1. This Candle Company – Harlem Candle Company creates luxury candles, diffusers, and room sprays using famous people and places in black history as inspiration. I haven’t received my order yet but I wanted to include this while it was still Black History Month.
I ordered a “Savoy” candle which has the following description:
The Savoy Ballroom was the soul of Harlem, and kept Lenox Avenue jumping for decades. It was a block long, dripping with glittering crystal chandeliers and an elegant marble staircase, and is known for having birthed the Lindy Hop. The glamour and excitement of nights on that iconic dance floor are beautifully reflected with a luscious overture of blackcurrant, tart mandarin, crisp green apple and juicy pear evolving into a flirtatious floral heart of Lily of the Valley and jasmine petals. Sensual sandalwood and sheer musk bring warmth to perfectly balance this intoxicating blend.
Is that not heavenly? I’m hoping I’ll get the candle, light it, get into my comfy chair, close my eyes, and be transported back to the Savoy Ballroom of the ’20s. I hope I haven’t set my expectations too high for a scented candle (ha ha ha.)
Plus they’re beautiful.
2. This Custom Library – Jim Cardon, built this library as a gift for his brother! I mean, if this doesn’t warrant a ‘Brother of the Year‘ award I don’t know what would. He modeled it after the library in the movie ‘The Illusionist‘ (on of my favorites, the entire film is available for free on YouTube.)
3. This Lagoon in Australia – PINK! It’s my “signature color”. Is this not amazing? It’s called Hutt Lagoon and the color is from “the caroteinoid-producing algae, dunaliella salina – which is a source of beta-carotene; a food-colouring agent and a great source of Vitamin A.”
The photographer is from Russia and her name is Kristina Makeeva. She’s EXTREMELY talented. If click on her name ⬅ it’ll take you to her Instagram and you can see all her photos. They’ll blow you away.
4. These Knitters or “Yarn Bombers” – I love it if someone yarn bombed my mailbox. I know it doesn’t last forever but while it doesn’t last, it’s so wonderful!
5. This Wall – photo was taken at MOD GEN: a Modern General Store, in the Third Ward near downtown Milwaukee, one of my favorite shops. They have a wonderful selection of unique books, games, puzzles, stationary products, kitchen items, and well, things you won’t find anywhere else. Most importantly they have a fabulous selection of plants and succulents at the back of the store. If you haven’t been I’d suggest you check it out!
6. This Interview with Judi Dench, Graham Norton, Elton John, and John Bishop – I’m fairly certain I don’t need to explain who any of these people are except maybe the last. John Bishop is one of THE most popular comedians in Britain but if you are a Doctor Who fan you will recognize him from the current series as Dan Lewis.
Anyway, got this video from a friend (thanks Stasie!) and it is so wonderful, mostly because this is ME to a tee.
It actually reminds me of, I think it was my 15th high school reunion? I got there and ran into a friend of mine. I would have bet everything I had that she went to one of the other two high schools in Dubuque (where I grew up). I said to her, “Oh my god, what are you doing here!” I mean, I was glad to see her, just surprised. And she replied (obviously a little perplexed and miffed), “what do you mean, what am I doing here.?” She actually got pretty pissed at me because she thought I was joking around but the truth is, I couldn’t remember. I can’t remember much of anything from the past 55+ years except for little snippets here and there. And a lot of what I can remember is due to photos and mementoes I have.
Recently I found a treasure trove of documents – all sorts of certificates and papers from my youth. Going through them was truly a walk down memory lane but there were a few things that I absolutely did NOT remember doing.
For example, in 1978 and 1979 I was in the Annual Metropolitan Speech Contest In 1978 my category was “Choral Reading.” I do remember that. In 1979 my categories were “Prose” and “Pantomime.” I don’t remember ever doing pantomime, not once in my entire life. But here’s evidence in print.
7. These Ukranians – Honestly, I can’t imagine Americans fighting like this. Well, actually, the way I see it going in America if there was ever an attack like this – all the super wealthy would leave to wherever they needed to go to be safe and comfortable, the lower upper-class and upper-middle class would most likely die (except possibly for those who are POC and LGBTQ), and the lower middle class and lower class would be like the Ukrainians – we ain’t puttin’ up with no shit.
What do you think?
Anyway, these Ukrainians are KICKASS.
Okay, first this guy, who picked up a god-damned landmine and moved it off a road all the while continuing to hold his cigarette in his mouth – DAYUM!
Then there is this UNARMED woman, who told a Russian soldier to fill his pockets with the sunflower seeds she offered him so that when he died his body would grow flowers (at least then he’d be doing something good for the world).
Next is this Ukrainian man, who may be a little nuts but who single-handedly attempted to stop a convoy of Russian tanks.
And last but not least, the 13 extremely brave Ukrainians whose job it was to secure Snake Island (also called Zmiinyi Island) – when approached by a Russian battleship told them to “go fuck yourself” IN RUSSIAN before being blown up. They were initially all reported dead because there was no radio contact.
The good news is that the Ukrainians discovered they didn’t die. Hallelujah! The bad news is that after being able to repel two attacks by the Russians they eventually had to surrender due to a lack of ammunition. The Ukrainian soldiers are now being held Sevastopol, Crimea, which was documented on Russian State television.
Also, SNL did a cold opening with the Ukrainian Chorus of New York singing “A Prayer for Ukraine” and I get overwhelmed with emotion every time I watch it.
1. These New Quarters – Can you believe that these are the first U.S. coins with women on them? Now I know what you’re going to say, you’re going to say, but wait, there was the Susan B. Anthony silver dollar but come on, that wasn’t really a serious coin. How many people use silver dollars? They just did that to placate us.
2. This Documentary about Rita Moreno – I’ve always loved Rita Moreno. She reminds me a lot of my Mom’s best friends but I also think her time on The Electric Company, well, she’s one of those celebrities who you feel like is part of your family, do you know what I mean?
I watched this as part of the Milwaukee Film Festival (you could still buy a ticket, it’s virtual and goes until May 20th). There will be several options for you to see it in the future:
On June 19th the film is going to be shown in theaters nationally
PBS is going to be airing it as part of its current (35th) season of American Masters (probably in the fall or early next year)
And it will be available to stream on the PBS app once it airs (the PBS app is free)
So, depending upon how badly you want to see it (and whether you are already vaccinated) you can seen it next month or you will have to wait a little bit but either way I highly recommend seeing it.
3. This Rental Property – It’s the home of The Royal Tenenbaums! One of the best of Wes Anderson’s films. $20,000/month is a lot of money but there are six bedrooms so if you got five of your friends to join in, $3333/month for a place like this in NYC would actually be kind of a bargain.
Set on the fictional Archer Avenue (real address: 339 Convent Avenue in Hamilton Heights), the 1899-built Flemish-meets-Romanesque-Revival house was built by Jacob D. Butler (who’s also behind the Neo-Romanesque Lincoln Building in Union Square). It’s roughly 100 feet wide (on the side facing West 144th Street), with large bay windows on one end and a turret on the other. Inside: 6,000 square feet cover five levels (the bottom three of which have elevator access), with six bedrooms, six gas fireplaces, and over 50 windows. Plus an inordinate amount of original character: antechambers, stained-glass transoms, closets with skylights, and ornate mantelpieces carved with urns and flowers. It’s renting furnished for $20,000 a month.
4. This Video for the Song ‘Pretty’ by Ingrid Michaelson – Michaelson is a big fan of the show ‘Stranger Things’ and each of the songs on her album ‘Stranger Songs’ is inspired by something from the show. I think this is (IMHO) the best song and I love the video – so empowering.
