Archive for the ‘Music — Too many notes.’ Category

Rock the vote

November 6, 2012


via.

Daily Batman: I see what you did there

November 5, 2012

Well played, Hans Zimmer.

Flashback Friday — Teevee Time: The Monkees, feat. bespectacled Julie Newmar (a ghost post)

March 1, 2012

R.I.P., Davy Jones.


Davy Jones and Jul-Newms, The Monkees Get More Dirt Out.

This post originally appeared on April 5, 2010 at 2:59 pm.

Had a lot of dogs in the fire lately, Stanimal, but wanted to share these gorgeous caps of Jul-Newms in her guest appearance on The Monkees.

About a month ago, I thought I’d lost my specs and was going to have to get new ones and I was super-bummed, because I’ve gotten loads of compliments on my dorky, deliberately dowdy and thick black frames. I found them, but the brief transition back to my old, unobtrusive, lightweight and thin frames, and the corresponding dip in compliments and double-takes, hammered home to me how fun and harmlessly fetishistic a nice pair can be. Of glasses. Get your mind on track.

There’s a pervasive and misguided old saw that men aren’t attracted to a girl in glasses (I believe it runs, “Men seldom make passes at girls who wear glasses,” and I’ve seen it attributed to patroness Dorothy Parker, but I am not so sure it was she), which I feel is unfortunately still believed to this day.

I have not found this to be true, and I think these stills dispell that ugly myth once and for all. As the countersaying goes, “Men do make passes at girls who wear glasses — it all depends on their frame.”

So leave ’em on, ladies!

All stills from “The Monkees Get More Dirt Out,” Season 2, Episode 29, The Monkees. (Original air date April 3, 1967.) Ms. Newmar plays April Conquest, who works at the local laundromat, and with whom each of the Monkees falls in love.

In polls, questions at conventions, and weight of fan mail, the episode has been voted the most popular and favorite of the series. Get it, girl!

Edit 3/1/2012: In memoriam, extra stills of Davy and the gents.

Just Another Auden October: Let music for peace / Be the paradigm

October 24, 2011



Let mortals beware of words
For with words we lie,
Can speak peace
When we mean war.



But song is true.
Let music for peace
Be the paradigm,
For peace means change
At the right time.

(W.H. Auden, “Hymn to the United Nations.” 1971.)

Oh, Joan Jett. Tuck me in and be my breakfast.*

October 1, 2011

Totally forgot to share the pictures I took of Joan Jett at the concert in July. Look at these pictures and don’t have your mind blown by her timeless magnetism: I dare you. Click to enlarge.

We waited beginning at 2 pm for the concert, which started at 8:30. See, the concert was free at our county fairgrounds, and seating was restricted until an hour before the show, at which point it would be first-come-first-serve based on the line we formed. We got very comfortable with the people around us during our 6 1/2 hour wait.

I can see why the Deadheads and suchlike do it. I mean, those people are legitimately my friends now. They are of different ages and lifestyles and live in other states with other jobs and all we have in common is a shared feverish adoration of the baddest ass female rock star on the books — and we are actual friends. It was a pretty sick bonding experience.

While we had been waiting in line, roadies were doing sound checks, etc, and we got a huge surprise when Joan came out herself to test the setup. She sang us a quick “Cherry Bomb” chorus and the first half of “School Daze.” It was awesome and very unexpected, and I had thought at the time, “That is the coolest moment of my life.” But no. No-no.

Our seats were insane in their goodness.

We were front and center and she made a great deal of eye contact. I have never been more excited and terrified in my life as I was during the times when Joan Jett was looking in to my eyes. People, it’s a life-changer.

She was covering Iggy Pop and the Stooges’ “I Wanna Be Your Dog” in this picture.

Kneel before Zod.

She threw my daughter a guitar pick. As we drove home late, late that night, kidlet, who as I have mentioned is going to start her own rock band someday called the Bad Apples, was chattering a mile a minute about the concert and how much fun she had even waiting in line for hours for our seats, and she kept repeating, “She looked right at me so many times. She likes me!” And I thought, “God, I don’t want me and kidlet to get hit by a truck or something for saying this to you, but both of us could die happy right now.”

What I’m saying is, seeing Joan Jett brings you closer to spiritual completeness.






