Archive for December, 2012

A look at Rankin-Bass’ Santa Claus Trilogy

Posted in Christmas, holiday, nostalgia, Rankin/Bass, Santa Claus, TV shows with tags , , , on December 13, 2012 by Paxton

It’s Christmas time. Time to start watching all of my favorite Christmas movies (A Christmas Story, Elf, White Christmas) and Christmas specials (Rankin-Bass, Mickey’s Christmas Carol).  Probably my most favorite things to watch this time of year are the Rankin-Bass Christmas specials from the ’70s. More specifically, I love to watch the specials informally called (mostly by me) the Santa Claus Trilogy.  This trilogy tells the origins of Santa Claus and his adventures in delivering toys.  The main character is Santa and he’s voiced by Mickey Rooney in all three specials.

The three specials that make up this loose “Santa Claus Trilogy” are:

Santa Claus is Comin to Town
Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town (1970) – Narrator SD “Special Delivery” Kluger answers questions about the early adventures of Santa Claus.  We see a young Kris Kringle clash with Burgermeister Meisterburger, win over the evil Winter Warlock and start delivering toys to good little boys and girls.  This special is great because we actually get to see the origins of Santa Claus and how he came to be, including many of the traditions of Christmas like hanging stockings and Santa coming down the chimney.  It’s very well done and the music is awesome.  Some of the great characters include Kris Kringle/Santa, the Winter Warlock who I feel should have been used more, especially in the followup specials, and, of course, the awesomely bad Burgermeister Meisterburger.  You just can’t do it much better than Rankin-Bass did it in Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town.  But you can do it worse.  Check out this stop motion music video of Justin Bieber singing Santa Claus is Coming to Town featuring characters from the special.  Awful.  Just, awful.

The Year Without a Santa Claus
The Year Without a Santa Claus (1974) – Santa has been doing his job for a long time.  He wakes up with a cold and starts to complain that no one has the Christmas spirit anymore.  So, Santa just decides to quit.  It’s up to elves Jingle and Jangle and the reindeer Vixen to find people that still care about Christmas, all while trying to avoid the quarreling Miser Brothers.  Here we get even more great songs and characters, most especially we are introduced to Heat and Snow, the infamous Miser Brothers.  Their quarreling and antics are the highlight of the special.  I’m still not sure why Winter Warlock did not make an appearance in this special.  Even a cameo would have been sufficient.  He was one of my favorites from the previous special and they didn’t even use him.  Unfortunately, in 2006, there was a live-action remake of this starring John Goodman and Delta Burke with Harvey Firestein and Michael McKean as the Miser Brothers.  It nearly destroyed all the goodwill I had for the movie.  It still airs from time to time on ABC’s 25 Days of Christmas.

A Miser Bros Christmas
A Miser Brothers’ Christmas (2008) – The North Wind sabotages Santa’s sleigh causing him to hurt his back and requiring someone to take over the job on Christmas.  Since apparently Mother Nature is in charge of Santa’s job, she assigns the Miser Brothers to take over Christmas, much to the chagrin of The North Wind.  However, the North Wind continues to manipulate the Miser Brothers so they will fail and Mother Nature will put him in charge.  For this special Mickey Rooney returned to voice Santa and George S Irving returned to voice Heat Miser.  Both actors were over 84 years old at the time of recording.  Dick Shawn (Snow Miser) and Shirley Booth (Mrs Claus) didn’t return because they had died before the show went into production.

The first two specials have been favorites of mine since I was a child.  I loved those stories and the characters within.  Many people prefer the iconic Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, which I love dearly, but the first two specials above are my absolute favorites.  While many deride the third special, it actually wasn’t that bad.  The music was good and I, for one, enjoyed seeing the Miser Brothers back on TV.  Was it the same?  No, but it had enough of a nostalgia factor that I enjoyed it.

Miser Brothers

If you check out the schedule at ABC Family’s 25 Days of Christmas, you can see when these specials are playing.  As of now the first two specials will run this Friday night.  However, they will inexplicably run out of order.  The Year Without Santa Claus will air first at 7pm EST and Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town will air at 8pm EST.  Not sure why they did that.

