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Showing posts from November 20, 2011

Batman Returns (1992)

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It's funny – I've always hated this movie.

I actually saw it when it first came out. I didn't know what the word 'campy' meant then, but the portrayal of the characters and setting was just a bit too cartoonish for me at the time. I remember thinking that the first one was serious, while the second one was just a joke.

But I've recently re-watched both Tim Burton Batman movies, and it turns out they're both equally campy; in their own, dark way, they're actually no less campy than the Adam West version. It also turns out I've been wrong about Batman Returns for my entire life.

This movie kicks ass.

Granted, this isn't the Batman geeks like myself have come to embrace. This Batman lacks the comic version's flat out moral refusal to kill. In fact, he incinerates one goon and shoves dynamite down the pants of a second (and then has the audacity to lecture Catwoman about killing later: the hypocrite). But this does a fantastic job exploring the…

A Chipmunk Christmas (1981, 1989)

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Erin and I have a... disagreement about The Chipmunks. I find them mostly inoffensive to funny, and I have a bit of a soft spot for their animated selves that stems from a love of The Chipmunk Adventure movie. (I have no idea whether that movie is actually any good, but I loved it as a kid.)

Erin hates The Chipmunks, and he can't even identify why. So for his commentary, you can just imagine him tearing his hair, muttering about stupidity and incoherently shouting in exasperation.


A Chipmunk Christmas (1981)
This TV Special was a loose sequel to the 1961-62 animated series The Alvin Show, and aspects of it make no sense without a basis in that, including a nonsensical dream sequence about the other segment from that series.
So here's the set-up: cliché sick kid at Christmas. Alvin gives the kid his harmonica because he's a big fan. But oh, no! Now Carnegie Hall is calling, and Alvin needs money for a new harmonica! Plus stupid misunderstandings and lots and lots of stop…

Christmas Reading

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Because I know you can't get enough of reading me prattle on and on about Christmas HERE, I thought it would be a good time to remind you that I've written a novel about Mr. Claus. You can get my fantasy novel, For Love of Children, in print or for just about any e-format you need.

And that's not all. I've marked the electronic versions down for the holidays. That's right - you can buy For Love of Children for Kindle, Nook, or... what the hell's Sony's reader called again? Oh, who cares - no one owns one of those anyway.
So, yeah. Kindle, Nook, whatever: it's yours for a measly 99 cents. Less than a buck.
Here's where you can buy it on Amazon.

Here's where you can get it for, well, anything and everything on Smashwords (recommended if you own multiple devices and want more than one format).

If you own a Nook, you can get it at Barnes & Noble's online store here.

All of the above sites offer free samples, but Smashwords will give you a big…

Toy Review: Rudolph the Red-Nose Reindeer: Santa's Musical Sleigh

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When I'm not wiring my eyeballs open to force-feed Christmas specials directly into my cerebral cortex, I spend a lot of time reviewing toys at Toy Remix. Since this is Christmas-related, I decided it really belonged over here.

This monstrosity is produced by "Forever Fun," a toy company who's sole purpose seems to be making action figures and playsets based on old Christmas specials. To their credit, they've got some good merchandise out there, including a six-inch scale articulated Rudolph I bought a few years ago and reviewed at my OTHER toy site (I'm a very busy man).

The toy I'm looking at today is smaller and lacks articulation. On the other hand, it comes with eight other reindeer, Santa, and a sleigh. So take that however you like.



I keep calling this a toy, although that's actually misleading. Sure, it's packaged like a toy and it's sold at Toys R Us, but this really doesn't feel like a toy once it's out of its box. It's …

We Were There

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At this point, Black Friday has more or less completely consumed Thanksgiving. If people still bother with the feast, it must be to store energy for the long night ahead. As co-founder of the internet's self-proclaimed premier holiday blog, I've decided to dub the night between Thanksgiving and Black Friday "The Blackest Night."

In case you're either living under a rock or enjoying the holidays with loved ones instead of watching news reports of disgruntled shoppers pepper-spraying a crowd, the old-fashioned 3AM door-busters are an antiquated notion of a bygone era: Black Friday begins, at the absolute latest, at the stroke of midnight. Some retailers aren't even satisfied with that: Toys R Us and Walmart opened for Black Friday at 9 and 10 PM, respectively. Yes, Black Friday officially started on Grey Thursday, Black Friday Eve; the Blackest Night.

There was no way in hell we were missing that.

Lindsay and I arrived at the Queens Toys R Us around 10. They&#…

A Christmas Carol (2009)

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Ugh. What a boring excuse for a movie. We all know the story of A Christmas Carol (if you don't, well go read it. It's short and free online, and we're planning on looking at quite a few versions this year) so the only questions here are its quality as an adaptation and its quality as a movie. This fails pretty badly on both counts.

The first problem is that A Christmas Carol is not a long story. No, not even if you shoehorn in as many lines of dialogue and tiny descriptive moments as you can bear, including many that wiser screenwriters left out of their versions. Mickey's Christmas Carol works by being short. Muppet Christmas Carol has musical numbers. This one either shoves in deadly dull sequences of nothing; pointless flyovers of GC landscapes, establishing sequences for settings that are never used, ridiculously stupid chase sequences that make no sense, ludicrously over the top “this was filmed in 3D!!!” pans, or it just takes forever to get to the next part.

