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In the Spirit

28 Nov

Perhaps the best thing about Thanksgiving coming so early this year is that it means the Christmas season is that much longer. And how much fun is it to walk into stores and see so much activity and color, and hear Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You” (one of my all-time favorite holiday tunes) or other songs on the radio, and just generally see people in good moods? It happens every year at this time and it’s so brief that I enjoy it that much more.

Of course, the other benefit to the longer season is that it gives me more time to work on A Very Marty Xmas 2007, which, believe it or not, is just about finished (yes, already). In hindsight, last year’s mix wasn’t the most festive-sounding one, so I’m going more old school this year with an emphasis on jolly-ness. I don’t want to ruin any surprises about the CD’s contents, but I thought I would post briefly about my brand new favorite tune, which ironically (given what I’ve just written) is the Pogues’ “Fairytale of New York.” Yes, I know this is not a new song (Todd actually tried to get me into it two years ago), but it’s one I’ve really only discovered in the past couple weeks, thanks largely to KT Tunstall’s great cover on her new holiday CD (available exclusively at Target). This is not the happiest of holiday tunes, and the lyrics most definitely aren’t the most festive (“Happy Christmas your arse, I pray God it’s our last”), but believe me when I say that this is one classic that deserves to be heard. Kirsty MacColl’s voice and the Irish melody are just beautiful, and they disguise such a sad song with a whimsical sound. If you’re having a hard time getting into the holiday spirit, click here and listen for yourself.

Swing and a Miss

28 Nov

It’s hard to believe it’s been only one month since the Red Sox won the World Series. In some ways it feels like much longer, and in others it’s like only yesterday. So of course, in an effort to hold on to those good ole days, I made sure to go right out and pick up my copy of the World Series Highlights DVD on Tuesday (on sale for just $11.88 at Newbury Comics), and I watched it soon after I got home.

The film starts out with a great montage of Sox clips, showing the boys having fun — all while the Dropkick Murphys’ “I’m Shipping Up to Boston” plays, of course. It’s an opening that makes you smile and sets the scene for what should be an equally great film. If only the rest was as good. While the 2004 Highlights DVD was a fantastic recap of the year — from Spring Training on — told entirely from the Sox perspective, this one is exactly as marketed: a recap of the World Series, and it’s told from both sides. It takes just 10 minutes to get through the entire Red Sox season, from Opening Day to the end of the ALCS, and in moving so quickly, there’s very little flavor and very little of what was so memorable about the season. There’s no mention at all of Clay Buchholz or his no-hitter, nothing about Schilling’s one-hitter, no recap of the hype that greeted Dice-K, very little about the back-to-back-to-back-to-back homer game against the Yankees, nothing about the Mother’s Day Miracle, no Ellsbury, no Wakefield … nothing. And then there’s an equally quick summary of the Rockies’ road to the Series. And then we’re at Game One, after only 24 minutes. (In the 2004 film, it took a half hour just to recap the Sox season, with almost nothing on St. Louis.)

Major League Baseball would have you believe that this was a closer series than it was, because it’s presented as such. Never mind that the Sox swept the Rockies and won comfortably in two of the four games. It’s all very businesslike and by-the-book. While there are talking head interviews and soundbites from Pap and Mikey Lowell and Jacoby Ellsbury and Curt Schilling and Theo and others, they’re all pretty staid and without character, simply recapping the games and not sharing much emotion or personality. Sure, this season didn’t have the same drama that 2004 did, but it was definitely more exciting than this. Even Matt Damon, who narrates the film, seems bored by the whole thing. Clearly, MLB Productions, in an effort to make the film appealing to Rockies fans, neutered a lot of the pro-Sox slant and tried to make this as fair a film as possible. Rockies players and personnel are as plentiful as Sox folks. And in making it all so balanced, they’ve produced an ultimately disappointing one-hour-and-10-minute highlights reel that, for a Sox fan, doesn’t really recapture the glory of being World Series Champions. What a bummer.

Perhaps the best parts of the DVD are the extra features, including my favorite one, a recap of the night the Sox won the AL East. You get the last two outs at Fenway courtesy of NESN, then the last out in Baltimore (plus Millar’s strikeout) from the actual broadcast in Baltimore, and a bit of Papelbon et al dancing on the field. I wish there was more of that kind of stuff, the dancing and all, on the actual film. After all, this DVD should be a celebration of and a tribute to the World Series Champs, right? But it’s good to have at least some of the coverage in the bonus section. And I’ll always have my memories of the actual games, and the actual season. Those are things this DVD could never document as well anyway.