Merry Hip-Hop Christmas Motherf#cK3R$!

There’s a famous record store in California called Ameoba Records that is known for its extensive music and DVD collection. The one in Hollywood happens to be near my movie theater of choice, so when I was killing some time before going to said movie theater recently, I walked around Ameoba and stumbled into the holiday music section. The collections isn’t as large compared to all the other sections in the store, but the fact that they have to divide it up into genre and not just by artists should tell you that this wasn’t a normal Trans Siberian Orchestra and Vince Garabaldi Trio situation. No, Ameoba had an entire Hip-Hop and R&B holiday music section which I immediately scoured through. Did I expect Whitney Houston? Sure. Destiny’s Child? OK. But did I ever think this particular CD even existed?photo-dec-08-6-42-13-pmphoto-dec-08-6-42-18-pm

Short answer: nope. Absolutely not. You’re telling me a TWO CD compilation featuring what seems to be a line-up of stars who peaked in 2005 recorded Christmas specific tracks for an album that has cover art made with Microsoft Word Art is for sale?! Because I’m a cheapo, I swiftly snapped these pix and noted to look it up on Spotify later. And boy or boy did it turn out to be gold indeed. The very first line of the entire album is said by Cam’Ron (of Hey Ma fame), and he yells out, “Merry Christmas motherfuckers!” Honestly, how can you stop there. I had to listen to the entire thing. You can stream the entire album here, but I’m selecting a few standout “favorites” from this gem of an album to spread the holiday cheer. Enjoy, bitchez!

Jingle Bells, Shotgun Shells by Onyx

Right off the bat, Onyx declares he hates Christmas, which for a Christmas album is a pretty bold move. Or gangster move, if you will. In fact, the entire song is a gangster rap song, except with a few key Christmas phrases thrown in there.

Other key lyrics: “Fuck Christmas, fuck all holidays/I’m the grinch bitch, got a new hot plate”… “Jingle Bells, Shotgun shells, n***az get shot every day, hey!”

“Deck the Halls with weed and Henny (*in the background* Black Santa!)… Y’all really think Santa tryna come out to the ‘hood? Santa ain’t comin’ out here. This is Oakland. Santa ain’t tryna get shot” – Deck the Halls by Luniz

 Christmas Treez by Baby Bash

Spoiler alert kids – “Christmas Treez” is code word for weed. But the gag is that the song’s not even really about smoking weed. It’s about fucking bitches. While high. That’s right. Because nothing says, “welcome baby Jesus” like the phrase “pearl necklace”. They just referenced Netflix and apparently this is a new release. A 2016 RELEASE. I AM SHOCKED.

Other key lyrics: “She give me that XXX from Texas/A blessed bitch/Over the next bitch/Man eat her for breakfast.”

It’s a real shock to the system when R&B group Az Yet starts singing Angels We Have Heard on High in all earnestness.

Chingy’s Christmas by Chingy

Who knew the first refreshing song on this album would be from Chingy? He actually is approaching the song with a story, and a story of philanthropy none the less! He’s “got a bag of goodies for all y’all” and gonna “make it rain gifts like Santa Claus”. Truly inspirational. And if you’re wondering what happened to Chingy, you’re not the only one.

Kb Christmas Delight by Kurtis Blow

It’s really throwing me off that this album was made this year. I legit thought this was from 2005. So hearing references like Netflix are jarring. In this song, KB starts namedropping rappers coming to his Christmas party, like Snoop and Rev Run from Run DMC. But what’s even more jarring is when when he mentions that Kim and Kanye roll up in the party.. Also, I’m not a Kurtis Blow aficionado or anything, but do his songs all sound the same?

Other key lyrics: “Ring ring at the door again, in walks Kanye and Kim/Don’t let the paparazzi in, only hip-hop fam and friends/Knock Knock who will we see? Beyonce and Jay Z/B and Jay Z came by just to party with me/No shade we ain’t sipping tea”

Surviving Christmas by Kool Moe Dee

Straight up the most depressing Christmas song I’ve ever heard. Including that Christmas Shoes one. You’ve just got to listen to this one.

The placement of these songs is so wrong. It’s a mixtape gone horribly wrong.

Ho Ho Ho (Dirty Christmas) by Ying Yang Twins

When I first picked this lost gem of an album up, the one track that really stood out to me was this one titled Ho Ho Ho (Dirty Christmas). Judging by the parenthetical addendum as well as the fact that it was by Whisper Song stars the Ying Yang Twins, I deduced the title wasn’t referring to Santa’s favorite phrase. And man oh man. Was I wrong. First of all, the hook is to the tune of Frére Jacques, but the lyrics are now: “Merry Christmas, Merry Christmas/Ho Ho Ho/Ho Ho Ho/ Santa where my presents? Santa where my presents?/I’ve been good! I’ve been good!” And while a “ho” is mentioned in the beginning, it’s mostly about wanting presents? I don’t know what to do with this.

Other key lyrics: “Kids runnin’ around/playing with all their toys/You better sit your ass down/Makin’ all that noise/Take your ass outside/And ride that bike/ But your ass better come in/When that light come on”

“Macy’s got a black santa on the sixth floor!” Black Santa Clauz

It’s Still Christmas by Celly Cel

If there’s anything I’ve learned from this album is that Santa gives presents that all these rappers want, and also it all happens in the hood. In this song, we should all keep the chorus in mind when Dec. 25th comes round this year: “If we don’t get what we want/It’s still Christmas/Let the haters hate/We gon’ celebrate

Other key lyrics: “Spoiled little kids get pissed, if they don’t get everything on they’re list/Girlfriend’s mad cuz she didn’t get a ring/Boyfriend mad cuz she joined another team.”

