Last of the Christmas music for 2023

The previously-promised music vids: first up, a new-to-me tune by offbeat-classical composer Sir Karl Jenkins, from his 2009 release Stella Natalis.

I first heard this one way too early on  Christmas morning, lying in bed in that moggy not-asleep, not-awake state, and frankly, it kinda weirded me out a little bit. After jolting fully awake and recovering from the slight case of the heebie-jeebies it induced, I simply can’t stop listening to it. It’s odd, edgy, abby-normal, not by any means your usual Christmas-music fare. If it had been around back when Tim Burton’s unforgettable Nightmare Before Christmas came out (1993), at least half of the tracks on the Stella Natalis album would have fit in quite nicely for the soundtrack.

Next, one I’d meant to include last week but forgot about: a simply stellar arrangement of one my all-time most beloved Christmas songs.

This one is in heavy rotation on that Irish Christmas-music stream I hipped y’all to last month, and it’s a real beaut. In fact, after repeated listens it’s come to closely rival the powerful Cantus arrangement I’ve run here for a few years running on my own personal bestest-EVAR! list. The backing musical accompaniment is spare as spare gets, unobtrusive yet at the same time indispensable; meanwhile, the intricate, shifting vocal harmonies are so gorgeously lush they make the hair on the back of my neck stand straight up. Overall, the above version is so tight you could bounce a quarter off it, so squeakity-clean you could serve dinner on it. The only real complaint I can make about it is that it’s over too soon.

Hey, Christmas ain’t over till I SAY it’s over, dammit!

Actually, I’m thinking I’ll supplant ol’ Scrooge Picard with the regular CF theme this weekend, which is earlier than I usually would. For many years, I made it my practice to adhere strictly to Elvis’s tradition of leaving the tree and decorations up until January 8th, which was his birthday. But since we started earlier than usual this year with the Christmas makeover, well, what the heck.

Update! The instrument that opens the second song, if I’m not mistaken, is not an oboe but the somewhat-rare English horn, which you could maybe think of as an oboe with bigger balls.

What is the difference between an English horn and an oboe?
An English horn and the oboe both come from the same double-reed family of instruments. The main difference is that the English horn is one and a half times longer than the oboe and features a pear-shaped bell that the oboe does not have. Also, they are considered instruments that are alto and soprano in sound, that is, the English horn and oboe, respectively. They are both double-reed instruments, with the English horn having a wider reed than the oboe.

The English horn is an F instrument that also features a wider reed and metal tube that the reed attaches to. The reed is usually tied together with a metal wire. The oboe is a C instrument that has a thinner reed attached to cork and which fits directly on the main body. The oboe has a higher-pitched sound, while the English horn features a more smooth, darker sound. They both feature the same keys and fingerings, and usually, a musician that can play one can play the other.

It can be said that the oboe and English horn were developed in the late 1600s and early 1700s, but double-reed instruments date back to 2500 BC in the city of Ur. With only three or four holes at that time to play notes and double reed, musicians at that time played their music.

The double reed instruments like the oboe and the English horn have come a long way since their beginnings. They are now primarily manufactured in France and the United States of America as well as England. These are where the elite instruments are currently being made for the orchestras of today.

Never having had much interest in the woodwind family of instruments, I’ve never attempted to learn either the oboe or the English horn. They both make truly beautiful music, so maybe that was a mistake on my part, I dunno.

It’s a wonderful movie

I’ve written more than once here about what I consider to be hands-down the greatest Christmas flick of them all, and probably ran this clip from it at some point also.

Jimmy Stewart, of course, has long been hailed as one of the finest actors ever, and rightly so. As it happens, though, that scene may well not have been one hundred-percent acting.

The movie was Capra’s idea, and he knew from the start that he wanted Stewart to play the iconic role of George Bailey. But Stewart, an Army Air Corps squadron commander who was grounded by PTSD after 20 combat missions over Europe in a B-24, wanted to do a comedy.

Stewart told reporters when he returned to Hollywood that the world had seen enough death and misery, and when Capra approached him with the story of a family man nearly driven to suicide, he balked and left the meeting.

But Stewart, who at the time was sharing an apartment with fellow veteran Henry Fonda, wasn’t getting any other offers. He eventually agreed to take the role.

After learning the history behind the film, I watched it again with new eyes — and I saw Stewart battling his personal demons in every scene.

I saw his heart and his head at war as he chose the woman he loved over his lifelong desire to leave Bedford Falls.

