Saturday, December 27, 2008

What a Princess Wants...

Christmas has once again come and gone. Presents exchanged, gifts opened and love received. Santa didn’t bring me the Millennium Falcon this year, but was generous enough to fill my Doctor Who and Muppet Show requests. I know it’s all “PC” and stuff to be grateful for what you have but it’s in our nature to always want a little bit more. Wishes can sometimes be extravagant, like a gold bedspread or a Star Wars toy, or they can be simple, like requests for world peace, universal harmony and an unclogged toilet drain. For many of us, wishes are dreams that help get us through the day, filling our thoughts with flights of fantasy and hope. For others, wishes are just wants of something to have. A desire to simply possess what has yet to be acquired. Like a princess in her castle, looking for another prince that’s a little better than the current model or just desiring a extra diamond on her ring.

Caroline Kennedy grew up in the public eye as the Princess of Camelot. A slideshow posted on Huffington Post shows Caroline evolving from a little girl playing with her puppy to a bubblegum-blowing graduate to an urban socialite. In every image, Ms. Kennedy is very much a princess, echoing back to a time which was never as innocent as the country thought. Like ancient fairy tales, we believe in princesses because we always have. They exist in all mythologies and into the present day. Princesses exist because we want them to.

The interesting thing about princesses is they tend to be perceived better as an image. Beauty, perpetual style, grace and composure makes for a great magazine cover. Glossy photos, a perfect smile and elegance which could steal the desire of any man. However, pictures are just pictures and interviews are just calculated PR. There is only imagination, no reality. Thoughts are enough for many people, which is why those moronic magazines continue to fly off shelves week after week. If a copy of US Weekly or OK! is in your bathroom – THIS IS YOU.

Every man at some time in their life wants to marry a princess. If they say they don’t/didn't, they’re either full of it or gay. Come on, nobody fantasizes about marrying a dirtbag, despite continual occurrences of this relationship. As a confessed dater of both and the potential father of another, my “inner Linus” definitely prefers the princess. For those of you who are not familiar with real, live princesses, I’ll share what knowledge I have of this curious species and hope it provides insight into the intentions of Ms. Kennedy.

Princesses are smart, so smart in fact that many tend to hide their full intelligence, preferring to utilize it when it is most applicable. The can fix a broken toilet, they just don’t want to. Trust me, if they have a Master’s Degree, they understand the basics of household plumbing. Princesses are graceful, dancing not only with movement but also with words. Kind phrases go a long way with a great smile and flashing eyelashes. They understand the subtleness and warmth of a delicate kiss. Relishing being the center of attention with an attitude of a playful kitten, once they have your eye it’s on to the next prize. It is important to note even kittens have claws.

Princesses are an ambitious bunch. Whether the goal is love, a promotion or finding assistance with the plumbing, they always seem to be planning ahead. Princesses are rarely, if ever, hermits. To hang with a princess one has to endure social engagements with the fortitude of a marathon runner. There’s always more and there will be even more after that. A princess rarely retires to a place of contemplation other than their room, which tends to have a mystery to it like a locked jewelry box. If you’re looking to spend your later years in the Shire or in a cave like Obi-Wan, they will never come. There is always a new challenge, a new prize to place in the jewelry box. Once they have their prize, a princess always finds another to attain. They just can't quite get satisfaction.

By announcing her intention to seek the New York Senate appointment, Ms. Kennedy has forced to public to reexamine the idealized image it has had of her for four decades. Is she really the daughter of Camelot, wanting only to continue the legacy of her family? Or is she just an opportunist who desires the Senate appointment merely because it is something she does not have? Maybe, like many princesses, she’s become bored with being a socialite. Kennedy’s blundering PR tour across New York certainly suggests one of the latter reasons. Her interviews are evasive and vague at best, implying an inner surprise that a princess such as herself would be subjected to such menial vetting. The New York Times reported Kennedy cut off an interviewer on Saturday. Not quite the stuff of political savvy but perfect behavior for a princess who thinks she is entitled to what is hers by right and not merit.

I didn’t receive my Senate appointment for Christmas. I didn’t expect to but thought Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich might consider it if he woke up one day in a giggly mood. I guess I just wasn’t rich enough, influential enough, manipulative enough or cute enough for the job. I didn’t fit the Caroline Kennedy type, although my record collection is way cooler than hers. Other than the aforementioned qualities, I think our resumes with respect to a U.S. Senate seat are pretty much the same.

Caroline Kennedy’s ambition is taking its toll on her long-crafted image. She no longer looks graceful, but cautious. Her smile is weathered and composure cracked. If this is the fate of Camelot’s Princess, it is a sad one indeed. No one wants to watch a princess fall. Although I’ve been critical of princesses in this piece, I never stated I did not love them. To have the affections of a princess, even for a short time, is like watching a blooming flower rising from the morning sun or holding a Grecian urn and pondering its true meaning. The experience stays with you, becomes the stuff of dreams, cursing you with joy. It would be a shame to have those thoughts shattered like priceless porcelain on a concrete floor.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Adam's 2008 Serialized Christmas Special

Hey all,

The following is a transcript of the my serialized Christmas special posted on Facebook. It may not be the best Christmas special ever, but it sure beats the stuff crapped out on Lifetime, ABC Family and the Hallmark Channel. Use your imagination to fill in the gaps. Enjoy! Special thanks to Holly, Jason, Dan and Chris for commenting on this while it was being posted.

Adam is dammit! Uncle Billy lost the bank deposit money!

Adam fired Uncle Billy, committed him to the asylum, slammed a White Russian and is going to find a way to save Christmas!

Adam is contacting the Guardians of the Christmas Spirit to ask their help in saving his Christmas. Will Mr. Hankey, Andy Williams, KISS and Ted McGinley help out?

Adam is sad to learn Mr. Hankey is stuck in the sewers of Chicago politics and KISS is playing pinball with Rufer. It's up to Andy Williams and Ted McGinley!

Adam is shocked! Bernard Madoff stole Uncle Billy's bank deposit money, the lifetime savings of thousands of people but also the spirit of Christmas itself!

Adam has been assured Ted McGinley and Andy Williams are going to find a way to stop Bernie Madoff and save Christmas!

Adam saw Ted McGinley tap into the public Yule Log TV feed. He’s got to have a plan. Never count out Ted McGinley!

Adam is watching Ted McGinley synchronize the Yule Log station with Andy Williams rocking out on “Christmas Hero”. Will Andy's voice be enough to stop Madoff?

Adam is amazed to see KISS return from Rufer’s house and join the Andy Williams choir. The Gods of Thunder and the Saint of Christmas – together!

Adam is seeing the power of Andy Williams and KISS separating Bernard Madoff from his money! Wait! Mr Hankey's blocking the toilet-Madoff can’t flush the money down!

Adam is grateful the Guardians of Christmas returned the hope and magic of the holidays away from evil Bernie Madoff, exiling him to the sewers with Mr. Hankey.

Adam is happy to have such wonderful friends and family. God bless us, every one!

Monday, December 22, 2008

All I Want For Christmas Is...(Part Four)

I’ve never sent a Christmas card. Not a single one. They always seemed too superficial to me. My “inner Linus” always just said no. I could never send out something generic nor did I have the time to personalize a card to every person I cared about. I’ve tried a handful of times, but there was never time enough to express how I felt. About six years ago, I was living in a town I didn’t like and in a relationship that was disintegrating into dust. I was out of work and with little to no prospects of finding any. During this time, I wrote a Christmas card. It wasn’t Hallmark material but it expressed more emotion than I saw in a sentimental shoebox greeting. The following is the unedited contents of this piece. If you never get a Christmas card from me, this is the best I can do to suffice:

So it is Christmas – the birth of catharsis.
I have nothing in my house that reeks of holiday cheer
Except a Wal-Mart ad, the cold Minnesota air
And isolated Christmas cards scattered upon the living room floor.

Everything I see on TV tells me Christmas is here
Yet there’s so little cheer
For the hungry, homeless and lonely
The oppressed, suppressed and depressed.
Everybody needs more candy.
I still want a hula-hoop.