I Can’t Wait Til Christmas by The Force MD’s sounds like a song made specifically for JCPenney TV commercials

Silent Night by J-Kwon

For a song that’s all about peace and stillness, J-Kwon’s version begins with a non-peaceful chant of “Silent Night Silent Night Silent Night Silent Night Silent Night”

Other key lyrics: “Let my girlfriend trip she don’t get no gifts today”

A sincere version of What Child Is This? shouldn’t be on the same album as “Merry Christmas motherfuckers”, right? It’s completely tone deaf.

It’s Christmas by Trick Daddy

I… kind of like this one? It’s a catchy chorus? I’ve been listening to this album for too long. IT’S TWO CDS WORTH OF MUSIC!

Other key lyrics: “I’m dancing with a fat girl but I can’t kiss her though” what are you talking about

And we’re back to the most non-merry version of Jingle Bells I’ve every heard.

Santa Baby by Khia

The producers of this album decided the best move to end this ridiculous record was to close it with a version of Santa Baby by Khia, who you might know from her work on My Neck, My Back. I feared she would turn this song too sexual, but thank God she didn’t. That aside… it’s still not good.

Advertisements

The Holiday Is Our Aesthetic

Christmas movies, in general, are aesthetically dreamy. Those technicolor classics like White Christmas bring the Old Hollywood glamor, cozy houses in movies like The Family Stone make me dream of joyfully chaotic decor, and Christmas rom-coms are the sparkliest and dreamiest of all rom-coms. That’s why this month, our aesthetic goals come from 2007 Christmas classic (ahem… modern classic), The Holiday.

Kate and Cameron’s Hair

Kate Winslet and Cameron Diaz’s hair look perfectly normal, but that’s the thing. In 2007, Kate’s loose, beachy waves were actually at the very start of the loose, beachy waves trend, and I think it says something that it still looks current 9 years later – in contrast, imagine trying to sport, say, 1994 hair in 2003. I’ve also always been envious of straight, fine hair like Cameron’s that can looks fun yet professional in a short, croppy ‘do, as opposed to … floofy. I think a lot of us would look floofy with that haircut.

Rosehill Cottage, Exterior

Forget the likelihood that Iris, a young columnist who’s not at the top of her publication, could afford this. Holiday films are about wish-fulfillment, after all. It makes me happy just to think that SOMEONE gets to live in a gorgeous, quaint stone cottage with wildflower gardens, a rustic fence and a winding road in front of it. (Note: As a real estate addict, I did look up some houses for sale in Surrey. It is as expensive as you’d expect a picturesque London-accessible area to be; I assume the less-expensive ones are also secretly falling down inside. Maybe Iris inherited it from a relative. Whatever, it’s a movie and I’d much prefer to look at this cottage than a tiny, cookie-cutter terraced house from the 1970s).

Rosehill Cottage, Interior

I know that saying “I like the cottage better than Cameron Diaz’s mansion” makes me sound like one of those guys who think it’s a revelation that they find, like, Emma Stone more attractive than Angelina Jolie. The cottage is doing pretty well for itself, thanks. That said, yeah, I would 1000% rather live in Iris’s cottage than Amanda’s SmartHouse. (I bought a cute little 1909 house a few years ago so it’s not just talk. Also I couldn’t afford anything even approaching Amanda’s SmartHouse even if I wanted it, let’s be clear.) Rosehill Cottage really holds up on rewatch. There are layers of cosy decor, lots of overstuffed chintz chairs and a great vintage iron bed, but if you look really closely nothing is sloppy or haphazard. Also: fireplaces everywhere! Stone and stucco walls! A stainless steel tub and a painted wood bathroom floor! Do yourself a favor and go gawk at the Hooked On Houses page for it.

PS, I think “it has a fireplace in the bedroom” is the house version of “and it has pockets!” in a cute dress.

Iris’s Nancy Meyers Kitchen

Ain’t no kitchen like a Nancy Meyers kitchen cause a Nancy Meyers kitchen is very, very charming. Echoing the old-country charm of one of my other favorite Nancy Meyers kitchens (the vastly underrated Baby Boom), this one comes complete with a stucco fireplace, open shelving with blue and white earthenware pottery, flush-mounted cabinet doors in a chalky robins egg blue, and a cosy vintage table. Yes, I did make note of all of those elements for reference when I remodel my kitchen.

Sweaters

Second to the late 90s WB show Felicity, Christmas movies are the best visual source of people in comfy sweaters. If people feeling warm and comfortable is your aesthetic, may I present Jude Law in a blue sweater?

Sophie and Olivia’s Fort

Why is it that you can be a full-grown adult with a home or apartment of your own, but you’d still move into a soft blanket fort with fairy lights any day? Sophie and Olivia, come decorate for me.

Arthur’s Old Hollywood Vibe

Modern Hollywood culture – not much aesthetic appeal. But anything that smacks of the old studio system? Now we’re talking. Arthur, a funny and sweet relic from the days when people only knew about celebrities’ personal lives through fake ‘dates’ they’d go to at the studio commissary, is the real romantic hero of this movie.

This New Year’s Party

Low key decorations, snacks, champagne, and only like 6 people, two of whom are small children. Now THAT’S what a call a no-fuss holiday gathering. But the best part is everyone dresses way the heck up anyway because it’s the holidays, and the best aesthetic of all is “fancier than is strictly necessary, just because it’s fun sometimes.”

