Christmas Special Countdown

Christmas Special Countdown #1: The Muppet Christmas Carol

The Muppet Christmas Carol is my FAVORITE Christmas flick ever!

In this everyone-has-a-version-to-tell (Checkout Post number 4?) adaptation of A Christmas Carol, we are transported to Jolly Olde Scrooge-Terrorized-Dickensian-England. The story is narrated by Charles Dickens himself…as portrayed by The Great Gonzo, who is accompanied by Rizzo the Rat who conveniently asks questions that kids in the audience may have about parts of the tale, and, provides extra comic relief.

Michael Caine is Ebenezer Scrooge (whose name I learned, and, forever garnered respect as an actor from this very film—I mean, he got to work with KERMIT and GONZO! How could he not be cool in my 9 year old mind?!?!?), and Kermit is his Bob Cratchit.

I won’t go over the tale as to be honest, the synopsis is the same as number four on the list. But that DOES NOT mean this version is bad, or one to skip! Heck, it’s my number one for a reason. I just think that there are three reasons why this is my favorite rendition: the cast, the comedy, and the songs!

As I said before, Kermit is Cratchit, Gonzo is Charles Dickens, but there are other Muppet faces to be recognized. Miss Piggy gets to fulfill her life-long ambition as a Kermit’s Mr. vis a vie her portrayal as Mrs. Cratchit. Kermit’s nephew Robin (whom I always thought was super kawaii…so little! Squee!) is Tiny Tim. The incomparable Fozzie Bear is Fozziwig, and his mum stars as his mom too (a nod to A Muppet Family Christmas, me thinks?). Dr. Bunson Honeydew and Beaker are the two gentlemen who try to raise money for the poor. Sam the eagle is Scrooge’s school teacher. Statler and Waldorf split the role of Jacob Marley into Jacob and Robert Marley. There are also some new Muppets; most notably the three Ghosts, of Christmas (Past, Present, and, Yet to Come). Even now, I like looking not only at the speaking characters, but the Muppets in the background.

This movie has many funny parts that always make me chuckle. But the exchanges between Charles Dickens/Gonzo and Rizzo are comedy gold for me. They play the straight-laced, and jester duo so well! The Great Gonzo's desire for thrills are still there. For instance, when Scrooge is hurtling through the vortex of time and space, Gonzo exclaims sheer glee as he throws a grappling hook onto the Ghost of Christmas Past. Or when Rizzo lands on the Cratchit family's flaming hot goose, Gonzo exclaims "you have all the fun."

The Great Gonzo is my favorite Muppet starting with Muppet Babies. OK, confession time: you know how Gonzo isn't like, a pig, or frog, or anything familiar? In Muppet Babies, the one thing I remember was that Gonzo or Piggy said that he was a weird-o, and, that at one point they concluded that Gonzo was an alien. When I was little I felt like an oddball too, and for a while, I thought I was maybe an alien from outer space. I remember asking if I was adopted once or twice because I believed so strongly that I was an alien, and, related to Gonzo. So, I am sure that may have a little to do with his lines being some of my favorite.

Besides the comedic elements, this Muppet movie is a great musical, and has some (in my opinion) wonderful songs—and one  ubiquitous“bathroom break” song. Here are my favorite two:

It Feels Like Christmas is wonderful, especially the line, “in all the places you find love, it feels like Christmas,” as this holiday is about love--it is the beginning and the ending of the story, and this song in a tale about love for your fellow man.

My other favorite is With a Thankful Heart. It was this song that made me want to adopt Michael Caine as my British Uncle/Grandad (like I said he got to work with the Muppets…so jealous!).

While I do not intend to paint Dickens as a saint, he was pretty awesome for writing about the atrocities that the poor went through, and, the hypocrisy of the upper class who claimed to be good people yet would rather the poor: “[die] and decrease the surplus population” (Oliver Twist, Nicolas Nickleby, and Great Expectations all tell about the problems with avarice and elitism as well).

And with that, those are my MUST-see-every-year Christmas specials!
I know I left off a few that I enjoy (but there are so many to choose from), but these are my favorites!
Also, I am curious as to what YOUR favorite specials are, soooooo…
Share them with me!

So, to you and your's, I wish you a VERY Happy Christmas, and Holidays!

You! Stop being jolly! And watch some movies! :P
The Rest of the Top Ten are Below

Christmas Special #2 - The Year Without a Santa Claus

At number 2, we have The Year Without a Santa Claus, and, the biggest evidence of my adoration of stop motion. Why is it evidence? Because while I like plenty of Christmas specials (not just the one’s listed in these posts), this is the second highest ranking one. And to be honest, I can see where this isn’t the best of all Christmas specials. But dangit, I love it. Mickey Rooney is the voice of Santa (PERFECT!) and Shirley Booth voices the narrator, who is none other than the most under-rated character, Mrs. Claus (after Krampus) Mrs. Claus tries to motivate a sick, tired, and under-appreciated Santa into going back out there, and not just giving out toys, but, spreading Christmas cheer! Mrs. Claus sends the number one elf Jingle, and his bumbling partner/brother/homeboy (not sure…) Jangle out into the world on the back of the reindeer Vixen who is just a baby at this point in time (apparently this story predates Rudolph) in search of Christmas spirit. On their way out, they fly through the major turf-wars going on between the brothers, Heat Miser and Snow Miser. 

