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Showing posts from December 2, 2012

Eight Crazy Nights (2002)

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Eight Crazy Nights performs an important service by virtue of its 12% Freshness Rating, which establishes a much needed margin of error on the Tomatometer (turns out it's 12%). Upon finishing this movie, the very idea that someone out there could conceivably have liked it is sickening. This is, without a doubt, the worst Adam Sandler movie either of us have ever seen. Think about that for a minute.

The film is an utter mess. Worse still, it seems to think it's actually funny, charming, subversive, and touching, while offering absolutely nothing of value. The jokes, often punctuated by the narrator restating the obvious intent, come off as mean-spirited and pointless. The movie's premise is somewhat similar to Bad Santa's, but it misses its mark to a degree that's almost incredible to behold. Not only is it painfully clear that the producers have never made an animated film before, we found ourselves wondering if they'd ever actually seen one. The timing was so…

Interview with an Elf

Five years ago, Shortcake Jingleberry, a Christmas Elf with experience at the North Pole, was transferred to Santaland (located in Macy's New York flagship) to assist Santa Claus at that location. Since that time, she has blogged about the experience. Despite being extremely busy, Shortcake graciously agreed to answer some questions from Mainlining Christmas, offering us a rare opportunity to glimpse inside the life of the elusive Christmas Elf.

MC: Do you commute from the North Pole or do you live in New York?
SJ: Shortcake lives in New York City. It's too much for the reindeer to move everyone from the North Pole to Macy's and back every day, so they just move Santa, and the elves find housing in New York. This way, the elves are also well positioned to keep an eye on boys and girls during the year for Santa's Naughty and Nice lists.

MC: Do you travel by reindeer or do you use public transportation? SJ: Santa travels by reindeer from the North Pole. Shortcake uses publi…

Treasure: We Love Animals/Nightmare on Oxford St. (2002)

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This was another interesting find on the cartoon compilation DVD we bought this year. Treasure is a show from the UK, based on a popular newspaper column in which a woman wrote about the troubles of raising a teenage daughter. I found the show rather endearing, although at first it wasn’t clear whether it was really a holiday episode.

The episode is broken up into sequential subplots in which Treasure and her mother clash, including fighting over her friends and whether she has time for a part-time job. It culminates in an ill-fated shopping trip in which the daughter’s desire for the newest best things and her mother’s desire to just finish the holiday shopping both crash against Treasure’s sudden awareness of social injustice, in the person of a person begging for change outside the department store.

The dialogue is snappy and snarky, and the emotional relationships are complicated and touching. In short, I really enjoyed this show. It was a confusing choice for this DVD, though, …

Fiction: In a Field Beneath the Stars

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It's day eight, which means we're almost 1/3rd done with 25 Christmas Eves. Today's piece is titled "In a Field Beneath the Stars." Hope you guys like it.
By: Erin L. Snyder
The highway was almost empty and dark clouds stretched out in every direction. There were small patches of grayish snow along the road. Every now and then, Tina’s car would make a clunking sound, but she’d been assured by the mechanic it wouldn’t give them any trouble.

Susan was sitting in the passenger seat, just staring through the windshield. She was wearing headphones, but her CD player was almost out of batteries. She could hear the sound wavering, dying. Dead. She pulled them off her head and eyed the radio.

“How you holding up?” Tina asked from behind the wheel. She’d interpreted her sister’s action as a sign she wanted to talk.

“Huh? Oh, fine.” She lied with all the subtlety a fourteen year-old girl was capable of.

“I’m not in love with this situation, either. But this is the way it i…

Barney: Night Before Christmas (1999)

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I've hated Barney on principle for years now, but until now, I haven't actually seen an episode, nor did I know anything about the character beyond the fact he was an annoying purple Tyrannosaurus Rex who sung badly and cultivated the company of young children. But I didn't know, for example, that he was a normal-sized plush toy who gets turned into a not remotely full-sized dinosaur by the children's imagination. Nor did I know that he has similar dinosaur friends, one of which is named BJ.