 

Previously In Our Aesthetic:

Love Actually Is A 2003 Time Capsule

This year, there are teenagers who were not even born when Love Actually was released. I hope you feel good about that, because I feel awful. Still, I cannot deny that 2003 was a really long time ago. The global economy and politics were different, technology was worlds apart, clothing has changed enough to look absurd now. I always expect this with 90s movies, but seeing a movie from the 2000s look dated – my high school years! senior year, in fact! I worked at a movie theater when it came out! – is a bit of a shock. There’s no denying it: now that Love Actually is a teenager old, it is a veritable 2003 time capsule.

Keira Knightly’s two pieces of hair

2003 was the year side bangs started to make their way back in after those 1990s curled-under round brush bangs were officially out. But it was a transitional time, and if you wanted a bit of interest you’d just part your hair in the middle and leave two little pieces out in front.

Natalie Had Those Side Bangs, By The Way

See also, my haircut c. 2004.

Keira Knightly herself

Keira Knightly 2003, Keira Knightly 2016. WHERE IS THE DIFFERENCE. She’s like a walking 2003 time capsule.

(I remember being floored that I was roughly the same age as Keira when this came out, because she looked like a beautiful, sophisticated leading lady and I looked like a Cabbage Patch Kid without makeup, or an American Girl doll with.)

This Ringtone

Thomas Sangster As A Child

You may remember that for what felt like a 10-year period in the early 2000s, all child roles were played by Thomas Sangster, Dakota Fanning and Freddie Highmore (that English boy with the brown bowl cut from Finding Neverland). It went on for so long that it seemed almost like they were being pumped with puberty-surpressing drugs. Nothing says 2003 like Child Thomas Sangster.

(Upon further Googling, Thomas Sangster is now a 26 year old man, lending further weight to my theory that he played little boy roles forever)

Maroon Five

Just, in general.

Keira Knightly’s newsboy cap

Or baker boy hat, I guess? These aren’t totally gone, but they were really having a moment in the early 2000s

A VHS tape as a plot device
Dido

as the soundtrack to an angsty scene, in particular.

Norah Jones

as the soundtrack to a slow dance, in particular.

The American girls’ ‘going out outfits’

As discussed in our analysis of mid 2000s fashion, the Going Out Top was a very real phenomenon. That blue sparkly one, in particular, is a prime example of a 2003 Going Out Top in the wild.

Natalie’s off-shoulder Christmas sweater

Way more subtle than the fun yet garish 80s/90s Christmas sweaters, but really throwing me back to the off-shoulder thing that was going on my last few years of high school.

Joanna’s 2003 Pop Star Ensemble

I present: sequin top, a handkerchief hemline, sparkly jeans (totally had a pair) and accent braids. All ready for an American Idol audition.

Lax Airport Security

Things tightened up after 9/11, but the rigid check in/ security protocol as we know it took a few years to develop, making dramatic airport confessions of love possible.

Playlist of the Month: HamilCast Cover Songs

Welcome to Day 2 of #Hamilweek! Today we’re incorporating out recurring Playlist of the Month feature with all things Hamilton, and what better way to feature the cast members than showing off their beautiful voices? And we’re not just talking about the leads. The bench on this show runs deep. Like, members of the ensemble have had their own leading roles like Elphaba in Wicked. These folks do not play. Here are just some examples of the cast’s wonderful talents, wrapped in glorious cover songs you probably already know.

Joy to the World by Various Cast Members

For nearly two decades, Broadway starts record classic holiday tunes for an album called Carols for a Cure, and the proceeds to towards Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. For the 2015 edition, Leslie Odom, Jr. led a new arrangement of Joy to the World, with additional lyrics from Oak Onaodowan. With the help of 11 other cast members, the squad makes an overplayed Christmas carol refreshing again and uplifts your spirit any time of the year.

Bet On It by Lin-Manuel Miranda

Back in the In The Heights days, Lin was as active on the YouTube as he is on Twitter today. Ok, maybe not that active, but still. He had enough time to make short movies like this one, which is technically not a cover song, but a parody of the High School Musical 2 classic Bet On It, as performed by Zac Efron. For context, Lin made this to promote the transfer of In The Heights from The Public to the Broadway – ironically to the Richard Rodgers Theater where Hamilton currently plays. The sound is evident Lin made this at home on his computer (much like his Hamilton demos), but the comparison to HSM is pretty spot on. Also he’s a huge dork. Also also once you finish watching this and finish freaking out over the surprise cameos, watch this.

Anything Goes by Jonathan Groff

Speaking of the oh so cute Jonathan Groff, it’s important you know he was, is, and always will be a Sutton Foster fangirl. So when he did the annual Miscast benefit (in which Broadway stars sing parts they’ll never get) he naturally chose a role Sutton was in at the time, Reno Sweeney in Anything Goes. The title song involves a lot of tap dancing on Reno’s part, and Groffsauce was up for the challenge. He continues to be the cutest.

Good For You by Leslie Odom, Jr. featuring Daveed Diggs

I’m like 95.3% sure I got pregnant after listening to this for the first time. I mean, it’s been months and I don’t have a baby keeping me up at night, so maybe not really. I’m just saying, as much as you try to prepare yourself for this, you’ll never be. PS: If you’re a Spring Awakening fan, also listen to Leslie’s cover of The Guilty Ones. That song might get you preggo too. Thanks, LOJ.

Higher Love/Rather Be/Human Nature by Jasmine Cephas Jones and Anthony Ramos

Talk about couple goals. Jasmine and Anthony are Hamilton’s true (offstage) love story, and while they don’t get to duet in the show, their voices are beautifully blended together in this mash-up by Hamilton associate conductor Kurt Crowley. Not to sound too stalkery – a thing all stalkers say – I would pay to watch these two just casually singing around the house. Can you imagine?

