Religious Orders

The Democratic Primaries in a Nutshell

Posted: Tuesday February 16 2016 @ 7:04am

Religious Order: Politics

This probably doesn't help in choosing a candidate, but I see close parallels between Clinton/Sanders and Steve/Arthur in the movie Arthur Christmas. Movie spoilers follow:

Steve is the one with experience. He's toiled for years in the organization to get to where he is. He makes the whole operation run. He brings presents to kids everywhere, but he misses one child and isn't all that broken up about it. Instead of getting credit for the billions he got presents to, everyone criticizes him for not being perfect. He isn't the most likable person, but part of that is surely due to the pressures he's under. He simply can't afford the whimsey that his brother can wave about. He has too many responsibilities for that.

Meanwhile, Arthur has little experience, but he values each and every kid and is crushed that one is missed. And, dammit, he makes sure that one missed child gets her gift, albeit with plentiful misadventures and lots of help from others. He provides the spirit of Christmas that his brother lacks. He fits the role, regardless of his actual ability to execute the duties.

In the end, the movie acknowledges that Steve deserves to be Santa, but Arthur meets the requirements that people have of Santa as a symbol. He's the figurehead people need, while Steve continues to do most of the heavy lifting.

I think most folks look at Steve as an antagonist in the film. I look at him as a tragic character.

Whether the primaries end up like this, with Clinton left out in the cold again, I have no clue.

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Xmas Music Advent 2015 Day 25

Posted: Saturday December 26 2015 @ 7:26pm

Religious Order: Music

I'd like to close out the advent goodness by attempting to rehabilitate a song that's been criticized a lot in recent years, Baby, It's Cold Outside.

I love this song. I love call and response songs. I love the variety of ways the roles can be played in it. (Roles. Remember that. It's important.) I love the variety of deliveries folks can give it. It's a really well-crafted song, but it's a problematic song.

The song has a bad reputation lately because, to modern ears, the lyrics sound date-rapey. It sounds like the woman wants to leave, and the guy is being a dick about not letting her do so. It sounds like he's trying to press her into consenting to things she doesn't want to do.

But that's the wrong context for it. The mistake is in sticking the song into a real-world context. It wasn't written for that context.

Look, here's the actual context for the song. It's sung by a husband and wife. No, really, in real life it was written by Frank Loesser and sung as a duet with his wife, Lynn Garland, in front of their friends. Garland adored the song and was mad when he sold it. It's two consenting, married adults, role-playing. That's not my interpretation. That's what the song actually is.

When she says The answer is 'no', she's not really saying no. In modern parlance, it would be like any sort of naughty sex role-playing, where there's a safeword when you really mean no. (Of course, this is 1944, and the naughty part is her bucking societal expectations by staying at all.)

When she says What's in this drink? she's chiding him; she's not really suspicious of the drink. They're role-playing in the song.

In the wake of 50 Shades, we have a society in which rough BDSM sex is accepted, because we all know that it's consensual role-playing. Yet, somehow, we can't figure out that this wonderful song is the same sort of thing.

Anyway, my favorite version of the song is the Ann-Margret/Al Hirt version. It's slow and sensual, clocking in at just a hair over three and a half minutes. Ann-Margret plays at innocence, purposely failing spectacularly at it.

Baby, It's Cold Outside

Now, it's true that you can make the song creepy. I watched a local holiday production where they had two kids singing it. That was creepy. Of course, having them pretend to have rough BDSM sex would have been creepy, too. Some things aren't meant for children.

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Xmas Music Advent 2015 Day 24

Posted: Thursday December 24 2015 @ 4:40pm

Religious Order: Music

People often ask me what's my least favorite Xmas album.

Well, okay, no one really asks me that, but I'm gonna tell you anyway.

It's Bob Dylan's Christmas in the Heart. Now, don't get me wrong. Dylan is a genius songwriter. I'll not even think of arguing that point. But the guy just has an awful voice. I understand some folks like it. They're wrong. When he was young, it was a whiny nasally thing. With age, it's just become worse.

