in a fit of seasonal pique, i googled estranged christmas poem and came up with this. it's melancholy at a glance, maybe, but to me it's a love song for imperfect things. happy holidays, o internets - best wishes to you and yours from me, the missus, and our beasts.


as a birthmas present to my dad (one of those poor souls born so close to another holiday that he gets lumped gifts - but hey, sometimes they're nice lumped gifts), the missus and i took him to the prairie home companion show at town hall on friday.* garrison keillor tapes were pretty much the only thing the whole family appreciated on car trips back in the day, so i associate his voice with bumping over a mountain road in colorado and falling asleep on my sister's shoulder. i tend to forget just how soothing GK's voice really is; hearing it in person is like settling into a hot bath with a cup of warm milk and xanax. i was so relaxed that i willingly sang "it came upon a midnight clear" with the rest of the audience, something i haven't done since the dark years of high school when i had to plug my nose and go to youth group if i wanted a date for winter formal. jerry douglas, in turn, was perhaps the first dobro player i've seen live, and he does in fact sound like a mountain range in love. i even appreciated billy collins's hammy acting in a poetry mafia skit - and hey, he tricked joe into smiling at poetry! after the moody-pants ryan adams show (in the same spot) we took in a few weeks ago, it was a bit weird to be part of a giant yuppie lovefest, but i'd go every friday (okay, maybe one friday a month) if i could get away with it.

on last week's christmas greenery discussion, i am weak, and we got a christmas tree - a big-ass one at that. it's so big, in fact, that joe had to saw off a bit of the trunk when we got back to the apartment.** after all the hemming and hawing, it was very satisfying to give my little green army men a home; my mom made ornaments for her first christmas with my dad, so it was important to me to DIY it a bit for us. i cheated by buying five red glass ornaments, but i had to go to three dozen stores to find them; at this point, i feel like i bloody conjured them with the force of my will. the guy at crate and barrel was more than a little afraid of me. anyway, behold: the war on christmas.

the attack

on the holiday music comments, i would add that, like the missus, i hate almost all of it; even a charlie brown christmas would have to sneak into our place in an empty throwing muses jewel case. my parents never subjected us to the steamroller, but dad loved anne murray; i'd dash into traffic to avoid "no room at the inn." there are a few tracks i can handle a very few times each year - the ramones' "merry christmas (i don't want to fight tonight)," and (cough) wham's "last christmas"*** - but the only song that gets a universal pass is run-d.m.c.'s "christmas in hollis." and you, internets?

*that recap is actually for the saturday show, but several of the songs and poems popped up in both.

**the tree equivalent of killing your own dinner? i know, it's still wrong.

***the musical equivalent of killing your own dinner.


ah, december 14: the last day to order crimbo gifts online in time for the holiday without paying through the nose for turboshipping. if i'm to release the official kidchamp twelve fancy things of '06 roundup, this is it - so here's hoping one of them happifies someone on your list.

01 if one of your loved ones is losing sleep over killing a tree for santa, forward them a "day of reckoning" tee. it's cute, it's fuzzy, it's gory - everyone wins!

02 for the giver with lots and lots of money and a vampire slayer friend, there's the ravinstyle mirrored heart pendant. "lipgloss glance," my eye - this is for checking to see if the guy next to you on the subway is a child of darkness.

03 courtesy of jake, they call me naughty lola: personal ads from the london review of books. someone needs to name their band 'the hoxton salad-dodgers.'

04 for the aesthete who can't keep plants alive: "you never bring me flowers..." beer can sculpture. i really, really want to learn to make these.

05 billy idol's happy holiday album:* if, say, your sister gave you NKOtB's merry, merry christmas (featuring "funky, funky xmas") in 1997 (not that a loving sister would ever do that), you know what you have to do.

06 for the flame retarded, faux candles - which are a surprisingly effective alternative to flimsy little book lights. i plunk one of these on my chest (or the cat) when i'm reading in bed.

07 my imaginary boyfriend's hi-fi christmas stocking. really nice crafter, too (she frequents the fairs i haunt).

08 for the non-crimbo-celebrating ladyfriend, the yarmulkebra (not to be confused with bramulkes for the lads).

09 for gourmands, mail order soup from the soup nazi man. joe test drove the turkey chili the other night; it wasn't nearly as magical as the soup you could get on 55th, said he, but it was still better than any other packaged stuff he'd tried. soup in the mail is teh win!

10 for the squirrel-loving ├╝berhostess, i bride's fancy animal platters. drawback: they're in amsterdam. then again, if it ain't dutch, it ain't much.

11 for the non-squirrel-loving ├╝berhostess, pancake dinner's beef steak pillow (now marked down, and proceeds benefit katrina victims).

12 for anyone and everyone, a gift that costs nothing at all: just tell your loved ones that you're growing facial hair like chuck norris to combat prostate cancer in the uk in their honor. how's that for thoughtful giving?

