Christmas Evil.

One thing I love about Christmas this year? Zero expectations.

Pulling the plug on both Advent Calendars and then deciding that I couldn’t do the site at all made for a massive departure from the Christmases I’ve grown accustomed to: The kind where I’m strangling clocks to finish weirdo X-E projects, and barely getting my hands off the keyboard in time for our Christmas Eve party.

It was hard to do that for a lot of reasons, but what surprised me was how utterly foreign Christmas felt when I wasn’t devoting every spare moment to living it through the site.

I’ve come to appreciate what this place really is for me: A chance to do the stupid things most people never bother with once they hit a certain age. I can’t imagine the everyday world building monster spumoni cakes, or trying out every recipe on every bag of limited edition holiday marshmallows.

Truth be told, once I removed X-E from the equation, I wasn’t gravitating to stuff like that, either.

I did see a little bit of what I’d been missing, though. That was the good part. All of the normal Christmassy things that I usually skip in favor of whatever I’m doing here. Someone in the last thread made a great point: You’re not going to have many new experiences if you spend every moment thinking about old ones. I don’t think they put it quite so eloquently, but that’s why I make the big bucks.

I will remember this going forward. It’ll mean less X-E, but it’ll also mean a better X-E.

Wasn’t bullshitting you, though. I really did need to get started on my “real life” work. I’d orchestrated my schedule to make the next marathon start in January, but even so, there was a ton of preparation involved with those projects. It got to the point where I looked at the calendar and thought, “…if I don’t really actually literally start this now, I am really actually literally being irresponsible.”

Doing this dumb site takes focus. I’m not good enough to babble mindlessly and get kudos. Even if you think I’m just babbling mindlessly now, rest assured, I’m babbling with such focus that even the faint sound of our neighbor’s wind chimes is driving me out of my fucking mind.

You can’t focus on stuff 24 hours a day, or however many hours you’re awake. I picked the thing that was more important to focus on. The sacrifice was ten more videos of me, babbling mindlessly, in Halloween makeup.

Funny story, at least to me: Even after announcing that I was canning them, I gave it another crack. Figured that if I could get through 5 or 6 videos in one sitting, Christmas could be saved for the ten people that actually enjoyed the things.

Shown above is a still frame from what would’ve been 12/16’s video. While doing a gag where I put on the makeup while filming, I got a good look at myself and realized that, indeed, it was probably time to go back to work.

See my dead red eyes? That’s what defeat looks like.

I’m not sure if I’ll ever do another video. I probably will, but there is certainly a part of me tempted to delete all of the previous editions and pretend they never existed. Still, in the funky mélange that is X-Entertainment, me coughing through a bunch of LEGO reviews seems to fit.

Every year, I try to incorporate a new cocktail into our Christmas Eve party. What I choose never seems to be imbibed by anyone but me, so I’ve stopped worrying about what might pry my family from their boring red wine. This is more about what I want.

For 2011, I wanted something with a real photographic quality to it. I wanted to look like I was celebrating Christmas in an upscale magazine spread. To accomplish this, I took a hope shot on a type of booze that I was completely unfamiliar with, all because it was so damn RED.

What’s it called? I don’t know, Asptero Apertivito, or something close to that. Wait no, Aperol. Aperol Aperitivo. Apparently, it’s a famous Italian pre-dinner drink. It tastes like oranges mixed with cough syrup. It has an alcohol content matching that of Progresso Beef Barley. But it is so damn RED.

If I don’t torch this bottle by Saturday, everyone’s going to think I’ve become so sophisticated. I’ll just need nicer socks.

Trying to spin a negative into a positive, I gathered all of the Christmas candies I didn’t get to write about and tossed ‘em in a basket. When I arrive on Christmas Eve, I will be a hero to the 400 children banging their heads against the walls.

It’s not about charity. I just want to see them battle it out. There’s only one tree-themed Push Pop in there. Nations have warred over less.

I can’t shake the feeling that this basket is going to ruin someone’s Christmas. Kids are already edgy at this time of year. I can just imagine the tearful episode after one of the bigger kids runs off with the only mini-carton of goldfish crackers. I should install a hidden camera in that wicker.

For dinner, we’re in charge of the stuffed mushrooms. We always are, for every holiday. Even birthdays.

