While out Christmas shopping we found ourselves stumped on what to get you, our loyal readers. We don’t know your sweater size so that was out. Gift cards seemed so impersonal. And it seemed someone took the Playskool Kitchen we left near the register. Finally after hours of discussions and many, many beers we knew exactly what you wanted: A brand new Big Ass Christmas Post! We’ll even let you unwrap it before Christmas morning. So go ahead, unwrap and enjoy!
Worst Use of Santa in a Commercial: Best Buy-Game On Santa
Santa Claus is synonymous with Christmas so I can’t fault advertisers for trying to tap into that and use him to help trick people into buying their goods, or suing their services, but there’s a right way and a wrong way to do it. Best Buy has done it the wrong way.
There are maybe four of these commercials and they all start with some woman, I do find it odd that everyone of these has a woman buying all the gifts, buying a shit ton of electronic goodies from the local Best Buy. As the woman looks smugly at her purchase the clerk says something along the lines, “Santa’s got nothing on you.” And these are all different clerks. It was like some company-wide memo went out telling all employees to make sure they remind the customers that Christmas shopping is a competition and Santa is their biggest rival.
Then we cut to the scene of Santa making his appearance at the woman’s home only to be met by all the Best Buy goods and the vindictive woman who bought them. She then says something snarky and is incredibly rude to Santa. One even essentially threatens to push Santa off the roof. Which if Tim Allen movies are to be believed, would force her to become Santa (well if she read that card too).
I just don’t understand why these women are such bitches to Santa. He’s the nicest guy in the world. All he does is show up at your house and leaves a bunch of gifts. Only asking for some cookies and milk. Why would you want to upset this dynamic?
Additionally , Santa brings free shit and you would rather just buy the presents? That doesn’t make sense. Even if you do want to buy the shit, at least allow Santa to leave more. Even if what Santa brings is shitty, still keep it. There was a night Dagger and I were at the bar watching the fights and some Bud Light rep girl asked if we wanted a free Bud Light. Despite the mostly full quality beers we had in front of us we still took the free shitty beer, because it was free. That’s how you do things. So quit being a bitch to Santa and just accept this nice thing he is doing.
Best Use of Santa in a Commercial: iPhone Santa Using Siri
The premise here is a kin to all the other iPhone Siri commercials where we see someone’s mouth asking a question into their iPhone and getting the answer from Siri. This one only shows one person, Santa, asking questions related to his present delivery task.
I am aware there are many plot holes in this. Why would all knowing Santa need such help? Oh, because we are meant to believe that all of life’s answer can be found with an iPhone (except where abortion clinics are). Why does he get directions to a house that is clearly miles away from the house he is at? And no not his house in the North Pole, but a house in like Seattle and one in fucking Yakima or some shit. Are we supposed to believe Santa doesn’t just go from house to house in a row like a post man, but rather crosses the state like Senor Limon gave him directions?
I think what I really enjoy and appreciate about this commercial is the way they perpetuate the classic Santa myth, but slightly add the modernization of him. He’s still this jolly fat man who wants nothing more to give presents to people. Santa is exactly as we expect him to be, but now also more like us as he uses an iPhone like we do. Also, the last part got me when he asks Siri what his day looks like and she (it?) replies with, “You have 3.7 billion appointments.”
Worst Use of Christmas Carols: Changing the Words to Sell Shit
It’s the most wonderful SALE of the year! Ni-ssan! Ni-ssan! There is plenty of saving on Nissan innovation and it all happens here! Andy Williams isn’t dead yet, but this crass bastardization of his Christmas staple “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of Year” might just kill him. Alternately, if ol’ Andy himself signed off on this awful appropriation of his song, maybe it’s up to us to kill him ourselves. Because this carnivorous earworm of a commercial will crawl into your brain and not leave until you’ve gone totally mad and punched a stranger or two at the grocery store.
One of my biggest pet peeves is ANY commercial that takes a popular song and changes its lyrics to sell marginal crap. When the cars are flipping over in Talladega Nights, they cut to an Applebee’s commercial where some sad ass singer-for-hire belts out “Doctor, doctor! Give me the news! I got a bad case of loving two!” which, if memory serves, was used to advertise 2-for-1 diarrhea entrees or some such shit.
