2019 Christmas Album Hall of Fame Inductees

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Merry Christmas, folks, and RIP to the patron saint of the Brian’s Den, George Michael. It’s my great honor to present the 2019 inductions into the Christmas Album Hall of Fame. Founded last year, the Massapequa, New York landmark is opening its doors to welcome another class of legends. Icons who were left out in the cold on the first ballot get the relief and affirmation they’ve been seeking their entire careers and get a free trip to beautiful Massapequa. Visit Massapequa, because I get a tax break if enough people do.

The criteria for induction remains the same: some random combination of impact, sales, ubiquity, and general goodness. The biases of the committee, unfortunately, cannot be fully erased. Apologies to all the Dylan-heads out there. We’ll start with the Veteran’s Committee selections just to get them out of the way.

Veteran’s Committee Selections

Frank Sinatra- A Jolly Christmas from Frank Sinatra

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There, your grandpa and/or overly proud Italian-American dad can stop boycotting the Hall now. Listen, I don’t care about Frank, so I just picked the first one that came up. Deal with it.

Signature Song:

Phil Spector- A Christmas Gift for You

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People forget Phil Spector killed someone, but that doesn’t disqualify him from the Hall. Our standards are pretty low, here, especially when the music is good. Nothing like a good old compilation album, even if everyone on it is an old singer you’ll be shamed for not knowing even though it’s pretty reasonable not to know who any of these people are. Origin album for a bunch of songs you’ve heard before.

Signature Song:

Only two this year, despite Louis Armstrong & Friends’ What a Wonderful Christmas receiving the necessary amount of votes. The Hall Chairman (me) hates “Zat You Santa Claus?” so passionately he refused to let it in. Shame.

Modern Entrants

Wham!- Last Christmas

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I’ll be honest, I don’t know what A-sides and B-sides are and how these old record sales work, but this was sold as a single, so it counts. I was outvoted last year, but without the obvious inclusions of the inaugural class, Wham! breezed through the voting. We all know that briansden69.com was founded on the eve of George Michael’s death, but don’t think that this got in for sentimental reasons. It got in because it’s one of the greatest original Christmas songs since color television was invented. Pour one out for the GOAT.

Signature Song: I wonder what it could be?

Michael Bolton- This is the Time: The Christmas Album

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Bolton. Christmas. Need I say more? No, I don’t. It’s in. He gets a little ahead of himself with two original songs, but the rest is pure Bolton. “O Holy Night” has never been the same since he hopped on the track, and his “White Christmas” is legendary. Putting this album on makes me want to get a perm-mullet and walk sensuously through the snow wearing a peacoat and boots that are a little too expensive to be wearing through inclement weather.

Signature Song:

Cee Lo Green- Cee Lo’s Magic Moment

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I don’t want to use hyperbole, but I think this might be the most underrated Christmas album ever. If Bublé is the king of retail Christmas, this album is the prince. Don’t believe me? Just think back to all the Christmas shopping you’ve done in brick and mortar stores since 2012 and realize how many of these songs you’ve heard. The answer is all of them. He completely flipped the “White Christmas” game on its head, which is enough to merit induction on its own. We value positive innovation, here.

Signature Song:

Leona Lewis- Christmas, With Love

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I honestly don’t know why L.L. isn’t the biggest star in the world, because she dominates every single song she’s ever recorded. Her voice is like a long gulp of water straight from a melting ice cap running down an Alpine stream after you just woke up but didn’t drink any water before bed so you’re unbelievably parched. I would listen to her sing absolutely anything. I would listen to her sing my 8th-grade science teacher’s evaluation of me that recommended my high school put me in the general group instead of the honors class and be thrilled about it. I would listen to her sing a collection of responses to any Star Wars Reddit post and be overcome with emotion. But yeah, this album’s awesome. It even has a good original song! That’s hard in a post “All I Want For Christmas” world.

