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Greg Veis, YouTube Hunter: Michel Gondry-stravaganza!

This Friday, in the big, coastal cities that are privy to such things, a new film called The Science of Sleep will be released. It's directed by Michel Gondry, whose previous credits include Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Dave Chappelle's Block Party, and a boatload of music videos and advertisements. YouTube Hunter doesn't throw this term around lightly, but the man is a genius. Many nights in Hunter HQs have ended, ceremoniously, with a viewing of his Director's Label DVD. And let it be known that aside from lying next to a model, or a thumbed through copy of mental_floss, there's nary a better way to shut down an evening. The video for the Foo Fighters' "Everlong" -- with the giant hands and Taylor Hawkins' shedding a dress before getting all primal on the drums -- is that good, to say nothing of Bjork's "Hyberballad."

We could now engage in a several page long analytical spaz-fest about Gondry's dreamlike aesthetic and his large-hearted sense of playfulness and how, better than anyone right now, he's able to show what the jangly nerves of a broken heart look like... but it's best to get right to the footage. So, in the first of what will be an occasional series celebrating filmmakers who are doing truly outstanding work, an appreciation...

Here's a Levi's ad that has won more awards than any commercial ever.

And this is a very new one that he just did for the the namesake airline of his homeland:

The Nike ad below plays off the previous one in that it follows a single idea across quickly changing landscapes. It's a favorite trick of his, and it's effective:

The Fox Sports ad is an example of another recurrent theme of his -- the invasion of dreaminess into everyday life:

As mentioned earlier, Gondry has also taken on a number of music videos. The Rolling Stones, Beck, Kylie Minogue (which one of these doesn't sound like the others?) -- they've all enlisted his talents. But YouTube Hunter has the most affection for the work he's done with the White Stripes. Included here are two videos. There's "Fell in Love with a Girl," which deservedly raked in a plethora (a plethora?) of awards for its stop-motion animation with Legos. And there's also the video for "Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground," which, in its narrative and simultaneous presentation of both past and present, seems to serve as something of a precursor to Eternal Sunshine. What do you think?

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Bleat Along to Classic Holiday Tunes With This Goat Christmas Album
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Feeling a little Grinchy this month? The Sweden branch of ActionAid, an international charity dedicated to fighting global poverty, wants to goat—errr ... goad—you into the Christmas spirit with their animal-focused holiday album: All I Want for Christmas is a Goat.

Fittingly, it features the shriek-filled vocal stylings of a group of festive farm animals bleating out classics like “Jingle Bells,” “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” and “O Come All Ye Faithful.” The recording may sound like a silly novelty release, but there's a serious cause behind it: It’s intended to remind listeners how the animals benefit impoverished communities. Goats can live in arid nations that are too dry for farming, and they provide their owners with milk and wool. In fact, the only thing they can't seem to do is, well, sing. 

You can purchase All I Want for Christmas is a Goat on iTunes and Spotify, or listen to a few songs from its eight-track selection below.

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What Are the 12 Days of Christmas?
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Everyone knows to expect a partridge in a pear tree from your true love on the first day of Christmas ... But when is the first day of Christmas?

You'd think that the 12 days of Christmas would lead up to the big day—that's how countdowns work, as any year-end list would illustrate—but in Western Christianity, "Christmas" actually begins on December 25th and ends on January 5th. According to liturgy, the 12 days signify the time in between the birth of Christ and the night before Epiphany, which is the day the Magi visited bearing gifts. This is also called "Twelfth Night." (Epiphany is marked in most Western Christian traditions as happening on January 6th, and in some countries, the 12 days begin on December 26th.)

As for the ubiquitous song, it is said to be French in origin and was first printed in England in 1780. Rumors spread that it was a coded guide for Catholics who had to study their faith in secret in 16th-century England when Catholicism was against the law. According to the Christian Resource Institute, the legend is that "The 'true love' mentioned in the song is not an earthly suitor, but refers to God Himself. The 'me' who receives the presents refers to every baptized person who is part of the Christian Faith. Each of the 'days' represents some aspect of the Christian Faith that was important for children to learn."

In debunking that story, Snopes excerpted a 1998 email that lists what each object in the song supposedly symbolizes:

2 Turtle Doves = the Old and New Testaments
3 French Hens = Faith, Hope and Charity, the Theological Virtues
4 Calling Birds = the Four Gospels and/or the Four Evangelists
5 Golden Rings = the first Five Books of the Old Testament, the "Pentateuch", which gives the history of man's fall from grace.
6 Geese A-laying = the six days of creation
7 Swans A-swimming = the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, the seven sacraments
8 Maids A-milking = the eight beatitudes
9 Ladies Dancing = the nine Fruits of the Holy Spirit
10 Lords A-leaping = the ten commandments
11 Pipers Piping = the eleven faithful apostles
12 Drummers Drumming = the twelve points of doctrine in the Apostle's Creed

There is pretty much no historical evidence pointing to the song's secret history, although the arguments for the legend are compelling. In all likelihood, the song's "code" was invented retroactively.

Hidden meaning or not, one thing is definitely certain: You have "The Twelve Days of Christmas" stuck in your head right now.

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