Friday, December 23, 2005


This kid knows what he wants for Christmas

I know many of you have played the "Fiddler on the Roof" game. You know what I'm talking about - "If I were a rich man." Sure, you sit there and comptemplate what you would do with your vast millions... if you had 'em. You say to yourself- I would help the poor, of course, and feed the hungry, and invest some... but THEN- hoo boy, look out! This is probably more commonly known as the "When I win the lottery" game, or in some circles, the "It'll never happen as long as I sit on my butt and daydream instead of working hard to earn my way" game.

Sometimes it's hard not to play that game, even just a little bit, during Christmas. Who hasn't walked in a Toy store or department store and hadn't seen something they just know that their a) kids b) spouse, significant other c) parent (grands too) d) J.C. Loophole would just love, but you can't afford it. If you are a parent - that has probably run through your mind. I know Yeah, yeah...if you were a rich man. yada, yada, yada.that it's hard not having that much to be able to buy what you want to for your kids for Christmas. I know that feeling very well. It doesn't feel good. And certainly, you know what kind of Christmas you would to give them. And, you tell yourself, I'll be able to give it to them soon "when I am a rich man." Then you snap your fingers above your head, dance a bit of jig, and then sing to the barnyard animals. Opps, sorry... too much? Anyone seen "Fiddler on the Roof"? Well, then, never mind that last part.

The thing is that, in reality, a majority of people won't ever get there while their kids are little and can only afford to do it when the kids have grown up and moved on. Oh sure, some do it nowAre we just making this guy work too hard? - but the either ruin their credit, put their future in jeopardy, or were wealthy to begin with. Will the kids be devastated if they don't see an Xbox 360 under the tree Christmas morning? Maybe.
Will they be traumatized for life? Uh, no.
Will they survive and move on? Yes.
Are you committing child abuse by not getting them everything they wanted? No, in fact, just the opposite.

Here's where I am going with this. Have you seen the Lexus commercials, where there is a giant bow on the car and someone is getting it for Christmas? There is even one where someone gives it to their college kid for Christmas. Kind of!weird seeing that. Maybe for some that's something great. I'm not saying I would turn it down (althought I might - the upkeep and taxes on those things have to be unreal), but I am saying it is symbolic of what I am talking about. There is something inherently wrong with giving your kid a car for Christmas. While you may be giving something, you are also taking something away. A since of earning, of ownership, of labor and reward. An absence of these things is what lies at the root of the "entitlement" attitude that is pervasive in our country. We think we should get something, because we are entitled to it. Our grandparent's generation who lived during a depression, fought a world war, and helped to rebuild nations can't fathom that attitude, but the generation after them sure can. Everything came much easier to them. Think about it- the 50s saw the birth of fast food, television, Holiday Inns, Disneyland, frozen TV dinners, etc. Fantasy, fun, food, and entertainment in an instant. Life was there at your fingertips. It wasn't always easy, but it sure was a lot easier. If a kid gets everything they want without working for it or waiting for it, it's hard to expect them to appreciate it. Gratitude is what is so sorely missing for our society. And helping our children gain a sense of that is the greatest gift we can pass along.

I am not suggesting that you give them nothing and say "Sorry, kid, but J.C. Loophole said not to give you anything." First of all, that is not at all what I am saying, and secondly, I am mortally terrified at what a large army of angry kids will do to my lawn. What I am suggesting is that you do your best, and spend less time worrying about getting them EVERYTHING, and spend more time giving them: time, love, and memories.

Do yourself a favor- find a copy of The Bishop's Wife starring Cary Grant, David Niven and Good flickLoretta Young. You will further understand my point. Cary Grant plays the role of an angel sent to answer the prayer of an Episcopalian Bishop played by David Niven. Niven used to work in a small parish, but was promoted to Bishop and took on the task of building a magnificent cathedral. He has forgotten his old friends, neglected his wife (played by Loretta Young) and child, and has grown rather surly and despondent. He only associates with the upper crust and spends less and less time on his family. The cathedral is certainly a worthy cause, but not worth the cost of his family and neglecting the real work he used to do- tending to the poor and needy. He prays for guidance and and angel comes to help. But what the I say, first Clarence, now an angel named Dudley. Whatever happened to Michael or Gabriel? Are all the good names taken?angel does is gives him a choice: he can take care of the Bishop's appointments, meetings, and visits for him, or tend to matters at home. The Bishop chooses to do the work himself, and the angel sets out to try and show him for himself, what he is neglecting and missing in place of his "work." Slowly the Bishops begins to believe that the angel is there to steal the affections of his wife, child, and staff and friends. What he doesn't realize at first is that the affection isn't gone or stolen- he has just turned it away. The angel helps him to see that what matters is the time spent with family, and the the work of God is best served by serving others, rather than building a magnificent edifice. The time you spend is the most precious thing you possess. Remember this- even if you were a "rich man", it wouldn't matter. Time lost is something that can never be bought back.