The third special, A Miser Brothers’ Christmas, will air on Saturday at 10:30am EST.  However, all three specials are airing multiple times so if you miss this weekend’s showing you have multiple opportunities to see them before Christmas day.

So that’s the Rankin-Bass Santa Claus Trilogy.  I thought this would be a good time to talk about these specials because I have several other things coming up in the next week pertaining to them.  So this is sort of a primer for you to get out there and watch them.  Starting on Tuesday’s episode of Nerd Lunch we will actually create our own Christmas special using characters from not only the Rankin-Bass specials, but ALL Christmas specials.  EVER.  And it actually turns out pretty good.  Check back on Tuesday to hear that episode with special guest Digio from The Atomic Geeks.

After that, I’m going to pitch to you my idea for a fourth special in this franchise.  So stay tuned.

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Nerd Lunch Episode 65: The Trial of Tim Burton

Posted in movies, podcast, pop culture with tags , , , , on December 11, 2012 by Paxton

Nerd Lunch Podcast

This week, we are joined by Mr Matt Ringler of the Schlock Treatment podcast (when he decides to show up). For our topic, we return to do one of our trial episodes which we did previously in episode 15. We put Michael Bay on trial in that episode, this time, we are prosecuting Mr Tim Burton.

Tim Burton

I play the star witness as well as the bailiff, CT is the judge, Matt is the prosecutor and Jeeg is the defender. We talk about Burton’s body of work, we talk about what works, what doesn’t. Essentially we are deciding if Burton should be put away for good for crimes against the movie-going people. Are Batman and Ed Wood enough to keep him out of jail? Are Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Planet of the Apes going to drag him down like an anchor around the neck? Tune in to find out.

Download this episode from iTunes or listen to it on Feedburner.

Or listen to it online right here.

I go ahead and rank the Beastie Boys’ albums in order from best to worst

Posted in Beastie Boys, music, rap with tags , , , on December 7, 2012 by Paxton

I’ve been thinking about doing this for a few months.  Usually ideas like this kick around for awhile until I finally have to say, “ENOUGH, VOICES IN MY HEAD!  YOU WIN, I’LL WRITE THE DAMN ARTICLE!”  And writing the article will silence the voices…for a little bit.  This is how my three part article on New Coke was written.  You’re welcome, by the way, for that little “peek behind the curtain”.

So, the Beastie Boys released their first album, License to Ill, in Nov 1986.  I bought that album, on tape, either later that year or early 1987.  I had just started getting into rap at the time.  I listened mostly to Run-DMC and The Fat Boys.  I liked both group’s rap style, which wasn’t surprising since both of them were on Def Jam Records, famously portrayed in the movie Krush Groove.  And, not surprisingly, The Beastie Boys were also a part of the Def Jam family.  They even had a track on the 1985 Krush Groove soundtrack that I had completely forgotten about when License to Ill was released.  That first album blew me away.  I loved it and listened to it non-stop until I completely wore the tape out and had to buy another one.  I have been a fan of the Boys ever since.

The Beastie Boys released 8 official studio albums beginning with that first one in 1986.  There were also several other compilations, EPs and video albums that were released at various times throughout their career.  However, I’m going to focus on the main 8 studio albums.

Here we go, The Beastie Boys albums in order of my personal preference.

License to Ill
1. License to Ill (1986) – Their first studio album and, to me, their best.  You will never convince me otherwise.  I learned pretty much every song back to front.  It is still the album I listen to first when I want my Beastie Boys fix.  You can tell they are very much influenced by Run-DMC on this album to the point that their song Slow and Low is a cover of an unreleased Run-DMC song.  Some of my favorite tracks include Fight for your Right (To Party), Paul Revere, No Sleep till Brooklyn, She’s Crafty, Posse in Effect, The New Style, and Hold It Now (Hit It).  Essentially, the whole album is a classic.

