Twelve Days of Christmas

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I just realized that there’s twelve days before the big day, and I haven’t once inflicted any Christmas music on you nice followers.  Depending on your perspective, this may be a good thing.  (I know precisely how limited my own tolerance of Christmas music is, so I can understand why people might want to avoid it.)  But here goes.  I’m gonna try to post a Christmas song of some sort for every day leading up to the holiday.  And no, it won’t be twelve different versions of “The Twelve Days of Christmas”: that’s just where I happened to start out.

I first heard this on Dr. Demento’s radio show, and I thought it would be appropriate since it was announced earlier this year that Twin Peaks would be returning soon-ish with nine new episodes (I’m still kind of giddy about that).  This song was never officially released, at least not that I could find.  I only heard it a couple of times, and recorded it directly off the radio one of those times (I’ve still got that cassette, too).  It’s totally silly, and more than a little stupid.  I can’t tell if all the bits were recorded by actors from the show, but you can tell some of them are the genuine article.  If you love Twin Peaks, and don’t mind hearing a Christmas classic skewered, this song is for you.

Repost: “Fish Heads”

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I’ve been catching up on my DVR viewing (Sleepy Hollow is just as bananas as it ever was).  But I keep thinking I can smell tuna sandwiches somewhere.  I don’t know what that means.  But it led me back to this Freaky Friday classic.

I chose this old Dr. Demento standard by Barnes & Barnes for this weeks freaky post because I wanted to lighten things up after last week’s visit from The Residents. (Although, let’s face it, pretty much everything is happier than that freaky short film. Sorry if I actually freaked anyone out; that’s not actually the point of Freaky Friday.) Except the video for “Fish Heads” is a lot freakier than I’d remembered it being.

I’d buried this in the comments section quite some time ago, but didn’t pay much attention otherwise. “Fish Heads” is one of those songs meant to amuse and nothing more. There is no hidden meaning, no secret political agenda (although I’d like to hear it if anyone can come up with some kind of philosophy to attach to this one). It’s just a surreal little trip into the brains of Barnes & Barnes.

Art and Artie Barnes are actually former child star Billy Mumy and his childhood friend Robert Haimer (thanks, Wikipedia!). They got together as adults and recorded some weirdly funny songs and short films. “Fish Heads” is the best known, eventually becoming the most requested song in the history of the Dr. Demento show. There’s a whole backstory about the “twins” being from another planet, which explains the guys dressed in garbage bags with funky makeup, I guess. (I assume that’s Mumy and Haimler dressed up in lo-tech, low-cost alien “costumes.”)

Is there any redeeming social value to any of this? Well, it makes people laugh. That ought to be good enough for anyone.

Repost: “Music, Sex, and Cookies”

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I went to Trader Joe’s today, and picked myself up a box of their vanilla Joe Joe’s (like Oreos, only way better), which got me thinking about cookies and music.  Which led me straight back to this song.

 

Everybody has a theme song or two.  It’s part of being a human being in the age of (television/cinema/information/digital downloads/choose your poison).  Depending on your mood, it could be soaring and inspirational or the saddest emo ever known to humankind.  Or it could be amazingly silly, with just a hint of truth.

There really are a lot of songs that resonate with me on a very deep level.  I can “hear” myself in a lot of music; it’s part of what makes music such an important part of my life.  There’s even a few that I keep coming back to, over and over, as being representative of the person I am and the person I want to be.  But I find myself so oddly connected to this little ditty, that I’ve always considered it my theme.  I heard it on the Dr. Demento show many, many years ago.  (I think Dr. Demento must represent some sort of adolescent rite of passage.  Just about everyone I know started listening to him somewhere around puberty and quit right about the same time they started/ended college.)  I had no idea who performed it or when it was recorded.  For all I knew, it was a listener sending the good Doctor his homemade demo tape, a la Weird Al Yankovic.  I’ve got a little more information now, but this will always be the song I heard late one Sunday night and said, “My god, that’s me!” (except for the fact that I’ve never heard anything by the Pousette Dart Band).  As life philosophies go, it’s not bad.  A little hedonistic, but harmless.  The main purpose I think “Music, Sex, and Cookies” serves, and the one thing I think we all need to keep in mind, is that it reminds us not to take things too seriously.  Enjoy life.  Stop and have a cookie once in a while.  I’m partial to chocolate chip myself.

Gone to the Movies . . . Hopefully

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Y’all who’ve been here for any length of time already know about my love of the weird, the humorous, and the just plain silly.  The Muppets and Looney Tunes probably laid the groundwork when I was a child.  Early exposure to Shel Silverstein certainly didn’t hurt.  I watch Monty Python with unabashed joy.  And Dr. Demento was one of the staples of my adolescence.

Well, I saw over at Dangerous Minds that there’s a Kickstarter campaign to get funding for a Dr. Demento documentary made.  Here’s the trailer.

The good Doctor is someone I’d like to learn more about.  So much so that I’m actually considering dropping a few bucks on this one (for $30, I can get a DVD copy of the movie once it’s released).  For anyone unfamiliar, Kickstarter is a crowd-funding site through which creative types can get otherwise anonymous bystanders to give them money to get their work published/filmed/recorded/distributed.  Donors often receive premiums for their money (like the coffee mugs PBS gives away for pledges).  Google “Veronica Mars movie” for evidence of the power of Kickstarter.  I think it’s kind of an amazingly cool idea that just might make it easier for smaller, independent artists of all sorts get their work produced for public consumption.  The Internet is awesome.

Also awesome is this Dr. Demento classic by Bryan Bowers.  Have fun listening.  If you want to know more about Under the Smogberry Trees (or if you want to donate), here’s the direct link at Kickstarter.

You know, they really don’t wear anything beneath their kilts.  No wonder Craig Ferguson smiles so much.

Freaky Friday: “Fish Heads”

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I chose this old Dr. Demento standard by Barnes & Barnes for this weeks freaky post because I wanted to lighten things up after last week’s visit from The Residents.  (Although, let’s face it, pretty much everything is happier than that freaky short film.  Sorry if I actually freaked anyone out; that’s not actually the point of Freaky Friday.)  Except the video for “Fish Heads” is a lot freakier than I’d remembered it being.

I’d buried this in the comments section quite some time ago, but didn’t pay much attention otherwise.  “Fish Heads” is one of those songs meant to amuse and nothing more.  There is no hidden meaning, no secret political agenda (although I’d like to hear it if anyone can come up with some kind of philosophy to attach to this one).  It’s just a surreal little trip into the brains of Barnes & Barnes.

Art and Artie Barnes are actually former child star Billy Mumy and his childhood friend Robert Haimer (thanks, Wikipedia!).  They got together as adults and recorded some weirdly funny songs and short films.  “Fish Heads” is the best known, eventually becoming the most requested song in the history of the Dr. Demento show.  There’s a whole backstory about the “twins” being from another planet, which explains the guys dressed in garbage bags with funky makeup, I guess.  (I assume that’s Mumy and Haimler dressed up in lo-tech, low-cost alien “costumes.”)

Is there any redeeming social value to any of this?  Well, it makes people laugh.  That ought to be good enough for anyone.

Uncle Shelby

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I became interested in poetry, both writing and reading, because of Shel Silverstein.  I worked in the school library in 8th grade (and 11th and 12th, for that matter), and there wasn’t always a class visiting.  So when there wasn’t anything else to do, the librarian would pretty much let me run amok through the books, reading whatever I felt like.  My wanderings brought me to A Light in the Attic and Where the Sidewalk Ends.  Now we’d always had Shel Silverstein books in our house when I was a kid.  The Giving Tree was an absolute staple.  And one of my uncles gave my brother a copy of Uncle Shelby’s A-B-Z Book for his birthday one year, but I think I read it more than he did.  (I highly, highly, highly recommend that anyone with children in their lives gives them a copy of this book at some point.  It isn’t really a children’s book, but it is one of the most subversive things I’ve ever read.  I grew up on Uncle Shelby, Looney Tunes, Sesame Street, and H.R. Pufnstuf.  Really ought to explain everything there is to know about me.)  But I’d never seen his enchanting poetry books before.  Alternately heartwarming and surreal, Silverstein’s poetry was not just about things that would interest children but took children seriously as readers and people.

Which is interesting, since it seems like much of Silverstein’s career as a musician was about not taking things too seriously.  He wrote some very good serious songs, but he became famous for his satirical humor with songs like “A Boy Named Sue” and “The Cover of Rolling Stone.”  And he was responsible for this classic stoner tune that is notoriously difficult to find copies of.

“The Great Smoke-Off” was one of those cult classics that you had to be both nerdy and cool to know anything about.  It was always on Dr. Demento’s year-end  countdown of silly songs.  It was also a great big middle finger in the face of “decent” society.  There really aren’t that many songs this explicitly about drugs that doesn’t demonize them. (Official Disclaimer: I do not use, nor do I advocate the use of any illegal drugs–or most legal ones, for that matter.  I do believe drugs should be legalized, but also extremely regulated.)  I always felt like I was breaking some kind of law just listening to this song.

I don’t know how much of his music is still in print, frankly.  I know you can get CDs of him reading many of his poems, often with special editions of the books themselves (worth the extra money, IMO).  I also know that the world is a better place for having had Shel Silverstein in it.  He treated children like they were worth listening to and treated adults like they were children.  It would be nice if more people got those priorities straight.