5. This Anti-Smoking Sign from 100 years ago – Sadly it shows how difficult it is to fight against major companies who have access to politicians. Think about the fact that there actually were people 100 years ago who knew that tobacco was bad for us (not that you needed a rocket scientist to figure it out) and the tobacco industry and even members of the medical profession would promote smoking as being safe. The first warning labels didn’t show up on cigarettes until 1965 with the “The Cigarette Labeling and Advertising Act of 1965.”
6. This Instagram – Illustrator Mauro Gatti believes that positive attitudes are the key to reducing anxiety and good mental health. After the year that we all want to forget he started “The Happy Broadcast.” In addition to his Instagram he has a website and a podcast. Check it out for a daily dose of positivity!
3. This New Movie on Netflix, The Dig – based on true events, this is exactly the kind of movie I love. When I finish watching a film and become obsessed with reading everything I can find about the event, looking up to see what was real and what was put in for dramatic effect, I know it was good.
And that most definitely happened with The Dig. One site I like to start with for historical movies is History vs. Hollywood. Not only do they review a bunch of questions about a film – did this really happen, was this true, etc., but they show photos side-by-side of the actors compared to the real-life people.
For example, here is one of the main characters, Mr. Basil Brown played by Ralph Fiennes. Mr. Brown would have been around 51 at the time the Sutton Hoo artifacts were discovered in 1939. Ralph Fiennes is currently 58 so he was probably 56 or 57 when this movie was filmed. Seems like they did a pretty good job here with the casting and of course Ralph Fiennes is an exemplary actor.
Here is another main character, Edith Pretty played by Carey Mulligan. Edith Pretty would have been around 56 when the Sutton Hoo artifacts were discovered. Carey Mulligan is currently 35 years old. Carey was excellent in the role but perhaps they should have considered an older actress? I don’t know why they always do this.
Another person I really liked (perhaps because I love the actress who played her) was Peggy Piggott played by Lily James. Mrs. Piggott was actually only 27 when she worked on the Sutton Hoo excavation. She went on to become a renowned archaeologist and prehistorian under the name Margaret Guido (her second husband’s last name.) She had quite the life. I think I’ll be reading more about her. Unfortunately the only photo the website found (below) is clearly not from when she was in her 20s or even her 30s or 40s for that matter. Not ideal for comparison.
Here’s a painting I found of her that is more around the age she would have been in the film:
And here is a photo I managed to dig up that was included in a slide presentation. I had to do a screenshot to get a copy of it. I’m guessing the person who runs the History vs. Hollywood site didn’t want to do that. Plus, she’s not looking at the camera, but I think it would have been a little better for comparison than a photo of a woman who is probably in her 60s or maybe even her 70s.
One last thing, here is some wonderful information from the British Museum on the artifacts, with photos:
4. This Incredible Herman Miller and Michael Ford collaboration – the iconic Charles & Ray Eames lounge chair, always one of my favorites, taken to a whole new level. Part of a new series called “Conversations for Change,” Ford intends on inserting more activism into the design world, something this is much needed.
“In his first piece of furniture, Michael Ford has remixed the popular Eames Lounge Chair and Ottoman (ELO) introduced in 1956 by husband and wife, Charles and Ray Eames as a “special refuge from the strains of modern living” with handwritten names of victims of racism in the US as a stark reminder that these Black men, women, and children were not afforded the privilege of refuge – those who died at the hands of racial actions.”
Individuals who wish to have the chair can make donations and those who make donations over $1000 have an opportunity to be awarded the ELO (or Eames Lounge & Ottoman.) There is only one.
Here’s the really cool part – “Donations from the campaign will fund The Boys and Girls Clubs of Dane County and The Hip Hop Architecture Camp both located in The State of Wisconsin. The two organizations will also create a national #TAKEASTAND grant to support organizations taking a stand against social injustices.”
5. This New Version of the Song “Popular”from the Musical “Wicked” – who doesn’t love Kristin Chenoweth? And damn, that woman isn’t aging! [Warning, this song is going to stick in your brain for days.]
6. This Article on the History of Women on Wall Street – the astonishing and frankly appalling efforts by men to keep women from trading on the stock market and the determined and resourceful women who succeeded nevertheless.
7. This Poem called “Earthrise” by Amanda Gorman – from 2018. Because we much protect the earth for future generations like hers.
[BONUS] This Guide to Determine Which GOP Conspiracy You Are…. Mine: Anderson Cooper can shapeshifter into a food stamp on a socialist dare!
1. This Photographer, Kirsty Mitchell– she is possibly my favorite photographer and I was lucky enough to get to see an exhibit for her book “Wonderland” in 2017. And incredibly they allowed photographs! I purchased the book (a completely worthwhile investment) but I love that I have several gorgeous digital shots. Here are a couple of my favorites (a few are close-ups of sections of photos; I thought I should limit how many full photos I posted – to see more be sure to visit Kirsty’s website!
3. This 3-Year-Old Who Dressed Up As All Her Role Models – when Scout Penelope‘s “Nonnie” was diagnosed with breast cancer her mom Ashley tried to think of a project that they could work on together that would keep both of them occupied. The result was a series of amazing photos, a few of which are below with many more at this link. Scout is three-years older now (have been looking through things I have filed away so I’m finding older articles and links); don’t be startled when you look at her Instagram.
4. These Formal Memos between the Produces of the Original Star Trek Discussing Vulcan Proper Names – this is very clever and hilarious! These people clearly are having fun and have a good working relationship.
Here’s the first letter:
FROM: Bob Justman
DATE: May 3, 1966
SUBJECT: STAR TREK PLANET VULCAN PROPER NAMES
I would like to suggest that all proper names for denizens of Mr. Spock’s “PLANET VULCAN” follow a set routine. To wit: all names begin with the letters “SP” and end with the letter “K.” All names to have a total of five letters in them—no more and no less.
Therefore: Mr. Spock aptly fits this pattern. Other names would be as follows:
Hope that the suggestions are of immense help to you. I remain,
Your humble and obedient servant,
Robert H. Justman
5. These Classic Movies Done in the Style of Persian Miniature Paintings – these are amazing drawings done by Turkish illustration Murat Palta. You can see several more at this link, though most seem to be from rather bloody films. And then there are more here.
Here are two of my favorites:
The Little Prince
6. This INCREDIBLE Colorized Collection of Short Historical Films – I’m a huge fan of Denis Shiryaev’s restoration work. I particularly love how he starts his videos explaining all the work he did to create the videos and the changes he made – fascinating! In this particular video he makes sure to clarify that his work is not completely historically accurate – he doesn’t know exactly what the original colors were, etc., so he needs to make educated guesses. Plus he sometimes will enhance things to make them look better, but again, sometimes it requires him to use his best guess. I think the final result is fantastic.
7. This Ad Seeking a Wife from 1865 – I must say, my favorite lines are the last three: “I want to buy bread-and-butter, hoop-skirts, and waterfalls for some person of the female persuasion during life. That what’s the matter with me. But I don’t know how to do it.”
I had to look this up but I think by “waterfalls” he means “waterfall bustles”.
I want to thank my friend Ann who was the person who shared a few of this week’s ‘Things I Love’ with me. Thanks Ann!
1. This Suffragettes’ Christmas Card – Savvy Twitter users who could read music noticed that the music at the bottom of the card was actually for ‘La Marseillaise,’ the French national anthem. One Twitterer pointed out the song was indeed used by the movement.
In fact it was called “The Women’s Marseillaise‘ and it was the official anthem of the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU.) With words written by Florence Macaulay, the song was sung by suffragettes both in the United Kingdom and in the United States. I don’t think women today can truly grasp how much we owe to the Suffragettes of the early twentieth century.
