Christmas, list, MUSIC

My Favorite Christmas Songs 2020 #5

“Twistin’ Bells,” Santo and Johnny, 1960.

Just based on their names, I always thought this instrumental duo were Latinos, but brothers Santo Anthony Farina and John Steven Farina are Italians from Brooklyn. Their distinctive sound comes from Santo’s steel guitar.

TRIVIA: The beginnings of Santo and Johnny’s most famous song, “Sleep Walk,” came about when the brothers decided to work on music one sleepless night after a gig.

Click here to listen to all the songs on YouTube!

Standard
Christmas, list, MUSIC

My Favorite Christmas Songs 2020 #4

“All Alone On Christmas,” Darlene Love, 1992.

When I first heard this song, I thought it was much older than it actually is. Come to my surprise, the song is was featured in the film Home Alone 2: Lost in New York. Darlene Love also recorded 1963’s Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) which is also one of my faves, and likely accounts for my confusion.

TRIVIA: Members of The E Street Band and The Miami Horns perform.

Click here to listen to all the songs on YouTube!

Standard
Christmas, list, MUSIC

My Favorite Christmas Songs 2020 #3

“Same Old Lang Syne,” Dan Fogelberg, 1980

This is one of the few Christmas songs that is based on a true story. Dan Fogelberg bumped into an old flame sometime in the mid 1970s and the encounter inspired this song. Naturally, he took a few poetic liberties.

TRIVIA: The woman Dan bumped into is Jill Anderson Greulich, who told her side of the story in a December 2007 article following Fogelberg’s death from prostate cancer.

Click here to listen to all the songs on YouTube!

Standard
Christmas, list, MUSIC

My Favorite Christmas Songs 2020 #2

“When Santa Claus Gets Your Letter,” Gene Autry with the Cass County Boys, 1950

The Singing Cowboy fills us in on what happens to all those letters that end up at the North Pole.

TRIVIA: The Cass County Boys were accordionist Fred Martin, guitarist Jerry Scoggins, and bassist Bert Dodson. The Boys regularly performed with Autry on his radio program “Melody Ranch” and appeared in several of Autry’s films and TV shows.

Click here to listen to all the songs on YouTube!

Standard
Christmas, list, MUSIC

My Favorite Christmas Songs 2020 #1

“Step Into Christmas,” Elton John, 1973

This wonderfully self-aware tune (the first line is “Welcome to my Christmas song!”) was written and composed by Elton John and Bernie Taupin and would go on to reach #1 on Billboard’s Christmas Singles chart.

TRIVIA: “Step into Christmas” was mixed to imitate Phil Spector’s “wall of sound” technique.

Click here to hear all the songs on YouTube!

Standard
Christmas, list, MUSIC

My Eighty Favorite Christmas Songs!

Every Christmas for the last few years I have posted a list of some of my favorite Christmas songs. Some classic, some modern, some weird, but all full of Christmas cheer! 

Click here to listen to all of them on YouTube!

I tried to pick some of the more eclectic songs and different renditions of classics the first time around in 2014:

Please Come Home for Christmas – The Eagles

Winter Wonderland – The Eurythmics

Little St. Nick – The Beach Boys

If It Doesn’t Snow on Christmas – Gene Autry

Baby It’s Cold Outside – Dean Martin

Christmas Vacation – Mavis Staples

What Child is This – Liona Boyd

White Christmas – The Drifters

Do They Know It’s Christmas? – Band Aid

Santa Claus and His Old Lady – Cheech and Chong

There’s Always Tomorrow – Janice Orenstein

Feliz Navidid – Jose Feliciano

Wonderful Christmastime – Paul McCartney

Santa Claus is Comin’ To Town – Bruce Springsteen

Last Christmas – Wham!

Happy Xmas (War is Over) – John Lennon and Yoko Ono

Run Rudolph Run – Chuck Berry

Peace On Earth/Little Drummer Boy – David Bowie and Bing Crosby

Someday at Christmas – Stevie Wonder

Merry Christmas Darling – Carpenters

God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen/We Three Kings” – Barenaked Ladies Feat. Sarah McLachlan

We Need a Little Christmas – Percy Faith

Blue Christmas – Elvis Presley

A Charlie Brown Christmas Soundtrack – Vince Girauldi Trio

Christmas at Ground Zero – Weird Al Yankovic

2015 featured more standards but there were still plenty of oddballs to be found.

