12 Days of Christmas

12DC – Day 12: Merry Christmas

In 1897, Virginia O’Hanlon sent a letter to the New York Sun asking a simple question: is there a Santa Claus? You see, she had a bad father. He didn’t want to answer the question, so he transferred his fatherly responsibilities to the newspaper, claiming that “If you see it in The Sun, it’s so.” An editor at the Sun, Francis Pharcellus Church, took the opportunity to answer Virginia’s question and also addressed the deeper philosophical quandry. His now famous response can be summed up as “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.”

Is there a Santa Claus?

Merry Christmas, all!

12DC – Day 10: Santa Slashers

Last year I checked out some holiday horror films and found myself enjoying them quite a bit. This year’s crop turned out alright as well, though I wasn’t able to get to Don’t Open Till Christmas (very long wait on Netflix – the same fate that befell Silent Night, Deadly Night last year).

  • Santa’s Slay: It’s hard to believe that a film written and directed by a protégé of Brett Ratner could be entertaining at all, but then, here we are. Of course, it’s not fine cinema or anything, but it’s quite a bit of fun. Former professional wrestler Bill Goldberg plays Santa and does a reasonably menacing job in the role. Interestingly enough, the movie attempts to build in some history to the story of Santa and why he is the way he is… It turns out that Santa lost a bet with an angel around 1000 years ago, and thus he had to act nice and deliver presents to the world. But now that agreement has lapsed and Santa goes on a murderous rampage. The flashback that tells this part of the story in the film is done in a rather awesome stop-motion animation, reminiscent of the old Rankin/Bass stuff – a nice touch.

    Rankin/Bass Style Animation

    Indeed, there are a lot of little things that I really liked about this movie. Some of the jokes are actually funny and the pop culture references are present without being overbearing. I would have liked to have seen more Santa slayings, but ultimately, this film was a lot better than I expected. Again, it isn’t especially brilliant, but it’s rather well put together and worth a watch if you go in for this sort of thing. ***

  • Christmas Evil (aka You Better Watch Out): I had no idea that this was a Troma film until I saw it during the opening credits. However, despite the Troma reputation, this film is much more deliberate and measured than you might expect (there’s not even much in the way of gore). The story follows Harry Stadling, a guy who works at a toy factory and has an unhealthy obsession with Santa Claus. For instance, he observes neighborhood kids and makes naughty and nice lists, tabulating all their deeds into two giant books. Eventually, Harry snaps, dresses up like Santa, paints his van to look like a sleigh, and heads out on Christmas Eve to give presents to the nice kids… and punish the naughty ones. Unlike Santa’s Slay, Harry actually makes a distinction between naughty and nice, and does not harm the nice people. The naughty, on the other hand, well, they get what’s coming to them. Harry is portrayed in a surprisingly sympathetic light, no doubt a result of a rather good lead performance by Brandon Maggart. The film was quite low budget, and it shows, but it’s still a very interesting movie. Also, I rather loved the ending, despite the fact that it kinda comes out of nowhere and makes no sense. It’s still fun. ***

    Santa the slasher

  • Dead End: Not sure where I heard of this, but it takes a familiar premise and… doesn’t really do all that much with it. A family driving to Christmas Eve dinner takes a “shortcut” and find themselves on a mysterious road through a mysterious forest where they pick up a mysterious woman who mysteriously disappears, but then someone sees a mysterious car that looks almost like a hearse driving away with one of the kids and it’s all very mysterious. This sort of thing could work if there was some sort of reasonable explanation for all the mystery… or if the dialogue were good or if the plot progressed in a fashion that made sense in some way. Some serious horror movie tropes here. Like people walking off by themselves or other seriously stupid stuff. For a low budget film, it looks pretty good, and they did manage to find some reasonably good actors, but some of the dumber plot points and the ending just left a bad taste in my mouth. *1/2

That’s all for now. Coming down the home stretch, we’ve got the night before Christmas and the big day itself!

12DC – Day 9: Rantlers!

Sometimes brilliant moments in cinematic history appear in the most unlikely places. Case in point, Rocky V, where Rocky coins a new holiday term: Rantlers! Take a listen:

A portmanteau of reindeer and anters, it’s just another example of the genius of Rocky.

12DC – Day 8: Eggnog!

