Worst Songs Ever: Creed’s “With Arms Wide Open”

Like a good single, a terrible one reveals itself with airplay and forbearance. I don’t want to hate songs; to do so would shake ever-sensitive follicles, and styling gel is expensive. I promise my readers that my list will when possible eschew obvious selections. Songs beloved by colleagues and songs to which I’m supposed to genuflect will get my full hurricane-force winds, but it doesn’t mean that I won’t take shots at a jukebox hero overplayed when I was at a college bar drinking a cranberry vodka in a plastic thimble-sized cup.

Creed’s “With Arms Wide Open”
PEAK CHART POSITION: #1 in November 2000.

In the first twenty-five seconds of “With Arms Wide Open,” Creed allude to three heroes: Bryan Adams’ “Heaven” (the guitar lick), the Beatles (“I [just] heard the news today”), and Eddie Vedder (Scott Stapp’s growl). This indigestible bolus was what it took for a rock band to hit #1 in 2000, the year when R&B and hip-hop and Clintonism reached new commercial peaks; in a sense Clintonism was to 2000 what MTV was to 1984. And 2000 was another 1984 for many acts: eleven months after Human Clay peaked, “With Arms Wide Open” ruled the roost, and, boy, did it linger. Continue reading

Worst Songs ever: The Black Eyed Peas’ “I Gotta Feeling”

Like a good single, a terrible one reveals itself with airplay and forbearance. I don’t want to hate songs; to do so would shake ever-sensitive follicles, and styling gel is expensive. I promise my readers that my list will when possible eschew obvious selections. Songs beloved by colleagues and songs to which I’m supposed to genuflect will get my full hurricane-force winds, but it doesn’t mean that I won’t take shots at a jukebox hero overplayed when I was at a college bar drinking a cranberry vodka in a plastic thimble-sized cup.

The Black Eyed Peas’ “I Gotta Feeling”
PEAK CHART POSITION: #1 in July 2009.

Look, I don’t care for “Celebration” or “Summer Nights” or other wedding and bar mitzvah perennials; caring about them is like caring about ice cubes. Giving people pleasure at social occasions is the Black Eyed Peas’ M.O. I don’t begrudge them this. Better the giving of pleasure than ordering a drone strike or signing a tax bill that dooms anyone who makes less than a million a year to penury. Continue reading

Online dating and performance

It began with AOL chatrooms. Lacking the courage to hit a gay bar alone, I sought the anonymity of polyphony. Anyone who remembers those late Clinton year online chat interfaces knows what I mean by that last noun: as many as fifteen people, flitting in and out of the room like a frightened nursery teacher in a classroom, shouting for attention with stats (“hi i’m HialeahPap4u 22”). While the chaos fomented, I’d click on users and read their official stats; if I liked what I read, I sent a private message, often suggesting our own chat.

Until Match refined this process and Grindr reduced the rituals of courtship to the minimum, that’s how things worked in 1999. I liked OkCupid because of its adaptability: those who sought hookups could take advantage of the more copious information that guests offered; those who wanted something deeper could use the byzantine and endless Q&A function to refine searches to the lowest integer. If you couldn’t find a Ft. Lauderdale man who loved Pokemon and Schoolboy Q and avoided drugs except Flintstone vitamins, it was on you.

In an effort to eliminate cyber bullying and stalking, OkCupid has announced the elimination of usernames. Heather Schwedel at Slate waves these concerns aside:

In fact, requiring users to go by their real names seems like a way to open them up to more harassment, since bad actors will have an easier time identifying people and contacting them off the platform if they wish to. The blog post doesn’t spell out whether users will be expected to use their full names or if, as on Tinder, something like first name and last initial will suffice, nor does it explain if there will a process for verifying that real names are being used.