This album came out in 2009, so Bob's pretty old on it. He sounds fucking awful. He sounds like a creepy uncle who might touch you inappropriately. Meanwhile, he's singing over bog-standard versions of the songs. There's nothing remotely interesting about this album, musically. There's nothing remotely redeeming about this album, vocally.

I dunno; maybe this was meant as a joke...

Christmas in the Heart

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Xmas Music Advent 2015 Day 23

Posted: Thursday December 24 2015 @ 4:30pm

Religious Order: Music

Odd and awkward, yet still somehow endearing, here's Bing and Bowie singing a duet.

The Little Drummer Boy (Peace On Earth)

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Xmas Music Advent 2015 Day 22

Posted: Tuesday December 22 2015 @ 7:55pm

Religious Order: Music

I mentioned earlier how Henry Rollins' voice really wasn't suited to singing Carol of the Bells. He's just not good at fast precise enunciation. Then I mentioned that Leonard Graves Phillips from the Dickies would have been a better choice. So here are the Dickies, with Silent Night.

Silent Night

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Xmas Music Advent 2015 Day 21

Posted: Monday December 21 2015 @ 5:50pm

Religious Order: Music

Here's another song from deep within my collection of Xmas-themed music. As usual, I don't know from where I obtained it. I don't even know the name of the artist. It's a weird song, with a backing track that keeps cutting out a beat too early. It's off musically, but endearingly so.

Christmas on Prozac

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Xmas Music Advent 2015 Day 20

Posted: Sunday December 20 2015 @ 6:40pm

Religious Order: Music

I didn't always love and collect Xmas music. In fact, I can still remember the CD that led me down the path. It was A Toolbox Christmas by Woody Phillips. I don't quite remember how I obtained the disc. Maybe I bought it? Maybe it was a novelty gift? I don't remember the details.

Anyway, it's a swell listen, with classic Xmas songs played on a combination of wood-working tools and traditional instruments. Yes, it's a goofy novelty disc, but that doesn't mean the songs aren't well done. This is a listenable chunk of Xmas goodness.

Jingle Bells

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Xmas Music Advent 2015 Day 19

Posted: Sunday December 20 2015 @ 6:33pm

Religious Order: Music

Why does today's post feature Charo's version of (Mamacita) ┬┐Donde Esta Santa Claus? Because Charo; that's why!

(Mamacita) ¿Donde Esta Santa Claus?

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Xmas Music Advent 2015 Day 18

Posted: Friday December 18 2015 @ 6:54pm

Religious Order: Music

Enough straight old Xmas music. Here's a queercore classic by Pansy Division:

Homo Christmas

(Safety note: Don't insert a candy cane that's lacking a crook. No one wants an embarrassing, and sticky, trip to the ER.)

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Xmas Music Advent 2015 Day 17

Posted: Thursday December 17 2015 @ 7:05pm

Religious Order: Music

I love Carol of the Bells. It's so agressive, easily the most agressive of all the traditional carols. Because I like that aspect, I really only like versions that move at a good clip. If your version of Carol of the Bells is longer than a minute twenty, you're going too damn slow!

One of my favorite versions is from some obscure slab of vinyl called A Saint Louis Christmas, with this particular track sung by the Fox Senior High School Honor Choir. It really flies, yet with good diction.

Carol of the Bells by the Fox Senior High School Honor Choir

Some versions replace the singers with some sort of instrument. That's just cheating. It's too easy to do. The magic comes from the voices. That said, this version on a Moog is fairly fun, despite the cheating.

Carol of the Bells by the Moog Machine

Finally, Stephen Colbert invited Henry Rollins onto The Late Show to sing a punk version of it. It's okay, but Henry's punk schtick was slow-burn bellowing, not precise fast singing. A much better choice would have been Leonard Graves Phillips from the Dickies. (Don't worry. The Dickies may well make an appearance on this list by the 25th.)

Carol of the Bells with Stephen Colbert & Henry Rollins

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