Amoeblog

Santa Claus: The Dark Side

Posted by Billyjam, December 11, 2012 08:09am | Post a Comment

The Killers "Don't Shoot Me Santa" (2007 Def Jam)

After recently checking out the funny-but-dark humored Bargin Bin Blasphemy Tumber page featuring some Christmas / Santa Claus album covers like the one left that have been adjusted with some simple sharpie and paint to make Santa look more like Satan (there's many other non-Santa ones but equally "blasphemous") I began thinking about instances when Santa is portrayed as the opposite of his usual kindly benevolent self. The first thing that came to my mind of course was the 2003 film Bad Santa starring Billy Bob Thornton, Tony Cox, Brett Kelly, Lauren Graham, and the two late greats Bernie Mac and John Ritter, which you can find at Amoeba in Blu-ray.   This film, which people seem to either love or hate, has been released in two versions: the regular original version and the later unrated version. Yes if the original theatrical version didn't portray Santa behaving badly enough for some viewers the unrated version took the badness up a notch with even more cursing, nudity, and criminal activity.  See clip below from original version - but be forewarned it has explicit language.

Next in terms of Santa going to the dark side I thought of those group Santa Claus bar/pub crawls where guys (and some women too) dressed up as Santa go out in a large group and get their collective swerve on - usually civilized but oft times getting stinking drunk and getting into fights. Then there's The Killers non-album track "Don't Shoot Me Santa" from five Christmases ago which the Las Vegas band recorded as a digital download-only track with all proceeds going to AIDS charities as part of the (PRODUCT)RED campaign. The entertaining video (above) and great song, delivered in the band's usual Springsteen-esque style, portrays Santa far from his normal North Pole residence but as a kidnapping killer deep in the desert who lives in a tore up old trailer. "Well the party's over kid cos I've got a bullet in my gun!," warns bad Santa (played by Ryan Pardey who has taken Brandon Flowers captive) and is about to kill the Killers main man. But fear not it has a happy ending when our kidnapped hero is rescued and the video ends with the note 'Merry Christmas from The Killers."

Continue reading...

(Wherein I review rad, rainy resources.)

Posted by Job O Brother, December 20, 2010 11:38am | Post a Comment

Merry Christmas from the homeless guy who stole your candles!

Santa, it would seem, heard my Christmas wish and brought me lots of rain. While not convenient to my compulsive walks to the grocery store for whatever culinary whims o’ertake me, I’ll trade easy access to the “Asian food aisle” for gloomy storm-clouds any old day. It’s not just the weather itself, it’s the music, movies, food and activities that I save for just such an occasion. What are they? I’m pretending you ask – Why, I’ll tell you!


Boner.


Let’s start with alcohol, as any good day does. This is the season for a cocktail staple of mine: hot toddies, of the whiskey variety. It’s so simple, I hesitate to say this is a recipe, any more than boiling spaghetti and dumping a jar of sauce on it is a “recipe,” but if I’ve learned anything about you earthlings, it’s that when cooking doesn’t come naturally, it doesn’t come at all. So here goes…

1.)  Simply boil water. If you need instructions for this, stop now and don’t ever, ever step into a kitchen.

2.)  While you wait for your water, squeeze the juice from one whole lemon, removing any seeds. Save the seeds and, in another blog, I’ll show you how you can use these dried lemon seeds to make the ugliest, stupidest necklace ever.

Silent night - Christmas movies of the silent era

Posted by Eric Brightwell, December 6, 2009 11:55am | Post a Comment
         

Happy St. Nicholas Day! For your enjoyment, a little somethin' to break the monotony of all that hardcore Christmas that has gotten to be a little bit out of control...


Santa Claus
(1898) was directed by George Albert Smith (Weary Willie, Making Sausages), a former portrait photographer and member of the UK's Brighton set. In 1906, he and Charles Urban patented the world's first commercial color film process, Kinemacolor. Smith was something of an English Georges Méliès, employing and pioneering the use of special effects, mostly in the fantasy genre.

Scrooge; or Marley's Ghost (1901) was apparently the first adaptation of seemingly millions of Dickens's novel.


The Night Before Christmas
(1905) was directed by the great Edwin S. Porter (Uncle Josh in a Spooky Hotel, Uncle Josh at the Moving Picture Show, The Gay Shoe Clerk) and is a pretty loose adaptation of the famous poem by Clement Moore. It will undoubtedly appeal to fans of dioramas and vintage children.


A Winter Straw Ride
(1906) is another Porter effort. It's pretty light on plot, mainly focusing on the titular straw ride (sleigh ride) and the hijinks surrounding it. Warning: the score is pretty corny on this clip so you may want to play something else to accompany it.

A Little Girl Who Did Not Believe in Santa Claus (1907), co-directed by James Searle Dawley and Edwin S. Porter depicts a rich boy going to great lengths to delude a jaded poor girl into believing in the supernatural.

