Christmas! or how Lilly came to be a Christmas Elf

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Gimme.

It might surprise those just getting to know me that I’m a Christmas freak. You don’t really see it coming, I’m told, when you meet me in, say, April or May. If asked, I’m sure your first impression of me wouldn’t be “full of cheer” unless I was in a good mood or had just had some sort of sweet. I am known for my sarcasm, my humourous rants, and my swearing at inanimate objects (such as two-way zippered mother fucking coats), not for my good will towards men or general attitude of peace on Earth.

Knowing that, I think it’s only fair (and slightly self-indulgent) to explain how I went from The Grinch to…well, the Grinch still, but post heart growth, cutting the roast beast with all the Whoville gang. What better way to update this blog finally than to talk about Christmas, anyway?

Stave I

The Ghost of Christmas Past

I used to get up at five o’clock on Christmas morning. I had hardly slept at all, even with the tiring event of Christmas Eve church having happened the night previous, my stress of being in the choir (one time we had to hold candles!) not working to put me to sleep. I would eagerly spy the stocking at the foot of my bed and gamble if I could manage to open it without anyone hearing and getting mad that I had started without them. I’d go to the bathroom and flush the toilet maliciously, to wake the household, making eye contact with my bleary-eyed parents to make sure they knew I knew they were awake. There was no escape–Christmas was happening and it was happening at five thirty am, damn it!

When Nanny was alive, the process then spread, and I’d barrel down the stairs to go and get her, hauling that poor eighty-some year old woman back up to the living room with the tree and demanding she sit. I’d then plunk down on the carpet in front of the tree and wait until everyone graced us with their (ridiculously slow) presence and gift-opening could happen.

Those bits were the best bits of Christmas.

Stave II

Nanny’s Ghost

I don’t remember the Christmas right after my grandmother died, but the one after that was in our new home which didn’t have a lot of room for a Christmas tree. The picture above was taken there, in fact, and that was the full width of the room. I woke up the same, early as ever, excited as ever, but there was something different. Something missing.

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And it wasn’t my awesome velvet dress.

From that Christmas on, we always felt it. Or lacked feeling it, I wasn’t sure. But there would be a point where we all were done unwrapping gifts and then there would be a quiet where we felt an absence. While it ought to have gotten shorter, the pause seemed to get longer as the years went on. Christmas became something sad and awkward. It became something I didn’t want to get excited for, because I knew what was coming. I knew the silence would be there and no matter what I gave or got, it would weigh down on us more heavily than the turkey we’d have for dinner that day. The pause ate up the day, and I began to skip the holiday in my heart. I loved Christmas specials and cards and all, but the day was dismal. You can’t spend a whole month getting jolly to only come crashing down on the day it was all meant for, so I didn’t.

Stave III

The Ghost of Christmas Present

Then I went to university, and Christmas became two separate events. It became the season I so love and the visit home. I could go to Christmas parties in St.John’s, enjoying snow and all the egg nog I could drink, to then come home to old friends to enjoy more festivities before the pause. I could celebrate myself silly, just get it out of my system, before it was sucked out.

With my leaving home, something else changed as well.

The pause got shorter. I hadn’t thought it could, I had thought Christmas would always be a time for mourning a loss so long ago now. It changed, however. Something switched with two grown up children out of the house and Christmas became more about having us back than what we didn’t have before. The silence was still there, but it passed quickly. Last year, it was nearly unnoticed.

All I had to do is leave. Who knew?

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Bet Percy there did.

Stave IIII

The Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come

This year will be my first Christmas away from home. I don’t know how I’ll feel about it on the day, but right now, I’m pretty excited. I have decorations up, I have Charlie Brown’s Christmas’ soundtrack going, and I have high hopes that I’ll shake the pause this year completely. Christmas can be all about giving gifts and having awesome food and looking at beautiful trees, right? I’ve believed that all along, and it’s only now that I get to live it.