A million and a half people live on the streets in America.
I want to meet all of them.
Tell them “Happy Christmas”
Let them laugh and play
Use their imagination
Feel the sensation of a world filled with love.
God knows I want to be there.

To those who are sad,
I wish you laughter.
To those who are drunk
Raise a toast to the ones you cherish.
Or if you don’t have any, raise your glass with me
For I will drink with you.

Those whom I’ve had a mere acquaintance
A handshake or a passing, pleasant stare
Forgotten thoughts or letters
Friendships forsaken or a shattered romance
Know that my dreams are often filled with you.

To the leaders whose hands
Hold the weight of the world
Remember the children beneath the Christmas tree.
Hold your uneven hands from pressing the button
Embrace your enemy for they are your brother.

My hair grows gray – strays away
Floating into the haze of the past.
No-one was dead and I had yet to fall in love.
As a child – holiday’s baby
It is a special time.
Christmas is everything.
Grandpa sitting in his chair, smoking a pipe
Grandma in the kitchen, baking the turkey just right.
Dad’s dancing with history and Granddad’s theory.
Mom sits on the couch with a glowing smile and
Aspirations of basking beneath the light
Of a shiny Christmas star.

Santa came down the chimney
Fresh cookies lying on the dinner table
Presents surrounding the Christmas tree
Underneath an angel’s light.
Pea salad, oyster stew and green bean casserole
Clich├ęs now but then it was new.

After you tuck your children in their beds
Before you step inside the sheets
Hang your stockings and your heads high.
Make your fireplaces shine bright
Be in love with life
For it’s Christmas time!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

All I Want For Christmas Is...(Part Three)

“We are spirits in the material world” – The Police
“Oh Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz” – Janis Joplin
“All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth” – Spike Jones
“Gimme Gimme Gimme” – ABBA

Everybody wants something – it’s just human nature. Even Gandhi wanted a robe. With the economy at the mercy of the Incredible Hulk in an extra-poopy mood and Mr. Burns taking over the body of a real, live old guy (Bernard Madoff), it’s hard to ask for that one special present when so many may go without. However, most of us will be getting something and I don’t think it’s too out of line for those of us who are going to get gifts to have the gumption to request something we really want. Not any of that “world peace”, “universal harmony” or “stop polluting mother earth” jargon – I’m talking about stuff. Tangible, yummy, feel good about yourself stuff. As we get older, we tend to ask for less and get that indispensable gift which looks perfect next to the Chia-Pet at next summer’s garage sale. It isn’t the gift-giver’s fault that they gave you a George Foreman Grill, a Ginsu Knife set or a DVD of the worst movie of the year (“The Love Guru” – it’s what I always wanted!). The fault lies solely with our humility. If we do not ask, we are doomed to receive what our family and friends think we want. Geez, have we forgotten what it’s like to be a kid at Christmas?

It’s time to channel that “inner Linus” again and remember what Christmas was all about. Who doesn’t remember the arrival of the J.C. Penny Christmas Catalog and the Sears Wishbook in the mailbox? These sacred documents contained everything you could possibly desire, accompanied by full color pictures showcasing material enlightenment. I would peruse these catalogs endlessly, folding pages and marking toys that would make my Christmas day. Obviously, many expectations were unrealistic. Nobody really expects to get a Lionel train, a track-racing set, TOPPS baseball cards and a Nintendo. But it was a wonderful feeling to dream of the possibility. Santa would usually make some of our dreams come true – with a little help from Mom and Dad.

