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the season of the watch
my nightmare before christmas
by mike julianelle
pop culture

Lately, seasons have lost their meaning. Winter is warm, summer is barely 3 months long, spring doesn't even exist anymore, etc. But it's not just the weather that's different. TV seasons have spread through the once barren summer months, and cable shows, DVD and DVR have made almost all scheduling pointless. It's infected sports as well: baseball has spread to November, arena football keeps creeping up at us, and I don't know what's more surprising, that the NHL still exists or that it seems to happen all year round.

About the only signifiers we have left are the holidays. They continue to fall on the same days every year. And in my house, certain holidays spread far beyond a single day of celebration. Namely, Halloween and Christmas.

Every October, Halloween dominates my life. Not only am I forced to think about potential costumes to wear in order to humiliate myself in front large crowds of gay people dressed as fairies and vampires in downtown Manhattan, but it's also the one time of year during which my wife wants - nay demands - to watch "scary" movies. So the entire month is awash in monster flicks, ghost stories and etc.

And that's fine. I like movies, and I like scary movies. I enjoyed Paranormal Activity quite a bit, and Moulin Rouge scared the shit out of me. So long as I can get away with dressing as Clark Kent again, or at least with wearing my grey suit and going as arm candy for her Pretty Woman costume (not having to go shopping for a Halloween costume is Mike's rule #1 for surviving Halloween), a month of Halloween-themed festivities is fine by me.

The Christmas season is a much bigger issue for me. Because not only is it all Christmas music all the time (if I have to listen to "Santa Baby" one more time I swear to God I am going to kill Jessica Simpson and Eartha Kitt (fine, re-kill) and everyone else who's ever given it a shot), it's all Christmas movies all the time. After the classics - It's a Wonderful Life, Miracle on 34th Street, A Christmas Story, Die Hard - the deluge: hour after hour of out and out trash, all sharing a Christmas theme.

Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against the holiday itself, and I like Christmas specials as much as the next guy. "Peanuts", "Garfield", etc - a solid half-hour or two of animated merriment is all good by me. But I do find most of the newer stuff that springs up to be pretty crass and artificial, from the nonstop holiday albums every pop artist feels obligated to release to the so-called 25 Days of Christmas movies that air on basic cable.

Have you ever watched more than five minutes of the Lifetime channel? Apparently the only people they can afford to cast are Mario Lopez, Melissa Joan Hart and Reba. ABC Family has movies starring George Wendt and Paul Sorvino as Santa Claus, and Jenny McCarthy is apparently still alive! But made-for-basic-cable flicks are harmless guilty pleasures for lots of women, so when it comes to spending a few nights watching Anne Heche and Tate Donovan hunt for a gifted, homeless, teenage photographer every December, I cut my old lady some slack.

My nightmare? The new household tradition I can't stomach: a yearly viewing of the live-action Grinch. I dread those cold winter nights during which i am forced to watch Jim Carrey mug in a muppet suit, complete with a backstory about the Grinch's misunderstood childhood and sarcastic one-liners from the perenially overrated Christine Baranski. The way my wife cowered during Paranormal Activity was nothing compared to my reaction to Jim Carrey's version of the Dr. Seuss cartoon.

Thankfully, this month of holiday movies is just that, a month, so it doesn't last quite as long as watching Just Friends for the 100th time feels. And I can usually squeeze in at least half of Die Hard before December ends. The benefits of a classical education.


Let's get real here. You don't want to know about me. You want to know about "me".

more about mike julianelle


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topic: pop culture
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topic: pop culture
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lisa r
12.7.09 @ 8:27a

The one, the ONLY Grinch is the original animated version. Period.

sandra thompson
12.7.09 @ 8:39a

Bah fracking humbug!

adam kraemer
12.7.09 @ 10:18a

Moulin Rouge was scary as hell.

I'm halfway through my first-ever viewing of White Christmas and actually quite enjoying it, though I think that's, in part, because there's no way anyone would believe Danny Kaye celebrates Christmas.

lisa r
12.7.09 @ 2:17p

White Christmas is one of my all-time favorite movies. If I could just sit down and watch a full day's worth of favorite Christmas shows/movies, I'd watch:

1. How the Grinch Stole Christmas (original animated version)
2. Holiday Inn
3. White Christmas
4. Desk Set
5. A Christmas Carol (George C. Scott version)
6. The Shop Around the Corner

But since I'm up to my ears in work, I guess I'll just have to count that as one of the visions of sugarplums dancing in my head.

brian anderson
12.7.09 @ 2:39p

"The one, the ONLY Grinch is the original animated version. Period. "

Ahem. There is a book as well, I believe.

Who overrates Christine Baranski, outside of the sort of people who go to see Broadway shows?

lisa r
12.7.09 @ 5:52p

Well, yes,there is a book--and I'm looking forward to reading it to various and sundry nieces and nephews. I was just stating a preference for the animated version over the movie version. I LOVE to read Dr. Seuss out loud. And the Mouse who Ate a Cookie Series, and Eric Carle books, and Amelia Bedelia, and...

Oh wait, this supposed to be about Christmas TV viewing, not my refusal to completely grow up.

Sorry, Mike. I got a bit carried away.

robert melos
12.8.09 @ 2:55a

I'll bet you'll be a laugh riot arond Valentine's Day. February is a month of love stories and romantic comedies, isn't it?

And my favorite Xmas film is the original version of Christmas in Connecticutt with Barbara Stanwyck. Desk Set is my second favorite. And you're dead on with the Jim Carrey version of Grinch. I love Christine Baranski, but hate the film.

adam kraemer
12.8.09 @ 10:18a

I do have to say that, despite the 24-hour showing, I always liked Jean Shepherd's "A Christmas Story." Classic.

joe redden tigan
12.8.09 @ 2:21p

something they used to showcase around christmastime that i haven't seen anywhere on tv in a while is "The Homecoming: A Christmas Story", which was the original 1971 pilot for "The Waltons". Loaded with quality actors who give stellar performances. in fact, think i'll head over to amazon...

mike julianelle
12.9.09 @ 11:10a

Elf is rather enjoyable.

heather millen
12.10.09 @ 1:36p

"Smiling is my favorite!"

That one has become a quick classic. I also love "A Christmas Story" and National Lampoon's "Christmas Vacation." But I admit, if the mood strikes me, I will watch any piece of Christmas crap they put on ABC Family.

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