You know, I think the fact that the show's producers couldn't think of a single good reason not to name a character "BJ" tells you a lot about the people who made Barney and their understanding of America's youth.

This special starts at the home of one of Barney's friends on Christmas Eve. All her friends are coming over to help decorate and for Christmas dinner. I'm assuming they're all orphans whose parents were eaten by dinosaurs, because other…

Musical Interlude, Part 5

I hope you didn't think we were done. Plenty more holiday music for me to sit through.


Album: Come All Ye Faithful: Rock for Choice
Artist: Various
This one's interesting. It's a alternative rock compilation of Christmas music that was produced to raise money for pro-choice causes. Of course, like 90% of my new music, I found this used for a buck, so I can't exactly pretend that I was doing any good by buying it. I wasn't expecting much from this: I'm generally skeptical when it comes to politically motivated entertainment, even when it's something I agree with.

However, this is easily one of my favorite new albums - it may even deserve a spot on my all time favorite Christmas albums list. The music is a major deviation from pretty much everything else in my collection, and I honestly don't believe there's a track on here I don't like.


Album: Under the Mistletoe
Artist: Justin Bieber
I kind of felt bad that I'd ended up with so much decent …

Book Review: Manga Claus

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Manga Claus: The Blade of Kringle
Writing: Nathaniel, Marunas, Art: Erik Craddock, 2006

Premise: One small disgruntled elf plus a large amount of black magic spells trouble for the North Pole. Can even his magic swords help Santa save Christmas now?

This was an odd, cute little book. The art was fun, and the story was silly. The beginning was probably the best part, and I wish it had been a story about Santa just hanging out in feudal Japan.

I really wanted to like this more; it seems like a cute idea and one of the creators thanked a (sadly now-gone) comic store I’m rather fond of. But it wasn’t great, just fine.

The evil magic teddies were cool. The larger plotline of the elf messing with magic worked at times, but the resolution felt really wrong to me.

I just don’t have much more to say about this. It was really short.

Fiction: Milk, Cookies, Whiskey

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It's day seven of 25 Christmas Eves, and I've got a short fantasy piece I think you'll enjoy.
By: Erin L. Snyder

How do you know the real one’s the real one? I mean, twenty-seven years of shopping malls, Christmas movies, candy commercials and the like: how do you know all those Santas are fake? The truth is, you just do. You see them there in their garish red suits and stupid hats, and at a glance you know they’re fake. Even kids know. They might lie about it, even to themselves, but no one’s ever really been taken in by the old farts they bring into department stores every winter. Because deep down, we all just know. We can tell the difference between a fake Santa and the real thing. I guess I never gave that much thought when all I’d ever seen were scores of the knock-offs.

But... Jesus. You walk into your living room middle of the night Christmas Eve and find a jolly fat-ass in a red suit and mittens washing down a plate of oatmeal chocolate-chip cookies with an open b…

Craft: Beaded Candy Cane Kit

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I bought this kit last year, really cheap:



And then I forgot to take a picture of the pieces in progress. Oops.
The kit came with a bunch of red and clear glass beads, a long piece of wire and some silver thread, I suppose for making ornament loops. 


The instructions were slightly confusing, but boiled down to:  Cut two long pieces of wire.Thread one with red beads and one with clear.Fold them in half and twist together at the half-way point.Twist all the way along so it looks pretty.Use pliers to bend the ends of the wire under.Bend into cane shape.
So I made a bunch of canes:

And they were fun to make, but they actually look kind of tiny and lame on the tree:

And then I thought, I have all these beads and wire left over. So I cut two really long pieces of wire, and added beads and twisted them together as though I were making a giant, ill-proportioned candy cane. Only this time I left some wire on each side and added jump rings to one side and a clasp to the other:
Which means now I …

Musical Interlude, Part 4

The holiday cheer just keeps coming. This is part four of my look at my new Christmas music.

