Christmas Song Review: Santa Claus is Coming To Town

Now, I know what you’re going to say. I’m going to make the same old jokes about how Santa is likely a pervert at worst, or the FBI at least with this surveillance. That Santa Claus is like ceiling cat, watching you masturbate.

I know, I know. Ew.

No, I want to talk about another part of the song, the part that is left out half the time, but is LOADED with meaning. I’d sung this song my whole life and never heard this intro until Ella Fitzgerald sang it, and since then I’ve heard it elsewhere.

This is not a song about Santa. This is a song about a being so much more powerful than Santa, and s/he is teasing us that we have to watch out for Santa… or else something worse might happen…

I just came back from a lovely trip, along the Milky Way
I stopped off at the North Pole, to spend a holiday
I called on dear old Santa Claus, to see what I could see
He took me to his workshop, and told his plans to me.

“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” – Arthur C. Clarke

Stop a moment and think about this. Santa does the amazing feat of going around the world in one night and leaving presents for all the good little girls and boys (who celebrate Christmas, that is.) That’s pretty freaking amazing, and we attribute this power to magic.

BUT WHO IS THIS GODLIKE BEING WHO SKIPS ACROSS OUR GALAXY? I mean, according to a recent post by my buddy Phil Plait (totally name dropping, I know, I know), our galaxy is “a flat disk about 100,000 light years across and a thousand light years thick.”

So we’ve got this being who possibly has Star Trek-like technology. Who just casually wanders across 100,000 light  years. Who thinks dropping in on Santa is like asking your neighbor for some sugar.

…. Probably not.

Who on this entire planet is cool enough to just drop in on Santa? No one, that’s who. This being is powerful enough to just stop by for a cup of tea, and Santa will put everything on hold to take this person on a tour of the workshop. It’s Christmas Eve and he’s editing the naughty list? Forget it, the VIP is visiting.

Is this Santa’s boss? A respected colleague who’s a gift giver on another planet? A GOD? The entire song is a veiled threat – “do what Santa says, because if you fear his wrath, you can’t even comprehend what I have in store for you!”

I’m terrified of this god-being who is Santa’s house guest, and I welcome him or her as my eventual overlord. I think Santa is his/her Silver Surfer and the bigger, badder, more magic being is coming.

They’re coming.

I also fear Bruce Springsteen because when he sings the song I fear he’s going to burst a vein in his face. Sometimes when I listen to it, I imagine this has already happened and HE is the great new god’s herald, covered in blood and red fur.

Grade: A. I am too scared to give it anything else.

Princess Scientist’s Advent Calendar Day 1

It’s time to open the advent calendar again! This year we have both our classic old advent and a new chocolate advent. Considering technical difficulties, we are going short and simple this year. Or at least today.

Inspired as always by Grant Baciocco’s Advent Calendar Podcast!

 

ISBW #267: Feedback

I’m so sorry. So so sorry. I recorded this and edited it before Thanksgiving and… forgot to post it. It’s been a bad month, incidentally. Here are feedbacks for you. Meta cast tomorrow. Happy NaNoWriMo ending!

Bigger apologies since the Obsolete Press deadline is today. *hides in a hole*

 

 

Christmas Song Review: Wonderful Christmas Time

$400,000 in royalties every year. Please don’t stab yourself because of this.

When you have someone like Paul McCartney writing a Christmas song, you have high expectations. You don’t expect Justin Bieber* to write a thoughtful, touching song with depth and purpose, and you don’t expect Paul McCartney to write a dog.

Then I tried to think, well, a bad Neil Gaiman story is pretty much better than any other story, right? Does that mean a bad McCartney song is better than any other song? Can we judge it apart from its “DUDE WAS IN THE BEATLES FOR THOR’S SAKE!” shadow?

No. No, we can’t. Paul, you wrote this damn song, now you will THINK ABOUT WHAT YOU’VE DONE.

The moon is right
The spirit’s up

Ooookay. From the first line, we have puzzling things. What does the moon have to do with Christmas? The moon drives EASTER.** In my mind I suddenly see Paul’s baby face sticking out from under a white hood (druid hood, not KKK) and looking at the moon, and smiling. “It’s time.”

We’re here tonight
And that’s enough

Kind of fatalistic. “We drink, for tomorrow we die!” I know this was written before Linda McCartney had cancer – it if had been written around that time, this line would have had more meaningful weight. I guess you could look at it as, “The world’s problems don’t go away just because of Christmas, so let’s just try to take this moment and enjoy it.” Not a bad message.

