Thursday, December 22, 2011

10 list Thursday: Holiday Specials

This is 1 of 3(1) lists for today because I got busy and then forgot the past couple of weeks. SB Fail. So this is the one you would have gotten 2 weeks ago had I been on the ball.

"Ok SB", you say, "the holidays are over so I don't care anymore." Well 2 things A) Bookmark for next year (hahaha) and I celebrate Christmas til Epiphany which is Thursday so it's still (somewhat) relevant.

Here are 10 Specials/Movies/TV Shows that bring the holidays home for me.

1. The Cinnamon Bear. Let me guess, you have never heard of this one right? That's because I am a gigantic nerd. It's a radio show. From around 1935ish....ok just checked Wikipedia, it was 1937. It's 26 short little episodes (would make a great advent tradition), about Jimmy and Judy, two little children who go up to their attic to fetch down their Christmas ornaments and discover that the silver star for the top of the tree is missing. They find a tiny bear ornament named Paddy O'Cinnamon who tells them that the Crazy Quilt Dragon has stolen it and they shrink down and go with the Cinnamon Bear to save it. It's adorable and sweet, and I am burning it to CD to play in the car with the baby. There are so references that most modern kids won't get (like blotting paper) so it can teach them some history too. Listen to them for free here: I listened every night as a kid, and loved it so much.

2. Emmet Otter’s Jug Band Christmas. I adore this movie. I can’t even express how dear it is to me. It’s just not the Holidays until I watch it. (Including the bloopers. I love seeing how tiny they are, normally I hate bloopers, cause it ruins the magic for me, but these are cute). So sweet and wholesome and heart warming, it’s classic and unpretentious. Bonus if you can see it with the Kermit bit in the beginning. (Also, did you know that both hand puppets AND marionettes are used in this film? I looked it up, true!)

Ok, 3 and 4 (White Christmas and Holiday Inn) have a particular order to their favorite-ness and I’ll explain why for you.

3. White Christmas. This is actually newer than #4 (1954, whereas Holiday Inn is 1942). I LOVE both these films so much that I can’t even tell you how much. Yeah, and as we know I can certainly talk. So why is White Christmas my favorite? Is it because Holiday Inn has a good old-fashioned racist black face number in it? Nope, it’s not PC, and yes, it’s offensive NOW but I can let it go as an unfortunate artifact of the time. I love classic films and the lessons they can teach us. Is it because I’m morbidly obsessed with the size of Vera-Ellen’s waist? (Rumored to be 21 inches) Well, I am, but nope. It’s because it never ceases to bring me to tears when they honor the General the way they do. It’s so beautiful that it gives me chills just thinking about it. People who say the movies are alike are crazy. Anyway. If you haven’t seen this masterpiece with Danny Kaye and Bing Crosby, do yourself a favor. Watch it.

4. Holiday Inn. The other reason that this ranks justthismuch below White Christmas is only because of Neutral Evil Fred Astaire in it. I never thought of it like that until Pat pointed it out to me. That and the fickle attitude of Lila, what a witch. I love the music, love the dancing, love the costumes and the story. It’s just IF I have to rank them, I’m going to pick the film with the better intentions over the other one. Yes, in White Christmas, Danny Kaye does manipulate poor Bing into a lot, and yes, it’s for his own gain, but he wouldn’t do it if it meant hurting Bing, whereas Fred doesn’t really care in this flick. He thinks he does, but he really doesn’t. See this one too. It’s the film that the song White Christmas was written for and other than that little blackface number, it’s flawless.

5. Ok, no list of favorite Christmas broadcasts is complete without A Christmas Carol. So I’m just going to keep 5 simple and tell you my favorite version. I know most people who know me are going to expect me to say “The Muppet Christmas Carol” because I love me some Muppets, and there are two other Muppet specials on this list. However, those people would be wrong. Some might think the Patrick Stewart version, as I’m a Trekkie. Nope, wrong again. It’s hands down the 1984 version starring George C. Scott. See it.