2. This Netflix Series, ‘The Holiday Movies That Made Us’ – a holiday version of the popular ‘The Movies That Made Us,’ the series covers two films: ‘Elf‘ and “Nightmare Before Christmas.’ (Personally, I enjoyed the ‘Elf‘ one better, even though “Nightmare Before Christmas‘ is one of my Mom’s favorite movies of all-time.)
3. This Excerpt from a Letter from Virginia Woolf to Violet Dickinson. – This excerpt of the letter is from the site ‘Letters of Note (LoN).’ I’m rather obsessed with ‘LoN.’ ‘LoN’ started as a book (I have a personalized copy) and eventually turned into this incredible online museum, all the brainchild of one person named Shaun Usher. Now there are multiple volumes with more on the way. I suggest signing up for the newsletter so you get a handful of letters delivered straight to your inbox daily.
So you know, Violet Dickinson was an old family friend of Virginia Woolf. Here is some information about her from Ellen Moers NYT review of “The Letters of Virginia Woolf, Volume I: 1888-1912“:
“Violet Dickinson gave far more than affection. She nursed Virginia at her Welwyn home through her suicidal depression in the summer of 1904, and then introduced her to the women’s editor of The Guardian and to Nellie Cecil. The Guardian assigned Virginia books to review and published her first writing; with Nellie Cecil (a professional critic, as will as daughter and wife of peers – her nephew is Lord David Cecil) she collaborated on a literary column for The Cornhill. From then until her marriage, Virginia Woolf was a hard-working literary journalist; she adored it.”
It is Christmas evening, and we are all soporific from the effects of a Christmas tea eaten on top of a Christmas turkey. Sophie never lets us off on Christmas day at all, and when this letter is finished, I shall have to go down and attack the turkeys legs which were left intact. Thoby had such a large helping that another plate had to receive the overflow, and he ate impartially from both. They spent the afternoon in making Rum Punch, which is made half of rum half of brandy, with sugar and lemon and hot water thrown in: the house smells like a public house in consequence, and we shall have a very merry evening. Isn’t this better than your high and dry aristocrats? We all talk at once, and make such brilliant jokes as never were seen.
Virginia Woolf | Letter to Violet Dickinson, Christmas Day 1904
4. ThisScatelogical Celebration in Catalonia – I actually wish this was a thing here. These are called “caganers” and they are meant to bring luck. They need to be placed in a Nativity and the idea is that the defecating (caganer supposedly loosely translates to “the defecator”) figure is fertilizing the soil and therefore will bring good crops – basically it’s a symbol of fertility and good fortune. This explains why there are more figures of beloved people/things taking a poop than of ones that are disliked.
5. This Map Showing the Favorite Christmas Treat for Each State – if you’d like to see a larger version you can click on this link. Not sure if you agree with the map. I grew up in Iowa and we never had oreo balls. But we were right on the border of Wisconsin & Illinois so we weren’t really typical Iowa. I’ve lived in Wisconsin for the majority of my life (about 37 years,) and I don’t particularly recall seeing a lot of Andes Peppermints around during the holidays.
6. This Special Reading by Neil Gaiman of ‘A Christmas Carol’ – Neil Gaiman is one of my favorite authors and it’s not just because he’s an amazing writer but it’s also because he’s a HUGE advocate for public libraries. There are many Gaiman quotes to choose from about public libraries but his most “famous” in the library world is this one:
“Google can bring you back 100,000 answers. A librarian can bring you back the right one.” ~ Neil Gaiman
7. This Collection of Rankin/Bass Christmas Specials that includes the “Vintage” Commercials –
Another vintage show with original commercials…
[Bonus] 8. These Vintage Ceramic Christmas Trees – one of my favorite things about Christmas is decorating and the reason I love it so much is because it takes me back to my childhood. Every year, right after Thanksgiving, when I start to open up the boxes that store all my Christmas decorations I find myself mostly thinking about my Mom. Which is the best part.
I inherited a lot of her Christmas decorations and as I look at them, every one of them makes me think of her and the Christmases we spent together. The memories have become hazy but the feelings haven’t.
We actually never had one of these trees when I was a kid, not that I remember (as I said, hazy) but there is still something very familiar about this tree and I now own one. They are absolutely delightful. There’s a wonderful history of the trees written up here. And here is an article from Taste of Home with advice on how to find a ceramic tree if you are interested in having one for yourself.
Christmas collectibles have great sentimental value. Nowadays there isn’t a lot that gets passed down from generation to generation anymore. Mothers don’t give/leave their children china or silver or antiques. But that treasured tree topper or those favorite Christmas ornaments, well, that is something that any kid of any generation will appreciate.
[Bonus] 9. This Christmas Playlist – and don’t forget to check out the Menopausal Broad Playlist: Christmas Edition. I’ve added some new tunes and I’m sure that I’ll be adding even more music as the week goes on…
Word of the Day
Quote of the Day
(We’ve been at the threshold of hell most of this year but we’re close to being saved!)
1. This Tea Party – Truly amazing. I belong to the Facebook group called ‘The Gilded Age Society.’ The Edwardian Era has always been my favorite time period, even before ‘Downton Abbey’ was a thing. Recently a young person name Paul Ryan T. Co, who is also a member of the group, posted these photos. He recreated a most magnificent Edwardian Era tea. I wrote to him immediately and asked if I could share the photos and he said yes so here they are.
Here are some of the details included in Paul’s description:
The menu includes fresh fruits, dried fruit with nuts, chicken truffle quiche, scones with clotted cream and jam, and the pièce de résistance is a Lady Baltimore cake, which is a white cake filled with nuts and figs and then frosted with a fluffy marshmallow meringue icing. THAT sounds divine!
Paul used the original 1906 recipe which was copied in several newspapers, including Harrisburg, Pennsylvania’s Daily Gazette and Bulletin, The Columbus Journal, and The Washington Times.
There is a fascinating history of the cake on this site.
I myself might try a more modern recipe and am thinking of giving Martha’s version a try.
Additionally, the service is traditional to the period. It’s made up of an American sterling tea set by Gorham from the 1880s, a set of monogrammed sterling cutlery by Watson from 1902, a silver cake server by Whiting (from their King Edward pattern introduced in 1900 to commemorate Edward’s accession to the throne, which makes it rare), a Ridgeway dessert service, a Minton cake pedestal, a double-handled, molded Prussian cake plate, and a trio of Coalport tea cups (all produced from the late 1800s to early 1900s.) This guy needs to be hired by a production company, STAT! He’s a true artist.
Tell me you wouldn’t pay beaucoup bucks to attend a tea at this place!
2. This Governmental Body – The Irish Parliament discussed the “Santa Claus Issue” and formally announced that Santa is exempt from their national quarantine, that he will indeed still be visiting homes in Ireland, but social distancing should still be practiced and people should remain 2 meters away from him. Gotta LOVE THIS!
3. This Xfinity Short Film – It’s not really an advertisement. I saw a brief clip of this on television and it was so intriguing I wanted to watch the entire thing. Steve Carrell is a fine Santa Claus!
4. This Video on Mourning a Relationship You Never Had – I love Anna Akana so much and I really wish that she could time travel back to the early 80s and tell me exactly what she says in the video. Course I’m not sure if I would have been smart enough back then to listen to her.
5. This IG of Chris Evans Playing the Piano! – just when you think he can’t get any more adorable/perfect/wonderful….
and then watch Jimmy Fallon’s response to Chris’s piano playing viral video, it’s HILARIOUS.
6. These Recipes and Tips for Roasting Chestnuts – unless you live in a pretty large city (with lots of pedestrian traffic) you probably don’t run across many places selling roasted chestnuts during the Christmas season (despite what Hallmark movies makes Christmas look like). Myself, I’d actually never had them until well into my 50s.