Simply having a wonderful Christmas time
Simply having a wonderful Christmas time

Here is, I think, where most people’s Christmas Rage-o-meter starts to rise. It is the first of many repetitions. It reminds me of the Lucille line from Arrested Development. “I sent her on a wonderful cruise. You just missed a wonderful call from her. She just came back from a wonderful costume party that the captain threw. She gained ten pounds, there’s so much food on that boat. She’s up to 74. She tried pesto for the first time. Imagine that, 92 years old and she never tried pesto. It was wonderful. Just wonderful.”

The party’s on
The feelin’s here
That only comes
This time of year

OK, it’s not Shakespeare, but it’s a pop Christmas song from the ’70’s….Written by Paul McCartney. No, Paul, you don’t get a bye. This is “She loves you yeah yeah yeah” level, beginning of career level writing. Not several-decades in. “Hmmm, what rhymes with here… fear, beer, deer, leer, near, rear, sear, tear, veer, YEAR!”

Simply having a wonderful Christmas time
Simply having a wonderful Christmas time

So, going right back to that already, huh?

The choir of children sing their song
Ding dong, ding dong
Ding dong, ding, oh, oh

Oh come on, “oh oh” doesn’t really reflect what’s going on here. We’ve got falsetto “ooo-oooo-ooooo-oooooo-OOOOO! ooo-oooo-ooooo-oooooo-OOOOO! … OOO-OOO-oo!” The pause always confused me. Did the children forget their ooos? Did they miss a ding dong?

And I’m sure there could be a penis joke thrown in here for the “ding dongs” but we’re all above that. And if you’re not, you can make your own joke, I’m sure. (OK, I am NOT above that, see yesterday’s Christmas cock, but I do like the penis jokes to be a bit more subtle than, “huh huh he sang ‘ding dong.'”)

So, what kind of Christmas are you having, Paul?

Simply having a wonderful Christmas time
Simply having a wonderful Christmas time

The word is out
About the town
To lift a glass
Ah, don’t look down

AUGH! WHY NOT? What’s down there? Spiders? Did you pants me? Did you magically transport me high into the sky with Superman-like powers and you’re going to drop me like a bad poetry-spouting Lois Lane if I tell you how bad this song is? Are YOU the bad-poetry-spouting Lois Lane?

But wait, this is the word on the street, all the gangs are talking about it. What does it mean? This verse has always confused me. What are we afraid of at Christmas, Paul? What monster lurks around your loafers?

Simply having a wonderful Christmas time
Simply having a wonderful Christmas time

The choir of children sing their song
They practiced all year long

Ding dong, ding dong
Ding dong, ding dong
Ding dong, ding dong

Oh man. As a parent, I can tell you if a kid had to practice singing their ONE song all year, someone would die. I get twitchy after a couple of weeks with the same piano practice piece. This is not a joyful thing, this is an auditorium filled with parents who are very proud, but also frazzled and fingering pens inside their purses and backpacks, wishing they were knives so they could go rampage if they hear Deck The Halls one…more…time…

Remember when George Bailey lost his shit when his daughter was practicing “Hark! The Herald Angel Sings?” That had nothing to do with the missing $8000, it had everything to do with having heard it one too many times.

The party’s on
The spirit’s up
We’re here tonight
And that’s enough

Simply having a wonderful Christmas time
Simply having a wonderful Christmas time

The moon is right
The spirit’s up
We’re here tonight
And that’s enough

Yeah, ran out of words, it’s cool, just repeat the last verse, we’re at the end anyway, no one will notice.

Simply having a wonderful Christmas time
Simply having a wonderful Christmas time
Simply having a wonderful Christmas time
Simply having a wonderful Christmas time

So admittedly I don’t know a lot about McCartney’s music from the 70’s and 80’s, but sources tell me it was much like this; insipid. LA LA LA LA LA LA daises and dancing and easy rhyming! I saw a bear over there covered in hair! SEND ME ROYALTIES!***

It made me realize how much McCartney needed Lennon to bring him down, and Lennon needed McCartney to bring him up. Together they were like the perfect balance of dinosaurs and sodomy. Alone, McCartney is dancing with the velociraptors.

Grade: D+ It’s not as bad as “Last Christmas,” but lord, it isn’t good.

*Did a quick web search on Bieber just to make sure he was a song writer as well as a hair stylist, and found out more than I wanted to know. His mom’s a bigot, nearly didn’t let him go record with the company that discovered him because the marketing exec was a Jew. WHY didn’t God send her a Christian man to help Justin? *cries* I wonder how she feels about him dating Selena Gomez. And then I realized I just wondered about the Bieber/Gomez relationship and now my self loathing is so extreme I am going to cancel Christmas.

**(Easter takes places on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the Equinox.)

***Wikipedia reports that royalties on “Wonderful Christmastime” are about $400,000 per year. If any creative person reads this and feels suicidal, please call a hotline or listen to my next I Should Be Writing.

