Poster Parodies for the Holidays #9: AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS

The last movie mashup before Christmas, from my friend, Tom Gale . . .

Time is always against us and no time is this more apparent than during the holiday season.  It is ironic that the busiest holiday should fall so close to the shortest day of the year.  What’s up with that?  Wouldn’t it have been so much more sensible to put this time of year into summer when the days are long and there is plenty of extra sunlight around to make holiday preparations so much easier?  And without school in session and people already taking vacations, there would be plenty of time for being together and visiting and traveling and taking the holiday at a leisurely pace.  Someone messed up when they put Christmas on Christmas Day, or rather when they put it all in December and then to make matter worse stuck Thanksgiving right ahead of it, making this four weeks of hustle, bustle, and something else that doesn’t rhyme with either.  Sometimes it would be really nice to posses Kris Kringle’s apparent ability to fold the very fabric of space time to allow the localized black hole that would be scientifically necessary for delivering gifts to all the world’s households in a single night (and that’s assuming that the jolly old elf happens to have a completely accurate census of every corner of the Earth).  Federal bureaucrats take note: save money next census and just buy Santa’s list outright; I’m sure he’d be happy to black out the nice/naughty entries in the interest of protecting the innocent and an additional income source is always helpful even for Santa’s manufacturing and delivery operations.

The bottom line, though, is that the whole Christmas season is chock full of mystery, miracle, and magic.  Whether you are focused on the more secular elements of gift-giving and family and feasting and friendship, or the more religious elements of light in darkness and the birth of a soul savior so long ago and praise for the miracle of life out of death this is after all a fitting time of year for it reminds the heart that despite the long dead winter ahead new life is always waiting for us if we keep our doors open to it.  Such elements  would cease to have meaning in the midst of the long indolent and comfortable summer; they best serve us when we are looking the cold, harsh future square in the face as we do around this time of year.


Poster Parodies for the Holidays #8: CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON

With this Christmas mashup, my pal Tom Gale plays with a movie — and a simply magnificent poster — that I absolutely adore . . . so much so that I even refer to this film’s Amazon boat in the novel I just completed (The Enigma Club, which I’m circulating to agents; so if you’re an agent, “Hi.  Call me.”).  This movie is a certified Universal classic, and I hear it’s slated to be remade and updated for the 21st century ADHD generation.  I liked the new Wolfman, so I hope they make this reboot equally as good — hell, I’ll give it a shot, no matter what.

Here’s Tom:

Had to take a few days off from the series to concentrate on our annual Nutcracker* which took up a few long days and nights, and then try to get our own Christmas dressings from storage so we could finally begin to see some of our own Christmas spirit around the house.  As always seems to happen, we get so busy this time of year producing holiday celebrations for everyone else that sometimes we lose sight of the very thing we are celebrating and succumb to a bit of humbug ourselves.  From the middle of October straight through to Christmas break, we are usually overwhelmed with responsibilities and an array of things we have to do; concerts, recitals, plays, meetings, events we produce and even on nights off, events we turn around and attend.  By now we are feeling a bit out of breath and short of spirit. 

But this year with time and money short again, we resort to what is nearly becoming a tradition, of keeping Christmas itself a low-key, economical, and hopefully family oriented observance.  We keep present giving to a single small gift and numerous inexpensive and often humorous stocking stuffers.  We will attend Christmas Eve service, then drive around the neighborhoods playing Christmas music in the car and looking at all the holiday light displays.  Home to hot chocolate and perhaps a gift, then off to bed for some well deserved sleep.  In the morning it’s time to lounge in our pajamas, drink coffee, eat orange rolls fresh from the oven, and laugh at our stocking gifts; we might even watch a Christmas movie or two.  What will be most important will be that we will be taking time to be together, just the three of us, for a time; to celebrate what it means to have a family (whether large or small) that loves you no matter what else is going on outside the walls of where you call home; be it a bungalow or an apartment, or a manger.

Presents?  Sure, they’re great.  But if there is one thing that Christmas must surely teach us is that a gift from the heart can be nearly anything and usually something that money can’t buy; the smell of fresh baked bread in the air, the feel of a hand-made comforter as you sip your coffee, a story read aloud, the lingering tingle of a special kiss.  In a season full of opening things, perhaps the best thing we can open is our hearts.  Like the Christ Child, such wonderful miracles may come from such a little thing.

