Reading too deeply into these things since 1981
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Moral Orel, "The Best Christmas Ever"

I’m mad. I’m frustrated. I’m frightened, I’m embarrassed, I’m appalled.

I’ve been waiting to speak. I’ve said almost nothing. I keep trying to get my thoughts together and, nope, I can’t process a fucking thing.

There’s no other way to say it. We made an awful choice, we’re fucking idiots, and we’re going to hurt a lot of people. We’ve given bigotry a platform, and we’ve emboldened it. Possibly we’ve cemented it. We’ve done everything we can to make this country extraordinarily dangerous to people who don’t look, act, or believe the way we’d like them to.

About a week ago my country voted. The popular vote may not have gone that way, but for all intents and purposes we came together to decide, as a nation, that we wanted to be ugly, hateful, discriminatory human beings.

Some people, I’m sure, voted for Trump because they trusted him on the economy, or something. That’s fine. I disagree with those people, and I think it says something that the three states with significant first-hand experience of his business practices (New York, New Jersey, and Nevada) all voted against him, but so be it. This is what the political process is for, after all. I believe one candidate will handle something better, and you believe the other candidate will. We put it to a vote. This is a good thing.

Others, though, voted with hate in their hearts. I’m not going to rattle off the sob stories I’ve seen on Facebook and elsewhere. Those are sad and unfortunate, but you’ve seen them. Maybe you doubt some of them. Maybe some of them are indeed worth doubting. I, frankly, don’t care, because my own friends are suffering from this.

A good friend of mine from New Jersey, who’s been openly gay as long as I’ve known him, was told “Gays gonna burn in Trump’s America” at the gas station. A bumper sticker probably gave him away. I guess he’d better start hiding who he is, then.

Another friend of mine was getting coffee with her young daughter, when a group of assholes kept saying in a singsong voice, “Filthy Muslims,” making her feel very uncomfortable. She’s not Muslim; she’s Indian. But, y’know, her skin is brown, so, who can blame them. She said that she was afraid at first that they’d do something to her, but then she realized the truth is worse: that this is just the world they live in now, and the one her daughter is going to grow up in. You know how I’d talk about social workers in the ALF reviews, and what they’re like in person? It’s largely because of her. She’s a social worker who makes next to no money and gives a lot of herself over to it. She one of the sweetest, most selfless human beings I’ve ever known. She works hard to make life easier for the less fortunate, and this is how she’ll be repaid by her country.

Somebody I know on Facebook posted on Election Day that he really hoped people would “respect the election process” by voting for the male candidate, even if they preferred Clinton. “It isn’t right to have a woman in that position. It was never intended for a woman to be given that much power.” I’m paraphrasing, necessarily. The specific words obviously don’t matter nearly as much as the sentiment, which I assure you is intact. He has a baby girl, by the way. She’ll be growing up in a house with at least one parent who will make it clear that she is only allowed to go so far in life.

I personally watched as an old woman and two jackoffs talked about a group of kids playing near where my girlfriend lives. Children. They may have been Indian, too, but they weren’t white, which I guess is the point now. The kids weren’t bothering anyone. One of the guys said, “Deport the little fuckers.” The old woman, with a venom I’m not sure I’ve ever heard before, said, “I can’t wait until they do.”

Children. Bothering nobody.

This their world, now.

A friend’s colleague was black and homosexual. I say was because he hung himself a couple of nights ago. I can only imagine what he’d been subjected to. What he’d been told. What people assured him his life was going to be like, and how awful it must have been that he decided he’d rather die.

These are only the things I know, and it’s only some of them. I don’t want this to become a list of atrocities. You’ve all seen them. You’ve scrolled past them. You’ll be scrolling for a good long time.

No.

What I want to say is that…

…I’m speechless. I have nothing to say. I’ve read some very intelligent, eloquent musings on this election from both sides. Intelligence and eloquence, though, don’t mean anything right now. Somebody is sharing some very well-written advice on Facebook, and somebody else is fearing for his life. Somebody is assuring us that things aren’t as bad as they seem, and somebody else is in a waking nightmare from which she cannot escape. This has been a divisive election. We’d be seeing a lot of the same issues right now had Hillary won. Trump is a problem, but he’s not the problem. The country is the problem. The seething nastiness that’s been bubbling beneath America’s surface is the problem. And that’s what I hate. I hate that America is as ugly and cruel as it is. All Trump really did is make us admit that we’re okay with being ugly and cruel.