Somewhere in the process of growing up, many of us lost this fantasy, preferring to receive monetary gifts to spend as we please. For two decades, I subscribed to this philosophy. I liked money (who doesn’t) and enjoyed getting the opportunity to buy things myself. However, as time went by, I realized I had lost something. I no longer had the feeling that my family knew me well enough to give me anything besides the cash I’d been requesting since I was 12. I forgot how great the feeling was of someone knowing you well enough that they could get you a cool gift without incessant prodding. Instead, I began an annual holiday purchase known as “the Christmas gift to myself.” After all, at least I knew what I wanted. Last year, my gift was “the Von Erich Family Board Game”, which combined the excitement of pro-wrestling with a cribbage board. Sound fun? Hey, at least it looks good on display. Don’t get all “distorting the vision of Linus” on me, I know many of you do this too. I decided to suspend my “Christmas gift to myself” this year with hope someone will actually find it in their hearts to tell dear old Santa what good little Adam wants for Christmas. That said, I’ve made my list and checked it twice. I know I’m a little bit naughty, but I hope I’ve been a little bit nice. Family, the choice is yours.

Muppet memorabilia made before Jim Henson’s death. I’m a huge fan of the “Muppet Show.” One of my fondest childhood memories was being taken to an exhibit of the Muppets by my aunt. I must have been five or so at the time but I still remember being in awe of the world Jim Henson created. I’d like anything from glasses to actual muppets. I have a copy of the “Muppet Show” board game. Other than that, my collection is pretty empty. I had a colorform set once, but it’s long since gone. There was plenty of Muppet product in the 1970’s and any relic of this magic time would be a joy. Beware, the EBay listings are longer than this year’s housing foreclosures.

Literary plates/etchings. When I was going to college in St. Cloud, a bookstore in town had an 80-year old book of Dante’s Inferno with illustrated plates. I didn’t have the money to buy it then (20 bucks!) and regret it still. I also would like a nice, old copy of William Blake’s “Songs of Innocence and Experience” with full depictions of Blake’s plates that accompanied the poems. The older, the better.

A stuffed “Bill the Cat”. Made about twenty years ago with a disclaimer that Bill would fall apart if touched. I’ve always been a big “Bloom County” fan and a stuffed “Bill” would complete my collection. If I get it, I’ll put Bill on top of the Christmas tree instead of the star. Seriously, I promise.

A U.S. Senate Seat. I know this is reaching, but a guy’s gotta dream. An action figure of “The Stay-Puft Marshmellow Man” would be a good substitute.

The Millennium Falcon. This is the one item I would have bought for myself, but I refuse to purchase it. I’ve wanted a Millennium Falcon for 28 years now but Santa passes me by. Everyone has that one present they never received. Be it an Easy Bake Oven, a Malibu Barbie or an Exorcist Elmo, there is one gift for everyone that has yet to be received. Without doubt or exception, this is mine. My parents tried very hard to get me a Falcon when I was young. In 1980, it was all I asked for, but it was the hottest toy in the world. In a time before Amazon and EBay, parents had to find a toy at a store in order to buy it for their children. My parents assumed they didn’t need to order from a catalog, which was usually used for specialty items like the aforementioned baseball cards and train sets. As Christmas came closer, they couldn’t find a Millennium Falcon at any local store. The fastest ship in the galaxy was a hot item and the most desirable toy in the “Star Wars” universe. Money wasn’t an issue, but locating the Falcon was. My parents left one night in pursuit of it, only to come home from several suburban toy stores tired and discouraged. Being good parents, they broke the news to me that Han Solo’s ship was nowhere to be found. But they had every intention of making their little boy happy on Christmas. Under the tree, there was a gigantic, rectangular box. When it came time, I unwrapped it with anticipation. It had to be something from “Star Wars.” They were they only toys I wanted. What could it be? An AT-AT? An X-Wing Fighter? A Wompa? I tore apart the wrapping paper like a carnivore, my heart beating and mind flashing maybe – just maybe – there was a Millennium Falcon. As the paper was torn apart, I saw a gigantic “Star Wars” logo. As the wrapping was removed, I held in my hands the coveted “Rebel Transport” ship.

What? What is this? It’s big but it looks like a giant torpedo. The obviously expensive toy in my hands made me cold. This wasn’t what I wanted and I was pretty sure I didn’t ask for it. The “Rebel Transport?” The ship the rebel alliance used to flee Darth Vader on the planet Hoth, it didn’t exactly inspire imaginative play. Let’s create one of the saddest scenes in “Empire!” You, too can flee the evil empire with your rag-tag group of action figures that don’t figure into the plot. Luke and R2? They took off to Dagobah to find Yoda. Han, Leia, Chewie and C3PO? They were on the Millennium Falcon. Not much left to play with. Just an over-expensive case for action figures. I knew my parents had the best of loving intentions with their gift and I played with it the best I could. One day later, my sole enjoyment from the Rebel Transport was miraculously being able to put the front and back panels back together. Fly, white turd, fly! If only it was that enjoyable.