Album: Gregorian Christmas
Artist: CantArte Regensburg & Hubert Velten

I'm a sucker for a bargain: Amazon was selling all 49 tracks of this for 99 cents. That's two cents a track. Granted, I don't really need more chant in my Christmas collection... but still: TWO CENTS A TRACK.

The music's good, but certainly not essential.

Album: Joy of Christmas
Artist: Giovanni
Pretty decent piano music. There are a handful of tracks I like quite a bit.


Album: Country Christmas: A Christmas Welcome Thomas Kinkade
Artist: Various (country)
The only thing that pisses me off more than this album's existence is the fact I kind of enjoyed listening to it. See, here's the thing: it's got Thomas Kinkade's name on it, so I was all excited that I'd be able to hate it out of spite (no, his death wasn't enough).

At any rate, the CD's a collection of country Christmas t…

Home Alone 3 (1997)

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God, Home Alone 3 is a strange movie. Wikipedia sheds a little light on this thing: originally, they wanted Culkin back. He'd have been a teenager at this point, which would have explained the escalation with the villains. Obviously, they couldn't get him to return, so they wound up relaunching with a new character, who was about as old as Culkin in part one.

This led to the second most disorienting aspect of the movie (I'll get to the first in a minute): the discrepancy between the tone and the threat the villains supposedly represented. Along with Culkin, the robbers from the original two were gone this time around. In their place was a team of elite espionage professionals fighting to regain a computer chip they'd stolen from the US Air Force only to lose because they failed to exercise common sense when going through airport security. The implication seemed to be that their employer would have them killed if they failed to recover the object.

The computer chip ine…

Fiction: Ice on the Feathers

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We're up to day six in our series, 25 Christmas Eves. For those of you just tuning in, I'm posting a new piece of genre fiction every day until Christmas, and every damn one of them is about a Christmas Eve. This one's a fantasy piece.
By: Erin L. Snyder
Toby’s Bridge isn’t called Toby’s Bridge, at least not officially. It’s called something else. No one gives a damn what that is, cause it’s on Toby’s land. Sure, it’s not really his bridge. It’s the town’s bridge. Town’s bridge, town’s road, and all that. Town’s river. But everything all around it - the forest the road cuts through, the old mill (that hasn’t been up and running in twenty years), the marsh... all that really is Toby’s. People in Renville are fond of calling Toby the poorest rich man in America. Might be something to that. Just might.

Toby’s is one of them old covered bridges. Sturdy, good build and all that. Don’t really make them that way much anymore. Not in Renville, anyway. Everyone wants bridges you ca…

Deck the Halls (2006)

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A lot of people think the worst movie in Matthew Broderick's career was Godzilla - just a few days ago, I'd have said so myself - but I really think Deck the Halls might claim the prize. I've seen worse holiday movies this year, but I can't remember the last time I watched anything this vapid and idiotic.

The movie is supposed to be a comedy, which means it's supposed to be funny. It's not. At all. It is, however, structured like a comedy, as if someone set out with a checklist and systematically crossed items off a list. New neighbors: check. Rivalry based on male ego: check. Obligatory gross-out sight gag: check. Car destroyed: check. House destroyed: check. Dream fulfilled: check.

The wives are loving, loyal, and level-headed, but somehow unable to perceive anything in the world around them. The kids are two-dimensional jokes. There are cheap attempts at slapstick to placate kids and Kristen Chenoweth's cleavage to placate their fathers. My faith in our…

Musical Interlude, Part 3

Part three of my comprehensive look at my new Holiday albums....


Album: Christmas Wishes
Artist: Anne Murray

Growing up, I always hated country music. That's changed as I've gotten older, but I still don't have much in my music collection.

While it's still not my favorite genre of music, I'm finding that I'm enjoying the country Christmas albums quite a bit. I shouldn't be surprised: it's one of the most under-represented types in my now substantial collection of holiday tunes, so it's a much needed deviation.

I don't know much about Anne Murray - according to Wikipedia, she's a country/pop singer from Canada who was big in the 70's and 80's. This album is from 1981, and I'm enjoying it.

