Friday, December 14, 2018

Scrooge Gets an Oscar

Scrooge Gets an Oscar is an episode of the 1970 Odd Couple TV series. I enjoy it when a TV series has an episode devoted to the Scrooge story.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Christmas on Ganymede

photo from Aliens.Wikia.com

Christmas on Ganymede is a 1940 short story by Isaac Asimov, which first appeared in the January 1942 issue of Startling Stories. You can read it here or here. It begins,
Olaf Johnson hummed nasally to himself and his china-blue eyes were dreamy as he surveyed the stately fir tree in the corner of the library. Though the library was the largest single room in the Dome, Olaf felt it none too spacious for the occasion. Enthusiastically he dipped into the huge crate at his side and took out the first roll of red-and-green crepe paper.

What sudden burst of sentiment had inspired the Ganymedan Products Corporation, Inc. to ship a complete collection of Christmas decorations to the Dome, he did not pause to inquire. Olaf’s was a placid disposition, and in his self-imposed job as chief Christmas decorator, he was content with his lot.

He frowned suddenly and muttered a curse. The General Assembly signal light was Hashing on and off hysterically. With a hurt air Olaf laid down the tack-hammer he had just lifted, then the roll of crepe paper, picked some tinsel out of his hair and left for officers quarters.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Mickey's Christmas Carol

Mickey's Christmas Carol is a 1983 animated version with Mickey Mouse as Cratchit, Scrooge McDuck as Scrooge, and Donald Duck as Fred. I don't know how many adaptations there have been for A Christmas Carol, but sometimes I think there's one for every television show and character. This one is fun if you like these characters.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Happy Birthday, Brenda Lee!

Brenda Lee is celebrating her 73rd birthday today, and in honor of her and of the season I give you what has become a Christmas standard:



Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree came out in 1958, and although I don't remember that, I hear this song every year and keep it on my playlist. Lee was 13 years old when she recorded it. She's also known for I'm Sorry, which came out in 1960 when she was 15:

:

Losing You came out in 1963:



Johnny One Time from 1969:



She was born in Georgia, and the Georgia Encyclopedia site says, "She is a member of both the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the only female to be so honored." She currently lives in Nashville, TN, with her husband of over 50 years and continues to be active.

As today is Tuesday and I enjoy participating in the weekly T Stands for Tuesday blogger gathering where we include a drink in our post, I offer Hallelujah I Love You So (1984) which she sings as a duet with George Jones:



lyrics excerpt:
Let me tell you 'bout a girl I know
She is my baby and she lives next door
Every mornin' 'fore the sun comes up
She brings me coffee in my favorite cup
That's why I know, yes, I know
Hallelujah, I just love her so








Monday, December 10, 2018

The Fir Tree

The Fir Tree is an 1844 short story by Hans Christian Andersen. I imagine everyone is familiar with this tale of the little fir tree so completely focused on the future that the present is lost to it. You can read it online here. It begins,
Out in the woods stood such a pretty little fir tree. It grew in a good place, where it had plenty of sun and plenty of fresh air. Around it stood many tall comrades, both fir trees and pines.

The little fir tree was in a headlong hurry to grow up. It didn't care a thing for the warm sunshine, or the fresh air, and it took no interest in the peasant children who ran about chattering when they came to pick strawberries or raspberries. Often when the children had picked their pails full, or had gathered long strings of berries threaded on straws, they would sit down to rest near the little fir. "Oh, isn't it a nice little tree?" they would say. "It's the baby of the woods." The little tree didn't like their remarks at all.

Next year it shot up a long joint of new growth, and the following year another joint, still longer. You can always tell how old a fir tree is by counting the number of joints it has.

"I wish I were a grown-up tree, like my comrades," the little tree sighed. "Then I could stretch out my branches and see from my top what the world is like. The birds would make me their nesting place, and when the wind blew I could bow back and forth with all the great trees."

It took no pleasure in the sunshine, nor in the birds. The glowing clouds, that sailed overhead at sunrise and sunset, meant nothing to it.
You can listen to a Librivox recording of the story:

Sunday, December 09, 2018

A Christmas Carol (1959)

A Christmas Carol is the 1959 adaptation aired on the TV series Fredric March Presents Tales from Dickens. This stars Basil Rathbone as Ebenezer Scrooge. Fredric March narrates. This is a bare-bones, much-condensed version.

via Youtube:

Saturday, December 08, 2018

The Battle of Life: A Love Story

The Battle of Life: A Love Story is a short 1846 novel by Charles Dickens. One scene takes place on Christmas:
So, guests were bidden, and musicians were engaged, and tables spread, and floors prepared for active feet, and bountiful provision made, of every hospitable kind. Because it was the Christmas season, and his eyes were all unused to English holly, and its sturdy green, the dancing room was garlanded and hung with it; and the red berries gleamed an English welcome to him, peeping from among the leaves.
You can read it online here or here. It begins,
Once upon a time, it matters little when, and in stalwart England, it matters little where, a fierce battle was fought. It was fought upon a long summer day when the waving grass was green. Many a wild flower formed by the Almighty Hand to be a perfumed goblet for the dew, felt its enamelled cup fill high with blood that day, and shrinking dropped. Many an insect deriving its delicate color from harmless leaves and herbs, was stained anew that day by dying men, and marked its frightened way with an unnatural track. The painted butterfly took blood into the air upon the edges of its wings. The stream ran red. The trodden ground became a quagmire, whence, from sullen pools collected in the prints of human feet and horses’ hoofs, the one prevailing hue still lowered and glimmered at the sun.

