Elen sila lumenn omentielvo!

Monday, December 05, 2016

Your Daily Dose of Christmas!

I saw this song mentioned yesterday on a list of "Christmas songs that aren't actually about Christmas". The notion regarding "We Need a Little Christmas" is that the song, from the Broadway show Mame, actually takes place at a time when it's nowhere near Christmastime, and the song is kind of a desperate grasping-at-straws search for superficial happiness by a heroine who is down in the dumps for whatever reason. (Aside from this song, I'm completely unfamiliar with the show.) I suppose I get the point of the article, but it really does always strike me as unfortunate that so many people are so militant about relegating the good cheer of Christmas -- or what should be the good cheer of Christmas -- to the confines of one specific time period on the calendar, with some people being very rigid about how the good cheer is parceled out (starting on the day after Thanksgiving and coming down on December 26).

Since we always seem so intent on packing Christmas and all its joy into as tight and concise a package as possible, this song seems to be pretty indicative of our approach.

(Side note: It's a shame that my main impression of Angela Lansbury is from Murder She Wrote, which wasn't awful but...well, looking back, I think she got to phone it in a lot on that show.)

Sunday, December 04, 2016

Your Daily Dose of Christmas

I'd never heard this sad and melancholy song before today, when someone mentioned it in a Facebook thread. The term "Hard candy Christmas" refers to a Christmas in which money is so tight that all the stockings can be filled with is cheap hard candy. There is always a sadness to this season, isn't there? We should always try to remember that.

Saturday, December 03, 2016

Your Daily Dose of Christmas

You don't really hear "Good King Wenceslas" a whole lot, do you? It's one of those Christmas songs that you have to look for if you want to hear it. It's an interesting song, full of details that I suppose aren't nearly as familiar now as they once were. Modern audiences likely have little idea what the Feast of Stephen is (admission: I had to look it up myself), and I likewise didn't know until I looked it up that Wenceslas was a real historical figure in Czech history. Wenceslas is clearly a Latin-sounding name, but what I didn't know is that it's a Latinized version of the Czech name Vaclav. The things you learn!

Anyhow, I've always had a bit of fondness for "Good King Wenceslas", with its archaic-sounding lyrics and its melody that traces all the way back to the 13th century. It's one of those carols that is part of the very, very long Christmas tradition.

Here are the Irish Rovers with "Good King Wenceslas".

Friday, December 02, 2016

Bad Joke Friday

I might have used this already...I forgot I had saved it. But it's still funny.

Your Daily Dose of Christmas!

Just about every musical artist or act that sticks around for any length of time has some sort of Christmas recording out there somewhere, even if it's a performance or two from a variety show or something. Every year for this feature I try to think up some now-obscure acts that aren't well remembered at all beyond their likely singular hit and then I see if they did any Christmas stuff. This usually turns up an interesting little gem or two, like this: the Starland Vocal Band, performing "The First Noel".

Funny thing: the person who posted this to YouTube apologizes for the little "nik" sound that is heard a bit at the beginning of the song. He doesn't seem to know what that sound is...but those of us who grew up with vinyl records know, don't we!

And if you find yourself wondering, "Who the hell is the 'Starland Vocal Band', anyway?!" Well, here you go.

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Your Daily Dose of Christmas!

Time for the annual daily bit of Christmas music and/or video ephemera! As always, some of these will be familiar, and some will be less so. We start with a bit of the familiar, because both of these musical talents, brought together nearly 40 years ago in one of the most oddly wonderful collaborations ever, are both now gone.

Here are Bing Crosby and David Bowie.

And as a bonus, here are Will Farrell and John C. Reilly re-enacting the sketch, almost exactly as written. (Except for the very ending.)

Something for Thursday

Some film music today! John Barry is a composer whose work is...well, I don't want to say it all sounds the same, because it doesn't, but his sound is unique and unmistakable. He gets about as close to "It all sounds the same" as you can get without actually "all sounding the same".

Here is a suite from one of his finer scores, Out of Africa.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Tone Poem Tuesday

It's not a tone poem.

It's also not a piece that I even like.

I've never liked this piece.

I didn't like it when I played it in college. I didn't like it when Torvill and Dean skated to it. And I didn't like it this past weekend when I listened to it five times.

But still...well. I don't know. I'll say this: the performance here is one of the few that doesn't have me clocking out at around the eight minute mark, and the video itself is amazing, with some of the best camera work I've ever seen in a classical music concert video. (Don't ask my why Gergiev is using what appears to be a toothpick instead of a baton to conduct.)

The work is a ballet, not a tone poem. I know. And it's the same damned melody, over and over again, for fifteen minutes. I know. And I've never once felt the slightest hint of why so many consider this work the height of eroticism in classical music. But...well. I don't know.

Here's Ravel and Bolero.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Friday, November 25, 2016

I hope they're serving pork chops and applesauce in Heaven

Awww, Florence Henderson passed away! That's sad, but I have to salute her long and entertaining life. Like most people my age (I suspect), she's firmly ensconced in my memory as Carol Brady of The Brady Bunch, a show which I've not seen in a long time but for which I've always had a special fondness. I mean, come on: yes, it was 1970s kitsch, but there was some very real warmth to that show, and a lot of it was generated by Florence Henderson.

Here, however, is an odd bit of Brady-related goofery that's largely forgotten. In 1988, a sitcom called Day By Day ran for just one season. It was your typical sitcom about a suburban family, with their teenage kid (named Ross) who was a good kid but a bit of a screw-up. The most notable cast member was Julia Louis-Dreyfus. It was a fun show, but no, it wasn't great or anything -- just an amiable 1980s sitcom, like a lot of 'em back in the day. You really can't fault the teevee audiences for not having made it a hit.

There was one episode of Day By Day that I've never forgotten, though. In this episode, Ross is getting bad grades and thus is hitting the books very late at night, when he falls asleep and dreams that he is in an episode of The Brady Bunch, as the long-lost Brady son "Chuck". For this they actually built the Brady House set and got some of the original Brady Bunch cast, including Florence Henderson herself. There are tons of in-jokes about the various tropes in The Brady Bunch, and Ross's "Brady name", Chuck, is an in-joke to another great sitcom, Happy Days, referencing eldest brother Chuck Cunningham, who disappeared after that show's second season (and was so thoroughly forgotten that by the series finale, Howard Cunningham referred to having raised only two wonderful children).

And lo and behold, the entire Brady episode of Day By Day is on YouTube:

Wow. There are times when this modern age we're living in continues to amaze me. I haven't seen that episode since it aired in 1988 or thereabouts.

And hey, since this is my blog and all, I have to feature the time Carol Brady took the kids (and that annoying Cousin Oliver, bleeccchh) out for a movie-set tour and then they all got cast in a silent movie that ended with a pie fight!

Finally, here's the bit from the teevee movie A Very Brady Christmas, in which Mike is trapped in the rubble of a collapsed building and Carol decides that's a good time to start singing (not that it isn't, mind you):

Anyway, Godspeed, Florence Henderson!

Bad Joke Friday

The Wife told me this one, so you can all blame her if you like:

What's the cheapest cut of meat?

Deer balls!


They're under a buck!