Monthly Archives: December 2009

Et Tu, Santa?

Wow, I can’t believe it’s the day before the day before Christmas!  Time sure flies when you’re drinking gluehwein and dropping cash you don’t have on presents.  (Word to the wise…don’t shop drunk on Amazon.)

Ho Ho Huargh...

It’s a bit of a shorty today because I’m swept up with all things merry and I just can’t pin myself to my computer desk long enough to write something more weighty.

So, as a cheat, let’s just take a moment to review one of my favorite scenes in one of the best Christmas movies of all time.  Yes, I know TNT plays this for 24 hours straight, but that doesn’t mean I can’t use it as fodder for this blog.

113.  The Santa Scene from A Christmas Story

A Christmas Story was shot in Cleveland (I’m a Great Lakes gal myself, so this makes me extra proud).  For this scene, they shot in a Cleveland-based department store called Higbees.  Higbees kept the slide that was used for the shoot.  Unfortunately, they were taken over by Dillard’s and that Dillard’s closed a few years back.

There are many things I love about this scene:

-The ‘so over it’ attitude of the elves.

-The way the female elf uses her hat to mark inflections in her words.

-The gentle yet forceful tap of Santa’s boot on Ralphie’s forehead.

-The way the parents don’t even notice the post traumatic stress disorder on their children’s faces.

It’s all good.  Enjoy.

I’m also partial to any scene with the Bumpus Hounds.  What are some of your favorite bits from this film?

Merry Christmas and see you in 2010 for another great year.



Filed under comedy, Movies

Pre-Heating The Oven Is So 2008

I can’t believe it’s been a year since I was here blathering on about spritz cookies. nom nom nom Gosh, how time flies when you are a biscuit-scarfing fatass.  I figured that I should highlight another seasonal favorite here because it’s Christmas.  And it’s important to have a selection at Christmas.  It’s the American way.

112.  Fudgy No-bake Cookies

Boy oh boy did I eat these by the plateful when I was growing up.  They’re not really Christmas-themed, per se…but they always got picked for my plate at the family party.

Wait! Come back! It's not what it looks like!

Yes, I know they look like excrement but, trust me, they don’t taste like it.  Wait…does that sound like I would KNOW what poo tastes like?  Because that’s not what I mean.  I’m just saying these taste much better than they look.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t dig up much about the history of this cookie.  To be fair, they seem more like a happy accident than anything that was planned.  So, I’ll just have to take up some space talking about why I think they are so deserving of being on my great-list.

Beyond the awesomely rich and satisfying chocolate taste of the fudgy no-bake, there are a few of reasons why I’m so partial to them.

Firstly, these cookies ALMOST seem like they should be healthy for you (even if they’re not really) because one of the primary components is wholesome oatmeal.  So, even if you’re ingesting a little chocolate lard bomb, at least it will help to keep you regular too.  Plus, the oats provide a wonderful little bit of chewiness to the texture.

Secondly, they  have the added bonus of not posing any risk of bodily harm (except maybe obesity) as I don’t even have to turn on a stove.  Though there is a minimum amount of boiling necessary, I don’t at any point have to reach my arms into the oven.  It is a little-known fact that I’m not only LAZY in the kitchen but I’m also terrified of burning myself.  So, that’s sloth AND cowardice.  Now you know.

Thirdly, they feature one of the best flavor combinations of all time:  chocolate and peanut butter.  Testify!

If you’ve never heard of/had these delightful treats, I highly recommend whipping up a batch.

Here’s the highest rated fudgy no-bake recipe from cookie eaters, click here

If that’s not easy enough for you to follow, enjoy this how-to video.  The video is almost entertaining solely by itself even without the happy output of cookies at the end just because of the slightly macabre music and the narration at the begining…”Chacalate peanut budder no bake COOkies”   I’m going to say it exactly like that from now on.

Here’s yet another version of the fudgy nobake…this one has the addition of raspberry jam.  Even though it’s a ‘healthier’ version, I’d still give it a whirl as the fruitiness here might make it an exciting alternative.  the one with raspberry jam..

I haven’t made any Christmas cookies this year.  (Where has the time gone?)  But, I think this holiday champion might just save the day. I might make a batch to take with me on Christmas Day.  It’ll be my contribution to the soiree.  It’s so easy it’ll be sort of like bringing jello but these British folks need not know that I haven’t slaved away on them.  Hey, there’s that sloth again!

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Filed under Vittles

A Christmas Cracker

One of the most quintessentially British Christmas traditions of our modern times MUST be the race to the top of the British pop charts that comes every December.   Mostly, the songs that peak at Christmas nowadays are the singles from the winner of Britain’s singing reality competition “The X Factor”.  They time the program so that they crown their winner and that said winner has a single out just before Christmas.  It’s typically a shoe-in.  X-Factor champions have taken that spot for four years running.  Simon Cowell…you evil evil genius.  But, it used to be that bands/singers would actually write a Christmas-themed or at least Christmas-y song to put forward for contention–things like Slade’s “Merry Xmas Everybody” and that Band-Aid track where Bono is thankful that he’s not a poor person.