*”Tuck me in and be my breakfast” line comes from Achewood, by Chris Onstad. It’s a good, solid line, and I wanted to properly attribute it to Onstad.

Batter uuup!: Joan Jett redux

July 22, 2011

Guess what I’m doing today? Going to see Joan mother-effing Jett, that’s what! For free.

Will we play baseball? A girl can dream.

My daughter wants nothing in the world but Joan Jett’s autograph on her Blackearts album liner. Kidlet conceals tiny black hearts in all her drawings to demonstrate her adoration: she’s a superfan. She goes way beyond knowing the words to “I Love Rock and Roll” or humming “Cherry Bomb.” She can discourse freely on which versions of particular singles she prefers.

She watches youtube footage of old Joan Jett concerts. We walk through Guitar Center so she can show me which guitars she is going to use when she forms her all-kid Joan Jett/Garbage/Runaways/No Doubt/Hole cover band, which she has named the Bad Apples*. She sings “Bad Reputation” in the bathtub.

She’s seven.

I’m hoping Joan is charmed by a child’s request and we get a chance to get that autograph, but hopefully just being in her vicinity will satisfy my little rock star’s heart. And thrill me, too.

This is what Joan Jett wore to her performance in 2008 at Artscape in Baltimore. If this is what she wears today, you guys can draw straws or arm wrestle to sort out who takes over the blog and raises my kid, because I will leave you all behind without a second glance.

*Once when the Go-Gos’ “Head Over Heels” was on the radio, kidlet seemed interested, so I said, “Would the Bad Apples cover this?” She looked at me like I was Grimace from Ronald Macdonaldland and said slowly, “It’s a rock band.”

Heinlein Month: Bad shape

July 18, 2011

Cloistered SWF seeks poetic SWM, age not important, balcony-climbing skills a must. Send carrier pigeon to Villa Capulet. Your pic gets mine. No bots please.


You’re in bad shape when your emotions force you into acts which you know are foolish.

(Robert A. Heinlein. Have Spacesuit, Will Travel. 1958.)

The Zeffirelli Romeo and Juliet is a beautiful, faithful classic. But — keep this under your hat because I don’t want to be kicked out of the super-cool smart kids’ club — the Baz Luhrmann hamfisted crazy-go-nuts adaptation of Shakespeare’s play is actually my favorite, because I unapologetically love his juxtapositive imagination and didn’t think it defiled the play particularly. A little excess never killed nobody. (Get it? A little excess? Oxymoron? Yes?) I like over the top lushness in a movie — I’m a decaphile and I’m not sorry for that. But I went with the picture of Olivia Hussey to illustrate this idea because she is so exponentially hotter than Claire Danes that Claire Danes just now suddenly got sad, purely from all of us nodding silently, and she doesn’t know why.


Left: Amateur hour. Right: Holy hell.

The mise-en-scene of Luhrmann’s R&J dazzles me, but compared to the chemistry in Zeffirelli’s 1968 version? There is no comparison. Absolutely none. By the way, am I the only one who read that thing where Zeffirelli claims to have totally been hit on by Aristotle Onassis? Still wrapping my mind around that one and weighing its potential truth. (Verdict so far: Depends. Was Onassis trying to get Zeff away from Callas once and for all? Or just bombed on some really good shit?) More on that story here, and don’t skip the comments for the full scope of the debate.

Blinding you with Science: “Music Is My Hot, Hot Sex” — Breaking news you can use

June 1, 2011

Tell a friend.


via.

We all knew that, right? I mean, that’s why I can’t stand what I consider to be monotonous or repetitive, flat, uncreative music. I’d rather listen to nothing than something that doesn’t pull me in and start making me feel things. It makes me frustrated and mad. I really need music to take me There. You know?

Art of the cover: Year of the Rabbit inaugural edition

May 31, 2011

Technically it’s the year of the Hare. The metal Hare, even, which sounds like a band name: TONIGHT ONLY — Metal Hare with openers Loose Gravel — $3 cover charge — featuring Open Trench and Soft Shoulder! (I get a lot of band name inspiration from road signs, sorry). But I’m going with rabbit.


via.

Elegant both physically and intellectually, Rabbits will always stand out from the crowd either as extremely stylish dressers or because they create an individualistic fashion statement of their own.

(source.)

It happens.