Merry Christmas,


PS. Those who know me well have known all along that I would never be able to complete this series without using this poster.  I try not to disappoint.


 *  Tom Gale is the managing director of the Center for the Arts at River Ridge in New Port Richey, Florida.  I urge you to friend the Center on Facebook . . . and support your locals arts organizations.

Poster Parodies for the Holidays #7: THE 39 STEPS

This time, during the Christmas season of the 50th anniversary of Psycho, mi amigo Tom Gale takes a holiday look at the poster for one of Hitchcock’s earlier films . . . 

It’s tough to stay away from Hitchcock films in a project like this because, besides the fact that the films themselves are so good, the poster designs for even his early films are vibrant, dramatic, and well composed; perfect vehicles for a little holiday parodying.  “The 39 Steps” is a particular favorite film of mine in a vein similar to “The Thin Man”; a terrific pairing of leading man and woman with great chemistry amidst a fast-paced and well written script.  The movie introduces one of Hitchcock’s favorite themes, the innocent man on the run, and like “North by Northwest”, the character is “forced” to share his journey of discovery with a beautiful stranger.  Not the stuff of tragedies when you get a look at the companions.  

Still in all, Robert Donat, the hero in “The 39 Steps” certainly doesn’t have an easy time of solving the mystery in order to save his freedom, his life, and the British government as well.  Despite being handcuffed to the beautiful and strong-willed Madeleine Carroll, his quest is fraught with danger and discomfort, although punctuated with just the right amount of humor.  My favorite scene is when Donat runs into a meeting hall to escape the police only to find himself mistaken for the principal speaker and forced to give an impromptu speech of support for a political candidate he doesn’t even know.  The fact that the audience is none the wiser throughout the speech makes for a terrific tongue in cheek poke at provincial politics.

The movie is very loosely based on a book by John Buchan, which I read as part of a hard cover mystery series I bought a forgotten number of years ago, but which still are removed occasionally from their packing boxes for an unhurried and unstrenuous visit.  If the movie doesn’t quite follow the book, it does have the advantage of making Buchan’s tenuous plot a bit more believable by resolving several all too convenient coincidences with some sensible plot development.  Hitchcock was too good a director not too fix some of the novel’s irritating problems.

That said, I heartily recommend “The 39 Steps” for some easy and fun Christmas mystery viewing.  Be careful, though, because a number of DVD releases of this film are taken from inferior film prints with soundtracks that make it harder than need be to understand the dialogue.  I have read that the Criterion restored version is superior in both video and audio quality, although I haven’t had a chance to see that version.  If you want to enjoy this film, don’t settle for less.

Merry Christmas! 


Poster Parodies for the Holidays #6: AN INDIANA JONES XMAS

This time around, my friend, Tom Gale, doesn’t have much to say.  I guess he put it all in the artwork . . . 

Halfway through the 12 Greetings of Christmas.  I may actually make it all the way to twelve this year.

I doubt there is really anything I can add to this greeting other than to say, ” May everyone have a peaceful and meaningful Christmas this year.  And God bless us everyone.”

Merry Christmas.



Poster Parodies for the Holidays #5: The City that Never Sleeps

The fifth in Tom Gale’s series of Adapted-Just-In-Time-for-Christmas movie posters!

What is the city that never sleeps?  Various cities around the world have claimed the title including Las Vegas, Mumbai, Tel Aviv, and Bangkok.  But the one that most Americans know by that title is our own New York City, The Big Apple itself.  Of course a city of any size can realistically lay claim to the idea that it never rolls up the pavements, but NYC is somewhat unique in its wide variety and scope of things to do around the clock.  More than just a corner pharmacy stays open 24 hours in that town.  New York’s insomnia has been referenced in song (Frank Sinatra) and cinema (1924 The City That Never Sleeps directed by Jame Cruze).  Even as early as 1912, the phrase was popularly connected to New York enough to be referenced in a Fort Wayne News article describing the city’s grand new gas plant that would also make it the city that never grew dark.