Heat Miser blinds Vixen, and Jingle and Jangle drop off in Southtown, USA, where it doesn’t snow (let’s just call this place: San Diego). In Southtown, nobody, seems to believe in Santa Claus, including young Ignacious “Iggy” Thistlewhite (cool name!). Iggy and his school yard chums confirm the North Pole’s worst fears about people and their disbelief. Jingle and Jangle lose Vixen, and Santa ends up asking Iggy and his parents for help, where we learn’s Iggy’s ‘rents confess to being believers in Santa.
After their song/discussion about Santa, Iggy tells the undercover Santa that Vixen has been taken to the pound, where, Santa hops on the reindeer he rode in on, and flies to the pound, revealing his true self. Santa springs Vixen, and flies the sick little deer back to the North Pole—but he doesn’t get a chance to tell the elves he has done so already. Jingle, Jangle and Iggy promised Southtown’s mayor snow in exchange for Vixen’s release. Unfortunately, the elves don’t really have a way of delivering this promise, and are unsure of how to proceed. They end up calling Mrs. Claus who has an idea. She takes them all to the palace of the Snow Miser. Snow has an amazing entrance as seen here:

Mrs. Claus asks for help in bringing snow to Southtown, and upon hearing the name of the town in question, Snow flatly refuses as San Diego Southtown is strictly the turf of Snow’s step-brother Heat Miser, and that they will need to talk to him to make that happen. Sooooo it’s off to Heat Miser’s Volcanic dominion where he too has a snazzy intro:
Heat says he would be willing to compromise for Southtown to have snow if he can bring Spring to the North Pole. However neither Snow, nor Heat, are willing to budge and compromise. And so Mrs. C goes straight to their boss; their mother: Mother Nature! Mother Nature doesn’t have time for the Miser’s crap, and orders her sons to work together, and work it out. So there will be snow and summer in their respective places. Meanwhile, Santa returns to the North Pole, and sees that Mrs. Claus went to pick up the elves. Upon their return, Mrs. Claus and the elves show Santa that he was given a vacation.

This actually leads into one of my favorite scenes (after the miser songs of course) where all the kids of the world come running on screen and wrap gifts to send to Santa. I enjoy that there are children from all over the world. 

 After receiving the letters and gifts from the children, Santa is touched, and decides he doesn’t need a vacation, but would rather bring joy and happiness to those that adore him. 


 This movie became my go to Christmas movie in high school. I remember that this is when they were selling bobble heads and ornaments for it, whereas before, I could only ever find Rudolph items. I’ll admit, a HUGE portion of my love for this film is in the misers. The misers are so cool and their banter just plain old makes me smile. I also like that the movie addresses that even the happiest of people can have times when they are down, and that sometimes we put too much pressure on them. But to counter those bits, there are people that do appreciate us, and what we do. Have you seen this? Any guesses as to what number one will be? What’s your favorite stop motion feature (Christmas or not)? 

Check out titles 3-10:

Christmas Special #3 - Love Actually

At Number 3, I have Love Actually.
Love Actually is a Christmas movie…for adults only. And not a “naughty” list adults only movie (This isn’t “50 Shades of Christmas”). But, with an R rating, due to language, concepts, and a sliver of nudity (a la the most innocent couple: Jack and Judy), the movie is for Adults to enjoy this time of year, without having singing animals or toys.

The movie explores different stories involving love, but not strictly the romantic type. I will briefly go over a few of the stories involved. The movie also stars so many amazing actors and actresses who I adore not just in this, but in many other films, and, fandom/geek-oriented films.

Billy Mack and Joe- Davy Jones/ Rufus Scrimjeour Billy Mack plays a washed up, former rock star trying to make a comeback via a Christmas single “Christmas is All Around.”
Joe is his manager, and biggest supporter. Billy Mack due to a sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle, is basically alone. Throughout the film, Billy Mack’s single slowly, but surely, climbs its way up the top of the seasonal charts. In the end, Billy’s crass, but honest answers on the radio and television spots (where he is promoting his single), sky rocket him to the number one spot over the stereotypical boy band group, Blue. When he is supposed to be out celebrating—with all the sex, drugs, and alcohol that comes from a washed up rock star who suddenly makes an epic come back—he instead, seeks out his only true family/friend, and the only person he actually cares about besides himself: Joe.

Jamie and Aurelia- Mr. Darcy’s Jamie’s previous girlfriend was caught cheating on him with his brother while Jamie was at the wedding of Peter and Juliet. So, Jamie goes on holiday for Christmas (sorry, but I forget where exactly he goes…somewhere in France), and his vacation home has a temporary house keeper, Aurelia! I love that Jamie and Aurelia have the obstacle of language in their way. Jamie speaks English and Aurelia speaks Portuguese. Jamie is working on a novel, and at the point where he begins to see Aurelia, is when he she helps retrieve his work that has flown into a nearby pond (he decided a typewriter was a better idea than a laptop). They have a dialogue, each in their native tongue, but, they are pretty much on the exact same wavelength. Unfortunately, they don’t understand each other. Every day he drives her home, and it’s both of their favorite time of day…and their saddest.
They leave in time for Christmas, and the movie shows scenes of Jamie learning Portuguese in a language school. And on Christmas night, he goes to see family, and after looking at everyone’s face, he realizes that the face he wants to see is Aurelia, and he basically says “screw it!” to the obligations, and immediately flies out in search of Aurelia. Upon arriving he confesses his love (with a hilarious scene of literal translations of poorly executed Portuguese leading up to it, including with Aurelia’s family), and it turns out that she too has learned a new language, for him!

Natalie and Prime Minister David – I’m not sure why, but I guess in the movie, Natalie (who is very pretty) is considered fat, or, an atypical beauty. But, she is interning at the prime minister’s house with the newest Prime Minister, David. David takes a fancy to her after their first interaction, where Natalie, is so wonderfully honest and awkward. Here is their first interaction (and yeah, I crack up every year at it!):
Natalie: Hello, David. I mean "sir". Shit! I can't believe I've just said that. And now I've gone and said "shit" - twice. I'm so sorry, sir.
Prime Minister: It's fine, it's fine. You could've said "fuck," and then we'd have been in real trouble.
Natalie: Thank you, sir. I did have an awful premonition that I was gonna fuck up on the first day. Oh, piss it!
Anyway, Prime Minister David is smitten and doesn’t know how to go about this because of work. There’s even a scene where a love song even overtakes his self-control.
Then the PotUS (President of the US) comes to visit, and hits on Natalie, and David becomes jealous and, in the end stands up for him.  He ends up mucking things up a bit more by having Natalie “redistributed,” but, that really does work out, as he wishes to be with her anyway. On his way to his sister Karen’s (see below) children’s play he seeks out Natalie. And uses his government appointed escorts and powers, to go door-to-door in the “dodgy end” of the same neighborhood where his sister lives. During the play they hide out backstage, and talk, but, end up having a very public kiss on stage.
At the end of the movie (one month later in time), we see they are still together.