Nor will it stop the creeps from using real names to create a fictitious identity. And should it? Part of the agony and ecstasy of dating, whether flirting with a stranger over Tanqueray and tonic or flirting via characters thumbed on your smart phone, is accepting the demands of sincerity and disclosure but keeping a space apart from which you can adjust the performing of sincerity and disclosure. What has changed since this announcement we’ll soon know.

Worst Songs Ever: The Who’s “You Better You Bet”

Like a good single, a terrible one reveals itself with airplay and forbearance. I don’t want to hate songs; to do so would shake ever-sensitive follicles, and styling gel is expensive. I promise my readers that my list will when possible eschew obvious selections. Songs beloved by colleagues and songs to which I’m supposed to genuflect will get my full hurricane-force winds, but it doesn’t mean that I won’t take shots at a jukebox hero overplayed when I was at a college bar drinking a cranberry vodka in a plastic thimble-sized cup.

Worst Songs Ever: The Who’s “You Better You Bet”
PEAK CHART POSITION: #18 in May 1981.

About fifteen years ago over drinks with a friend I coined a subgenre: the Heaving Sleazo, after the aging white guy huffing and puffing about sex and drinking when nobody believes him anymore. I had Robert Palmer in mind, the Palmer who in the Power Station’s “Some Like It Hot” sang “We want to multiply/Are we gonna do it?” and in his own “Simply Irresistible” came up with polysyllabic ways of saying “I want your sex” (“She’s a craze you’d endorse/She’s a powerful force,” as if “she” were a Williams Sonoma blender). Think Rod Stewart’s “Love Touch” or “Crazy About Her.” In essence, these dudes were too old to be showing their dicks; they sounded ridiculous. Leonard Cohen and Bryan Ferry escaped this curse because their physical limitations confined them to a synth-comforted minimalism.

The Who’s penultimate American top forty hit predates this material, and it’s a prime example. At this point it’s a truism that MTV, starved for content in its early years, played videos from decidedly un-telegenic boomer-era stars. In 1981, fresh off a more successful than expected solo project called Empty Glass — it managed a top ten in “Let My Love Open the Door,” which The Who hadn’t managed in more than a decade — a drug-addled and reluctant Pete Townshend, devastated by the sordid death of drummer Keith Moon, reassembled his band for Face Dances. As usual the album did better than its attendant singles, and Kenney Jones, while no Moon, proved adequate. A few years ago I listened to it and, to my surprise, it held up. Concise and smart about balancing words and music, Face Dances would’ve been a decent epitaph had the band ended then, even without Moon, who played drums as if they were lead guitar.

But The Who didn’t release “Don’t Let Go the Coat,” “Another Tricky Day,” or “How Can You Do It Alone” ahead of “You Better You Bet.” Things start promisingly, a fabulous salvo: piano bang straight out of “A Day in the Life,” sequencer, guitar arpeggio, and multitracked Townshend-John Entwhistle harmonies singing the title hook. Townshend’s piano provides the momentum, aware that Jones will keep time and that’s about it. “I call you on the phone, my voice too rough from cigarettes,” Roger Daltrey rasps, and I believe him. So far so good. But the song, despite its attractive elements, falls apart. Daltrey is too rough — from cigarettes, from age, I don’t know. He can’t keep up. There is no ghastlier delivery and lyric in the Heaving Sleazo genre than when Daltrey and Townshend come up with, “You come to me with open arms/And open legs.” I mean, Daltrey inserts a pause between “arms” and “and” like a comedian expecting a drum roll. “Mortality catches up with pretty boys faster than with the rest of us,” Robert Christgau lamented in an otherwise complimentary review of Face Dances. And it gets worse. “I been wearing crazy clothes and I look pretty crappy sometimes,” Daltrey sings through what sounds like an emphysemic condition — the sixties icon approaching middle aged forced into wearing skinny pink ties. His delivery of “sometimes” makes you hate rock singing.

