Posts tagged christmas

Own it on Blu-Ray Today!

Holiday Classics from Warner Bros!

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In case you’re looking for some additional fun, classic cartoons to share with your geek kids this holiday season, Warner Bros Entertainment has a handful of great holiday short features available.  I vaguely remember seeing most of these when I was little but, as I grew up, I forgot how enjoyable these holiday classics could be around this time of year.

Own it on Blu-Ray Today!

The first is ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas (Deluxe Edition) [Blu-ray]. The official synopsis:

A holiday sourpuss brings Santa to the rescue of a small town’s Christmas. For some unexplained reason, letters to Santa Claus are being returned to the children of Junctionville. It seems some resident has angered St. Nick, calling Christmas ‘a fraudulent myth!’ Skeptical Albert Mouse has to be brought to his senses and let up a little on the wonder why. How Albert is persuaded to change his tune paves the way for Santa’s jolly return to town and the joyous finale of the animated fable inspired by Clement Moore’s poem and produced by the merrymaking conjurers of Rankin/Bass Studios. The voice talents of Joel Grey, Tammy Grimes, John McGiver and George Gobel make this festive fable even more fun.

The voice work on this movie is top notch and the story as a whole is very cute.  I think it is hilarious that the skeptic also happens to be the nerd of the family/village.  I suppose it’s accurate that the book-ish one would also be the one least likely to believe in Santa Claus, but I also happen to know quite a few nerds (this one included) who love fantasy and wouldn’t mind believing that someone like Santa Claus is real.  Regardless, this tiny nitpick doesn’t effect the enjoyability of the story nor does it change the fact that this is a fun movie for any little kid to watch.  The songs are a little cheesy but fun nevertheless and the mice are just ridiculously adorable.  Plus, Joel Grey is awesome.

Own it Today on DVD!

Second up is The Smurfs Holiday Celebration.  Honestly, this was easily my favorite of the three, but I’m also a sucker for these little blue guys (in their original animated form, not necessarily the recent movie).  Official synopsis:

Deck the halls with Papa Smurf, Smurfette, Brainy, Jokey and all the other true blue friends in these absosmurfly charming animated specials from The Smurfs TV series. In ‘Tis the Season to be Smurfy,’ young Sassette Smurf discovers the true meaning of the season when the Smurfs befriend an elderly human couple who have no money to celebrate Christmas. Then, in The Smurfs Christmas Special, the wicked Gargamel plots to ruin Christmas for the Smurfs and with the help of an evil stranger, he destroys the Smurf’s village. But even with no Christmas decorations or holiday feast, the Smurfs still have a smurfy song in their hearts. Will Gargamel feel the Christmas spirit this year? Dash through the snow to give your family the smurfiest gift of the season!

Of the two Smurf features on this DVD, my favorite was by far The Smurfs Christmas Special.  It is the older of the two and, as a result, has far fewer Smurf characters (just the originals, ie only one female) and a much less sophisticated animation style.  It has a fairly unique team-up between Gargamel and another villain, which I don’t remember seeing very often in the original Smurf cartoons.  Additionally, it has possibly one of the catchiest, most well-intentioned Smurf songs I’ve ever heard.  I can’t say that I loved it personally, but I think it’s the perfect song for any young kid to hear around this time of year.  These two specials serve as nice reminders for children that Christmas is not all about Santa and snow and presents, but also about giving and sharing with others less fortunate than us.  Yes, I know that sounds a little preachy/canned, but isn’t the cheese-factor one of the best parts of all holiday films?

Own it Today on DVD!

Last but certainly not least we have Frosty’s Winter Wonderland.  Official Synopsis:

From beloved song to animated holiday classic: Frosty meets his match in a glistening Remastered Deluxe Edition! Andy Griffith, Shelley Winters and Jackie Vernon lend their voices to this captivating cartoon about the Snowman’s winter return to the children of a small town for a winter season of fun and games. But he’s lonely at night when left by himself. So the grateful kids build him a beautiful snowlady companion. Jealous of the attention given Frosty, Jack Frost blows up a blizzard and swipes Frosty’s magical, life-giving hat. Only true love can bring Frosty back to his old fun-loving self. Two songs that have proven to be enduring seasonal favorites highlight the soundtrack: Frosty the Snowman and Winter Wonderland.

This film was the one I remembered the least out of the three.  Of course I remembered the first Frosty movie, but I only vaguely remembered Frosty’s wedding and “Crystal”.  This movie has all of the classic songs and voices, but is the least like a ‘morality’ tale of the three cartoons mentioned here.  I love the animated Andy Griffith, and even I have to admit that the wedding between Frosty & Crystal was kind of cute (although I don’t particularly love that she is wearing an apron).  Now if only I could build snowmen/women as quickly and effectively as the children in this village…

Of course, all of these films are intended for children, but that doesn’t mean adults can’t enjoy them.  They have old-fashioned Christmas morals/lessons, memorable characters, and catchy songs.  They’ve also made me want to go track down my other favorite Christmas cartoons from when I was little.  Do you have any suggestions? What were some of your favorites?

