Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Didn't Make the Cut Part 8: Weird Al

"Weird Al" Yankovic was the first musician that was "mine" apart from my parents. I was probably 9 when I started listing to Al's classic albums "Weird Al Yankovic in 3-D" and "Dare to Be Stupid." Weird Al's parodies and polkas were a good primer and introduction into popular music for me as a pre-teen. And I still enjoy hearing his parodies like "White and Nerdy"! Over his 25 years of recordings he's produced a couple of Christmas songs. Christmas at Ground Zero was from his 1986 album "Polka Party!" The second song, "The Night Santa Went Crazy" is one I didn't know of until pointed out to me by my sister-in-law Dawnielle. It's from 1996's "Bad Hair Day" album.

Christmas At Ground Zero:

The Night Santa Went Crazy (for Dawnielle)

Didn't Make the Cut Part 7: Ben Folds

I used to be a big Ben Folds fan. I've seen Ben solo once and saw him with the "Ben Folds Five" twice. His latest album, "Way to Normal" does nothing for me. Ben has released two very odd Christmas songs that have never made the cut onto our CD. "Bizarre Christmas Incident" is an obscenity laden song about Santa getting stuck in a chimney. The second, "Lonely Christmas Eve" is from the soundtrack to the remake of "How the Grinch Stole Christmas." It's sung from the perspective of the Grinch, pre-reform.

Bizarre Christmas Incident live (Chicago, December 16, 2005):

Lonely Christmas Eve:

New Heroes Webisodes: Hard Knox

Another new series of webisodes started Monday as part of NBC's Heroes. Unlike previous webisode series, this one featured main characters form the TV show.

Part Four:

Part Three:

Part Two:

Part One:

Friday, December 19, 2008

New U2 for my birthday!

U2's new album finally has a release date. Their 12th studio album, "No Line on the Horizon", will be released on March 3rd, the day after my birthday! This'll be their first since 2004's "How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb."

Thursday, December 18, 2008

2008 Roach Christmas CD

The 7th annual Roach Christmas CD is finally done. I think this is the latest we've finished one so far. But hey, we've had a lot going on, right? I think it turned out really well. We always try to have a good balance of songs. A balance between spiritual and secular, classics and modern songs, rock and county, upbeat and mellow, crooners and soul singers.

This mix has a couple of new favorites of mine. The track by singer/songwriter Brett Dennen is a good one. You may have heard his latest single, "Make You Crazy", on the radio. "Spotlight on Christmas" by Rufus Wainwright is a great one as well as "Christmas Must be Tonight" by The Band. And of course the new U2 track.

  • Christmas Times A-Comin' - Emmylou Harris
  • The Reindeer Boogie - Hank Snow
  • Christmas Must Be Tonight - The Band
  • Christmas Time All Over the World - Sammy Davis Jr.
  • The Holidays Are Here (And We're Still at War) - Brett Dennen
  • Behold That Star - Pete Seeger
  • Christmas in Killarney - Bing Crosby
  • Jolly Old St. Nicholas - Chet Atkins
  • All I Want For Christmas Is You - Mariah Carey
  • Merry Christmas Darling - The Carpenters
  • Spotlight on Christmas - Rufus Wainwright
  • Love Came Down at Christmas - Jars of Clay
  • Angels We Have Heard On High - Sixpence None The Richer
  • Hark! The Herald Angels Sing - Nat King Cole
  • Do You Hear What I Hear - Andy Williams
  • O Come, O Come Emanuel - Belle & Sebastian
  • The Star Carol - Aaron Neville
  • O Holy Night - Sheryl Crow
  • I Believe in Father Christmas - U2
  • Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas -Melissa Etheridge
  • Auld Lang Syne - Roger McGuinn

You can download a .ZIP file here for a limited time.

Send me an e-mail if you have problems with the file or would rather have a hard copy.

Bourbon Balls

Since I'm on the topic of Christmas candies, I made a batch of bourbon balls for the party also. My Mom used to make bourbon balls around Christmas almost every year when I was growing up. She had a bottle of Canadian Club whiskey she used and that was the only liquor we ever had in the house. Over Thanksgiving we finally said goodbye to that bottle after probably 20 years. We poured some into the gutter and then George mixed some strong whiskey and juice. The recipe I made was nothing like Mom's. Hers was more of a candy in the Rebecca Ruth or Ruth Hunt style. These are two prominent candy companies in Kentucky that make a bourbon ball that has a creamy center, covered in dark chocolate and topped off with a pecan. The ones I made required no cooking. Bonus.

