I Want a Valium for Thanksgiving, Charlie Brown.

©1973 United Feature Syndicate Inc.

©1973 United Feature Syndicate Inc.

My job can be quite stressful. It can therefore keep me away from blogging for lengthy periods of time, especially when there are deadlines right before a long holiday weekend. Like this week!

When at last this long-but-short week came to an end, the relief was palpable. I could finally, completely, head-to-toe relax, even if all that meant was taking a breather between work and beginning to prepare for Thanksgiving and what I’d be contributing to our family meal this year.

I pride myself on my pumpkin pies. Sure, they’re like, the easiest pie to make out of All The Pies, but it’s one of the few–literally a few–things I actually take pleasure in making, and I have my little tricks to make them especially delicious. Furthermore, once I know how to perfect something to my own unique standards, it’s kind of compulsive for me to have to make it. Even if I weren’t going to bring it to a family meal, I wouldn’t be able to not make it. It’s my little Billy Bob Thornton thing.

What I love about this particular time of year is that the holiday season gets into full swing. Stores are an explosion of green and red, and homes and storefronts alike are decked out in lights, garlands, and wreaths. The dude and I have established a couple of our own holiday traditions, including getting a Christmas tree the day after Thanksgiving and getting out all of the Christmas tchotchkes. (“Christmas tchotchkes” just might be an oxymoron, but I’m going with it, anyway.) There really is something special about this time of year that I cherish dearly.

To go with that special holiday feeling is the underlying stress of getting everything done in time for family gatherings, and holiday parties, and gift exchanges, and shipping presents off in time to be opened on Christmas Day, and blowing your wad on stuff you don’t need staying on budget. But we also have a particular salve for that stress: the holiday specials. Do a cursory search for “Christmas” on Netflix or your cable guide and there are no fewer than several hundred airings of all different specials and movies for an entire month. Heck, we’ve already seen Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer and it’s not even December yet!

As you may know, we are huge Charlie Brown/Peanuts fans. These holiday specials in particular hold a special place in our hearts, along with millions of others’, I’m sure.

HOWEVER: although I am well aware that it is impossible to freeze children’s voices so they can produce dozens of holiday specials just for the sake of continuity, there are only a few of the Charlie Brown holiday specials I can tolerate aside from the original and sacred A Charlie Brown Christmas. The producers of that special did way too good of a job with casting and have subsequently ruined me for most of the other specials. There is one in particular I can not stomach, and it is A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving.

First things first: the only voices that sound genuine to the characters, in this blogger’s opinion, are Marcie’s and Peppermint Patty’s. Patty’s tomboy gruffness is dead on and Marcie’s sweet squeaks are endearing. All of the other main characters sound totally off, rendering them all L’Etranger. My suspension of disbelief just ain’t happening.

Secondly, Charlie’s extremely low self-esteem notwithstanding (and it really is quite heartbreaking, between his depression about holidays in general, being tricked by Lucy once again on kicking the football, and being steamrolled by Patty et al. as they invite themselves over for dinner), my squeamishness is a direct result of Peppermint Patty’s overbearing personality. Charlie is trying to rev himself up for a holiday at his grandmother’s, when suddenly Patty and the Gang inform him that they’re about to ascend his threshold for a full-on Thanksgiving meal, thank you very much.

We see Snoopy and Woodstock in the kitchen and Snoopy is making buttered toast and popcorn like a pro. One burned dog ear later, he’s got dinner on the (ping pong) table.

Sweet Snoopy happily serves up his homemade toast, pretzels, jelly beans, and popcorn. There are even pink parfaits on the table. A little carb-heavy, sure. But it’s the holiday season, after all. Their ten-year-old metabolisms can probably handle it.

©1973 United Feature Syndicate Inc.

©1973 United Feature Syndicate Inc.

But instead of feeling happy and grateful to be with friends (heck, let’s call a spade a spade–they’re acquaintances at best), Patty goes on a belittling rampage about the food, shredding any pride Charlie may have had in providing her with a meal. Linus’s gracious speech fell on deaf ears, apparently. Thankfully Patty had brought her subordinate BFF Marcie with her, who becomes the voice of reason, talks Patty down from her rage high, and gets her to apologize. That’s a solid friend right there.

The whole scene gives me disgusted knots in my stomach, quite frankly, to the point where between it and the not-so-great voice casting, I have a high aversion to the special, so much so that it wouldn’t bother me if that particular DVD of the Peanuts Holiday Collection somehow got lost.

In short, this storyline makes me want to reach for a glass of wine or a Valium. It does not embody thankfulness or the spirit of Thanksgiving. To me, the kids’ meal that Snoopy and Charlie and Linus prepared IS what the holiday is all about: gathering with your friends/loved ones and enjoying what you have before you.