Heaven keep us from a knowledge of the sights the moon beheld upon that field, when, coming up above the black line of distant rising-ground, softened and blurred at the edge by trees, she rose into the sky and looked upon the plain, strewn with upturned faces that had once at mothers’ breasts sought mothers’ eyes, or slumbered happily. Heaven keep us from a knowledge of the secrets whispered afterwards upon the tainted wind that blew across the scene of that day’s work and that night’s death and suffering! Many a lonely moon was bright upon the battle-ground, and many a star kept mournful watch upon it, and many a wind from every quarter of the earth blew over it, before the traces of the fight were worn away.

They lurked and lingered for a long time, but survived in little things, for Nature, far above the evil passions of men, soon recovered Her serenity, and smiled upon the guilty battle-ground as she had done before, when it was innocent. The larks sang high above it, the swallows skimmed and dipped and flitted to and fro, the shadows of the flying clouds pursued each other swiftly, over grass and corn and turnip-field and wood, and over roof and church-spire in the nestling town among the trees, away into the bright distance on the borders of the sky and earth, where the red sunsets faded. Crops were sown, and grew up, and were gathered in; the stream that had been crimsoned, turned a watermill; men whistled at the plough; gleaners and haymakers were seen in quiet groups at work; sheep and oxen pastured; boys whooped and called, in fields, to scare away the birds; smoke rose from cottage chimneys; sabbath bells rang peacefully; old people lived and died; the timid creatures of the field, and simple flowers of the bush and garden, grew and withered in their destined terms: and all upon the fierce and bloody battle-ground, where thousands upon thousands had been killed in the great fight.

But there were deep green patches in the growing corn at first, that people looked at awfully. Year after year they re-appeared; and it was known that underneath those fertile spots, heaps of men and horses lay buried, indiscriminately, enriching the ground. The husbandmen who ploughed those places, shrunk from the great worms abounding there; and the sheaves they yielded, were, for many a long year, called the Battle Sheaves, and set apart; and no one ever knew a Battle Sheaf to be among the last load at a Harvest Home. For a long time, every furrow that was turned, revealed some fragments of the fight. For a long time, there were wounded trees upon the battle-ground; and scraps of hacked and broken fence and wall, where deadly struggles had been made; and trampled parts where not a leaf or blade would grow. For a long time, no village-girl would dress her hair or bosom with the sweetest flower from that field of death: and after many a year had come and gone, the berries growing there, were still believed to leave too deep a stain upon the hand that plucked them.

The Seasons in their course, however, though they passed as lightly as the summer clouds themselves, obliterated, in the lapse of time, even these remains of the old conflict; and wore away such legendary traces of it as the neighbouring people carried in their minds, until they dwindled into old wives’ tales, dimly remembered round the winter fire, and waning every year.
You can listen to it read to you:

Friday, December 07, 2018

2046

2046 is a 2004 science fiction film, or -if you prefer- a romantic drama with science fiction elements, directed by Wong Kar-wai. This is so beautiful to watch.

Parts of it take place on Christmas Eve. "All memories are traces of tears." "Love is all a matter of timing. It's no good meeting the right person too soon or too late."

Part 1:



Part 2:



Part 3:



The soundtrack is wonderful. This song plays in the background during part of the movie:



The New York Times opens with this: "IN "2046," a story of longing and loss, the passage of time is marked not by the hands of a clock, but by the women who pass through one man's life" and says, "Mr. Wong is one of the few filmmakers working in commercial cinema who refuse to be enslaved by traditional storytelling. ... Mr. Wong makes movies, still a young art, that create meaning through visual images, not just words."

Roger Ebert says, "Since it is by Wong Kar Wai, "2046" is visually stunning" and calls it "a lovely meander". Rotten Tomatoes has a critics rating of 85%.

Thursday, December 06, 2018

A Chaparral Christmas Gift

A Chaparral Christmas Gift is a short story by O. Henry. You can read it online here. It begins,
The original cause of the trouble was about twenty years in growing.

At the end of that time it was worth it.

Had you lived anywhere within fifty miles of Sundown Ranch you would have heard of it. It possessed a quantity of jet-black hair, a pair of extremely frank, deep-brown eyes and a laugh that rippled across the prairie like the sound of a hidden brook. The name of it was Rosita McMullen; and she was the daughter of old man McMullen of the Sundown Sheep Ranch.

There came riding on red roan steeds -or, to be more explicit, on a paint and a flea-bitten sorrel- two wooers. One was Madison Lane, and the other was the Frio Kid, But at that time they did not call him the Frio Kid, for he had not earned the honours of special nomenclature- His name was simply Johnny McRoy.

It must not be supposed that these two were the sum of the agreeable Rosita's admirers. The bronchos of a dozen others champed their bits at the long hitching rack of the Sundown Ranch. Many were the sheeps'- eves that were cast in those savannas that did not belong. to the flocks of Dan McMullen. But of all the cavaliers, Madison Lane and Johnny MeRoy galloped far ahead, wherefore they are to be chronicled.

Madison Lane, a young cattleman from the Nueces country, won the race. He and Rosita were married one Christmas day. Armed, hilarious, vociferous, magnanimous, the cowmen and the sheepmen, laying aside their hereditary hatred, joined forces to celebrate the occasion.

Sundown Ranch was sonorous with the cracking of jokes and sixshooters, the shine of buckles and bright eyes, the outspoken congratulations of the herders of kine.

But while the wedding feast was at its liveliest there descended upon it Johnny MeRoy, bitten by jealousy, like one possessed.
You can listen to the story read to you:


Wednesday, December 05, 2018

A Christmas Carol (1954)

This adaptation of the Charles Dickens classic is an episode from the television variety series Shower of Stars. Much condensed and faithful in parts, this is only an hour long. Fredric March is Scrooge and Basil Rathbone is Marley's Ghost.

via Youtube: