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It's April, and You Should Be Starting Your Christmas Shopping. Hold On - We're Serious

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First things first - if you don't have kids and don't have any reason to care about toys, then clicking on this was probably a waste of your time. Sorry.

For those of you who do have kids to shop for this year... at the very least, you should probably start planning ahead. Because Toys R Us, one of the country's largest toy sellers, is about to go belly up, and that's going to throw a mangled giraffe carcass into the gears of the toy industry.

I feel like that metaphor got away from me.

According to literally the first source I came across, Toys R Us peddles 15% to 20% of the country's toys, and not all of it will be picked up by other retailers. While other stores will probably increase their holiday orders due to the loss of their competitor, between 1.5% and 3% of the country's toy sales will likely just... not happen.

In this context, "not happen" means you'll drive around town looking for the official voice-changing Captain America Beard fro…

A Reminder on What Is and Is Not A Christmas Movie

On Christmas Eve, Jordan Peel claimed "Get Out" qualified as a Christmas movie. As the article I linked to points out, he clearly wasn't entirely serious, and I found his arguments entertaining. But since this isn't the only time this year I saw a movie somewhat haphazardly labeled a Christmas movie, I thought I'd take a minute and revisit the concept.

Here at Mainlining Christmas, we have rather extensive criteria for determining whether a movie qualifies, but that's not what I'm talking about today. I want to look at a more straightforward definition.
When people call movies like Get Out Christmas movies, what they really mean is that they're movies that can be watched at Christmas. But that's literally any movie.
I'd argue a better litmus test would be this: is the movie better watched at Christmas than at other times of the year? Or, to put it another way:
Is it worse when seen at times that aren't Christmas?
If there aren't elemen…

I Can't Remember a Worse December

Between the unrelenting anguish of current events and the exhaustion of moving into a new house, this has been a sparse year here at Mainlining Christmas. I still wanted to take a moment to thank you for sharing the season with us.

This year we looked at more than 70 movies, episodes, and specials that spanned 69 years. They included everything from lesser-known classics, to shows we had watched in years past, to new specials and episodes that were just released.

We'll continue to post sporadic updates about holiday-ish media in the off-season, so make sure you're following us on Facebook or RSS to keep updated.

And we'll be back next year, so long as civilization doesn't collapse. If it does, you're welcome at our fireside for some post-apocalyptic carol singing.

In the meantime, I wish for all of you health and strength in the face of dark times, and may you each have love to keep you warm.

Revising the List

Three years ago, I put together a list of the all-time best Christmas movies: five films meant to represent the absolute best of their respective genres. I stand by the concept and remain proud of what's on there.

But.

I've seen a lot more movies in the past three years, and I wanted to revisit and update it where appropriate. Luckily the format I used lends itself nicely to this. Last time, I presented my picks for the two best installments in each genre and let them fight it out until a winner emerged and claimed the prize.

Well... here comes a new challenger.

At the end of this, we're going to be left with two lists: a revised top five and an expanded top 15.


Best Animated Christmas Movies

Previous Winner: Nightmare Before Christmas
Previous Runner-Up: Arthur Christmas
New Challenger: 101 Dalmatians

You'll see a few movies showcased on this update that were overlooked the first time due to their holiday credentials being subtle. 101 Dalmatians isn't a movie most …

On Horror at Christmas

There's an article up on comingsoon.net offering a brief look at a handful of Christmas horror movies. It's a good read with some interesting insights into the sub-genre, but it doesn't really delve into the origins. Instead, it points out the more horrific aspects of modern Christmas, which are of course worth exploring. But it got me thinking about the depth of horror as it relates to Christmas, and I wanted to dig in a little deeper.

Over the last century or so, pop-culture and entertainment has mainly embraced the funny and whimsical aspects of Christmas, leaving things like horror seeming subversive. It hasn't helped matters that the vast majority of Christmas horror has been extremely campy, giving the genre the sense it's trying to mock or parody the season from the outside. All but one of the movies the article I linked to above fits that mold (the exception being Black Christmas).

But this is all pretty new. Pull off a layer or two of cheer, and you find h…

100 Christmas Movies to See Instead of Watching A Christmas Story

Every year, A Christmas Story is aired non-stop on Christmas Day, despite the fact that it's an over-rated piece of humorless drivel. One of the reasons it's shown is that people continue tuning in, likely because they're unaware there are better options available. This, in turn, incentivizes its continued airing.

In an effort to combat this vicious cycle, we here at Mainlining Christmas have generated an alphabetical list of one hundred alternative holiday movies and specials, each vastly superior to A Christmas Story.

To be clear, this is not in any way an exhaustive list: there are certainly numerous other options out there far better than the swill that is A Christmas Story.

Also, this list can also be used to find alternatives to National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, Home Alone, and The Santa Clause, as these movies are likewise inferior to each of the movies listed below.

1 A Charlie Brown Christmas2101 Dalmatians33 Godfathers 48 Women5A Cadaver Christmas6A Chris…

Mainlining Christmas 2016 Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

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It's time for the annual Mainlining Christmas Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide! Okay, so technically we've never actually written one of these before, but tossing the term "annual" onto the front just gives it some much needed gravitas. Besides, if ever there was a year the public needed some help finding that perfect gift, this is it.