Army veteran Alex Plitsas told the Daily Caller that it was only after returning from Iraq that he truly understood Stewart’s performance in “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

“I was able to understand the movie and [Stewart’s] performance in particular much better after coming home from Iraq. It’s as much of a war film as ‘Die Hard’ is a Christmas movie,” Plitsas said, adding, “Jimmy Stewart’s performance in ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ during the throes of Post Traumatic Stress (PTS) is recognizable to many veterans. PTS was referred to as “shell shock” back then and wasn’t really spoken about nor was there good treatment available. Stewart appeared to use acting as therapy to get through it, and it’s visible in his performance.”

The above article first appeared back in 2020; I seem to recall doing a post on it then, but didn’t bother checking to confirm. It’s well worth a rerun anyhoo, methinks.


On Christmas Day

Yes, it’s here at last. How the time seems to fly by now that I’m old.

Luke Chapter 2
1) And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed.

2) (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)

3) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.

4) And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)

5) To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.

6) And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.

7) And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

Let’s just have Linus take it from here, shall we?

Back to Luke for the rest of this epochal story.

15) And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.

16) And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.

17) And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.

18) And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.

19) But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.

20) And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.

As Mary did, so we should ourselves ponder these things in our hearts, not just on the joyous day of Christmas alone but on what the reborn Ebenezer Scrooge called “every day of the glad New Year.”

But he was early at the office next morning. Oh, he was early there. If he could only be there first, and catch Bob Cratchit coming late! That was the thing he had set his heart upon.

And he did it; yes, he did! The clock struck nine. No Bob. A quarter past. No Bob. He was full eighteen minutes and a half behind his time. Scrooge sat with his door wide open, that he might see him come into the Tank.

His hat was off, before he opened the door; his comforter too. He was on his stool in a jiffy; driving away with his pen, as if he were trying to overtake nine o’clock.

“Hallo!” growled Scrooge, in his accustomed voice, as near as he could feign it. “What do you mean by coming here at this time of day?”

“I am very sorry, sir,” said Bob. “I am behind my time.”

“You are?” repeated Scrooge. “Yes. I think you are. Step this way, sir, if you please.”

“It’s only once a year, sir,” pleaded Bob, appearing from the Tank. “It shall not be repeated. I was making rather merry yesterday, sir.”

“Now, I’ll tell you what, my friend,” said Scrooge, “I am not going to stand this sort of thing any longer. And therefore,” he continued, leaping from his stool, and giving Bob such a dig in the waistcoat that he staggered back into the Tank again; “and therefore I am about to raise your salary!”

Bob trembled, and got a little nearer to the ruler. He had a momentary idea of knocking Scrooge down with it, holding him, and calling to the people in the court for help and a strait-waistcoat.

“A merry Christmas, Bob!” said Scrooge, with an earnestness that could not be mistaken, as he clapped him on the back. “A merrier Christmas, Bob, my good fellow, than I have given you, for many a year! I’ll raise your salary, and endeavour to assist your struggling family, and we will discuss your affairs this very afternoon, over a Christmas bowl of smoking bishop, Bob! Make up the fires, and buy another coal-scuttle before you dot another i, Bob Cratchit!”

Scrooge was better than his word. He did it all, and infinitely more; and to Tiny Tim, who did NOT die, he was a second father. He became as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a man, as the good old city knew, or any other good old city, town, or borough, in the good old world. Some people laughed to see the alteration in him, but he let them laugh, and little heeded them; for he was wise enough to know that nothing ever happened on this globe, for good, at which some people did not have their fill of laughter in the outset; and knowing that such as these would be blind anyway, he thought it quite as well that they should wrinkle up their eyes in grins, as have the malady in less attractive forms. His own heart laughed: and that was quite enough for him.

He had no further intercourse with Spirits, but lived upon the Total Abstinence Principle, ever afterwards; and it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us! And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God bless Us, Every One!

Indeed. It just wouldn’t be Christmas for me without the annual repost of this incredible impromptu performance.

Can any thinking person seriously contend that it mightn’t have been Almighty God Himself who brought these men together in that hotel bar to lift their beautiful voices straight up to Heaven in praise of the Blessed Virgin Mother in this miraculous, soul-stirring way? Or that the spread of the Christian faith throughout the entire world to endure for well over two thousand years to date might be no more than mere happenstance? Or that Christmas Day, be its origins ever so humble, is now celebrated in every continent on Earth owing exclusively to the fickle vagaries of chance and circumstance?