Although I haven’t heard It’s Hard, I doubt anyone else has either. “Athena” became the band’s last top forty beach head, but “Eminence Front” has instead become one of their perennials: a synthesized crawl through the hippie tropes in which Townshend and Daltrey are experts. “You Better You Bet” was a staple on album rock radio for most of my youth; I wonder if “Eminence Front” has replaced it. Having nothing in mind except keeping a groove and mangling a Dylan line as mantra, it eschews open arms, open legs, and the sound of old T. Rex. The Who I like advocates for an obscurantic self-reliance; Townshend, whose queer tendencies he has had a mixed record in accepting, wrote, I suspect, from the point of view of his decidedly heterosexual lead singer on “You Better You Bet.” I can hear the strain and see the flop sweat.

‘The Shape of Water’ kept afloat by too many familiar elements

Adept at treating fables as if they were real and daily life as if it were a fable, Guillermo del Toro goes all the way into romantic lunacy with The Shape of Water. The director of The Devil’s Backbone and Pan’s Labyrinth shows how a mute named Eliza (Sally Hawkins) and an aquatic creature who may be a river-god can connect despite conclusive anatomical and physiological differences.  A love story between man and fish, The Shape of Water also depicts, less interestingly, the hysteria of the national security state in the years before the Cuban Missile Crisis. But the story is familiar, another example of del Toro the (co-)writer failing del Toro the director. He wants to awe yet the results impress, frustrate, or bore. Continue reading

Hail fellow well read: The books of 2017

Through hurricanes, conferences, grading, writing, and blogging, I managed to read the following books in 2017, many of which were unfamiliar to me. Some modern classics disappointed me (Such a Long Journey), others impressed me (Salvage the Bones). The best historical biography I read was Noah Feldman’s tome on James Madison, which explains the development of the fourth president’s thoughts on government with a lucidity that rends the veil of obscurity behind which the forgotten Framer has hidden.

Now I must go: I’ve got a new 900-page Stalin bio to crack.

Felix Holt: The Radical – George Eliot
The Lathe of Haven – Ursula K. Le Guin
Swing Time – Zadie Smith
To Make Men Free: A History of the Republican Party – Heather Cox Richardson
* Loving – Henry Green
* Howards End – E.M. Forster
Chekhov: A Spirit Set Free – V.S. Prichett
The Spell – Alan Holinghurst
The Hothouse by the East River – Muriel Spark
Doting – Henry Green
Go Tell It to the Mountain – James Baldwin
Moonglow – Michael Chabon
James Joyce – Edna O’Brien
Inside the Clinton White House: An Oral History – Russell Riley
* The Ambassadors – Henry James
Reconstruction – Eric Foner
My Struggle, Book 3 – Karl Ove Knausgaard
Landslide: The Unmaking of the President, 1984-1988 – Jane Mayer and Doyle McManus
Such a Long Journey – Rohinton Mimstry
Universal Harvester – John Darnielle
Richard Nixon: A Life – John A. Farrell
Bette Davis – David Thomson
The Terror: The Merciless War for Freedom in Revolutionary France – David Andress
Ingrid Bergman – David Thomson
* The Woodlanders – Thomas Hardy
The Girl with Green Eyes – Edna O’Brien
The Little Red Chairs – Edna O’Brien
Renoir: A Life – Pascal Merigeau
Tree of Smoke – Denis Johnson
A Colony in a Nation – Chris Hayes
Ike and McCarthy – David A. Nichols
* Vile Bodies – Evelyn Waugh
This Vast Southern Empire – Matthew Karp
Robert Lowell, Setting the River on Fire: A Study of Genius, Mania, and Character – Kay Redfield Jamison
The Persian Boy – Mary Renault
The Grass is Singing – Doris Lessing
* The Day of the Locust – Nathaniel West
Zona: A Book About a Film About a Journey to a Room– Geoff Dyer
House of Names – Colm Toibin
The Last of the Wine – Mary Renault
Wilde in America: Oscar Wilde and the Invention of Modern Celebrity – David Friedman
All the Conspirators – Christopher Isherwood
The Memorial – Christopher Isherwood
Isherwood – Peter Parker
The End of Eddy – Édouard Louis
Sula – Toni Morrison
* The Age of Innocence – Edith Wharton
Fire From Heaven – Mary REnault
The Farewell Symphony – Edmund White
Anagrams – Lorrie Moore
Call Me By Your Name – Andre Aciman
The Gatekeepers: How the White House Chiefs of Staff Define Every Presidency – Chris Whipple
The Ministry of Fear – Graham Greene
Solo Faces – James Salter
Bearing the Cross: Martin Luther King Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference – David Garrow
Bette and Joan: Divine Feud – Shaun Considine
Race and Reunion – David Blight
Brighton Rock – Graham Greene
* Orlando – Virginia Woolf
The Comforters – Muriel Spark
Grant – Ron Chernow
Man Walks Into a Room – Nicole Krauss
The Nation Builder: John Quincy Adams and the Grand Strategy of the Republic – Charles N. Edel
The Three Lives of James Madison – Noah Feldman
Selling God: American Religion in the Marketplace of Culture – R. Moore
Grant & I – Robert Forster
Napoleon – Andrew Roberts
Shelley: The Pursuit – Richard Holmes
Salvage the Bones – Jesmyn Ward