I mean, what do you get the person who already has everything in their fallout shelter? It's a tough nut to crack, but we've been wracking our brains to come up with the best holiday solutions.

The Fondoodler

Ever want to write with melted cheese using what amounts to a caulk gun? If so, the Fondoodler is what you've been waiting for. The Fondoodler can turn almost any cheese into whiz. Perfect for the foodie on your list!

A Digital Subscription to the New York Times, Washington Post, etc.
Now that we're on the precipice of living in a nation where the free press is threatened at every turn, the news media needs money and s…

Yes, Virginia, Die Hard is a Christmas Movie

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Last year, Public Policy Polling asked 1,267 Americans a series of idiotic questions about the holidays. Among them was whether or not Die Hard qualifies as a Christmas movie. Much to our nation's shame, the vast majority claimed it wasn't.

This is hardly the first time I've seen Die Hard's holiday credentials called into question. It's a pervasive idea that seems to show up at least a few times every year. Most of the time, the argument boils down to an arbitrary distinction between a Christmas movie and a movie that's incidentally set at Christmas, which is a can of worms that shouldn't be opened lightly. I mean, there's actually no reason It's A Wonderful Life has to be set at Christmas.

Hell, if you move it to the states and change their names to the ghosts of Thanksgiving Past, Present, and Future, you can swap out the season of A Christmas Carol without impacting the plot or moral, if that's how low a bar you want to set.

But I'm actu…

Mainlining Christmas in July

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E: Okay, so that’s Christmas. In July. What in hell did we learn?

L: That way more people are obsessed with Christmas card photos than we ever imagined.

E: I know, right? Your Family or Mine, Rugrats, and… okay, just two, I guess. I could have sworn there were more, too. The Lizzie McGuire episode is basically the same idea, but with a music video instead of a portrait.

Okay, let’s talk best and worst. What did you like from this? Setting aside Rudolph and Frosty’s Christmas in July for a minute - we’re both on the record digging that. Of the new stuff we saw, what surprised you most?

L: I liked Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, but that isn’t a surprise. It was a bit of a surprise that it was Christmas in July, technically. It was such a traditional Christmas mystery, just in Australia, so if they wanted a proper ‘people dying in the snow’ it had to be set in July.

E: That one grew on me. I started out a little bored by it, but as it moved along, they ratcheted up the tension. I mean, only…

The Existential Horror and Pagan Connections of Christmas in July

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When we started this project, I expected media built around Christmas in July parties, along with a few "Santa in the off-season" stories, and maybe a few things that related to marketing events. What I wasn't expecting were stories built around pagan themes and elements of horror. But there were quite a few.
It turns out that Christmas in July, for all its jovial connotations, is potentially an extinction level event. In hindsight, I probably should have seen this coming.

At its core, Christmas - or more accurately the Solstice, but they're really one and the same - represents a sort of perceived compact with the seasons. The celebration marks the turning point when the days start growing longer. It's a ritual for bringing back the sun's light and warmth.
In this form, the invocation of Christmas in July can represent a shattering of this compact. But uncoupling Midwinter from its rightful place in time, we're potentially bringing about the coldest, dar…

Hallmark 2016 Keepsake Ornaments

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We like to pretend what we do here at Mainlining Christmas matters, that we're creating something that will last. But deep down, we know better. In the distant, post-apocalyptic Christmases of the future, the cockroaches hyper-evolved by radiation from World Wars 7 through 14 won't be reading this blog. They will, however, decorate the festive spinal columns using Hallmark Keepsake Ornaments.

Because - and this part's important - these things will be around for-freaking-ever.

No one knows why exactly. Perhaps their CEO made a blood pact with a fiend of hell. Or maybe it's branding - whatever the reason, Hallmark ornaments are here to stay.

And this weekend, they unveiled another year's additions to the collection. That's right, you slackers at K-Mart who wait until September to kick off the holiday shopping season, Hallmark understands the true meaning of Christmas in July.


I know what you're thinking. You're thinking these aren't worth it. You'…

Reflections On Another Christmas Gone

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It was a close one this year, what with the Grinch armed with a machine gun holding Santa Claus hostage in the old McCallister home. For a while there, it looked like Christmas might have to be cancelled. But some quick thinking from Dooley and the Christmas Narwhal saved the day, and...

You know what? I don't need to recap this. You caught the news last night; you know the gifts were delivered, the Grinch is safely back in Arkham, and Santa Claus destroyed that asteroid before it reached orbit. We don't need to go over all the details or spend more time mourning Donner.

What matters is Christmas 2015 came on schedule, and - aside from a few mishaps - it was a merry one. Here at Mainlining Christmas, we spent the season as we always do, force-feeding ourselves holiday cheer. Overall, our slate of movies was surprisingly good this year: we really weren't expecting that.

That's not all, though. We hung out with reindeer, marveled at sculptures of Christmas dinosaurs, we…