Happy New Year: Very Sexy Poppin’ Joy!

Happy New Year: Sexy Joy!

Happy New Year: Joy!

 

Glee’s Very Extraordinar Holiday Spectacular!

The Glee Holiday Spectacular!

Imagine flipping through the television channels and you turned on Glee’s Extraordinary Merry Christmas, expecting a group of rambunctious teenagers covering a number of holiday pop songs, but instead you get a black-and-white homage to Judy Garland’s 1963 Christmas Special, complete with laugh tracks, a Luke Skywalker lookalike (including a lightsaber) and an Irish holiday elf!

Well, this Glee Christmas program was every bit as strange as it sounds, but maybe in today’s times it takes a show like this to spread holiday cheer and inspire the gift of giving.

The Glee Holiday Spectacular!

(Best Watched in Full-Screen Mode)

The Glee Cast: Do They Know It’s Christmas?

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Down on the Bowery: A Fairytale of New York

Down on the Bowery: A Fairytale of New York

The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl: Fairy Tale of New York

Some people feel that The Pogues’ Fairytale of New York is the best Christmas song ever, and not just one of the best, but a gorgeous song no matter why or how you observe Christmas. Fairytale of New York isn’t exactly the epitome of restraint, with Shane MacGowan and the sadly departed Kirsty MacColl singing all over each other, slurring words and tossing all kinds of insults at each other.

The song starts out tenderly, with MacGowan recounting Christmas Eve spent in a Bowery drunk tank, but also his recent gambling win and dreams for the future. MacColl lets us know, as the tempo picks up, that they met on a Christmas Eve, and after some light banter they really get into it, blaming each other for anything they can get their hands on, MacColl ending with “Happy Christmas your arse / I pray God it’s our last.

But then they sing the chorus again, and a string section that actually sounds like it belongs in a Christmas song begins to take over. And it all feels, in spite of itself, grand and sweeping and even a little touching. They squabble a little more, the same as every Christmas, but they’re losing steam; finally MacColl accuses MacGowan of stealing her dreams when they met. This is a terribly poetic way to depict the deadening of expectations in terrible lives. But MacGowan’s voice turns gentle, even though it’s still rough, and he responds: “I kept them with me babe, I put them with my own, Can’t make it all alone, I’ve built my dreams around you.”

It’s a tough old life, and Fairytale of New York practically oozes with the gritty spirit of urban decay, poverty, alcoholism and general dysfunction. But as the sounds of those strings float off and out of sight, it doesn’t seem to matter. Not to them and not to us, because it’s the day to sigh and give in to our better inclinations and hold each other and admit there’s still something there. Christmas is the arbitrary day of the year that purely through willpower and tradition we’ve turned into the day where we all try just a little bit harder at being better than we thought we could be.

The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl: Fairy Tale of New York

Slide Show: Down on the Bowery

(Please Click Image to View Slide Show)

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Thanksgiving: Norman Rockwell’s Freedom From Want

Norman Rockwell: Freedom from Want

Thanksgiving: Norman Rockwell’s Freedom From Want

Paintings by: Norman Rockwell (1894-1978)

Freedom from Want or The Thanksgiving Picture is one of Norman Rockwell’s Four Freedoms paintings, inspired by President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s 1941 State of the Union Address, known as Four Freedoms. Freedom from Want was published in the March 6, 1943, issue of The Saturday Evening Post and later was included as the cover image of the 1946 book Norman Rockwell, Illustrator, written when Rockwell was at the height of his fame as America’s most popular illustrator.

Mary Chapin Carpenter: The Thanksgiving Song

Casey Neistat and His Son Make Thanksgiving Dinner

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Samuel L. Jackson: “Wake The F**k Up!” And Vote Obama (NSFW)

Samuel L. Jackson: “Wake The F**k Up!” And Vote Obama (NSFW)

Academy Award Nominee Samuel L. Jackson, with his booming voice and imposing presence, was the perfect choice to  record last year’s audiobook version of the bestselling children’s book for adults, Go the F**k to Sleep!.

In a new, unconventional ad for President Barack Obama that hit the internet on Thursday, Jackson improvises on that title in his political video, Wake the F**k Up!. Have you been thinking about just sitting out this election, or maybe even considering voting for Romney just for the hell of it? You may want to think twice about that!