I don’t have a gas stove so I have two options – one is two use my gas grill and the other is to roast them in the oven. I prefer them on the grill because they’re on an open flame but when it’s too cold (doesn’t happen much anymore with climate change) or when I’m visiting family and it’s too much of a hassle, the oven method works just fine. Especially when I use them in recipes, with, oh, for example, Brussels Sprouts with Chestnuts and Bacon.
In fact, last Christmas I tried to make the above recipe at my sister-in-law/brother’s house. In the notes it says, “If you prefer to roast fresh chestnuts instead of using vacuum-packed ones, cut a slit in the shell of each chestnut with a serrated knife.” I’m going to tell you something – a freaking serrated knife will not slit the shell of a chestnut. I mean, it will, but it’s like trying to saw wood with a butter knife.
Recently I ran across this nifty gadget and now I know that next year I will be completely prepared! It will score the chestnut so that it doesn’t explode while roasting (after all, that’s the primary reason why you’re cutting it.) Once you roast it, it should be easy to peel.
Bring it on Christmas 2021! I’m ready for you…
7. This Search Result When You Google Alex Trebek – SO sweet!
Before I get to the Word and Quote of the Week I strongly recommend that you watch these two movies before the end of the month. They are very different films but there’s one major similarity – you will figure it out quickly.
What I couldn’t help but think while watching both of them is how much better the world would be if people weren’t so judgmental and how so much bad behavior – masculine toxicity, repressed emotions, abusive tendencies, the list is endless – are passed on from generation to generation.
The first movie is Uncle Frank – amazing cast.
The second is The Happiest Season and it’s on Hulu (Dan Levy not surprisingly steals every scene he’s in.)
My favorites have a little present 🎁 at the front.
WINSLOW FEGLEY as the young Jack Doyle in ‘8-Bit Christmas’ on HBOMax.
🎁 8-Bit Christmas, 2021 (HBO Max) – With an admiring nod to A Christmas Story, the movie has an adult Jack Doyle (played by Neil Patrick Harris) reminiscing with his daughter (played by Annie Doyle) about the story of his quest to get his first Nintendo. The majority of the film is spent in 1980s Chicago and is wonderfully nostaligic. If you grew up in the 80s or have younger siblings that were kids in the 80s you’re gonna want to watch this. Starring Neil Patrick Harris, Annie Doyle, Winslow Fegley, Steve Zahn, June Diane Raphael, Bellaluna Resnick, Che Tafari, Santino Barnard, Max Malas, Brielle Rankins, Braelyn Rankins, Cyrus Arnold, and Chandler Dean. [TRAILER]
HENRY LAWFULL is Nikolas in ‘A Boy Called Christmas’
🎁 A Boy Called Christmas, 2021 (Netflix) – One of the best Christmas stories I’ve seen in years. A young boy, named Nikolas, lives in the woods with his father. They are poor but the boy is content enough because he’s with his papa. One day his father is summoned by the King to the castle (along with the other strongest people in the kingdom.) The King has chosen these individuals because he believes they are the best in the kingdom and he wants them to go to all corners of the land to search for hope. If they find hope they need to bring it back with them. Eventually, Nikolas’s father decides to take on the King’s challenge. He thinks it’s the only way to get enough money to live. He agrees to join a group that is going to travel to the mountains in search of a mythical elf land. The adventures that ensue lead Nikolas to discover information that not only changes his life but the lives of everyone. For me, the true sign of a good movie is when I’m still thinking about it days later. Now, a week later, I am still thinking about Nikolas and his father and aunt and the King and the rest – so much so that I am planning on watching it again. There are so many amazing actors in it. Starring Maggie Smith, Henry Lawfull, Michiel Huisman, Jim Broadbent (LOOOOVE him), Rune Temte (how great a name is that?), Kristin Wiig, Toby Jones, Sally Hawkins, and Zoe Margaret Colletti. [TRAILER]
The Bishop’s Wife, 1947 (Prime Video) –There was a remake of this movie titled The Preacher’s Wife, it wasn’t nearly as good as the original (and I really, REALLY wanted to like it – because I adore Whitney Huston.) I’m generally open to remakes if they are done well and somehow manage to both not copy the original while at the same time not stray from the original (a difficult task). So I find I can enjoy them as much as the originals, but the problem with this remake was that Denzel Washington was not the right fit for the role of Dudley the Angel. That role needed a person who could convey charm, charisma, confidence, assuredness, and a soupcon of innocence. Cary Grant fit the bill perfectly. Everyone in the film is enamored with Dudley – men, women, even pets. Everyone except the Bishop of course, who is jealous of his wife giving so much attention to Dudley. Denzel couldn’t pull that off. Cary Grant is Dudley in real life! Admittedly I’m a HUGE Cary Grant fan, so it’d be difficult for anyone to top him. Starring Cary Grant, Loretta Young, David Niven, and Monty Woolley. [TRAILER]
🎁 A Castle for Christmas, 2021 (Netflix) – The minute I saw the trailer for this I KNEW I was going to love it. And I wasn’t disappointed. Brooke Shields plays an author who has gone through a difficult divorce and is now in a writing funk (she writes romance novels which I’m sure is difficult to do when you hate men.) On a whim, she decides to go to Scotland to visit the castle where her father once worked. She runs into the Duke (who owns the castle) a couple of times, and well, let’s just say they’re like oil and water. But after Sophie finds out that the cash-strapped Duke had to put the castle up for sale she decides it would be a wonderful irony for her to own the place. I don’t want to tell too much of the story and it’s a romantic comedy so rest assured, it’s going to end well. The movie is set in Scotland, you have Brooke Shields AND Cary Elwes (I love them both) and the members of the Knitting Club are simply delightful. Mark my words, when we can start traveling again this movie will boost the tourism in Scotland! Starring Brooke Shields, Cary Elwes, Lee Ross, Andi Osho, Tina Gray, Eilidh Loan, and Stephen Oswald. [TRAILER]
A Charlie Brown Christmas, 1965
A Charlie Brown Christmas , 1965 (Apple TV+ and PBS) – this year A Charlie Brown Christmas will air on PBS and PBS KIDS on Sunday, December 19, 2021 at 7:30 pm ET/6:30 pm CT (check local listings). If you miss the one-night only airing on PBS you can catch it on AppleTV which is now home to most of the Peanuts movies. [TRAILER]
MATHONWY REEVES as Thomas and DENHOLM ELLIOTT as Old Geraint
A Child’s Christmas in Wales, 1987 (Britbox, Crackle (with ads) and YouTube) – Based on the piece of prose by Dylan Thomas, the movie is a wonderfully simple story about a Christmas spent by a young boy growing up in Wales in the 1920s. In the film, Denholm Elliott plays Old Geraint who tells the Christmas story from his childhood to his young grandson Thomas. Starring Denholm Elliott and Mathonwy Reeves. Here is the link is to the full film on You Tube.
BRANT DAUGHERTY as Paul, KIMBERLY DAUGHERTY as Lacey, and CLEARY HERZLINGER as London.
