it would have been better served focusing on other parts of the story that actually helped support the main point. Expanding some of the things Ebenezer saw with the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come would have fit the story better than a rowdy chase scene through the streets of London that overstayed its welcome.

In all, I'd say it was well performed, well animated, and (my favorite part) accurate to the original. There was also a careful preserving of the "Christ" part of Christmas. Not as blatant as I would have liked it to have been. Certainly not as strong as it is in the book. But these days, to find any mention of God not being used as a profanity in a major motion picture is refreshing. Had I been grading it, I might have said A-. I definitely recommend picking up a copy.

It could have been better, there's no doubt about that. But I think Walt Disney himself, were he still alive, would be as I am:

Mildly impressed.

25 Days of Christmas Songs: Day 4- "I Really Don't Hate Christmas" by Dr. Doofenshmirtz

Lest anyone think that being married to Mr. Christmas has made me abhor the holiday season, I assure you, I really don't hate Christmas.

Apparently, neither does Phineas and Ferb's evil scientist Dr. Doofenshmirtz.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

25 Days of Christmas Songs: Day 3- "King of Christmas" by Ray Stevens

Ah, Ray Stevens. Never fails to make me laugh. In one of the few Christmas songs he's ever recorded, Ray speculates that Santa Claus may very well be someone else...

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

25 Days of Christmas Songs: Day 2- "The Twelve Pains of Christmas" by Bob Rivers

I've got no less than 4 "Twelve Days" parodies on the list. I'll try to keep them to once a week, for your sanity's sake. No need to thank me. Unless you wanna send me something really nice. Then, total need to thank me.

An oldie but a goodie. Because who DOESN'T have something about this season that they find annoying?! I'd bet dollars to donuts, yours is somewhere on this list. (A few PG words contained within.)

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

25 Days of Christmas Songs: Day 1- "Kung Pao Buckaroo Holiday" by Brad Paisley

Nope. These aren't your parent's Christmas songs (ok, well, some of them are). See, I'm pretty much married to Mr. Christmas. My husband loves Christmas. He loves everything about it. If he had the money, he'd go all Clark Griswold on our house every year. And he sings Christmas songs all. Year. LONG. So by the time December rolls around, I'm pretty much already sick of them.

Unless they're hilarious! Our Christmas tradition is to listen to wacky, obscure, or novel Christmas songs during the month of December. Because I'm pretty sure I'd crack otherwise.

Every day, I'm going to share one of my favorites with you. Most are funny. A few are irreverent. One or two are actually touching, but obscure enough that you'll probably never hear them played on the radio (thank goodness, or else I'd probably get sick of them, too!) So here we go! Twenty five of my favorite off-the-wall Christmas songs.

For those who have already taken umbrage with my "irreverent" comment, here's one for you. Try not to get offended. :)