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Three thousand feet up! Up the side of Mount Crumpit...   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Friday, December 23, 2011 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: Karl



... with CHRIS ISAAK, live at Universal Studios last December 12th. Your holiday-themed numbers include "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer," "Hey, Santa," "Last Month of the Year," "Blue Christmas," and "Christmas on TV." Bonus: Dreidel banter!

A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS:  Sure, Charlie Brown, I can tell you what Christmas is all about.  Mental Floss has "The Real Story Behind A Charlie Brown Christmas (and why it almost wasn't shown)." The WaPo has reflections from producer-director Lee Mendelson.

DARLENE LOVE & RONNIE SPECTOR duet on "Sleigh Ride" and "Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree."

AIMEE MANN's CHRISTMAS CAROL (profanity warnings): Part One has your Scrooge-y set-up with Michael Penn. Part Two features The Office's John Krasinski. Part Three has Michael Cera. Part Four has John C. Reilly.

THE ALL SONGS CONSIDERED HOLIDAY SPECIAL features tracks from Prince, the Leevees, the Polyphonic Spree, Darlene Love and more...

THE POGUES:  It's not Christmas Eve in the drunk tank (or even St. Patrick's Day) without a "Fairytale of New York."

NORAD will be tracking Santa, per usual. CNET has a history and behind-the scenes story.

THE 25 BEST CHRISTMAS ALBUMS, according to Complex.

BILLY MACK: Because "Christmas Is All Around."

BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN: A collection of Christmas covers.

THE FLAMING LIPS perform "White Christmas" as only they can.

SUPER FURRY ANIMALS: "The Keep That Keeps Giving."  Not to be confused with "The Gift," which is not Christmasey at all.

THE MUPPETS: "Ringing of the Bells." Not to be confused with Super Furry Animals.

GLAM XMAS:  I started the month with Wizzard's awesome "I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day" and Slade's "Merry Christmas Everybody" (1973's UK Xmas No. 1). The circle is now complete.

HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS:  The real deal, not Jim Carrey.  Then he slunk to the ice box. He took the Whos' feast. He took the who pudding, he took the roast beast. He emptied the ice box as quick as a flash. Why, the Grinch even took the last can of who hash.

DAVID BOWIE & BING CROSBY'S cross-generational duet o­n "Little Drummer Boy." This historic even was recently recreated by Will Farrell and John C. Reilly. Plus, "Gulliver's Travels" co-stars Jack Black and Jason Segel have done a cartoon cover

THE YEAR WITHOUT A SANTA CLAUS:  Many people believe human activity is causing global warming.  I blame Snow Miser and Heat Miser.

CHICAGO CHRISTMAS MEMORIES:  If you grew up in Chicago (and I suspect other places), the season is not complete without watching the short cartoons of "Hardrock, Coco & Joe" (a story fantastic, a story so queer), "Suzy Snowflake" and the jazzy version of "Frosty the Snowman."

THE BEATLES fan club messages for 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968 and 1969.

THE TRON 1982 HOLIDAY SPECIAL, courtesy of Funny Or Die.

HOLIDAY BIN: Sufjan Stevens, Sammy Davis, Jr., Emmy the Great, Andy Williams, Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings, Darlene Love, and the Fleshtones are just a few of the stocking stuffers now streaming from the Pate page at the ol' HM.

IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE: Pate even had a song titled "Rope Around The Moon," so watch the whole thing.  (If you don't want to download the Veoh player, it's Tubed in B & W or colorized. BONUS: Vintage Bailey backlash from warped, frustrated old people at the New York Times and Portfolio. DOUBLE-BONUS: 22 TV variations on It's A Wonderful Life.

RUDOLPH, THE RED-NOSED REINDEER:  Pull up an ice block and lend an ear!  Herbie wanted to be a dentistNTTAWWT.  BONUS:  The Rankin-Bass classic continues to inspire ads like 2009's Verizon ad, following 2008's Apple ad, and even more so 2007's AFLAC commercial.

FESTIVUS:  For the rest of us.  Technically already started, so I can be one of your grievances.

SCARY GHOST STORIES: I overheard Andy Williams crooning "The Most Wonderful Time of the Year" in a store this month, and the lyric about "scary ghost stories" never really struck me before.  Took me a second, but I supposed he was referring to Dickens.  It turns out -- as noted by a coworker -- that this was a thing in Victorian England...  and the modern day. BONUS: Krampus!

CLASSIC TV CHRISTMAS SPECIALS by the truckload, linked at WFMU, the post is a few years old, but many of the links still work. Also, 23 TV Episodes based on "A Christmas Carol."