Even worse is that commercial for Venus Razors where Jennifer Lopez butchers Shocking Blue’s classic “Venus.” The original song is sexy, clever, catchy, and just plain rocks. The commercial re-appropriation has all the soul sandblasted out of it as Jennifer Lopez blabs about being a “goddess” thanks to closely shaved legs. Blech.
I realize that Christmas has lost almost all of its original meaning on a cultural scale and serves mainly as a vessel for economic activity, but that doesn’t mean TJ Maxx and Marshalls have to create something this simultaneously hokey and offensive. Look at those plastic automatons singing emotionlessly a medley of commercialized Christmas bullshit and tell me this makes you want to do anything besides start drinking in the morning.
Related: I can’t even talk at length about how Walmart uses “Back in Black” in its holiday shopping ads without my head exploding, so let’s just say that’s one more reason we wish there were more Bon Scott AC/DC albums and call it another strike against the Brian Johnson era.
Most Surprising Band to Release a Christmas Song: Rise Against
As our past Christmas posts have shown punk bands are no strangers when it comes to Christmas songs. Usually they’re about troubled love or having only wrapped two fucking presents come Christmas Eve, but they’re still punk rock Christmas songs.
However, when I read that Rise Against released a Christmas song I was taken aback. Based on the nature of Rise Against songs and their vocal views I thought Christmas would be the kind of thing they wouldn’t want to associate with, at least the idea of the commercialization of Christmas. Maybe it’s just my cynicism that people only do Christmas songs for money or recognition, like Billy Mack.
Then I read further, apparently there’s more information after the first few words, and learned the song they chose is actually a cover of one from The Nightmare Before Christmas. I can’t be upset when such a classic is involved. But still a bit surprised. Though I am not surprised and just how awesome it sounds. So I dub Rise Against’s cover of “Making Christmas” the best Christmas song of 2011.
Christmas Music It Seems Like I Shouldn’t Like, But Do Anyway: Michael Buble
Did you see him on Saturday Night Live last week? It was delightful. And I say that even recognizing that his first song was “Holly Jolly Christmas” by Burl Ives, which I fucking hate, as documented here. Michael Buble is a crooner that should appeal only to middle-aged secretaries, but I have yet to find anyone that doesn’t like the guy.
And what’s not to like? He’s got a great voice and seems like a genuinely great guy. And unlike a lot of big time entertainers, like Katy Perry who won’t even let the goddamn chauffeur look her in the eye, Buble seems not to take himself too seriously. In the SNL monologue, Jimmy Fallon cracks a joke about him doing a line of coke before the show that Buble gamefully plays along with.
Plus, he wears the shit out of that tuxedo and keeps a little manly stubble on his otherwise flawless visage. That is one handsome man, and I don’t care who you are, when he smiles at you, you’ll tingle.
Did Anyone Anywhere Even Like That Character?: Kristen Wiig’s “Gilly”
Speaking of SNL, on Tuesday NBC re-ran its “Very Gilly Christmas Special” from 2009. Many of the sketches chosen licked balls, but none more so than the Gilly interstitials that ran between them. Like many of Kristen Wiig’s worst creations, Gilly is a one-note character that plays that one note until your ears are bleeding and you’ve gone mad with insanity pouring hot bacon grease into your eye sockets. Aunt Pat, that TV host who futilely tries to get people excited, and that irritating woman who can barely contain her enthusiasm for surprises also fall into this category.
But I hate Gilly the most. I hate looking at her. I hate the overbite. I hate the afro. I hate those fucking socks. And most of all, I hate that every sketch ends with Gilly doing something cartoonishly evil. What’s the fucking point? Why do we give a shit? Why are we forced to look at this thing over and over again, and worst of all, why is she hosting what should be a fun compendium of sketches for the supposedly merriest holiday?
I would have rather had Bill Hader’s one note character Herb Brooks host the proceedings. Or Kenan Thompson’s “What’s Up With That?” guy? Or fuck, even unfreeze Marc McKinney’s head and have him pull “John Fecal: Host of Fecal Matters” out of the mothballs for another go. And that sketch was awful! The only reason I even remember it is because I used to annoy CJS Regular Tron in college by referencing it too much. Anything would have been better than a bunch of lifeless Gilly sketches.
