Entertainment

Christmas Movies

Since I STILL haven’t heard John Lennon’s “So This Is Christmas”, I thought I’d do a post about Christmas Movies.  I’m not talking the made for TV crap that Lifetime and Hallmark channels play. You could cut whole scenes out of those movies, switch them with scenes from another movie and other than there being different actors, you wouldn’t notice the damn difference.

So I checked out several sites that have rankings of Christmas movies to see who ranks which movies versus other lists.

I looked at Rotten Tomatoes, Thrillist, and Buzzfeed simply because they were the first three in my Google search (links above go to the lists I used).  What I basically learned from these sites is that I have not seen damn near any of this movies.

Let’s start with some of the classics;

White Christmas; #25 on Rotten Tomatoes, #33 on Thrillist and not listed on Buzzfeed.  I have only seen snippets of this movie.  Usually when Wifey® elbows me to stop snoring and I wake up just enough to see that it’s still on before rolling over and going back to sleep.

Elf; #19 on Rotten Tomatoes, #6 on Thrillist, and #12 on Buzzfeed. I have never seen this movie nor do I intend on ever watching this movie. For whatever reason, I just have an aversion to Will Ferrell.  Nothing personal, just don’t care for the man.

A Christmas Story; #9 on Rotten Tomatoes, #2 on Thrillist and #6 on Buzzfeed. Again, never watched it. I can’t really give a reason why not. It just doesn’t appeal to me.

Miracle on 34th Street; #2 on Rotten Tomatoes, #3 on Thrillist, and not listed on Buzzfeed.  Nope. Not interested at all.

It’s A Wonderful Life; #1 on all three sites. It’s a bit strange that I’ve never seen this one. If I understand the plot (and please correct me if I’m wrong), the main character (Jimmy Stewart?) wishes that he had never been born.  Someone (Santa maybe?) grants this wish and he gets a glimpse of what his loved ones/town/I don’t know, would have lived without him. Since my bipolar depression leads me into those kinds of thoughts on a semi-regular basis, maybe I could learn something from this movie. But that damn phrase “Every time a bell rings, an angel gets her wings”, is enough to keep me away. That did come from this movie right? Or am I confusing it with 34th Street??

So now, some of the movies that are listed as Christmas movies for reasons I don’t understand.  No rankings on these.

Die Hard; Just because this movie takes place during a company Christmas party doesn’t mean it’s a Christmas movie. Last time I looked, Christmas is (for some – not all) about the birth of the “Christ Child”. I don’t see how blowing shit up and automatic gunfire qualifies. I have seen this movie, it was during my Army years, and then I enjoyed it. Now, not so much. I’ve grown way to pacifist for this level of violence.

Trading Places; Again, just because the storyline takes place during the holidays doesn’t make it a Christmas movie. Maybe it’s the greed versus the people on the margins of society that qualify it, I don’t know.  But I have seen this one and I did enjoy it. I enjoy both Dan Aykroyd and Eddie Murphy.

Batman Returns; Seriously? A Christmas movie? SMDH… (But did enjoy the movie).

Now let’s talk about some Christmas movies I have seen.

Rudolph The Red Nose Reindeer; My favorite character is Lemny the Elf who wants to be a dentist. A good study in breaking out of a class structure.

A Charlie Brown Christmas; One of my all-time favorites. Even with Linus’ soliloquy of Luke (a direct quote too). An interesting fact is that the network pressured Charles Schulz to take the bible quote out. He refused, and it’s still there to this day. It’s The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown is also a classic holiday treat.

The Nightmare Before Christmas; A Tim Burton masterpiece!  Absolutely love this one as it spans two holidays. And the animation is just so cool.

How The Grinch Stole Christmas; The original animation from 1967. I have not seen the live action mainly because I don’t want to compare it to this one. This has become my favorite Christmas cartoon.

And my All-Time-Favorite Christmas movie is (drumroll please); National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. How did you not see that one coming? Without a doubt, this movie cracks me up no matter what time of year. The script is amazing, the acting is beyond belief.  I have an Army buddy that’s nicknamed “Sparky” in tribute to Chevy Chase’s Clark Griswold. But all in all, my favorite character of all the Vacation movies is Cousin Eddie. He reminds me of a sudden depressive episode that comes with the bipolar. He shows up at the worst possible time, he turns the situation upside down, and you just can’t get rid of him.