I think not. A most happy Christmas to my readers one and all; may your days be merry and bright, friends. However humble our own Christmas celebrations might be, we are nevertheless richly blessed, and must never, ever forget it, nor ever fail to let our gratitude shine brightly out from the deepest corners of our hearts and souls, for as long as we’re spared.


Yes, Virginia, there IS a Santa Claus

NOTE: Earlier yesterday the blog started behaving strangely, so I dashed off an email to my old friends at Hosting Matters to inquire what the Sam Hill might be going on. In the course of so doing, I veered off on another of my Standard Issue, Mark 1-Mod 0 digressions which, on reflection and with some revising, I decided might be worth bringing out front here as a post. YMMV on that, as always. Be aware that what follows may offend hardcore fundamentalist Christians; this one’s about Santa Claus, not the birth of our Lord and Savior. I think Christmas is plenty big enough to easily accomodate both Jesus and Santa without undue stress or strain. It isn’t a competition, or at least it needn’t be. But again, YMMV.

Still can’t believe my ex told our daughter there was no Santa Claus at a very early age, because, and I quote, “I’m not gonna lie to her.” My recently-deceased mother in law did the same with my late wife Christiana, saying she didn’t want her child growing up all resentful and unable to ever trust her mom again from the trauma of having been “lied to” about Santa as a little kid.

I never understood the killjoy thinking which underpins that notion, and hope I never will. These are both extraordinarily intelligent people we’re talking about here, one of whom can casually converse in Ancient Greek, the other of whom was fluent in seven (7) languages. So one would think they’d be capable of grasping a distinction as simple and obvious as this one is.

I mean, there are lies and then there are lies, right? The Santa myth is hardly a “lie,” not in any meaningful sense. It’s a wholesome fable passed on from parents to children not for purposes of harm or malicious deception, but to broaden a sense of imagination and wonder, of there being marvelous possibilities in this wide world which we pitiful humans can neither see nor comprehend.

Well, that, plus it’s a heck of a lot of good, clean fun for everyone involved, be they old, young, or young at heart.

I Believed© as a child myself, and will readily attest that, after I’d figured it all out on my own, far from losing trust in them or feeling betrayed, I actually felt deeply grateful to my mom and dad for making the effort to bring me the magic of the North Pole’s First Citizen every Christmas, for at least the short while it lasted. In fact, even after I’d outgrown my own childhood faith I nonetheless went on insisting to my little brother that Santa was real for a few more years, just to keep that beautiful magic alive in him. Lord knows every innocent child will have to face the cold, hard realities of life quite soon enough, thanks.

To this day, some of my happiest, most cherished memories are of my brother and me dashing off to bed no later than 6 or 7 on Christmas Eve during those precious Santa years, to the barely-suppressed amusement of the grown-up contingent. The two of us would lie there sleepless half the night, now and again whispering urgently to each other: “What was that? Did you hear a noise? Was that reindeer hooves on the roof? Were those sleighbells jingling? Is Santa coming, is he (gasp) HERE?” Now and then one of us would stealthily rise, press his face to the bedroom window, and expectantly peer through the frosted panes for some hint as to what was happening out there. Finally, as the hands of the clock crawled towards midnight, we’d drop off to sleep, those visions of sugar-plums dancing in our heads.

No Santa, eh? That necessarily means:

  • No meticulously-composed letters addressed to him at his North Pole toy-manufactory, with the attached Christmas list
  • No lying on the sitting-room rug poring over the Sears Wish Book, scrawling down item after item from the catalog’s delightfully lavish toy section to include on said list
  • No sitting on Santa’s knee at Woolworth’s, telling him what you most hoped he’d bring for you this year
  • No intellectual discussions with the other neighborhood kids on all the imponderables: whether reindeer really can fly; how was Santa going to fit all those toys onto the sleigh; how could he manage to visit every Good child across the entire planet in a single night, etc etc
  • No anxiously X-ing out each December day on the wall calendar before going to bed, waiting on tenterhooks for the Big Day to at long last dawn

Ahh, but is that all, you ask? Sadly, no; not by a long yard, it ain’t. If those were the only things lost by it, perhaps ruining your kids’ Christmas via murdering their belief in Santa—forever depriving them of those happy childhood memories before they even get to experience the making of them—might be at least arguably comprehensible, if still not entirely forgiveable. The preceding list is nowhere near complete, there’s still lots more losses to be tacked on. To wit:

No setting out the traditional plate of oven-baked cookies and a tall glass of cold milk for good St Nick’s refreshment just before turning in for the night, to find the cookies eaten and the milk-glass empty in the morning—this discovery taken as proof beyond debate of his existence.

