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Month: December 2013

December 31 (New Year’s Eve): Dan Fogelberg ~ Same Auld Lang Syne and Reverse Times Square

And so the year ends. Seems fitting to finish out 2013 with this bittersweet reminder of the past. It hardly seems possible that Dan Fogelberg has been gone six years, but he has.

And I can’t finish without one last flashmob, particularly fitting considering its setting. Dick Clark’s been gone since 2012, and I don’t watch the ball drop anymore.

2013 was the year I returned to college, the year I lost Marty, Nancy, Craig and more (up to 14 so far this year, of the people I knew). It was the year I moved back into an apartment again, giving up on the American Dream and likely my last chance at home ownership. It was the year I went to the Clearwater Great Hudson River Revival and to Pennsic for the first time.

It was the year I got back to Broadway and saw both Pippin and Lucky Guy. And my college advisor in The Producers (which I hadn’t seen on stage before).

It was the year I proved I could pull a reliable 4.0, and that I could stick to a goal. 367 posts after the start of the year, and plans for another year’s worth of posts, at least.

And it proved to me that I do have a solid grasp on both art and writing. It was the year I finally finished a book, and a short screenplay, and now (soon) a short story.

2014 holds more classes, another possible move, another possible visit to Pennsic (and more photos). It might mean losing more friends to cancer or old age, and it might mean making new friends. Last year, I made whole bunches of connections. Who knows what will come of that.

With friends distributed across three continents and all over North America, from Florida to Alaska, California to Maine, in the United States, Canada and Great Britain, Australia, Germany, Japan and more, it’s been a wild year for everyone I know.

I’m celebrating my 50th New Year’s Eve this year, in a year that just hasn’t felt like a reason to celebrate.  Here’s to the end of 2013 and here’s hoping 2014 is a vast improvement.

Happy New Year, one and all! See you on the 1st!

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December 30: Frank Sinatra ~ Let It Snow and from Neptune’s Daughter (1949) ~ Baby It’s Cold Outside

Two days left and a Tale of Two Franks.

Moving on just a bit, to more winter and less holiday. Just in time for “New Year’s Eve” Eve.

First up, written by lyricist Sammy Cahn and composer Jule StyneFrank Sinatra, sings Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!

Next up, Ricardo Montalbán and Esther Williams sing this song from Frank Loesser, which made its screen debut in the movie Neptune’s Daughter and won Loesser an Academy Award for Best Song in 1949.

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December 29: Jeff Dunham ~ Achmed’s “Jingle Bombs”

Welcome to the 365th post!

Totally NSFW & more than a little bit racist, but still funny! I caught a documentary on Jeff Dunham’s work as a ventriloquist and comedian, and I know exactly what I’m posting here. Hurt myself laughing the first time I watched it.

Language is seriously unsafe for work (and questionable for a Sunday posting), but it’s darn funny.

Three days left to 2013. Far as I’m concerned, the year can’t end fast enough.

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December 28: Andy Williams ~ It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year

Still in the countdown to Epiphany, so for a few more days, you’ll have to live with these. Fortunately, December is almost over, which is great because this has been one hell of a year. Not that I think 2014 will be better, because I don’t think comparing one year to another is actually beneficial, but at least it’s a chance at something new and different.

Andy Williams was one of my childhood staples, if you’ve been paying any attention at all to the selections I’ve made over time. So, while we’re still in the season, something optimistic. We lost Andy last year, but this is the 50th anniversary of the song, so it counts as appropriate for that reason alone.

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December 26 (Kwanzaa/Boxing Day): Frank Kelly ~ Christmas Countdown (12 Days to Christmas)

Launching into the countdown to Epiphany with this classic take on the reality of an actual 12 days of Christmas (in gifts).

Watch and listen at your own risk. And be sure to swallow the eggnog first.

Been a long day, and I’m posting early so I can finally get an actual 8 hours of sleep. Hope you have/had a fabulous Winter Holiday of Your Choice. Enjoy your Boxing Day.

