Christmas Links #9

Starbucks Christmas Tree Frappuccino Doesn't Taste Like Melted Tinsel!
"I would like to start by saying that my Christmas Tree Frappuccino did not look like the header photo and I laughed really loudly when the barista handed it to me, causing her to giggle as well."

Fake pants seized in Christmas crackdown on counterfeits:
"Border officials have seized £1.5m worth of counterfeit Calvin Klein pants, along with fake Dyson fans, Superdry hoodies and Nike shoes. The authorities are using the hauls to highlight the risk of buying cut-price, substandard counterfeits at Christmas."

This Guy Covered His House With 100,000 Christmas Lights:
"Let it gooooo."

The Christmas Wreath:
"Christmas went all through our two-bedroom apartment in Brooklyn. It was one of my mother’s House Rules. She hung felt stockings inside the front door and lined the hallway with quilled-paper Santas, candy canes, and dolls. Our artificial tree bulged outward from one corner of the living room, its not-quite-forest-green branches weighted ridiculously with lights and tinsel and garland and ornaments. There was plastic mistletoe above the entrance to the kitchen, which doubled as the studio where my mother built a gingerbread house every year."

Scousers' amazing response to shopkeeper's Christmas plea:
"A struggling Liverpool shopkeeper made a heartfelt plea for shoppers to buy local this Christmas - and Scousers responded in an amazing way."

10 Great Christmas-Adjacent Movies That Aren’t Die Hard:
"Whenever we discuss our favorite Christmas movies, there’s always that one guy (and it’s always a guy) who chimes in, “What about Die Hard?” In fact, I’m sure that someone in the comment section of this article will say something like, “Dude, you forgot Die Hard!”"

Christmas Links #8

2017 Christmas Chocolate Collection:
[Editor's note: Annual appeal to buy selection boxes for homeless children in Liverpool. The link gives some explanation. You can donate here.]

Why I’m not going to any Christmas parties this year:
"There’s a warm, festive glow in the air right now. End-of-year bonuses lie just around the corner while bosses take their feet ever so slightly off the pedal. Shops have their Yuletide tunes on loop, and there’s chocolate literally everywhere."

12 Docs of Christmas:
"Everyone has their favorite Christmas movies, but rarely are they of the documentary kind. Maybe that’s because most nonfiction films involving the holiday and its iconography are downright depressing. There’s not much of a story in real people having a merry Christmas. So, the interest is in unfortunate circumstances, like foreclosure and death. But there are a few feel-good and at least matter-of-fact docs about the holiday."

The Depressing Reality of Nonfiction Christmas Movies:
"There is a good reason why documentaries set at Christmas are so depressing. Not all, but many nonfiction films focus on problems, issues, tragedies, and unfortunate situations and circumstances that would be bad enough on their own but are heightened in devastation when the holidays are involved." [alternative take]

Holiday decorations gone wild: Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer carcass?
"During the holidays you’re most likely to see cute Santa decorations or beautifully lit trees, but in the Bywater neighborhood in New Orleans there’s a home with something a little different."

Steven Moffat interviewed by Graham Kibble-White for TV Choice:
"It’s the end of an era. On Christmas Day, Peter Capaldi’s Doctor will regenerate into the character’s 13th incarnation, to be played by Jodie Whitaker. But he’s not the only person leaving the show. The story also marks the departure of showrunner Steven Moffat, who’s been in the role since 2009. TV Choice caught up with him to look ahead to the upcoming special, Twice Upon A Time, in which the Twelfth Doctor meets the First, and to look back at his time steering the Tardis..."

Gary Bainbridge explains why Die Hard is a Christmas film:
"A FEW years ago I wrote a column about the Christmas film Elf in which I explained in painstaking if compelling detail why I thought it wasn’t any good. That done, I gave it the inflammatory headline “Why You Are Wrong To Like The Film Elf”."

