Last Christmas

Nope, not the Doctor Who episode. The song! And yes, I blogged about that tune already. But what I didn’t tell you was that the original Wham! version is not the only one! (Though it’s still my fave.) I’ve run across a couple other versions that I quite like.

I adore Jimmy Eat World. They do some of my favorite songs ever ever. (Oh GOD, the HARMONIES.) They also do a passable version of “Last Christmas”. It’s not my favorite because it’s too mellow-emo for my taste, but it is pretty, I’ll give them that.

The best cover version of this tune I’ve come across is the one by Taylor Swift. I’m not the biggest fan of her as a celebrity/media-personality, but damn, that girl’s good at makin’ good tunes. This version has just the right amount of energy, pathos, and pretty guitars.

The final “Last Christmas” I have for you is not a cover of the Wham! song at all. It’s another punk tune to follow off the couple I posted earlier this week. It’s about the last Christmas we get because we’ve screwed everything up so bad it’s all over, and humanity isn’t getting another. Call me morose, but I feel like 2016 is the perfect year to break out this tune.

Sorry to end on such a downer. Hmm. What else can I toss in to lighten the mood? How about a 36-second punk song about a kitty knocking down a Christmas tree?

Perfect.

I Love My Secret Santa

At work I’m participating in a Secret Santa week. I’ve been giving and getting gifts every day since Monday, and it’s been great! The organizer had everyone fill out little questionnaires about their likes, dislikes, and Christmas wishes. I got some great snacks yesterday, a pine-scented candle (yay!) Monday, and today, I go these!!!

Yarn! In Oilers colors!

Yarn! In Oilers colors!

In the “I could use more…” section, I put “yarn (Oilers colors preferred)”. And boy did my Secret Santa come through. This yarn is delightfully soft! And that is important and perfect because I have been meaning to make hand warmers (gloves with just one big hole for all the fingers and a small one for the thumb) for use at work. (It gets pretty cold at my desk.) I’ve had hand warmers before that were kinda scratchy, and that’s just no darn fun.

So today’s bit of December glee is brought to you by…well, I don’t know who yet. But one of my coworkers is pretty great. (They all are, really.) Also, it’s been ages since I posted anything about knitting, so I figured it was high time! If I get my booty in gear, there may be future updates as I work on my sporty-crafty-fangirl project.

Go Oilers!

More (Modern) Christmas Music

The other day I posted about some of the holiday music I love hearing on the radio in Edmonton during November and December. Today I’ll share a few tunes I love that I don’t get to hear on the radio (but would be THRILLED if I did).

First up is a Christmas tune by one of my favorite bands of all time. Fountains of Wayne have pretty much perfected the art of writing catchy pop songs, and this holiday effort, “I Want an Alien for Christmas”, is no exception.

If someone was designing a Christmas song for me, this would be damn close. It’s upbeat, it’s catchy, it’s got great, tight vocal harmonies, and it’s just barely over two minutes long. Spend the two minutes and give yourself a bit of silly Christmas cheer.

Weezer has a whole Christmas EP, but the next couple tunes are from their earlier EP, The Christmas CD. First is “The Christmas Song”. No, not the one by Mel Torme. This one is quite a downer in that particularly Rivers Cuomo-style. It’s still catchy with good harmonies, so I’m a fan.

I know the picture is the cover of The Green Album–they did write this while they were doing demos for that album, but it doesn’t appear on the album itself.

The next Weezer tune is back to the upbeat pop-punky less-than-three-minutes stuff I love. It’s still a pretty cynical song lyrics-wise, which I must admit makes me like it even more. Songs that sound happy but have angry lyrics is a thing I Quite Like.

So yeah. I’m a fan of this particular “Christmas Celebration”. Even the guitars do sweet sweet harmonies.

If you want some proper punk in your Christmas, this last one is for you. It’s one of my favorite Madison bands doing an original Christmas song they wrote for the Madison music scene compilation CD, MAXMAS volume II. Please enjoy “Drunk for Christmas”–because that’s how it (often) works in Wisconsin!