Glamburger: Adele, Rolling in the deep edition

May 30, 2011

Went to a Dixieland Jazz festival yesterday, which is great because I’m always getting my Dixieland on, can’t hardly stop me, and there was so much rad bad-for-you food.


Adele.

Luckily once you stepped through the food area’s gates you discovered that a simple grilled fair-fare meal with accompanying potato product was as expensive as a down payment on a car. Why is stuff like that always a racket, at every single booth? It feels like it was less of one even as recently as a decade ago. Am I crazy? Anyway, I stuck with a chicken kebab and a lemonade. Healthy choices: This Guy!

… Plus like I said, so expensive that I suspected Rumpelstiltskin was behind the Sun Chips prices. Folklore. Don’t need that. Full disclosure: I ended up dropping most of my allotted money on records later, but I remain confident in my budgeting. Food — in your stomach for a couple hours, tops. Records — years in your ears. Keep sharp and make good decisions.

Liberated Negative Space o’ the Day: Stay metal edition

May 28, 2011

May Flowers: Cindy Fuller, Miss May 1959

May 8, 2011


Photographed by Bunny Yeager.

Sinuous Cindy Fuller was, until quite recently, a secretary in a quiet, Dickensian little law office in Boston, Massachusetts.
(“In the Swim.” Playboy, May 1959.)

It really was Dickensian; her employer was cheap on coal and ink, ran a ring of pickpocket orphans, and was a double agent for the French Revolution. Bad scene. So glad she got out.


My favorite shot of Cindy Fuller ever — it actually comes from a different Playboy feature.

It was in the hope of becoming a professional swimmer that Cindy left the bastion of the Brahmins for the balmy, baskable Florida clime.

(Ibid.)


Her aquatic talent, plus her stunning looks, make her a natural, and just before putting this issue to press, we learned that Cindy had won an assignment with the Water Follies.

(Ibid.)

You are like, “What are the Water Follies?” and I am like, “I don’t know either.” Let’s find out together. Walk with me to a place I like to call Googlytown. No, we don’t need to take the car. It’s close enough to walk. Jeez, City Boy.


Runner-up for favorite shot.

The International Water Follies appear to have been started by synchronized swimming and water sports entrepeneur Sam Snyder.

Billed as the “world’s longest traveling aqua show,” … the group included swimmers, divers,comedy divers, and water ballet swimmers.

(Synchronized Swimming: An American History. Bean, Dawn Pawson. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Co., 2005: p. 11.)

Interestingly, according to Synchronized Swimming, Snyder was in Boston prior to moving the Follies to Miami (p. 14). This is interesting because Cindy was a Bostonian gal. Stay with me. The outfit he ran in Mass. during the 1930’s was called Sam Synder Productions of Boston, and it seems to be shortly after that that he hit FL for the first time, where the St. Petersburg Aquabelles performed.


After taking a break for the second World War, Snyder hit up the Bay Area in my Norcal neck of the woods, starting synchro programs in San Francisco and Oakland. Not long after, he took the production to Miami as Sam Snyder’s International Water Follies (p. 43).

Interest in synchronized swimming and watersports shows was strong enough both domestically and internationally that the Follies made it in to Billboard.

Sam Snyder’s Water Follies will mark its 25th season as it readies for a tour of the United States due to start next month. … Unique this season is … a new gimmick in water shows [with] the introduction of surf boards and small canoes in production numbers.

(“Snyder Readies 25th ‘Follies’; Plans Recording.” Billboard. March 4, 1960. p. 135.)

Mr. Snyder also recorded the singers whose music he used in his show and released their albums under his own label. I am coming up goose eggs on when his ambitious productions finally ceased, but if I ever find out, I’ll come back and let you know.

And that’s the story of the International Water Follies.

Ms. Fuller says she was the first Jewish playmate (we’ve talked about the contention for that title before), and she may well be very correct in that claim. After the Water Follies, Ms. Fuller also danced at the world-famous Copacabana in New York. Today, she goes by her married name, Cindy Fuller Martino, and is a professional artist.



Elsewhere in this issue, you’ll find 10 pages devoted to a lively Miami party attended by Cindy and four other lively ladies.

