Archive for December, 2008

Reviews of My Christmas Reading List

Posted in Agatha Christie, books, Christmas, holiday, pop culture, reviews with tags , on December 18, 2008 by Paxton

santa_reads1Well, December is upon us. The year is almost over. So, even though stores started putting up Christmas decorations 2 days before Thanksgiving, I waited until December 1 to really start thinking about Christmas. A few weeks ago I decided to read nothing but Christmas books through the end of the year. I thought it might help “jump start” myself into Kris Kringle mode. I picked my festive list of books first before I started reading because I wanted to be prepared and not caught off guard by finishing a few and then having to scramble to find some more. Many are older classics that I never really got around to reading in the first place and one is one I re-read because it was short and I enjoyed it.

So, I finally finished my Xmas reading list and I thought I’d let you all know what I read and what I thought about them.  It’s an eclectic list, and I didn’t enjoy everything I read, which is to be expected, I guess.  But enough of my incessant babbling, here’s the list of reviews.  Some of this stuff may put you in the Xmas mood, some of it may put you in the mood to punch some random Salvation Army Santa in the gut.  Pick your poison, my friend.

The 13 Problems
A Christmas Tragedy by Agatha Christie
– This is one of Agatha’s short stories found in The 13 Problems collection.  Honestly, I was a bit disappointed.  The events of this short story just happen to take place during a Christmas party, that’s pretty much the only tenuous connection to the holiday.  The mystery is short and sweet, but not one of her best.  I find that Agatha is best at the novel length stories where she can build character and suspense.  When she writes short stories, there is no time to build the suspense then have a nice reveal.  It’s too quick.  So, this was only a so-so entry to my holiday reading list.

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Rankin-Bass: Kings of the Christmas Special

Posted in 80s, advertising, Apple, Christmas, holiday, pop culture, Rankin/Bass, TV shows with tags , , , , on December 11, 2008 by Paxton

Xmas Classics DVDIt’s Christmas time! I love Christmas time. The decorations, the holiday-only items in the stores and toys. Can’t have Christmas without kick-ass toys. However, I especially love flipping through the TV channels during the holiday season. All of the TV logos are juiced up for the holidays and our old Christmas Special favorites are dusted off and traipsed out in front of us like a former beauty queen, well past her prime. There are plenty to catch. Endless remakes of A Christmas Carol, TV shows centering their activities around Christmas parties, beloved cartoon characters meeting Santa Claus and learning that “to give is better than to receive”. You’ve seen them, you know them. But the undisputed king of television holiday specials has got to be the studios of Rankin-Bass. Rankin-Bass consistently made the most treasured and beloved holiday specials of all time. Their track record is undeniable. Their influence on the holiday is unmistakable. Let’s take a look back at the animation studios of Rankin-Bass and some of their most famous specials; most you’ve no doubt seen dozens of times, but many you probably didn’t realize they created.

Rankin-Bass logo

Rankin-Bass was established in the early ’60s by Arthur Rankin Jr and Jules Bass. Originally named Videocraft International, they independently produced several animation series including Pinocchio in 1960 and Tales of the Wizard of Oz in 1961.  Pinocchio was animated in the “ani-magic” style of animation using puppets and stop motion photography (which would later become a Rankin-Bass trademark), while Tales of the Wizard of Oz was animated in traditional 2-D animation.  The Oz series would be popular enough to adapt into a TV movie in 1964.  This TV movie would air on the popular GE Fantasy Hour. Then, in December of 1964, the GE Fantasy Hour would air the first Rankin-Bass Christmas special, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, which would go on to become one of the most popular and longest running specials in TV history.

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It’s Ninja Day 2008!!!

Posted in holiday, humor, life, Ninja Day, ninjas with tags , on December 5, 2008 by Paxton

Ninja Day Banner

That’s right, it’s that time of the year once again.  December 5th.  The Day of the Ninja. Today is a day to celebrate the lethal, the invisible, the AWESOME…Ninja.

Regular readers know that this blog celebrates Ninja Day every year.  See last year hereAnd 2006 here.

Many people ask me what it’s like to be a ninja.  Really, being a ninja is just like being a normal person, except faster and more awesome.  People also want to know if just by being a bad ass ninja do I get out of many fights or, every once in a while, do I get to deliver a glorious and spectacular ninja death unto some poor soul’s sorry ass.  The answer is, I get to deliver ninja justice onto people everyday.  Sometimes multiple times in a day.  Let’s take a look at a few of the attacks I see on a daily basis.

Pax Enter the Dragon

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40 years of the Elvis ’68 Television special

Posted in pop culture, TV shows with tags , , on December 3, 2008 by Paxton

Forty years ago today, Dec 3, 1968, NBC aired the Elvis Presley Special sponsored by the Singer Sewing Company. It has since become known as the ’68 Comeback Special, or just the ’68 Special. It has stood the test of time as one of the most iconic performances of Elvis Presley’s career. It re-ignited his singing career and also started him touring and performing live concerts for the first time in seven years. This is how the televised special became known as the Comeback Special, Elvis was returning to touring and making rock-and-roll records.

As I said, the ’68 Special has become iconic, not just for Elvis fans, but for the man himself. One of the more famous images of him is decked out in his all-leather suit strumming his guitar.

This special marked the first time Elvis had “gone electric” during a musical performance. In all previous performances he only played acoustic guitar.

Another iconic image of Elvis is in his all-white suit, standing in front of the immortal red ELVIS letters singing “If I Can Dream”

Although it aired on Dec 3 1968, the special was actually filmed in July 1968. Elvis had just returned from his honeymoon with Priscilla. While the Special was wildly successful, many people don’t realize that the original concept of the show was completely different.

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December is here, the Christmas decorations are up!

Posted in Christmas, holiday, life with tags on December 1, 2008 by Paxton

South Park Santa Pax

Alright, now that I’ve eaten enough food to feed a third world nation for three months, it’s time for the three week slide into Christmas. I’m like a bottomless pit in November and December. I’m almost ashamed of the amount of food I eat during the holidays. Plus, I was sick most of last week so I couldn’t really do any running at the gym, or outside because it was a bit chilly. I’m going to have to get Steph to roll me out the door in the morning so I can get to work.

Anyway, I worked all weekend on the blog header you see up top. I had several ideas and I didn’t like how any of them turned out. This one finally just came together and I really like it. Maybe I’ll show you a few of the ideas that didn’t make it as a Christmas blog header this week.

Till then, I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving. FYI…Auburn completely self-destructed in the Iron Bowl on Saturday. It was painful to watch. Best of luck to Alabama in the SEC Championship against Florida. Should be a fun game to watch.