I don’t get it. They’re not even that good. Maybe we’re not trusted to make anything but stuffed mushrooms? I wouldn’t eat crown roast, but I’d sure like to take credit for one someday.

While mushrooms are our sole edible responsibility, I’ve also decided to bring along a port wine cheese ball. I’m not happy about how they’ve fallen off the radar during recent Christmases. My parents taught me a lot, mainly about cigarettes and casinos, but also about port wine cheese balls. People at Christmas parties just seem to be in better spirits with one of those babies around.

Doesn’t matter if anyone eats it or not. It just needs to be there. The port wine cheese ball is the unspoken but super critical life of the party. Proof: It’s covered in sliced almonds, which is food’s version of a drunkard’s lampshade.

I’m writing this on Thursday night. Since it’s 5 AM, it’s technically Friday. Last day before Christmas Eve. I have so much to do, not the least of which being the completion of this post, which, at this point, is barely halfway done. I could end it here, but as this is supposed to be my merry mea culpa, I’m going to finish it tomorrow.

In the meantime, here’s a picture of the Incredible Hulk, eating lights.

It’s tomorrow, now. I can continue.

I love that photo. I’m so glad I didn’t throw Hulk away. I’ve been throwing everything else away, lately:

I mentioned a short while back that we’d begun clearing out my office, which, for several years now, has been a locked tomb containing all of the things idiots like me accumulate when nobody’s there to stop us.

That’s my office as of now. As terrible as it still looks, I cannot overstate how much of an improvement this is. No exaggeration: We’ve gone through at least 40 contractor bags so far, and that’s just for the stuff we deemed garbage.

I had oodles of still-packaged toys, too. Those, we donated. We filled every bin we could find. It felt great, despite knowing that even needy kids would probably balk at E.T. Walkie Talkies from 2003.

No, I’m not trashing everything I own, or the things I actually like. I’ve just hit a wall with this stuff. It’s not that I don’t want it around me; it’s that I don’t want it surrounding me. I’m not going to like Star Wars any less without those two plastic tubs filled with carded Revenge of the Sith figures.

As you can see, there’s still a long way to go. It was easy to toss things at first, because I owned so many things I plainly did not want. Now I’m inching closer to the nitty gritty, and fighting my impulses to hold on.

Like, that giant Robo-Force vehicle you see there, in the middle. I don’t need it. I’ve already written about it. Given its size and my miniscule chances of locating a box large enough to ship it in, I’m never going to eBay it. And I can’t say that my life is being improved much by owning a 500 foot Robo-Force vehicle.

Things like that gotta go. I can grow up a little. It’s not like I’m tossing the orange Halloween Boglin, mint in his cage-themed box. That would be crazy.

Shrunken Apple Head and his potato friend also celebrate Christmas. Since we never bothered to get a tree this year, they’re actually doing it better than us. On the other hand, who among you can honestly state that there’s a potato caroling in your living room? In their victory lies mine.

It’s now 3:30, Friday. I was supposed to have this up hours ago, but it’s been a whirlwind day of last minute gifts and post office trips. I also hear that one of my brothers is coming into town early, so the five “chore hours” I’d been banking on for tonight are now going to be spent peddling Aperol and eating olives stuffed with fantastic things.

Yet, I still feel compelled to finish this post, and it’s all because of the Pillsbury Doughboy. On the same day that I announced my “vacation,” I found that tube of Peppermint Sugar Cookies. What a slap in the face! Such a perfectly Christmassy thing to write about, and I couldn’t. I think it would haunt me all throughout 2012 if I let this one slip by.

They came out terrible. Delicious, but terrible. They’re not so much “cookies” as they are just one big “cookie,” and brother, that’s okay, because that mess of a photo is such a perfect metaphor for my Christmas season. I’ve already ordered 30×20” glossies. They cost too much.

There. Done. And not a moment too soon. So much left to do. So many mushrooms to stuff. So many gifts to wrap, once I remember which kids are getting which video games. If I’m lucky, maybe I’ll even squeeze in one or two viewings of A Christmas Story.

I hope everyone has a chill and merry holiday. This thread is going to be up for a while. I look forward to reading about your own Christmas adventures. Haven’t decided if I’m doing a Fallout post yet, so have at it here if you can’t stand the wait.

