My name is Liz. I need direction. I overuse commas, my house is a mess, my hair needs a trim and I have no marketable skills: It's fun here, you'll see!

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Got a question, comment, proposal of marriage? Great! Email me at theproductivecough@gmail.com

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June 6th, 2013

Daddy’s Back!

I know, I did it again. I’m sorry. I’m really sorry this time.

We had just gotten our relationship back on track. There were some posts, a few laughs. I talked about writing more posts, and then… I went out for cigarettes and just didn’t come back.

The other bloggers keep telling you I’m a deadbeat who just can’t keep it together long enough to give you what you deserve. But you and I know better, don’t we?

Don’t we, kid?


Hey look– a David Carradine trading card:

David Carradine

It came with my cigarettes!

Anyway, that’s neither here nor there. The point I am trying to make is this: I’m going to try and be a better blogger to you. I’m really going to try and be there for you, kid. Maybe not every day, but the important ones. Like, the ones where I’m not busy, and my cooler, more exciting friends aren’t asking me to go drink with them. And your birthday, if I can remember it. You know, that kind of crap.

We’re already doing better, aren’t we? Look, I’m writing you a nice, fun little post, nothing too heavy. Just easing you back in, since I’m sure I’m probably the last person you want to hear from right now. I know I’d be mad if I were you. I mean, I wouldn’t have that horrible, ugly scowl on my face, but, we can’t all have my fantastic jawline. (Editor’s note: What the fuck is happening? Who is writing this? Bartles AND Jaymes?)

Next time, we’ll get into what I’ve been doing in the months since I’ve been away. I promise, you’re really going to want to hear all about my adventures. (Editor’s note: That is doubtful.)

Alright, kid. Chin up. I’ll be back soon. Oh, and by the way, here’s the five bucks back you lent me for that six pack of Zima. Thanks a million.

March 26th, 2013

Kindergarten Crap

Truth or dare, dear reader? (By the way, you have to pick dare for this to work).

Oh, dare, you say? Well, fine! I dare you to park yourself in a place where stay at home parents gather for mid-morning coffee, listen to their conversations about schooling and NOT punch someone in the face. I’m serious, it’s a real challenge. Maybe it’s just where I live, or the people I find myself overhearing, but it seems like parents are increasingly misguided when it comes to where to send their school-aged children for book-learnin’.

Now, I get it. I’m not a parent. I don’t have tiny, mushy-brained fools running around my house, asking me what that word says and what that word says and what that word says. I haven’t spent months researching modern pedagogic strategies. But, remember, I did actually go to school. So I’ve got that expertise. I know. All you parents went to school too. But judging by some of the nonsense I’ve overheard, it seems you’ve completely forgotten about it.

I’m not going to get into the shortcomings of you parents with kids in high school. Just know you’re messing them up, and you’re messing them up bad. I’m more concerned with the parents of very young children upon whom they have bestowed ridiculous names like “Newton” and “Shrively.” The parents who are spending thousands of dollars in tuition money for kindergarten. KINDERGARTEN.  I didn’t even realize there were kindergartens that cost thousands of dollars. I thought you just dumped your sobbing heap of a child off with half a tuna sandwich and a box of lukewarm apple juice and the staff took care of the rest. But nope, apparently there’s some serious bank to be made in the private kindergartening game.

And did you know there are preschools that have waiting lists? As in, they are so packed to the hilt with the gifted toddlers of the more fortunate that they cannot possibly stuff in just one more? Commoners’ children must sit tight until one of the A-List toddlers decides to do a semester abroad before they can attend a “good” school. These waiting lists cause parents a lot of a stress. The idea that Newton, their perfect, illiterate, bed-wetting wonderbaby might not make it into the 25k-per-year nursery school of their (the parents’) dreams, is just too much to handle. Why, though? Preschool is essentially a dog park for five-year-olds. You leave them there to sniff each other’s butts and learn how to socialize. Just because Newton goes to an exclusive, five-star nursery school does not guarantee he’s not going to end up dropping out of high school to take bath salts, obtain head lice and follow a mediocre jam band called the Floating Beef Cheeks around the country in a roofless RV.

