Click pic for funniest SNL sketch EVER.
Holiday break is here and I still have a TON to do before festivities begin. There are presents that still must be purchased, even more that must be wrapped, plus a Christmas card letter that refuses to write itself.
So, given all this, what have I been doing as the clock ticked loudly in my ear? Making winter holiday keyboard characters, of course. I feel like the poster child for dilly dally dingbats.
Anyway, I couldn't make a lot because I really do have so much on my Christmas cookie plate right now. Still, I managed to create a snowman, Christmas tree, singing angel, snowflake, Santa and an elf, a turtle dove, as well as the saddest dreidel you'll ever see. All of them have been added to my keyboard characters page
. It's turning into quite a collection!
So take a look below. I do hope you enjoy them. I also wish you the happiest of holidays. May your season be filled with love, hope and joy. Have a wonderful break.
Be embarrassed for me. I know I am.
It' is time to put up the Christmas tree. It's an activity I, in part, really dread. Why? Because for 22 years Rick and I have gone back and forth about what to put on top of the tree. Growing up in my house, we always had a star at the top of the tree. In Rick's, they had an angel. Neither of us would compromise for years. We just kept the top empty.
Then we had kids. As they got older, they started caring about the top of the tree. They thought the whole angel/star fight was stupid and told us to settle things once and for all. To up the ante, they put a Wisconsin cheese hat on top of the tree to shame us.
It's been up there four years in a row.
Since Rick is a Green Bay Packer fan, he likes the cheese hat. Plus, I'm a Chicago Bears fan, so he likes the "in your face" aspect of the hat's significance. So it's been up to me to find something to top the tree. And I did. Really, I did.
First, I looked at angels. That's right. I was the bigger person by checking out what he wanted. This gesture of compromise, though unfulfilled, better be reflected in the presents I get this year. But here's the thing. The angels SUCKED. Or maybe it's just me. I'm going to let you be the judge of that. Below are five angels and, unless it's just me, they've got major attitude problems.
Like this first angel. I can tell she has no interest sitting at the top of our tree. I get enough "whatever" attitude from my kids.
This second one just seemed to look at me and say, "Really? You want ME on the top of your tree?"
This one came close, but her shrugged shoulder "meh" thing told me she'd sit on top of our tree, but only if she had to.
I have to be honest. This one scares me, though her "you really think your going to get away with that" attitude would sure keep kids from peeking under the tree.
And this last one just wants to be left alone. She doesn't need us and we certainly don't need her.
So sorry, my dear sweet husband. I don't think an angel is in the cards for us. Luckily, I found this BEAUTIFUL star. It will look just perfect on top of our tree. ;)
There is no better way to provoke reader outrage than by compiling a top 10 list. No matter how hard you try, there is always someone who is personally offended by your choices. So I was smart. I compiled a list of the Top NINE Funniest Christmas Movies Ever. This way you can fill in the blank for the tenth one and leave me alone. ;)
Could have added one more? Absolutely. Harold and Kumar’s recent movie was hilarious…or so I’ve been told...by other people…who aren’t me. (Middle-aged women don't go to see such filth.)
Anyway, below is my top nine picks for the funniest Christmas movies. If you don't agree, write me a comment. Heck, write me a comment if you do! Listed in order of theatrical release, I have...
The Man Who Came to Dinner (1942)
Think all holiday classics are syrupy sweet? Think again, my dear. Monty Wooley plays Sheridan Whiteside, a razor-tongued radio personality who slips on the front steps of someone’s house and must stay there to recuperate. Is he a gracious house guest? Of course not! Bette Davis also stars.
Fun fact: Monty Wooley was a professor at Yale before he headed to Broadway, and then movies.
Trading Places (1983, R) Starring Eddie Murphy, Dan Aykroyd and Jamie Lee Curtis, this is one of my all-time favorites. Two heartless old millionaires switch the lives of a snobby investor and a street urchin as a social experiment. The results are hysterical.
Fun fact: Louis’ (Dan Aykroyd) prision number was 7474505B, the same number as Jake’s (John Belushi) in 'The Blues Brothers,' a movie in which Aykroyd also starred.
A Christmas Story (1983, PG)
There's a reason TBS plays this movie non-stop during the holidays. Peter Billingsley stars as Ralphie, a boy growing up in the 1940s who wants a Red Ryder BB Gun for Christmas. Too bad no one else thinks it’s a good idea -- including Santa, himself!
Fun fact: This movie spawned one of the most ridiculously hilarious string
lights available on the net. Gotta get me some.
In this Charles Dickens’ send up, Bill Murray plays a cold-hearted and conceited TV executive who gets haunted by three spirits at the same time he’s producing a live Christmas Eve broadcast of A Christmas Carol.
Fun fact: All three of Murray’s brothers -- John, Joel, and Brian Doyle Murray -- had roles in the
film. Two played (you guessed it) his brothers.
Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
Why do we love the Griswolds? Because they put the ‘fun’ in dysfunctional! Nothing ever goes right for Chevy Chase’s Clark, and this holidays are no exception. Boy, that guy knows how to ride a sled....
Fun fact: In all four 'Vacation' movies, Clark and Ellen’s kids are played by different actors every time.
If I had a quarter for every time I slapped my face with both hands...but I digress. Macaulay Culkin plays Kevin, a young boy who is accidentally left behind when his family takes a trip for Christmas. When two hysterically stupid burglars show up at his front door, it’s game on. Go Kevin!
Fun fact: The picture Kevin finds of Buzz's girlfriend was actually a picture of a boy made up to look like a girl because the director thought it would be too cruel to make fun of a girl like that.
The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992, G)
It’s sad. I just realized this is the only ‘G’ movie on the list. What does that say about Hollywood? (Or should I say 'about me'?) Anywho, this classic Dickens’ tale is done with equal parts heart and laughter. There's a reason the Muppets were so popular back in the day, you know!
Sad fact: This was the first feature-length film where Kermit’s voice is not provided by Jim Henson, who died suddenly before filming began.
The Santa Clause (1994, PG)
Tim Allen stars as a man who accidentally kills Santa, only to discover he has to take over his job. Funny and sweet, you’ll love his transformation into the jolly old elf.
Fun fact: When Scott and Charlie leave the North Pole in the sleigh, you can see the Mickey Mouse logo on the moon when they pass it.
Elf (2003, PG)
Featuring one of the funniest opening sequences of all time, this sweet and silly movie stars Will Ferrell as a man raised as an elf who leaves the North Pole in search of his father. When he finds him, his father is...well... less than delighted.
Fun fact: When Will Ferrell shot the scene where he walks through the Lincoln Tunnel in his elf costume, several minor traffic accidents occurred because drivers were so surprised to see him. Oops.
And, oh! Just for fun, can you guess which star from one of the movies above made a cameo appearance in 'Elf'? It’s Peter Billingsley, a.k.a. Ralphie from 'A Christmas Story.' He played a fellow elf. And yes, he’s related to Barbara Billingsley, the mom on 'Leave it to Beaver.' She’s his great aunt..at least she was until she divorced his great uncle.
So that's it: The Top 9 Funniest Christmas Movies. Tell me, how did I do?
Last week I shared my childhood holiday shopping memories. Problem is, I STILL can’t get that Barbie Country Camper out of my mind. Damn that orange hippy-flowered vehicle! It made me wonder, what were the ‘must have’ items of other generations gone by? That's why I bring you…
THROUGH THE AGES: Holiday Shopping
All I want for Christmas is...
Below is a list of all the cool new toys and other hot items that debuted in each decade (I marked them in red), as well as some info on popular items with teens.
1900s -Now keep in mind that for the first few decades, kids didn’t expect much for the holidays. Many just got stockings with some penny candy, an orange, and maybe a small gift or two. If you were a boy and your folks had a few bucks in their pocket, however, you might get a Lionel Train. Woo hoo! Crayola crayons came on the scene a little later, which were much more affordable for everyone. Later on there were teddy bears, named for then president, Teddy Roosevelt, and die cast cars. If you were a teenaged girl, a popular gift might have been a sewing kit or a new book - complete with bookmark! Exciting times, I know.
1910s - This decade was a dream for budding builders. Tinker Toys, Erector Sets, and Lincoln Logs were all introduced. Girls got a special treat with the introduction of Raggedy Ann, the sweet doll from the popular children’s book series. Though older girls didn't really get toys back then, some received an Ouija Board, marking the first -- but not last -- time they’d become popular.
1920s - Raggedy Ann continued to dominate until late in the decade when Madame Alexander Dolls became all the rage. Doll chinaware and furniture were also popular. Boys delighted when the yo-yo made its first appearance. Sleds were hot, too. As for the older set, one traditional gift for girls was a fancy box of stationary. Think anyone would have a use for that now? I wonder….
1930s - In this decade board games made their debut with the classics Sorry and Monopoly. Betsy Wetsy, the first (and unfortunately not the last) peeing doll was born then, too. With the following year came the View-Master. Everyone had to have one, not just kids. Featuring color -- yes, color! --- 3-D photographs of places and things around the world, it was a favorite gift for many age groups. Since it was the depression, many girls would have been thrilled with a new coat, shoes, or other piece of clothing. Hard times, folks. Hard times.
