Nov 30 @ 1pm CST
by Laurel Krahn
Minneapolis, MN
AIM: lakrahn
ICQ: 509473

Weblogging since November 1998
Media . Tech . Science Fiction . Art . Humor . Books . Music . Film . TV . Toys . Net . MN . Culture

TV Picks
TV Portal

Nov 22 - 28
Nov 6 - 21
Nov 1 - 5
Oct 18 - 31
Oct 11 - 17
More . . .

now playing
Massive Blur
Melissa Ferrick
Willing to Wait
Melissa Ferrick
Epiphany in Brooklyn
Brenda Kahn
Little Earthquakes
Tori Amos
Out of Range
Ani DiFranco

now reading
Dangerous Angels: The Weetzie Bat Books
Francesca Lia Block

to read queue
Violet & Claire
Francesca Lia Block
Steven Brust
Ender's Shadow
Orson Scott Card
Mind Changer
James White
Too many others to list

must see movies
(as in, I've seen 'em, I love 'em, you should see 'em too)
The Iron Giant
American Beauty
Being John Malkovich

places to go
Minn-stf events
4/21-23 - Minicon

Restoration Hardware

whim & vinegar
unobserved utterances
The Stuffed Dog
strange brew
Robot Wisdom
Rebecca's Pocket
Pop Culture Junk Mail
The Other Side
The Oracle Speaks
Obscure Store
More Like This
dog . . . on the radio
bifurcated rivets
Anita's LOL
more . . .

James Lileks
Michael Rawdon
Al Roker / archive

Jon Carroll
Roger Ebert
Michael Finley
James Lileks

other daily stuff
Word a Day

November 29 - 30
Scully: "2001 is actually the start of the new millennium."
Mulder: "Nobody likes a math geek, Scully."
--from The X-Files, of course

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Yes! Looks like more episodes of Homicide: Life on the Street will be released to video. Looks like it's planned to coincide with the debut of the reunion movie on NBC. Not much info at amazon yet, but here a link to Gift Set 1 and to Gift Set 2. Go ahead and pre-order, I dare you. (I will). Thanks to Dave Locke for emailing me about it and to Jim King for collecting all this fab info at The Links Site.

NBC Home Video is now in a partnership with Trimark and it sounds like they plan to release more stuff to video than ever before. Cool.

All of this reminds me that I need to update the Homicide video-availability FAQ and post it to alt.tv.homicide again soon.

* * *

Cool article re the iBook as Lap Candy (thanks to Felix Strates for ICQing me the link):

Still, the iBook is but a new toy. It changes your life in the ways that new toys do: All the kids on the playground will want to play with you. Of course, you can get the same effect by buying a flashy pig of a sports car.

. . .

The iBook's primary purpose is not utility but fashion -- one of the few things to which our species is more addicted than tech hype.

. . .

Spare a smile for those who go for machines as distracting and attracting as the iBook. They're no heirs to Henry David Thoreau, true, but in an ever-more virtual world, they're the consumers who will demand technology that is interactive in the old-fashioned, base and material sense. They won't be satisfied unless they're turning real human heads in real human rooms. They'll help keep reality in demand despite the much-hyped alternative.

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Today's Metro section of startribune.com has an interesting array of stories: Warmest Minnesota November Ever, Investigation Into Deaths Near Rochester Intensifies (a woman and a boy were found, decapitated); and Accidental Mary Tyler Moore Show star dies.

* * *

TV Grid's been redesigned. I like it.

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I know it's not very hip to like holiday music, but I can't help it-- I do. Maybe it's 'cuz as a kid I looked forward to the first snowfall because I'd get to pull out all my parents' Christmas albums and play them on the turntable as the snow fell. My parents holiday albums were fairly traditional-- Perry Como and a bunch of those Texaco All-Star Christmas records, the New Christy Minstrels were about as wild as it got. But I had my favorites and took pride in later years when I made cassette tapes of all the best songs so we could listen to them on the trip to see my Grandparents for the holidays. Then I taught my grandparents how to use their tape player so they could listen to the tapes I gave them for Christmas.

Even when I did time working retail for the holidays, I somehow managed to not get sick of holiday carols. But I suspect that's 'cuz I had a cool boss who let me control the CD player when I worked, so I'd do my darndest to play not-your-typical yuletide tunes.