John and JudyDoctor Watson Jack Baggins and Queen Elizabeth Judy are actors. Well, more specifically, they are body doubles. The first scene we really get to see them in where their relationship starts to take off is on set of their current film.
They are talking about the traffic they hit on their way, but, are interrupted to check for lighting. The lighting does require her top to be gone (remember, some nudity). Throughout the movie John and Judy’s scenes are primarily in their work, so there is awkwardness for the viewer. But, their story is my favorite because while it always seems so awkward to me, they are the most innocent couple. They are just getting to know one another, and clearly have a connection that isn’t just work. At the end of the movie, they finally have their first date at the big Christmas play culmination. Judy states that all she wants for Christmas is John (awww!).

If I were 100% honest, there is only one story (the one involving Hogwarts’ Professors Snape and Trelawney) that I don’t like. The whole movie is very good, and there are so many parts that make me and The Tenor smile. I know I didn’t go over the father/son story between Daniel and Sam. And also the story of Karl and Sarah (one that my roommates and I loved in college):

Rodrigo Santoro…**sigh**

I love how everyone is interconnected, and yet their story feels like their own little world…kind of like real life eh?

Have you seen Love Actually? Which is your favorite story line?

Check out episodes 4-10

Christmas Special #4- Scrooge

At number Four is Scrooge!
I’m going to skip the in depth synopsis as this is a fairly familiar tale from a Charles Dickens short story (also, I’m pretty sure this tale has been told in different ways like, 100 times…and that’s just in specials/episodes/movies/etc alone).  Also…I love another version of this tale more (**hint**).

Scrooge came out in 1970, and Albert Finney (Daddy Warbucks from Annie) plays our lead, for which he won a Golden Globe for Best Actor in Movie-Musical/Comedy. But, this movie isn’t really a comedy.
It is however a fantastic musical!!!

So, get your bandwidth ready, as I am going to be sharing my favorite tunes from one of my Christmas must sees via the power of YouTube!

Since this is a musical, the film opens with an overture, and, follows with a choral singing the song “A Christmas Carol.” Since the cast are all English, and it’s an English production, choral (and all the songs for that matter) have the accents! I LOVE it!

The best example of this is one of my favorite songs Father Christmas:

This features a street urchin acapella group…let’s call them: Street Urchinz (the “Z” is to make them hardcore :P ). So, the Street Urchinz are trying to get a hay penny or tuppence, or whatever from Ebenezer, who ain’t having none of that! One of my favorite memories of this is my dad singing “fatha Christmas”, complete with his English-Urchinz impression (he sings it like he’s some little English kid, and it’s always funny to me).

Anyway, one of the songs that plays before this, is another one of my favorites , that I often feel akin to at this time of year, especially whilst shopping. Scrooge sings it on his way home from work:

Ok, so maybe it’s not so much “shopping” as much as driving and parking for me. In the film, it shows Ebenezer’s contempt, with…well, with everything! But in all seriousness, don’t blast this one in the car…you might end up with road rage.

Anyway, the next song that I will highlight is in fact *gasp* my least favorite song, but, it’s pretty well done. But, you know how in every musical there’s that one song that you’re like, “well, time to go pop popcorn/bathroom break/check Facebook/etc.” This is that song for me.

But, since it is sung by Marley, and all the dead greedy people, it is kind of neat to see the approach of Marley showing Scrooge what is in store for him. It features ghosts flying through the air and trying to give back to those in need to alleviate themselves of the weight of their greedy transgressions from life. (I could not find ANY video for this, but also, I DO want you to check it out, so I don’t want to put all of the parts on here).

The next song I want to feature is from The Ghost of Christmas Present. The way that this Ghost is always accompanied with a feast that represents the love from the holiday, and wine that is “The Milk of Human Kindness.” Scrooge tries this wine out, and is immediately full of glee, and enjoys it so much that he actually gets a bit faced from it. I also enjoy that the ghost gets Scrooge to sing along with him. Scrooge seems like a little kid from it all, both in his enjoyment of it, but, also in losing his inhibitions, he just has something he has been missing for a longtime: joy

The last song I will share is my FAVORITE from this! I am not really sure why, but I do know it’s my mum’s favorite as well. This song features all the people who are in debt to Mr. Scrooge, and in the vision given by the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, it shows how people will celebrate his death.

I love how Scrooge has completely missed the point that they are not celebrating him, but, that “the nicest thing anyone’s ever done for [them]” is that the Grim Reaper has taken the life of their creditor. They are free.  The lead in this song is a soup man named Tom Jenkins who we see in the beginning of the movie.

On a side note, while I don’t see myself being in a musical…the part of Tom Jenkins is a part I wouldn’t mind trying out for…even though I would probably never get it. LOL (my husband, The Tenor however, would probably get it easy, he’s played Bob Cratchet in A Christmas Carol the musical!).

The movie, of course, ends with Scrooge’s heart growing three times it’s size redemption, and a change of heart. I think people naturally want to DO right, but, things such as greed, hate, self-importance, etc. get in the way of this. Scrooge!, an adaptation of A Christmas Carol, will always be a good story for that reason. I mean, why else has it been done countless times over and over?