No jolting wide-awake at 4AM Christmas morn and sloooowly tiptoeing down the hall to the living room to find out what was under the tree, stifling your happy giggles to the best of your ability every step of the way so’s you didn’t wake up Mom and Dad. Should you unintentionally interrupt their hard-earned slumber despite your most earnest effort not to, your exhausted parents—plumb tuckered from the long night’s labor of retrieving all the presents cached in the attic, inside locked closets, the trunk of the family car, and/or other Secure Undisclosed Locations, next arranging them under the tree according to intended recipient (mine on the right side, Jeff’s on the left in our house)—would gruffly order you back to bed to await what they considered to be “a decent hour.”

THEY consider. Not you. And count on it: you will NOT agree with their views on the matter.

The splendidly trimmed tree, for just this one supreme night of nights, would have been left plugged in (by “Santa,” natch) and twinkling through the hours of darkness, gayly greeting the family upon each one’s arrival in the living room. The multicolored C7 bulbs would shine all through Christmas Day, their soft glow seeming no less bright or in any sense diminished by the daytime sun streaming through the parted curtains.

No establishing the line of demarcation between My Side and Your Side of the tree, before finally just giving up and deciding to share each other’s Santa Claus bounty without rancor or recrimination. No Christmas stockings a-bulge with candy canes, fresh fruit, and incidental stocking-stuffers such as Matchbox cars, kazoos, or harmonicas, either. After all, if there ain’t no Santa Claus then who’s gonna stuff ’em?

No ANY of those fine and wonderful things. The wrapped, labelled boxes that had been sitting under the tree for weeks, the pile steadily growing as the gift-wrapping chores neared completion? They could wait. Who really cares anyway? Those damned boxes always turned out to contain new school clothes or notebooks or pencils or some other equally dull and useless object. No, the unwrapped Santa Claus presents left atop and around the gift-wrapped rectangles were Priority One for us.

And my God, our house didn’t even HAVE a chimney, either—presenting another impenetrable Christmas-morning conundrum for us bewildered kids to ponder and discuss. Had Santa broken in, picked the lock, forced his way in someotherhow like a cat-burglar without anyone detecting the agreeable incursion? Had my dad slipped him a key on the sly after we’d clambered down off Santa’s lap to tear around the store like wild Injuns, whooping, laughing, crashing full-tilt-boogie into the legs of tsk-tsk-ing shoppers in our mad celebration of another Christmas mission well accomplished?

Who really knew? Perhaps, perhaps not. In any event, the doors were all closed and locked, as were the windows. Nothing seemed to be amiss, nothing at all, yet Santa had contrived to enter our small-town sanctum sanctorum nonetheless. Phillip Marlow himself would find it tough sledding indeed to unravel such a tangled skein of mystery, as would the Continental Op, the redoubtable Sam Spade, and Nick and Nora Charles. The overrated Frog Hercule Poirot? Gedouddahere, you make me laugh.

My poor kid was pre-emptively robbed of the anticipation, wonderment, and enduring pleasure the Santa Claus myth creates in the memory of every child not so thoughtlessly denied them. Daddy’s opinion on the topic at hand was neither solicited nor welcome. Kinda sucks, if you ask me. In fact, it seems downright cruel to cheat a young ‘un in such a fashion, solely for the gratification of one’s own sanctimony, ego, and cynical self-regard.

“Honesty”? “Truth”? “Not gonna lie”? Yeh, yeh, yeh; pull the other one, it has a bell on it.

But hey, maybe that’s just me, I do admit. That admission made, though, in my view answering what we might call the Santa Question© in the peremptory, knee-jerk negative amounts to projecting an insipid, half-baked ethical imperative onto an issue possessed of no ethical involvement whatsoever, the injection of a fallacious assumption of ill intent (or, at best, unsophisticated, outdated habits of mind, however well-meaning they may be) into a stillborn “debate” when no such intent actually exists. All this nonsense, mind, predicated on a wholly hypothetical claim of psycho-emotional damage—a spurious claim for which there is not the thinnest, flimsiest shred of documentary evidence to support it.

