It’s that most wonderful time of the year again: when I give in to the compilation temptation, and ratchet up my Christmastime overview of our best posts of the year.  Sure, the year’s not over yet; and, I’m even a little late for Christmas (and Hanukkah, for that matter); so, I guess you could say I’m out of time — though, that’s nothing new for me.

Just when you thought you had received all of your Christmas gifts, here I come stepping up to the plate like a latter day Saint Nicholas, bringing you the best that the LOMAP Blog has had to offer in 2012.

Iiiiiiiiiiin the first month of this year, the LOMAP Blog gave to me/ a collection of strange tales from around the web @ Power Tagging: Tales from the World Wide Web

In the second month of this year, the LOMAP Blog gave to me/some advice on handling the many pressures of expertise@ The So-Called Experts’ So-Called Experts . . . and So Forth: On Pressure-less Professional Reputation Construction

In the third month of this year, the LOMAP Blog gave to me/an answer to the question of whether a solo can make a smartphone her only business phone @ Smart Phone: Should Solos Go Mobile?

In the fourth month of this year, the LOMAP Blog gave to me/a primer on the use of client-side encryption to protect yourself in the cloud @ Layering Security in the Cloud II: Client-side Encryption Tools

In the fifth month of this year, the LOMAP Blog gave to me/a rundown of Google’s social search universe @ We Are the World: A Google Search Plus Your World Primer

In the sixth month of this year, the LOMAP Blog gave to me/a number of useful pointers for marketing a start-up law firm @ Open Up: Getting the Word Out About a New Practice

In the seventh month of this year, the LOMAP Blog gave to me/a list of reasons for moving toward a paperless office environment @ Scanning the Horizon: Paperless Conversion Saves Law Firms

In the eighth month of this year, the LOMAP Blog gave to me/some tips for overcoming the isolation of solo practice @ Not-So-Splendid Isolation: Solo Attorneys Can Cobble Together Collegial Environments

In the ninth month of this year, the LOMAP Blog gave to me/some further information about securing online accounts @ Doubling Down: More on Two-Factor Authentication

In the tenth month of this year, the LOMAP Blog gave to me/the pathways to finding ethical guidance within the Commonwealth@ Interrogatories: Direction for Ethics Queries

In the eleventh month of this year, the LOMAP Blog gave to me/zen management techniques for training and maintaining staff @ The Bird Anomaly: Coaching Up Your Staff

In the twelfth month of this year, the LOMAP Blog gave to me/the news about the pending amendments to the Massachusetts Rules of Professional Conduct respecting written fee agreements @ Writing Requirement: As of January 1, Written Fee Agreements will be Required in Most Cases

. . .

Liner Notes

The requiem has run dry.  When even Jamie Carr can no longer find the time to produce his Christmas albums, how can I?  (Though, you should still donate to CF research.)  I’m only just the one man.  So, I’m giving up the Christmas music compilation theme this year, too.  I mean, over the last few years I’ve banged out some pretty impressive and eclectic Christmas lists (here, hereand here).

Recognizing Christmas for what it is (perhaps the most overwrought exercise in commercialism in world history — which is one of the reasons I’ve never understood all of the consternation respecting saying ‘Merry Christmas’: Christmas is a secular event in America, always has been — it’s not a religious holiday, unless you worship at the altar of Macy’sor Montgomery Ward . . . and perhaps you do), I think it’d be appropriate to the season to produce a review of a couple of Christmas albums that have been released this year, and then some.

                                               Â

My whole family loves ‘The Voice’ on NBC; consequently, I watch ‘The Voice’ on NBC, usually while doing other things, like ironing.  (I iron my jeans.)  The Voice has propelled the career of Blake Shelton more than any other artist who has appeared as a coach for the contestants.  Blake Shelton is a pretty good country singer; but, most of his albums are uneven.  And, his last album suffered from this disabling factor, as well; though, it was his best album by a wide margin.  But, Blake is personable and f
unny; and, for those unfamiliar with the life of the American South and Midwest, I’d guess that he’s consistently interesting, because his perspective is relatively unique.  His participation on The Voice has vaulted his career’s striving into a stratosphere lacking want.  He now has the widest and most significant pop culture cache of any country musician today, including his wife (who is a better musician) and even those country stars who are far superior musicians and who have made some strides in cultivating themselves as celebrity personalities (like Brad Paisley).  So, what else would Blake do in these halcyon days, but release a Christmas album.

