Wednesday, December 8, 2010

How I keep the holiday spirit; in the form of movies, music and mayhem.

*before I lose anyone, I'd like to mention I'm back on Twitter, ... follow me.
The thing about Christmas (well, I guess there are a lot of things, really, but in relation to me and this blog) is that you either love it or hate it. Even though it's one of those things that is fairly black and white, I will admit that Christmas completely and utterly stresses me out, as I stated in my last post. It's expensive, it's messy (especially with a live tree and two cats that are insistent it is their jungle gym), and busybusybusy - but I do still love it. I've been decorated for a few weeks now, and my shopping is about 40% done (I realize that's not much, but people - it's Decemeber 8th. The last two Christmases I was still shopping Christmas Eve. This is progress.)  I had to delete dozens of songs from my iPod to fit all my Christmas tunes, and have watched both versions of the Grinch more than once, Fred Claus twice, and A Christmas Story four times (before finally purchasing it at Wal-Mart for $10 a few days ago) - all over the last two weeks.

I am so into Christmas this year, it's scary.

Marcus, however, is not. He hates me for this.
At least Max is entertained.

That being said, what does one write about Christmas? As I said; you can either rave maniacally about how wonderful it is, or you can tear it to shreds.

I could really do either - I hate how commercial Christmas is, as I've said time and time again, it's stressful, it's annoying, and it just makes me fucking tired. I'm not religious in the least, so I don't WANT to put the "Christ" back in "Christmas", stop asking me to.

Or I could go on about how pretty the snow is (though it's like +8 degrees CELSIUS right now... are we sure it's December?), and how wonderful the songs make me feel, and how happy every damned Christmas special makes me, and how I could stare at the lights or a snow globe forever (not to mention the free drinks I over-indulged in at my work Christmas party! /me pukes... everywhere... sorry wonderful boyfriend who has to deal with that.).

OR! I could do what I do best: List things. Mini-lists, mind you, with minimal explanation, just to show you how I roll this time o' years.

How I spend my Christmas vacation*, in list form.
*the only vacation I've had in the last 3 years was a 3-day trip to PEI with the boyfriend, so this is a filthy lie.

First off, Christmas tunez.

My top 5? Well, I'm no in to your usual "Jingle Bells" and "Deck the Halls" fair; I like things a little more modern, even though some may see anything that wasn't around when their  parents' were kids as not true to the season - I beg to differ. My favorites make me feel pure friggin' unbridled holiday joy, and these are themz:

  1. What's This - Danny Elfman/The Nightmare Before Christmas soundtrack (and also Fall Out Boy) Why? Obvs TNBC has always been one of my favorite movies, and a good 90% of why is the fact that it's WONDERFULLY MUSICAL! This song captures the wonderment felt by the King of Hallowe'en upon discovering something that couldn't possibly be more beautiful or more different from what he's known his whole (after-?) life.
  2. One More Sleep Til Christmas - Kermit the Frog /A Muppet's Christmas Carol This has been a holiday mainstay for me as long as I can remember. Kermit is the sweetest li'l green thing ever, and that's why he's so good at evoking an emotional response. That movie is FANTASTIC, definitely my favorite re-telling of the Dickens' classic, and this song pretty much body-slams me in to the holiday spirit.
  3. It Feels Like Christmas - The Ghost of Christmas Present/A Muppet's Christmas Carol Ditto what I said above, this one's got some lyrics that just make my Grinch-y heart grow three sizes, "It's true wherever you find love, it feels like Christmas."
  4. Christmas Wrapping - The Waitresses This has been around since the 80s, but I'd somehow never heard it til a few years ago when it was featured in Fred Claus. It's catchy, it's modern, and most of all - realistic. At the beginning, the chick states, "Bah humbug! Well, that's too strong. 'Cause it is my favorite holiday... but all this year's been a busy blur, don't think I have the energy." But she ends up celebrating - and finally hanging out with the elusive guy she's been chasing all year. I LOVE it, it's fantastic walking music.
  5. Christmas in Hollis - Run DMC Once upon a time, my mother has a tape (yes, TAPE, our car didn't have a CD player) called "A Very Special Christmas". I thought it was just some random thing she found, but apparently it was a legit thing that was in support of the Special Olympics or something. Anyway, we listened to it constantly for several years over the holidays, so every song on it has stuck with me - especially this one LOL. A little rap about running into Santa Claus in the 'hood, it's ridiculously catchy, and one of my all-time favorites.