* Reread

The effect of repealing the individual mandate

A year ago I said to my friend Mari, “We’re in for it now” enough times that she wanted to kick my teeth in. It’s December 2017, and we’re in it: tax bill signed, GOP congressmen calling for investigations into Robert Mueller’s own investigation and Uranium One, GOP and Donald Trump sewn together so tightly that they’re feeding KFC into the same shared mouth. I like to believe that the vaporizing of the individual mandate has not destroyed the Affordable Care Act.

“President Barack Obama’s signature domestic achievement,” the New York Times observes, “is becoming more like what conservatives despise — government-run health care — thanks in part to Republican efforts that are raising premiums for people without government assistance and allowing them to skirt coverage.” In other words, the poor get some form of access to health care while Americans who can afford or get it through their jobs are off it entirely.

While the marketplaces, or exchanges, have struggled with a series of problems since they opened in 2014, Medicaid, administered by an experienced corps of state officials, has gone from strength to strength. Public appreciation for the program has steadily increased as people come to understand its importance in the health care system, including its central role in combating the opioid epidemic.

And though Congress has effectively repealed the requirement for people to have health insurance, federal subsidies are still available to low- and moderate-income people who want insurance. The federal government pays, on average, about three-fourths of the premium for more than three-fourths of the people who buy insurance through the Affordable Care Act marketplace.

Even officials who work for local health providers have admitted that the subsidies are the incentives, not the mandate or penalty. Nevertheless, four million more Americans will be uninsured by 2019 and thirteen million more by 2027, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

Worst Songs Ever: Britney Spears’ “Gimme More”

Like a good single, a terrible one reveals itself with airplay and forbearance. I don’t want to hate songs; to do so would shake ever-sensitive follicles, and styling gel is expensive. I promise my readers that my list will when possible eschew obvious selections. Songs beloved by colleagues and songs to which I’m supposed to genuflect will get my full hurricane-force winds, but it doesn’t mean that I won’t take shots at a jukebox hero overplayed when I was at a college bar drinking a cranberry vodka in a plastic thimble-sized cup.

Britney Spears’ “Gimme More”
PEAK CHART POSITION: #3 in September 2007

Rarely has a more tantalizing opening been tethered to such a dud as “It’s Britney, bitch” was to “Gimme More.” The first single from 2007’s Blackout paid its dues and walked into the exclusive club: worst first single released from excellent album. On tracks released before and afterward she and her producers mastered the mix of vocal thinness and hard beats; here, Britney sounds as if she’s being put through spirited aerobics without the knowingness she slipped in as was her wont. In 2011 I praised her as “the polymorphic essence of every disco dolly who’s so post-feminist/post-sexual/post-woman that to wonder whether she’s used or being used by the purported objects of lust she’s dancing/fucking is beside the point.”