See you tomorrow with number 3!

Christmas Special #5 - Christmas Party from The Office (S2E10)

The Office is a show I often find myself relating to, and wanting to quote the series…often! But like Abed, in Community, I think it would be not often understood (I don’t mean this in a snobby way; my coworkers and I just watch different types of shows…but, I’ve got them on some of my fandoms already mwa-hahahaha!).

The Office episode in question is the Scranton, PA branch of Dunder-Mifflin (I’ll use D-M…shorter), a mid range paper supply company. The boss is the bumbling, non-PC, Michael Scott; the assistant to the regional manager Dwight; the cute prankster Jim; secretary Pam; and other Dunder-Mifflinites.

Any who, the episode centers on the annual Christmas party. One of the usual games/traditions is “Secret Santa", and Jim received Pam’s name for the first time this year. For those who haven’t seen the show: Jim LOVES Pam. And you can tell that Pam loves him too. Jim’s gift for her consists of a teapot, filled with inside jokes including a picture of him in high school, and a card that, when he shows it to the camera, he says: “because Christmas is the time to tell people how you feel.”

Jim doesn’t know Pam’s exact feelings toward him, as she is engaged to Roy, one of the warehouse workers. She and Roy have been dating since high school, and he doesn’t treat her all too well. She stays true to Roy, and because of that, she continually writes Jim off as just a friend—despite the fact that we, the audience, keep yelling at our TV sets saying, “Clearly Jim is the right person for you!”

Maybe that was just me...

Anyway, Michael Scott has intern, Ryan, as the recipient to his gift. Using part of the $3,000.00 bonus he received for saving D-M money (by firing someone...gotta love corporate Amercia's thinking), Michel goes well above the Secret Santa $20 threshold and gets Ryan a brand-new, $400.00 Video iPod (this is in 2005…holy crow! Almost 10 years?!?!). Michael goes on to say this about his splurge:

However, when Michael receives his cost appropriate gift (a handmade oven mitt), he is so upset that he is not loved “ this many dollars worth,” he decides to change Secret Santa into Yankee Swap, or White Elephant, or as Jim calls it: Nasty Santa. It’s where "Machiavelli meets…Christmas." With this game changer (double entendre intended), hilarity ensues as people’s gifts—that were actually chosen VERY specifically for their recipients—end up in the hands of others—from Pam, the teapot; from Ryan, the iPod; and from Jim, an old shirt from Creed (who is probably my favorite character because the dude is seriously: CRAZY!!!).

At the end of the Swap, the staff is clearly upset (in part because there is only one iPod) because their gifts don’t end up in the right hands, and because Michael acted like a baby. Michael goes on to say that he was able to afford the iPod because he got paid extra for firing someone. Everyone is immediately done with the party. Pam has the iPod, and Dwight has the teapot. Jim is clearly agitated by this, as he and Dwight are something akin to rivals. He immediately attempts to trade the key chain he ended up with, for the teapot. Dwight however wished to keep it with the intention of using it as a sinus irrigator.

Michael, in an attempt to make up for his blunder, goes to the liquor store and picks up 15 bottles of vodka. He breaks D-M corporate rules and the party gets started. People seem to forget all about the iPod with all the Christmas "Spirits" they are having. In the end, the gift that we are all rooting for, the little-teapot-that-could, ends up in the hands intended—Pam. She shows Jim that she got it, and as she inspects the teapots contents, Jim sneaks the card-of-feels out of sight like a ninja. Pam is none the wiser.

In the end the party is such a hit that Michael gets invited to the bar with everyone else after hours.

On his way out, he receives a sneak peak at Meredith.

For me, this episode has made its way on to the list because of one person: my littlest brother Dave.

Sure, I quote this episode in my head at my office’s annual Christmas party. But it’s not something I can do without a fellow fan. But you know what is more difficult? Quoting with Dave!

You see, Dave is a Dunder-Mifflinite. I like this show, but my brother can quote it. Anywhere. Any time. Any place, situation…you get the idea. In fact, he interrupted my fiance proposing to me with a quick-witted Office interjection. I love him so much....(but seriously, no joke, he did! We have it on Film somewhere!)

Since seeing this episode, guess how EVERY White Elephant gift exchange has gone since?
Here are some of our annual highlights (to the best of my recollection)

  • ·         It’s not White Elephant—it’s Yankee Swap.
  • ·         When a good gift gets taken, someone tends to say Yankee swap…just like Michael Scott
  • ·         There is always one gift in a plastic grocery bag a la Creed’s gift wrapping technique
  • ·         When the newest person on the scene brings that nice gift (the iPod so to speak) chances are, they will end up with a plastic bagged gift…they might think the bag is reverse psychology -
quote from Michael Scott

·         Quotes of this, and the other Office Christmas specials…like, no joke!

Hopefully, you can tell that this episode is not merely tradition to watch, but, tradition to reenact!

You a Christmas miracle!

I think I have to end here. You see, that party is happening this Saturday, and I have quotes to go memorize.

Christmas Special Countdown # 6 - Jack Frost

Let me share with you one of the lesser known animated Christmas classics: Jack Frost.
No, not that Jack Frost (though, Rise of the Guardians is one of the best children’s movies I’ve seen in a long time).
No, I am talking about the elfish, more innocent Jack Frost from Rankin-Bass:

Jack Frost is another case of classic Rankin-Bass stop motion gold.

Ok…maybe not gold, and more of a glittery snowflake. And, maybe I am not too sure it’s a
classic, but, dang, I can’t have Christmas without it.

Truth be told, Jack Frost could be a Groundhog Day movie—which isn’t too bad an idea, seeing as I only know of one. See, the movie starts with the Groundhog Day!  Groundhog celebrity, Pardon-Me Pete (voiced by Buddy Hackett) is preparing to go outside for his annual shadow viewing (hmmm…this would be a cool DARK and spooky story…). If Pete is frightened, there will be six more weeks of winter, per nature’s ordinances. Pete does indeed  show “fright” of his shadow.