A Christmas Movie Christmas, 2019 (Hulu Plus) – If you are a fan of Hallmark or Hallmark-like movies you are gonna LOVE this movie. After making their Christmas wishes, two sisters wake up inside a Christmas movie! (FYI, little Cleary Herzlinger, who plays London, steals every scene she’s in.) Starring Lana McKissack, Kimberly Daugherty, and Brant Daugherty (Kimberly’s real-life husband.) [TRAILER]
BEN LAMB as Prince Richard and ROSE MCIVER as Amber
A Christmas Prince, 2017 (Netflix) – Articles about these movies often use the word “ridiculous” and I once read that “The Christmas Prince” is the Christmas movie that everyone loves to hate and hates to love. But no matter how much people throw shade at it or criticize it the fact is the movies have been incredibly popular. It seems the third film may have been the last though. If they had continued the pattern of release, Christmas Prince 4 should have come out in 2021 but there is no mention of any new movie coming out in the franchise. It’s possible that with the popularity of the Princess Switch movies and new Netflix stand-alone movies it may have simply run its course. Starring Rose McIver, Ben Lamb, Alice Krige, and Sarah Douglas. There are two, count ’em TWO sequels (also on Netflix): A Christmas Prince 2: The Royal Wedding (2018) & A Christmas Prince 3: The Royal Baby (2019). [TRAILER]
IAN PETRELLA as Randy, PETER BILLINGSLEY as Ralphie, SCOTT SCHWARTZ as Flick, and R.D. ROBB as Schwartz
A Christmas Story, 1983 (HBOMax) – A classic. Ralphie puts a lot of effort into trying to get word to his elders that he wants “an official Red Ryder, carbine-action; two hundred shot range model air rifle, with a compass in the stock and this thing which tells time” before being devastated by having Santa tell him, “You’ll shoot your eye out kid.” Anyone who grew up in the 40s, 50s, 60s, or 70s will appreciate this movie. Starring Peter Billingsley, Melinda Dillon, Darren McGavin, Ian Petrella, Scott Schwartz, R.D. Robb. and Zack Ward (as Scut Farkus – I just love saying that name. Oh, and by the way, check out what Zack Ward looks like now. [TRAILER]
AUSTIN ABRAMS as Dash and MIDORI FRANCIS as Lily
Dash & Lily, 2020 (Netflix) – Note: this is an eight-episode series based on the novel by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan but it definitely is Christmas-centric. And if you love bookstores, particularly the Strand in NYC, you’re gonna wanna watch this. Starring Austin Abrams and Midori Francis [TRAILER]
MELISSA JOAN HART as Natalie Morgan and JASON PRIESTLY as Chris Massey
Dear Christmas, 2020 (HBOMax) – Natalie Morgan (Melissa Joan Hart) is a podcaster specializing in true-life stories of holiday romances. She drives home to Lake Tahoe for Christmas but right before getting into town she gets a flat tire. She calls for a repair truck and to her rescue comes “Mr. Christmas” (Jason Priestly) – an attractive and charming man who swoops in, changes her tire, and even lets her sit in his truck (where he has a mini hot cocoa station set up and phone charging cables). A DREAM repair truck driver! As they are ready to part ways she thanks him and he says he’ll see her tomorrow. She replies, “You seem pretty sure about that.” His response, “Pretty sure.” Well, he was pretty sure because Mr. Christmas knew who she was even though she didn’t recognize him. Turns out they went to high school together and he knew he had a job at her house the next day. A romance blossoms, but can Mr. Christmas be Natalie’s “true love” when she’s only “known him” for a week (or has she actually “known him” longer?) I also loved the bookshop in this film and the cast was fantastic, Jason Priestly looks damn good! Starring Melissa Joan Hart, Jason Priestly, Ed Begley, Jr., Faith Prince, and Nicky Whelan [CLIP}
Ebenezer Scrooge voiced by JIM CARREY
Disney’s A Christmas Carol, 2009 (Disney+) – I personally have not seen a version of ‘A Christmas Carol’ that I didn’t like, probably because I love redemption stories. And I also LOVE animated films so even though this has gotten some negative reviews, I myself enjoyed it. It’s a little disconcerting to watch at first because the animated figures are designed to look like the stars that are portraying them. So, for example, the rather rotund Mr. Fezziwig has Bob Hoskins face and the kindly nephew Fred looks a bit like Colin Firth, but not exactly like him. And of course, Scrooge has mannerisms and some features that resemble Carrey. But after a little while, you get used to it. Kind of like when you first start watching a Shakespearean play and have to adjust to the style of speaking. Starring (the voices of) Jim Carrey (who not only does Scrooge at all ages but all three Ghosts as well), Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, Cary Elwes, Robin Wright, Bob Hoskins, Lesley Manville, and Molly Quinn. [TRAILER]
MACKENZIE FOY as Clara and KEIRA KNIGHTLEY as Sugar Plum
Disney’s The Nutcracker and the Four Realms, 2018 (Disney+ and Netflix) – I can’t lie, the movie was a little disappointing but it is a feast for the eyes. Starring Mackenzie Foy as Clara with Matthew Macfadyen, Morgan Freeman, Helen Mirren, Omid Djalili, Richard E. Grant, Keira Knightley, and Misty Copeland. [TRAILER]
Dolly Parton’s Christmas on the Square, 2020 (Netflix) – I generally am not a fan of this kind of movie – it’s schmaltzy, cheesy, and a bit religious but it starred Dolly and Christine so I had to watch. Those two things were enough to land it on my list. Starring Dolly Parton, Christine Baranski, and Treat Williams. [TRAILER]
BOB NEWHART as Papa Elf, ZOOEY DESCHANEL as Jovie, and WILL FERRELL as Buddy
🎁 Elf, 2003 (HBO Max) – Ed Asner is definitely one of the best Santas ever and Bob Newhart as an elf is pure genius. (Also, how many of you knew that Ralphie from ‘A Christmas Story’ was in this movie????) A modern classic and definitely one of my top five Christmas movies. Does it make you feel old that this will be 20 years old in 2023?Starring Will Farrell, Zooey Deschanel, Bob Newhart, Ed Asner, James Caan, Mary Steenburgen, and Daniel Tay. (I also loved the performances by Faizon Love as the Gimbel’s Manager – HILARIOUS, Amy Sedaris as Walter’s assistant Deb, and Peter Dinklage as Miles Finch.) [TRAILER]
Father Christmas is Back, 2021 (Netflix) – Starring April Bowlby (Jackie), Katy Brand (Reverend Jane), John Cleese (John Christmas), Natalie Cox (Caroline Christmas-Hope), Ray Fearon (Felix), Naomi Frederick (Paulina Christmas), Kelsey Grammer (James Christmas), Elizabeth Hurley (Joanna Christmas), Kris Marshall (Peter Hope), Amelie Prescott (Daisey Christmas-Hope), Caroline Quentin (Elizabeth Christmas), Talulah Riley (Vicky Christmas) and Oliver Smith as Henry Christmas-Hope
JILLIAN SHEA SPAEDER as Jane, JILLIAN BELL as (Godmother-in-training) Eleanor & ISLA FISHER as Mackenzie
Godmothered, 2020 (Disney+) – Starring Jillian Bell, Isla Fisher, and Jane Curtain. [TRAILER]
DAN LEVY as John, KRISTEN STEWART as Abby, and MACKENZIE DAVIS as Harper
The Happiest Season, 2020 (Hulu Plus) – Starring Dan Levy, Alison Brie, Kristen Stewart, Mackenzie Davis, Aubrey Plaza, Mary Steenburgen, Victor Garber, and Ana Gasteyer. [TRAILER]
MELANIE LYNSKEY as Kelly and MARK WEBBER as Kevin
Happy Christmas, 2014 (Paramount+) – After a bad breakup, Jenny (Anna Kendrick) goes back to Chicago and moves in with her brother, Jeff (Joe Swanberg) and her sister-in-law, Kelly (Melanie Lynskey). Jeff and Kelly are living a “grown-up” life. They have a two-year-old son, Jeff is gainfully employed, they are careful, responsible, all that jazz. The exact opposite of Jenny who has never really grown up, still drinks and smokes pot to excess, sleeps around and is basically just a mess. But, it turns out that everything is not so perfect in Jeff & Kelly’s world. Kelly, a novelist, is frustrated that she doesn’t have time to write because she’s become a full-time mother. As Kelly and Jenny begin to bond they help one another grow and find direction in their lives. Cast members include Anna Kendrick, Melanie Lynskey, Lena Dunham, Joe Swanberg, and Mark Webber. [TRAILER]
EMMA ROBERTS as Sloane and KRISTIN CHENOWETH as Aunt Susan
Holidate, 2020 (Netflix) – Fun Christmas Rom-Com where two strangers who’ve had it with love agree to be each other’s plus one for all holiday invitations so that they won’t have to deal with family asking “When are you finally going to find someone and settle down?” Obviously, as time passes they start to have feelings for one another, which was not the plan. Starring Emma Roberts, Luke Bracey, Kristin Chenoweth, and Frances Fisher. [TRAILER]
JUDE LAW and CAMERON DIAZ with MIFFY ENGLEFIELD and EMMA PRITCHARD.