Decades later, Hasbro has released several commemorative “Star Wars” toys. Last year, I bought my son, Shane a TIE-Fighter with detachable wings. Similar to the classic 80’s toy down to the inability to open the cockpit without breaking it, Shane and I had hours of fun staging battles. Surprisingly, it’s still intact and ready for another fight. In 2008, Hasbro released their most ambitious “retro” toy: you guessed it – a Millennium Falcon! Not just a replica of the classic toy nor a copy of the Falcon released just three years ago, this Millennium Falcon has everything! It talks, it lights up and even includes Han and Chewie! What more could a boy ask for?

A comparison: the Millennium Falcon in action:

The Rebel Transport on its final voyage:

I realize the Millennium Falcon is expensive, selling for as much as $160 at Toys R’ Us and as low as $100 on Amazon. Unlike the 1980’s, however, this time it is readily available. A casualty of our shaky economy, many stores such as Wal-Mart and Target ordered many of these toys in anticipation of another blockbuster-shopping season. Sadly, many Falcons remain in stores, indicative of the lack of the “Generation X” market willing to spend on itself. It’s possible the toy will reach as low as $80 before year’s end, reminiscent of the endless SUV’s discounted at car dealerships. Maybe someone will find it in their heart to rescue the Falcon from its department store prison and deliver it safely to the rebel base at the Adam Koeppe household. I promise that it will be removed from its protective box and played with by loving, enthusiastic children young and old. Help me, Santa. You’re my only hope.


Santa, can you hear me?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

All I Want For Christmas Is...(Part Two)

With the economy riding on a rollercoaster designed by Crazy Harry, it’s hard to celebrate Christmas if there is little to give besides peace on earth and goodwill to men. Santa’s riding his sleigh filled with eight tiny bailouts, but no concrete relief for those waiting by the chimney. But fear not, true believers! I’ve got the perfect gift – one that keeps on giving. It’s that time of year again! Time for the fourth annual Adam Koeppe Christmas music compilation! Known by many as the “Tick” CD’s, it’s a mix of all the songs that I’ve liked throughout the year. I’ve downsized to one disc this year as I just didn’t have the time to listen to as much as I’d like (see kids, life). I hope quality makes up for quantity. I guess that’s for the listener to judge. Available for pick-up this Saturday at “Friend Christmas” in Waverly, Minnesota, I hope everyone enjoys the tunes. I’ve decided to provide liner notes this year and links to the songs if they are available. Most of the links are videos, please give them a look. If you are not attending “Friend Christmas” and would like a copy, let me know. I’ll gladly send you one. I can’t accept any money or I will surely violate the ancient “fair use” laws, which are violated every second on You Tube. That said, I’ll gladly give you a piece of my 2008 musical muse.

“To the Taxmobile” by Lenlow. A phenomenal mash-up sent to me by Ucis. Combining the old “Batman” theme, “Taxman” by the Beatles and “Wipeout” by the Surfaris, “Taxmobile” succeeds in celebrating all three songs without diluting any of their punch. A true underground classic, the best song I’ve heard all year and a great intro track.

Hop a Plane” by Tegan and Sara. By far the best song off their CD “The Con”, “Hop a Plane” is one of those two-minute pop songs that just sticks in your brain and makes you push repeat over and over. Also proof uber-production is overrated. Simplistic, complex and melodic; the happiest and saddest song of the year. “All I want to hear is that you’re not mine.”

“Lie Down Here and Be My Girl” – Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. From the album “Dig! Lazarus! Dig!,” Cave delivers his best song in years and one of the few that is upbeat in tempo. Cave’s lyrics and voice still exude menace, showing he has no intent on slowing down after almost thirty years of making music. Is it really that long? Geez, I’m old!

