Friday, December 15, 2017

Winter Wonderland

Began a biting cold, cloudy morning with breakfast and Mickey's Magical Christmas: Snowed In at the House of Mouse. House of Mouse was an early 2000's show that had all the then-existing Disney animated characters hanging out in one nightclub, run by Mickey. Here, he's trying to get Donald into the Christmas spirit when they're all snowed in together, but his feathered friend insists on remaining grumpy. They pull out shorts both classic ("Pluto's Christmas Tree") and more recent ("Donald On Ice," which has Donald attempting to learn how to skate, then being chased by a massive snowman), but my favorite is their satire of The Nutcracker. Minnie is Marie, Mickey is the Nutcracker, Donald is the Mouse King (yes, really), Professor Ludwig Von Drake is Godfather Drosselmeyer, Goofy is the Snowflake Fairy, and John Cleese attempts to narrate. It's a lot wackier than most Disney character shorts, more like a Looney Tunes cartoon, and along with the showing of Mickey's Christmas Carol in the second half, it's by far the best thing about this.

After breakfast, I switched to one of the two mildly holiday episodes of the 70's Wonder Woman TV show. In "The Deadly Toys" from the second season, two scientists who just aborted a major weapons project were discovered to have been replaced with life-like androids. Diana tracks them to a toy shop in Washington DC, owned by a little old man. But the old fellow turns out to be far more sinister than he seems when he turns out to be implicated in a plot to sell the scientists' knowledge to the highest bidder...and has created an android of Wonder Woman that could be even stronger than the original.

Got up early to make my last batch of cookies. Cherry-Coconut Bars are another favorite of mine from The Betty Crocker Cooky Book. Basically, they're Lemon Bars with a cherry-coconut filling instead of lemon custard, and are made the same way. They're very sweet, due to the maraschino cherries, which may be why they're some of my most-requested cookies along with the Merry Christmas Molasses Roll-Outs.

Spent the next few hours working on writing. Mother Leia Goose, Finn Be Nimble, and Rey Quite Contrary brings BB along to the factory. Far from being a smoky wasteland, it's a beautiful pink and blue building with flowering vines growing on the sides and smokestacks that look like towers. BB's amazed by it all. She loves hearing about the kindly Toymaker, Mother Goose's brother, as well...but not about nasty Barnaby Snoke, who owns everything in Toyland Town but the Toy Factory and Goose Manor.

Broke at ten of 1 to pack the now-cool Cherry-Coconut Bars in bags to be given away to family and friends next week and to have lunch. Ran two Rankin-Bass specials while I ate and worked. Frosty's Winter Wonderland is their second snowman story. Frosty gets lonely when the kids are at home, so they make him a wife. Trouble is, she's not "all livin'" like he is. While they try to figure out how to get her moving, a jealous Jack Frost is determined to get rid of those pesky snowpeople for good!

'Twas the Night Before Christmas...and a clock maker and the mouse who lives under him have a lot to worry about. The mouse's brainy son sent Santa a letter that insulted him, and now he won't come to the town of January Junction at all. The clock maker hoped his new instrument that played children's voices singing at midnight would bring him back, but it refuses to work. Now that one little mouse has to use that brain to decide if he believes or not...enough for the famous poem to come true.

It started snowing just ten minutes before I left for work. It wasn't bad when I left, just a light shower. I ended up taking the bike. Besides, not only did I not have the time to ask for a ride, but almost everyone I know isn't good at driving in the snow.

The snow picked up shortly after I arrived at work...and unlike last week, it was cold enough for it to stick to the streets and sidewalks. No one had expected it to snow today, so no snow plows came out, and many streets weren't salted. Thankfully, I only spent an hour doing carts in the increasingly heavy snow. We were insanely busy when I arrived, but as the snow got thicker, our crowds got thinner. It was never quiet, but it wasn't nearly as busy at 6 as it had been at 2. By the time I was almost done, I was mainly bagging and returning items.

Got my schedule while I was at work. In good news, more hours and Tuesday and Wednesday off, the latter my final personal day of the year. In frustrating news, I'm going to have to miss the Eagles-Giants game on Sunday again, and I have an eight-hour shift next Saturday. I am not looking forward to that. I haven't had a shift that long in literally years. Plus next Saturday is the day before Christmas Eve - I'll never get anything done that day.

Though the snow was slowing down as I headed out the door and would stop all together by the time I made it home, it was probably about three or four inches deep. Though I did manage to ride my bike in a few places that weren't as slushy, I mostly walked home. It ended up being kind of nice. The Christmas lights glowed softly against the sparkling snow. Kids were happily outside, running around in the first real pre-Christmas snow many of them may have experienced in their lifetimes.

When I got in, I changed into dry clothes, made leftovers for dinner, and ran two Pink Panther holiday and winter specials. A Pink Christmas is a take on the O.Henry short story The Cop and the Anthem. Pink is a vagabond in early 1900's New York who is desperate for any kind of holiday meal, but nothing ever seems to go right...until he gives the doughnut he finally rounded up to a hungry dog and learns that giving is its own reward.

Olym-pinks is a more typical take on the 1980 Lake Placid Winter Olympics. Pink is a star skier at constant odds with the team's other major star. The little guy will do anything to eliminate the competition, from knocking him off the ski lift to sending a piano down the stairs after him...but he's the one who ends up with a nasty cold and second place.

Ended the night after a shower with Scrooged. Frank Cross (Bill Murray) is your typical sleazy 1980's executive, here in charge of TV channel IBC's big Christmas Carol-themed live holiday show. He's just as big of a jerk as Scrooge, and maybe worse. He fires one employee (Bobcat Goldthwait) for questioning his freaky Christmas commercial, forces his secretary (Alfre Woodward) to work through the holidays, and refuses to come to his brother James' (John Murray) party, and gives cheap gifts to all. Plus his current boss (Robert Mitchum) has hired a younger man (John Glover) as an assistant, though he's really after Frank's job. He doesn't even listen when the ghost of his former boss (John Forsythe) shows up and says he'll be visited by three spirits on Christmas Eve. It takes the wacky ghosts of a taxi driver (David Johansen), a very violent fairy (Carol Kane), and a frightening ghoul, as well as his kind ex-girlfriend Claire (Karen Allen), to make Frank see the light...and understand that Christmas is a time when we all "put a little love in our heart."

Dad-Bill used to watch this one a lot during the holidays in the early 90's, probably due to the outstanding cast. It got a mixed reaction in the late 80's. Some loved the black comedy, while others found it too mean-spirited for a holiday movie, even with the positive ending.

I have to admit, as nasty and weird as it can get, I still like it a lot and can understand why Dad was into it. For one thing, the special effects are still awesome, even nowadays. The amazing makeup work on the ghosts deserved its Oscar nomination. There's that cast, too. Along with an unbridled and firing-on-all-cylinders Murray, we get everyone from Robert Mitchum and Alfre Woodward to character actors like Michael J. Pollard in a brief but memorable role as a homeless man living at the shelter Claire runs. (And in all honesty, I've seen Christmas movies that came out more recently that were even more mean-spirited than this.)

If you're a fan of Murray or black comedy, or you want to try a modern take on A Christmas Carol, this is definitely worth a look.

No comments: