Saturday, November 30, 2019

Yule Logged: Cooking and Crafts - Mary Berry’s Absolute Favourites, The Bobby and Damaris Show, Jamie’s Family Christmas, The Hairy Bikers Christmas Party, Wrap Battle

Mary Berry’s Absolute Favourites - Christmas (2014)

Watched on Britbox

Part One

A must watch for Berry fans. Solid production values, interesting field trips and plenty of easily followed instruction. Everything she makes looks great and I’m tempted to try the Fish Pie and Beef casserole with horseradish and mustard.

Part Two

Mary goes all out preparing a classic Christmas dinner, plus a visit to Hampton Court for a Tudor Christmas

A Mary Berry Bonus: 

Songs of Praise Dec 13 2015

Mary appears, and cooks, on the long running faith based program that also features superstar Swiss violinist Andre Rieu.

The Bobby and Damaris Show - How About Those Holidays (2017)

Not super excited by the recipes but Bobby and Damaris make a good team, it’s a solid, though not very Christmassy, episode.

Jamie’s Family Christmas (2009)

Been following Jamie since his Naked Chef days and while a little goes a long way this holiday series is truly excellent. Great recipes, terrific production value. Fun and informative.

.The Hairy Bikers Christmas Party (2013) Featuring absolute legend Roy Wood. The lads throw a holiday do for some of the folk they’ve met traveling and filming. Did I mention Roy Wood of The Move, ELO,and Wizzard is in this? The “I Wish it Could Be Christmas Everyday” and “Rock and Roll WinterRoy Wood. Oh yeah. The recipes are nice as well

Wrap Battle (2019)

Dumbest / worst holiday competition show yet.

Yule Logged: Christmas in Louisiana, Christmas in Mississippi, Write Before Christmas, Daddy’s Home 2, Outer Limits


Started getting into a holiday mood by listening to last year’s Indie Christmas mix from alexrainbirdMusic (they’ve recently released a winter 2019 mix, hopefully, there will be another Christmas one) and when it came time to start unpacking Christmas decorations I pulled out the Leroy Anderson (Real Gone has a new two-disc set out on CD, but there’s also a great single album best of from 2004 - “A Leroy Anderson Christmas” that was the perfect soundtrack.)

And as I write this I’m listening to the (episode 91) Holiday Special of St. Vincent’s Mixtape Delivery Service from last year.

Movies and TV

Christmas in Louisiana (2019)

Pedestrian, but sweet,  - professional woman returns to small hometown and rekindles romance -  thing made bearable by a solid made to order comfort viewing cast and decent framing subplot. In fact, the film could have been just as good, or better, without the main Jana Kramer plot taking center stage..

Watched as part of a double feature with Christmas in Mississippi, which shares a couple of the same cast members, including lead Kramer.

From the director of? Nanny Seduction

Guest stars? Moira Kelly, Dee Wallace, Barry Bostwick

Decent effort from Lifetime, it feels as christmassy as a flick filmed down south during the dog days of summer is ever likely to.

Christmas in Mississippi (2017) 

Less engaging than this year’s Christmas in Louisiana, I lost interest midway through.

From the director of? Christmas in Louisiana

Guest stars? Faith Ford, Richard Karn , Barry Bostwick

Write Before Christmas (2019)

Some decent twists on familiar cliches and some sub-genre blending. There’s a lot going on and while it doesn’t feel super organic things eventually come together reasonably satisfyingly. Most of the cast is great and the script is pretty good.

Is it Hallmark? Yes

Does it look like Christmas? Sure

Does it sound like Christmas? I guess

Does it feel like Christmas? Sure

Did I finish it?  Yep

Is it a good movie? It’s okay.

Is it a good Christmas Movie? Absolutely (for a Hallmark)

Daddy’s Home 2 (2017)

I don’t know if I enjoyed this dopey comedy so much because it’s pretty good or because it’s “The Shop Around the Corner” compared to what I’d spent the rest of the day watching.

It’s not going to join Christmas Vacation, Scrooged and so on as an annual must-watch holiday guffaw-fest but I’ll probably watch it again at some point. Something I can’t say about ”Bad Mom’s Christmas”.

The Outer Limits - The Conversion  (1995)

Frank Whaley, John Savage and Rebecca De Mornay star in this episode from the first season of the Outer Limits’ nineties reboot. Set at Christmastime, with a fair amount of holiday decor, and a message of redemption. Sort of a It’s a Wonderful Life deal. Not something I’d return to as a holiday staple, but if you’re looking for a bit of sci-fi this season check it out.