Essanay's version of A Christmas Carol (1908) starred Tom R. Ricketts (The Lavender Bath Lady, The Dangerous Maid, Bobbed Hair) as Scrooge; the film was released in December 1908 and probably launched the concept of the Christmas box office. Unfortunately, it appears to be lost, although it's often confused with later silent versions.


A Trap for Santa (1909) is a typically melodramatic effort of celebrated racist D.W. Griffith (The Greaser's Gauntlet, The Zulu's Heart, The Feud and the Turkey). I couldn't find it online, but it's available (as are most of these silent Christmas films) on DVD in the Kino collection, A Christmas Past -- available in Amoeba's Christmas section.


The second filmed version of A Christmas Carol (1910) was directed by James Searle Dawley and  starred Australian actor Marc McDermott (Satin and Calico, The Girl and the Motorboat, The Man Who Could Not Sleep) in the role of Scrooge.


Making Christmas Crackers
(1910) begins as a rather too in-depth look at the tedious process of making Christmas Crackers produced by George Howard Cricks and John Howard Martin. However, in the final minute or so, it thankfully veers into poetic realist territory.


A Christmas Accident (1912) is a story of two households whose residents couldn't be more different, the rich, cranky Giltons and the poor, good-hearted Biltons. However, during the magic of the holiday, the two end up finding something they didn't expect -- love. Another warning, the version here suffers from a random, repetitive and robotically performed score.

Scrooge (1913), starring Sir Seymour Hicks (Always Tell Your Wife, Sleeping Partners, Young Man's Fancy), was re-released in 1926 as Old Scrooge. He again reprised the role of Scrooge in 1935's film, Scrooge. It's available on the DVD A Christmas Carol & Old Scrooge, in stock in Amoeba's Christmas section.


The Adventures of the Wrong Santa Claus (1914) as subtitled, An Adventure of Octavius -- Amateur Detective, stars Herbert Yost (A Drunkard's Reformation, The Faded Lilies, A Troublesome Satchel) as the private dick in question. Although the character is as unfamililar to modern audiences as Ecks and Sever, filmgoers in the teens were familiar with him from The Adventure of the Extra Baby, The Adventure of the Hasty Elopement, The Adventure of the Actress' Jewels, and many, many more.

Santa Claus Vs. Cupid
(1915) stars Raymond McKee (Two Lips and Juleps; or, Southern Love and Northern Exposure, T. Haviland Hicks, Freshman, Shoddy the Tailor) and Billy Casey as rival Santa-suited suitors attempting to win the affection of Helen Bower, played by Grace Morrissey (Curing the Office Boy, Blade 'o Grass, The Tell-Tale Step). It's also available on the aforementioned Kino set.

The Dividend
(1916) was directed by Thomas H. Ince (The Hateful God, In the Land of the Otter, Shorty's Adventures in the City) and Walter Edwards (The Colonel's Adopted Daughter, His Superficial Wife, The Sin Ye Do). It concerns the yuletide misadventures of a drug addled man named Frank, played by Charles Ray (Bread Cast Upon the Waters, One of the Discarded, The Conversion of Frosty Blake).

The Right to Be Happy (1916) was another adaptation of A Christmas Carol, this time directed by and starring Kiwi Rupert Julian (The Heart of a Jewess, In the Days of his Youth, The Boyhood He Forgot, ) as Scrooge).

Bab's Diary (1917) was directed by James Searle Dawle, who called himself "the first motion picture director." It was, however, at least his third film in the Christmas genre.

Scrooge (1923), starring Russell Thorndike (The Dream of Eugene Aram, The Audacious Mr. Squire, The School for Scandal), is availble, re-titled A Christmas Carol, on the aforementioned DVD, A Christmas Carol & Old Scrooge. In reality, both films on the DVD were released in theaters as Scrooge, but the DVD company in question, Jef, are not known for the care they put into their releases.  

The Goose Hangs High (1925), directed by James Cruze (The Golf Caddie's Dog, The Ring of a Spanish Grandee, Why Reginald Reformed), has something to do with socialism, Christmas and a snobbish grandmother.

Santa Claus (1925) was shot in the Alaskan arctic and concerns the goings on in the Land of Winter the other 364 days of the year. It's also available on the Kino collection, A Christmas Past.

(In which Job reveals holiday party hints.)

Posted by Job O Brother, December 9, 2008 11:25am | Post a Comment

"Ho ho ho! Who needs a pancreas?"

It’s only December 9, and already my body is exhausted from all the sugar and booze it’s ingested. I know, oh my readers, why Santa is a fat man. Santa, in fact, is probably suffering with diabetes. It would explain last year when, as he was trying to stuff the life-sized, life-like Annette Funicello robot I had asked for into my San Francisco 49ers stocking (a last-minute purchase at Target – it was either that or a Hannah Montana stocking that had a glue-gun scar); Santa was working his magic but, in-between “ho ho ho” he was mumbling about polyuria, polydipsia and polyphagia in a manner not so jolly.

That last sentence was epic. Somewhere, the ghost of Proust just got a boner. Can I say boner on the Amoeblog? I’m not well.