And I hate that.

I don’t have words. I’m not happy. For a while I even considered cancelling the Xmas Bash. Not because I wanted to get out of any work. It’s almost completely edited and ready to go. I just…didn’t feel like being funny. I still don’t.

But…

I don’t know. I can’t change the world. I can’t even change one person’s mind. We are all where we are, and all we can do is try to bring some light to our own little corners of the darkness.

I’ll do what I can.

It might not be much. In fact, it won’t be. Period.

But it’s something. Especially now, with so much fear. Hosting a live comedy stream is one thing. Hosting one that benefits The Trevor Project is another. It’s a small gesture, but it’s one I’ve already been doing. Stopping it now, when a lot of LGBTQ+ youth may benefit from it the most, would be foolish.

So the show will go on.

Which brings us to…

Updates, for those who prefer to skip my political misery:

Come back here, to this very page, at 7:00 pm (Eastern) on December 17 to enjoy the livestream of the 4th Annual Noiseless Chatter Xmas Bash!!!! You can read the full announcement here. And while it’s by no means mandatory to do so, you can use this event page on Facebook to mark yourself as attending. That way the time zone calculation will happen automatically, and you’ll get reminded.

I have a goal this year. I want us to hit $1,000 in donations. One thousand dollars of mental healthcare and emotional support for those who need it, in these unexpectedly difficult times. I think we can hit it. I’m confident we can.

Whatever we do, we’ve done well.

But I want to hit $1,000. And I really hope you will find it in your heart to help. (If you can’t find it in your wallet to help, though, never fear. You’re just as welcome as anyone else.)

Further, I had some other fun ideas for December. I think I’m going to do them.

There will be a Fiction into Film, which is actually just as valid for New Year’s as it is for Christmas. (Any guesses at to what it is?) I’ll probably post it between those two holidays, with an aim of producing a new article in the series every two months. I think that’s more doable than my original monthly goal.

There will also be an advent calendar feature that will run from December 1 – December 25. Every day I will post a new article about a different novel of my choosing. They won’t be long articles, but it’ll be a daily update, and when all is said and done I think the wordcount will add up nicely anyway, so you’ll have a lot to enjoy in the runup to Christmas.

I’ll only allow one book per author, and I’ll only cover novels. That means no collections, no poetry, no non-fiction, and so on. I have some ideas of the ones I’ll cover. You can probably guess a handful of them, but I think there will be some surprises as well, and it’ll be a great chance to see if any of them appeal to you. It’s always good to keep reading.

And if you have some great idea for what to call this feature, tell me, because I sure don’t.

Finally, I want to do another reader’s survey. We’re coming into a new year, we have this site’s most ambitious project well behind us, and I want to see where you’d like me to go next.

So get your thoughts together. I’ll post a link to the survey as soon as I have it.

Again, though…for now…

I’m struggling. I’m unhappy. I’m not creative. I don’t feel like being funny. I don’t feel like much of anything.

But I can get through this. We can get through this. Let’s just believe in ourselves, and in each other.

We’ll do the best we can.

We kind of have to.

Bad things are happening. We can’t stop them all. But we can create some good.

That’s something we can always do.

Nobody can take that away from us, and we shouldn’t take it away from ourselves.

The 4th Annual Xmas Bash!!!!

This year I wanted to announce the time and date for the Xmas Bash!!!! a bit earlier than usual.
As you can see in the image above (click it to appreciate the full glory of Casey Roberson), the 4th Annual Noiseless Chatter Xmas Bash!!!! will be…

Saturday, December 17
7:00 p.m. Eastern

This should hopefully give everybody plenty of time to request time off at work / break up with their fiances as necessary.

I’m working on the stream right now, and have been for the past few weeks. It’s going to be great. As always, you can expect…

  • Seven terrible Xmas specials
  • A mess of rightly forgotten Xmas songs
  • Vintage commercials
  • Magic by illusionist Wes Iseli
  • A brand new song by Adam Lore
  • Surprise guests
  • Live chat
  • …and lots more

It’s free to attend; all you have to do is come to noiselesschatter.com at 7 p.m. on December 17. The stream itself is family friendly, so you can view it in your living room without horrifying grandma. Don’t let her see the chat room, though. That’s where the horrifying is guaranteed.

As always, the stream benefits The Trevor Project. Donations are not mandatory, but we will welcome them throughout the night.