O…

Listen Along at Home

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Hi folks. I've got some fairly lengthy thoughts about Christmas music I'm planning on subjecting you to eventually, but this post is going to be a little more targeted.

Here's the thing. Amazon's currently unloading a crap load of holiday cheer dirt cheap. I don't expect these prices to last past the end of the month, so I wanted to draw your attention to a handful of Christmas MP3 albums that are actually worth listening to before the prices go back to normal in a few days.

Full disclosure: This site is an Amazon affiliate, so, yeah, if you use the links below and proceed to buy something, Amazon gives us a 2 cent kickback or something. Woo - conflict of interest. However, believe it or not, I'm NOT writing this post in the hopes of generating enough revenue to buy a pack of Smartees. No, I'm doing this because I truly believe that Christmas music spreads pain, and I'm a horrible, horrible person. At any rate, if you like my advice but hate me, this li…

Care Bears Nutcracker Suite (1988)

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The Care Bears Nutcracker Suite (or The Care Bears Nutcracker, depending on the release), was the last of the 1980's Care Bears television specials, and by most accounts the worst. Relatively speaking, I didn't find it that bad, but then I haven't seen the other two. Maybe they're masterworks of brilliance, for all I know. I kind of doubt it, though.

Let's be clear - this isn't good in any meaningful definition of the word. It's bad. Kind of really bad. It doesn't make sense, and it feels like the unholy love child of a toy commercial and the drug-fueled ramblings of a coke-head. But then, isn't that what the 80's were truly about?

Ostensibly, this was supposed to be based on The Nutcracker. That might be a bit of a stretch: this is mainly an excuse for the Care Bears to roam around Toyland, a concept that feels hopelessly redundant. I mean, the animated Care Bears have stitches on their backs: there's no way they're supposed to be &quo…

Christmas with the Chipmunks (CD 2010)

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This year I made a point of adding to my collection of holiday music with what I'm calling Novelty Character Albums. What I mean is, albums where most of the gimmick is that the songs are being sung by fictional characters. I, honestly, love character-based Christmas music. There are so many seasonal songs that are good no matter what, but when, for example, the Muppets sing them, they become transcendent.

The first one I'm looking at is also the oldest (date on the CD notwithstanding).

The Chipmunks have been a novelty act since the 1950's, and their hit holiday song won a Grammy at the very first Grammy Awards.

So for historical purposes, I had to get one of their compilations. The company that owns The Chipmunks has been putting out different combinations of holiday songs since 1961, generally just re-combining and re-releasing the same tracks. So even though this CD was technically released in 2010, the recordings are all from the 60's.

With that out of the way, l…

Happy Black Friday Eve

I'm telling you, it feels like the Black Friday season gets here earlier every year. I realize that the season doesn't really change - it still starts the day after Halloween and goes until Black Friday Eve - but I swear stores have started putting out decorations and merchandise before kids are back in school.

But all of that's behind us, as we settle down to feast with family and friends tonight in preparation of tomorrow's big day. So, whether you're planning on spending this Black Friday Eve gathered around a roast turkey or if you and a loved one are trying to force down peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in line outside a Walmart while cross-referencing a map of the store against a sales flyer, we wish you and your family the best this holiday season.

But Black Friday is about more than just you: it's about all of us. It's about America. In fact, very few people know this, but just as Christmas was scheduled around co-opted pagan holidays, Black Frida…

Live-Tweeting the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade!

Mainlining Christmas will be covering the Macy's Thanksgiving parade! Live! From NEW YORK CITY (more specifically, from our apartment in Queens, where we'll be watching it on TV).

Yeah. Here's the link.

Terry Pratchett's Hogfather (2006)

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Clocking in at two ninety-minute episodes, this is one of the longer pieces of work we've seen for this project, but it's completely worth the time. This is an excellent adaptation of the novel, with all of its zany twists and dry satirical humor.

As in said novel, the plot revolves around Hogswatch (Christmas) on Discworld. The Hogfather is missing, and while Death himself holds down the fort, his granddaughter Susan has to figure out what happened, then how to save both Hogswatch and possibly the Discworld itself. The characters are fun and interesting, most of my favorite parts of the book made it into the adaptation, and Erin, who hasn't read the book, was able to follow the plot, and the point, without a problem.

I'm hoping to re-read the novel soon and post about it, so I won't go too far into the plot here. Instead I'll give you a few screenshots. I wish there had been more Death of Rats, but Death was surprisingly well done. I wasn't sure that he c…

The Christmas Magic Returns

Do you believe in Christmas? Do you love Christmas?

Most people would answer yes to those questions without a moment's hesitation. And that's a shame, because it means they're not considering the implications. It means they don't actually know what Christmas is.

To many people, Christmas is silver bells, angels, and love. But that's not Christmas. Christmas is an angler fish a thousand feet long from the space between worlds; its tinsel and decorative lights are lures to draw us in, so the jaws can snap shut.

You think I'm being harsh? Think I'm just cynical? Then you don't know a damn thing about Christmas -  you've never seen its teeth.

Have you listened to 20 versions of Silent Night back to back? Have you stared into the abyss long enough to see the icy stare of a snowman gazing back?

No? Then you don't know Christmas: you know only its shadow.

Last year, we descended into the wide maw of the holiday. We stared down its throat and returned t…