Sunday, December 26, 2004


THE TOTAL CHRISTMAS TALLY IS NOT QUITE IN AT PRESSTIME, but I can tell you that this year I actually made money on the deal for a change! Last go 'round had me way inna red, but scaling back on presents for the uncles/aunts/cousins helped a bit (broke out about even there) though fortunately I did exceptionally well with the closer relatives and gained about $250 in the process. Not bad, and I hope I can do even better next time, finding even cheaper gifts to toss at the folks with perhaps even greater rewards my way!

However, my disappointment over the utter lack of useless junk gifts this 2004 season should be noted. Not one Thing Maker or Kenner's Give-A-Show Projector graced the bottom of my tree, nor did any Dinky Toys get stuffed into my stocking! Even something more "adult" (and needed!) like a new turntable/stereo set was not to be found, though I've come to expect that from people who can't take hints no matter how many times you hit them on their noggins with sledge hammers. I'm only hoping for better results in this division comes the 2005 season so wish me luck 'cause I need it given how all those little "asides" and "nudge-nudges" this year were all for naught!

Thankfully there were some highlights to Christmas 2004 (which paled next to past Christmasses of worth especially 1971, 1975, 1976, 1979 and who can forget the infamous "Sock Christmas" of 1983, but I've come to expect that). The best part of this Holiday Season was watching both the MR. ED Christmas episode (where Ed relates to Wilbur the saga of how it was a horse who led Santa Claus on his initial journey) and especially the Mr. Magoo looser-than-diarrhea adaptation of A CHRISTMAS CAROL which was originally aired in the glorious year of '62 and shelved since at least the latter portion of that decade for all I know. After having not seen it in, er, quite a long time, I found it rather...staid in the worst sixties NBC "quality programming" way with too many boring musical numbers that probably had me and a thousand other kiddies running for the 'fridge or commode, plus the lack of any Magoo "regulars" like Cholly added to the overall glum nature of this maybe not-so-special. (And the characters who were in it were so lackluster...Bob Cratchit came off like an aimless simpleton while Tiny Tim was so unloveable that I was hoping he wouldn't get that life-saving operation given how utterly boring he was!) Still, it was great to once again osmose that classic UPA animation that made up a small yet strong enough part of early-sixties television (see my Dick Tracy review for more), plus after all these years I got to see that strange "Ghost of Christmas Past" character, this ambisexual being (with long hair and voiced by a woman [Joan Gardner or June Foray...sources differ], but was she or wasn't she???) sporting a flame above it's head who for some odd reason really, er, appealed to me as a five-year-old. I don't know couldn't have been anything sexual 'cause I was way too young for that sorta chicanery, or maybe it was my own mixedupness about the roles men and women play in this world, but somehow I fell in love with this ghost, or at least fell in love as much as a post-toddler could I guess! Maybe it was a platonic thing similar to the feelings Julian Cope had for Damo Suzuki, but there was something about her (?) I found most attractive if you can believe that! Perhaps it was the long hair, the slender figure or even the distorted wispy voice...good thing I didn't see DEATH IN VENICE at the same age or else I woulda really been sexually screwed up! If anything, my infatuation over this character must have prepared me for the likes of Marc and Alice and David only a few short years later!

The only "culturally significant" arrival worthy of mention in today's post is the recently (give or take a few years) reissued MAD STRIKES BACK paperback (ibooks, 2002) that was unleashed on the market as part of MAD magazine's fiftieth anniversary celebrations a couple years back. Naturally these paperbacks collecting the early MAD comic book-era sagas are now pretty much needless considering how everybody and his brother have been reprinting these now-legendary (and perhaps overly-praised) stories in one form or another ever since MAD's half-century celebrations began, but considering how they were perhaps the only place to read the original MAD comics (as well as anything EC related) for a long time it's sure neat seeing these old-timey paperbacks available in their original form again even if the printing isn't reduced to a faded grey and the pages are supple enough that you can bend the book without cracking the spine! I remember when I got my first copy of this 'un back in was at the National Record Mart in the Eastwood Mall and seeing it in the paperback racks (with the original cover restored---none of that Peter Max stuff that plagued the previous edition!) almost made my eyes pop out (amongst other things!). I immediately picked up a copy and handed it to the pseudo-hippie with the wild print shirt and necktie at the counter and rushed home to read it, which I did with relish (and perhaps some mustard and ketchup as well...hey, I like OBVIOUS jokes just like the next guy not to mention Harvey Kurtzman himself!). Needless to say, when the other Ballantine collections of the original MAD paperbacks began popping up in the racks after a few years of being out of print I was there to latch onto 'em, and you can bet your bottom dollar that when I'm through re-re-re...reading this new MAD STRIKES BACK its gonna join that very same copy I purchased oh so long ago along with the others in that big box of paperbacks sitting in my closet! The highlight of this Holiday Season, at least so far!

Maybe I'll get another post in before my New Year's "best," "worst," and "even more worst" of 2004 year-end wrapitallup, but don't count on it! Blaw!!!

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