SHE SAID: Holiday Music (and also, I’M BACK)

December 22, 2010

I started hearing Christmas music in stores this year before Thanksgiving, which should be illegal.  Not only is the retail push for the Christmas rush nauseating, but the music itself is one the whole, terrible.  I’m not talking about the awesome renditions of Baby, it’s Cold Outside or other highlights, which I have listened to on rare occasion while there was not a wreath hanging on my door, but I am referring to, oh just of the top of my head, the Barenaked Ladies rendition of Jingle Bells (wait until about 40 seconds in if you want to experience agony) or The Chipmunks singing Christmas Don’t Be Late (Alvin singing “hula hoop” is pretty cute, I will admit).  How about the Beach Boys Little Saint Nick which includes the insightful lyric, “Christmas comes this time each year.”  Or, my least favorite, anything by Sarah McLachlan who must have recorded her Christmas album right after she got food poisoning from her neighbor’s Christmas cookies after she was dumped under the mistletoe which after she was swiped by a car while walking home since her snowshoe broke in the middle of a snowstorm during which the hot chocolate burned her tongue.  The woman clearly was miserable when she recorded her Christmas album.  Listening to one song makes me depressed.

I’m sure by now you’re wondering (the one person reading this blog other than my mom) where this depth of knowledge regarding Christmas music comes from.  And the truth is that while working retail, I have been exposed to Holiday music non stop since Thanksgiving.  I find myself singing Feliz Navidad while folding laundry at night, I know more Chanukah songs that most of my Jewish friends and I know a lot about who has recorded holiday music.

And I have come to a few realizations in the past 30 days.

1. The Jews need to spice up their holiday music.  Between I Have A Little Dreidel, Oh Chanukah, Eight Days of Chanukah and Light One Candle, written by Peter, Paul & Mary, it’s looking a little drab even before getting thrown into the mix with the slew of chipper Christmas music on the airways.

2. The Christians need to tame it down.  Enough is enough.  How many covers of Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas do we need?

3. Selling out is Huge.  Almost all new recording artists have covered a holiday song.  Including some surprises like Alison Krauss, No Doubt, Rhianna, Wyclef Jean and Lady Gaga.  I expected holiday music from Mariah Carey, Vanessa Williams and Michael Bolton, but not Sting and Maroon 5.

4. Auditory Torture is Real.  When listening to holiday music for extended periods of time, you can go mad, act violently, and have prolonged loss of consciousness.

5. There is no limit to Glee’s reach.  Seriously.  A Christmas album?  And it’s selling well?  To quote The Onceler, “you never can tell what some people will buy.”  That being said, since we ripped Glee apart I’ve been watching Glee regularly.  I’m being made fun of at home on a regular basis and we can delve into my love/hate relationship with Glee at a later date.

6. This one is shocking, but Advertising is Not Always True.  Now That’s What I Call Music 4 is claiming that Colbie Caillat is a superstar.  I beg to differ.

7. Cookies are Good and Make Listening to Christmas Music Easier.  Even when your son insists on making the gingerbread cookies Star Wars characters instead of the traditional gingerbread man and woman.

HE SAID: Holiday Music

December 22, 2010

There are two different aspects of your post I’d like to address.  First of all, with regards to “the Jews needing to step it up…”  Basically, we don’t.  Even since I’ve been alive people accuse the Jews (and by the way, when I say “jews” it is ok, because I’m Jewish; when you say it, you sound somewhat anti-semitic…just sayin) of commercializing Chanukah just to compete with JC’s birthday celebration.  That is a load of horsepoop.  The bottom line is our people know how to properly celebrate our holidays.  Chanukah, in the grand scheme of things, is really not that big of a deal on the Hebrew calendar.  It is cause for minor celebration, and minor celebration is what we do.  The minute Counting Crows (isn’t Adam Duritz tribal?) release an album full of Chanukah songs will be the day I completely renounce my religion, as opposed to the 99% I already have.

You people, yeah…you people, on the other hand get all your holidays out of whack.  You celebrate JC’s birthday for an entire month these days, it’s absurd; the only people I know who have birthday months are female princess types, who may or may not be Jewish.  Don’t get me started on that whole “our founder was killed and then resurrected himself so let’s celebrate with the bunny” thing…

Before I go any further, know that I am not a typical lonely Jew on Christmas, local families take me in and I have really cherished my last few December 24th/25ths…I am not Kyle Broflosky.