Signature Song:

Various Artists- A Very Special Christmas

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Just a massive cast coming together to make the first in a long series, either the first or second is still the best. The first was selected, because why not go with the original? I admit that I couldn’t tell you much about the pop culture landscape of 1987, but how the hell did The Pretenders and Alison Moyet end up on the same album as Sting, Madonna, Whitney Houston, Spingsteen, U2, J.C.M. (John Cougar Mellencamp for the uninitiated), Bob Seger, and Bryan Adams? Let’s have some higher standards, here. Also, I’ve never listened to Bon Jovi’s “Back Door Santa” because there’s no way it could ever live up to my expectations of what it should be.

Signature Song: (reluctantly)

U2 sux, don’t @ me.

Kenny G- Miracles: The Holiday Album

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Our final entrant barely edged out *NSYNC’s Home for Christmas, because apparently the rest of the voting committee thinks that it “sucks.” You can’t teach taste, I guess. Special shoutout to YouTube comments on videos older than 15 months old saying “anyone here in 2019?” I’m here, man. I’m here. Anyway, your boy Kenny G. Don’t let anyone ever tell you Kenny G isn’t a force to be reckoned with. All he does is put out albums that do huge numbers, and Miracles is no different. Weird cover aside, it was the highest-selling Christmas album in two different years, which is pretty crazy when you think about the fact that it’s a Christmas album from Kenny G. He’s an easy target, but you can’t tell me that smooth soprano sax doesn’t hit you in your loins when he really gets it going. Miracles is pure “dang, can’t believe how hard it’s snowing out. You might as well stay here in this cabin with a big fire going” music. All the classics plus an original song that you can ignore because it’s Kenny G.

Signature Song:

Another year honoring beautiful Christmas albums in the books. If your favorite didn’t make, it’s probably time to ask yourself why you have such bad taste in holiday music (for housekeeping purposes, the two last cuts were the aforementioned *NSYNC and The Three Tenors’ A Tenors’ Christmas, which was bogged down by a never-ending tracklist) (Shoutout Jose Carreras. Everyone always talks about Placido Domingo and Luciano Pavarotti, but there had to be three tenors for The Three Tenors to be The Three Tenors. Don’t forget about my man Jose). Just make sure to visit the physical location in Massapequa, New York so I can get a tax write-off.

Merry Christmas

NFL Picks Week 16

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Sup pussies,

It’s your boy Santa, only this year I’ve been crushing my keto diet and am totally shredded. I’m talking yoked. Even the reindeer look like they’ve been mainlining HGH, but that’s just how dedicated they are to keto and Crossfit. It’s Christmas, so you know what that means: I’m about to visit every house in the world in one night and delicately arrange large and unwieldy presents underneath everyone’s tree. But newsflash, fatties- you’re not getting that new iPad. My factory doesn’t make that shit anymore. You’re getting workout gear. You’re getting a Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE Home Gym no matter what you asked for unless you asked for a Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE Home Gym, in which case you’re getting a Bowflex Revolution Home Gym out of respect. I’m no longer accepting cookies, either. You leave out some snickerdoodles or some carrots for the reindeer and your ass is getting the biggest piece of coal you’ve ever seen. You leave out keto foods in 2019. Red meat, salmon, eggs, butter (grass-fed only or even your dad is getting shut out in the present department), nuts, and ‘cados are the only things I eat now, and the deer are the same. Mrs. Clause gave Rudolph a parsnip and now he’s at home on the bench. Sorry, I only have space for winners on my team.

As is it Christmas, I’ve been keeping my list. It’s kind of what I do. I’ve been paying particularly close attention to the NFL this year, and have compiled a complete breakdown of the games this week based on who’s been naughty or nice. It’s a foolproof formula that even you carb-brains could figure out. Little known fact about Keto Santa: I’m actually a sharp. Don’t worry, I’ll tell you all about every single bet I’ve ever made and the performance of each of my 45 fantasy teams after I bang out a couple sets of curls. Alright, done. That’s 10,000 today. Gotta stay grinding. As a special gift to you, I’m giving you a look behind the curtain. A glimpse into how the sausage gets made. Here’s my 2019 Week 16 NFL Naughty and Nice List. Do with it what you will.