My Christmas memories involve some things I got for Christmas... but not all. I couldn't tell you everything I got, or even what it all looked like. What I do remember vividly is the movies and holiday cartoons I watched with my family, cooking with my grandmother, my out of town grandparents coming to stay with us, the car trips to look at Christmas lights, the music, the fireplace, and mom's homemade "egg" nog (emphasis on the egg). Those are the things that stuck with me. I loved 'em when I was a kid, resented having to participate when I was a bratty teenager, and now as an adult - I cherish them. So you see, the kid may whimper for a bit, but only until the next present needs to be opened, or someone turns on a Christmas cartoon, or starts a board game, or passes around candy canes... etc. See? Kids bounce back. If you give Celebrate the holidays, er... however your family celebrates.them good family time and traditions, that is what will carry them and stay with them long after the toy is broken, the bike tire is flat, and the video game is played out. They won't tell you til' they are older, but they will. SO please - don't fret- bake cookies. DON'T rush- sit down and watch a Holiday movie. DON'T freak out about not finding the "it" toy of the season- sit down and play a game with your family. REALIZE that money will never afford you to buy the happiness you truly seek, and by giving your family and friends your time you will give them something that will last them a lifetime. By the way, Mom and Dad, thanks for doing that for me.

Take some time out tonight from wrapping and rushing etc. and find your copy of The Bishop's Wife and A Christmas Story. Two of my favorite Christmas movies- and they remind me of what is really important, not just this time of year, but always- family . A Christmas Story is hilarious - but it perhaps the movie that best capture the joy of Christmas to a kid and the joy from family. Merry Christmas to all of you and your families. Happy Hanukkah to our friends who are celebrating this time of year May everyone realize the true significance of this time of year- there is joy in the greatest gift, love. On behalf of Baravelli, Pinky, Wolf Flywheel and myself, Happy Holidays from all of us here at The Shelf.

I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book.

The only people who grow old were born old to begin with.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

scurvy little spiders

Bailey.., Bailey.., Bailey...French, is it?
Welcome Shelfers. I would like to introduce our assistant, handy man, chauffer, and all-around petty criminal Pinky- Pinky say a few words to the people.

Pinky- "...."

Very good, now run along and go hide my parking tickets. And put my umbrella down.
Pinky has amassed some images for today's feature here at the Shelf, I just hope they are the correct ones. I know he was working on them during his lunch minute because I can smell the sardines. Nonetheless- Today at the Shelf we continue our tour down nostalgia lane with a unique twist. Certainly everyone has there own heroes from Christmas stories and Christmas shows. Rudolph, Frosty, and hey... how about those Wise Men?

No, no Pinky... I asked for a picture of Mr. Potter- not a potter.Perhaps you haven't thought of it before - but there are as many villians as there are heroes in those Christmas story. A common theme in a lot of Holiday tales is the classic theme of the Christmas spirit/meaning of Christmas/reason for Christmas bringing change and redemption to a cold heart. A Christmas Carol is perhaps the most classic version of this. In order for that story to work - there has to be someone who needs to be redeemed or convinced. Also in order for us to contrast and appreciate the Christmas spirit, etc. we have to see someone who doesn't have it. I mean how could Tiny Tim be as powerful a symbol without a Scrooge to contrast him with? Where would the Wise Men be without Herod? You see what I getting at here? For every great Christmas hero - there is a great villian to overcome. Therefore, today at the Shelf Wolf and I present our Top Ten Classic Christmas Villians.