Ego/Too Close/Back That Thang Up by Phillipa Soo

If you haven’t heard of The Skivvies, this probably looks weird. If you have, probs not as weird. The Skivvies is made up of  Lauren Molina and Nick Cearley, who perform literal stripped down versions of hit songs and thrown in originals of their own. Here we have the beautifully bare Pippa Soo, killing a Bey song and in sparkly hot pants no less. What a dream.

Brave by Alysha Deslorieux

Ok, so remember how I said the bench is deep on this show? Say hello to Alysha. She is a standby for all the female leads/Schuyler sisters: Angelica, Eliza, and Peggy/Maria, so if any of them are out, she steps right on in. And it’s easy to see why. She’s a vocal powerhouse and able to evoke emotion through her tone, as seen in this cover of Sara Bareilles’ Brave. Now just imagine her singing Burn.

Spring Can Really Hang You Up The Most by Sydney Harcourt

Moving right along, Sydney is an ensemble member who plays the Doctor, Philip Schuyler, James Reynolds, and he also understudies for Burr and Washington. Word on the street is that he’s killed it as Washington, even saving the day when Chris Jackson got some allergic reaction and had to pull out after Act I! Anyways, here is Sydney singing Spring Can Really Hang You Up The Most by Ella Fitzgerald and it’s easy to see why he understudies for Mr. Silky Smooth Leslie Odom, Jr.

Ladies Who Lunch by Ariana DeBose

Ariana is also an ensemble member who’s lovingly nicknamed The Bullet, because *semi-spoiler alert* the duel between A.Ham and Burr involves a cast member acting as the actual Bullet used to kill Hamilton. I KNOW. And Ariana is just as fiery as her onstage counterpart (see what I did there?). First of all, if she looks familiar, it’s because she was a contestant on the underrated and underwatched sixth season of So You Think You Can Dance. She was also in Bring It On the Musical, which Lin also wrote, Motown the Musical and Pippin. I never knew she had a voice/could act until I saw her in Bring It On, and with a cover of Sondheim’s tricky Ladies Who Lunch from Company, it’s clear why she’s on Broadway so often.

Never Can Say Goodbye by Austin Smith

Like Sydney, Austin is also an ensemble member who covers tracks for Burr and Washington, as well as Hercules Mulligan/James Madison. I couldn’t find any other vids of him singing, so here’s a low quality Ham4Ham of him singing Michael Jackson and I just want him to appear in more Ham4Hams. Or be in the cast still when we see it in T- four months. !

Best of 2015: Dear Future Fiance (A Note on Proposing)

It’s Christmas! And that means there are some fuckers out there getting ready to or have already proposed to their significant others. Here’s a pro tip from someone who’s never been betrothed before -DON’T DO IT.

Dear Future Fiance,

Thanks to the magic that is Facebook, I’ve been #blessed with waking up in the morning and seeing which of my friends or friends’ friends is set to take the plunge with their significant other. This number is higher during certain times of the year, most notably the holidays. Now I’m not being a Bitter Betty about this or intending to put anyone down if they DID get engaged over the holidays, I just am expressing what I want in a potential proposal. As the wise and beautiful land mermaid Amy Poehler wrote in her book Yes Please:

So in an effort to not be part of the cliche statistic, I’m writing this to set a few ground rules. If you already have a problem with me saying this, then maybe we shouldn’t even get married in the first place.

– Do not propose to me on Christmas Eve.

Christmas is my favorite holiday. I like the spirit of it, I like the traditions that come with it. I am accustomed to doing the same thing every year and I like it that way. Some kind of big dinner, candlelight service at church, pictures with the fam before we change out of our nice clothes. It is also my mother’s birthday, so, not a good day to steal her thunder.

– Do not propose to me on Christmas.

Christmas already comes with presents. I do not need an additional diamond/jewel of your (my) choice to be added under the tree. Whatever is on my list is a perfectly acceptable gift. I’d much rather get the complete Dawson’s Creek series on DVD rather than a non-creative proposal. Also it is Jesus’ birthday, so, not a good day to steal his thunder.

– Do not propose to me on New Year’s Eve.

I already dislike New Year’s Eve as it is. It’s always one of those nights where everyone asks you what you’re doing, and makes it out to be some big elaborate thing with a lot of high expectations. Speaking of expectations, I personally expect a proposal is supposed to be a surprise (more or less), something to catch you off-guard. Getting down on one knee on a night where thousands of other men are doing the same thing isn’t a surprise. Also it’s the New Year’s birthday, so, not a good day to steal its thunder.

– Do not propose to me on Valentine’s Day.

If your significant other needs a pre-determined day to do all the romantic things he can possibly think of on only one day out of the year, something’s wrong. I don’t want to go out to dinner and find a ring in a chocolate box (I’ll probably eat it) or at the bottom of my champagne glass (I’ll probably drink it). Again, proposing on Valentine’s Day is cliche and unimaginative, so don’t do it then. Also it’s Cupid’s birthday (not really), so, not a good day to steal his thunder.

– Do not propose to me on my birthday.

It is my birthday, so, not a good day to steal my thunder.

Sincerely,

The Woman Of Your Dreams

Things I’m Willing To Believe About 2015

Almost everything that is going to happen in 2015 has already happened. That means we’ve reached the point where you can sit back and reflect on the year that was … not. None of the following things actually happened in 2015, but the way the past year was, I’m willing to believe all of them.

  • The fastest-rising baby names were Temerity (girl) and Elfin (boy), springing from the trends toward word names for girls and names ending in “n” for boys.

 

  • Middle schoolers across the nation frightened their parents by “kale-ing” – snorting dried kale chips to enjoy the chill buzz of toxins leaving their systems.

 

 

  • The most-downloaded Youtube video in the U.S. was “oops-shite,” in which a British preschooler drops an ice cream cone then shouts “oops! SHITE.” YouTube Grand Master Martin Fillburgh called it a “perfect storm” of a child swearing combined with a non-American accent.

 

  • A Today show segment about a popular pair of sweat-wicking socks caused demand to skyrocket; they were selling for up to $15 a pair on eBay by Christmastime.

 

  • The most popular Google search was “how to hide political posts from Facebook.” The most popular Yahoo search was “how computer work.” The most popular Yahoo Answers search was “if I am pregnett with baby can baby get pregnett too yes or no.”

 

  • A detailed forensic analysis proved that at least two of Shakespeare’s worst sonnets as well as Timon of Athons were, in fact, written by his cousin, Trevor Shakespeare.

 

  • The least-attended panel in Comic-Con history was the reunion of Wild West C.O.W.-boys of Moo Mesa, an early 90s cartoon about a community of mutant old-west cows that formed after the prairie was hit by a comet, which I know existed because I watched it every week. Con planners are said to have “seriously misjudged” the pull of 90s nostalgia.

 

  • An entire chain of spin studios had to close when a serious strain of ringworm infected up to 70% of the patrons, many of whom didn’t really mind because at least that meant people could tell that they work out.

 

  • When pressed for a description of Minecraft, the creator explained “there’s like… these blocks, right? And you make a farm, sort of? But maybe like there are… wars… at times?” He then pulled a nine-year-old child from the audience to explain it better.

 

  • Archaeologists at Colonial Williamsburg believed that they had uncovered a 250-year-old time capsule. They scheduled a public opening, where it quickly became clear that it was actually a box of stuff a Colonial man didn’t want his wife to find.

 

  • At least seven flights were grounded when the combined GPS signals of the passengers’ Fitbit devices overpowered the plane’s navigation system.

 

  • People younger than you started a massive dance craze based on a 1970s Chilean novelty song.

 

  • Gwyneth Paltrow’s website, Goop, began selling amazingly ineffective cashmere towels for $475 a piece.

 

  • Your favorite show ended.

 

  • Somewhere in the United States, a teenager told a friend that they were singing a “song from an old musical” for an audition; it was from Rent.

America, at the end of the millennium.

 

  • The National Institute Of Health released a report entitled Everyone Is Fat And We’re All Going To Die: An American Epidemic.

 

  • Emily Patton, a 22-year-old recent NYU grad, launched #Married, a business that creates custom wedding hashtags for couples; each hashtag comes with a guarantee that the tag will not be used for any photos not associated with the wedding for up to 6 months after the event.

 

  • For the first time ever, 100% of the models in New York Fashion Week were born after 1990; over 10% were born in this millennium.

 

  • Someone you went to college with got a pug. And I bet it’s really cute, too.

 

  • Ariana Grande placed a drive-through Dunkin Donuts order that she had to repeat 13 times, as the girl CANNOT ENUNCIATE.
  • The latest hit social network: Mrow, described as “like Vine but for cats, on more of a Twitter interface.”

 

  • The fastest-growing subscription box company of the year was Flounce. Once a month subscribers get a box to fill with clothing they already own; it is mailed back to them with minor embellishments like lace ruffles, embroidery, or a bow.

 

  • A three-day convention called Handsome, Clever And Rich celebrated the bicentennial of Jane Austen’s novel Emma along with the 20-year anniversary of Clueless. Festivities were held in Surrey and Beverly Hills. Events included speed dating and makeovers; it was described by attendees as well-intentioned but a little shallow.

 

  • A Go Fund Me account has raised over $500 for Pizza Rat and his or her children.

Playlist of the Month: Christmas Songs by Jewish Artists

Hanukkah 2015 is already in the books. That means that from this point onward, people of all religions can focus on that other December holiday: Christmas. Sure, if we’re getting technical about it Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus – but it’s also turned into a cultural celebration where we put our differences aside and eat cutout cookies, decorate trees, and jam out to the likes of Barbra Streisand and Amy Winehouse. Who better to sing Happy Birthday to one of the most famous Jewish babies in the world?

Traci’s Picks

The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)
Mel Torme and Judy Garland

This tune is one of the iconic Christmas songs we all know and love, but did you known it was written by two Jews? Mel Torme and Bob Wells wrote it in 1945 in the middle of summer in an effort to cool down. Truth. Bob was randomly writing down wintery things on a notepad like, “Yuletide carols” and “Jackfrost” and “folks dressed up like Eskimos” because he was so damn hot, but when Mel (who was 19 at the time) took a look at it he saw them as song lyrics. The rest is history. This version features Mel on Judy Garland’s self-titled TV show, and also includes a sly Over the Rainbow ref. This is the kind of song that just warms your heart.

Happy Xmas (War is Over)
Adam Levine & Sara Bareilles

Many people have covered John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s iconic Christmas protest song, but there’s something special about the pairing of Adam and Sara. Adam has the right range for it, while Sara can literally sing anything and I’d be on board.

This Christmas
Carole King

This Christmas is one of my favorite modern day holiday jamz. Maybe it’s because I grew up listening to Platinum Christmas and heard R&B singer Joe’s version on repeat, but I associate this with pop and R&B acts, not folky types like Carole King. But that’s what makes me love this version that much more. She gives it a lived in, Tapestry quality to it that makes you want to curl up by the fire and drink hot cocoa.

From a Distance (Christmas version)
Bette Midler

Listen up. Sometimes I enjoy turning up to the easy listening radio station. I can enjoy a good Kenny G tune or Celine Dion power ballad every once in a while. I can also appreciate Bette Midler and her classic tune From a Distance. BUT, in doing research for this post, I found out she made an alternative Christmas version that is maybe even better than the OG? Maybe. But the Queen of the Jews singing “Joy to the World” at the end is the best. The best.

I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus
Amy Winehouse

No bit zone – I really think Amy would’ve made an amazing Christmas/holiday album. Her voice is already astounding, but her spin on classic songs would’ve been such a hit.

Molly’s Picks

Baby It’s Cold Outside
Idina Menzel and Michael Buble

Yes, this song is creepy, but this version subs out some of the skeevier lyrics, making it my favorite rendition.

It was only a matter of time before Idina Menzel released a Christmas album. This particular song is really just a winter song, but there are plenty of Christmas-specific tracks on the album.

White Christmas
Barbra Streisand

How about a two-fer: when he wrote White Christmas, Irving Berlin, nee Israel Baline, made the most important Jewish contribution to the Christmas holiday since the Virgin Mary. Then Barbra Streisand covered it, and while nobody, not even Babs, is Bing Crosby, this is still pretty darn wonderful.

Must Be Santa
Bob Dylan

If you ever doubt the extent to which Bob Dylan DGAF, just watch this video.

Christmas Must Be Tonight
The Band

Two things you may not have known: The Band performs a good Christmas song, and Robbie Robertson is Jewish.

Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want To Fight Tonight)
The Ramones

This is my second-favorite song about sparring on Christmas (after the fantastic Fairytale of New York) – and it proves that you don’t have to grow up celebrating Christmas to know that it’s a holiday that sparks a lot of arguments.

It’s The 90s: Let’s All Decorate For Christmas!

Here’s a bit of 90s nostalgia you never hear about: Christmas decorations. That’s because holiday decor of the 1990s, like holiday fashion and holiday television, was delightfully cheesy. In this, the Let’s All Decorate Christmas Special, let’s look back at the Yuletide decor of the 1990s. Then next week, you can revisit 90s Christmas decorations all over again when you visit your parents who are still displaying the ornaments of your youth.

Ceramic Tree With Half Of The Bulbs Missing

For a 20-year period, everyone had one aunt who took a ceramics class where she painted and glazed a Christmas tree. You probably lost most of the bulbs within a decade (especially if you had cats). The “classy” ones were frosted white.

Lights Hung Inside The Windows Because You Didn’t Have An Outdoor Outlet

Outdoor electric outlets certainly existed in the 90s – but more homes hadn’t added them yet, so you saw a lot more lights strung up inside the windows. We’ve come full circle: I don’t have an outlet at the front of my house, so I hang twinkling fairy lights inside my windows.

Giant Bulbs

We are all Chandler Bing. At some point in the 1990s the tiny lights took over, but the big ones are sort of back in a retro way now.

Slow-Moving Animatronic Santa

Even at the turn of the millennium, our technology wasn’t really *all there* yet. It took us 5 minutes to sign on to the Internet and our cell phones were as big as kittens. These slow, jerky electronic Santas were pretty high-tech for the time. Also they looked like they were about to launch into a really awesome break dancing performance at any time.

Aerosol Spray Snow

I was never allowed to have spray paint snow, in part because my mom didn’t want to clean it up and in part because I lived in a city that gets 100 inches of annual snowfall. Still, these aerosol cans of “snow” were all the rage. Some people stenciled elaborate snow scenes, but most just frosted the bottom quarter of their windows and called it a day.

Precious Moments Nativity

Reignite THIS 90s trend, teenaged Tumblr hipsters! Precious Moments, deformed cartoon children who loved Jesus, were popular in middle class homes in the 90s. Somehow I ended up with a hand-me-down set, so just like suburbanites in 1991 I can reflect on these two weird-looking kids who have a baby.

Country Angels

My requisite Grandma Who Was Into Crafting loved making angels …  which are now part of my Christmas decoration stash because somebody decided I should have them. There’s a crepe-y one in “country blue,” a doll-like one with a raffia head, a puffy squat plush one, and a gingham-dressed doll with straw hair. Country Angels were the Yuletide companion to those damned country geese. If your mom decorated in powder blue and “dusty rose” and hung quilts on the wall, she probably had a country angel or two to herald the birth of the Baby Jesus.

Those Big Plastic Santas and Snowmen

Before those blow-up decorations burst onto the scene, these big plastic Santas and Snowmen were the in thing. Of course, if you were really into the *reason for the season* you probably had this bad boy:

Ceramic Ornaments You Painted Yourself

Every year as a child, I looked forward to a craft day spent meticulously painting these ceramic ornaments. And every year as an adult, I regret keeping so many terribly painted ornaments from my childhood (turns out kids aren’t actually meticulous).

A Village From Yesteryear

There are still plenty of collectors of Christmas villages, they were just bigger in the 90s. These elaborate villages were complete with cottony snow and tiny carolers. I thought they were awesome, but also sort of a tease because it was a whole set of cool toys that you weren’t allowed to play with.

Christmas villages were usually set somewhere in the 19th century, but has it been long enough that we can have a 1990s Christmas village? Because THAT is something I’d collect.

A Big Victorian Angel

Another thing that technically still exists, but has been phased out by most decorators of our generation. Nowadays people choose stars, less-fluffy angels, conceptual tree-toppers, or nothing at all.