When you really think about it, Newton only needs to develop a few skills during these early stages of schooling. He should be able to match a picture of a dog to the word “DOG.” He should be able to locate his assigned seat and remain there for several minutes at a time without urinating. He should be able to use his scissors in a socially acceptable manner. He should be able to encounter light conflict without sinking his teeth into anyone’s face. He should be able to scrawl his name in large, wobbly, possibly backward lettering. And, if necessary, he should be able to sit quietly and listen to a story about ducks.

Newton doesn’t need to know how to speak a second language, read chapter books about socialized medicine, make waffles from scratch or sketch a still life. He doesn’t need to be able to sing harmony, make change for a fifty, drive a stick shift or do any of the other crap I can only imagine they must be teaching at these private baby schools.

At the risk of sounding like a crotchety old man, back when I went to preschool we just sort of rolled around in the dirt, pretended to be kitties and buried trucks in the sandbox. In Kindergarten we learned to pay attention, use a hammer and share markers. I got into a good college later on in life because I put in the damn work. I don’t know what these other schools are doing that leads parents to believe they’re going to somehow get their children into Princeton, but I don’t buy it. Unless you live in a school district that exclusively hires convicted murderers, I don’t really see the need for private schooling. (And even then, many convicted murderers have above average IQs, which, you know, might be useful to pass on to our youth, so that’s another point in public school’s favor.)

Yes, fine. They’re your stupid kids. If you want to spend thousands of dollars on tuition for kindergarten instead of taking a fun, restorative family trip to Hawaii, it’s your deal. All I’m saying is, I did public school all the way and I turned out fine. The kids at my high school that had the worst drug problems were the kids who had grown up going to private schools. I don’t do drugs. Also, I have never physically assaulted a bank teller. Nine times out of ten I know which version of “its” requires an apostrophe AND I am a good listener. You know why? Because I had parents who spent their time with me, setting a good example, instead of wasting my childhood years trying to get me on a list for the city’s most prestigious day care.

All I’m saying is let your kid run around and be properly socialized, as you would with a Jindo puppy, because they aren’t much different at that age anyway. Then when he comes home, YOU teach him to sound out some damn letters. You save serious cash, you aren’t stressed out about a waiting list (??) and you get to be involved with your kid, which probably will keep him from killing hookers with his gym teacher later on.


February 19th, 2013


Say, now! Who is that dashing fellow?

No, seriously, I want you to guess.

If you guessed: “The son of a rural German pretzel maker who dreams of one day going to university far away in the big city to study wolf psychology” … YOU MIGHT AS WELL BE CORRECT.

However, the correct answer is:




You know, from Stär Wärs? The science fiction epic, where a wacky crew of misfits defeats Darth Hitler?

Leiderhosen sold separately.

February 1st, 2013

Tender and Rare

Hey! Do you like barfing? Well, I hope so, because today’s post might make you do exactly that!

Don’t be scared. Barfing is part of science. And science is made up of facts.

Fact #1: Sometimes when you are watching Bob’s Burgers in your pajamas, you need to write an important email to your friend, describing the worst bathroom you have ever been inside of. The ideal time to do this is during commercials.

Fact #2: Commercials are loud, which can shatter your concentration. Especially when you are trying to concentrate on finding the best descriptive words for urine odors. (You really can only use “oppressive pee pee smell” so many times before you begin to sound amateurish.)

Fact #3: The best way to remedy the concentration issue is to pause the commercial without looking up.

Fact #4: Sometimes, because you weren’t paying attention to what the commercial was for, and because of poor timing, you wind up with a still frame that looks like this:



My first reaction was to immediately clench my jaw to stave off a gag, because I thought I was looking at an extreme close up of a very old, rotting steak. Then I recognized the gold chain and what I think is an elbow, and understood that it was a trailer for that new movie, Bullet to the Head. What we have here is simply the upper torso of Sylvester Stallone, mid-pummel!

Then I clenched my jaw again, because I realized that meant that I was looking at an extreme close up of a very old, rotting steak.