Other than watching Snoopy’s antics with Woodstock, I think the best part of the special is when all the kids are singing Over the River and Through the Woods in their off-key and inharmonious way. Also because it’s at the end of this not-so-well-done program. I’m sorry, Chuck. I love ya, but they can’t all be winners.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! I hope your feast is belittling-free and full of delicious eats, even and especially if they’re toast and popcorn.

Devil Teat

When last I mentioned my television/cable sitch, I was marveling over Jake Johnson’s ability to attract me with early 90s hair.

I had just had my beautiful DVR ripped from my bare hands (that might be overstating it a bit) and we were awash at proverbial sea with nothing but a Roku and a Blu-Ray player to entertain us. (If you do the math, it’s been about six weeks.)

The good news is, movies on Blu-Ray are still highly entertaining and satisfying to watch at home, especially if you have a decent stereo hookup. Still loving collecting movies and watching films in high def in the comfort and privacy of my own home.

no to hulu

“Hulu Plus is so gauche!”

The bad news is, despite trying super extra much to be won over by Netflix and Hulu Plus to fulfill our television needs, we simply were not. Watching Hulu Plus provoked quite the sourpuss reaction from both me and the dude.

We MIGHT have been able to eventually adjust to having to watch shows we wanted to see the next day and try to avoid any kind of buzz about them. But honestly, the biggest turnoff were all the ad jumps. They were more frequent than watching live television, despite the fact that you get to see how many more painful seconds you have to count down before you return to your show.

Oh but wait! They do TWO ninety second ads in a row each time.

Oh and also? The ads during each episode are ALWAYS THE SAME at every single advertising break. Hitting mute every three to four minutes is my idea of paradise not.

Moreover, we knew that the variety of shows we liked to watch weren’t all necessarily going to be available, which was a pretty big downer.

And while I don’t consider it a bad thing to turn off the tube and focus on other hobbies and activities, I basically stopped enjoying the TV experience altogether, as I actually missed being able to scroll through the channel guide to see what was on. Don’t get me wrong–I do love streaming a new TV show (hello, AWKWARD., my new friend)–but I discovered I also need the other half of television entertainment, as well. I need that haphazard stumble onto Legally Blonde playing on Sunday morning. I miss my standup comedy shows!

Last but certainly not least, watching live programs is not an option when you’re only contending with Netflix and Hulu Plus. Which of course is the whole point, because if you find something totally bitchen to stream, you get to compulsively watch a series or movie over and over if that is your choice. With Netflix, at least.

For Hulu Plus, we just couldn’t justify the cost, minimal though it may be. Regular Hulu is free, publishes tons of the most popular clips available, and you still suffer through the ads.

In the end, Netflix is staying, Hulu Plus was kicked out soundly on its ear, and we called the cable company to get a DVR box and our precious channels back post haste.

We really wanted to be the kind of couple who could stay away from supporting the villainous cable company. Truly, we did. In the end, we signed right back up for the Devil’s teat. It probably doesn’t make it sound any better to say that if we had our way, we’d choose DirecTV over a cable company, because essentially, they all operate similarly. But thems the facts.

I’m actually sleeping better at night knowing that when the fall lineup commences in a few weeks, our DVR will be at the ready.

Being wrong for supporting the devil cable company has never felt so right.

***

This post is dedicated to my sweet guy, whose birthday is today. Happy Birthday, darling!

Disturbing Revelation

When TV shows go away during the summer, I’m usually forced to go through my movie collection or I have to finally watch all the previously recorded stuff on my DVR that I never got around to watching, e.g. the fourteen episodes of The Best of the Joy of Painting with Bob Ross. Seriously, that dude is terrific, right?

Recently, my dude made the decision to cut the cord to cable TV, which means I say goodbye to the DVR, which is My Precious (be sure to read that in Gollum’s voice).

To soothe the crushing anxiety of losing this modern marvel which is seriously life-changing, we reinstated our Netflix account, in addition to trying out Hulu Plus.

Having streaming-only television is still kind of a wacky concept to me, but I’m willing to give it a shot. Currently, I’m a little nonplussed by Hulu Plus (ba dum shh!) but if it is the only way we can enjoy current programming, especially when new shows begin airing in September, we’ll live through this transition. Side note: not exactly understanding why I pay for Hulu Plus when there are ads, but I guess thems the breaks. I’m over a barrel on this one.

One of our favorite shows is New Girl from Fox. If you haven’t given this show a chance and you’re not over 62, you’ll probably HIGHLY enjoy it. It has the same je ne sais quoi that Friends had. The chemistry, humor, and character development are just brilliant. I can’t say enough good things about it–honestly. Watch. This. Show.

So when we came across the first season of it on Netflix, we immediately jumped on watching the entire first twenty-four episodes. We basically had just a handful of binge sessions, streaming one episode after the other, devouring them like candy. It was fantastic.