🎁 The Holiday, 2006 (Hulu Plus) – Oh to live in Rosehill Cottage. Sigh. (For photos of the interior, click here.) The exterior shots of Rosehill Cottage in ‘The Holiday’ were filmed at Honeysuckle Cottage in Holmbury St Mary. Starring Kate Winslet, Cameron Diaz, Jack Black, and Jude Law. [TRAILER]
KAT GRAHAM as Abby Sutton and RON CEPHAS JONES as Gramps
The Holiday Calendar, 2018 (Netflix) – Starring Kat Graham, Quincy Brown, Ethan Peck, and Ron Cephas Jones. [TRAILER]
KRISTIN DAVIS (Kate) and ROB LOWE (Derek) fall in love rescuing elephants.
Holiday in the Wild, 2019 (Netflix) – Starring Kristin Davis and Rob Lowe (I didn’t think I’d like this as much as I did but between the African scenery and the elephants, well, the baby elephants totally put it over the top). [TRAILER]
MACAULAY CULKIN, 1990; Copyright (c) 20th Century Fox Film Corp. All rights reserved, Courtesy: Everett Collection.
Home Alone, 1990 (Disney+) – Starring Macaulay Culkin, Catherine O’Hara, John Heard, Daniel Stern, Joe Pesci, and of course our beloved John Candy. (There is also two sequels (both available on Disney+) but only Home Alone 2: Lost in New York is worth it. Tim Curry, Dana Ivey and Rob Schneider are fantastic in HA2 as staff at the Plaza Hotel. Sadly, the Orange Monster owned the real Plaza Hotel at the time the film was made and makes a brief cameo, so be forewarned.) [TRAILER]
Everyone loves Cindy Lou Who.
🎁 How the Grinch Stole Christmas, 1966 (Peacock) – the original animated version.
🎁 It’s a Wonderful Life, 1946 (Prime Video) – Starring Jimmy Stewart, Donna Reed, and Lionel Barrymore. [TRAILER]
JINGLE JANGLE: A CHRISTMAS JOURNEY (2020) Madalen Mills as Journey Jangle. Cr. Gareth Gatrell/NETFLIX
Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey, 2020 (Netflix) – Starring Phylicia Rashad, Forest Whitaker, Madalen Mills, Anika Noni Rose, Keegan-Michael Key, Hugh Bonneville, and Ricky Martin. (Lisa Davina Phillip, who plays Ms. Johnson, is hilarious!) [TRAILER]
Klaus, 2019 (Netflix) – Starring (the voices of) Jason Schwartzman, J.K. Simmons, Rashida Jones, Will Sasso, Norm MacDonald, and Joan Cusack. [TRAILER]
The Knight Before Christmas, 2019 (Netflix) – Starring Vanessa Hudgens and Josh Whitehouse. [TRAILER]
QUEEN LATIFAH is Georgia Byrd
🎁 Last Holiday, 2006 (Showtime) – Starring Queen Latifah, LL Cool J, Timothy Hutton, Alicia Witt, Giancarlo Esposito, Gerard Depardieu, and Susan Kellermann. [TRAILER]
Love Hard, 2021(Netflix) –
The Man Who Invented Christmas, 2017 (Hulu) – starring Dan Stevens. [TRAILER]
🎁 Meet John Doe, 1941 (Paramount Plus) –
Miracle on 34th Street, 1947 (HBOMax) – Starring Maureen O’Hara, John Payne, Edmund Gwenn, and Natalie Wood. [TRAILER]
Miracle on 34th Street – this is the 1994 version. I don’t think it’s fair to try to compare a black & white film to a color remake. The tone, mood, and atmosphere of a b&w film are going to always be different, simply because of the lack of color – and that’s not a bad thing. It’s just, it’s like trying to compare oranges and limes, they are both citrus but they are not completely interchangeable. I hope that this makes sense (I’m doing my rambling thing now). The bottom line is, I love both versions.
National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, JOHNNY GALECKI, BEVERLY D’ANGELO, CHEVY CHASE, JULIETTE LEWIS, 1989
National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, 1989 (HBOMax) – “Hurry up Clark, I’m freezing my baguettes off.” Starring Johnny Galecki, Beverly D’Angelo, Chevy Chase, and Juliette Lewis, 1989 [TRAILER]
Noelle, 2019 (Disney+) – Starring Anna Kendrick, Shirley MacLaine, Bill Hader, and Kingsley Ben-Adir. [TRAILER]
Prep & Landing, 2009 (Disney+) – (Sequels called Prep & Landing: Naughty or Nice and Prep & Landing: Operation: Secret Santa)
VANESSA HUDGENS and VANESSA HUDGENS as Stacy and Margaret in the Netflix holiday confection ‘The Princess Switch’
Santa Claus: The Movie, 1985 (Peacock) – Starring David Huddleston, Burgess Meredith, Judy Cornwell, Dudley Moore (if someone else had been cast in Moore’s role this movie would have been so much better) and John Lithgow. [TRAILER]
TIM ALLEN as Scott Calvin (aka Santa Clause) and ERIC LLOYD as Charlie Calvin.
The Santa Clause, 1994 (Disney+) – Starring Tim Allen, David Krumholtz, Judge Reinhold, Wendy Crewson, and Eric Lloyd. (There are two sequels, also on Disney+, with the same original cast: Santa Clause 2 (2002) adds Elizabeth Mitchell as the future Mrs. Claus and Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause (2006) adds Martin Short as Jack Frost and Alan Arkin and Ann-Margaret as the new Mrs. Claus’s parents who don’t have a clue who their son-in-law is.) [TRAILER]
Shaun the Sheep: the Flight Before Christmas, 2021 (Netflix) –
🎁 Single All the Way, 2021 (Netflix) –
Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas, 1993 (Disney+) – Starring Chris Sarandon (Jack Skellington’s speaking voice) and Catherine O’Hara (Sally and Shock’s voice) [TRAILER]
BING CROSBY, ROSEMARY CLOONEY, VERA-ELLEN, and DANNY KAYE in ‘White Christmas.’
White Christmas, 1954 (Netflix) – Starring Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney, and Vera-Ellen. [TRAILER]
And of course….
Die Hard, 1988 (HBO Max) – Starring Bruce Willis, Bonnie Bedelia, Reginald VelJohnson, and Alan Rickman. [TRAILER]
Baking It, 2021 (Peacock) – For fans of Making It, comes a baking (and Christmas) version of the show! I’m a HUGE fan of Making It (hosted by the fabulous Amy Poehler and Nick Offerman). Baking It is hosted by the equally fabulous Maya Rudolph and Adam Sandler! They start the series by having Amy pass off the space to Maya and Adam and then things take off. Before Making It (and now Baking It) I never watched realty shows. Well, except when my niece and faux-daughter were visiting. These are shows I actually watch because I enjoy them and the main reason is because they intentionally make the show have a positive, encouraging vibe on it. Obviously the entrants are competiting against one another but they will even help one another to finish on time or solve problems – it’s really a good message. I also love the judges they have for Baking It.
