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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Writing a Good Christmas Story: Four Things to Consider

Santa Checking His ListI totally get it.

Each year the media world is starving for new holiday stories. They want them for the bookshelves, for the TV screens, and the cinemas. So why wouldn’t any struggling writer (which is 98% of us) not want to give the old Santa Claus an adventure or two?

It pays the bills and, maybe, you will unwrap the golden present. In other words, create a holiday tale that becomes a classic, one that audiences return to yearly… which can also pay the bills yearly as well.

The problem is that for all of the attempts to make that blessed holiday classic it so, so rarely happens. Most holiday tales disappear at the end of the year. The books and the DVDs end up in the bargain bins, and the TV specials and movies are shown at random times in the early morning (if they are shown at all).

Recently, I reviewed a new collection of holiday short stories called My True Love Gave to Me (edited by Stephanie Perkins). My review will be on WKAR’s Current State later this month. I don’t want to say too much about my review here, but the book, in the end, just left me feeling sad.

Not exactly a Christmas feeling, I know, and probably not the one most of those contributors were hoping for. But it is a common feeling for me each year as I dare to check out the new holiday samplings from my fellow writers.

So why is it so difficult to write a good Christmas story? Basically, it is because most holiday writers seem to forget four important stocking-stuffing-ho-ho-ho points. These points are what separate the classics from… well… anything on the Hallmark Channel. Continue reading

Flashback Monday: “Disneyland’s Silent Gift” from ME STUFF

ResortThis is the eighth and final entry in my Flashback Monday series. I created the series to showcase some of the posts you will get if you pick up my new book Me Stuff, which contains 40 different quirky tales from this site! You can check out the other Flashback Mondays here, herehere, here, here. here, and here.

I always knew I wanted to end Flashback Monday with this entry. Some might roll their eyes seeing Disneyland in the title (or if you follow the site, not surprised I am writing about the park again), but there is a reason why it is here. Why? Well, I really love the writing in it because for me it captures a magical moment with my family and in my life, that even then I could tell was slipping away.

There is this time when you are staying at the Disneyland Resort Hotel when you can have it all to yourself.

It’s quiet, with the faint hint of music playing in the hotel lobbies in the background. I first discovered it when I offered to grab my wife one early morning a coffee at the shop in the hotel. But the moment I exited the elevator (and the haunting overture from The Jungle Book was playing in the speakers), that I realized I had discovered something unique.

It was still dark outside and I was alone.

I walked along the pool, passed the Tangaroa Terrace restaurant (with its fireplace still ablaze). There is a smell to Disneyland that I have yet to put my finger on, but the blossoms around the hotel and the restaurant added to its intoxication.

It was so peaceful that I almost felt a tinge of regret when the coffee shop finally opened at 6 AM and I had to make my purchase and return to the room and the excited kids. Dawn was approaching, a new day of adventure. Holding sweaty palms, wondering about bathroom breaks, and taking a lot of pictures.

That pre-dawn walk became a little ritual for me during my stay, and I picked up a coffee for my wife every morning at the same time. She always said thank you, but she didn’t need to.

It was for both of us.Me Stuff, front cover

You can read the rest of the post here. Or, better yet, you can grab a copy of ME STUFF which contains 40 editorials like this one and it is super cheap-o.

The eBook version of the book is only $1.99 (here on Amazon) and in print for only $8.99 (here on Amazon).

My Battle With Roses

RoseI am lousy with plants.

I don’t feel particularly defeatist about this, this is just something that has never interested me, and clearly I have little skills around nature. So both sides seem to acquiesce to mediocrity.

The first time I even attempted to grow something was when my wife and I got a little live Christmas tree as a gift. This was back in the quiet days before kids and we were living in an apartment and I thought what the hell? Why not try to keep this thing alive. It deserved a chance to live, right? It was either that or throw it away. The second option felt cruel (picturing a little cartoon voice screaming in my imagination), so there you go.

After re-potting this little tree, I began to water it and keep a daily eye on it as it sat by the window. When the weather got warmer, we moved it to the balcony and, I’m still not sure how this was possible, a frog began visiting it. This frog would somehow get to our second floor balcony every night, and then relax by it, maybe under it or on the railing nearby. It would just chill, the tree would just chill, and we would sit by the window watching both, chilling as well.

A strange and beautiful moment of peace.

Sadly, this was not to last and the tree didn’t survive the summer with its branches turning from green to brown. There was nothing I could do. My wife explained that little trees like that are not really breed to survive. So my dream of it growing into a full tree that I could plant in a future yard and each year decorate with lights, telling my perfect future kids about how I had grown it from a little sprout… well… that wasn’t going to be.

I know we gave that tree and frog both names, but I can’t remember either of them right now. Continue reading

Five Things I Am Into Right Now, April 2014

UmbrellaSpring should be a time of rebirth, new things to discover. It’s one of the reasons that the summer blockbusters start in this month and Easter is filled with eggs and rabbits. Yet, when I look over my list I notice that much of it is filled with… well… old stuff.

Maybe this says something about me?

Or maybe I just need to stop psychoanalyzing myself?

I do it a lot, of course, but everyone that has a blog does. We are a collection of little self-therapists, the only difference is the world gets access to the notepad. And can comment on it.

