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Christmas

And so I offer you this Mel Torme Christmas story

Every year on Christmas Day, I link to my favorite Christmas story, which stars Mel Torme. This has been a rough year in many ways, but reading that story always makes me happy, and I hope it will do the same for you. Merry Christmas!

Saturday video break: The night before the night before Christmas

A day early, but what the heck:

Not to mix metaphors, but may your days be merry and all that.

It isn’t Christmas without Mel Torme

Every year on Christmas Day, I link to my favorite Christmas story, which stars Mel Torme. It is often shamelessly ripped off a lot, which is a Bad Thing that one Should Not Do. So click over and read it, and may your heart grow three sizes today. Merry Christmas to you and yours from me and mine.

Saturday video break: A right jolly old elf

How delightful that today actually is Saturday:

Every year I watch this, and every year it makes me happy. I’m especially happy that they made it while Don LaFontaine was still with us. May Santa be good to you and yours this Christmas Eve.

Friday random ten: Ladies’ night, part 26

Once again, by sheer coincidence, this list has a meaningful intersection with the calendar:

1. I’ve Seen All Good People – Matthew Sweet and Susanna Hoffs
2. The Coventry Carol – Mediaeval Baebes (Katharine Blake, Melpomeni Kermanidou, Sophie Ramsay, Clare Edmondson, Josephine Ravenheart, Anna Tam)
3. Never Be – Meg Mac
4. Lips Are Moving – Meghan Trainor
5. Brave And Crazy – Melissa Etheridge
6. If Love Was A Train – Michelle Shocked
7. All The Same Mistakes – Mieka Pauley
8. Wrecking Ball – Miley Cyrus
9. Baltimore – MILKSHAKE (Lisa Matthews)
10. Come to Jesus – Mindy Smith

I speak of The Coventry Carol, and I bring you a version of it by Pentatonix:

There are of course more traditionalist versions of this, but I’ll leave them for you to discover. I’ll have a couple of things to post over the next few days, but it will be pretty light. Have a happy weekend and a very merry Christmas.

It’s Santa season

Ho, ho, ho, y’all.

For two months of the year, Houston aircraft mechanic Lance McLean trades in his coveralls at the end of the day for a red Santa suit.

This year, McLean will don the suit 49 times, beginning Saturday. Twenty-nine of those events will be held at Houston public libraries.

“My ex-wife thought I’d make a good Santa Claus, so she started researching it back in 2007,” McLean, 57, said. “I’d played Santa for a friend at his church, so I knew what to expect.”

Internet research led to Lone Star Santas, a local nonprofit based in Cypress. The group includes some 350 Santa Clauses, Mrs. Clauses and elves who work throughout Texas. Members network, socialize and organize special events for disaster-stricken areas.

“Once you play Santa Claus, you fall in love with it,” said Jim Fletcher, who co-founded the group in 2007. “Not many people can walk into a room and brighten it up like Santa Claus.”

I’ve written about the Lone Star Santas before. They’re a cool group, even if their website hasn’t had a style update since their founding in 2007. As it happens, I have a coworker now who does Santa stuff on the side. This is a busy time of year for him, as you might guess. I don’t really have any point to make here, I just figured we could use a little Santa right about now.

Saturday video break – Merry Christmas, Baby

The Boss and friends bring you greetings of the season:

This was recorded in 2002. Seeing Clarence Clemons and Danny Federici again – it’s all the feels, you know?

Here’s a much shorter version of this song from Otis Redding:

Merry October, y’all.

Saturday video break: Mele Kalikimaka

We’re going to have a little Christmas in September these next couple of weeks, starting with this oldie from Bing Crosby:

I believe that’s the Andrews Sisters joining him as well. This is one of those songs, which were fairly prevalent in this era, that has one long verse, with no refrain, that gets sung a couple of times, possibly with a shortened version of the verse thrown in, with instrumental breaks as well. It’s a very successful form, and lends itself well to sing-alongs since everyone knows the words by the end, but there isn’t much more to say about it. So, we move on to the other version, from the Asylum Street Spankers:

See what I mean? Makes it easy to bring the song in at around three minutes, that’s for sure.