A Calvin & Hobbes Christmas

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Sometimes we here at NiB get to be some of the first people to see something very awesome. Naturally, we like to take that something awesome and share it with the world. In this particular case, one of our friends over at Down in Front, Teague Chrystie, teamed up with Jim Frommeyer to create a fantastic homage to Calvin & Hobbes…. Christmas-style.  They were also nice enough to sit down and tell us more about the project.

Video and interview:

Did you guys read Calvin and Hobbes growing up? Tell us about your relationship with the comic.

Jim: Yes, I was a regular reader. Waiting on my parents to sort the Sunday paper and hand me the comics page was a source of constant frustration. They took forever. I never identified with Calvin as a kid, but as I’ve grown older, I certainly see some similarities. Or maybe the comic just informed me. It’s so ingrained in me that it’s hard to separate.
Teague: I’m a huge fan of Calvin and Hobbes, are you nuts? I have the Essential book in my bathroom, it’s my go-to. I’ve been reading them childhood. I think everyone feels a little like Calvin at some point, but dude, I swear to god, I was Calvin. I even looked like him. My dad even looked like his dad. Total fan.

How did you do this? What were the challenges?

Jim: The biggest challenge was staying true to the source material. We had discussions early on as to whether we should sprinkle in our own snowman interpretations, but ruled it out. Speaking for myself, I couldn’t hold a candle to Watterson’s creativity anyway. So trying to both recreate the scenes while also justifying their existence in motion was the challenge.
So the trick was to find snowmen that had implied movement. Like the sharks. That was an easy visual punchline. And then the obvious task of physically creating them by hand. I haven’t played with clay in 15 years. So figuring out how to do that, while staying visually true… required patience.
Teague: There was a lot of wasted sugar. The work done in post was pretty straightforward, from a visual effects standpoint. There’s three layers of snow going off into the distance, the color correction brings in some contrast and chilly mid-level coldness. The color scheme of the sky was inspired by those polar bear Coke commercials from the ’90s. The tricky stuff was things like changing the colors of the snowmen’s arms, because if they were black against a black background, I wouldn’t be able to bring them back in over the newly blue background. Stuff like that. Jim worked with me throughout shooting to make sure I had what I needed, so there really wasn’t a struggle anywhere in the pipeline.

Where did the idea come from?

Jim: The idea is obviously Watterson’s. But I was listening to a Howard the Duck commentary Teague was hosting on DiF, and at some point those guys sidetracked to talk about C&H. That got me thinking. So when I suggested maybe trying something, Teague was all in. It was great, since he was on the same wavelength. I think the only real disagreement we had was over the music choice.
Teague: On the show, I had said “you know what would be a great way to piss off the internet? Make an extremely plausible trailer for a fake Calvin and Hobbes movie, but get Calvin and Hobbes totally wrong. Oooooooh, they’d be pissed.” And at some point later, after Jim had directed a really awesome video for the home page of downinfront.net, he said something about Calvin’s snowmen and I was like “I like those!” I was kidding about the troll-the-world idea, but a Calvin and Hobbes video ended up happening anyway. The secret, kids, is never show Calvin or Hobbes. That’s when you’ve officially gotten it wrong. You can’t do them right. Period.

What was the disagreement about music?

Teague: Oh man.
Jim: I wanted a really haunting version of Carol of the Bells. He wanted anything else. He was right. Even if he wasn’t, he was going to win. He wanted it more.
Teague: No, seriously, we went through like fifty songs. We were hoping to find some magical sweet spot between Christmassy, and sweet, and sentimental, and mischevious, and kind of goofy. A particularly Carol of the Bellsy Carol of the Bells was the one Jim liked, because he loves ostinatos in minor keys that make his black heart giggle with suffering. I said we could just as well use the Requiem for a Dream thing. What you need to know about Jim is he’s an awful person.
We seriously tried everything. Pat Boone was the thing we both liked the most equally, as opposed to one or the other of us loving a song while the other hated it. (For instance, my Carol of the Bells was a version of O Holy Night that was camptacular.) Compromise, kids!

 

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What is your favorite Calvin & Hobbes moment? Have you have created any snowman deaths yourself?

beatles christmas record 1963

A Very Beatle Christmas

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So I know you guys probably didn’t have this on your lists, but I am, as I have declared before here on Nerds in Babeland, a Beatlemaniac. So naturally, I have the entire collection on mp3. And in the spirit of giving, I have decided to share them with you.

Every year that they were together, the fab four (yes, I call them that all the time for real) would record a short Christmas greeting to send out to the official Beatle fan club. From a nerd standpoint this is an amazing condensed way to walk through the career of the Beatles; in the beginning they seem perky and happy and succinct; towards the middle they seem, you know, stoned, and in the end they’re not even in the same room as each other. I guess that about says it all, and in some ways it makes me sad, but there is, to me, little more satisfying than John Lennon (and the others…who were they again?) wishing me a merry Christmas.

