Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Fragileee - It Must Be Italian

Today's blog is about movies... and here is the latest from my aspiring moviemaker wife.. including the clip posted here a couple of weeks ago. Press play and while you wait for it to load... read on.....

Oy to be a Jew on Christmas.. Talk about being left out of all the excitement! Usually, this time of year, I am already planning where I will spend New Year's Eve watching Dick Clark... who I hope will be ok enough to be at Times Square. However this year, due to the lateness of the lunar calendar, Hannukah will actually coincide with Christmas. so actually we won't be feeling as left out as usual. Channel 7 actually mentioned how many shopping days are left for Christmas AND Hannukah.. much to the dismay I'm sure of pondscum like Bill O'Reilly who is furious with store chains that say "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas" even though he is fully aware that not everybody in our society participates in the holiday.

What does a Jew do on Xmas? Well.... I don't eat Chinese food! My traditions are well rooted and have followed true to form for many years. Up until I met my wife on 12-29-2001, Christmas Eve involved the traditional trip to the Jewish shmingles dance. The annual meet market consisted of thousands of hot city babes whose alcohol intoxication never quite reached the peak I was hoping for them to achieve beer goggles. (I'm bored, you're drunk.... Deal or No Deal?) Nonetheless, there were always some interesting people there, and although I don't think I ever met a woman at an xmas eve singles event, I used to go because there was nothing else to do.

Nonetheless Xmas day was THE day for my regular movie trifecta. "A Christmas Story", "Scrooged" and a nightcap of "It's a Wonderful Life" are part of my regular movie watching habits. This year I will be traveling on Xmas day throwing things a bit out of whack. Now with travel and connecting flights I have to scramble to keep up my tradition of seeing all 3 movies. ACS will run all day on TBS... that wont be too difficult, and IAWL is on NBC on Christmas Eve this year...(they're showing Law and Order Criminal Intent on Christmas Night!.. and it's not a Goren episode!!)... and Scrooged will run at 12 midnight Sunday night coinciding with my hotel check in. assuming the flight is punctual..

Here are my thoughts on the 3 films....

A CHRISTMAS STORY - 24 consecutive hours on TNT starting Christmas Eve at 8pm. skip the first two showings to catch "It's a Wonderful Life"

- It took a while for it to catch on with me, and I don't recall liking it that much when I first saw it. But back in the early 90s I recall DangerSpouse raving about it... and since I knew his mind was warped I decided to revisit it. Since then, my daily activities are planned around the TBS marathon. By the way, the NFL is moving its games to Sat for the wknd with a Sunday twinbill at 5 and 830pm. The Viking game at 830 may affect the Giants, so you might want to plan around that.

Im not sure why I like this movie so much now, and I sound like those goofballs that go see Rocky Horror. My wife is NOT a big movie buff but every year she joins me when I yell out the lines such as "You'll shoot your eye out and Fa ra ra ra". Then every package we see for the next 3 months marked fragile is greeted with "Fragileeeee, it must be Italian". It drives them nuts at the post office and we actually are banned from there until Baseball season!

The movie is about a kid who wants a bb gun although everyone tells him he'll shoot his eye out. But there really is no plot. It's just a Jean Shepherd story about familiy life in the midwest and how the kids always looked forward to the holiday season. Shepherd narrates the movie, as we watch the hijinks involving this wacko family who somehow manage to pull it all together... but not before an eventful flat tire that leads to a major frame up involving who taught our hero the "F-word" and a Santa Claus that sends kids on their merry way by stepping on their heads as he pushes them down a long sliding pond. Watch the mall scene closely and you'll see a cameo appearance by Jean Shepherd. It's just a charming movie that grows on you with a liberal use of fantasy flashbacks that undoubtedly inspired Seth McFarlane when he created "The Family Guy".

One casting note: the great Darren McGavin plays the father in the movie.. he of the classic late lamented (and poorly remade) Night Stalker. Just the other day the word Glockenshpiel came up in conversation.

SCROOGED. Sunday night at Midnight on TBS

Since I grew up in a Jewish home, I really wasn't too acquainted with the Scrooge story. Therefore I really only know the basic premises. In this movie, Bill Murray plays an absolutely miserable human being who through a bizarre miracle gets a chance to see that his life could indeed be happier... wait a minute that's the premise for Groundhog Day!

Nonetheless, Murray runs a TV station and insists that his entire staff work Xmas eve to stage a live production of "A Christmas Carol". Then he starts to get visits from the various Ghosts of Christmas Past and Present not to mention a psycho who takes the control room hostage in an understated performance by Bobcat Goldthwaite...(whatever did happen to Bobcat?)

Watching Murray get his comeuppance and showing how he transforms himself caps up with a finale of "Put a little love in your heart".... that will have you humming the tune till New Years!

IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE - Saturday night at 8pm on NBC

Movie #3 is "Its a Wonderful Life". Years ago this movie was in the public domain and could be shown by all the stations and aired 2x a day. Eventually it was a bit of overkill. Then NBC obtained exclusive rights to it and now they only show it 2x a year. The movie stars Jimmy Stewart as George Bailey who decides to chuck it all and jump off a bridge after his life SEEMS to fall apart. But along comes his guardian angel who shows him how life would have been had he never been born....

