An echo from this Christmas Past

santa crooning

This holiday season just past, a new Flash greeting made the rounds. You probably received it at least once (and possibly more) from someone you know. It featured an animation of Santa Clause and a handful of reindeer crooning White Christmas.

It was cute, in that way a lot of those Flash greetings are. But it was the song that really made it work. This particular version was performed by the Drifters and was recorded circa 1953.

If you’d like to have it around for next holiday, it’s available for quick downloading from the iTunes Store.

iPod security note: Owner Info.txt

owner info on ipod

Hopefully your day-that-happened-to-be-Christmas was full of family togetherness, holiday cheer, and of course, lucrative acquisitions. And once again Apple’s iPod dominated the retail scene. While sales figures aren’t out yet, I think there’s a strong possiblity that a new iPod was among those acquisitions ilounge claims more ipods sold in 2006 than 2001-2005 combined.

So, in the interest to providing security for all those iPods newly given and received, as well as those that have been hanging around, here’s a quick tip that will help to ensure the safety of your mp3 player in the event it becomes separated from you. It makes use of the iPod’s Notes feature and is something I’ve done with each iPod I’ve owned since I got my first one nearly five years ago has it really been five years?.

This procedure works for all iPods with a screen and the principle is simple. Drop a text file with the name Owner Info.txt into the Notes folder on your iPod. To do this, the iPod must be mounted as a drive on your desktop, which you can do by selecting Enable Disk Use from iTunes.

On Windows, use Notepad to create the file. By default, it saves a text file format, which is required for the note to work. On Mac OS X, use TextEdit, but make sure you must select Make Plain Text from the Format menu before saving.

Inside this text file, type a short message about to whom the iPod belongs and ways to contact you: email, phone, website, instant messenger, etc. You can even include a physical address in hopes that some kind soul will mail it back to you or drop it off in person. In this case, it may be wiser to use a work address or P.O. box if you have one; you probably don’t want any nefarious types knowing where you live.


click to see full size.

When you’re finished with your message, save it with the filename Owner Info.txt into the Notes folder. On your iPod, browse to Extra > Notes > Owner Info.txt and you’ll see your message displayed on screen. Should you lose your iPod, the person who finds it can read your message and contact you to return it.

If you ever sell or give your iPod away, make sure you change or remove the file.

Weaknesses

Of course, this isn’t a fool-proof suggestion. It’s primarily designed to help honest people return a lost iPod and, to a certain extent, help buyers of second-hand iPods identify stolen property. If any would-be thieves are savvy enough, they can easily delete or change the Owner Info.txt. Though, once you save your file, you can always turn off Enable Disk Use to set up a roadblock. Even if someone resets the iPod by linking it to a new iTunes library, your owner message will remain intact.

Additionally, if you use a case with your iPod, drop a small slip of paper behind it with the same contact info. Then you’ll have one more avenue of protection in the event of loss or theft.

Hopefully though, the more people who do this, the more standard it will become. If this practice reaches a critical mass, like luggage tags on a suitcase, people will automatically know where to look to contact an iPod that’s lost its owner.

James Brown – Santa’s Got a Brand New Bag

I had forgotten that I had this song, but I was rummaging through my archives and was delighted to find it on today of all days. So in light of today’s news as well as the date, let’s celebrate some James Brown with his Santa’s Got a Brand New Bag.

Enjoy.

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For more Brownian Christmas classics, check out James Brown’s Funky Christmas at Amazon. Strangely, Santa’s Got a Brand New Bag isn’t included on it. Don’t worry, though, it does feature Santa Claus Go Straight To The Ghetto and Soulful Christmas.

James Brown Double-bolted

this bandstand wasn't double bolted

James Brown died of pneumonia on Christmas Day 2006 at the age of 73 in Atlanta Georgia. The obits are all over the net, but here’s one from the AJC. Besides his musical legacy, he leaves behind one of the funniest, catchiest Simpsons’ lines, for its out-of-character absurdity and earnest delivery.

From the fifth season episode Bart’s Inner Child, it’s a heck of a catch-phrase:


A Big Fat Drunk Disgruntled Yuletide Rambo

yuletide rambo

Tis the season and all. Yep, Xmas is around the corner and its related tunes can be heard, sometimes whispering sometimes shouting, from computers and stereos and iPods and speakers in the ceiling at the mall. Old chestnuts, classical interpretations and indie versions all will make their appearances during the next couple weeks, probably to the point of nausea.

They are songs that celebrate the season, reminding us of the wonder and good times of family togetherness or heralding the birth of a certain religious deity. Still others focus on the practices of gift-giving and gift-receiving while encouraging little ones to behave in order to partake in said gifts. Then there’s the jolly fat man in red suit and funny hat; he’s the stern but gentle patriarch who does everything right, is generous with material things and never wants anything in return except maybe some cookies.

