TOP TEN MOST SANTA-ESQUE MOVIE SANTAS

First I have to apologize for my recent missed posts – I’ve been under the weather AND normal Christmassy stuff got in the way.  BUT, I said there would be posts for every day leading up to Christmas and I WILL deliver on that promise!  I plan on doubling up a couple days and giving you guys a couple doses of popcorny goodness between now and the time jolly ol’ St. Nicholas squeezes his rump down your chimneys.

Speaking of which, this is THE LAST Top Ten Tuesday before Christmas, so what better focus could there be than the top portrayals of Kris Kringle?  So here we go: the TOP TEN BEST PORTRAYALS OF SANTA.

#10 – Tom Hanks in “The Polar Express”

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Not gonna lie – this movie creeps me the hell out.  The characters are too real and not real enough at the same time.  Like those creepy Asian “service” dolls they’ve invented.  Just skeeves me out looking at the dead eyes and the mouths that are kind of moving to the words but seem to be a bit too fluid.  Yeesh – gonna have nightmares now.  HOWEVER, Tom Hanks lends his voice (and his actions via motion capture) to combine a portrayal of your favorite uncle’s warmth and a superhero’s majestic poise to bring about a Santa Claus that raises the hair on the back of the neck of your inner child.  That “star struck” feeling of your childhood when you got to that line at the mall and saw HIM sitting on his throne waiting for you to come sit on his lap.

#9 – Oliver Clark & #8 -Douglas Seale in “Ernest Saves Christmas”

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Ernest movies are a guilty pleasure of mine – along with Pauly Shore – and I have a soft spot for Jim Varney’s lovable doofus.  However, I could never ask you to take me seriously ever again if I were to include ANY Ernest movie on the top 10 list of cinematic masterpieces (“To Kill A Mockingbird,” “Citizen Kane,” and “Ernest: Scared Stupid” just doesn’t seem that credible).  However, it fits on this list not once BUT TWICE.  The Ernest storyline is garbage, the reindeer in the airport storyline is forgettable, the homeless kleptomaniac who sees the err of her ways is a barf-worthy redemption story that even the Hallmark Channel thinks is too cheesy.  BUT Douglas Seale plays an aging Santa Claus in search of his replacement and Oliver Clark plays an actor who is topping the list of Santa Claus successors.  Both Santas are human and flawed men and they let the chinks in their armor show, but they both know that children need Santa and no matter what hubris or missteps they have been guilty of, they never put the children’s beliefs in the Holiday Spirit in jeopardy.  “Y’know what I mean, Vern?”

#7 – Charles Durning in “Elmo Saves Christmas”

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What the hell is wrong with Christmas that it always needs to be saved?!  And why is it alway up to people like Ernest and Elmo to save it?  Why not Batman or Rambo?  What’s Elmo going to do – look how he saved Sesame Street – Ernie and Bert are all but on public assistance, all of Big Bird’s songs have been rerecorded with Elmo taking the lead; it’s basically Elmo Street.  And he’s too fuzzy and cute for you to realize he’s Napoleon!  That’s one reason I love Charles Durning’s Santa Claus; St. Nick doesn’t put up with Elmo’s crap!  He’s like the second Dumbledore – the first one was soft spoken and warm; the second isn’t afraid to lay the smackdown.  The movie is called “Elmo Saves Christmas” but in all actuality he’s the dumbass that puts it in jeopardy in the first place.  Here enters Santa who, without being mean and scary for the kids, tells Elmo, in no uncertain terms, “You done messed up, you furry little meal ticket, now man up and fix what you broke.”  Sometimes Santa needs to lay a healthy helping of tough love on you.