They’re making mountains out of molehills, and I say it’s the bunk. The opening ‘graphs of the NY Sun’s timeless editorial response to young Virginia O’Hanlon’s 1897 (!!!) letter express the sentiment quite well, I think.

VIRGINIA, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men’s or children’s, are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no VIRGINIAS. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

There, put THAT in your little pipe and smoke it, whydon’tcha. If you haven’t read the whole story before—which I find incredible, frankly—there’ll never be a better time than now to rectify that sad lapse in your edumacation.

No Santa Claus? Forbid it, Almighty God! There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.


Pretty as new-fallen snow

Another fine, fine Christmas tune.

In case you aren’t familiar with this one, it’s a vocal-free version of “Once In Royal David’s City,” originally set to music by Brit organist Henry Gauntlett.

Once in Royal David’s City is a Christmas carol originally written as a poem by Cecil Frances Alexander. The carol was first published in 1848 in her hymnbook Hymns for Little Children.

A year later, the English organist Henry Gauntlett discovered the poem and set it to music.

Henry John Gauntlett was organist at a number of London churches, including St Olave’s in Tooley Street, Southwark from 1827 to 1846, Christ Church Greyfriars and Union Chapel, Islington from 1852 to 1861. He edited many hymnbooks and wrote over a thousand hymn tunes, although his setting of “Once in Royal David’s City” to the tune of “Irby” is his most famous.

Since 1919, the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols at the King’s College Chapel, Cambridge has begun its Christmas Eve service, with Dr Arthur Henry Mann’s arrangement of “Once in Royal David’s City” as the Processional hymn. Mann was organist at King’s between 1876 and 1929.

In Mann’s arrangement, the first verse is sung by a boy chorister of the college’s choir as a solo. The second verse is sung by the choir, and the congregation joins in the third verse. Excluding the first verse, the hymn is accompanied by the organ.

In The English Carol, Erik Routley notes that Mann’s unaccompanied arrangement of Gauntlett’s original hymn changes the character of the work into one which emphasises the acoustic space of the chapel: “with subtle art that arrangement turns the homely children’s hymn into a processional of immense spaciousness.”

According to the tradition of the King’s College Choir, the soloist of this hymn is usually chosen right before the performance, when the choirmaster decides whose voice is the strongest on the day, prior to the start of the broadcast.

And there you have it, folks: another great song made even more enjoyable by having a great story behind how it came to be.



TL Davis just comes right out and says it—all of it.

America is weak as it was during the Civil War/War of Northern Aggression, not yet having found its bearings or expanded to its whole breadth. One part of the government demanded a self-immolating end to slavery without a practical or logical way of disentangling the economy of the South from slavery. It was, in that aspect, a taking without compensation and a violation of state’s rights.

Now, in the inflamed racial environment fomented for political gain by Barack Obama and egged on continually by the George Soros-funded BLM and Antifa, fighting to divide America again as it was during the CW/WoNA for their own purposes of raising communism out of the smoking remains. A third or less of America is willing to burn it to the ground to get what they want with the much larger share of Americans simply trying to ignore it while they go to work and support their families.

But Americans will not be defended from the antagonistic members of society by behaving themselves. They want to, they have been taught their whole lives that there’s nothing worth fighting for, that’s not the way civil society operates, even while they are amidst the most uncivil society ever devised in the homeland. They are being shown scenes of Nazi Germany, Stalinist Russia, Maoist China on their own streets, in their own courts of law, and they still refuse to see it.

They have endured a biological weapon unleashed on them; seen young, strong athletes drop dead on football fields across the land and they still don’t break free of the trap into which their mind has been captured. Invasions of illegals from every nation in the world have descended upon their borders and strolled through with the guidance of border patrol officers. This is at the behest of a single president, a single department in the government in violation of the will of the people. Up to 70% of which see this as an invasion, not calm, deliberative immigration policy. They recognize that terrorists and foreign military fighters have likely slipped in among the droves of illegals and are among them now, plotting their attacks. There is no accounting for who they are, where they went or whether the children they brought along as cover for their diabolical schemes are their biological children or just children being trafficked into the rich soil of perverse Americans.

That’s not enough, yet. Bankrupting the nation, stealing the Social Security funds involuntarily taken from millions of citizens wages over the course of their entire working lives and spending it on illegal’s benefits and providing them housing isn’t enough. The government, according to the people’s reactions, can provide safe haven for child sex traffickers, human traffickers, drug smugglers, terrorists and foreign armies and still not call it for what it is: treason.