Group shots and an article scan from “Playmate House Party” and “Bunny’s Honeys,” special features Playboy ran in May 1959 and September 1959. Click to enlarge. The latter, “Bunny’s Honeys,” was an article about photographer Linnea “Bunny” Yeager, an amazing o.g. and female trailblazer in the pin-up world. Give her wiki a spin. You’ll be glad!


top, L to R: Janet Lupo, Miss November 1975; Bebe Buell, Miss November 1974; Cindy Fuller, presently featured; and the I-can’t-believe-I-haven’t-featured-her super-rad Helena Antonaccio, Miss June 1964.
bottom, L to R: Janet, Helena, Cindy, and Bebe. Adorable.

The above pictures come from the amaze-balls fantabulous Helena Antonaccio’s personal website, and were taken during production of Vh1’s “Rock of All Ages,” which aired in November 1999. Featured were Miss Antonaccio, Miss Fuller, Janet Lupo, and Bebe Buell. What a lineup of special, timeless gals! Super-cool.

Music Moment: Cat Stevens, “Peace Train”

May 6, 2011

Cat Stevens — Peace Train

I’ve been smiling lately. I really have.


Photographed by Julie Lansom.

Now I’ve been happy lately,
thinking about the good things to come
And I believe it could be,
something good has begun


via.
Oh I’ve been smiling lately,
dreaming about the world as one
And I believe it could be,
some day it’s going to come


With Shelley Duvall, via.
Cause out on the edge of darkness,
there rides a peace train
Oh peace train take this country,
come take me home again


Now I’ve been smiling lately,
thinking about the good things to come
And I believe it could be,
something good has begun


Richard Hamilton.
Oh peace train sounding louder
Glide on the peace train
Come on now peace train
Yes, peace train holy roller


Everyone jump upon the peace train
Come on now peace train

A few weeks ago, I came home triumphantly wielding a near-mint Cat Stevens LP from a trip to a nearby touristy mountain town — only to see in going through my collection that at some point in the past I’d brought that exact record in pretty much the exact same condition.

My organization skills may be in the toilet, but the important thing is, I’m consistent.


via.

Get your bags together,
go bring your good friends too
Cause it’s getting nearer,
it soon will be with you


With Carly Simon, via.
Now come and join the living,
it’s not so far from you
And it’s getting nearer,
soon it will all be true


Now I’ve been crying lately,
thinking about the world as it is
Why must we go on hating,
why can’t we live in bliss

I’ve been trying to balance my recent heady busy-ness in the areas of work and returning to school with the activities I love, like country driving, taking pictures, listening to my records, and of course spending time with my mad rad friendohs.


via.

Cause out on the edge of darkness,
there rides a peace train
Oh peace train take this country,
come take me home again.

I don’t know by what trick or trends in behavior I’ve done it, but, despite recent roller coasters of emotion, anxiety, and obligation, I still just feel really happy and mellow about things in assessing the Spring, even accounting for the ups and downs.


via.

I have this optimistic and even confident feeling as I enter the Summer. Here’s hoping it sticks around. I feel like everything is beautiful.

In related news, did you know you could smoke banana peels? The brown spots talk about their dreams while they sizzle and pop. Fact.

(Not fact.)

Music Moment and Hot Man Bein’ Hot of the Day: The Song Remains the Same, Jim Carrey — “I Am the Walrus” edition

April 28, 2011

From the album In My Life, compiled by Sir George Martin, 1998, this is a shockingly good cover of the Beatles’ cryptic classic by a dude who holds a special place in my heart.

Jim Carrey — I Am the Walrus (Lennon/McCartney, 1967).

I do not care one whit about the Ace Ventura movies or Dumb and Dumber: I’ve never even seen them. That’s deliberately due to the fact that I really, really like everything else about Jim Carrey. I just think he’s an excellent, sensitive, even somewhat tragic human being. A real person.

Not long ago, someone started that old, “If you could have dinner with one person, living or dead–” question, and I immediately blurted out, “Jim Carrey!” Then I felt bad for not saying Jesus.

I guess I just want to see if I’m right about him. He seems like such a levelly cool guy.

Listen for Jim on both vox and keyboard in this cover.


I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together.
See how they run like pigs from a gun, see how they fly.
I’m crying.

Sitting on a cornflake, waiting for the van to come.
Corporation tee-shirt, stupid bloody Tuesday.
Man, you been a naughty boy, you let your face grow long.
I am the eggman, they are the eggmen.
I am the walrus, goo goo g’joob.