So that’s why I’m a Christmas Elf. I might start early with my celebrations, but it’s hard to wait to feel the happiness that Christmas brings, something I’ve missed out on for a long time. Loads of Christmas catching up to do!

Christmas Bonus!

As if I could get through this post with the Muppets. Merry Christmas!

Not Fred Penner; or Lilly’s Hunt for Birdie

Don’t be dirty, this is my childhood we’re talking about.

The hunt began with a chat with Maggie. We were discussing what I was putting in my last post, talking about what shows we watched as kids, from the shit Calliou to the strangely mesmerizing Rolie Polie Olie (that theme song is pretty much amazing, right?).  We watched loads of things inappropriate for our age, like Sleepers and Wild Things (Kevin Bacon made us do wrong things), but this chat was all about Mr.Dressup, The Polka Dot Door, and Raffi. Kids things.

So, we were talking along, going over shows we remembered.

“Shit, remember Art Attack? When he made that zebra out of salt on that black floor or whatever?” (On a side note, if I found that many pound notes, like Hell I’d be forming the Queen out of them. Bitch be all up in the nearest MAC store.)

“Yes! And what was that one with the weird mirror?”

“Polka Dot Door?”

“No, no, the mirror. ‘I see…”–was that Romper Room?”

“Oh, um. Romper Room. Yesss, Romper Room!”

Anyway, this chat went along pleasantly until suddenly, we hit a wall.  Royal ‘we’, of course, as I came to a show that I couldn’t remember the name of. And thus began the most ridiculous google search I have ever done–and I’ve googled some weird shit.

So here were my search terms:

dave, tree, art, birdie, puppet.

I remember this show from when I was little as one of those shows you watched because you didn’t have cable–thus, it was on CTV, Global, or CBC. It featured a man with a beard (not Fred Penner) who spoke with animals (not Fred Penner) and did crafts (NOT. FRED. PENNER.) He looked like an old hippie (see: not Fred Penner) and had glasses (FRED DIDN’T WEAR GLASSES, SUCKAS). He had a puppet friend who lived in a tree and was named either Birdie or Georgie–I can imagine how he says the name, just not exactly what it was. The bird looked like a Swiffer cover with a felt beak. This was clearly not a high budget show, nor was it at the level of Henson brilliance when it came to puppetry. It is not Under the Umbrella Tree. They would do crafts and sometimes you’d see inside the tree, but when Dave (I hope that is his name, or I might just be inserting my father’s name in there) was around, they’d sit on a branch together and chat. Sometimes Dave would tell a story. Other times they’d just do shit crafts together–I remember macaroni being used on several occasions.  And glitter. This is not Sharon, Lois, and Bram. Or Lamb Chop. Or Camp Cariboo. Or Take Part. Or Groundling Marsh, though that show was awesome.

Man, we had some weird shows growing up.

Anyway, I’ve searched high and low. I went over the lists of children’s shows I could find, and I am coming up short. So here is my plea: For the love of Lilly, someone out there PLEASE tell me the name of the show I was watching. It’s driving me NUTS.

Also, if you can remember some French (maybe?) show that featured animal puppets (one being a brown dog) and tell me the name of that, too, I’d be grateful.

And….GO!

Grow Up; or Five Things Lilly Grew Up On

Having done the last post in a list format, I found I really liked it. Forcing my tastes on others is something I’ve always enjoyed, and doing so in an organized format makes it seem like I am being helpful and not pushy. Everyone wins. Well, I win, and you can suck it up. You’re here, so you might as well read this.

On that note, let’s get listing!