Christmas Links #7

TIME Person of the Year: The Silence Breakers.
"Movie stars are supposedly nothing like you and me. They're svelte, glamorous, self-­possessed. They wear dresses we can't afford and live in houses we can only dream of. Yet it turns out that—in the most painful and personal ways—movie stars are more like you and me than we ever knew."

Finishing touches to Murillo:
"The practical treatment of Bartolomé Esteban Murillo’s altarpiece Virgin and Child in Glory (1673) finished in August, marking the end of a year-long major conservation project, which you can track in my previous blog posts." [editor's note: The painting is returning to The Walker Art Gallery after restoration.]

Bone fragment could 'belong to Santa':
"A fragment of bone said to belong to the fourth-century saint who inspired the story of Santa Claus could indeed be from the legend himself, scientists have said."

Hour Children Holiday 2017 Wish List:
"Hour Children’s mission is to help incarcerated and formerly incarcerated women and their children successfully rejoin the community, reunify with their families, and build healthy, independent, and secure lives. To accomplish this, Hour Children provides compassionate and comprehensive services and encourages all to live and interact with dignity and respect."

20 Christmas Truths That No One Denies:
"1) Multicolored lights are superior to white lights for tree decorating purpose."

What time is The Miniaturist on TV this Christmas?
"Romola Garai and Anya Taylor-Joy star in this unusual period drama, adapted from Jessie Burton's critically-acclaimed novel."

10 For Christmas:
"Bearing festive gifts from past genre shows, Mark Clapham ranks his favourite Christmas episodes, sensibly avoiding Doctor Who, which could have a top 10 of its own."

Majority of Christmas toy catalogues play to gender stereotypes, study finds:

"With the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) introducing new rules to crackdown on gender stereotypes in advertising and the likes of Unilever making bold changes to improve the way women are portrayed in its ads, the marketing industry has shown it is open to change. [...]
However, a new study from Let Toys Be Toys, shows this year’s Christmas catalogues are still a long way from avoiding gender stereotyping children."

10 great indie Christmas films:
"When it comes to Christmas time, much of our Yuletide viewing can tend towards overfamiliar and sentimental classics: It’s a Wonderful Life (1946), Holiday Inn (1942), White Christmas (1954) and the like. Even raucous comedies like Bad Santa (2003) can lose some of their edge through repeated viewing."

Christmas Links #6

John Byrne painting features on first minister's Christmas card:
"A painting by artist and writer John Byrne will feature on the first minister's Christmas card this year."

The Great Expedition (1959):
"Two young children skip school to do their Christmas shopping on Oxford Street."

These Are Four Toys That "Grinch Bots" Ruined This Christmas:
"Cyber bots are buying up some of the most popular holiday toys and selling them on third party sites for hundreds to thousands of dollars, according to Senator Charles Schumer's office."

Giant baubles, Moz the Monster and brussels sprouts: retailers’ Christmas window displays:
"As the festive season gets into full swing, we take a look at retailers’ flagship stores in London to see how shop windows are being used to attract seasonal shoppers in the capital."

Cara Delevingne’s Perfect Christmas:
"Just before hosting her megawatt Burberry Christmas party, the supermodel and actress sat down with Vogue to talk about how to do the festive season Delevingne style."

Christmas Links #5

How a Tweet About a Gay, Black Santa Turned Into a Children's Book:
"The plot of Santa’s Husband seems like it’s reverse-engineered from a homophobic racist’s nightmare. The story itself is the very innocent and sweet (and true, according to the book) tale of Santa and his husband and their life together, complimented by detailed and playful watercolor illustrations."

32 Things Guaranteed To Happen In The Office During Christmas:
"There's always one person in the office who is way too enthusiastic about Christmas far too early."

The Most Spectacular Designer Christmas Trees To See This Season:
"The holiday season is officially upon us, kicking into high gear as soon as the last of the Thanksgiving plates were cleared and shoppers bundled up to camp outside a Best Buy for $50 off a flatscreen. Though the Christmas carols have long begun creeping through the radio waves and holiday décor put out for sale as early as September, we believe that the festivities truly begin only once we've set out to pick out our Christmas trees."

