Showing posts from December, 2014

Advent Calendar 24 Dec: NORAD Tracks Santa

This is a re-post from previous Advent Calendars, both because it's still relevant, and because it's one of my favorite stories ever. Once upon a time, in a long-ago era known as "1955", the world was a dark and scary place. The Second World War was over but certainly not forgotten, and behind every addlepated political press conference lurked the spectre of those godless heathen Ruskies, who were just itching for an excuse to start a nuclear holocaust. There were no such things as the Beatles. Brylcream reigned supreme over maddeningly impractical haircuts. In order to telephone someone, you had to physically find a telephone, which was tethered to the base with a cord and to the wall with another cord, and it was the Official Property Of The Phone Company And Don't You Forget It. The moon landings were over a decade away, and the internet almost two. It was a frightening time.

The government felt it could do little about telephones and Brylcream, frankly, but i…

Advent Calendar 23 Dec: It's beginning to look a lot like RAT-mas...

I decorate the rat cage for Christmas every year. I don't have the space or the budget to decorate my own home, and also I'm somewhat insane. I spend far too much time and effort on this, especially considering that the critters demolish my adorable holiday tableau within minutes of being re-inserted into their house. This year, I drafted my roommate, Jazmin, into the process, on the grounds that she was home, she likes my critters, and her phone has a less crap camera than mine.

Photos of our joint madness below the fold.

Advent Calendar 22 Dec: Chip & Dale Christmas Compilation

A collection of Chip & Dale holiday cartoons. Yes, it's got the one where they sneak in with the tree and make an absolute catastrophe of Donald's Christmas. They used to show these every year, but I haven't watched regular TV in so long I've no idea if they still do.

Advent Calendar 21 Dec: "A Muppet Family Christmas"

Keep an eye out for Jim Henson, making a cameo appearance in his own movie.

Advent Calendar 20 Dec: "The Nutcracker King"

Enjoy, all. Myself, I will be spending this evening working as an usher at The Slutcracker, the local burlesque version of the classic ballet.

Advent Calendar 17 Dec: Carollers Ftaghn!

Today's amusement is a set of sanity-lowering Christmas Carols, courtesy the H P Lovecraft Historical Society, via someone or another at MIT.

For those of you who are not following my Facebook feed, I have a tablet now. Jazmin and I decided to rummage through the front closet, which isn't so much of a closet as it is an oversized junk drawer of things abandoned by previous deadbeat roommates when they skipped out. Aside from a giant pile of clothes, we found a wireless keyboard and mouse set, some brake shoes, another pull-up bar, a television, and a boxed-up BlackBerry PlayBook. It's several years old, and a few minutes of investigation suggested that it got boxed back up and thrown in the pile because the battery was run all the way down, and it wouldn't charge over a USB cable hooked to a computer. 
Thirty seconds on Google told me that this was a common problem with PlayBooks, and could be overcome by using a BlackBerry rapid charger plugged straight into the wall. By sheer stupid coincidence, I happened to have one -- I bought my droidphone secondhand, and the first wall wart the shop guy disentangled from …

Advent Calendar 16 Dec: "Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer" (1944)

The very first animated version of Rudolph. The story is not terribly old; it was penned in 1938 for a children's book used as an advertising gimmick at Montgomery Ward department stores. This piece was directed by animation legend Max Fleischer, whose studios were responsible for inventing about half of the fancy equipment animators used right up until the point where computers took over. This is actually the 1951 reissue of the theatrical short; the famous song performed by Gene Autry, was not written until 1949.

Advent Calendar 15 Dec: Top Gear Middle-East Christmas Special

Less "Three Wise Men" than "three wiseguys", really.

Everything I know about cars, I got from Top Gear and Car Talk. It's probably a good thing I don't drive.

Advent Calendar 14 Dec: "Ernest Saves Christmas"

A Christmas movie so cheesy you can serve it with crackers and wine.

Advent Calendar 13 Dec: "Frosty's Winter Wonderland"

Advent Calendar 11 Dec: QI Christmas Special, Series G

QI, if you have not seen it before, is a "panel quiz", i.e, a show where they get a bunch of witty people together and ask them questions mainly designed to prompt wiseass answers. This one is hosted by Stephen Fry, World's Smartest Comedian. They do a Christmas special every year, as many British programmes do, and for Series G, they decided to invite David Tennant as their special guest. They had not, to this point, had anything even resembling a sane Scotsman on the show -- they ask Ross Noble back a lot -- and so far as I know, they still haven't.

Advent Calendar 10 Dec: Never Mind The Buzzcocks

I watch far too much of this show. I don't even live in the service region for BBC television. I feel less guilty watching it on YouTube knowing that Hell will freeze solid before anyone could ever manage to negotiate enough music clearances to air this anywhere outside the UK.

There are loads of these, if you poke around. This is one of the first to pop up. And also I love Noel's dress and makeup. You'll see.

Advent Calendar 09 Dec: Miyavi, "Jingle Bell"

Lyrics, with transliterations and translations, here. You may notice that Miyavi pitches some random French in there with the Japanese and the patchy bits of Christmas-themed English. He does that a lot. One of his recent ballads is half and half Japanese and English, and the video helpfully subtitles whatever language he's not singing in at the time. He makes it a point to do his intros in the local language whenever he goes touring, and occasionally some of it sticks. He's married to a Japanese-American lady who grew up in Hawaii, and apparently they speak English to the kids at home.

(His English is weird sometimes, you might protest. So it is. Let me assure you that his Japanese is weird in exactly the same way. His English vocabulary progressed in hilariously wonky fashion over time, mainly because of his total lack of attention span. He impressed me a lot quite a number of years ago now by not just knowing the phrase 'pigeon-toed', but knowing there was an Engli…

Advent Calendar 08 Dec: Weinachtsmarkts

Christmas markets, also known as Christkindlmartks, Weinachtsmarkt, or Marché de Noël, depending on where you are, are sort of a cross between a flea market and a street fair, all with a Christmas theme. Originating in the German-ish area, they've since spread to more French-ly places in Europe. 
Images of a handful of Weinachtsmarkts in Germany via tabkatta's tumblr.

Advent Calendar 07 Dec: A Garfield Christmas... Minus Garfield

Because the internet does not know how to leave well enough alone, someone has extended the concept of Garfield Minus Garfield to the animated Christmas special.

Advent Calendar 06 Dec: Rankin-Bass "'Twas the Night Before Christmas"

The Rankin-Bass classic, "'Twas The Night Before Christmas", aka "the mouse cartoon".

Advent Calendar 05 Dec: David Bowie and Bing Crosby, "Little Drummer Boy/Peace On Earth"

Advent Calendar 04 Dec: "Santa Baby" sung by Eartha Kitt

Advent Calendar 03 Dec:TSO's Carol of the Bells

Trans-Siberian Orchestra's bombastic classic, "Carol of the Bells".

Advent Calendar 02 Dec: Finland's Brutal Christmas Carols

From depressingfinland:
A song about a young boy who walks alone in the cemetary to lay a candle to his mother’s grave. The boy wonders if he’ll be ever able to celebrate Christmas with laughter like others do as his home feels like it’s not blessed at all. He hears a voice of the child of the Christmas who takes him back in time to witness the first Christmas ever.  Find more in the original post, courtesy Moggie's tumblr.

Advent Calendar 01 Dec: Pimped-Out Hot Chocolate