kottke.org posts about Christmas

An Artist Creates the Family Xmas Card, From Age 3 to 36

Since he was a toddler, artist C.W. Moss has made the artwork for his family’s Christmas card. Here are some early installments from when he was three & seven:

two little kid drawings of Christmas cards

Some from when Moss was 17 and 29:

Two Christmas cards. The one on the left is a dense doodle-like drawing with a four-pointed star near the center. The right one is titled 'The 365 of 2016' and it repeats 'NOT CHRISTMAS' until it gets to 'MERRY CHRISTMAS'

And the most recent one from age 36 (you can watch how he draws it):

”a

It’s fascinating to see his artistic sense grow and shift over the years, not only increasing in artistic skill as he gets older but also moving from simple depictions of holiday scenes to more conceptual creations.

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Watch the Newly Remastered Pee-wee’s Playhouse Christmas Special (1988) on YouTube

The entire episode of Pee-wee’s Playhouse Christmas Special (1988) is on YouTube, fully remastered in 1080p HD. Special guests include Annette Funicello, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Whoopi Goldberg, Magic Johnson, Grace Jones, Little Richard, and Joan Rivers. From a Vulture piece on the special:

Christmas at Pee-wee’s Playhouse, the 1988 primetime CBS special from comedian and actor Paul Reubens, is one of the strangest, most glorious, most improbable, most confident pieces of entertainment to appear on television. Thirty-five years after it aired, and in a period of reconsideration after Paul Reubens’s death, the Pee-wee Herman Christmas special still looks like one of the major pinnacles of Reubens as an artist, full of silly delight and winking subversion, all framed inside the relative safety of a big sparkly Christmas extravaganza.

And after declaring “This special is one of the gayest things I’ve ever seen”:

What’s so brilliant about it as a piece of queer art is that it is presented so earnestly, and the iconography they’re playing with is Americana. It plays as camp to our modern view of over-the-top earnestness. But it’s a mix of camp aesthetic and an alternative comedy aesthetic of laughing at bad jokes, like the series of fruitcake jokes, which were at the time a cliché, that fruitcake was bad. Why are we going to make this joke about fruitcake over and over again? Because it’s stupid!

(via austin kleon)

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More Christmas Music Recs

“Good King Wenceslas” is my favorite carol, and I love this version by the Choir of St. John’s College, Cambridge, from their 1974 album. (However, I also love every version I’ve ever heard.)

The Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, led by Neville Marriner, has a wonderful album that I return to whenever I can’t think of what to listen to: 1994’s Christmas With the Academy [spotify].

And I grew up going to the yearly Christmas Revels concert/play in Cambridge, MA, and while nothing beats the live shows, I also love their albums, especially this spirited 1978 one: The Christmas Revels: In Celebration of the Winter Solstice [spotify]. The Revels also feature the “Abbots Bromley Horn Dance” in every show, and seeing it live usually sends chills up my spine:

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This Village’s Adorable Christmas Lights Are Designed by Kids

In the Scottish village of Newburgh, the Christmas lights hung up around town were designed from drawings done by local schoolchildren. Poppy McKenzie Smith shared some of the displays on Twitter.

Christmas lights designed by kids

Christmas lights designed by kids

This is the best, way better than any professional display. The kids must feel so great seeing their handiwork lit up around town like this.


I will never do anything Muppety

muppet-christmas-carol.jpg

A surprisingly moving micro-oral history of "How we made: The Muppet Christmas Carol”:

When I met Michael Caine to talk about playing Scrooge, one of the first things he said was: “I’m going to play this movie like I’m working with the Royal Shakespeare Company. I will never wink, I will never do anything Muppety. I am going to play Scrooge as if it is an utterly dramatic role and there are no puppets around me.” I said: “Yes, bang on!” He was intimidating to start with, but he’s a delight.


