Tuesday, December 25, 2007

i'm dreaming...

While the kiddies are playing around your feet with their Christmas booty, and Aunts and Uncles are sipping hot chocolate, Grandma and Grandpa and trying not to nod off while listening to cousin Ed's latest travelogue, perhaps you would like to take a moment and read this Christmas message that was sent into me by our roving correspondent Baravelli. Actually- it's from Mrs. Baravelli, and the Big B himself is busying himself trying to find batteries. She sent this to me last night so, please enjoy....

Merry Christmas to one and all. Please allow me to introduce myself. I am Baravelli’s better half, well, maybe just the other half. If you’re wondering who Baravelli is or where he’s been, I can say he’s been quite busy lately. Between a new job and football season, I hardly see him myself. But, never fear, after the New Year I’m sure he’ll be writing again to influence all with his acerbic wit and gaming knowledge. Between his absence and the notable lack of recent editorials by Wolf and J.C. (no offense gentlemen) I have felt compelled to write on a little holiday cheer. I hope you don’t mind. It’s a quick message and one I feel that’s important for all. Knowing Wolf and J.C. as well as I do, I know they’ll appreciate the topic.

I must say that I do love this season. This is, by far, my favorite holiday. One of my favorite things about the season is the wonderful Christmas music and holiday movies that are played on television, seemingly ‘round the clock. December 26th is always a let-down because of the immediate stop on the entertainment, as if the holiday never happened at all. Much to Baravelli’s chagrin, my favorite movie is “White Christmas” with Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, and Rosemary Clooney. The movie is set at a Vermont Inn after WWII. Crosby and Kaye play soldiers who fought together and then, after they are discharged, they become a popular entertainment team. They happen upon a couple of singing/dancing sisters and, you guessed it, the viewer is bombarded with song and dance for the rest of the movie. As if me watching it is not bad enough, four year old Little Baravelli enjoys it as well – having memorized most of the songs.

The other week as we watched it again, I was impressed by the words of one of the songs that Crosby sang.

“When you’re worried and you can’t sleep
Just count your blessings instead of sheep.
Then you’ll fall asleep
Counting your blessings.”

After all the many years I’ve watched that movie, why make a difference now? Could it be that, somehow, I needed to hear those words and Bing magically sang them to me? Lately I have felt trepidation and dread when the holidays come around. Between the buying, and the rushing, and the pleasing everyone, the baking of cookies and the making of dresses, splitting time between both families, taking the little one to ballet performances where ALL SHE DOES IS CURTSY, WORKING, AND CLEANING AND ……. Sorry, I lost myself a little bit. Yes, that’s exactly what has happened to me, as well as to quite a few of you, I’m sure. Life is so busy already but when compounded with expectations, whether they are self-imposed or not, the stress is magnified to such a degree that it’s hard to remember what we’re doing it all for. You know you’ve lost it when you only let your child watch DVDs because you’re afraid of the numerous toy commercials that will only add to your already lengthy list.

Somehow, however, when I heard this song again, it dawned on me – everything, even the bad, is a blessing to me. I have so many to be grateful for that I should start counting them instead of falling asleep while checking off my to-do list for the next day. I even started remembering Christmases I had as a child and what they meant to me then and now. Sure, I remember some of the toys I got and my pink bike that only had front brakes because Santa never got around to putting the back tire breaks on. But I mostly remember finding a letter from Santa every Christmas morning, mentioning all of us kids by name. I remember the ash footprints from Santa’s boot that he inevitably got while coming out of the chimney. Mom wasn’t too happy about them on her navy blue carpet but that didn’t stop them from appearing year after year. I also remember how special Christmas Eve was and it still is. Every year we put on a live Nativity scene while someone reads the Christmas story. At first, it was just us four kids dressed in sheets, one of us holding the Cabbage Patch wrapped in swaddling clothes. 20 years later, it has grown in to four married children and 10 grandchildren. With that many babies the Cabbage Patch hasn’t been used in years. Every year, we know where we will be on Christmas Eve. Thanks to Mom and Dad, these are the things I remember. Hopefully, my little one will remember the same. And, hopefully, yours will as well.

So, on this Christmas day or whatever holiday you may celebrate this season, take a moment to sit, relax, and remember what you’re celebrating for. Know that it’s not the Dora mermaid doll or the Spiderman web thrower that your brood will remember, at least not the only thing. And, yes, it will all be worth it in the end. When you’re trying to sleep tonight and throughout this coming year, remember to count your list – I hope it’s a long one. From everyone here at the Shelf, happy holidays and sweet dreams!!!!

Posted on behalf of Mrs. Baravelli by J.C. Loophole

Oh, I know it's a penny here and a penny there, but look at me. I worked myself up from nothing to a state of extreme poverty.

I want to wash my hands, my face, my hair with snow.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

merry christmas to all...

For reasons various and assundry, we have neglected you this Christmas season. I won't go into details, but we do ask for your pardon. We will be back at it after Christmas. Those long awaited DVD reviews will be here, as well as a "Best of 2007" post. We thank you for your patience and understanding and we'll see you after the holiday break.
And to everyone we wish a very, very Merry Christmas.

Oh, I know it's a penny here and a penny there, but look at me. I worked myself up from nothing to a state of extreme poverty.