The Christmas Song, Nat King Cole

Holly Jolly Christmas, Burl Ives

Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, Gene Autry

Happy Holiday, Andy Williams

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year, Andy Williams

Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree, Brenda Lee

You’re a Mean One, Mister Grinch, Thurl Ravenscroft

Frosty the Snowman, Willie Nelson

Winter Wonderland, Huey Lewis and the News

Let it Snow, Dean Martin

There’s No Place Like Home for the Holidays, Perry Como

I Want A Hippopotamus for Christmas, Gayla Peevy

Mannheim Steamroller

Santa Baby, Madonna

The Twelve Days of Christmas, John Denver and The Muppets

I’ll be Home for Christmas, Fats Domino

The Chipmunk Song, The Chipmunks

Sleigh Ride, Leroy Anderson

Carol of the Bells, Mykola Leontovych

Trans-Siberian Orchestra

Jingle Bells, The Singing Dogs

Give Love on Christmas Day, The Jackson 5

Chrissy the Christmas Mouse, Debbie Reyonlds and Donald O’Connor

Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer, Elmo and Patsy

Christmas Dragnet, Stan Freberg

Things slowed down in 2016 with only ten songs, with some fairly recent ones catching my ear.

It Must Have Been Ol’ Santa Claus, Harry Connick, Jr.

Where Are You, Christmas?, Taylor Momsen

Chiron Beta Prime, Johnathan Coulton

Believe, John Groban

Merry Christmas (Exclamation Point), Jon Lajoie

All I Want for Christmas is You, Mariah Carey

Merry Christmas from Cell Block 2, Matthew Ebel

The Nightmare Before Christmas Soundtrack, Danny Elfman, et al

Welcome Christmas, M-G-M Studio Orchestra & Chorus

Snoopy’s Christmas, The Royal Guardsmen

Another ten for 2017:

Dominick The Donkey, Lou Monte

Christmas Time, Bryan Adams

Christmas (Baby, Please Come Home), Darlene Love

All I Want For Christmas Is You, Vince Vance and the Valiants (feat. Lisa Layne)

Here We Come a-Wassailing, Under the Streetlamp

Hard Candy Christmas, Dolly Parton

Up On The Housetop, Gene Autry

Mele Kalikimaka, Bing Crosby

Love on Layaway, Gloria Estefan

The Snow Miser Song, Dick Shawn / The Heat Miser Song, George S. Irving

Another ten for 2018:

Marshmallow World, Dean Martin

Auld Lang Syne, B.B. King

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Texas Tornados

Santa Got Lost in Texas, Michael Landon

Here Comes Santa Claus, Elvis Presley

Frosty the Snowman, Flaco Jimenez and Freddy Fender

Sleigh Ride, The Ronettes

Santa Claus is Coming (in a boogie-woogie choo-choo train), The Tractors

Jingle Bells, The Ray Conniff Singers

When It’s Christmas Time in Texas, George Strait

Sadly, I missed out last year but I’m going to try and knock out ten more for 2020 because God knows we could use some Christmas cheer!

Standard
300 Seconds, ANIME, CONS, CREATIVE, Eduardo Soliz, Fiesta Equestria, FURRY, Furry 101, FURRY FIESTA, JUST SAYING, PANELS, Podcasting, PODCASTS, RANDOMIZER9.COM, SAN JAPAN, WORDS

300 Seconds Episode #112: “A Furry Thing Happened on the Way to the Convention”

NOTE: This is a transcript of a podcast for those with hearing difficulties, those that prefer to read, and those who would prefer to not hear the sound of my voice. 😉

Click here to listen to this episode!

You are listening to ‘300 Seconds with Eduardo Soliz,’ and this is episode number one hundred and 112, “A Furry Thing Happened on the Way to the Convention,” so let the 300 Seconds begin!

For the last eight years and change, I have been a member of the furry community.  I have gone to furry conventions, written furry stories, published furry story collections, given furry presentations, taken lots of pictures of fursuiters, and made many new furry friends.  While my furry experience has been wonderful so far, like so many things in my life, it sometimes gets a little weird.  Okay, make that weirdER…

While not my first furry convention; Furry Fiesta 2013 was significant for me, because unlike the previous year, which was my first furcon, I now had a number of friends that were also going also to be there.  Just like everything else in life, having friends around makes conventions a lot more fun.

One evening during the convention, I went with some friends to eat at a restaurant.  The food was good, the company was pleasant, and we all enjoyed a nice meal.  While waiting to receive our checks, the manager approached our table and asked us how everything was.  We let her know that we were happy with the food and service.  She noticed that some of us were wearing our convention badges, so she asked if we were in town for a convention.  We answered that yes, we were, but nobody had an answer for the obvious follow-up question:

“What kind of convention is it?”