Friday, November 29, 2019

Yule Logged: Broadcasting Christmas, A Bulldog For Christmas, Santa Claus Punch and Judy (Rifftrax), Parks and Recreation, A Dream of Christmas, Abbott and Costello, Christmas Icetastrophe


Looking to sample some new Christmas music? Then check out Stubby's Stocking Stuffers at to discover new holiday music beyond the mainstream. Another amazing resource is Christmas A Go Go where I inevetably find the majority of my fave new tracks each season.

The last couple of days have been more about Thanksgiving so the tuneage around Casa Kringle has been more Americana than North Pole. I usually go all in on Christmas music while preparing the Turkey Day feast but this year , due to forces beyond my control, we went out for the big meal and I'm having trouble launching into the holiday spirit music-wise.

I'll be putting up some decortions later, we'll see if that inspires me.

Thanksgiving update

Earlier this month I mentioned that the Charlie Brown Thanksgiving Special didn’t do much for me this year. I put it down to over-familiarity. But, on Thanksgiving Eve the family gathered around the glowing flat screen to watch it again, together, and I had an entirely different experience. So much more enjoyable, it was as if I hadn’t even just watched it just days earlier.

The warm fuzzy feeling dissipated, however, while we watched the first episode of a  2016 sitcom called “Thanksgiving” starring Chris Elliot. We’ll never do that again.

Final Thanksgiving view of year was the new Bob’s Burgers and it was pretty good.

Movies and TV:

Broadcasting Christmas (2016)

Exes Melissa Joan Hart and Dean Cain spend the holidays competing for the same morning show anchor job.

Is it Hallmark? Yes

Guest stars? Cynthia Gibb, Richard Kline, Jackée Harry

From the Director of? The Secret Lives of Cheerleaders plus co-producer of a crazy number of Christmas movies.

Does it look like Christmas? Fairly

Does it sound like Christmas? Enough

Does it feel like Christmas? Sure

Did it make me laugh? Yeah, occasionally.

Did I finish it? It was a little long but yep.

Is it a good movie? For a Hallmark.

Is it a good Christmas Movie? For a TV movie, yeah.

A Bulldog For Christmas (2013)

Kid gets turned into a dog.
Unremittingly terrible.
Merry Christmas.

Santa Claus Punch and Judy (Rifftrax)

A rare riff that I can’t stand. Hadnt seen it in a few years and absence has not made the heart grow fonder.

Parks and Recreation -  Citizen Knope (2011)

When Parks and Rec originally aired I could take or leave it, then a year or so ago one of my kids was binging it and I sort of got into it, so I was looking forward to checking out this Christmas episode. Citizen Knope is one of those where they’ve wedged Christmas into a serialized storyline, and so the holiday is almost an afterthought in, what I found to be, a pretty mediocre episode.

There is some Christmas content but it didn't feel Christmassy. Of couse the series has tons of fans who, I'm sure, disagree.

A Dream of Christmas (2016)

Given the incestuous nature of the genre, I guess it’s hard to say a movie has stolen its premise from another when it’s just a Lazy Susan of crap plot lines that all these films choose from.

Not a dream, that could be pleasing, nor a nightmare because that could be exciting or at least interesting, this was more of a coma of Christmas 

Abbott and Costello Christmas Special (1952)

Colorized holiday variety show hosted by Bud and Lou. Features the usual comedy sketches, novelty dances, acrobats and special guests The Nicholas Brothers. This is all pretty dated, especially the included commercials, but fairly entertaining just the same. 

Not a ton of Christmassy content, but enough to qualify as a Christmas show.

Christmas Icetastrophe (2014)

Low budget disaster flick that might not be very good but at least isn’t terrible. It has more Christmas content than some Hallmark efforts. Not great but not Sharknado.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Yule Logged: Christmas at the Palace, Finding Santa, Christmas on Chestnut Street, Santa's Slay, The Christmas Cabin


Mostly listemning to Satelite and Internet radio on and off, haven't really gotten into the Christmss music groove yet. One new track I am enjoying is Oh Land's "Wishes"

Movies and TV:

The Christmas Cabin (2019)

Remarkably unremarkable. I don’t want to hate on the cast and crew, I’m sure they’re lovely hard-working artists and craftspersons, but this film, while not incompetently made, has little to recommend it, it’s sub-Hallmark.

Santa's Slay (2005)

I guess this was supposed to be the r-rated answer to Gremlins, Scrooged,  National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation and so forth. Considering the talent and non-micro budget this should have been better than it is. I’m sure there’s an audience for a foul-mouthed killer Santa movie, produced by Brett Ratner,  that wastes Robert Culp, James Caan and Chris Kattan (any movie where Kattan is slumming has a problem) but it isn’t me. The script is just garbage.