Nostalgic Piece #1: Wishbone

I love dogs. I love books. What, therefore, could be better for me as a nerdy little kid than PBS’ Wishbone, a weekly half-hour dose of a well-read Jack Russell Terrier introducing me to the great literary masterpieces such as Phantom of the Opera, Frankenstein, and Hound of the Baskervilles (the Holmes love started early, though that’s elaborated on later). The first copy of Frankenstein I owned was the Wishbone version, which included a tiny flip-art of Wishbone digging a hole in the upper right hand corner to please the reader who wanted more cartoon dogs in their Frankenstein.  To this day, when I think of Baskerville Hall, I think of the hall featured in the Wishbone version–though thank God I don’t think of the Holmes, as Wishbone himself put in for that starring role. Though, the scene at the end of the episode where Watson is scratching Holmes’ head would be pretty amazing to see done by Jude Law and Robert Downey Jr.. I bet they’d nail it. Oscars for everyone!

Anyway, I loved this show. It gave me a passing knowledge of so many great stories while also having a cute dog in it. The only reason I read The Red Badge of Courage was because of that show, and let me tell you, it was worth it for the cartoon of Wishbone walking through a log in the top right corner. Literary gold. It was like a gateway drug to literature, and Wishbone was the pusher.

Nostalgic Piece #2: Zoboomafoo (with the Kratt Brothers!)

Before I start talking about this amazing show, I just want to point out that the youtube channel this is on is amazing–Are You Afraid of the Dark‘s theme song still scares me, and since it is late right now, I can’t even watch it without having nightmares–and you should watch everything on it, since they are all shows I watched growing up. Even Sagwa, the Chinese Siamese Cat (she wrote with her tail!)

Zoboomafoo was an amazing show for two reasons: one, it had a puppet monkey teaching children about animals using slapstick comedy and catchy tunes, and two, it starred (besides Zoboo) the very cute Kratt brothers, two attractive men who loved animals and were silly, something I could get behind as a young girl with aspirations to become a veterinarian someday. While my grade six self would be disappointed with my career choice, she would not be disappointed by my opinion that the Kratt brothers are still cute after all these years. I’d go back to Animal Junction with them, no problem.

Lilly: Pervving over children’s show hosts since 1988.

Also, I am pretty sure there is nothing cuter than a jaguar cub wrestling a puppet monkey. Pretty sure.

Nostalgic Piece #3: Tales from the Cryptkeeper

This show scared the bejeezus out of me when I was a kid, and yet I’d watch it whenever it was on. The one episode I remember the full plot of clearly was this one, the rest being only in clippit form in my mind. A doll who demanded she be shared. A girl with beauty products that attracted the dead. Something about basketball and ghosts? Anyway, only this episode really stuck, my mind even keeping hold of the fact that Prince Charming was really named Chuck. For some reason, the ending gave me nightmares for days–I can remember trying to sleep in our old place in Newport Station, but being unable to, as each time I would close my eyes, I would see Chuck and Steve at the end of the cartoon, and I would cry.  I watched the cartoon today, so here’s hoping that doesn’t hold true for tonight’s sleep, of course.

Shit.

Also in that line of television shows that made me have nightmares and yet I watched nevertheless were the above mentioned Are You Afraid of the Dark?, Freaky Stories, and Grizzly Tales for Gruesome Kids. I was pretty much a creepy little kid. I also watched The New Addams Family like it was going out of style–it was on every day on Global, and I was all over it. I actually loved the idea of having a husband like Gomez, even if I was clearly not his type. Morticia was super hot.

Nostalgic Piece #4: Muppets Tonight

You didn’t seriously think we’d get through this post without a Muppets mention, did you? Puppets in general played a big part in my childhood television tastes, and the Muppets were the kings and queens of puppets. Many tried to beat them–most notably Wimzie’s House, which was not Muppet-brand puppets, but certainly looked like them (making the Sesame Street people antsy, in fact)–but no one came close to the levels of amazing the Muppets reached.  Bear in the Big Blue House was for the daytime, and Muppets Tonight was what came on for late night Muppet fun.