Full disclosure, Tim Budziszewski (the lead singer/songwriter for Government Zero) is a very good friend of mine. But I also think his ridiculous gift for crafting catchy, pop-punk tunes means he belongs here with Rivers and Adam and Chris.

If that’s not enough Xmas punk for you, here’s another. In classic punk tradition, this one comes with a healthy dose of social commentary. I leave you with “Christmas Made in China”. (I’m afraid you’ll have to click through to that one. It’s not on YouTube, and the embedding isn’t working.)

Cheering Sounds of My Season

We interrupt your regularly-scheduled Chicago TARDIS reminiscence for a quick note about Christmas music. Steven and I always look forward to the holiday season because it’s the one time of year when Edmonton radio doesn’t play all the same old crap over and over. It plays entirely different crap over and over for a couple months. The important difference is, I quite like a lot of the Christmas crap.

If you want to hear a buncha people go in-depth about Christmas music (and nearly drive two people—myself included—completely mad), I can’t recommend this episode of The Incomparable enough. (Or if you like torturing yourself with unedited episodes, the full-length train-wreck that was that recording is also available in its full glory here.)

On the way home from dropping Steven off at a potential new part-time gig tonight (yay!), I heard one of the more annoying, but to me, beloved, tunes…

I know a lot of people who hate this, but it makes me happy every time. And hey, the chorus is easy to learn!

Our current favorite is this gem from Andy Williams. It’s the one song that for Steven and I really says “It’s Christmas!” They started playing Xmas music really early here, and with no snow on the ground and only-just-freezing temps, it didn’t feel like Christmas yet, so we hadn’t dipped into the holiday stations (yes, plural) yet. But when we arrived back up north after visiting Chicago, we got into the car in the parking lot of the airport and turned on the radio. There was frost on the car, and this was playing. We cranked it up, and the holiday season officially began!

The other song that we immediately crank up the volume for is this version of “Sleigh Ride”. We do chair dancing in the car and everything. Though we’re not allowed to play it around my brother-in-(everything-but-)law because he spent years working in a shopping mall, and this song makes his sanity leak out his ears within seconds. Not sure why this is the tune that puts him over the top but it really REALLY is.

The “Last Christmas” song I’ll share tonight is one that’s my personal fave. Steven likes it fine, but it doesn’t capture his heart the way it does mine.

I’m trying to focus on positivity this December, so I’ll probably share a few more of the songs we regularly hear that bring me great joy as December rolls along. Feel free to disagree with me (nicely!) in the comments. Or tell me what you’d put on your list!

Heritage Days and More!

Heritage Days 2016

Steven and I have now spent two glorious days outdoors watching dancers and martial arts demos and eating and drinking our way “around the world” of the Edmonton Heritage Festival. Yesterday we managed to leave at just the right time to avoid the thunderstorm that later closed down the festival. It did rain on us quite a bit during the walk home, but the heavens didn’t properly open up until we were in the car on the way to the grocery store. (That was another adventure — a very wet and occasionally scary one. Puddles on the road are no joke in Edmonton this year.*)

Today we were a little more targeted in our dining — we’d walked around and perused the menus yesterday, so we knew where we wanted to go. A real winner this year has been the Chile booth. The cheese empanada was so good we got it both days, and I’m pretty sure I’m getting another one when we go back tomorrow. It was THAT GOOD. Also, their ice cream was to die for.

I may do a write up of all of my favorites later, but for now, suffice it to say, this is still my favorite weekend of the whole year in Edmonton. And this year it was made even better by a delightful little soirée at our friends’ place last night. It still feels novel to have real-life friends in Edmonton (outside of the ones we regularly podcast with anyway). We were in good geek company, so we got to jabber on about lots of geeky media properties, and, one of my favorite topics, PODCASTING! Yeah, it was a great night.