#6 – Andrew Hill Newman in “A Wish For Wings That Work”

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This little-known Christmas cartoon, featuring Opus and Bill and other Bloom County/Outland favorites, is a hidden treasure.  If you have never seen it, forget hunting down a streaming version or a rental option, just go to Amazon and treat yourself to a copy to keep.  Irreverent humor like the comic strip and true holiday warmth mixed together in equal helping.  As for Santa’s role, it is very small but Newman’s voice is what I’ve always thought Santa truly sounds like:

Also, he doesn’t give the protagonist what he wants for Christmas – in an original twist away from the perfect gift showing up at the last moment – he gives him a solution to his underlying problem thereby improving his life permanently.  Santa is better than any guidance counselor any of us has ever had.

#5 – Tim Allen in “The Santa Clause” Trilogy

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Okay, we’re going to skip over the whole part about how he only got the job because of the involuntary manslaughter that caused the original Père Noel to plummet to his death leaving his crumpled corpse at the feet of a small child who is already in need of counseling due to his parents’ ugly divorce EXCEPT that his stepfather IS a counselor who psychoanalyzes the kid at every turn.  DESPITE the grim premise, Tim Allen turns into one of the quintessential modern day Santa Clauses who adds the extra twist of balancing his duties of being Father Christmas and still being just Dad.  How can Santa play favorites among millions of children?  And how can a father neglect the needs of his only child for the needs of strangers?  Forget Tim “The Toolman” and Buzz Lightyear, this will be the role he will be remembered for.

#4 – Ed Asner in “Elf”

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This movie is just plain old Christmas fun and childlike silliness.  Ed Asner puts aside the usual teddy bear-like Santa character and just lets the jolliness show.  He is still warm and festive, but there is just an extra dash of fun and whimsy that feeds into Will Ferrell’s…well…Will Ferrellness.  Santa’s advice about “free candy” is absolute genius and should be added to all parenting books.

#3 – David Huddleston in “Santa Claus: The Movie”

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WARNING: This movie sucks like a Hoover vacuum.  It is an ungodly massacre of modern cinema.  The fact that you need to put “The Movie” in the title for a movie is a red flag.  “Hey audience, by the way, this is a movie…hence why you’re all sitting in a movie theater.  Don’t try to talk to, or touch, or in any way try to interact with the giant people who are about to show up on this big light up wall, because they aren’t real.  That’s why this is ‘Santa Claus: The Movie’ and not ‘Santa Claus: The Real Person You Can Talk To,’ or ‘Santa Claus: The Dancing Puppets Made Of Tropical Fruit Slam Poetry Extravaganza.'”  However, despite it being 99% unwatchable – that last remaining 1% shows us a portrayal of Santa that proves to children how magical he really is.  Not good enough to save this movie, but if you come across this movie somewhere, do yourself a favor and just fast forward to Huddleston’s scenes – he instantly sparks the Christmas Spirit no matter what time of year it might be.

#2 – Richard Attenborough in “A Miracle on 34th St.” (1994)

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The only downside to this performance was that he couldn’t find a way to work in the line “Welcome…to Jurassic Park.”  I usually balk at remakes, ESPECIALLY movies so well-done and classic they should be deemed untouchable.  There have been other versions of “The Wizard of Oz,” but no direct remakes.  No one would stand for a reboot of “The Godfather” or “Gone with the Wind” – so this one made me reeeeeeeeally skeptical.  But Richard Attenborough channelled the spirit of the jolly ol’ elf, stayed true enough to the original, and still made his performance unique enough to stand on its own.  Come to think of it, I’m not even really sure I remember anything else from this remake – just Santa.

#1 – Edmund Gwenn in “A Miracle on 34th St.” (1948)

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Nothing compares to the original.  Gwenn won an Academy Award for this performance, but more than that he became what we think about when we think of Santa.  Whimsical, funny, warm, kind, the protector of children, and a moral compass (and Lord knows we need help in that department).  If you ask me (which you didn’t, but you don’t have a choice because it’s my blog and I say what I want) I wouldn’t be surprised if Santa used Edmund Gwenn as an alias and portrayed himself in this movie.  It’s fitting that in a movie where there is a fight to believe in Santa’s existence there is a performance that removes any doubt in your mind that he’s real.