Sorry, everybody.

January 30th, 2013


Greetings, Each of You!

My Creative Hero and friend, Larry Blamire, has a dream. And that dream is Steam Wars.

LOOK AT THAT! How COOL is that? All of the art is original, done by Larry.

But what’s it all about? From the Steam Wars website:

The powerful Prussian Empire has strengthened its hold on part of Canada and is testing the northern US borders with a series of raids. The United States Steam Force, in its infancy compared to the Prussian war machine, meets the challenge with new and improved lines of ajax class, hercules class and goliath class fighting rigs. At the same time scrambling to find men reckless–make that foolhardy–enough to crew them.

Then rumors start.

That Prussia has acquired a new technology. That they’re developing something bigger and better, that even the finest USSF rigs cannot defend against.

And warfare would never be the same…

Below is the brief, animated promotional trailer for Steam Wars, created by Larry and editor Bill Russell. Please pass this along, as maximum exposure will help give the project legs. Big, coal-powered legs.

January 25th, 2013

Saving Money: A Guide For Everyone (But Mostly Girls) – Part 4

Hello, wastrels!

Today, in the final installment of the paycheck-stretching guide I have no business writing, I’d like to make mention of a few odds and ends that I think you may find helpful in your quest to save a little cash. The first, which I promised you last time, is more of a warning…

Beware Groupon!

It is a trap. You think, “Golly, I sure am getting a good deal on this two-person canoe!” But, remember 10 minutes ago, before you started checking your email, when the thought of owning a two-person canoe had never once crossed your tiny, tiny mind? Now you’ve blown $259 on a piece of fiberglass that is going to gather dust and spiders on the back patio of your apartment. “But it’s normally $599!!” you are saying. Shut up. You are going to be evicted for cluttering your patio, and not paying rent.

If you are going to use Groupon and you have an Impulse Purchasing Problem, set your email account to automatically send those emails to a designated folder, instead of your inbox. Then, when you are shopping for an item or service that you really need, start searching the site for relevant deals.

What I use it for is banking spa services. If I see one that really, really appeals, I buy it, but I don’t let myself have more than five saved up. That way, when I have some time off, or need to relax a little bit, I can get a food-based facial or have a tiny woman poke my legs with puffer fish spines or something. Doesn’t that make sense? And so simple!

Finally, to conclude this series, I’d like to leave you with a small list of

Things To Remember

You can spend on important things, guys. Bedding, for one. You sleep every night. Or you SHOULD sleep every night, any way. If you don’t sleep comfortably, you don’t sleep well. And then you act like a jerk. So buy those pricey pillow cases and people will start liking you again.

See, people like you based on how pleasant you are. And by how much money you have. They don’t make that judgement based on what your skin looks like. You don’t need to spend so much money on foundation. Good god, people. Here is the deal: Your face is not meant to be one color from top to bottom. If it was, that is what you would have looked like as a four year old child. There are shadowy areas, and freckly areas, and moles, and places where you naturally have some rosiness. This is not cause for paint. This is just how you’re supposed to look. STOP MAKING YOUR WHOLE FACE UNIFORM. Eight ounces of something that makes you look like Marcel Marceau with a tan is not worth $32.50.

And surprise! You don’t need a manicure! Pretty much ever. Sometimes it is nice to pamper yourself, like if you’ve just graduated from something. And sometimes it actually is kind of important, like if you are getting married, or if your hands are beginning to look like witch hands. But in general, no. Don’t pay someone $15 to perform a service that you are going to ruin as soon you try to open your car door in the nail salon parking lot.

Another place to go hog wild is data storage. I cannot stress enough the importance of a quality back up hard drive situation. How would you feel if you purchased a bargain hard drive to preserve the terabyte of photographs from the time you had dinner with Brace from Gigolos only to have it self-destruct months later? That extra cash for the better model (of harddrive, not gigolo) doesn’t seem like such a bad idea anymore, does it? (Although, between you and me, it’s probably better if you just forget that whole evening entirely.)

