Tag: Christmas

I’ve said here before and I will proudly say it again: I LOVE Peanuts. I love the characters. I read the strips as a kid, I have books for my son, and I love the specials and movies. This year marks the 50th anniversary of one of America’s favorite animated Christmas programs, A Charlie Brown Christmas. I watch it just about every year, or at least read the story to my son.

charlie and linus
Charlie Brown and Linus chillin’ at the wall (in the snow).

A Charlie Brown Christmas, which debuted on December 9, 1965, is an animated television special based on Charles Schulz’s comic strip Peanuts. It opens with shots of the children ice skating while the song, “Christmastime Is Here” plays. Charlie Brown and Linus walk together on the VERY snowy roads to chat at their favorite wall. Side note: am I really the only one thinking these conditions look way too bad for these kids to walk around, alone? Maybe I am. At the wall, Charlie Brown confesses to Linus that he’s just not feeling the holiday cheer, although he knows he should. Normally, Linus has some words to perk him up but even he has to admit that Charlie is bringing him down.

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No Christmas cards?!

When Charlie checks his mailbox, he sees no cards. He sarcastically tells Violet thanks for her card and she tells him she didn’t send him one (Rude!). When he tells Lucy, at her psychiatrist booth, that he feels depressed about the holiday, Lucy suggests he direct the Christmas play at school. Right away, Charlie hopes this plan could boost his spirits. As he heads home, he becomes even more frustrated about the commercialization of Christmas when he sees Snoopy decorating his doghouse to win a contest for money. Soon after, Sally asks for help with her letter to Santa Claus, where she requests cash in “tens and twenties.” Even his baby sister!

It’s worth mentioning that my son repeatedly reminded me that he does NOT like Violet, and dislikes Lucy even more. He would walk up to the TV and point just so I wasn’t confused. I’m pretty sure he thought they were the same mean girl but anyway…

Jammin’ to some tunes during rehearsal.

When the other kids find out Charlie is directing the play, they immediately show their disappointment. Snoopy even boos him when Charlie arrives. He has little control over the other kids and is shown no respect. Most of them would prefer a modern take on Christmas, with dancing and upbeat music. In an effort to set “the proper mood,” Charlie Brown decides they need a Christmas tree. Lucy offers to take over while he looks for a “big shiny aluminum tree” so Charlie takes Linus with him.

At the tree market, there are many trees that fit Lucy’s description but Charlie Brown wants the one real tree, which happens to be VERY small. Knowing his sister, Linus is reluctant about showing up with the tree Charlie Brown likes. He tells him it doesn’t fit the “modern spirit” but Charlie is convinced that after decorating it, it will be just right for the play. When they return to the auditorium with the tree, the children and Snoopy mock and laugh at Charlie Brown, as they call him names (much to my son’s chagrin). Hurt, Charlie Brown challenges everyone, asking if anyone knows what Christmas is all about.

Linus droppin’ knowledge.

Linus stands center stage, requests a spotlight, drops his beloved blanket (!), and explains Christmas, as told in the King James Bible. “That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.”

Charlie Brown picks up the little tree and walks out of the auditorium. Inspired by Linus’ speech, Charlie decides to show them all what this tree could do with a little decoration. He passes Snoopy’s award-winning doghouse and takes an ornament. Due to the weight of the ornament, the top branch flops to the side. Feeling sad, Charlie says “I’ve killed it. Everything I touch gets ruined!” He runs off, more upset than before.

Linus and the other kids arrive near Snoopy’s doghouse. Linus admits he liked the tree, gently returns the branch to an upright position and wraps his blanket around the base of the tree.  The kids help him spruce it tree up as Lucy also admits it was a nice tree. When they start humming “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing,” Charlie returns asking what they’re doing.  Excitedly, they all shout “Merry Christmas Charlie Brown!” then they all sing together as a group, next to Charlie’s gorgeous Christmas tree.

“I got you, CB!”

The special was a primetime hit, and even won the Emmy for Outstanding Children’s Program in 1966. As the story goes, no one was a believer when Schulz pitched his idea around. He knew no one thought it would be a success but he pushed forward anyway. In 1965, America was not moved as much by religious messages on TV. The nation was on the brink of a cultural revolution as people continued the fight for Civil Rights, protested war, and pushed for women in the workplace. Who was looking forward to a cartoon with a child preaching from the Bible?