And we will start out by telling you outright that Mr. Potter is number 1 on the list. How does heNo, Pinky! Not Harry Potter. MR.Potter! beat others like Scrooge. Well, Mr. Potter is on the top because he is outright unredeemable as presented in the film It's a Wonderful Life. Mr. Potter is a straight-out villian. He must own everything in the county- and the only thing standing in his way is George Bailey. Mr. Potter, like the devil he is, offers to buy out George and give him the opportunities and money he wants. But good ol' George turns him down. Then Mr. Potter is bent on destruction. If he can't own Bailey Building and Trust - he will destroy it, and George in the process. And he nearly succeeds. In fact, we're not really sure whatever becomes of Bailey Building and Loan or Mr. Potter. We must assume that the money everyone gives George is more than enough to pay off its various debts and stay in business. And Mr. Potter? Who knows... we never see. In fact, that's what makes him and even worse villian than anyone else in our countdown, in that he doesn't change and doesn't Not Beatrix Potter! MR.POTTER!You know Lionel Barrymore?really recieve his comeuppance. For all we know Mr. Potter comes up with more schemes to defeat George... and maybe by the 1970s Bedford Falls became Potterville. Frank Capra does his film justice precisely by leaving Mr. Potter as is. Not all the villians in real life change. Some continue on until they die. And not all true life villians will receive their just desserts in this lifetime. That's the way it is. But despite that we still have to try and live in the vein of George Bailey. Mr. Potter will continue to be a scurvy little spider.

Can you just imagine if this movie were remade by today's Hollywood? Mr. Potter would not be a crippled old man. He would be some sort of middle-age, slick looking corporate type with What the? I don't even know who this is! Never mind- just forget it.helicopters and oil contracts with the government - with a couple of Senators in his pocket. He probably would be a republican. George Bailey, played by Alec Baldwin, would be some sort of enviromentalist trying to save a park or something instead of being a businessman. Instead of committing suicide, George probably wants to give up and move to France, but luckily Ted Kennedy appears out of the cold water to tell him, "Now now there George. You, eh, don't want to do that. You, eh, want to stay here and fight that republican corporate monster. Start a petition drive and eh... no, no that won't work... Eh, break into his office and get documents...,, no. OH , I've, eh, got it there George. Call CNN and debate him on live TV, George. That will work." Then Kennedy disappears. No angels, no god intervention. Just journalism. Maybe they could get Christopher Walkin to play Mr. Potter. That would be sweet. "Well, George- I see you coming to me for help- I just don't know about that George. I just don't know." Sweeettt.

So Christmas villians have quite a trail of ... well, villiany. Some change and become better individuals- some are creatures that may have been misunderstood. But all have quite a indelliable mark on Christmas lore.

Pinky - I hope you are ready with the correct pictures now?

.... Pinky: "...."

Excellent. Now on with the list.

The Shelf's Top Ten Classic Christmas Villians:

Choo-choo...10. Winter Warlock (Santa Claus is Comin' to Town)
Winter, please? Yes, this guy was mean and nasty, and fairly down right evil. I mean he was a Warlock for pete's sake. Then Kris Kringle gives him a (get this) "choo-choo." Now what evil genius looks a toy train and calls it a choo-choo? Did any of the Bond villians capture James and put him aboard their superfast, ultra futuristic train and say: "Ah, Mr. Bond, welcome aboard my choo-choo." No. Don't think so. What's worse, is that one his "icy-shell" exterior melts he insists everyone calls him "Winter" in this condescending tone of voice. "Winter, please?" What a jerk. Then he becomes bi-polar and passive-agressive. He laments losing his powers that could control the very elements of the earth and kind of just- sighs- like he's waiting for Jessica or Kris or anyone to come over and join his pity party. What's worse is that this guy who once controled the weather carries around "magic acorns" which has the sole purpose of making Reindeer fly. How long you been stashing those away Winter? Kind of like something he ordered out of "Magical Evil Genius Monthly" to break out at parties. Not only is he a jerk- he worries me. I think Michael Jackson has some competition.

Maybe he just has a thing for top hats. I don't know...9. Professor Hinkle (Frosty the Snowman)
How Hocus Pocus (his rabbit side-kick) ever put up with this sniveling loser I’ll never know. He was a classic villain based on a model seen many times before and since. He was the ‘greedy-weasel-with ambiguous professor title’. He’s so easy to dislike. Even as a kid I thought of him as some kind of car salesman/unsuccessful pimp. Some professor he was. He couldn’t even control his own rabbit. Yet he managed to deliberately kill Frosty and “cold-blooded” murder constitutes an automatic placement on our list. (One more rim-shot for the “cold-blooded remark please.)