Jackson may appear out of nowhere to give you a profanity-laced nursery rhyme about the dangers of voting Republican this November. In this video, Jackson magically shows up in the homes of seniors, young people and other disaffected voters to exhort them with his very salty language to start paying attention. Disparaging Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney in rhyming verses, Jackson says:

Sorry, my friends, but there’s no time to snore.
An out-of-touch millionaire has just declared war.
On schools, the environment, unions, fair pay.
We’re all on our own if Romney has his way.
And he’s against safety nets, if you fall, tough luck.
So I strongly suggest that you wake the f**k up.

The video was sponsored by the Jewish Council on Education and Research.

Samuel L. Jackson: “Wake The F**k Up!” And Vote Obama (NSFW)

A Charming Little Bedtime Story: Go the F**k to Sleep!!

Go the F**K To Sleep is a wonderful little book by Adam Mansbach, probably the best children’s story since the classic Goodnight Moon. The story only gets better here, when it’s read by Hollywood favorite Samuel L. Jackson, who says in the introduction that in his own experience reading stories to put kids to sleep just doesn’t work. Jackson said he used to say “Go the f**k to sleep!” to his own daughter when she was growing up. He says, at some point, she would look at me when I would come in her room, and she’d say, “Go the f**k to sleep, Daddy?” And I’d say, “Yeah, go the f**k to sleep!

A Charming Little Bedtime Story: Go the F**k to Sleep!!

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Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared: A Horrific Bloody Mess!

Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared: A Horrific Bloody Mess!

Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared is a finalist in The Wrap’s 2012 Short Films Festival, a new festival presenting 12 award winning short films selected from this year’s top international film festivals. Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared screened at the 2012 Sundance and 2012 Sundance London Film Festivals and the 2012 SXSW Film Festival, where it received the SXSW Midnight Jury Award.

Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared is a wonderfully bizarre three-min. animated short film created by Becky Sloan and Joseph Pelling from the London-based This Is It Collective. The short begins innocently enough, with a small cast of sort-of identifiable characters sitting around a table and sing-talking about being “creative.” Then again, it looks like a rather lame children’s video, telling kids how to do what they do really naturally anyway, use their imaginations. But suddenly, it turns into a extremely disturbing free-association sequence, hinting at some very bleak psychological states, more like Black Swan than Sesame Street.

The filmmakers zero in on adult insecurities about self-expression, then delve into the perils of creativity. Such dangers quickly lead to terrifying glitter-covered animal organs (real, bloody ones, not made from the felt everything else in this video is made of), seizures and death. But just as quickly as the characters are served a gory meat cake, everything goes back to normal. And, just like any other children’s television show, the lesson learned is repeated at the end of the segment. And just what is that lesson? Never, never be creative. Unless you want to die.

Watch this video to the very end and you won’t regret it. Or will you?

Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared: A Horrific Bloody Mess!

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Paul Simon Takes Us Back: Under African Skies

Paul Simon Takes Us Back: Under African Skies

Under African Skies is a brilliant, must-see documentary by the renowned filmmaker Joe Berlinger, which was created on the occasion of the twenty-fifth anniversary of the release of Paul Simon’s seminal album Graceland. The documentary won the 2012 SXSW Audience Award in the 24 Beats per Second Category and is the only music film to win an Audience Award. Berlinger intertwines both sides of a complex story as Simon returns to South Africa for a reunion concert with the original Graceland musicians, which unearths the turbulent birth of the album.

Paul Simon’s historic Graceland album sold millions of copies and united cultures, yet it also ended up dividing world opinion on the boundaries of art, politics and business. Despite its huge success as a popular fusion of American and African musical styles, Graceland spawned intense political debate. Simon was accused of breaking the United Nations’ cultural boycott of South Africa, which was designed to end apartheid.

While the album went on to be widely celebrated for its revolutionary mix of musical styles and for bringing the extraordinary gifts of under-exposed South African musicians to the forefront, many of the questions Graceland raised in 1986 remain. What is the role of the artist when society is in upheaval? Who does music belong to? Whose rules, if any, should artists play by? Do cultural collaborations matter? And what will be the legacy of Graceland’s indelible songs in a world that has since been politically, and musically, transformed?

Read more about Under African Skies in The New York Times here.

Paul Simon Takes Us Back: Under African Skies

Paul Simon: The Story of Graceland

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