I am also an advocate of spending for higher quality face and body hair management. If you’re having hair ripped out by the root, you want someone who knows what they’re doing and has access to various luxurious tinctures and unguents so that you don’t go home looking like you were prodded with hot pokers. But, please, you don’t need anyone messing around with your eyebrows. Someone else’s idea of what a “neat” eyebrow is might be completely wrong for you. At least if you over-pluck at home it’s your own damn fault if you end up looking like Jiminy Cricket.

In Conclusion

Use your derned head is all I’m saying. If you really need it, and you’ll use it a lot. It’s worth your cash. If it’s got a kitty on it, no. If you think “I can’t afford NOT to,” no. If it is magic beans, okay. If it is a present for me, buy two.

And for the love of god, don’t donate to charities. That should be a no-brainer.

Happy spendin’!

Join me next time, when my topic will be… not money.

January 14th, 2013

Saving Money: A Guide For Everyone (But Mostly Girls) – Part 3

Happy Monday, everyone! Did you all enjoy the Golden Globes last night? Didn’t all those women look lovely in their fancy custom dresses and borrowed diamonds? Depressing, huh?

Trust me, I know how it is. You look at all those women and you get to thinking about how you usually look like a Central Floridian who was just picked up for a DUI. All of your shirts make you look pregnant, all of your pants do the wrong thing to your butt and, somehow, your shoes make it look like you have pig hooves.

So you want to fully update your closet. But have you run the numbers on that? It’s going to seriously eat into the money you’ve set aside to feed and clothe your infant children. Sure, you might end up looking gangbusters, but what good does that do you if the only people who are going to see it are the jurors at your child neglect trial? Don’t despair, friend. There are other ways to update that closet full of rhinestone horse sweatshirts. I am here to help you…

Go Shopping

If you’re looking to change your wardrobe, a good trick is to go to the gym. Then all the clothes you already have will look wonderful and different and you won’t need to buy anything at all! But, since working out is awful, try this: Spend your cash on SUPER GOOD AND EXPENSIVE bras. Yes. I said it. Super good. AND EXPENSIVE. Here is why: A terrific over-the-shoulder-boulder-holder improves your posture, confidence and how your clothes look on you. Plus, no one gives a damn what you’re wearing if your tits enter a room before you do. That’s a fact, son.

Also, jeans. Don’t buy tissue-y bargain jeans. Get some serious denim that will last a spell. Especially if you insist upon ignoring my gym advice and your thighs are going to be rubbing together like the innards of a poorly-maintained Fiat. Look, I understand why you hesitate. Nicer jeans are twice as expensive as your usual jeans from Scott’s Slacks n’ More. But, at the rate that cheap jeans wear out, you spend the same amount of cash in half the time anyway. Plus, have you tried Paige jeans? Your butt will look like a pile of gold. You only need two pair, for when it is necessary to look like you have a golden butt. The rest of the time, you can wear  your filthy peasant jeans. As for the remainder of your wardrobe, leave it where it is. With those few tweaks, it will all look different anyway. Particularly if you ad a few reasonable accessories.

“Now see here,” you say, your mouth full of salad. “First we bought jeans and brassieres, now we’re buying accessories? What kind of money-saving article is this?” Well, first of all, you’re going to go buy stuff anyway, you might as well buy things properly. Second, salad? Seriously? I would have pegged you as more of a hamburger person. I do not write this blog for salad people. Go and get some cold cuts and you may continue reading.

Okay. Everyone have some meat? Good. Let’s talk about accessories.

Much like bras and jeans, a nice pair of sunglasses is a good investment. Now, I realize that not all of you will agree. The gas station has many lovely options for ten bucks. But, allow me to regale you with a tale. I had some cheap sunglasses. They looked good, and were fine for awhile. But then the coating on the sides started peeling off and scraping my face, and the hinges got loose and began ripping out my bang hairs every time I tried to take them off. Soon, I had weird little baby hairs all around the top of my head and red marks at my temples and had to spend money on more sunglasses anyway. The moral of the story: Don’t buy sunglasses for cheap.