Saturday video break: Little Saint Nick

Hey, how about a little Christmas music? Here are the Beach Boys with “Little Saint Nick”:

Videos of bands where they all wear the same outfit – especially when they all also have the same haircut – will never get old for me. I don’t always include Christmas songs in these video posts because I have plenty of versions of standards, and that’s kind of boring. This was kind of a lost classic, so I went with it. Also too, I have a cover version of it, by She & Him:

Yes, I know, they’re all hipstery and precious, but I like their rendition of this song. If it were another “Jingle Bell Rock” or (God forbid) “The Little Drummer Boy”, I’d feel distinctly less jolly. This one is OK with me. And before anyone asks, the Christmas-in-summer theme is well established, especially if you grew up in New York in the 70s and 80s.

Saturday video break: The State of New York concedes the existence of Santa Claus

A climactic scene from one of my favorite movies of all time:

That is of course the one true version of Miracle on 34th Street, the original 1947 version. I do not speak of the 1994 remake, but I will concede that this is a movie that really could be reimagined in a contemporary light. I mean, my kids have never written a letter to Santa Claus. I’d bet most kids from the last ten or twenty years have never written letters to Santa. You can’t have that scene without actual by-God on-paper delivered-by-the-USPS letters to Santa. How would you do a scene where the judge is finally convinced that this is the One True Santa? I don’t know that there’s a similar authority that could be invoked today like the USPS was in 1947. How would you do it?

Pancho Claus keeps on going

Always a pleasure to hear.

Pancho Claus [Richard Reyes] works year-round, looking for sponsorships and running an ongoing toy drive, so he can have enough to hand out each December. His day job involves driving a promotional vehicle for Taxis Fiesta, a local company that sports the colors of the Mexican flag on its fleet of cabs.

Reyes says he tries to look out for the underdogs.

It’s something his mother instilled in him while he was growing up in Houston. Help out, give back.

Now, at 64 and with a slew of health problems, it might seem a good time for Reyes to hang up his sunglasses and put away the suit. But he doesn’t think so.

“Retire from what?” he says emphatically, as he sits in the theater of Talento Bilingue on a recent afternoon, waiting for a television crew to capture his seasonal spirit. “I come in every day. When you love something, you just do it.”

I blog about Pancho Claus every time I see a story about him. The man himself suffered a heart attack six years ago, but it clearly hasn’t slowed him down. We should all be as full of the Christmas spirit as Pancho Claus. Feliz Navidad, y’all.

It’s Mel Torme time again

Every year on Christmas Day, I link to my favorite Christmas story, which stars Mel Torme. It is often shamelessly ripped off a lot, which is a Bad Thing that one Should Not Do. So click over and read it, and may your heart grow three sizes today. Merry Christmas to you and yours from me and mine.

Thursday video break: And all through the house

I’ve posted this video before, and here it is again:

I’m nowhere close to being tired of this, so look for it again next year. Happy Christmas Eve!

Wednesday random ten: It’s wintertime in the city

I figure today is like Friday for most people – I will certainly be on a reduced schedule for the next few days – so here’s an early song list, in honor of our benighted Ag Commissioner, Sid Miller – ten seasonal songs that do not mention the word “Christmas”.

1. Jingle Bells – Trinity University Jazz Band
2. Winter Weather – Squirrel Nut Zippers
3. Winter Wonderland – Harry Connick, Jr
4. Baby, It’s Cold Outside – Johnny Mercer & Margaret Whiting
5. Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow – Asleep At The Wheel
6. Hazy Shade Of Winter – The Bangles
7. Sometimes In Winter – Blood, Sweat & Tears
8. Sleigh Ride – Ella Fitzgerald
9. Snow In Austin – Ellis Paul
10. Happy Holidays – Bing Crosby

See here and here for some other songs in this category. May your days be merry and bright, and may anyone who wants to slap you for not saying their approved holiday greeting be visited by ghosts until they learn the true meaning of the season.

My annual salute to Mel Torme

Every year on Christmas Day, I link to my favorite Christmas story, which stars Mel Torme (a more recent posting of it is here). Apparently, this story is so popular now that it gets ripped off a lot, which sure seems to be contrary to the Christmas spirit if you ask me. But let’s not worry about such things this morning. Merry Christmas to you and yours. May your days be merry and bright, and may the new year bring you all the joy you can handle.

Wednesday video break: A visit from St. Nicholas

Still my favorite rendition of this classic poem:

And now I’ve got to dash away as well. Merry Christmas to all, and I’ll see you on the flip side.

Krampuslauf

Now this is what I call going old school for Christmas.