An honorable mention goes to Christmas With The Kranks.  Wifey® got me to watch it just last year. And while not quite up there with Christmas Vacation, it was still quite enjoyable. And I will admit I will watch Jamie Lee Curtis read the phone book.  I’ve always enjoyed her work.

So there’s my list. I’m sure I’ve left off your favorite movie, or maybe you disagree my views. It’s all cool!  Leave me a comment below and let me know! (And don’t text me bro!)

Peace,
B

Odds & Ends

I haven’t written anything in a while, not that anything is wrong, just haven’t had much to say.  Life has been quiet. So today I’ll throw out a few odds and ends on what’s been on mine and Wifey’s® minds.

Last night we were driving to the gym when a commercial for one of the big cruise ship lines came on. Doesn’t matter which one, because they all do it.  It may only make sense to those of us in Florida, or folks who like to cruise. But this is my blog, so I’m going to tell the story anyway.

The commercial will always say; “Sailing from Miami, Tampa, (sometimes Ft. Lauderdale is added here), and Orlando”.  Has anybody in the marketing departments of these cruise lines ever looked at a Florida map? Maybe they all use a marketing firm from Nebraska or another land locked state.  But in any case, here is a simple map of Florida for you to follow along with.

florida-simple-map

You will notice that Miami and Tampa are on the coast, which is good when you’re trying to dock a big assed cruise ship. Now granted if you’re in Florida you cannot be more than 80 miles from the coast (either the Atlantic or the Gulf). So where does that leave Orlando? Pretty much dead center of the state. I guess if you had a really, really good boat captain with updated charts, you may be able to sail a small, 12 foot or so, boat from somewhere on the east coast to the Orlando area. Not very likely, but just maybe. But a cruise ship? Not a chance.

So where do you sail from if you’re not really sailing from Orlando? Well, Port Canaveral of course. Even though Canaveral has the Kennedy Space Center with the astronaut hall of fame, it doesn’t have the draw that Orlando has with Disney and Universal theme parks. (You know why the Orlando airport is designated “MCO”? It stands for “Mickey Controls Orlando”).

So in truth, the cruise lines are dumbing us down by making folks think they can sail out of Orlando, which is physically impossible. Just more corporate America hoping you’ll buy into their ideas.

Next point. Something that I have hated since the Rolling Stones sold out and let Micro$oft use “Start Me Up” in a commercial for Windows 95. That’s the use of popular music in advertising. Yes, it’s been going on for ages, but it didn’t bother me until “my music” started being used. My music meaning what is generally termed “Classic Rock”, or in my day “AOR” or Album Oriented Radio.

This year’s major defiler of good music is Wal-Mart (a corporation I despise anyway). It started with their use of The Who’s “Who Are You” advertising for Halloween costumes.  It was bad enough when the “CSI” shows used that same song. Now Wal-mart is using “Get Together” by Jesse Colin Young & The Youngbloods for a Thanksgiving ad. The biggest problem? The songs fit perfectly with the ads!  DAMMIT ALL TO HELL!!!@! I want to yell and scream that they messed it up, but I can’t!

Also for all us Southeastern USA folks, the grocery store Publix used The Allman Brother’s “Jessica” as background music in their commercials for years. Guess there’s not much I (or any of us) can do about it.  Except DVR everything and skip the damn commercials.

Last thing, I promise.  And yes it’s more commercials (I hate them). Have you noticed all the medical stuff, the new medications in particular?  I love how they list all the possible side effects from hair loss, to death and everything in between. Then they tell you not to take it if you have any of the following conditions, which goes on forever. One of which is usually a very specific type of cancer or other major disease. But then comes the kicker, “Do not take if you are allergic to <insert medication they are advertising for here>.  Now how in the hell are you supposed to know if you’re allergic to it if it’s so new you’ve never taken it? I remember my days as a paramedic working in ERs and having to ask questions about drug allergies. But that was so we didn’t give the patient something they knew they were allergic to.

I can only imagine a conversation like this;

Doctor:  You have <this> condition I want to give you this brand new drug, “XYZ”, it was just released yesterday. Do you know if you are allergic to “XYZ?”