Ahh- the good old days, when you could wear a red suit and bonk a psychologist on the noggin.8. Granville M. Sawyer (Store "psychologist" from Miracle on 34th Street- 1947)
The store "psychologist" sort of represents the grown-up spirit that can't afford to believe in magic or anything else that might be deemed "higher power", and anyone who does is loco. This is the guy who sends Santa Claus to Bellevue. Did Lex Luthor ever get Superman Committed to an insane asylum? I'm not sure, but I don't think so (I'll leave it to my better-informed comic book fan friends to correct me later). I'd say that qualifies him as a villian, even if he is a bit of a snively, sulking kind of Christmas villian. The wonderful character actor Porter Hall plays him in the 1947 version- the others just don't compare.

7. Scut Farcus/ Santa's Boot (A Christmas Story)
OK- there is a bit of double dipping here, but neither villian has enough screen time alone to Justice. Sweet justice.really fit the bill- so here they are together. Both kind of represent the scurge of kid-dom. Scut Farkus (So help me, God! Yellow Eyes!) is the neighborhood bully- the guy who had all these other sniveling lackys running around with him. On his own- he could be dealt with, but with his crew- an even bigger jerk. This was the kind of guy who would claim there is no Santa Claus and tell you your parents adopted you then laugh that sort of "Nyah, Nyah" laugh. That's OK- Ralphy brings some sweet cathardec justice for us all.
Santa's Boot on the other hand is the ultimate rejection. Ralphy works every adult he sees for Whadya mean backordered?that BB gun. But Santa has to be the guy to make it happen. But Ralph freezes up, blurts out his wish and then gets the big boot. Crush city. I actually remember sitting on Santa's lap when I was a kid and asking for some big new-fangled electronic gizmo that was virtually impossible to find that Christmas long ago in the 70s. All Santa would say was "I think the elves are done making that and we're all out at the workshop." All non-committal like. Then he shoved a Candy cane in my hand said "Merry Christmas...NEXT!" Wow. Ralphy.., I can relate.

You have no more teeth, so you give up being a wild beast of myth to become an interior designer? Okayyy.6. Abominable AKA Bumble (Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer)
C’mon. We all know that in ‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer’ the real villain was Rudy’s inner hatred of his own nose and fear of being socially despondent. Fearing that children wouldn’t quite understand Rudolph’s fragile psyche, the guys at Rankin/Bass threw in the Abominable Snowman, AKA Bumble. This, I’m sure, was in order to give Rudy some type of nemesis other than is own self hatred. Personally, I thought Bumble was just misunderstood. Nevertheless, he provided some much needed action and suspense to an otherwise “fluffy” tale. (Cue the rim-shot)

5Oh, stop. Really? You love my hair?. Heat Miser/Snow Miser (The Year Without a Santa Claus)
OK- these two are a team- like Martin and Lewis, Abbott and Costello, George, Jerry, Elaine and Kramer - wait, that's four. Anyway - you can't It's called Kleenex, dude. Invest in a box.really have one without the other. These two are some of my favorite Rankin-Bass characters ever created. And, along with the Grinch, are among the few villians who have their own theme songs. Jerks love to sing them too. Every chance they get. Selfish, bickering, delightful villiany ensues- but then Mom Nature tells them to knock it off and play nice. My only quibble is that being a Heat or Snow "miser" would indicate that one is stingy with the Heat or the Snow, unlike these two. I guess it's hard to demand logic from a puppet show about Santa Claus. *sigh*

This guy spends most of the show in a night shirt. He has got some issues.4. Bergermeister Meisterberger (Santa Claus is Comin' to Town)
I always assumed him a victim of some traumatic event involving toys that made him such a hate monger. I almost thought that maybe he was really a nice guy with unresolved issues, but sending soldiers out to TAKE children’s toys? That’s downright Communism and that’s right up there with murder for an automatic bid on our top Christmas villains list.