As for Christmas music, I’m not going to lie…I hate it, I really do.  The odd thing is I love Christmas eve and Christmas day, I guess it’s just the month leading up to it that gets under my skin, which is when I’m exposed to most of the music.  The other problem is I find the chipper tunes overly cheesy, and the not-so-chipper tunes so sentimental they honestly get me in a down mood.  Hearing, “Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas” on the radio, on an 8 degree snowy night in Vermont, when you are driving in the car alone…well, it’s effing depressing. If I were president, I’d ban Christmas music until December 18th, I think that would actually make me appreciate it more.  Of course, other people might disagree and enjoy hearing it the day Halloween ends, but this blog is not about them.

Finally, I agree with you about Colbie Caillat.  But if she shows up on my doorstep wearing a naughty Santa outfit offering to sing “Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas” I don’t think I’d turn it down…

SHE SAID: Case of the Mondays

December 21, 2010

I don’t know if I’m the only one who missed this video this weekend, and I’m sure it’s getting forwarded on like mad, but it’s a rare skit of brilliance from SNL.


The Onion’s most important people of 2010.


The saddest Christmas card ever?


Some cool and creative christmas trees.

HE SAID: Nicknames

May 7, 2010

I’ve had way too many in my lifetime – Jerms, Germ, J-Dawg, J-Flex, J-Money, Howard, Howie, Hoppa, Yourmeaho (that is my Hebrew name…I butchered the spelling), Jezza, J-How, and probably lots more behind my back.  Quite frankly, I love them, all of them.  Each one holds a special place in my heart.  Even my brother’s nickname for my serve in tennis “the Jeremy serve” is special to me.  If only because I know it comes from a place of jealousy, because we both know my serve is superior to his.  But it’s not really his fault he is only 5’5, yet I digress.  Here are some of my favorite nicknames and the backstory…

#1 – “GAR” Really the impetus for this entire post, calling one of our friends Gar is pretty much my favorite thing to do, ever.  Holiday party, 2006.  Nice little get together, probably about 25 people or so at the peak.  I may or may not have fed one of our friends, who I’ll call Linda, a bit too much red wine (Ed & Sarah, I do apologize for bringing red wine to your white carpeted apartment, I never got that memo).  Well, towards the end of the night Linda’s brother spotted her from outside making out pretty effing heavily with a friends little brother.  Appropriately, he screamed, “GET A ROOM”.  Hence, Gar.  We still call her that.  In fact, a postscript to the story is at a hungover brunch about a year ago, a friend of the family thought Linda’s mom should know why we call her Gar.  Great stuff.

#2 “Sophistication Station” At summer camp about a decade ago, one of our friends was a few years our elder, and thus a few years wiser.  There is no way he was more sophisticated though.  I think we were going for that ironical thing, like when a 6’7 350 pound dude gets called “Tiny.” Anyway, he did quite well with the ladies that summer, hence the nickname.

#3 – “Ian”  Not a nickname, I know.  About 8 or 9 summers ago our camp staff all got some soccer t-shirts made, and we all could pick our own name for the back.  I chose “Maverick,” since Top Gun was a big movie that summer and Tom Cruise was not yet a crazy scientologist.  Of course there was “Station”.  One of our friends, named Ian, went with “Ian.”  Not very clever.  But at least he finally made the blog.

#4 – “J-Flex” – One of my many nicknames.  Look at that picture, that is my bicep…need I explain any further?

SHE SAID: St. Patrick’s Day

March 17, 2010

Ah, Jeremy.

The Irish are a jovial people and hence, a jovial celebration that has come to embrace and include anyone who feels like partaking.  Even if partaking means drinking green beer, wearing ridiculous hats and generally dressing like an idiot while knowing nothing about what you’re celebrating.  Maybe we should all take note not to take ourselves and our damn holidays so seriously or separate everyone else from experiencing them.

I mean, how awesome would it be if we all celebrated Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Guy Fawkes Day, Australia Day, Martin Luther King Day, Canada Day … we keep adding days, we might be celebrating a whole lot more and maybe, just maybe, a little less pissed about all the other crap we end up moaning about.  We might come together as a people … imagine all the people, living life in peace.  I figure we wouldn’t have to go more than two weeks at the most without a holiday.  And I’m all for it.

Because in the end, whatever you’re celebrating, you get together with people, sometimes family, sometimes friends, ideally people you love or at least care enough about to go through the effort.  And however somber the holiday, and however much you moan about the insanity of your family or whomever you’re getting together with … there’s still a part of you that enjoys it and is glad you went through the effort when it’s all said and done.

I love holidays like Saint Patrick’s Day.  I don’t have to spend money on presents for the gazillion people in my family, I don’t have to travel insanely to spend face time with everyone, and yet it’s a day of fun green food, good wishes, and smiles.  I still haven’t jumped on the green beer wagon, since I’m pretty psyched about my amber to brown colored beer, but I don’t want to hold anyone else back from enjoying it.  I did, however, make my son a ridiculous green breakfast and send him off to school looking like the jolly green giant threw up on him.