Last year, I posted about my family’s eggnog tradition. Every Thanksgiving, we all bring a few eggnogs and have a tasting. We’re pretty bad about organizing it, but this year things went reasonably well, with 12 varieties and even a few new ones. I’m determined to do a true double blind taste test next year… Anyway, here’s this year’s lineup:

Eggnogs

For reference, these are the eggnogs pictured (from left to right):

  • Wawa
  • Swiss Farms
  • Turkey Hill
  • Lucerne Farms
  • Southern Comfort (Traditional)
  • Hood (Golden)
  • Hood (Pumpkin)
  • Hood (Sugar Cookie)
  • Southern Comfort (Vanilla Spice)
  • Wawa (Pumpkin Spice)
  • Lactaid
  • Rice Dream Rice Nog

Just like last year, there wasn’t particularly scientific or comprehensive about the process, but a general consensus arose. First, “flavored” eggnogs (like Vanilla Spice or Pumpkin, etc…), while tasty and a nice change of pace, were generally considered to be out of the running for the prize. For the most part, I don’t think we’ll be pursuing flavored brands in the future. This will lessen the quantity of egg nogs, but it will also make it easier to conduct a double blind taste test. Anyway, there was actually a tie when it came to decide the best eggnog. The winners:

Winners: Wawa and Swiss Farms

Wawa brand and Swiss Farms brand eggnogs came out on top, with 5 votes apiece. For those of you non-East-Coasters, Wawa is a popular convenience store (a la 7-Eleven, but better) and dairy farm, and their Eggnog is great. Swiss Farms is also a local dairy, and their stores are these strange drive through affairs… Their eggnog was a new addition this year, and obviously a successful one. It’s quite good. On the other end of the spectrum, there was a unanimous decision to crown Rice Dream Rice Nog the most disgusting, though quite surprisingly, Lucerne eggnog did quite poorly. I’m not sure how Rice Nog would compare with Silk Soy Nog (last year’s loser), but they’re both pretty foul.

Losers: Lucerne and Rice Dream

One of the funniest things about Rice Dream was a little warning label that was on the side. I took a picture, but Kelson’s is much better, and I won’t ruin the surprise.

Anywho, it was a good year, and I’m looking forward to next year’s tasting!

12DC – Day 7: Treevenge!

On Saturday, I posted a picture of the traditional Kaedrin Christmas Cactus. I’ve been delayed a bit due to some server host issues, but today we’re going to see a reason not to have a tree (though honestly, in my case, it’s more due to laziness than to what you’re about to see). It’s a short film made by Canadian filmmaker Jason Eisener (he also made this bit of insanity, which I may have posted during the 6WH last year), and a word of warning, it starts out pleasant enough, but it eventually gets very gory, so proceed at your own risk.

Of course, that’s complete fiction. Everyone knows that our bloodthirsty lust for Christmas trees leads to the extinction of the pine tree.

12DC – Day 6: The Christmas Cactus

Last year, the strand of lights I had on the cactus burnt out, so I had to replace it… And now I remember why I never took lights off the thing before. Taking them off and putting them on can make for a painful experience. In any case, I present you with the 2009 traditional Kaedrin Christmas Cactus:

Traditional Kaedrin Christmas Cactus

There you have it. Later in the 12DC, we’ll go over some reasons not to have a tree (even though, hey, I love Christmas trees too).

12DC – Day 5: Friday is Holiday List Day

Even though it is infrequently observed, Friday is list day, so here’s a couple lists…

Not So Random 10

Holiday music generally gets overplayed, but let’s see what comes up:

  • Shostakovich – “Suite #2 For Jazz Orchestra – Waltz #2”
  • Vince Guaraldi – “Linus and Lucy”
  • Bobby Helms – “Jingle Bell Rock”
  • Weezer – “We Wish You a Merry Christmas”
  • John Lennon – “Happy Xmas”
  • Tchaikovsky – “The Nutcracker Suite”
  • Gary Hoey – “Carol of the Bells”
  • Bruce Springsteen – “Merry Christmas Baby”
  • Vince Guaraldi – “Christmas Time Is Here”
  • Sufjan Stevens – “Come on! Let’s Boogey to the Elf Dance!”

Yeah, so some of those are reallly overplayed, but what the hey.

Holiday Link Dump

Well, that’s all for now. Stay tuned for what passes as a Christmas tree around here as well as Egg Nog madness.