Glib words. Googling images for “Britney 2007” turned out to be such dispiriting experience that I stopped: clips of her shaven head, of her infamous VMA appearance (they’re no worse than the song), of public appearances in which it’s obvious she’s unwell. For whatever else the song credits assert Britney Spears was most certainly not in control of her life in 2007 and 2008. A court-ordered guardianship has kept her under the unbending control of her family. Whether this has saved her or created new fetters is not for me to judge; but this fact should give critics such as myself pause who want to credit this or that performance for showing her agency. Pop songs are performances, and the power of Blackout, 2011’s fabulous Femme Fatale (to my ears her most consistent album after 2001’s eponymous record) and 2016’s Glory betray no hint of a malaise; their strength is their insistence that the fantasies she has proffered since 1999 remain intact. But I suggest that we critics, who defend the integrity of female pop stars against bullshit whose vilest manifestations thrive in comments sections but come up in passive aggressive ways in “think pieces,” be aware of the Potemkin village built by her producers and songwriters — we erect our enjoyment on the rubble of a life, a fact no less irksome than when listening to Chris Cornell or Janis Joplin.

She would do better than “Gimme More.” You may enjoy it more than I do.

What happened to Poe and Finn? Burning questions about ‘The Last Jedi’

My crew and I left the theater late yesterday afternoon disappointed with Star Wars: The Last Jedi, but Star Wars universe fans court disappoint like Democrats do despair. No movie can measure up to the perfect Wookiepedia in their minds. At least a half hour too long, The Last Jedi is dependent on the good will of audiences as it immolates — in one scene quite literally — the past as they know it.

Writing a conventional review for Star Wars films exhausts me, so, following tradition, let me list the stuff I liked:

1. Writer-director Rian Johnson wasn’t kidding when he sought to chronicle the collapse of the Old Order: everything must fall. In the first scene, Luke Skywalker makes clear that lightsabers are shit. Second, this galaxy far, far away finally has characters reflecting its diversity. What Luke and General Leia’s arcs eventually reveal is how they yield to a new order. Subsequent Star Wars movies will star Poe, Finn, Rey, and possibly Rose: Hispanic, black, woman, and Asian woman characters, respectively. The Last Jedi goes further: in the film’s last third, Leia accedes to Poe’s leadership. Moreover, the Force-ghost of Yoda cheerfully blows up the Jedi Temple, with its precious hardbound Jedi tomes (Yoda’s quip “Page-turners, they are not” got the movie’s biggest laugh). Sorry, classic Star Wars fans: the old white people are gone. Even Threepio is regarded as at best an annoyance, at worst a cowardly appeaser.

2. The warm, calming presence of Laura Dern as Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo. Kudos to Johnson for showing the patience to work out the arc of her plot line, who for long stretches of the film has convinced the audience (and Poe) that she’s one thing when she turns out to be another.

3. Because Mark Hamill was not among the original trio’s acting lights, I worried about him. Turns out the years of voice work in animated films have given him a gravelly gravitas. Luke only moves when he absolutely has to, which includes for a rubbing-dirt-off-his-shoulder moment that drew the second biggest laughs. I pat Johnson on the book for having the temerity to acknowledge that the prequels exist — at one point Luke, discussing the long dead Emperor Palpatine, refers to him as Darth Sidious.

4. The debut of the crack comedy duo of Ren and Hux. In one of the film’s first scenes, the Resistance clowns him (see below for additional remarks). Later, when he pulls out his side arm to finish the job on a prostrate and presumably dying Kylo Ren he silkily returns it to its holster after realizing he was…wrong.

The stuff I didn’t like:

1. What is the Resistance, uh, resisting? Although The Force Awakens explained the collapse of the Republic’s senate, an entity as efficient as a condo board, is the First Order so powerful that it simply took over the Empire’s rusting hardware and continued where it left off? How does it govern?