If you don’t know about the Xmas Bash!!!! you can read about it here. But mainly we will be screening seven surprise Xmas specials from years past, riffing on them (and each other) in the live chat, and basically having the world’s greatest part for introverts.

It’s my favorite night of the year, and it keeps getting better. This stream will be no exception. It’s one night only, so tune in for five full hours of bad TV, great people, and hilarious commentary.

Check out the announcement trailer, which may jog your memories of Bashes past. And of course be sure to let me know if there’s something specific you’d like to see this year, or if any particular special/music video/other feature from the past sticks out in your mind.

I’ll see you there!

Jan Terri, "Excuse My Christmas"

The Xmas Bash!!! has become an annual tradition around here, but I realize now that its purpose (and appeal) might be a bit unclear to folks who haven’t attended. For those who have, you know what it’s all about. For those who haven’t, it probably seems like this impenetrable oddity that I don’t shut up about for 30 days out of the year.

What’s the deal with the lousy Christmas specials? Why in the world would anyone give up their night for that? And what’s with the money you’re collecting?

All valid questions that I’m sure many readers have asked themselves. Which is why I want to take some time to talk about the event. Even those who have made it out to all three years (the true Noiseless Chatter veterans who deserve your respect and pity) might not know entirely what it is, how it came to be, or why it’s important to me. So here’s a brief history of The Bash!!! and its development.

And please do comment below with any questions or suggestions for the future. If anything it’s an organic, evolving beast, and I want every year to be the best year yet.

Conception

ALF, "Oh, Tannerbaum"

The Xmas Bash!!!, like so much of modern entertainment, owes its genesis to ALF. No, really; it does. Three years later it amuses me deeply that this whole massive event is technically a spinoff of the ALF reviews, but it is.

In 2013, I started reviewing every episode of that often insane, periodically troubling puppet show. I posted a review every week, and at some point I realized that my review of “Oh, Tannerbaum” (the show’s first Christmas special) would be posted a week after Christmas.

That was fine, but it was so close to Christmas that it seemed like a missed opportunity. I considered shuffling up the order, just that once, so that I could get that review live within the appropriate week, but ultimately I decided not to. (Chaos theory in action: had I started reviewing ALF just one week sooner than I did, the Xmas Bash!!! would not exist.)

Instead I decided that it would be fun to screen “Oh, Tannerbaum” together, with all of my readers and whomever else decided to show up. That way we could all watch it before Christmas, even if the review wouldn’t be posted until afterward.

That’s it. That’s the entire genesis of the Xmas Bash!!! I just wanted a way to get “Oh, Tannerbaum” in front of people during the right week.

From there, I thought it would be fun if we all riffed on it together. We wouldn’t just watch ALF; we’d review it as a group. I wrote my review ahead of time so that I wouldn’t have my opinions tainted or changed by anything anyone said, but the idea of everyone commenting on it in real time was appealing to me, so I found a streaming site that offered live chat: Twitch.

I tested the stream out a few times with a friend (J.P., who has served as my technical troubleshooter all three years), and it seemed like it would work. It was something that could actually happen, and I was excited.

Fleshing it Out

Sabrina, the Teenage Witch

Of course, screening “Oh, Tannerbaum” would take all of 23 minutes, and asking people to tune in just for that seemed…silly. Especially if we ended up having fun. What would happen after the episode ended? We’d just say goodnight and find other things to do? Nuts to that.

So I figured I’d find a few other Christmas specials — preferably corny ones — to follow it up. I had Hulu Plus at the time, and since that was my source for “Oh, Tannerbaum” I thought I’d comb through their other offerings and find a few more that way. That’s how I ended up with shows like Major Dad and Sabrina, the Teenage Witch.

Those aren’t shows I ever would have thought about otherwise, but they set the precedent for the kind of thing I’d look for in the future. It’s also how I stumbled upon the great Lassie Christmas episode, which opens with the titular dog being creamed by a careless driver. I’d never even heard of that episode, and I had no idea what happened in it. It was just a show I remembered watching as a kid, and it had a Christmas episode. Fate brought that one to us, and it’s still one of the funniest Xmas Bash!!! memories for me.

I found as many episodes as I could and realized I could make a whole night out of it, so that’s what I did.

The Partridge Family, "Don't Bring Your Guns to Town, Santa"

The only problem was switching between episodes. I could just leave the screen capture running and let people watch me navigate Hulu finding the next special, and that would have been fine (if damned clunky), but I really wanted something to fill that dead space between episodes.

That’s when I figured I’d host the show, and give the night some structure and narrative.