“Whoow! Now I know there’s a Santa Claus. Oh, you may laugh, ladies and gentlemen. It’s not so easy to be certain, you know. He’s a most elusive little fellow. He turns up in all sorts of places under all sorts of names and disguises.” ~ Edmund Gwenn from his acceptance speech after receiving the Academy Award for Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role

More Crappy Christmas Music!

I received a lot of feedback about Tuesday’s top 10 list of lame Christmas songs.  Apparently I had hit a lot of the crappy classics (“crappics”), but a couple readers threw in their two cents.  In fact, I had enough two cents to think I needed to follow up on my post (pretty much a dime if you add all the two cents up) – but I couldn’t have a TOP 5 list…that’s pretty lame.  And I couldn’t hate on enough other Christmas songs to create another full Top 10 list. So, being Sunday, I deemed it worthy of a NEW Bobbing for Popcorn feature that I could utilize in such cases as this – when you, my dear sweet little kernels (Lady Gaga has her “little monsters,” you guys are my “little kernels” – cuz of the popcorn thing…and I’m like the bowl…and you are unpopped and hurt people’s teeth…you know, never mind, this is stupid) have ideas of your own that you would like to add to my posts which…

*Ahem*

I WELCOME AND ENCOURAGE ALL THE TIME!!!

Please, please, please – like, share, comment, subscribe – on here, or Facebook, or Twitter, or the B4P email – GET INVOLVED AND SHARE THE POPCORNY GOODNESS!

But, without further ado, the first ever SUPPLEMENTAL SEVEN SUNDAY created by a combined effort of YOU and ME.

7.  Jingle Bells – Barbra Streisand

This might be the only Christmas song that would put you into an epileptic seizure.  Maybe it’s because she’s technically used to Hanukkah and Christmas was not in her upbringing but, Babs, calm the hell down.  The stores get their Christmas stuff out in October – we’ve got time.  Besides, it’s Jingle Bells.  Jingle freaking Bells.  The easiest and most common song in the Christmas cannon.  First graders are given this tune when their short-sighted music teachers give them each a recorder to bring home and practice – “Hot Cross Buns,” “Twinkle, Twinkle,” and “Jingle Bells.”  No need to reinvent the wheel here.

6. 12 Days of Christmas – every-freakin’-body

I’m talking about the original, but I’m posting the Straight No Chaser version for your enjoyment.  I love this version because it illustrates just how ridiculous the original song is.  What are these things?  Why is my true love buying me all this garbage?!  And PEOPLE?!!  Are we even allowed to buy people?!!  And you can count yourself among the very few if you can honestly remember all these lyrics without having to look them up.  I swear when they wrote this song, they had to fill a butt load of time at the end of a concert and decided to make one song and milk it for all it was worth.  Best stalling tactic song in history!  And it says something if a song has MULTIPLE parodies that are played during the holidays as much as the original!  If you can become a Christmas classic by making fun of ANOTHER Christmas classic, then that original definitely deserves to be on this list.  If you haven’t already, check out Bob Rivers’ “12 Pains of Christmas” and, of course, The Muppet cover of this tune.

5. Holiday Feeling – Steve Lawrence & Eydie Gorme

Though not as bad as “Baby It’s Cold Outside,” this dude is still pretty much only trying to “stuff the stocking,” if you know what I mean.  It’s also chockfull of lyrics that must have been put together by one of those Refrigerator Magnet Poetry sets.  “Look how the snow is snowing.”  Yup, what does snow do?  Snow snows.  Horses gallop, birds fly, and snow snows.  We will also turn mistletoe into a verb and decide we really want to use the word “party” and must logically work the word “smarty” into the lyrics later in this cavity-inducing, syrupy sweet attempt for a woman to feel the spirit of Christmas and her man’s desperate attempts to get said woman into bed.  Fa-la-la-la-la.

