All I Want for Christmas Is You: The only truly great holiday song written in the past fifty years?

I had no idea Mariah, with her long-term collaborator, wrote this song.

This article at Slate.com states (about the recent not very nice criticism’s of Ms. Carey’s recent live performance):

Those pop culture Grinches who’ve been expressing shamefully unseasonal schadenfreude over Carey’s flop would do well to remember two things: 1) Mimi sings better on her worst day than 99.9 percent of all humans who’ve ever lived; 2) She is the co-author, along with longtime collaborator Walter Afanasieff, of the only Christmas song written in the last half-century worthy of inclusion in the Great American Songbook.

Go Mariah!

Dude, You’re Screwed!

Does anyone else have a secret TV show vice?

So I was flipping through channels on late-late-night TV (as you do when your sister calls you at 1:30am because she went into labor, and needs someone to stay with the toddler) and stumbled across my new favorite TV show – a reality show (really, Melanie?) with the lovely title of “Dude, You’re Screwed!

Basically, the premise is you have this group of guys – they are all considered survival experts. You’ve got a Green Beret, a former RAF helicopter pilot (who basically wrote the British military survival manual), a primitive skills expert, and a former Navy SEAL, to name a few. These guys, and a few of their wilderness colleagues, are friends. Friends who kidnap each other and drop the victim blindfolded and left in a random location somewhere with a mix-bag of survival gear (which could be anything from a jacket to a tutu to a puppy. Yes, one guy got a puppy. It was awesome).

The victim then gets 100 hours to make it out of whatever hellhole their friends found and find civilization. Any human will do – they just have to go and make contact. While fending for themselves, finding food and water and not getting killed by whatever animals (crocodiles? jaguars? hyenas?) are locals.

They call it a game. Seriously.

The thing is, I’m not usually much a reality show fan. I mean, I watch the dance shows (So you think you can dance is my favorite, but Dancing with the Stars can be fun), but that’s really about it. But now, I’ve added this.

There’s something about survival shows that is just fascinating (Naked and Afraid is also a new interest, but not anywhere close to the obsession that these guys have become). It’s obvious that these guys care about each other (in a very “bro, we’re totalling messing with you” sort of way), but they are just having so much fun that it’s really easy to get caught up in it. I mean, the kidnappers are practically gleeful!

Dude, You’re Screwed!  started a new season this fall on the Discovery Channel. Come, join me in my madness. (They have a bunch of full episodes on youtube – just sayin’)

Melanie AAR

What are your favorite holiday books for kids?

tCMoJTOne of the joys of the holidays is reading the season’s books for children. I have about fifteen I’ve saved that I read to my children when they were littler.

One of my very favorites and, I think, the most moving, is The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey by Susan Wojciechowski. This story, beautifully illustrated by P.J. Lynch, is perfect. 

Here’s the description from Amazon:

Jonathan Toomey is the best woodcarver in the valley, but he is always alone and never smiles. No one knows about the mementos of his lost wife and child that he keeps in an unopened drawer. But one early winter’s day, a widow and her young son approach him with a gentle request that leads to a joyful miracle.

Every time I read this book, I am reminded of the power of love in the best way possible.

What holiday books do you love? Do you prefer fun ones–my favorite might be Auntie Claus–or do you cherish the ones that bring tears?

I M A U-M B-N.

CDBLong before our phones started to light up with “Wr r u?” there was CDB! by the wonderful and wacky William Steig. Steig, more famous for his stories with plots–Shrek, Sylvester and the Magic Pebble, and, my favorite, Dr. De Soto (about a very tiny dentist), wrote two books in “code': CDB! and CDC? . I loved CDB when I was younger–it was first published in 1968. I read both books to my siblings when they were small and then fell for them all over again while watching my own children puzzle over each page.

If you’ve never see one of the book, here’s a sample:

WSCDB

Did you ever read these marvels?

 

The Sexiest Man Alive

This article which gives an in-depth but not too long history of People Magazine‘s Sexiest Man Alive is a funchris-hemsworth-768 read.

It makes several stellar points. It is absurd that there’s only ever been one man of color–Denzel in 1996. And last year’s choice of Adam Levine was a poor one. I agree with Jezebel’s Madeleine Davies, “Adam Levine is not the Sexiest Man Alive.” He is “the human equivalent of testing positive for chlamydia.”

What do you think of this year’s choice? Does Mr. Helmsworth make you swoon? Personally, I prefer his brother. liam

 

The romance I want to see… and it’s not 50SoG.

Anyone seen this romance featuring a love story between a pop star and the LA cop assigned to protect her? The initial reviews are strong. Slate.com writes:

Beyond the Lights, writer-director Gina Prince-Bythewood’s show-business romance about the slowly blossoming affair between an ascendant pop star and a down-to-earth L.A. cop, is as shamelessly soapy as movies come—but I challenge you not to slip on the soap bubbles and fall right in to this movie’s invigorating bath. Onscreen love stories live and die on the connection between their leads, and as the troubled singer Noni Jean and her earnest protector-turned-paramour Kaz Nicol, Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Nate Parker all but spontaneously combust each time they look at each other.

It’s got a 84% rating at Rotten Tomatoes which writes:

Thanks to smart direction and a powerhouse performance from Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Beyond the Lights transcends its formulaic storyline to deliver thoroughly entertaining drama.

It’s been quite a while since I saw a good love story at the movies. I think the last one I loved was About Time.  (One could argue that Gone Girl is a love story but I’m not going there.)

Do you plan to see this movie? What was the last great love story you saw at the cinema?

 

Chinese pop singer Wang Rong Rollin’s music video “Chick Chick” is, well, something.

Is this, as several on the internet have claimed, the most bizarre music video of all time? The video, which sounds mostly comprised of avian sounds and electronic bass, features so many odd objects it has to be seen to be believed. I especially like the dancing topless men wearing farm animal masks….