But the main event was naturally the present-giving and I suppose you want to see what I got, don't you? Well I'm happy to show you, for even in this leanest of years I have been overwhelmed and delighted with the gifts I received.
With some money I also downloaded an original Twenties album from Amazon. Turn On The Heat: Hot Dance Band Sides 1925-1931 Sam Lanin & His Orchestra is a selection of twenty-seven(!) tracks recorded by American bandleader Sam Lanin. Lanin's name is not so widely known as he was very much a session musician, leading bands under a variety of pseudonyms including The Broadway Bell-Hops, Bailey's Lucky Seven and The Ipana Troubadors. Looking at the most commonly-found picture of him on the cover sleeve he looks to me the least likeliest person to be leading a red hot jazz band, with his pince-nez glasses and serious face - although I like to think I can see a glimmer of a barely-suppressed smile there too.
As an aside, several thoughts that have occurred to me over the years I've grown to love jazz came to mind again thanks to these two records:
- I love the names of 1920s jazz bands like those above - or The Rhythm Jugglers, Adrian and his Tap Room Gang, The Dixie Syncopators to name but a few more. Band names today don't hold a candle to those of the Twenties - with the exception perhaps of the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
- People often ask me (as they have done again in this case) what it is I like about this genre of music, beyond the cultural and historical associations. As with most folk it is largely a matter of individual preference and/or the musicianship, but for me I would also say that the main reason is simply... it's fun. It makes me smile (laugh even) and acts as a channel back to the 1920s, '30s or '40s. I just know that people enjoyed themselves to this soundtrack and it provides a strong, immediate connection to such past enjoyment - almost to the point of encountering the "past life" feeling I have spoken about previously and that I know some other bloggers feel sometimes.
- I can't help but give a wry smile when I think that I have managed to get a 25-30 song anthology album like this latest Sam Lanin one for the same price - or sometimes even less - than a modern group's latest album with 8-12 songs on it. Part of the reason is just popularity, of course, and today's bands naturally want to leave their fans wanting more and don't wish to spread themselves too thin. As long as I can get dozens of my favourite songs for very little outlay, long may it continue.
- In a similar vein, I love the incongruity of downloading 80-year-old songs through the Internet. I've written before about "the best of both worlds" but the paradoxical aspects of using modern technology to further old-fashioned ideals - or confronting 21st-century problems with 19th-century solutions - often amuse me and in part led me to the likes of The Chap and Chappism. Would my downloading of Sam Lanin, or the Savoy Orpheans, or Mr B. The Gentleman Rhymer, show up in any form? If enough of us downloaded an old song, could it re-enter the charts like Rage Against The Machine did a few years ago? Wouldn't that be something?!
Returning to the other presents, here you can see them all together under my tree back at home. As well as the aforementioned The Jazz Age CD, look at all those other treasures!
A tin of Scottish shortbread biscuits, almost a Christmas tradition and certainly one of my favourite treats, from my aunt and uncle. I've been steadily working my way through them these last three days! "Nom nom nom", as they say.
Almost as much a Yuletide tradition in my family, a calendar from one of my sisters. For 2013 it's Britain From The Air and the pictures do not disappoint.
Holiday Inn on DVD! I have two confessions to make here: one, I've never actually seen this film in its entirety before (for shame! - and me a Fred Astaire fan...) and two, it wasn't really a present as such but had been in the folks' DVD library for a couple of years - but they didn't enjoy it (I know, how?!). Their loss is my gain, however, as mater let me take it home.
A Marks & Sparks traditional shaving set from a chum comprising brush, soap and lidded wooden bowl. Splendidly old-fashioned, but I had to admit to him that for speed and safety's sake I tend to use a modern electric shaver. It will get an outing at some point in the future, though, I can assure you (and him).
Returning to an earlier theme, I do have an iPod (Classic - see how even with modern technology I try to retain some outdatedness) and when I first got it rather than use one of those dull and tacky leather protector cases I invested in a Gelaskin - a lightweight reusable stick-on cover that comes in thousands of different designs. I originally chose Steampunk (left), but that was only my second choice. My favourite design was unavailable at the time but I'm pleased to say it is once again in stock and has found its way to me this Christmas. For 2013 my iPod will be sporting the Underworld look (right).
|The Flying Scotsmint|
What is that flash of green beneath the tree to the left? Why, it's the Flying Scotsman in tin form! Yes, one of my other sisters (it can be fun being the only baby brother sometimes!) got me this beautiful tin train for Christmas. Not a toy tin train - although I can't guarantee it won't be used at such from time to time! - but actually another goody-container. More [train-shaped] shortbread? No, but just as good - mint humbugs!
What with the shortbread, the Flying Scotsmint and about 4lbs-worth of Bassett's Jelly Babies courtesy of nieces and nephews I'm well and truly stocked up on treats for the new year. I'm looking forward to 2013 with both anticipation and trepidation (of which more, again, later) but for now I intend to make the most of what's left of the festive feelings. I'm looking forward to everyone returning to the blogosphere after the customary break and catching up with all that was and will be done. Pip-pip for now!