6. The Christmas Toy. YAY Muppets. Ok, so you know Toy Story? Totally stole it from the 1986 Muppet feature. Although, I’m going to warn you, The Christmas Toy is darker, but essentially the same story, only with cute Muppets. The toys come to life when no one is looking, and freeze when played with. The difference is that if a human (or cat apparently) catches the toys moved from the position they are left in the toy will be frozen FOREVER! It even has the space toy that doesn’t realize it’s a toy in it (although she is very creepy herself, not cute like Buzz Lightyear). I remember loving it as a child, and I like it as an adult, even though adult me wonders how little me wasn’t terrified by it.

7. How the Grinch Stole Christmas, the animated one, of course. (I finally say the live action one, and while I didn’t insta-hate it as I expected, it was just sort of eh for me.) Pat said as we were watching it and I was singing along with the music “Wow, you really must love this if you know the incidental music by heart” I’m actually humming it as I type this. I will watch this EVERYTIME it’s on. I just love it. (ok, admittedly, if it’s on before the first Sunday of Advent I will not watch it, but mostly because I am stubborn as hell about watching anything Christmas before Advent. Holiday Inn is ok because every holiday is in it. )

8. The Original Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer. I don’t even know why I love this so much. I can’t wait for Evangeline to get movies, right now she only likes the musical parts (which is good cause it means she isn’t that interested in TV…but yeah, I’ve always dreamed of watching Christmas specials with a daughter on my lap and I get impatient, while trying to remind myself to enjoy every minute with her.)

9. This one is pretty new and for some reason, I find it kind of irresistible. It’s so freaking cute and you’ll all laugh at me about it. Disney’s Prep and Landing. It’s silly and cute, and has a caffeine addicted, type A, control freak, red-haired elf, and I love her. Other than that it’s just a fun heartwarming little Disney romp and I recommend it whole-heartedly (if with a wee-bit of embarrassment, but part of me will always be 5 at Christmas time)

10. If you know me, you knew this was coming. Yep, it’s Shrek the Halls. If it’s Shrek, I pretty much am going to love it because it’s Shrek. This Christmas special though I actually relate to, because I have an obsession with creating the prefect memories and such and well, sometimes forget that the simple being present in the moment is the most important thing. Oh you big gross Ogre, who understands that fart jokes are always funny (what?! I said I was 5!), how you get me sometimes!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Ten List Thursday: Holiday Songs

I am a (former?) vocalist and actor married to a music teacher. That being said it's probably obvious to you that music is my favorite part of the Christmas season. I love to sing carols, listen to them, from the first Sunday of Advent to Epiphany I have them on in the house, or in the car, or in my head while listening to NPR or whatever. My church in Utica has a phenomenal choir as well so I learned some awesome Christmas music there too. So for your pleasure, a double list for you of my favorite seasonal pieces. As I am a Christian and a bit of an Anglophile, the first list contains my religious favorites (many are old English and OMG! The order on that one matters, 1 is my favorite piece of all time and so on to 10 my least favorite favorite), and the other list is my secular faves (in no order)

1. The Holly and The Ivy. , this is the Winchester Cathedral Choir, wearing the same chorister robes we used to (ruffs and all, ruffs are cool). My Christmas China (what?! You don't have Christmas china?) is Portmerion's The Holly and The Ivy even. I love it that much. One of the reasons I knew my house was the one was the huge holly bush on the side.

2. Tomorrow Shall Be My Dancing Day. The John Gardner one. That piece just plain makes me happy, and I'll bet most of you don't know it, listen! It's fun: , this is King's College of Cambridge

3. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen. I used to love to fall asleep to this one. I've always loved the darker sound of it and the beautiful message of comfort and joy. Such a rich comforting carol.Here's Bing!

4. Still Still Still. Such a gorgeous German song. I remember how hard I worked to learn the pronunciation perfectly to sing to my grandparents (who didn't speak German but oh well) on Christmas Eve. I wish I could say it moved them, but I still love this one and sing it to my daughter.