They want an orderly and meaningful way to oppose those things while the republic is lost during the discussion. The important thing is, it doesn’t matter what they want, because the communist train continues down the track. The American wants to vote against these things, but the communists won’t let them. Stealing elections is how they came to power, they certainly aren’t going to allow people to vote them out of office or vote for people who would put an end to their crime spree. They have a very effective means of taking someone like Mike Johnson and within a month turning him to their purposes. They’ve been doing that for a long time and they’re good at it.

Here’s the flat truth: this cannot be done in an orderly and meaningful way. It has to be chaotic, it has to be sporadic, it has to be kinetic. I don’t want it that way, nor am I encouraging it. I’m a student of history and this is what history tells me, not only American history, but world history. No one went to war in our past, because they woke up one day and decided to go to war. They were bullied and pushed and shoved into accepting things that where wholly against their ideals, their morals, their sense of justice and when they had swallowed enough, realized that it was only going to get worse, that everyone they knew was going to be victimized by it, murdered to ensure it, their houses burned down for speaking against it (actually or metaphorically), they decided that it had to stop and the only way to do that was with war.

In his closer, he waxes a bit more optimistic, way more so than I find it possible to be at the moment. Elsewhere, Ace had this to say yesterday about what TL calls the Colorado Precedent:

This cannot go on. As I keep saying, blue jurisdictions cannot be allowed to prey on travelers from the hinterlands with these absurd criminal persecutions and mega-jackpot penalties for not being a progressive leftwing Democrat. WE ARE NOT A PREY SPECIES FOR THE PREDATORY, LUNATIC LEFT.

Oh, aren’t we?

Courts will have to change venues in politically sensitive cases — and if courts won’t allow it, the federal government will have to make them.

OOOHHHH yeah, there’s a winning formula all right: implore those who are oppressing us to end their oppression of us. Works beautifully every time it’s tried, right? And if for some unfathomable reason it doesn’t this time, why, we can always VOTE HARDERER!© at them, right?

Bah, humbug. Plug “SOIA punk band” into Duck Duck Go or Luxxle for an explanation of my post title, why I used it, and why I am declaring myself all done with politics for the next few days. It’s just the same old tired shite, over and over and over again, and I refuse to allow it to ruin the holiday for me this year.

I’ll most likely put up some more Christmas-song vids over the weekend, maybe a few funny memes and such-like, maybe a re-post or two from the “Greatest Hits” section, specifically the old Xmas essays. But as for looking in on any of my usual blog-haunts or op-ed aggregators trolling for things to write about here until after December 25th is in the rearview? Yeah, NO. Not this boy. Time for a vacay from all that, methinks.

Given my age and overall state of decrepitude, every Christmas could very well be my last, and I have no intention of letting the steadily-worsening state of affairs in what I call Amerika v2.0 impinge further on my holiday spirit than it already has. Life’s just too damned short to waste all of it on this Shinola, so I’m a-pulling the plug for a brief spell; if you feel the way I do about it, then I strongly advise y’all to do likewise.

Play with the dog; give the cat a nice, long tummy-rub; relax by the fireplace with a stiff cocktail; practice on the trumpet/violin/guitar/piano/whatever; give the kids/grandkids a long, tight hug; enjoy a nice home-cooked meal; read a good book, instead. Provided you aren’t trapped in some stinking, violent urban hellhole, just step outside and breathe the crisp, clean air on Christmas morn if nothing else. Keeping TEH OUTRAGE™ cranked up to eleven (“It’s one louder, isn’t it?“) every minute of every day just ain’t healthy, and that’s a fact.

Irregardless (sorry—heh), a most merry Christmas to all of you, be ye CF Lifer, lurker, or the noob-iest of noobs. God bless us, every one.


Christmas music, forsooth!

As we come down the Christmas home-stretch, I thought I’d give y’all a little something special tonight.

Yep, that’s your humble host crooning that one, backed by the ever-fabulous Belmont Playboys. The audio was recorded, using acoustic instruments, on a crappy little hand-held cassette recorder at the pre-refurbishment Belk Theater adjacent to what used to be the old Carolina Theater on Tryon Street, where none other than Elvis himself performed back in 1956 on his drive to becoming the once and forever King of Rock and Roll. The video was shot (and later edited) by our old friend John Autry, former CLT city councilman and current NC Congresscritter, at the Van Landingham Estate in the heart of Plaza-Midwood.

