Posts from December 2011

Dec 11

What Was I Thinking? (Part 2)

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Continuing the narcissistic behind-the-scenes chronicle of a monthly column on a popular music website! It’s Poptimist 16-30!

What Was I Thinking? (Part 1)

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Today’s Poptimist column – up now at Pitchfork – is the last one: a decision entirely taken by me, quite a while ago. Being able to give up a paying gig is an outrageous privilege, but so was the whole column – I filed copy on whatever took my fancy and I can’t think of a single time when I was editorially interfered with (1 of the 45 columns – numerological significance ahoy – came about from a Scott Plagenhoef suggestion, and a very good suggestion it was too.) I was handed the largest audience of music fans I will ever write for on a platter and I hope I occasionally served up something interesting in return.

So to celebrate five years of indulgence here is one last monstrous one: links and brief annotations for all 45 columns, spread over three posts.

Dec 11

FT Advent Calendar Of Christmas TV Specials: December 7th

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When I was little, what I really liked about Christmas was being able to stay up late, and sometimes, if I was lucky catch an episode of Tales Of The Unexpected or one of those weird portmanteau horror movies. I caught Dr Terror’s House Of Horrors as a ten year old and loved its creaky short story nastiness. So much like MR James’s Christmas tales have a strange link with Christmas, so do portmanteau horrors, and it happens to be the form today’s Christmas Special takes.

Which village has a graveyard like this?

Dec 11

FT Advent Calendar Of Christmas TV Specials: December 6th

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The best bit about Christmas specials is the sugar-coated MORAL at the end of the story where the authority figures remind the children that the holidays are about Giving and Sharing and Not Hitting Your Brother.

But what if your brother was a superhero from another dimension? And he had to fight this?
Skeletor Santa

Limited edition Justin Bieber vinyl

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Sometimes I manage to get my unstoppable, disproportionate rage at the world and all its absurdity under control for awhile. At these times, I allow myself back onto the internet, which is of course how the self-perpetuating cycle of apoplexy continues.

The thing that’s most recently made me blow a gasket and resort to the online equivalent of actual violence (which is to say, borderline passive-aggressive facebook updates) is an apparently harmless list of “12 Extremely Disappointing Facts About Popular Music” on Buzzfeed. What the hell am I doing on Buzzfeed? Well, like every news source I now largely access it through the medium of salacious headlines Facebook informs me my friends are reading so as far as I’m concerned, it now carries roughly the same weighting in the likelihood of me bothering to read it as the Guardian. I am the very destruction of a generation.

Of course, no one’s forcing me to read anything but I’m afraid this particular list and the frequency with which people were posting it (apparently without irony) led to ‘Someone Is Wrong On The Internet’ syndrome and so it is without further ado that I need to explain the ‘facts’ in the most civil way I can still manage.

FT Advent Calendar Of Christmas TV Specials: December 5th

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Christmas specials aren’t just the province of television. Every year all sorts of media throw Santa coated tat at us left, right and centre. All it takes is to go back to the Victorian age and there is Dickens knocking out a Christmas Carol, and other Christmas stories that no-one ever uses to theme their popular sketch show into some sort of loose limbed narrative arc.

Sketch shows are tough for Christmas specials because, well, there is nothing special about a set of sketches. You could do it so that all of the characters are doing something Christmassy, but that is still a bit scattershot. Luckily all sketch shows have at least one Scroogelike character for us to laugh at, and have other characters take them through their life in a Ghost of past, present and future way.

So who had a Ghost Of Christmas Past like this?

Dec 11

FT Advent Calendar Of Christmas TV Specials: December 4th

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Here on FT we love puns. We don’t mean to but we do. And behind today’s hastily arranged advent calendar window is probably the greatest pun to grace a TV Christmas Special ever. Even better than One Foot In The Algarve. Not necessarily that Christmassy, it blew away almost everything at Christmas on TV in 1985. I certainly remember the whole family huddled around the TV for this one, and it being really rather good, Indeed better than the standard episodes of the show.

Dec 11

FT Advent Calendar Of Christmas TV Specials: December 3rd

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Christmas is a time for the children, which means it’s also a time for endless kids’ TV specials. More than ever, in the age of the “DVD movie” stocking-stuffer. But this special has a little more to offer than just beloved “character brands” going through the tinselly motions. For a start – the SECRET ORIGIN OF ELTON JOHN!

Dec 11

FT Advent Calendar of Xmas TV Specials: December 2nd

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This one was repeated last year, and is a classic of its era, and I think we would all agree that sometimes it behooves a TV Christmas Special to ask tough questions about consumerism at a festive period. But what Christmas Special looks like this?


Dec 11

FT Advent Calendar of Xmas TV Specials: December 1st

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We love the 1st of December, when we get to go to FT to open the little Windows* that mark down the passage of time towards Christmas with a little nugget of something special. Something very special this year, namely an advent calendar of TV Christmas specials. TV Specials are, as if you didn’t know, often extended one off episodes of popular television shows which either take place at Christmas, have a Christmassy theme or – well don’t. Our rules are simple:

– Must be Christmassy
– Must not be part of regular series/season

This latter one is important as the BBC in particular have a habit of rolling the Christmas Special as the sixth episode of six if they are scheduling before Christmas. Many US sitcoms will have Christmas (and Thanksgiving, and Halloween) episodes, but just as part of the regular run.

Will we stick to these rules religiously. Maybe. While you ponder that, this is screenshot from today’s special, which despite what it looks like, really is a Christmas special. What’s that you say?