The Charred Underbelly of the Yule Log?

If you saw me this afternoon, I was outside mulching in an orange stocking cap, with my earphones plugged in.  I could mulch for hours if I’m listening to a good book.  My current favorite is The Dog Says How by Kevin Kling.  I chose it for the catchy title and the brief description of the author as an award-winning storyteller from Minnesota.

Little did I know that the series of short stories deals largely with Christmas and his memories of his childhood.  My favorite takes his family through Iowa on Christmas Eve to have Christmas at his grandmother’s house. None of the punch lines, typed here, would have the same ring, but when I’m listening, I’m  imagining myself at the dinner table with my siblings. Kling and I grew up at the same time, so his autobiographical stories and love of Spaghettios sound like my childhood.

I looked into checking out other books by this author and found that his most recent is Holiday Inn, a series of stories about a year’s worth of holidays.  Then, I discovered we are really kindred spirits.  His stage show is titled: Tales from the Charred Underbelly of the Yule Log.  I’m not kidding.  Has anyone seen this guy in a live performance?  He talks too fast, and I keep mentally urging him to slow down, but now I’m hooked!

Jingle Cats? Meow!

Close to my top choice for “Worst Christmas Song Ever” is the version of “Jingle Bells” sung by barking dogs.

When Jeremy and I decided to talk about “Jingle Bells” on Monday,  I was prepared to complain.

Then, I read an article in Atlantic Magazine, by William Weir, published in December 2010, and I have changed my mind completely.  Weir explains that the Nazis  guarded their magnetic tape recording capabilities, and when the war ended, there was a frenzy of experimentation. In the early 1950’s,  Danish ornithologist Carl Weismann used the new recording techniques to catalogue bird sounds.  According to Weir, the recordings were often marred by the sound of angry dogs.

He spliced together the barking, mixing the sounds together and alternating playback speeds to change the pitch.  The resulting Jingle Bell dog song was released in the United States in 1955.  Today, with the applications we have available on the computers, the same editing would take an easy few minutes.

I checked, and to be sure, there are about a million versions of barking dogs on YouTube, but the Dr. Demento cd has the original version.  I also checked out  meowing Jingle Cats.  There are several, but the quality and variety of their meowing voices leaves a lot to be desired.  I don’t see the Jingle Cat versions becoming best sellers next Christmas (thank goodness). One version of “Holly Jolly Christmas” posted in 2010 is not too bad.  Believe it or not, people love these meowing and barking pets.  It has spawned a company, with entire albums of beastly Christmas music.  Check it out.

Cats or dogs?  Which make better singers?

Countdown Podcast #13- 279 Days to Go!

J-J-J-Jingle Bells!– Click to hear this week’s podcast.

Today we take a look at one of the most well-known songs of the Christmas season, Jingle Bells!  This timeless favorite of children is not just one of the most recorded Christmas songs.  It is one of the tope 25 most recorded songs ever!  There are many unique facts about Jingle Bells. Did you know it was written before the Civil War and for Thanksgiving?  Did you know there’s a connection between dogs “singing” Jingle Bells and Nazi technology?  Did you know which singing legend’s version of Jingle Bells makes Natalie cringe?  We reveal all this and much, much more- like who hit #1 on the charts with a version of this classic tune.