Friday, December 21, 2012

Nightmares Before Christmas

I imagine this is how most babies and toddlers see Santa
So here we are, as of this writing, 36 minutes into December 22nd and as every rational human being knew, nothing happened. Of course it is inevitable that many people died today, making it the end of the world for them. But if you are reading this, then congratulations! You have survived the Nonpocalypse. Again. 

I keep wondering if there will ever be a time when everyone realizes "You know what? There probably really isn't any truth in the vestigial, superstitious beliefs of our mostly science-less ancestors." Probably not. Nonetheless...

Many years ago, I played Santa at the department store where I was a manager (talk about a smooth segue). As the actor on staff, many such jobs fell to me. No pictures or throne or anything like that. I just walked around the store and gave out candy canes and talked to kids briefly. A quick tour of the store and I was done for a couple hours. One afternoon a young mother called to me, "Santa! Please come say hello!" I looked over to see a sleeping baby in a stroller and thought, 'Oh, please save us from screaming.' But the mother looked like she really wanted me to, so I headed over. 

"Are you sure?" I asked her.

"No, I promise, he loves Santa."

"Okay, but let me get down so I'm not towering over him." So I squatted down (those were the days when my knees still worked well enough to squat) and smiled. 

"Sean," Mom called. "Sean, wake up! Look who's here!" 

The baby Sean, certainly less than a year old, roused and opened his eyes and looked around and then landed on me. 'Here it comes!' I thought. The baby Sean opened his mouth in surprise... and started to smile... and smile... the single most beatific baby smile I have ever seen in my life. That moment... that amazing smile... that was Christmas. Twenty-five years later and that moment always comes to mind when I most need some Holiday Spirit.

Of course, it took this post about about nightmarish Christmas things to get me there. All this Apocalypse nonsense; that dreadful business in CT (not to mention the idiocy of the NRA's response) and the seeming interminable week before the holiday vacation had me cranky today, and when BoingBoing shared some strange Christmas videos, I had to talk about them and find a few more. And even though I had a very nice evening tonight, I still wanted to share some weirdness.

This first goodie is called Santa in Animal Land and features a goose (?), cat, dog and frog (?) who are sad that there is no Animal Santa, so the goose (duck?) and the cat head off to find the most horrifying Santa in Puppetland. PeeWee would probably not approve:

I really have nothing else funny or snarky to say about that truly horrifying piece. It's evil speaks for itself.

This next treasure is a short from Castle Films, which I'm guessing is from around the late 30's or early 40's. Merry Christmas isn't overtly nightmarish (well, not most of it) as much as it cries out for the MST3K treatment:

Joel and his bots did take on a Castle short, which while having nothing to do with Christmas, is certainly nightmarish (not to mention probably the funniest short they've ever done, which was paired with one of the funniest features they ever did). If you've seen Here Comes the Circus before, you know you can't wait to watch it again. If you're seeing for the first time, enjoy. If you are Dear D (i.e. coulrophobic) DON'T watch it at all:

This next (also via) drek-tacular nightmare apparently got the Riff-Trax (sort of the Son of MST3K) treatment, but is certainly hilarious and weird and nightmarish all on its own. And it isn't just the sub-amateur acting, mid-century suburban locations, crappy stock footage and terrible camera work. There's actually something very 'Funny Uncle' about the whole thing. Both the Narrator and Santa even sound like child-molesters. Honestly, Ed Wood made better movies. Here's 1963's A Visit to Santa

"Every doll must have a head. And also, a body!" Was this thing written by a young Thomas Harris? Then there's this gem: "For little girls, a doll is fun to warsh and dress and spank!" My head nearly exploded from that single line alone. Only to be followed by this: "How Ann enjoy these pretty dolls and Dick...(inappropriate and ill-placed pause)... shows no delight." And then even more incoherence: "She'll cook and scrub the whole day long and serve a TV dinner." What? WHAT!?!? TV dinners? What the hell was she cooking all day, Soylent Green? Oh, and the reason for Christmas? " celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, hundreds of years ago." The underlining is mine. But I suppose that Santa is correct. I mean if the Earth is only 4,000 years old, then Jesus must have lived in 1763 or something. Right? In fact, he gave George Washington a ride across the Delaware on the back of his stegosaurus.*

There, that's better. Tonight saw a lovely dinner with some very dear friends, followed by a fond Christmas memory and some creepy holiday nonsense. Why wouldn't I feel better? Well, the citrus vodka spritzers I had while writing this post didn't hurt. 

I am off from the Day Job for the next ten days and am looking forward to sleeping in, spending time with most of the people I love most in the world and maybe venturing out for a day trip or two. I have many gifts to wrap (and just a few left to get) and lots of cleaning to do in the next few days, but that's okay. I'm finally actually looking forward to my very secular version of Christmas, in which I choose to celebrate those I love with gifts, food, laughter and good times. 

And that is Christmas, too.

More, anon.

*Art challenge. Submit your artistic interpretation of Jesus giving Washington a ride across the Delaware on a stegosaurus (or any dinosaur) and the best entry will win a piece of show biz memorabilia.

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