I’m grinning, reading a new article in Wired - and the backlash in the comment stream below – regarding “Bronies,” young men who enjoy the “reimagined” cartoon show My Little Pony – Friendship is Magic. It’s frankly hilarious to see the upset stirred up in the comments, because it reminds me of the criticism an earlier generation of computer “geeks” and “nerds” got in the 1980s. E.g. it’s the death of American civilization, it’s the death of manhood as we know it, blah blah blah.
There’s also a throwaway reference to girls who got “sideeyed” for watching the Transformers cartoon during the same period (and you just know thousands of girls weren’t just “watching with their brother”, but mesmerized by Peter Cullen and company).
I had a friend who happily collected My Little Pony in her teens – when she wasn’t reading science fiction novels, listening to punk music, or playing computer games. But she wasn’t the target audience – nor did the latest incarnation expect popularity among older men in their late teens, 20s and 30s. But the passion these fans have for the new show is really infectious. Clearly both they and the creators of the show have a healthy sense of humor, judging by the many fan videos springing up online. Come on, who wouldn’t rather watch multicolored ponies stalking Nazis, rather than Brad Pitt?
Apparently, good storytelling and quality animation have everything to do with the show’s popularity – Lauren Faust, an animator, writer and producer is given much of the credit. I’ll be keeping my eye out for her from now on.
Christmas music. Some people hate it, most of us love it, but we get tired of hearing the same fifteen songs being recorded and rerecorded by different artists and overplayed on the radio. So I went on a hunt. Thanks to the generosity of folks who have placed rare gems on the web, I’ve collected a stack of fun videos that are not the same fifteen songs about Christmas, New Year’s, and enjoying the winter holidays… not the ones typically played in the US (the UK and Ireland seem to rotate more of their music, so some of the tracks may be more familiar to anyone reading in those countries!) They’ve been assembled into playlists, so you can crank up the volume on your computer speakers, or play it on your phone. All in all, it’s well over two hours of music. Consider it just one of our presents back to you!
There are fifteen interesting tracks from the 1940s you may not know as well here, bookended by the Andrews Sisters, who sing both “Christmas Island” and the “Merry Christmas Polka”.
And here’s a list of lesser-known 1950s Christmas and other holiday tunes, such as Stan Freberg’s “Green Christmas,” Gracie Fields’ “Little Donkey,” Joni James’ “Nina Non,” Cathy and Elliot Lewis (of OTR / radio drama fame) wishing us “Happy Holidays”, and Louis Armstrong’s “Cool Yule”.
The tracks spanning the 1960s, and into 1970 proper, are a wide range of musical styles, and show a little of what was going on in the world then. Some tracks include The Marcels’ “Merry Twistmas,” Paul and Paula’s “Holiday Hootenanny”, Bing Crosby’s fun “Christmas Dinner Country Style”, Buck Owens’ “Santa Looked a Lot Like Daddy,” and yes, the Royal Guardsmen’s “Snoopy’s Christmas”. This last was a sequel to “Snoopy vs. the Red Baron,” and reflects the real-life Christmas armistice of World War I.
Then this grouping, of the 1970s and 1980s, which contains as just a smattering, Jethro Tull’s “Ring Out Solstice Bells,” David Essex’s “A Winter’s Tale”, Da Yooper’s “Rusty Chevrolet,” Jona Lewie’s “Stop the Cavalry”, Boney M’s “Zion’s Daughter”, Chris de Burgh’s “A Spaceman Came Travelling,” Merle Haggard’s “Santa Claus and Popcorn,” Sting’s “Gabriel’s Message,” “What Can You Get a Wookiee for Christmas”, and “Santa Claus Must Be Polish” by Bobby Vee. It also has one cheat: it ends with “Christmas Wrapping,” by the Waitresses. While it’s been covered by the Spice Girls and by the Donnas, it’s still an offbeat classic, and while it hits heavy rotation in some markets, others don’t play it so often. This is an interesting article that goes into the “how” of “Christmas Wrapping” – hosted on the songwriter’s website.