Thursday, December 06, 2007
How did the Grammys do?
So the Grammy nominations are out. What did the Recording Academy get right? Where did it whiff?

And, when February 10 rolls around, will you watch?
Monday, December 03, 2007
Christmas jeer, Christmas cheer
There's truly something for everybody this holiday season, including works that suggest both the negative and positive sides of the Christmas coin:

- The new film "What Would Jesus Buy?", currently playing in several cities and scheduled to open in many more, is about Christmas coin -- literally. The film follows the performance artist Reverend Billy and his crew, the Church of Stop Shopping Choir, as they make their way across the country, spreading their anti-mall, anti-hypermaterialist message. It's not easy -- the crew has to deal with unmoved mall security officers, incurious shoppers and even a bus accident -- but they eventually make it to their promised land: Christmas Eve in Los Angeles.

The film, produced by "Super Size Me" director Morgan Spurlock, isn't so much anti-capitalist -- at one point, Rev. Billy stops in small village clothing shop to promote a buy-local (and buy-American) message -- as it is anti-shopping frenzy, with all of its offshoots: high credit card bills, global manufacturing, the keep-up-with-the-Joneses focus on material goods. If you're the kind of person who wonders how the spirit of Christmas got lost in a mass of commercialism, this film is for you. (Or, if you missed last week's showing of "A Charlie Brown Christmas" -- a program with much the same message -- on ABC, it's available on DVD.)

- On the other hand, if you're ready to celebrate the season, the vocalist behind one of the greatest Christmas singing performances -- "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)" -- now has a full album of holiday cheer.

On "It's Christmas, Of Course" (Shout! Factory), Darlene Love, still blessed with that big voice, offers her interpretations of several rock 'n' roll holiday numbers, including Tom Petty's "Christmas All Over Again," Billy Squier's "Christmas Is the Time to Say 'I Love You'," and the Pretenders' "2000 Miles" (the latter a startlingly emotional take). It's enough to make even a trip to an overcrowded mall a happy occasion.
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