What time of year is it?

“It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” sung by Idina Menzel. Do I need to explain who Menzel is? It’s from her 2019 Christmas: A Season of Love album.

The song was written specifically for The Andy Williams Show’s Christmas episode in 1963 by its vocal director George Wyle and co-composer Edward Pyle. That same year Williams recorded it for his first holiday album, the eponymous The Andy Williams Christmas Album

Judy Garland sang it first

“Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” made its first appearance in the 1944 film “Meet Me in St. Louis.” Hugh Martin composed it and Ralph Blane wrote the lyrics. Some of those lyrics were changed during filming when Garland, Tom Drake (her love interest in the film) and, perhaps most importantly, Director Vincente Minelli considered the original verse “Have yourself a merry little Christmas / It may be your last/ Next year we may all be living in the past” too dark. Brynn Stanley sings it here. It’s from her 2019 A Classic Christmas album.

Home is the sailor, home from the sea

“I’ll Be Home for Christmas” was written in 1942 or 1943 by lyricist Kim Gannon and composer Walter Kent. An additional writing credit was given to The Platters’ Buck Ram after a lawsuit. Bing Crosby recorded and released it in 1943 and the US War Department also released a live version Crosby recorded on the Kraft Music Hall variety show. The version below was recorded by Pentatonix on their 2016 album A Pentatonix Christmas.

The song’s “home” theme has been used by a lot of advertisers, none better than Folgers Coffee in their long-running commercial showing college boy Peter surprising his family with a pot of coffee at the crack of dawn.

Santa’s on the roof at Ala Moana

“It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas” was written in 1951 by Meredith Wilson, whose name you might recognize as the man who wrote the book and composed the lyrics and music for The Music Man. He also wrote the words and music for The Unsinkable Molly Brown, which I remember seeing as a movie at Radio City Music Hall in 1964 when we went to the World’s Fair in NYC.

Johnny Mathis included it on his 1986 Christmas album, but his version really took off when it was featured in 1992’s Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, and it’s been close to the top of the most-played holiday songs for quite a while.

New Christmas Albums, 2019

Here are 14 new Christmas albums that have been or will be released within the next month.

Some are re-issues, some are from people I’ve never heard of, and at least one is made up of mostly new Christmas music. There are albums by The Oak Ridge Boys, Bing Crosby (with the London Symphony Orchestra), Chicago (that’s the one with eight new Christmas songs), a “Deluxe” Mariah Carey Anniversary Edition with some previously-unreleased live tracks, and Celtic Woman.

I know I’ve not updated this blog very frequently this year, since Facebook has made it easy to post links and snark about them. But I have to keep up my Christmas music tradition, so I’m gonna start on December 1. I’ve been posting Christmas songs here every December since 2008. That makes this the twelfth year.

I need to sit down.

Distract them, distract them!

Today was Day Two of the public impeachment inquiry hearings, and I suspect Trump is feeling less than happy. The House is moving along and he can’t control it. When he tweets about it he gets slapped down, even by his favorite network.

So what’s he do? He pardons three military men for crimes they’d been convicted of in military courts.

President Trump cleared three members of the armed services on Friday who have been accused or convicted of war crimes, overruling military leaders who had sought to punish them. All three have been championed by conservative lawmakers and commentators, who have portrayed them as war heroes unfairly prosecuted for actions taken in the heat and confusion of battle.

In a statement released by the White House late Friday, Mr. Trump announced that he was ordering the full pardon of Clint Lorance, a former Army lieutenant, from the military prison at Fort Leavenworth, where he is serving a 19-year sentence for the murder of two civilians.

He ordered the full pardon of Maj. Mathew L. Golsteyn, an Army Special Forces officer who was facing murder charges for killing an unarmed Afghan he believed was a Taliban bomb maker.

And he reversed the demotion of Chief Petty Officer Edward Gallagher, a Navy SEAL who was acquitted of murder charges but convicted of a lesser offense in a high-profile war crimes case over the summer.

I suspect he did this today because the testimony of career civil service diplomats this week goes a long way to showing that he did indeed attempt to extort Ukraine’s new President into opening investigations into non-existent crimes by his potential 2020 opponent Joe Biden. In addition, one of his closest confidants was convicted of seven felonies in New York today.

Mr. Stone, 67, was convicted in federal court of seven felonies for obstructing the congressional inquiry, lying to investigators under oath and trying to block the testimony of a witness whose account would have exposed his lies. Jurors deliberated for a little over seven hours before convicting him on all counts. Together, the charges carry a maximum prison term of 50 years.

Trump needed a distraction. The fact that he picked pardoning criminals as a good option is typical of the man.

The World Serious begins today

In honor of the Washington team’s first appearance in the World Series since 1933, here’s a book about another time it did so.

This is Faust retold, with middle-aged Joe Boyd becoming a young superstar baseball player in a deal with a mysterious Mr. Applegate in order to salvage the Washington Senators’ horrible season (the book was published in 1954). All seems to be going well for a while, but then…

Well, read the book, or look for the musical Damn Yankees at your favorite video source.

Movies and legs, oh my

I’ve gotten stalled. I rented “Avengers: Age of Ultron” but didn’t get around to watching it before my one-week checkout period was about to expire, so I took it back. I have to re-rent it, but I have to be sure I have a night available to watch it within that week. For some reason that’s difficult.

My leg had started to improve, I thought, and then it all went to hell again. I have seen a different physical therapist who’s given me three different exercises from the ones the first guy gave me. This one is the one which noticeably helps:

Doing that for a full minute stretches the piriformis muscle, which is one of my areas of pain. I also do a reverse clam exercise:

and a prone quad stretch with resistance leash:

They help for a while, but I’m not feeling any permanent improvement. I really don’t want to live with this pain for the next 10-20 years, dammit!