  • 2 c. powdered sugar
  • 1/4 c. Jim Beam
  • 1/4 c. light corn syrup
  • 2 c. crushed vanilla wafers
  • 4 tbsp cocoa
  • 2 c. chopped pecans

Stir together powdered sugar, cocoa, Jim Beam and corn syrup. Then add the crushed wafers and chopped nuts. Mix until evenly moistened and pinch a walnut sized piece and roll it firmly between the palms of your hands, repeat until all balls have been made. Roll the balls in additional powdered sugar until evenly coated. Refridgerate a couple of days before serving.

Visions of Sugar Plums....

...dancing in my head. Cathy's boss made a batch of sugar plums from a recipe from the newspaper last week. I've always wondered what sugar plums were and way kids would dream about them and why they would have a fairy queen. I had to try them myself for the office Christmas party. They're good, especially if they are small enough to pop them in your mouth whole. Kind of like a miniature fruit cake, but they won't break your toes if you drop them.

Here's the recipe, with a couple of minor variations by me:

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup pecans
  • 1/4 cup pistachios
  • 1 cup pitted dates
  • 1/2 cup dried apricots
  • 1/2 cup dried plums
  • 1/4 cup golden raisins
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 2 tablespoons Triple Sec

Combine the sugar, cardamom and cinnamon in a bowl. Mix well, then set aside.

In a food processor, pulse the pecans until roughly chopped. Add the pistachios and pulse again until both nuts are finely chopped. Transfer the nuts to a bowl and set aside.

In a food processor, combine the dates, apricots and plums. Pulse briefly until roughly chopped. Add the raisins and cranberries, then continue pulsing until the fruit is evenly chopped and begins to clump.

Return the nuts to the processor and add the Triple Sec. Pulse until just mixed. If the mixture does not stick together, add additional Triple Sec. A teaspoon at a time, roll the mixture into balls, then roll each ball in the sugar until well coated.


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

X-Men Origins: Wolverine trailer

After the rather lackluster "X-Men: The Last Stand", I didn't think much of the promise for this movie, but the trailer looks intriguing. Especially with the inclusion of Gambit. He's a great character. He was created by Chris Claremont & Jim Lee right around the time I stopped collecting comics. "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" opens Memorial Day weekend.

As interesting as this trailer is, it pales in comparison to the Watchmen trailers. Opening March 9th.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

New Heroes Webisodes: The Recruit

New webisodes are starting today as part of NBC's Heroes. "Vol. 3: Villains" finished last night, with "Vol. 4: Fugitives" starts in January. Heroes has been good this season, but I hear the ratings are now. Syler, Hiro and Peter Petrelli are all great characters, but Nathan Petrelli changes sides way too often for my liking.

Part Five:

Part Four:

Part Three:

Part Two:

Part One:

Monday, December 15, 2008

Didn't Make the Cut Part 6: "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer"

Next up on my list is the Christmas novelty song everyone loves to hate, "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer." (I'm posting this one for Brad Hasler. I hear it's his favorite.) The song was written by Randy Brooks and was originally performed by the husband and wife comedy team of Elmo and Patsy Shropshire in 1979. After the Shropshire's divorce, Elmo re-recorded the song several times as "Dr. Elmo." This novelty song has spun several parodies including a pseudo rap version of the song by Dr. Elmo himself from 2008! This one was a favorite in the Roach house when George and I were about 10. My parents also liked Ray Stevens, so that explains things a little.

Original (not sure if this is the 1979 version with Patsy or one of the subsequent re-recordings without her):

Story of the song:

Irish Rovers cover:

Da Yoppers' parody "Grandpa Got Run Over by a Beer Truck":

Cledus T. Judd's parody "Grandpa Got Runned Over by a John Deere":


Grandma got run over by a reindeer
Walking home from our house Christmas eve.
You can say there's no such thing as Santa,
But as for me and Grandpa, we believe.

She'd been drinking too much eggnog,
And we'd begged her not to go.
But she'd left her medication,
So she stumbled out the door into the snow.

When they found her Christmas morning,
At the scene of the attack.
There were hoof prints on her forehead,
And incriminating Claus marks on her back.


Now were all so proud of Grandpa,
He's been taking this so well.
See him in there watching football,
Drinking' beer and playing cards with cousin Belle.

It's not Christmas without Grandma.
All the family's dressed in black.
And we just can't help but wonder:
Should we open up her gifts or send them back?


Now the goose is on the table
And the pudding made of fig.
And a blue and silver candle,
That would just have matched the hair in Grandma's wig.

I've warned all my friends and neighbors.
Better watch out for yourselves.
They should never give a license,
To a man who drives a sleigh and plays with elves.


Friday, December 12, 2008

Didn't Make the Cut Part 5: "Father Christmas"

Next up on the list is "Father Christmas" by "british invasion" group The Kinks. This was released as a single in 1977. This song get a lot of play in December on rock radio stations, but it certainly isn't very cheery. It's about a gang of kids who beat up a department store Santa and tell him to give them money instead of toys. It could be viewed as a tongue in cheek reminder to help the less fortunate: "But remember the kids who got nothin', While you're drinkin' down your wine," but like "Santa Baby," I think any positive message is lost in the song.


OK Go cover:

When I was small I believed in Santa Claus
Though I knew it was my Dad
And I would hang up my stocking at Christmas
Open my presents and I'd be glad

But the last time I played father Christmas
I stood outside a department store
A gang of kids came over and mugged me
And knocked my reindeer to the floor

They said:
Father Christmas, give us some money
Don't mess around with those silly toys.
We'll beat you up if you don't hand it over
We want your bread so don't make us annoyed
Give all the toys to the little rich boys

Don't give my brother a Steve Austin outfit
Don't give my sister a cuddly toy
We don't want a jigsaw or monopoly money
We only want the real McCoy

Father Christmas, give us some money
We'll beat you up if you make us annoyed
Father Christmas, give us some money
Don't mess around with those silly toys

But give my daddy a job cause he needs one
He's got lots of mouths to feed
But if you've got one, I'll have a machine gun
So I can scare all the kids down the street

Father Christmas, give us some money
We got no time for your silly toys
We'll beat you up if you don't hand it over
Give all the toys to the little rich boys

Have yourself a merry merry Christmas
Have yourself a good time
But remember the kids who got nothin'
While you're drinkin' down your wine

Father Christmas, give us some money
We got no time for your silly toys
We'll beat you up if you don't hand it over
We want your bread, so don't make us annoyed
Give all the toys to the little rich boys

Didn't Make the Cut Part 4: "I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas"

Next up on the "didn't make the cut" list is the novelty song, "I Want a Hippopotamus." The song was written in 1943 by John Rox and performed by Gayla Peevey (10 years old at the time). Peevey was a regional child star in the Oklahoma City area. This one pops up on Christmas MP3 blogs from time to time, but I find it excruciatingly annoying.


Jonas Brother cover:

I want a hippopotamus for Christmas
Only a hippopotamus will do
Don't want a doll, no dinky Tinker Toy
I want a hippopotamus to play with and enjoy

I want a hippopotamus for Christmas
I don't think Santa Claus will mind, do you?
He won't have to use our dirty chimney flue
Just bring him through the front door, that's the easy thing to do

I can see me now on Christmas morning, creeping down the stairs
Oh what joy and what surprise when I open up my eyes
To see a hippo hero standing there

I want a hippopotamus for Christmas
Only a hippopotamus will do
No crocodiles, no rhinoceroses
I only like hippopotamuses
And hippopotamuses like me too

Mom says the hippo would eat me up, but then
Teacher says a hippo is a vegetarian

There's lots of room for him in our two-car garage
I'd feed him there and wash him there and give him his massage
I can see me now on Christmas morning, creeping down the stairs
Oh what joy and what surprise when I open up my eyes
To see a hippo hero standing there

I want a hippopotamus for Christmas
Only a hippopotamus will do
No crocodiles or rhinoceroses
I only like hippopotamuses
And hippopotamuses like me too!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Didn't Make the Cut Part 3: "Santa Baby"

Santa Baby is the song that got me thinking about songs that didn't make the cut. Over Thanksgiving, my sister-in-law suggested that we put a version of this song on the CD. We chatted about the merits of the song and the performer she liked. I've never really liked the song. It always reminds me of commercialization of Christmas and greed and it's always associated with the latest sexy Hollywood starlet (or Muppet). The song was written in 1953 by Joan Javits, Philip Springer, and Tony Springer and was originally recorded by Eartha Kitt. It turns out, my sister-in-law wasn't even thinking of this song, but got it confused with "Baby, It's Cold Outside" which appeared on the 2002 CD!


