Friday, November 17, 2006

Pop Culture Roundup

I've started Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife by Mary Roach. You may know Roach's other book, Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers. In Spook, Roach turns her attention to such subjects as ghosts, the soul, and heaven and hell. I've only read the introduction so far, so I don't have a whole lot to say about it other than that Roach's humor is intact.

TV-wise, tomorrow I'll be watching the Michigan game with my hands over my face. But I'll spread my fingers enough to see what happens.

As for music, I broke down and started listening to Christmas music this past week. I wanted to find something to arrange and perform in church for Christmas Eve, but my particular crop of Christmas CDs doesn't really lend itself to that. This is what I have to choose from:

Bunch of Believers, Ska-La-La-La-La - A Christmas ska CD. Their take on the classic carols are much better than their originals, where they sing about putting on a Christmas play at church and getting into a snowball fight.

Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Christmas Eve and Other Stories - Symphonic rock from a group that makes its entire living writing and arranging Christmas music. There's a certain cheese factor here, too, but I'm able to ignore that in most cases.

40 Years: A Charlie Brown Christmas - You would think from the title that this is a digitally remastered version of the original songs from the TV special. Instead, it's a modern jazz group and other artists trying to improve on something that never needed improving. Dave Koz playing "Linus and Lucy"? There's no freaking saxophone in that song. Brian McKnight singing "Christmastime is Here"? Why? Just because he's Brian McKnight?

Barenaked Ladies, Barenaked for the Holidays - Another mix of classics and new tunes, including their rendition of "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" with Sarah McLachlan, which is excellent. Their trademark goofiness comes across when they just sing "Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young" over and over to the tune of "Deck the Halls." I could do without the Casio keyboard arrangements of some songs, but all in all this is a pretty good one.

And that's my entire Christmas CD collection. I told you it was slim.

Around the web, watch this Yoshida Brothers music video over at Scott's blog.