Song du semaine: Tom Jones, "You Can Leave Your Hat On"

Great song, but you know I’m just picking it this week to have an excuse to show the Full Monty finale (warning: partial nudity shown, full frontal implied):

One of the best movie endings ever. The simple act of stripping isn’t a surprise — no director or screenwriter would let down an audience by having them chicken out at the last minute. But the scene captures the change in mood that evolves through the film. This is no longer an act of desperation to get a few bucks. This is a celebration.

It’s not that everything is magically resolved. We see just enough to know that these guys are bouncing back. Dave’s wife gives him a vote of confidence. They all have career prospects at last.

Gaz’s son is the key here. Gaz was driven to desperation in the first place because he wanted to stay in his son’s life, which wasn’t going to happen unless he scraped up some money for child support. But in the end, his son gives him a little kick to get out and revel in what he created.

Beautiful stuff. Well-choreographed, too.

The song was already an oldie when the film was made. Randy Newman wrote it and recorded it for his 1972 album Sail Away. Three Dog Night apparently did a cover. Joe Cocker did the version our local rock station plays on occasion.

But seriously … a rollicking bawdy song like this is tailor-made for Tom Jones, isn’t it?

Happy New Year to all.

The days of kung fu theater and independent TV

Did anyone else grow up with local independent channels showing really terrible kung fu films? Apparently so.

Not so much these days. For one thing, we don’t really have independent channels today. Now they’re all affiliates of CW or whatever’s passing for the sixth and seventh TV networks these days. The typical former independent station shows syndicated daytime shows, sitcom reruns and so forth. Not so quirky.

Independent TV also brought us the show Almost Live! from Seattle — briefly national in the good old days of Comedy Central. And that brought us kung fu parodies like this:

Weird and wonderful traditions

According to the legend at the Wikipedia entry and this CBC broadcast, NORAD took over as the official Santa Claus tracker when a newspaper accidentally confused a store’s “Santa hotline” with a secret phone line at the height of the Cold War. Great timing.

All I can verify first-hand is that I’ve been checking NORAD’s Santa tracker since I first went online in 1996, and it never ceases to amaze me. (Granted, it’s slightly disappointing to know that the people doing all these charming videos aren’t in the nuclear blast-proof mountain in Colorado anymore, but it’s still fascinating stuff.)

I’m clearly not the only one watching. This year, the videos are going up on YouTube, and you can see the hundreds of thousands of page views tonight alone.

It’s one of the most incongruous productions imaginable. It’s hard to imagine a job grimmer than watching the sky for impending Armageddon, and yet these folks have the sense of humor to animate Santa’s sleigh doing flips past world landmarks.

Great stuff.

Merry Christmas to all, and may Santa pass through your airspace safely.

Overheard on Dylan’s radio show

We’re debating whether to keep our XM subscription. A couple of local radio stations have responded to the satellite challenge with outstanding new formats, and we’ve had trouble picking up the signal in the living room since remodeling.

So I’m checking out the online version this morning, and I’ve finally had a chance to listen to Bob Dylan’s show. It’s wild stuff. Snippets of obscure songs and Dylan striking a hipster comedian pose, sneaking in little jokes like this …

“A lot of people don’t celebrate Christmas, like my friend Dexter Quinn. You know his favorite Christmas movie? Coincidence on 34th Street.”

Not an original joke, but hearing Dylan tell it before seguing into a musing on how we “don’t heard much about myrrh these days” is a unique experience.

This is why XM needs to make its original shows available on demand online for subscribers. Renewing our subscription would be a no-brainer if they did that.

*&%$ of the Irish

Reason’s Hit & Run drifts away from Ron Paul discipleship long enough give us the rundown on the BBC bowing to public pressure and playing the Pogues/Kirsty MacColl Christmas classic Fairytale of New York with the f-word intact.

Not that f-word. The verse: “You scumbag, you maggot, you cheap lousy …”

It’s always funny to see singers muddle through this line in Irish pubs. “You scumbag, you maggot, you cheap luffle (muffle), Merry Christmas you arse …”