Long before parents relied on the powers of Santa Claus to monitor their children’s behavior, their counterparts in Alpine villages called on a shaggy-furred, horned creature with a fistful of bound twigs to send the message that they had better watch out.

Tom Bierbaumer recalls the trepidation he felt every Dec. 6, when the clanging of oversize cowbells signaled the arrival of the Krampus, a devilish mountain goblin who serves as an evil counterpart to the good St. Nick. He would think back over his misdeeds of past months — the days he had refused to clear the supper table, left his homework unfinished or pulled a girl’s hair.

“When you are a child, you know what you have done wrong the whole year,” said Mr. Bierbaumer, who grew up in the Bavarian Alps and now heads a Munich-based club, the Sparifankerl Pass — Bavarian dialect for “Devil’s Group” — devoted to keeping the Krampus tradition alive. “When the Krampus comes to your house, and you are a child, you are really worried about getting a hit from his switch.”

Besides visiting homes with St. Nicholas, the Krampus has for centuries run through village and town centers spreading pre-Christmas fear and chasing away evil spirits. That tradition dwindled across much of Bavaria during the 1960s and ’70s, as postmodern society moved away from its rural past.

But with cultural homogenization spreading across an increasingly unified Europe, a new generation is bringing back the customs that defined their childhoods, and those of their parents and grandparents.

A decade ago, Mr. Bierbaumer, 46, persuaded Munich authorities to stage an old-fashioned Krampuslauf: a spectacle in which the fearsome seasonal beasts run through rows of adorned wooden huts at the Bavarian capital’s oldest holiday market. He saw it as a way to ensure that future generations would share his childhood ritual, which takes place between late November and Dec. 23. At that point, similar beasts, known as Perchta, take over the fun until Epiphany.

The Munich Krampuslauf celebrates the history of the custom, including the artistry of the hand-carved, hand-painted masks. Advocates of the ritual say reviving it is important because American Christmas customs, which they see as more commercialized, have made their way into the German holiday.

Only old-fashioned Krampus, mixed with their cousins, the Perchta, are allowed to participate in the Munich runs, held on the second and third Sundays before Christmas. To join the run, they must be dressed in wooden masks with horns and goat or sheep pelts, and carry bells and switches — though only for show.

Upholding the seasonal ritual is of “absolute importance,” said Günter Tschinder from Lavanttal in Austria’s Carinthia region.

“This is a tradition that our great-grandparents were already doing that must be handed down to the next generation,” said Mr. Tschinder, a member of the Höfleiner Moorteufel from Carinthia, one of 27 groups that participated in Munich this year. “But properly handed down, as it was 40, 50, 60 years ago, not with a lot of commercialization, like from Hollywood films.”

This just makes me happy. Also, “Old Fashioned Krampus and The Perchtas” will be the name of my Scorpions tribute band. Merry Christmas, everybody.

Friday random ten: Yes, there are Christmas songs I like

Quite a few of them, really. Here are ten from my collection:

1. Another Christmas Song – Stephen Colbert
2. Blue Christmas – Asylum Street Spankers
3. Christmas Wrapping – The Waitresses
4. The Eleven Cats of Christmas – Trout Fishing In America
5. Fairytale of New York – The Pogues featuring Kirsty MacColl
6. Go Tell It On The Mountain – Christmas On The Border
7. Happy Christmas (War Is Over) – John Lennon & Yoko Ono
8. Linus and Lucy – Vince Guaraldi Trio
9. Mele Kalikimaka/Waters of Babylon – The Preistess and The Fool
10. Mr. Heatmiser – Big Bad Voodoo Daddy

“Go Tell It On The Mountain” is one of my favorite religious Christmas songs – it’s underrated and greatly underused. As for “Linus and Lucy”, it’s my considered opinion that it’s the best known jazz song in the world. Play just about any part of it to anyone, and they’ll know it. What are your favorites?

Friday random ten: It’s the least wonderful time of the year

Yes, it’s Christmas time again, and inspired in part by this Slate story on how bad Do They Know It’s Christmas? is, here’s a list of Christmas songs we, or at least I, could do without this year.

