Star Wars and Tinsel All Around…

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star wars, deadpool, and me

And yes, I did wear a Star Trek shirt to a Star Wars premier…

Yesterday, the first new Star Wars movie in a decade (gads, I remember sitting through Revenge Of The Sith when it came out, has it really been that long?) was released officially into theaters. In case you’re wondering, yes, I did watch it yesterday. Twice. Once at 9:15am, and the post-lunch 1pm showing. Yes, it was that good.

However, since I’ve decided to take the rest of the year off, and won’t be posting anything new until the first of the year (save for the Obligatory Year End post that sums up the previous 365-ish days), and I’m keeping it for the most part, you won’t be seeing my official review of the new Star Wars until then. For now, though, I urge you all to watch it in the theaters while you still can. It’ll wash that lingering aftertaste of the prequels out of your heads.

So, for now, I bid you all a Merry Christmas and a happy rest-of-the-holidays, and will post again at the end of the year that was 2015. Cheers, all.


Movie Review: KRAMPUS

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krampus-poster-galleryUniversal Pictures

“I just got my ass kicked by a bunch of Christmas cookies!”

When his dysfunctional family clashes over the holidays, young Max is disillusioned and turns his back on Christmas. Little does he know, this lack of festive spirit has unleashed the wrath of Krampus: a demonic force of ancient evil intent on punishing non-believers. All hell breaks loose as beloved holiday icons take on a monstrous life of their own, laying siege to the fractured family’s home and forcing them to fight for each other if they hope to survive.

For an old curmudgeon like myself, who has no use for this manufactured “Christmas spirit” that’s forced down everyone’s throats starting in September and going through the end of the year, it’s a rare movie that actually gets me to smile and get that warm glowing feeling about the part of the Holiday Clusterbomb Season that, more often than not, brings out the worst in everyone. And as you could probably surmise, the recently released Krampus is one of those rare movies that does just that.

Normally, I would wait until the DVD release to watch a movie like Krampus, even though I was greatly intrigued by the fact that it was done by the guys who brought us another favorite holiday classic: Trick R’ Treat. But, I was treated to it as a birthday present, and thus caught it on the day it was released into theaters. And boy howdy, did this dark horror comedy bring me a much-needed distraction to the ongoing existential quandary that comes with turning another year older.

We begin our story with a suburban upper-middle class family preparing to celebrate Christmas with the arrival of the mother’s sister’s family. When gathered together in one house, this goes about as well as would be expected in a Hollywood Christmas movie. That is to say, manufactured tension and drama up the chimney. In a fit of anger, little Max tears up his heartfelt letter to Santa and tosses it out the window the first night, then wakes up the next morning to a surprise blizzard that has frozen the entire neighborhood and knocked out the power. Also, a mysterious snowman has appeared in their lawn. Then a massive scary-looking shadow begins appearing on the rooftops, followed by people disappearing one by one. Then the grandmother tells the tale of when she accidentally summoned Krampus as a child to take everyone in the village she grew up in, except for her as a form of torment. Of course, this is believed to be the senile ramblings of an old lady…until Krampus’ minions arrive to wreak Gremlins-style terror on the clan, until the Anti-Claus himself shows up to drag everyone to the netherworld.

Since seeing this film, I’ve been proclaiming Krampus as an instant Holiday classic. And for good reason: It’s equal parts National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, Gremlins, and Ridley Scott’s Alien mixed together and baked into a grizzly looking but tasty cookie. The family dynamic of the characters is palpable enough to warrant a bit of caring about them, and I’m glad they took the time at first to build that. But, of course, this being a holiday horror movie, the horror part is just as effective, managing to build the tension and wisely keeping the scary things in the shadows and implied. And when the scary things do show their ugly mugs, it a very effective usage of mostly practical effects that push this thing over the edge. I say “mostly”, because there’s some unavoidable usage of CGI for what I’ll just refer to as the “cookie attack” that I can understand having to resort to, but still seemed a bit more hokey than I could take. Also, kudos on the movie for faking me out with making me think this was going to take the old “It was all a dream!” cop-out at the end. Very satisfying ending to a very satisfying movie.

So, now I have another movie to add to my list of Christmas themed movies that don’t make me want to vomit up tinsel into the wassail. Indeed, Krampus is destined to be a Holiday classic for those of us who consider “Bah, Humbug” to be a catchphrase this time of year.

Movie Review: ELF

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elf movie posterNew Line Cinema

“I’m sorry I ruined your lives, and crammed eleven cookies into the VCR.”

