Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Yes, There Is a Santa Claus

I got a lot done this morning after breakfast, mainly putting together the three boxes to be sent in the mail. I had to fill them with plastic from the Amazon.com boxes (except for Anny's), put one last container of wet-wipes in Anny's box, add the cards, and tape them all. (Which means Lauren, Mom, and Anny, you guys all have boxes coming.)

Ran A Disney Channel Christmas as I worked. This is another rare cable special from the early 80's that was basically a collection of bits and pieces of shorts and movies. My family taped it in 1988, not long after we recorded the Halloween specials. It blends two earlier Disney holiday specials, Jiminy Cricket's Christmas from the 50's and 60's and A Disney Christmas Gift from the 70's, using segments from both, plus the additional shorts "Mickey's Good Deed," "The Clock Watcher," the two Santa Silly Symphonies, and a fragment of Mickey's Christmas Carol. (It was so new when this special came out, Jiminy mentions that it's "now in theaters.") I still get a lump in my throat when Jiminy sings "When You Wish Upon a Star" in the end.

It's a good thing it was gorgeous outside today, sunny and bright. I ended up doing a lot of walking. Hit the post office first. To my surprise, they were dead at around quarter after 11. I timed it perfectly, though. As soon as I was leaving, several people were already arriving. I sent everything off with no problems whatsoever.

I was really hoping that little auto shop in Audubon would be able to help me. The wheel's rubbing so hard against the side of my bike, it gets stuck sometimes and won't move at all. They did tell me the spokes were breaking and coming off, but not what to do about it or where to go that would be closer and cheaper than the little bike shop in Haddonfield.

I was so disappointed. I don't know what I'm going to do. I stopped at the Oaklyn Library, hoping that volunteering would cheer me up. I did enjoy organizing the DVDs, but not listening to the librarian and the one old woman there blather non-stop about politics and not being able to find anything good on TV. (Ever considered renting DVDs?) I left after a half-hour.

When I got home, I ate lunch, then started the Cranberry Bread. Tried a nice, simple recipe from a reprint of the 1950 Betty Crocker Cookbook. Came out pretty well, as far as I could tell. It's not for me. It's for my next-door neighbors, to thank them for helping me out during the year.

Ran Ernest Saves Christmas as I worked. Ernest (Jim Varney) is working at a taxi driver in Orlando, Florida when he almost literally runs into an old man who claims he's Santa Claus. Santa's in town looking for his replacement, a former children's show host. Trouble is, the guy's agent is trying to encourage him to do a Christmas-themed horror movie, despite it being all wrong for him. Meanwhile, Ernest is dealing with a selfish runaway who steals Santa's sack to see if it has anything besides toys and getting the reindeer to Santa from the airport. It all ends with lots of wild slapstick as everyone learns a lesson in the Christmas spirit...even Ernest.

Long-time guilty pleasure of mine is probably my favorite Ernest movie. It used to turn up a lot on cable in the late 80's and early 90's. One of the better Ernest movies; not a bad introduction to his series.

Worked on my story for the next few hours. A warlock who shoots purple lightning from his fingertips suddenly appears in the midst of the storm. He turns Luke and Leia's aunt and uncle and all their knights and servants into burnt gingerbread. The twins flee into the woods in terror.

Later that night, after the storm passes, they meet a large, handsome falcon in the woods. The bird plays with them and almost seems to be flirting with Leia. It encourages them to follow him. They have nothing to fear in the woods. The falcon and the oddly shaped trees protect them and give them places to rest.

Even when the bird disappears after daybreak, they have no trouble finding their way. They eventually make it to a huge manor house made entirely from gingerbread, candy, cake, and icing. They had just started to eat part of the front of the house when the door opens, and an elderly voice asks them who's nibbling at his house...

Broke for the beef macaroni I got from Jodie on Sunday for dinner on a bed of spinach. Ran the original 1947 Miracle on 34th Street as I ate. We move from sunny Orlando to chilly New York City for another story about the existence of Santa. The Santa in question is Kris Kringle (Edmund Gwenn), a kind old gentleman who works for Macy's. He insists that he is Santa, upsetting executive Doris Walker (Maureen O'Hara). Angry over a bitter divorce, she's taught her daughter Susan (Natalie Wood) to not believe in any kind of fantasy, including Santa Claus. Kris' claims finally get him into trouble when he gets angry at the store psychologist, who has him put in a mental facility. The lawyer who lives across from Doris (John Payne) takes the matter to trial. But Kris has a few lessons of his own to dish out...and Doris, Susan, and all of New York discover just how important faith and a good imagination can be.

One of three now-beloved Christmas movies released in 1946-1947, and the only one that was a hit at the time. Gwenn won a supporting actor Oscar as Kris. I believe the original screenplay won as well. There were remakes on TV in 1955 and 1973 and on the big screen in 1994. I haven't seen any of them...but if you really want to check out this story, stick to the original. The cast and perfect cynical-sweet tone can't be beat.

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