Introducing the Christmas Album Hall of Fame

716fi-2BDj4L._SY355_

Folks, it’s almost Christmas. Less than a week, in fact. That means only one thing: it’s time to talk Christmas music again. If you remember Last Christmas, you know I laid out the case for Kelly Clarkson’s Wrapped in Red as the best Christmas album of the last 33 years and included some other modern classics. This year I thought I’d take the logical next step and create the Christmas Album Hall of Fame.

What is the Christmas Album Hall of Fame, you ask? Well, if you’re familiar with the concept of halls of fame, it’s that. It’s just a place where the best of the best are enshrined for eternity. Where is it? Why, it’s where all music lives, silly. In your heart. Also the physical location is in Massapequa, New York. The real estate was cheap, there.

Anyway, without further ado, I present the inaugural class in the Christmas Album Hall of Fame. There aren’t any specific qualifications, per se. It’s album sales, its’s cultural impact, it’s general quality. It’s kind of when you know, you know. And luckily for you, I know good Christmas albums. It’s what got me onto the selection committee, in the first place.

Veteran’s Committee Selections

Much like in sports halls of fame, the Veteran’s Committee exists to recognize the titans of years gone by. The names that may have been forgotten by the modern game, but whose importance and trailblazing cannot be overstated. In other words, it’s just old stuff.

Elvis- Elvis’ Christmas Album

220px-Elvis27christmasalbum

As the highest selling Christmas album of all time, Elvis probably would have made the Hall without the help of the Veteran’s Committee, but why leave it up to chance? Feel like we don’t talk enough about Elvis anymore. Guy was a legend. Used to make sandwiches out of whole loaves of bread and was always strapped. Sounds like someone who lived his life in the spirit of Christmas.

Signature Song:

Bing Crosby- White Christmas

516ObIhWMyL

The ultimate one-trick-pony. Did Bing Crosby every do anything besides White Christmas? I’ll never know. But did he really need to? When you’ve got the hottest grainy audio of all time, I think one pitch is all you need. I can practically smell this album, and if you don’t know what I mean by that then you don’t have white grandparents.

Signature Song:

Johnny Mathis- Merry Christmas

R-2470726-1520802637-9815.jpeg

A staple of this man’s car rides to said grandmother’s house for Christmas, Johnny Mathis snags the final Veteran’s Committee spot. Many people were looking for Frank Sinatra to be the Veteran’s Committee’s third selection, but a shocking eleventh hour change in the voting propelled J-Math to the top. Can you really blame them, though? No one sounds more like snow and hot chocolate.

Signature Song:

 

Modern Entrants

Kelly Clarkson- Wrapped in Red

810i52BA5zpL._SX355_

I think I’ve gone into this enough.

Signature Song:

Céline Dion- These Are Special Times

71wlm4z8eGL._SX355_

You knew the queen was getting in first ballot. If Wrapped in Red is the best Christmas album since “Last Christmas,” These Are Special Times is the second best. It’s a little bloated, which is just about the only negative. So many absolute bangers and powerhouse performances (what a surprise). It’s heavy on the religious songs, but if you’re against that you’re not a true Christmas music fan. 90% of this album is pure heat, and since there’s about 100 songs that’s a pretty good ratio. I mean, a song with Céline AND Andrea Bocelli? Someone pinch me, because I must be dreaming.

Signature Song:

Impossible to pick just one, but for the end note alone-

Or the hilarity of a French-Canadian power ballad diva singing “Feliz Navidad”

Michael Bublé- Christmas

71UTGwpfwwL._SY355_

Listen, the guy’s the King of Christmas for a reason. Fire voice, fire album. Pure, uncut Christmas spirit. No one has ever paired their music to the retail consumer experience better.

Signature Song:

Mariah Carey- Merry Christmas

71J-ZR5JP5L._SX355_

Eli Manning is going to be a first ballot Hall of Famer. The same logic applies here. Not a ton of highs, but man. Were those highs the highest highs ever.

Signature Song:

Josh Groban- Noël

JG_noel_DE_cover

Josh Groban is so underrated. We as a society have kind of forgotten about him, and that’s a travesty. He’s got one of the best *Googles* tenor and/or baritone voices of the modern era. You’re really gonna sit there and tell me you didn’t blast “You Raise Me Up” nonstop when it came out? Because I don’t believe that. Not for a second. Anyway, Noël is a real gem of a Christmas album. Banger after banger after banger. And the features? Faith Hill, Brian McKnight, and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir? Be still my beating heart. Like Céline’s it’s got a lot of religious songs, but I can only take so much “Santa Baby” before I need some piety in my life.

