1. This History of Chestnut Trees – this actually is something to both love and hate. I hate the story behind why we’ve lost the vast majority of the American Chestnut trees in North America (not surprisingly it had to do with some wanker deciding to import a dozen Chinese Chestnut trees to the US from Japan. Because there will always be people who have to have bigger, better, new.) There’s further details on the blight here.
But what I love is history, and the history of the Chestnut tree is fascinating and extensive. These were enormous trees, strong, hearty, and they provided for everyone and everything that lived around them. Another thing I love is that there are people working to bring back the American Chestnut. One organization in particular, the American Chestnut Foundation, leads the show and they are getting close. According to this article from 2019, the final stage/cut should take place this year and then they should be able to start repopulating the Appalachian Forests with blight-resistant American Chestnut trees. Hope!
2. This Article on the Regency Design of Bridgerton – Have you watched Bridgerton yet? If not, get thee to the television and start streaming thy Netflix!
My favorite era in British history has always been the Edwardian era (and I mean design-wise) with the Tudor era in a close second. BUT I must say, this show made me start to wonder if I should rethink that.
3. This Incredible Photograph of the Chicago Skyline – it really does look like flames are shooting up!
4. This Video of Robots Dancing to “Do You Love Me?” – Boston Dynamics is one of the most advanced Robotics company in the world. They have a huge following on social media and for good reason – their robots are incredibly impressive. They created this video for their fans for a holiday treat. AMAZING! (full disclosure – I’m a robotics nerd.)
5. This IncredibleBridge – my friend Kathy sent me this photo. It’s the Golden Bridge in Vietnam. We were trying to decide whether we loved it or found it disturbing. Truthfully, it’s both but in the end we decided we loved it much more than we found it disturbing. I think it’s all a matter of your upbringing and how you look at it.
6. These Pandemic Words – Here’s an article that includes an interview with Ben Zimmer who is the chair of the American Dialect Society’s New Words Committee. They discussed not only the winning words – COVID was the word of the year – but also some of the nominees. Here are a few that I liked:
gleethreshing (ph) the opposite of doomscrolling, reading some good news for a change.
oysgezoomt (ph), being Zoomed out. You’re fatigued by being overexposed to Zoom.
Very interesting too about the term BIPAC. Need to read more about that.
1. This (Uncensored) End-of-Year PSA – (ICYMI, it’s scientifically proven that people who swear are more honest and more intelligent. FUCK YAH we are!)
And now, we invite you to lift a finger for this cause, which we feel–and speak–quite strongly about. Text 🖕 to 1-877-EFF-THIS (1-877-333-8447)to donate $5 to the Mental Health Coalition*, share this video with everyone you know, and join our conversation on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook with #EFF2020.
2. This New Year’s Card from LovePop – the card is so popular they’re already sold out, but you can sign up to be notified for when they get more in stock. Course now that I’ve included it in my “7 things” I suppose I won’t need to mail out as many as I had planned…”
4. This Google Year in Search Video – it’s gonna to make you weep, both in a good way and a bad way.
5. This Last Monologue of 2020 by Stephen Colbert – Colbert, Seth Meyers and Trevor Noah kept me sane this year. In fact they kept me sane the past four years.
6. This Virtual New Year’s Eve Concert with Pink Martini – one of my favorite bands!!! You can purchase the New Year’s concert ticket here. A portion of each ticket supports Kentucky performing arts. Always good to support the arts!
7. This Liz Climo New Year’s Cartoon – She just gets me.
[Update on 12-29-2020: a few additions that I came across since I posted this…
Bonus – This New Netflix Special, Death to 2020 – I laughed my ASS off for most of the Tennyson Foss (Hugh Grant) segments. Grant has brilliant comedic timing. SO many good people in this!!!
Bonus – This Meme that My Brother Sent Me – can’t you just hear it?
Bonus – This Series of AP Photographs from 2020 which “Captured a World in Distress” – I can’t say I “love” these photographs but it’s a record of our history and they are incredible to see.
My New Year’s Resolutions:
Lose Weight – always on my list but this year I’m actually going to try.
Have a more positive outlook – I’m tired of being negative.
Take better care of my skin – been working on a blog post on this.
What do YOU plan to do next year? (Besides get a vaccine of course.)
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 Discovery of the Fountain of Youth – Scientists in Israel claim they have been able to reverse the aging process simply using oxygen. GIMME SOME OF THAT!