I still sometimes put together holiday mixtapes; in fact I'm tempted to offer copies to anyone out there who wants 'em, but I fear I'd not actually get them to you until the New Year, knowing how busy I've been lately. But at the very least I'm gonna recommend some holiday records and songs that are, IMHO, a cut above the usual dreck. And a little more inclusive than the usual assortment, too. These are in no particular order. I may spin these off onto a separate page at some point. And I know I've overlooked some but I figure better to upload these now and add later.

Acoustic Christmas - Various Artists
This Christmas album features Christmas tracks from artists who later went on to put together entire holiday albums; in a lot of cases, I prefer this mix to entire albums by a single artist. With songs from T Bone Burnett; Laura Nyro; Harry Connick, Jr.; Shawn Colvin; Roseanne Cash; Wynton Marsalis; The Hooters; Poi Dog Pondering (with the Dirty Dozen Brass Band); Judy Collins; Shelleyann Orphan; Art Garfunkel; and Willie Nile. Fave tracks? Shawn Colvin's take on "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" and Poi Dog Pondering's "Mele Kalikimaka"

Winter, Fire, and Snow - Various Artists
Features songs by B-tribe, Manu Dibango, Jane Siberry, Andreas Vollenweider with Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Jewel, Phoebe Snow, Mary Karlzen, Tuck & Patti, Julia Fordham, Gipsy Kings, Robbie Robertson, Ottmar Leibert, Bel Canto, Clannad, and Anuna. A lush collection of tunes featuring some splendid vocalists doing new songs and really old songs and some chestnuts, too.

Toys Soundtrack - Various Artists
The soundtrack from the movie Toys is essential winter listening; one of my absolute favorites. With tracks by Tori Amos, Thomas Dolby, Grace Jones, Hans Zimmer, Wendy & Lisa, Enya, Pat Matheny, Frankie Goes to Hollywood (!), and others. Heck, it opens with Winter Reveries by some Tchaikovsky guy. And if you listen closely to the main title song, you'll hear Peter Gabriel and other familiar voices as well.

Child - Jane Siberry
A lovely two-CD recording of a live Siberry experience with orchestra. Performing holiday carols, new and old. Hard to describe and do it justice, 'tis magical (as are all things Siberry). Follow the link for all the gory details and order the album direct from Jane herself. While you're at it, check out the holiday wing of the Siberry/Sheeba store-- many fine gift suggestions to be found there.

The Holy Single - Kristen Hersh
Beautiful four-track holiday single from the always fab Hersh. She does Alex Chilton's "Jesus Christ" plus "Amazing Grace" and "Can the Circle Be Unbroken" and the original "Sinkhole."

Christmas - Bruce Cockburn
Any fan of Cockburn knows that this is worth getting. How do I convince nonbelievers? It's a great holiday album, great folk album, great holiday-folk album, um . . . it's just great. I picked up a cassette last year used and now I've simply gotta track down the CD 'cuz I nearly wore the tape out.

A John Prine Christmas pales in comparison to the Bruce Cockburn record mentioned above, but it's still charming if you like Prine's stuff. Short, as holiday albums go, though.

The Edge of Christmas - Various Artists
If you missed your chance to buy import singles with holiday tracks from Kate Bush and The Cocteau Twins, this compilation is a lifesaver. It has Bush's "December Will Be Magic Again" and the Cocteau's take on "Winter Wonderland". Plus Bing Crosby and David Bowie's infamous version of "Peace On Earth/Little Drummer Boy". And the Pogues classic "Fairytale of New York" (with Kirsty MacColl, natch). And one of the best new holiday songs of recent memory, The Waitresses' "Christmas Wrapping". And that's not all! Heh. You get the Smithereens performing "Rudolph" and The Ramones' "Merry Christmas (I Don't Want to Fight)". All in all, a nice cheap compilation that puts together a bunch of classic album tracks or singles that would be otherwise difficult to pull together (amazingly, I think I did manage it before this came out).

The Coolest Christmas - Various Artists
This one also has the Bowie/Crosby track, but it's got the Cocteau Twins' version of "Frosty the Snowman". Plus "Happy Christmas (War is Over)" by The Alarm; "Santa Baby" by Eartha Kitt; "Sleigh Ride" by the Ventures; Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree by Brenda Lee, etc etc etc. Good stuff here especially if you don't already have 'em on other compilations. Follow the link for full track listing.