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December 25 – Christmas Day: 12 Tracks in ONE post!

I’d do this in real time, except that I have plans for the new year that don’t include overlapping to Epiphany, so here they are, all 12 days in one convenient post!

Merry Christmas to those who celebrate!!!

On the first day of Christmas (A Muppet Family Christmas)…

On the second day of Christmas (Terry Gilliam’s The Christmas Card)…

On the third day of Christmas (Elvis Presley and Martina McBride’s Blue Christmas)…

On the fourth day of Christmas (John Denver and The Muppets: A Christmas Together)…

On the fifth day of Christmas (The Muppets – Joy to the World)…

On the sixth day of Christmas (Muppet Christmas Carol – Thankful Heart)…

On the seventh day of Christmas (ThePianoGuys – We Three Kings)…

On the eighth day of Christmas (A Charlie Brown Christmas – Christmas Time Is Here)…

On the ninth day of Christmas (Sting – Soul Cake)…

On the tenth day of Christmas (Paul McCartney – Wonderful Christmas Time)…

On the eleventh day of Christmas (Angela Lansbury – We Need A Little Christmas)…

And on the twelfth day of Christmas (Jose Feliciano – Feliz Navidad)…

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December 22 (Three Days to Go): Bruce Springsteen ~ Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town (2007) and Burl Ives ~ A Holly Jolly Christmas (MCA Records 1965)

Two Christmas classics I usually associate with Rankin and Bass’ classic animated specials. Only, you can replace Fred Astaire with The Boss on the first of these. With Clarence Clemons as Santa. (Ought to put paid to all that recent Fox News silliness of the last few weeks.) I think it’s my favorite version of this carol.

The second, written by Johnny Marks (no relation to speak of, other than that we’re both Jewish by birth) originated two years after I did. Burl Ives is a perennial favorite and this is the only voice that sounds right singing the song. The video’s a compilation of stills for the season, but if I picked a Rankin & Bass version, it’d be down again before next year. I predict this version will have better staying power.

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December 20 (Five Days to Go): Christmas Flashmob – Teelin Style

“Did she really go there?”

Yes. Yes, I did.

Christmas Flashmob. With PSY’s Gangnam Style. And Irish Stepdancers. Because.

Published not quite one year ago and still fairly far from my definition of a viral video, but really? How can you lose with that kind of footwork?

Okay, so this pushes the envelope of what a musical advent calendar should be, but their hearts were in the right place and it’s the thought that counts, right?

Almost there…

What do you mean, “I haven’t seen the original yet?”

Really? Here. You’re welcome.

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December 19 (Six Days to Go): Band Aid ~ Do they Know it’s Christmas (1984)

29 years after the original video made history, this song remains an annual anthem to care for those in need. It also represents some basic assumptions about what we can do as a society to help those less fortunate than we are.

Band Aid wasn’t without its share of controversy. And the video isn’t without copyright issues, either. Annoyingly, YouTube disabled the previous track I’d selected, and it’s likely they’ll do it again when they figure out this one’s been posted, but for every clip they pull, at least one comes up to replace it, so if you try the one I included below and it fails, just search on the name and you’re sure to find it somewhere.

And the moral of that story? No matter how viral the video, someone can still come along and pull it from view. And no matter how many times YouTube disables it, someone will come along to replace the ones that go away.

And while we’re at it, here’s the short documentary that went along with the video. I have the original release on VHS.

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December 18 (Seven Days to Go): Straight No Chaser ~ 12 Days (original from 1998)

Saw these guys live last year, thanks to a gift from a friend.

Of all the songs they do, this one, right here, is my absolute favorite. Seriously. As hard as it is to remember the lyrics, this flawed rendition is completely flawless. Timing? Impeccable. Glad they’re still together and making the rounds.

At almost 17 million hits, this undeniably viral video is totally hilarious.