2. These Cardamom Cookies from Unna Bakery in New York – I found these locally a while back but couldn’t remember where I bought them. Damned menopausal brain fog. I checked to see if I could order them online and yay, I could! LOVE these cookies. They are my favorite treat to have with a cup of tea in the afternoon. A box contains five packets of two, all individually wrapped, so you don’t have to feel obligated to eat the whole package just to keep them from going stale (which is what I tell myself when I do that.) They are just the right amount of spice and sweet. In my opinion, the perfect cookie. The Swedes do so many things right and baking is on that list to be sure.
There are other flavors to choose from too. I ordered some Coconut Oat Cookies to try and they were different but equally good.
3. This Recipe for Sweet & Sour Brussels Sprouts – thanks to my brother Chuck for sending this to me. I’m a big fan of Camila Styles and I’m subscribed to her e-newsletter, but lately my inbox has been inundated so I’m missing a lot.
This girl (me) can’t get enough Brussels sprouts. Sadly, this girl also is on a blood thinner which means she has to pace herself. Well, you know what Julia Child says, “Everything in moderation.” (FYI, the full quote is, “Everything in moderation… including moderation.”) You can find the recipe by clicking on the photo or here.
4. This Book Review (and Interview) of Henry Winkler’s Newest Book by Master Crocheter Jonah Larson – they are all so damned adorable! Note Henry Winkler’s pillow behind him – love it! And Jonah Larson is a wunderkind! You can read more about him here and here.
5. This Cookware from GreenPan – I’ve bought all my GreenPan Cookware from Food52 but it’s available in many places including World Market, Kohl’s, and Amazon. One of my favorite pieces, which I use ALL the time, is the 12-Inch GreenPan Venice Pro Nonstick Ceramic Everyday Pan (pictured right). It’s no longer available at Food52 but they still have it at World Market. And there is a slightly smaller 11-Inch version called the Chatham Nonstick Ceramic Everyday Pan at Kohl’s for significantly less.
From the GreenPan website:
GreenPan is a Belgian brand with an international reputation. It’s the brainchild of two school friends: Jan Helskens and Wim De Veirman.
Upon discovering that traditional non-stick pans released toxins when overheated and used PFOA during the manufacture of the coating, they set out to create a new alternative.
After a long search, they found the perfect material for their range: a ceramic coating called Thermolon™.
With the biggest challenge out of the way, the duo put an expert team together and had a lot of pleasure in designing cookware that looked beautiful, performed brilliantly and made cooking even more of a joy.
10 years later their pans are loved around the world.
6. This Test Flight– I may not be a fan of Elon Musk (I think he ‘s batshit crazy) BUT I cannot deny he has vision and his company is achieving astonishing things. Besides, my nephew works at SpaceX so as long as he’s there I know that they they must be cool!
7. This Music Video (and tweet) – Daniel Stewart is Patrick Stewart’s son. The music video is awesome!
8. This Virtual Chess Game Against Beth Harmon (at four different ages!) – I ADORED ‘Queen’s Gambit’ (along with everyone else) and now I’m obsessed. Chess.com has developed this clever online experience tied in to the hit Netflix series. I finally got brave enough to try to play 8 year-old Beth. It was a draw because we ran out of moves. I thought my brain was going to explode though it was working so hard.
9. These Edible Christmas Ornaments for Outdoor Trees – I’m a Hallmark (and now Lifetime too) Christmas movie junkie. This year Hallmark has an incredible number of new movies. One of my favorites is called, Christmas with the Darlings. In addition to the usual christmas cookie making/baking scene that occurs in every Hallmark movie, in this one they made animal-friendly ornaments and I thought it was brilliant. I will definitely be doing this next year! There are two different links. The link on the photo below will take you to a recipe for the birdseed ornaments pictured. The link at the beginning in bold takes you to an article with a variety of ideas and links.
Word of the Day (is actually the Merriam-Webster Word of the Year for 2020)
If you click on the graphic below it will take you to an analysis of the use and significance of the word pandemic for the year.
Quote of the Day
I hope you had a nice Thanksgiving and stayed safe!
And I don’t want to rub it in so I’ll let Charlie say for me what I can’t say myself….
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]
Loretta Young as Julia and Cary Grant as Dudley in “The Bishop’s Wife”
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!