Kylie Minogue cover:

Madonna cover:

Pussycat Dolls cover:

Miss Piggy cover:

Kellie Pickler cover:

Santa baby, just slip a sable under the tree, for me
Been an awful good girl
Santa baby so hurry down the chimney tonight

Santa baby, a '54 convertible too, light blue,
I'll wait up for you dear
Santa baby, so hurry down the chimney tonight

Think of all the fun I've missed,
Think of all the fellows that I haven't kissed
Next year I could be just as good
If you check off my Christmas list

Santa baby, I want a yacht and really that's not a lot
Been an angel all year
Santa baby, so hurry down the chimney tonight

Santa honey, one little thing I really need, the deed
To a platinum mine,
Santa baby, so hurry down the chimney tonight

Santa cutie, and fill my stocking with a duplex and checks,
Sign your x on the line
Santa cutie, and hurry down the chimney tonight

Come and trim my Christmas tree,
With some decorations bought at Tiffany's
I really do believe in you,
Let's see if you believe in me

Santa baby, forgot to mention one little thing, a ring,
I don't mean on the phone,
Santa baby, so hurry down the chimney tonight

Hurry down the chimney tonight
Hurry, tonight.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Didn't Make the Cut Part 2: "Fairytale of New York"

Here's another song that's never made the cut. I'd never heard this song before starting to put together Christmas mixes and exchanging mixes with people. The song, "Fairytale of New York", is by The Pogues and featured Kirsty MacColl. It was released on thier 1987 album, "If I Should Fall from Grace with God." The Pogues were a Irish and English band that played "traditional Irish music with influences from punk rock", according to Wikipedia, and "reached international prominence in the 1980s and early 1990s." It's a fun song, but it isn't right for one of our CDs. It's about a drunken man's Christmas Eve memories of Christmases past while sleeping off a binge in a New York City drunk tank and contains some coarse language. Watch for Matt Dillon playing a cop in the video.


Christy Moore cover:

K.T.Tunstall & Ed Harcourt cover:

It was Christmas Eve babe
In the drunk tank
An old man said to me, won't see another one
And then he sang a song
The Rare Old Mountain Dew
I turned my face away
And dreamed about you

Got on a lucky one
Came in eighteen to one
I've got a feeling
This year's for me and you
So happy Christmas
I love you baby
I can see a better time
When all our dreams come true

They've got cars big as bars
They've got rivers of gold
But the wind goes right through you
It's no place for the old
When you first took my hand
On a cold Christmas Eve
You promised me
Broadway was waiting for me

You were handsome
You were pretty
Queen of New York City
When the band finished playing
They howled out for more
Sinatra was swinging,
All the drunks they were singing
We kissed on a corner
Then danced through the night

The boys of the NYPD choir
Were singing "Galway Bay"
And the bells were ringing out
For Christmas day

You're a bum
You're a punk
You're an old s--t on junk
Lying there almost dead on a drip in that bed
You scumbag, you maggot
You cheap lousy f----t
Happy Christmas your a--e
I pray God it's our last

I could have been someone
Well so could anyone
You took my dreams from me
When I first found you
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

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Didn't Make the Cut Part 1: "Merry Christmas from the Family"

Cathy and I are putting the finishing touches on our 7th annual Christmas CD. Hopefully we'll have that out to friends and family in about a week. Over those 7 years we've amassed quite a Christmas MP3 collection. I'm charged with the task of whittling them down into a CD of about 20 songs or so. So far we haven't repeated a single song except for Auld Lang Syne and "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas."

Over the next couple of weeks I'm going to highlight songs that have never made the cut. Some of them are favorite novelty songs, some are classics I don't really like and some I do like, but aren't really appropriate for a kid and family friendly mix. The first song matches that last category. It's Texas singer/songwriter Robert Earl Keen's "Merry Christmas from the Family" from 1994. The song is about a dysfunctional family Christmas. While the family members are over the top caricatures, anyone with a big family can probably relate to one or more of the situations described. Keen also recorded a squeal of sorts called "Happy Holidays Y'all." Hallelujah, everybody say cheese!

