The Second Best Thing About Christmas…

Friday 4th December 2009

…is that it’s the only time of the year where I feel it appropriate to listen to this. It seems wrong to listen to it during the summer, so it feels like a treat to listen to it in December (even though it’s not christmas yet and I don’t feel particularly christmassy)

I love winter songs. There are a few things that when I listen to them, it just feels like winter. That song is one example, and another would be Echoes by Pink Floyd (also an absolutely stunning song). When I hear Echoes it just reminds me for some reason of winter. Perhaps it’s just a really good song to listen to on another cold wet dreary day; very good distraction. Another really good example is the whole of “In the Court of the Crimson King” by King Crimson.

On the other hand, “Wincing the Night Away” by the Shins and “The Long Goodbye” by The Essex Green are both summer albums, best enjoyed on a bright warm afternoon. Preferably whilst driving with all the windows open and singing along maniacally…

And no-one picked up on the Shins lyric in the last title btw? It’s because I wrote it in August and it was sat in my drafts since then (where it possibly should have remained…). I’d only just heard of them so I was mostly listening to them at the time.

I can’t wait to get to summer. Get rid of the crappy weather and the boredom of uni. I’m really bored at the moment. I feel stuck in a rut and it’s really, really frustrating. Ho hum.

And no-one showed us to the land
And no-one knows the wheres or why
But something stirs and something tries
And starts to climb towards the light

Theres a suggestion that Echoes was written to go along with the ending of 2001: A Space Odyssey. I don’t know how true it is but I’ve watched them together and even if it’s accidental, it fits the film really well. The film/book is really good too and if you haven’t seen/read it, you should.

Science fiction doesn’t seem to be as popular as I think it should be. Or rather, the term is horrendously misused. Science fiction isn’t a catch-all term for “set in space”; it’s way more imaginitive than that. Sci-fi isn’t mere fantasy, it’s fiction that dares to say “what if?”. Stories that may seem fantastic or far-fetched but which at some level have a grounding in science. They’re way more imaginitive than fiction that just makes everything up because, at the edge of the reader’s mind is the idea of “someday, maybe not in my lifetime but someday, this could happen”. The idea of sending manned spacecraft to Jupiter or establising a permanent colony on the Moon is far-fetched, but why not aim for that?

The science fiction of men like Asimov and Clarke inspired a generation of scientists to go and aim for the impossible, and some of them did it. We landed on the moon in 1969, and then we went back a few times, and now we don’t do that any more. Why is that? Doesn’t it make you mad? (yeah, I’ve been watching Cosmos lately, so this rang very true. I’ve mostly been watching because of this, which is very good)

I wrote a post in September about crossroads (oh and there’s another absolutely awesome song, whichever version you take) and this is what I was kinda getting at. In the 60s, Mankind (well, America, but lets not split hairs) set a challenge to go to the Moon. British and French engineers were tacking an even bigger challenge in making the first supersonic passenger jet. The network that became the Internet was just starting to be created. Massive projects which, at first glance, were nigh on impossible. A generation of kids grew up being inspired by science, partly from science fiction, and went on to do amazing things. Why does this not happen today? Fewer and fewer people are choosing to study science, maths or engineering, and don’t you think that is maddeningly weird? Whatever the reason, I find it staggering that so few people are interested in those fields because, well, what on earth is more interesting than finding out how and why the universe works, or shaping it for the future?

The point I wanted to make in that post in September was that we’ve showed in that past that when a bunch of smart people try to solve a problem, they can do amazing things. The human race is facing possibly the biggest problem we’ve ever faced, and what are we doing? As far as I can see, very little. What we are doing makes rearranging deckchairs on the Titanic look like a brave and noble effort.

So anyway, I actually only meant to write about a sentence before going to bed to carry on reading a book. And I really didn’t intend to write about most of what I’ve written about, I just forgot to stop writing and let thoughts splurge into the text box. If only writing dissertations and project reports was so easy!

Oh, by the way, the best thing about christmas is christmas lunch. Best meal of the year. The third best thing (to finish off the podium) is probably Scrooge. I think it’s widely recognised as fact that it’s the only good musical ever written. Marley still scares me a little bit, even if he is Obi-Wan Kenobi. It’s that little wave as he closes the door; I don’t care what you say it’s just spooky.

Posted at 3:11 am | Posted In: EngineeringGeekMusicPoliticsRantSleepStuff Tagged:



Friday 4th December 2009, 9:50 am

Even with my current aversion to all things Christmassy, I do love love love the Pogues song! In my mind it comes second only to Britten’s Ceremony of Carols, which is just what Christmas is about for me.



Friday 4th December 2009, 9:52 am

It deleted my comment!

1st best thing: Britten’s Ceremony of Carols
2nd best thing: Fairytale of New York

c.f. here


Friday 4th December 2009, 3:17 pm

I would agree with you about the Christmas lunch, and disagree entirely about the musicals. But then, I love in a house full of Sondheim addicts, it’s difficult to escape. The other best things about Christmas specifically are organ music and candles, and about winter in general are knitwear and starting fires. I would also tentatively add the Tailor of Gloucester, because I love Beatrix Potter and also it makes me sound less of an oddity than the knitwear/potential arson.

As for Echoes… it reminds me of my dad, and also why some music is for background and some categorically is not. Kind of like the syncopated bit in Shine On You Crazy Diamond. Aaaah…


Friday 4th December 2009, 3:17 pm

I forgot about another excellent Christmas song!

Merry Christmas from Chiron Beta Prime


Friday 4th December 2009, 5:56 pm

Wow, Fiona and I commented at the same time…

I hope you’re not saying that Echoes, one of the top 10 rock songs ever written, is mere background music? ¬_¬


Friday 4th December 2009, 6:56 pm

Absolutely not, I’m saying that it categorically isn’t. Or… something like that. You know if you listen to syncopation as background music, a small part of your brain actually turns into poly filler? Either that or it mutates into a gremlin, you can never tell which it’s to be in advance…


Friday 4th December 2009, 7:28 pm

My favourite ‘pop’ Christmas song is Chris Rea – Driving Home For Christmas. Pretty sure I’ve mentioned that once or twice :-p The best thing about Christmas for me is simply that I can not worry about something, even for just a day. Oh, and cranberry with the turkey :-D


Friday 4th December 2009, 7:38 pm

Oh wow, Hannah that’s an awesome choice. Forgot about it completely.


Sunday 6th December 2009, 4:19 pm

Yes Fi, the Tailor of Gloucester!


Monday 7th December 2009, 10:09 pm

I’m bored too. Research is dull.

“I think it’s widely recognised as fact that it’s the only good musical ever written.” Aha, oh I do smile at your unwavering assertion of your opinion as fact.

My xmas song: :)


Tuesday 8th December 2009, 2:04 am

I do hope you realise that it’s purely tongue-in-cheek?


Friday 18th December 2009, 1:31 am

Haha, Lucy it didn’t delete your comment. For some reason Akismet picked it up as spam. I’ve approved it now, anyhow.

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