Related—if you’re not listening to these podcasts, you might want to fix that:

  • Montreal Sauce – interviews with makers, creatives, and friends, plus strange quizzes about 80s actors
  • Film Frown – a podcast that frowns about bad movies so you don’t have to
  • Podcast! the Comics – the podcast of a blog about comics, run by Canadians
  • Doctor Whooch – a bi-weekly podcast dedicated to Doctor Who and drinking, sometimes in that order
  • Yegs & Bacon – the official (on-hiatus) podcast of my local comic shop, Variant Edmonton (which you should TOTALLY PATRONIZE if you’re in town!) They like your face.

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*No, our car did not get swamped and stranded, but there were a few dicey moments when I thought we might.

Heritage Days – Anticipation!

Heritage Festival

I spend ALL YEAR looking forward to Edmonton’s annual Heritage Festival. AND IT IS FINALLY HERE!

It is one of the top reasons why I’m thrilled I moved to Canada (and Edmonton, specifically). Seriously. Not only is it a huge festival that highlights FOOD (one of my favorite things in life), but it also celebrates culture. SO. MUCH. CULTURE.* I love being able to wander around and see people showcasing the parts of themselves and their families and their heritage that they are proud of.

Whether it’s a native dance or a bunch of drummers (or even fellows in chain mail mock-fighting!), I feel like I’m surrounded by joy and acceptance, and those are two feelings that seem to be in short supply all too often these days.

So yeah. It starts in less than an hour and a half, and Steven and I are going to walk down to the park and stuff ourselves until we can barely stand to walk home. And then tomorrow we’ll do it all over again. (Monday too!)

Ok. I just needed to squee about that briefly. If your town does something similar, I do hope you check it out. Edmonton’s seems to be one of the bigger ones in Canada, and I couldn’t be happier about it! But even on a smaller scale, it’s great to celebrate the people who make up the fabric of the area you live in. On a normal day downtown I can hear several languages being spoken in the course of walking two blocks (I love that!), but at the Heritage Festival, it’s more like a dozen. I love that even more.

Anyway, I need to get back to my spreadsheet. Why yes. I am creating a spreadsheet of the notes I’ve taken over the last few years. And yes. I do take notes during Heritage Days. Gotta make sure I don’t miss any of the amazing foods I loved from years past. And I want to make sure I don’t waste any tickets on things I’ve tried and not liked. Gotta sample a bunch of new stuff this year! So yes, I’m compiling my spreadsheet of notes. I’m that nerd. And I’d better get back to it.

If you’ve been to the festival in the past and have any recommendations for me, share them in the comments! (I’m off my usual dietary restrictions for the weekend, so ALL FOOD is fair game for me. Steven will be sticking to the vegetarian fare.)

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*Yes, there are a lot of caps in this post. I AM THAT EXCITED!

Canada Day!

Flag_of_Canada.svg

No, it’s not technically Canada Day. Well, not here anyway. As Andrew Smith already pointed out on Twitter, it is in part of the world already!

Tomorrow I’ll celebrate my third Canada Day as a permanent resident of this lovely nation (and my fourth in Canada, as I was visiting on July 1st of 2013). I must admit, I’m a little overwhelmed when I consider that. I still often think of myself as a newbie here (and in many ways I suppose I still am), but it won’t be too long before I can apply for citizenship (which I plan to do). Somewhere along the line, Canada (and Edmonton, specifically) became home.

I still get tripped up when I hear someone say “process”, but I usually remember to ask where the “washroom” is and no longer tilt my head when someone says “loonie” or “toonie”. I’m still getting used to the idea of being represented by an MLA instead of an assemblyman or a senator, but I’m 100% comfortable with the idea of going to the doctor whenever I need to and not worrying about how I’m gonna pay for it. (That last one still makes me deliriously happy, it just doesn’t feel weird anymore.) I think I’ve finally reached the tipping point–where Canadianisms seem more normal than not.

Perhaps the biggest indicator that I’ve acclimated is that this summer hasn’t completely wigged me out. Continue reading