The Twelve Movies of Christmas

So, there you are, you and the whole family gathered for Christmas — some are in the kitchen, making a ridiculously large meal, others are in the living room arguing over [Insert Name of Sports Team here] or [Insert Name of Political Talking Point Here], while the kids are running around, shaking presents, and generally trying to trip you as you’re going up or down the stairs, or maybe that’s the cat. In any case, it’s your job to figure out what Christmas-themed movie the family is going to watch later.

The problem? You’re tired of the same old same old. You don’t want to watch “A Christmas Story” or “It’s a Wonderful Life,” or even “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” again, ’cause every year it seems like the same old thing. But you don’t have any good ideas on what you might replace these standards with.

Well, never fear, I’m here to help. Below are twelve movies that are a bit off the beaten path, but maybe you are, too. So, with nods to Rudolph (who lights our way — all hail! all hail!), here are your Twelve Movies of Christmas. If I missed one of your favorites, feel free to list it in the comments below.

Scrooged

Scrooged — This one might already be making your list, so we’ll get it out of the way early. Why Scrooged? Because it’s Bill Murray, that’s why. Also, it’s not exactly the tender, heartburn-y version of A Christmas Carol you may remember from ill-spent Christmas Eves of your youth, but the souped-up-on scary ghosts version with, again, Bill Murray.  Watch Scrooged on Netflix

Gremlins

Gremlins — There isn’t much better than settling in on a wintery Christmas evening and watching some gremlins lay waste to a pleasant, Norman Rockwell town. Also: Phoebe Cates. While Molly Ringwald was my go-to good-girl crush of the 80s, Phoebe Cates was the bad girl one. Well, her and Star, from The Lost Boys. But Cates wins. Fast Times at Ridgemont High, anyone? Of course.  Buy Gremlins on Amazon

RareExports

Rare Exports — Here’s the reason I made this list. If you haven’t seen Rare Exports, you should do everything in your power to do so now. No, I really mean now. Stop killing time reading this blog and go watch it. Sure, it’s subtitled. But all the best things from Scandanavia are. Like Ikea instructions. However, unlike Ikea furniture this movie doesn’t require any assembly. Just sit back and enjoy the Krampus madness as a young Danish boy discovers the true meaning of Christmas…bloodshed. Buy Rare Exports on Amazon

Hogfather

HogfatherHogfather is based on a Terry Pratchet Discworld book of the same name. Hogfather, the Discworld’s Santa, has gone missing and Death has to take over present delivery. Hijinks ensue.  Buy Hogfather on Amazon

LoveActually

Love Actually — This one is on the list because you’ll want something to placate the romantics in your Christmas-movie-watching cadre. Herein we follow the romantic lives of several different couples during the Christmas season and find out what love is, er, actually. Also, Hugh Grant. That Hugh Grant is so loveable and hunky. Like a little, lost reindeer. This movie didn’t make me cry. I swear.  Watch Love, Actually on Netflix

LifeofBrian

Monty Python’s Life of Brian — Remember the reason for the season…and then follow the misadventures of Brian, not-quite-the-messiah. I know, I know, this one is a stretch, and not just because he’s “stretched” out on the cross. Too soon? Sorry. Buy Monty Python’s Life of Brian on Amazon

NightmareBeforeChristmas

The Nightmare Before Christmas — If you don’t have yourself some Tim Burton for Christmas, then what, really, is the point of Christmas? Also, if you like Halloween like I like Halloween, any excuse to watch Halloween-themed movies is a good excuse. Root for Jack Skelington as he tries to take over Christmas and things get out of hand. Watch The Nightmare Before Christmas on Netflix

BlackChristmas

Black Christmas — If you like your Christmas movies even more horror-y than The Nightmare Before Christmas, then I offer to you the classic movie about Christmas cheer … er, I mean shears … Black Christmas. Sorority girls meet killer Santa. Good family fun. And, hey, it’s got Margot Kidder in it, so it must be classy, right? Right?  Buy Black Christmas on Amazon

BadSanta

Bad Santa — If you have the urge to kick the arse of the next bell-ringing Santa you see, this movie is for you. Don’t get it confused with Bad Grandpa, however. This one has Billy Bob Thornton trying to rip off a shopping center or some such thing. The other one has Johnny (How has that guy survived all these years?) Knoxville  dressed up in an Old Dude outfit and pulling Candid Camera (a show your grandparents would have watched) pranks on folks around the country.  Watch Bad Santa on Netflix

LethalWeapon

Lethal Weapon — You thought I was going to say Die Hard, didn’t you? But you already know that Die Hard is the ultimate action lover’s Christmas movie. That said, you’ve seen it sooooo many times. Why not take on the penultimate action lover’s Christmas movie, instead? Get a little holiday craaaazy with Mel Gibson — pre his real-life crazy. Buy Lethal Weapon on Amazon

EdwardScissorhands

Edward Scissorhands — Okay, okay, another stretch. But Christmas is in there somewhere, y’know; Ed was going to get real hands for Christmas, after all. Instead, though, he becomes the bane of waterbeds and hot air balloons everywhere. On a side note, has Johnny Depp ever been in a movie where he wasn’t wearing, like, a ton of makeup? And, no, the 21 Jump Street series doesn’t count. That was a tv series. I said “moooovie”.  Buy Edward Scissorhands on Amazon