Best Way to Listen to Christmas Music: On Vinyl
I’m not trying to start the debate over what’s the best format for music. Vinyl sounds better, digital is more convenient blah, blah, blah. They both have their merits, and there is a time for both. But more importantly, you’re going to hear things differently than I am so this is an argument that doesn’t matter.
But what this is really about is back in April of 2010 I got this free record of Christmas songs, by modern artists. First it was Christmas songs so I was like whatever, second it was April and who wants to hear Christmas songs in April. So I threw it with the other records and forgot about it. Then one night last December I was looking for something to listen to and I came across it. I said what the hell and threw it on.
The familiar songs coming through the hi-fi reminded of Christmases of my youth. We had this same hi-fi, and atop at Christmas time always sat these two red candle sticks in ceramic chipmunk holders. We had a Disney Christmas album and John Denver and the Muppets “A Christmas Together.” One of those would play while the tree twinkled. Christmas was such a magical time. I long for the feeling I used to have at Christmas. I get that when I listen to Christmas music on vinyl.
Also it’s a two LP set and one is red and the other is green, so it looks cool too.
Ill Attempt at Trying to Re-capture My Childhood Christmas: Will Vinton’s Claymation Christmas
At some point in history it was decided that the best way to get children interested in Christmas was with claymation. Never mind the toys and candy and no school, children still need something to excite them about Jesus’ birthday. From that notion sprung Will Vinton’s Claymation Christmas. Will Vinton made a name for himself by creating the California Raisins, at least the animated ones. That was a weird ad campaign. Maybe don’t anthropomorphize things you want people to eat.
So this show consisted of some clay dinosaurs introducing other clay creatures as they sang Christmas songs. This was something I remembered loving as a child. I was talking to a co-worker about it and she not only knew what I was talking about, but also recently bought it on DVD. She let me borrow it and boy was I ever disappointed.
I still totally loved the claymation stuff and all that, but there was something stopping me from fully enjoying it. One of the dinosaur hosts wasn’t at all how I remembered him and he made me upset and kind of sad. DVD’s like this should have a warning: Caution, This Will Not Be Nearly As Good as You Remembered. Be Prepared For Disappointment. Stop Trying to Capture Your Youth. Just Let It Go Man. Live In The Now.
That would be one long warning label. Also if you didn’t watch this claymation Christmas special as a kid, then you should definitely check it out. If I didn’t have the expectations I had, then it would have been totally awesome.
Most Baffling Christmas Music Ever: Mannheim Steamroller
Keith Phipps of the AV Club writes that the nadir of Christmas music for him is “the soulless keyboard-driven holiday cheer of Mannheim Steamroller. It sounds like the sort of music an Orwellian totalitarian state would pump into the air to help citizens dutifully celebrate the season. It baffles me that millions have embraced it by choice.”
What’s even more baffling is that not only have people embraced it by choice, but people ROCK OUT to this shit. It gets inside their bones, man, and when they show these robots performing on TV and cut to the crowd shots, it’s often the closest you’ll get to witnessing middle-aged white people start to headbang.
For you baseball fans, remember Seth Smith’s awful at-bat music last season? Some choad belting out “Aaaa-MEN!” over and over again over twinkly piano music and mild drumbeat didn’t exactly instill great expectations in the fanbase, nor fear in the opposing pitcher. Out of sheer morbid curiosity, I had to know who this band was, and it’s apparently a Christian rock band called The City Harmonic, and the song is “Manifesto.” The first lines of the song are “We believe in the one true God,” which on the scale of How Christian Is This Shit Going To Be? sends an immediate response of “Pretty Fucking Christian.” And I shit you not, those first seven words take him 12 goddamn seconds to sing. He’s going to take his sweet ass time letting us all know how keen on Jesus he is, and since putting chutzpah into the instruments would likely be a sin (not to mention my use of the word “chutzpah” sounding awfully Jewy), this song decidedly does not rock.
You can’t tell that to the enthusiastic members of Young Life behind the band though, who bounce around and rock out like it’s Van Halen or something. You never see people incongruently jam out with such enthusiasm to such boring and guileless music like this ever…
Until you get to Christmas and people inexplicably get their dander up over the latest antiseptic, synthesizer-heavy misappropriation of Christmas tunes by Mannheim Steamroller.