Hey baby, I got some cash- Why don't we blow this Christmas Past gig?3. Scrooge (various versions of A Christmas Carol) Oh man. The don't come any meaner than Scrooge, or any more loco than him. What a mood swing after his "trip" (and I use that word on purpose) with all the ghosts. He goes from being a stingy, mean ol' coot to being a crazy old man with a weird "thing" for Tiny Tim. You know the classic was Allister Sim's 1951 version, but there have been other good ones. George C. Scott was good also. You know what we would like to see. William Shatner as Scrooge.
Scrooge: "Ghost of Spock... what...are... these...CHAINS... you...have around...your..neck?"
Spock's Ghost: "Logically, these are the chains I forged in life..., Captian."
Scrooge: "Did Khan...DO you?"
Spock Ghost: "No, Jim, as I have previously stated, these are an outward, yet supernatural, manifestation of the assorted egregious acts that I have committed upon other life forms."

Ten foot pole? Really? That's a bit harsh.2. The Grinch (The Grinch who Stole Christmas)
To me, the Grinch is the ultimate Christmas villain. He is the Anti-Santa. I mean, he took the last can of Who-Hash! Think about it: Scrooge is one of the more well known villains. All he did was say, “bah humbug!” , but only if you forced Christmas on him. If you left him alone, he had no problem with your celebrations. Not so for the Grinch. He went out of his way to TAKE your Christmas. He also abused his dog Max tremendously in the process. After all of this he is still a Christmas favorite.

Ain't I looking more and more like Barrymore?1. Mr. Potter (It's a Wonderful Life)
You know, I could go into detail about how Mr. P. was an allegory of the growth of greed and big-business commercialization in society at that time and how it would choke goodness and purity out of our nation if we gave in and let it defeat us. For the sake of the current post though I’ll sum it up by saying that he was a jerk. The worst kind of jerk at that. The kind that uses a dirty, under-handed trick to get you down and then mocks you while you’re on your back. He lives to watch others grovel and rejoices in the despair of the less fortunate. Mr. Capra struck gold when he landed Lionel Barrymore for the part as he captured the sodden spirit of the character making him a true villain.

Well Shelfers, that's it. We hope you have enjoy this little jaunt through classic Christmas villiany. As always, Wolfie and I encourage your comments. Any other villians we missed? Who doesn't meet your approval? Let us know in the comments section.
Now it's time to get back to work, Pinky. Pinky say goodbye to everyone.


Excellent. Til' next time Shelfers- enjoy the season and just ignore the "Bah, Humbugs" you encounter in your life this year - there is so little time to enjoy the season to waste on worrying about Mr. Potter.

I never forget a face, but in your case I'll make an exceptionI find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book.

You mustn't mind the tree monsters. Their bark is worse than their bite. Ha ha ha ha!

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

it's a wonderful film

...and it's got Excedrine written all over it.