I started to put together my post for the week and there ended up being way too many things, and curiously a huge number of them were food-related. So I’ve decided to post two blogs this week. Don’t worry, I don’t expect this to become a regular thing. (And I also forgot to actually POST them. ARGH! It’s an insane time right now.)
2. This Instagram account, Accidentally Wes Anderson – which was brought to my attention by my friend Ann and was recently written about in the NY Times. There’s a gorgeous new book being released this month. It includes some of the account’s best photos (I’m definitely going to ask for it for Christmas). Publication date is October 20th. For someone who has mild OCD, is a travel junkie, loves nostalgia and beautiful things there is nothing better than Wes Anderson.
3. This Kayaker, Lori Nickel – I love the way she writes, it makes me feel like I was there with her. And, since right now I’m doing a lot of armchair traveling and sports and theatre and, well, everything, this sort of article is most appreciated. I also love her attitude and the final little snippet of wisdom at the end, “And be grateful, because any race and any fun outside with friends and family – any sense of community in 2020, while we all deal with this Covid19 pandemic – is a gift. Especially when you can walk away from it.”
4. This Woman doing a voiceover of a cooking show – she is the female Morgan Freeman for christ’s sakes. (Thanks Stasie.)
5. This movie on Netflix, Enola Holmes, which became the number one ranked movie on the streaming network in its first week. It is perfection – it’s funny, intelligent, diverting, cinemagraphic, action-packed, and has a soupcon of romance (which is all I need nowadays.) Plus the costumes are fabulous! And as a HUGE added bonus, Henry Cavill as Sherlock (rawrrr.)
6. This stylebook – the AP Stylebook has always been my favorite and now this cinches it. They took the time to identify the usage of the terms “riot” vs “unrest” and the potential motivations beneath unrest caused by protests vs riots caused by mobs. Incredible really. More history. When apolitical institutions that are decades old start making political stands, there is something wrong.
7. This color – Pantone has declared a new color called Period to help remove the stigma with menstruation. (seen on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert)
I’ve decided to include a new feature in my weekly post. One of the things that I LOVE is language so each week I’m going to include a fun new word, not necessarily English, that I’ve stumbled across.
Word of the Week
It’s a little on the nose but schadenfreude has always been one of my top ten favorite words. I also wanted to include the interesting fact that Merriam-Webster saw an increase of 30,500% in searches for the word on October 2nd. Language is extraordinary.
Have a FABULOUS week! Be safe, wear a mask, stay home if you can.
1. A friend of mine shared this Coronavirus version of Bohemian Rhapsody on my Facebook page. It’s fantastic! Right after I graduated from college I lived in the most wonderful apartment on the east side of town. 17th floor, overlooking Lake Michigan. I could only able to do this because I had an awesome roommate who made it possible (he footed more than his fair share of the rent.) Anyway, we had a LOT of parties in that place, I mean, how could we not? On special occasions the two of us would do an air guitar rendition of “Bohemian Rhapsody.” In fact, it became our thang. Those were the days…. The friend who shared this link with me was a witness, I mean he attended those parties…
Not only are the lyrics clever but this guy’s voice is incredible! I hope Brian May has seen this and I believe Freddie Mercury would have loved it.
2. French Girl Fleur de Rose Facial Polish – I actually can’t take credit for having discovered this stuff. I read some time ago this was one of Emma Watson’s favorite products. There are only a few movie stars that I respect enough to care what they think, and she is definitely on that list. This facial polish makes my skin feel like it’s 25 years old again. I wouldn’t be without it, even made sure to take it with me to India. I’ve been buying it for a few years. In fact, when I first starting buying from French Girl she only had an Etsy shop.
3. The Great Realisation – this is absolutely brilliant. Why hindsight is 2020…
5. Stream These – I watched a ton of new shows/movies this past weekend. So many excellent ones –
This Beautiful Fantastic (Amazon Prime) – a modern-day fairy tale and exactly what we all need right now. If you are a librarian it’s a must watch film, if you are a gardener, same thing.
The Half of it (Netflix) – the cast is exceptional, a teen rom-com with a LGBTQ and a multi-cultural twist. I already was a fan of Leah Lewis who plays the lead, Ellie Chu. Leah is George is the modern Nancy Drew series.