We don’t quite have the same thing in America.  (Does any country but Britain do this?  Let me know.)  The closest thing I could think of was when MTV had their New Year’s Eve countdown and I used to wait up until midnight to see what the number one video of the year was.  I drank many a good bottle of sparkling grape juice in those carefree days…

This is all jolly good fun, but in my opinion–Britain’s greatest crime against Christmas was to deny today’s great thing, the number one slot:

111.  The Waitresses “Christmas Wrapping”

This song–though it received loads of radio play in the UK–only ever made it to number 41 in the charts.  Robbery!!!

To add insult to injury, you know who HAS had a Christmas number one?  Mr. Blobby!  Mr. Blobby sounds like some pervert’s name for his junk!

British people love novelty songs...and apparently hate justice.

At the very least, “Christmas Wrapping” is much better than Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s “Power of Love” which ALMOST made it as the Christmas number one before Band-Aid kicked the shit out of it.  That stuff is dire.

Though it never took the top Christmas prize, the song WAS hugely popular in the UK as it was in The States.  “Christmas Wrapping” definitely holds a place in my top ten Christmas tunes (the list includes parochial and secular tracks).  I like the song because it’s a catchy new-wave ode to my favorite holiday and because it does something that is exceedingly rare in today’s world of poetic lyric writing, it tells a simple story.

It’s the story of a young girl who just can’t be bothered with any Christmas celebrating one year…utterly defeated by the pace and  hubbub of it all, she resigns herself to eating the world’s smallest turkey dinner for one.  That is, until she runs into some dude she’s had the hots on for all year.  Then it’s all jingle bells this and mistletoe that–Christmas magic in action.

Horniness is the true meaning of Christmas, apparently.  Yay 80’s!

Link to the full lyrics here:  Christmas Wrapping

Chris Butler, of the Waitresses, wrote the song after being pressured by his label to make a contribution to a Christmas album.  They never in a million years thought that this would be their defining track.  More about the Murphy’s Law-type origins of this tune to be found here…very interesting:  Futurefossilmusic

A video was never produced for this track.  It was released in 1981–just before labels started marketing every single release with an accompanying video.  So, in lieu of what coulda woulda shoulda been a great 80’s era MTV video hit, here is someone’s Christmas lights synched up to the song.  Dy-no-mite!

Now, for my money, I’ll stick with the original.  Nothing beats that new-wave beat combined with Patty Donahue’s sexily disinterested alto which manages to make a clean sweep through the verbose song.  The temptation to remake this hit has proved too strong for tons of musical outfits.  The Spice Girls have done a version, as have Miranda Cosgrove, Save Ferris, Kate Nash, amongst many others who might chance throwing it into their set list around Christmastime.

Fans of Scottish pop-punk band Bis (at this video’s point in time, known as data Panik) might enjoy this ebullient cover.  Manda Rin gets bonus points for being cute as a button.  You can find it here on this blog:   Moviezzz

The other cover that I give my meaningless and unofficial green light to is the one that I was lucky enough to see the other day.  I went down to London to catch the Wainwright/McGariggle and Friends Christmas show.  (It was actually billed as ‘Not So Silent Night’.)  I’m a huge Rufus and Martha Wainwright fan but I have to say, that overall, the show was a bit of a downer.  They (not only the Wainwright and McGarrigle clan, but also guest artists like Boy George and Guy Garvey from Elbow) chose mostly sombre material and some obscure Christmas folk tunes.  Martha’s cover was a definite highlight and a brief, joyous, dose of mercy in an otherwise melancholy concert.

Plus, I’m loving the red shoes and feather boa.

Sadly, The Waitresses disbanded after putting out only 2 albums.  Lead singer Patty Donahue died at the age of 40 from lung cancer.  But, whether they intended to or not, they made a definite early 80’s Christmas record.

The Waitresses

The grumpy little tale with a sweetly romantic ending and a killer saxophone break will forever be on my Christmas playlists.


Filed under Music

Salty Little Question Marks

Whilst I’m blogged about sea creatures before, marvelling at the mammoth blue whales and fantastical Narwhals, I have to admit–there are lots of things that live in the sea gross me out.  (It’s one of the main reasons that I shy away from seafood…well, that and the disgusting taste…).  For instance, look at this monkfish:

I'm a goddam delicacy...

Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaargh!  Come on!  I don’t care how much that fish would fetch you at market.  It’s not worth it.  Throw it back!!!  Before it throws YOU back.  That’s just one example of finned fugliness.  Check out the blobfish.

Yes, I'm for real.

