Want to outdo your neighbors’ holiday decorations and have the hap, hap, happiest Christmas since Bing Crosby tap-danced with Danny Kaye? Home Depot is here to help. You can now order an 8-foot-wide inflatable yard decoration modeled after the Griswold family's trusty old Wagon Queen Family Truckster.
Complete with wood paneling and a Christmas tree strapped to the roof, the inflatable station wagon is the perfect way to let everyone in the neighborhood know that you can quote National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation word for word, and you’re prepared to prove it.
However, unlike Clark’sbright idea of wrapping your house in thousands of lights in an apparent attempt to blind everyone within a one-mile radius, this inflatable decoration requires very little effort. It self-inflates in seconds, and built-in LED lights provide some extra illumination for your nighttime display. The package also comes with a 5-foot cord and a stake and tethers to keep it from flying away. Unfortunately, Aunt Edna isn’t included. Somebody already asked on Home Depot’s Q&A section. Get yours for $119 at Home Depot or in select stores.
Of course, you could also go all out and design your own Griswold-themed holiday display, like one man did in Bethel Park, Pennsylvania. Each year, Dan Hartman decorates his yard with a decked-out RV, station wagon, Cousin Eddie mannequin, and other elaborate National Lampoon-inspired scenes.
Dan Hartman dedicated his yard to the classic movie, "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation"-- from the station wagon carrying a tree with roots still attached to the RV and Cousin Eddie mannequin. https://t.co/8DXxOj4fVPpic.twitter.com/R5A0hMofos
In the Star Wars movies, we learn that Han Solo won the Millennium Falcon in a card game against Lando Calrissian. That sounds like a good deal—until you consider the cost of insuring one of the fastest starships in the galaxy. Ahead of the release of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker on December 20, 2019, InsuretheGap.com has estimated the annual insurance payments for the Millennium Falcon.
To calculate the interstellar vehicle's value, the insurance company considered a number of factors, including size, weight, modifications, and owner details. It concluded that Han would have had to pay $544,339 a year to fly his ship safely across the galaxy.
The occupational hazards that come with his work are the main reasons for the high number. InsuretheGap.com lists Han Solo as a smuggler and a Rebel, which means that he's more likely to use his vehicle to flee Imperial starships than take a leisurely cruise. The question remains whether Han is the type of owner who would worry about insurance in the first place, but if he were a responsible pilot, the fee he charges Luke and Obi-Wan for passage to Alderaan would only cover a fraction of the annual bill. You can check out the full breakdown in the graphic below.
The Star Wars universe is filled with spacecraft that would take an impressive amount of credits to maintain. The Death Star may be the most expensive piece of technology in the franchise. In 2016, a math professor at Dartmouth College determined that operating the structure would cost the Empire £6.2 octillion a day.
In the late 1970s, Leonard Cohen sat down to write a song about god, sex, love, and other mysteries of human existence that bring us to our knees for one reason or another. The legendary singer-songwriter, who was in his early forties at the time, knew how to write a hit: He had penned "Suzanne," "Bird on the Wire," "Lover, Lover, Lover," and dozens of other songs for both himself and other popular artists of the time. But from the very beginning, there was something different about what would become "Hallelujah"—a song that took five years and an estimated 80 drafts for Cohen to complete.
In the 35 years since it was originally released, "Hallelujah" has been covered by more than 300 other artists in virtually every genre. Willie Nelson, k.d. lang, Justin Timberlake, Bono, Brandi Carlile, Bon Jovi, Susan Boyle, Pentatonix, and Alexandra Burke—the 2008 winner of the UK version of The X Factor—are just a few of the individuals who have attempted to put their own stamp on the song. After Burke’s soulful version was downloaded 105,000 times in its first day, setting a new European record, “Hallelujah” soon became a staple of TV singing shows.
It's an impressive feat by any standard, but even more so when you consider that "Hallelujah"—one of the most critically acclaimed and frequently covered songs of the modern era—was originally stuck on side two of 1984’s Various Positions, an album that Cohen’s American record label deemed unfit for release.
“Leonard, we know you’re great,” Cohen recalled CBS Records boss Walter Yetnikoff telling him, “but we don’t know if you’re any good.”
Yetnikoff wasn’t totally off-base. With its synth-heavy ’80s production, Cohen’s version of “Hallelujah” doesn’t announce itself as the chill-inducing secular hymn it’s now understood to be. (Various Positions was finally released in America on the indie label Passport in 1985.) Part of why it took Cohen five years to write the song was that he couldn’t decide how much of the Old Testament stuff to include.