1. Do They Know It’s Christmas? – Band-Aid
2. Frosty The Snowman – Ella Fitzgerald
3. I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus – John Mellencamp
4. It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas – Harry Connick
5. It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year – Amy Grant
6. Jingle Bells – Trinity University Jazz Band
7. The Little Drummer Boy – Bob Seger
8. Run Rudolph Run – Bryan Adams
9. Santa Claus Is Coming To Town – Pointer Sisters
10. Santa Baby – Madonna

Honestly, with the exception of “The Little Drummer Boy” (which I loathe), I don’t really dislike most of these songs so much as I’m tired of them. For truly awful Christmas music to wallow in, I recommend Popdose’s annual Mellowmas tradition, with a generous supply of alcohol to help you cope. Finally, as for Jingle Bells, I’m done with any version of it that doesn’t include at least two verses. I had a Chipmunks Christmas 45 RPM record as a kid that had three verses of “Jingle Bells” in it. That’s still the all-time champ as far as I know. (The Trinity Jazz Band version is a funky 7/4 time arrangement, so it gets a pass as well.) Feel free to use this post to vent your frustrations with whatever Christmas song you could do without.

Saturday video break: Baby, It’s Cold Outside

The good thing about drafting a couple of these in advance is I don’t get caught late in the week needing to put a post together for Saturday. The downside is that I might forget where I am alphabetically. Oopsie.

So, this song. Let’s start with a classic version, from when it was composed, featuring Johnny Mercer and Margaret Whiting:

In recent year, since its appearance in the movie Elf, “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” has become a Christmas standard, and with it has come controversy. Going back at least five years, various writers have decried the song, particularly its “Say, what’s in this drink?” lyric, as a date rape anthem. The song does have its defenders, and one way that some artists have adapted to the criticism – if indeed that’s what they’re doing – is to swap genders. Here’s a recent example by Lady Gaga and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, from Lady GaGa’s holiday special with the Muppets:

Whether that addresses the concern or just avoids it probably depends on your opinion of the song. Me, I’ve always liked it. I’m a sucker for a good duet. I get why people have these issues with the song, but to me it’s in the ear of the listener and not endemic to the song itself. Listen to Colbie Caillat and Gavin McGraw’s playful and flirtatious version, or The Priestess and The Fool’s ethereal alternative version, or the Asylum Street Spankers’ version in which Wammo plays up the creepy cad factor for all it’s worth – it’s the mark of a good song to me that it can be interpreted in so many different ways. In the end, it’s a piece of art like any other, and you see in it what you want.

Lone Star Santas

I love this story by Lisa Gray.

Yes, Santa drives a pickup

When Jim Fletcher asked his fiancee whether she’d mind if he grew a beard, Madge Boyer didn’t realize what she was getting into.

That was in early 2007, not long after he’d played Santa for his civic club Christmas party. In the red suit, he wasn’t just a retired product quality engineer. He was the party’s focus, the object of children’s adoration and adult smiles. Madge, who’d played Mrs. Claus, had a good time, too. But she thought that was that.

As his beard grew in, though, Jim began to wear red every day: Red suspenders, red sneakers, red shorts, polo shirts with candy-cane stripes, even a red business suit. He traded in the costume-shop Santa suit for tailor-made editions. His belt buckles said “SANTA.” He hand-carved an elaborate walking cane and, for formal occasions, a tall staff emblazoned with reindeer.

When working in the yard, he’d add a red cap to his regular work clothes. If he had to drop by the hardware store, he’d shower first and change into an outfit worthy of his station.

He studied “Behind the Red Suit,” a book about the business side of Santa-hood. At a Dallas seminar hosted by the International University of Santa Claus, he learned Santa history and lore, as well as the fine points of beard maintenance. He swore the Santa Claus oath, promising to use his powers to “create happiness, spread love and make fantasies come to life.” He printed business cards with a number for his “sleigh phone.” During the off-season, he kept his 100-year-old mahogany Santa throne by the living-room fireplace.

When Jim and Madge went to restaurants, children’s heads swiveled. He’d leave her at the table and go talk to every kid in the place. On the freeway, admirers snapped photos of him behind the wheel of his red pickup, with its CLAUS license plates. “It was like being with a movie star,” Madge says. “I didn’t like it at first.”

But Jim was no longer just Jim; he’d become Santa Jim. Santa was part of the Jim Fletcher package.

[…]

After the holidays, the Fletchers spend a surprising amount of time in the company of other Claus couples. In Jim’s first year as a Santa, he helped launch Lone Star Santas, a fraternal organization open to Clauses, Mrs. Clauses, elves and reindeer herders. The first meeting, in Brenham, attracted about five Santas. Now, with roughly 120, it’s one of the biggest regional Santa groups in the country.