Just Can't Get Enough: New Wave Christmas - Various Artists
This one overlaps some of the tracks from the previous two albums, but also has tracks from Matthew Sweet, XTC, Squeeze, Los Lobos, They Might Be Giants, Timbuk 3, and others that may be of interest if you don't already have 'em on other recordings.

Through The Bitter Frost and Snow - Susan McKeown and Lindsey Horner
I just ordered this one myself and haven't heard it yet, but I've heard raves from folks I trust for a good while now and I'm very fond of Susan McKeown's non-holiday albums. Looks lovely.

To Drive The Cold Winter Away - Loreena McKennitt
A Winter Garden - Loreena McKennitt
Both of these are often recommended to me by folks I trust, I just always seem to end up buying other winter albums when the time comes. Hope to get these soon, though. I trust McKennitt does lovely takes on carols both ancient and merely old. Check the reviews at amazon for more details.

We Three Kings - The Roches
If you've a hankering for traditional carols, you can't beat The Roches fairly faithful trad takes on 24 old classics. It reminds me of my childhood. It's also a fab album to get for someone you know who's into the whole traditional Christian Christmas thing.

Festival of Light and Festival of Light 2
Two lovely various artists compilations of holiday songs for a certain non-Christmas holiday that often gets overlooked as far as holiday albums go. With tracks from Peter Himmelman, Jane Siberry, They Might Be Giants, The Klezmatics, Marc Cohn, and other fabulous artists.

The Bells of Dublin - The Chieftains
The Chieftains play fabulous old traditional carols and are joined by a bunch of very cool guest vocalists: Nanci Griffith, Elvis Costello, Kate & Anna McGarrigle, Marianne Faithful, Jackson Browne, Rickie Lee Jones, and others. Worth it for Marianne Faithful doing "I Saw Three Ships A Sailing" alone, IMHO.

Nog - The Blenders
I don't have this album as I've too many others I wanna get first-- mostly 'cuz I've been known to be turned off by acappella music (I tend to love it or hate it). I'm told The Blenders are four fine guys who sing fabulously together and that this is a cool Christmas album. And if you need a further weblog tie-in? James Lileks' voice appears on the album; I'm told he did radio intro bits for the disc.

Hipster's Holiday - Various Artists
Tracks from Louis Armstrong, Pearl Bailey, Lionel Hampton, Lena Horne, Mabel Scott, Miles Davis, Eartha Kitt, and others. It's a fun collection of classics.

Christmas at Mountain Stage - Various Artists
I've not heard this album, but I do own almost every other Mountain Stage compilation. Suspect this one is just dandy if you're into this sorta stuff.

A Very Special Christmas - Various Artists
I've not tried the various sequels to this album, I'm not sure any of them could top it. Always makes me a little nostalgic for the '80s, too (scary, eh?). Probably the first "modern" holiday album I bought. Tracks by the Eurythmics, Pointer Sisters, Bruce Springsteen, U2, Madonna, Whitney Houston, The Pretenders, John Cougar Mellencamp, Sting, Run DMC, Bob Seger, Bryan Adams, Bon Jovi, Alison Moyet, and Stevie Nicks. Fans of Homicide: Life on the Street will recognize The Pretenders version of "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" from the episode "All Through The House."

My Gift To You - Alexander O'Neal
Alas, this album is out of print; if you can find it and are looking for music for a lively holiday party, this is a great pick. Produced by Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis (y'know, those guys from The Time who produce stuff for Janet Jackson and others). Alexander O'Neal's an amazing R&B singer who's never quite gotten the acolades he should nationally. When I was in high school, I loved this album for it's funky danceable version of "Sleigh Ride" and "Little Drummer Boy" if I recall correctly. Plus a gorgeous faithful version of "The Christmas Song" and a great version of "This Christmas," too. I've a cassette of this one, not sure I ever tracked down the CD.

A Charlie Brown Christmas - Vince Guaraldi Trio
You either love this music or you hate it. I love it, but then I'm a nostalgic sap.

A Christmas Gift For You from Phil Spectre is worth owning even if only for Darlene Love's "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)" (Dave Letterman calls it the best Christmas song ever). Fortunately, there's other good stuff on the record, too. Though I don't consider it (as many critics do) the best holiday album of all time.

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This page created and maintained by Laurel Krahn who can be reached via email to laurel@windowseat.org.

Copyright ©1999 Laurel Krahn unless otherwise noted. May not be redistributed without permission.