I have no idea what it is  about the Muppets (and more specifically, Muppets Tonight) that appeals to me so much. Maybe it’s the parodies of everything from 2001:A Space Odyssey  to James Bond (featuring the Bond of the day himself). Or is it the covers of great artists from Bruce Springsteen to Billy Idol? Maybe it’s the Star Trek gags? Who knows. What I do know is that I have all of those episodes on my computer to watch whenever I want, and I want a lot. The Muppet Show was something I grew up watching reruns of, but The Muppets Tonight was my Muppets.

Nostalgic Piece #5: Sherlock Holmes in the 22nd Century

Before I became a Holmes elitist, anxious over the idea of anyone taking my beloved Sherlock and bastardizing him, I was just a plan ol’ Holmes fan, loving mystery, intrigue, and British accents in any format given to me. This cartoon is exactly what it sounds like–Sherlock Holmes in the 22nd Century. How, you may ask? Actually, I bet you’re asking “Why?” but whatever.

He was preserved (after death, obviously)  in honey. Okay, um, holy wow, Holmes fans would know why this is cool, but for those of you who aren’t all up in the Holmesian canon, here’s why:  in the story His Last Bow, it is revealed that Holmes retires to Sussex to keep–you guessed it–BEES! Come ON. That’s amazing. It made rewatching it a treat, anyway.

The show follows the plot lines (loosely, ever so loosely) of the stories, featuring big names like Hound of the Baskervilles (done on the moon!) and The Adventure of the Dancing Men (with computer hacking!).  It has a wonderfully depicted and voice-acted Holmes who goes from witty upon waking to frustrated due to the technology differences he faces, not to mention the fact that he doesn’t have his dear Watson any more–that is, until the descendant of Inspector Lestrade, a sassy girl detective, gives him a robot version of the good doctor to tote around. For serious. You get deduction, you get action, and you get a robot Watson. What more could you want?

So that’s the list. Honourable mention goes to Cybersix (a French crossdressing super cyborg, what!), Gargoyles (totally crushed on Goliath–I blame Beauty and the Beast as a gateway drug to my ability to fall for beasts), Reboot (when Bob came back from the net, dude was kickass), Digimon (Matt was my fav, though Angemon was the best Digimon–and man, that intro song is amazing) , What’s New, Scooby Doo? (Shaggy was who I aspired to be, scared-yet-beloved sidekick that he was), and Powerpuff Girls (I still watch this at times. And HIM was one weird twist on the devil, lemme tell you).

Next up on Lilly’s blog: The Hunt for Birdie. (Oh yes, Jillian, I have another blog coming soooooon).

Is That Noise Coming From Your Room; or Five Songs Lilly Likes

Inspiration for this blog came from an observation my mother made a few days ago that sort of got me thinking. We were driving along and I was fussing around with the radio (something those who I’ve driven with will know is my favourite thing to do in a car), and only settled once I found a song I like. When I started to sing along, and not only sing along, but with all the right words, my mother turned down the music–an annoying move–and sighed in a fond manner. And yes, my mother can sigh fondly. She has a whole array of sighs. Anyway.

“Lilly,” She sighed, “How is it you like music like this and Lady GaGA–“

Quick interruption here: my mother says GaGA exactly like that. Hard emphasis on that second Ga. It’s stressful.

“And, I don’t know, KISS, while other kids listen to…” Here she got lost, hand waving vaguely as if trying to find the answer in the air around her rather than steering the car.

“Crap?” I helpfully provided.

“Crap.” She agreed.

Honestly, I’ve always had an interest in how people become the way they are, and how they develop interests, more specifically. I know, for instance, that my love of KISS came because of a boy. Yes, I started listening to their music in junior high to try and impress a boy, and then fell more in love with the band than the poor boy could ever hope for–he didn’t wear seven inch leather heels, so he didn’t really stand a chance. I like KC and the Sunshine Band because my father had a mixtape he had made from the record he had, and for a brief period the only thing we had to play music on was a tape deck, and I liked music while washing the dishes. KC and the Sunlight Dish Detergent. I like The Rolling Stones because of Anna, I like Bruce Springsteen because of Matt, and I like Aly and AJ because of James (which I am sure he is proud of).