SantaVsMartians

And, finally, your choice of either Rifftrax’ Santa Claus OR Rifftrax’ Santa Claus Conquers the Martians! — You have the option because, as of this writing, Santa Claus (the first one, a Mexican production with Satan, Merlin, and a ridiculously racist North Pole) isn’t yet available. But it probably will be soon. Until then, you can whet your apetite with a heartwarming tale about Martians who have lost their love of Christmas. And by “heartwarming,” I mean “heartburn-inducing”. But the riffers at Rifftrax make it all okay. Buy Rifftrax’ Santa Claus AND/OR Rifftrax’ Santa Claus Conquers the Martians at Rifftrax.com

JackFrost

Honorable Mention: Jack Frost — A serial killer is turned into a homicidal snowman. ‘Nuff said.  Watch Jack Frost on Netflix

And there you have it, twelve (thirteen, with Jack) holiday movies worthy of the season. Pop a bag of popcorn, settle in under the mistletoe, and enjoy the sound of jingling bells and eggnog-overdosing uncles.

Happy Holidays, every one!

*Images at imdb.com and rifftrax.com (you can figure out the one that came from Rifftrax, surely).

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This Guy Wrote about “Upworthy Style” Headlines, and I Couldn’t Believe What He Said Next, or, Wait, Maybe I Could

They’re everywhere on my social media feeds: “This Woman Puts a Magazine in a Microwave, and I Couldn’t Believe What Happened Next” and “I Thought This Guy Was Just Making a Snowman, but When I Saw What He Was Really Doing, I Freaked” or “This Fisherman Feeds His Toyota Camry to a Great White Shark, What Happens Next is Unbelievable”.

These headlines, pioneered by the click bait site Upworthy (a ‘click bait site’ being one that is just looking for you to click on it so that they can make more advertising dollars) are akin to those 24-hour news channel, pre-commercial teaser blurbs like “Are Your School Dollars Going Toward Administrator’s Mortgage Payments?” The answer, to be discovered after the break, is almost always “No.”

“Is Your Toast Killing You?” Answer: No. Or “Can You Survive a 3000-ft Fall out of an Airplane onto a Jagged Metal Surface?” Answer: No.

With those earlier, more primitive teasers, the Upworthy headline is massively annoying. However, I find them even more annoying than the news channels’ blurbs for one reason: I find myself falling for it time after time.

Seeing “I Didn’t Know Why This Guy was Rubbing a Can on Concrete Slab, When I Saw What He Was Doing, I was Astonished” makes me also want to be astonished, even though I know I probably won’t be. And, yes, I want to know “Why This Cat is Standing on its Hind Feet,” because it almost certainly is “Absolutely Adorable.” Or, well, probably not. But there’s that chance.

Just enough of these click-throughs are astonishing and/or adorable that I click on the many of the other ones, too, in hopes of finding those diamonds amidst the coal.

There’s the rub, the reason that these headlines are so attractive: we want to know more. That’s why the internet exists, after all (believe it or not, it’s about access to information, not about cats doing funny things for Caturday or about Uncle Phil’s edge-of-sanity political beliefs.

There is so much information out there, and we’ve become so jaded to it — to all this knowledge that, even a couple of decades ago, would have been nearly impossible to access without racking up massive amounts of debt for interlibrary loans — that we want the next chunk of knowledge to be super cool, absolutely fantabulous, groundbreakingly … new.

Instead, it’s often just ordinarily amazing, or we already knew it.

Yet…yet…yet…that next click could lead us by the hand to a new understanding of human nature, of our place in the universe, of our connections to others.

So you click.

But you already knew that. After all, you just finished reading this, didn’t you?

If you really wanted to know, the guy is using the concrete to open the can WITHOUT A CAN OPENER! Here’s the link, if you’d like to see it for yourself.

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The Fish Stick Schtick

I like to eat seafood now and again, it’s true. I have sort of thing, for instance, where I’m almost compelled to try the fish-and-chips if I find myself in place serving fish-and-chips. And, yes, I slather it with malt vinegar in the way of the Old World British, rather than dipping it in tartar sauce in the way of the New World. But, I’ve got to admit, what I really like when it comes to piscatory gastronomy is the triangle fish.

Mmmm…triangle fish. Delicately battered with a breading that becomes delicately light and airy when deep-fried, the triangle fish is a marvel of the oceanic depths.

Mind you, they aren’t easy to come by, these triangle fish. Neophytes can easily mistake a regular, rectangular fish stick as triangle fish. It’s even possible that some, perhaps slightly trapezoidal, deep-fried, battered cod or tilapia can be misidentified, as well.

Fish in a box

Is this triangle fish? Or just … almost … triangle fish. Only a protractor can tell for sure.

But connoisseurs know better. There is only one triangle fish, and it can only be fished in triangular parts of the sea. Places like the Bermuda Triangle, or … uh … well, that’s the only one that comes to mind at the moment. So you can see why they’d be relatively hard to come by. I also assume — since I get my triangle fish from the grocery store — that these wily, isoscelescentric aquatic denizens must be caught using nets designed specifically for them, such as a fyke net, which looks rather like a bag from some angles, but definitely a triangle if you squint at it from the side and in only two dimensions.

Also, presumably, the Egyptians built the pyramids as storage bins for triangle fish. Since those suckers could hold a lot of fish, I’m blaming the Egyptians for overfishing the population and thus creating the current triangle-fish deficit in the oceans.

In any case, I take advantage of those opportunities where the triangle fish has been caught and properly prepared. In fact, it’s time for lunch now!

The author would like to note that this deeply insightful and socially relevant post is his return to blogging after an absence that feels like a very long time. He’s glad to be back.

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