An Advent Calendar For Music Lovers – Cool Christmas Tunes 2016


– Jump to the song list

I love the Christmas season and I love Christmas music.

Good Christmas music, that is; a heartfelt rendition of “Silent Night” or “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” and you’ve got me hooked. But I swear upon all that is good and holy, if I have to hear Paul McCartney’s “Wonderful Christmastime” ever again in my life, there will be dire consequences. But I digress…

This year is — to best of my knowledge — fifteen years since some college buddies and I first compiled a mix of, let’s say, “non-traditional” Christmas music. We’ve refreshed it a few times through the years and have each spun off our versions of the mix.

Today kicks off an advent calendar for music lovers: 24 days (plus some bonuses mixed in here and there) featuring lesser known holiday music by a diverse range of artists. We’ve got everything from 1960’s soul to 1990’s punk and points in between and beyond. Country, folk, blues, rock, rap, fast, slow, sentimental, irreverent, sad, funny, family friendly, and delightfully not family friendly.

My hope is that this advent calendar is a good continuation of that old college tradition and that, in the process, I can turn you on to 24+ good holiday tunes that you might not otherwise know.


The Collection

A new song will be posted each day, December 1 through December 24.

  1. The Ramones – Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want to Fight Tonight)
  2. Solomon Burke – Presents for Christmas
  3. Calexico – Green Grows the Holly
  4. Robert Earl Keen – Merry Christmas from the Family
  5. Cracker – Merry Christmas Emily
  6. Lightnin’ Hopkins – Santa
  7. MU330 – X-Mas Card
  8. Fountains Of Wayne – I Want An Alien For Christmas
  9. Great Lake Swimmers – Hang A String Of Lights
  10. Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan – Time of the Season
  11. Suddenly, Tammy! – Rock ‘N’ Roll Santa Claus
  12. The Mighty Mighty Bosstones – Xmas Time (It Sure Doesn’t Feel Like It)
  13. Clarence Carter – Back Door Santa
  14. Matt Arthur & The Bratlanders – I Won’t Have A Merry Christmas This Year
  15. Jonathan Coulton & John Roderick – One Christmas At A Time
  16. MxPx – Christmas Day
  17. Hayes Carll – Grateful for Christmas
  18. Folk Uke – All I Want For Christmas
  19. Chuck Berry – Merry Christmas Baby
  20. The Band – Christmas Must Be Tonight
  21. Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers – Christmas All Over Again
  22. Willie Nelson – Please Come Home for Christmas
  23. Andrew Bird – Auld Lang Syne
  24. Johnny Cash – Silent Night

Passion For The Work: Field Notes

Ok, THIS is great — both the video and the collection of old notebooks.

My big takeaway, aside from how cool all of this old design work is: Field Notes as a company and product is successful because of the passion behind it. Aaron Draplin is so enthralled with these things, it can’t help but come through in the design and attention to detail of the product. Something to aspire to – that level of passion for the work I do.


Displaying Wufoo Entries Count Using PHP and the Wufoo API

This may be a no-brainer to some, but I couldn’t find a clear answer to this through Googling, so here we go.

We have an upcoming event on campus that brought up a seemingly simple request: have a form available to fill out online and display a live count of form submissions on computers and/or TV screens in the Campus Center. (I drank the Wufoo kool-aid long ago, so when I heard “online form”, that’s where my head went. We could have also written some quick custom PHP/MySQL to do the job, but that’s no fun.)

The question was how to get a count of the form submissions out of Wufoo.

There are likely many ways to accomplish this (based on the form’s RSS feed, etc.) but I took it as an opportunity to dig into the Wufoo API – something that frightened me. See, I have a confession to make: HTML and CSS are my friend. PHP? We get along kind of okay, but anything the least bit complicated makes me run away shrieking. API’s? No clue. Scares the crap out of me.

Not anymore. This was easy. And it was pretty much all there in the Wufoo documentation.

The Code

$curl = curl_init('https://{your-wufoo-account}{hash-for-your-form}/entries/count.xml');
curl_setopt($curl, CURLOPT_RETURNTRANSFER, 1);
curl_setopt($curl, CURLOPT_USERPWD, '{your-api-key}:footastic');
curl_setopt($curl, CURLOPT_SSL_VERIFYPEER, false);
curl_setopt($curl, CURLOPT_FOLLOWLOCATION, true);
curl_setopt($curl, CURLOPT_USERAGENT, 'Wufoo Sample Code');

$response = curl_exec($curl);
$resultStatus = curl_getinfo($curl);

if($resultStatus['http_code'] == 200) {
echo $response;
} else {
echo 'Call Failed '.print_r($resultStatus);


Let’s dig just a tad deeper into the pieces you need to fill in and what’s going on here.

1. {your-wufoo-account}
The URL prefix for your account.

2. {hash-for-your-form} and {your-api-key}
These can both be found by going to the “Forms” tab in the Wufoo admin area and clicking “Code” underneath the name of your form. On the next screen, click “API Information” at the top right of the screen. Finally, on that page you will find your unique API key and form hash.

3. What’s Happening
The magic is simply in the XML URL in the very first line of code. By ending the URL with /entries/count.xml, we’re telling Wufoo to return the count of entries. (I told you this was easy.) In our case, we’re storing that entry count in the $response variable and then simply printing that count on screen with the PHP echo command. At this point you could easily use that count in any number of calculations, as a basis for some other looping or paging code, etc.


Further documentation can be found on Wufoo’s support site:

Screenshots of this code in action coming soon!