My boyfriend, Corey, and I just hosted our annual Christmas party. I was in charge of the food. I went for a “dip” theme. That is, rather than merely offer chips & salsa or chips & guacamole, our dips included:

•    Pumpkin pie & fresh whipped cream dip, served with cinnamon/sugar pita chips
•    NY Cheesecake dip, served with thick graham crackers
•    Chocolate fudge dip, served with fresh & dried fruit
•    Peanut butter / mustard / honey dip, served with pretzels
•    Red wine dip, served with Pfeffernüsse

Our pal Kamran also contributed queso & tortilla chips, because some of the guests were Texan, and I guess their tradition demands queso at every gathering, otherwise they… secede or something.

I was also in charge of the music. For this, I created a playlist on my jazz-specific iPod and dumped a week’s worth of X-mas tunes. But, and here’s where I turn this into a piece of advice for those of you assembling such a list, I recommend you buffer all the Christmas records with some other music. I like a ratio of 50/50. This is to ensure that no one has to endure four versions of “Jingle Bells” in a row. If chosen well, the non-holiday music won’t impede on the feeling, but embellish it. I stuck to jazz – down-tempo be-bop, mostly – as I find it blends well with my Yuletide tunery. Examples:

Ben Webster



Lester Young


Another perfect addition to a holiday set-list is any recordings by the
Swingle Singers...


I was careful not to have any unChristmasy items contain lyrics. Nothing could be tackier than if, as your guests swagger mirthfully around the punchbowl or flirting beneath the mistletoe, than for Lady Day to start a macabre rendition of “Strange Fruit.” Beyond that, you’d be surprised how cozy a recording (sans lyrics) of the “Eulogy for Rudy Williams” can be, when accompanied by spiked egg nog and a stewardess under each arm.

I’m sorry. That was a ridiculous digression. Of course I meant to say flight attendants.

The next morning, Corey and I fell out of bed around noon and went immediately to fellow Amoebite Aaron’s party. They were serving pumpkin pancakes to guests on an ambitious scale. For a brief moment, I worried as to how I would be able to dip the pancakes without making a mess, but then my brain reminded me of the time before my party, when utensils like forks and spoons reigned supreme, and I relaxed.

That night was the Amoeba Holiday party. It grieves my heart that I didn’t attend – it was the first time I missed a major Amoeba event in over four years! But it was the 30th birthday of our dear friend Jenny. 29th or 31st birthday can be ignored – the big three-oh cannot. So, it was off to Manhattan Beach to celebrate.

Suddenly, a fire-breathing dragon flew down from the skies, scorching cars and toppling skyscrapers, as an army of robots marched across the cityscape!!!


Not really, but I suddenly worried that my blog was getting boring.

Is this how Mrs. Dalloway would have read if it was written in 2008?

Anyway, going back to the party food – I’ve learned that many people don’t know how to make whipped cream from scratch. For those of us who, like me, were raised in the Swiss Alps by a bunch of portly dessert chefs, this skill comes as naturally as braiding our golden locks or yodeling. The rest of you can learn by reading ahead…
Procure yourself some heavy whipping cream. You can find this at any grocery store, ideally in this refrigerated section. (In fact, if your local grocer doesn’t keep it in this section, I recommend shopping elsewhere.)

Size-wise, you’ll usually have two options: pint or quart. I suggest you go for the quart, because it’s much more common to not have enough delicious, fresh, whipped cream than the alternative. (Think about it – have you ever heard this sentence: “Oh no! Too much delicious, fresh, whipped cream!” …Exactly.)

Next, pour the heavy whipping cream into a bowl. NOT a stainless steel bowl, however. Stainless steel is bad juju for whipping cream, for reasons I don’t know, perhaps because I spent high school science class hidden in the theatre lobby, drinking screwdrivers from my Thermos and reading Anne Rice novels.


Using an electric mixer, beat the heavy whipping cream until, well, it becomes whipped cream. But BE CAREFUL – if you whip it too long, it suddenly becomes butter. Corey made that mistake once and, without realizing it, ate a bowlful of fresh, sweetened butter. He spent the next two weeks digesting it.

Once it’s whipped cream, mix in the sweetener of your choice. Mostly commonly, powdered sugar is used. (Don’t use granulated sugar, unless you want slightly crunchy whipped cream. PS – You don’t.) For myself, I think the finest sweetener for whipped cream is grade-B maple syrup.

I never measure the sweetener – just go by taste. Start with a little and keep adding until the flavor gives you a boner. Can I say that? I have a slight headache. Am I still writing?

The army of robots killed mercilessly, until they were conquered by my life-sized, life-like Annette Funicello robot. And that’s why we celebrate Christmas. Hosanna in Excelsis Deo.

Guests are usually delighted and impressed by homemade whipped cream. Unless it’s the portly dessert chefs that raised me. They tend to be overly critical. My robot will show them. Oh yes, dear readers, VENGEANCE WILL BE MINE!!!

Merry Christmas!