Signature Song:

or from the deluxe edition re-release

The Beach Boys- The Beach Boys’ Christmas Album

61ow47B0ZWL

You may think this would fall under the Veteran’s Committee’s jurisdiction, but it was already penciled in for induction before the V.C. had their vote. The Beach Boys are kind of weird in that normal people don’t care about them at all but music hipsters can talk for hours about how genius they are and criticize you for only knowing their early stuff. Anyway, this is a fire album. Always nice to insert a little energy into a genre that can be pretty heavy most of the time. Definitely one of the most influential Christmas albums of all time, too. According to my research (off the top of my head) it’s the first time an artist experimented with classics and put their own spin on well known hits. It’s ubiquitous now, but someone had to be the first to do it. Also people forget Mike Love is Kevin Love’s uncle.

Signature Song:

That’s it for the first ever inductees to the Christmas Album Hall of Fame. Did your favorite not make the cut? Too bad. This is the first ever class, not everyone can get in. Maybe next year Michael Bolton will get in (spoiler alert: he will). Don’t forget to stop in the next time you’re in Massapequa. Admission’s dirt cheap. I also get a tax break if the Hall brings enough people into the city, so keep that in mind.

Merry Christmas, and remember, always listen responsibly.

Advertisements

Is Elf on the Shelf Just a Front for NSA Surveillance?

promo-blocks-test1_4dcc83c8-2875-44b4-a8b8-5c104192c12b_840x

I’ll keep this short since I know everyone is busy doing things like “spending time with their families” and “enjoying the Christmas season,” but it’s never inappropriate to get a little woke. In my learned opinion, Elf on the Shelf is an extension of the Patriot Act put in place by the NSA to destroy the seeds of terrorism at the child level.

It’s pretty simple: Elf on the Shelf watches over kids and tells Santa if they’ve been naughty or nice. But there’s a pretty big flaw in that logic: Santa already knows who’s been naughty or nice already. He’s been able to magically know the morality of every child on Earth for hundreds of years. You’re telling me that the Santa cannon is changing because of a 2005 book/toy combination? Please. Santa doesn’t need Elf on the Shelf and never has. So why does Elf on the Shelf still exist? An unspoken agreement between corporations and parents to drive retail sales and keep kids well behaved? Maybe. But I think there’s a bigger game at play. Who else could benefit from this kind of unchecked surveillance? The government probably could. And when was the Patriot Act, a countrywide effort to increase surveillance and national security, ratified? 2001. And, despite civil liberty concerns, when was it re-upped? 2005. And Elf on the Shelf first came to stores in 2005? I think it’s a bit of a stretch to call that merely a coincidence.

Think about it from the kids’ point of view. What’s the most important thing in the world to them? Getting a bunch of awesome gifts for Christmas. Even if you’ve been indoctrinated from birth by a terrorist cell’s sick manifesto, being seen as “nice” in Santa’s eyes is priority number one. Are you gonna start planning a mass murder in a public place if you know Santa’s watching? I’m not. Not in a million years. Elf on the Shelf is a brilliant ploy by the NSA, because no one would ever expect the NSA to get involved in holiday affairs. Sure, there’s still terrorists out there. But if that one little terrorist kid thinks twice before executing their hateful scheme, that gives the NSA plenty of time to send agents to eliminate the threat. Sure, you hear about a lot of terrible things these days, but think about how many you haven’t heard about because of Elf on the Shelf. I’m all for privacy and personal liberty, but I also like being safe. So thank you for exploiting our children’s unwavering belief in the power of Santa, NSA. You’ve made this Christmas a safe one.

NFL Week 16 Picks

twasthenight

‘Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the league,

NFL bettors were stumped and feeling fatigued;

Their bet slips were hung by the chimney with care,

In hopes that St. Brian would soon be there;

The readers were nestled all snug in their beds,

While visions of Colts +14 danced in their heads;

As I climbed into my officially licensed NFL sheets,

I remember I had Vikings -9, what a treat!

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,

I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter.

Away to the window I flew with concern,

Wondering if Broncos +3.5 would give me heartburn.