Jill Sobule cover:

Montgomery Gentry cover:

Dixie Chicks cover:

Mom got drunk and Dad got drunk at our Christmas party
We were drinking champagne punch and homemade eggnog
Little sister brought her new boyfriend
He was a Mexican
We didn't know what to think of him until he sang
Feliz Navidad, Feliz Navidad

Brother Ken brought his kids with him
The three from his first wife Lynn
And the two identical twins from his second wife Mary Nell
Of course he brought his new wife Kay
Who talks all about AA
Chain smoking while the stereo plays Noel, Noel
The First Noel

Carve the Turkey
Turn the ball game on
Mix margaritas when the eggnog's gone
Send somebody to the Quickpak Store
We need some ice and an extension chord
A can of bean dip and some Diet Rites
A box of tampons, Marlboro Lights
Hallelujah everybody say cheese
Merry Christmas from the family

Fred and Rita drove from Harlingen
I can't remember how I'm kin to them
But when they tried to plug their motor home in
They blew our Christmas lights
Cousin David knew just what went wrong
So we all waited out on our front lawn
He threw a breaker and the lights came on
And we sang Silent Night, Oh Silent Night, Oh Holy Night

Carve the turkey turn the ball game on
Make Bloody Mary's
Cause We All Want One!
Send somebody to the Stop 'N Go
We need some celery and a can of fake snow
A bag of lemons and some Diet Sprites
A box of tampons, some Salem Lights
Hallelujah, everybody say cheese
Merry Christmas from the Family

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

The Wiggles cover U2?!

Who's a more over the top caricature? The Fly or Captain Feathersword?

We used to watch a lot of Wiggles. Every morning we'd watch The Wiggles and JoJo's Circus with Parker before starting our day. Parker's tastes have moved from the Wiggles to Speed Racer so we don't see much of those wacky Australian "brothers"and their friends anymore. We stopped watching around the time Greg Wiggle was replaced with Sam Wiggle.

I ran across this video today on Youtube. It's the Wiggles, featuring Sam and Captain Feathersword, performing U2's classic song "Angel of Harlem" for Australian TV. Very surreal and fun.

Early Christmas present from U2

Just in time to make the Roaches' annual Christmas mix CD and to usher in the new (RED) WIRE online music subscription service, U2 has released a cover of Greg Lake's "I Believe in Father Christmas" from 1975 It's an interesting take on a somewhat cynical song about the commercialization of Christmas written by the prog-rocker and former member of King Crimson and Emerson Lake & Palmer. As far as I can remember, this is the first Christmas song U2 has recorded since their take on Darlene Love's "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)" from the 1987 "A Very Special Christmas" CD to benefit the Special Olympics.

U2's version:

Original version:

Greg Lake talking about the song:

They said there'll be snow at Christmas
They said there'll be peace on Earth
But instead it just kept on raining
A veil of tears for the virgin birth
I remember one Christmas morning
A winters light and a distant choir
And the peal of a bell and that Christmas Tree smell
And eyes full of tinsel and fire

They sold me a dream of Christmas
They sold me a Silent Night
And they told me a fairy story
'Till I believed in the Israelite
And I believed in Father Christmas
And I looked to the sky with excited eyes
'Till I woke with a yawn in the first light of dawn
And I saw him and through his disguise

I wish you a hopeful Christmas
I wish you a brave New Year
All anguish pain and sadness
Leave your heart and let your road be clear
They said there'll be snow at Christmas
They said there'll be peace on Earth
Hallelujah Noel be it Heaven or Hell
The Christmas we get we deserve

Monday, December 01, 2008

When I'm 18.........

Every since we took Parker with us when Cathy voted, Parker has been very aware of things he can't do because he's too young. So far the list of things he has to be 18 to do includes:

  • Vote
  • Drink coffee
  • Ride in the front seat of the car
  • Be a Dad

Today I tried to tell him you have to be 18 to play with Star Wars light sabers. Parker response? "No you don't, Dad. Those kids (on the commercial) aren't 18." I can't put anything over on this kid!