HAVE A HOLLY JOLLY CHRISTMAS … AND DON’T FORGET TO DECK YOUR HALLS WITH LOAVES OF CHALLAH

I know it’s that time of year again. For one thing, there’s five inches of snow on the driveway and we haven’t hired a plow, so it better melt pretty fast. Lucky we have a 4-wheel drive car parked up at the top, eh?

Owen’s going to come by in his jeep and try to flatten it out so we can walk up to the car and not fall on the ice. There’s more weather expected Tuesday … but hopefully, it won’t accumulate. Much depends on the temperature. If it isn’t too cold, it won’t stick. But you can never tell this time of year. Anything could happen and by anything, I mean it could be balmy spring weather or deep, bitter cold. With or without snow.

It is lovely outside. The last of the snow is clinging to tree branches, though it is melting pretty fast now. I know I should be taking pictures, but I’m tired. We were doing GREAT on our lovely little vacation in Connecticut until that torturous drive home. More on that later.

I couldn’t take pictures of the torturous drive home because my camera fell out of my bag in the Curleys driveway. They found it, so it is safe … but of course, it was the only camera I had brought with me. Ironic. I always bring at least two cameras … and this time of year, boots because weather in New England is crazy. This time, in one of my rare efforts to pack lightly, I didn’t bring any boots. I didn’t even bring extra shoes.

“Garry,” I said, “The bags are light. I didn’t even bring boots. It’s not going to snow.” I said that with the kind of certainty that only someone who is completely wrong could possibly muster.

Garry complete agreed with me. He brought what could only be described as tennis shoes.

It snowed. In Connecticut and all the way home. And kept snowing. When I woke this morning, I could hear thudding outside, which I assumed — correctly — was clods of snow melting and falling on the roof.

Have a holly jolly Christmas and don’t forget to decorate with loaves of challah.

We all need diversity in our lives. The more, the better.

CHRISTMAS SONGS TO RETIRE – RICH PASCHALL

Are You Tired of Those Holiday Tunes Yet? – Rich Paschall


There are plenty of “Novelty” Christmas songs. As a matter of fact there are far too many. Some are amusing to the point of being endearing. Some are a bit weird or odd sounding. Some are just obnoxious and need to be removed from the Christmas playlist, permanently.

“Can you skip a few of those songs?”

Endearing novelty songs might include “The Chipmunks Song.” It certainly was a favorite when I was a kid. Alvin was my favorite chipmunk and it seemed perfectly OK to play the 45 (look it up) over and over, much to my mother’s chagrin. In later years, “Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer,” struck me as quite amusing. I guess it is funnier after a few spiked eggnog. “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” may have many good versions, but the original recording from 1952 should remain locked in the vault. Also, radio stations will bring out the irritating “I Want a Hippopotamus For Christmas,” and the over-played “All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth” recorded originally by Spike Jones and His City Slickers, a novelty act if there ever was one.

The all-time most obnoxious novelty song, that ought to be put away forever by the way, is definitely “Dominick the Donkey.” What record executive thought that an Italian Christmas Donkey was amusing? To top it off the 1960 recording by Lou Monte sets new standards in displeasure. The song could have died a well deserved death, but the geniuses at Amazon decided in 2011 it should be rereleased, starting another round of annoyance:

Hey! Chingedy ching,
(hee-haw, hee-haw)
It’s Dominick the donkey.
Chingedy ching,
(hee-haw, hee-haw)
The Italian Christmas donkey.

Some songs are just long and repetitious. Chief among these is “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” After a while the litany of gifts is just too much. All versions of this song should be put away except, perhaps, the version by The Muppets. At least the popular Sesame Street characters find a joke and can carry it out to its funniest. That is much better than the many serious versions of the song that hit the airwaves at this time of year. The Muppets might even teach young ones the exceptional skill of counting backwards from twelve, something that is sure to be useful in their chosen professions later in life.

A song that is a classic but has clearly received too many variations is White Christmas. “The Drifters” version has been heard once too often on my radio. The 1954 recording was big for the Rhythm and Blues group, and it was the first of their songs to crack the Billboard 100 singles chart on mainstream radio stations. It would have thankfully been retired had it not been resurrected by holiday movies, including Home Alone starring Macaulay Culkin in his greatest role. I can pass this one up:

Ooh, doop doop, doop doo doop
Ooh, doop doop, doop doo doop

I’m dreaming of a white Christmas
Just like the ones I used to know
Where those treetops glisten and children listen
To hear sleigh bells in the snow, the snow

Then I, I, I am dreaming of a white Christmas
With every Christmas card I write
May your days, may your days, may your days be merry and bright
(Read more here: The Drifters – White Christmas Lyrics | MetroLyrics )

Actually, every version besides the Bing Crosby version should be put away. Admit it, whenever you hear “White Christmas” you think of Bing Crosby. Every version is automatically compared to the iconic version that has been washed into our brain cells from infancy, unless you were born before 1941. You can not help it, the sounds of Bing Crosby whistling his way to another season of white is all you can hear. Everyone will come up short by comparison, no matter how good they are.

Recently, we gave a bit of the history of the song here. The song was a hit from the time Crosby introduced it on his 1941 Christmas radio broadcast.  The movie Holiday Inn helped to make it even more popular. When Crosby entertained the troops during World War II, it became a bit of nostalgic relief when soldiers where thinking of their lives back home. Bing thought the song might be making the boys sad, and he felt he did not go to entertain the troops only to bring them down. He tried eliminating the song from his show, only to have the soldiers call out for it anyway.

The original master recording of “White Christmas” wore out from all the “pressings,” the process by which vinyl recordings were made. So in 1947 Crosby recorded the song again with the original orchestra, trying to duplicate the original sound. It is the 1947 version you hear today. The recordings of the songs for the movie “White Christmas” would likely have been remastered into a Christmas Album had they not been destroyed by fire. Crosby performed the iconic Christmas song in 3 movies and countless radio and television broadcasts. There just is not another version.


Bing sang this song right to the end, after actually. The above is from his 1977 Christmas television show. It was his last Christmas special. He died after it was taped and before it was aired.

FENWAY FLAGS – THURSDAY’S SPECIAL ON A SUNDAY MORNING

THURSDAY’S SPECIAL: SEQUENCE

 

Stadiums are, by design, sequential. Pillar after pillar, flag after flag. Layers of seating up and across. This is Fenway Park, home of the Red Sox baseball team. It is the oldest baseball stadium in the United States, the only antique park still standing.

NOTE: Evil Squirrel corrected me. Only one of TWO antique stadiums still standing. The other one is the lovely Wrigley Field in Chicago. It is two or three years newer than Fenway (built in 1912), so it’s practically “the new kid in town.”

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