4. Feliz Navidad – Jose Feliciano

Did you know that, to win a bet, Dr. Seuss wrote Green, Eggs, and Ham using only 50 words?  He repeated them over and over adding a new twist here and there to keep the story moving, but for the most part “I will not eat,” “Would you try them on/in/with a,” and “Green eggs and ham” were the central words in the text and he supplemented them with “goat” and “tree” and “train” and so on.  But the fact is, these “goats” and “trees” and “trains” kept the cannon words from getting stale.  Jose Feliciano, however, did not.  He used 20 words (21 if you count “Ahaaa!”).  No change, no supplements, just Spanish verse, English chorus, same Spanish verse, same English chorus, ad nauseum.  Aye carumba.

3.  Donde esta Santa Claus? – Augie Rios

I have nothing against Spanish music!  I swear!  But this song sucks!!!  Who is this kid calling “Mamacita,” first of all?  The literal translation is “little mama.”  So either his mother is an elf, he’s using a pet name for his girlfriend (who I hope is also 7 years old like this kid sounds), or he’s doing his best to be the Latino prepubescent Elvis.  Secondly, could we shove any more stereotypes in here?!  Castinets?  The reindeers named Poncho and Pedro?!!  The backup singers mimicking mariachi horns?!!!  And does he really say “I know that I should be the sleeping”?  THE sleeping?!!  You might as well leave rice and beans out instead of milk and cookies!!  This sounds like someone asked the Texas Border Militia to write this song!  Ay dios mio!

2. Snoopy’s Christmas – The Royal Guardsmen

What do you get when you mix a beloved cartoon, a World War I fighter pilot with 80 confirmed kills, and drinking?  A Christmas song!  This might be the only Christmas song to feature canon fire and machine guns.  Sure the war claimed between 15 and 18 million lives BUT Snoopy (who was about to get gunned down which would effectively make this the only Christmas song to have a beloved cartoon character die in combat set to the cheery upbeat sound of bells) luckily was shown mercy, landed his plane with his sworn enemy, boozed it up a bit, and then took off in the hopes of murdering each other once again in aerial combat.  Again I say, Fa-la-la-la-la.

1. We Wish You the Merriest – Les Brown

How this one escaped my first list, I have no idea.  I think I just scrubbed it so hard from my memory that it snuck through the cracks.  In any case, here it is; it would definitely vie for one of the top spots on the original list, and I have no words to describe the ear gouging horror that this song emanates on the airwaves.  This song is proof that even Satan celebrates Christmas and has enjoyed writing a carol or two that will torment his trapped souls in the most festive way possible.

“The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear.” ~ Elf

Bobbing For Strings Of Popcorn?

‘Tis the season to be insanely busy.  Cards to write, shopping to do, presents to wrap, trees to trim, decorations to hang, cookies to bake, eggs to nog…so what better time to relaunch the blog?!  Hey, no worries, I’m done with the cards and I hate eggnog – so that frees up a couple minutes for me.  Plus, I’ve missed you guys…okay, so I don’t know who you guys are exactly, but I’m guessing you’re the kind of people I would miss and that you are wonderful additions to your community and you smell like warm bread and wishes.

I’m trying to work my blog writing into a part of my normal routine but it’s so tough!  And, yes, that was meant to sound as whiney as it looks.  But I seem to do better when I set some sort of finish line for myself.  And this time, I’m aiming for Christmas – which would make Bobbing for Popcorn your own little Advent calendar of mirth!  Instead of opening a door and getting chocolate, you click a link and read some words…okay so that doesn’t sound nearly as rewarding.  Okay, tell you what.  Keep your computer, tablet, or phone in a cupboard with a bag of candy – THEN every day you can open a door, get a chocolate, AND read words!  For my benefit, better make it those little liquor bottle chocolates because most people don’t find me that funny unless they’ve been drinking.  Actually, forget the chocolate, just keep the device you read this on next to a bottle of hard liquor.  Open door, take a shot (repeat as needed), and read.

No matter how you plan on taking this yuletide journey with me, it starts now.  December 1 begins our countdown to Christmas.  First door, first chocolate (shot), first entry.