It’s been a tricky season for sure, but serious strides were taken to make the next one great. As for the site, well, I’m diving into work immediately after Christmas, and that will go through most of January. Not planning to never post, but definitely not planning to promise much in the way of anything. Of course, since I say that, it’s guaranteed that I’ll post more often than I did last January!

The road to recovery is always rocky, but we’ll get there. And how.

Forget that, though. Now is the time for celebration. So go do that. Be a superstar.

Merry Christmas!

815 thoughts on “Christmas Evil.

  1. DJ D

    Can’t forget Night Shift either. Beetlejuice and The Fonz running a whorehouse out of a morgue. Great stuff.

    The Dream Team was a good one too. Great ensemble cast in that, and featured another “he-makes-everything-better” actor, Christopher Lloyd.

  2. Berdo

    I know many people who don’t give it the time of day but I always liked Multiplicity. How can you go wrong with 4 Michael Keatons?

  3. Cameron T.

    The Best Michael Keaton movie is clearly Herbie: Fully Loaded.

    (I kid, I kid).

  4. Jugendsehnsucht

    Haven’t been around here in a while, nice to see things are still relatively active in this big ol’ thread.

    “Prometheus — Probably the one summer movie that I’m most excited about aside from The Dark Knight Rises, which of course will always be on top.”DJ D
    Normally, prequels or sequels this far down the line are at the bottom of my want-to-see list due to major drops in quality, but this looks like it could be a real exception. Some serious finger-crossing from me for this one.

    “NIC CAGE?!? If someone ever suggested I would be portrayed in a movie by Nicolas Cage I’d punch them in the nuts.”Rev. Apocalypster 13
    Totally. Cage is a real mixed bag for me—I loved him in Wild at Heart, thought he was good in Leaving Las Vegas and Adaptation, but he’s responsible for so much shit (especially in the past decade) and has such limited range as an actor that I’ve pretty much given up on anything other than hating him now. That, and he was part of the FUCKING TRAVESTY—and since there is no way to get that text at a larger point-size, I’m just going to say it again—THE FUCKING TRAVESTY that was the remake of The Wicker Man. The original definitely ranks somewhere in my top five movies ever, and the way the re-make pisses all over it is still a sore spot for me.

    “If I were in charge of casting this masterpiece, X-E Matt would be portrayed by Nick Stahl, who was Ben in Carnivale.”Rev. One-Armed Perry Salute 13
    This is genius casting. Not only can I see a resemblance, but I can imagine the same sort of stalwart stoicism in the face of seemingly insurmountable tasks. Except he’d be trying to juggle a dayjob with a nostalgia website instead of acting as the Avatar of Light. Whatever; same difference.

    “I know exactly who would play the rest of you, too, but I’m keeping it to myself for now. This is going to be huge.”Rev. Righteous Man 13
    The suspense on this is now killing me. You’d better follow up on this sometime.

    “Agreed Murray has to be in this movie in any form or this need to be shelved indefinitely.”JohnV
    Absolutely. Trying to salvage it without him, whether by writing him out, or by (worse yet) recasting the role would be a terrible mistake, and I’d rather they didn’t even bother at that point.

    “But for serious, I can say with absolutely no exaggeration at all that Michael Keaton is literally my favorite actor of all time, and has been for years. I’m so glad we got round to discussing him. I just posted something about the Beetlejuice sequel on my FB the other day. “DJ D
    Y’know, you’re lucky that you have decent, upstanding folks for friends to discuss that with on your FB wall, and not a couple of depraved lunatics who would turn your Beetlejuice thread into 50+ posts about tiny dicks. Because keeping that sort of company would probably reflect poorly on your character.

    That said, a smaller role of his not yet mentioned that I always liked was Agent Nicolette in Jackie Brown. Sometime I’ll have to see Out of Sight just to see him reprise the character.

  5. Guise

    Juggie, it’s all right, the Nicholas Cage version of The Wicker Man doesn’t actually exist. It was a viral marketing campaign for a new honey-coated nature bar that got out of hand. They never really made it though, it was never fully filmed, distributed, mass-produced or televised. It’s all just a hoax, a sick, sick hoax.

