No video today. The reason? Because the song I’m about to share with you has never been recorded other than written down in words. Here.
One of my favorite Christmas songs when I was a kid was “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” Maybe it was because of the repetition, maybe it was because of the variety of objects. Maybe it was because, in my imagination, the song contained a visual smorgasbord of fantastic things. I just loved singing it. A lot. On the swingset, in the shower, while I was setting the table for dinner, while I was wrapping gifts — you name it. (Of course, I also indulged in marathon singing sessions of “99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall” with my grandmother on car trips, to the unbelievable annoyance of my parents, I’m sure.)
Anyway, a couple of years ago, my husband and I came up with new lyrics for the delightful carol. We were at breakfast with our kids, who were hyper. It was about this time of year. We had much to do and not nearly enough time to do it. Saturday stretched ahead of us like one long divide-and-conquer list. And these new lyrics arose organically from our collective stress and enjoyment of the season — in other words, from our punchiness.
So, shocking as this might be, Christmas isn’t just about rock music for grown-ups. It’s also, in part, about kids. Right? (Be in a house with kids, and you’ll be assured this is so.) I do have some child-oriented music on this playlist, but it is also music that offers some humorous content for the grown-ups in the room.
This song does occasionally get some radio play now and then, which is where I first heard it a couple of years ago. It seems to have fallen out of rotation on Houston’s Official Christmas Music Station, though, which is unfortunate, since they should be actively trying to retain all the interesting songs they can.
Anyway, this one makes my kids sing at the tops of their lungs with joy, even when they’ve previously been in a Grinchy mood. It’s Gayla Peavey’s “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas,” and it’s like magic. Enjoy!
Here’s a little refresher on what constitutes a haiku: It’s a very short poem whose origins are primarily Japanese, whose three lines are measured in syllables numbering 5-7-5, and which (as we often learn in elementary school) traditionally has something to do with nature. There are a couple of other considerations here, too, for the poetic purists. A good haiku will entertain a play between pure description and commentary on the subject matter.
So here we go! Enter as many haiku as you like, in the comments section below. Contest is open for as long as the government isn’t. (And who knows how long that will be? Better get your entries in soon!)
The prize is a book of poems: TimeSlice. This anthology of poets who live in or are connected to Houston, some through their teaching in The University of Houston’s Creative Writing Program, was published by Mutabilis Press and contains a wide array of gorgeous verse from both the “literary” and “underground” poetry scenes in 21st-century Houston. A few of the poets featured include Edward Hirsch, Carolyn Adams, Tony Hoagland, Varsha Shah, Adam Zagajewski, Robert Phillips, Iris Rozencwajg, and Ken Jones*. (Click on the above link to MP’s site to see a list of all the poets included. It’s quite a list. It’s quite a book.)
Well, I’m traveling again this summer and see that SkyMall has presented us with some new options, in case we have so much money we’ve grown bored with setting it on fire and need some other way to waste it.
The usual complement of luxury watch display cases and of weight loss and hair growth miracles are still there, of course. And they now offer a stress-relieving head massager from Gadget Universe which resembles a store-bought-Hallowe’en-costume-quality-looking version of a helmet that’s part Norse mythology and part Tron.
The Somawave Helmet is “like having thousands of tiny fingers stimulate your scalp,” apparently, and should not be used while operating heavy machinery, due to its “euphoria inducing waves” which may produce “trance-like states of consciousness.” Can’t wait for that.
If you have a squirrel fetish — and there’s a phrase I never thought I would write — you can celebrate it with the Squirrel Throw Blanket and Pillow from Wireless. I think the pictures of these speak for themselves.
You can also order a shirt which announces, “I have reason to believe the squirrels are mocking me.” Perhaps they are. Perhaps it’s because of the resin Mounted Squirrel Head hanging in your den.
I have never understood the fascination with giant t-shirts (in and of themselves something I won’t be posting about for Fashion Fridays) printed with someone else’s body. And by “someone else,” I actually mean a cartoon caricature of a Barbie doll. What On Earth now offers shirts which profess to the world that you would be a biker badass if you only had the badassness to do it.
You can also proclaim your devotion to your favorite sports teams while protecting your scalp from sunburn with a Flair Hair Visor.
The “realistic spikes” of “faux polyester hair” come in a variety of colors.
If your style isn’t so hardcore, you can get really big t-shirts proclaiming your…um…forbidden tastes.
If you can’t stand to put yourself in something ridiculous but have no such compunctions about your dog, try these chew toys.
No trip into the SkyMall catalog would be complete without some really creepy yard statues. I offer you, from Toscano, “Catch of the Day,”
“Bigfoot, the Garden Yeti,”
and “The Zombie of Montclaire Moors.”
Finally, for those of us who don’t like yucky things, we can live out our Star Trek fantasies with the Nano-UV, “the most powerful disinfection scanner on the market.”
Wave it over your hotel bed and your food to “protect yourself and your loved ones from harmful microorganisms.”
No, really. Do it. Do it now.
And if you just can’t stand cleaning up after your cat — and yet firmly insist on bringing a cat into your home anyway — there’s this.
The Litter Kwitter 3-Step Cat Toilet Training System. Because potty training a kid just isn’t fun, exciting, or challenging enough.
So the poem I posted the other day was sad. Here’s another one, also by Matthew Olzmann, used with his permission. It originally appeared in Gulf Coast magazine, the literary journal published by the University of Houston’s Creative Writing Program.
I think this poem is hilarious. 🙂 I hope you enjoy it. And I’m going to call it a transition into other things.
“The Skull of an Unidentified Dinosaur”
does not belong to the dinosaur skeleton
to which it has been attached.
A man thought he made an amazing
discovery. Now, it’s a towering mistake,
one for which he’ll likely lose his job,
but only after taking this skyscraper
of bones – with its eye-sockets
like windows to hell – apart.
Femur by mandible, I know what it means
to watch your good fortune change its mind.
Like that time in college, when my roommate’s
supermodel cousin invited us to a party
and accidentally kissed me in the dark.
She thought I was someone else – I have
no idea who – but the gist of the story
can be seen in her freaking out
when the light ruined everything.
For a moment, I thought I discovered
a new world. And what a world it was –
with its beaches of untouched skin,
and its moon that smelled of a hundred orchids.
I named that land I-could-live-here- forever Land and holy-shit-was-I-wrong Land.
Einstein says imagination is more important
than knowledge. I imagine
the man who wired these dinosaur bones
must have imagined his vision was real,
must have pictured it alive. Covered in flesh,
it was frightening – able to cleave you
open with a swipe of a claw
or devour you in seconds.
But as it is now, having never existed
after tricking you into believing,
it eats at you more slowly, lets you feel
every new rip in your gut, makes you beg: What kind of animal is this? I call it: The Motherfuckerasaurus. And, technically, that’s not the right name,
but neither is the word stamped here now –
in block letters, on a bronze plaque,
screwed to the floor.