Monday, December 19, 2011

Baby Boomer Santa

Abbie Hilton linked to a graphic about how Christmas is aging on Facebook the other day.


It took me a while to figure out what it was all about, but when I finally deigned to actually read the information on the graphic, I saw that it was trying to tell me that all the Christmas songs that they played on the radio for the last ten years were written in the forties and fifties, and that we were only trying to recreate the Christmasses that baby boomers experienced. That would probably be just fine according to Pierce.



But it gave me pause. Is Christmas getting old? Is it something that's already on its way out? When I'm old, will it be looked on as passe, uncool, stupid, imperialist, racist, or something like that?

I can see the point a little bit. If you look at the decorations that people put out, they definitely strive for that chintzy, fifties vibe a lot. Tinsel is definitely a fifties thing. I drove down the main street of a local town, and they had tinsel drapes stretched over the road. When you mixed that with the old-time look of their main street, I felt like I was driving into a movie screen that was showing A Christmas Story (one of my favorite Christmas films of all time, and heavily reminiscent on fifties nostalgia).

But I feel like rebelling against this idea. I love Christmas, and I don't want it to go away. I think it probably won't anytime soon. I've noticed that recently, Christmas songs from later eras are starting to be remade and played on the radio in place of some of the older ones. "Last Christmas" by Wham has had at least four remakes in the past year or two. I think the real explanation behind this is that music artists want to remake the songs they loved as children when they make their Christmas albums. So, it drags twenty or thirty years behind.

The other day, I noticed that Amazon.com was doing their 25 Days of Free songs again. They've done it every year since they opened their MP3 store. I always check them out, because, well, I like Christmas music, especially free stuff. I noticed that December 9th's song was a Duke Ellington song. I love big band jazz, so I downloaded it only to discover that it was actually a DJ named Robbie Hardkiss's remix of the Duke Ellington song. I expected not to like it, but I tried it out. I was actually surprised that I in fact, did like it. Maybe it was Abbie's pronouncement of the aging of Christmas that influenced me, but I really liked the modern spin put on the classic song. It sounded to me like an old Soul Coughing song, just minus Mike Doughty's awesome lyrics.

Couldn't find a version of it on YouTube, so here's another song from the album that's pretty cool as well.



Now, maybe it just confirms her comment, after all, Jingle Bells is not a new song (nor are any of the other songs on the album), but this remix seems to deny that whole idea completely to me. If we can groove to Christmas music on a club's dance floor, as well as rock around the Christmas tree, and sing of the first noel too, then I think what Christmas really is, is timeless.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

What I Always Wanted

Rish and I got together the other day for our usual recording session, which means a very, very late night followed by a very early morning. Going to bed at 3:00 or 4:00am then getting up at 8:00am always makes me grumpy. I try my very best to not yell at my kids the next morning as we get ready for school/work, but I'm not always successful. Anyway, that's a long preamble for not a lot of substance. The point of all this rambling was that when my daughter asked me what the box was in the living room wrapped in HO HO HO paper, I didn't even give it a second thought.

"I don't know," I said, "Ask Mommy." After all, she's the one who dominates all the buying and wrapping of Christmas presents.

A few minutes later, when my son asked me what the box in the HO HO HO paper was, I gave him a similarly short answer. "I don't know, ask Mommy."

Then, when my wife came home and said, "What's that box in the corner in the HO HO HO paper?" I knew something was up. If she didn't know what it was, then who would? It was time to investigate.

I found that the box said that it was to me, from Santa. How kind of Santa to send something my way early. "It must be from Rish," I said.

"What is it?"

"I don't know, it's wrapped," I said.

"You're not going to open it?"

I didn't know if I should. It was a Christmas present, after all, and that was still about two weeks away.

"You're really going to leave it till Christmas?"

"All right." I ripped it open, and a shock ran through me. "Oh, no you didn't," I said.

One time, years ago, I saw an episode of America's Funniest Videos in which a guy opened his Christmas present, and started bawling. He'd gotten an Oakland Raiders replica football helmet. "It's something that I've always wanted," he sobbed. I remember laughing at that guy while in the back of my head sort of understanding how he felt.

There's a very few things that I've "always wanted" through my whole life. Once I became an adult, I thought I could finally get those things, because, well, It's my money now, right? But once I became a father, there wasn't money left over for those kinds of things. There's so many other things that money goes to. In fact, a lot of the things that I had already, have had to go into boxes in the basement because the space that I did have was taken from me to give to the kids.

But one thing that I've always wanted, and never gotten, was (yes I'm a nerd) an AT-AT. That's a Star Wars toy. It's kind of the holy grail of Star Wars toys. It's the biggest thing I think they make. It was the biggest thing at least when I was a kid. But I didn't want it just because it was the biggest. It was also, by far, the coolest thing they made, perhaps the coolest thing about Star Wars altogether. But, because it was the coolest thing and the biggest thing, it was also the most expensive thing. I was never able to get it, because I couldn't afford it as a child. As an adult, well, like I said...


Then, I pulled the paper off that box. Underneath, you guessed it, an AT-AT. Rish made my dreams come true. Since I know he reads this, I'm here to say thank you. I probably would never have gotten it for myself. I'd have grown up an old and bitter man, and as I died, and the snow globe fell from my lifeless hand, my final words would have been, "AT-AT."

I didn't cry, like the guy in Funniest Home Videos, but I could have. One time, we got my son a Superman toy when he was four. He opened the present and said, "Superman jet! It's what I always wanted!" He was four, however, so it was cute, but it didn't really mean much. I'm way older than four, and when I shout, "it's what I've always wanted!" It's true. Thanks, Rish.

Unfortunately, the present I got for you isn't nearly as cool. Hope you like it all the same, even if it isn't something you always wanted.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Still Going

Yesterday wasn't quite as good as the day before. I only managed to put in another 395 words on the background of my collaboration with Rish. But I did something, and that matters. Today, I think, will be better, since yesterday I was able to get a bit of a head start on work that I would have had to do today, thus leaving me more time for writing.