  6. Rev. Nemesis 13

    Jungenstitch,

    Remember that episode where the gang rolls into a dusty ghost town and Ben has to try out all those different holiday themed room sprays? And then a bunch of miners try to beat up the carnies and Ben defuses the tension by making them a big pitcher of Kool Aid? That’s the episode that really clinched it for me. That’s when I said, “Get Stahl’s agent on the phone,” but nobody did, because I don’t have someone who gets people on the phone for me. Thus the project was halted in its tracks.

    How is this the second day in a row I am talking to you about Carnivale?

    As for my casting decisions, you are going to have to wait just like everybody else. I think you’re going to be very surprised when you see who plays you.

  7. Jugendsehnsucht

    It was the episode where we saw Ben’s tearful reaction to Rita Sue’s damnation of being a wandering spirit eternally molested by Ronald McDonald in that window that sealed the deal for me.

  8. GrindhouseCinema

    Hope everyone is having a wonderful Friday night! I am currently here at work (manage a movie theater) … showing ‘Red Tails’ tonight and I have a late show so I will be here until a little past midnight this evening.

  9. Annette

    Oh hi guys.

    I wish Hollywood would quit it with the sequels and remakes already, but I’ve been saying that for like six years now, so whatever.

    Also, who the hell is Channing Tatum?

  10. Skind Eep

    Glad I checked in here tonight. I LOVE Dream Team. And Pacific Heights is one of my wife’s faves. Keaton has this thing…I don’t know what it is…the guy’s just believable. You don’t have to expend a lot of brain power getting over the fact that you’re watching Michael Keaton; you just buy into the character. (Don’t hate me for saying so, but I still wish all attempts at portraying Batman had been cast with unknowns. Actually, I wish most movies I truly care about had been cast with unknowns. I can dream…)

    DJ D: that assessment of Michael Bay a little while back was SPOT ON. “Studios seem to confuse desperation with desire.” That is exactly right. I watched Captain America the other day and I thought: wow, that looked really awesome, but it had no depth. I saw the little Avengers teaser at the end of the credits and got hooked in by that concept of connecting the stories, so I started watching them: Iron Man, Iron Man 2….um….but I just couldn’t do Thor. I mean, “WATCH” Thor. And I didn’t even realize there was another Hulk after Ang Lee’s Hulk, made just a few years later. Couldn’t do it. I mean, the Iron Man effects are sweet, Downey Jr is funny, Scarlett Johansson taking out bad guys by wrapping her legs around them is…well…anyway, the point is, there’s just no emotional depth to any of this stuff.

    It’s like traveling down the rabbit hole, finding the bottle labeled DRINK ME, drinking it, then staying exactly the same.

  11. GrindhouseCinema

    Not every movie needs ‘emotional depth’ … remember you are not watching Citizen Kane you are watching Iron Man. Its not meant to move you on an emotional level, its supposed to be a fun action film with great special effects and an entertaining cast of characters. Same with Hulk, or Thor, or Captain America.

    You seem to be faulting these films for something they were never meant to be.

  12. Rev. Twitcher 13

    Jugdish,

    Yes it was Dora Mae, and that is precisely the episode I was referring to. Your magical telepathy strikes again.

    That was my favorite episode of all, in part because Stangler was played by John Hannah, whom I was deeply crushing on at one time. Damn was I into John Hannah. He’s so creepy and weird, which really does it for me for some reason.

    I watched all the Transformer movies recently and I thought of DJ D the whole time. I was trying to see what it was about them that upset him so much. They were okay. It’s about robot space cars, right? Maybe Deej’s rage was similar to the way I felt when I heard “Thick as a Brick” in that Hyundai commercial. It’s a sorrow most people can’t relate to.

  13. Mystie

    I lost interest in the Transformers movies after the first one. I was visually entertained, and that was enough to enjoy the first movie but not enough to make me want to continue watching them. Unlike the recent Batman saga, where I am still wetting my panties awaiting Dark Knight Rises.

    Happy SNT. I’m having a baby shower tomorrow with the in-laws side of the family at a fancy cloth napkin type restaurant. Ooh la la. I’d rather sit in a cozy living room chair eating spinach dip and sheet cake, but hey, I’m not gonna gripe too much… free is free.

  14. drew do

    Grindhouse: I agree 100%. I’m always kind of shocked that people want emotional depth or some kind of profound plot out of Transformers or comic book characters. I loved Captain America, Thor, the Iron Man films, and hell I even loved the first Hulk. They were great for what they are, kids movies based on kids media. I live in Cleveland where they filmed The Avengers so I am seriously excited for it.