2. Finn and Rose’s journey to Canto Bight, the ill-named Monte Carlo of the Star Wars galaxy, to find a “code breaker.” While the code breaker is an essential plot element, the Canto Blight episode plays like an excuse to (a) introduce more characters available for purchase at your local Target (b) show Star Wars characters drinking champagne.

3. To expect Samuel Raphaelson from Star Wars screenwriters is folly, but, still, too many of General Hux’s scenes played like Spaceballs or SNL parodies. These moments work if you imagine Hux and Snoke as Marxian emblems of a culture that copies historical gestures of power and unintentionally parodies them because that’s all these poseurs can do: young Hux as Drago type with Bela Lugosi hair growing up admiring the Empire, is old enough for its disintegration but knows nothing but what he experiences secondhand. This goes double for Snoke. Why after all does he regard Darth Vader as a suitable model for Kylo Ren? Vader was redeemed. This is as much thought as I intend to give the matter.

4. I suppose audiences must be familiar with the Star Wars novels to know why a Force-sensitive like Leia chose to lead armies and legislate or whatever rather than pursue Jedi training, but a certain scene in space jumped too many Rancors for me.

5. A pause on the growing Poe-Finn romance.

Worst Songs Ever: Wilson Phillips’ “Hold On”

Wilson Phillips’ “Hold On”
PEAK CHART POSITION: #1 in June 1990.

Like a good single, a terrible one reveals itself with airplay and forbearance. I don’t want to hate songs; to do so would shake ever-sensitive follicles, and styling gel is expensive. I promise my readers that my list will when possible eschew obvious selections. Songs beloved by colleagues and songs to which I’m supposed to genuflect will get my full hurricane-force winds, but it doesn’t mean that I won’t take shots at a jukebox hero overplayed when I was at a college bar drinking a cranberry vodka in a plastic thimble-sized cup.

“Break free from the chains,” the line goes in a song bound, contentedly, in the adult contemporary production chains. The children of sixties icons, Carnie and Wendy Wilson and Chynna Phillips deserved to make a living as much as anyone, and nepotism at its best encourages latent talents (John Quincy Adams, of course, but on the other end of the scale I’ll mention O’Shea Jackson, Jr. off the top of my head); but the devotion to the mildest tendencies of sun-kissed Californian MOR is not what I expected from these people. Maybe the much-discussed turbulence of their childhoods fueled a need for music that placates; for nostrums, for emollients, for drums that sound like paper towel rolls beating on Kleenex boxes. Spongy, smooth as milk of magnesia, burdened by the mildest harmonies since Sing Along with Mitch, “Hold On” became the #1 song of 1990, kicking off a year-long reign of terror in which Wilson Phillips led a counter-revolutionary guard of adult contemporary stalwarts and fellow travelers back on the Billboard Hot 100.

A pity, though, for in many ways 1990 proved a fascinating year for R&B and modern rock crossovers. 1990, after all, was as much about Janet Jackson’s stranglehold on the chart as she sent a record-shattering seven consecutive singles into the top five — a feat unsurpassed even by Katy Perry and Rihanna. The constituent parts of New Edition were all over radio and MTV, produced in large part by Jackson collaborators Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis: think Johnny Gill’s “Rub You the Right Way” and Ralph Tresvant’s “Sensitivity.” Public Enemy’s Bomb Squad production of Bell Biv Devoe’s Poison provided the year’s most identifiable sonic shorthand. Following in the footsteps of 1989’s Fine Young Cannibals, Love & Rockets, and a regenerated B-52’s, 1990 saw Michael Penn, Midnight Oil, Peter Murphy, Concrete Blonde, and, most spectacularly, Sinead O’Connor scrape into at least the top fifty (the multiplatinum success of I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got and “Nothing Compare 2 U” inspired more wtf’s from me than Nevermind’s domination did). Depeche Mode’s Violator proved influential enough that U2 ganked its producer for their own reinvention a year later. Something was in the air in this, the peak year of the Poppy Bush Interzone.