“Reflections” – The Chambers Brothers. Considered a “one-hit wonder” with the song “Time Has Come Today”, this 1974 release from the album “Unbonded” is a cover of the Supremes classic. Amazing, soulful vocals make this cover an undiscovered classic. An album truly worth seeking out and an artist that needs more credit.

“Everybody Wants to Rule the World” – Patti Smith. From the album “12.” A cover of the 80’s Tears For Fears classic, Smith removes the synthesizers and uses a traditional five-piece band. Emphasizing lyrics over style, Smith strips the song bare with her rendition yet still maintains the melody of the original. Atmospheric and prophetic, “Everybody” is a song waiting to be recognized as a 20th Century standard. “I can’t stand this indecision, buried with a lack of vision.” ‘Nuff said.

“Swinging on a Star” – The Four Freshmen. Combining the harmonies of the Freshmen with a cartoon voice I can’t place, the song takes me back to the soda fountain days of the forties and fifties. Who doesn’t want to “carry moonbeams home in a jar?” Grab your date and dance!

“Lullaby for the Taken” – Kimya Dawson. Dawson’s poetic lyrics are humorous and sad. Gaining interest from the use of her songs in the film, “Juno”, all of her albums are great and worth owning. Another great case against uber-production. Sometimes all you need is a four track and inspiration. “Always remember I love you.” Timeless, yet heartfelt.

“Give Him a Great Big Kiss” – The Shangri-Las. “When I say I’m in love you best believe I’m in love-LUV.” One of the best opening lines – period. On a par with the classic “Leader of the Pack” and produced by the late Shadow Morton, this upbeat ditty uses the similar “call and response” motif in “Leader of the Pack”. Sexy before sexy was common, this song was covered by the New York Dolls in the 1970’s. Please check out the video link - it rocks!

“Classic Cars” – Bright Eyes. Conor Oberst may have his critics (my wife included) but his cult following is vindicated in a song that could stand alongside anything in Bruce Springsteen’s or Tom Petty’s canon. A great ballad in an era with few, it reeks of a black and white film sequence filled with angst and lost love. “The best county singers die in the back of classic cars.”

“48 Crash” – Suzi Quatro. Why isn’t the queen of Glam mentioned in the company of Patti Smith, Joan Jett and Liz Phair? An undiscovered play on the bar jukebox and one of the first real jolts of “girl power.” Your record collection needs Suzi Quatro. However, if this song is covered by Pink, I will vomit instantaneously.

“Hazy Shade of Winter” – The Bangles. Speaking of “girl power”, how about topping Paul Simon? The Simon and Garfunkel original never sounded right. They just never were able to quite rock, not even with “Mrs. Robinson.” The Bangles captured the immediacy of Simon’s lyrics while giving the melody the punch it needed. Sadly, The Bangles never attempted anything as ambitious again. The song is from the out of print soundtrack for “Less Than Zero”, which starred Robert Downey Jr. as an out of control drug addict. Sometimes, things come full circle. Downey is one of the biggest stars on the planet and we are definitely in a “Hazy Shade of Winter.”

“Losing Streak” – The Eels. Ironically, a song I like for its production. I’m a sucker for a piano lick, especially a happy one juxtaposed with the title. I love songs discovered by accident. They put a bounce in your day, like a ten-dollar bill showing up in your jeans. It makes your day brighter.

“People Who Died” – Jim Carroll. The poet turned punk singer whose story was chronicled in “The Basketball Diaries,” only this song and “Catholic Boy” live up to his myth. As he lists of names of his dead friends, it’s hard not to rock along with his eulogy, an incredible feat in itself. “Eddie, I miss you more than all the others. This song is for you, my brother!”

"Angelitos Negros" – Cat Power. God, Chan Marshall is talented! Another song sure to be used in a soundtrack somewhere. Full disclosure: I have no idea what this song is about as it’s sung in Spanish and I never paid attention in class. But that’s the beauty of music. You are allowed to feel, to imagine your own setting. Her voice is evocative and alluding, the music seductive. Is it a dream, or a nightmare? Like all music, it depends on the time and place you hear it.