Since soundtracks ran rampant in that last list, it naturally segues its way to

Tinsel on Film

  1. A Christmas Story (1983) My mother must love this. My sister hates it, I think my stepfather does as well. So how did I start watching this movie? It must've been mom. Little Ralphie Parker lusting after a Red Ryder carbine-action 200-shot range-model Air Rifle has been a permanent holiday fixture in my life for as long as I can remember. I watch it a half-dozen times (or a full-dozen, when Peachtree was once TBS and did the marathons every. Single. Year. I've rented it 3 times this years already, and finally caved and bought the damn thing. There are so many classic scenes; Flick's tongue getting stuck to the pole, Ralphie beating the shit out of Scut Farcus, the Bumpuses' dogs ruining Christmas dinner and the fucking Chinese restaurant... everything about it is wonderful.
  2. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964)  This little gem is older than my mother, and still one of The Best Things They Put on TV, Ever. I'm thinking this partially would be because of the songs ("Most Wonderful Day of the Year", "Silver and Gold", "We Are Santa's Elves"), or perhaps its highly-quotable nature, or maybe just because I'm a big weirdo for claymation and stop motion (TNBC... but I'll get to that). Whatever it is, I watch the little red-nosed fucker on TV every year, or rent him on DVD. He just wants to be normal, and Herbie just wants to be a dentist, and the toys just wanna be loved like every other toy... great stuff.
  3. How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000) Yep, I'm referring to the non-animated, completely terrifying, Jim Carrey version of the animated Dr. Seuss classic. This li'l list is for feature-length fair, the original Grinch earns a spot on the next list. I was something like 11-years-old, or near-12, when this was released, ergo the perfect age to enjoy it with out being permanently scarred by it. I remember sitting in a classroom in grade 8 watching this near Christmas vacation, and seeing it several times at the theatre, and it's been a staple for me for the past decade now, and I can't go a season without watching it - numerous times.
  4. A Muppet Christmas Carol (1992) Once upon a time, there was a girl named Brittani, who, for some reason, really liked the Muppets. To this day, I'm not sure why. I've seen the Muppet Show a handful times, and have seen every movie dozens of times. I fracking love them. This movie is my favorite re-telling of A Christmas Carol, as I mentioned in my holiday songs list. What really makes it for me is Gonzo and Rizzo narrating. They're hilarious. And Michael Caine as Scrooge? Perfection. Coupled with an absolutely beautiful soundtrack and fun-to-sing songs, this is one that makes me happy all year round. 
  5. The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) Until I discovered the epicness of Fight Club, and later V for Vendetta and then this year's Inception, TNBC held the top spot in my heart not only for Christmas (Hallowe'en?) movies, but movies in general. I could rant and rave about how innovative it was and how beautiful the score is and how much I adore every song and every character, but I won't. I will just say that it's a fantastic movie to watch for Hallowe'en, but even better for Christmas. Christmas Town is only shown a bit, but its stark contrast to Hallowe'en Town makes it seem even more Christmassy, if that makes sense (and Christmassy is not a word, according to Spellcheck, and that is causing me near-physical pain right now LOL but I'll leave it).  Basically - the fucking skeleton is so enthralled with Christmas (in its most magical and non-religious form; which is how I like to "keep it" or celebrate, or however you want to put it) that he wants to basically STEAL it, so he can carry it out. 
And to conclude this excessively long post (wtf is wrong with me!? I don't know how/when to shut up), I could never, ever complete a post about Christmas with out discussing my favorite