Completely Unrelated Music Tangent: I Fight Dragons
I was listening to the local modern rock station the other day and I Fight Dragons’ “The Geeks Will Inherit the Earth” came on. I liked it. But my God, did it have the stink of one hit wonder all over it. It’s Scott Pilgrim: The Song!
Video game noises, hybrid dance punk-midi aesthetic, and lyrics that lean heavy on being a dork in high school mean this is the song of the moment. The thing that sucks is that if you’re I Fight Dragons, where do you go from here? You’ve shot your entire geek wad in this song, novel use of video game noises and a declaration of nerd uprising – what’s left? Pretty much nothing, and I suspect we’ll all hear this song at a wedding reception in 2025 and think back on it fondly.
What’s even stranger to me is that modern rock is in such a weird place at the moment, these guys find themselves in the same rotation as Mumford & Sons, one of the most charmingly regressive acts (or as the AV Club’s Steven Hyden memorably referred to them as: “hokey cornpone-ographers”) around today. Here’s Mumford & Sons playing banjos, and touring via rail cars with bands called Old Crow Medicine Show and shit playing right next to I Fight Dragons whose capstone beat is the sound of getting a coin in Super Mario Bros.
Rock music is fucked right now. The only song that can even be sort of considered a rock song in the year’s 25 most popular is Maroon 5’s perplexing hit “Moves Like Jagger,” which sounds like it belongs in a club more than it does in a rock venue. So until another grunge rock movement or an awesome grouping of bands comes forth to save rock music again like The White Stripes, The Strokes, The Hives and The Vines did early last decade, rock will remain in this identity crisis where old timey Irish folk rock sits next to gimmicky nerdariffic midi-rock.
Worst Christmas Song of All Time: Joy To The World
Pretty sure we bring up this god damned song every year, but it is totally justified. Here’s the argument against it this year. While watching the Will Vinton Claymation Christmas there came the segment featuring this song and it was horrendous. Not only did it annoy me with the song that is one of the worst pieces of music, but the animation for it was unacceptable. It wasn’t claymation, just some terrible regular animation. Not that regular animation is terrible, but what was animated for this song was.
As I reached for the remote to skip past this abomination I had this sense of déjà vu and realized that I hated this segment as kid as well. “Joy to the World” has always been a piece of shit. When I was younger I couldn’t stand the song “Silent Night,” but as I got older I began to recognize that “Silent Night” is actually a really pretty song. That never happened with “Joy to the World” because there is nothing good about it, and no beauty to ever be found in it.
Least Worthy of a Christmas Present: My Insurance Company
Most Worthy of a Christmas Present: That poor person whose car I scraped this week
Monday morning I drive into my parking garage and start to pull into a space. On one side is a Hyundai Tucson, on the other a Buick (or some such shit) parked like a fucking dickhead. Halfway into this park job I correct for the dickhead and scrape the shit out of the Tucson’s bumper. Goddamn it. I back up, realize there are three EMPTY spaces on the other side of the aisle and pull into one of those. Had I just been paying better attention and turned left instead of right, I could have avoided this idiocy altogether. But that’s the Sliding Doors of the minor car accident world, I suppose. I left a note and went to work, which, by the way, ate a bag of assholes that day.
I fretted all day about the impending ass pounding from my increased insurance rates, not ever counting on the fact that this little rub job damaged the side panels of my little tin can Honda much more than the sturdy bumper of the Tucson. Lo and behold, the woman emailed me the following morning telling me that her husband looked at it, decided he could touch it up himself, and that “it would not be worth our time to involve the insurance companies.” She concluded her email by saying “I think we can just put it behind us and call it good.” God bless this woman!
I’m now alive with Christmas cheer even though the passenger side of my car looks like I took a metal weed whacker to it. But hey, anytime you get to avoid talking to your insurance agent, that’s a holiday miracle no matter what time of year it is. Hallelujah!
My New Tradition: 24/7 Road to the Winter Classic
A few years ago the NHL decided to have an outdoor game on New Year’s Day. Everyone ate it up and now every year there is an outdoor game on New Year’s Day (or the day after as is the case for this year’s, or next year’s, or whatever the hell the next one is exactly)which they have dubbed the Winter Classic. It’s gimmicky, but it’s fun, and I really hope they fucking move it out of the east and bring it here.
Last year HBO decided to send camera crews to follow the two teams participating in the Winter Classic for the month leading up to the Winter Classic. It gave us this fantastic look behind the scenes of hockey. We got to hear what the coach was saying to the team before, after, and during games, how the players spent their off days, and my favorite part what everyone says to each other on the ice. All the things they yell and refs, or what goes on before a couple of the guys drop gloves. It takes this game that I love and shows me this other amazing side to it.
But it’s not just the raw hockey aspect that makes it great, but the show is really well done. It’s edited well with story arcs built in, and the voice over is great, the musical choices are outstanding (this year started out with the Black Keys over the opening segment). There is nothing I don’t like about this show. This year even features a team I have always hated, the Philadelphia Flyers, and I still love watching it.
Since the Winter Classic is always set to be played New Year’s Day that means the show will air in December around Christmas time. Meaning when I am starting to feel overwhelmed by all the Christmas crap I can rely on the hard hitting, foul mouthed, hockey players to distract me for an hour. Oh hockey, is there anything you can’t distract me from?
Best Christmas Related Technological Advancement: That Grid on the Back of Wrapping Paper
As a man, and therefore a caveman when it comes to certain things, I was always a mere half step above retarded when it came to wrapping gifts. I could get the thing covered, I knew how to do those hospital corner-looking things on the edges of the box, but the paper was always all jagged and mismatched and generally looked like hell. If there were a lifetime cumulative GPA for wrapping presents, mine would have hovered somewhere in that 2.1 range – barely passing, but always on the precipice of failure.
Then I found wrapping paper with the grid, and it’s like the Sylvan Learning Center of gift wrap! I’m more confident, I’m now wrapping at grade level, and I even enjoy it sometimes! My GPA is now probably somewhere around 3.0. Thanks wrapping paper grid!
The difference is, whereas before gift wrapping was akin to an art project, now it’s a simple math problem. Measure here, cut here, tape here, Bob’s your uncle. Boom! Next gift! Granted, I’m no Rowan Atkinson at the department store in Love Actually, but who is? And even if you were, your work would still end up wasted and shoved hastily in Alan Rickman’s pocket, and ultimately result in a broken hearted Kristin Scott Thomas who’s probably still traumatized after sitting trapped in that cave with Ralph Fiennes who won’t stop telling that fucking story and JUST DIE ALREADY, YOU ENGLISH FUCK! God, The English Patient is intolerable.
Grids on the back of the wrapping paper. Love ‘em.
Best Part of the Season: Winter Beers
From Coors’ WinterFest to New Belgium’s Frambozen to Odell’s Isolation Ale there is no shortage of tasty beers this time of year. And they are all thick and warm you to your soul. I know it’s always the right season for beer, and there’s always beer for every season, but there is something more to winter beers. Winter doesn’t have the same kind of drinking appeal as summer. It’s hard to enjoy a margarita when you’re surrounded by snow. And no matter what you add to eggnog, you’re still drinking eggnog. Sure you can pour stuff into coffee and cocoa, but fuck that.
After a long day of Christmas shopping, there’s nothing better than cracking one of these hardy beers and enjoying the falling snow. And with that grid on the back of wrapping paper, you don’t have any excuse not to have a few before you start the gift wrapping. And it’s the beers that will help you get through all the extended family bullshit and not give you kind of hangovers other drinks will.
So we raise our delicious winter beers and give a heartfelt-cheers and wish you all a Merry Christmas, and Happy Chanukah on this third day of Chanukah.
A Christmas Present to CJS: Clicks
If you’re filled with Christmas spirit and want to thank the authors of this humble website in some way for providing you with nearly 3 years of home cooked time-wasting goodness, don’t buy us anything. We’ve given up on taking your money, now all we want is your clicks.
If you like Cru Jones Society content and want more of it, all you have to do is keep clicking on our articles, and then click again. Where?
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Merry Christmas, shitter’s full!
Hart and Dagger
22 Dec 2011 CJS Staff