The shirt I’m wearing was actually my brother’s, who probably still has it hanging in his closet. It was a little snug on me, there having been somewhat more of me then than there is now. John didn’t care for the two shirts I had brought along for the shoot, thinking it would be better if the front-guy wore something more colorful and less drab than my own threads.

You graybeards may recognize the TV set in the intro as being from the long-defunct Nashville Network’s old morning show, whatever it was called. It’s for real, not spliced in or otherwise faked: TNN aired our “Blue Christmas” vid for like three years hand-running at Christmastime, which definitely made our days that much more merry and bright. The above was taped on VHS the first time it ran by my old girlfriend Wendy’s mom, then converted to digital several years back by some local service our drummer Mark found.


Moar Christmas tuneage

Tonight’s musical offering is “When Christmas Comes To Town,” a lovely, affecting little song from the soundtrack of the 2004 film The Polar Express. Background:

The Polar Express is a 2004 American animated adventure fantasy film directed by Robert Zemeckis, who co-wrote the screenplay with William Broyles Jr., based on the 1985 children’s book of the same name by Chris Van Allsburg. It stars Tom Hanks in multiple roles, with Daryl Sabara, Nona Gaye, Jimmy Bennett, and Eddie Deezen in supporting roles. The film features human characters animated using live action and motion capture computer animation, with sequences for the latter taking place from June 2003 to May 2004. Set on Christmas Eve, it tells the story of a young boy who sees a mysterious train bound for the North Pole stop outside his window and is invited aboard by its conductor. He joins other children as they embark on a journey to visit Santa Claus preparing for Christmas.

The Polar Express premiered at the Chicago International Film Festival on October 13, 2004, and was theatrically released in the United States on November 10, 2004, by Warner Bros. Pictures. The film received mixed reviews from critics and initially grossed $286 million against a record-breaking $165–170 million budget, which was the biggest sum for an animated feature at the time. Later re-releases helped propel the film’s gross to $314 million worldwide, and it was later listed in the 2006 Guinness World Records as the first all-digital capture film. The Polar Express is also the last film appearance for Michael Jeter before his death and is dedicated to his memory.

Hanks optioned the book in 1999 with the hopes of playing the conductor and Santa Claus. One of the conditions of the sale was that the resulting film not be animated. Zemeckis, however, felt that a live-action version was unfeasible, claiming that it “would look awful, and it would be impossible – it would cost $1 billion instead of $160 million.” Zemeckis felt that such a version would rob the audience of the art style of the book which he felt was “so much a part of the emotion of the story”. The two acquired the rights to the book the following year. In order to keep his vision a new process was created by which actors would be filmed with motion capture equipment in a black box stage which would then be animated to make the resulting film. Hanks stated that this method of working was “actually a return to a type of acting that acting in films does not allow you to do”, comparing the process to performing a play in the round. The idea of a Scrooge puppet was conceived when Zemeckis looked at his childhood toys, one of which was a puppet.

Hanks plays five roles in the film including that of a small child (whose voice would later be dubbed in by Daryl Sabara). Initially Zemeckis considered having him play every role, but after trying this, Hanks grew exhausted, and they whittled down the number. Principal photography of the motion-capture sequences began in June 2003, and wrapped in May 2004.

The soundtrack of the film, titled The Polar Express: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack, was released on November 2, 2004, by Reprise Records, Warner Music Group and Warner Sunset Records. The song, “Believe” was written by Glen Ballard and Alan Silvestri and was nominated for Best Original Song at the 77th Academy Awards. It was sung at the 77th Academy Awards show by original performer Josh Groban with Beyoncé and won a Grammy Award in 2006.

The album was certified Gold by the RIAA in November 2007. Having sold 724,000 copies in the United States, it is the best-selling film soundtrack/holiday album hybrid since Nielsen SoundScan started tracking music sales in 1991.

Most of the original orchestral score featured in the film was not released on the soundtrack and has never been released. The soundtrack mostly comprises only songs featured in the film. A limited number of promotional “For Your Consideration” CDs, intended to showcase the film’s score to reviewers of the film, were released in 2005. This CD contained nearly the complete score, but none of the film’s songs. Various bootleg versions of the soundtrack, combining both the official soundtrack album and the orchestral-only CD, have since surfaced.

Much more at the link, including an interesting architectural side-note I hadn’t known about before.

The buildings at the North Pole in the film represent an earlier era in American railroading. Building design drew inspiration from the Pullman neighborhood in Chicago, home of a railroad car manufacturer, the Pullman Company.