But! Don’t buy sunglasses from Chanel either. They are insane. Seriously, we are talking like $450 for a pair of sunglasses that, I’m sorry, make you look like an d-weed with those giant interlocking C’s on the side. Spend just enough on sunglasses that you would curse yourself if you lost them. And find a brand that’s going to hold up and that you can’t find at a gas station. Or a Whole Foods. Because even if those glasses are priced at $60, they are only worth $11, maximum, given the Whole Food Inflation Factor.

While we are on the topic of accessories, I cannot stress enough that if you spend money on really high end handbags, there is 94% chance you suck on a deep and irreversible level.  When purchasing a bag, ask yourself the following questions: Do I like the number, size and configuration of the pockets? Will it hold all my necessary crap? Will it easily conceal the wad of unidentifiable, linty flotsam I stubbornly tote around with me everyday and never, ever throw away? Is it devoid of any symbol, text or image that even remotely invokes the concept of kittens? If you answered yes to all four, then it sounds like a pretty great bag. BUT HANG ON. How much is it? If it’s more than $190, you should be hearing a loud buzzer. Just put it down and walk away.

You do not, and let me very clear about this, need anything that Louis Vuitton makes. Sure, his products may be built to last (I don’t actually know if that’s true) and they’re certainly iconic, but you know what else is built to last? Money. For the purposes of this post, I looked at ol’ Lou’s website. Care to hazard a guess on what he charges for a leather coin purse with that hotel wallpaper-looking design on it? It’s FOUR HUNDRED BONES, my brothers. Four hundred dollars. For basically a cube that you jam dirty, oxidized pennies into. Now, the way I see it, if you filled that sumbitch to the brim with coins, the total value of those coins wouldn’t even approach $400. FOUR HUNDRED DOLLARS. That’s $55 MORE than he charges for a small dog leash. I’ll wait, while you re-read that sentence and get our your calculators. … Yep. Oh, and just for the sake of thoroughness, if you have a large dog, add that $55 back. Have any of you ever walked a dog? If they’re any fun at all, they spend half their walk violently biting and pulling on their own leash. What do you think would happen if that leash smelled like one of their chew toys? Chaos. I mean, certainly, buy a bag that will hold up, but for the love of god, don’t be a moron. If you absolutely REQUIRE your handbag to look like cheesy French luggage, get creative; use a sharpy and a stencil.

So, let’s review: Get new pants and bras, keep everything else. Invest in sunglasses you’d be afraid to lose. And tote your crap in something that suits your needs and isn’t going to fall apart in eight minutes. If you can be reasonable, you still get to go buy stuff.

Next time, your mother and I want to talk to you about those tempting emails you get and how to deal with them. No, not those. GROSS. The daily deal ones.

January 9th, 2013

Saving Money: A Guide For Everyone (But Mostly Girls) – Part 2

Oh my god you guys, hi again! As I promised you yesterday, in Part 1 of this extremely professional and well-researched series on how to stretch your dwindling paycheck, today we will discuss your teeth and your money and how best to combine them. There are necessary dental hygiene tasks that must be completed daily, obviously, but then there are some things that really aren’t necessary. My overall view on the subject is

Tooth Whitening: Seriously?


Look, friends. Those at-home tooth whitening kits are expensive. They’re like $40. That’s almost a full tank of gas. And if you have the dentist do it, it’s practically a mortgage payment. And for what? A paper-white smile? You’re just going to ruin it by smoking cigars and drinking wine anyway. I know what the fashion magazines say. Whiter teeth can look nice, sure, but this is something you do when you’ve got a little extra cash. Not when taxes have been raised and you just bought a Honda. The thing to tell yourself is: You don’t need freakishly white teeth to have a pleasant life. “But” you argue, “that commercial I saw says that, with whiter teeth, I can attract, marry and mate with that nice-looking gentlemen a few tables away at the Starbucks.”