Police: Squirrel blamed for vandalizing Christmas lights:
"It was a squirrel that nearly stole Christmas in a New Jersey town."

Cyrpus: Sophia Patsalides Gets Festive With "Here For Christmas"
"Junior Eurovision may be over for another year, but with Christmas right around the corner we’re staying wide-eyed and bushy-tailed."

Gwen Stefani's Christmas album: "Every year after you die you get to be revisited"
"Gwen tells Chris (Evens) about making her new album, You Make It Feel Like Christmas."

10 Best Christmas Hip-Hop Songs, Ranked:
"From the Temptations’ “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” and Donny Hathaway’s “This Christmas” to John Coltrane’s “My Favorite Things” to Oscar Peterson’s “White Christmas,” black folks have contributed to the sonic landscape of the Christmas holiday in unforgettable fashion."

A childhood memory of 'nicest gift' prompts festive cheer:
"'Tis the season to be giving and just as we plan presents for loved ones, we also remember the gifts we've received and sometimes it's the smallest things which make the biggest memories of all."

Pasteles, a Puerto Rican Tradition, Have a Special Savor Now:
"After Hurricane Maria tore through Puerto Rico on Sept. 20, it took two weeks for Harry Franqui-Rivera to reach his 76-year-old mother, Amelia, by phone at her home on the island’s west coast. [...] When he did, Mr. Franqui-Rivera, a history professor at Bloomfield College in New Jersey, found that her main concern wasn’t the lack of electricity or running water. It was the loss of her Christmas pasteles."

Cake-Flavored Pepsi Coming To Japan:
"In Japan, Christmas is typically celebrated with a cake. Pepsi is celebrating it with a limited edition release called “Christmas Cola.”"

My childhood Christmas by Conchita Wurst, Carlos Acosta, Oti Mabuse and more:

"Forget turkey, crackers and carols. Oti Mabuse has a barbecue on the beach, Alma hits the sauna, Sofie Hagen hunts for a marzipan pig and Conchita Wurst hides from Krampus the horned monster."

Review 2017:
A Statement.

About The short version is - there won't be a Review 2017 this year.

Here's the extended naval gazing.

Every Frame A Painting is a superb YouTube video essay series considering various aspects of filmmaking from a quasi-academic perspective. You might remember them from such works as Vancouver Never Plays Itself and Edgar Wright - How To Do Visual Comedy. Their last video The MARVEL Symphonic Universe was released over a year ago despite them having a very regular output until that point.

Yesterday they announced, to the surprise of only a few people, that they've stopped work on the series, putting out what amounts to the script for an imaginary installment in which they explain the pleasures of making the series and the trials, notably trying to make a series which is visually interesting whilst working within YouTube's restrictive copyright robots.

They explain that various freelance projects and other work has meant they simply don't have the time to conceive, edit, research or produce good work and so they've decided that actually they've produced an excellent body of work, that nothing lasts forever and nor should it and it's time to get on with their lives.  With over a million views for most videos, the channels passing hasn't gone unnoticed.

Which has inspired me to come clean about Review 2017, both to you and myself.  There will be no Review 2017.  For the first time since 2003, this blog will not have an end of year review, at least not the expansive, collaborative endeavour which I know some of you have looked forward to year on year.  None.  The Opinion Engine has finally run down.

It's for much the same reason as the EFAP people.  I haven't had the time to think of a theme, let alone begin the admin process of putting out invites for potential contributors or simply throwing something together myself.  I've been busy with work and more interested in relaxing in the spaces between, watching a few films, that sort of thing, than spending much more time in front of a computer.

I did try to do something with the 642 project, bringing in elements of this year into the pieces, but given that I'm also giving that stupid nonsense the push due to the increasing esoteric and non-PC suggestions (and general sense of it becoming a trial rather than a fun diversion), that wasn't going to work.  Plus half hearted.  A stop gap.  A hope that something will come good.  Nothing ever does under those circumstances.