Girls Like A Boy Who Plays Music.

Mister City Policeman sitting
Pretty little policemen in a row.
See how they fly like Lucy in the Sky, see how they run.
I’m crying, I’m crying.
I’m crying, I’m crying.

Yellow matter custard, dripping from a dead dog’s eye.
Crabalocker fishwife, pornographic priestess,
Boy, you been a naughty girl you let your knickers down.
I am the eggman, they are the eggmen.
I am the walrus, goo goo g’joob.



Sitting in an English garden waiting for the sun.
If the sun don’t come, you get a tan
From standing in the English rain.
I am the eggman, they are the eggmen.
I am the walrus, goo goo g’joob g’goo goo g’joob.

Expert textpert choking smokers,
Don’t you think the joker laughs at you?
See how they smile like pigs in a sty,
See how they snied.
I’m crying.



Semolina pilchard, climbing up the Eiffel Tower.
Elementary penguin singing Hari Krishna.
Man, you should have seen them kicking Edgar Allan Poe.
I am the eggman, they are the eggmen.
I am the walrus, goo goo g’joob g’goo goo g’joob.

Goo goo g’joob g’goo goo g’joob g’goo…

And finally —

— because it’s extremely true. (I do not number among the nameless hordes of diehard Titanic haters, I simply disagree with many of the characters’ choices.)

Daily Batman: You don’t need a plane to fly

April 27, 2011

This one’s for my goddaughter — SpongeBob Batpants.


You don’t need a plane to fly,
Plastic wings can make you cry.
Kites were meant for windy days,
Lawn chairs with balloons fly away,
Inflatable pants, you might as well skip,
If you want to fly, all you need
Is friendship!

(SpongeBob Squarepants. “The Sponge Who Could Fly (The Lost Episode).” Season 3, Episode 16. Originally aired March 21, 2003.)

Last night after sushi I headed back to panda eraser’s pad and had a bonding moment or ten with Little V, my goddaughter. She was giving me a tour of her toys and suddenly started saying, “Bubbo, Bubbo,” which I finally figured out was a reference to SpongeBob coming on the television at that moment. I said, “I know that guy. He lives in a pineapple under the sea,” and she laughed and stuck the bottom half of a bisected doll in her mouth. She’s pretty rad.

Take Two Tuesday — Music Moment: Peter and Gordon, “World Without Love”

April 26, 2011

This post originally appeared on Nov 15, 2009 at 12:12 pm.

Peter and Gordon – World Without Love



Please lock me away
And don’t allow the day
Here inside, where I hide with my loneliness
I don’t care what they say, I won’t stay
In a world without love

Birds sing out of tune
And rain clouds hide the moon
I’m OK, here I stay with my loneliness
I don’t care what they say, I won’t stay
In a world without love

So I wait, and in a while
I will see my true love smile
She may come, I know not when
When she does, I’ll know
So baby until then

Lock me away
And don’t allow the day
Here inside, where I hide with my loneliness
I don’t care what they say, I won’t stay
In a world without love


(Please lock me away)
(And don't allow the day)
(Here inside, where I hide with my loneliness)
I don't care what they say, I won't stay
In a world without love

So I wait, and in a while
I will see my true love smile
She may come, I know not when
When she does, I’ll know
So baby until then

Lock me away
And don’t allow the day
Here inside, where I hide with my loneliness
I don’t care what they say, I won’t stay
In a world without love

I don’t care what they say, I won’t stay
In a world without love

edit: In the original post’s comments, superfly jam-master Steven Harris, a friend of the journal from Way Back, shared “Written by Paul McCartney. Peter, of Peter and Gordon, was Peter Asher, Jane Asher’s brother. Jane was Paul’s fiancee at the time.” Bombass connections. Never Forget!

edit 2.0: Unless the world without love has beer. I mean, let’s not get crazy, here, Peter and Gordon. Surely there are trade-offs.

Movie Millisecond: It’s All Happening

April 26, 2011

Back in business!


Almost Famous (Cameron Crowe, 2000).

So much going on right now for me, but the best part is getting to bloggety-blog it all again — I missed you, internet. Lord, dudes, you don’t even realize. You guys are rad. Don’t go changin’ to try and please me.