Upon his return to his groundhog's hole Pete begins to share with us that the shadow is in fact Jack Frost’s shadow, and that they cut a deal for more winter so that Jack can play, and more Pete can sleep.

Pete goes on to tell us about the time Jack decided to become human. Jack fell in love with a human girl named Elisa.

Ready? We’re about to have:


Cut to the Russian (?) town of January Junction, where there are people so oppressed, that any cash they have goes to their cruel dictator, and our villain, Kubla Kraus! He’s so bad (how bad is he?) that he has no other living being in his castle. Everything is mechanical. His horse is steam powered, his butler is clockwork, and all his knights mechanic. Hell, even the mice are wind-up! His only company is Dummy...his puppet...that he talks too...and who seems to be his conscious.
Alright, so, in this small town lives a husband and a wife, known as "mama" and "papa," who live with their daughter, Elisa. The very same Elisa who Jack falls in love with. Elisa is a dreamer. She has a crush on her imaginary friend Jack Frost (you know, I’m starting to think everyone in January Junction is a bit crazy) and often talks about him.

While she is playing on frozen river water, Kubla—being neither observant, nor, caring—rides across the ices on his iron, steam pony. Between the weight of the horse, and the heat it exudes, the lake thaws, and Elisa is stuck on a floating chunk of ice. She then starts floating down the river towards a water fall. It is then that Jack saves Elisa by freezing the impending falls, a la his ability to whistle up a brisk snow storm, resulting in her dubbing him a hero, and stealing his heart.

Upon hearing that he is a hero, Jack immediately returns home to ask his boss, Father Winter to grant to Jack the gift of being human. His wish is granted for the winter, when, if he wishes to stay human, he must have a house for shelter, a horse to bare him, a bag of gold to sustain him, and a wife to make all his efforts worth the while. And with that, Jack is sent from his home in the winter clouds to January Junction, where he assumes the identity Jack Snip (Father Winter never said he couldn’t call himself Jack Frost though, and I feel this was a mistake).

Two of his friends from the winter kingdom join him on earth to keep him out of harm’s way—Snip the snowflake maker, and Holly who is a snow gypsy (and cute as a button).
snowflakekeeper: (pic#5227363)

The three winter sprites open up a tailor shop and their first customer ends up being Sir Raveneau…Elisa’s quintessential man…in golden armor. Also, Christmas comes to town, and to show you why this is a Christmas movie, here is a song that my family likes to sing (and do stop motion-esque movements/dancing to) during this time of year:

Elisa is eventually kidnapped by Kraus, and a rescue party is assembled! Her parents, Sir Raveneau, Jack, Snip and Holly head to Kraus’ castle, but, only the golden knight makes it up the mountainous terrain. He easily saves Elisa, and is back down the mountain before Jack, Snip and Holly realize what is going on. After realizing Elisa has been taken, Kubla throws Jack, Snips, and Holly in his jail, and commences an all-out assault against January Junction (He sends 10,000 K-nights [pronounced K-nights]). Jack asks to become his sprite self again so that he can divert Kraus’ plans for revenge on January Junction. Jack is granted his powers again, but, winter is coming to an end. Jack asks for winter to be prolonged, and he is told that only if the groundhog Pete is frightened by his shadow can he have 6 more weeks of winter.

So, Jack goes to scare Pete, and he is granted the time. After the six weeks; on the last day of winter, Jack is granted until noon to achieve the previously mentioned goals to stay a human. He takes over Kubla’s castle, inheriting the horse and gold with it. After his claim, Jack heads to January Junction to ask Elisa to be his wife. However, Elisa is already going to be married at noon that day to Sir Raveneau.
As the bells toll noon, Jack turns back to his true form, and frosts her bouquet in good bye.

And they lived happily ever after…
Except Jack.

While I also like this movie because of “Just What I Always Wanted” and because of the sparkly outfits the sprites wear, it has to be that the ending isn’t your normal happy “Christmas is saved” affair. 

The ending is bittersweet, but that’s one of the things I like about it. There is a lot of good that happens, to counter the bad (you know…like the Doctor said?). I enjoy that Elisa moves on from her child-like dreams (ok, yes the knight in shining armor is typical, but, in her case, the dude was real). I like that Jack worked very hard, but, like in real life, sadly, it doesn’t mean you get everything you want (even if we feel it should).

I think this is something we know, but don’t often like to acknowledge about real life. Maybe I’m looking way too into it, but that’s one of the reasons I like it.

And because Holly is adorable!!!

Christmas Special Countdown #7 - Abed's Uncontrollable Christmas (from Community)

9) Abed’s Uncontrollable Christmas via Community
Do you have Hulu?
Ok, if you do, go onto your account, search “COMMUNITY” and pull up season two, episode 11 and watch this now!
I’ll wait.
OK, you good?

This episode is all about Greendale Community College's premiere Spanish Study Group gang-- Jeff, Britta, Annie, Shirley, Pierce, Troy, and of course, Abed—helping one of their own: Abed! You see, while the episode is in stop-motion animation: LIKE ALL GOOD CHRISTMAS SPECIALS SHOULD BE, ;) only Abed sees this, and he believes this is because the gang must find the meaning of Christmas, and (in Christmas traditional way) he sings about it!

As I said, only Abed sees the stop motion animation; everyone else sees reality. So Britta and Jeff take Abed to the school counselor/psychology professor: Professor Duncan. After speaking with him, Duncan deems Abed as certifiable, and as his “great find.” The episode centers around getting to the root of Abed’s problem that is making him see animation.