Small-screen season's greetings

If it's only 60mins or fewer long, it qualifies for this list.
  1. A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965) Another holiday special that's been kicking around longer than my own mother has, I can't tell you when I started watching this classic either, only that it's been there as long as I can remember. I feel the same way about  Charlie Brown as I do the Muppets (and the Chipmunks - more on them in a second). I will watch ANYTHING and EVERYTHING that has to do with that little bald-headed weirdo. Race for Your Life Charlie Brown, Bon Voyage Charlie Brown, It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown!, you name it. My parents' actually bought me a boxset of Charlie Brown holiday DVDs, and I was ridiculously greatful it included this gem. From the pathetic tree to Linus' heartfelt explanation of the true meaning of Christmas (it's the only religion I let leak happily in to my life - all year, period), it's something to be enjoyed year in and year out, and I love it.
  2. Christopher the Christmas Tree (1996) IT'S ONLINE NOW!!! I've been searching for months!!!!  Basically, a little tree that wouldn't grow in the shadow of the other, larger trees, only dreams of being a beautiful Christmas tree to bring happiness to others. Finally, he grows big and strong... and... I'm tearing up thinking about it. The best piece of nostaliga from my childhood that made me INFINITELY HAPPY. I don't have cable, so I won't be able to catch it this year if they run it on YTV.
  3. A Chipmunk Christmas (1981) This one, like the others, was with me as long as I can remember. I'm big creep when it comes to the Chipmunks; I've remained a fan even through the dodgy live-action/CGI hybrid travesties that have come out of the last 5 years. I actually had to order Alvin and the Chipmunks Meet the Wolfman off of Amazon for myself to satisfy my obsession. Anyway - sick little boys, Golden Echo harmonicas, dog-reindeer and just what IS the true meaning of Christmas? You'll see it all in this classic that gives me those wonderful childhood-memory chills with every passing moment.
  4. Annabelle's Wish (1997) Technically I should have stuck this up in the feature-length section, and I guess I could swap its position with Rudolph and stick that down here, but - does it really mattter? Anyway, a little boy (it's always a little boy, isn't it?) loses his ability to speak in a traumatic fire, and each year at Christmas, Santa brings the animals the gift of speech for one day, and one little calf named Annabelle makes a selfless sacrifice... legit crying now, it gets me every time. 
  5. Yogi's First Christmas (1980)This gets mention because as a child, anything on TV longer than half-an-hour seems EPICLY LONG. It takes two hours to watch this with commercials, and that's what I remember most about it. I still love watching it now, because, as with the others I've mentioned, every scene brings back a memory. The skating competition, the skiiing, the party. Yogi bear wakes up during hibernation, and figures, "Screw it! I may as well stay awake and see what all the fuss is about." Hilarity ensues. This one is gold.
  6. I almost forgot (and posted this already without this addition - oops!) the original Dr. Seuss's How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966) This one is exactly as old as my mother, and like her - has aged wonderfully (I wish she read this, maybe I'd get an extra-special present for saying that... I know Dad's a fan - HI DAD!). Recently (like, LAST NIGHT) parodied beautifully on Glee, the original is just as creepy as the live-action one with Jim Carrey, but has more heart - the Who's singing around the big tree even after all their things have been taken by the Grinch, still totally in love with Christmas, and that poor little dog, Max... it'll bring a tear to your eye, I swear.

Here's one last thing: Part 1 of "Nick and Noel", a cartoon from my childhood I would've completely forgotten about had it not been for one VERY helpful website! (this one)

ALSO! This is the first time I recall as a child recognizing a voice from one cartoon to another - listen to the cat! Rugrats, anyone!? AND ANNABELLE FROM ANNABELLE'S WISH! It's all the same chick!

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* Anything intentionally antagonistic or misspelled to the point it would cause an educated person pain to look at will be deleted.