“It had references to the Bible in it, although these references became more and more remote as the song went from the beginning to the end,” Cohen said. “Finally I understood that it was not necessary to refer to the Bible anymore. And I rewrote this song; this is the ‘secular’ ‘Hallelujah.’”
The first two verses introduce King David—the skilled harp player and great uniter of Israel—and the Nazarite strongman Samson. In the scriptures, both David and Samson are adulterous poets whose ill-advised romances (with Bathsheba and Delilah, respectively) lead to some big problems.
In the third verse of his 1984 studio version, Cohen grapples with the question of spirituality. When he’s accused of taking the Lord’s name in vain, Cohen responds, hilariously, “What’s it to ya?” He insists there’s “a blaze of light in every word”—every perception of the divine, perhaps—and declares there to be no difference between “the holy or the broken Hallelujah.” Both have value.
“I wanted to push the Hallelujah deep into the secular world, into the ordinary world,” Cohen once said. “The Hallelujah, the David’s Hallelujah, was still a religious song. So I wanted to indicate that Hallelujah can come out of things that have nothing to do with religion.”
Amazingly, Cohen's original "Hallelujah" pales in comparison to Velvet Underground founder John Cale’s five-verse rendition for the 1991 Cohen tribute album I’m Your Fan. Cale had seen Cohen perform the song live, and when he asked the Canadian singer-songwriter to fax over the lyrics, he received 15 pages. “I went through and just picked out the cheeky verses,” Cale said.
Cale’s pared down piano-and-vocals arrangement inspired Jeff Buckley to record what is arguably the definitive “Hallelujah,” a haunting, seductive performance found on the late singer-songwriter’s one and only studio album, 1994’s Grace. Buckley’s death in 1997 only heightened the power of his recording, and within a few years, “Hallelujah” was everywhere. Cale’s version turned up in the 2001 animated film Shrek, and the soundtrack features an equally gorgeous version by Rufus Wainwright.
In 2009, after the song appeared in Zack Snyder's Watchmen, Cohen agreed with a critic who called for a moratorium on covers. “I think it’s a good song,” Cohen told The Guardian. “But too many people sing it.”
Except “Hallelujah” is a song that urges everyone to sing. That’s kind of the point. The title is from a compound Hebrew word comprising hallelu, to praise joyously, and yah, the name of god. As writer Alan Light explains in his 2013 bookThe Holy or the Broken: Leonard Cohen, Jeff Buckley, and the Unlikely Ascent of "Hallelujah,” the word hallelujah was originally an imperative—a command to praise the Lord. In the Christian tradition, it’s less an imperative than an expression of joy: “Hallelujah!” Cohen seemingly plays on both meanings.
Cohen’s 1984 recording ends with a verse that begins, “I did my best / It wasn’t much.” It’s the humble shrug of a mortal man and the sly admission of an ambitious songwriter trying to capture the essence of humanity in a pop song. By the final lines, Cohen concedes “it all went wrong,” but promises to have nothing but gratitude and joy for everything he has experienced.
Putting aside all the biblical allusions and poetic language, “Hallelujah” is a pretty simple song about loving life despite—or because of—its harshness and disappointments. That message is even clearer in Cale’s five-verse rendition, the guidepost for all subsequent covers, which features the line, “Love is not a victory march.” Cale also adds in Cohen’s verse about sex, and how every breath can be a Hallelujah. Buckley, in particular, realized the carnal aspect of the song, calling his version “a Hallelujah to the orgasm.”
“Hallelujah” can be applied to virtually any situation. It’s great for weddings, funerals, TV talent shows, and cartoons about ogres. Although Cohen’s lyrics don’t exactly profess religious devotion, “Hallelujah” has become a popular Christmas song that’s sometimes rewritten with more pious lyrics. Agnostics and atheists can also find plenty to love about “Hallelujah.” It’s been covered more than 300 times because it’s a song for everyone.
When Cohen died on November 7, 2016, at the age of 82, renewed interest in “Hallelujah” vaulted Cohen's version of the song onto the Billboard Hot 100 for the first time. Despite its decades of pop culture ubiquity, it took more than 30 years and Cohen's passing for “Hallelujah”—the very essence of which is about finding beauty amid immense sadness and resolving to move forward—to officially become a hit song.
“There’s no solution to this mess,” Cohen once said, describing the human comedy at the heart of “Hallelujah. “The only moment that you can live here comfortably in these absolutely irreconcilable conflicts is in this moment when you embrace it all and you say 'Look, I don't understand a f***ing thing at all—Hallelujah! That's the only moment that we live here fully as human beings.”