Just in Time for the Holidays! – A Darker Take on 5 Classic Christmas Songs

 It’s the holidays so of course like many others I’ve been listening to Christmas music. As I was doing this my mind started focusing more on some of the lyrics. I’ve sung these in elementary school plays, at family parties, or just to be annoying to friends while driving but never really dived into the lyrics. Just took them at face value of what they were. But this time I looked at them a bit …differently.
Winter Wonderland
This song is about a heist over the holidays that goes wrong
Sleigh bells ring
are you listening
in the lane
snow is glistening
A beautiful sight
we’re happy tonight
walking in a winter wonderland

This is a flash forward to the end of the heist after it goes horribly wrong. Like the opening scene of the first episode of Cowboy Bebop. Guy laying in a snowy alley with a bullet in him, bleeding out and laughing. Hearing bells coming from the street.

Gone away is the bluebird
here to stay is a new bird
He sings a love song
as we go along
walking in a winter wonderland
Guy is walking down a snowy street to meet up with his contact, sees a bird
In the meadow we can build a snowman
Then pretend that he is Parson Brown
He’ll say: Are you married?
we’ll say: No man
But you can do the job
when you’re in town

Guy meets contact at the old church in the meadow. Contact is disguised as a priest. They exchange code words so they know they can trust each other before “doing the job when you’re in town”.

Later on
we’ll conspire
as we dream by the fire
To face unafraid
the plans that we’ve made
walking in a winter wonderland
They meet up that night to go over the plans for the heist. Which is taking place at a holiday festival. A winter wonderland.
In the meadow we can build a snowman
and pretend that he’s a circus clown
We’ll have lots of fun with mister snowman
until the the other kids knock him down

‘Snowman’ is the nickname of the 3rd guy taking part in the heist. There is always some loose canon in a heist movie that screws it up for the team. Snowman is that guy and he is going to dress up in festive attire (maybe even santa) to district people and make a scene to attract the cops on duty so the other two who can head the other way to steal what they came for.  They have to be quick though since they only have until the cops take Snowman down and get back to paroling the festival.

When it snows
ain’t it thrilling
Though your nose gets a chilling
We’ll frolic and play
the Eskimo way
walking in a winter wonderland

The cops deal with Snowman quicker than planned and caught the guy and his accomplice in the middle of the heist. When the bullets start flying, it ain’t thrilling. Even with all the shooting the guy tries to still get away with what they came for while his accomplice jets off to save his life. The guy takes a few bullets in the process and manages to limp into the the alley a block from the festival and collapses to the ground.

Walking in a winter wonderland
walking in a winter wonderland
We go back to the first scene of the song as the guy dies.

Frosty the Snowman
This song is about a drug trip
Frosty the Snowman, was a jolly happy soul,
With a corn cob pipe and a button nose, and two eyes made of coal.

“Frosty the Snowman” is the street name of a popular drug that creates a feeling of euphoria

Frosty the Snowman, is a fairytale, they say.
He was made of snow, but the children know he came to life one day.

This person hears about what the effects of this drug and wants to give it a try

There must have been some magic in that old silk hat they found,
For when they placed it on his head, he began to dance around!
They score some on the dark web through the silk road. They then sit back and give it a try.
Oh, Frosty, the Snowman, was alive as he could be;
and the children say he could laugh and play,
just the same as you and me.
They are having the best trip of their life
Thumpety thump, thump, thumpety thump, thump,
look at Frosty go.
Their heart rate rises. They feel ever beat.
Thumpety thump, thump, thumpety thump, thump,
over the hills of snow.
Their heart rate rises even more. They start seeing shapes and colors.
Frosty the Snowman, knew the sun was hot that day,
so he said, “Let’s run, and we’ll have some fun now, before I melt away.”

At the peak of the trip “Frosty” makes a person burst with more energy than they can handle

Down to the village, with a broomstick in his hand,
Running here and there, all around the square,
sayin’, “Catch me if you can.”

They jump up, run out the door, and into the street

He led them down the streets of town, right to the traffic cop;
and only paused a moment, when he heard him holler, “Stop!”

They run full speed into a cop on the street. They try to hide that they were on any kind of drug when the cop starts to yell at them.

For Frosty, the Snowman, had to hurry on his way,
But he waved goodbye, sayin’ “Don’t cry, I’ll be back again some day.
Luckily the drug starts to wear off, and wear off quick, right about at this time. They were sad the experience was over but then remember where they could get some more.

Santa Claus is Coming to Town
This song is about government surveillance 
You better watch out
You better not cry
Better not pout
I’m telling you why
Santa Claus is coming to town
‘Santa Clause’ is the code name for the program that tracks your every move in real life and online.  Everyone is aware this exists and lives in fear of not doing the right thing in the eyes of the government.
He’s making a list
And checking it twice
Gonna find out Who’s naughty and nice
Santa Claus is coming to town

Police raids and other purges regularly happen in the city. Rounding up anyone who they deem a possible threat to the state.  When you hear that Santa Clause is coming to town there is only one thing you can do. Run.

He sees you when you’re sleeping
He knows when you’re awake
He knows if you’ve been bad or good
So be good for goodness sake!

This is the mantra taught to school children so they learn at a young age that they need to stay in line and work hard. No one ever heard from little Timmy after that time he through a rock through the school house window.

O! You better watch out!
You better not cry
Better not pout
I’m telling you why
Santa Claus is coming to town
Santa Claus is coming to town
Always be good, sleep with one eye open, and pray Santa does not come to your town any time soon.

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas
This song is about the gentrification of a neighborhood
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas 
Ev’rywhere you go; 
Take a look in the five-and-ten, glistening once again 
With candy canes and silver lanes aglow. 
‘Christmas’ in this scenario refers to all the changes happening in the neighborhood. The old five-and-ten shop has been rebuilt to attract the young professionals in the area after the original owners where forced to leave after their rent was increased 400%.
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, 
Toys in ev’ry store, 
But the prettiest sight to see is the holly that will be
On your own front door. 
All the local stores have new items to purchase, if you can afford the new higher prices that is.  ‘Holly’ is the nickname of the neighborhood watch group who comes around and hollers at the homeless to get them out of people’s doorways.
A pair of hopalong boots and a pistol that shoots 
Is the wish of Barney and Ben; 
Dolls that will talk and will go for a walk 
Is the hope of Janice and Jen; 
And Mom and Dad can hardly wait for school to start again.
What everyone is most excited for are all the new places opening up soon. ‘Hop along boots’ is a southern Korean BBQ fusion restaurant and ‘Dolls that will talk’ is a new bar where dogs get their own bar stools. Parents can’t wait to get their kids started at the new local schools being built in the area so they can spend more time at all these new hot places.
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas
Ev’rywhere you go;
There’s a tree in the Grand Hotel, one in the park as well,
The sturdy kind that doesn’t mind the snow.
The changes are being seen everywhere, no block seems to be spared. Even the historic Grand Hotel. Which is being torn down to create a new park for food trucks and a local farmers market.
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas;
Soon the bells will start,
And the thing that will make them ring is the carol that you sing
Right within your heart.
The new bicycle meet up groups are now adding this neighborhood as part of their travels. Which the new people moving in love since local DJs have been known to remix the sounds of their bike bells for the weekend speak-easy after-work post-parties.

Let it snow
This song is about slowly dyeing in a bomb shelter
Oh the weather outside is frightful
But the fire is so delightful
And since we’ve no place to go
Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!
Deep underground a group tries to best ignore the bombardment above. Staring at a wall sized painting depicting a fireplace scene during Christmas.
It doesn’t show signs of stopping
And I’ve bought some corn for popping
The lights are turned way down low
Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!
The bombing has been going on for days now. The power generator is starting to run low on fuel but there are still a lot of rations on hand. 
When we finally kiss good night
How I’ll hate going out in the storm!
But if you’ll really hold me tight
All the way home I’ll be warm
One of the bombing runs has caused part of the building above to cover the shelter door trapping everyone inside. What is left of the group huddles together in the main hall since it is the last room with working power and heat.
The fire is slowly dying
And, my dear, we’re still goodbying
But as long as you love me so
Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!
The final person left alive is breathing the last amounts of air in the shelter. The lack of oxygen to the brain has lead them to a delusional state where they start to see people who have already died. The last thing they see as the air runs out is the snow fall depicted on the wall sized Christmas painting.
Happy Holidays!

A Shelf is Worth a Thousand Words

Do you have a shelf? I’m betting you do. I don’t mean just a regular shelf for regular things. I mean a glorious shelf of the amazing things. The shelf that when people come to visit look up and down to see what you’re into, what you love, and how you like show that all off.
We have a shelf, or, shelves like that in our house. We call it The Shelves of Great Nerdery. A place to keep all the little things we’ve collected over the years as a showcase of what we want people to associate with us. Totems of our lifestyle.
Donkey Kong
I’ve seen all kinds of shelves dedicated to all sorts of things.  Action figures lined up by release dates with each shelf a different toy line. Shelves made of old hard back books bought in bulk at an auction house. Anime DVDs bookended by anime VHS tapes.  All shapes and all sizes.  So what is it that makes us naturally want to build a shelf? We put things upon it like a trophy case where the ‘best in show’ ribbon came in a blister pack.  Be it one shelf or a dedicated room this seems to be in our DNA for all who collect stuff of some kind.
If a picture is worth a thousand words, a nicely designed shelf can say a lot about what you want others to perceive of you. Row’s of Xbox games towering next to a large TV: “I’m a gamer”. A dedicated shelf overflowing with con badges and event pictures: “I like to go to conventions”. Some shelf obsessions go even further and more specific if that is important to that person. A shelf of one brand of tea containers, new and old, that sits over a breakfast nook that has bay window with space between each container for a book: “I like to have my favorite tea while I sit and read with the sun coming through the window.”
What is on a shelf, how everything is arranged, and why it was added are all parts of the story.  Let’s dissect one of my shelves as an example.
Shelf by number
  1. 1. A custom card with the text ‘you blew it’ in fancy lettering a comic friend of mine hands out at bars from time to time
  2. 2. 12” Boba Fett figure. One of the few remaining items from my Star Wars addiction days.
  3. 3. Issues 1-3 of Ranma 1/2. The only time the manga was ever in full color. My first convention purchase ever (1997).
  4. 4. A Buddha statue from the first time I visited the Ft. Worth Japanese Gardens
  5. 5. Voltron mini figures. One of the few items I didn’t sell off of my near complete Voltron collection
  6. 6. Stack of Yotsuba manga. Because if you ever need a smile just pick one up and read it.
  7. 7. A tea cup my girlfriend bought from the now closed Japanese Sakura Taisen Cafe
  8. 8. Panda-Z imported figure that was gifted to me by an old friend who had “too much shit that needed to find a new home”
  9. 9. Prinny fans from Anime Expo the year I was told about Disgaea. A game my girlfriend obsesses over.
  10. 10. Disney’s The Black Hole puzzle I’ve had since I was 5
  11. 11. The two way pager that I got from my first college internship designing websites at Motorola (Thank you HTML for Dummies!). This bad boy saved my ass multiple times in college. I don’t think the plan was suppose to go for an extra year but I sure was happy it did.
  12. 12. 5-Barrel rum bottle from the first vacation to Belize my girlfriend and I took together. My first vacation that didn’t involve me going to a Disney park, taking my daughter to a Disney park, or some random college spring break adventure.
  13. 13. What remains of my original Magic The Gathering collection from high school. Including cards I made up that for some reason my friends actually let me play in real games.
All these stories condensed into a 4 foot space. A level of efficiency Twitter should be envious of.
Your shelf can also acts as a timeline of your fandom.  The shelf you started in high school (an old wine glass rack I filled with anime VHS tapes in my case) can say just as much about you as your yearbook photo. As your fandom evolves so does your shelf.  You may have even changed out your shelf entirely. Big in to baseball as a kid, Gundam model kits in college, and now it’s Criterion Collection Blu-rays and rare 35mm prints of classic films. Like moving from a 6-pack of Bud Light to bottle of Johnny Walker Black Label, your tastes have grown with you.
Do you have a shelf? I would love to hear all about it and see any pictures if you got them. If the comments section below doesn’t allow pictures feel free to share them on my Facebook page or Tweet them at me.
Sailor Moon

I Like You, But I Don’t ‘Like Like’ You

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This all started when my girlfriend told me to check out a new show this season called Empire. She isn’t really too into most TV dramas so the fact that she was really into this one grabbed my attention.  I gave it a few episodes. I could see why people like it. It’s basically King Lear told via the modern day music industry. A very cool choice for Fox I would say.  But at the end of the day, it just didn’t grab me.  I’m already at my ‘TV time’ max for new shows to watch this season so I decided to let this one go.
She still loves it, and the unprecedented ratings growth shows that many others do as well. Am I missing out here? Not getting into a solid show that is getting more popular each week. On paper I can see this is a good show but it just didn’t pull me in like it did for her.  All the while though I have been super happy for her enjoyment of it and all it’s success. It is great to see something a little fresher on network tv.
This got me thinking. “Am I enjoying the enjoyment others are having for this show?” Yes, it seems like I was. Which lead me to ask, “Is this really even a thing?” I was so unsure of this idea at first I didn’t even know how to properly search for more info.
Google search WTF
This lead me to looking into possible words used to describe this phenomenon. At one point I was looking for antonyms of ‘Schadenfreude’. Schadenfreude as some of you might be aware is German for, “The joy or pleasure derived from the misfortunes of others.” With a little digging I found something that I thought would work. The Buddhist word for the concept of unselfish joy: ‘Mudita’.
Mudita means, “Especially sympathetic or vicarious joy. The pleasure that comes from delighting in other people’s well-being rather than begrudging it.” Wow, that’s just perfect!
I also think this being a Buddhist word adds strength to it being the right choice here. The way we come to enjoy the specific things that others enjoy can sometimes feel like we are on a path to some form of entertainment enlightenment that could end up leading us somewhere else all together.

Take Parks & Recreation for example.  I gave this show many, many tries but just couldn’t find its spark. I know, I’m a monster.  But what started out as a journey to find enjoyment lead me to a path of respect and understanding. Not as much of the show but of why people enjoy it. Its great writing, wonderful cast, etc.

 Broad City, Girls, Love Live: School Idol Project. These also fit into this category for me.
Another way of looking at this is when finding something you had an excitement for before fully diving into the content but after doing so being left feeling a little empty. Sure, this can happen when something is overhyped but I’m talking about situations with confirmed quality content.
For example, I’ve never been able to feel the euphoria others have from listening to David Bowie’s early work. He is hands down an amazing artist and I enjoy his music at times but nothing every gave me the ‘wow factor’ feeling outside of playing Ziggy Stardust on Rock Band 3.
Prince, Patlabor 2, Charles Dickens. All great, but are in the same boat as Bowie for me in this situation.
Have you ever experienced the feeling of mudita?
If so I would love to hear about it in the comments below or feel free to hit me up on Twitter at @neumaverick.