*A YULETIDE CHAT WITH BILLY IDOL ("Christmas is not about...hammer and tonging it. Christmas is about the fireside.") is up over at his myspace page.


ladymag & co. had its holiday party the other night; i estimate that i had 350 separate occasions to consider the crime that is footless tights. technically, they don't make everyone bovine - the highfashionladymag types looked just as underfed as they usually do - but they still make no sense. one wears tights because they 1) make shoes more comfortable, 2) keep the sticks warm, and 3) allow one to slack on shaving. footless tights? no good for any of that. the non-tighted folk popped up along the standard holiday bell curve - a handful of women rocked the awkward colleague cleavage, an older handful had christmas light necklaces, and everyone else wore slacks instead of jeans and reapplied their makeup. i was right in the middle, as usual (i wore my peer pressure pants and three pounds of liquid eyeliner), but i think i'm going to aim for the center by hitting both of the extremes next year. like, this by itself bores me; slap a dozen of these on it and you've got something, boy.

elsewhere in holidayland, i'm waffling about whether or not to purchase a christmas tree (we are not christian and we already have a tiny live tree, but i'm addicted to that fir-in-the-living-room smell, and i've been working on ornaments for weeks). i covet something like jen's live tree - it might not support ornaments, but it's a good size nonetheless, and she'll get to plant it someday. the live tree my parents bought when i was 2 became a monster fort in the twenty years we had it in the backyard,* and i'd love to start a similar tradition - but no yard, baby.** the missus and i have discovered that we both had traumatic tree experiences as kids: in sixth grade i lost my shit when we passed on an ugly tree, thinking that no one else would buy it and it would spend christmas alone. joe, in turn, couldn't handle the fact that they were all dead. if we could use a cut tree afterward, that would be more acceptable - but we have no fireplace, and people don't eat trees nearly as well as goats do. the best compromise i've got thus far is to get a tree on christmas day, when everything still at the lot*** is bound to be trashed the next day anyway. then we'd...sort of be saving a tree from a meaningless demise. but we'd still be encouraging the industry. and, well, i wouldn't get my smell fix. what to do?

*when mom sold the house, the new owners promptly axed the tree. i wish them ill.

**and besides, if i had a yard, i'd have a goat. no baby tree could withstand a hungry goat.

***that is, the sidewalk in front of the deli.


the missus and i caught ryan adams's final show (set list) at town hall last night. we kind of thought he was the opening act (leona "charm attack" naess) when he came onstage, as he had pigtails, flared jeans, and white platform shoes - the whole effect was very manga, and weirdly adorable. maybe not weirdly - i love me some cross-dressing boys. anyway, he led with "come pick me up," a song that guts me (and one of, say, four of his that i recognize - joe and miss w have been proselytizing for some time, but i've been slow on the uptake. i can absorb one alt country act per year.).* then came "when the stars go blue" (which i also recognized, via the corrs - listen, i work for a ladymag), then "oh my sweet carolina" - quite a few heartbreaker tracks up front, there - then the wheels started to come off.** some of the frattier segments of the audience were shouting song titles fairly aggressively, which is obviously par for the course at rock shows, but it seemed to rattle herr adams a bit. he broke for intermission (?!) after some mumbling, at which point i sprinted to the bathroom and ran into barbara bush.*** joe reports that in my absence, RA noted that being seven months sober means that he doesn't handle drunk assholes very well. a few more songs, more heckling - alas, someone started yelling "SUMMER OF '69!" quite loudly - and, after a few more comments about assholes ("would you like a diet coke with that?"), he kind of gave up. the rest of the set was half-mumbled, quite sullen, and half an hour short, no encores.

audience chatter on the way out of the theater was interesting. the superfans regretted not beating the shit out of the yellers before they got out of hand; half of the drunk people and a few of the sober ones felt cheated out of the rest of their show. i just felt kind of sorry for ryan adams. as i said, performers have got to know that folks will yell - and i think that they're expected to tolerate it, to a certain extent. that said, he made it clear that he was upset and was totally ignored. hell, chan marshall supposedly has panic attacks at like half of her shows; i don't fault sensitive guitar boy for losing his cool once. i wonder, though, if most people would consider it unprofessional, or unfair. internets, thoughts?

*this was quite lucky for us, actually, as the word on the street was that he wasn't repeating songs in new york.

**rolling stone disagrees, which is interesting for at least four different reasons.

***the twin, not the matriarch. she was wearing a black minidress that looked like it had been shredded by a cougar; i'm tempted to add half a point to both my "rats" and "star" tallies, but i don't know for sure that she's inflatable - and the whole celeb relative thing was questionable enough when i counted haylie duff.


celebrities v. giant inflatable rats, the old lady who swallowed a fly edition.
now, this is just getting silly.

at first i thought this was an anti-union inflatable rat.

i know that counting haylie duff as a celebrity last month left the door open for some looser interpretations of rat, but i didn't think things would get this random this fast. the new office building next door is run by...rat catchers? or rats, until so recently that they couldn't call off the inflatable strike but did manage to substitute a superhero cat? the whole "dissent via the macy's thanksgiving parade" genre confuses me. i need a nap.

rats: 4.5
star: 8