Everybody at the table, including myself, instantly froze up.  I have never before, in my entire life, seen seven grown adults go totally deer-in-headlights.  Everybody looked back and forth at each other, expecting somebody else to say something.  Finally, after about ten seconds of awkward silence, somebody said: “It’s an ART convention!”  That answer immediately snapped everybody out of their daze and the rest of the evening went on as expected.

For what it’s worth, I came up with a five-word explanation of furry that tends to satisfy most folk’s curiosity, and those five words are: “Nerds who like cartoon animals.”

For the last few years, I have presented educational panels at various conventions in Texas including RealmsCon, Comicpalooza, Fiesta Equestria, and San Japan.  I’ve talked about publishing e-books, recording audio, and of course, furries, in a panel called Furry 101.  The point of Furry 101 is to give outsiders the low-down on what furries are all about.  In the interest of full disclosure, I do also include some of the weird stuff, but since the panel is for an all-ages audience, I can’t go too far.

A few years ago at San Japan, I was presenting Furry 101 to an audience of about two hundred people, my largest audience ever.  As I’m doing so, I’m looking over my audience, making sure that I have their attention and looking to see that I don’t have too many people walking out.  One person that stuck out was a gentleman that looked to be a bit older.  Not super-old, mind you, but in an anime convention, if you’re over 40, you’re going to stick out a little bit.  I figured he was there with his child.  Much to my delight, he looked to be engaged in the presentation, but the expression on his face became, shall we say, less happy once I got to the weird stuff.  Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t that weird, but the presentation slide that mentions adult art certainly got his attention.  I felt terrible after the fact, thinking: “Oh my God. I have totally ruined furry for his kid.  They’re going to be locked away in their home forever and never be allowed to associate with those ‘animal people weirdos’ ever again.”

Fast forward a few months. Come to my surprise, I bumped into the gentleman and his child at Furry Fiesta.  If I remember correctly, his name was Kevin.  He thanked me for the presentation, much to my relief.  I’ve spoken with a few more parents after Furry 101 since then and have even come across a few folks that have joined the fandom after attending my panel.  Granted, the panel is not supposed to be a recruiting tool, but if folks want to join the club after the fact, who am I to argue?

This has been 300 Seconds, the next episode will be posted after I insert more subliminal messages into my Furry 101 panel slides.  I am Eduardo Soliz, if you’d like to hear more 300 seconds subscribe via your favorite podcast app and check out my website at Eduardo Soliz dot com.  Thank you for listening!  Be good, take care, and God bless.

Standard
300 Seconds, BUSINESS, Eduardo Soliz, JUST SAYING, Podcasting, PODCASTS, RANDOMIZER9.COM, TECH, TECH SUPPORT, WORDS, WORK

300 Seconds Episode #111: “My Coronavirus Story Part 5: Back to Irk”

NOTE: This is a transcript of a podcast for those with hearing difficulties, those that prefer to read, and those who would prefer to not hear the sound of my voice. 😉

Click here to listen to this episode!

You are listening to ‘300 Seconds with Eduardo Soliz,’ and this is episode number 111: “My Coronavirus Story Part 5: Back to Irk,” so let the 300 Seconds begin!

After being laid off from my job back in April, or a few episodes ago, as the case may be, I started looking for a new job online, and, as many of you Dear Listeners are aware, the pickings in 2020 are pretty slim.  As in-person job fairs are out of the question right now, I attended online virtual job fairs which were just as virtually terrible as the real-life ones, so score one for consistency.

From May to September, I had a total of three interviews including one of those awful virtual ones where you awkwardly record answers to questions into your webcam.  Fortunately, the third time was the charm, and thus, I started a new contract-to-maybe-there’s-possibly-a-chance-you-might-just-could-be-hired gig a few weeks ago.  It would be an understatement to say that I’ve had to make just a few life adjustments in going back to living a nine-to-five life.

The biggest and most immediate adjustment I had to make was to my sleeping habits.  In my effort to lose weight, I had been waking up early in order to go for a walk in the mornings.  But as the Texas summer got hotter and hotter, I shifted to walking in the evenings which of course, meant sleeping in.  According to Google Maps, my new office was about thirty miles away.  That meant that I had to wake up pretty early to make it to work on time.  Funny thing about me:  I don’t have trouble waking up early.  Once I hear my alarm, I’m up.  No problem there.  But as a night owl, going to bed early is something of a challenge.  So while I might be up at five-thirty in the morning, I won’t exactly be “up and at ‘em.”