NAT KING COLE:  His chestnuts are roasting.


100 ANIMALS in Santa hats. You're welcome.



AN AUSTRALIAN FAMILY has shot into the Guinness Book of Records after decorating their home with an astonishing 331038 Christmas lights. If the video at the link doesn't work, try this one.

3488 Reads

Van Hunt, Jimmy Webb, Music Tapes, Calming Cat   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Thursday, December 22, 2011 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: Karl


THE MOUNTAIN GOATS' John Darnielle plays "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" for The A.V. Club Undercover. Twice. BONUS: Darnielle was backed by Superchunk's Jon Wurster on drums.for three Christmas covers -- including Chuck Berry's "Run, Run Rudolph" at the 2006 Trekky Records Christmas show. 

VAN HUNT stopped by Morning Becomes Eclectic for a session.

JIMMY WEBB: The legendary American songwriter stopped by WNYC Soundcheck to play songs from his cameo-laden new LP.

THE MUSIC TAPES play a Tiny Desk Concert with bowed banjos, singing saws and, yes, tape machines.

PEARL AND THE BEARD are featured on World Cafe: Next.

CHRISTMAS COMES THIS TIME EACH YEAR: It's the "Little Saint Nick" by the Beach Boys.

SEASON OF THE LIST: The Top 10 and Worst 5 Albums of 2011, according to Entertainment Weekly.

THE 20 BEST SMITHS SONGS, according to Prefix.

IS RETRO DYING? Probably not, but The Quietus makes the argument.

MYSPACE is rebooting with music recommenations Facebook integration.

RINGTONE REVENUES in the United States are still four times that of all subscription streaming services - combined.

RALPH McDONALD, a Grammy Award-winning percussionist and composer whose understated Afro-Caribbean rhythms were known as "the ghost" behind a multitude of 1970s and '80s hit records (including David Bowie's "Young Americans" and Jimmy Buffett's "Margaritaville") and who was a co-writer on the hit songs "Where Is the Love?" and "Just the Two of Us," died of lung cancer on Sunday in Stamford, Conn. He was 67.

NOW SHOWING: This weekend's wide releases already include The Adventures of Tintin, currently scoring 76 percent on the ol' Tomatometer; The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, which is scoring 85 percent; and the expansion of Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol at 94 percent.  Although it's early, Friday brings Cameron Crowe's We Bought a Zoo, which is currently scoring 74 percent, while Sunday brings Steve Spielberg's War Horse, currently at 72 percent -- as always, check the links for updated scores.

THE ADVENTURES OF TINTIN: Steven Spielberg's animation debut is a young Indiana Jones, but with a cutle little dog instead of a whip (However, he does have a gun).  Less intense and relentless than, say, Raiders of the Lost Ark, but the set pieces here don't have to obey the laws of physics strictly, either.  The CGI is just cartoon-y enough to avoid the uncanny valley problem for me. And there are a few Spielbergian homages to himself for the careful viewer. Not a classic, but good fun all round.

THE KARDASHIANS  - who make millions of bucks off of their fashion lines - use "slave labor" and turn a blind eye to shocking working conditions, according to the ever-reliable Star magazine.

MARK SANCHEZ, Jets QB, has been huddling with Victoria's Secret beauty Kate Upton.

JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE & JESSICA BIEL: Several tabloids are running down a rumored proposal.  But so far, still just a rumor.

EVAN RACHEL WOOD in line for an engagement ring?

JENNIFER LOPEZ & MARC ANTHONY: Their split is getting ugly.

JESSICA SIMPSON: Knocked up and shopping for wedding dresses.

THE WORST TV Series Finales, according to Guyism.

TERROR in the USA: Tarek Mehanna, a US-born citizen of Sudbury, Mass., was convicted of terrorism charges that included providing material support to al Qaeda.

EGYPT's  powerful Muslim Brotherhood, which is leading in parliament elections that continued Wednesday, refused to join calls by secular and liberal activists for the ruling military to move up its handover of power to civilians.

IRAQ: Prime Minister Nouri Maliki has urged the Kurdish authorities in northern Iraq to hand over fugitive Vice-President Tariq al-Hashemi.

STEWIE the CAT calms Connar by petting him with his paw.

PENGUINS are watching -- and crapping on -- the people turning up to see pandas at the Edinburgh Zoo.

PET HOARDING: Dozens of animals, including snakes, a monkey, and a lynx, were discovered in a North Knox County, TN, home Monday.

SAMSON, the world's biggest dog, is waylaid by a broken toe, not a haircut.