Britta tricks Abed into showing up in their favorite hang-out, the library study room (where most of the series dialogue takes place), for what turns out to be an intervention for what appears to be Abed’s loss of sanity. Duncan decides to try and play into Abed’s world and calls himself a Christmas Wizard. Since we are watching from Abed’s point of view, we see his version of the circumstances, and not only does Duncan turn into a Wizard, but when he asks Abed to take everyone to Planet Abed, we see the study table shake and go through space, passing Christmas themed planets.

When the gang lands in Winter Wonderland on planet Abed (btw, the atmosphere is 70% cinnamon and smells delicious), Duncan tries to get Abed to go through ”The Cave of Frozen Memories” and Abed agrees, but will go about it his own way. In a Wonka Chocolate Factory sort of way where those with no Christmas spirit get ejected from the journey.

For instance Shirley gets persnickety over the fact that Abed sees here as a baby doll and Jeff is just too sarcastic and smug, and they both get ejected almost immediately. Annnnd, as they leave, a song is sung about how they had no Christmas spirit (like Oompa Loompas).

(Shirley leaves via a Christmas Pteradactyl...via)

 photo jeff-humbugs.gif
(Jeff gets devoured by humbugs...from a Community photobucket)

In the Cave of Frozen Memories, Abed actually turns the tables on Duncan who has his own breakdown and he has to leave. Abed shares that the cave is not necessary, but, that Britta must leave the group since she lied to Abed about the intervention.

And so, Abed, Annie, Troy and Pierce are taken to what I can only think is the Polar Express, or some other Christmas train, and head to the North Pole. While on the train Abed shares why everything is in stop motion animation. As it turns out, one of his favorite Christmas traditions is sitting down and watching Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer with his mom on December 9…**gasp** the same day as Abed’s current break down.  Before we get to go any further with that morsel, Duncan re-emerges and is ticked that Abed bested him by making him have feels about his own past. Annie and Troy--being true friends to Abed--stay on the train fight off Duncan so that Abed and Pierce can journey on to the North Pole.
 photo abed-bjork.gif
(Warp Speed o the North Pole)

After arriving, and opening a present with the tag “Meaning of Christmas” on it we see that is merely the First Season of Lost on DVD that is in fact metaphor for “lack of payoff.” Duncan pops up and says that the metaphor is perfect, and, reveals that the reason Abed’s been off his rocker is due to the fact that his mom won’t be able to meet Abed for their annual tradition because she has a new baby, with her current husband, and, is starting a tradition with them. Abed is distraught, but, Duncan wants him to “do the right thing” and commit to being a subject in a scientific journal to help Duncan gain fame for the this particular case.

But that’s when the gang pops in to share with Professor Duncan what Christmas is for:

After they save the day, Abed shares that Christmas’ biggest meaning is that it’s what it means to you. For Abed it meant the time with his mom, but now, it’s the time with his friends at Greendale.

Abed is my favorite character, and it maybe it has to do with that at work, I am Abed. Abed has a LOT of pop-culture, TV, and movie knowledge that he uses as reference—whether anyone else knows what he’s referencing or not.  And while I haven’t had a stop motioned breakdown yet I think that if I didn’t get to have my traditional traditions, I’d be in danger of the same thing. I think this episode pays a great homage to those stop-motioned features.

I also like Abed's philosophy about Christmas--like all other things--is what you make of it. You have to put effort into it, to make it enjoyable, and to avoid driving yourself nuts. You can't over hype it, but you can't not invest in it, and expect it to go the way you want.

And with that I leave you with some Troy and Abed in the morning stop motion

Christmas Special Countdown #8 - National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (NLCV…cause I don’t want to spell it out) is a movie about a family trying to have the merriest Christmas ever—the Griswold family. It was written by John Hughes of…well let me just list: Home Alone; The Breakfast Club; Sixteen Candles; Pretty in Pink; Weird Science; Uncle Buck; Home Alone 2: Lost In New York; Planes, Trains and Automobiles; and, of course: National Lampoon’s Vacation (“Holiday Rooooooad!”).

To be honest, I had a hard time writing this as this movie is hilarious, but, I wasn’t sure exactly how to approach a movie with no plot, and that simply highlights happenings in this season, in a hilarious way. Ok, admittedly, the situations are a bit over the top, they are still rather relatable because sometimes, the events actually feel as large as this movie makes them out to be to us when we go through them.

Keeping that in mind, for this entry, I am going to focus on some of my favorite parts, and share some of my favorite experiences that my family has experienced which reminded me of this movie…which might be why we find it so hilarious.

First, let’s set the mood with the opening song:

The movie opens with this Mavis Staples song, and an animated sequence showing Santa dropping off presents to the Griswolds. For me, I remember this movie, and Troop Beverly Hills being disappointing to 6 year old Joie, as she LOVED cartoons (still does actually), and the two movies start with animated credits which eventually reveal, not an animated feature, but, a live action movie. However, I ended up watching both of these movies because they were funny! But what I also remember about the animation for both of these movies is that I liked the style—I’ve always loved animation.

Following the opening, the movie begins with the Griswold family—father Clark, mother Ellen, daughter Audrey, and, son Russ—on their way to get their family Christmas tree…the old-fashioned-cut-the-tree-down, way. While the family dialogue on the hike from the car to the fir is funny (Audrey’s eyes freeze) and, the tree can’t be cut down because Clark forgot to bring a saw/ax. No, the part that makes me laugh the most is the drive there!

On their drive to the tree, the Griswold’s are singing carols in the car…well, technically it’s Clark and Ellen singing, as Russ and Audrey are a little too old, and a little too cool to sing dorky songs with their parents. All of a sudden, a crazy pair of hillbilly’s in a truck decides to tail-gate. Clark clearly doesn’t like this, and in comes road rage. Clark decides to take his station wagon (with family still inside) and he and the truck play some tailgating games. It gets to point where not only does Clark flip off the pickup, but, when a log truck passes, he steers the wagon underneath and continues to drive under the fully loaded truck bed, between the wheels, in his attempt to pass the pickup. His kids and wife are clearly freaking out.

