Alternative Christmas Music Playlist

I LOVE Christmas music.  It’s cheerful, catchy, and so damn fun.  (The obvious exception is, of course, that killjoy Karen Carpenter who thought of Christmas as a time to sing these merry melodies in the style of some kind of heroin addict who’s stuck in a slow motion playback reel.)

However, if you’re a very sane person who can’t listen to Brenda Lee’s “Rocking Around the Christmas Tree” one more time or you’ll just fucking snap, I’ve compiled a hearty list of bizarre unique holiday ditties to satisfy your thirst for festive carols without feeding into your mom’s questionable obsession of Elvis’ “Blue Christmas”.

Presenting the Definitive Guide to Alternative Christmas Music:

1. Deck Da Club – Ying Yang Twinz

“Deck da club with [piles/boughs] of money…”   Actually, the entire album “The Ying and the Yang of the Holidays” is worth checking out.  CAROL OF DA BELLZ.  One YouTube user calls this the “most horrible Christmas song ever.” I completely disagree.

2.  Ru Paul the Red Nosed Drag Queen – Ru Paul

Child, if y’all can’t name all reindeer drag queens in order y’all need to just get on up outta here.  My favorite is Lady Comet.

3.  Sleigh Ride – Christmas Disco 

The album is described as “JOYOUS DISCO VERSIONS OF GREAT CHRISTMAS CLASSICS!” and I think that’s all that needs to be said about that.  Shimmy into your leisure suits and fill up your coke rings, we’re going on a glittery, drug infused disco sleigh ride straight to the stars!

 4. Oh Come All Ye Faithful – Twisted Sister

Amazing video.  Enjoy those nightmares of Dee Snyder Santa Claus sliding down your chimney.  Also – the guitar riff of “We’re Not Gonna Take It” and “Hava Nagila” at the end.  Priceless.

5. Christmas in Jail – The Youngsters

A special tribute to your well-meaning uncle who had one too many run-ins with the law this year.  Or, in my case, an homage to my police officer brother who often has to work on Christmas Day.

6. Afroman is Coming to Town – Afroman

In other “why did they make a Christmas album?” news, Afroman made a Christmas album.  “Slap yo grandma’s dentures out” ?!?!??! What do you mean, Afroman?!?!? Terrifying.

 7.  Get Behind Me, Santa! – Sufjan Stevens

This is the part of the list that isn’t so obscurely bizarre. You can actually play all of Sufjan’s Christmas compilations from Songs for Christmas and genuinely enjoy them.  I love his whimsical sing-song lullabies about American culture and pleasantries so he’s a natural fit in the holiday music realm.  Listening to Sufjan Stevens is like putting your bare feet up on the dashboard and doing the wave thing with your hand out of the window on a long road trip.

8.  We Three Konami – 8-Bit Jesus

Ok, back to the weird.  8-Bit Jesus is an album of Christmas songs in the style of 8-bit Nintendo games.  You can enjoy such hits as “O Come All Ye Vampires” and “Ryu the Red Nose Ninja”.  Have a husband, brother, or girlfriend who loves video games?  They’ll get a laugh out of this.

9. ‘Oy to the World – Klezmonauts

When Christmas crashes into Chanukah this happens.  Klezmer is a musical tradition of the Ashkanazi Jews from Eastern Europe.  Klezmonauts is an album of Christmas carols in the style of klezmer music.  I am really fond of this one.

Other great Klezmonaut songs include “Deck the Halls” and “Jingle Bells”.

10. A Toolbox Christmas – Woody Phillips

Christmas songs performed by various tools.  As strange as it sounds.


The Definitive 2013 Halloween Decor Retail Guide

It’s not a secret that I’m a Halloween fanatic.  I think it stems from a combination of my mom’s propensity to out-decorate everyone on our street (suck it, not-to-be-named neighbor) for any holiday, and my love for scary movies. 

Now that I’m a bonafide grown-up (i.e. not living with roommates – DAMN YOU TIM) I’m thrilled to follow in mom’s footsteps and start collecting pieces for my own holiday decorating stash.

That’s why I’m embarrassingly admitting to all of you that I spent a lot of late September scouring Richmond’s major discount retailers to scout their goods and make a list of what I would purchase from where.