The moon on the breast of the new fallen snow,

Gave the luster of mid-day to the Falcons +6 below;

When, what to my wandering eyes should appear,

But Pats -13 and eight tiny reindeer,

With a big, handsome driver, proud as a lion,

I knew in a moment it must be St. Brian.

More rapid than Eagles -9 his coursers they came,

And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name:

“Now, Bears -6.5! Now, Lions -5! Now, Chargers -7!

“On Chiefs -10.5! On Niners +4.5! Jimmy G, oh good heavens!

“To the top of the window! To the top of the wall!

“Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!”

As dry leaves before Panthers -10 fly,

When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky;

So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,

With a sleigh full of picks- and St. Brian too:

And then in a twinkling, I heard on the roof

The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.

As I raised up my head to avoid getting a flag,

Down the chimney St. Brian came with his bag:

He was dressed in full pads, from his head to his toes,

A playcalling sheet in hand so he knows all the throws;

A bundle of winning picks was flung on his back,

And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack:

His eyes- they were dull from all the concussions,

He launched head-first at receivers, what repercussions?

In thought, his mouth was scrunched up like a toad,

Then he exclaimed, “I like Rams -7, even on the road!”

I knew he loved hot dogs, so I put out a fresh batch,

As he ate one, he mumbled, “Man, was that a catch?”

He had a cherubic face, and a little round gut

That shook when he laughed at Browns scuttlebutt:

He was chubby yet ripped, a game-picking savant,

I’m still grateful for the time he gave Cowboys -5 to my aunt;

A wink of his eye and a twist of his head

Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.

He spoke not a word, he was totally zen,

And filled the stocking with picks; he loved Steelers -10.

Before flying back up the chimney, he gave me a note,

It said, “Take Giants +3.5, then buy yourself a new coat.”

He sprung to his sleigh, to his team, “play through the whistle!”

And away all they flew, like the down of a thistle:

But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight-

“Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”

BONUS BOWL PICKS

  • Temple vs Florida International +7
  • Central Michigan vs Wyoming +3.5
  • Texas Tech vs South Florida Over 66
  • Army vs San Diego State -7
  • Appalachian State vs Toledo -7

If You Say Die Hard is Your Favorite Christmas Movie I Hate You

die_hard_christmas2x1

Imagine this scenario, if you will. You’re at a Christmas party. Or any party, or any kind of social gathering. Somehow, the topic of Christmas movies comes up and everyone is saying their favorites. The old guy says It’s a Wonderful Life, the token millennial says Elf, there’s plenty of Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer. Feeling anxious, you think about what you’re about to say. Tired of living in the shadows, you decide to be zany to get a few laughs and stand out. “Actually, Die Hard is my favorite Christmas movie.” The guy who never goes online gives a chortle, but everyone else, including me, hyper-aware-of-everything-that-goes-on-online-and-is-thus-never-impressed-with-anything guy, rolls their eyes. “Here we go again,” everyone says. “What’s next? He gonna ask if a hot dog is a sandwich?”

The “Die Hard is a Christmas movie” argument has been around for a while, now. I’m pretty sure it was around online when I was in high school. But it’s pretty inescapable, these days. Everyone thinks they’re the most clever, funniest person to ever walk the planet when they proclaim that Die Hard, not whatever your preferred version of A Christmas Carol, is the best Christmas movie. Dish even has Santa saying it in their new commercial. It’s absolutely everywhere. And it’s just so goddamn lame. It’s just another thing that people latch onto to seem cool online. Everyone wants to be part of the in-crowd, and the fastest way to join the smarmy, elitist culture that is the Die Hard Christmas gang is to say things like “Die Hard is my favorite Christmas movie,” “Nickleback sucks,” and “Ben Affleck as Batman is terrible.” And it’s tiring, too. Ever met a Die Hard Christmas Guy? No one has ever felt stronger about anything than they feel about the fact that Die Hard is a Christmas movie. If you say one thing to challenge them, they’ll go to the ends of the earth to show how wrong you are. People who call Die Hard their favorite Christmas movie almost singlehandedly take all the joy out of Christmas.