So it’s a bit of a surprise that the 1953 film of that name, starring Gig Young and Edward Arnold, referred not to NYC but to Chicago.  No other connection between The Windy City and that moniker seems to exist which may suggest that the film wasn’t the biggest box office smash of 1953.  If you are interested, two films tied that year for the biggest box office grosses.  They were The Robe and Peter Pan.  Reviews that I found were not very complimentary, calling it at best “whimsical” and at worst, “hardly more than adequate”.  So it’s not a memorable example of the noir genre of gritty realism, dirty urban settings, and despicable characters.  The story follows a cop who is weary with the world through which he wanders listlessly and planning to make a break to a new life (which the audience immediately knows is an act of shallowness that will haunt him should he act on his impulses).  As luck, or fate, would have it, his intended last night on the job turns out to lead him to self-realization (much like the far more noble George Bailey of It’s a Wonderful Life) and a reaffirmation of the seed of goodness that had been push down deep into his heart.

This season seems to be one time of year, no matter which of the seven major holidays are being celebrated, when redemption and forgiveness are traditionally looked to for the re-invigoration of tired hearts and souls.  That every story of this season has, as its villain, an unrepentant humbug  who must first learn to forgive himself so he can accept the forgiveness of others, shows the remarkable resilience of this theme in western culture and certainly in modern times.  Most of these antagonists are not evil but simply those who have forgotten what is important in life.  It is the nature and indeed the reason for this season to serve as a reminder of just that.  It is no mistake, I think, that the Christmas season begins with Thanksgiving, for how can we truly give and forgive without first understanding how thankful we must be for what we have?  Even George Bailey forgot how much he truly had because he became too wrapped up in what he had “lost”.

City That Never Sleeps may not be a great tale, but even in its mediocrity, it can serve to remind us that redemption is simply a matter of viewing life as a collection of gains rather than as a collection of losses.  Meaning cannot be imposed upon us as Ebeneezer Scrooge discovered; the ghosts of Christmas did nothing but to show him what was already all around him so that he, by his own volition, could discover what was inside.  The dark and gritty landscape of the big city may seem impossible to navigate, but in truth, everywhere you turn is a door behind which is a warm, well-lit room waiting to welcome and forgive.  And the first door, is always your own.

Merry Christmas.


Now go to sleep.


Poster Parodies for the Holidays #4: 2001

So far, this is my favorite of Tom Gale’s Christmas posters, which twists classic movie posters into a little something for the holidays.  In true form, Tom also makes you think — and his comments below have made me think so much, I’ll blog my own comments a little later.

Here’s Tom with a science fiction classic . . .

Somehow I managed to see Star Wars AFTER I saw Close Encounters of a Third Kind.  In fact the only reason I saw Star Wars was because Richard Burton’s Equus was sold out that night and Star Wars, which had been running forever by that time, was in the next theater and I thought, “What the heck.”  OK, so I almost missed being in on the biggest space movie craze of all time; but I had good reasons.  I was still heavily into science fiction at the time and felt, wrongly but honestly, that worthy films in the genre were the strictly serious ones.  It had all began, of course, with “2001: A Space Odyssey” a few years before.  Soon after it was “The Andromeda Strain”  then “Silent Running” sometime in the mid-seventies and finally “Close Encounters” just weeks before I encountered the Star Wars phenomena.  So I was wrong about “Star Wars” and thankful I was dragged in to see it on its first run.  But “2001 A Space Odyssey” still holds a special place in my heart as a uniquely disquieting and utterly beautiful “serious” movie experience.

I admit that Kubrick film, perhaps like my writing and accordion solos, is an acquired taste.  Slow going in many places to the point of torpidity, the film seems to crawl through vast distances of silence to a place that ultimately leaves us pondering the fact that the more we know the less we seem to understand.  I remember many people leaving the theater after “Space Odyssey” either a bit miffed or outright puzzled, “What the heck was THAT all about?”  But I had already read the book, so I went into the theater with an advantage and could settle back to just experience the film without having to make sense of it.  I already knew somewhat where it was going.  And so I settled back to enjoy the piece as spectacle and was simply bowled over.  On the big screen it was staggeringly beautiful and its slow pace was exactly what made it majestic and overwhelming.  Somewhat like “Koyaanisqatsi”, the stunning and somewhat impenetrable film scored by Philip Glass, “2001” is a movie that you sit back and soak up as an experience of sight and sound.  Leave the hustle bustle of life at the door; you can’t hurry through this one.