Sure, we could just watch a bunch of disconnected Christmas specials…but as long as I had dead space to fill, why not give it a purpose? The idea of watching and riffing on Christmas specials was obviously in line with Mystery Science Theater 3000, so I decided to provide similar breaks from the chaos in the form of host segments.

Host Segments

Host Segments, Year One

The host segments had to be simple, since I was filming this stuff the day it aired. Beyond that, I didn’t really have much of an idea for them.

My humor tends toward the dark and self-effacing, and I figured that would make for a good counterpoint to the sap and syrup we’d likely get throughout the night in the Christmas specials. I made a list of a few sad things the holiday season could bring out in someone (being lonely, remembering traumatic Christmases past, eating shitty candy), and improvised around those.

I’ll be the first to say that they should have been more tightly scripted or edited. I wanted it to feel natural, but I probably went too far in that direction. I know first hand how difficult it is for the joke to be “this guy isn’t funny” without the experience actually being unfunny, and yet I keep trying that approach over and over again (see the first episode of my old Save-State Gamer series), never truly learning the lesson.

The host segments received some positive feedback, but for my money they were still a bit too loose and unfocused. They broke up the night (which is good), and tied all of the Christmas specials together (which is also good), but compared to the later Xmas Bash!!!es, they were a drag, and gave the night a too-lethargic feel. I was learning as I went, so I don’t mean to be too critical of myself, but there’s no way I’d ever return to that zero-energy approach in the future. I don’t know how anyone sat through those. Hopefully they served as a great chance to urinate without worrying that you’re missing anything.

My tie and sweater vest made me look even nerdier than usual, which led viewer Daniel to repeatedly riff on me looking like the host of an NPR pledge drive. It was unexpectedly prescient…as we’ll see.

Host Segments, Year Three

From a logistical standpoint, the host segments all lived together in the same video file; I’d pause it when the segment was over, click over to the Hulu window to air a special, then click back over to the video file and unpause it for the next host segment.

Due to this the progress bar at the bottom of the video player let everyone know how deep into the night we were. I was fine with that (and I saw it as a good thing, actually), but somebody riffed on my performance by saying that it seemed like when the little blue line was full, I’d commit suicide.

That’s what led to the running joke of me dying every year in the host segments. I didn’t actually die the first year, but the suicide joke gained traction in the chat, and something happened to the stream that prevented anyone from seeing the ending, so it became passive canon that my character, indeed, killed himself.

Merry Xmas!

Technical Difficulties

Here’s what prevented anyone from seeing the ending: the stream died.

Lassie, "A Christmas Story"

As the night wore on, I got very excited by how many viewers we had. We probably started with around 30, but before long we hit 100. And we kept going from there. Not too shabby for something spur of the moment with no planning.

The reason we got so many viewers, I’m sure, is that we were on Twitch, which is a very popular streaming site. Their own users were looking for something to watch, found us, and tuned in. It was great, and it’s still the largest Bash!!! turnout we’ve had yet.

With visibility, however, came the problem of legality. Someone reported the stream as being against Twitch’s Terms of Service, and we were shut down. Unfortunate, but…I couldn’t really argue.

Some folks have asked what specials we missed out on that night, but don’t worry; there were only two more to go when we got canned. The first was The Fat Albert Christmas Special, which we aired the following year, and the next was a repeat of “Oh, Tannerbaum” for those who tuned in late. I’m sad that we didn’t get to end the stream properly, but nothing was truly lost.

That meant that we only got to air seven specials that night. But that’s okay, because seven is a really nice number anyway, and each year since we’ve aired seven more. Another accidental birth of tradition.

The ending of Year One

The fact that someone reported us is the reason I don’t post the link to the stream ahead of time anymore. That’s why I make the stream private. It doesn’t always prevent unfortunate moderation, but as of now, secrecy is the only choice I have. That’s why I’m very interested in finding a new streaming solution, but we’ll get to that.

That wasn’t the only technical issue of the night, though. J.P. helped me troubleshoot ahead of going live, but when we started the stream, there was an unfortunate echo effect to the audio. I tried everything I could to fix it, but folks were already watching. They were stuck listening to ALF repeat endlessly, “It’s the day before Christmas! I’ve hidden all the eggs,” which has since become a kind of Noiseless Chatter shibboleth.

