Friday, December 24, 2004


Well, my wife Patty has baked and distributed a whole bunch of seriously good chocolate chip cookies throughout our neighborhood and circle of friends, I made a shepherd's pie for our neighbor across the street, a recent widower, the holiday shopping and driving is, thankfully, now all finished, the girls are snug in their beds, full of excitement and anticipation (they spent a good five minutes kneeled in front of our fireplace tonight, calling out to make sure Santa hadn't already arrived and gotten stuck in the chimney). I'm writing this in bed while Patty lays listening to the Average White Band, This Mortal Coil and Paul Westerberg on her iPod. We're both settling in for not a long winter's nap, but hopefully at least a decent night's sleep before being invaded by the mad little chickens in their trendy sleepwear (Nonie sports the latest from Dora the Explorer while Emma rides the cutting edge in Incredibles PJs featuring Violet, the Invisible Girl) for the beginning of Christmas Morning 2004. This year there's plenty to be grateful for, plenty of love to share, plenty to look forward to in the coming year, and plenty to be nervous about as well. Getting the Christmas spirit this year has been a tough order for me to fill, but it's been made a lot easier thanks to my girls, and keeping in mind that making sure they have a straight and pure access to everything wonderful about the season is about the highest calling a father could have this time of year. I'm so grateful every day, but on Christmas day especially, to have them and to have Patty by my side on this adventure. Together I feel sure we can make the happiness of this most excellent day extend into the darkest recesses of the rest of the year, even if doing so might challenge every fiber of our fragile neural networking. If it does, and I'm sure it will, then all the better, for upon attaining even a measure of that happiness will come an appreciation for it that might not come if it were merely a simple gift. Here's to 2005, then, and all it might bring. May it be the fulfilling adventure we expect, bumps and all...

And what would Christmas be without a couple of holiday-themed movies to while away the afternoon while the kids gambol at your feet, buried in a mountain of new toys? Here's a couple of suggestions that stand to be at the ready near my DVD player tomorrow:

1941 All the joys of the Christmas season come crashing down on Hollywood Boulevard in high style in this underappreciated epic comedy. I cherish the moment when Ned Beatty brings down half his house in a mortar fire mishap intended for a Japanese sub lying quietly off the Santa Monica coast; as he flails about, rotating the turret straight through walls, windows and holiday decorations, one of his kids (Christian Zika), bedecked in full Indian chief headdress, runs up beside him and, with a mixture of awe at the old man's macho audacity and genuine annoyance, yells, "Dad! You're ruining Christmas!" It's a line I reconfigure and use throughout the year, and it's only one of the small treasures this overscaled elephant yields upon close, appreciative inspection.

Die Hard What says the holiday spirit better than Bruce Willis firing an automatic weapon at terrorists while treading barefoot over broken glass? Those terrorists, who've gone and spoiled his wife's office Christmas party by assassinating her boss and taking over the high-rise where she works, aren't even political-- they're in it for the money! And that's just another way this wildly amusing thriller, which provided the template for seemingly hundreds of knock-offs, none of which were a fifth as amusing as this one, connects with the materialism of an good old-fashioned American Christmas.

And when things get a little too tense and egg nog just isn't the answer anymore, let The Ref warm your cockles like no other holiday classic could. This caustic comedy puts burglar Denis Leary in the middle of a familial maelstrom of vindictive behavior between a man and a woman (Kevin Spacey, Judy Davis) he's holding hostage. This movie will put any holiday annoyances or troubles with relatives in proper perspective, unless your family is just too busy throwing punches by the light of the tree to pay attention to the movie. In which case I recommend an emergency screening of Arnold Schwarzenegger's Jingle All The Way, which oughta serve to sober just about anybody up.

I've been extremely busy with life this past week, but I'm hard at work on a couple of pieces that should be ready for posting by Tuesday or so. For any of you who might be champing at the bit (ha!), know that something new is on the way. Thanks so much for reading, for checking the site out, and for (hopefully) coming back for more.

Wait... What's that sound on the roof? I thought we got rid of all the rats in the attic. If not, those are some pretty big rats thumping around up there. And that strange, faint jingling... I'd better go check it out. Merry Christmas, everyone!


Anonymous said...

And, for holiday movie fare, let's not forget Call Me Claus, starring Whoopi Goldberg; The Santa Clause, starring Tim "White Christmas" Allen; and It Nearly Wasn't Christmas, with Wayne Osmond and Ted "Your Ship's Bartender" Lange.

Anonymous said...

Though you make 2005 sound pretty scary, I have to admit you singlehandedly transformed Christmas 2004 into a truly magical, wonderful time for Emma and Nonie. And my suggestions for Christmas movies would be the only ones I watched (over and over)this year: "VeggieTales in The Toy That Saved Christmas," "The Grinch That Stole Christmas," "Spongebob's Christmas Special" and "Mickey's Magical Christmas." Fascinating, one and all.

Anonymous said...

Dennis, Anonymous was me, Montana Todd, and you're right: "The End" was used much less frequently than I first assumed. I guess it's because Jim Morrison has that same egotistical monotone swagger in every delivery, along with Ray Manzarek's stupid carnival-sideshow organ, that I assumed "The End" was better represented than it was. But the Doors' music has sullied many a soundtrack, as a check of imdb attests. (Apologies to Doors fans. Believe me, there's tons of music I love that others think of as godawful.)

Dennis Cozzalio said...

M Todd: I thought it might have been you, but I couldn't remember where you came down on The Doors. Now I guess I know. And I couldn't agree more. I remember desperately trying to like them, both in my pre-teen youth (I dug "Hello, I Love You" when I was about nine years old) and during their brief Oliver Stone-inspired vogue in the early 90s, but I've never been able to do it. They've always sounded like a bunch of pretentious, noodling amateurs to my ears. Thanks for staying abreast of the blog!