Before we go any further, I think I need to clarify something: I’m a huge Die Hard fan. I named John McClain as my number one action movie character of all time. Die Hard is the greatest action movie of all time and one of the five most influential movies of all time. 75% of action movies made after Die Hard was just Die Hard with a different skin. It’s one of the most important movies ever made. That’s why I get pissy when people call Die Hard a Christmas movie. It cheapens it. When’s the last time you thought about (forget watched) Christmas Vacation in July? What about The Santa ClauseJingle All the Way? Christmas movies are so specific to Christmas that they don’t resonate whatsoever if watch them at any other time of year. Christmas is literally the central plot point to every Christmas movie. If it wasn’t Christmas, all the movies you know and love wouldn’t happen. What happens to Die Hard if it doesn’t happen on Christmas? Anything? There would be some hoops to jump through narratively, sure. But the central plot doesn’t change at all. Nakatomi Plaza could have been held up any day that all the top executives were all there. The fact that it was Christmas was only window dressing.

Listen, if you really think calling Die Hard is a great Christmas movie is the highlight of your year, I won’t fight you. If you truly believe Die Hard belongs in the Christmas movie genre, go for it. I’ll judge you and I’ll hate you, but I won’t stop you. Just know that by doing so, you’re ruining the very movie you claim to love. Die Hard is timeless. It shouldn’t be shackled by the Christmas movie label. It’s great no matter what time of year you watch it. It’s great in March. It’s great in September. And yes, it’s great in December. Don’t insult the greatest action movie ever by insinuating that you can only enjoy it during Christmas or that some Christmas message is the main point of the movie. That’s just asinine. Die Hard is about one man waging a guerrilla war against a small group of terrorists and killing a dozen men singlehandedly. That doesn’t sound like Christmas to me.

I’m Sick of People Calling Christmas Sweaters Ugly

Anyone who knows me knows I love Christmas. I love the traditions, I love the food, I love the snow, I love all of it. Well, almost all of it. There’s one small detail that really gets under my skin: Christmas parties. Actually, let me re-phrase that. I hate Ugly Sweater parties. Why, you ask? Everyone knows I love getting festive and dressing up in eye-catching outfits. Seems like a perfect fit. And it is. I’m just sick of people calling the sweaters ugly.

I mean, look at this:

pooping-moose-ugly-christmas-sweater

You’re telling me that’s ugly? I see a smart looking sweater that perfectly captures the spirit of a Nordic Christmas. That’s a money sweater that I wish I had. That’s not ugly. And what about this?

f8a84038b8861819170b80020c563c2d-christmas-cardigan-christmas-sweaters

That’s a good looking sweater, right there. Love me some maroon. It’s the most underrated winter color, IMO. Looks great in any situation. Does that look like the fact of a woman who thinks she’s wearing something ugly? I think not. Don’t like reindeer for some reason? Well, Christmas sweaters have a pretty deep design pool to draw from.

vintage-80s-packers-stocking-tacky-ugly-christmas-sweater-womens-size-medium-m

That’s what I’m talking about. If anyone can look you in the face and call this ugly, they’re probably getting visited by three ghosts when they go to bed. Wearing something like this puts some pep in your step and gives you a better outlook on life. If you hate that, then you’re the ugly one, friend.

To make one thing clear: I’m only talking about legitimate sweaters. Knit sweaters that have lives of their own and tighten and loosen at the drop of a hat. Not these new age “ugly christmas sweaters” that everyone’s pedaling that are just sweatshirts with a small design steam printed on. It’s always novelty designs or pop culture references or something. You’ll see something online saying something like “New Ugly Christmas Sweaters On Sale Now!” and it’ll be something like this:

yeahbitch2_original

That’s a sweatshirt, fool! That’s not a Christmas sweater. If you roll up to my Christmas party and you’re wearing this? Sorry, but you’re getting left out in the cold. A good rule of thumb: if it has a Gildan tag on it, it’s not legitimate. The design has to go all the way around and it has to be knit. There’s no comparison. Sweatshirts look bad. Sweaters look good:

the-hanukkah-sweater-custom-christmas-sweaters-5

Mazel tov to anyone lucky enough to have a sweater that looks this good. This is the perfect Christmas Holiday sweater. Subtle, understated, and gets people talking. Try walking into a party wearing a lame sweatshirt and starting conversations with people. Can’t imagine it’ll go well. But if you’re wearing that? First they compliment on your sweater, you say thanks, they ask where you got it, you give a vague answer so no one can find it and replicate your style, then next thing you know you’re talking about net neutrality and the meaning of life.

the-night-before-christmas-sweater-moose-800x1200

This sweater will get you respect, it will get you friends, it will get you a significant other, it will get you happiness. Can’t imagine a better garment than that. And people want to call these ugly? You try knitting a sweater while perfectly capturing the whimsical reindeer in its natural, snowy habitat on a red or green background. Would you like it if someone called it ugly? I doubt it. Calling these sweaters ugly is like calling Christmas itself ugly. I don’t think I need to say why that just wouldn’t be okay. Christmas sweaters are Christmas, and if you don’t like them or think they’re ugly, post your address in the comments so I can come fight you.