Unfortunately, I’m going to have to cut this first entry short – family holiday goodness awaits in the form of the annual Holiday Parade…take a guess what tomorrow’s entry is going to be about…

“But no matter.  Christmas was on its way!  Lovely, glorious, beautiful Christmas, on which the entire kid year revolved.” ~ A Christmas Story

Top Ten Unsung Heroes of Invention

We remember Thomas Edison and Alexander Graham Bell and, of course, Eli Whitney (most of us still have no idea what the hell a cotton gin is, but we will always remember good ol’ Eli was the dude who made it).  But if you look around you, almost everything you see was invented by someone.  So why don’t we remember them?!  They made some really cool stuff!  So I’d like to take this opportunity to tip my cap to ten of the overlooked greats.

10. Conrad Gaiser

One of the things that really makes my skin crawl is peeling apart laundry that is stuck together by static electricity.  That snappy, rippy, feeling really skeeves me out.  And that is why I love my buddy, Conrad.  He got sick of watching his lovely wife, Audrey (okay, not sure what she looks like, but I’m guessing Conrad thought she was pretty foxy and that he’s the kind of guy who used the word “foxy”), run up and down four flights of stairs to add fabric softener to the laundry.  So Connie (Audrey and I call him Connie – you probably shouldn’t, he doesn’t know you that well) invented the dryer sheets. Besides taking care of all that static – let’s talk about the smell!  Who doesn’t love walking by a house that’s doing laundry and smelling the dryer exhaust coming out on a spring day?!!  I mean it’s the one time a person can do something like that – if they stop in front of your house and sniff your drying laundry when it’s hung up outside, it’s creepy.  If they do it when the exhaust is blowing that dryer sheet smell in the air, it’s totally understandable.

9. Henry J. Brownstein

Ladies, this one is kind of for guys only.  Boys, you may not know Henry, but you know his work.  You’d think with a name like “Brownstein” he’d stay as far away from bathroom notoriety as possible – but, oh no, not our Henry.  He perfected the modern day urinal cake!  Ladies, if you’re not familiar with this little doodad, it is a minty fresh smelling circle of solid disinfectant that sits in the bottom of men’s room urinals that A) helps to keep things sanitary and B) helps us pretend we are playing a fun little carnival game whenever we have to go wee wee.  Henry was not the man who invented the original – that genius is still shrouded in mystery – but he is the one who perfected today’s design.  I also have no idea who came up with the idea of adorning them with images of politicians, team logos, or even your own personal photographs, but they definitely get an honorable mention, too.  Got a urinal?  Interested?  Go to PeePeeFace.Com.

8.  Whitcomb L. Judson

First of all, let’s pause and give this guy kudos for having the best name on this list! Seriously epic name, dude!  Whitcomb L. Judson (because with a name like that, I feel obligated to use it in its entirety every time) has been all over everyone’s crotch because Whitcomb L. Judson is the inventor of the zipper.  Where would we be without Whitcomb L. Judson?  We would all be stuck wearing sweatpants and other elastic waistbanded trousers and knickers every day and, as a boy who did that a few times in middle school, I can tell you that leads to a few different awkward situations that I (and Whitcomb L. Judson) would prefer not to get into right now.  So thank you Whitcomb L. Judson for helping keep our clothes fastened securely.  Whitcomb L. Judson.

7. Julius Sämann

Julius saves us when we least know he’s there, but when his influence is ab-scent you wish you had his little invention with you. Whenever you bring chili dogs home for dinner or whenever one of your passengers had too many chili dogs before they got into your car, Mr. Sämann has your back…and your rearview mirror.  This magnificent mind of our time put a whole bunch of good smelling juju in an adorable little tree shaped piece of hangable cardboard!  So, next time the Marlboro Man asks you for a ride or Fido gets a little carsick on the way to the vet – thank your lucky stars that Julius created a whole forest full of nice stinking evergreens to combine these noxious odors with more pleasant olfactory experiences.