But all that unrequited altruism would take its toll on even the most selfless person… or so this one particular Xmas song surmises.

The Night Santa Went Crazy from Weird Al’s 1996 Bad Hair Day tells the narrative, in borderline morbidly graphic detail, of a certain evening in Santa’s Workshop, when the big guy finally loses his cool, going on a rampage from which Xmas will never recover.

This song is perhaps the pinnacle of Weird Al’s songwriting. It is musically exceptional, with astute holiday underpinnings and some of Al’s most remarkably clever lyrics to date. He manages to incorporate and reference the unique culture of the North Pole, successfully transposing it into a scenario that’s half Die Hard, half Headline News.

So I present what is perhaps the best song to queue up when you’re about to overdose on holiday cheer and the thought of good will toward men makes you want to slug someone.

The Night Santa Went Crazy:

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"Weird Al" Yankovic - Bad Hair Day - The Night Santa Went Crazy

Here are the lyrics if you want to sing along:

Down in the workshop all the elves were makin’ toys
For the good Gentile girls and the good Gentile boys
When the boss busted in, nearly scared ’em half to death
Had a rifle in his hands and cheap whiskey on his breath
From his beard to his boots he was covered with ammo
Like a big fat drunk disgruntled Yuletide Rambo
And he smiled as he said with a twinkle in his eye,
“Merry Christmas to all… now you’re all gonna die!”

The night Santa went crazy
The night St. Nick went insane
Realized he’d been gettin’ a raw deal
Something finally must have snapped in his brain

Well, the workshop is gone now he decided to bomb it
Everywhere you’ll find pieces of Cupid and Comet
And he tied up his helpers and he held the elves hostage
And he ground up poor Rudolph into reindeer sausage
He got Dancer and Prancer with an old German Luger
And he slashed up Dasher just like Freddie Krueger
And he picked up a flamethrower and he barbequed Blitzen
And he took a big bite and said, “It tastes just like chicken!”

The night Santa went crazy
The night Kris Kringle went nuts
Now you can hardly walk around the North Pole
Without steppin’ in reindeer guts

There’s the National Guard and the F.B.I.
There’s a van from the Eyewitness News and helicopters circlin’ ’round in the sky
And the bullets are flyin’, the body count’s risin’ and everyone’s dyin’ to know, oh Santa, why?
My my my my my my
You used to be such a jolly guy

Yes, Virginia, now Santa’s doing time
In a federal prison for his infamous crime
Hey, little friend, now don’t you cry no more tears
He’ll be out with good behavior in 700 more years
But now Vixen’s in therapy and Donner’s still nervous
And the elves all got jobs working for the postal service
And they say Mrs. Claus, she’s on the phone every night
With her lawyer negotiating the movie rights

They’re talkin’ ’bout – the night Santa went crazy
The night St. Nicholas flipped
Broke his back for some milk and cookies
Sounds to me like he was tired of gettin’ gypped

Wo, the night Santa went crazy
The night St. Nick went insane
Realized he’d been gettin’ a raw deal
Something finally must have snapped in his brain
Wo, something finally must have snapped in his brain
Tell ya, something finally must have snapped… in his brain

It’s a Cool, Cool Christmas: An Indie Alternative

It's a Cool, Cool, Christmas

Thanksgiving is, of course, the beginning of the Xmas season in the United States. Everyone takes a day to spend time with loved ones and rest up a bit, giving thanks for all that is well and good in their lives. The festive among us put up Xmas trees and other holiday trimmings while the more adventurous plot how to take maximum advantage of “Black Friday” retail savings.

Everything stops for a day and the world seems to change; it will be different for the next thirty days or so. In addition to changes in decor, another environmental shift signals the start of a new season: it is now acceptable to play Xmas music.

Yes, an entire sub-genre of music that is forever relegated to irrelevance for all but four weeks of the year is suddenly thrust into the spotlight. In fact, numorous radio stations throughout the country devote all of Thanksgiving’s Day to nothing Xmas tunes as a way of ushering in the season, Some stations continue the practice through Christmas Day.

The thing is, as nice as it is to hear the songs one hasn’t heard in a year’s time, Xmas music gets old. Fast. There’s a reason it languishes in obscurity for the majority of the year… It’s repetitive; the handful of staples that one hears ad infinitum each year quickly wear out their welcomes.

That’s why I really enjoy this album: It’s a Cool, Cool Christmas.

Released in 2000, this compilation features a plethora of notable indie rock bands performing some fresh, inventive and just plain off-the-wall renditions of the classics as well as some nice original compositions, like the one below. The group is Grandaddy, the song is Alan Parsons in a Winter Wonderland. Yeah, it’s goofy, but it’s got a kind of silly charm.