Why The Littlest Angel is the worst holiday story… ever

The First Cover for the "classic"When The Littlest Angel by Charles Tazewell was published in 1946 it was a holiday phenomenon. This “classic” story has since been published numerous times (with many different illustrated versions); made into movies (cartoon, musical, and live action); and in the list of best-selling children stories of all time (!) it comes up in the top 20. 

Heck, even holiday crooner Bing Crosby sang a song based on the plot of it! 

I remember the first time I heard this story. It was at catechism. and the teacher read it to us as if she was bestowing a great holiday gift on us children. I can still see her smile. While the other kids casually sat near me with crossed legs, I remember really being bothered by the story. I couldn’t put my finger on it then, but that reaction to the tale has never gone away for me. And that day, I raised my hand for I had some questions.

My hand is still up in the air.

The fact is, after thinking about it far too much, and being haunted by it like Marley’s ghost each year, I can’t escape my problems with this narrative. I have come to the opinion that this Christmas traditional yarn is… just awful. Horrendous. Possibly the worst holiday story. Oh, God, it is just bad.

Okay, it takes a lot for a story to be a worst holiday yarn than the appalling song “The Christmas Shoes” (which for those lucky not to know is the materialistic and disturbing ditty about an ignorant child who leaves his dying mother’s bedside to go shopping, assuming that the shoes he puts on her feet will go with her soul to heaven and there impress Jesus), but The Littlest Angel does it. It does it ten times over.

Grab a cup of hot chocolate and a Christmas cookie, snuggle in by the fireplace, and let me tell you why… Continue reading

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Finding Comfort in Possessions: 14 Days Until 40

Back to the FutureOne of the films I loved growing up was Back to the Future.  I’ve owned the trilogy a few different times now, and have the current version on Blu-Ray. I believe I bought it that opening week when it came out. Yeah, I’m one of those kind of collectors. I like things fresh off the shelves like fruits and vegetables.

Well, a few years ago I was reading an interview with one of the creators. To be honest, I can’t remember if it was Robert Zemeckis or one or the producers or writers, but the speaker complained about the importance of greed in the film. If he had a chance to go back, he argued, he would have made it more about family as compared to the acquisition of possessions at the end.

In other words, Marty’s family didn’t have to be rich and successful and Marty didn’t need the sweet new truck. Just getting his family back together should have been enough.

Being a child of the 80’s, this idea kind of blew my mind. And between you and me, I feel like Marty had earned that truck… but now as a dad trying to imagine a better world for my kids, I side with that speaker. I would like my kids to see it that way. Marty won without the truck.

Yet, with 40 fast approaching, I seem to be finding comfort in some of my possessions. They help me turn off my brain, focus my thoughts. And, in a way, define my journey up to this point and where I would like to see myself go. Of course, being the blogger I am, I have written about most of these things before.  So I will link to an original post and then give you an update on where I am now. Therapy? Partially. Helpful? Definitely.  These are my sanity as I step slowly towards this halfway mark… Continue reading

The Awesomeness of TeeFury

TeeFuryI live everyday with TeeFury regret.

This tragic tale is from last year, sometime in the autumn. It was before I purchased my first TeeFury shirt and this one was a combination of Calvin and Hobbes and Jim Henson and Kermit the Frog.

Let me repeat that- Hobbes and Kermit.

Basically, the artist took an image of rambunctious Calvin carrying his stuffed tiger and replaced it with a child that looked like Henson carrying a puppet of the awesome frog. And for 24 hours I stewed over this shirt, weighing each of the arguments pro and con for getting the shirt (or maybe purchasing it for others). I even shared the link to the shirt with friends and family who I thought might like it! But as the hours dripped by, I forgot about the shirt until it was the next morning… and there I was, head down on the computer keyboard staring forlornly at a new shirt available that did not include my beloved frog.

That is my TeeFury regret and now that I am on the mailing list I think of it each time a shirt appears that I may or may not be interested in purchasing. Do I want to live with that experience again?

Do I? Continue reading

Five Things I Am Into Right Now, January 2013

It's freaking coldI blame my book.

I haven’t done a post like this since October (October!), and really the only big change I can point to, besides my new obsession with Doctor Who (see number 2, below), is Permanent Spring Showers.

But now the online challenge/novel is completed and the poetic/prose epilogue goes up on Friday, so I’ve no excuses. I have got to take this on again, give my monthly insight into my brain, or at least my daily life.

One of the things I have always aimed for in these posts (and most posts) is honesty. Don’t laugh! Seriously, for a fiction author that is hard to do. Do you know how easy it would be for me to create a character of me? My wife points it out to me all the time when my little “exaggerations” enter a real life story. Usually we are at gathering with friends and I start to talk about something that happened (usually around my kids who are a lot more entertaining that I am), and she will do this thing with her eyes and after a few minutes, she will finally have to interrupt, explaining that what I said was not exactly true.

Well, it was true in a way, right? Okay, nevermind, here are my five things for this month: Continue reading

My Six Favorite Comedies

I am a comedy snob.

I don’t laugh at fart jokes or burps, and most sitcoms bore me to pieces. Some of this elitism is because I studied comedy writing and seeing behind the curtain can take the surprise away (and much of comedy is about delivery), my upbringing since my dad introduced me to Monty Python at a young again, but most of it is just, frankly, because I am a comedy snob. And because of that, I have never laughed at a single scene in a single American Pie movie…

Not a single scene.

I expect more.

I expect more than stereotypes, pratfalls, sarcasm, easy parodies, and physical body humor. You can keep your Three Scrooges (even though I do like some of the Curly episodes), I’ll take the Marx Brothers any day of the week.

Here, in all my snobbery, are my six favorite comedies:

Monty Python and the Holy Grail

When the American Film Institute (AFI) did their list of 100 laughs, they did not include a single Monty Python movie.

Not a one.

Their justification is that the films chosen had to have significant financial or creative production elements from the USA. Fine, whatever (even though, I would argue that the films were distributed and produced by a few Americans and American companies), but yet, they included A Fish Called Wanda on the list. Is it because two of the main cast members were American? Should I point out that Terry Gilliam of Monty Python (director, actor and writer) is American?

No, this doesn’t make sense to me either. Continue reading