2623 Reads

Holiday LPs, Wu Lyf, Gem Club, Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Hedgehog   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Wednesday, December 21, 2011 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: Karl


TOM WAITS gives a reading of a "Christmas Card From a Hooker in Minneapolis."

HOLIDAY ALBUMS are streaming at Spinner.

WU LYF: Manchester's mystery band hits KEXP with a live set.

GEM CLUB played a Tiny Desk Concert at the offices of NPR.

GARY CLARK, JR. played World Cafe Live; you can stream the gig on demand.

WYE OAK plays Brenda Lee's "Christmas Will Be Just Another Lonely Day" at the A.V. Club Undercover.

ST. VINCENT: Annie Clark tlks to the CBC about the making of Strange Mercy, with embedded audio.

THE TOP 30 UNDER 30 in the music biz, according to Forbes. Giant midgets!

BREAKOUT BANDS for 2012, according to PopMatters (plus links to all the PopMatters 2011 lists).

HENRY ROLLINS, at Wal-mart.

THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO -- opening with 82 percent on the ol' Tomatometer -- is one freaky beeyotch, in a good way.  I have not read the books ar the Swedish film franchise they launched, so be aware I have no point of comparison.  All I can say is that David Fincher (Seven, Fight Club, Zodiac) returns to edgy material with aplomb after The Social Network.  Rooney Mara (who had a small but critical role in TSN) has a star turn here, but Daniel Craig, Stellan Skarsgaard, Christopher Plummer and Robin Wright all put good feet forward here.  Also, screenwriter/exec producer Steven Zaillian (full disclosure: a friend of the family, sort of) can still deliver a fine adaptation (if Moneyball wasn't evidence enough).  I had read the plot was convoluted, but I had no trouble following it and had surmised one of the mysteries a bit in advance, which is odd given that I don't actively try to solve movie mysteries in advance.

DEBRA MESSING and her husband, Daniel Zelman privately separated earlier this year after a 10 year marriage.

JON BON JOVI: Tweets of his death are greatly exaggerated.

GERARD BUTLER nearly lost his life in a surfing accident.

SEAN PENN & MARIA CONCHITA ALONSO had an angry bust-up at LAX, with Alonso branding Penn a "communist [bleep]hole" after he called her a "pig" in front of a stunned crowd.

LINDSAY LOHAN: Hugh Hefner admits he initially had doubts about featuring the embattled actress on Playboy's cover.

BRITNEY SPEARS's other ex-hubby (of 55 hours) Jason Alexander slams her new engagement.

TOM CRUISE falls more in love with Katie Holmes every day. Aw... so stop the gossip.

THE DARK KNIGHT RISES: Christopher Nolan plans only to alter the sound only slightly in response to complaints that Bane's dialogue is hard to hear in the preview running before Mission Impossible 4.


PAKISTAN: The chief of Pakistan's defense committee says Washington put on hold US drone strikes after the deadly November raid along the Afghan border so as not to "worsen" the already strained ties with Islamabad. The strain is also costing Pakistan money.

AFGHANISTAN: Vice President Joe Biden said the Taliban is not the enemy of the US. ISAF said that night raids against the Taliban would continue.

IRAQ: The government issued an arrest warrant for Sunni Vice President Tariq Hashimi for running death squads that attacked security forces. Hashimi has fled to the Kurdish regions. Three of Hashimi's bodyguards have been arrested on terrorism charges.

BABY HEDGEHOGS can be noisy.

THE SQUIRREL THREAT: One Queens mother says she is never opening up her windows again, after her baby's room was broken into, by a burglar, a squirrel.

A CAMEL gets frisky in a TV interview.

MR. & MRS. DEER celebrate the holidays at the historic Greene County Courthouse.

2765 Reads

New Releases, IAMDYNAMITE, Gary Numan, Yoga Cat   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Tuesday, December 20, 2011 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: Karl


EURYTHMICS: We split the duo for Twofer Tuesday. Dave Stewart dropped "Christmas is For Lovers" last year, while Annie Lennox teamed with and Al Green covered Jackie DeShannon's "Put a Little Love in Your Heart" for the Scrooged soundtrack.

NEW RELEASES from Kevin Hearn, This Warm December, and Deadmau5, plus the Beach Boys' Christmas album are streaming this week at Spinner.

IAMDYNAMITE stopped by The Current for a chat and mini-set.

GARY NUMAN also stopped by World Cafe for a chat and carsless mini-set.

SHELBY LYNNE also stopped by World Cafe for a chat and mini-set.

BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN brings "Merry Christmas Baby" and a vintage take on "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town" for Twofer Tuesday.

MUMFORD & SONS bassist Ted Dwane calls the band's next LP "doom folk, kind of like Black Sabbath meets Nick Drake."

