Monday, 15 December 2008

Hallelujah: Reclaiming the Christmas No.1

I discovered an incredible Facebook campaign this morning which hopes to reclaim the Christmas No.1 from Simon Cowell's X-Factor bandwagon.

The 'Jeff Buckley for Xmas No.1' group aims to rival X-Factor winner Alexandra Burke's cover version of Leonard Cohen's 1984 song 'Hallelujah' by urging music fans to download Jeff Buckley's superior 1994 cover version of 'Hallelujah' instead! You can join the group here.

As of yesterday, Buckley's 'Hallelujah' is No.30 in the UK Top 40 Singles charts, so we just need to increase the momentum over the next seven days to prevent Simon 'The Grinch' Cowell from receiving his predictable Christmas bonus.

Obviously, this is nothing against young Alexandra Burke. But the magic of the Christmas No.1 has become a trivial exercise in futility since the X-Factor cult became established.

If you are interested in supporting the Buckley 'Hallelujah' then you can download it here. A worthy cause.

Alternatively, if you would prefer to have a Christmas No.1 that is actually about Christmas, then you can download the Peter Kay/Geraldine McQueen 'Once Upon A Christmas Song' single here. Arguably a worthier cause as all proceeds go to the NSPCC.

So the decision is yours: Buckley or McQueen? But boycott the X-Factor single. Let's reclaim the Christmas No.1 from Simon Cowell.

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Go Elf Yourself!

Laura Clark introduced me to this incredible website where you add your friends' faces to a bunch of Christmas elves and watch them boogie to festive tunes.

Here is an example with the heads of the Guild Reception boys.
It's incredibly addictive and absolutely ridiculous!

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

All For A Good Claus

This past weekend was the London Santathon that myself, Sean & Mark had signed-up for. We had to run three miles around Greenwich Park dressed like Kris Kringle and Sean went one step further and ran around wearing an inflatable horse/reindeer around his groin.

This was an even bigger challenge than usual because it was freezing and we were hideously hungover from our excursion into Soho the night before.

But we made it so happy days! Myself and Mark clocked in after about 25 minutes and collectively we raised £420.89 (incl. Gift Aid) for Sean's horse charity: The Brooke Hospital for Animals.

Afterwards we hit Weatherspoons as always - same shit, different city - and got back on the pints and meat. Kerrie and Liz participated in a colouring competition face-off and Mark spent £50 on the IT-box.

We then had a boat trip around London. Lovely stuff.

Overall: good standard Carnival reunion.
Next stop: New Year's Eve in Swanage!

Friday, 5 December 2008

The Coca-Cola Claus Myth

I discovered this last Christmas during a festive quiz, in which the following question was asked: "The iconic red-and-white Santa Claus image was introduced by Coca-Cola. True or false?"

And all the smart-alecs who had heard the famous rumour thought it was true... but contrary to popular opinion, it is actually false.

You can read a whole long document about why it is false here.

But the short version is that Coca-Cola hired an artist called Haddon Sundblom in the early 1930s to create some memorable drawings of a red-and-white Santa Claus drinking coca-cola. However, images of a red-and-white Santa existed much earlier than this, drawn by artists such as Thomas Nast and Louis Prang.

Nast created a red-and-white Santa Claus caricature for the Harper's Weekly newspaper in 1863 and later drew the 1881 drawing: Merry Old Santa Claus. Furthermore, Prang introduced the custom of Christmas cards and issued a red-and-white Santa Claus card in 1886, which you can see here. Clearly these pre-date the Coca-Cola creation.

Obviously, this isn't too say that the Coca-Cola Claus didn't cement the red-and-white Santa into the popular culture zeitgeist.
But Coca-Cola certainly isn't the reason why Santa Claus is red-and-white.

Thursday, 4 December 2008

Women Know Your Limits

At the office today we have mostly been laughing at this YouTube video.

Harry Enfield and Paul Whitehouse at their satirical best.

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Oscars: The Grouch

I have a serious grouch with the Oscars, year on year.

My theory is that the Academy is run by snobs who vote for their mates or whichever film lies closest to their political ideal. Therefore, I am rarely happy with the results and the recipients are nearly always boring, serious actors who act in boring, serious films.

