Tag Archives: Christmas

The Doctor, The Muppets, and The Sequel That Should Not Be

None of the topics in the title are connected, just three things I wanted to talk about.

The Eighth Doctor preparing to drink the elixir that will turn him into the "War Doctor."

The Eighth Doctor preparing to drink the elixir that will turn him into the “War Doctor.” [image source: Wikipedia]

First off, The Doctor. More to the point, the Eighth Doctor. Watching The Night of the Doctor has left me wanting more from the Eighth Doctor (Paul McGann) and apparently I’m not the only one. An online petition has been created to try and convince the BBC to create an online series for Paul McGann’s Eighth Doctor, a series he so rightfully deserves. It’s pretty close to its 15,000 supporter goal with less than 750 supporters to go. If you haven’t stopped by and signed it yet, do so now. I’m not really sure if this petition will make a difference in convincing the BBC and Steven Moffat to create the series, but it’s worth a shot. You know, never hurts to try and all that jazz.

For those of you that don’t know, Paul McGann’s Eighth Doctor never got his own televised series because the 1996 revival from BBC and 20th Century Fox failed to meet expectations and the full revival never took off. However, McGann did make a name for himself as the Eighth Doctor by continuing his adventures through some wonderfully entertaining audio dramas from Big Finish Productions. If you haven’t heard them yet, I suggest giving them a listen. Recently, he made his return to the screen in The Night of the Doctor, where we find out just how the Eighth Doctor becomes John Hurt’s mysterious “War Doctor.” It was a welcome return and we should all be very lucky to see more of McGann’s Doctor.

Ricky Gervais is just one of the many celebrities appearing in Muppets Most Wanted

Ricky Gervais is just one of the many celebrities appearing in Muppets Most Wanted. [image source: Disney]

Second, The Muppets are back! After the success of The Muppets in 2011 (which I loved), it was inevitable that we would be granted a sequel that would be no less entertaining than the first. That’s where Muppets Most Wanted comes in. The new film finds Kermit in some trouble in Europe when he’s mistaken for a master criminal who has switch places him. Surprisingly, no one in the Muppet gang notices the difference. Now it’s up to Kermit to escape prison, find his evil doppelganger, and bring him to justice, not to mention convince the others that he’s the real Kermit. And in true Muppet style, it will be a musical comedy and there will be loads of celebrity appearances (including Disney’s unfortunate addition of some of their Disney Channel “talent”). This should be hilarious!

Here’s the official UK trailer for Muppets Most Wanted:

 

Lastly, and I shudder at the thought of this actually happening, some independent film producers are trying to make a sequel to It’s A Wonderful Life. Yes, you heard me right.

I'm sure if this sequel was ever made, George Bailey would jump off a bridge. [image source: Paramount]

I’m sure if this sequel was ever made, George Bailey would jump off a bridge. [image source: Paramount]

The rights to the Christmas classic–released over 60 years ago–are owned by Paramount Studios, and they are refusing grant any rights to let the sequel be made. They are doing everything they can to protect the integrity of the original. Thank you, Paramount. And Jimmy Stewart thanks you. Your actions in this matter give me hope that not every studio is a  full-on, money-grubbing whore. It’s a Christmas freakin’ miracle! There is no need for a sequel to this film. There never was and there never will be, especially this long after the film’s original release. To make one would be trampling on the beauty and heartfelt magic of the original.

You can read more about it here.

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After Christmas Slump

Is it just me or does everyone get cranky after Christmas?

After the presents are opened and after familiarity has bred a fair amount of contempt, all I want to do is get away. It’s not fair, and it’s not always possible, but that’s the truth.

Is that just me? Gosh, I hope not.

It’s not that I don’t love my family; I surely do. It’s not that I don’t want to see them; I surely do.

I already miss Christmas. I already miss the music. I guess the “holiday season” isn’t quite over, yet. But, it all seems done after Christmas, doesn’t it? I’m listening to Lindsey Stirling right now just to be obstinate. Listen:

Her videos are a little bit goofy, but I like her music. Most times, I just like to keep her in another window.

Music makes me happy, and it helps my post Christmas slump. Even if it’s Christmas music. It doesn’t have to be, though. This always boosts my mood:

Do you have an after Christmas down? What do you do to pull yourself through?

