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Friday, December 21 2018 13:28

The Ultimate Shopping Guide for Large Adult Sons

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We're toward the end of holiday shopping madness. Across the country (and the web), people are fighting to find the best deals for toys, gadgets, and other must-have gifts before Christmas Eve. Buying for your spouse, your young children, and your siblings can be easy. But buying for a large adult son in his 20s or 30s? That's a little trickier.

Having listened to dozens (probably more like 200) new holiday songs in putting together my ever-expanding Ultimate Guide to New Release Holiday Music & Movies this year, it's been hard to pick the definitive hit for 2018. That's until now, with the release of "All I Want for Christmas" by Lil Jon featuring Kool-Aid Man. Indeed, it's been a great year for holiday music, and while there's some great songs out there, this one is just an unexpected jam and it's been added to my Ultimate Christmas Spotify Playlist as well. Oh yeah! 

Based on a Sanrio character, Aggretsuko has gained cult status after the anime series made its debut as a Netflix Original earlier this year. Now comes an all-new Christmas special that finds Retsuko (a 25-year-old red panda who copes with her thankless office job and daily frustrations by belting out death metal karaoke after work) seeking some holiday cheer after her new obsession with posting pictures on social media threatens Christmas. Featuring a new rendition of “Jingle Bells”, performed by Tim Timebomb and the Interrupters (featuring RANCID's Tim Armstrong), the special will be streaming beginning December 20, 2018. Check out a trailer for Aggretsuko: We Wish You A Metal Christmas below!

The holiday spirit is infectious and there's nothing better than seeing joy brought forth to kids who don't see enough of it. The latest news to roll in comes from Massachusetts, where more than 250 deserving children were able to enjoy a "winter wonderland of play" at a special Play Your Part event hosted by The Toy Foundation (TTF) in partnership with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Dorchester at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) – Local 103 in Dorchester, MA.  

As we roll toward the end of an unusually challenging year for many, there's some bright spots to be seen, one of which is shining in California tonight. MGA Entertainment and the Marine Toys for Tots program have been working together in order to brighten the holidays for some of the many children whose families were affected by the devastating wildfires that ravaged parts of both Northern and Southern California last month. The team at MGA will be providing more than $5M in new toys that are expected to bring joy to an estimated 300,000 kids in California and in other parts of the country where disaster has struck.

If you love holiday music like I do (and I make a list that's checked more than twice) and have an Amazon Echo device (something else that I love) at home, this is for you! SiriusXM wants to enliven your home with the perfect holiday music this season – FOR FREE. Now through December 25, anyone in the U.S. and Canada who is not a SiriusXM streaming subscriber (this includes those who are currently satellite radio-only subscribers) can tune in and listen free to SiriusXM’s suite of 15 commercial-free holiday channels on Amazon’s popular Echo smart speakers and other Alexa-enabled devices. No email, credit card or credentials are required - it's just FREE HOLIDAY MUSIC!

For the first time in park history, Six Flags Great America in Gurnee, Illinois has thrown open the gates for a holiday season, with Holiday in the Park set to delight guests with a truly magic experience. We're season passholders, so our whole family attended on opening weekend (Black Friday), but I also had a chance to attend the media preview this week, stepping into the park for an experience that most will never have... at 4am on a Thursday, just after a fresh snowfall. Check out my video below to see the park along with my full ride on the Peppermint Swirl - the teacups of Chubasco given a festive spin!

When it comes to holiday specials, Jim Henson's Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas has always ranked among my favorites - one that I'd eagerly await seeing each year when HBO would get around to airing it again... those primitive years before home video really caught on. Despite numerous releases on VHS, DVD and Blu-ray over the years, the soundtrack never got a proper release, and that's left fans like myself a little bit bummed. Paul Williams is a legend, having penned the Academy Award-nominated song "Rainbow Connection" from The Muppet Movie, "Evergreen" from A Star Is Born and many other #1 hits (he was also Little Enos in Smokey and the Bandit) and his music from Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas has been fueling singalongs for over 40 years. Now, just in time for the 2018 holiday season, the world premiere release of the soundtrack has finally taken place and Varèse Sarabande Records and The Rock Father™ have teamed-up to give you a chance to win the all-new CD!