Heres an interesting factoid. For years I had been a big fan of The Dick Van Dyke Show.... it was produced by Sheldon Leonard. He played the bartender in the movie and actually took the role so he would have enough money to buy Dodgers tickets! He also did a week on the old Match Game that ran earlier this year on GSN. Well, my lovely wife had told me that there was a relative who had acted in the old days with Abbott and Costello. What she didn't tell me it was in the movie Abbott and Costello meet the Invisible Man! It was only earlier this year that I found out that her distant cousin was Sheldon Leonard!

Theres something sweet about this movie and Frank Capra directed himself a masterpiece. The ending is absolutely fantastic and those who watch it for the first time, if they can set aside the shmaltz, tend to shed a tear. Theres even two buddies named Ernie and Bert! Lionel Barrymore also does a fantastic job playing Mr. Potter, the resident villian who throws everbody's life in disarray. When George can't save the day, he despondently heads to the bridge where "Clarence" takes him on an adventure that changes his entire perspective and actually makes sad sack George feel kind of happy.

The concept of someone jumping off a bridge only to be intercepted by your
guardian makes you think a bit. Just imagine these scenarios if people took... The Clarence Tour:

1. If a New Square chusid was to jump off a bridge from the women's side.. Would the angel make him cross the street to the other side of the bridge first, before he took him back to see what life would have been like had he never been born.

2. If Don McLean stood on the bridge and took the Clarence Tour.. Would people think Madonna's hideous remake of "American Pie" was actually a good song?

3. How about Ted Kennedy? Insert your own Chappaquiddick joke here.

4. And... Jerry Bruckheimer? CBS would have UPN-esque ratings and David Caruso and Emily Procter would still be relegated to B-movie status, such as Procter's "Breast Men" which by the way is on sale at Pathmark for 7.99. Of course I bought it because I'm a big Chris Cooper fan. You're not doubting me? Hellooo... go see "Adaptation" and "Seabiscuit" back to back, and just tell me he's not a great actor!

5. Let's say George Bush was standing up there.. Just think how wonderful life would be according to Clarence.The country would be in much better shape, Valerie Plame would have a job, and there would be a few thousand more of our soldiers who fought this absurd war in Iraq, alive and well and watching the Christmas Story marathon with their families..

Here we go with the Christmas bladder scale ... on a scale of one to four less likely you would be to leave in the middle to go to the bathroom....

Scrooged gets 3 bladders

A Christmas Story falls just short with 3 and a half bladders.....

It's a Wonderful Life....It's a 4 bladder movie!!!

Happy Holidays Everybody.. Except Bill O'Reilly...

And A HEALTHY New Year to Prime Minister Sharon and Dick Clark!!


Anonymous said...

Great photo! Man, do you know how to ham it up.

And kudos, that you also have the menschkeit to get down with the x-mas spirit, as cheesy as it may be (as a columnist wrote today: "While rabbinic law prohibits Jews from participating in Christmas, we still respect the institution and those who celebrate it." -

Oh dear, I mentioned both "ham" and "cheese" in this comment! Not very kosher of me...

On that note, my lawyer and I would like to wish you and your devoted readers a warm, non-denominational "happy holidays"!

- The Merry Pumpstradamus

Dangerspouse said...

Brilliant entry! Hey Natey, whatever happened to the kid who played Ralphie, anyway? After getting so much critical acclaim for his performance, I think he did one schlocky follow-up flick about a kid with a magic bicycle (or something), and then...poof! Gone. BTW, do you know I've still never seen "Wonderful Life"? There just isn't enough insulin in the world for me to sit through something that saccharine. Anyway, schmekle (sp?) writing, as always.

Neil said...

What about "muppet xmas carol"? Worth it just to see Statler and Waldorf as the ghosts of christmas past.

Nate said...

I find it very amusing that this blog has evolved into a dialogue about favorite Christmas movies amongst a bunch of Jews!

Pumpsterdamus... the pic was "edited" together by a co-worker of mine whose nickname is Quagmire as in the character from "The Family Guy"... Nuff said.. Giggity Giggity

Danger - I dont know what happened to Peter Billingsley.. An updated pic of him is on I think he is producing movies. I actually first heard of him when he was on Real People... I actually wonder whatever happened to Sarah Purcell. And did you know Skip Stevenson was a panelist on the last episode of Match Game in the Gene Rayburn era?

Neil - Havent seen the Muppet movie.. I'll try to catch it this year.

Dont forget our special posting next week featuring an exclusive interview with the world famous Pumpsterdamus!

Dangerspouse said...


You guys are Jews??

Nate said...

Oops.. I forgot..we have a discussion of Christmas movies with a bunch of Jews and a devout atheist! Sorry, danger I forgot to include you in the original comment.

Btw, check out today's Post online at for an updated pic and more info about Peter Billingsley.

And let me know if you want to leave your retreat in Northwest NJ to venture into civilization, I plan to be watching Its a Wonderful Life on Sat. night and youre more than welcome to join the festivities!

Dangerspouse said...

D'OH!! I knew I should have checked back here earlier! Sorry Natey, I had to work all day Saturday, then do some Christmas Eve stuff with wifey. Had I known though, I would have loved to join you. Rain check?