Never Have I Ever (Netflix) – this is the new Mindy Kaling series about a teenage Indo-American girl getting through high school and dealing with all the typical things that a modern, 21st century teenage American girls deals with, who also happens to have a mother who is a devoutly religious Hindu and very traditionally Indian and whose father has died prematurely from a heart attack.
Upload (Amazon Prime) – a lot of people/reviewers are comparing this show to ‘The Good Place’ and I can see how that could happen. It is, after all, about life after death. The big difference of course is that this is about an artificially created afterlife. I couldn’t stop watching, it’s not as funny as ‘The Good Place’ but I really liked the characters, particularly the main two people. You can see that like the people in ‘The Good Place’ these individuals are going to grow as the show goes along.
6. The Tart Adage from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland – I’m a HUGE fan of Alice in Wonderland. I’ve been looking forward to seeing the V&A exhibition – Curious & Curiouser for nearly a year. Sadly I may not get to see it now. But in the mean time I found this video clip!!!
“According to a news release, The Carol Burnett Show will be available for streaming on demand across Shout! Factory TV platforms, on ShoutFactoryTV.com; Shout! Factory TV’s Roku, Amazon Fire, Apple TV, and Android apps; and on various Shout! Factory TV branded channels including Tubi, Amazon Prime Channels, and the Roku Channel.”
So this week, life happened, and I didn’t get this done on Monday as I had planned.
1. Perimenopausal Bingo by Beth Kanter (definitely can be used by menopausal and postmenopausal broads) from McSweeney’s:
2. Mockumentaries – plural of mockumentary [ mok-yuh–men-tuh-ree, ‐tree ] noun 1. a motion picture or television program that takes the form of a serious documentary in order to satirize its subject.
I’ve loved mockumentaries ever since I saw my first Christopher Guest mockumentary “Waiting for Guffman.” Guest is the king of the genre, having five under his belt (in order of preference):
Best in Show – the “truth” about competitive dog shows
Mascots – the competitive world of professional sports-team mascots
Waiting for Guffman – small town theater people with big aspirations
A Mighty Wind – behind the scenes of American folk music
For Your Consideration – what goes into getting those award nominations
One of the thing I love about Guest’s mockumentaries is that he has created essentially an old-school acting troupe and a lot of the same people star in most of his films.
There are mockumentaries by other directors:
Rob Reiner’s ‘This is Spinal Tap’ is probably the most famous. Christopher Guest starred in the film along with Harry Shearer and Michael McKean. McKean became one of Guest’s acting ‘troupe.’
Drop Dead Gorgeous is one of my all time favorites –
What we do in the Shadows (again everything Taika Waititi does is golden!)
Both Woody Allen (Zelig) and Sacha Baron Cohen (Borat) have done mockumentaries. I’m not a fan of either of them so their movies won’t appear on my list but if you enjoy their work you may want to watch those as well.
3. Kitchen Ruler and Oven Rack Push-Puller. Where has this been all my (adult) life??? No more scorched arms. Wunderbar! Picked this up for less than $3 at Mod Gen: a Modern General Store (in Milwaukee.) I also see they are available for a wee bit more at Sur La Table. Or there is a silicon one (also a tad more) available at Amazon (it doesn’t have the ruler but would be able to be tossed in the dishwasher if you accidentally spilled something on it).
4. AJ and the Queen – got hooked on this last night and finished it in two days. There damn well better be a season two. RuPaul is, not surprisingly, FAB-U-LOUS.
5 Last, and most definitely not least, the amazing and brave and valiant efforts being made in Australia to save not only people but rare floral & fauna.
There are so many!
This 6-year old boy, who raised nearly $100K for the effort by selling clay koalas he made by hand
If you can handle it (get a box of kleenex) this will really show you how many people (and other animals too!) have gone to great lengths to save the koalas and kangaroos and other animals at risk in Australia. Incredible, heart-breaking, but also it will lift your spirits knowing that people are so selfless.
(Side note, apparently it’s gone viral that wombats are helping to save animals by inviting them into their burrows. As wonderful as this sounds, it is not true.) Not sure why people make shit like this up.
I was going to end up on a relatively happy note which is that the fire actually succeeded in getting the original members of the Wiggles to reunite for a fund-raising concert. That is AMAZING! Unfortunately though, Greg Page, collapsed toward the end of the concert and was rushed to the hospital. The most recent report is that he is receiving treatment. Let’s pray he is okay. The last thing Australia needs right now is to lose one of their National heroes.