M83's Anthony Gonzalez is taking his synthpop to the next level.

YO LA TENGO will play its famed Hoboken Hannukah shows, despite Ira Kaplan's "pretty serious health scare."

SEASON OF THE LIST: Why we need Top 10 lists now more than evah.

LINDSAY LOHAN's nude photo spread for Playboy is helping the men's magazine break sales records, according to Playboy founder Hugh Hefner. But is it?

BRITNEY SPEARS'  ex-husband Kevin Federline says he's "really happy" for her following news she's become engaged to Jason Trawick.

MATT. DAMON. reveals why he attacked "Bourne 4" director Tony Gilroy as the parties involved open up about the troubles at the heart of the billion-dollar franchise.

PAULA PATTON (Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol) strips down for GQ and dishes on what it's like to be Alan Thicke's daughter-in-law.

JUDY GREER  and her Real Time with Bill Maher producer beau, Dean Johnson, tied the knot on Saturday night.

SCARLETT JOHANSSON: Don't call her ScarJo, m'kay?

JAMES FRANCO's tired James Dean act got an NYU professor booted from the school last year - after the teacher dared to give the overhyped Hollywood hunk a "D" for blowing off class, a lawsuit charges.

THE DARK KNIGHT RISES has an official trailer online.  It's different from the preview infront of MI4 I reveiwed yesterday.

NORTH KOREA: Following the death of Kim Jong-il, China is moving quickly to deepen its influence over senior officials in North Korea and particularly with those in the military to try to ensure stability in the isolated nation, according to Chinese and foreign former government officials and analysts.

EGYPT: The Muslim Brotherhood party secured 39 percent of the vote, while the Salafi Al Nour party won 31 percent of the vote in the second stage of Egypt's landmark post-Mubarak elections, according to unofficial results published on the website of Egypt's Al-Ahram newspaper on Sunday. Protestors and security forces clashed for a third day in Tahrir Square. Anger was stoked by images of a military police officer beating a woman.

PAKISTAN: The founders of two of South Asia's largest terror groups held a large rally in the eastern city of Lahore.

AFGHANISTAN: After 10 months of secret dialogue with Afghanistan's Taliban insurgents, senior US officials say the talks have reached a critical juncture and they will soon know whether a breakthrough is possible.

A CAT and a woman performing yoga.

GIANT CANNIBAL SHRIMP poses a problem for the native shrimp and oyster population of the Gulf.


TWO DUCKS FROZEN on a lake were freed when a third duck quacked for help.

2919 Reads

Guided by Voices, Black Keys, Trombone Shorty, REM, Gamer Lizard   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Monday, December 19, 2011 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: Karl


MY MORNING JACKET plays "I'll Be Home For Christmas" at Madison Square Garden.

GUIDED BY VOICES is advance streaming Let's Go Eat the Factory.

THE BLACK KEYS stopped by World Cafe for a chat and mini-set.

TROMBONE SHORTY stopped by Sound Opinions for a session, some improvised.

R.E.M.'s final holiday fanclub single has live versions of "Perfect Circle" and "Life and How To Live It."

THE PRETENDERS: "2000 Miles." It felt like Christmas time.  And here's a cover by Lissie.

SEASON OF THE LIST: Pitchfork's Top 50 Albums (and more).

THE BEACH BOYS: Brian Wilson is reuniting with Mike Love and Al Jardine for a 50th anniversary album and tour. Bruce Johnson and David Marks will also be there.

SLEIGH BELLS talk to SPIN about the making of their upcoming Reign of Terror.

DRIVE-BY TRUCKERS: Mike Cooley talks about playing solo shows. Fmr Trucker Jason Isbell enthuses over the Atlanta Braves and discusses indie rock love for baseball. (Thx, LHB.)

WEEKEND BOX OFFICE: Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows tops the chart with 40 million.  That's well below tracking predictions in the 60-million range, but I was never quite sure why those numbers were so high.  That would have matched the opening of the last Sherlock, which opened on Christmas, always a huge movie weekend.  Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked placed with 23.5 million, about 10 million below tracking estimates.  This may be more surprising, given that the competition -- Hugo, Arthur Christmas and The Muppets - now occupy the bottom three rungs of the Top Ten.  Even so, the rodents travel well, so this is a likely moneymaker. Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol shows with 13 million, almost exactly what gurus predicted, though I think its easier with a smaller release, mostly on IMAX, where most tix are advance ordered.  New Years Eve and The Sitter slide predictably, with the former looking more like a flop.  Below the fold, Young Adult took in 3.6 million at the seventh slot, further suggesting it will profit, but the black comedy is unlikely to do Juno-scale biz.