  1. Saturday NFL games- Nice
  2. Three NFL games on a Saturday- Nice
  3. Houston Texans playing on Saturday afternoon, allowing them to practice for their inevitable Saturday playoff game- Naughty
  4. Deshaun Watson- Nice
  5. Jameis Winston- Nice
  6. Jamies Winston first-quarter interceptions- Nice
  7. Jamies Winston second-quarter interceptions- Nice
  8. Jameis Winston third-quarter interceptions- Nice
  9. Jameis Winston fourth-quarter interceptions- Nice
  10. Bucs’ remaining receiving corps- Naughty
  11. Texans -3 over Bucs- Nice
  12. Patriots’ advance scouting team- Naughty
  13. Pats’ giving the Bengals some shine by allowing them to be the latest team to accuse them of wrongdoing- Nice
  14. Pats’ winning the division for the millionth time despite being awful on offense and getting less than 75 total yards against the Bills- Nice, I guess
  15. Bills Mafia- Naughty
  16. Sean McDermott complaining on the sideline- Naughty
  17. Pats -6.5 over Bills- Nice
  18. Rams’ intestinal fortitude- Naughty
  19. Nick Bosa’s current mental state- Sorry, Keto Santa sticks to sports
  20. Kiara Mia’s influence on this 49ers season- Nice
  21. Niners winning 13 games and being the 5 seed- Naughty
  22. 49ers -7 over Rams- Nice
  23. Giants +2.5 over Redskins- Naughty
  24. Christian McCaffery getting 100 catches again- Nice
  25. The other 105 players on the field for Panthers-Colts- Naughty
  26. Colts -7 over Panthers- Naughty
  27. Duck- Naughty
  28. “Renegade” becoming a Steelers thing out of nowhere, then every broadcast talking about how “Renegade” is a signature Steelers thing constantly- Naughty
  29. The entire history of the Jets franchise- Naughty
  30. Steelers -3 over Jets- Naughty
  31. Mike Thomas getting 15 catches a game- Nice
  32. Drew Brees padding stats for so long we’ve forgotten how much stat-padding he’s done- Nice
  33. Titans’ home field advantage- Naughty
  34. Trying to tackle Derrick Henry- Naughty
  35. Titans’ playoff hopes- Pretty Naughty
  36. Saints -3 over Titans- Nice
  37. Lamar Jackson- Nice
  38. Lamar Jackson shattering defenders’ ankles- Naughty
  39. Baker Mayfield- Naughty
  40. Every Baker H8r- Nice
  41. Browns- Naughty
  42. Ravens -∞ over Browns- Nice
  43. Bulletproof Coffee- Nice
  44. Bengals vs. Dolphins- Was a lot nicer two months ago
  45. Fitzmagic revenge game- Nice
  46. Dolphins Pick over Bengals- Nice
  47. Falcons -7.5 over Jags- Naughty
  48. Broncos -7 over Lions- Naughty
  49. Chargers -7 over Raiders- Naughty
  50. Awful 4 o’clock games- Naughty
  51. Russell Wilson- Nice
  52. Every Seahawks player fumbling on every play- Naughty
  53. Seahawks being the number one seed despite fumbling every play and never winning a game by more than one possession in a really weird way- Nice
  54. Bengals almost beating Seattle in Seattle in week one- Naughty
  55. Kyler Murray- Nice
  56. Kyler Murray- Naughty
  57. Cardinals +9.5 over Seahawks- Nice
  58. NFC East- Naughty
  59. Talking about the NFC East- Naughty
  60. Cowboys -1.5 over Eagles- Nice
  61. Mitch Trubisky being drafted over Pat Mahomes- Naughty
  62. Being reminded that Mitch Trubisky was drafted over Pat Mahomes every two seconds- Naughty
  63. Matt Nagy’s ability to gameplan beyond the first 15 plays- Naughty
  64. The reasoning behind not just scripting more plays if the first 15 always work so well- Naughty
  65. Chiefs -6 at Bears- Nice
  66. The “6” key on my computer being sort of jammed- Naughty
  67. Aaron Rodgers- Naughty
  68. Aaron Rodgers’ family- He’ll never know
  69. Packers +5.5 over Vikings- Nice