Now don't any of you worry your heads about Santa, Mrs. Claus will have him plenty fattened up before Christmas eve. It's always the same story.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

christmas cartoons are here again....

Let's kick off today's installment with the 1936 Max Fleischer cartoon 'Christmas Comes but Once a Year' starring Grampy from the Betty Boop cartoons.

Retro commercial break time! Brought to you by Mcdonald's.

Next up: 'Pluto's Christmas Tree' (Pardon the subtitles. It's such a great cartoon and this was the only one I could find.)

Until Next time.....

Please feel free to comment if the need strikes you.

In America you can go on the air and kid the politicians, and the politicians can go on the air and kid the people.

...and Mary Lou Retton as 'Tiny Tim'

reindeer food?

I know our recent behavior probably made you doubt us. Heck, I almost doubted for a moment there. Just for a moment, though. Then I realized, "Hey, this is Uncle J.C. and Wolfy I'm talking about here. They always come through for Christmas." So ladies and gents, as promised, the Shelf brings you the much ballyhooed 'Christmas Candy Review'. The only problem is that there is no candy involved. That's right. No candy. This time we attack the ever important topic of cookies.

This year has been a downer for Christmas candy. The industry seems to have been in decline where imagination and innovation is concerned. That really gets me. When I was growing up, I could look forward to holiday candy because it was something you just didn't get year round. There was always a repackaged form of the popular candy bars, but they were merely trifles. There seemed to always be an abundance of new and fun candies out every year touching the imaginations and taste buds of all the kids in the country. For some reason, the candy industry like all others in this country forgot who made them who they are: the consumer. Their focus seems to be only on lowering overhead. That's why, at the Shelf, we are excited to bring you something new for the holidays.

The product in question is 'Reindeer Food'. This would be the point where I tell you all who makes the product ,but I couldn't find a manufacturer's name anywhere on it. Despite this oddity, the product offers a little bit of imagination to the Christmas spirit this year. As I've already mentioned, this is not candy. It's actually gingerbread flavored cookies in the shape of kibble packaged in a small plastic bowl reminiscent of 'Fido's'. I'm not a great fan of gingerbread so I fell back on my trusty side-kick and food tester, Wolf Jr.

He was awfully excited to get into the product and seemed quite entertained by the idea of reindeer food served up in a miniature dog bowl. When it came time to taste, he was somewhat reluctant as he felt the cookies were pretty convincing as kibble. After some comforting words and a promise of a rainbow candy cane (I keep some handy for just such an occasion) Jr. dug in. The first description to come from his mouth was "Hard". The crunching told me that and a touch test shows that these aren't very chewy cookies. The next descriptor was a little more positive: "Good." A few of these and a candy cane later Little Wolfie was set.

I found 'Reindeer Food' in my local chain pharmacy for $1.50. Not a bad price to pay for a novelty like this. I'm always willing to pay a little extra for creativity anyway. If you have stockings to fill for Jr.'s and Jr.-ettes this year, the Shelf recommends 'Reindeer Food'. If not for the taste, then for the creation of memories they may write about on a blog when they are forcing unknown candies on their own children. Be on the lookout for the next candy review: 'Peppermint Peeps'. And remember, if your Christmas spirit is waning then throw on a good holiday movie and feed it Christmas candy.

Please feel free to comment if the need strikes you.

In America you can go on the air and kid the politicians, and the politicians can go on the air and kid the people.

What a Christmas! Ho, ho, what a Christmas!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

so you need a little christmas?

Having a hard time starting to think about Christmas or get in the Christmas spirit? I know what the problem is: you haven't been to visit our pal Sallie at The Vintage Place lately. Not only have Sallie and Mel decorated the joint, but it's packed with wall to wall tunes. And I'm not talking Backstreet Boys or Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer. I'm talking the real deal. Perry Como, Bing Crosby, Frank, Dino, Johnny Mathis, Mormon Tabernacle Choir, Burl Ives, and even tunes from your favorite holiday specials. If you want to get the spirit going and have the visions of Christmases from childhood past, do yourself a favor and check out The Vintage Place. And tell 'em ol' Uncle Loophole sent ya'. Back later with some Candy reviews, DVD reviews and Santa's DVD picks of 2007 for the stockings of that special someone.

Oh, I know it's a penny here and a penny there, but look at me. I worked myself up from nothing to a state of extreme poverty.

Does anyone know what Christmas is all about?

Monday, December 03, 2007

christmas kick-off

The holidays have been awful hectic this year for us. I was in Indiana with some family for Thanksgiving and will be leaving in a week or two for Colorado. Work is nothing short of insane for me this time of year and it really has been hard for us to find the time to devote to new posts. Never fear! There will be new posts this week begining with a Christmas candy review. As for the post at hand, we present to you a post from the archives of Christmas 2005. It's my comments on the film 'It's a Wonderful Life'. After reading the piece, I encourage you to watch it with new purpose. I will be watching it again this week myself to kick off my holiday film extravaganza for 2007. It truly is a wonderful film.

'It's a Wonderful Film'- Dec 2005

...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 weAt least he gets a good tax return with all those kids.ll. 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 blessings 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.

In America you can go on the air and kid the politicians, and the politicians can go on the air and kid the people.

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


Blog Widget by LinkWithin