The Holiday Movies That Made Us, 2020 (Netflix) – [TRAILER]
Course some of the best Christmas movies aren’t available on a streaming service for free:
Arthur Christmas, 2011 – from the Wallace & Gromit people! [TRAILER]
A Bad Mom’s Christmas, 2017 – Starring Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell, Kathryn Hahn, Christine Baranski, Susan Sarandon, and Cheryl Hines. (You can watch this without having seen the original ‘Bad Moms’ but it’s better if you have. Unfortunately the original isn’t streaming for free.) [TRAILER] AppleTV or Prime Video
JIM BROADBENT is Santa
🎁 Get Santa, 2014 – A charming Christmas movie with a Paddington-esque quality (they were both released in 2014) where things go quite afoul for Santa. But with a little help from his friends, he manages to make his deliveries on time. With Jim Broadbent as Santa Claus. Unfortunately, Netflix removed this from its library (I get why they can’t keep everything but they have so much crap!) but it is available on Apple TV or Prime Video to rent ($3.99) or buy ($5.99.) Personally, when something is only a couple of dollars more to buy I tend to go that route. In this case, you will probably want to watch this every Christmas. I know I’ll be watching it again. [TRAILER]
Last Christmas, 2019 – Starring Emilia Clarke, Henry Golding, Emma Thompson, and Michelle Yeoh. [TRAILER]
Love, Actually, 2003 – I mean really though, this movie is worth an investment. Surely you watch it every year? Hugh Grant (as The Prime Minister), Billy Campbell (as Natalie’s octopus brother) and Martine McCutcheon (as Natalie) [TRAILER]
Polar Express, 2004 – I really liked this movie but similar to the Disney Christmas Carol it takes some adjusting to get used to seeing the animations where the voices are completely familiar (Tom Hanks) but the face looks a little off. You’ll see what I mean. [TRAILER]
BILL MURRAY (playing Frank Cross) and KAREN ALLEN (playing Claire Phillips)
Scrooged, 1988 – Frank Cross (Bill Murray) sees the light after being visited by three ghosts. [TRAILER]
STEVE MARTIN plays Neal Page and JOHN CANDY plays Del Griffith
Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, 1987 – god I miss John Candy. But at least we still have his movies! [TRAILER]
BARBARA STANWYCK as Elizabeth Lane and DENNIS MORGAN as Jefferson Jones
Christmas in Connecticut, 1945 – Stanwyck plays Elizabeth Lane, a journalist who has been faking being the perfect housewife. After getting away with pretending she has a husband, a baby, a farm in Connecticut (and using recipes from her uncle, who is a chef) she is told by her boss there’s a returning war hero who’s a huge fan and read her recipes while he was in the hospital. The publisher invites himself and the war hero to her house for Christmas. Lane jumps through hoops to carry on the charade, including [TRAILER]
(P.S. And if you like Frank Capra and Barbara Stanwyck you should try Meet John Doe. Technically it’s not a Christmas movie but it has a climactic ending on Christmas Eve so I always think of it as a holiday film. It’s one of my favorites.)
Joyeux Noel, 2005 – you might not know of this French film but you may have heard the story of the truce that took place for one night on Christmas eve during World War I. This is the story of that event. Nominated for an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film in 2006. Starring Diane Kruger, Benno Furmann, Guillaume Canet, Natalie Dessay, Rolando Villazón, and Daniel Brühl. [TRAILER]
The Ref, 1994 – if you can handle watching a movie with Kevin Spacey (sadly so many things are ruined for me now, but he does get terrorized for a while so that may help,) Dennis Leary is freaking brilliant. So are Judy Davis and Christine Baranski (duh). Starring Denis Leary, Judy Davis, Kevin Spacey, Robert J. Steinmiller Jr., Glynis Johns, Raymond J. Barry, Richard Bright, and Christine Baranski. (Note: this movie isn’t available through any pay subscription services but if your local public library has Hoopla you may be able to stream it) [TRAILER]
DAN AYKROYD is Louis Winthorpe III
Trading Places, 1983 – YES, Virginia, it absolutely is a Christmas movie! Starring Dan Aykroyd, Eddie Murphy, Jamie Lee Curtis, Denholm Elliott, Ralph Bellamy, and Don Ameche. [TRAILER]
Wishing everyone a very HAPPY, HEALTHY, AND MERRY CHRISTMAS!
1. This Video of Angela Lansbury & Carol Channing – it is a performance recorded back in 2001, when Lansbury was 76 years old and Channing was 80, at a benefit for the Actors Fund of America. The event was called ‘Tap Your Troubles Away with Jerry Herman.’ Jerry Herman was the wizard behind the musicals Mame, La Cage aux Folles and Hello, Dolly. I ADORE these two old girls!!!
2. This Interview with Ruby Bridges by Trevor Noah – Trevor Noah, in my opinion, is the best interviewer on television (sorry Stephen Colbert, you’re a close second though! Plus you’re the most talented. And Seth Meyers, you’re the funniest so don’t worry, you’re still number one in my heart. And, of course, we mustn’t forget John Oliver, who is in a class by himself.)
3. This Sea Shanty sung by the Fisherman’s Friends – who doesn’t love a good sea shanty?
More importantly, who doesn’t love a good movie about a group of fisherman who become famous singing sea shanties? Cuz the guys above, the Fisherman’s Friends, there is a movie about them and it’s on Netflix now. Here’s the trailer. You HAVE to see it. It’s marvelous. It makes me long to go back to Cornwall (one of my favorites places in the world.) My great-grandparents were Cornish (as were all their relatives before them) so I think my attachment to Cornwall is due to that – I feel at home when I’m there.
4. This Tutorial on How to Position Pillows for Better Sleep – it’s meant for elderly people, to help reduce joint pain, but frankly as a menopausal broad, I have plenty of that already. And I’m sure that people of all ages should learn how to sleep properly, with better alignment. I bought a buckwheat pillow after watching this and it’s AWESOME.
I also purchased a wedge pillow and for the past two days I slept EIGHT HOURS straight. I have breathing issues but I’ve had two sleep studies done and I don’t have sleep apnea. Instead it turns out I have a deviated septum and other nose problems that make me end up waking up completely congested. But sleeping slightly elevated it is really helping with my breathing. It turns out that elevated sleeping is better for people with all sorts of sleep issues.
5. This Friendship between Marilyn Monroe and Ella Fitzgerald – I came across this story via Drunk History (see video below) and it is wonderful. Those of us who know about Marilyn’s life (which is pretty much everyone over forty I suspect) know that it wasn’t easy. During a time when women like Marilyn were sexualized and victimized and there was little to no recourse, Monroe tried to find ways to protect herself. Trying to change her image into an actress with the trifecta of being able to act, dance, and sing (as well as being taken more seriously as an actress) was one method of protection.
Supposedly her singing instructor introduced her to the music of Ella Fitzgerald. Marilyn was so taken with Ella’s voice that she called up the manager at the famous Mocambo Nightclub in Hollywood and told him that if he had Ella perform that she would sit in the front row every night. Supposedly Fitzgerald had been trying to get a gig there for some time but was turned down. There have been memes circulating about the incident saying the Mocambo wouldn’t let Fitzgerald sing because she was black and Monroe helped her get a gig and the two women became great admirers of one another, or they were so alike, or they celebrated Monroe’s and Fitzgerald’s friendship. Sadly the fact checkers, who sometimes are way too literal (which drives me nuts) have been saying – okay, here’s the TRUE STORY or the “truth” behind this meme.
They say – it isn’t accurate to say that Ella Fitzgerald wasn’t allowed to sing at the Mocambo because she was black. They’ll point out that black performers like Eartha Kitt, Dorothy Dandridge, Herb Jeffries and Joyce Bryant. Big whoop. Ella sang at the Mocambo in 1955, it had been open since 1941.