Christmas Song Review: Baby, It’s Cold Outside

There were better images for this song, but HOLY SHIT ROD STEWART IS GROWING WOMEN’S LEGS OUT OF HIS HIP. Two more and he will become ARACH-ROD STWEART.

[Trigger warning and foul language ahead.]

Ahhh, Christmas. Mistletoe, presents, innocence, starlight, rebirth, and date rape.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year.

Now, I’m going to be giving a boatload of benefit of the doubt to this song because there’s always someone who complains that it’s a sweet duet about love. I will grant you that this is a cute duet that attempts to be a seduction song. And seduction is sexy and fun when you trust your partner. Sadly, we don’t see a lot of trust here. Nor do we see any reason to trust this guy.

I really can’t stay – Baby it’s cold outside
I’ve got to go away – Baby it’s cold outside
This evening has been – Been hoping that you’d drop in
So very nice – I’ll hold your hands, they’re just like ice

OK, so it’s been a nice evening. We get a sense that it’s like 20, 30 degrees below zero out there and he is really concerned for her imminent frostbite. I mean, it’s “cover every spot of your body” cold. Otherwise why would he be so concerned, is she without coat? They had a good time, but it’s the end of the evening.

My mother will start to worry – Beautiful, what’s your hurry
My father will be pacing the floor – Listen to the fireplace roar
So really I’d better scurry – Beautiful, please don’t hurry
Well Maybe just a half a drink more – Put some music on while I pour

Here comes the coercion. The “awww, do you really have to go? you’re so pretty, and it’s so romantic in here, and your boundaries and concerns mean nothing to me and my CHRISTMAS COCK.”

Think I went too far with Christmas cock? I haven’t even begun.

The neighbors might think – Baby, it’s bad out there
Say, what’s in this drink – No cabs to be had out there

WHOA. What the fuck? Seriously, dude. “Oh gosh I’m SOOOO drunk, I guess I’ll stay and have ANOTHER DRINK WITH YOU BECAUSE THAT IS WHAT THEY SAID TO DO IN 1956 HEALTH CLASS.”

You can’t excuse this line. She is showing suspicion, concern, and distrust. Did he make a double when he said he was making a small drink? Did she not want alcohol at all and he gave her something tasty and hidden? Or did he do the most reprehensible of all, slip her a roofie? What is in the drink, asshole? You stop singing right now and tell me or I’m calling the motherfucking cops before I pass out, you sick pervert.

I wish I knew how – Your eyes are like starlight now

That’s probably my eyes glazing over from the ROOFIE, YOU FUCK.

To break this spell – I’ll take your hat, your hair looks swell
I ought to say no, no, no, sir – Mind if I move a little closer
At least I’m gonna say that I tried – What’s the sense in hurting my pride
I really can’t stay – Baby don’t hold out
Ahh, but it’s cold outside

See, this song is all about him. It’s about his wants, his needs, his pride, his Christmas cock. She’s resisting, but realizing she will lose this battle. “Baby don’t hold out.” Really. Why not? Is your Christmas cock needing some trimming? Is your pride worth more than her reputation, self-worth, boundaries, and rights as another human being?

Now we are at the other unforgivable line of this song.

I simply must go – Baby, it’s cold outside
The answer is no – Ooh baby, it’s cold outside

There it is. How many health classes and college posters say it? No means no. As much as we need to tell the world that “maybe” or “Oh, I don’t know” doesn’t mean yes, we at least can all agree that NO means NO. Right?

It keeps on in this vein. How can you give me blue balls when my Christmas cock is waiting here for you? Your reputation means nothing to me, your worries and your resistance, nothing.

CHRISTMAS COCK RULES ALL.

You know, this song doesn’t mention Christmas at all. At some point someone said, “if it mentions snow, it’s about Christmas.” It’s one of those songs I never heard until I was an adult and now I can’t fucking escape it.

And whenever someone points the discomfort many people have with this song, someone else complains that you’re trying to remove romance from the world, how can people meet up and fall in love if there isn’t just a little bit of date rape in the world? But it seems that what the public sometimes sees as romance, the women involved aren’t even considered.

This iconic post-war image? Romantic? No. It was recently revealed that this woman was pounced on by a drunken celebrating sailor. She didn’t know him; her first introduction was his tongue in her mouth. Check her body language. Bringing this up upsets some people who complain that we’re ruining the romance. The romance was never there in the first place.

The thing that bugs me the most – besides that whole date rape thing – is the fact that the song was written with the line: “Maybe just a cigarette more.” They don’t sing that anymore, they say “half a drink” or “maybe just a few minutes more.” Because cigarettes are bad.

Cigarettes are bad. That is what someone got out of this song. No one thought, “Huh, it’s not considered cool to spike women’s drinks, maybe we should kill that line.” Nope. Cigarettes are bad.