From Them to You:

1963 // 1964 // 1965 // 1966 // 1967 // 1968 // 1969

1965 outtake #1 // 1965 outtake #2

(alternatively, grab the .zip or browse the whole folder)

Take them. Listen to them. Feel Christmas joy. Maybe some Christmas nostalgia and Christmas sadness. But mostly Christmas joy. Especially when you listen to the 1965 Christmas record outtake #1, in which you can tell, they tried very hard to record a Christmas record, three times, and the first two times they realized after several minutes that in fact these records had nothing to do with Christmas. ’65 outtake 1 features perhaps the greatest moment ever in recorded Beatles history (in my opinion)–a lengthy improvised skit on eating babies. Because I know when I heard a sound clip of babies crying and I have to improvise some dialogue, my brain automatically jumps to “baby eating.”

(Actually it does.)

Happy Christmas from John, Paul, George, Ringo, and Nerds in Babeland.

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I’m Still Here: Desktop Withdrawl

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Yes, I have been quiet recently on both this site and my site. Sadly, I got the dreaded blue screen of death. I did actually try to stream the Joaquin Phoenix *cough*bio pic*cough* before my computer crashed so maybe Casey Affleck should get me a new computer. My phone also died. The Blackberry rollerball decided to liberate itself from it’s flimsy prison. I believe it might have been eaten by my imaginary friend.

For me, this month has been “Digital Disaster December”. Angst! Sadness! Woe! Woe Blackberry (Blam-a-lam)! But as of Saturday, my cell phone sobfest reached a thrilling climax. From the ashes of my Blackberry rose a phoenix from the ashes. iPhone 4. It is a holiday present to myself (which means no one else is getting a present this year… suckers).

Thursday, Friday and Saturday, I felt like I was in recovery. I had limited internet access so I couldn’t log in to any of my favorite sites. I couldn’t listen to my Podcasts. And my iPod wiped itself when I plugged it in to my computer. I guess I should have known my desktop was crapping out.

Without electronics I have been shaking like a chihuahua in Connecticut. I wanted to check everything to see what people were posting. What was happening to all of my friends? It is amazing how addictive the internet has become for me. Luckily, my mother and I had planned to bake a metric buttload of cookies and peanut butter truffles so at least I had something keeping me busy. We made Christmas dinosaurs. I named mine Rex Harrison (The stegosaurus, obviously. The T-Rex is Jimmy Stewart.)

Question: What do you get irritated about when you can’t use it? Does the fail whale make you want to punch a baby?

NERDS IN BABELAND AND CRANIALSPASM DO NOT CONDONE THE PUNCHING OF BABIES.

I felt it necessary to pop on here and let you guys know that I’m still here, just think of me as the girl in the cast on the volleyball team. I’ll be limited until desktop resurrection.

I heart you all and keep pushing @nerdsinbabeland to 1k followers!!
Oh, and if you want you can follow me @cranialspasm.

Since I’ve been ranting about myself, I figure I should drop some nerd knowledge trivia on you all.

Did you know that “The Twelve Days of Christmas” actually starts on December 25th? It ends on January 5th, also known as “Twelfth Night”. William Shakespeare’s comedy “Twelfth Night” is believed to have been written to end the Christmas season with a laugh. I JUST MADE YOU LEARN SOMETHING! BWAHAHAHA!

(For you Angel fans, a little more trivia! Illyria is the name of the setting of Twelfth Night and is believed to be an ancient region on the eastern coast of the Adriatic Sea.)

You’re welcome internets. I miss you terribly.

90_15_57---Christmas-Tree_web

Christmas Spirit is Here!

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When I was a kid, the best holiday was Christmas. It meant presents, seeing cousins that lived in D.C., getting together with my family, but most of all, it meant Christmas music. Specifically it meant the Disney Christmas album, on vinyl being played on our hi-fi. Back then the speakers were taller than me! On Christmas Eve, after we had done the family thing with my dad’s family, we would go home, turn off all the lights, turn on the tree and my mom’s Christmas village, then I would get to put the record on the record player and start it. I thought I was hot stuff. 🙂 Then mom, dad and I would sit on the couch, drinking hot chocolate and singing along to the record. My very favorite Christmas song has always been “Christmas Bells” which is the story of Snoopy and the Red Baron at Christmas. Snoopy’s WWII Flying Ace was always my favorite part of any Peanuts special so that song holds a special place in my heart. After we listened to music, we would watch “A Charlie Brown Christmas” and I would make my parents laugh by imitating the dances during the rehearsal scenes.

These days I’m not as crazy about Christmas as I used to be, I don’t know if it’s the fact that I’m an adult now, or what, but this year it had been especially hard for me to get into the Christmas spirit. But then, I heard “Christmas Bells” and now I’ve watched “White Christmas.” Christmas spirit, here I come.

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Christmas just got a heck of a lot cooler!

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I’d like to share with you all one of the greatest Etsy discoveries I’ve made in some time: Merrypranxster. She offers super neat wrapping papers printed with fan art from all your favorite nerdy shows including Dr. Who, Star Trek and Futurama. Hmm. I suddenly find myself all full of Christmas spirit! 😀

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