In case you somehow haven’t gotten me a Christmas gift yet, just throwing this one out there.

ugly-christmas-sweater-49846-510x765

Unpopular Opinion: Kelly Clarkson’s Wrapped in Red is the Best Christmas Album of the Last 33 Years

810i52ba5zpl-_sx355_

As many of you certainly know by now, we’re smack dab in the middle of Christmas SZN, which means it’s prime time for Christmas music. There’s a lot of great Christmas music out there, and, if you’re somehow new to the genre, it can be a little overwhelming. The market is pretty darn saturated (it’s still one of my biggest dreams to record a Christmas album. That’s how I’ll know I’ve made it. Just imagine the cover of Brian’s Den Home for the Holidays), and it’s very easy to go down the wrong path. Luckily, I’m a bit of a Christmas music expert, and, in the spirit of the season, I’ll gladly give my two cents on what kind of Christmas music you should be listening to. Now, you can go anywhere on the Internet and find Christmas album rankings, and all of them will have the same five ones and it’ll just be the most famous ones and all that. But here’s a little tip you can only get here: Kelly Clarkson’s Wrapped in Red is the greatest Christmas album of the last 33 years. Why 33 years? Well, 33 years ago, this was released:

Enough said. With some notable exceptions, the majority of Christmas music was written before “Last Christmas” came out. So, for the most part, it was an even playing field for everyone who released a Christmas album afterwards, unless they felt like experimenting and releasing a new song. Some of these new songs worked. Most don’t. So, in the interest of creating the biggest pool from which to draw inspiration, only albums released after 1984 should be considered for the true connoisseur. Sure, there are some high quality pre-Wham! Christmas albums, but if half the songs you know and love haven’t even been written yet, what’s the point? I’d feel like I was cheating you, Christmas music neophyte, if I suggested a Johnny Mathis album that didn’t have a cover of “Santa Baby” included. Feel free to listen and enjoy, but some of the older albums have a much purer, more concentrated Christmas feel to them. Most of the time, only the more seasoned Christmas music listeners can handle the hopeful, more innocent, less cynical sounds of Bing Crosby and the like. We all know better than to feel optimistic about stuff these days, right? Every day was sunshine and rainbows for the folks in the 50s, and their Christmas music reflects that. So, modern=better.

I know what you’re thinking. “There must be a million Christmas albums released since 1984. What makes Kelly Clarkson’s the best?” Well, I’ll get to that shortly, but first I need to give out some honorable mentions, because there’s a lot of good Christmas albums out there. Two things to remember: 1. This is albums, not songs. I’m sorry I didn’t touch on your favorite song even though it’s really popular. That just means the rest of the album stunk. 2. This is non-religious only. There’s some hot, hot religious-only albums out there, but I figured I’d stick with the mainstream, mall soundtrack fare (for posterity’s sake, my top five religious Christmas songs: 1. O Holy Night 2. Oh Come, All Ye Faithful 3. Hark! The Herald Angels Sing 4. Angels We Have Heard On High 5. The First Noel). Most Christmas albums worth their salt have at least one religious song, anyway, so the singer can show off their range. It goes without saying, but if you like “Dominick the Donkey,” “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas,” “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus,” or “Do They Know It’s Christmas” you should be euthanized.

Honorable Mention

1200x630bb

Mariah Carey-Merry Christmas

Need to give a shoutout to Mariah for the unquestioned GOAT secular Christmas song. “All I Want for Christmas is You” is somehow both the most overplayed song of all time and the one song in the world that never gets old. It’s a musical triumph. I’ll be totally honest, I’ve never listened to the rest of the album, so it could either be horrible or I could have picked the wrong album to base this whole post around. I’m gonna assume it’s just okay outside AIWFCIY, so I think it’s fine putting it here.