    Not everyone has to feel that way and I get why people get so bent about movies like Transformers or even the new Star Wars trilogy. It’s not what they remember from childhood or whatever. I’ve said it before, I love them nonetheless because they are getting an entirely new generation into the characters. How does it get any better than that?

  15. GrindhouseCinema

    You the man, drew do! =) I am a fan of all types of films and I tend to appreciate most movies what what they are instead of what they are not. When you look at a movie like Independence Day and actually break it down to its core… its a pretty stupid film. But that is alright because it was never meant to be anything more than a ‘stupid film’.

    The beauty of film is that something like Transformers can exist right along side a strange independent film like Pi … because each movie is different and fills a different kind of need. To compare the two is really unfair to each film.

    Of course everyone has the right to not like any film for whatever reasons they choose. I am just sharing my opinion in a broad sense =)

  16. Brandon (brandmed)

    Hey everybody. Just caught up on the thread as I hadn’t checked in in a while. I want to add my vote for Keaton as the best Batman ever. Unless we consider animation because when I read Batman comics, I hear Kevin Conroy’s voice in my head. Both of them were awesome, and unlike Christian Bale, I could listen to them talk without laughing.

    I shuddered when I read the news that Michael Bay was going to be involved with TMNT. I hated the Transformers movies, but I was never that into Transformers as a kid so I didn’t feel the vitriol that DJ D and others felt for them. But I owned just about every single TMNT toy and am still a huge Turtles fan so he better back the fuck off.

    I was furloughed yesterday and have Monday off so I am currently in the middle of a glorious four day weekend. Today I sat on the couch all day and caught up on a week’s worth of DVR-ed shows. Great to have Walking Dead back! I also watched My Bloody Valentine, The Last Man on Earth, and Sunset Blvd. all for the first time. I enjoyed them all to varying degrees. Now, I hope to be able to stay awake late enough to see Maya Rudolph host SNL. I’m assuming she won’t be doing her Whitney Houston impression which is unfortunate because that impression had pretty much replaced the real Houston in my mind, and I want her to live, dammit! Bobby Brown!

  17. Another Tom

    I am totally with you guys on how some films are mindless though enjoyable entertainment. We should not dig too deep within certain genres ect. Film, like any medium, can sometimes be haute cuisine, sometimes junk food, but both are enjoyable from time to time. That said Michael Bay really does ruin films. This guy’s review and analysis of Armageddon puts into words all that is wrong with Micheal Bay films. It is pretty long but worth the read if you are into film. http://criterioncollection.blogspot.com/2005/09/40-armageddon.html

  18. 45 dave

    Wow…watching Chillerama on Netflix instant and this flick definitely needs to be reviewed on xe!

  19. Skind Eep

    Another Tom’s comment above points to the difficulty of ever coming up with a final answer on this subject. On the one hand “some films are mindless though enjoyable entertainment,” on the other hand “Michael Bay really does ruin films.” So, the question becomes: if it’s okay for films to be mindless, if they will still be enjoyable nonetheless, then how could Michael Bay possibly ruin one?

    Clearly there is a difference between good moviemaking and bad, and that difference applies to blockbusters as much as art films. To me, it boils down to the storytelling and the emotional reaction that results (which I call “depth” for lack of a better term). If these things did not matter, then people would not be complaining about the current state of Hollywood filmmaking and Michael Bay would be considered our greatest living director. There would be no debate over which Star Wars trilogy is superior. Empire Strikes Back is (almost) universally considered the favorite of the six films and this is because it has the most emotional resonance. Storytelling and emotion are inextricably linked.

    That article on Armageddon has so many great points and is well worth the read. I’ve often wondered myself why that film is included in the Criterion Collection. (One of my favorite quotes in the article is Roger Ebert calling that Armageddon the first ever 150-minute trailer.)

    Movies are commerce, of course. They are a product as much as a can of Coke. They cost a crapload of money to make and the people fronting that money want to be sort of sure that they’ll see some of that money returned to them. But movies can also be art. And the best movies produced by our Hollywood succeed in combining commerce with art. These are the ones we remember, the ones that rise above the manipulation and the cynical marketing, the ones where some attention was paid to the storytelling.

    I love a lot of blockbusters. Seeing Independence Day on opening day was one of the most remarkable movie-going experiences I’ve ever had. Ditto for Terminator 2. But there is a difference between these two films that results in me never watching Independence Day after that first viewing, but owning T2 and watching it many, many times. To me, that difference is story or depth and I’d prefer to spend my time and money on films that value these things.

    But this is a debate that will never be quieted, as the comments under that Armageddon article clearly display. What makes it tough to swallow sometimes is the fact that, as one of those comments points out, you could make a dozen of the other Criterion films for the budget of Armageddon. So, as with the new Marvel series, it ends up feeling like a big lost opportunity. If Iron Man and its companions were, like Armageddon, never supposed to be coherent, never intended to have any emotional staying power, then I guess that’s why, after watching, I sort of felt like I’d spent two hours staring at a beautifully lit can of Coke.

  20. Skind Eep

    Wow, that was way longer than I thought it’d be. Sorry for the soapbox. It’s just…(sniff)…I love movies so much! Alright, dammit, I’m diving in. I’m going to watch that Hulk reboot thingie. And I won’t complain. Not once.

  21. Jugendsehnsucht

    Damn was I into John Hannah. He’s so creepy and weird, which really does it for me for some reason.Rev. Informer Repitition 13
    You ever watch McCallum? John Hannah as a Scottish forensic pathologist living in London. I loved that series.

    “Maybe Deej’s rage was similar to the way I felt when I heard “Thick as a Brick” in that Hyundai commercial. It’s a sorrow most people can’t relate to.”Rev. Acorn Glimpser 13
    I had a similar aghast reaction when I saw it. Hijacking good music for advertising purposes is a major pet peeve of mine. I never want to make even the slightest mental connection to some shitty commercial when I put on one of my favorite albums.

    “This guy’s review and analysis of Armageddon puts into words all that is wrong with Micheal Bay films.”Another Tom
    A great read, thanks for that!

  22. Hoverbored

    Skind Eep- I could go on for a while about why I think movies in general are not very appealing these days, but suffice to say I’m on your side when it comes to the movies as art debate. Any movie can be a hit, but the really good ones stick around long after the fact, to be rediscovered by successive generations.

    On a similar note, the Beach Boys reunion is already shaping up to be a success. They recently announced 39 shows for this year’s U.S. Tour. A Connecticut concert scheduled for mid-May sold out within a day, and they added a second show to meet demand. So far only two or three shows are on sale (one is part of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival), so this is shaping up to be a smash already. The initial announcement was 50 cities, but there may be more cities that haven’t been announced yet. By the time the tour starts in May, they’ll probably have to add a bunch of additional concerts due to sellouts.

    2012 is looking good for pop culture junkies… New Ninja Turtles show, new Power Rangers, good movies, good TV shows… maybe, some point in the future, we can look back on this as a Golden Age of sorts.

  23. Darth Galvatron

    My problem with the Transformers films was that they were never really about the Transformers, until possible the 3rd one. It was more about Shia Ledouche and whatever “hot” young star was around at the time *cough*Meagan Fox*cough*. The robots and their war is just really in the way of that twat trying to impress a girl, or get a job, or I don’t know what the fuck else they had him trying to do.

    And no, I didn’t want G1 in real life. The G1 cartoons were just giant toy commercials made in the 80′s, and viewing them as an adult, are pretty terrible. Even the 86 movie is pretty bad if you really think about it, but I still enjoy watching the hell out of it. However, there have been ALOT of Transformers series, both American and Japanese, that gave the entire franchise both character, and depth. Beast Wars is a good example. Between cartoon series and comics, the franchise deserved a lot better than what Micheal Bay did to it.

    I’m totally okay with pop corn flicks. Doesn’t mean that some care can’t be given to telling a consistent and thoughtful story, that the TF live action films seriously lack.

    I know I’m in the minority here and my opinion is just that, an opinion. If people enjoy the flicks, that’s cool also. I just think that a franchise that I’ve followed for so many years deserved better than what it got. Then again the movies have made kabillions of dollars, so that means they have to be good, right?

    The same could be said about Britney Spears and Lady Gaga. They’ve made millions, and we all know how great their music is.

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