Christmas on Chestnut Street (2006)

Not great but… I watched it all the way through. Definitely better than average. Did I actually like this? Oh my gosh, I think I liked it. What is happening to me?

Finding Santa (2017)

So the premise is an entire town’s livelihood depends on the local year round Christmas store and the annual holiday parade they organize. When their beloved Santa gets injured the only possible replacement is the hurt Santa’s son, a skinny young guy who doesn’t look like, act like or sound like Santa and aggressively avoids taking the job. This is the story set up they went with. A son rebelling against his dad wanting him to take over his Santa business. Whatever.

Obviously everything works out and it’s an okay flick, if you ignore the utterly stupid premise.''

Christmas at the Palace (2018)

If royal Christmas romance is your bag you’ll probably love Christmas at the Palace, but it just wasn’t for me.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Yule Logged: Heathcliff, Christmas Incorperated, The Thanksgiving House, Hollidaysburg, Christmas on the Bayou, Carole's Christmas, Magic Christmas Shoes,, Three Wise Boys

Heathcliff - North Pole Cat (1985)

Back in the day, Heathcliff was aways that other cat comic strip/cartoon. I didn’t mind the strip but the toon was pretty bad, and this holiday installment is pretty annoying. Not awful but nothing I can recommend

Tropes include a malcontent elf and Santa’s workshop as a business where elves get fired and rehired.

Christmas Incorperated (2015)

Middling holiday corporate versus small-town romance. Not the worst thing I watched today. Never need to see it again.

The Thanksgiving House (2013)

Proof that Christmas isn’t the only holiday Hallmark can expoit with mediocre low budget romances.

Is it Hallmark? Yup

From the director of?  Motel Hell, From Beyond the Grave, The House Where Evil Dwells (All of which I would have rather watched)

Is it Christmastime? No, Thanksgiving

Did I finish it? Begrudgingly

Is it a good movie? Meh

Is it a good Thanksgiving Movie? Meh

Hollidaysburg (2014)

College friends reunite over Thanksgiving break.

A little edgier than I like my holiday entertainment but, I have to admit it’s pretty well made. For what it is, it’s good,  just not my cup of gravy.

Christmas on the Bayou (2019)

This one was worth it just for Ed Asner’s cajun Santa.  Maybe my favorite so far this year, though that bar is admittedly, pathetically low. A nice cast, a better than an average script, decent direction. Not a classic but a step in the right direction.

Carole's Christmas (2019)

One of the most competent David DeCocteau flicks I’ve ever watched part of (see Santa’s Summer House, DB Cooper vs Bigfoot, A Talking Cat! amongst too many others).

Jackee Harry is the Clarence to Kimberly Elise’s George Bailey but it’s a pretty dull life.

The Magic Christmas Shoes (2019)

So long as they’re not the ones from that damn song.

Actually, this was not at all good, but at least it didn’t make me cry. Or laugh. Or care at all. Or finish it.

Three Wise Boys (1963)

A wholesome short film about three young brothers who learn the true meaning of Christmas. Faith-based, it does take a low key anti-Santa stand so the younger set might not be the best audience, if that might be a problem.

Monday, November 25, 2019

Yule Logged: Turkey Drop, Ozzie and Harriet, Two and a Half Men, B.C. The First Thanksgiving, Accidental Family, Davey and Goliath,Still Standing

Turkey Drop (2019)

While I’m probably even less the target audience for a Freeform original than I am for Hallmark/Lifetime this was decidedly okay. I doubt I’ll ever watch it again but it effectively killed a couple of hours without making me want to poke my eyes out. So that’s nice.

Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet - Day After Thanksgiving (1952)

A solid holiday episode built around Thanksgiving leftovers.

Two and a Half Men  - Merry Thanksgiving  s1e10 (2003)

When watching 2 1/2 Men you have to try to separate the series from the Charlie Sheen drama baggage, though guest star Denise Richards makes that a bit trickier. But once you focus on the show, instead of the behind the scenes nonsense, it still isn’t very funny.

B.C. The First Thanksgiving (1973)

Back in my comic strip reading days I could take or leave B.C. but I never really warmed to their TV specials. This Thanksgiving one isn’t terrible but it isn’t good either. Plus, the whole B.C. thing makes doing a Thanksgiving special pretty much pointless.

Accidental Family - What is this Thanksgiving or a Nightmare (1967)

Pretty good Jerry Van Dyke led sitcom. Dysfunctional family stuff with a great supporting cast including Jim Backus. Of its time but very good.

