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

Major Christmas Confession

Please sit down.

I try my best to keep my blog open for all to enjoy and I honestly hate marginalizing people.  I’m politically an Independent who votes Democrat and Republican on the same ticket.  Religiously, I consider myself polytheistic and follow the beliefs of many different teachings with the core belief being, “Don’t be an ass to other people.”  I like the Beatles and the Stones, coffee and tea, I hate both Coke and Pepsi equally, and am working on getting Webster’s to add my picture next to their definition of passive-aggressive.

However, there comes a time in everyone’s life when they can’t keep the lid on a confession this huge and they acknowledge that they need to start some s#!t – and that time for me is now.

I hate Rudolph.

Not SANTA’S Rudolph, kids (why are kids reading this anyway?  I’m pretty tongue-in-cheek – come on parents, do a better job, geez), but the animated movie, Rudolph.  Moreover – I hate all movies LIKE Rudolph!  Heat Miser, Jack Frost, Easter Bunny is Coming to Town – ALL OF THEM!  The animation creeps me out, the songs and scripts are trite, the random celebrity narrator is a cheap gimmick to gain viewership, and, did I mention, THE ANIMATION CREEPS ME OUT!?  What are they?  Clay, plastic, some ungodly ore mined from the deepest pits of Hell itself?!

Every time I watch Rudolph, it angers me – not to the level of Crocs but pretty close – because of the amount of questions I have and the ridiculous things that just randomly pop up and annoy me.  Is it Hermy or Herby?  Could he get any creepier – if Buffalo Bill from Silence of the Lambs was an elf, he would be Hermby (did you notice the female reindeer’s name?  Clarice.  Coincidence?  Hmmm…).  What the hell is a bumble?  Why do they bounce?  How does it get happier after you rip all of his teeth out – that would totally piss me off more!  Isn’t Santa supposed to be nice – why is he just as mean to Rudolph as the elves and why is he banishing faulty toys?!!  You’re Santa Claus! You have a billion elves! Fix the damn toys! Put round wheels on the train and put water in the water gun! And did you notice most of the misfit toys had nothing wrong with them?  The scooter and the doll are perfectly normal.  A Charlie-in-the-box?!!  Call yourself Jack and move on!  A flying lion and a spotted elephant?  That’s just freaking cool!  A bird that swims and can’t fly?!!  They’re called penguins!

And Yukon Cornelius, where do I even start with this guy?  How about right here:

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That’s just gross.  From the “yahoo,” to the slide whistle, to the gerbil-like licking of a pickaxe accompanied by that stomach turning, lapping sound effect, to the fact that YOU DON’T FIND GOLD six inches under snow, to the fact that this process is repeated throughout the movie like we didn’t get the point the first time this snowdrift simpleton tried it.  And he’s packing heat!  If ever there was a poster child for the need for tighter gun laws, it’s this guy!

To sum up: the songs are annoying, the elves and reindeers are hateful little bigots enabled by Santa, two characters are believed to have fallen to their deaths (as a child, this upset me because I thought they were dead – as an adult, this upsets me because they come back), good dental hygiene is frowned upon whereas being toothless makes you as gentle as a kitten feather, and one of our main protagonists will most likely have a suit made out of other elves’ skins by New Year.

Nope.  I’m sticking to The Muppets.

“It rubs the lotion on its skin or else it gets the hose again.” ~ Hermby the Elf

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

Toys, Tots, Cowboys, and Scientology

I am fortunate enough to have a family full of charitable people.  Over the years we have raised thousands and thousands of dollars for Multiple Sclerosis, Relay for Life, The Humane Society, The Salvation Army, churches, schools, local revitalization projects, and who knows what else.  And the time and sweat equity we’ve put into these efforts are immeasurable.  I am not fishing for compliments our tooting our horn, I am just trying to illustrate how much helping others means to us.

One of the good causes that takes up a huge amount of our time (for some of my relatives, it is basically another full time job from September to December) is Toys for Tots.  This is a high point of the year for many of us – I mean, what can beat surrounding yourself with toys and playing “Santa” to needy children?!  Weeks and weeks of planning and fundraising and collecting toys all culminate on one cold December morning when volunteers gather in “Toy Central” and start filling orders for the kids.  There are dolls, blocks, cars, stuffed animals, action figures, dress-up kits, craft supplies, ANYTHING YOU CAN IMAGINE!  Some of these treasures are bought and donated by individual do-gooders.  Others are donated in bulk by generous companies.  And still some show up and no one knows where they came from…or who would want to give these things to children.  Things such as a Liz Claiborne flooring kit, socks that say “I Need A Sugar Daddy,” or a plush Italian grandmother.  My favorite mystery item was the pallet (literally cases and cases) of Gun Boss of Tumbleweed by L. Ron Hubbard.  Yup, the Scientology guy.

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I saw this and had so many questions!  The Scientology prophet wrote cowboy novels?  There was a place that had HUNDREDS of copies of this thing in their possession?  Someone took the effort to deliver this many cases of this book to Toys for Tots?  Someone thought this WAS a book that would be a good fit for Toys for Tots?!  What child’s profile would justify the inclusive stuffing of said “Gun Boss” in their stocking, which has been hung by the chimney with such care?

Not surprisingly, these were not a hot commodity among the bag stuffing volunteers.  Then the English teacher in me took over.  I looked into the steely gaze of the tumbleweed’s boss of guns and felt a kinship…nay, a duty (heh, heh, “duty”) to give this work of literature a chance.  I grabbed a few copies and handed them out to some friends and family with their usual Christmas goodies.

Then the next year came around and I was volunteering as always and I was given the job of completing the orders – volunteers stuff the bags, bring them to me, and I tie it up and attach the child’s form to it before it is brought back to the distribution area.  And next to my work station…cases of Mr. Hubbard’s western classic.  Now, it was time to upsell my fellow volunteers.

“I see your form says the child likes to read.  Here, add this book to the bag.”

“My, my, my a teenage boy who is a major sports fan – that must have been tricky for you to fill his request.  Allow me to help.  Do you know a popular sport nowadays?  Western shootouts.  Here, add this book to the bag.”

“I see you were filling a bag for a 4-year-old little girl who likes Elmo.  You know who else likes Elmo?  L. Ron Hubbard.  Here, add this book to the bag.”

“Well, what have we here?  A child who hates guns, bosses, and tumbleweeds?  You know who else hates those things?  The Gun Boss of Tumbleweed.  Here, add this book to the bag.”

The following year the tables turned on me.  Christmas arrived and I sat on my parents’ couch watching my children play with their new toys, feeling the way fathers should feel on Christmas.  And then I was changed back into a sparkly-eyed child when my father said he had a special gift, just from him to me.  It was a large box – very heavy – and under the wrapping paper was an entire case of the book.  20 copies all for me.

I have yet to read it.

“I want an official Red Ryder carbine-action 200-shot range model air rifle with a compass in the stock, and this thing which tells time!” ~ A Christmas Story

He LITERALLY Saw Me When I Was Sleeping

Now, keep in mind kids, this post IS NOT, I repeat, IS NOT about the REAL Santa.  This is about my experience with one of his many helpers.

There are a lot of things that a parent could do to mess their kids up: locking them out of the house when they go out to get the mail, using zebra mating videos when at a loss explaining about the “birds and the bees,” dancing around their junior high dressed in an inflatable turkey costume, building up hopes for a huge surprise just to show them a Justin Bieber concert – all of which I am guilty of.  However, something I am innocent of, that my parents burdened me with, is being friends with Santa Claus.

Again I say, this was not THE actual Kris Kringle.  One of my dad’s best friends was the mall Santa.  They worked together, they were in a bowling league together, we went out to breakfasts and dinners together, and I even remember going to baseball games with him.  We are talking the best of buddies.  And, as a child, I loved this guy – to this day, he was one of the funniest guys I had ever met (sort of a Bob Newhart dryness wrapped up in a Lou Costello physique).  I remember that a lot of these events, like ball games and bowling matches, were late at night – past my bedtime – so he literally saw me when I was sleeping, knew when I was awake, knew when I was bad or good…the whole shebang!

You may be asking, “So what?”

You know what?!  You best watch your lip, slow your roll, check yourself before you wreck yourself, and other euphemisms for backing off a smidge – I have just begun to spin my yarn, spill my beans, tell my tale, and other euphemisms about me saying things to you about stuff.

This.  Messed.  Me.  Up.

You know when you go to the mall and Santa starts with, “What’s your name?”  Uh-uh.  Not me.  He already knew it.  Yelled it out as soon as he saw me coming.  Once, I was just walking through the mall with my parents and he was just getting ready to start his shift – he greeted me by name, took my hand, and walked me through the crowd of kids already in line.  Come to think of it, that probably did not help my popularity among the other children growing up…thanks, Santa!

You know when you wrote a letter to Santa?  He wrote me back!  Like a pen pal!  Sometimes the letter came through the mail, sometimes he hand delivered it to me when I got to the mall.  He had lovely penmanship, by the way.

You know when your parents threaten to call Santa when you’re misbehaving?  SANTA FREAKING CALLED ME!!!  Yup!  That’s when you KNOW you’re screwed!  I had to be the most well-behaved kid of my generation!  And my mom and dad, those con artists, milked that trump card for all that it was worth.  They DID know his telephone number!  He WOULD take their calls!  He was NEVER too busy making toys for the other kids; he was busy checking out his baseball cards and watching All in the Family!  And even though my parents are not the tallest people around the water cooler, they are far from the elves I pictured Santa Claus hanging out with!  Oh…but they were those elves.  Those cool, calculating, conniving, perfectly-pokerfaced elves knew exactly how to play this parenting game to win!

When I finally found out what was up (which was way, WAY, WAY older than I would like to admit – in fact, I was not 100% convinced until I could tell you my age with a “teen” attached to it) I could not even be mad!   I mean, how could I be?!  It was perfectly equal parts warm-hearted and diabolical!  In my youth I was in awe of how flawlessly they executed their plan (I was a bit peeved that he quit his Yuletide gig before my sister was old enough to be equally as messed up as me, but c’est la vie).  Now, in adulthood, I am so freaking jealous that I don’t have such a powerful secret weapon at my disposal – a Santa Scud, if you will.

My parents worked hard every day of their lives raising my sister and me.  They definitely did not have an easy run of things.  But on this one particular matter, they were given a gift even the real Santa could not pull off!

“Charlie, stay away from those things. They’re reindeer, you don’t know where they’ve been. They all look like they’ve got key lime disease.” ~ The Santa Clause

Top Ten Things You Can No Longer Do Because You’re an Adult

I’M BACK!!!  I know, I know, it’s been two whole weeks since my last post and BELIEVE ME, I would have much rather been here writing to you guys instead of all the garbage (in some cases, literally) that I was dealing with. It seems as though I have survived a whole week of Mondays and I found my way back to you (a whole week of Mondays sounds like a good future topic…hint, hint).

One of the things that found its way into my email inbox was an article a good friend sent me (which I encourage you ALL to do – email, tweet, or Facebook me if you have anything cool or have an idea on something you want me to write about – I’d love to hear from you).  In this article, a high school football player is in a ton of trouble for exposing his junk during the team photograph.  The photo was used in every program during the season but went unnoticed until the yearbooks came out.  Now, it should be punishment enough to know that no one noticed it in hundreds and hundreds of copies until almost a year later (now THAT’S a real shot to the ego) but on top of that he now has a slew of criminal charges pending – 69 to be exact…yeah…I noticed.

So it got me thinking – this is TOTALLY age-ist!  Most of us have baby pictures that our parents took of us in the bathtub or some other random fit of nudity when we were youngsters.  But, at some point, these photos ceased to be acceptable.  So – nearly 300 words later – that brings me to the topic of this week’s Top 10 Tuesday: things we are no longer allowed to do now that we’re no longer children.

10. Wear Velcro Shoes

Yes, there are some exceptions, if you’re going through some sort of physical therapy or when you’re too elderly to get your fingers to function properly.  But, on the whole, where are all the cool velcro shoes?!!  If I was a betting man (which I am, I’m just not very good at it – seriously, why would I bet on a horse whose name sounds like a codeine-laden cold medicine?!!  Whodathought THAT horse was fast?!!) I would wager that there are more adults who tie new shoes a few times and then just slip them on and off without worrying about the laces any more.  Just because our shoes have ties, doesn’t mean we tie them!  So give us back our velcro…and, while you’re at it, the cool cartoon characters…and the flashing lights.

9.  Go to Restaurant Playgrounds

Come on, when we were kids we never went to McDonald’s or Chuck E. Cheese for the fine culinary experience.  We went there to choke down their borderline edible food as fast as possible so we could swan dive into the disease-riddled ballpit!  You wanted to crawl through the oversized hamster tube maze and slide down the staticky slide and then release the charge by poking the first person who ran by you and your newly vertical wisps of hair.  But now look at you.  Sitting on the bench, holding onto hoodies and stinky velcro fastened sneakers…with the cool cartoon characters…and the flashing lights watching your kids have all the fun. You can’t join them because you “exceed the legal weight limit” or something stupid like that.  And GODFORBID you go by yourself or else you “scare the children” and become “the creepy guy.”  The man is keeping us down.

8.  Hang Out with Random Strangers

When we were allowed to go to these restaurants or to actual outdoorsy playgrounds and parks, we didn’t worry about other kids being there.  You went over to what you wanted to play with and started playing.  If the kid who was there was pretending to be a pirate, you turned into a pirate too. It was no big deal to walk over to the sandbox, plop down next to a total stranger, and ask them to be your friend.  Try that now, I dare you.  Go to a bar, walk up to a group of strangers sitting at a table, join in on their conversation, and say “wanna be friends?”  I TRIPLE DOG DARE YOU!  Uh oh…now you HAVE to do it!

7.  Sit on Santa’s Lap

Again with the “creepy guy.”  It’s either you or Santa.  If you’re male, it’s you.  If you’re female, all of a sudden Santa looks like the creeper. Christmas is still awesome and you still have a list of cool things you’d like to get but you now know the value of money and know that your family and friends probably won’t be able to give you the big ticket items. So it’s natural to get the urge to ask “the big guy.”  But, just for a moment, try to picture the look on the mall Santa’s face as he sees you standing in line, with you looking him dead in the eye with the smile of someone who wants to have a serious Christmas present talk, and he realizes that none of the children in line are with you.  For bonus points, pay one of his elves for the photo package.

6.  Run Naked Through Sprinklers

Nope.  The word naked has a whole different connotation once you’re all grown up.  Gone are the days when you could throw off your Pampers and run through the sprinkler in your backyard or skinny dip in your kiddy pool.  It starts out with your mother calling your father to get the camera, then one day it becomes your neighbors calling the cops.

5.  Have Someone Wipe Your Nose

My sons recently were simultaneously fighting nasty springtime colds. The eleven-year-old suffered pretty much independently.  But the three-year-old would yell “tissue” or “snots” and my wife and I would thoughtlessly grab the kleenex and take care of the gelatinous muck that was protruding from his face.  I’m pretty sure you’re not going to find many takers when you’re in your 30s and you’re yelling for a tissue while you stand in the middle of the room with “boog-boogs.”  I don’t remember when I gained this independence or even when I cut my older son loose from this privilege, but I’m guessing it comes as a real shock to the system the first time you are abandoned and expected to wipe your nose (or other areas for that matter) for the first time.  “You want me to do what?!!  No way, that’s gross, that’s why I have you do it!!”

4.  Formally Introduce Yourself as Informally as Possible

When we meet some one new now, it’s pretty basic.  There’s a handshake, steady eye contact, and the exchanging of names and possibly a “nice to meet you.”  That’s it.  No one gets to really know you, not like when you were a kid.  Next time you meet someone for the first time, don’t shake their hand.  Just look them in the eye and say, “I’m Jim.  I’m 40.  How old are you?”  Now you can either wait for them to answer or interject something about how you have a dog, or don’t like tomatoes, or what you got for your last birthday, or that your mom drinks from a hip flask whenever she thinks you’re not looking.

3.  Randomly Dress Up

Why do you dress up now?  Halloween?  Costume party?  Theme night at the ballpark?  Random, stupid, office team building blahdy-blah?  Why did you dress up as a child?  BECAUSE YOU FOUND THE COSTUME!  You’re digging through your toy box and voila!  There’s your cape and you decide that for the rest of the day, you’re Batman.  We totally need more costumes in our regular wardrobe rotation!  How cool would it be to just see some dude walking down the sidewalk wearing goggles, a Spongebob t-shirt, and a clip on tie that barely passes his collarbone?!  And, ladies, c’mon, you know you want to randomly pair a fairy princess gown and a lightsaber with your froggy rain boots before heading into work.

2.  Ordering from the Kids’ Menu

Our food has the calorie counts and fat content listed on the menus now, but, let’s get down to the important issues.  Where’s the toy?!!  Is there any way we could have a turkey club with the crust cut off?!!  It’s awesome that we have so many more choices when we go out to eat, but c’mon! Would it kill someone to arrange the food on our plate like a smiley face? We’re the ones who tip, people, not the youngsters!  Maybe I want my food cut into stick form; maybe I want pudding as a side dish; maybe I want to help the dolphin find his way through the coral maze on my placemat!  Did ya ever think about that?!!

1.  Making People Happy by Napping

I feel like a schmuck for never appreciating my naps.  It’s so true that you never know what you’ve got until it’s gone.  Furthermore, back in the day, other people were brought joy by your napping!  Your parents would tiptoe our of your room with smiles on their faces.  Now blaring alarms and vibrating phones violently yank us out of our dreamland.  Back then your loved ones would peek in on you and whisper to themselves how you looked like an angel while you slept.  Now your significant other lies awake as you snore, staring in disgust at the drool faucet coming out of your slacked jaw and wondering about the insurance money and the pillow in their clenched hands. Back then you were encouraged to get your rest so you could grow big and strong.  Now when you tell them you took a nap, they either wonder if you’re sick or why your lazy ass wasn’t busy working.

Enjoy it while you can, kiddos, the ugly double standard sneaks up on you.

“If you obey all the rules you miss all the fun.” ~ Katharine Hepburn

Top Ten Things Your Inner Child Can’t Resist

I’m a bad example of maturity.  I’m writing this while I wear socks with tacos on them for God’s sake!  I have recently been dealing with the internal struggle of adjusting my budget to accommodate Walking Dead collector figures (my wife asked me what their purpose was and, I admit, I didn’t understand her question at first).  My inner child gets my outer adult in trouble more often than most people BUT I believe there are certain things that exist in our world that act like a dog whistle to that mischievous little imp living in all of us and when you encounter these things you need to have a personal playdate with “little you”…dear Lord that last part come out sounding way dirtier than I planned…oh well, my inner child is giggling so I’ll leave it.  Moving on from the double entendre, here’s the list:

10.  Puddles

I know, I know – if you’re in your work clothes or with someone who you’re trying to impress, you are not going to indulge.  But, if you are in your grubby clothes or all by yourself and you see a big puddle in your driveway or while you’re out for your morning run – that little voice is going to urge you, Go for it.  And if you don’t have a tight grip on your inner child, you are going to make an epic splash in that glorious muddy crater and as you look down at your stained pant legs and sloshing shoes, you think about the laundry you’re going to have to do and that little voice reminds you, Totally worth it.

9. Flarp

The other day at work, one of my coworkers smuggled a can of Flarp (you may know it better as “Noise Putty” or “Fart Putty”) into our meeting.  He only needed to squish it one time and I was done.  Even if you find that noise vile and fart jokes the simplest form of lowbrow humor…sooner or later, that magical little plastic container of slime is going to emit a bubbly schqueeping sound that will make it impossible for you to fight off that little grin from curling up the corners of your mouth.  Disgusting, vile, immature, basal, lowbrow, sophomoric…I can’t argue with any of that – but sooner or later, this creator of an infinite variety of sounds will come up with the right wet, snappy, squeaky combination that would make even the strictest schoolmarm giggle.

8. Straw Wrappers

Maybe not on the first date…though it’s still a possibility…but certainly soon in the relationship and until you grow old and gray with your special someone you will never be able to resist the most classic form of restaurant weaponry.  If your drinks come and your server throws down wrapped straws…it’s on like the wild west.  And I don’t care who you’re with, once you’ve decided to rip off the end of the wrapper you are aiming for the forehead.  If you miss and peg the person behind them in the back of the head, you will feel embarrassed, but rest assured that they understand because they’ve done the same thing.

