If you’ve been reading this blog since about this time last year, you’ll know that one of my personal heroes is Tim Minchin and that I love his Christmas song, White Wine in the Sun. It is my favourite Christmas song, bar none.
This year it’s been freely given to an Australian Christmas compilation CD, with proceeds due to go to the Salvation Army. Whatever your opinion of the homophobic proselytising paramilitary religious organisation, they have stunned most observers by complaining publicly that the song does not meet with their ideals. Apparently they’ve chosen to put their proselytising above their charity work. It beggars belief, if you’ll excuse the pun.
Here’s an excerpt from an interview that Tim gave recently on the matter that I thought worth sharing:
Your song “White Wine in the Sun”, which includes lyrics critical of Christianity, caused controversy last week in Australia when it was used on an album of Christmas songs sold to raise money for the Salvation Army. What’s your take on the fuss?
I think the Salvos are idiots. I didn’t know they would benefit from the CD, but by the time I found out I didn’t want to make too much of a fuss. So I gave my song free, then they turn around and say that they don’t agree with the sentiment of the song. Obviously, they are talking about how I think Jesus is not magic. Part of me is hugely outraged by what imbeciles they are, to bite the hand that feeds them and put their proselytising above charity.
It’s a terrible paradox that most charities are driven by religious belief. I believe very strongly in giving only to secular charities, because I don’t think there should be a back end to altruism. I won’t make this mistake again. I tweeted that if people want to buy my version of the song independently, I’ll give the proceeds away, as I did last year, to the Autism Trust, a non-proselytising charity.
Christmas means much to billions of people who don’t believe in Jesus, and if you think that Christmas without Jesus is not Christmas, then you’re out of touch, and if you think altruism without Jesus is not altruism, then you’re a dick.
This is the version that will be on the CD, sung by Kate Miller-Heidke:
A beautiful version, isn’t it?
Here is the tweet that Tim talks about in the interview above. From 21-Nov to 1-Jan you can buy the song from iTunes for the princely sum of 79p (or equivalent) and proceeds will go to the National Autistic Society, following this recent update.
The regular reader of this blog already knows that I’m a huge fan of Tim Minchin. So for some pure, unadultered, politically-incorrect fun, enjoy the following music video (probably not recommended for little ears):
Hat tip to PodBlack Cat.
Now imagine my surprise and delight to discover that someone has taken Still Alive and turned it into a brilliant science education and anti-Creationism video:
How cool is that? It made me laugh, I can tell you. My congratulations to the mixer/masher from whose mind this sprung.
I’m going to assume that you don’t know who on earth Tim Minchin is. And that you’re unaware of how cool a musician, comedian and skeptic that he is. And by doing that, I’m going to assume that you’ve never heard me wax lyrical about him before.
To address that travesty, I strongly exhort you to go and watch Canvas Bags and Storm. Done? Now you know Tim.
Today Tim has released a longer studio version of a track from his Ready for This? album/DVD onto iTunes, his Christmas song called White Wine in the Sun (it’s also available online from HMV, We7, Play.com, TuneTribe and Tesco). Those of you who have grown up (or even holidayed) in a hot climate in December will know that roasts, hot eggnog, and the other trappings of the northern hemisphere’s winter solstice as celebrated for thousands of years (well before Christianity co-opted them, of course), are unimaginable most years. Instead, such locations typically go for a barbecue, cold meats, salads and cold drinks.
Hence… drinking white wine in the sun.
If you’re one of the few people reading this who don’t have the album and want to try-before-you-buy, have a listen to the live version of the song here:
Now that you’ve done that, please help make it reach the #1 position in your location’s music charts by buying the song on iTunes and if you are on Facebook, join the Tim Minchin for a Top 20 Place in the Christmas Charts! group.
So why am I shamelessly shilling one of Tim’s songs? One of the answers is two (or is it one?) words: X-Factor.