So, I thought to myself “What have I inspired people to like?” and that brought me to this: a post of five songs I like and that you might like to. So, without further ado (and there has been a whole lot of that), I present to you for your consideration: Five Songs that Lilly Likes.

Song #1: Massive Attack’s “Teardrop” as performed by The Red Hot Chili Pipers

In my travel diary–which I have only gotten around to reading again recently since my travels in April–I had written “google Red Hot Chili Pipers”. I was on a tour bus in Scotland, between Glasgow and Loch Ness, where our tour guide, Pauline (not yet Fun Bobby, a man from Northern Ireland with a wicked man giggle) decided she’d grace us with a few bagpipe tunes on the bus speakers. The traditional sort started us off, then came these guys. You know what? I honestly love bagpipe music when it is done right. I really do. I think there is something about it that is impressive, expressive, and magical even if sometimes, if a person isn’t good, it can sound like a cat recovering from a hernia. I love it, and I love these guys. For those curious, the above is a cover of Massive Attack’s “Teardrop”, arguably made famous by the Fox television show House, M.D. using it as its theme. Another bit of fun bagpipe music to further go along with the theme is Slainte Mhath’s “Annie“.

Song #2: “The Beat That My Heart Skipped” by Dan Le Sac vs. Scroobius Pip

I tend to generally say I hate rap, and I generally do hate it, but Scroobius Pip is one of those exceptions to the rule that I am willing to allow. Even if he has a beard that makes me a bit uncomfortable to look at, Scroobius Pip is damn catchy and damn clever. Look him up, and listen to his lyrics, and just try and not like a single thing he says. Also, I like how this video features Paloma Faith, another great musician.  Another exception to the rap rule: French stuff. Oh, and this song.

Song #3: T-Rex’s “Children of the Revolution” as performed by Noisettes

 Covers are always a tricky thing, especially of bands you love (I still can’t handle Stones covers), but this one really works. I love Noisettes; lead singer, Shingai Shoniwa was on Nevermind the Buzzcocks and I got into them that way, and they rock this. Yes, rock it. Listen to that scream! Girl’s got pipes. And is fashionable. Goodness. Anyway, enjoy the above and these: Never Forget You, Don’t Upset the Rhythm, and Don’t Give Up (absolute favourite).

Song #4: “Mr.Bassman” performed by The Muppets

It goes without saying that anything Muppets are involved in, I will love. This song, however, has been in my head for days. Thanks to The Green Album and the Sondre Lerche cover of it, I have been singing this song under my breath while washing dishes, reading about phonics (I’m doing a course, fyi), and playing The Sims 3 (yes, this is my life).  It’s so damn cheerful and bouncy, I cannot be depressed about washing dishes, reading about phonics, or playing The Sims 3! Other Muppet gold includes: 50 Ways To Leave Your Lover, Stand By Me , and Scrooge. Scrooge is also Michael Caine gold.

Song #5: “Moon Over Bourbon Street” performed by Sting

Rounding out the five with a slower piece, this is a song I always enjoyed, though got to showcase in class recently (aka months ago, GOD, I miss school).  Sting is one of those artists that I thought was cheesy and lame for so many years and I really have no clue why. Maybe because his name is Sting? Probably. Anyway, this is a song about being a creep, and I can relate. Har Har. Anyway, some other Sting favs are: Englishman in New York, I Hung My Head, and Fields of Gold (especially with David Walliams).

So there we have it. Five songs (plus a few more) I like that maybe you’ll like too! Enjoy. Also, you’re welcome, Youtube. Linked the shit out of this post to you.

Bonus material: DJ Number Six, The Asteroids Galaxy Tour (Mette is the cutest girl on Earth), Adele.