Take-two Tuesday and Yesterday’s News — Movie Moment: Une femme est une femme, Zodiac quackery and cock-gobbling Virgos edition

February 8, 2011

edit: Since this post’s original appearance, I’ve been reclassified as a Leo by … the sometimes-I-tune-in Zodiac powers that be? Not actually sure whom. Fellow fabulously-damaged Virgin Panda tried to explain it to me over soosh bombasticos last week but she is much, much better at understanding this stuff than I am.

This post originally appeared on February 7, 2010 at 9:14 a.m., so practically one year ago. Synchronicity in Yesterday’s News!

Romance, science, and zodiac quackery in Une femme est une femme/A Woman Is A Woman (Godard, 1961).


Virgo is a hard worker, a neglected mother, a quotidian task master, and a selfless martyr. Virgo is also a reality TV train wreck, a drunken psychopath, and a self-abusing anorexic. Virgo is analytical on a good day. Virgo is self-critical, self-loathing, self-deprecating, self-flagellating, and self-defeating on a bad day.


The Virgin, contrary to what her title may suggest, is the resident cock gobbler of the zodiac — never a topper, always a bottom. If you’re looking for a woman who will abuse herself, party like it’s Greek harvest time and she’s drunk on mead, please you sexually without so much as a nod to her own hungry genitalia, and perform all the humiliating duties you’ve assigned to her as wife and mother, look no further than the drunken Virgin of the zodiac.


And yes, more often than not, this naughty little maiden is getting crunked at the club or downing daiquiris at the Mommy and Me block party, an attempt to drown to death the echoes of self-loathing that usually prevent her from embodying the female charm and charisma she labors to possess.


The Virgo vibratory pattern is restrictive, effective, judgmental, exact, helpful, and neurotic. Virgos are a lot of things, socially charismatic not being one of them.


Usually, when I meet a Virgo, my natural reaction is, ‘this person must have Aspergers.’ They fixate on minutiae like Rainman [and] have more clicks and ticks than a malfunctioning android attempting to process human emotion.


Virgos rule the house of diet, perfectionism, and nourishment. Just glance at a list of famous Virgos and you’ll find more self-flagellating, adulthood suppressing skeletors than you can shake a stick at: Amy Winehouse, Rachel Zoe, Nicole Ritchie, Karl Lagerfeld, Twiggy, Fiona Apple, Aimee Mann, Peggy Guggenheim, etc.

[personally adding Anne Bancroft, Evan Rachel Wood, Lauren Bacall, Ricki Lake, Greta Garbo, and Rose McGowan to that list].

Yes, that is pretty much the way of it.

Virgo is the embodiment of human turmoil.

Insightful and amusing zodiac sign analysis by Carly, whose blog “Do you think I’m smart? Astrology and other Ass Munchery” is right here on the wordpress. Usually I say that I don’t believe in all that large astrological nonsense, but I have to admit that’s the first one I’ve ever read that was right on. Maybe I just needed to read all the horrible things I already know about myself confirmed, instead of the butt-licking backhanded compliments in most horoscopes, in order to start giving it some credence.


Final thought.

How to Spot a Virgo Woman:

  • They have an eating disorder.
  • They give rigorous handies.
  • They have acid reflux.
  • They’ll do “anything for my man.”
  • They want your love, but don’t deserve it.

    (more, if you’re into that — she is very clever and scathingly funny)

  • Movie Millisecond: Help! (Ringo and John edition)

    January 12, 2011


    via.

    Help! (Richard Lester, 1965).

    Dickens December: The Christmas Truce of 1914

    December 24, 2010


    They stood beside the helmsman at the wheel, the look-out in the bow, the officers who had the watch; dark, ghostly figures in their several stations; but every man among them hummed a Christmas tune, or had a Christmas thought, or spoke below his breath to his companion of some bygone Christmas Day, with homeward hopes belonging to it. And every man on board, waking or sleeping, good or bad, had had a kinder word for another on that day than on any day in the year; and had shared to some extent in its festivities; and had remembered those he cared for at a distance, and had known that they delighted to remember him.

    (A Christmas Carol. The Second Stave: The Ghost of Christmas Present.)