Now, I have been in cars with many sets of parents due to sports, carpooling, and, church activities. And, sometimes, when there was a crazy driver on the road, I have seen many calm, cool, quiet dads and mums lose their cool! It can be both funny and frightening.

Clark is a caricature of how we feel and what a lot of dads (or mums, or anyone) do. You see, to me, what makes all four vacation movies consistently hilarious is Chevy Chase’s portrayal of Clark Griswold who is kind of an everyman. He just wants his family to have a nice vacation (whether it’s Christmas, a drive to Wally World, Europe, or Vegas). Clark also builds up these ideas of his hopes of how things will go, and just how perfect they will be.

Anyway, the next part I find hilarious is an interaction with the Griswold’s yuppy, snotty neighbors. I mean, yeah they want to live their life, and Clark doesn’t seem to hate them for that reason. In fact, based on the way they react, he hates them because they are judgmental twats, who like being condescending to Clark and his family. My favorite scene involving them is when they are blinded by the Griswold lights!

The lights on their house practically shut down the power, and are BLINDINGLY bright!

In fact, this standard is what my mom wants her house to look like…every year. I think she has the roof down:
(Part 1 of Decor-geddon from my mum)
Another favorite part is when the Griswolds decide to enjoy some sledding. Clark greases up the sled pan with a new product from his work. He sets off with the sled and lights a trail of fire…in SNOW! TBH, this might not be that funny, but growing up in San Diego where we have to drive at least an hour for snow/slush, well, I guess you could call it snow envy LOL!

For the last of my favorite parts we turn to Aunt Bethany. Aunt Bethany (played by Mae Questel of Olive Oyl, and Betty Boop fame).is so old she…well, she’s missing a few memory chips? Anyway Aunt Bethany is a very generous little old lady. She likes to make sure she brings a gift so naturally she wraps some gifts: a Jell-O mold, and, her pet cat.

But it is not her gifts that make me LOL for real.

No, I enjoy Aunt Bethany's screen time the most in this scene:

I really could go on with how I enjoy that Cousin Eddie bringing Clark’s boss to answer for getting rid of the company bonus (Damn the man! Save the Empire!!!). Or, the hilarious yet still horrible Freudian slips made by Clark in the department store. Or, the squirrel:

And there is always the turkey:
This is one of those movies I really enjoy watching with both my parents. They both say little lines during certain parts of the movie every year. My mom always states how she wants the house to "look just like that" and my dad always cringes when the family eats the drier-than-the-Sahara turkey. Or when they both crack up at the sledding, remembering when they took us kids to a snow bank when we were young, and my dad made jokes about trying to sled down "as fast as Chevy Chase in Christmas Vacation." The point of Christmas is family. This movie will always remind me of mine, and the quips, and jokes that we learned and shared while watching it.

This is one of my top LOL (literally) movies for the Christmas season!

Christmas Special Countdown #9 - The Most Horrible X-Mas Ever form Invader Zim

9)The Most Horrible X-Mas Ever from Invader Zim
This is such a wonderfully creepy episode of television.
Starting with a robotic snowman who narrates the tale: Mr. Sludgy!
Mr. Sludgy: because only snowmen narrate the Christmas specials!
He tells of how our favorite alien learned the "true meaning" of Christmas in this rendition of Christmas "magic" where Zim becomes Santa.
It all starts where the technically jobless, penny-less Zim and the amazing GIR are begging for money. Since it's December, Zim and GIR are not really gaining any profit due to all the Santa Claus' out on the street and the general influence St. Nick has over the FILTHY HUMANS!!!

It is then that our green friend hatches a plan to become Santa and use his new authority to take over Earth (which of course has been his goal to begin with). The only person who doesn't believe that Zim is Santa is his rival Dib who thwarts all of Zim's plans, and is the only one who sees through him.

Dressed as Santa, Zim eventually gets the humans to gather in a Colosseum, where they worship him, and he attempts to have them build him (Zim) a weapon. When Dib attempts to expose him, Zim has his followers throw Dib in Jingle Jail for his attempt to hurt Santa.

The human's desire to follow Santa, and fall into their...well, commercialism leads to complete dedication:

Unbeknownst to Zim, his Santa suit is slowly but surely making him happy. The dialogue he has within his head is one of my favorites. Zim goes through all the "Christmas-Heart-Growth" tropes and "discovers the meaning of Christmas."
However, the suit fails to fully convert Zim in the end, and, so also does Zim fail at taking over the world.

Instead, the Santa suit ends up sky-rocketing into space and Zim tries to cover it up saying that Dib killed Santa, setting Santa's followers upon Dib's trail, while Zim and GIR look on in their "clever" Easter Platypus costumes.

The episode--and sadly, the series--ends with Sludgy telling the children that Santa in fact did not perish, but comes back every Christmas and tries to destroy the Earth.

What I love about this episode is that there's not really a resolution. The show is random but still clever. There is a pretty clear critique on consumerism and how quickly people will convert to a mob mentality. Also, Dib and Zim actually don't have a Christmas truce between them. Zim just uses the holiday as a way to further his own plans, and Dib saves the day. 

It wouldn't have been true to the show and their characters--or the spirit of the show--to be any different.

Also, this is one of my favorite cartoons of all time! And G.I.R. is amazing! So...I kind had of to pick it.

Christmas Special Countdown #10 - Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

10). Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer

The perennial Christmas Classic.

With Rudolph, Rankin/Bass set the Christmas standard by which all other Christmas-ANYTHING would be done.
I mean, my number 7 even pays homage Rankin/Bass’s style!

