Monday, December 28, 2009

2009 In Review

2009 was a year of ups and downs for yours truly. While I would like to say it was a great year, it wasn't, but it wasn't a horrible one either. It was simply a year, and now here is a summary.


We got a dog. He is a miniature schnauzer named Basil and is very cute. I didn't really want a dog or even like dogs before this, but now I love the dog. I'm a huge flip-flopper apparently.

I was in a production of Pirates of Penzance with the wife at the Off Broadway Theatre. It was great to get back on the stage after a few years away. There really is nothing like performing live.

I had some great moments with friends and family. Aw, cute.

I helped coach the Rowland Hall high school basketball team to their best finish at state since moving to the 2A classification. Well done, boys.

The new Star Trek movie came out and was really cool.

I started a really kick ass blog.

I celebrated three years of marriage to my awesome wife, Mary Anne with a fun trip to Park City.


I was laid off from my job after four years. It was sad to leave, but I am starting to see it as more of a positive than a negative. Lesson for the kids, you gotta play the hand you're dealt.

A few distant relatives passed away. Farewell.

I scraped the roof of my mouth on some toast. Dammit!

That's really it, I don't want to sound like a whiner.









Catch you all on the flip side in 2010. Let's make it a good one.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Movie of the Week

This Merry Week,


Starring- Darren McGavin, Melinda Dillon, Peter Billingsley

There is a reason that this movie is played for 24 hours on Christmas- it is awesome. This small budget effort, based on the short stories of Jean Shepherd, has become an American institution since it was made in 1983. The story focuses on Ralphie Parker, a boy who wants a Red Ryder BB Gun for Christmas, and who will stop at nothing to get one- even though everyone says that "He'll shoot his eye out." Even though this is the central thrust of the film, the real charm comes from the portrayal of the life of a midwestern family during the depression. It is a nice encapsulation of a simpler time when kids listened to the radio for fun, milk was the operative beverage and dads were referred to as "the old man."

This movie is rife with memorable scenes and lines that I find myself quoting as soon as the calendar turns to December. The best thing about A Christmas Story is that everyone in the family can enjoy it and relate to it. We can all remember a Christmas when we were young when there was one toy that we wanted more than anything, just like Ralphie's blue steel beauty, and how sweet it was when we woke up to find it under the tree. Ralphie is the every-kid, and even if we never heard Little Orphan Annie or watched our friend stick his tongue to a frozen lamppost, we had similar experiences. I wonder what people did before this movie came out, and then I thank the filmmakers for getting this film in the can the year I was born.

Things to watch for-

Flick (He became a porn star)
The Bumpis Hounds
The Old Man's major award
This thing which tells time
Chinese Turkey

"Oh, Fudge."

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Saddest Christmas Song Ever

Everyone is all about that song 'The Christmas Shoes' this year, but before that craptacular band New Song raped our ears, there was a sadder, more pointless song. The song of which I speak is 'The Little Boy that Santa Claus Forgot' by Nat King Cole. I really like Nat King Cole, but I'm sorry, this song is so awful that I question his intelligence. Who thought that a song about a boy who gets no presents for Christmas and is sad would put people in a good holiday mood? At least 'The Christmas Shoes' has a moral to it, albeit a stupid, convoluted moral, but there is no moral to 'The Little Boy Who Santa Claus Forgot.'

Here are the lyrics, so you can see what I mean.

He's the little boy who Santa Claus forgot,
and goodness knows he didn't want a lot.
He sent a note to Santa for some soldiers and a drum,
It broke his little heart when Santa didn't come

In the street he envies all those lucky boys
Then wanders home to play with last year's broken toys
I'm so sorry for that laddie
He hasn't got a daddy
He's the little boy that Santa Claus forgot

Wow, that makes me feel so good about Christmas, how about you? WTF? The song might have been good if the boy were a little turd who was greedy and rude to his parents and acted like a dick to his friends, and Santa not coming taught him a lesson, but no, this little boy is a nice kid who only wanted some soldiers and a drum. A drum! Come on, Santa! It's not like he was asking for something outrageous like Beatles Rock Band- he just wanted a drum. Oh, and by the way, this kid doesn't have a dad! Yeah, I forgot that Santa has a thing against kids without dads. Maybe this kid should get together with the kid from Christmas Shoes and form a therapy group called Shitty Christmas. I like to be happy at Christmas, but thanks to this song I'm now so jaded that I hope I choke on some fruitcake.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Some Bests

Here is a list of some things that I think are the best in their particular category.

Best Muppet Movie- The Great Muppet Caper

Best Brand of Toothpaste- Crest

Best Hard Rock Band- AC/DC

Best Utah Ski Resort- Solitude

Best Batman- Christian Bale/Adam West

Best Monty Python Movie- Life of Brian

Best Beatle- George

Best Random Kitchen Gadget- Potato Ricer

Best Jolly Rancher Flavor- Peach

Best Candy Bar- Snickers

Best Star Trek Captain- Kirk

Best Season of Arrested Development- Season 2

Best Blog- Do I need to ask?