1940s - What did the future for the Forties hold? Teen girls asked the Magic 8 Ball, which made its first appearance. Like every decade before and after, teens also asked for clothes. Board games continued to dominate in all age groups with such new additions as Candy Land, Scrabble, and Clue. Then, of course, there were Tonka Trucks -- made of die-cast metal, not plastic -- making them perfect for ramming into Mom’s coffee table. Near the tail end of the decade, little girls wanted the Baby Coos doll and, for both boys and girls, cowboys and Indians were the bomb. Everyone wanted a cowboy hat and two gun holster cap gun set like Hopalong Cassidy and the Lone Ranger. Yee-hah! This trend continued well into the Fifties.
1950s - Lots of fun ‘hands on’ stuff came out during this time. Silly putty, Legos, and Play-Doh were all favorites. There was also Mr. Potato Head, complete with everything but the potato -- a real one had to be supplied by parents. The hula hoop also debuted as well as the beauty and fashion icon, Barbie. She looked pretty smokin’ in that black and white striped bathing suit. Me-yow! For older kids, record players were high on the list. What better way to listen to the likes of Frank Sinatra, Elvis, and Ricky Nelson? Through the next four decades, records would be high on all teens lists. Brownie cameras were also popular. Angel Face powder and other make up were on some girls' lists, plus -- I won't say it again -- clothes.
1960s - Enter G.I. Joe who, despite what every boy in America might have believed, was created so Barbie could have a cool boyfriend. Etch-a-Sketchs, Hot Wheels, and Twister also came into existence. My favorites? The super cool Lite Brite and (drum roll please) Easy Bake Oven. Nothing like a 40 watt light bulb to bake those 3-inch cakes! For older kids, the transistor radio finally got cheap enough to ask folks to buy one. You could take music with you where ever you went! For older kids, 8-track tapes for stereo systems also made an entrance. For teen girls, nothing beat the oval-shaped princess phone. In fact, whether it be the Sixties, Seventies, Eighties, even Nineties getting a phone in your room was the HUGEST THING EVER. Girls also fancied those new portable hair dryers with the flexible tube that pumper air into a shower camp -- no more sleeping in rollers. Hooray! “The Swinger,” a fun Polaroid camera was a hit with teens. Much later in the decade, when things got groovier, lava lamps made their first appearance, becoming a popular teen gift item in the Seventies, too. They also craved anything with a ‘peace’ sign.
1970s - Nerf balls became the rage for boys everywhere, while girls got Strawberry Shortcake. Rubik’s Cube and skateboards were also hot, as well as the biggest movie tie-in juggernaut of them all: Star Wars merchandise. Action figures, trading cards, underoos… ‘the Force’ took over the world. Groovy items older kids went for were mood rings and black lights with corresponding psychedelic posters. Troll dolls and granny glasses were also popular, as were blow dryers, one of the greatest inventions of all time. Lip gloss in a pot made it big and in 1979, every girl -- big or small -- got an assortment of Bonnie Bell Lip Smackers in their stockings. As for ‘peace’ sign merchandise? It made way for ‘Have a Nice Day’ smilie face stuff. That yellow face was EVERYWHERE. Before I end, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention this decade also brought one of the biggest games in geek history. The fantasy role-playing game, Dungeons and Dragons debuted in 1974.
1980s - Oh, man. I don’t want to relive this…the Cabbage Patch Kids. Children were NUTS about them, making them the must have doll of 1983. Sure, there were Care Bears and Smurfs, too, but Cabbage Patch Kids? Whoa. Teddy Ruxpin, the animatronic talking bear, became a 'wanna have' toy later in the decade, though it was too expensive for many to afford. As for boys, Transformers and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles entered the scene. For the older set, Trivial Pursuit became the hot game, and everyone wanted a Sony Walkman (with tape cassette!) or stereo so they could listen to their tunes. Roller blades were also introduced mid decade, making anyone who still had roller skates look so lame. After Tom Cruise's hot performance in 1983's Risky Business, teens were dying for a pair of Ray-Ban Wayfarer sunglasses. The coolest things, though? The decade started with the Atari game system and ended with the Game Boy. The video game era officially began. Then there was the VHS cassette. People could watch movies in their homes whenever they wanted. Huge.
1990s - Move over Ninja Turtles, it’s time for the Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers! Later on, Pokemon became big, too. Teletubbies dominated the younger set, as well as a slew of other kiddie TV show merchandise. (Can you say ‘Blues Clues?’) Elmo, being the bad self he is, managed to create a stir all on his own. Tickle Me Elmo was THE toy in 1996. I can’t tell you the amount of mayhem and angst the doll created that Christmas season when it sold out early. Beanie Babies made their mark, too. They were not only popular with young kids and teens, but made a big dent in many a collector’s pocket book in its hey day. Teens were also gaga for slap bracelets, plus we can't forget that the Nineties = boy bands. (For more on that see Through the Ages: Teen Idols.) Many a girl would have freaked for a ticket to one of their shows.
