Blogging will be more sporadic over the holidays as I will be together with my children and their significant others. Now that they are older and living independent lives elsewhere, these times together are few and far between and to be savored. I thought that I would pass on a couple of personal recommendations. Others should feel free to add their own in the comments.
I grew up singing in amateur church-related choirs in Sri Lanka and the big event of the year was the carol service. Don’t get me wrong. My singing talents are at best mediocre and I clung on to my place in the choir by the skin of my teeth, largely due to the fact that I was really conscientious about attending practices and learning the notes. Sheer effort rather than ability was what kept me from being booted off.
Why did I bother? Because many of the old Christmas carols (as distinguished from the more modern Christmas songs) are really good pieces of music with nice harmonies. They are enjoyable to sing and listen to, if you ignore the meaning of the words, which was easier to do with the ones in Latin.
So it was no surprise to me to hear that the punk rock group Bad Religion, although they are not religious as one might have guessed from the band’s name, had put out an album of Christmas songs. In this interview Greg Graffin, frontman and founder of the band, said that he too had sung in choirs as a young boy and found the melodies and harmonies appealing. The group has not tampered with the words or melody but put its own hard rock arrangements, and the extended snippets I heard were pretty good. The interview starts with Hark the Herald Angels Sing and ends (at the 15:15 mark) with What Child is This?
And my annual recommendation for the best Christmas film remains The Ref (1994) starring Kevin Spacey, Judy Davis, and Denis Leary and you can see the full film online. Leary plays a burglar on the run in a small affluent suburban town who takes a completely dysfunctional family hostage on Christmas eve while plotting his escape and finds his hands full trying to keep them apart.
For some reason, there seems to be no trailer online, so here’s the opening scene in the marriage counselor’s office that is hilarious.