 

[Featured image: By Grzegorz Łobiński (originally posted to Flickr as Santa Claus) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons]

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It’s a Doctor Who Christmas Special!

Possible spoilers! You’ve been warned.

The Doctor and Clara. (image source: BBC)

The Doctor and Clara. (image source: BBC)

Whovians rejoiced on the night (and afternoon, in some parts of the world) of Christmas Day when the BBC debuted the newest Doctor Who Christmas Special, The Snowmen.

Since the mid-season finale aired months ago and we were left with the saddening (yet welcome) departure of the Ponds, we have eagerly awaited The Doctor’s triumphant return and the conclusion of the seventh season. Personally, I’ve been waiting for Matt Smith to wow me like he did in his first Christmas special, The Christmas Carol, because I’ve become rather bored with him. I’ve gotten to the point where I’m ready for his regeneration to happen. Sadly, I don’t think that’ll come about until after the 50th Anniversary.

Until then, I’ll just have to hope that he continues giving performances like he did in The Snowmen.  I was entertained, much more than I was during last year’s special. Actually, the entire episode was very entertaining. It was full of thrills, chills, mystery, laughs, and a not-so-well-executed Sherlock Holmes impersonation. It did have its hokey moments but not enough to ruin it.

Set in Victorian England, viewers are introduced to a young, friendless boy who begins a sinister relationship with a snowman, brilliantly voiced by Sir Ian McKellen. The snowman turns out to be a parasitic entity seeking to take over the human race and turn them into ice people. Flash forward to 1892, and the friendless boy has become an evil older man; Doctor Simeon (played by Hudson Hawk baddie, Richard E. Grant), is preparing his army of snowmen for the takeover of mankind on Christmas Day.

The Doctor looking spiffy in Victorian threads. (image source: BBC)

The Doctor looking spiffy in Victorian threads. (image source: BBC)

But where is the Doctor while all of this is going on? Sulking in the TARDIS, sitting high up in the clouds, not to be bothered by anything going on down below. He’s become a broken, melancholy shell of a Time Lord since losing the Ponds, and he doesn’t want anything to do with the world. No more saving people or worlds, no more investigating, no more adventures, just sulking and reading.

Enter Clara (Jenna-Louise Coleman), the soon-to-be new companion, who stumbles upon the snowmen and reinvigorates the Doctor’s sense of adventure. She’s sassy, spunky, clever, witty, and keeps the Doctor on his toes, just what he needs in a companion. She resembles Souffle Girl from Asylum of the Daleks and at the end of the episode, you’ll find out why.

When she discovers the snowmen, as well as a menacing old woman in a frozen pond, are linked to thoughts, including those of the children she governs for, she seeks out the Doctor’s help in stopping them. With the assistance of Madame Vastra (Neve McIntosh), Jenny Flint (Catrin Stewart), and Strax (Dan Starkey), she brings the Doctor out of his slump and gets him back in the game. Of course he manages to save the day, he is the Doctor after all, but he loses Clara in the process. Well technically, she defeats the snowmen by crying, which is the hokey part, but whatever. She dies in the end…again. But the Doctor figures out she’s actually Souffle Girl (sorta), and he’s off again to find her in another time period. And that’s the lead-in to the second half of season seven.

The best parts of this episode:

  1. The schtick between Strax and The Doctor is priceless. Strax is pretty damn funny.
  2. The chemistry between Clara and The Doctor is ten times better than it ever was with the Ponds.
  3. The Doctor should wear Victorian clothes more often. He looks much better in them than he does in his regular attire.
  4. The Doctor pretended to be Sherlock Holmes and failing miserably.
  5. The “bow ties are cool” reference was especially hilarious.
  6. Spiral staircase into the clouds, leading to the TARDIS.
  7. The new look of the TARDIS interior is stellar!
  8. Ian McKellen’s voice. Wicked.

The worst parts of this episode.

  1. Old ice woman in the pond was lame.
  2. Expecting more action from the snowmen, didn’t get much.
  3. Clara/Oswin died, again. At least they didn’t say she was a clone or something stupid like that.
  4. The Doctor Simeon ice zombie puppet routine was laughable.
  5.  It ended.

 

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Awful Christmas Songs

There are some really awesome Christmas songs.

And then there are the kind that are really, really awful. And since I like focusing on things that suck, here are my least favorite Christmas songs.