A rerun of the 2016 positivity list was considered, but let's face it 2017 has been rough, the fire to last year's frying pan and even if 2018, fingers crossed, will be the corrective, many of us are just exhausted by the whole business.  Some nice things have happened (Hey Jodie!) but mainly its been a like trudging through British Home Stores half an hour before it closing forever still unable to find anything to buy.

Perhaps I'll knock together a listicle of cultural things I've liked in the week between Christmas and New Year, but since that will actually be about 2017 which has rarely been the point of these reviews, it'll be little more than a placeholder.  So enjoy the Christmas Links instead as my way of marking the closing of the year and we'll see what happens in 2018.

Christmas Links #4

Have Yourself a Very '70s Christmas Dinner:
"Succulent golden turkey enveloped in aspic, the finest of brussels sprouts shaped in a mold, more of the finest brussels sprouts scattered on a rigid bed of noodles, and the creamiest of cheese sauces, a rich, creamy blue-cheese mousse, and a snowman cake that would scare even the toughest of your aunts. Such are the dishes that Christmas dreams are made of."

Tofu turkey with all the trimmings? Britain carves out a meat-free Christmas
"Forget about the Christmas nut roast – those who don’t eat meat are going to be spoilt for choice on 25 December as Britain’s supermarkets roll out their biggest range of festive vegan and vegetarian food to date."

How Dickens's A Christmas Carol was almost called something else:
"You might not know this but A Christmas Carol almost didn't get published and was almost called something else..."

London's Christmas Fairs:
"If Christmas shopping is getting you down, why not spend your money at a holly-bedecked plywood chalet instead? London has several festive market clusters, so I've been to six, ensuring that my Scroogier readers don't have to."

Dreading Christmas with the inlaws. Help me make sense of my situation:
"I am chronically ill in a mixed-race relationship. My in laws are nice enough, but boss me around a bit regarding my illness and in general are purveyors of outdated simplistic notions of people from developing countries."

The Best Movies That Are Kind Of About Christmas:

"You find yourself at a party where everyone is talking about favorite Christmas movies. Sure, you could say “Elf,” which you know in the deep ventricles of your cold and bitter heart is an uplifting film that inspires you annually. But instead, you go for the classic: “Oh, my favorite Christmas movie is ‘Die Hard.’”"

You are being held at gunpoint, and your assailant says you have 10 seconds to make him/her change their mind about shooting you. What do you say?

642 "I know you want to test what you said during the election campaign but do you really think all of your supporters would remain on-board? Also given the jurisdiction I can't imagine that you wouldn't be arrested no matter what office you hold."

Christmas Links #3

A New Jersey Mall Built an Amazing A Christmas Story Display for Santa Photos:
"When you’re around 10 years old, you do everything you possibly can to avoid the Santa Claus display at your local mall. But not if you live in Cherry Hill, NJ, because the mall there built a Santa display that’s a perfect miniature replica of Ralphie Parker’s house from A Christmas Story—leg lamp and all."

Santa's on his way: Tate Britain goes all flash with Christmas display:
"When reindeer start flashing and galloping across suburbia it can provoke bouts of furious competitive lighting. It remains to be seen whether MI6, just across the Thames in London, will break out in a blizzard of snowflakes and sleigh bells once the spooks see what Tate Britain has done."

I Tried A Diet Without Sugar, Gluten, And Dairy For Three Months:

"Hi, I'm Michelle! I just turned 40 last month and run operations at BuzzFeed. I'm a competitive athlete and eat healthily, besides a weakness for cookies."

Family says huge Christmas display may end after complaints:
"The Connecticut Post reports the Halliwell family's huge decorative display in Fairfield drew about 30,000 visitors last holiday season, not counting those who drove by without stopping. The Halliwells have been putting up the display for 18 years.."

President Kennedy Discusses Peace at 1962 Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony:

"Only a couple months after Cuban Missile Crisis, President Kennedy discusses Peace on Earth."