2000s - The beginning of the millennium started off with the Razor scooter craze. Video game systems, be they hand-held or at home consoles, also became must have toys. Tamagotchis left there mark and Dora the Explorer became a household name. Though Barbie continued to reign in the doll department, Bratz entered the scene and shook her world. Mid-decade, Radica’s 20 Q electronic game became a cool gift for older kids. They might also have wanted a DVD of their favorite movie or (girls only) a copy of one of the Twilight books. but if you really wanted to rock their stockings? I had to be a cell phone or IPod.
Well, there you have it. I hope you enjoyed this nostalgic trip. Now I’ve got to take a trip to the store and get some REAL holiday shopping done. If you’ve got the time, whether you’re an old fart or a hip happenin’ teen, I’d love to hear what your must have toys were when you were young. Come on, fess up!
Hey! Special thanks to my mom, my Aunt Margie, and my friend, Theresa B., for their' generational' input. Keepin' it real folks. Keepin' it real...
The date: Friday, November 26th
The time: 4 a.m.
Where was I? Not in bed, dreaming of the wonderful time I'd had at Thanksgiving. I was in my car, driving along an empty highway toward the mall so I could shop, shop, SHOP! That’s right. I'm one of those crazy people who got up way too early in search of red-hot deals.
As I was driving along the dark, empty road I thought back to the holiday shopping of yesteryear. Things weren't always so nuts, you know. Or maybe you don't know. That’s why I bring you…
BACK IN THE DAY
Holiday Shopping: Deck the Malls with Boughs of Holly, fa la la la…aw, fudge.
As always, things were a bit different when I was young. First of all, we didn’t have the deluge of kiddie commercials we do now. The Disney Channel? Nickelodeon? They didn’t exist. Children’s programming consisted of a few hours each weekday on PBS (no commercials) and Saturday morning cartoons on the ‘Big Three’ networks: ABC, CBS and NBC (commercials!) If you were a kid, your Saturday morning was booked, not with soccer games or Tae Kwon Do practice, but watching cartoons. That’s when we learned about cool stuff like Rock’em Sock’em Robots and Hippity Hops. When Christmas time rolled around, the retail industry took it up a notch. That’s when the Sears Wish Book came out.
cue the singing angels….
Behold the Magic!
That’s right. Back in the Seventies, many purchases were still made through catalogs. Twice a year, Sears and J.C. Penney came out with big, thick ones stuffed with everything -- clothes, bedding, socket wrenches, you name it. Right after Thanksgiving the Wish Book appeared in all its glory. The back of it was filled with pages and pages of toys. I still remember spending hours pouring over it while making my wish list to Santa. Barbie’s Country Camper, come to mama!Of course, there were regular retail stores, too. I grew up in a town about an hour outside of Chicago. In the early Seventies we didn’t have much, just a down town with a grocery store, furniture store, five and dime, shoe store, clothing store, etc. Our first big box mart didn’t come until later in the decade with the introduction of Kmart, home of the blue light special. As for toy stores, the Toys ‘R Us (known back then by the classy name ‘Bargain Town’) was so far away we never seemed to be able to make the trip (At least that’s what Mom and Dad said. Hmmm....)
Still thinking about that Country Camper...
During the holidays, our best bet was the local Ace Hardware. It always cleared some aisles in the back to make room for all the neat Christmas toys. Then, of course, there was the mall…
Ah, yes -- the mall. In 1973, one opened up ten minutes from our house and our shopping lives were transformed. So many stores in just one place! It was open on Sundays, too, something local businesses had never done. That was the place to shop, particularly during the holidays, and Black Friday was the coolest day. Why?
Stores didn’t open early and there weren’t any bust-down-the door deals, but something fantastical did occur. On that day, every store -- including the mall itself -- unveiled their Christmas decorations. That’s right, no holiday decor until AFTER Thanksgiving. The whole world instantly transformed into a holiday wonderland. Store hours were extended, too. Many stores, including those in the mall, stayed open until 9 p.m. instead of the regular 5 p.m. We could shop whenever we wanted.
Like most girls, as I got older shopping became one of my favorite pastimes, holiday season or not. My dad would slip me five dollars, maybe twenty if I needed a new pair of shoes, then drop me off at the door with my friends. We’d walk around, hit the record store, and check out clothes at the Limited Express and Benneton. Sound kind of familiar?
Despite all the killer deals we have these days, holiday shopping just doesn’t seem to be as fun as it used to be. Maybe it’s because I’m a mom shopping for twenty people instead of a kid shopping for four, or maybe it’s because stores keep pushing the holiday season further and further forward each year. The ads alone are daunting. Whatever the reason, I get a little sadder each year. A little more jaded, too....
Dang! Am I starting to sound depressed. I think I need a little ‘retail therapy’ to perk me back up. Anyone want to go to Kohl’s with me? They’re having a big sale and I have a 30% coupon.
Anyone? ….. Anyone?