1. The Christmas Shoes – New Song

Patton Oswalt has said (NSFW Language) pretty much everything I want to say about The Christmas Shoes. This song is sadistic.

2. Santa Gimme – JRandall

Shirtless dude? Check. Skeezy dude singing skeezy lyrics? Check. This Christmas song makes me infinitely sad.

3. Santa Claus is Comin’ in a Boogie Woogie Choo-Choo Train – The Tractors

The Tractors aren’t the most popular country rock band on Earth, so when it came time to make a Christmas album, what did they do? Took their most popular song and changed the lyrics to be more Christmas-y. This song makes me want to lay my head under the big wheel of a tractor and beg for it to run over my skull and crush my brains out.

 

 

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A Post of Random Holiday Stuff

 

I think we’ve all seen something like this:


It’s generally pretty awesome. (Side note: my wife informed me that these people broadcast the music over unused radio bands. That makes sense.)

Since the holidays are coming (or already here, if you are one of my Jewish readers), I decided to go in search of awesome holiday things. I’m going to warn you that, much like my mind, this list is going to be pretty random, so bear with me.

 

First up, Bing Crosby and David Bowie. I’m so glad the universe conspired to make this happen.

 

Here is a Spock Santa hat. Live long and sleigh ride.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is pretty. The Piano Guys perform O Come, Emmanuel.

 

This album exists.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And finally, to end this mildly strange journey, here is an animated .gif of Lumpy, Chewbacca’s father, from the Star Wars Holiday Special.

I’m sorry you have to see this. Happy Holidays!

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Sucked into the Season

The Christmas season seems to start earlier each year.

True story: A week before Thanksgiving, I walked into WalMart to pick up some things. But, something was off. No, it wasn’t the sickening stench of the unwashed woman complaining at the top of her lungs or the Santa-in-the-off-season wannabe spilling off either side of his motorized shopping cart/Jazzie/ Hoveround. (By the way, I firmly believe Santa would NOT allow his butt crack to show. Very un-Christmasy. And I’m sure he waxes, amiright?)

It finally dawned on me that they were playing Christmas music! It wasn’t even Thanksgiving, and they had already decorated the registers, stringing garish tinsel from line to line.

Seriously?!

I was incensed. Thanksgiving is a great holiday, and here they were, skipping it completely! GAH!

Now, I’m sure there are a lot of you out there who have no problem with starting the Christmas season so early. To you I say, “Pffft!”

I was bound and determined not to let Christmas encroach until December. No decorations! No holiday shopping! And certainly NO CHRISTMAS MUSIC until December! I was resolved.

Everyone and everything was against me, though. Everywhere I turned, it was already Christmas! It didn’t help that I was part of a “Christmas In Downtown” event scheduled for Dec. 1, either. I allowed that to slide, though. I wasn’t responsible for having to practice Christmas carols! Totally didn’t count.

Then, all the crazy people started to post Christmas music on social media platforms! A lot of my job IRL is in social media, and I couldn’t escape it. Slowly, it started to invade my consciousness, and I thought nothing of the posts I was seeing. I was still mad about WalMart, though (I have standards, dang it!).

My final downfall? Muppets. Yes, that’s right, MUPPETS!

Take a look:

First of all, let me just assert that anyone who doesn’t like the Muppets is obviously a Nazi. Everyone likes the Muppets. That’s right, I said it. EVERYONE.

CeeLo Green is basically a Muppet to begin with, and his official Muppet-izing made him fit in all the more. Plus, who can resist a little “mahna mahna?”

And that was that! I was sucked into the season.

But, at least it was almost December; I almost made it.

What about you? Are you one of those early Christmas starter people?

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Secular Christmas

Last week, I was at a holiday party. Or a Christmas party. Christmas decorations have been up since Halloween, and I just can’t tell anymore. And we had to have THAT conversation about it . You know the one. It goes something like this.

Drunk Guy: Merry Christmas!

Grumpy Hippy: Uh, don’t you mean happy holidays?

Drunk Guy: Sure, happy holiday.

Blah blah blah. Defensive hand gestures. Now someone is crying in the bathroom, effectively taking us all away from the goal of friends, family, and a holiday hookup.