It looks like Ziggy!  Even seaweed can look pretty skeevy in the wrong light.  Mercifully, the underwater world isn’t ALL hideous beasts and unappealing foliage.  There’s some cute sh!t down there too.  Today’s great thing, for instance…


110:  Seahorses

Awwww, seahorses.  They can turn colors to match their environment you know, just like chameleons.  And, like some reptiles, they can move their eyes independently of each other.  Neat-o!  Mostly, seahorses are found in tropical waters but there have been herds found in waters as northern as the Thames Estuary (the Queen’s private sea-stables me-thinks!)

The British royal family at play...

The mating habits of seahorses really ratchets the cute factor up enormously.  For the most part, seahorses are monogamous (pretty rare for a fish–which it is).  When seahorses find a suitable mate, they perform an elaborate dance, circling around each other and making musical clicking noises.  Interloping seahorses might try to cut in, but if the match is already made, the couple stays focussed on each other.  Eventually, the female will deposit her eggs into the male’s belly pouch.  If you watch this, it’s pretty cool to see one seahorse shrink whilst the other grown instantly fatter.  This is the only instance in nature where the male of the species carries and gives birth to the young.  So cool.  Female seahorses must be pretty hot to command that kind of whipped behavior.  Hats off to you, seafillies!  In fact, the female totally wears the pants in this relationship.  She  scoots off every day– to god-knows-where…much further away from the home territory than the male ever will– for a period of time but always returns by morning to perform yet another brief dance for the pregnant dadfish.  Gotta keep ’em interested, right?  Am I right?!  She works hard for the money…doot doot doot doot…so hard for ya honey doot doot doot doot…she works hard for the money so you better treat her right.  Weirdly, seahorses will typically mate under a full moon.  They also frequently swim in couples by linking their prehensile tails together.  They are die-hard romantics.

Incidentally, baby seahorses are called ‘fry’.

Though there are many different species of seahorse, most are about as big as a teacup.  Primarily, they take up residence in reefs and areas where there are lots of leafy plants.  They aren’t terrific swimmers so it’s a necessity for them to avoid vast spaces of purely open sea.  If they get caught in a current they can die of exhaustion trying to swim back to home base.  They’ll often use their tails to secure their position by anchoring themselves to plants, rocks, and other stationary objects…like little helium-filled party balloons.   Though they’re not strong swimmers, they can maneuver around a bit with the flippers on their back (dorsal fins).  These fins can beat nearly as fast as hummingbird wings.  The pectoral ones near their eyes are utilized more for steering.  But, because of their upright design and small fin size, they just don’t have those streamlined skills that you see so often in other fish like salmon and are poorly suited for swimming at any great length or distance.

As mentioned earlier, these critters, though they don’t look it, are a type of fish.  More specifically, they are part of the pipefish family.  Here’s a pipefish:


They are also related to the even more mythical sounding seadragons…both ‘leafy’:

leafy seadragon

…And ‘weedy’ varieties:

weedy seadragon

You’ll notice that they all have long snouts–sort of like land horses.  They graze almost constantly like real horses too.  They don’t have teeth, per se, or even a stomach, but they are perpetually hoovering up plankton, brine shrimp and other prey small enough to fit through their little cocktail straw faces.  They eat like real fatties.  Their near constant consumption of food is a solution to the whole ‘not having a stomach’ issue.  Food pretty much passes straight through the seahorses which is another reason that they hover around their territories so much.  They wouldn’t want to get caught in an unknown area where scavenging for eats would be difficult.  This is a completely different reason to why I eat like a fatty.

Uncle Rico loves....


A seahorses coronet is as distinctive and unique as our fingerprints.   This is great news for the Fish Police (ten points if you remember that cartoon).

It’s time to admit that a previously unacknowledged part of me just wants to live under the sea with the seahorses and ride one around like Princess Ariel from The Little Mermaid.  Sigh, my secret girlishness embarrasses us all.

Although reading about seahorses has totally made me want to run out, buy a tank and purchase dozens of these critters so that I can watch them hold tails, dance around, and hoover up their food with their pointy faces, I will resist.  Apparently, they don’t fare particularly well in captivity and the trade of seahorses, which are also used heavily in Chinese medicines, has severely impacted their numbers in the wild.  It would totally suck to watch these supercute animals die in a tank just because I had to have one.

Seahorses that are bred in captivity have better survival rates in tanks than those that aren’t…but if you’re purchasing them from a shop, there’s no way for you to tell.  So for now, no seahorses for me.

Anyway, who’s got time to maintain a fish tank?  I don’t even have a DOG yet.  Priorities…

To close, here’s a video I found about these delightful varmints.  It’s ten minutes long and it goes more into the conservation efforts than anything, but it’s got some cool footage of the mating rituals and of their crazy eyes moving independently about as well.


Filed under Nature