Shelton’s ‘Cheers, It’s Christmas’ seems to be sort of a cheeky, British-style title for a Christmas album, unless he’s thinking of what you’d say before toasting hot toddy glasses.  This album is unique in that there are a good number of original tracks (always a plus for Christmas albums); it is non-unique in that there a number of guest appearances — but, those are pretty well-choreographed.  Of the new songs, I thought that ‘Oklahoma Christmas’ (where Blake’s from) and ‘Santa’s Got a Choo Choo Train’ are the standouts.  His cover of ‘Jingle Bell Rock’, in duet with wife Miranda Lambert, is good; but, the cover of ‘Blue Christmas’ (one of my particular Christmas favorites) with Lambert’s group, the Pistol Annies, is better.  I like the country fusion ‘Winter Wonderland’.  Blake attempts to turn the Christmas party into a slow, sultry jam in some places, and I think it works best for ‘Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!’ and ‘Silver Bells’ (a duet with Xenia  — no, I didn’t know who she was, either; but, I like her voice).  Writing new Christmas songs, making love to old ones, coupling with numbers of guest stars . . . these things and more are at your disposal as a coach on NBC’s The Voice.  I’ll spring for 3 ½ Jingles out of 5 for this record.

CeeLo Green (or as LCL’s Barbara Bowe calls him: Cecil Green) is another Voice judge, whose career has received a boost from his participation on the show — though, he was doing just fine on his own . . . but, not fine enough to feel uncompelled to drop his own Christmas album, ‘CeeLo’s Magic Moment’.  Now, even though country music is often the most overtly religious form of music on the American scene, country and Christmas usually don’t work well together (one rare exception: Alan Jackson and Alison Krauss’ ‘The Angels Cried’) — which, I suppose, supports my view of Christmas in America.  For that reason, I was surprised to find that, overall, I like Blake Shelton’s Christmas album better than CeeLo’s.  But, CeeLo’s hits higher highs.  The first track, his cover of Stevie Wonder’s ‘What Christmas Means to Me’ (which you may have heard on J.C. Penney commercials), is (and I can’t believe I’m saying this), in fact, better than the original.  Another standout track is his soulful rendition of ‘Run Rudolph Run’, which adds some depth of feel to (and is also better than — Oh, My God, What Is Happening To Me???) a particularly thin Chuck Berry original version.  His cover of Bing Crosby’s timeless ‘White Christmas’ is a very good, if very obvious, choice.  His cover of Joni Mitchell’s ‘River’ is an unexpected treat; but, I know from The Voice that Ceelo has good taste in music.  I appreciate CeeLo’s intermingling of Thurl Ravenscroft’s ‘You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch’, with some spoken word reading of his own; but, you’re either gonna love his version or hate it for that.  He’s also got a song with the Muppets called ‘All I Need Is Love’, which is not really much of a Christmas song, but which is catchy, if very lite.  His cover of ‘Merry Christmas, Baby’ is quite good, despite its featuring Rod Stewart, who has been selling out for longer than I’ve been alive.  Overall, it’s a decent album, with one excellent, and some very good, tunes.  I’ll give it 3 Jingles out of 5.

Blake and Ceelo, though, are not the only Voice coaches with Christmas albums.  Christina Aguilera, the lone lady judge on the show, has come out with a Christmas album, too . . . in 2000.  ‘My Kind of Christmas’ is a record that my wife loves, so I’m including it here.  Now, I’m not into the dance-pop-techno thing; and, this album is a mixed bag for me, with most of that mixed bag consisting of coal, less the forthcoming diamonds; but, even I have to admit that laying down a spoken word version of the Lord’s Prayerin the middle of her cover of ‘Oh Holy Night’ is pretty badass, if the Lord would permit me to say so.  That’s something Johnny Cash would do, even if he’s not as much in love with his own voice as Ms. Aguilera is.  ‘Christmas Time’ has a catchy hook.  Of the remaining album, the other songs I enjoyed, marginally or otherwise, are ‘Angels We Have Heard On High’, ‘Merry Christmas, Baby’ and ‘This Christmas’.  I can see how some people would dig this; but, it’s not my scene.  1 ½ Jingles out of 5.

(It would be an interesting exercise to compare the versions of ‘The Christmas Song’ that all three artists sing, to see which one you like better.  Though, I won’t poison your own judgment with one more of my many opinions.)

Fortunately, Adam Levine and Maroon 5 do not have a Christmas album . . . because they are horrendous, like a crappier version of Train, if that’s possible.  (Don’t believe me?  Listen to their dreadful cover of John Lennon’s ‘Happy Xmas (War is Over)’.)  Consider that, officially now, your last Christmas present of 2012.  So much so that there are -2 ½ Jingles out of 5in the offing.