Album: Christmas with Jim Reeves
Artist: Jim Reeves

I'm going through these albums in alphabetical order, so it seems kind of odd that I get two country/pop albums in a row. This is also a solid album, though I don't like it quite as muc…

Holiday Comics: Generation X and Futurama!

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Generation X Holiday Spectacular (1995)
Scott Lobdell, Chris Bachalo, Mark Buckingham

This little story about Generation X (Generation X is a team of teenage X-men, mostly second and third stringers I don’t know much about) intervening in a hostage situation in a Maine town isn’t terribly holiday related except for the snow. And the fact that the narration seems to be done by an elf hiding around the edges of the panels. That doesn’t have any bearing on the story, though. It’s okay, I guess, although the little snippets of characters unconnected to the story are more interesting than the story itself, and the villain seems awfully annoying.


Generation X Holiday Special (1998)
Joseph Harris, Adam Pollina, et.al.

The same super-lame villains strike again, this time trying to kidnap a kid on Christmas Eve who’s only wish for Santa is to not be a mutant. The art is stronger in this one, and there’s some interesting snippets of character stuff early on when all the young mutants are shoppin…

Fiction: The Christmas Thief

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Day five of 25 Christmas Eves brings us a short horror/fantasy piece. Hope you enjoy.
By Erin L. Snyder
I know you’re not going to believe any of this. And I know I should be keeping my mouth shut, asking for an attorney or something. I’ll probably wish I had, come tomorrow. But right now... it’s all I can do not to pull my hair out. I got to tell someone what happened tonight, and, well, you’re the one asking.

So, Merry Christmas. Here goes.

I got the idea for the suit off some old TV show. I couldn’t tell which if I cared: it was something I saw when I was a kid, and it stuck with me. Guy dresses up like Santa, busts into a house, and cleans the place out. If a kid wakes up and sees the guy, “No worries, son. It’s me, Kris Kringle. There’s a light on the DVD player that doesn’t work on one side.” Send the brat to bed, and I’m gone before anyone’s the wiser.

Yeah, it’s a lousy thing to do to a family at Christmas. But I guess I’m just a lousy guy at heart. But... look. I’ve got a cod…

Captain Gallant of the Foreign Legion: The Boy Who Found Christmas (1955)

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What. The. Hell. Is. This. Shit.

I mean, besides awful. It’s clearly awful. This show stars Buster Crabbe, a guy who would definitely take a different name if he were working in Hollywood today. And his son. And a comic character actor playing himself, sort of, which makes no sense, but nothing here makes sense. But let’s get back to the fact that there is no excuse for how terrible the kid is.

The kid is truly terrible; both at acting and in the story. The 3 minutes of plot in this 30 minute slog tell the story of how this brat, disappointed that the train with his christmas presents is stuck in a sandstorm, runs off to try to bring the packages himself. Alone. Through the desert.

The whole base turns out to look for the kid, and we get some really boring footage of the kid, I guess scared by being alone? I don’t know. I didn’t feel bad for him and I’m sorry he didn’t die alone in the desert for being a thoughtless moron. But instead, the adults catch up with him and forgive him …

Musical Interlude, Part 2

I'm continuing my trek through my new holiday albums, one-by-one. So far, it's been pretty mixed. On to round two!


Album: The Christmas Angel - A Family Story
Artist: Mannheim Steamroller (narrated by Chip Davis and Olivia Newton-John)

I've been meaning to pick up some Mannheim Steamroller for a while - mainly, I felt obliged given the band's success - but I haven't been willing to drop any real money on the acquisition. Well, I came across a couple CD's for dirt cheap, so I picked them up.

This particular album basically consists of short bits of narration spoken over synthetic music. Imagine a picture book, but instead of images you get really boring music: that'll give you some idea. There are a few that don't suck (I kind of like "Messengers of Christmas"), but most are pretty awful.

The story tying this together isn't any better. Basically, it's about a Christmas angel who gets kidnapped by a monster (or wizard or something - it …