Please tell me you’ve all seen that ad. It’s so unsettling that I don’t even remember what brand of tooth crap it’s for. It features a beautiful woman, making eyes at an attractive man at a cafe. She daydreams as the voice over gets way the hell ahead of itself, saying, basically (I’m only slightly misquoting this), “he could be the man of your dreams. He’ll probably marry you and father your children. But first, you have to say hello.” Then the girl flashes him a mouthful of glowing dentition. Then The Voice of Unrealistic Expectations comes back in, saying, “What will a whiter smile do for you?”

You know what it will do? It might – might – get you a compliment from some lady in the restroom of the Cheesecake Factory. But that’s it. It’s not going to make any significant improvements to your life. It won’t solidify your friendships, help you learn Spanish or teach you to fly fish. It’s not going to help you get a job. Unless you’re a tooth model. Which, let’s be honest, you are not. It’s certainly not going to find you a husband. Because all the carbamide peroxide in the world isn’t going to do anything about your earth-shattering halitosis.

How about you just floss and brush like you’re supposed to? It ends up being like four cents a day and, aside from keeping the cost of dental procedures down , your mouth won’t smell like a paper mill any more. Maybe that guy with the chinchilla who sits across from you on the bus will finally ask you out!

Additionally, if you use a whitening toothpaste, you can be working toward your fairly needless goal anyway. An added way to save money AND protect your teeth, though it might be impossible for some of you addictive types, is to lay off the coffee and red wine. That crap is pricey and stain-y. I know my weekly red wine budget (I don’t drink coffee) used to be in the $300-range. If you stop drinking those things, you can save a boat load, both on daily costs, and on future liver transplant surgery.

The point is, don’t shell out forty bucks for this mess. Dental hygiene is the key to success people, not the color of your teeth. Plus, it’s 2013, we have Photoshop now. You can make your teeth any color you want!

Next time, we’re going into your closet to throw up in your shoes to see if there are any cash hemorrhages happening there.

January 8th, 2013

Saving Money: A Guide For Everyone (But Mostly Girls) – Part 1

Hello, Womenfolk (and Otherfolk who are reading this blog). Did you spend a ton of money on gifts for loved ones this holiday season? Did you just open your bank statement and cry? Did you then wonder why you are still getting bank statements in the mail even though it is 2013? Well, don’t fear. First, sign up for paperless statements. Second, recognize that this is part one in my series on money-saving tips!

Now, I’ve not ever been known for my frugality (or, actually, for anything!), but I do like buying things and going places. And in doing so, I have learned what’s worth the money, and what isn’t. Though I have advice that spans many areas (I am very wise), I will focus primarily on the topic of personal appearance. Given how I usually look, this may surprise you. However, Fashion and Beauty have the potential to be multi-quadrillion dollar industries. Per person. Even if you don’t wear a lot of makeup. There is always a zit emergency that will take an entire paycheck to rectify, or a new wrinkle that requires some kind of cutting-edge Swiss laser. Or you may suddenly discover that your newest life goals are growing healthy cuticles with the help of a rare rainforest nut oil and also getting some fine leather boots that don’t make your ankles look broken.

Regardless of what you think you need, be it spa treatment or house ware, it’s likely to be pricey, and, sometimes, it’s going to feel like you cannot live without it. What will follow over the next several days is a guide that will (hopefully) be useful when you are faced with choosing between filling up your car or having your laptop studded with crystals.

My first piece of advice is more about using money wisely than it is about saving it up. You see, I believe you should…

 Go Out to Dinner & Order Too Much Food

Not EVERY NIGHT, you fool, that would be counter productive. And I’m not saying going to fancy steak places, either. But if you’re really excited about getting some food that you didn’t make yourself, go and do it, for god’s sake. Don’t be one of those cretins who only eats ramen or some kind of weird bargain tuna fish concoction out of a mug. Live a little. Get some freaking shrimp lo mein. Have some pizza. If you are an even remotely employed person and can’t stand to use your money to have $8.99 worth of fun every once in a while, hoo dawgy, knowwhatI’msaying?

And, hey. Over-order so you can have leftovers for lunch the next day. The bump up from “regular” to “large” usually isn’t equal to the full price of an additional meal. It’s $3 instead of $9. This means you’ve spent around $6 a meal. Not too shabby. The only thing you’re going overboard on is probably sodium. But I am not concerned with your health. In fact, if you follow my advice, you’ll have much more money to leave your friends when you die at age 43. And we all know you count me as your closest friend.