“Dueces Wild” – Link Wray. One of the original guitar legends, Wray is an underrated master. I’d like to see the kids “Guitar Hero” to this one! Talent, pure talent.

“Another Girl, Another Planet” – The Only Ones. Predating New Wave by a few years, it’s another triumph of minimal production with maximum melody. It could be stated the punk/new wave revolution brought England out of its decade-long recession. Kids purchased music in droves during this period. Despite its reputation for nihilism, punk/new wave inspired a generation to believe they could make it. “I think I’m on another world with you.” Warren Buffett, are you taking notes?

“All I Want is You” – Barry Louis Polisar. The song which opens the film “Juno.” Folk music never gets old, especially when it’s new. Raw and immediate, innocent love is best when laid bare. This song accomplishes this without any hint of pretension. Let’s get around the campfire and sing! If you were the winter, I’d know I’d be the snow.” If you were a kiss, I know I’d be a hug.” “Hold me in your arms and swing me like the sea.” Priceless beauty, folk analogies.

“Those Were the Days” – Mary Hopkin. Produced by Paul McCartney and one of the few fruits from the Beatles’ “Apple” label, the song is more relevant now than ever. Times may be tough, but let us sing, dance and remember the good times. The song is a call to come together again. Drink, laugh and enjoy. “We’d sing and dance forever and a day. We’d live the life we choose. We’d fight and never lose.” Words to grow on.

“Something In The Air” – Thunderclap Newman. Produced by Pete Townshend in 1969 and a forgotten “one hit wonder,” it’s another song about hope during an uncertain future. There’s something about this song that just makes me want to play it again. "The revolution's here - and you know it's right."

“Kansas City Stomps” - Jelly Roll Morton. From “R. Crumb’s Heroes of Blues, Jazz and Country.” I like closing with an oldie. I just dig old jazz and ragtime. If we can’t afford to dance in the bar, let’s swing in the barn!

If you can’t afford to give much this year, give the gift of music. It’s what I grew up on, riding a rocking horse listening to my Mom’s 45’s. Part of me is still there, dropping the big turntable arm and enjoying the ride. Music captures your imagination and emotions like no other medium. A CD-R costs ten cents. Feelings are priceless. Maybe dear old Santa will find room in his sleigh for just a little musical good cheer and the 2008 “Tick” CD will find its way under your tree on Christmas morning. Music is a window to the soul. It's been a privilege over the last four years to share songs that move me. I hope you enjoy it.

Santa, can you hear me?

Can you feel me near you?

Santa, can you feel me?

Can I help to cheer you?



Thursday, December 4, 2008

All I Want For Christmas Is...(Part One)

With our economy struggling to find its feet in a manner resembling Keith Richards after a three-day bender, it’s hard to make a Christmas Wish List this year when so many can afford so little. However, being a kid at heart, I’ve decided to dream big and write about some of the cool stuff out there in hopes that Santa may find it in his jolly old heart to bring me a present on Christmas Eve. There’s been one thing on my mind more than anything else. It’s the hottest holiday item. It’s inspiring, durable and fun for the whole family. It’s not the Wii, a DVD or Osama Bin Elmo (it’s real, I tell you. I’ve seen it!). Change has come this Christmas and the product is Barack Obama.

When I voted for Barack Obama, I guess I thought he was pretty cool – at least cooler than John McCain. Any political expert will tell you only cool people can become president (see Kerry, Gore). Obama may be cool, but I never envisioned buying a color ceramic plate with his picture on it to place next to my Killer Klown action figure. Commemorative coins, I expected. After all, they’re a dime a dozen. T-shirts, comics, napkins and undergarments weren’t a big surprise. But a plate? One I’m not supposed to eat off? I’ve been subjected to this inane Barack Obama plate ad for a few weeks now and I’m starting to think buying the doll that wets herself is a better gift. The ad features a clean-cut, generic white guy composing a one-page letter while glancing periodically at the Obama plate for inspiration. I was amazed. I didn’t know people still wrote letters! And preplanned their content to exactly one page!