Davey and Goliath - The Pilgrim Boy  (1960)

Vintage religious claymation version of the Thanksgiving Story. I remember watching this as a kid. It is whar it is.

Still Standing  - Still Thankful (2002)

Mark Addy’s dodgy American accent always bugged me but this was a decent sitcom. Usual dysfunctional family stuff.

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Yule Logged: Mantovani’s Music of Christmas, Prince of Peoria, Christmas Break-in, Christmas with a View, Pixi Saves Christmas, Happy Days


This weekend it's been mostly Pandora's 70's Christmas and Celtic Holidays  Radio.

TV and Movies: 

Mantovani and his Orchestra - Mantovani’s Music of Christmas

Easy orchestral Christmas tunes with some ballet and a cute little puppet show. Charming if outdated.

Prince of Peoria - A Christmas Moose Miracle (2019)

It’s a Miracle anyone watches this stuff. Even by tween show standards, this was lame. Aggressively unfunny, and yes I’m grading on a curve since it’s a kid’s sitcom. The guy hitting the laugh track button really liked it though.

Christmas Break-in (2018)

Unwatchable Home Alone rip off.

Christmas with a View (2018)

Same holiday romance crap, different day.

Pixi Saves Christmas (2018)

Unites the world‘s holiday gift givers as members of a forum of genies. Apparently a disgraced genie turned evil (sigh) businessman has a nefarious plan to do nefarious things nefariously. Luckily there’s a snarky elf to save the day. I assume she saves the day, I gave up about a third of the way in.

The script is a mess. I don’t know if it’s a translation thing or just poor craftsmanship, but it becomes hard to watch. Most kids, no matter where they live, will have no context for the multiple magical characters that immediately show up, competing to leave presents, without explanation. Eventually this odd universe is, poorly, expositioned and it’s pretty bad.

My kid’s would have hated this and I wouldn’t have blamed them.

Happy Days - Christmas Time (1978)

What could have been a sweet, funny episode focusing on Richie and his girlfriends’ arguing over how much to spend on gifts and the Cunningham ladies rebelling against Howard’s bringing home an aluminum tree, gets dragged down with a Fonzie abandonment issues subplot. Winkler’s coasting with his over the top performance and the clumsy tone shifts, spoil what could have been a classic show. Watching the episode it feels as if they wedged the Fonz plot into an existing script focusing on the other two story lines, stripping most of the set up for them and leaving the punchlines.

My kvetching aside, it's still a nice episode, if a little bit sloppy, and I rewatch it every couple of years.

Friday, November 22, 2019

Yule Logged: Evergreen: Letters to Santa, The Case for Christmas, Holiday High School Reunion, 12 Dogs, 12 Wishes, Some Mothers, Christmas Spirit, Good Old Days


Benn listening to Mindy Gledhill's album Winter Moon and the Bear Family vintage rock compilation Yulesville.

Movies and TV:

Christmas in Evergreen: Letters to Santa (2018)

Not as meh as the first, probably because of my lowered expectations and Jill Wagner.

The Case for Christmas (2011)

So they can make a predictable, cliche riddled low budget  Christmas movie that still engages and entertains. No staggering work of genius but a nice solid holiday flick. 

Holiday High School Reunion (Christmas Crush) (2012)

How could this be this bad - it featues Rachel Boston, Marilu Henner, Harry Hamlin. Three people who have been known to be able to act. What a waste.

Some Mothers Do Have ‘Em - Christmas (1975)

Michael "Phantom of the Opera" Crawford plays helpless incompetent Frank Spencer in this goofy slapstick sitcom’s 1975 Christmas special. The episode opens with some yuletide hijinks then settles into a pai of non-festive plotlines. YMMV as to how funny Some Mothers is. I can only take it in very small does.

The Spirit of Christmas  (2015)

A ghostly Christmas romance. A nice change from the usual recipe. It’s no substitute for a straight haunted house movie but I liked it. 

12 Dog Days Till Christmas (2014)

And another bad movie steals half an hour of my life.

The 12 Wishes of Christmas

You don’t want to know my wish…

...wait I have a wish I can share - I wish Michael Gross had been the star... and some one else had written it, and directed it, and done the production design and casting and... well you get the idea.

The Good Old Days Christmas (1974)

A surprisingly faithful adaptation of vintage music hall performances in front of a live, period-correct audience. This yuletide installment features the usual selection of song, dance, magic, comedy.There's even an old-timey strongman and an acrobatic act. Edward “The Equalizer” Woodward headlines and The King’s Singers perform. 

Christmas content there is, though not in overabundance. 

An interesting side-note - The musical director is Bernard Herrmann - yes, that Bernard Herrmann