Once upon a Christmas Eve, an orphan baby crawled into Santa’s bag of gifts and was taken to the North Pole. Raised by Papa Elf, Buddy comes to realize he doesn’t fit in with the other elves. Determined to find a place where he belongs, Buddy searches for his real dad–in New York City! In the Big Apple, Buddy finds out why his dad is on the naughty list! But almost importantly, he sees that the world is seriously lacking in Christmas spirit, which causes Santa all kinds of problems! So with the help of a beautiful department store elf, Buddy tries to teach his dad and the world the true meaning of Christmas spirit and to prove to everyone that Santa really exists!

Elf is one of those movies that you would think I would not like all that much at the very least. First off, it’s a Christmas movie, and if there’s one type of Holiday-themed movie I dislike the most, it’s the Christmas movie. They’re more formulaic than the zombie movie, with their saccharine bombardment of warm fuzzy feelings being crammed down your throat, usually with the aide of cute adorable whatnots and an ending that lulls you into a false sense of optimistic security…

Okay, sorry, I promised myself I wouldn’t let my inner curmudgeon run rampant. He smells manufactured Holiday Cheer(TM), and that’s like a shark smelling blood in the water. Anyway…

Once in a while, though, a Christmas movie comes along that, despite being as formulaic as they come and stars a comedian actor that I’m more or less “meh” about, somehow works together to make me enjoy it. Normally, this kind of emotional manipulation to make me feel things that are foreign to my cold, unfeeling blackened heart makes me want to do violence to the nearest Christmas carollers to happen upon the dwelling place of the METAL DEMIGOD, and decorate my trees with their entrails in the spirit of the Yuletide season. But this…this is an anomaly.

Somehow, the story of a human that was raised by Santa’s elves after a bit of a mix-up during his usual deliveries, coming of the age of realization that he is, in fact, not an elf but a human, and goes off in search of his true lineage in the magical land of New York, with wackiness ensuing, makes me do something my human friends refer to as “smiling”, which makes my face hurt. A kind of a…I cannot describe it outside of a “warmth” of some sort that, while initially triggering my blind rage, smoothed over to tingly enjoyment that itched more than I’m comfortable with. Truly, after watching this, it fills me with the urge to embrace the humans that I pass by, not in a crushing death blow, but in what I’ve come to understand is called a “hug”, and is considered more socially acceptable than life-crushing death embraces.

This, as you may have imagined, does not sit well with the METAL DEMIGOD. This is why I cannot watch Elf more than just once a year, around this season you refer to as “Christmas”. It fills me with warm fuzzies, something I only allow to infest my being but once a year. You too may find yourself enjoying Elf. And if you haven’t seen it, might I invite you to do so. Soon.

Sunday A’La Carte – January 4th, 2015

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352910_v1Hello, everyone, and welcome back to my weekly disgorgement of foetid brain droppings I like to refer to as the Sunday A’La Carte’. We’re back doing this, after taking a few weeks off during the Holiday Season in December. Hope you enjoyed both your Christmas and New Year’s Eve celebratory rituals. Me, I spent Christmas Day at work, essentially getting paid to read a couple of books—The Silver Chair and The Last Battle, both by C. S. Lewis, in case you were curious—so my family didn’t have their Christmas gathering until January 3rd. Which we can still call a Christmas gathering, because of a loophole with several liturgical-based Christian denominations, the Christmastide runs for twelve days, starting December 25th through January 5th. What, you thought that ubiquitous song was merely arbitrary? Silly human. As far as New Year’s Eve, I celebrated by coming back home from work, ate dinner, then medicated myself from whatever that bug was that waylaid me the day before and called it a year at about 8:45pm. I’m 41 now. My days of staying up past Midnight to party are behind me. Besides, I prefer the solitude. You knew that.

524170_919734128045521_1675893737774604060_nThis year (and by that, I mean 2014) for Christmas, I made it clear that I wanted nothing as far as gifts go. I figure, there was a lot of personal loss, I wasn’t really in the mood for anything. And, for the most part, my family respected my wishes. For the most part. Of course, my mother, being the way she is, gave me a couple of gift cards, so she got a pass. And my Grandmothers…well, you try and argue with any of them. And my three nephews saw something that screamed UNCLE JAMES, and you can’t blame them for knowing me so very well:

IMG_20150103_190620495One of my surrogate nieces shared a link to this blog concerning the blogger’s own struggle with depression, complete with some helpful illustrations. And in the interest of putting forth awareness of something I try to be open and transparent about, I urge you to take a look at page.

babyowlsDid you know there was a Black Sabbath tribute band that consists of the band dressed as the mascots of a popular fast food chain? They’re called Mac Sabbath, and as you probably have figured out by now, their gimmick is playing Black Sabbath songs retooled to reflect McDonald’s themes. This…is awesome. Now, to make good on that Sean Connery impersonator-led Black Sabbath tribute band Shabbath Bloody Shabbath I joked about a couple of years ago…

Found this blog article urging Bible College graduates to forget their degrees rather interesting.