Is there anyone out there that’s not familiar with George Bailey? You , in the back there with your hand up. Have you been living in a cave? Well, pass the remote to Osama and come out of the underground so I can fill you in. One of the greatest films that surrounds the Christmas season is Frank Capra’s “It’s a Wonderful Life” staring (one of my favorites) Jimmy Stewart as George Bailey. A wonderfully unique story, it was originally sent out in Christmas cards under the title “The Greatest Gift” to the friends of Philip Van Doren Stern who wrote the short story the film is based on. Eventually “The Christmas Gift” made it’s way to somebody who knew someone else who worked in films and thought it would make a great screenplay. Well, it didn’t work out for that someone but it did manage to somehow float into the hands of Frank Capra who immediately loved the idea and formed it into what we now know today as “It’s a Wonderful Life”. The story begins with a conversation in the heavens between angelic entities (one is voiced by Moroni Olsen who was an extra in most all the movies of that era) about a severely troubled George Bailey on the verge of leaping from a bridge for, as of yet, an unknown reason. Clarence the angel is called upon to take on the task of rendering aid to Mr. Bailey and is given a recap of George’s life from youth to I wish for the last golden ticket....wait a minute.the very dark present moment. I won’t go into too much detail, but suffice it to say that he is the All-American boy. He’s a fun loving character who doesn’t fear romance or doing what’s right. To top it off, he’s got a heart of pure gold and would endure almost any hardship to grant someone else just a little more happiness in their life. We watch George as a youth dreaming of far away places and great adventures and as a young adult falling in love with Mary played by the beautiful Donna Reed. Throughout this instant replay of his existence, we see Mr. Bailey time and time again sacrifice his dreams and comfort for the benefit of others. He experiences several hardships and Hey baby. How YOU doin'?eventually gets to the point where he is ready to end his life for the benefit (so he thinks) of his family and townsfolk. This is where Clarence (played by Henry Travers) steps in. While explaining to George that he is his Guardian Angel, an idea pops into his head. Mr. Bailey off-handedly says ,” I wish I’d never been born.” Clarence then proceeds to take George Bailey on a “Christmas Carol-esque” adventure showing him what things would be like if he were to get his wish. Needless to say there is a happy ending and a Christmas classic is born. Capra does an outstanding job of directing his cast who all do wonderful jobs themselves. Stewart puts on a stellar performance and Donna Reed establishes a career with what some would consider her breakout role. I’ll tell ya’ Shelfers, I remember this being on T.V. every year over and over again much the way “A Christmas Story” is done today. The film was synonymous with the season and many a joke was made of it’s frequent showing on network television to the point of redundancy. As a youth, I was more interested in Rankin/Bass Christmas fare and preferred Whoville to Bedford Falls (George Bailey’s home town for those not in the know). Once I reached young adult age and into adulthood, the airtime this classic received was scaled back drastically making way for made-for-T.V. movies staring pop singers and Mickey Mouse Club alumnus. (Excuse me a moment whilst I dry-heave.) Recently though, as I’ve grown older and more nostalgic, it has become a personal favorite. Just a week ago, I popped it into the DVD player and watched it with my wife who had never seen it and had barely heard of it. For some odd reason Shelfers, the film struck me more than it ever has. I don’t know what it was, but I was drawn to the story more fervently and found some deeply emotional connection to the character of George Bailey. At risk of sounding a little egotistical, I consider myself to be the George Bailey type. I enjoy helping my friends, sometimes to my own detriment. I tend to express my care for them by putting myself on the line leaving myself open to misfortune and derision so that they experience no discomfort. I’ve got my own dreams of “sky’s the limit” adventure and world greatness. They’re mostly daydreams, but some could’ve been reality. Yet in the similitude of Mr. Bailey, I gave them up for things like responsibility and family. Don’t get me wrong now. I did it by choice. I have the respect of my co-workers and relatives and things seem to be fine in general, but just like ole’ George Bailey I’ve put myself on the line for others one too many times, or so it seems. Thoughts of regret for chances past have crept in and passing feelings of “will it ever get easier” whisk through my brain bucket once in a while. Like George I’ve had breaking moments (all too often, honestly) where I’ve allowed the stress of life and work cause me to be unfairly gruff to those closest to me. I’ve had private, tearful moments of self-disappointment and self-discovery. It doesn’t quite appear thus at first, but I am most certainly George Bailey. Shelfers, WE are George Bailey. If you watch the movie half-heartedly, you see What do you mean it makes my butt 'look big', George?George Bailey the wonderful man who has a rare moment of weakness and depression causing his guardian angel to show him what he could be missing. It’s not that way at all. You see, George Bailey is the average Joe. He has dreams, he has love, he has ideals, a heart, and most importantly he has trials. We’ve all been daydreamers at some point with spurts of naïve idealism (some more than others). If you truly think about it, I’m sure you can recall a moment or two when you cared to a fault or listened to your heart when you should’ve heard your mind. This is also George Bailey. Looking at the movie a little deeper you see George start off great, but as the years go by the more he puts others before self and his philanthropy and trust backfire. This all mounts up to create a cynical George Bailey who regrets his kindness and feels like a dope which brings him to a key moment in his life. He must decide to get back up and keep swinging or lie on his back and wait for the ref to call the fight. This is where we the people and the great Mr. Bailey part ways. Too many of us choose to lie on our backs when hit with reality’s upper-cut. With a little help from his guardian angel, George got up. I know it’s hard to continue to get up when you’re knocked down so much. But resilience is the key. All too often we let the world and general negativity kill our kindness and hopeful spirits. When that happens too much and we don’t fight back, we go from Mr. Bailey to Mr. Grinch. There are things we can do though. As in boxing, you’re going to take hits. It’s inevitable. When you care for people, you’re going to make unwise decisions and you’re going to get hurt. But just as you can duck a punch, you can avoid making silly mistakes and still care. I’ve learned that in order to remain hopeful and idealistic, I have to draw the line sometimes because though the cause may be worthy, you can’t put yourself in a harmful position. Another way to resuscitate our inner Bailey was taught to me by a friend and one-time mentor who told me that the key to sanity and steadiness is a regular self-inventory. I regret that I have not really put his advice into action ‘cause he’s right. If we remember to give ourselves a regular self check-up through introspection and quiet personal discovery we stand a better chance at having balance and normalcy. We need to see what George Bailey saw. We need to know that no matter what, it could be worse. Though our world can be tougher than his, if we can be resilient and take a moment for personal reflection in our lives we can make it through. We can once again find that inner George. I’m somewhat of a religious man and believe that if we proceed with caution and the help of our Maker, we can still be a little naïve and a little vulnerable. Life doesn’t have to be cold and depressing and we can be thankful for what we have. As George Bailey found out, it truly is a wonderful life. Life itself is most certainly a great gift. It’s perfectly fine to daydream and want more, but appreciation for the blessings we already have is truly the spirit of George Bailey. How wonderful life truly would be if we would all succeed in this endeavor. Trust me folks. I know negativity. Without exposing myself, I’ll say I’m surrounded by the worst life has to offer every day with my job. I absorb as much and probably more negativity than most. I know it’s hard to stay positive and innocent about life, but at the same time I am also faced with my mortality every day at work as well. This causes me to ponder my blessings more than I might otherwise. Even in the pool of negativity I am saved from drowning just by the glimmer of hope I get from recognizing what blessingsAt least he gets a good tax return with all those kids. I do have which keep me afloat. My desire this season is for all of us to find our glimmer and join George Bailey in his happy world. After all, I think Bedford Falls would be the perfect place to raise a family. Don’t you agree?