    Though Dickens is writing of seamen in this passage, thinking of soldiers stationed far from home over the holidays put me in mind of the Christmas Truce of 1914, when Great War soldiers on both sides of the front called for a ceasefire and crossed no-man’s-land to celebrate Christmas. I realized I wasn’t quite sure of the details, particularly what was true and what was not about that story, so I did some digging. I found this terrific article by Simon Rees on First World War that I’d like to share.


    The meeting of enemies as friends in no-man’s land was experienced by hundreds, if not thousands, of men on the Western Front during Christmas 1914. … The event is seen as a shining episode of sanity from among the bloody chapters of World War One — a spontaneous effort by the lower ranks to create a peace that could have blossomed were it not for the interference of generals and politicians.

    The reality of the Christmas Truce, however, is a slightly less romantic and a more down to earth story. It was an organic affair that in some spots hardly registered a mention and in others left a profound impact upon those who took part. … The true story is still striking precisely because of its rag-tagged nature: it is more ‘human’ and therefore all the more potent.

    A lot of soldiers on both sides had received Christmas packages from home and, in some cases, special rations. So some good cheer was already dawning.

    With their morale boosted by messages of thanks and their bellies fuller than normal, and with still so much Christmas booty to hand, the season of goodwill entered the trenches. A British Daily Telegraph correspondent wrote that on one part of the line the Germans had managed to slip a chocolate cake into British trenches.



    It was accompanied with a message asking for a ceasefire later that evening so they could celebrate the festive season and their Captain’s birthday. They proposed a concert at 7.30pm when candles, the British were told, would be placed on the parapets of their trenches.



    The British accepted the invitation and offered some tobacco as a return present. That evening, at the stated time, German heads suddenly popped up and started to sing. … The Germans then asked the British to join in.


    On many stretches of the Front the crack of rifles and the dull thud of shells ploughing into the ground continued, but at a far lighter level than normal. In other sectors there was an unnerving silence that was broken by the singing and shouting drifting over, in the main, from the German trenches.



    Along many parts of the line the Truce was spurred on with the arrival in the German trenches of miniature Christmas trees — Tannenbaum. The sight [of] these small pines, decorated with candles and strung along the German parapets, captured the Tommies’ imagination, as well as the men of the Indian corps who were reminded of the sacred Hindu festival of light.



    It was the perfect excuse for the opponents to start shouting to one another, to start singing and, in some areas, to pluck up the courage to meet one another in no-man’s land.


    Christmas day began quietly but once the sun was up the fraternisation began. Again songs were sung and rations thrown to one another. It was not long before troops and officers started to take matters into their own hands and ventured forth. No-man’s land became something of a playground.


    Men exchanged gifts and buttons. In one or two places soldiers who had been barbers in civilian times gave free haircuts. One German, a juggler and a showman, gave an impromptu, and, given the circumstances, somewhat surreal performance of his routine in the centre of no-man’s land.


    Captain Sir Edward Hulse of the Scots Guards, in his famous account [a letter to his mother which was later widely published in newspapers], remembered the approach of four unarmed Germans at 08.30. He went out to meet them with one of his ensigns. ‘Their spokesmen,’ Hulse wrote, ‘started off by saying that he thought it only right to come over and wish us a happy Christmas, and trusted us implicitly to keep the truce. He came from Suffolk where he had left his best girl and a 3 ½ h.p. motor-bike!’


    ‘Scots and Huns were fraternizing in the most genuine possible manner. Every sort of souvenir was exchanged addresses given and received, photos of families shown, etc. One of our fellows offered a German a cigarette; the German said, “Virginian?” Our fellow said, “Aye, straight-cut”, the German said “No thanks, I only smoke Turkish!”… It gave us all a good laugh.’


    Today, pragmatists read the Truce as nothing more than a ‘blip’ – a temporary lull induced by the season of goodwill, but willingly exploited by both sides to better their defences and eye out one another’s positions.

    Romantics assert that the Truce was an effort by normal men to bring about an end to the slaughter.

    I am in the latter camp. Pax et bonum.


    In the public’s mind the facts have become irrevocably mythologized, and perhaps this is the most important legacy of the Christmas Truce today. In our age of uncertainty, it’s comforting to believe, regardless of the real reasoning and motives, that soldiers and officers told to hate, loathe and kill, could still lower their guns and extend the hand of goodwill, peace, love and Christmas cheer.

    (Simon Rees. “The Christmas Truce.” August 22, 2009. FirstWorldWar.com)