Thursday, December 23, 2010

Let Nothing You Dismay

Hello everyone from my holidays! I'm desperately trying to get some actual holidaying in this festive season, but it's always shameful to neglect one's blog for too long, and so I thought I would update with something that, in the spirit of the season, is both Christmassy and lazy.

Those of you read my Age column last weekend will be aware that it was on the subject of Christmas TV (no, it's not online yet and no I don't know when it will be). I contend that television is one of the essential parts of the Christmas season, lending a flavour and a mood to the holidays that really bring them alive. If you're anything like me you'll have many fond memories of sitting down in front of the Christmas favourites - specials, movies, whatever - in the lead-up to the big day. It's not Christmas without Christmas TV, and I therefore here present you with my Christmas message, in the form of my...



In this reporter's opinion the king of Christmas movies - yes, even better than Die Hard. Beautifully capturing the insanity both of Christmas and childhood, and the innocent materialism of youth.


A close contender for the title claimed by A Christmas Story, probably only losing because it falls into the classic "adults don't believe in Santa Claus even though he's real" trap of complete illogic that most Santa movies do. But still the best Sante/Elf movie ever, one of the best fish-out-of-water movies ever, a prime showcase for Will Ferrell's demented man-child bit, and it has Zooey Deschanel. ZOOEY DESCHANEL.


One of my fondest of childhood memories, and sadly one they don't seem to play anymore these days. The old Rankin Bass stop-motion classics were a staple of Christmas viewing in my youth - thank God for DVDs allowing me to keep the memory alive. This is the one with the Snow Miser and Heat Miser songs, and - wondrously - one of the very, very few movies or specials NOT to fall into the illogical trap mentioned above with Elf - in this one the grown-ups believe in Santa Claus, as well they should - because if Santa was real, parents would have to wonder where the presents were coming from...


Yes, another from Rankin Bass, and another from the days when childhood dreams were narrated by Fred Astaire. In this one, Mickey Rooney stars in the origin story of Santa Claus. As a kid I was absoutely enchanted by the idea of learning Santa's secret history. It humanised him somehow. I'll stop with the Rankin Bass now, but it's also worth checking out Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Frosty the Snowman.


There have been approximately 7 billion versions of A Christmas Carol produced over the years, but as is true with pretty much everything in life, the best version is with the Muppets. Another indisputable fact about life is that everything is better with Michael Caine, so this is kind of like the perfect storm.


Frank Spencer's Christmas holds a very special place in my heart for a particular reason: when I was a kid we used to have Psycho on VHS, taped off the TV, and at the end of it a Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em Christmas special was recorded. So if you watched Psycho, it would cut directly from the terrifying psychotic smirk of Norman Bates in his cell, to Frank Spencer in green tights playing the chief pixie in a department store. Unfortunately, I couldn't find that particular scene - which was from the 1975 special (there were three specials in 74, 75 and 78). But I found a really funny one from a different special - the Some Mothers specials were classics of the Britcom Christmas genre.


Futurama has had two marvellous Christmas specials too, revolving around Evil Robot Santa, which is, I think you'll agree, an unbelievably perfect conceptual confluence, and also he's voiced by John Goodman.


Of course I am in desperate, near-sexual love with just about everything the Simpsons has done, and although their Halloween eps overshadow their Christmas ones, they still do a good Christmas. Take your pick of the Christmas specials, but Christmas is a time for nostalgia, and Simpsons Roasting On An Open Fire is not only 21 years old (!), and the first Simpsons Christmas ep, it's also the very first full-length Simpsons episode of all!


Oh this is so bad. I mean, really, it's so incredibly bad. Did you watch this as a kid? Wasn't it bad? It's so great how bad it is.

And of course...


Blackadder reigns supreme. That is all.

What are your old Christmas favourites?

Merry Christmas best beloveds.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Dear Oprah: A Plea For Assistance

Dear Oprah,

How are you? I am fine. Welcome to Australia, I hope you will enjoy your stay here. I'm sure you will, especially with all the McDonald's we have.

I am writing to you with a simple, humble, simple request. I realise we have had little to do with each other in the past, and I admit I have not been a steadfast viewer of your television programmes, but I am sure you will overlook that just as I am willing to overlook the fact that you do not know who I am. We are both gracious people in that way.

I am writing to you on behalf of New Matilda, a website that is in urgent need of your help. Essentially, NM needs about $70,000 more in the next week or it will have to fold, and I know you don't want that to happen.