The bad news is that James Ingram topped the charts. And Maxi Priest’s slushy hip hop-inflected “Close to You.” 1990 began with Phil Collins’ concern trolling the homeless with David Crosby and ended with Stevie B’s renunciation of freestyle for a ballad that fooled no one at Christopher Columbus Boys Catholic High School. I haven’t mentioned hair metal: Jon Bon Jovi going solo and #1 with a performance that Rick Nelson might have enjoyed, Rick Nelson’s long-haired kids themselves hitting #1. Warrant saw red. Poison saw something to believe in. Shit, 1990 was the kind of year when the lead singer of Sheriff, whose “When I’m With You” scored in 1989 years after its initial release, moussed his hair and called himself, aptly, Alias and had a hit too.

“Hold On” was an ideal fit for these times — even the guitar interjections could’ve come from a Winger hit. A couple things in its defense, though. First, the pop audience hadn’t seen a female harmonizing trio in their lifetimes. Second, and more crucially, Wilson Phillips didn’t look like Madonna, Janet Jackson, or Cherry Pie. Girls responded to the Wilson Phillips’ performed normalness. The affection deepened enough for WP to land four consecutive top fifteens, including two more #1s with the even worse “Release Me” and the not bad “You’re in Love” (the crunchy “Impulsive” is the only one I’ve listened to twice). But not deep enough for career sustenance. 1992’s Shadows and Light was one of the year’s more resounding flops, why I’m still not sure; if anything the charts were even friendlier to WP’s soggy cornflakes. Alias were not available for comment.

The best Christmas movies

See Catherine Deneuve? She knows how to greet the affection, angst, dysfunction, moments of pleasure, and warmth that Christmas presents to us. In my last peek A Christmas Tale seemed even stronger, Arnaud Desplechin’s best film. But if unalloywed warmth is what you crave, then Vincente Minnelli’s epic starring a radiant Judy Garland is the group’s snug ugly sweater. The usual caveat: this list is incomplete, representing what I’d watch today (I can scratch Lubitsch’s wonder and F&A from the “Need to Rewatch” list).

Joyeux Noël!

1. The Shop Around the Corner (Ernst Lubitsch)
2. A Christmas Tale (Arnaud Desplechin)
3. Christmas in Connecticut (Peter Godfrey)
4. Meet Me in St. Louis (Vincente Minnelli)
5. Die Hard (John McTiernan)
6. Fanny and Alexander (Ingmar Bergman)
7. 2046 (Wong Kar-Wai)
8. Gremlins (Joe Dante)
9. The Tower (Kim Ji-hoon)
10. Curse of the Cat People (Robert Wise and Gunther von Fritsch)

My favorite Xmas songs

I realized I’ve never assembled this list. The Killers contribution has to be heard to be believed, as with all things Killers.

1. Run-D.M.C – Christmas in Hollis
2. Wham! – Last Christmas
3. Mariah Carey — All I Want for Christmas Is You
4. Donny Hathaway — This Christmas
5. Elton John – Cold as Christmas
6. Billy Squier — Christmas Is The Time To Say I Love You
7, Pretenders – 2000 Miles
8. Darlene Love — Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)
9. Madonna – Santa Baby
10. Nat “King” Cole – The Christmas Song
11. John Cougar Mellencamp – I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus
12. Rolling Stones – Winter
13. The Bangles – A Hazy Shade of Winter
14. Queen – A Winter’s Tale
15. Prince – Another Lonely Christmas
16. Kate Bush – Under Ice
17. Tom Waits – Cold Cold Ground
18. XTC – Snowman
19. Killers ft. Elton John and Neil Tennant – Joseph, Better You Than Me
20. TLC – Sleigh Ride