Please feel free to comment if the need strikes you.

I never forget a face, but in your case I'll make an exception.

Say, that's a pretty good idea. I'll give you the moon, Mary


Let us respect and remember

Today marks the 64th anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor, although you wouldn't know it by looking at the front sections of the papers or the homepages of various major news media websites. Apparently to some (CNN we're looking at you- ABC News is the exception today.) the Valerie Bertinelli - Eddie Van Halen divorce deserves more coverage. Valerie Who? Van who? Um- seriously who gives a damn? Two has beens getting a divorce takes precedent over a major event in U.S. History? I have often wondered why we are forgetting more and more of our past- apparently its hard to focus on stuff like that with E!, Oprah, Dr. Phil, and others blaring crap at us round the clock. Now before you say "Hey Loophole, that Pearl Harbor thing isn't news - its just history!" I would like to evoke the spirit of Lewis Black and tell you "Shut your pie hole!" Pearl Harbor has more lessons and relevence for us today than in previous times during the past 60 years. There was a little thing that we refer to as 9/11 that happened not too long ago - and a War that is happening now that might draw our attention. It wouldn't hurt to look at what Thank you, Vets!happened 64 years ago, warts and all, and try and figure out what we have learned. And- there aren't too many survivors around any more- so if you have an opportunity - thank a veteran. (And thank you again to my Grandfather who served during WWII in Europe and Africa) We have much to learn from the Greatest Generation- I just wonder if we realize it.

Alright- let's take a moment to breathe and hit some less important, but very entertaining things happening in popculturedom:
Sometimes we just say things and the next morning they appear. Not the really important things like, "I want a million dollars" or "Chocolate and sweetarts are not only calorie free, they are good for you" but things like Kelsey Grammer being the Beast in X-men 3 might be funny, because of - you know the whole Frasier and Niles thing. (Roll over the picture in our previous post for our snide caption)
Well, of course it took the professional and always hilarious Penny-Arcade guys, Gabe and Tycho, to make it reality. If you have never visited PA - you not only are among the unwashed, you are indeed limited intellectually. Take the time to browse through the archives when the opportunity presents itself- it is worth it. Gabe's art style has evolved and sharpened over the years and, along with Scott Kurtz over at PVPonline, is among the best comic strip artists in webcomics today. (We are particular fans of the Cardboard Tube Samurai and anxiously await his further travels. )
Other stops along the superinformation highway:
X-Entertainment's annual Advent/Advert Calender is in full effect. If you know what I'm talking about you have been checking it out since December 1st. If you don't - it's not too late to catch up.

