Merry Christmas, 1970s Style

Christmas records come and go -- from Elvis to the Chipmunks to Dolly Parton, everyone's done a Christmas album at some point. They're easy to find at garage sales; apparently, people actually bought them, once upon a time. So, naturally, with a wide selection, it's easy to pick out the best among them...."best" being subjective. Here's the best contender I've found. It starts out like this:


[Narrator] The north pole is the most desolate, forbidding landcape on the face of the earth, but that has not stopped men from wanting conrtol over that vast flow of snow and ice. But, only one man has succeeded in setting up a comfortbale home and thriving business.

[Santa] Ho, Ho, Ho! Come on, fellas, let's get back to work!

[Curio] Not until we discuss a change in the working conditions.

[Santa] Curio, since when do you speak for the others?

[Curio] I'm the foreman. We demand a higher salary and better hours!

[Santa] We can discuss that after chsitmas -- we only have six days left until delivery Christmas Eve!

[Curio] That old routine won't work any more, Santa Claus. We have to earn a decent living - no pay increase, no work!

[Santa] Then I will hire other elves to finish the toys.

[Curio] No, Santa, you won't do that either.

[Santa] ...And just who is going to stop me?

Enter Ramat

[Ramat] I will!

Gunshots ring out, sounds of crashing and breaking glass

Wait -- this album starts -- with the DEATH OF SANTA?!!?!!?? NOOOOOOOOO!!!!!

Shortly thereafter, we find out that no Santas were harmed in that scene. Ramat was destroying Santa's Workshop, to send Santa a message about his sweatshop conditions. Little did we know -- Santa is the Kathy Lee Gifford of the Arctic Circle, the Nike of the North Pole, the Wal-Mart of the Pinetree Line, working the small bony hands of tiny people to, what was this album titled?

Six Million Dollar Man: Hear 4 Exciting CHRISTMAS ADVENTURES

Oh, and according to the album label, I started listening to Side 2 by accident. In the middle of the, this story made a good lead-in, don't you think? Oh well, let's stick with it -- this story was getting good: Turns out, the evil elf Ramak wanted to usurp Santa's North Pole in order to melt the polar ice caps and throw the world into confusion. That fiend! Colonel Steve Austin, the $6,000,000 Man, is sent to investigate the meltage, and inadvertently discovers the existence of Mr. Claus and his labor disputes. Since the North Pole, a Sealand-like sovriegn entity in the no-man's land of the open ocean, there's no government to step in and negotiate anything...but Austin and his United States strongarm tactics foil the bad guy and teach Santa and his Elves to work together for a brighter tomorrow. Heartwarming!

See, Side 1 is the weakest of all the sides this album has. The two stories, "The Toymaker" and "The Kris Kringle Caper" are only vaguely Christmas-related, standard spy stories with Yuletide sentiment added for effect.

The Toymaker has all the good earmarks of a late-Cold-War tv show episode. Defecting scientists just wanting to escape their past, splinter cells looking to buy rare technology for their nefarious purposes, renegade American industrialists selling out their country to make a quick buck, and an evil sidekick named Jerry. Where's MacGyver when you need him?


The immigrant scientist with the thick Russian accent is a master physicist -- who has gone into toymaking during retirement. When you can't make enough toys for your employer to keep up with demand, what to you do? Make a molecular duplicator, defying all laws of physics, to multiply your findings! The employer and an arms dealer decide that the duplicator would be better suited for reproducing weapons of destruction, and decide to eliminate the physicist and test out their machine on a tank. But where would they find a tank? Even Colonel Steve Austin knows -- the National Guard Armory has unguarded tanks sittin' around out back! Austin and his Intel Inside powers foil their plans, captures the bad guys (and, I assume, Jerry), only to discover the duplicator doesn't work on large items...the duplicates disintegrate shortly after being created. Sorry, Soviet-Bloc Arms Dealer and Traitorous Industrialist!

It strikes me -- doesn't Steve Austin sound a lot like Pres. George W Bush? That light Texas twang, the uninterested lack of passion in anything, the terse emphasis of strange syllables...We might want to check Dubya for cybernetic implants. I think I once heard a "WOOSHooshooshooshooshooshooshooosh" sound effect that one time Bush jumped from the ground to the third-story window, but I may have been mistaken. Still, it's uncanny.

In The Kris Kingle Caper, we find Steve Austin at the mall, shopping for perfume like a man -- no clue whatsoever. Uh oh! The innocent mall Santa is being used as a go-between for international spies, smuggling missile parts in packages that Santa hands out. How do they break the ring open? Send the Six Million Dollar man to replace the mall Santa! He'll find out who's slipping the missile parts into the present pile.


There's spies EVERYWHERE -- the guy running the Santa booth in the mall, random present-thieves, and even the cute little girl sitting on Santa's lap! Steve Austin can't flail his robotic limbs without smacking a spy or two while Christmas shopping. With a phone call (complete with rotary dialing sound effects), Steve brings down the shutters on this spy ring.

The final story in this article is actually the first track on side 2 -- Christmas Lights.

A strange radio message is bothering NORAD -- without any identifications, on restricted frequencies. Ethel Landis, expert on decoding messages, is brought in on the case to team up with Mr. Steve Austin. It's farfetched, but Ethel says the message came from a solar system similar to ours, one that went supernova over the Middle East. Apparently, this solar system entered Earth's atmosphere around 30BC and blew up somewhere around Bethlehem, just in time for Jesus to be born beneath the imploding sun.

The science in this story makes my brain hurt -- not only did the light from this supernova arrive in time for Jesus to be born, the last radio broadcast from the solar system's inhabitants took an extra 2000 years longer to arrive. What slowed it down -- wrong ZIP code, improper postage?

Any which way, they manage to scrounge up a rocket to launch Steve Austin and Ethel "Just Call Me Ethel" Landis above the radiation belt, to get better reception. Uh oh! The rocket malfunctions -- Steve and Ethel are in grave peril, their rocket struck by space debris!

Somehow, in yet another stroke of science flawdom, the alien message is suddenly audible in the cockpit! They start recording, despite the space-peril, but they can't get back to Ethel's lab so she can decode it.

Steve deduces a boost of high-voltage energy will reboot the gyros and get the spaceship back into working order...but where will they get a power source like that?


Unfortunately, the Energizer Bunny was unavailable, so Steve Austin's own cybernetic body would have to do. With a BZZZZT and the trademark Six Million Dollar Sound Effect, electrodes running from some mystery-connectors on Steve Austin's body to the ship's power grid manage to pop things back in order. The spaceship is brought back to life, Earth ground control manage to remotely guide the ship back to safety. Does Steve Austin survive to find out the blasphemous message's contents? Will it be an explanation of why God destroyed an entire culture just to give Jesus a supernova night-light? Will it say, "stop worshipping God, he's such an ass about it"? Maybe it'll simply say, "That is the end of our broadcast day," including wattage, frequency, and call letters.

If you want to find out what this miraculous message is, then you'll have to find your own copy of the Six Million Dollar Man Christmas. What better way to celebrate the birth of Christ than to listen to the exploits of an unholy melding of man and machine?

Article by Derek

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