Hess Trucks

I never got the connection between Christmas and Hess Trucks, but some people not only bought them every year (normal) but also displayed them every Christmas (okay).

Collectibles From A Fast Food Place

Fast food glassware is a thing of the past, but in the 90s you could go to Burger King or McDonald’s and obtain a set of Christmas cups or plates. Happy Meal toys could even be called into decorating service:

Yuletide Troll Dolls

I don’t know why we liked trolls so much, but we did – and even adults incorporated them into their holiday decor. There were plush trolls that a child could cuddle on Christmas Eve, too.

Holiday Beanie Babies

Now, everybody knew that the special holiday beanies were more “valuable” so you had to treat these gingerly if you wanted to sell them for big money in 20 years (oops).

A Christmas Barbie

I had friends whose moms collected the annual holiday Barbie. It was usually wearing some kind of swanky gown and displayed with pride in a mirrored curio cabinet.

A Porcelain Doll Dressed Like She’s From The 1800s

They always looked like a cross between a ghost and a rich girl from a Charles Dickens novel.

A Stuffed Bear In Outerwear

I just learned that K-Mart released Christmas bears every year, so I guess that’s where everyone was getting these from in the 90s.

 

Coveted 90s Christmas Toys

It seems like everything from the 80s and 90s is getting a revival these days – from Full House to The X Files to Jem and the Holograms (although that didn’t go so well). There’s a rush of nostalgia going on right now, but it seems different to us millennials because it actually pertains to us. Instead of wearing 70s-inspired bell bottoms when we were in 7th grade, now we’re the ones who are rocking daisy print baby dolls dresses and jelly shoes. Yeah, I feel old too.

In addition to fashion and entertainment, kids’ toys also somehow make a comeback, with things like Easy-Bake Ovens (which are weirdly futuristic looking now) and Puppy Surprises reappearing. In fact, the Puppy Surprise, you know that stuffed animal that’s holding an unknown number of baby puppies in its velcro sack, made a return last year, and it was so popular that the company had to stop airing commercials because the demand was so high.

Easy-Bake Ovens and Puppy Surprises may have been coveted in the 90s for Christmas, but they’re just as coveted in 2015, too. To make you feel even older, here are a bunch of other toys from our childhood that I would’ve died for as a tot. Or maybe wouldn’t even be mad about seeing under the Christmas tree as an adult.

Talkboy/Talkgirl

We can all thank Home Alone 2: Lost in New York for this gem. The one Kevin McAllister uses was only a prop, but a letter-writing campaign by young fans begging for a real version to be made was launched, and a year after the movie came out, Tiger Electronics finally made a real one and it became one of the most wanted toys for Christmas. Not to brag or anything, but I totally had one. Not even the Talkgirl – the OG silver version. I wasn’t as cool as Kevin.

Sally Secrets Doll

I was one of those weird kids that loved those invisible ink books or having things that had secret compartments, so the Sally Secrets doll was a GD dream. In her shoes, there was a stamp and stamp pad, by pressing a button, stickers would come out of her belt. Genius. That’s why her body is so thick – it’s full of secrets.

Moon Shoes

Is the rise and popularity of NASA in the 90s a direct correlation to the necessity of Moon Shoe toys and grand prize winnings to go to Space Camp from Nickelodeon game shoes?

Tamagotchi

I’m not gonna lie to you guys. It’s the holidays. I not only had one Tamagotchi – I had two. AND a GigaPet. AND I held them all on this super cool, trendy, not nerdy at all red Brine lanyard. Honestly, how did I make it through my youth?

Talkback Dear Diary

Like the Tamagotchi and Talkboy, I’m starting to realize that the trend for 90s toys was primitive technology. The era was when we, as a world culture, were getting into things like the Internet and computers instead of typewriters. So when we upgraded from paper diaries to electronic diaries, it was a huge deal. And one that had a recording device on it? Forget it.

Teddy Ruxpin

Anyone can tell you that if you had a Teddy Ruxpin, you were one lucky kid. I feel like these talking bears were super expensive, and a lot of that had to do with the cassette tapes that came with it. Too many accessories. But did anyone else find him creepy? No? Just me?

Pogs

Story time: In 1995 (20 YEARS AGO HOLY CRAP), I spent my Christmas with my family in the Philippines for the first time ever. Like any nine year old, my memories of this vacation is fairly vague, with a few standout moments in my brain. One of them is opening presents my parents (or Santa?) brought with them from America for me to open in the Philippines. One of which was a Pog maker, as seen in the well-made commercial above. Looking back on it, I must have seemed like the spoiled American to all my cousins who were like, “What is this product? I got a shirt from Santa.” Like, what a douche.

Hit Clips

Here we are again with the primitive technology – except maybe Hit Clips were more of a Kidz Bop version of teens and their CDs. I had both the portable clip and the boom box, and only like 3 songs (2 BSB, 1 Britney) and if I’m remembering correctly, they didn’t even play the whole song? Or there was an option to only play a ‘clip’? IDK all I know is that it’s still in my bedroom at home, even though they don’t work anymore.

Sky Dancers

“Fly for me, just for me… Come to me, dance for me, Skydancers fly for me!” Why are these girls so demanding??

Neiman Marcus Fantasy Gifts 2015: Santa’s Got A Brand New Douchebag

Haven’t finished your holiday shopping yet? Have an unreasonably large budget, no time to arrange a gift yourself, and a total d-bag on your shopping list? Yeah, me either, thank goodness. But for the second year in a row, we DO at least have the Neiman Marcus Fantasy Gifts to remind us that we’re better off than the people who do have those things — plus some low-budget alternatives for the rest of us.