Patient: How would I know? I’ve never tried it before!

Doctor: Are you sure you’re not allergic to “XYZ”? I don’t want to get sued”.

Whatev’

That’s enough…. Let me go find a video to calm us (me) down.  This has nothing to do with the post but it’s one of “my girl’s” (Wifey® and the granddaughters – which is an awesome band name) favorites.

Enjoy!

Peace,
B

 

Rain, Rain and More Rain

Ok, so it’s only been two days or so of rain. But there are areas in Central Florida that still have high water from Hurricane Irma. I realize we’re in much better shape than Texas and Puerto Rico but it still isn’t easy.

So here’s a video just because I want to…

Peace,
B

EDIT:  It’s now 1210 EDT and Wifey® informs me the sun is out! Guess this little post did its job! (As if I could influence the weather.)

Not Exactly A Useless Post

As I mentioned on my social media yesterday, my older brother and I have been texting about music. Single artists, bands you name it. We somehow ended up on women vocalists, and one of my all-time favorites, Linda Ronstadt, I had posters of her on my bedroom walls as a teenager. (Along with Anne & Nancy Wilson of Heart).

Then while browsing through YouTube I found this video of Linda and her first band The Stone Ponys.

After reading the Stone Ponys Wikipedia page I learned that “Different Drum” was written by Michael Nesmith before he became a Monkee.

Micheal was always my favorite Monkee. I watched the show every chance I got. Not only was the humor perfect for an 8-year-old, I really enjoyed the music too. It was later in life when I went back and listened to their music that realized that Micheal’s music was far better than the polished pop songs they also sang. Now those pop songs were written by some of the finest songwriters of the early sixties. Carol King & Gerry Goffin to name but two.

But it was Michael’s rawer edge that stood out to me. Plus the fact on most of his songs, he insisted that the Monkees actually played on the recordings and just not studio musicians (although they made extensive use of studio musicians on every recording).

A few interesting notes about The Monkees. Stephen Stills (of Crosby, Stills, Nash with or without Young fame) auditioned but didn’t make the cut. He did, however, recommend his friend Peter Tork to be auditioned.  Peter was the only band member other than Michael that could actually play an instrument.  The reason Michael wore a wool hat? It kept his hair out of his eyes while riding his motorcycle. And Michael’s mother invented what was later marketed as “Liquid Paper”.

So here is my favorite Monkee song of Michael’s. The video sucks, sorry. But you get two renditions of the song. The first part, take care to watch the studio musicians listed. The late Glenn Campbell is playing backup for The Monkees! Michael is producing this version, which was used on the show over the version produced by Don Kirschner.

Hope you enjoy it! Leave a comment or two, please.

Peace,
B

Samhain

(This isn’t an anti any religion post. Your beliefs are your beliefs. I’m not trying to push any of my beliefs on you, please don’t try to push yours on me. This is here to show the history of one of my favorite holidays.)

The season of Samhain (pronounced SOW-win) is upon us. The greatest of the ancient Celtic fire festivals, it is usually celebrated on October 31st or the full moon closest to that date (November 4th at 1:23AM this year).  It is from this ancient festival that we believe the modern-day Halloween comes from.

To the ancient Celts, Samhain marked the most important of four Celtic fire festivals. Located halfway between an equinox and a solstice, it is one of four cross-quarter festivals. Every year on the first frost after the full moon in October, families allowed their hearth fires to burn out. At this time, they brought back herd animals from grazing and completed gathering the harvest. After the fires died, they gathered with the rest of their tribe to observe the Druid priests relighting the community sacred fire using friction. The priests induced friction with a wheel and spindle: the wheel, representing the sun, turned from east to west and lit sparks. At this time, they made prayers and offerings or sacrifices related to their needs. The Crom-cruach came out: this was an emblem of the sun, and scholars are uncertain whether it represented a Pagan god or symbolized an aspect of nature embodied in a stone pillar. The villagers left offerings of food at the edge of their village for wandering spirits and faerie folk. There was also a sacrifice of a black sheep, a black sow, or cattle. At the end, every person returned home with a brand lit from the sacred fire, which they used to relight their own hearth and then to light bonfires or to set torches at the edge of their fields. These ancients considered it a sin to relight the hearth fire any other way. To the ancient Celts, Samhain marked the completion of the harvest and called them to put their energy into preparing for the coming winter. It also betokened a day when their ancestors would come to visit, followed across the veil by all sorts of creatures both good and bad that moved freely in the mortal world on Samhain night. Since faeries were often unfriendly, the Celts dressed themselves as animals or as other fearsome creatures as a way to prevent kidnapping by faeries and later by witches.

