Finding “Christmas with Santa and His Friends” on the Internet’s strange, long tail

Christmas with Santa and His FriendsMuch has been made of the long tail of the Internet. The idea: there’s a market for anything and everything online, and you can build a pretty good business by servicing super-targeted niches. Let Target.com sell mass-produced sweaters for $25, in other words, while you knit sweaters out of unicorn hair and sell them online for $5000.

But I’ve learned that you can’t actually find everything on the Internet. Around the holidays last year, I started having weird childhood memories of a recording that involved Santa Claus, a feather bed, and a guy named “Reporter Dick.” (It’s not what you think.) Some basic Internet sleuthing revealed that these memories had their origin in a specific vinyl album…namely, “Christmas with Santa and His Friends.”

Evidently Radio Shack, a retailer known for its wise decisions, recorded “Christmas with Santa and His Friends” in the late 1970’s. It’s based on the premise that Reporter Dick travels to the North Pole to spend December with Santa and his friends, and he records what happens. (Just roll with it, okay?) Given that I don’t own a record player myself (I know…music sounds better on vinyl, etc.), I turned to the Google Play store, iTunes, and just about every other digital music purveyor I could find. Nothing. I couldn’t buy it digitally anywhere, and I wasn’t crazy about the idea of paying another online retailer $20 to mail me a copy of the album that they’d transferred to CD.

This is where my mom and dad (and a man in a ski mask) save the day. As further proof that God loves me, my parents still had the album, and they happily sent it my way. I reached out to my friend Makeup and Vanity Set to ask if he could wave his magic wand over vinyl and digitize it. He confirmed, adding that he could also reverse it and add reverb for maximum creepiness if desired. I declined that offer, but trusted him enough to send my prized LP his way.

Short story long, Makeup and Vanity Set did a wonderful job digitizing the album, although he confessed to getting a strong “journey to the top of Mount Doom and throw it into the fire before Sauron gets it” vibe while listening to the tracks. And he’s right; if you’ve never heard it before, it’s VERY bizarre. But for those of us who grew up with “Christmas with Santa and His Friends,” listening to it brings back memories of a time when we had nothing better to do than daydream about Christmas.

I’ve decided to post the files for download here, given that this glorious record seems otherwise doomed to disappear completely. (Tweet your thanks to @vanityset, by the way.)

Click here to download Tracks 1 – 10 of “Christmas with Santa and His Friends.”

Click here to download Tracks 11 – 23 of “Christmas with Santa and His Friends.”

By the way…I would love nothing more than for Radio Shack’s corporate copyright attorney or Chief Creative Officer Nick Cannon to contact me, tell me that the company is planning to re-release the album in a modern format, and ask me to remove this post. And I’ll happily comply. But given its bankruptcy protection filing and ownership changes, my hunch is that Radio Shack executives have no idea this album exists.  And even if they do—and if they find this post—maybe they’ll appreciate the free publicity and allow the rest of us to celebrate Christmas on the strange, long tail of the Internet with Santa Claus and Reporter Dick. Enjoy “Christmas with Santa and His Friends!”

Odd celebrity endorsements. Or, “The Shaq-approved Android tablet.”

I recently read Martin Lindstrom’s Brandwashed (which is excellent).  He has an interesting chapter in the book about celebrity endorsements…which means, of course, that I’m now noticing them everywhere.  Anyway, I just found Shaquille O’Neal’s endorsement for the Monster M7 Dual Core Tablet, and it’s just too good not to share.

In case you were wondering, Shaq is indeed qualified to endorse a tablet.  As you can see, Shaq is impressed by all of the things that the Monster M7 tablet allows you to do.  I know what you’re thinking: “Wouldn’t a multi-millionaire own an iPad or the latest and greatest Samsung Galaxy Note?”  But you are incorrect.  Shaq is thrilled with his bargain-priced Monster M7.  (Trivia question: What record is Shaq listening to via his Monster M7 tablet(s) and headphones?  Trivia answer: The plantinum-selling “Shaq Diesel,” of course.)

Monster M7 tablet endorsed by Shaq

If you’re still not convinced, you may be interested to know that this tablet provides you with fun. Epic fun. And Shaq knows all about fun, professional basketball, being an American icon, and spelling the word “colours” like a Beatle. (Tip: the only thing more fun than owning one tablet is owning the same tablet in eight different colors.)

Monster M7 tablet endorsed by Shaq

Just know that owning the Monster M7 carries its risks.  Like Shaq, you may well be mobbed by a ruthless gang of pre-teen boys.  If they’re doing this to a 7′ 1″ former pro athlete who tips the scales at over 320 lbs, imagine what they’ll do to you.

Monster M7 tablet endorsed by Shaq

So…what are the takeaways here?

1)  Celebrity endorsements don’t work so well when they’re awkward, staged, and difficult to believe.

2)  Don’t just throw money at a well-known celebrity and expect his/her endorsement to make your product fly off the shelf.

3)  Being a former NBA star with a winning smile must be very lucrative.

4)  If Shaq reads this and gets angry with me, this could be my last blog post.  Please tell my wife and children that I loved them very much.