Quirky/fantasy/action films very rarely win Oscars (The Return of the King is the exception) and character actors never get Oscars, yet these are the reasons why many of us adore the cinema.
Who honestly goes home and whacks in a DVD of an 'Oscar-winning masterpiece' for an enjoyable night of home cinema. And who has seen or even thought about Mystic River, Monster's Ball, The Last King of Scotland, Million Dollar Baby, etc. in the past year.

However, usually when I slag off the Academy's choices, some smart-assed prick says to me:
"Have you even seen Monster's Ball?"

To which I reply: "No."

To which they reply with a smug, triumphant grin: "Then how can you say it doesn't deserve an Oscar?!"

But not anymore!
This Winter, I am going to drag myself to every dull, depressing, harrowing Oscar-nominated film released in the cinema. This will include films about single mums, 1950s American suburbia, Che Guevara, old people ageing backwards, interviews with Nixon and, of course, the standard holocaust film.

But this grim winter will all be worth it because then I will have complete and informed jurisdiction to justifiably smite down each and every result the Academy is going to announce on February 22nd. Hah!

First stop, The Changeling...

They Work For You

Lizzy and Laura have introduced me to an awesome new website called They Work For You, which allows you to search for your MP and basically see how good they are. You can check it out here.

The website give you statistics on how many parliamentary votes they have attended, how they have voted on certain issues, questions they have asked, speeches they have made, receipts they have submitted and, bizarrely, how much alliteration they use.

I'm been checking out my Nottingham MP: Mr Kenneth Clark. He has voted on a mere 54% of parliamentary votes. He voted strongly against the introduction of top-up fees (hooray!) but voted strongly against equal gay rights (boo!).

I have been playing MP Top Trumps with Sean and he is thrashing me. His MP, Mr Sadiq Khan, has voted in 86% of parliamentary votes. Although, he lives in London which is kinda cheating.

Most excitingly, you can opt to receive emails whenever your MP makes a speech in Parliament.

Anyway, check it out. Make sure your MP is pulling their weight!

Monday, 1 December 2008

Bond Begins?

I have been discussing the future of Bond with my good buddy Sean and we were considering where they might go next.

My thoughts are that they should stick with the prequel theme. Now that Quantum has been concluded, we have seen Bond's origins. But what about Moneypenny? And Q? Plus, M was a man when the Bond stories started with Dr No. So maybe the next Daniel Craig prequel could feature the story of how the female M was replaced with a male M. Dramatic death scene for Dame Judi?

This is all good potential.

So Bond 23 (and 24 and 25) could tell the story of Bond hunting down the rest of Quantum. After detroying them, the remnants could reform as SPECTRE? Bond could also have a showdown with Mr White and leave him scarred & bald & therefore tell the origin of Blofeld! That would be an awesome twist.

I would also love to know the origins of Jaws and Scaramanga and Baron Samedi and Rosa Klebb and Auric Goldfinger. There could be cameos for all.

My vision is that Daniel Craig's last Bond film (which would be a sensible time to end the whole prequel series) could end with SPECTRE established, Dr No heading to an island near Jamaica and Daniel Craig speaking with a slight Scottish accent.

Next stop: 1962's Dr No and the circle is complete.

Holidays Are Coming!

It's the 1st of December and I have seen the famous Coca-Cola Christmas lorry advert... this means that Christmas has officially arrived once again!

I seem to be more excited about Christmas than usual this year. I think this is because I have entered the mundane world of working 9-5 and therefore I need a little excitement. Shockingly, I have already bought a good chunk of Christmas presents and I dished out Christmas cards & candy canes to the office first thing this morning. I'm such a keeno.

Christmas highlights this year will include, but are not limited to, the following:

1. My London Santa Run with Sean & Mark (see below).
2. The German Christmas Market.
3. The Nottingham outdoor ice rink.
4. The Doctor Who Christmas special.
5. The Nottingham SU Christmas staff party.
6. Staying with the Clark's in Cornwall before Christmas.
7. The exciting, Radio-1-fuelled, driving home for Christmas magic on Christmas Eve.

And today we are decorating the office. I'm loving the festivities and it's only Day One!