The Irish.  They’ve suffered, been downtrodden and starved.  But, damn, they know how to have a good time, and to make sure those around them do as well.  When I went over one summer, just mentioning I was American meant I was bought beers all night.  It was the only time I remember my arm being sore from holding full pint glasses all night when I woke up the next morning.

So, unless you’re Scottish and sporting orange today, Happy Saint Patrick’s Day.  Can you still say “top o’ the morning to you!” in the afternoon?

SHE SAID: White? Or colored?

December 22, 2009

I’m involved in a heated debate.  No one’s sleeping on the couch … yet, but neither party is even close to conceding.  And the point of contention is the lights for the Christmas tree.

Who knew that people were so adamant about lights?  I mean, I know I’m oddly particular about things and also frustratingly stubborn, so it’s not that surprising that I’m hooked on my tradition, but it seems that everyone has a stance on this subject.  A Facebook post asking for opinions ended up with a smattering of exclamation points and general disbelief that someone would even consider opting for the other alternative.

I, personally, opt for colored lights.  I love the kitschiness of them.  And I’m talking, the big bulbous colored lights.  I have no love for the smaller ones.  I love the eightiness of the huge ones (fittingly, this was the time period in which I spent Christmas Eves trying to catch a glimpse of Santa).  And while the white lights are beautiful and I can appreciate why people would lean in that direction, something about the colored lights keeps me coming back year after year.

White lights are too perfect.  Too clean.

Nothing about white lights reminds me of the actuality that is family.  Or at least my family.  They just don’t go with my father’s annual frustration with wrapping presents.  My mother in the kitchen, covered in flour, begging us or one of us to come help and frost the cookies.  My uncle, a few beers in, trying to assemble the surprisingly intricate pink Barbie car for my niece.  White lights don’t mesh with fleece footie pajamas and morning breath and uncombed hair sometimes sticking straight in the air while hands too fast for the mortal eye to see break into presents.

But colored lights, especially lights where the bulbs have been replaced and so there might be two orange ones right next to each other, remind me of the intimacy of Christmas morning.  Of sitting on the balcony, clutching the rails and waiting for my parents to wake up so we can start in insanity.

And maybe the families with the white lights are cringing at my description of our holiday … and maybe that’s where the divide is, where the misunderstanding stems from.

But I imagine that everyone would have a hard time switching to the other, and I also find it hard to believe that people would expect themselves to be so attached to their tradition.  It kind of sneaks up on you.

So, who knows.  Two trees? Do we alternate every other year?  Has anyone else come up against this one?

HE SAID: White? Or Colored?

December 22, 2009

First off, thanks for not posting during my Hanukah season, it was a welcome break.  Secondly, have you put any thought into the title of this post Nifer?  Hopefully we don’t get a ton of white supremacists reading our blog.  Actually, who am I kidding, we need the readership.

I know this is a bit of a cop out, but the simple answer your Christmas query is there is no answer.  It’s kind of like Mounds and Almond Joy, sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don’t.  Even though most people probably assume I shouldn’t have any say in this matter, and that I grew up a lonely Jew on Christmas, you are blatantly wrong.  Up until the age of about 7 we had a little plastic tree that we used to decorate and my brother and I would open up a few presents Christmas morning.  Then my sister was born, and for some reason, we stopped doing it.  So, like most fun things I experienced when I was young, my sister managed to ruin.  Yet I digress…

There was a house in my hometown growing up that used to go all Clark Griswold on us and decorate the shit out of it for every holiday.  For Christmas, they used multi-cultural lights (‘colored’ is not very pc anymore I believe).  I used to drive by it every day and was absolutely entralled by the site of it.  I even remember saying to my father at the age of 5, “wow, this house is absolutely enthralling to drive by.” I had a very advanced vocabulary.  It has somewhat regressed.  I would venture to guess that by about the age of 13, I thought it was incredibly tacky.  Of course, the Christmas when I was 13 was just a couple of months after I became a man (my Bar Mitzvah was that October, I didn’t become a real man until much, much later unfortunately).

Personally, I’m still at the current stage…I prefer the simplicity of classic white lights.  I don’t mind a few blue ones sprinkled in, but I think something like this, while impressive, is obtrusive and lame.  But at the same time, I can’t really be upset or angry at anyone who chooses to do that.  Isn’t that what the holiday season is all about?  The non commercial aspect of it anyway.  Wow, that made me sound very idealistic, but I don’t care.

At the end of the day, do whatever the eff you want when it comes to decorating your house, tree or RV for all I care.  Although I will finish by saying if you have children, their opinion should count for more, unless that child is color blind, in which case it shouldn’t count at all.