And we’ve all been there. Everyone has that conversation at some point about how to define the “right” version of Christmas or the PC way of sharing a season composed of several religious and secular holidays.

Granted, “happy holidays” is a pretty safe bet since Thanksgiving, New Year, Kwanzaa, and Hanukkah enjoy the same part of the calendar, but it’s more than that. We want to get caught up in the minutia of specific details at the cost of the real point.

One could argue that folks of different religious denominations are celebrating a different Christmas from each other since they are celebrating a different Christ. Or no Christ at all.

A lot of folks out there are celebrating a day with friends and family, separate of a specific religious association or even while observing another religion. It happens. So much so that “Christmas” has effectively become a catch-all for a bunch of different ways to celebrate different things.

Which really brings me to my point: We are all celebrating a different Christmas. And we are all celebrating the same Christmas. Not in a new-age sense, but in that we are all observing different specifics of a holiday season, while at the same time enjoying some common meaning.

Family. Friends. Joy. Goodwill.

These are things we can all get behind whether you’re celebrating the Cthulhu-like corporate Christmas of the retail industry or a more traditional Bing Crosby affair.

That’s what secular Christmas has become. Not to say there’s anything wrong with celebrating a different meaning. Just the opposite. I’m trying to say that the point of Christmas is not the point of Christmas. And arguing about it is, ironically, counter to the holiday!

So, I’m of the mind to celebrate a new secular Christmas. Not the secular Christmas that some fear is eroding family values–the one that is a war on Christ’s birthday. Instead, I’m ready to celebrate a secular Christmas made up of all of the Christmases. A Christmas that lets people simply be. An inclusive holiday of holidays that celebrates us being happy, alive, and joyful.

And isn’t that what we all really want? To enjoy these simple things and maybe, just maybe, spend a whole lot of money on cool stuff?

Featured Image via Wikimedia Commons

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The Pros & Cons of the Oncoming Storm Called Christmas

After working for almost 13 years in the retail business, I’ve grown quite disenchanted with the holiday season. But over the past few years, it has started to regain some of its magic. Some, but not all. This year looks to be a bit brighter than recent years thanks to my girlfriend and her little girl.

Something about the joy expressed from a children during Christmastime, that sparkle of wonder and splendor in their eyes at the sight of snow falling and presents under the tree, really brings a warmth to your heart. I look forward to reading Christmas stories to the new little girl in my life and watching her rip through the wrapping paper on all the great gifts I got her this year.

There are a few other holiday events that I’m looking forward to… and some that I’m not. I thought I might compile a list for you. I’ll start with the Cons of Christmas, so hopefully the Pros will rebuild your holiday cheer.

Cons of Christmas

OBEY. [source: greenlivingtemple.com]

  1. Marketing and Consumerism– It seems that, in the retail market, Thanksgiving is getting skipped over and we’re just jumping straight to Christmas. It’s still being celebrated, there’s still parades and everything, but Turkey-time has been getting the cold shoulder lately. (And I understand the irony of this statement, seeing as how I’m writing an article about Christmas before anyone from this site has written one about Thanksgiving. Not a care is had.) Nothing lessens my holiday cheer more than hearing Christmas tunes playing the day after Halloween. It has even come to the point where it looks like Halloween may soon be looked over as well. I noticed this year that Christmas decorations and paraphernalia went on sale before Halloween was over. Outrageous!That’s not the worst part. That “honor” goes to the After-Thanksgiving/Black Friday sales. Mobs of insane shoppers lining up and waiting for hours on end, all for ridiculous bargains on a lot of second-rate crap, I mean merchandise. Stores have even resorted to started the sales on the night of Thanksgiving, as an effort to reduce casualties during this time of madness. I don’t see it working. Nothing can quell the rage in an over-worked mother’s heart when she’s barreling through a pack of like-minded moms, in order to get to that prized toy or electronic device that her ungrateful, heathen child covets so.

    If I woke up to this, I wouldn’t leave the house.

