Posted on August 13th, 2021
Since I don't celebrate Christmas, I can take it or leave it when it comes to Christmas television specials. If done well, it transcends any holiday and just becomes darn good television that's great entertainment.
As you can probably guess... the latest episode of Ted Lasso 100% nailed it (spoilers to follow). They did such a good job that I stayed up and watched it when it debuted... then watched it again this morning... then immediately watched it all over again with subtitles.
That being said, I'd have been thrilled just watching the claymation opening credits! WONDERFUL!
There were three rather distinct stories woven into this episode. The heart and soul of the meaning of Christmas was found in Ted and Rebecca's story. It's sweet and charming to behold... but the deeper meaning is to be found with just how big a 180° that Rebecca has taken since the first season. Ted was always the empathetic one when it came to others... Rebecca was only seeing a way to use others to enact her revenge. Then her heart won out after a relentless assault by Ted's kindness, and this season she's just as lovely a person as you could hope to meet. Taking time away from epic holiday parties to make sure Ted is doing okay with his first Christmas away from his family... his first Christmas divorced...
Rebecca's plan to get Ted into the Holiday Spirit? Delivering Christmas gifts to kids that didn't get any...
It could not have possibly have been more perfect.
The second story involves Higgins and his annual Christmas dinner for players who are far from home. This means that Nathan and players like Jamie Tartt and Colin Hughes drop out early in the episode. Which is actually kind of nice, because players like Richard Montlaur get a minute of screen time they wouldn't normally get (and believe me, Montlaur's +1 definitely makes it worthwhile!). It's also a telling moment for Higgins, because usually he's so unpopular that only two or three players showing up... but this year everybody who doesn't have a place to go shows up! It's genuinely sweet. As is an appearance by Higgins' late cat, Cindy Clawford...
I was worried that events of the previous episode would be forgotten... but they do get a mention. And if there's anybody who could give Ted a run for his money in the sweetness department... it's Sam, and I couldn't be happier that he's gotten so much screen time this season...
The last story is probably my favorite... because it's Roy Kent... but boy does his neice Phoebe hold her own (again) this episode. Roy and Kelley are planning "Sexy Christmas," but plans go awry when Phoebe shows up with a big problem...
And just because the show never misses an opportunity to demonstrate once again how Roy and Keeley are a romance for the ages...
Phoebe's problem is horrendous bad breath which Keeley (rightly) determines must be clinical. This gives Roy the idea of driving back to his "posh neighborhood" and banging on doors until they find a dentist. This is ripe with touching moments of Roy showing genuine love for his niece that belies his gruff exterior...
That we end up with a cameo from the "Ussie Guy" from the first season (he is actually the fourth character we meet after Rebecca, Higgins, and Ted!) is just icing on the cake...
And it's at this point that I feel compelled to mention that the cinematography in this episode is sublime...
Is that... it that another smile from Roy Kent?!
As wonderful as this episode is (my favorite this season and ranking very high overall), I can't help but think how much more wonderful it would be to watch it during the holidays (which, of course, I will)...
What can I say? The best show ever to air on television just aired one of the best episodes to ever air on television. It's almost impossible to see how it could be topped, but I say that almost every week.
Posted on December 25th, 2020
Not the best holiday season, but here's hoping you're making the best you can out of it.
Posted on December 25th, 2019
I may not celebrate the holiday now, but when I was growing up Christmas was a huge deal. And because of that, my childhood Christmases are well-documented. There are many, many photos from over the years. Thanks to them being digitized, I can look at them any time I want. And what better day than today?
Here is just a tiny sampling...
Christmas Day was always the same routine when I was young...
My brother and I wake up way too early and wait for mom and dad to wake up so we can open presents.
We'd tear into the mountain of gifts under the tree.
Mom would pull out a tray of Svenhard's Swedish Bakery "Horns A Plenty" sweet Danishes, slather them with butter, then heat them under a broiler. Then serve them up with hot chocolate. Best breakfast ever.
We'd play with our Christmas loot until it was time to pack up the car and head to grandma and grandpa's house.
More presents followed by Christmas dinner at the grandparents.
Back home to play with new toys until we'd pass out.
As I got older, Christmas was increasingly more sedate, but Svenhard's "Horns A Plenty" for breakfast never changed. Except eventually we got a microwave, so mom would nuke them instead of broiling them. A couple years ago I bought some for nostalgia's sake and was shocked at how sweet they were. I remember them being more "buttery" than "sweet" and now it's the opposite.
But the memories themselves are pretty sweet.
And so... to all those who celebrate it... have yourself a happy Christmas!
Posted on December 24th, 2019
Unlike last year when I had to chain up and drive through a snowstorm, this year it was a piece of cake to drive over the mountains.
It always surprises me how there are people who must not drive except that one time of the year when they have to... because Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are the absolute worst. People just have no clue and I'm surprised that there aren't more accidents than there are. Because ideal road conditions just means that people pay even less attention to what they're doing.
Oh well. I survived the journey, so I guess now I just get to relax and settle into some holiday meriment...
Hope everybody has a good pre-holiday holiday.
Posted on December 25th, 2018
I'm not sure how I'm supposed to feel about Christmas now that both my grandma and my mom are gone. For my entire life, they were Christmas. Even once I decided I didn't need to celebrate the holiday, it still meant something to me because it meant something to them.
But now? Forever more, it's just another day without them here.
Which is to say that it's just a day like any other day.
Might as well see a movie?
We ended up seeing Vice which I was a bit excited about because Adam McKay wrote and directed it. Having his wit turned towards the steaming pile of garbage that is former Vice President Dick Cheney...
Didn't care for it.
It was funny in spots (and really funny in one particular spot), which was entertaining... but it was a kinda slapped-together documentary-style movie that didn't expose or enlighten. And while it did present some of the horrible shit Cheney unleashed... it didn't show it in any real context, nor did it really explore the consequences. It's just laid out the stuff we already knew.
Dick Cheney is a fucking monster.
I want to see a movie that takes what he did and follows it through to what happened because of it. Not with a title card at the end of the movie, but with and actual exploration of just what a heinous blight on all humanity he has been.
All that being said, the performances in this flick are phenomenal. Christian Bale... Sam Rockwell... Amy Adams... they all deserve their Golden Globe nominations, and are a shoe-in for Oscar nominations as well. Truth be told, Steve Carell was brilliant as well. But best picture?!? Seriously? Nah.
Have a happy Christmas, if that's a thing you celebrate. Otherwise? Happiest of Tuesdays to you.
Posted on December 24th, 2018
Apparently squatting down to apply and remove chains to my car for the drive over the mountains yesterday worked some muscles I haven't used in a while... because my gluteus maximus is all kinds of sore today. Guess I need to look into assercize or something like that. Or, I dunno, just exercise at all maybe?
And speaking of chains...
Yesterday after I made my way through Tourist Town, there's a sign before you head into the mountains advising you as to road conditions and closures and such. If the roads are impassable, there's also an arm-block that drops down to keep people from going any further.
This was the sign which warned me that chains were required over the pass... 21 miles ahead.
Some people decided that they didn't want to wait 21 miles and were pulling over to apply chains for driving on bare roads. Since the roads were bare, everybody with chains was driving way too fast. And so... chains were flying off tires and being busted to shit left and right. Which meant that some people wouldn't have chains for the pass and would be ticketed if caught.
Welcome to the hazards of winter driving.
But it was worth it to spend the holidays with friends...
Bring on the jolly fat man!
Posted on December 12th, 2018
I've taken a break from Hallmark Christmas movies to watch other Christmas films I like. Though, technically, most of them aren't "Christmas films" they just take place around the holiday.
But they totally count!
Here's a list of the movies I'm making my way through...
Over the years I've removed movies like Batman Returns that haven't held up well enough for me to want to bother. But the rest of them? Every year. Especially movies like The Long Kiss Goodnight which totally hold up.
Ho Ho Ho.
Posted on November 6th, 2018
Washington State is 100% vote-by-mail, so I already voted last week.
When it comes to local races here, two of the biggest are too close to call. We won't know the outcome until the remaining mail-in votes are tallied on Friday. Frustrating, but it's a small price to pay for a system which allows you to vote in the privacy of your own home without standing in line. And now that we have automated voter registration for all of our eligible citizens, Washington State has one of the highest voter participation rates in the nation...
Now that Halloween has passed, the country is already preparing for Christmas.
Back when I had work in Orlando two and three times a year, I'd fly in for my conference then fly home the next day. I'd rarely go to Disney World (even though work would pay for it) because it got to be more of a chore than fun. I just can't handle the lines and crowds of people.
In December of 2007 I was working in Orlando when some work friends and I decided to go to Epcot for dinner in "Italy." After that we took the bus to Disney Studios to goof off for a bit. While I was there, my mom called to tell me something. "What's all that noise?" she asked.
"Oh, that's The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights," I replied.
"It's a show at Disney World where they have a bunch of Christmas lights flashing to music. I'll send you a picture..."
"That's pretty! I want to go to Disney World!"
"I've taken you to Disney World lots of times!"
"But not at Christmas! I want to go at Christmas!"
"Okay. Next year I'll bring you along then."
One year later I kept my promise, and here she is...
It immediately became her favorite thing. She loved it so much that I ended up taking her a couple more times. The last time was in 2012, I think, since that was the last year I had work in Orlando. They closed down The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights in 2015.
This morning I was flipping through my newsfeed while waiting for work to start and saw this terrific video from Disney World showing how they transform The Magic Kingdom Park for the holidays with Christmas decorations...
A part of me is glad that I don't have work in Orlando any more. Especially over the holidays. It would be really tough to go there knowing what it meant to my mother. Perhaps it will be easier over time. But right now? I just can't fathom it.
It's that way for a lot of things though.
I miss my mom.
Posted on November 1st, 2018
Hooray! It's November 1st!
This is the day where I switch my television from defaulting to Home & Garden TV to defaulting to The Hallmark Channel. Now, for those of you not in the know, The Hallmark Channel is home to more crappy original Christmas romance movies than any other network. Period. Which is why their annual "Countdown to Christmas" marathon is one of the best things ever. This year they produced thirty-seven new holiday movies. THIRTY-SEVEN! That's up from 33 in 2017, 28 in 2016, and 21 in 2015.
The films are always the same story.
Well, maybe they're not always exactly like that... but they are all a lot like that. And you have well over a hundred to watch each season.
And I am totally addicted to them. Mostly because I can have them running while I'm working. They're so brainless that you don't have to pay much attention to them to know what's going on. And it's not like you can miss anything, because the story is all the same. I mean, just look at this shit...
Can you tell them apart? I've seen all of them and I can't!
If you don't get The Hallmark Channel... or you live outside the USA, you might still be in luck. Netflix has seen what a raging money-maker Hallmark has on their hands, and has invested a huge chunk of money in producing their own slate of Christmas movies.
Last year they had a phenomenon with A Christmas Prince, but my favorite of theirs is The Spirit of Christmas...
As is typical, the guys they find to act in these movies are so brutally hot that they have me questioning my sexuality. Daniel the Ghost makes my ovaries explode...
And now, if you'll excuse me, The Hallmark Channel Countdown to Christmas is in full swing and I have to make sure my DVR is set to record everything.
Posted on December 25th, 2017
To everybody who celebrates the holiday... wishing you a very Merry Christmas!
Which, apparently I can do now that President Trump has taken back this beautiful phrase from the relentless eight-year war on Christmas that happened under President Obama's watch...
Oh... wait a second... like so many things that come out of Dear Leader's Twitter feed, he's completely full of shit...
No surprise that our lying asshole of a president has bought into the false narrative that there's ever been a "War on Christmas"... despite the fact that you can walk into a United States Post Office and buy stamps with Jesus on them for Christmas (as you've been able to do for decades). Here's the selections for this year...
Meanwhile, seven years ago...