Best Song:

81pafe29ail-_sl1500_

Leona Lewis- Christmas, with Love

Man, I thought Leona Lewis had next in 2007. She’s got some serious pipes and I have no idea why she’s not the biggest star in the world now. Oh, well, at least she released a great Christmas album. Three original songs seems like a little much when two of them aren’t great (“One More Sleep” is my jam), but the rest of it is pure heat to warm up even the coldest of winter nights.

Best Song:

r-918431-1172700231-jpeg

*NSYNC- Home for Christmas

If you don’t like “Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays” you can go ahead and stop reading this right now.

Best Song:

71utgwpfwwl-_sl1425_

Michael Bublé- Christmas

I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if I didn’t mention the unofficial voice of Christmas, Michael Bublé. Somehow he only has one Christmas album despite the fact that you can find a Bublé cover of essentially every Christmas song ever made somewhere online. Pretty sure 90% of the Bub-god’s salary is made in late-November and December, and for good reason. This is a classy album that perfectly serves as inoffensive background music, but definitely lacks the kind of spiciness other albums have.

Best Song:

81sayp3tvql-_sl1200_

Various Artists- A Very Special Christmas 2

This kind of represents the entire Very Special Christmas franchise. Despite my hatred of of “Do They Know It’s Christmas,” I’m a sucker for star-studded ensembles. Very Special Christmas is essentially just a Christmas music greatest hits album, so it’s kind of cheating a little bit, but it’s still great. Very Special Christmas 1 is disqualified for having “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” on it, but 3 is also excellent.

Best Song:

51jtf0tkg0l

Michael Bolton- This is the Time

Michael Bolton is a god who came to Earth to give soulful, sultry ballads to the masses.

Best Song:

812bzwmjlh2l-_sy355_

Various Artists- Christmas on Death Row

Just the album cover alone gets this a mention.

Best Song:

81jkdp95nyl-_sl1500_

NewSong- Sheltering Tree

Just kidding.

Best Song:

Alright, enough of the also-rans. Let’s get to the reason you’re here: Kelly Clarkson Wrapped in Red. What sets it apart? Why is it so great? Well, for starters, it’s a prime time name. Wrapped in Red just screams Christmas. It’s a miracle it hadn’t been taken before 2013. Next, the album cover is perfect (see top of page): simple, elegant, festive. That’s all you need. The back cover brings it too:

71j6-b8h3al-_sl1200_

Before purchasing this Christmas album, I wasn’t really in the spirit of things, but now that I’ve seen this picture of Kelly Clarkson playfully blowing snow in my face, I’m definitely ready for Santa to come down my chimney! But what really matters is the music, and folks, it doesn’t disappoint. Full disclosure: I’m a huge Kelly Clarkson fan and am almost definitely overrating this album, but I trust my own objectivity to know good music when I hear it. And there’s a lot of good music here. The title song isn’t great, which, admittedly, kind of throws a wrench in things, but it quickly picks up. “Underneath the Tree” is criminally underrated. Sure, it’s only four years old, but it has to be put in the same category as the modern classics.

So good. Then, if your spirits are riding too high, you can slow things down with another good original, “Winter Dreams.”

Just makes me want to cuddle up with that special someone (theoretically, of course). I like my Christmas songs to either get my toes tappin’ or to be slow and a little melancholy-but-not-really-since-everything’s-happy-during-Christmas. Wrapped in Red does that throughout. When it comes to covering the classics, it’s really just about song selection. At this level, everyone can sing, so as long as you just pick good songs and don’t try to “make them your own” (see: Christina Aguilera “O Holy Night”) you should be good. “White Christmas,” “Silent Night,” Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” and “Oh Come, Oh Come Emmanuel” are all elite Christmas songs. Kelly Clarkson could smoke a hundred packs a day, never sleep, and drink a gallon of coffee a day for the next year and still have a dominant voice, so when she gets ahold of your favorite Christmas hits good things happen. No, not every song is perfect. But the bad songs are like 6s or 7s out of 10. Still decent, and it just makes the great ones stand out more. I think I’ve made a pretty convincing argument, but if you still don’t believe me, go and sit by your Christmas tree. I don’t care what you do. Read, watch TV, just look at your phone, whatever. Just as long you put this album on. If the combination of Kelly Clarkson and Christmas trees doesn’t get you in the most festive mood you’ve ever been in, you’re a bigger grinch than the Grinch himself. Wrapped in Red is the perfect Christmas album. Kelly Clarkson: GOAT of American Idol, and now, GOAT of Winter.