Friday, December 11, 2009

Movie of the Week

This Jolly Week,


Starring- Reginald Owen, Gene Lockhart, Leo G. Carroll

Most, including me, say that the 1951 version of A Christmas Carol is the best, but this 1938 edition is still quite good. While it is not as faithful to the original Dickens book, and has a less scary, family friendly feel to it, there is a certain charm that makes me smile when I watch it every Christmas. Ebenezer Scrooge is played by veteran actor, Reginald Owen who portrays the protagonist as irritated and easily won over by the spirits sent to change him. I think this film comes from a more optimistic, hopeful viewpoint that shows good to be always superior to anger and bitterness. Some other adaptations of this story make Scrooge almost too unsympathetic, but here Owen forces you to root for Scrooge to become a happy-go-lucky guy.

The colorized version of this film is cheesy and if you can find it in black and white I encourage that. Equally cheesy, but also charming is the portrayal of the Cratchit family. Bob is clearly too well-fed to be that poor, the kids are a little too taken with the goose they have for Christmas dinner, and Tiny Tim is very healthy looking and kind of a perv. I laugh sometimes at some of the elements of this movie, but at its core is the great message of retribution and the embrace of Christmas. I hope that this movie brings you as much joy and laughter as it does to me every single Christmas season.

Things to Watch for-

Having a slide
Bob's Snowball lesson
June Lockhart (the mom from Lassie) as a Cratchit daughter
A Very Jolly Ghost of Christmas Present
Scrooge biting his coins

"I'd like to stroke it."

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Listen Up, Phonies!

The Tiger Woods controversy has made me think about how people choose to present themselves to the world, and how much of what we see is actually the truth. I am very much from the school of what you see is what you get, and that is how I live my life. It hurts me when you think you know someone, how they think, what they do, who they spend their time with, what their values are, and then something comes out that completely turns your perception upside down. I felt that way when this mess came out about Tiger, I have felt that way when I have discovered other hidden transgressions about people I know, and I will always feel that way.

Nobody is perfect, and I cannot stand phonies who think that they can fake their way through life pretending that they are perfect. I am constantly amazed when I see fakes and phonies because they will always end up being exposed for who they really are. Tiger's situation is a great example of how a phony can be exposed to the light of the truth. I don't in any way condone Tiger's actions, but his biggest crime was being disingenuous about who he really was, not the acts themselves. If you like lots of sex with random whores, so be it, but just say "I enjoy lots of sex with random whores." I'm sure Elin would have liked to hear that before she married what she thought was a upstanding family man. Jimmy Carter caught a lot of flack when he was president for admitting that he had "lusted in [his] heart." Sure, this is somewhat disturbing, but I admire Mr. Carter's honesty. Speaking out can sometimes heal the wounds inflicted by the phony, but the bloom is already off of the rose and the image can never be rebuilt. To all the fakes out there, make sure that if you create a false persona, you keep your real persona out of trouble because as Tiger can tell you, it sucks to be exposed.

Monday, December 7, 2009

The Bond Chronicles Part III

James Bond has had 22 cinematic adventures, and I have a deep appreciation for them, but there would no films without the books written by Ian Fleming. Fleming's first novel, Casino Royale forever changed the spy genre when it was published in 1953, and introduced the world to agent 007. A series of books followed, making James Bond a legitimate literary phenomenon, especially when President Kennedy put From Russia With Love on a list of his favorite books. I had not read any of the books until many years into my Bond obsession, but can now say I have read most of them. I can say without a doubt that the books are very special, and depict a very flawed main character that is only glimpsed in some of the movies. For a deeper understanding of the man, read the books and feel the charm of Fleming's writing take you into a world of intrigue and glamour. The list that follows reviews my favorite three Bond books.

1. From Russia With Love

Just like the film version, this is the best of the series. President Kennedy was right to put this book on his list of favorites because it has it all- great locations, mysterious girls, thrilling action and sinister villains. The villains in this book are the best Fleming ever created- ruthless SMERSH mastermind Colonel Rosa Klebb and her machine-like killer henchman 'Red' Grant. These two set in motion a great Cold War era plot to get even with 007 for his previous work against the Soviet spy organization. I don't want to spoil the story, but Bond is at his best as he matches wits with his deadly enemies against the fabulous backdrop of Istanbul and the Orient Express. It is also different enough from the film that you will have some nice surprises in store.

2. On Her Majesty's Secret Service

It's no wonder that the two best books made for great Bond films, and this is true for OHMSS. Just like the 1969 film, this story follows 007 as he tries to track down Blofeld at his hideout in the Swiss Alps. This novel has some great scenes, and Fleming does a fabulous job describing the action, especially the epic ski chase that sees Bond narrowly evading SPECTRE. Also of note in this book are Bond's allies. M plays a critical role, as does avuncular crime lord Marc Ange Draco who ends up as Bond's father in law. Yes, Bond gets married in this one, but be prepared for a shocking finale. Fleming does his best work at the end when Bond's marriage meets an untimely end. The cliffhanger makes you eager to pick up the next book, You Only Live Twice, immediately.