Even more interesting was this report of a Pastor of a Florida church shooting the church’s maintenance worker. To be fair, the maintenance worker drew his gun on the pastor first, when he learned that he was going to be fired from his position. But the pastor was the faster draw, it seems. Somehow, I picture this confrontation as having that whistling-wah-wah-waaaaaah background music from those spaghetti westerns playing from nowhere as this happened. Also, the fact that he’s the pastor of a church named Living Water Fellowship Church makes this drip with delicious irony, methinks.

nq141231Stuff I’ve Written: I started off with my Obligatory Year-End post—t’was a corker—and the list of all the books I read in 2014. Then I kicked off the New Year by writing a review of a Demon Hunter album here, then posted some previously written reviews of a couple of Jesus Freaks albums here and here, a Jesus Joshua 24:15 album here, a Judean Radiostatic album here, and a Kekal album here. Then I went a slightly bit insane, and declared 2015 the YEAR OF METAL, and proceeded to name January NWOBHM Month, beginning with the band Battleaxe. I swear neither alcohol or drugs were involved with this.

unfunny catAnyway, that’s all for this week. Good to be back in the normal swing of things. Going to be a bit busy for me in the coming weeks, but already I feel that 2015 is going to be a big one. We’ll have to wait until December 31st again to see if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. But for now, I’m just crazy enough to want to see how it all ends. Cheers, and God bless, my wonderful freaks.


How The Goth Stole Christmas

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how the goth stole christmasIt’s that time of year again, my wonderful freaks. And, since I haven’t done so in a few years, I thought I’d dust off this Christmas classic for you all:

(with apologies to the late, great Dr. Seuss)

Every Who
Down in Who-ville
Liked Christmas a lot…

But the Goth,
Who lived just north of Whoville,
Did NOT!

The Goth hated Christmas! The whole Christmas season!
Now, please don’t ask why. No one quite knows the reason.
It could be his face wasn’t made up just right.
It could be, perhaps, that his Docs were too tight.
But I think the most likely reason of all
May have been that in August, there were Elves in the mall.

Whatever the reason,
His Docs or the mall,
He stood there on Christmas Eve, hating it all.
Staring down from his lair, with a sour gothy frown
At the warm lighted windows below in their town.
For he knew every Who down in Who-ville beneath
Was busy now, hanging a mistletoe wreath.

“And they’re hanging their stockings,” he said with a pout.
“They’re not even *fishnets* for crying out loud!”
Then he growled, with his fingertips nervously drumming,
“I must find some way to stop Christmas from coming!”

Tomorrow, he knew…

…All the Who girls and boys.
Would wake long before sunset. They’d rush for their toys!
And then! Oh, the noise! Oh, the Noise! Noise! Noise! Noise!
“That’s one thing I hate! It’s really quite loud.
“It’s worse than a rivethead blasting Merzbow!”

Then the Whos, young and old, would sit down to a feast.
And they’d feast! And they’d feast!
And they’d FEAST!
They would feast on Who-pudding, and rare Who-roast-beast
Which was something the goth couldn’t stand in the least.

They’d do something
He liked least of all!
Every Who down in Who-ville, the tall and the small,
Would walk outside (after finishing their cena)
They’d stand close together, and do the Macarena!

And the more the goth thought ’bout this Who-Christmas-Dancin’,
The more the goth thought “This is worse than M. Manson!
“Why, for twenty-three years I’ve put up with it now!
“I MUST stop this Christmas from coming!
…But HOW?”

Then he got an idea!
A spooky idea!

“I know just what to do!” the goth said in the gloom.
And he made a black velvety Santa costume.
And he cackled, and wailed “What a great gothy plan!
“With an outfit like this, I’ll take all that I can!”

“All I need is a reindeer…”
The goth looked around.
But, since reindeer are scarce, there was none to be found.
But, did that stop the goth?
No! The Goth simply said,
“If I can’t find a reindeer, I’ll make one instead!”
So he called his cat, Curse. Then he took some black lace,
And he tied a big horn on the side of his face.

He loaded some bags
Into the back of his hearse.
(A ramshackle car,
To which he tied Curse.)

Then the goth revved the engine,
And Curse started to run.
Down to Who-ville they went
To steal their fun.

All their windows were dark. Quiet snow filled the air.
All the Whos were naively dreaming without care.
When he came to the first little house on the square.
“This is stop number one,” the old Gothy Claus hissed
And he climbed to the roof, empty bags in his fist.

Then he slid down the chimney. Which could have been hectic
Except that the goth was quite anorexic.
He got stuck only once, for a moment or two.
Then he stuck his head out of the fireplace flue
Where the little Who stockings all hung in a row.
“These stockings,” he grinned, “Are the first things to go!”

Then he slithered and slunk, with a smile most unpleasant,
Around the whole room, and he took every present!