My Christmas List

santasworkshop-poster-lrg_1024x1024

Dear Santa,

I hope this finds you well. I understand this is a busy time for you and your staff, but, assuming you’re reading this, it appears I was correct in assuming my oversized envelope labeled only with magazine cutout letters spelling “I have Mrs. Claus” caught your attention. I realize it may seem extreme, but you do what you have to to stand out. To clarify: I do not actually have Mrs. Claus, so if she is currently missing, I would appreciate being removed from the suspect list. Thank you.

Anyway, as I’m sure you know, it’s the Christmas season. And, again, as I’m sure you know, the Christmas season is all about other people to buying you things. Or something. Either way, you’re the man to turn to when it comes getting stuff you want without paying for it, so I figured I’d drop you a line. I know what you’re thinking, and yes, I have been good this year. I rounded up my change to help St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital the last time I went to the mall, I exposed a deep-seated conspiracy that goes back decades, I helped prop up the struggling hot dog industry, I saved New York City, and I recycle. Sure, I’m not perfect. I don’t always come to a complete stop at stop signs. I downloaded some music without paying for it. I speak to my family only slightly more often than Aaron Rodgers does. But I think you’ll find the good far outweighs the bad, and that I’m more than eligible for a haul of Christmas gifts. And while this is more of a guideline than a list of demands, I would prefer if you kind of stick to the script. I know it’s your workshop’s specialty and all, but I’ll be pissed if I get some crappy wooden toy. It’s 2017, the last thing in the world I need to a wood dog with wheels that I can pull around. Just give me coal instead, at least it has a practical use. Anyway, without further ado, I present my 2017 Christmas List.

  • A ton of money
  • My own Chick-fil-a franchise
  • A Japanese Cherry Tree sapling imported from Tokyo
  • The complete Take That discography
  • A signed copy of The TB12 Method: How to Achieve a Lifetime of Sustained Peak Performance
  • 20 more years of Tom Brady
  • A pony
  • One of the Crown Jewels, don’t really care which
  • A stylish collection of ascots so I can add some smoking lounge chic to my wardrobe
  • Gold
  • Frankensense
  • Myrrh
  • A couple Bitcoins
  • A Nintendo Switch with Breath of the Wild and Mario Odyssey
  • An end to fast food regionalism so I can have In-n-Out, Whataburger, Bojangles, Raising Cane’s, Zaxby’s, Cook Out, and every other Southern place without having to base a vacation around trying them
  • An all-expenses-paid vacation to go to every regional fast food place in America
  • An apparel and shoe sponsorship with Nike, Adidas, or Under Armour
  • Musical talent
  • A saltwater aquarium complete with a full range of fish. Seahorses are most important aspect
  • An appointment with the Pimp My Ride crew
  • A 10-day contract with literally any NBA team
  • Make UConn men’s basketball better
  • A role as whatever superhero is left in the next round of Marvel movies
  • A pair of game-worn Pitbull gloves
  • Access to the Book of Secrets
  • Tickets to Hamilton so I can tell people I’ve seen Hamilton
  • Matchstick Men on DVD
  • Russia to get re-instated into the Olympics so there’s someone to root against
  • Russia to win the World Cup in the most obviously rigged way possible because it would actually be kind of funny
  • A job as a nature documentary cameraman
  • My own used car dealership
  • A better cable company than Optimum
  • A private jet
  • Some kind of holiday in August
  • To find a hidden oil reserve in my backyard
  • A better feel for interior decorating
  • A lifetime supply of Cheez-It
  • A lifetime supply of DiGiorno
  • My own Margaritaville location
  • A time machine
  • Another time machine that I can give to a responsible person to undo anything I would do using my time machine
  • Better WiFi
  • A complete brontosaurus fossil
  • Someone who follows me around telling me not to eat all the really unhealthy stuff I eat
  • My own house flipping reality tv show
  • A good app idea that someone else designs but I get to sell
  • An English bulldog
  • Some new Transformers. Don’t know what they’re like now but I want to get back in the game
  • Another pony so the first pony has some company
  • My own Domino’s franchise
  • Diplomatic immunity in every part of the world except New England
  • A Manhattan brownstone
  • No more automated calls
  • A maid who’s only job is to fold laundry
  • The eradication of Dominick the Donkey and everyone who likes it
  • World peace and all that
  • An authentic Turboman

Continued on next three pages. Make sure to read all of it.

Thanks in advance and Merry Christmas,

Brian