But if you take the time, “2001” is extremely satisfying.  And if you prefer your movies to have easier answers, then immediately after, watch Peter Hyman’s more accessible and faster paced sequel, “2010: The Year We Make Contact.”   It’s a completely different experience but it does fill in some gaps and has Roy Scheider and Helen Mirren who are always great to watch.

Of course this is a great metaphor for the season.  The holidays are not to be rushed or hurried through, even though that’s exactly what so many of us do.  If we want to get the most out of the season, we need to experience it like “2001”, slowly and thoughtfully, allowing the meaning of our celebration percolate through us and giving us time to savor and absorb.  So try to find some time to slow down this holiday and leave the daily travails outside the door.  Bundle up with your loved ones and watch “A Charlie Brown Christmas” then stick in “2001 a Space Odyssey.”  You can make a connection between the two if only you remember to keep focused on the stars.

Merry Christmas, 



Poster Parodies for the Holidays #3

I took a film class with Tom Gale back at ODU in the dim, dark ’70s, but I don’t remember seeing this film there.  Nevertheless, Tom has fond memories of it, and has had fun with the poster.  Here’s #3 in Tom’s Christmas poster parodies.

For most of us there are certain movies that you get to see only if you frequent thoughtful repertory movie theaters, happen to be a movie history geek, or take a couple of film appreciation courses at the local community college.  I saw “The Grand Illusion” while at Old Dominion University in the same film class where I saw “The Battleship Potemkin”, Ingmar Bergman’s “Persona”, “Women in Love” and a host of other unforgettable examples film as art.  The very fact that the common term for a film work is the diminutive “movie”, (a way of denigrating the status of something by making it sound childish and unimportant, like “talkie” or “techie”), suggests that on average we look to the cinema for light escapism rather than meaningful contemplation.  Of course there is not a thing wrong with great mindless entertainment as evidenced by the number of action and comedy flicks we have in our home DVD collection.  I like Bruce Willis too!  But it is a good practice every now and again to choose a film for an experience that involves us in the very best that cinema as an art form can achieve; make us ponder a larger reality and teach us something about ourselves.

Renoir’s “Grand Illusion” is a film that not only earns its reputation as serious cinema, but exists in modern form as an example of miraculous restoration luck.  The original negative, long considered lost to the destruction of World War Two, was still missing when Renoir himself helped remaster the film in the 50’s using available prints.  It was not until a film exchange between Russia and France in the mid-60’s did the original finally surface and was available to use for the most current Criterion remastering.  To watch the film in its contemporary format is to see it, as many were not able to, in as close to its original visual condition as possible.  If ever there was an argument for having a large screen TV, this is a great one.  

The poster, by the way, is not one of the few usually associated with the film.  I think it is from an Italian release of the film, but it is, in my opinion, the best of the posters, graphically.  Without this poster version, “The Grand Illusion” might have been overlooked for inclusion in this series.  That would have been a shame.  Please enjoy the review below found on the Rotten Tomatoes film review site where it enjoys a 97% fresh rating from reviewers and a 93% from viewers like you and me.

Perhaps this would make a perfect holiday gift for that special, thoughtful person in your life.  Who says a date movie has to be about romance?

Merry Christmas, 


“Perhaps the greatest anti-war film ever made.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Jean Renoir’s (“The Rules of the Game”) subdued masterpiece is perhaps the greatest anti-war film ever made (some might prefer All Quiet on the Western Front). Uncannily, “Illusion” never showed one battle scene as it reflects on the first Great War in Europe. The first foreign film to be nominated for a Best Picture Oscar is framed around a simple WW1 POW escape narrative, but it suggests a more careful look at how it’s also a pointed study of how upper class backgrounds, even in warring armies, offers a stronger bond of sympathy than even nationality. This is brought out through the deep regard the German commandant, Captain von Rauffenstein (Erich von Stroheim), had for his captive, the senior French officer, Captain de Boeldieu (Pierre Fresnay), also an aristocrat and career professional military man. 

The film offers a call for universal brotherhood and a plea for sanity in a world that doesn’t know how to settle things without going to war. There never has been a time of a lasting peace. The Grand Illusion title, one that can mean many things, most likely is derived from the illusionary nature of the war’s slogan that this was “The War to End All Wars.” It’s based on a true story of men Renoir knew when he was in the French Resistance, who told him of their escapes. 

Nazi propaganda minister Goebbels considered this film cinematic enemy number one, and tried to destroy all copies. Fortunately he didn’t succeed. The negative was taken during the German occupation of France in WWII and retaken when the Red Army seized Berlin. The Reds stored it in a hidden archive; several prints over the years were released. But it wasn’t until recently that it was put together as it was originally intended by Michel Rocher and Brigitte Dutray, who upgraded it through use of modern technology. Criterion put out a fine version on DVD. The version I saw was the updated one, which was recently on TCM.

In 1916 French pilot Lt. Maréchal (Jean Gabin) is ordered by his superior, Captain de Boeldieu, to fly with him on a reconnaissance mission to get aerial photos. They are shot down and captured by Captain von Rauffenstein and invited by him to a hospitable dinner. They are later transferred to a POW camp for officers in Germany. There they meet Lt. Rosenthal (Marcel Dalio), whose nouveau riche banking family sends him regularly food packages which he graciously shares with the others. The French prisoners are digging a hole for the last few months to escape. For relaxation they are allowed to put on a talent show and wear dresses. When Maréchal announces that the French captured the city of Douaumont, the prisoners take a break from their performances and in a grand patriotic gesture stand at attention and sing with pride “The Marseillaise.” Afterwards Maréchal tries to escape and is brought back to solitary; he’s released in time to be told that all the French officers are being transferred to another camp. When he tries to tell the British replacements about the tunnel, they don’t understand French.

The narrative picks up with Maréchal and Boeldieu, after many escape attempts in different POW camps, transferred to a camp where Rauffenstein is the commandant. He has been severely wounded in battle and can no longer be in the front, but to serve his country he reluctantly takes this new assignment he dismisses in confidence to Boeldieu as being only a policeman’s job. Rauffenstein is so fond of Boeldieu that he rooms him away from the other prisoners in his medieval castle and provides him companionship by also moving in Maréchal and Rosenthal. The later, Rauffenstein says, so they can eat properly. Rauffenstein treats de Boeldieu’s at his word, because he is an aristocrat, but doesn’t have the same respect for the working class auto mechanic Maréchal or the Jew Rosenthal. 

The trio hide a rope and scheme to escape, but Boeldieu tells Maréchal and Rosenthal he will stay behind and cover for them because the plan would not be possible for all three to escape together. During the escape the noble Boeldieu is shot by Rauffenstein, as he offers himself up as a sacrifice so the two could escape. Before he dies Boeldieu forgives Rauffenstein, saying he did his duty and he would have done the same thing if things were reversed. The war is seen as a changing view of the social order where, according to the German aristocrat, the working class man and the dirty Jew return to freedom while the aristocrat will not because he’s a member of a dying breed.

During their escape through the German wintry countryside, the two desperate and hungry men stumble upon an isolated farmhouse of a German war widow, whose hubby was killed in Verdun, Elsa (Dita Parlo) and her young daughter Lotte. Even though they don’t speak the same language Elsa and Maréchal fall in love, and make plans to meet after the war if he survives. The men in the last scene make it to safety in neutral Switzerland by crossing the invisible border in a mountain covered with snow.

REVIEWED ON 4/17/2005        GRADE: A+

Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”



Poster Parodies for the Holidays #2

From my friend, Tom Gale:

I haven’t actually seen this movie although I have seen a whole bunch of B grade science fiction disaster films in my day.  I grew up with them screening most Saturday afternoons along with The Outer Limits and The Twilight Zone.  It was all part of being a generation growing up inside the fear bubble of nuclear war.  I even had dreams of worldwide disaster; I’m sure many of us did.  The whole 50’s and early 60’s craze of science-run-amok films grew out of our fears of nuclear destruction.  Cinema is just a reflection of society’s angst at the moment.  And we had a lot to be afraid of in those days.  Today we have zombie films.  I’d tell you what part of our social consciousness they represent but then I would give away the heart of the doctoral dissertation I’m planning.  I’ll give you a hint though; it started when McDonald’s went global with their first overseas franchise in Australia.

Social comment aside, this movie may actually be worth watching and not just by scyfy freaks (who by the way can’t spell).  The movie review web site, Rotten Tomatoes gives the movie an 83% fresh rating by reviewers and a 70% by regular viewers.  That’s good enough for me to put in an extra dollar for some popcorn.

Read the review below if you want or just enjoy the second entry in this year’s holiday greetings.  Whatever you do DON’T FORGET TO CHECK THE WATER.

Merry Christmas.Tom

The Day the Earth Caught Fire

June 11th, 2004 by Doug Cummings 

I haven’t seen The Day After Tomorrow, and given its scathing reviews, I don’t intend to any time soon, but seeing Rialto’s new print of the original Godzilla (1954) last night (certainly a much smoother, dramatically coherent film than its American makeover), I found myself pondering end-of-the-earth films in general, and one my own favorite entries in the genre, Val Guest’s The Day the Earth Caught Fire (1961), in particular.

Available as a superb DVD from Anchor Bay (with a beautiful widescreen transfer and Guest commentary), the movie is an unusually literate and thematically nuanced genre film. Peter Stenning (a sardonic Edward Judd) is a reporter for a major London newspaper who tries to work through emotional turmoil as a result of his recent divorce. His fast-talking coworkers, in a milieu not unlike a Hawks picture, critique his new drinking habit and diminishing job performance while quietly cutting him some slack and offering help whenever they can. As Stenning navigates his inner life and begins a new relationship with a sympathetic but independent woman, Jeannie Craig (Janet Monro), the newspaper staff begins to piece together evidence regarding London’s dramatically-shifting weather patterns that point toward nuclear testing and imminent worldwide disaster.

Val Guest co-wrote and directed the film. He was a competent craftsman within the British studio system with his share of successes (the Quatermass series) and flops (When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth), but his early experience working in the London office of the Hollywood Reporter clearly must have inspired the authentic newsroom atmosphere in the film. The award-winning script was co-written by screenwriter/playwright Wolf Mankowitz, and the dialogue is surprisingly witty. When Stenning returns late to his office, his friend, science reporter Maguire (Leo McKern) sarcastically quips, “If you borrow my car at lunch, why bother to hurry back at 6:30?” “I saw my kid today,” Stenning muses. “She lets me see him from time to time, itís my legal right, you know.” Maguire nods, “Sandyís been screaming for you.” “Heís a nice kid, too,” Stenning continues, “remembered me after ten minutes.” Maguire proclaims, “The biggest experimental bang of all time is ten days old, but instead of being proud the public demands we stop it.” “Oh, I donít know,” Stenning shrugs, “the best science man on the street ought to be able to pull off a job like that. Make a trick film, maybe. Yeah, you know, the mushroom goes back into the bomb, the bomb goes back into the plane, which flies backwards over the task force, streaming back into the Antarctic.” “You better start climbing backwards to Sandyís office,” Maguire suggests.

But Guest also manages some visual flair. The film was shot in anamorphic widescreen, and the extended frame is always perfectly balanced with groups of people, city vistas, or detailed settings, whether bustling newsrooms, congested streets, or humid apartments. Although the film’s special effects aren’t particularly noteworthy, matte paintings and the incorporation of real London locations work to good atmospheric advantage (heavy rains buffet the windows; thick, unexpected fog wafts through the city; a raging hurricane crashes into the British coast). Guest also cleverly incorporates stock footage to depict floods and meteorological disasters worldwide. The visual style of the film is straightforward and classical, but each scene is rendered with a great degree of realism and sense of place.

The disaster genre is not generally known for its insights into characters or its clever dialogue, but The Day the Earth Caught Fire is an admirable exception. Its attention to the inner and outer lives of its protagonists makes its physical doom an externalized metaphor for Stenning’s personal life, off-kilter and spinning out of control, both fates equally weighted between hope and despair. My advice for those seeking end-of-the-world entertainment? Skip the multiplex this weekend and rent this intelligent and bittersweet film, fully deserving of a rediscovery.


Poster Parodies for the Holidays #1

Every year around this time, I start getting a series of emails from an old college bud who’s now in Tampa. Tom Gale, theatrical artisitic director non pareil, usually takes classic pieces of art, Photoshops in a Christmas tree, has maniacal fun with Goya or Picasso or Gainsborough, and makes me laugh.