You know about Santa's mane main eight reindeer...but do you recall, the most famous reindeer of all? And, more importantly do you know about the struggles the little guy had to go through because he was different? He was born different. I got made fun of a few times for my skin color growing up, and some kids were not allowed to play with my sister and I in scouts for those reasons growing up (one girl told my sister that flat out in elementary school too). Maybe that's why I liked this special. It showed that people who are different are important to, even if you can't see why.

Also, how adorable is Rudolph? Especially when he was a little baby reindeer?
lil' guy

Too bad, Donner Rudy's old man was ashamed of him. He covered up Rudolph's nose with dirt to cover the fact that he was different. In Reindeer School Rudy's false nose gives way to his real nose and--despite his superior performance--he is not longer allowed to "join in any reindeer games."

There is however one reindeer who is nice to him throughout the film named Clarice, the ubiquitous love interest. 

Clarice was always such a cute character, and was relatively kind to Rudolph and who he was. And how about those lashes?
Maybe she's born with it?
Maybe it's Maybelline?

And then there are Yukon and Hermey!

We first meet fellow misfit Hermey who is an elf with no job satisfaction. In fact he--like a younger Joie--wants to be a dentist! And to be honest, I always found it odd that the elves didn't support this idea. I mean, with how many sweets those little guys eat (cookies, cocoa, candy canes, etc.) they are probably overrun with cavities and gingivitis.

Yukon makes friends and kind of save Rudy's and Hermey's lives. He appears to have some sort of oral fixation with his pick ax obsession with finding silver and GOLD in the arctic (ah, the Burl Ives song). But Yukon is also an adventurer, to the extreme; a rowdy rough mountain dude.

After the trio is together they run into old obimnable snowman, and, we get a peek into Hermey's slightly sadistic nature (a la Orin Scrivello, DDS in Little Shop of Horrors)...

Little Shop of Horrors

...and then Hermey got to work on abominable, and pulled out all his teeth.
It's all soft foods and liquids for this guy from here on out. Hermey: you're one sick puppy.

The gang continues their travels and land on the Island of Misfit toys. I loved the misfit toys! I don't why they are so rejected...they're rather adorable.

And when the spotted elephant asks who would want a spotted elephant, I always thought: “I do.” (though let's be honest, does anyone want the square-wheeled train? Maybe just for display)

And the King of the Island was pretty much the most bad-a character too: King Moonracer (possible name for my as of yet pertained cat). I mean, he's a flying LION! King Moonracer charges the team to let Santa know that these toys would be more than happy to settle for have a home from some poorer, less choose-y kids.
If you know the Christmas carol, you know that one foggy Christmas eve, Santa finally realizes Rudolph's potential and just how useful a glowing nose can be...despite the obnoxious sound it may make.  After stopping off at the Island, and picking up the misfit toys, Santa and the reindeer are on their way with Rudolph at the head of the team. We see during the credits that the misfit toys parchute out of the sleigh, and into the poor girl's and boy's hands.

With the Great World-Wide Winter Blizzard of '64 no longer prooving an issue, orphan toys finding a home, and an Santa's Elves Dental Plan in full effect, we that many a crisis were averted, thanks most of all to one misfit with a heart of gold, and a nose of glowing red.

Christmas Special Countdown: Lucky 13 (through 11)

So there are some Christmas carols I dig. The Kurt/Blaine duet of Baby, It’s Cold Outside is the better of the two versions of this song that I like—otherwise, like Santa Baby—I kind of dislike the song. Christmas in Hollis is a classic that does not get enough credit. No Doubt’s Oi! To the World is my more favorite version of The Vandal’s Christmas song. And, The Pogue’s Fairytale of New York…it’s not a Christmas mix without it for me!
Know what else I dig? Christmas movies and television specials!!! I have a “Top 13 list” but, to spare you one three-too-many essays, I will list three who didn’t make my countdown. Also, it’s Friday the 13, soooooo, I had to make my list go to 13 anyway eh?
13). The Santa Clause: maybe it’s because it had me wanting to believe in Santa for a little bit and I was still young enough to want that. Maybe it’s that the elves aged like Time Lords, vampires at a slow rate and wore glitter. But most of all, it was the right movie, at the right time/season, for me. It really just clicked for me at 11 (ok…maybe too old for Santa, but, I was an innocent and imaginative child). Also, the montage of Tim Allen knowing who’s naughty/nice and the kids coming up to him was hilarious to me.
I want to watch this tonight actually...

12). The Leprachaun’s Christmas Gold: as you will soon find out/I will gush about it every chance I get- I LOVE stop-motion animation. Maybe it all started with Will Vinton and the California Rainsins. Maybe it was the Ray Harryhausen animation from Clash of the Titans and The Golden Voyage of Sinbad which we would watch almost every weekend as a kid. But, I bet most of it is to do with the Rankin/Bass Christmas specials. This one is admittedly weak. But I enjoy it because:
1). Leprahauns!
2) Banshee! (She is so emo though...always crying!)
3). Well…I like rainbows cause I’m a 5-year-old girl and the fake gold is great!
11). Will Vinton’s Claymation Christmas: in the above playlist we feature two songs from this special My favorite version of We Three Kings which has some jazzy camels singing the chorus “Star of wonder,…”

and the rockin’ Motown version of Rudolph! Dig the bassy voice that sings Santa’s “won’t you guide my slay tonight part”.
Also the show is hosted by dinosaurs. I have not grown out of dinos to this day…and I hope I never do!
On a side note, there is one short that's not my favorite. But I do like (though I am terrified) of the Carol of the Bells short…the hunchback freaked me out as we little girl…and I am still weirded out by it. Maybe I just like the Carol of the Bells...?
It's fun over all, and the “wasseling” jokes throughout the special still make me smile.

For my Top 10, I’m going to go ahead and do a countdown leading up to Christmas Eve, with number one posting that day (it also happens to be the movie I have to watch that evening)!
So…stay tuned!