Rajchel, Diana. Samhain: Rituals, Recipes & Lore for Halloween (Llewellyn’s Sabbat Essentials) (Kindle Locations 154-168). Llewellyn Worldwide, LTD.. Kindle Edition.

Not only did this festival mark the end of the harvest, it was a time the “veil between the worlds” thinned. This “thining of the veil” was of great import to the ancient Celts. (And it’s pronounced Kelts, with a hard “C”).  It was a time to welcome lost family members back to ask questions of them, or just sit in remembrance of them. It was also a time that creatures of all sorts, good and bad could cross between worlds. I would like to think that when I’m gone, on this day I will be able to stand at the veil and watch my family. To see how they’re doing and maybe, somehow, let them know I’m thinking (if that’s the right word) of them. John Lennon (he of Beatle fame) is said to have told his son Julian that if he can communicate from the other side he will float a white feather in front of him. That would be cool.

In today’s world “fairy” brings up images of “Tinkerbell” and other cute little sprite-like creatures. That was not the thinking in the 3rd – 5th centuries CE. In more ancient times (maybe as far back as 30,000 BCE) these fairies and sprites were looked upon as belonging to the Mother Goddess (Cerrwiden for most of Isles) and were usually benevolent. It wasn’t until the coming of the Celtic Christians (which was separate from the Roman Catholics) that these fairies were taught to be mischievous at best, evil at worst.

Most of the “Old Gods” of the Druids (which were stolen by the patriarchal religions) were manifestations of the matriarchal religions’ Mother Goddess (or Mother Earth). To try to convert the pagans of the British Isles, the priests either turned these old Gods and Goddess into saints, as in “Saint” Brigid or claimed they were evil and cast them to live in the hills underground.

 

IMG_20141026_191733430.jpg

Our Jack o’Lanterns from 2016

 

So the Catholic church tried to change all the pagan holidays, Samhain being only one, into a Christian holiday. They didn’t invent these “holy days” so much as usurp them from the pagan calendar.

When Christianity spread throughout Europe, the church officials went about converting the area heathens by converting their holidays. Sometimes church officials did this by scheduling an observance for a different time of year. Other times, they simply renamed the old Pagan holiday for a saint’s day. In the fifth century, Pope Boniface attempted to repurpose the ritual of honoring otherworldly spirits and the dead, identifying it as a day to honor saints and martyrs, and moving the holiday to May 13. When the late October/ November fire festivals continued anyway, in the ninth-century Pope Gregory decided to move the saints and martyrs day back to the same day as the secular festival of the dead. In the case of Samhain, rather than negate the festival of the dead, the church resorted to declaring November 1 All Saints’ Day, alternatively called All Souls’ Day. Later the church added All Souls’ Day on November 2, possibly because All Saints’ Day failed to displace the Pagan rituals. Eventually both All Saints’ and All Souls’ became distinct holidays unto themselves, with All Saints’ an observance for souls believed already ascended to heaven, and All Souls’ as a day to honor souls possibly still working out some issues in purgatory. In Ireland, these days marked a time for family reunions after cow-milking season finished. Over time the night before November 1, called among many names Hallowe’en, Allhallows eve, or Hallowmas, became the repository for most of the original Pagan practices.

Rajchel, Diana. Samhain: Rituals, Recipes & Lore for Halloween (Llewellyn’s Sabbat Essentials) (Kindle Locations 169-179). Llewellyn Worldwide, LTD.. Kindle Edition.

As you can see, it didn’t really work. We pagans are a stubborn bunch. But I have to admit, that when I did call myself a Christian All Saint’s Sunday was an especially meaningful day for me. To hear the names of the “saints” that had left us the previous year and to have a bell chime for each name was very moving.