SHERLOCK HOLMES: A GAME OF SHADOWS is -- for better or worse -- pretty much exactly what anyone who saw the first Robert Downey, Jr.-Jude Law outing.  If you don't like Guy Ritchie's hyperactive direction, you won't like this.  If you don't like how little these movies resemble the classic Conan Arthur Doyle stories, you won't like this.  If you at least want a mystery, instead of an action flick, you won't like this.  But if you liked the first one, you'll probably like this one.  Although Ritchie's direction grated a bit more on me in this one, I actually prefer the script here (the first seemed to borrow too much from From Hell and even Young Sherlock Holmes for my taste).  Written by Dermot Mulroney's brother Kieran (perhaps best known for warning George Costanza against double-dipping) and Michele Mulroney, the sequel does a decent job of expanding the scope without overstuffing the film with subplots and characters.  Here we get Moriarity, ably played by Mad Men's Jared Harris, along with Noomi Rapace as a female foil and Stephen Fry as a minor role as Sherlock's brother Mycroft.

MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: GHOST PROTOCOL is also pretty much what you would expect, although perhaps in the top end of the franchise.  It's the live-action debut from Brad Bird, who draws on his experience helming The Incredibles more than The Simpsons.  Tom Cruise may be insane, but everyone benefits when it puts him dngling on the outside of the world's tallest building in the flick's most spectactular setpiece.  Simon Pegg's character is given more to do, and the script exploits his comic gifts.  The team is rounded out by Paula Patton and Jeremy Renner, who -- like Ethan Hunt -- both wrestle with the scars of IMF service.  Action-packed, well-executed, with a little depth and comic relief: what's not to like?

THE DARK KNIGHT RISES:  The seven-minute preview attached to Mission Impossible 4 on just 42 screens admittedly was one of the reasons for me to view the latter.  Having just written about the dangers of sequelitis, I was suddenly struck by the fact that Christopher Nolan & Co. were good enough to have two villains and international scope without seeming overstuffed.  The preview shows us another two villains, though only a glimpse of Anne Hathaway in her Catwoman suit.  It also confirms some international scope, as most of the film's opening sequence takes place outside the US, showing that Bane (played by Inception's Tom Hardy) has an organization big enough to be a problem for the CIA.  I cannot say I was quite as excited about this as the similar preview of The Dark Knight (showing the opening bank job), but it did raise my anticipation level.  Inasmuch as it also suggests a final chapter of a trilogy, I trust Nolan to deliver a fitting finale.

BRITNEY SPEARS got engaged to her former agent, Jason Trawick. Obligatory "oops" punchline here.

LINDSAY LOHAN: Not selling Playboy magazines.

KARDASHIANS: Kris Humphries' family had reservations about his relationship with Kim Kardashian from the beginning.

ELLEN DeGENERES bought Brad Pitt's Malibu manse for 12 million dollars.

ALYSON HANNIGAN (How I Met Your Mother) looks like she'll be a mother again.

KOBE BRYANT is getting divorced by his wife. Can't imagine why.

CHRISTIAN BALE was roughed up by Chinese guards while trying to visit a blind, self-taught lawyer under house arrest who rose to fame in the late 1990s thanks to his legal advocacy for what he called victims of abusive practices by China's family-planning officials.

VACLAV HAVEL, the Czech writer and dissident whose eloquent dissections of Communist rule helped to destroy it in revolutions that brought down the Berlin Wall and swept Mr. Havel himself into power, died on Sunday. He was 75.

KIM JONG IL, North Korean dictator since the 1994 death of his father, has died at the age of 69, state-run television has announced.

IRAN: Senior US officials say they are deeply concerned by reports of the seizure of smuggled radioactive material heading into Tehran and commend the Russian security services for seizing the material.

EGYPT: US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Sunday she was "deeply concerned" about continuing violence in Egypt and urged Egyptian security forces to respect the rights of protesters.

AFGHANISTAN: Abdul Baqi Raghbat, the former director of border and tribal affairs in Kandahar province, was assassinated in Kandahar city.

IRAQ's Shi'ite prime minister asked parliament to fire his Sunni deputy, and security sources said an arrest warrant was issued for the Sunni vice president, straining the fragile sectarian coalition on the day the last American troops left.

AN AUSSIE LIZARD has learned to play an online videogame. Next: car insurance.

A 550 LB. BEAR found hiding out in a New Jersey basement had been living there for weeks.

THE SQUIRREL THREAT: A militant rodent steals toast.

ESCAPED OSTRICHES wander the no-go zone around Japan's Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.  What could go wrong?

2672 Reads

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