Here’s the skinny:

1. Target

Pros:  Target really stepped up its game this year and is a fantastic source for hanging ghouls, window/wall decals, tablecloths, tableware, baking items, serving pieces, and Halloween themed food.  I picked up the black tablecloth with neon pumpkins, black plastic “claws” salad servers, paper plates, a hanging ghoul for my front porch, and 3D “bats” that are proudly stuck to my living room wall above the tv.  All of these items were less than $10.

Cons: Avoid buying Phillips Halloween string lights unless you have a dispensable income.  They’re a great brand, but pricey.  You can buy equally good Sylvania lights from Garden ridge for $3 – $4 less per box.  I can’t speak for the $3.50 Target brand lights, but I do plan to pick up a box of the multi-colored string lights this weekend.

2. HomeGoods

Pros:  HomeGoods had an epic Halloween stock in 2011, but last year and this year’s crop featured far less inventory.  Still, HomeGoods is THE place to go for decorative accents like potion bottles, candelabras and other candle holders, glittery skulls, floral arrangements, and table runners.  I picked up a spiderweb table runner, a set of 4 poison potion bottles, and two super cute, silver witch hat luminaries. The most expensive item was $12.

Cons: Not as much stuff as years past, so things you may want to buy but wait for a later date will surely be gone when you check back.

My dear friend Brandon demonstrating utmost levels of maturity at the Short Pump HomeGoods. Also – we were drunk and went to Dave & Busters after. #Winning?

3. Garden Ridge

Pros: Garden Ridge has a fantastic selection of yard signs, battery operated lights, lighted window decorations such as creepy eyes, skulls, etc, string lights, hanging ghouls, and, if you’re into them (I’m not) – inflatables.  I picked up three boxes of 100 count Sylvania string lights for $5.99 each (Target’s Phillips lights are $8.99 or more a pop), lighted creepy eyes for my front window, and a mesh-wire ghost that sticks in the yard.  All less than $10.  My mom scored a sweet lighted skeleton fence, creepy eyes for the bushes, and black lighted gauze for the mantel.

Cons: Navigating the tidal wave of tchotchkes in Garden Ride’s gigantic warehouse.  How many varieties of ceramic garden frogs could there possibly be?!

The only garden statue I really need. #Believer

4. The Dollar Tree

Pros:  Oh my gosh. I am in true love with the Dollar Tree during any holiday.  They have amazing finds and you cannot beat the price.  This year, they have great pieces like black creepy cloth to drape over curtains or lamps, battery-operated, light-up, glittery, black and orange pumpkins (so many adjectives),  classic pull-apart spiderweb, and cutesy pumpkin chair covers.  I bought all of those and was angry that Dollar Tree was displaying the same exact candy corn cotton candy that I had purchased for $2 at the Fresh Market (damn you specialty grocery!)  It also looked like they had some pretty good costume accessories, especially for kids, and since you only wear them for one night who cares if the quality isn’t the best?

Cons: Do not – I repeat – do not ever purchase off-brand candy from the Dollar Store.  Stick to the name-brand stuff there.

Apparently Dollar Tree pregnancy tests are actually legit. Who knew. #Unrelated

Hobby Lobby:

Pros:  You can purchase decent sized hay bales that are 40% off from their original price of $4.99.  They have a wonderful selection of less scary, more harvest related fall decor.  Great centerpieces, table cloths, decorative pumpkins, platters, yard signs, and just about any other tchotchke (favorite word apparently) you could think of.  Their spookier Halloween decor is good if you’re like my mom and you love displaying decorative plates in your kitchen or just can’t live without that Frankenstein themed punch bowl (I’ll be that way one day… just wait).  But I only walked out of Hobby Lobby with a couple of hay barrels and some clay pots that I turned into chalkboard planters with some Krylon Chalkboard spray paint.

Cons: It’s Hobby Lobby so you’re inevitably spending an hour with people who are way better at crafts than you and probably live in a cute, cozy farm house, can make amazing apple pies, and are laughing at you for paying over $1 for a bale of hay.   Also, crafts are tempting and it’s so hard not to browse aisle after aisle of ModPodge, wreath supplies, and other shit you don’t need.

Uncertain if hay bales are also deeply discounted at the Ho Lobby.

I could post more, but I’m frankly mortified to know so much about this and studies show that internet users only read 3/4 of a post’s content before getting bored. So you probably didn’t even read this.

It’s all for you, Damien,