2018 has been a pretty good year for holiday music thus far, but one thing we haven't heard much of is stuff on the heavier, more bizarre side of the spectrum. That should change on December 7th when <PIG> mastermind RAYMOND WATTS and regular collaborator EDEN release BLACK MASS - what they're calling "an unholy trinity of festive filth" - covers of holiday classics by John Lennon, Elvis Presley and WHAM!

Watts said the following: "I wanted to pay homage to the great Christmas songs, have fun with them but also take a stand against the ever rising tide of toxic bigotry in this increasingly brutal world while remembering there is a better part of ourselves. 'Happy Christmas (War Is Over)' in particular represents this whatever your beliefs may or may not be. 'Last Christmas' while being a great song from the irreplaceable George Michael (who left us two years ago this Christmas) also represents the fleeting nature of 'the season of goodwill'. 'Blue Christmas' resonates with anyone who is separated from a loved one at this time of year, whatever the reason, war zone or weather (and who doesn't want a go at being the King?) To that end these songs stand as an honour guard from the Lord of Lard."

BLACK MASS will be available for free download via Bandcamp, though a minimum donation is appreciated, with all proceeds going to INTERNATIONAL RESCUE COMMITTEE.

<PIG> most recently lit up the internet this past summer with a cover of KC & The Sunshine Band's 1975 hit, "That's the Way (I Like It)" featuring Sasha Grey.

SpongeBob, Sandy and their “Science Scout” troop take a trip to the moon in a brand-new holiday special of SpongeBob SquarePants, premiering Sunday, Nov. 25, at 11:00 a.m. (ET/PT) on Nickelodeon.

In “SpaceBob MerryPants,” Sandy leads the scouts through space for scientific exploration, where SpongeBob finds life exists in the form of a krabby patty, Sandy studies the moon’s gravitational effect on nuts and Squidward goes to the dark side. After an explosive mishap with a Jack-in-the-Box, the troop is left in an astronomical situation, where they luckily find the one person who can help them out, the big man himself…Santa Claus! Check out a preview below!

Monday, November 19 2018 19:28

HGTV presents Santa HQ: A New Holiday Tradition...

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This Santa HQ feature is brought to you by HGTV & Macerich Shopping Centers in collaboration with The Rock Father™

Following an inaugural season that brought magic to families from coast-to-coast, HGTV presents Santa HQ again this year! Back for 2018 at The Fashion Outlets of Chicago and a total of 15 Macerich Shopping Centers nationwide, a new tradition continues as an all-new experience aimed at bringing holiday magic to kids and grownups alike with some flourishes that have been upgraded and expanded for the social media age. Santa HQ welcomes families for the traditional photo with Santa (online reservations available, but not required), upping the game with the Elf Academy in which kids can experience the latest in Elf fashion; take an Elfie Selfie; of check out the latest in Elf-Ray Vision - an AR experience in which families can see just what the Elves are up to. Of course, Santa HQ still serves-up an incredible light show with over 10,000 individual lights synchronized to the "Carol of the Bells."

A familiar green villain is currently back in theaters, reimagined in Universal and Illumination's animated picture, THE GRINCH. But that's not the only place to see the tale come to life as Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical brings magic to the stage in select cities for 2018. Madison Square Garden's touring production is the big one, featuring Tony-nominated Gavin Lee (SpongeBob Squarepants: The Musical, Mary Poppins) in the lead role as The Grinch. Kicking off at The Chicago Theatre (November 16-25) before heading off to Boston and New York, my family and I were guests at the opening night performance in Chicago as holiday cheer took hold to a sold-out crowd.

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