So, what did we learn today? Save your money, certainly. But don’t be ridiculous. Have some dinner at a restaurant and take the leftovers home for an extra meal or two. Then you’ll be happy, fed and save a few bucks in the process. And you won’t smell like tuna fish always.

See you tomorrow, when we will discuss your awful, horrible teeth and why you should just accept them.

December 20th, 2012

Hi Again & Christmas Music

Hi, fools! I’m back! By way of explanation for my absence, allow me to post this photograph, which I took:

First Explosion - cropped(Please note: This was taken during a training exercise at Ft. Irwin; no one was hurt during this explosion)

Okay! That part is over now.


Are we all having a nice holiday season? I know I am! It’s finally cold enough to use my enormous down comforter, I’m about 88% finished with gift purchasing and prep (which is my favorite part of this season), and I have been listening to Christmas music NON-STOP. I’ve run into no issues so far with my down comforter, but with regard to gifts and music, I have some problems. One, there isn’t enough money or time in the universe for me to possibly get a gift for all of the people who have been there for me this year. Two, I love Christmas music, and I haven’t ever recorded it myself, which is a shame, because I know most of the words.

This problem solves itself, if I make the very presumptuous leap that any of you would ever want to hear me sing a Christmas tune.

WARNING: I am making that leap.

But what song to choose? There are some gems, but there are some serious clunkers, too.

Frosty the Snowman, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Here Comes Santa Claus are all out immediately, because, well, they are really, really stupid.  And I have a visceral aversion to Santa Baby, on the grounds that it’s super yucky. That song is in the realm of My Heart Belongs to Daddy. Just… why? I mean, it’s catchy and somewhat amusing, but then you really start to listen to the words and you realize she’s essentially giving SANTA CLAUS the equivalent of a vocal lap dance in order to get a boat and some freaking jewelry and it makes you want to throw up.

I thought maybe I’d take it in a more serious direction, but I couldn’t. The First Noel will always make me think of Johnny “Bowtie” Barstow’s version, and that would breed madness. And I don’t think I actually know the real words to Joy to the World— I only know the parody Ren & Stimpy did entitled Cobb to the World where they sing “Cheese logs to you/a cobb is born/let earth receive her corn” or something like that. And let’s be honest, lyric writing like that can’t be confined to just one measly track. I’d have to cover the whole album.

Santa Claus is Coming to Town seems to be popular with jazz musicians, but I find the lyrics confusing. On the one hand, Santa appears to be omnipotent and fastidious, an OCD god of sorts, aware of everyone’s sleep habits and making mysterious lists that he must check two times. On the other hand, he might also be Omar from “The Wire,” requiring a song to warn you that he’s coming, though the horrors his arrival might bring are never fully explained. All that is offered is a hasty “You better watch out!” (SIDE NOTE: I almost – almost – did this song, adding a whistled reference to “The Farmer in the Dell” at the end.) It’s clear this song is just a tool used by parents to get their kids to shut up and eat their peas in December. For me, it doesn’t really capture the spirit of the season.

Then I remembered by favorite Christmas song of all time: The Christmas Waltz written by Sammy Cahn & Jule Styne. It’s simple and pretty, and there’s some room to mess with it. Perfect for my favorite guitar player, Adam Ratner, and me to have fun on. Adam Ratner, by the way, is amazing. Aside from learning the tune and coming up with excellent cords and ideas, he recorded this in his house, and mixed and mastered it in a matter of hours. Adam Ratner deserves an award. We based the intro around the 1957 Frank Sinatra version, arranged by Nelson Riddle, although it’s very different-sounding now that we’ve gotten a hold of it.

I really hope you all enjoy it. Thank you all for everything this year, and Happy Holidays to you!

[audio:http://theproductivecough.com/wp-content/uploads/The-Christmas-Waltz.mp3|titles=The Christmas Waltz – Cole & Ratner Dec. 2012]