A Motorcycle Day With Keanu Reeves and Keanu Reeves’ Friend Gard

Cost: $150,000.00

Arch Motorcyle and Ride Experience with Keanu Reeves and Gard Hollinger

First, go to breakfast with Keanu Reeves and Keanu Reeves’ friend Gard – which I’d be into, I mean I’d hit up a good brunch with John Wilkes Booth and Justin Bieber if promised bottomless mimosas. Then go on a motorcycle ride, then go to a cafe. Then take a friend to dinner and ditch Keanu. Or don’t: the man has been through a lot and I hear he’s one of the nicest celebrities. The next day, ride through a forest with Keanu like you’ve just watched the Matrix trilogy before bed and now you’re living in a weird dream. By the way, the 150K price tag does include the motorcycle.

Alternative: A set of Matrix DVDs (like $20 if Target’s running a sale); a moped rental; brunch with your most chill friend.

Couture Diary

Cost: $10,000.00

Couture Diary

I’m assuming if you’re buying this, you have the kind of friends who own a lot of couture, so good on you. All right, so the book part of this gift just seems unnecessarily complex:

  • Scandinavian calfskin cover is vegetable tanned in Scotland exclusively for bookbinding
  • All tooling is executed by hand in 24-karat gold at the Vogel Bindery in East Hampton, New York
  • Diary sheets are engraved on premium stock paper with hand-colored borders from The Printery in Oyster Bay, New York

Anyway, then someone draws 20 of your outfits on the Scandinavian cow, Scottish vegetable, Gatsby gold, Oyster paper that lives in the house that Jack built.

Alternative: Paper dolls, maybe? But couture ones.

Some Really Old Questionable Whiskey

Cost: $125,000.00

The Orphan Barrel Project

The Orphan Barrel Project, which sounds like a cool Orphan Black offshoot but isn’t, collects barrels of old whiskey from abandoned places then sells them to rich people. On this trip to Lexington, Kentucky, you hunt through an old distillery for booze like a troubled teen breaking and entering for the first time. Then you get a whiskey cabinet, some glassware, and a bunch of old liquor that I hope a health department has vetted.

Alternative: Go to your liquor cabinet, or better yet, your parents’. What’s the oldest bottle there, the one that you can’t quite remember buying? Okay, give that to a friend.

A 12-Day Journey Through The Nicest Parts Of India

Cost: $400,000.00

Agra

No shade, this sounds amazing and includes a surprising number of rides in private rickshaws, not like those gross crowded public rickshaws the poors take on their vacations to India. I’m most intrigued by kite-flying at a palace, which seems like the Neiman Marcus folks are just throwing together random wonderful things.

Alternative: A cassette tape of that one Alanis song about “thank you India” or whatever.

Going Almost To Space

Cost: $90,000.00

World View Profile

In high school, my brother and I had a coworker who went to Space Camp. My brother knew that she didn’t actually go to space, but wondered aloud whether she “maybe went up in a really high plane or something.” This is basically that: floating at 100,000 feet above Earth for a few hours. If any of you are very rich, I’d like this, please.

Alternative: A telescope; a reminder that we are but specks in a vast, unknowable, and ever-expanding universe; a Carl Sagan book.

An Art Tour Of Italy With A Jewelry Maker

Cost: $150,000.00

Italy Tour with Ippolita & Artemest Craftsmen

This trip includes more arts and crafts projects than you’d think, including playing with clay and “secret paper techniques” (which I imagine ends in you creating the world’s classiest cootie catcher). You have to go to the same glass-blowing “fornace” two days in a row, though.

Alternative: A gift card to JoAnn fabrics. Come at me if you want, I love me some JoAnn fabrics and the folksy suburban ladies I always talk to at the fabric counter.

A Trunk Full Of Iris Apfel’s Stuff

Cost: $80,000.00

Price includes a fancy trunk filled with jewelry and accessories, as well as lunch and a styling session with Iris herself.

Alternative: A copy of Iris, the Iris Apfel documentary that’s on Netflix. It’s life-affirming AF.

A Neiman Marcus Mustang

Cost: $95,000.00

Neiman Marcus Mustang

I’ve become jaded by this point, because my reaction to that price tag was “wow, only $95K?” I’d make the most darling rich person. You also get to go to racing school! Manual transmission only, soz.

Alternative: A day at the go-kart track! Everyone loves go-karts, right? Whee!!

Three Guitars

Cost: $30,000 each

Texas Trio Guitars

Steve Miller, Lyell Lovett, and Billy Gibbons all designed guitars. For a cool 30K you get one of them – not all three -as well as a backstage visit with the musician who designed it.

Alternative: Legit, you can find a guitar for like $30 on Craigslist, and something tells me it’s not too difficult to get backstage for any of these fellows if you really wanted to.

A Casket Full Of Gender Norms

Cost: $5,000

Mackenzie-Childs Trunk - Ultimate Children's Costumes

No, okay, what it really is is a custom-painted trunk for a “girl” (pink trunk, four different princess dresses) or a “boy” (primary-colored trunk, superhero costumes). It’s like those McDonald’s Barbie and Hot Wheels toys for the very rich (Stuff 90s Kids Remember: being asked if you want a “boy toy” or a “girl toy” instead of a doll or a car). If you know a girl who is into princesses, or a boy who likes Iron Man, and you have 5K to burn, this seems okay … but I still think this is some kind of bullshit.

Alternative: Dress-up clothes – one of my favorite gifts for the kids in my family! But you don’t have to be so rigid about it.