Because New Matilda is, essentially, just like you, Oprah. A poor kid with a dream. A dream of serving the world. You've achieved your dream; won't you help New Matilda achieve theirs? I know that a crusader for the underdog like yourself will want to help this little site keep on standing up for the little guy, exposing dishonesty and corruption, and campaigning for the side of the angels, just as you always have. In the absence of our own Oprah, New Matilda may be all Australia has to perform these vital functions!

Also, I don't want to delve too deeply into your personal affairs, Oprah, but what I've read seems to indicate that $70,000 would be, well, not exactly the biggest dent in your personal budget. What I'm saying is, I am fairly sure you can afford it.

So won't you help us, Oprah? While you're visiting our fair country, enjoying our venomous snakes and our delicious coffee, why not also help ensure our democracy remains strong even after you've left, by contributing to the continuing robustness of media diversity.

As a long-time New Matilda contributor, and one who owes his very career to this plucky little site, I promise that if you keep us alive, I will personally:

1. Teach you the rules of cricket, rugby and two-up

2. Write a week-long series of humorous-yet-reverential articles about how great you are, and

3. Give you a nice big hug, with your explicit consent.

Please, Oprah. Keep New Matilda alive. Help Australian online media thrive. Give we itinerant opinionists a place to go. It won't take much. You have the power. It's like the Secret. We wished for a white knight for New Matilda, and you, like magic, appeared in Australia. It is meant to be! Help us out, Oprah! Make this world a better place!

I believe in you.

PS the official Twitter hashtag is #OprahsavesNM - pass it on!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Break out the Raspberry Cordial!!!!

UPDATE!!!!! It'll be on at 8.30, NOT 7.30. Outrageous!

When engaging in our beautiful and exciting Anne Party (see last post) tomorrow night, why not add a bit of pep to proceedings by playing:


You can play this game with whatever beverage you like, although obviously it will lend the occasion a particularly delicious piquancy if you can get hold of some raspberry cordial or currant wine. Or, even better, if you can get your friend to drink some currant wine which they THINK is raspberry cordial. Or just spike the Pepsi with vodka, it'll have the same effect.

Anyway, here are the rules of the game:

- Every time Marilla says "hold your tongue", DRINK!

- Every time Rachel Lynde judges someone, DRINK!

- Every time Anne says, "bosom friend", DRINK!

- Every time Anne makes reference to her imagination, DRINK!

- Every time Matthew interferes in Marilla's parenting, DRINK!

- Every time Diana says, "Oh, Anne!" DRINK!

- Every time someone refers to the negative side of having red hair, DRINK!

- Every time Miss Stacy grins annoyingly, DRINK!

- Every time Gilbert gives Anne a cheekily flirtatious smile, DRINK!

- Every time Anne gives Gilbert a haughtily nasty look, DRINK!

- Every time Anne's temper gets the better of her, DRINK!

- Every time anyone says "Anne with an E", DRINK!

- Every time Matthew awkwardly struggles to find the right words, DRINK!

- Every time Marilla mentions God, DRINK!

- Every time Josie Pye brings everyone down, DRINK!

- Every time Anne reaches a new level of academic achievement, DRINK!

- Every time Anne wastes a chance to score with Gilbert, DRINK!

- Every time you wonder what Anne sees in Diana, DRINK!

And of course,

- Every time someone has a heart attack and dies, DRINK!

Happy drinking, Annelites!

"That West Coast Cooler should kick in any second now..."

Let's Get Organised, Avonleaps!

UPDATE!!!!! It'll be on at 8.30, NOT 7.30. Outrageous!

It has come to my attention that this Saturday, 4th December (TOMORROW! EEK! Do we have time????) at 7.30pm, Channel Seven will be screening seminal 1985 Canadian telemovie "Anne of Green Gables", also known as The Greatest Story Ever Told.

In celebration of this fact, I call on all men and women of goodwill to join together, cancel any frivolous, futile plans you might have had for that night, and sit yourselves down to watch this masterpiece in a spirit of community and togetherness. If you like, you can gather your friends around in a literal "Anne Party", but even if you're watching alone, you shan't be, for we shall be holding a VIRTUAL Anne Party, all of us, around the nation, watching together, feeling the spirit and the message of Anne, bound together by the bonds of bosom friendship and period romance just as surely as if we were in the same room. On that night we shall all be brothers and sisters in Anne. It will bring us closer together, and by Sunday morning we will all be better, kinder, gentler people for having watched it together.

Why not join the anticipation on Twitter? The Anne Party hashtag, it has been decreed, is #anneparty. Use it to engage in discussion before, during and after the broadcast, to inform about preparations for the Anne Party, and just to commune with like-minded souls.

See you there, Annelites!