Stocking Stuff

Christmas is here. As always, I wish you a day of peace — and family, and tradition, and fun. My grab-bag of goodies is especially full of music this year.

I heard a very clever parody of The B-52s' "Love Shack" called "Toy Sack" on WXPN the other day. Bob Rivers apparently wrote and recorded the ditty for his 1997 album More Twisted Christmas. His version is on Vimeo set to holiday lights at the preceding link.

Photo © 2011 Brian Saner Lamken.

This year the winter holidays have been a bit different for my family. We had a bunch of cousins move up here to the Philadelphia suburbs from South Florida this past summer, bringing with them an annual tradition of doing Christmas big, whereas usually I either try to visit my father in New Jersey or hang out with friends if I'm able to get out at all. Last weekend there were almost twenty of us decorating cookies; the menorah with the blue background at the bottom of the photo up there and the Christmas tree right above it are both mine, paying homage to my interfaith heritage.

I found the holiday decorations in my mother's attic that I'd lamented losing track of last year, by the way, so lights have been up and the Grinch is on display and I got to hang some ornaments on the Chanukah bush.

Screencap © 2011 Worldwide Pants.

A few nights ago, Shannon Eis gave Dave crabs while showing off some toys for last-minute gift ideas on The Late Show with David Letterman. The clip and the entire episode are up now at the CBS website, for however long they last.

So is last night's annual last-before-Christmas episode, in which Jay Thomas visits to tell his Lone Ranger story and square off against Dave in The Holiday Quarterback Challenge as they attempt to knock the meatball off of the Late Show Christmas tree. I haven't yet seen it at this writing, so I don't know how it plays out, but it's usually good fun whether it takes one throw or twenty.

Screencap © 2011 Worldwide Pants.

Of course, Darlene Love also showed up to sing "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)" as she's done for nearly a quarter-century now. And this year the Late Show website put up a special treat — a 10-minute online exclusive that gives us a peek at the making of the yuletide spectacle, with commentary from Love and Paul Schaffer. It ends with a mash-up of the performance as seen over many years, worth watching on its own if only for Bruce Kapler's entrances for the saxophone solo and even if you're not interested in the backstage showbiz stuff.

Photo © 2011 NBCUniversal Media.

The week after its official season finale, NBC's The Sing-Off returned for a live holiday show. Season 3 champions Pentatonix joined with Season 2 top dogs Committed and Season 1 winners Nota to open the show with their own snazzy rendition of the above-mentioned Darlene Love / Phil Spector classic. 

Other highlights of the episode, which can be seen online in full or via clips: Sara Bareilles and Ben Folds singing a duet of "Baby It's Cold Outside" with Folds on piano and a quartet of Sing-Off performers on vocal bass, percussion, and brass; a larger group billed as The Sing-Off All-Stars doing similar duty — operating as a true a cappella orchestra — while backing doo-wop veteran and Season 2 alum Jerry Lawson on Arthur Conley's "Sweet Soul Music"; and just for pure fun Troy Horne's deep lead on Urban Method's rendition of "You're a Mean One, Mister Grinch" with Myke Charles spitting out Dr. Seuss rhymes. The bass vocalists have been a standout this season, particularly Pentatonix's versatile Avi Kaplan, Urban Method's Horne and Tony Huerta, Delilah's amazing Jo Vinson, the classic sound of North Shore's Thomas Duarte, and Afro-Blue's awesomely groovy Reggie Bowen.

Screencap © 2011 NBCUniversal Media.

How could I not wrap up this year's "Stocking Stuff" with a Muppets clip? On Friday night's final Late Night with Jimmy Fallon of the year, Jimmy was visited by Saturday Night Live head writer and Weekend Update anchor Seth Meyers. NBC has the whole episode online, but the highlight came when Dave and Conan's successor — who runs a Late Night that I wish I could check out more often — took the stage with Kermit the Frog and his nephew Robin to sing "Where the River Meets the Sea" from the Muppets' 1979 album with John Denver, A Christmas Together

I hope that you got a spend a Christmas together.

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