Longtime reader Jeff emailed me this year to say, “The best traditions are the ones that arise organically from awesome events, as did this one.” And looking back on the way these Bash!!!es have unfolded, it’s so true. I could have sat down one day and manufactured a special event out of thin air…but it wouldn’t have felt the same. It’d feel too deliberate. Too intentional.

A tradition born of beautiful accidents means so much more.

While fixing the audio I chose to play that terrible “Chacarron” song to keep people entertained, but if there’s anything that makes that song even worse it’s a compounding echo effect. So, you’re welcome.

At some point I got the echo down to a very low level; even though the lines were repeated they were done so very quietly. Somebody observed that this sounded like demonic whispering in the background of all the shows.

I was okay with this.

Charity Telethon

RIP Robin Williams

That was the first Xmas Bash! Between that and the second one, something big happened: Robin Williams committed suicide.

I was never a big fan of Williams. In fact, he kind of annoyed me. But his suicide was important because of how it made people react. The outpouring not of grief, but of identification.

I heard and saw friends coming out of the woodwork to talk about their own struggles with depression, their own suicidal thoughts, their own difficulties making it through any given day. In just about every case, I never would have guessed that these people important to me were facing demons like that. It was something everyone had always been afraid to talk about, until Williams’ suicide reminded them that bottling it up could very likely kill them.

Williams was a celebrity. He was well-loved. He was wealthy. He had a family and a career and a deep and important legacy. And then, in August, demons nobody knew he had defeated him. It shocked a lot of people, and helped a lot of others to open up.

As a response, I invited readers to submit their stories. They did. It was profoundly heartbreaking and inspiring. That’s still my favorite thing we’ve ever done on this site. One day Noiseless Chatter will no longer exist, and I’d be surprised if anything I do between now and that point that means more to me.

But it also frustrated me. I wanted to do something.

People out there were hurting. They needed help. They needed to know they weren’t alone. I came up with the idea for a Mental Health Scholarship. I’d collect money and put together whatever sum I could…and offer that to someone around the holidays. Someone who needed therapy or medication that they couldn’t afford. Someone who needed the help.

ALF, "ALF's Special Christmas"

I talked to my friend Emily — one of this site’s longest readers and supporters — and discovered a lot of logistical problems in terms of getting and handling the money. On top of that, I also knew that by selecting a recipient I’d be denying the funds from others who needed them. I could make Christmas brighter for one person, and unfortunately remind others how far from help they were.

It wasn’t something I could legally or emotionally figure out, so she advised me to find a charity that already did what I was trying to do, and collect the money for them.

She was right, of course. That was the solution. So I found The Trevor Project, which specifically offers mental health and suicide prevention services to LGTBQ youth. I was thrilled to find them, and they’ve been incredible to work with.

As difficult as the holidays are for me — and for countless others, including, perhaps, you — I can’t imagine how much harder they are for young folks who have been kicked out of their homes and shunned by their families because of who they are. I mean, I’m a straight white male from a well-enough-off family, college educated, free from disability or addiction, and most likely the handsomest man on Earth. If I have trouble getting through life, I can’t begin to imagine how difficult it is for others.

Host Segments, Year Two

I don’t mean to be flippant (aside from the handsome thing; I’m actually quite unattractive). My point is just that by mere circumstance of my birth, I don’t have to deal with so many of the hurdles that others have to. If I did have to deal with those, things would be exponentially harder. And I feel deeply for people in situations worse than mine.

So the 2nd Annual Noiseless Chatter Xmas Bash!! would have a charitable component. That worked well, in one way, because it was already a longform entertainment event, like the charity telethons of old. But in another way, it posed a problem.

Amanda

Amanda!

If the Xmas Bash!! was going to be helping people — and soliciting actual financial donations to a reputable organization — there was a potential tonal inconsistency.

How could I be funny in the host segments and ask people to take me (and the night) seriously? How could we ridicule ALF and The Partridge Family and Nestor the Long-Eared Christmas Donkey if we were supposed to be doing some good for others?

Charity is serious. Comedy is not. There was a problem of balance that I didn’t know how to overcome, short of turning all of the host segments into scenes of me saying, “We’re having a lot of fun here tonight, but here’s what’s not so fun…”

I didn’t want that.

There’s no way you’d want that.

I wanted to facilitate donations without demanding them. If folks had no interest in giving to charity, I still wanted them to enjoy the night and laugh their heads off. But if they did want to donate, I wanted them to understand that that was a serious (and very much appreciated) option. I needed to have it both ways.

