IT HAS COME TO MY ATTENTION that some of you will not be as near your screens through year's end. Accordingly, I am accelerating the holiday linkage. Time's a-wasting, so let's waste it together:
SOCIALIST CHRISTMAS LIGHTING DISPLAY: Distancing themselves from them Godless commies. PLUS: FARC, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, have released their Christmas album. The anti-government rebel group has been mixed up in revolution, cocaine and leftist politics since the 1960's... now they offer up jolly Yuletide classics! Okay, not really: it's a collection songs praising FARC folk heroes and criticizing the corruption of neoliberalism. They're missing an opportunity, but I suppose that FARC can't be caught commercializing the season.
BEATLES XMAS: (Most of) those fab four fan club records, ripped from vinyl to MP3s. If you haven't heard them -- and at least one of you has not -- it's well worth it (the first three or four in particular). The Fabs clearly were fans of The Goon Show -- the BBC's radio forerunner to Monty Python -- where guys like Peter Sellers got their start. Alternatively, BoingBoing has links to BitTorrent versions of this stuff.
DING! A politically incorrect Christmas carol. Speakers required.
HEAR DAVID SEDARIS read The Santaland Diaries.
"A STORY SO QUEER:" You can see Flash-based video of Hardrock, Coco and Joe (and Suzy Snowflake) courtesy of WGN-TV. Most every kid who grew up in Chicago will dig it the most.
HOLIDAY GREETINGS: A real one from one of Hollywood's biggest producers, and a generic one suitable for for all lawyers.
SCREENWRITER ROGER L. SIMON says farewell to the Festival of Lights.
NOTHING SAYS HANUKKAH like garden beds featuring swastika designs.
IF THE WEATHER OUTSIDE IS NOT FRIGHTFUL, let it faux.
RED AND BLUE CHRISTMAS: Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State: ''Unfortunately, some of the Christian pressure groups seem to have it backwards. I think it's fair to say it's a mistaken notion that they have a mandate to put more nativity scenes up because George Bush was elected." I wonder what the Rev. Lynn would make of the rash of thefts of baby Jesuses from nativity scenes in Woodstock, Illinois (a town more asscoiated with Groundhog Day, as the movie was filmed there). ALSO: A Christian rock show is cancelled at a Toledo-area public high school... surprisingly not for reasons of taste. ALSO: BuyBlue has retailers sorted by their political donations. So has ChooseTheBlue
IS SANTA THE ANTICHRIST? An Instapundit reader thinks so.
What would the holiday season be without some end-of-year lists? Let's not find out:
POPMATTERS posts its Top 100 Albums of 2004. Some familiar names near the top, but it will be fun to pick through the lower rungs. One that didn't make the list that I enjoyed is Favorite Colors by The Sadies -- very mid-period Byrds and mid-period Meat Puppets, plus a collaboration with Robyn Hitchcock. And from late last year, I'd add Universal Blues by the Redwalls (a local treasure) -- very CCR and late-period Beatles.
STAR MAGAZINE lists the Top Ten Most Annoying People of 2004, getting it almost exactly right, down to the tie for number one.
RELATED END OF THE WORLD UPDATE: A convergence of Lohan, Hilton, Ashlee Simpson and Fred Durst! Oh, the humanity! Had Simpson's uber-creepy father been there, none of us might be here today.
Doesn't someone on your list want to smell like a Hummer? Or perhaps like Orange County Choppers? If you're still shopping offline, you can always amuse your self this way.
Other possible gifts:
PIERCED EYEGLASSES: not just freakish, but also impractical.
HOUSES OF THE FUTURE made of cardboard? I'm skeptical.
JET-POWERED OUTHOUSE probably makes 45 m.p.h. seem pretty fast.
FOR THE GEEK IN YOUR LIFE (or your own inner geek): How about a USB Christmas tree or a USB glowing snowman?
BELARUSSIAN ARMY CHRISTMAS SALE: Parachutes, all kinds of military fatigues, ice hockey boots, portable power generators, tents, shoe-making machines, electric guitars, cameras and slide projectors! Anything from heavy trucks to accordions at rock bottom prices! All Soviet junk must GO!
And a few non-holiday links...
QUEEN REUNION probable in early 2005. Well, Brian May and Roger Taylor with former Free and Bad Company singer Paul Rodgers filling in for the late Freddie Mercury. No word on bassist John Deacon, so there's a slot open for Mike Kelly. Like Mike, there's a part of me that would consider going. But there's another part trying to finish the joke: "A Queen without Freddie Mercury is like..."
DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES: Study shows the TV comedy may be popular because a fair number of housewives are desperate. That doesn't explain the show's popularity with men, but a study is probably not needed to suss out that one.
LILEKS: tire-blogging, plus a bit about weddings and Chicago.
MAN BITES DOG is a journalist's cliche, but it will get coverage.
NANOTECH: Some ponder applications to medicine.
GARY WEBB: As I suggested a day or two ago, his apparent suicide fuels the conspiracy theorists, as the coroner reports two gunshots to the head. Webb's ex-wife says that Webb had been distraught for some time over his inability to get a job at another major newspaper. "The way he was acting it would be hard for me to believe it was anything but suicide," she said. But that's exactly what she would say, isn't it?
SPAMALOT -- the musical version of Monty Python and the Holy Grail -- premieres in Chicago this month before heading to Broadway (much as The Producers did a few years ago). The New Yorker almost has me getting tickets.
SOCIAL SECURITY: Arnold Kling has two articles on Social Security reform and private accounts: his arguments may surprise you.