A Very Murray Christmas

Netflix will air a Christmas special starring Bill Murray and directed by Sofia Coppola. That is an amazing collection of proper nouns all together in the same sentence.

Written by Sofia Coppola, Bill Murray and Mitch Glazer and directed by Sofia Coppola, A Very Murray Christmas is described as an homage to the classic variety show featuring Bill Murray playing himself, as he worries no one will show up to his TV show due to a terrible snow storm in New York City. Through luck and perseverance, guests arrive at the Carlyle hotel to help him; dancing and singing in holiday spirit.

(via several kind people)


Let it dough, let it dough, let it dough

Christoph Niemann uses cookie dough, cookie cutters, and sprinkles to recreate the Bible’s book of Genesis. More or less.

”Niemann


Santa’s brand guidelines

Communications agency Quietroom came up with a tongue-in-cheek set of brand guidelines for Santa Claus outlining a brand refresh for the jolly Pole dweller.

”Santa


Who buys cars for surprise Christmas gifts?

On Twitter the other day, I asked:

Someone please write this article: profile of people who give their spouses automobiles for Christmas. Do they exist? Are they insane?

@bswest pointed me towards this 2005 NY Times piece, A Lexus for Christmas? It Happens.

“I didn’t think that happened until I sat on the showroom floor and heard someone say, ‘I’m not going to pick the car up until the 24th,’” said Rosario Criscuolo, the owner of two Lexus dealerships in Michigan. “It blew my mind. But if your wife needs a car, it’s a good way to do it, right? It saves you from having to go to the malls.”

Mr. Criscuolo said that each year, about a half-dozen customers wait until Christmas Eve to pick up their new cars.

And the demand for the oversize red bows is so strong that Lexus stockpiles them in a warehouse near its North American headquarters in Torrance, Calif.


Cybersanta is making a list

The cybersanta Twitter account searches for tweets containing the phrase “I want a ______” and replies. Like so:

”Cybersanta”

(via clusterflock)


Literary stocking stuffer

One of the items in this year’s Christmas catalog from Neiman Marcus is a dinner for the buyer and a guest with “the brightest minds of modern literature, journalism, and the arts”. Among those who may be in attendance at said dinner are George Stephanopoulos, John Lithgow, Nora Ephron, and Malcolm Gladwell.

The price: $200,000.

In recent years, the gifts on offer have grown increasingly extravagant and ridiculous: a modern Zeppelin for $10 million, a 3-hole golf course designed by Jack Nicklaus for your back yard for $1 million, and a private concert with Elton John for $1.5 million. (via girlhacker)


Holiday shipping deadlines

Dealhack has collected the shipping deadlines for Christmas from a number of online retailers.


The folks in the Christmas Tree Carcasses

The folks in the Christmas Tree Carcasses group on Flickr are keeping track of discarded Christmas trees. (thx, richard)


Why I Celebrate Christmas. “[Santa Claus is]

Why I Celebrate Christmas. “[Santa Claus is] clearly what Jesus would be if he was real. Nobody would ever consider nailing this omnibenevolent deity to anything, would they? Nor does he hold anything against you longer than a year.” (via cyn-c)


James Surowiecki discusses the waste of holiday

James Surowiecki discusses the waste of holiday giving. “Waldfogel’s main finding is that, in general, people spend a lot more on presents than they’re worth to those who receive them, a phenomenon that he calls ‘the deadweight loss of Christmas.’” This is one of my big problems with the whole Christmas thing. Related: gift cards worth billions of dollars are left unredeemed each year.


On Christmas, “the holiday season”, and the

On Christmas, “the holiday season”, and the oppression of Christians. May be NSFC (not safe for Christians). (via 6f6)


If you’re looking for a Christmas tree

If you’re looking for a Christmas tree in NYC, here’s a map of where they’re sold. (via sbj)


A list of the best and worst

A list of the best and worst cookbooks to give people for Xmas (or Kwanzaa or Hanukkah or Festivus).


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