That’s where Amanda came in. Amanda’s been in a strange sort-of-cohost position for the past two Bash!!!es. That’s by design. If I can do my own ridiculous sad-sack bullshit in the host segments, she needs to be able to stand apart from (and, in a way, above) the rest of the night. When she lets you know about The Trevor Project, it means something different than if you’d heard it from me, acting like a bozo who is slowly freezing to death in a ditch.

Amanda, Year Three

It worked great. She’s been fantastic. I gave her some lines with a sort of subtle humor, but which were largely sincere. I let her know that if she was uncomfortable with any of them for any reason, that she could (and should) let me know, and I’d rewrite them.

She had no concerns with the material at all. She recorded everything I gave her, and even gave the lines a perfectly creepy twist that I adored. Amanda built her own character on top of what I asked from her. She was both serious (as I needed) and hilarious (as I wanted).

Amanda’s a good friend of mine. We bonded around the time of Williams’ suicide, and she revealed herself to be not just a sweet, funny, incredible human being…but a source of genuine inspiration as well. I knew she’d be a perfect fit for the event.

I think I was right, because she ended up being my single favorite thing about the second Xmas Bash!!, and I invited her back for the third. In fact, much of what she said and did in the third was improvised; she built even more of a persona for herself, and deviated substantially from the material I gave her. I couldn’t be happier.

After this year’s Bash!!!, I learned that she had been worried about participating in these events, as she has a fear of public speaking.

I had no idea.

I’m glad I didn’t know, because if I did I wouldn’t have asked her. Instead she pushed through it, and came out the other end feeling more secure and confident in herself. A very coincidental — and very reassuring — byproduct of the stream’s increasing good intentions.

Viva Variety

Ronnie the Skeleton, "Deck the Halls"

Of course, telethons tend to be very varied events. And, yes, following a magical space robot singing about Jesus with a story about the time Pac-Man saved Santa Claus would indeed count as “varied events.” But I wanted more than just different shows; I wanted a reason for folks to keep watching, to worry about missing something, to keep the energy up throughout the night and encourage people to stay alert and interested.

And I handled that in a few ways. For starters, I thought it might be fun to dig up more archival stuff. We had the specials, but I inserted vintage commercials into the breaks as well. And between specials, I aired smaller pieces of longer things that I’d never dare show an audience in their entirety. This included the Jefferson Starship segment from the Star Wars holiday travesty, David Bowie and Bing Crosby singing “Little Drummer Boy / Peace on Earth,” and the Ninja Turtles performing “The Wrap Rap” from We Wish You a Turtle Christmas, which I aired in its entirety this past year anyway because I hate you.

The addition of commercials and inane Christmas musical sequences continued this year, and likely will as long as I can find material to sustain them. Maybe at some point I’ll need to repeat some of those smaller segments, but that’s okay. They’re just a few minutes here and there, and they keep the pace up. They’re so far removed from listening to me drone on between specials, and I’d like to think they’re a thousand times more enjoyable as well. For whatever reason, they tend to get riffed even harder; maybe everyone realizes that they only have a few seconds to make their best joke. I’m glad, because reading the chat during Jingle Cats footage, for instance, is guaranteed to be painfully funny.

In addition I asked a few folks to put together special segments of their own. We had original music from Andy Starkey, a debut episode of PortsCenter by Ben Paddon, an original Christmas song from Adam Lore, illusions from Wes Iseli, a new episode of The Big Bible Blastoff from Sammy Scripture, an ALF-heavy installment of No Date Gamers from Ryan, and more.

Wes Iseli, Year Three

And while this was a great way of making the stream feel more varied, I admit that it lost a bit of focus. That’s due in no part whatsoever to those who contributed segments, because all of those were great; it was poor planning on my part.

Three-time Bash!!! veteran Ridley observed on the night that it went against the spirit of the event to include things that are actually good. He’s probably right. Asking someone to shift from laughing at something to laughing with something else is difficult, and it makes things feel confused.

At the very least, the balance was off, and there should have been more vintage programming and less unique content. I still like and want the unique content, but it shouldn’t be a shared focus. It should serve as more of an intermission from the rest of the night’s programming.

So for the 3rd Annual Xmas Bash!!! there was less of it. Another great song from Adam, more awesome illusions from Wes (including one that definitively established me as worse than The Grinch), and a tour de force return from Amanda. Those were natural fits, because their contributions were brief, and served as perfect little signposts throughout the night, rather than distractions from what we were doing.