Some people (like She and Him) do a cute role reversal with the song where the woman is trying to get the man to stay, but it still doesn’t gloss over the whole, “Did you slip me something?” And “The answer is no.” You can’t explain that away with romance, and this song is frankly dangerous if it lodges in peoples brain that it’s OK to act like this. It tells men they can wear women down so they will fuck them, and it tells women that resistance and boundaries will be disregarded so you might as well just give in in the name of “romance.”

Grade: G. Yup. It’s not good enough for an F.

I saw a link on twitter this morning that makes me so happy. Lilith Saintcrow posted this video which is entitled “Baby, It’s Consensual Outside.” I really hope someone records this and gives Chase Gregory a big bag of money.

Christmas Song Review: 12 Days of Christmas

OK, as the Cure once said, let’s get happy!

The 12 Days of Christmas. One of the standard Christmas songs, and yet it’s so antiquated and surreal that none of us can relate to it. Few of us know what a calling bird is, much less want four of them around, AND WHO IS GOING TO HAVE TO CLEAN THE CAGE, HUH? THANKS FOR GIVING ME TEN CRAP MACHINES IN THE FIRST FOUR DAYS, TRUE LOVE! Don’t even get me started on the swans and geese. My family had geese when I was growing up. I know from geese. And since the maids are a-milking, do they come with cows? Cause I don’t have a barn. And who knows ten lords, and how much political power does this true love have to convince the lords to come to my house and jump around?

Incidentally I was listening to the radio and a version came on that I had never heard. It had the croony-style of the 1940s, and the dude messed up all the later verses, and it made me physically uncomfortable. 12 lords a-leaping? ARE YOU INSANE, MAN? I’m supposed to get TEN of those. TEN. You fool!

So it’s surreal and illogical, but it’s so deeply set in my psyche that it bugs me when someone gets it wrong. Admittedly, it’s a pointless song, about as relevant as roasting chestnuts. And once you accept that, OK, some weird twitterpated guy out there is sending me birds and servants and possibly cows – and it gets even scarier if you consider the song as compound interest: 12 partridges and pear trees, 35 gold rings, 35 maids a milking, 22 turtle doves, etc – the song is incredibly tedious and repetitive. (I’ll cover overall repetitive Christmas songs on another day.)

Why do I love it so?

Because it is the most parodied Christmas song*, and those parodies are often awesome.

First we’ll look at the 12 Pains of Christmas by Bob Rivers, my far my favorite. I laugh every time I hear this. Every single time. Here’s why- the 12 verses are as follows:

The first thing at Christmas that’s such a pain to me…

  1. Finding a Christmas Tree
  2. Rigging up the lights
  3. Hangovers
  4. Sending Christmas cards
  5. Five months of bills
  6. Facing the in-laws
  7. The salvation army
  8. [kid whining]
  9. No parking spaces
  10. Batteries not included
  11. Stale TV specials
  12. Singing Christmas Carols

The funny part though is once the verse has been established, the singers often deviate the next time it’s their turn. So for example, the woman who sings about the in-laws also sings “she’s a witch, I hate her!” and “Gotta make em dinner!” instead of “facing the in-laws.” My favorite is the Christmas Cards guy, who has the line, “Oh, I don’t even KNOW half these people!” Actually guys 2, 3, and 4 are the best, as the rigging up the lights guy goes apoplectic with rage and the hangover guy gets more and more miserable/cranky.

Let’s look at Day 10.

The tenth thing at Christmas that’s such a pain to me:

  • Batteries not included
  • No parking spaces
  • BUY ME SOMETHING
  • Get a job you bum!
  • Oh, facing the in-laws!
  • Five months of bills!
  • Yo-ho sending Christmas cards!
  • Oh Geez, look at this
  • NOW WHY THE HELL ARE THEY BLINKING?
  • And finding a Christmas tree!

The song devolves at the end, I’ll just let you see for yourself.

Another one that is a favorite is only good for Phineas and Ferb fans, which also does a slight deviation from the repetition, only not as often as Bob Rivers does. The fifth day is Doofenshmirtz who wants “the entire tri-state area… or maybe just two states… or one single state… or promotion to colonel sounds pretty good, can I change mine?” The best line is Day 12, which I won’t spoil for the P&F fans- just watch.

Those are the only two I’m going to list, because I could go on all day and I really have some writing and laundry to do. But I can usually be amused by any 12 Days of Christmas song. I think it’s surreal antiquation works for it because you don’t get the outrage of changing the lyrics the way you would if there were a billion parodies of Away in a Manger. Don’t mess with the baby Jesus, but kick those milking maids and their cows out the door to make room for Batteries not included, or a weapon from A Terrorist Christmas (funnier before the turn of the millennium, admittedly), or Perry the Platypus gurgling.

Grade: B

* This is my own experience, it’s possible there is another one more parodied, but I haven’t found it.