Vienna Boys Choir this time.

5. Silent Night: I love this both in English and German. Especially with the descant. Oh man I love me some descants. (and Anglican chant, but that's a story for another day). Here's the St. Thomas Boys Choir singing it in German since everyone knows it in English.

6. Ah John Rutter, how I love your Shepherd's Pipe Carol. Light, fun, pretty. Love love love. Give yourself a treat and listen to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir sing this to you.

7. Oh Holy Night, I don't know why, but this hymn always moves me to tears. (unless it's sung by Eric Cartman) I don't even try to sing it cause I can't do it justice. However, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir does just fine.

8. Angels We Have Heard on High. This song is fun to sing, and my favorite version is the one from my copy of A Very Veggie Christmas that a dear friend once bought me to get over my fear of the Veggitales. It's a cool calypso version sung by Palmy and I can't find it online. Ah well. Everyone knows this one I think.

9. Once in Royal David's City, ah, how I wanted to be the treble chosen to sing the solo in the procession. So much. Sometimes being an alto/mezzo at heart is tough.

King's College of Cambridge again.

10. In the Bleak Midwinter I love this carol, even though we all know it wasn't midwinter when Christ was really born, but I love how it starts so well, bleakly, and gets warmer as it goes. I feel the chill, and I can see the scene unfold for me. I love this.

Gloucester Cathedral Choir this time.

Ten (in no order, except for number 1) of my favorite secular holiday/winter songs.

1. Hands down, no question in my mind ever. White Christmas sung by Bing Crosby (of course)

2. Christmas in Killarny. Maybe cause it mentions Holly and Ivy, maybe because it's Bing and I heard it every Christmas of my life? I dunno, just enjoy:

3. The Christmas Song I really think it's the imagery here. I can see every moment of it. I feel warmer just thinking about it. Here's Nat King Cole.

4. I think we're seeing my old taste in music here. Let it Snow I remember curling up by the fire in my Grandpapa's house with a poodle chasing her tail around the room, opening gifts on Christmas eve while this played. *sigh* Here's Frankie:

5. Ok, ok, this one does mention God, but it's not really a religious song so I'm putting it here. I had this on a very old old cassette tape, and I loved it so much that I played it til it broke, it was a compilation of Christmas music and it had Lorne Green (from Bonanza!) singing this song, and I never found it anywhere else until the wonders of YouTube. Enjoy God Bless You, Gentlemen (Christmas is a-coming)

6. I love Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas not just because it's from one of my favorite movies, but because it's such a beautiful message. I especially love the line "Through the years, we all will be together, if the fates allow". Just gives me chills. Here it is by the incomparable Judy Garland.

7. This reminds me of Christmas shopping with my mother, when I was very wee and downtown still existed. Here's Bing and Rosemary Clooney: singing Silver Bells

8. Merry Christmas Darling I fell in love with this one when Pat and I were still at the dating stage where we didn't spend Christmas together. I am so glad those days are over and that we're always together as a family.

Karen Carpenter.

9. OK, a lot of people hate this song, and I was kinda lukewarm on it when I heard it as a child. Then I went to Sage, and (although they rejected me) I fell in love with the Sagettes. (I'm an honorary one now *wink*) and they reintroduced me to their holiday tranditional: Santa Baby and now I love it. Especially re-hearing Etta James sing it. OMG

10. I'll be Home for Christmas I'm a sentimental sap who like the sentimental songs. Especially ones I can sing my baby to sleep with. I love this one. Especially when I think of all the people in my life, and the lives of those I love who can't come home because of all their obligations and duties. So here's Frankie again:

Now, of course, I like almost ALL Winter holiday music. But these rank the highest for me (at least in my current mood hahaha) I hope you enjoy them too.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Ten List Thursday-Wedding Trends

OK, so I forgot to "publish" this post yesterday, so let's pretend it's still Thursday for just a second.