Despite the best efforts of the ninth century Christian Church, Samhain did not so much return as it remained. That, alongside Halloween, speaks to humanity’s enduring need to acknowledge fear, death, uncertainty, and loss. Samhain offers a chance for renewal and a chance to connect lovingly with the dead again. Halloween offers a release from the norm— often exactly what people need after enduring powerful grief. Pagans celebrate life, and with Samhain they do so by revering the dead, celebrating the chain of lives that brought us all together.

Rajchel, Diana. Samhain: Rituals, Recipes & Lore for Halloween (Llewellyn’s Sabbat Essentials) (Kindle Locations 423-427). Llewellyn Worldwide, LTD.. Kindle Edition.

I have quoted extensively from Samhain: Rituals, Recipes & Lore for Halloween. This book is part of a series “Llewellyn’s Sabbat Essentials”.  While I couldn’t find a link to the entire series (there are several books) this particular book can be found here on Amazon. From there you should be able to find the rest. While I found the “recipes & crafts” section rather boring, you may enjoy that kind of stuff. The rest of the book was quite interesting to me.  If you buy it I hope you enjoy it!

Peace,
B

P.S. Long live the Celts!

More End-Of-The-World Craziness

This morning over on Twitter (@beachdaze if you want to follow me), Emily Miller (@emmillerwrites to follow her) of RNS (@RNS to follow them) posted the daily Slingshot. It’s a short roundup on interesting religious articles. I usually find at least one, if not more articles that I find  more than amusing.  Today’s was about Nibiru or Planet X as it’s been called.  Supposedly this “Planet X” is going to collide with earth on September 23, 2017. Yes friends, we have but days, no, just hours to live! Why were we not informed of this earlier? Surely NASA (more likely Elon Musk) could have come up with a rocket to whisk at least a remnant of humanity away to safety.

But no. And why? Because it’s all BS anyway.  David Meade, the crackpot behind all this is using numerology to decipher the dates.  Numerology? And the number 33 specifically. I just can’t make this up!

Read the entire article here.  Make up your own mind. I’m pretty sure come September 24th, around 5:30PM, I’ll be opening a craft beer as usual. Feel free to join me.

And of course there’s a video for you too.

Peace,
B

Nothing To Say…

I have nothing to say today other than we finally had power restored last night, one week after Hurricane Irma hit.

So I figured I’d post a video for the way I’m feeling.. although I’m way past 45…

Peace,
B

Never Mind….

(With apologies to Three Dog Night)

Last night I had a great idea for a post. But after about two minutes of writing it had already turned into something I couldn’t control. It was nowhere near what had intended. Not only had the train become derailed, it crashed and burned. There were no survivors. But since I have completely forgotten where my post was headed (much less where it came from), I deleted it. So now, after a very busy morning at work, all I have left is the video that was supposed to tie in with the original title.

So here it is, “I’ve Never Been To Spain” by Three Dog Night…

Peace,
B

Now I bet you’re wondering just what the hell was I going to post to tie into this song???

Random News…

Just three “Today in History” things I’ve picked from my Twitter feed (@beachdaze) today.

Gene Wilder passed away one year ago. Most you, of course will always remember him as “Willy Wonka”, but believe it or not I have never watched that movie (either version with Gene or Johnny Depp).  For me, one of my favorite movies of his is “Blazing Saddles” as “Jim” the gunslinger.

wilder

But my favorite has to be “Young Frankenstein” where he has the title role of Dr. Frederick Frankenstein.  Not surprisingly, both are Mel Brooks movies.  Seen here with the great Peter Boyle as “The Monster”.

gene-wilder-young-frankenstein

Also today would have been The King of Pop, Michael Jackson’s 59th birthday.  I couldn’t decide which was my favorite video of his, but in the end I went with “Man In The Mirror”. Just due to its message. It’s not as flashy as some of his other big videos like “Thriller” or “Beat It”, but it has a better message.

 

And finally, Netflix premiered 20 years ago today. Twenty years of people binge watching entire seasons in a single sitting.  I think all I’ve seen on it was the BBC’s “Sherlock”.  TV is not my “thing”…

Peace,
B

P.S.  I almost forgot this gem:

https://www.pushtrumpoffacliffagain.com/

B