King Kong

Peter Jackson's updated King Kong hits theaters soon. I am actually looking forward to this one. As a rule I am not always a huge fan of remakes. Sometimes they hit and many times they miss. This is one of those times where I think we can enjoy both. (by the by PA did a recent comic for those of you who have no idea what happens in the end.) Buy the newly released DVD set of the original and go see the new one in the theater. I think you'll enjoy it. Peter Jackson is such a fine film maker and a fanboy of the original - you know the story is in good hands. And while we're at it- let's just forget there ever was a 1984 (correction - 1976 Thanks to Number One at Cinerati for catching this. Can you believe Rene Auberjonois was in it as well? That's right - the original Father Mulcahy from MASH - the movie, Clayton from "Benson" and of course Odo from DS9 was in the '76 remake. Who knew? Well- you do now.) remake with Jessica Lange. I know there are some fans out there- but it just wasn't clicking. Can we move on now? Yes? Good.
And for the full Kong experience- check out the official game of the movie. I have heard from reliable sources that it is fine gaming indeed. When we check it out, Baravelli will have a review posted here at The Shelf.

I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book.

The only limit to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

lights, please...

You know, Chuck- we could just celebrate Festivus and get a pole.

OK- If you are a loyal, ardent reader of the Shelf you know at least several things:
A. We go for teh funny
B. We are a bit curmudgeonly
C. We like old flicks
D. We like "Peanuts"
Now, I don't mean Peanuts of the "Honey Roasted" variety, alhough those are quite tasty in and of themselves. No, I am referring to the "Peanuts" of the comics fame. And yes, we have expounded upon the animated specials, in general, and have waxed poetic upon Peanuts in particular. It is Peanuts that will kick off this particular post. It comes on tonight so don't miss it! Surprisingly, this post will not go into that so much- as a review will come at a later date. We just wanted to put up a quick post and alert you to some "geek" linkage that is traveling the Al Gore Memorial Superinformation Highway. (Oh, he'll never live it down, will he?)

1st up to bat:
Lights, please...A Charlie Brown Christmas Special, which airs tonight at 8pm EST on ABC , is the theme of this first round of linky dinks:
Think you know all about Linus, Chuck and Christmas? Well, take this quiz- I am not bragging or anything, but I scored 100. OK, yes that was shameless bragging- but try and match my score anyway.
Also, here are a couple of articles on A CB Christmas and the making thereof. And links to Bill Melendez, the Charles M. Schulz Musuem, and the Peanuts webpage. Don't say we didn't give you anything.

2nd Geek out:
I say, Niles? Have you read this latest article in Mutant Doctor Monthly?I loved the X-men movies. They were among some of the best superhero movies made alongside the original Superman and Spider-man films. Now X-men 3 is set to be released next May. Here is a link to the official site and a link to the trailer that should be running in theaters showing Peter Jackson's King Kong. They have added Callisto, Angel and a few others including Kelsey Grammer as the Beast. I gotta admit, I was a bit skeptical of Frasier playing the original blue man himself, but the first gallery pictures look pretty good. We shall see.

And 3rd-
Humphrey Rules!The next (4th I believe) wave of the Disney Treasures Limited Edition DVD sets have hit the stores. The next Volume of The Chronological Donald is a personal favorite, and the Disney Rarities set is a must have, if not for the history- then for Humphrey Bear. Humphrey Bear was much funnier than Yogi. Also in the wave- The First season of Spin and Marty- before there was the O.C. or Dawson's Creek, Disney was hitting the tween set with Spin and Marty, shown during the Mickey Mouse Club hour. Spin and Marty were two boys from different backgrounds who became friends during the summer at a horse ranch camp. Very pre-Michael Jackson innocent boys adventures. Lastly, if you want to catch Leslie Nielsen before the Naked Gun and Airplane, you've got to catch him as Francis Marion in the Legendary Heroes Set. Nielsen plays the Revolutionary War general and Robert Loggia in a separate series playing Western hero Elfego Baca. Psst Santa, if you're reading- these would fit under my tree!

Don't forget to tune in A Charlie Brown Christmas tonight. Pop some corn and heat some chocolate. Make a kid happy - let 'em stay up and watch it with you. Enjoy.

I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book.

Gee, Do they still make wooden Christmas Trees?


Blog Widget by LinkWithin