It’s an inclusive group, Jim says proudly. Some Santa organizations limit membership to real-beard Santas, but Lone Star Santas has at least two “skin chins” in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. (Their day jobs don’t permit facial hair.) Membership includes Hispanic Santas, at least one black Santa and a couple of gay ones. “We even had one gal – a rotund, jolly gal – who talked to us about joining as a Santa, not a Mrs. Claus,” Jim says. “She didn’t end up joining. But as long as someone passes the background check, pays their dues and has the spirit of Christmas, that’s all we care about.”

This. That’s what it’s all about. It’s what Santa Claus stands for, not what he – or she – looks like. I could quote the whole thing, but I’ll hold back. Just go read it and feel good about the spirit of giving that makes Santa Claus what he is.

Your Mel Torme Christmas moment

Every year on Christmas Day, I link to my favorite Christmas story, which stars Mel Torme. Apparently, this story is so popular now that it gets ripped off a lot, which sure seems to be contrary to the Christmas spirit if you ask me. But let’s not worry about such things this morning. Merry Christmas to you and yours. May your days be merry and bright, and may the new year bring you all the joy you can handle.

Tuesday video break: With how much care are your stockings hung?

Christmas Eve, y’all. You know what that means.

I’ll post the Mel Torme story tomorrow. Until then, Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night.

Merry Christmas from Pancho Claus

If it’s Christmas time, it must be time for a Pancho Claus story.

Santa and Pancho

He usually has black hair and a black beard, sometimes just a mustache. Like Santa, he wears a hat — though often it’s a sombrero. He dons a serape or a poncho and, in one case, a red and black zoot suit. And he makes his grand entrance on lowriders or Harleys or led by a pack of burros instead of eight reindeer.

Meet Pancho Claus, the Tex-Mex Santa.

Amid all the talk about Santa Claus’ race, spawned by a Fox News commentator’s remarks that both Santa and Jesus were white, there is, in the Lone Star State, a Hispanic version of Santa in cities from the border to the plains — handing out gifts for low-income and at-risk children.

Born from the Chicano civil rights movement, Pancho Claus is a mostly Texas thing, historians say, though there may be one somewhere in California. Lorenzo Cano, a Mexican-American studies scholar at the University of Houston, says Pancho was apparently conceived north of the border as Mexican-Americans looked to “build a place and a space for themselves” in the 1970s. His rise coincided with a growing interest in Mexican art, Cinco de Mayo, Mexican Independence Day and other cultural events.

Now, Pancho is an adored Christmas fixture in many Texas cities.

“We have kids that we ask, ‘Did Santa Claus come to see you?’ and they say, ‘No he didn’t. But Pancho Claus did,'” says Robert Narvaiz, vice commander for Lubbock’s American GI Forum and coordinator of that city’s Pancho project.

Each city’s Pancho has a unique local flavor, but all share roots that set Pancho apart from Santa. Here’s a look at just a few. Oh, and Feliz Navidad, amigos.

For God’s sake, don’t tell Megyn Kelly about this! I’ve blogged about Pancho Claus before – Houston’s version is played by Richard Reyes, whom you see in the photo above, but he’s far from the only one, and his look as Pancho Claus is unique to him. I love reading about Pancho Claus, not just because of the good works the various Panchos do, but also because of the beautiful way he represents the utility and versatility of the Santa Claus story. There are as many variations on Pancho Claus as there are on Santa Claus/Father Christmas, and it always amazes me how adaptable that legend is. It’s true that there are some people whose small minds can’t handle anything that doesn’t resemble themselves or the stories they grew up with, but those people will always be with us in one form or another. No reason to let them detract from the wonder of Pancho Claus. Feliz Navidad, y’all.

Compost that Christmas tree

Let your Christmas tree do some good after you get rid of it.

When that Christmas tree comes down this year, take a moment to imagine its next incarnation: Chipped up and mixed into soil, it might soon secure new grasses along some South Texas highway or sustain vegetable starts in someone’s garden.

Adding weathered plant material back into the soil is becoming the norm for a growing number of people who are purchasing and using compost.

Two decades ago Houston offered only a couple places to buy it; now there are more than 60. Beyond buying, more people are learning how to make compost themselves from clipped grass and wilted vegetables.

“We are in a high growth mode and poised to steamroll,” said Michael Virga, executive director of the U.S. Compost Council. It plans to debut a campaign this spring with a message aimed at landscapers, green builders and the public about poor soil quality and the importance of recycling food.

“Compost Camp” is offered by the State of Texas Alliance for Recycling. Urban Harvest, the Houston gardening nonprofit, offers classes in compost and soil.

[…]

Composting has grown significantly in Texas for a different reason, and it has a lot to do with the Texas Department of Transportation. It has become, it believes, the single largest purchaser of compost in the country.

In 1985, landscape architect Barrie Cogburn tried to help TxDOT determine why its freshly graded slopes so frequently slumped away in the rain, taking with them the department’s expensive plantings. Cogburn noticed that new topsoil brought in by subcontractors was often little more than finely ground rock.

At a workshop she learned just how much organic material was ending up in Texas landfills. “They have too much, and we don’t have enough,” she thought. “There has to be a way to come together on this.”

Cogburn and Scott McCoy of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality teamed up in an experiment adding compost to the transportation department’s soil.

They also added dairy manure that was piling up in Bosque County, polluting water all the way downstream to Waco. The results were favorable: TxDOT embankments started staying in place. And the organic material retained water, so the department had to irrigate less. The practice is now widespread.

To ensure that your tree is part of the circle of life and not needlessly taking up space in a landfill, you have to take it to a recycling center, or if you have city of Houston trash service you can leave it by your curb on a tree waste day. You can find a list of recycling centers here, and the Chron has a handy map here. Recycling centers will take trees through January 7. This is a no-brainer, so make sure you take advantage.

Have yourself a Mel Torme Christmas

Every year on Christmas Day, I link to my favorite Christmas story, which stars Mel Torme. Apparently, this story is so popular now that it gets ripped off a lot, which sure seems to be contrary to the Christmas spirit if you ask me. But let’s not worry about such things this morning. Merry Christmas to you and yours. May your days be merry and bright, and may the new year bring you all the joy you can handle.

Get well soon, Elf Louise

If you’ve ever lived in San Antonio, you are undoubtedly familiar with the Elf Louise Christmas Project. I’m sad to say that “Elf” Louise Locker has suffered a heart attack, but thankfully appears to be recovering nicely.

The woman behind one of San Antonio’s most prolific Christmas-based charities, Louise Locker, had a heart attack Sunday evening, according to a posting on her facebook page by talk show host Chris Duel.

On Monday morning “Elf” Louise, as she is better known, wrote on her page: “3am in the morning. At Northeast Baptist Hospital. Caring staff. Comfortable. Mostly I am so thankful that I checked out what I thought was indigestion. Thank you so much for your prayers.”

The Elf Louise Christmas Project is a volunteer based organization that works to deliver gifts to children who would otherwise go without.

Locker started the project in 1969 as a student at Trinity University, when she collected gifts for children in 13 families. The organization now has close to 4,500 volunteers, an annual budget of more than $300,000 and distributes some 60,000 gifts, according to its website.

My very best wishes for a full and fast recovery, Elf Louise, and a Merry Christmas to you and your family.

Monday video break: Tonight’s the night

I’ve posted this video before, and here it is again:

I’m nowhere close to being tired of this, so look for it again next year. Happy Christmas Eve!

Saturday video break: The Charlie Brown School of Dance

Just watch:

Admit it, you always wondered what those dances were called.

Friday random ten: The annual Christmas list

The staff of Popdose has their fifty favorite holiday songs for your consideration. Those of you familiar with the Mellowmas tradition will note with amusement a few crossovers, but theirs is a pretty solid collection. As is my tradition, here are ten songs from their list in my iTunes library:

1. Christmas Wrapping – Waitresses
2. Fairytale of New York – The Priestess and The Fool (orig. Pogues/Kirsty MacColl)
3. Christmas in Hollis – Run DMC
4. Happy Xmas (War Is Over) – John Lennon and Yoko Ono
5. Blue Christmas – Collective Soul (orig. Elvis Presley)
6. Do They Know It’s Christmas? – Band Aid
7. Mele Kalikimaka – Asylum Street Spankers (orig. Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters)
8. Winter Song – Lindisfarne
9. Christmas Time Is Here – Vince Guaraldi Trio
10. – You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch – Michael Gaither (orig. Thurl Ravenscroft)

Tastes differ, and this is Just Another List, so the usual caveats apply, but overall I thought it was solid even if I myself can’t abide “The Little Drummer Boy”. There are other songs on their list for which I have one or more versions – I mean, does anyone not have at least one “White Christmas” in their collection? – so I let myself skip around a bit. What are your favorite Christmas tunes, this year or any year?