But if that really isn’t the reason, or if it is only partly the reason, the real reason is actually worse and I’m not sure, are these fact-checkers and truth seekers implying it’s less problematic? Because the real reason is that Ella was “heavyset” that she wasn’t “sexy enough” that she was fat. It still had to do with the way she looked, whichever reason is true.
For those of you who enjoy Drunk History (one of the best ways to learn history) ….
6. This Exercise Bicycle from the Hendrick’s Gin people – a Hendrick’s High Wheel! It’s a REAL exercise bike, or as Bicycling magazine calls it, a “high-class, low-tech stationary bike.” Designed to look like a Victorian Penny-farthing, the bicycle is a Steampunk lover’s dream. Plus it has a holder that fits a bottle of Hendrick’s, so you can pedal for your cocktails! Would I be willing to fork over the $2500 for this? Maybe. But with there only being three available for sale, because I don’t have the space in my house, AND because I honestly question whether I would be able to climb up onto the seat, this lovely thing won’t be in my possession at any point in the future.
7. This View from the Cupola of the Space Station – can you even imagine??? And there are more photos here and here.
And here is a video:
Word of the Day
Kalsarikännit (pronounced cal-sar-y-cuhn-eet) – of course pre-pandemic kalsarikannit wasn’t such a regular thing.
1. This Colorized Video from 1893 of a Snowball Fight – done by Dmitriy Badin – I’d mute the video, the music is a bit annoying. It’s delightful to watch thought.
(I prefer the way Denis Shiryaev creates his videos. He goes the extra step of adding sounds that match whatever is taking place, for example, he adds trolley bells, or horses hooves clopping on the street, or people talking. His videos are amazing.)
2. This New Couple – I’ve loved Linda Purl for decades and I just found out she is dating Patrick Duffy! For those of you who don’t know, Patrick was married for 43 years (and they were a couple for 5 years before that) until his wife passed away in 2017. He had thought he would live the remainder of his life as a widower but his lifetime friendship with Purl turned into more and now they are dating! Very sweet.
3. This Genius, who has created a site called McBroken.com, where you can check to see which nearby McDonald’s have broken ice cream machines.
4. This Weather Map that Shows the Snowfall Forecast in Books
5. This History of the Word Hangover – How many of you have experienced a hangover in the past week? How many of you have experienced a hangover or hundred in the past four years? Did you ever wonder where the word hangover came from? Like so many of our intoxicant related words, it originated during the Victorian era. Which of course is completely ironic considering they were supposedly such prudes.
6. This Video Clip showing How Charlie Chaplin achieved a special effect in his film ‘Modern Times’ over 80 years ago.
7. This Little Free Library, located in McFarland, WI (Represent!) that is a Replica of the famous Shakespeare & Company bookshop in Paris…
Unfortunately, Shakespeare & Co., like so many businesses, is struggling….
1. This Children’s Librarian – who set up the best display ever the day after the Vice Presidential debate.
2. These Celebrities teaching us American Slang – I grew up in Iowa where we have no accent and no slang! Mwah ha ha ha ha ha. So not true. In fact, my Mom, whom I adored, used to say things like “be sure when you worsh the dishes in the zinc that you don’t break anything.” And my dad still says the words “Worshington” and “garuntee.” And then there was the pop/soda incident of 1984. I’d rather not talk about it.
A few years ago I few out to a conference in California and the majority of the attendees were native Californians. I’d never met any of them. The first evening I was sitting across a table from a woman who was sort of staring at me. Understand we hadn’t introduced ourselves at this point and weren’t wearing name tags. We’d only arrived and checked in and were having cocktails while we waited for our rooms. After people started getting called to go check-in she came over and sat next to me and said, “It’s so great to talk with a fellow Iowan again!” I asked how she knew I was from Iowa. I hadn’t even said all that much (at least for me) and after all, I hadn’t lived in Iowa for about thirty-five years. She said, “Your accent!” I have an accent? Go on, I don’t have an accent. She insisted I did.
Turns out she had lived in California for quite some time but was born and raised in Iowa as well. As you can imagine we became fast friends. I still can’t tell the difference between her “accent” (or my “accent”) and the accents of the other Californians attending the conference. Apparently I am no Henry Higgins.
ANYHOO, this video is fun to watch. Here are all the people that show up in it and exactly where they were born and/or raised.
Jennifer Garner was born in Houston, Texas but raised in Charleston, West Virginia
Olivia Munn was born in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Keegan-Michael Key was born in Southfield, Michigan and raised in Detroit
Matthew McConaughey was born in Uvalde, Texas
Adam Devine is actually a fellow Iowan, born in Waterloo, Iowa but grew up in Omaha, Nebraska
E-40 is from Vallejo, California
Michael Sheen is, of course, not from America but is from the beautiful Newport, Wales
Jon Hamm is from St. Louis, Missouri!!! (A branch of my family tree hails from there.)
Chloe Grace Moretz was born in Atlanta, Georgia.
Ike Barinholtz is from Chicago, Illinois
Tiffany Haddish is from Los Angeles, California
Jason Bateman is NOT from the Ozarks but was born in Rye, New York.
Laura Linney was born in New York City (did you know her father was a prominent playwright named Romulus Linney?)
Julia Garner was also born in New York City, in the Bronx.
Jennifer Lawrence was born in Indian Hills, Kentucky near Louisville
Joel Edgerton was born in Blacktown, New South Wales, Australia (and his reaction to Kentucky slang is wonderful.)
Mark Wahlberg was born in Dorchester, Boston, Massachusetts
Adam Sandler (interesting detail about bodegas) is a Brooklyn, New York boy (not a surprise)
Idina Menzel was born in Manhattan, grew up in New Jersey until she was three, then moved to Syosset, New York on Long Island.
3. This Book, Emeralds of Oz by Peter Guzzardi – honestly, there is a lot we can learn from the Wizard of Oz books (plural). Also, have you ever read Wicked (and the sequels) by Gregory Macguire. They really are genius. The first one is best, they get less so as you go along but the vocabulary is almost Tolkien-level of brillance.
4. This Cartoonist for The Guardian, Tom Gauld – I’ve been a fan for ages. His cartoons generally have a very literary slant. I have a couple of his books and am asking Santa for another one for Christmas!
5. This Reenactment of the iconic four-way phone scene from Mean Girls by four young women with disabilities. The intent is to show that people don’t have to be defined by their disability. It’s wonderful!
6. This Famous (infamous) Merrie Melodies scene, Leopold… The Leopold that they keep whispering about is a real-life conductor, Leopold Stokowski.
I also loved it when Merrie Melodies went completely into the adult arena, making cartoons for grown-ups. This cartoon has all sorts of famous people from the era: Peter Lorre, Jimmy Stewart, Cary Grant, Greta Garbo (Garbo wore size 8AA shoes but between her own self criticism and Hollywood standards the rumor few around that her feet were too big), Ann Sheridan, Humphrey Bogart, Bing Crosby, Clark Gable and many more. How many can you name? Oh, and LEOPOLD again!
7. This Young Girl – about five years ago (damn, time flies) my library system staff went to one of the local county fairs to promote libraries. They did this a lot, library advocacy is part of their thing. In addition to handing out materials about what our system libraries provided and they wanted to do something interactive so they put together this simple little activity using pool noodles and artistic letters laminated onto cards so that they would stand up. People could create any message they wanted and have their photos taken and my system put the photos up on social media. There were TONS of them but this one really caught my attention for two reasons – first, because of the word that she choose and second, because of the way she’s holding up the word, there’s just something so powerful about the way she’s standing. I just love everything about it.