It's getting towards peak engagement season again, people love to get engaged over the holidays, which is awesome. So for your enjoyment or not, here's Ten Wedding Trends that I am totally over.

*disclaimer, that I'm very sad that I have to put here, but people get their knickers in a twist about everything now-a-days. I have seen (most) of these things done really well, and I am not personally attacking anyone who uses them. They just seem to be overdone at this point.*

As usual, in no particular order.

1. Mustaches on a stick. I totally get Movember and all that stuff, and vintage is (usually) really cool but this is a trend that, the first time I saw it, I really didn't get why they were doing it, but it seemed cool and really matched the vintage old timey wedding this couple did. I liked it but filed it away under, quirky and fun, but totally not me. Then about 18 million weddings later, and it's not longer quirky and fun to me.

2. The weird coloration of wedding pictures. I don't know the technical term for this, it's not oversaturated, or sepia, or black and white, it's just weird to me. Brides spend forever picking colors for their wedding and then have all the pictures put into this weird filter. I don't get it. Melissa, do you know what this is called? You know the look I mean, like: the top picture here:
I like it for a couple of poses, but when all of your pictures are like that, it ruins them for me. In 20 years you're gonna want to remember the way you actually looked.

3. Cupcake wedding cakes. Do NOT get me wrong here, I love pre-portioned foods, I love cupcakes. I don't even really mind the cup cake wedding cake, I hate the pretension that some people have that they are the first person who ever thought of it. I LOVED the idea at first, and now I'm over it :)

4. The jump shot. All of your bridal party jumping with joy in the air. I have seen this done well TWICE. That's it. It's hard to pull off and I am so over it.

5. Flip flops under your gown for the ceremony. OK, this is partially biased because I totally HATE flip flops, but anyway. Wear whatever you're comfortable with for the reception and dancing, but if you're wearing a formal full on wedding gown/ballgown style...for the love of Pete, wear nice shoes that match the formality. (and get your dressed hemmed correctly). Nothing ruins the formal portrait for me than the bride in flip flops (if you're getting married in a casual little fun dress on a beach, ignore the above, but get a freaking pedi!)

6. Wearing a fascinator/birdcage veil that doesn't go with the style of dress you choose. I am a costumer, I LOVE fascinators, I love birdcage veils, but only with the right dress. It drives me crazy to see it with the wrong one.

7. Mixing and Matching traditions that mean nothing to you/that you don't understand what they mean. I have seen some beautiful mixed culture weddings, and I've seen wedding where the couple just incorporates whatever they think is cool without understanding the culture(s) they are taking from. Then they look like jerks. Plain and simple.

8. Butterfly releases. To be honest, I considered them myself, then I did the research and found out how irresponsible it is to do it, not to mention the fact that it can end up being really gross and kinda sad. Again, I have seen some gorgeous pictures of it done, but do your homework on this one. Poor little things.

9. Incorporating every freaking hobby and interest that you/your intended/your dogs/etc are into in your wedding. If I see one more freaking Tardis card box I will scream out loud from my desk. I am ALL for making your wedding truly you, I am all for subtle homages to your very favorite things in a wedding. Examples of it done right: Friend Patti using pictures of their pets as table markers. Friend Erin, who got married on the Ides of March, giving volumes of Shakespeare as favors. Friend Beth having a light saber decorated and made as a centerpiece for her sweetheart table. Friend Lisa having "The beatings will continue until morale improves" printed above her seating chart, Pat and I giving our groomsmen polyhedral dice as gifts. Those are lovely nice hints, kinda like the hidden Mickeys at Disney parks. Most people (hopefully) who are at your wedding already know you, they know what your interests and hobbies are. They'd love to play warcraft with you later, but now they don't want to look at your avatars on your WoW cake. Don't hit them over the heads with it.

10. Doing anything JUST to be Offbeat and OMGsooriginal. Be yourselves, have the wedding you want. If those offbeat things are you? Then do it, but don't force it in the name of having a memorable wedding.