Siouxsie and Sisters tapes! Eyeliner! Shoes!
Nail polish! Thigh-high boots! Lipstick! And Booze!
And he stuffed them in bags. Then the goth, very nimbly,
Stuffed all the bags, one by one, up the chimbley!

Then he slunk to the icebox. He took the Who’s feast!
He took the Who-pudding! He took the roast beast!
He didn’t eat any. He had to stay thin.
(Though he did take a swig of Momma-Who’s gin.)

Then he stuffed all the food up the chimney with relish.
“And NOW!” grinned the goth, “For that tree that looks hellish!”

And the goth grabbed the tree, and he started to shove
When he heard a small sound like the coo of a dove.
He turned around fast, and he saw a small Who!
Little Siouxsie-Sioux-Who, who was not more than two.

The goth had been caught by this little chanteuse
Who’d got out of bed for a shot of Chartreuse.
She stared at the goth and said, “Santy Claus, why,
“Why are you taking our Christmas tree? WHY?”

But you know, that old goth was so smart and so slick
He thought up a lie, and he thought it up quick!
“Why my sweet little tot, it’s really quite sad.
“This tree looks just ghastly, it’s covered in plaid!
“So I’m taking it home,” he told the pre-schooler.
“And when it’s fixed up, it will look a lot cooler.”

And his fib fooled the child. Then he patted her head
And he poured her a drink and he sent her to bed.
And when Siouxsie-Sioux-Who was in bed with her cup.
HE went to the chimney, and stuffed the tree up!

Then the last thing he took
Was the log for their fire!
Then he went up the chimney, himself, the old liar.
On their walls he left nothing but hooks and some wire.

And the one speck of food
That he left in the house
Was a crumb that was even too small for a mouse.

He did the same thing
To the other Whos’ houses

Leaving crumbs
Much too small
For the other Whos’ mouses!

It was a quarter to dawn..
All the Whos, sleeping worse,
Each one passed out on booze
When he packed up his hearse,
Packed it up with their presents! The ribbons! The wrappings!
The tags! And the tinsel! The trimmings! The trappings!

Three thousand feet up! Up the side of Mt. Strumpet
He rode with his load to the tiptop to dump it!
“Pooh-Pooh to the Whos!” he was morbidly humming.
“They’re finding out now that no Christmas is coming!
“They’re just waking up! I know just what they’ll do!
“Their mouths will hang open a minute or two
“Then the Whos down in Who-ville will all cry BOO-HOO!”

“But there’s no time to listen,” the goth said with a frown.
“The sun’s starting to glisten. I’ve got to get down!
“I’ve got to get back to my lair with haste
“Or all that I’ve done tonight will go to waste!”

So the goth dumped the whole load
And returned to the road.
And started his flight
To avoid the daylight.

And asleep in his coffin, the goth smiled with glee.
For now there’s no Christmas for you or for me.

(and you thought it’d have a happy ending, didn’t you?)


Christmas Eve Post

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Christmas Eve PostChristmas Eve. The day before Christmas. Seven days before the final day of the year that was. Eight before the cycle begins anew. Can’t wait. Can’t wait for all of this to be over. Day after day after day after day, putting on my grave shroud, following the Master into the big, scary Unknown that is my mortal existence. No complaints. No remorse. No regrets.

Truth be told, Christmas and winter are held in my heart as the darkest, most Gothic season of the year. No, not Halloween silly. Halloween is happy fun time. Amateur night for the Normals. No, Christmas and winter are when I feel the most alive, where I see with vivid realness the beauty of death, the true gift it is been given us from up on high. The quiet dark as the snow falls silently to the earth. The chill that grabs your bones. As my breath escapes in faint wisps of vapor, I am reminded of my mortality. And I praise the Lord Jesus for this season of death. For without death, there is no rebirth. His Spirit is what makes me alive. The closer I get to Him, the more I see the beauty in the dark and and still death that surrounds us.

Merry Christmas, one and all.


Sunday A’La Carte: December 21, 2014

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hD5B9424DI’m going to make this very, very brief. I spent this weekend watching a couple of five-month old Staffordshire Bull Terrier puppies, and their nearly-two-year old mother, all of which have enough kinetic energy to power a small city for a couple of years alone, for my sister and brother-in-law while they went to watch my teenage nephew wrestle in a far-off, mystical  land named Kearney, Nebraska. Needless to say, I’m more than a tad drained. So, considering the final legs of 2014 are upon us, I decided to take the rest of the year off, and start back up the A’La Carte posts after the New Year. Of course, that doesn’t mean that I won’t be posting regular stuff on the blog. Just not going to sweat the week-ending exorcise that I’ve been doing for a while now.

Until next year, I bid you all the obligatory Merry Christmas and Happy New Year and all that. Cheers, all.


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