7. Cartoons

I’m not talking about just any cartoons.  I’m a cartoon junkie but there are some even I can’t handle.  I’m talking about cartoons that you used to watch back in the days of footie pajamas and marshmallowy cereals. Everyone had something depending on their generation – Looney Tunes, Ninja Turtles, Hey Arnold, Spongebob – that whenever it’s on television, you have to sit and watch for a while.  I’ve recently started hunting down these old gems on Amazon and seeing which of my old favorites have been released in complete box sets in the hopes to rebuild my Saturday morning glory days!  No matter what your favorite was we can all agree on one thing: ours were way better than the garbage kids watch nowadays!

6. Comfort Foods

We all have certain foods that we remember from our childhood that we still can’t resist to this day.  Sometimes it’s as simple as cutting up a hot dog and mixing into some Mac & Cheese or a classic messy campfire s’more.  For others it might be something kooky they did like potato chips on a peanut butter sandwich or french fries dipped into a milkshake. Whatever it may be, there are times when you’re homesick, or have the house all to yourself, or hanging out in the place where you grew up when you just need those tasty treats that the health conscious adult you is appalled by but your inner child is squealing with glee!  Of course, you need to wash it down with chocolate milk.

5. PJ Days

No one wakes up on a cold winter weekend and says, “Golly gee, I just can’t wait to get into my khakis and cardigan and sit around my house all day.”  Okay, so there probably isn’t anyone who honestly uses the phrase “golly gee” at all – but the other part is probably true too.  Let’s face it, most of us wouldn’t get dressed if society didn’t make us do it.  There is just something awesome and childishly rebellious about staying in pajama pants and a ratty old hoodie all freaking day.  You probably rolled out of bed in this outfit, they probably smell a wee bit gamey, they probably have stains from godknowswhat all over them – so much so that if you spill something you might not even wipe it off – and there is nothing more comfortable to wear while binge watching Netflix or cracking into your ever growing “must read” pile.  You get bonus points if you can make it through multiple days without changing your nasty, stanky, pj-ed self!

4.  ReadyWhip

The sound alone is enough to make you giddy!  Fshhhhhhhhhhhoooooo! You heard it in your head when you read that, didn’t you?  I know you did because I heard it while I wrote it!  Whenever you get your hands on a can of this aerosol propelled goodness, your adulthood is NOT in charge.  You will most likely add WAY more than you need or draw something with it or, c’mon, elephant in the room, tip your head back and shoot that foamy culinary miracle directly into you gluttonously gaping maw!  And do you just shoot a little dollop on the dainty tip of your tongue?  Oh-hell-to-the-no!  You unleash that creamy condiment until you can see it protruding with your wide, downward crossed eyes!

3.  “Try Me” Buttons

Oh sure, Alice was a cautionary tale about drug abuse with the whole “Eat Me” and “Drink Me” things in Wonderland.  The responsible parent in all of us is sure to point that out to our children.  But, boy, aren’t you just a big ol’ pot calling the kettle “black” when you find your way into a toy section without kids with you. If it makes noise or dances or lights up or spins – you’re compelled to push every “Try Me” button you come across aren’t you?!!  And you try to get multiple things going at the same time don’t you?!!  And this is exactly the same thing you would tell your kids NOT to do if they were with you isn’t it?!!  If you answered “no” to any of those questions you are a filthy lying liar!

2. Bubble Wrap

Do we even need to discuss this one?

1. Christmas

Remember that movie where the guy loves Christmas more than anything and by the end he hates it and stops celebrating it?  No you don’t – because that movie doesn’t exist!  As adults we understand the “better to give” thing, but when you see a really cool looking package all wrapped up with your name on it, you can’t help but get excited (possibly even sneak to the tree and shake it a bit).  Do you drive around and groan in disgust at all these wretched lights?  No way (unless it’s April – c’mon, take the freaking things down you lazy bum).  Do you turn your nose up at Christmas cookies?  Not a chance!  If “Santa” comes up to you and asks you what you want for Christmas, do you answer him?  Of course you do! It’s Santa!  Do you sleep in until noon on Christmas morning?  You’d better not or else you have a stinky, wrinkly, blackened little soul and you need to watch Elf until you know the best way to spread Christmas cheer!

“If you carry your childhood with you, you never become older.” ~ Tom Stoppard