There will still be unique content in the future, but balancing things will be a priority of mine. For what it’s worth, and to open the discussion, I think the balance achieved this year was ideal. I’d like to hear your thoughts on that, for sure.

Legal Matters

Walker: Texas Ranger, "A Ranger's Christmas"

And that’s pretty much the story of the Xmas Bash!!! So far we’ve raised over $700 for The Trevor Project, which is incredible to me, and I’m endlessly grateful to everyone who tuned in, everyone who donated, everyone who provided content or feedback…and just everyone, really. You guys are fantastic, and I hope you’ll help me to make next year’s — and the year’s after that — even more successful.

Of course, there’s a looming issue: copyright.

Twitch terminated us the first year, and Hitbox terminated us (temporarily) this year. I’d rather not rely on tricking streaming sites into letting us violate them left and right, so if you have any suggestions at all on how to host the stream moving forward, please let me know so I can investigate them.

I’m aware that what we’re doing is a big no-no. It’s copyrighted material. Period. There’s no way around that.

On the other hand, it’s for charity. I’m not making any money off of the event, and any donations go straight to The Trevor Project; they don’t come through me at all.

I’d like to keep this up. I’ve always wanted this event to feel like a Christmas party. A real Christmas party, where you get together with people you like once a year to have fun. To laugh. To drink too much. To be in good company where you can make a crappy joke and nobody will pick on you, because we’re all making crappy jokes in the hope that one of them, against all odds, will manage to be great.

Vintage Silverman's ad

A Christmas party for introverts, who love bad TV because of how bad it is. Who can bond in each other’s nerdy references and reminders of a more sincere time in pop-culture that’s been swept away by irony and winking self-awareness. People who want to dip one toe into the past at a time of year that warrants a little bit of sap. People who may or may not have anywhere else to go, or who just want a break from reality for a few hours.

It is a real party. As real as any party, with the exception of the fact that you’ll never have to worry about running into someone you don’t like.

And we’ve got ALF on the TV and Jan Terri on the playlist, because we can see Charlie Brown anytime and hear the same 50 versions of the same 10 Christmas songs in any given Starbucks. It’s a party at which the host is curating stuff that you won’t see anywhere else, and he’s doing it for a good cause. And just by being there, you’re doing good, too.

So…what can we do? Is there a streaming service that’s amenable to this? Is there some way I can stream it live through my own site? I know I can just host a big video file for download and ask that we all press play at the same time, but that’s a poor solution for many reasons. I’d rather it be something people can drop into and out of throughout the night, so, please, if you’re aware of any way we can do this more reliably in the future, let me know.

The Future, and Questions for You

Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers, "Alpha's Magical Christmas"

And speaking of which, let me know what you’ve liked and didn’t like. Which specials have been your favorites?* Which have been your least? I’m aware that they’re all varying degrees of lousy, but I’m curious which ones brought you the most joy to riff on. (And the ones, in all honesty, you felt were pretty dead or unriffable.)

Let me know your suggestions for the future. Bad specials to screen. Christmas songs so odd you’re surprised I haven’t aired them yet. Ideas to make it more fun. Anything. So far each year has been better from the last, and I’d like to keep that up as long as humanly possible.

So let me know what you think. And thanks for all of your support — of the event and the site in general — over the past few years. You’ve taken some mindless outlet for my writing and helped me turn it into something productive and special.

I’ve heard from viewers who tell me how important the stream is to them. I’ve heard from one woman who told me that the Xmas Bash!!! is the only Christmas activity she and her husband participate in. And this year I hosted the same stream on both nights…and saw a significant number of people tune in to both nights simply because they enjoyed it so much the first.

The holidays have always been difficult for me, and the Bash!!! is now the thing I look forward to most. And I look forward to it a lot. If anyone out there benefits from it as well, then that’s great. The fact that so many benefit from it — both from participating and from the donations — is deeply moving to me.

The Noiseless Chatter Xmas Bash!!! has taken the most difficult time of year for me and turned it into my most anticipated.

I love you guys for that. And I already can’t wait for you to see all the shit I’ve got planned for you next year.

The Bill Cosby Show, "A Christmas Ballad"

Happy holidays, everyone. I couldn’t do any of this without you.

—–
* For the record, my favorites so far were Lassie, Major Dad, Fat Albert, Power Rangers, The Bill Cosby Show, We Wish You a Turtle Christmas, and Walker: Texas Ranger. Coincidentally, that’s seven specials. Pretend they’re airing right now in a Best Of retrospective.

Merry Xmas, Every One!!!

