Sunday, December 25, 2016

Chilling for Christmas

It's Chriiistmaaaaas!

I hope you, dear Reader, are having a whale of a time, perhaps with friends and family, feasting, carousing, and drinking winters wolves from the harsh, bitter Northen Hemisphere midwinter. Brrr! I say. Brrr!!

Of course not Brrr. It's been a lovely balmy summer's weekend here at the Monkeyhouse with a blessing of rain on the Friday, a good sunny day's gardening on Saturday in anticipation of a family BBQ for Boxing Day. And as for Christmas Day, well!

Long-time readers of course will know that I have something of a bee in my bonnet about the Christmas musical fare. There are three kinds, ranging from the almost-too-appropriate (your actual Christmas carol about Jesus and whatnot), on-point songs about Christmas (Deck Those Halls, We Wish You A Messy Kwazmuss, and why does nobody sing Good King Wenceslas anymore? It's historical fact, people!) and then, hopefully somewhere in Hell where they belong, those seasonal pretenders which don't even attempt to reference Christmas at all but sneak in the door by virtue of being about ... snow (Winter Wonderland, Jingle Bell Rock and its accursed bob-sledding namesake.)

But look, I do like some well-chosen Christmas music, and the Simian household this year were left wandering the streets confused and bewildered when our friend Al wasn't able to produce an annual dedication to the Church of Snoopy this year. 

But amidst all the lazy Christmas covers album cash-ins, some  people do try, bless them. And even here in Aotearoa in 2016 there were attempts to create a localised Christmas song. Noble failures to hit number one, both TV3's Denis Marsh thingy and Air NZ's rather fun Julian Dennison/Ronan Keating Summer Wonderland gag. Summer Christmas is a hard chestnut to crack, and for me there were three contenders for this year's yuletide singalong:

So, in descending order of choice the songs were:

3. White Wine in the Sun - Tim Minchin

A modern Australian miracle, which featured on Al's Xmas Album from last year. It gets me nearly every time, but I'd not known about it before Al let me know about it (and I seemt o be the last person in the world to know it at all), so moving ever closer to home:

2. Michael Fay - Able Tasmans

Which isn't really a Christmas song, but does feature the chorus "It was Christmas Day, when Michael Fay gave his money away/And Jesus dont have a lot to say - we'd all forgotten his birthday"
It makes the list because it and its parent album hit the big 25 this year, and Lord knows, Hey Spinner is still a great listen, but not quite Christmassy enough (though very singable), so the number one is this:

1. Christmas Chimes - The Chills

Very local, very much on point, and maybe MAYBE a contender for this year's Al-bum, here's a fitting celebration of Christmas comforts for everyone, whatever your particular hemisphere, from Martin Phillipps' Dunedin ensemble.

This is a remastered version from the band's 1989 BBC sessions and was intended for an unrealised seasonal EP reputedly titled Silver Bells. There's still time, Marty! Do the album for next December and a NZ first!

In the mean-time, a very Merry Christmas to all of you at home.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

'Evil' Lies Below

Waihinahina Park is a serene spot, located behind Woodridge and skimming the Horokiwi skyline. It commands gorgeous views of Wellington harbour, and is a lovely (if frequently windy) spot to exercise your dog, take in the scenery or just park and rest.
There's still a good standing of juvenile native bush about the spot, and a good amount of birdlife has taken to the area for its wetland look (there's even a hidden waterfall visible from the Hutt Road) The great thing is, there's little chance of it being developed in the near future, thankfully, because in its former life it was a landfill.
Yes, readers. And what's more, quite possibly under this spot likely lie the mouldering remains of a good number of  vintage TV, local and international, Doctor Who included. New Zealand often being the end of the line for 'bicycled' BBC programmes around the colonies. No longer required back home and with storage space also in limited supply at the old Broadcasting House, many now-lost episodes including, notoriously, Evil of the Daleks were bandsawed and thrown in the tip. It was a different time.

The hunt for lost and missing-thought-destroyed episodes of Doctor Who continues to this day, although it's ben  quiet activity of one man and a small army of helpers at this stage. This year there was even serious talk of diggers being used to unearth known locations for dumps containing cans and film. The old Johnsonvile tip is, apparently, a known location - though one assumes it's way down the list and, if the tip in question did become Waihinahina Park, then maybe it might be best for those concerned to leave the keys to the JCB at the depot and just enjoy the drive to this damp, green spot and its abundance of fresh air.