How sick are you of Simon Cowell‘s latest money-magnet protégé being pumped, pushed and manipulated through to #1 in the Christmas charts year after year? Does anyone over the age of five actually think that these airbrushed, possibly Auto-Tuned, divas are actually achieving this through hard work, songwriting, talent and skill? (If you do, then you’re banned from this blog).
For the rest of you… please consider making a stand this year. Yes, I’d like you to consider White Wine in the Sun because it’s moving and honest, but also because big business has hijacked the music industry. The pre- and early-teen market are their cash cows, but what about the rest of us? I’m 37 and am limited to Scuzz or Kerrang!, Planet Rock, ClassicFM, streaming facilities like Last.fm and Spotify, and my own music collection… commercial and popular radio seems to have become largely a minefield of poo interspersed with a few islands of goodness. There’s awesome music out there being made every day, but manufactured bands are given the most airtime.
While it’s true that manufactured bands have been around forever (The Monkees and Sex Pistols are two examples) and, while they sometimes contribute positively to music and culture, they’re not even playing the same game as their contemporaries (such as The Rolling Stones and The Clash) who built their names by raw talent, long hours and hard graft. How can a bedroom warbler get onto a talent show, spend a few weeks under the spotlight, impress a mogul and his minions, and suddenly be accelerated into super-stardom? That’s not a music industry — it’s an assembly line.
If you decide that you like Tim’s work, please also consider purchasing one of his excellent CDs or DVDs. You’ll laugh and you’ll enjoy.
Edit: Added links to the new track from various online stores.
…you must first invent the universe.” -Carl Sagan
The time between posts here is an unfortunate side-effect of having to study like mad for the archaeology course I’m doing that is rapidly coming to an end, and numerous projects I’m either doing or starting. Never enough time in the day — particularly when you have to work a day job and maintain a social life, too.
And I’m trying not to just fill the posts with random gibberish or “cool stuff wot I found on the internets” — unless you’re okay with that? (Seriously, please let me know).
So, doing just that I thought I’d take a moment to post something to do with my hero, Carl Sagan. YouTube is a wonderful medium not only for the inevitable popular (and normally copyright-infringing) snippets from popular films and TV shows, but also for historical pieces that are hard to get and for mashups and other creative exercises.
And this is one of the latter — a brilliant homage to Carl Sagan featuring none other than his brilliant British counterpart, Stephen W. Hawking:
It’s just amazing, isn’t it? Maybe I’m just a big girl’s blouse, but I’m not ashamed to admit it brought a tear to my eye.
As Yogi Berra once said: It’s déjà vu all over again.
Well, almost: I’d like to start this post with a welcome to those who have found me via Planet Humanism, and to pass my thanks to nullifidian for adding me to the aggregator. He, too, seemed to find something interesting in my ramblings. Good luck.
Actually, this is a kind of half-way post to both introduce you poor lucky folk to my blog and to share something with you, although it’s been around the intertubes for the last day or two. The following contains spoilers for the game Portal — part of The Orange Box by Valve Software.
For those of you who have been lucky enough to play Portal and have finished it will know of the fantastic ending song by Jonathan Coulton called Still Alive. As ending songs go it is the perfect epilogue to what is a thoroughly enjoyable game: it ties up the loose ends, it captures precisely the personality of the game’s antagonist and, when you get the in jokes, it leaves you walking away laughing.
Here’s the ending song in all its glory:
Alternatively, here are the lyrics to Still Alive.
And here’s the point of this post: some genius has taken a CNC router and used its stepper motors to play Still Alive. Its three-dimensional motorised control means it can effectively play 3 notes: a chord. The result speaks for itself:
I’m truly hoping that you can appreciate this as much as I can. Okay, it’s geeky and is an off-the-wall kind of musical art expression. But what tickles me is that the artist has programmed a robot to play a tune about a robot that spent the entire game lying to you.
After all, you must remember:
It’s gold, I tell ya…