Thus, a morning commute became a thing again, and of course, with a commute comes traffic.  I had to drive from one side of San Antonio to the other, so my commute was going to be thirty miles of suck regardless of which route I took.  I eventually settled into taking the route that presented the most opportunities to stop for breakfast along the way.  Being stuck in a traffic jam is much easier to deal with when you have a Breakfast on a Bun from Whataburger along for the ride.

My new job has me working in an office, so that means I have to ‘mask up’ every day.  Since my pandemic travels up to this point were limited to the grocery store and the occasional drive-thru window, I had been making do with a few cloth masks, or the occasional shop towel mask whenever those were in the wash.  I now needed enough masks so that I could wear a different one each day.  I also had to get masks with solid colors or patterns that would be office-appropriate.  Of course, in the process of doing so, I ended up buying one or two that fit too tight because I have a big head.  Another fun big head thing that I have to deal with was that some masks would begin to irritate my ears after several hours of wearing.  Fortunately, I improvised an ‘ear saver’ using a rubber band and a pair of paper clips.

If there is one thing that I definitely need at work, it’s coffee.  I rarely drink it outside of the office, but when it’s provided by the company, then I am more than happy to partake.  When working from home, I would enjoy an occasional cup of Nescafe to keep the neurons firing.  I don’t know if this is how the new office works or if this is a virus thing, but there isn’t any coffee available at the office.  There aren’t any vending machines where I can grab a soda, either, and at the risk of being ‘that guy:’ I CAN’T WORK UNDER THESE CONDITIONS. 

Where there’s a will, there’s a way, but Will’s not here so I have to solve my own problems.  I happen to have a mini-fridge that holds six cans of soda.  I’d purchased it during my days as a field technician, but that’s a story for another time.  In any case, problem solved!  Almost.  In the interest of watching my budget, I bought generic diet cola.  I quickly began to notice that I wasn’t feeling the caffeine boost that I was accustomed to getting from a soda in the afternoon; my metaphorical tail was still dragging after chugging one down.  I randomly checked the ingredients on the can one day and discovered, to my horror, that generic soda contained less than half the caffeine of the name brand stuff.  I guess that’s why it costs a buck and a quarter for a six-pack!

This has been 300 Seconds, the next episode will be posted after I set my alarm.  For more witty words written by me, visit Eduardo Soliz dot com, and I thank you for listening.  Be good, take care and God Bless.

Standard
300 Seconds, Podcasting, PODCASTS, TECH, WORDS

300 Seconds Episode #110-“Freaking Metal Phones”

NOTE: This is a transcript of a podcast for those with hearing difficulties, those that prefer to read, and those who would prefer to not hear the sound of my voice.

Click here to listen to the episode!

You are listening to ‘300 Seconds with Eduardo Soliz,’ and this is episode number 110, “Freaking Metal Phones,” so let the 300 Seconds begin!

I’ve owned a number of smartphones over the years, starting with a T-Mobile Dash running Windows Mobile 6 over a decade ago.  Since then, I bounced over to Android, went through a weird time when I had a not-so-smartphone, enjoyed Windows Phone for a spell until Microsoft gave up on it, and had a few iPhones. I currently have an Android phone…for now.

I’ve never really been overcome with ‘techno-lust’ when shopping for a phone, probably because I tend to think of my smartphone as a communications device.  I use it for email, social media, and yes, the occasional phone call or text message.  I don’t watch movies or TV shows or listen to music on it, and I don’t think I’ve ever installed a game on my phone, except maybe for spending a few weeks with Angry Birds just like everybody else.

That lack of techno-lust combined with my desire to not overspend on a phone, meant that I ended up with quite a few ‘middle of the road’ (and yes, occasionally cheap) phones.  Nearly all of those phones had cases made of plastic or rubber or some kind of weirdo mix between the two.  Because I wasn’t spending a lot of money on my phone, I never felt the need to buy a case for it because replacing the phone would be fairly inexpensive if something bad were to happen.  Also, when you buy a less-expensive phone, cases tend to be harder to find. It’s like the people that make them are busy concentrating on the folks with money. You know, those rich folks buying iPhones and Galaxys. I was also lucky to have never cracked a screen despite my occasional case ofthe butterfingers.  And sure, that plastic case might pick up a ding or a scuff here and there, but I could live with that.