One of the silliest plot lines has stuck with me post season binge. Well, it’s more like an image than a plot line. Nick not being able to go get a haircut doesn’t exactly move the character over a serious obstacle.

The episode is called “Bad in Bed” and in it, Jess is trying to take her sexual relationship with Paul to the next level. There are some pretty funny moments, of course, but the seemingly infinitesimal plot point about Nick’s resistance to get a haircut and then going to Winston’s barber is burned into my brain.

What am I leading up to, exactly? Okay, so…I know that we’re all supposed to laugh at Nick’s “ridiculous” haircut, right? I mean, he looks like Vanilla Ice.

Nick Miller Haircut

Here was Jess’s/Zooey’s reaction, combined with the fact that she told him she didn’t think he looked like someone who was very good at sex with that haircut. (Zing!)

Zoe Reaction

But there was something about it that honestly made me think Nick looked pretty damn hot like that! And then it hit me that perhaps that means I (still? ever had?) have a thing for Vanilla Ice. I mean, I was ten when Ice Ice Baby came out and I learned allllllllllll the words, baby. Oh yes. But then you go and watch the music video and the guy is wearing a sweatshirt while “dancing.” Not a cool hoodie or anything. A white run-of-the-mill sweatshirt that you could pick up at a gas station. Good God.

Fast forward twenty some-odd years and this imagery somehow grabbed and held onto me. Maybe this is my very, VERY latent crush on a guy who resembles those from New Kids on the Block? I’m asking, because I do not know.

Whatever it is, I’m going to ride it out and just enjoy the Nick Miller/Vanilla Iceness until season three premieres. I’m going to post a few more of The Haircut because it is tight, dope, and super fly.

Word to ya motha.

Nick Miller Haircut 3

Nick Miller Haircut 2

Nick Miller Haircut 5

Nick Miller Haircut 4

Prognosticator of Prognosticators

Punxsutawney Phil: Prognosticator

Hallo everybody!

I know I disappeared there for a little while. Right after my last post, life got kuh-razy and all the posts I had planned fell to the wayside.

I do apologize.

I was experiencing one of those major life changes that just sucks you into its vortex and there is nothing you can do about it but ride the wave and come out the other side. I think I just mixed a few analogies and metaphors there.

Anyway, in honor of one of my favorite days of the year and favorite movies of all time, today’s little comeback post is all about the genius of Groundhog Day, the early 90s runaway hit (and now cult classic) with Bill Murray. There’s really not much, if anything, to dislike about this movie.

  • Great acting? Check.
  • Fantastic cinematography? Check.
  • Kickass soundtrack? Check.
  • Spot on directing? Check.
  • Memorable quotes to last a lifetime? Check. (Also see: Jokes That Never Get Old? Check.)

(Am I right or am I right or am I right? Right! Right! Right!)

Furthermore, now that I live back in the Middle States, it makes it that much easier to fulfill my dream of taking the grand tour of the set of Groundhog Day, located in the fine town Woodstock, Illinois. I can’t even tell you how excited I would be if I actually had plans to take a small road trip to go visit and get my tourism on. Someday…

Do you love Groundhog Day (the holiday)? Do you love or hate the movie? Because there are only two options. You can’t “kind of” love the movie because either the repetition bothers you or it doesn’t. Either the brilliance of the movie kicks you in the crotch and laughs or it doesn’t.

And so, in honor of this fine day and even finer film, I give you some of my favoritest quotes. (Though Ned Ryerson’s “Right! Right! Right!” quote is up there.)

******

Ned Ryerson: Ned Ryerson, got the shingles real bad senior year, almost didn’t graduate…?

Rita: He’s not afraid to cry in front of me.
Phil: This is a man we’re talking about, right?

Phil: Do you ever have déjà vu, Mrs. Lancaster?
Mrs. Lancaster: I don’t think so but I could check with the kitchen.

Ralph: (after a shot is taken) That about sums it up for me.

Phil: Too early for flapjacks?

Rita: You’re missing all the fun. These people are great! Some of them have been partying all night long. They sing songs til they get too cold and then they go sit by the fire and get warm and then they come back and sing some more.
Phil: Yeah, they’re HICKS Rita.

Phil: Well what if there is no tomorrow? There wasn’t one today.

Phil: Once again the eyes of the nation have turned here to this (sarcastically) tiny village in Western Pennsylvannia blah, blah, blah, blah. There is no WAY that this winter is EVER going to end…as long as this groundhog keeps seeing his shadow. I don’t see any other way out. He’s got to be stopped…and I have to stop him.

Man in hall: Do you think it’s going to be an early spring?
Phil: I’m predicting March 21st.
Man in hall: Heh, good guess! I think that actually is the….first day of spring.

Buster: (Holding Phil the groundhog) He just smiled at me, did you see that?

Larry: No no no…nobody honks this horn but me, m’kay pal?

Phil: Ned, I would love to stand here and talk with you…but I’m not going to.