  2. Snow and the Cold– I have grown to despise the cold and the snow. I used to love them when I was a kid but now I dread them both. I think my hatred started once I started driving. When you’re a kid, you don’t worry about breaking down during the winter and having to suffer through the frigid weather. You play in the snow then you go inside and get warm. When you get older and you start driving, there’s a very good chance you’re going to break down and have to sit and freeze your butt off while waiting for a tow truck. Or maybe even sleep in your car on a frosty night. I know I have. And let’s not forget about having to wake up earlier so you can warm up your car and scrape the ice off of your windshield. Once you get on the road, you have to worry about not hitting a patch of ice and careening into a snow drift. Add to that, the horrible drivers who already can’t drive under normal conditions are on the roads as well.Making sure your kids are kept warm so they don’t get sick and winterizing your home to keep your heating costs down; all stuff you have to worry about as an adult. Also, add to list that once snow has first fallen and it is untouched, it’s beautiful. After that, it’s nasty slush.

    Yup. These Guys. [source: teamjimmyjoe.com]

  3. Spending Time With the Ones You Loathe – You know those friends and members of family that you ignore and spend all year trying to avoid? Well since this is the season of togetherness and caring, you’re probably gonna have to interact with them. More than likely in a wonderful holiday visit where they can regale you with news of how awful or better their life is, so as to guilt or gloat, ask you for money, and/or tell you what you’re doing wrong with your life and how they don’t approve. And a lot of times, you’re going to get all of that and more once alcohol starts fueling the misery train. It may only be for one day of the year, but it’s gonna be the worst day, that’s for sure. Especially if they decide that they want to spend more time with you afterwards and try to keep in contact. Prepare yourselves for that nonsense.
  4. Holiday Sensory Overkill – Too much of a good thing is bad. Some people should heed these words wisely. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve hurt my eyes from looking at someone’s Christmas display that was just way too bright and gaudy. When your lights start to number in the hundreds of thousands, you might be overdoing it. And for some, tens of thousands is too much. It was funny when Clark Griswold did it, but you sir/madam, are no Clark Griswold. This also goes for the people who like to fill up their yards with tacky, plastic decorations to the point where no yard can be seen. You’re doing it wrong. I don’t know how many artificial versions of Santa and his eight tiny reindeer you think you need on your front lawn, but one is truly enough. I know common sense goes out they window once “Jingle Bells” starts playing, but how about we take a small step in re-establishing it by easing back on the outdoor (and indoor, for that matter) decor. And to the person who decided the giant bags of cinnamon-scented pine cones were a good idea…I hate you.

Pros of Christmas:

  1. Spending Time With the Ones You Love– For all the horrid people that you have to visit with this time of year, there are a bunch of really great people that make it all worth it, and you get to see them too. The ones who brighten your day, make you smile and laugh, truly warm your heart, and give you a reason to enjoy the holidays; those folks are gonna be around to share the season with you. So when you’re utterly disgusted and annoyed after talking with the ones you can’t stand; turn to the ones you love, smile, give them a big hug, and regain your joy. Remember, those negative jerks don’t matter. That’s why you avoid them all year long.

    If you haven’t seen it, watch it. [source: acartoonchristmas.com]

  2. Quality Holiday ProgrammingA Charlie Brown Christmas, Christmas with The California Raisins, A Garfield Christmas Special, The Grinch (animated and live-action), The Santa Clause movies…I love Christmas movies! I could go on and on listing all my favorites, but I’ll probably do that in another article. Nothing makes me feel like a kid again quite like sitting in front of the television and watching all of my favorite holiday specials, even when shows like Community and Supernatural have Christmas-themed episodes. The joy they bring is insurmountable. This includes the parades. Don’t judge.
  3. Holiday Sensory Nirvana – I have said before that some people can overdue it with the decoration, but there are a few, a great few, who know how to decorate well. So well that you must stop whatever you’re doing and stand in awe at the greatness they have created. Not too over-the-top and not too underwhelming, just right smack-dab at the center of yuletide perfection. The lights are done right (and sometimes splendidly timed to music), the yard ornaments are tastefully placed and not overcrowding each other, and there maybe be one inflatable Santa but they are keeping him constantly inflated. No flaccid Santa’s here (snicker if you must). It’s a display so wonderful that you want to run up and knock on their front door and when they open, give them the most awesome high-five you’ve ever given in your life–A high-five so powerful that it acknowledges their greatness in decorating on into the new year.
  4. Michael Buble – As well as The Rat Pack, Nat King Cole, Burl Ives, Bing Crosby, and few other greats, but mostly Michael Buble.

Need I say more?

What are some of your Pros and Cons for Christmas?

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