Sure, Obama is cool, inspiring and other positive adjectives, but I can’t imagine placing his image next to my “London Calling” poster, my 1/8 scale model of “The Homer” or my autographed picture of “Potsie” from “Happy Days.” Plates and coins just don’t inspire me. Being a continual consumer of pop culture memorabilia, I started to search for the right Obama product for my collection. One that could hold its own against Doctor Who, Flaming Carrot and James Dean. An item cool enough to stand next to Cerebus, William Burroughs and Frank the Bunny. I couldn’t find a single thing. Sorry, CafePress, the Obama undies just didn’t jive. Disappointed but still determined, I made a list of Barack Obama merchandise “cool” enough to reside in my house. Hopefully those hard working elves in Santa’s Toy Shop are reading this and make one of the following items before they run out of funding.

Barack Obama – The Video Game. A surefire bestseller, players would assume the role of Harvard Law School Grad Obama, who begins his political career in an impoverished Chicago community. Similar to the XBOX franchise “Fable”, every choice you make as Obama affects the game’s story and outcome. What alliances will you form? What church will you choose to attend? Players face several major confrontations using a unique word interface. Obama has a set amount of time to make one of his historic speeches. Choose the right words quickly and political prominence is yours. Struggling in your task results in too many “uhhhs”, “ummms” and “you knows”, leaving followers unconvinced. Will you inspire the audience at the 2004 Democratic National Convention? Will you tell citizens of Pennsylvania to cling to their guns and religion? Can you fend off rivals Hillary Clinton and John McCain? Can you withstand interviews with Bill O’Reilly and Ellen DeGeneres? Choose your words wisely. The fate of “change" is in your hands.

Barack Obama – The Breakfast Cereal. “Barry-O’s!” Fortified with vitamins and minerals, “Barry-O’s” will get you ready for the change every new day brings. “Barry-O’s” brings all the flavors together. Imagine honey, marshmallows, strawberries, chocolate, blueberries, peanut butter, frosted shredded wheat, bananas, yogurt, oatmeal and tofu all in a wholesome whole-wheat cereal. After one bowl, you, too, can say, “Yes, we can!”

Barack Obama – The Lego Playset. “Lego Obama” will be a hit with kids of all ages. You can build and recreate exciting moments from the Democratic National Convention, the 2008 debates and election night in Chicago’s Grant Park. With additional sets, you can expand the world of “Lego Obama.” Look for the “press conference set,” the “Joe the Plumber” street scene, and even the White House! Be on the lookout for the ultra-rare “Pundit Playset” featuring Lego versions of John Stewart, Wolf Blitzer, Sean Hannity, Pat Buchanan and Rachel Maddow. Jim Pinkerton and Arianna Huffington available in random sets.

Barack Obama – The Alcoholic Beverage. “Bama Beer” will change your perception of libation. A beer with nine percent alcoholic content and made with whole-wheat hops, “Bama Beer” will get you closer to your dreams with every sip. Possessing the smoothness of its namesake and the flavor of his words, “Bama Beer” will truly let you feel that change is coming. Just a few pints will inspire faith and hope. Worried about the economy? Drink “Bama Beer!”

Barack Obama – The Vacuum Cleaner. Clean your house while Obama cleans up Washington!

Barack Obama – The Wrench Set. Need to get your hands on change? Available for pre-order at Sears.

Barack Obama – The Laundry Detergent. “Bride!” Tired of dirty politics and dirty clothes? Change comes with just one scoop!

Barack Obama – The Air Freshener. Smell the change!

Barack Obama – The Soup. Change in a can! 100 percent recyclable.

Barack Obama – The Bleu Cheese Dressing.

Barack Obama – The Ketchup/Mustard/Relish spread.

If we can afford change, then we can deal with change. That’s the Obama I want for Christmas. One that is more than just an image, but an actual President who will work day and night to get the American people out of these dismal times and pull us out of “Lego Land” and back into the real world. The choice is his. His fate is ours.

Santa? Santa?

Santa, can you hear me?