I love the silly season, and I genuinely hope all of you do, too. There’s something reassuring about having a time a year when ‘giving’ is meant to be the norm and not the exception to the rule. It reminds us about what’s good in ourselves and maybe even the greater world-at-large without necessarily having to subscribe to any one particular belief or faith. It’s peace on Earth and goodwill towards men. All that jazz.
Still – you might find this strange – I’ve never been a fan of holiday movies and/or TV specials. Chalk it up to another case of “I don’t know why exactly,” but the best answer I’ve ever given is that – like I’ve ranted against what I call saccharin writing – I loathe not only forced sentiments but having sentiments forced down my throat. The way I see things, if you’re gonna be a good, cheerful, and giving person then do what you can to see that done 24/7 all-year-round. Don’t limit it to just one day or one week or one month or even one season. Let it be your guiding influence. Let it instruct all that you do.
All that said, I still do have a few of what I’d christen “holiday favorites.”
All-time Favorite Holiday Movie: A Christmas Story
Close second: Die Hard 2
A Christmas Story came and went relatively quietly into the night that was the mid 80’s. I didn’t see it in its original theatrical run, but I can say I heard plenty about it. Back then, I tended to avoid the crowd – I wasn’t one much for peer pressure – so I let it pass without any attention. I saw it once it was released on home video, and I kinda/sorta cursed myself for not seeing it on the silver screen.
There are so, so, so very many reasons to love it. I think it’s written with much deeper conviction than most attribute to it – it’s a comedy, after all, and many of us tend to dismiss any greater meaning in favor of just enjoying a case of the chuckles. But it taps into so many themes – family, friendship, childhood, wishes, and dreams – and I suspect it’s those undercurrents that secretly draw all of us back year-in and year-out.
Why Die Hard 2?
Well, it’s set during the holiday season – if you recall, all of it is blanketed under pounds and pounds of snow. Plus, it’s bigger than the first film – bigger shoot-outs, bigger explosions, bigger stakes, etc. Lastly, it’s more of a roller-coaster ride than its predecessor. It’s like that carny attraction you’ve ridden hundreds of times, but, when it comes to town, you can’t help but go one more time.
All-time Favorite Holiday-themed TV episode: Space: Above & Beyond’s “A River of Stars”
It was the twelfth episode (see the symbolism right there?) of that Fox space war program that tried so hard to gain an audience but couldn’t. Anyway, the adventure takes place on Christmas Eve as the men and women of the Fightin’ 58th find themselves in the worst of all possible situations: their crew transport is crippled in space after a firefight, and they’re without any means to return to their flagship, the Saratoga. They’re cold. They’re tired. They’re hungry. It’s bad.
Then – out of the darkness – they receive a radio transmission encouraging them to ‘hitch a ride’ aboard an incoming comet, and the resulting momentum could return them to the fleet. It’s dangerous. It’s practically unthinkable, what with the condition they’re in. At best, it’s a long shot.
Without being preachy, “A River of Stars” is one of those great stories about faith. The dirty little secret to life (take note, those of you listening) is that nothing – absolutely nothing – happens without faith. Faith in yourself. Faith in your work. Faith in your fellow man. Faith that there’s a force larger than us somewhere in the universe, be it God or Buddha or government or even simply a passionless and unforgiving Mother Nature. The Fightin’ 58th need to take a leap of faith even when all the signs are telling them loudly and clearly, “Don’t do it.”
It’s a wonderful little episode. If you haven’t seen it, I encourage you to watch it on Christmas Eve.
This Year’s Favorite Holiday Special: Lady Antebellum: On This Winter’s Night (DVD)
I had the good fortune of receiving one of these from a distributor seeking a product review. Initially, I was a bit reluctant – not because of the holiday theme but because I’m no huge fan of Lady Antebellum. I’ve heard enough of them to know that they have some quality stuff – excellent harmonies – so I agreed and gave it a spin. I’m glad I did.
What makes “Winter’s Night” a special experience is the mix of exceptional music (the trio appears backed by Nashville’s Schermerhorn Symphony Orchestra) and the proper yuletide atmosphere. The stage is decorated with many subtle touches, but it evokes a back country wooded setting with only a hint of fresh snowfall. The moments in-between the low-key performances are magically peppered with the singers reminiscing about their lives, the silly season, their favorite gifts, etc.
It’s all a remarkable production for the ears, eyes, and the brain, reminding you in sight and song that what matters most in the silly season is what we choose to have matter most.
All-time Favorite Last Minute Gifts I ever received: Comic books (!!!)
Is there ever any bad time of year to receive an individual issue? Comics are great stocking stuffers for those of you who have young men (and old!) in your homes, and I’ve read a few solid ones this past week.
Last week, IDW Publishing re-launched the photonovel. For those of you who don’t know the history of it, the ‘fotonovel’ (as it was originally spelled) premiered in the 70’s when old folks like me couldn’t simply videotape or DVR the latest episode of Captain Kirk’s adventure hour. Sadly – as affordably priced recorders were only just around the corner – these paperback releases had a very short shelf life in the scheme of things, and they died off very quickly.
But long-time Trek script John Byrne remembered them, and he brought them back to life in an installment titled “Star Trek: Strange New Worlds.” It’s a great double-sized issue constructed with the magic of desktop publishing, and it puts Kirk and the Enterprise on course back to Delta Vega, where it appears the God-like Gary Mitchell from the TV episode “Where No Man Has Gone Before” has come back from the dead.
In all seriousness, it gets a bit talky in a few sequences, but otherwise I found it a delight to see William Shatner’s young face back in command, along with Nimoy’s, Kelley’s, and the rest of the gang.
Beam aboard while you can!
So – with that – I say Merry Christmas to all UnrealityMag readers or – if that offends – Happy Holidays.
In the meantime, feel free to sound off on what makes you merry, and I wish nothing but the best for you and yours this silly season.