Merry Christmas to my now 1548 blog followers! And my attempt at the worst Christmas movie ever!

Seriously, the worst Christmas record cover ever. I don’t know why I always get shocked by bad holiday stories. I already complained this year about the cruel Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmas (here) but this weekend I found something even worse. Wow, this is bad.

I don’t know the title of it, but it involved talking puppies. Okay, talking animals I can get behind a little bit, but the family they are staying with have their house go into foreclosure. They sneak away, leaving the mommy dog and her puppies in the house. Then animal control shows up and takes the mommy dog away, leaving the puppies! But wait! We aren’t done. Then the house is broken into by a group of teenage hoodlums, who want to sell the puppies on the black puppy market…. Okay, it was then I stopped watching. (I expect better Netflix!)

So it got me thinking, can I come up with a worse Christmas movie idea? Can I?  Also, it turns out it has been a while since I have done something fun to thank my blog followers. The last time I did it was when I reached 1300 followers, but now I am at 1548. So… yeah… I am due for something silly.  (Oh, and thank you for following!)

So, to my wonderful followers and readers, I wish to proudly present my advertisement for the worst Christmas movie ever- 24 ‘Til Snow!

24 ‘Til Snow!

Dickie Wayne III (frat brother, smooth playboy and eternal mischief-maker) has just inherited his grandfather’s ski lodge. But there is no snow! And if there isn’t snow by Christmas all of the guests will cancel and he will be ruined before he can even start! What is there to do? Why have a wild Bikini Christmas party of course! But what will happen when that snooping sheriff and his talking deputy dog learn that Dickie doesn’t have a liquor license?

24 ‘Til Snow!

Oh no! Santa drank from Big Lug’s secret family recipe moonshine! How will the guys ever get him sober enough to deliver the rest of the presents before Christmas morning? Keep your clothes on Santa!

24 ‘Til Snow!

Trixie (Dickie’s younger sister) has sneaked into the party and wants to learn the true meaning of love. How can Dickie, the playboy to end all playboy, protect his sister from his frat brothers and teach her the truths about the heart?

24 ‘Til Snow!

Aliens!

24 ‘Til Snow!

In a very heartfelt moment with a poor family, Dickie and his guests learn the true meaning of Christmas… now back to partying!

24 ‘Til Snow!

It turns out that grandfather’s lodge has been a secret meeting spot for Russian spies since World War II. And the Russians have hidden their top-secret codes inside of the lining of Dickie’s grandfather’s fedora. The same one Dickie has been wearing all night! Can the rookie (and hot) FBI agent save Dickie’s life… without falling in love?

24 ‘Til Snow!

Fun for the whole family! (Rated R)

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Forward to Christmas Past! Christmas Blogposts to Check Out…

Santa on his SleighThere are a few things that I really enjoy writing about.

A favorite author or book? Bring it on! A television show I like to watch? Sure. Something odd going on in my life? Well, within reason of course. I do like to keep some privacy. There is a line there and certainly someday I will find it.

One of the things I get a kick out of each year is Christmas. Heck, I even wrote a bad Christmas song on this site in the past (here). Let me add to that- One of my favorite pieces of fiction I have ever done is a holiday movie screenplay. I still dream someday I can sell that script and see it made.

This holiday just gets me going. Basically, it is the artistic equivalent of drinking one too many glasses of hot chocolate. Here are some of the blogposts I have done about my favorite holiday. Enjoy!

The New Kid in the Audience: A Holiday Confessional. One of the first things I ever wrote for the internet was about Christmas. Want proof? Here you go. It’s my own agnostic/atheist view on a holiday I love. With a helping of Snoopy throw in for good measure.

Book Review: A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. I’ve done over 30 reviews on my local NPR station now, but this is easily one of my favorites. I have always loved this book and it really gave me a chance to share that love. Also, I got to read selections from the book. Check it out! You can even hear me do Tiny Tim!

Losing the Grinch: When I Became a Who. On a Christmas Eve, my house was broken into and all the Christmas presents and electronics were stolen. My oldest child was only a month old at the time, so it would not leave emotional scars for him, but it is something his parents will never forget. When I was a kid I used to have trouble falling asleep on Christmas Eve because of the excitement, now it is a very different feeling each year.

The Littlest Angel Is the Worst Holiday Story… Ever. Yes, the holiday story gauntlet has been thrown down and this is the worst in my opinion out there. Oh, it is so, so bad. The fact that people still read this every  year gives me the shivers. Seriously, I am shivering right now.