Recycle your Christmas tree

And now, a message from the City of Houston Solid Waste Department:

Christmas Tree Recycling

 

The City of Houston (COH) Solid Waste Management Department will embark on its 21st year of Christmas tree recycling(.pdf) after the holiday by providing recycling drop-off sites throughout Houston. All drop-off sites will be closed on New Year’s Day.

Every year, Houstonians discard thousands of used Christmas trees that could be recycled into useable items. The COH is encouraging residents to recycle their Christmas trees to give them a new lease on life and make the recycling of Christmas trees a family tradition.

Please remove tinsel, lights, ornaments, plastic tree stands and plastic water bowls from the trees. The recycled trees will be converted into mulch, which will in turn help save landfill space and help preserve the environment.

Trees with artificial snow (flocked) will not be accepted for recycling; they will be picked up on the neighborhood’s scheduled “Junk Waste” day in February. Commercial vendor trees will not be accepted. Living Earth Technology, a leading composting company in Houston, has partnered with the COH to make this a very cost-effective program for the city.

Living Earth Technology composts all the Christmas trees at no cost to the COH.

Homes with COH automated garbage collection service may place their trees at the curb on their “Tree Waste” day in January or bring them to one of the Christmas tree recycling locations(pdf) – (jpg version)

Please bring residential Christmas trees to one of the following drop-off locations:

 

Hours and Dates of Operation:

Dec. 27, 2011 through Jan. 8, 2012 (Closed Jan. 1st and 2nd, 2012)

OPEN Weds. – Sun., 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

  • Sunbeam Neighborhood Depository – 5100 Sunbeam
  • Central Neighborhood Depository – 2240 Central St.
  • Kirkpatrick Neighborhood Depository – 5565 Kirkpatrick
  • Windfern Neighborhood Depository – 6023 Windfern
  • N. Main Neighborhood Depository – 9003 N. Main
  • Southwest Neighborhood Depository -10785 SW Freeway

OPEN DAILY, 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

  • Doss Park (gates close at 5) – 2500 Frick Road
  • Memorial Park (Ball Fields 4 and 5) – 7300 Memorial Drive
  • T.C. Jester Park – 4200 T.C. Jester West
  • Kingwood – Bens View Lane @ Bens Branch Drive
  • Elington Airport Recycling Drop-off –HWY 3@ Brantley Roa

MON-SAT 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Saturday 9am – 12pm, CLOSED SUNDAY

  • Westpark Consumer Recycling Center – 5900 Westpark

MON-SAT 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., CLOSED SUNDAY

  • Living Earth – 5625 Crawford Road
  • Living Earth – 1503 Industrial Drive (Gessner @ Hwy 90)
  • Living Earth – 1700 Highway 90A East
  • Living Earth – 12202 Cutten Road
  • Living Earth – 16138 Highway 6
  • Living Earth – 5210 S. Sam Houston Pkwy.

For more information on locations and hours, visit the Christmas Tree Recycling page here (.pdf version).

Click here for the .jpg version of the Christmas Tree Recycling flyer (.jpg)

Thank you.

It isn’t Christmas without Mel Torme

Every year on Christmas Day, I link to my favorite Christmas story, which stars Mel Torme. Apparently, this story is so popular now that it gets ripped off a lot, which sure seems to be contrary to the Christmas spirit if you ask me. But let’s not worry about such things this morning. Merry Christmas to you and yours. I’ll have a somewhat Christmas-themed weekend link dump later today, and I’ll be back with the usual stuff tomorrow.

Saturday video break: And all through the house

I’ve shown this video before on Christmas Eve, and since that happens to be Saturday this year, it all comes together beautifully:

Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night.

Friday video break: And to you your wassail too

I’m going to take a short break from the Random Tens to bring you a few Christmas songs I wish got more exposure. First up, the King’s Singers take us all wassailing:

Here’s the Irish Rovers, with “Good King Wenceslas”:

I wish I could find a good video of Brave Combo doing their awesome “O Holy Night (Cha Cha Cha)”, but alas none of any decent quality exist. So here are they instead doing “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas”:

And of course, we – Phineas and Ferb and I, that is – wish you a Perry Christmas:

Merry Christmas, everybody.