I do understand the skepticism but if we just return to innocence for a moment, it’s hard to deny there is something special about Linus bringing everyone together to honor the meaning of Christmas. Christmas is indeed a commercial holiday so it’s nice to have a reminder that we should appreciate the good things and good people we have in our lives. A Charlie Brown Christmas brings out an innocent feeling in me and I am happy to say 50 years after it premiered, I sat on the couch and watched it with my 21st century son and he enjoyed it as much as I always have. I think Mr. Schulz would be proud.

OK, he really really doesn’t like Lucy!

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When I was a kid, Christmas was a big deal to me; mostly because of gifts and A Charlie Brown Christmas. As I’ve gotten older, my taste in holiday films has changed dramatically. Every year, I gather up my favorite holiday movies, and have my very own Christmas movie marathon. And every marathon begins with my favorite, Die Hard. Over the years, I’ve heard quite a few people list Die Hard as their favorite Christmas movie, and I’ve heard just as many question how it could be. Listen, for me it could be as simple as being set at Christmas, but Die Hard is so much more than that. Picture it, Los Angeles, 1988…

Who: New York cop John McClane, in L.A. visiting his estranged wife, Holly, and their children. Things are pretty bad between John and Holly. He’s mad that she got a fancy-schmancy new job on the west coast and she’s mad because he’s a prick who thought she would fail. Points to Holly; John is d-bag.bruce-willis-as-john-mcclane-in-die-hard

Where: The 30th floor, as well as the ventilation shafts and various unfinished floors, of Nakatomi Plaza. The place is huge and leaves lots of room for bad guys and John to play cops and robbers.

What: While attending a company Christmas party, Hans Gruber and his armed minions hold everyone in attendance hostage. In order to get what they need, Hans kills a couple folks; but hey, that’s the price of doing business and being the bad guy. (insert shrug)hans gruber

When: Christmas Eve. And why not? It’s not like anything else is happening on this not quite a holiday.

Why: In an effort to teach Nakatomi Corporation about their greedy ways, Hans and co. are attempting to break into Nakatomi’s vault to steal $650 million dollars in bearer bonds. (I don’t know how much money that translates to, but it sounds like a lotta cheddar.) Personally, I think the theft is more about Hans’ greed than Nakatomi’s. When the man in charge, Takagi, won’t pony up the access codes, Hans kills him. It’ll take a little more work to get to their goal, but these guys have patience. All’s going well until John decides to get the police involved. When that doesn’t go as planned, he tries to stop them with his one-man army, plus Al and Argyle.

john in vent

Why I Love This Movie

  1. Die Hard  combines some of my favorite things: shootouts, explosions, corny quips, and awesome bad guys who make you question your own morals. It is a great action movie with an iconic hero in John McClane. C’mon, he is the epitome of the impossible white man. On his own, he takes out eight of the dozen or so bad guys who attack the building; all in a tank top undershirt and no shoes. Might I add, he kills the last two guys with the last two bullets in his gun. If that ain’t impossible, I don’t know what it is. John scrambles barefoot across broken glass, wrecking his feet, yet somehow manages to scamper across the building to kill bad guys, save the hostages, jump off the roof as a bomb is detonated, narrowly miss being pulled out a window by a fire hose, escapes the aftereffects of the aforementioned explosion, and is saved by Al when Karl tries to gun him down. A lesser man would have been taken out by the cuts on his feet.
  2. Two words: Alan. Rickman. This is the role in which I fell in love with Alan Rickman. Yeah, yeah he’s the bad guy. Does that really matter when he’s strolling through the room in that black suit, with that luscious accent? I say, no, it doesn’t. The man is an acting god; point blank and the period. I don’t know what work he did before this and I don’t really care. He will always be Hans Gruber to me. Or Colonel Brandon, Severus Snape, Harry, Metatron…okay, I’m obsessed with him. Whatever.
  3. Two more words: Bruce. Willis. I guess I should be ashamed about how much I like Bruce, but I’m not. I’ve seen a good portion of his body of work and while not all of it is good, I tend to enjoy him, if nothing else. Yes, even Hudson Hawk. I’m not sure if it’s because I loved him as David Addison on Moonlighting, or because I love his half smile.
  4. Hans Gruber ain’t your average bad guy; he was ahead of his time in terms of diversity. Not only did he have a few of his German brethren, he had a black guy, an Italian, and an Asian on his team. He’s an equal opportunity bad guy; you can’t get mad at that.gallery-diehard-1

Forget your gifts, eggnog, and spending time with family you can barely tolerate. Die Hard encapsulates the true meaning of Christmas: selflessness.  If not for John McClane, all those people would be dead. Thank you, John, for showing us that Christmas means risking your own ass to save others. This Christmas, add Die Hard to your must see Christmas movie list, and let John McClane save your day.

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