That’s it. If you’re wondering where you fall on this list, too bad. I haven’t checked The List twice yet, which means it’s not public domain. I’m a little behind this year after the budget cuts. Fewer of your little shithead kids believe in me now, which means my resources are down, too. That’s why I switched to keto. Figured children would be more likely to believe in a sculpted Adonis who looks like 2009 Dwight Howard than in a fat old man. Hey, dad, maybe take your stupid kid’s phone away and do some real parenting. The earlier they stop believing in me, the earlier they come to you when they’re disappointed in their present haul. Just some (keto-friendly) food for thought.

Merry Christmas, losers.

Introducing the Christmas Album Hall of Fame

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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

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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

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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

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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

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I think I’ve gone into this enough.

Signature Song:

Céline Dion- These Are Special Times

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.

Who’s Ready for the Olympics?

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Welcome to Olympics SZN, folks. I, for one, am itching to watch the first huge sporting event of 2018. I still can’t believe they cancelled this year’s Super Bowl. Crazy. Truth be told, my hype level is pretty meh for these Olympics. I’m pumped to spend all day watching cross-country skiing and learning cool facts about Good Korea, but I just find myself caring less than I usually do. Maybe it has something to do with the NHL not letting their players participate (if you ever need a great business model, all you have to do is look up every single major decision the NHL has ever made and do the exact opposite). Maybe it’s because there’s no Russia. The Olympics need a villain to really work. What, I’m supposed to get pumped up when an American beats someone from North Korea who probably hasn’t eaten in four days? Doesn’t get the blood flowing as much. And I realize that we’re the villain for the rest of the world, but the American perspective is really the only thing that matters. I wouldn’t be opposed to Russia being let back in just this one time.

A lot of people hate on the Winter Olympics, but that just shows how uncultured they are. As previously established, snow is my natural habitat, so any time winter activities get their shine I’m in. Plus, the Winter Olympics is the ultimate collection of events that are really cool for about ten minutes until you’ve had enough and big time, world-stopping events like figure skating and mogul skiing. Asian countries are also great at hosting world-wide events, so there’s always the chance we won’t have to hear about how many slave laborers died trying to build the venues on time. It should be a great time. Now, with so many events and so many storylines, things can get a little overwhelming if you don’t know what you’re looking for. Luckily enough, I’ve scoped out all the details you need to stay up-to-date with all the tape-delayed action. So, without further ado, the Official Brian’s Den Winter Olympics Preview 2018:

Wait, press play first

Best Events

  • Cross-country skiing– Many people will say watching cross-country skiing on TV sucks. Fake news. CCS is arguably the greatest and most perfect Olympic sport to watch on television. It’s the ultimate background noise if you’re attempting to be productive while also watching TV (who would ever do that? Yikes) and is so boring that it’s impossible to look away. Try not to get emotionally invested in a CCS race after watching more than five minutes, it’s impossible. And there’s always some Norwegian guy in the middle of a huge dynasty, too.
  • Biathlon– Take everything I just said then add guns.
  • Short-track speed skating– Always felt like this would be the coolest to do if you didn’t want to be a skier/snowboarder bro.
  • Ice dancing– It’s just figure skating, but without the fun or personality!
  • Curling– Curling has somehow become the cliché event to ironically say you like (if you ever have the chance to never use the Internet again, take it and never look back), but I actually do enjoy watching people throw some stones.

Olympians to Watch

  • Chloe Kim– When I first heard about this snowboarding prodigy like, last week, I tried really hard not to Google her because I was afraid of what I would see, but I wasn’t strong enough and my fears were confirmed. She was born in 2000 and I feel like such a lazy piece of shit.
  • Iceman– He can control ice which would seem like pretty unfair advantage in the Winter Olympics but when has the IOC not been on the straight and narrow?
  • Nathan Chen– His hair may be his greatest weapon in the male figure skating competition.
  • Johannes Høsflot Klæbo– He’s a Norwegian cross-country skier who also has a vlogging channel on YouTube, so you know he’s someone who you’d really want to hang out with all the time.
  • Iceman– The shock addition of stunt plane piloting to this year’s Games opens up the door for him to win gold.

Fun South Korea Facts

  • The hugely popular music genre known as Korean pop, or “K-Pop” as the kids say, actually originated in South Korea.
  • Haesindang Park in Sinnam is known as Penis Park because it has a bunch of penis statues.
  • Korean babies are considered one year old at birth.
  • They have the fastest Internet in the world but everyone is really stingy with their WiFi password so I can’t use it.
  • Koreans treat their e-Sports “athletes” like rock stars and shower them with fortune and fame, but I’m a nerd loser because I like to play PS4. Very unfair!

Best Korean Food

  • Kimchi– Legend has it Koreans serve kimchi with every meal, which means the salty, fermented veggies must go great with ice cream!
  • Bulgogi– Korean BBQ is *insert chef kissing fingers gif*
  • Bibimbap– Can’t say I’ve ever had it but it’s a funny name.
  • McDonald’s– Korean McDonald’s have delivered for years and we’re just starting to do it. Tells you all you need to know about the sad state of affairs in the USA.
  • Jjajangmyeon– Could have sworn jjajangmyeon was Italian.

Best Korean Companies

  • Samsung– Pretty sure if you’re caught using a non-Samsung electronic device you get sent to North Korea.
  • Hyundai– Hyundai is actually an official sponsor of the NFL, so it’s their fault the Super Bowl was cancelled this year.
  • LG– I bought an LG TV my sophomore year of college and it still works now so, yeah.
  • SK Group– This sounds like a fake company made up to spoof real corporations.
  • Kia– R.I.P. Blake Griffin Kia commercials.

Best Winter Activities

  • Staying inside all day– Really the only one you need.
  • Skiing– I wonder if skiing is the whitest activity ever invented. Still fun, though.
  • Eating a ton of comfort food since you have to wear a heavy jacket whenever you go outside, so who can really tell?– Is this just me?
  • Getting someone else to shovel snow– This might be my primary motivation for wanting a son at some point.
  • Complaining about how poorly everyone else drives in the snow– God, it’s like these people forget they live in New England or something! How are they not used to this?

Worst Events

  • Luge– Luge is cool until you find out skeleton exists and then all of the danger and intrigue goes away.
  • Hockey– Again, why did the NHL pull NHL players? Do they dislike exposure and money?
  • Figure Skating– I think we all have a moral obligation to boycott figure skating with the Tonya Harding incident so fresh in our minds.
  • Freestyle Skiing– Just pick up a board, brah.
  • Anything USA doesn’t win– It’s not even a real sport, anyway. If he wanted to LeBron could be the best in the world in like, three weeks.

Best thing about huge International events that take place on the other side of the world so they’re put on tape-delay even though it’s 2018 and everyone knows the results the second they happen anyway so what’s the point of even watching?

  • Nothing

I think that’s all you need to know about this year’s Olympics. Make sure you don’t get Pyeongchang mixed up with Pyongyang- I’ve heard they don’t appreciate it when you do. Gonna be some great Mike Tirico behind-the-desk action in primetime, and I can’t wait for the awkward “Cris Collinsworth sent to the streets of South Korea for some reason” pieces that will surely captivate the audience. But, it’s impossible to deny the sheer spectacle of the Olympics and the drama they manufacture create through organic competition. Now someone get me a cross-country skiing feed!