Naturally, all that changed a few years ago when I decided to quit being a cheapskate and buy a ‘nice phone’ in the form of an iPhone 6.  I’ll admit, the little nerd in my head went ‘ooh, shiny’ when the guy at the store took it out of the box.  As part of the deal, I was entitled to some free accessories.  The salesman encouraged me to get a case for my phone, and I agreed. After all, I didn’t want anything bad to happen to my shiny new phone!  And a free case? So much the better!  I dutifully picked one out and watched as the salesman turned my sexy shiny new phone into a hulking slab of plastic and rubber that was impervious to harm.  I could even clip it onto my belt for quick access.

For the most part, I very rarely ever saw that shiny iPhone 6 exterior ever again, which made me wonder: what was the point of a cell phone having a pretty exterior if it was just going to be covered up by a case?  Granted, part of my paranoia about my iPhone 6 being damaged was due to the fact that I had bought it on a payment plan, but when I upgraded to an iPhone SE later on, I repeated the process of buying a hard case despite having paid for that one in full up front.

iOS eventually got on my nerves to the point where I decided to go back to Android, so I bought a mid-range Android phone; an unlocked Moto G5 Plus.  Like my iPhones, it too had a metal case, though not quite as shiny as the iPhones had been.  This time around, I finally got over my phone damage paranoia and didn’t buy a heavy-duty deluxe polycarbonate drop-proof shock-proof bomb-proof bear-proof case for it.  Now, I wasn’t about to let my phone go au natural because I didn’t want the metal to be scratched up to all heck, so I bought a fairly relatively inexpensive rubber case.  I liked it because it doesn’t make the phone that much bigger, so I can slip it into my pocket instead of having it clipped to my belt.

I don’t know when I’ll be buying my next phone, but I think I’m over metal at this point.

A few weeks after I bought it, I noticed that my Moto was getting a little grimy around the edges so I took off the rubber case in order to give the screen a proper wipe-down.  I looked at the back of the phone, and lo and behold, I saw a dent in the metal.

Crap.

This has been 300 Seconds, the next episode will be posted after I go to Amazon to buy a hard case for my phone.  Subscribe via your favorite podcast app, and for more wonderfully weird words written by me, visit Eduardo Soliz dot com. Thank you for listening!  Be good, take care, and God Bless.

Standard
CREATIVE, JUST SAYING, WORDS

Why You Should Not Vote 2020

Why You Should Not Vote, by A. Citizen

I would like to begin by thanking those of you are not registered to vote. I would also like to thank those of my fellow citizens that will be too busy to vote. This message is not for you. 

Instead, I would like to address those of my fellow citizens who intend to cast your vote this Tuesday.  If you have already voted, then this message comes to you too late, but if you could keep listening for next time, it would be greatly appreciated.

I will begin by saying that you should pay no mind to those well-meaning people who say “If you don’t vote, then you have no right to complain.”  I would like to take this moment to remind you that we have free speech in the United States of America.  So complain as much as you want.  When candidates that represent your views are not elected, resulting in laws that you support not being passed.  I will be more than happy to listen to your complaining.

The main reason that I don’t want you to vote is that by not voting, you make my vote count more.  And who am I?  I may be a conservative, a liberal, or somewhere in between.  I may be for or against gay marriage, abortion, universal healthcare, marijuana legalization, and civil rights.  I may be rich from birth, rich from hard work, living from paycheck to paycheck, or struggling to survive.  I may have been born on the same day as you; or be old enough to be your parent or your grandparent, or be young enough to be your child. I may be happily single, happily married, or even happily divorced.  I might think that black lives matter, that all lives matter or maybe that no lives matter.  I might  completely support your views or find them to be completely absurd.  That said, you can be rest assured that I will use my vote wisely.

“But voting in my state is pointless,” you say, “My candidate has no chance of winning my state in the presidential election!”  You may be right.  In fact, by not voting, you are definitely making that a true statement.  Besides, if you don’t care enough to vote for the President, you probably don’t care enough to vote for senators, representatives, mayors, city councilors, school board members, judges, sheriffs and dogcatchers.  By not voting you give me more influence over your state and local officials as well.

If every able-bodied citizen of our great country voted, then every citizen would possess an equal amount of power. When fewer people vote, the ones that do have more power.  Consider this: If, let’s say, only one out of every four  people votes, the one person who does is making choices for the other three.  If the one out of four that votes is me, I like that idea!  Indeed, I could be considered a representative myself, albeit one of a very small district.  What it comes down to is that you can be confident that I have every intention of putting your non-vote to good use.

So please, don’t vote.  After all, you can trust me…just like the last time.

Standard