This year, he’s changing things up.  Merry Christmas from Tom and from me.  I’ll be presenting his works as I receive them, and there should be twelve this year, one for each day of Christmas…

So this year will mark a serious departure from the last seven years of Famous Artists Holiday Greetings for a number of reasons.  In no particular order I have very little spare time this year for either imaging or background research.  I have, for reasons of my own, been browsing through books about famous and infamous movies.  This year I’ve spent a lot of time designing posters and fliers both big and small.  And lastly, and perhaps most importantly, my principal source book, The Annotated Mona Lisa, has just about fallen apart and I can’t yet afford a new copy.

So instead of witty, hip, and topical parodies of famous works of art twisted into idiosyncratic and edgy holiday greeting ecards, this year you will be receiving witty, hip, and topical parodies of famous movie posters twisted into idiosyncratic and edgy holiday greeting ecards.  Wow.  Big difference. 

Don’t expect any deeply considered reviews or comparisons with other films or riffs on why the film did or did not make it onto AFI’s top 100 films or Leonard Maltin’s 100 Must See Movies List or really any list at all.  Frankly, as Tommy Lee Jones said so well in The Fugitive, “I don’t care.”  I expect the cards will stand on their own (at least they will if you print them out on heavy card stock and put a crease down the center) and if they make you chuckle or think then great.  If they make you go see the movie in question or rent the DVD, even better.  I am copying these to all the appropriate studios with a self addressed stamped envelope (who else would I get to address my envelope?) so they can send me royalty checks against all increased sales and viewings of these films due to the influence of my greetings.  My business plan is modeled after the current plan for reducing the national debt and lifting the country out of its recession.  I also just told Eric that his allowance won’t go up for the next two years. 

Be that as it may, I hope that these e-greetings will spread a little of the joy, wonder, and bemusement of the season.  The heck with the Christmas Parade in NYC or black Friday in October, this marks the TRUE start of the holiday season.  The best is yet to come.  

Happy Holidays.



Still Hungover from Christmas

No, not from all the alcohol — just hungover from from all the goodness and light of the Christmas season.  It’s like the aftermath of a diabetic coma — two months of carols and tinkling bells coming out of  loudspeakers in stores, doctors’ offices, car radios, toilets, my fillings…  I saw the neighborhood’s first Christmas tree lit up and twinkling on Nov. 1.  Then the planning, getting lists and ideas for everyone in your family, and the shopping, and the money.  Then came The Blizzard, which seriously cut into all our shopping time, so much so that all we could do in Richmond was stay home while Christmas music blared through Digital Cable and gorge ourselves on chocolate, and peppermints, Christmas candies and gingerbread while Yankee Candles flickered, scenting the house with cinnamon and snow (snow has a scent?).

Christmas Eve took us over the river, through the woods and eighty miles down the Interstate to Grandma’s house.  First, a little stopover to see Fran and Uncle Charles and savor the Christmas joy, wonder, and the noise and madness that comes with friends and families that have a lot of twenty-somethings in them.  Then we played the Money Game (that was a new one to me, but we played, and we won, thank you Unc!); then it was Grandma and the inlaws.  No Money Game there, but we had some good food, some good laughs, and the beer was cold, thanks to my bro-in-law.

The next day we hauled our exhausted asses out of bed and made the forty-mile trek through the rain to the winter wonderland of West Point, where Maria’s youngest sis hosted us all for dinner and presents in the land of Smurfit-Stone.  More music.  More madness.  Gifts all around.  The wine flowed from Bob and Kim.  Wrapping paper was sent hurtling across the room to smack nephews in the face.  Turkey.  Two types of ham.  Spaghetti.  A Christmas Story on TV.  More digital carols playing.  A conservative political discussion going on in one room, while I toyed with the idea of spreading liberal philosophy to the kids.  Evil Uncle Rusty!

We left at three, after I kicked ass at Texas Hold ‘Em and took home a whopping $15.  The drive home was too long and it was too late.  We slept in Saturday and did nothing.  At all.  Pretty much the same thing today.  Too full.  Too exhausted.  Too…blah.

A two-day hangover.  The most wonderful time of the year.  363 days to go…