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December 17 (Eight Days to Go): ThePianoGuys ~ Carol of the Bells (for 12 cellos)

As I look at the title of this entry, the first of the Piano Guys videos, I realize I am in complete denial. House isn’t decorated, presents starting to accumulate but nothing’s wrapped. I’ve seen How the Grinch Stole Christmas and nothing else. No Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade (with the big Santa payoff at the end), no real investment of music time, not a single theatre event.

Usually I’ve watched at least the Muppet Family Christmas by now.

I recognize this behavior. It’s grief, stealing focus. And up till today, I had an extra convenient excuse – full-time classes at college on top of my 20-hour job. But today’s last final put the last nail in the coffin of Fall 2013 and there’s really no way to avoid the next week’s activities. Time to unearth the tree and the ornaments and start assembling them in the house.

Maybe it’s because Christmas falls in the middle of the week this year. I suspect it’s more about missing key people in my life, though, and the isolation of being in a one-woman office most of the time.

So, whatever it is you’re doing to prepare for the holidays (or to hide from them), feel confident that you’re not alone.

As I said earlier today: One day at a time. It’s the best you can do.

Meanwhile, the Piano Guys. A misnomer, since this is really about cello and piano. Also viral video. This one, for example, is well on the way to 9 million hits in just a teensy bit under two years. Wow. That’s how YouTube works, when it works. If you’re good at what you do and you’re creative about presenting it to the world, watch out!

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December 15 (Ten Days to Go): Simon and Garfunkel ~ Seven O’Clock News/Silent Night

There are seven or eight versions of this song running around YouTube, but while this one has fewer hits than the most popular version, this one has the clearest message. It is political commentary at its finest, a folk song as relevant today as it was in 1966, when the album Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme was originally released.

I dare anyone to listen to the lyrics and not be moved.

How different in our times, when we can exchange Aurora and Sandy Hook for Richard Speck, Cory Monteith and Paul Walker and for Lenny Bruce, Abu Ghraib and Afghanistan for Vietnam and more?

When I say we still have a long way to go, this is precisely what I mean.

Silent Night, indeed.

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December 14 (11 Days to Go): Tom Lehrer ~ A Christmas Carol and Dropkick Murphys ~ The Season’s Upon Us

I would be remiss if I failed to include Tom Lehrer’s classic A Christmas Carol in this lead-up to the event. Lehrer’s understated humor is timeless. Sad that he quit the biz so early, but we’re lucky he left us the albums he did.

Not sure it could even BE the season without this happy little tune.

Got one more Tom Lehrer before I leave off this year’s list, but it’s the last during Advent.

Now on the other hand, the second (not at all subtle or particularly happy, but definitely worth watching) video comes from the Dropkick Murphys and I actually debated including it because it’s a fairly angry picture of modern family life.

Then again, the holidays aren’t always happy, which I believe that’s the point of the song. You’ll relate to this clip especially if your family (like mine) isn’t straight out of the J.C. Penny Catalog. (Do they even print those anymore?!?)

Also? Not quite 200k versus over 2 million hits. Yeah, that’s telling.

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December 13 (12 Days to Go): Trans-Siberian Orchestra ~ Christmas Eve in Sarajevo (2007) and Chicago’s Magical Piano

Second of two NeverEnoughLights videos coupled with TSO’s fabulous music.

Someday I will see them live in concert. I hope. Also not the first time you’ll hear God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen, since it’s one of my absolute favorites.

At any rate, we’re almost halfway through the month. Christmas Day brings a special 12-track playlist, so you know that’s coming soon, too!

But wait! This just in!

(Watch a video go viral…)

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December 12 (13 Days to Go): Muppet Christmas Carol ~ It Feels Like Christmas

I think it’s a safe bet that of all the things I love about Muppet Christmas Carol, the Ghost of Christmas Present is my favorite is my favorite character and this scene the best in the movie.

Not just that I have a thing for redheads (because I do), but the emotion carried out, the truth in this scene in relation to the original story, the character is so well played, it just makes me want to see this movie over and over again.

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