3. Live and Let Die

Of the three books on this list, Live and Let Die is the most different from its cinematic counterpart. Unlike the 1973 film starring Roger Moore, the book is much darker and more violent, with key scenes that were later adapted for other Bond films. I like the gritty nature of this Bond adventure, and the mysterious Voodoo shadow that is cast over it. The villain this time is the gigantic Hatian Mr. Big who works as an operative for the Russians. Bond is sent to uncover a smuggling operation, but soon becomes trapped in a dangerous game with Mr. Big and his confederates. Try not to be put off by the somewhat racist depiction of the black characters in the novel, and remember that it was written in 1954. Despite the somewhat antiquated view of black culture, this book is rife with great scenes- the maiming of Felix Leiter, Solitaire's test and the keel hauling torture. Enjoy!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Movie of the Week

For the Christmas/Holiday season I will be devoting my movie of the week posts to Christmas movies. This week,


Starring- Macaulay Culkin, Joe Pesci, Daniel Stern, Catherine O'Hara

This movie flat out rules. I remember seeing it in the theatre as an 8 year old for my friend's birthday. It was all I could do not to entice burglars into the house while my mom was gone to assault them with homemade booby traps. Everyone wanted to be Kevin McAllister, and rightly so. I am assuming most of you have seen this movie and are well acquainted with it, so I will not bore you with a synopsis or review. Instead I will present a conjecture of what happened to the main characters in the last 19 years.

The 'Polka King of the Midwest' and his band the Kenosha Kickers were inducted into the Polka Hall of Fame, but were unable to attend because they were on their 'Polka Polka Polka' Tour of Europe.

They spent 6 to 10 years in prison as the bitches of Dr. Hate, but finally were set free after Dr. Hate was shanked during movie night. Once they paid their debt to society, Harry opened a Pawn Shop in Hackinsack, NJ and Marv starred in and directed a semi-autobiographical low budget adult film called 'Wett Bandit.'

Narrowly avoided having all their children taken away by child protective services after leaving Kevin behind twice. Have since over-compensated by adopting three Cambodian babies who are never out of their sight and sleep in the same bed with them. Those children are now in foster homes.

Buzz is living in Chicago with his boyfriend Mitch Murphy (the kid across the street). They own and operate a Pet Store that specializes in tarantulas.

He is still a total cheapskate, and as was arrested for stealing crystal wine glasses from a hotel room in Ft. Lauderdale.

He is a therapist who works exclusively with children who are bed wetters. He is the author of the best selling book "Outer Dampness, Inner Pain."

After many years of therapy, he went back to New York and opened up a Pizza joint in Queens that serves only Cheese Pizzas called Old Man Marley's.

Things to Watch for-

John Candy as The Polka King of the Midwest
A French Jimmy Stewart
Acey, Snakes and Johnny
Buzz's Girlfriend- Woof!

"Keep the change, ya filthy animal."

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Things I Think- Holiday Edition

These are a few musings I have about the Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Solstice, Voodoo Day season. This time of year makes me think about a lot of things, and because I am filled with a generous spirit in this time of giving, I will share them with you.

I used to think that a fake Christmas tree was unacceptable, but now I think that they are awesome. It is so much easier to put up and deal with, I love it. A friend thought our tree was real too, which shows how far the fake tree industry has come in their ability to duplicate pine needles, etc.

I think that everyone needs to learn a bit about the real history behind the holidays this time of year brings us. Jesus wasn't born in December, many of the traditions we engage in are not Christian, they are Pagan, and Kwanzaa was created by a college professor.

I think Christmas trees that have a variety of ornaments are the most fun and interesting.

I think I would buy a really expensive Christmas village if I had a lot of extra money. I think I would get the Dickensian one- it has little Scrooge and Marley figures.

I think it is important to do something for someone else that might not have as much as you. I also think that it doesn't need to be Christmas to do said thing.

I think that doing some of the things you did as a kid helps make this time of year still seem magical. For example, I like to look through some of the books that I loved to read as kid at Christmas.

I think Santa Claus would be pissed if he knew the Discovery Channel and National Geographic were trying to uncover his lair. Leave the man alone, all he wants to do is bring toys to all of us.

I think Kay Jewelers and Zales need to seriously rethink their holiday ad campaigns.

I think alcohol is necessary to really enjoy most family parties.

I think that people who have to go to three or four places on Christmas deserve a medal. I have been one of them. It ain't easy.

I think that the 1951 version of 'A Christmas Carol' starring Alistair Sim is the definitive one.

I think I'll go have some sort of nog. Egg?