December 25th, 2015 | Posted by Philip J Reed in xmas bash - (7 Comments)

Xmas Bearsh!!!

It’s Christmas! Which means you aren’t reading this!

…but if you are, I just wanted to take a moment to wish you a great December 25, whatever you do or don’t call that day.

I’ll have my traditional Sappy New Year post next week, obviously, so I won’t get into too much right now, but I’d like to thank everyone who tuned into the Xmas Bash!!! this year. It was definitely the best stream ever, and so far we’ve raised a total of $710 for The Trevor Project. (You can still donate here: https://www.classy.org/xmasbash )

And, hey, don’t forget to email official Xmas Bash!!! illusionist Wes Iseli with the subject “Trevor Project / Free Magic.” He’s got a special video that’ll teach you how to perform a simple trick yourself. Take advantage of that! And, of course, feel free to check out his site here. Wes has been such a great and supportive person when it comes to these streams…I’m very glad to work with him on these, so drop him a line and let him know you appreciate it, too.

I’ll stop myself there, though, because if I go on I’ll end up ranting about the Xmas Bash!!! and those involved for ages…and that’s something I’ll do in another post. At some point soon I want to do a little writeup on the Xmas Bash!!! in general…nothing self-congratulatory or anything, but just to answer a few questions about it, and give a little bit of perspective into why I do it, and why I’m always so happy when you guys participate.

I will say here, however, that the holidays have always been a bit rough for me. It’s a trying time of year, and it never really gets easier. Maybe you feel that way, too. If you do, just know you’re not alone. And if you don’t feel that way…try to be a little understanding for those who do. It might be frustrating that a friend or a family member doesn’t seem to share in your high spirits, but it’s not their fault. Be there for them, but don’t push them.

Above all, remember that today is your day, whoever you are. Celebrate it as much or as little as you like, and don’t push anyone else into sharing your idea of what it’s all about. Because it’s their day, too.

But that’s enough out of me. Be kind, be understanding, behave. And enjoy your holiday. I may not have much to post between now and New Year’s Day, but I’m not going anywhere. And I have some awesome plans for 2016. I’ll tell you more about those later.

One question I do have, if you’re hanging around and feeling festive enough to answer it: since we celebrate the lousy Xmas TV specials here every year, what are some that you’ve enjoyed? I’m thinking of both the standalone specials, and Christmas episodes of other series.

American Dad! has a slew of great ones. The Simpsons had at least two classic ones. Moral Orel‘s first Christmas special was a work of daring emotional brutality. The UK version of The Office gave us probably the best Christmas special in history. And South Park‘s first Christmas episode is still a great combination of sweetness and cynicism. What other Christmas episodes — recent or not — do you remember fondly?

Don’t worry; I’m not asking because I intend to feature good Xmas specials in the Bash!!! moving forward. I’m just curious what holiday episodes are well-regarded.

For those who couldn’t tune into the Bash!!!, here’s what you should be happy you missed:

The 3rd Annual Noiseless Chatter Xmas Bash!!!

  • ALF: The Animated Series, “A Mid-Goomer Night’s Dream”
  • The Bill Cosby Show, “A Christmas Ballad”
  • Full House, “Our Very First Christmas Show”
  • We Wish You a Turtle Christmas
  • Mr. Ed, “Ed’s Christmas Story”
  • Perfect Strangers, “A Christmas Story”
  • Walker: Texas Ranger, “A Ranger’s Christmas”

And no-one died.

Xmas Bash!!!

It’s happening right now!

The Bash!!! is here. (If the stream goes down — and I sure hope it doesn’t — just come back to Noiseless Chatter. I’ll post a backup.)

Seven Xmas specials! What will they be?! Find out over the course of the best five hours of your year!

The Bash!!! begins at 8:00 PM Eastern, but the chat is open right now! Head over, register an account if you want to join in the chat room (I recommend it!), and settle in for a great night.

And please donate to The Trevor Project if you like what you see. Or don’t. Basically just do it if you can. It’s a great organization that provides mental health and suicide prevention services for LGBTQ youths. I and many others put a lot of work into tonight’s stream. If we could translate that effort into making this a much better Christmas for those who need help they can’t otherwise get, that would be a real Xmas miracle.

You can donate here.

Donations are voluntary, and they go directly to The Trevor Project. All I’m doing is providing a link; none of the money comes through me or anyone else, so you know every dollar you donate goes directly to the cause.

See you at the Bash!!!

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