Well, speaking as my own therapist, I see on this list a sonic piece of detective comfort food, a need for silly humor, a demon I can’t escape, a cartoon for the kiddies, and a CD that always puts a smile on my face. My diagnosis is that it is a something like a call for Spring, but a comforting one. So maybe I am almost on the right page, just not quite.

Continue reading

Mush: The Effects of Parenting on the Artistic Mind

My brain has turned to mush.

I can’t say exactly when it happened, but somewhere between the long sleepless nights with a newborn and the obsessions of a toddler (who is convinced he is a racecar, and tells everyone. I don’t even understand how Nascar is a sport!), this fine-tuned tool I have always been so fond of has become permanently muddled.

To know me before my son was to know a devout follower of classic literature. I could discuss the finer points of Finnegan’s Wake and Middlemarch and not drop a bead of sweat. I was a snobby individual, and proud of my snobbiness, wearing it as almost a badge. But now, I spend my days thinking:

  • Where did Piglet disappear to during the entire Piglet’s Big Movie?
  • Why does Elmo tell kids the best place to learn more is to watch a TV channel in every episode of Elmo’s Room? Does anyone else have a problem with that?
  • And where can I get my own Tootles like Mickey Mouse has, because it seems like a really useful invention? Continue reading

Walt and Me

I was not a Disney kid growing up; I became a fan of Mr. Disney as an adult.

It seems weird to say it, like I should be having my official “literary snob” business cards taken away, but this is one of my quirks (possibly embarrassing) and it was not something I was planning. I am a fan of the man and mainly that all stems from Disneyland.  Let me explain this better:

It was February 2000 and I had just moved from Michigan’s snowy winter to the surrealism that is Los Angeles. I was starting mid-term in the graduate program in writing at the University of Southern California, which definitely put me in an odd position. I was the new kid and many of the cliques were already formed in the autumn, when everyone else started. Plus, to be honest, programs like this are not exactly a place where people make friends; there is a lot of competitiveness in the writing world. You want to have the respect of your professors and be in with the good writers, you do not want to be part of the other groups, trust me.

So to say I was lonely and feeling out of sorts at that moment would be to put it mildly. I was not on my A game.

Anyway, I was watching TV in my grungy graduate apartment (seriously, my roommate was one of the messiest people I had ever met; I was terrified to get near the kitchen, deciding to live off food from the local Starbucks and canned goods), when an ad came up for Disneyland. Continue reading

How An Agnostic Can Explain Death To A Child

An essay by me on a difficult subject for Green Spot Blue.  Here is the introduction to the article:

My son is three going on four and he is starting to notice death.  It’s a part of life and hard to avoid even in children’s entertainment, unless you decide to always keep them covered by the security blanket that is Thomas the Tank Engine, Curious George, and Mickey Mouse’s Clubhouse.

My son, for example, is obsessed with Batman; I try to keep him focused on the more fun (less ultraviolent) series Batman: The Brave and Bold (and might I add, mind-numbingly stupidly canceled by Cartoon Network earlier this year). Now, while this version of Batman has actual fun and friends, death still sneaks into the show from time to time.  There was an episode about how his parents died and in one episode a hero sacrificed himself to save the world (Even I kept expecting the hero to get up, but when the funeral started, it was more stunningly obvious they were going in that direction with the story).

I was watching the episode with my son when Batman’s friend died. My son asked me what happened and at that time I just said he had gone away; looking back it was a weak answer and I am surprised he was okay with it (Typically he is a very inquisitive boy).  Yet, later I began to feel more and more guilty with my answer, wondering if I had given a pathetic reply.  Of course I argued to myself that we were watching Batman, was it really the time to get into this life changing conversation?  Of course, it might have been easier to deal with the concept then, as compared to the inevitable moment when it happens to someone he knows, or might even love.

Whatever the case, that moment has passed, and I have struggled for some time trying to discover the best approach for introducing my child to the idea that life will have an end. When my wife and I decided to be parents, I argued to take a sincere approach.  I don’t know what happens after life. We agreed to deal with the questions as they come up and be honest in our perspectives.  Because, frankly, in all truthfulness none of us really do know what happens. It’s all beautiful conjecture.

To read the rest of my article (and my answer to this problem), please visit the article on Green Spot Blue here.

Lost on the Street

I have a new editorial on GreenSpotBlue.  This time I take on the problems with the modern Sesame Street.  Here is an excerpt:

There is that expression you can’t go home again, and as the older I get the more I am surprised by how much that exactly relates to.  From old haunts from my college days long closed to family gatherings where beloved members are no longer with us, things are different, changed, and never will be like they once were. It’s a sad fact of life. Yet, as a parent I never thought it would be true of Sesame Street.

Sesame Street, growing up, was one of my streets. It was real to me and I loved the show. I had favorite characters (I was Super Grover for one Halloween and Ernie for another; thanks to my mom’s amazing ability to make costumes) and I had many of the songs memorized. For example, when counting to twelve it is impossible for me, even to this day, not to sing the numbers like the Pointer Sisters.

So when I became a father I looked forward to introducing my son to the street I “grew up” on.  But the days of Mr. Hooper are long gone.  The days where stories would unfold over the hour with “commercials” about the alphabet and numbers in between has joined our favorite shopkeep. It is a show now of scheduled “segments” each one a show onto itself, losing the spontaneity, surprises, and energy that made the original an unpredictable joy to watch.

To read more of the article (including my point by point issues with the show and what can be done to save it), click here.