Check Your Head
2. Check Your Head (1992) – This, their third album, is amazing.  Whereas Paul’s Boutique (see below) was a more experimental rap album, this one is a grittier version of License to Ill.  This is the album where the Beasties abandoned synthesizers and began playing all their own instruments on every track.  They also started using on this album the “echo voice” effect for which they’ve become known.  The soundscape of this album is just awesome and I love it to death.  Classic tracks include So What’cha Want, Pass the Mic, The Maestro, Jimmy James and Professor Booty.  Just so you know, I think So What’cha Want is probably my favorite Beasties song of all time.  This album was remastered and re-released in 2009.  This re-release added a bonus disc which featured extra tracks like The Skills to Pay the Bills which was the B-side of the So What’cha Want single.

Paul's Boutique
3. Paul’s Boutique (1989) – It may be a bit controversial that Paul’s Boutique is not higher on the list.  This was the B-Boys’ second studio album and the one magazines like Rolling Stone love to pretentiously put as a “greatest album”.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s really good and offers a nice variety of traditional and “experimental” rap.  The singles Hey Ladies and Shake Your Rump are really good as are the tracks The Sounds of Science, High Plains Drifter, B-Boy Bouillabaisse and Looking Down the Barrel of a Gun.  The Beasties were really stretching themselves to try something new on this album, but the important thing is that they didn’t overreach.  An almost perfectly formed experimental rap album.  Perfect parts traditional + experimental rap.

Hello Nasty
4. Hello Nasty (1998) – This is a great album.  The Beasties turn back to the synthesized sound for this record.  Most of the songs sound highly processed like they were run through a computer.  It’s a fun one to listen to and I keep forgetting how much I really do enjoy it.  Songs I like from this album include Super Disco Breakin’, Put Shame in your Game, Unite, Remote Control, Intergalactic and Three MCs and One DJ.

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Cult Film Club Episode 1: The Wraith (1986)

Posted in 80s, movies, podcast, pop culture with tags , , , , on December 5, 2012 by Paxton

cfc_logo1

It’s official.  The Cult Film Club podcast has gone live.  Check out our very first episode here.

Wraith car Packard and Rughead

In this first episode Shawn, Jaime and I discuss the 1986 Charlie Sheen car-tacular classic, The Wraith. We cover nearly every aspect of the movie including the pedigree of the actors, the rockin’ soundtrack and, of course, the kick ass car.

So hop in your prototype inter-dimensional vehicle and steer your way to iTunes or listen online.

Nerd Lunch Episode 64 – Very Special Ninja Day episode

Posted in movies, ninjas, pop culture with tags , , , , , , on December 4, 2012 by Paxton

Nerd Lunch Podcast

Tomorrow is officially Ninja Day. So in celebration, the Nerd Lunch Podcast has invited Jaime from shezcrafti.com to join us for a discussion of one of the greatest 80s ninja movies of all time, Ninja III: The Domination.

Ninja 3 V8

We talk a little about the movie’s origins, our own experiences with it and the awesomeness that is Sho Kosugi in an eyepatch.  So if you love ninjas possessing young, sweaty aerobics instructors, ridiculously hairy boyfriends and crates of V8 juice, then you’ll love our discussion of Ninja III: The Domination.

Download this episode from iTunes or listen to it on Feedburner.

Or listen to it online right here.

The Cult Film Club officially opens on Wednesday

Posted in movies, podcast with tags , , , on December 3, 2012 by Paxton

cfc_logo1

I’m going to be a part of a new podcast called Cult Film Club. Like Nerd Lunch, it’ll be a part of The Atomic Geeks Podcasting Network.

My co-hosts are Shawn Robare from Branded in the 80s and Jaime from shezcrafti.com.  Click here to learn a little bit more about your hosts.

Shawn Monster Squad

Jaime Sonja

The podcast will be monthly and feature the three of us talking about weird, obscure cult movies from the 60s, 70s and beyond.  We’ll talk about the stars, the sets, the soundtracks and whether or not the movie deserves the title of “Cult Classic”.  We have a great lineup of movies we can’t wait to watch and talk about with you.

Our very first episode will go live on Wednesday.  If you want to hear what movie we’ll be talking about in that episode, take a listen to tomorrow’s all new, Ninja Day episode of the Nerd Lunch Podcast.

You can check out Cult Film Club online at CultFilmClub.com.  Click on over and join the club.  We are also on Twitter and Facebook.