6. Forest P. Gill

While Julius Sämann helps take care of odors in your car from passengers’ behinds, Forest P. Gill helps to beautify the behind of your car!  Forest P. Gill (whose name is way too close to Forest Gump for me not to giggle) is the inventor of the bumper sticker.  As I have said before, I am not a big fan of driving – but I do love me a good bumper sticker.  Classics like “Unless you’re a hemorrhoid, get off my ass” and “My other ride is your mom” probably aren’t what Mr. Gump…er…Gill had in mind but I’m sure even he would be surprised how many people out there want us to believe that they’ve run a marathon or vacationed in the Outer Banks (you know you can just buy those bumper stickers without doing those things, right?) but I believe there would be a special place in his heart for a bumper adorned with “Life is like a box of chocolates…” (I usually like to finish that phrase with “it’s usually full of nuts”).

5. Peter Talbot

Anyone who is a fan of A Christmas Story or Home Improvement or pushing the limits of your home’s fusebox knows the greatness of Peter Talbot’s legacy.  The almighty power strip. When shortsighted contractors thought that you only needed to plug in eight electronic devices in your living room, Pete said, “No way, José!”  How Peter knew your contractor’s name was José, I have no idea, but I looked it up and he’s right – weird.  Mr. Talbot made it so each of your outlets can be turned into an INFINITE supply of power!  Plug a power strip into a power strip that’s already plugged into a power strip and there is no end for the amount of electronic goodness you can get flashing and humming…except an electrical fire…that does put a damper on things.

4.  Chad Hurley, Steve Chen, & Jawed Karim

We would never have been blessed with the majesty of the cat video, or the inspirational wisdom of the double rainbow guy, or the dulcet tones of the “Ain’t Nobody Got Time for Dat” autotune remix if it weren’t for Chad, Steve, and Jawed.  They sat down one day and said something brilliant (I have no idea how this came to pass, I’m sure it’s a safe bet one of them said something really smart at some point) and YouTube was born.  Sure, they’re to blame for “Fred,” Justin Bieber, and that weird guy under his sheets crying about Britney Spears – but they also introduced us to a man in a leather kilt with flame-throwing bagpipes and a large Pacific Islander being used as a one-man drum corp, so they’re all good in my book.

3.  No Clue

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I researched for longer than I’d like to admit and could find nothing about the origin of the French Fried Onions, but, come on, whoever is responsible for this is a national hero! Although, if they were to be a national hero, we would have to change the name to Freedom Fried Onions, wouldn’t we?

2.  Miles Gilbert “Tim” Horton

Okay, so the guy doesn’t make the top ten list for role models given the whole drunk driving, high-speed crash way he left this planet, but I cannot speak ill of the dead when they are responsible for one of the tastiest cups of coffee ever to grace God’s green earth! If you are not from Canada or the Northeastern United States, you may not be familiar with this NHL Hall of Famer turned coffee/doughnut connoisseur.  We who do live around these parts are pretty sure the coffee is laced with some sort of highly addictive narcotic that keeps us needing to visit one of the 4.7 billion franchises (I’ve counted) multiple times a day – but we won’t complain because it’s RIDICULOUSLY good.  We are also grateful that he had the nickname “Tim” so we wouldn’t have to ask people if they want to meet us at Miles Gilbert Hortons for a cup of coffee.

1.  Raffaele Esposito

Though, like Henry Brownstein, he is most likely not the inventor of the original – he is credited for making his version the most popular.  Back in 1889, Raffaele, a restaurant owner, wanted to impress Queen Margherita of Savoy who was visiting his hometown of Naples, Italy.  So he took his specialty flatbread and topped it with tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, and basil – and the pizza was born.  C’mon folks – what could top pizza?  Why don’t we scrap Columbus Day and give it to this guy?

***Got something you think should be on the list?  Let me know!!!***

“The digital camera is a great invention because it allows us to reminisce. Instantly.” ~ Demetri Martin