The Christmas Accordion: Holiday 2012 Thoughts. I had just finished seeing the first Hobbit film and was sitting in a coffee shop with my dad when I heard about the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary. My son was almost the same age as many of the victims. This post is about how Christmas should feel in a school, or at least how it did for me.

Neil Diamond’s “A Cherry Cherry Christmas” is the Worst Christmas Song Ever! A Holiday Musical Rant. I know, I know, Neil Diamond fans, I know. This is Mr. Diamond referencing his own work. But that doesn’t change the fact that this song is so utterly bad and inappropriate. You don’t believe me that this is the worst holiday song? Go ahead and read my post and then listen to it. If you have real courage, watch the video.

Writing a Good Christmas Story: Four Things to Consider. This is my most recent post on the holiday and here I put my writing educator hat on, trying to lay down some ground rules for what makes a Christmas story work… because honestly, most holiday stories don’t.

Ghosts, Snoopy, Haunted Mansions and Halloween

haunted-mansionA few years ago, the inventive filmmaker Guillermo del Toro was hired by Disney to write a screenplay for a new movie based on The Haunted Mansion ride.  Over the summer I read an interview with him claiming that him and his team of writers were still struggling with the story.

Seriously?

I have to admit I am a little surprised. I mean it seems to me a Haunted Mansion film writes itself. Do you want to know how I would do it if Disney asked me? Of course you do!

First off I would set it in the 1950s. That way you can tap into the cliches and stereotypes you would see in classic old black-and-white horror films. And set it in a small town (think Back to the Future).  Now on to my very brief synopsis!

  • Act 1- We meet the eccentric and comic people in the town. There are two twin teenage sisters, one is a cheerleader and popular, the other is a bookworm (our heroes). They go to a dance at their school. That night there is a huge thunderstorm and the power goes out. A bunch of teenagers ride together in car; which, of course, stalls in front of the Haunted Mansion.
  • Act 2- The group of teenagers (including our female heroes) tour the Haunted Mansion. The ghosts want to get out but are trapped in (a curse put in place by Madame Leota). One of the teenagers is tricked by the evil Hatbox Ghost (an urban legend by the way around the ride), releasing all the ghosts.
  • Act 3- The ghosts playfully attack and spook the town (like Gremlins). The teenagers are split into teams, one to collect the ghosts, the other to get the curse put back on the house and stop the Hatbox Ghost (the sisters lead the different teams)… this all has to be done by dawn.
  • Act 4- In a suspenseful last act, the curse is reinstated, the ghosts are drawn back and the sisters now are friends. The end.

Disney you can send me the check. (Okay, that was a little snippy of me, but seriously I could write this script and would love to do it… Oh, and Guillermo del Toro is awesome.)

Here are some of the posts in the past I have written about Halloween. Enjoy!

The Halloween TreeBook Review: The Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury. Last year I reviewed this book (which should be a holiday classic) for WKAR’s Current State. You can check it out (and listen) via the link. This week I’ll be reviewing Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. I hope you tune in for it, I think it turned out great.

It's The Great PumpkinWatching It’s The Great  Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. I love this special. Absolutely love it. Actually, I’m kind of obsessed about it, and this post proves it. In it, I share my insight on the show and my thoughts on each of the scenes and characters. Seriously… obsessed.

CostumedIf I Could Wear a Halloween Costume… If I had the courage, I would dress up on the holiday. I’m just not that guy… but I wish I was. This comic post deals with my dreams and hopes and masks.

HalloweenHalloween, In Spirit. I wrote this post during my first year on the site, and it was one of my most popular. It is a little comic, a little philosophical, a little serious. In many ways it contains all of my thoughts on the holiday, tied up in a bow… that probably has skeletons on it.

I hope you enjoy the posts! (And Guillermo call me!)

 

The Tragedy of Bert

Our Tragic HeroFor the last six days I’ve been sick. I’ve had a fever that kept coming and going, a non-stop cough and I felt really weak. I slept away pretty much my entire weekend. Actually, my house has been the perfect storm for illnesses, with my son recovering from pneumonia and my daughter dealing with croup… but enough about them, let’s get back to me.

So while in one of my fever moments I started having a weird debate with myself.

Granted, this happens a lot but more so when a fever is included. And after one memorable (fever-induced) debate I have come to this conclusion.

Bert is the most tragic character in all of the Disney films.

Yes, I am talking about Bert, the lovable bloke from Mary Poppins. The one always up for an adventure and a song and dance. That Bert. And, yes, he is more tragic than Cinderella’s dad (who I still think was murdered by the step-mother) and all of the other lost parents in their cartoons (which is another good reason you don’t want your daughter to be a princess). Bert takes the cake and I carefully constructed this argument to prove my point.

This will not be a jolly holiday. Continue reading

In Defense of JUMANJI

JumanjiWhen you visit rottentomatoes.com, they only give Jumanji a score of 50%. Ouch. Roger Ebert called it “gloomy” and Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly gave it only a C+ implying that the story did not live up to the special effects. Double Ouch.

Yes, Jumanji is not a perfect film. There are moments that make me squirm, like when Robin Williams is attacking some wild vines with a sword and shouts “Harvest time!” That is not the only embarrassing shout in the film, later Judy (played by a young Kirsten Dunst) holds a checkout lane gun up at a person’s eyes and shouts “Price check!” To help emphasize the bad joke, the camera cuts to the cash register where it declares “no sale.”

Not to be a grinch, but many of the classics we love aren’t perfect. I’ll even give you a cherished example. In The Wizard of Oz, when the witch orders out her monkey army to get Dorothy she references a scene that was edited from the film. She explains to her monkeys that she had sent out bugs to tire them out first. Of course, we don’t see the fabled “jitterbug” scene happen (and probably for very good reason, it sounds incredibly cheesy). But, unless you know the history of the film, this really doesn’t make any sense at all. What bugs? What did the bugs do to them? How does a bug bother a scarecrow and a man made of tin?

Now in saying all that, I’m not comparing The Wizard of Oz to Jumanji, even though they both have many similar themes (returning to a home, forging a new family, friendship, etc.) and buy into the great myth that underlines most children stories (a normal child swept away into an adventure to find they are special). The Wizard of Oz is a classic and will never disappear. I can’t say the same for Jumanji in the future, and that makes me a little sad. There is a good chance that over time it might become nothing more than another chapter in all those future biographies of Robin Williams that are certainly being planned right now.

I love the film Jumanji. It is comfort food on the screen for me. And since the tragic death of Robin Williams (our hero Alan Parrish) I have watched it three times… and there is a good chance I might be watching it again soon.

Continue reading

Our Oscar Theme Summer (Part 3)

FamilyI’ve said it before (and many have said it before me) but parenthood changes you. My wife and I joke all the time about how we have no idea what we used to talk about before we had our kids.

We had to have talked about something!

We were married for five years before the first one arrived, there had to have been some kind of a conversation going on.

Another sign for me on how things have changed is the tally for me around “Oscar Summer.” Before kids, we probably would have done a different movie a night, maybe even an extra one on weekends. I could almost imagine us hitting anywhere between 80 and 90 movies by the end of the summer. Yeah, that high.

Yet, with kids around and them biting into our evening time and because we can sometimes be so tired in the evening (especially after chasing them all day) and everything else that comes along with life our tally is a little over 20.

It is nothing to write home about.

The hope when we began our Oscar Summer was to hit some of the big Oscar films, but really in the end it became kind of scatter-shot. In a way, I was almost drawn to watching the films that didn’t win, or the ones forgotten. But even in that, we didn’t do much. Again, 20.

Seriously, only 20? Continue reading

The Writing Dream of Scooby-Doo: So I have this idea…

Mystery MachineSo as a writer I am struggling with something. Has this happened to you, my fellow writers? You get this great idea for a story and you can’t escape it. It is like a drug. The idea keeps you up at night; it fills up your notepad with ideas. You breathe this idea. And when you close your eyes it plays out in your imagination like a movie on the greatest big screen ever.

You live for the idea, and the idea lives in you.

Okay… now consider this all-engrossing idea with a big talking dog, a bunch of teenagers and villains in silly and elaborate costumes.

Yes, I am Scooby-Doo obsessed because of a great script idea I have. This is more than just a passing fancy. For example, last week, when I snuck away to work on my novel, I instead spent the entire time perfecting my outline for this script. Happily giggling as I did it the entire time.

I can’t escape Mystery, Inc.! It’s like I am stuck in one of Fred’s elaborate traps. And I dream of writing “Jinkies” in a script and hearing Velma saying it, knowing that I was the one who put that word there.

I need to write my Scooby-Doo screenplay—my creativity is craving it!—but there is a very, very good chance after I do it that is where it will end. Zoinks! Which makes all of the creative and inspired stress over this so much more painful.

Let me start this over and explain this better… starting with me, the author stuck in the back of the mystery machine. Continue reading

Five Things I Am Into Right Now, July 2014

Scooby GangThis might as well be called my month of nerd. With the continuously releasing news about Star Wars Episode 7, Doctor Who, The Hobbit, and everyone else fantastical, I’m in many ways in nerd heaven. Heck, I even thought the last season of Game of Thrones was the best one so far (which I wrote about here)! And there have even been rumblings about Indiana Jones!

Now, here is the thing that has been obsessing me more than any other (possibly making me a king of the nerds)- I’ve got an idea for a Scooby-Doo movie.

You know how they seem to release one to two direct-to-video Scooby-Doo cartoon each year? Some are great (and I have seen them all, so I can judge), some are okay and some are frankly bad (for example, when Shaggy sings a love song to his alien girlfriend). Well, I have an idea/plot/synopsis for a Scooby-Doo cartoon movie and it is doozy.

I’m not joking! I have an idea for a Scooby-Doo animated movie and it would be freaking great!

The trick (and it is a big trick) is figuring out how (and who) to throw my synopsis at. You see I would love to write this script (and it wouldn’t take me long), I just need to know if it would be read before I go to the trouble of doing it. So here I sit, twiddling my thumbs trying to figure out exactly how someone gets a message into the world of WB Animation. Seriously, I have no clue.

Now before anyone worries, I won’t be changing anything we know about Scooby-Doo if this script is picked up and the beats we all expect in his stories. I don’t want to break the mold; I just want to create a fun adventure in that world. Also, as a parent of two little kids who are obsessed with Scooby-Doo, it would be really great to do something like that for them.

“Hey kids, guess what? Your dad wrote a Scooby-Doo movie. Want to watch it?”

Oh, these are all just dreams, I get that. Without contacts or an agent (who works specifically with writers around this) to go to WB Animation and pitch the idea, it will only be a fun daydream. I just can’t help but dream… dream of Scooby Snacks and pizzas covered in ice cream, anchovies, pickles, hamburgers, and salami, that is.

Now on to my very nerdy list for this month! Continue reading

Our Oscar Theme Summer (Part 2)

dmbBefore I get to the films my wife and I watched as we continued our Oscar summer (which I first talked about here), I want to go off on a tangent… about Dave Matthews Band. This has no real point and doesn’t relate at all, it is just a tangent.

Here we go… A few weeks ago my wife and I saw DMB in concert, it was her first time seeing them in concert, it was my fourth. It feels like every time I go to see Dave, it is to remind myself why I don’t like seeing him in concert. Oh, I am not talking about him or his band (they are great and I will always be a fan; I own every CD), but I just really dislike the audience that follow him.

See, my wife and I came to see Dave and his band perform, but I couldn’t say that was true for a majority of the people around me.

For them it was a party with drinking, drugs, loud talking and laughter. The fact that a band was on stage giving their all didn’t even register with them. Seriously, it all felt so disrespectful for the band that they supposedly love. And let me clarify, this wasn’t just in our section of the audience, this was everywhere. Heck, the “party” atmosphere started before the band even entered the stage.

I get the whole tribal thrill of following a band like many of these people do, feeling part of a community, but I came to hear a show, see an artist I love, I didn’t come to bump into old friends or play the bongos (yes, someone had the bongos near us).

I’m sure in a few years, I’ll attempt to see Dave again and I will be reminded of this all over again. It’s what I do, but I am disappointed. And I’ve spent my days since seeing the concert listening to my CDs (including some of my live CDs) wondering about what could have been… All of the shows can’t be that bad, right? Argh, I’m doing it again.

Like I said, this was a tangent and has nothing to do with the point of this post.  It was just frustrating, and I had to get it off my chest.

Where was I?

Oh yeah, Oscar movies, round two! Enjoy! Continue reading

Our Oscar Theme Summer (Part 1)

I always wondered why the sword...Every summer my wife and I like to have theme TV watching. It’s a thing with us and is kind of a fun way to pass the hot nights, hiding away in our air-conditioned living room.

Okay, maybe it makes us sound a little cute. But what can I say? Yes… Yes, we are a cute couple.

Artistic, snobby, witty, literary, but very, very cute.

Last summer was a Doctor Who summer, working our way through all of the recent variations of the good Doctor. The summer before that was our WA summer, which were movies by Wes Anderson and Woody Allen. Then there was our Charles Dickens summer, and on and on.

This year we struggled a little over what we were going to choose. I was arguing a while for a “catch up” summer, which meant we catch up on shows that we never got around to watching (Orange is the New Black, for example). I get that it was an “easy out” choice, but there were just random things I was interested in and linking them was a little difficult.

Finally, we finally settled on an Oscar summer (no, there are no tuxedos and evening gowns involved), which means we are checking out the films we have not had a chance to watch yet. My main focus has been checking out some of the films nominated for Best Screenplay, which is obviously my favorite category.

I thought it would be interesting to keep a running tally of the films we have checked out and some of my thoughts on them. Here are the first five: Continue reading