Huh, how ’bout that. Anyways, on to the embed.

Having grown up with Charlie Brown, the Grinch, and various other 60’s Christmas TV special classics—not to mention the all-time greatest Christmas flick, Capra’s unforgettable It’s A Wonderful Life—I didn’t think all that highly of Polar Express the first time I saw it. I mean, the animation was amazing, the musical numbers were incredibly well-done, the story was cute enough, but still, my all-in-all reaction was just kind of…MEH. But after repeated viewings it did grow on me, and now I very much dig it.

Urethra, I have found it!

As Kelly Bundy used to say. Ladies and germs,  I give you what just might be the greatest Christmas tune in history.

Via the AoSHQ ONT.

Update! Another superb AoSHQ find, this one via Weasel’s Sunday Gun Thread.

As you might guess from the screen grab, Liberal Tears appears to be for real. The blurb puts it straight:

Guns have only two enemies; Rust and Liberals. Liberal Tears Gun Oil protects against both. We have bottled Liberal Tears to create a CLP that gives you guaranteed 2nd Amendment protection.

I hope the folks behind LT make a million bazillion dollars off the idea.


Moar Christmas tunage

Man, can these kids sing or WHAT?!?

Although I picked this up from that Irish Christmas music channel I mentioned last week, strictly speaking the absolutely gorgeous Pie Jesu isn’t actually a Christmas song.

“Pie Jesu” (/ˈpiː.eɪ ˈjeɪ.zuː, -suː/ PEE-ay-YAY-zu; original Latin: “Pie Iesu” /ˈpi.e ˈ is a text from the final couplet of the hymn “Dies irae”, and is often included in musical settings of the Requiem Mass as a motet. The phrase means “pious Jesus” in the vocative.

The settings of the Requiem Mass by Luigi Cherubini, Antonin Dvořák, Gabriel Fauré, Maurice Duruflé, John Rutter, Karl Jenkins, Kim André Arnesen and Fredrik Sixten include a “Pie Jesu” as an independent movement. Decidedly, the best known is the “Pie Jesu” from Fauré’s Requiem. Camille Saint-Saëns, who died in 1921, said of Fauré’s “Pie Jesu”: “Just as Mozart’s is the only ‘Ave verum corpus’, this is the only ‘Pie Jesu’.”

Andrew Lloyd Webber’s setting of “Pie Jesu” in his Requiem (1985) has also become well known and has been widely recorded, including by Sarah Brightman, Charlotte Church, Jackie Evancho, Sissel Kyrkjebø, Ylvis, Marie Osmond, Anna Netrebko, and others. Performed by Sarah Brightman and Paul Miles-Kingston, it was a certified Silver hit in the UK in 1985.

The mood set by the above achingly-beautiful Angelis performance of Lloyd-Webber’s version is as placid and soul-soothing as Christmas morn itself, making it close enough to Christmas music to do for me. Translation from the Latin:

Pious Jesus,
Who takes away the sins of the world,
Give them rest.

Lamb of God,
Who takes away the sins of the world,
Give them rest,

If there really are “choirs of angels” waiting to sing us to our Heavenly rest, this HAS to be exactly what they sound like.



With all my heart and soul.

Saw that this morning, and I haven’t stopped laughing since. Having broken the bank and gone without eating a cpl-three days last month to buy my musically-gifted daughter a 70s-vintage King Tempo trumpet off of eBay, to be specific:

Nickel plated, with raw-brass tuning slides and valve caps for contrast, in A-1 shape for its age—a bit of corrosion at the grab-points from skin oils and/or sweat, along with some very minor scratches and scuffs, as one must expect with anything this old. The case is in slightly worse shape, alas; as you can see from the pic, the felt has separated from the shell up by the grab handle. But no worries: my friend Greg is generously donating his like-new, barely used Benge case to make up for it.

I played a King myself during my band career and for many years after (a 601, if I remember right), and my poor horn was one hell of a lot more battered and beat-up by the time I parted with it than this fine instrument is. Hey, the great Harry James was a King man throughout his illustrious career—what better endorsement could one possibly want?

So you can bet your sweet bippy my young ‘un will be getting herself a BrassTache from dear old dad this Christmas to adorn and enliven her noble old King. She inherited the same silly, juvenile sense of humor her old man has, so I know she’s gonna love it all to pieces. And laugh herself sick over it, like papa did.


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