It’s been a busy Christmas season for me so far. Somehow Dana has been to, what seems like, half a dozen more parties than me. And I only recently got to do the thing where you fight the crowds at the mall and do some last-minute shopping. So how have I kept the Christmas spirit this year? By watching whatever Hollywood has produced on the subject! So what I’d like to do is rather than list off for you my favorite Christmas movies, I will list for you my favorite Christmas movie performances (yes, in some of my favorite Christmas movies). One major qualification for my list: it had to be made in my lifetime. Sorry, all you fans of It’s a Wonderful Life and Miracle on 34th Street.
Here are my top 5 favorite performances, in reverse order:
5. Hart Bochner in Die Hard, as Harry Ellis
Yeah it’s an R-rated film, but I’m referring to the milder more family-friendly TNT edited version. You might be asking yourself “wait, Die Hard is a Christmas movie?” You bet it is. Haven’t you heard “Christmas in Hollis” by Run-DMC? Straight out of Die Hard. There are Christmas songs throughout the whole movie. So what’s so great about Hart Bochner’s appearance in Die Hard? He’s a greasy salesman from LA, trying to schmooze his way out of a terrorist hijacking.
His best lines:
“Hey babe, I negotiate million dollar deals for breakfast. I think I can handle this Eurotrash.”
“Business is business. You use a gun, I use a fountain pen. What's the difference?”
4. TIE: Zooey Deschanel in Elf, as Jovie (Will Ferrel’s love interest) and Faizon Love in Elf, as the Gimbel store manager
Why these two? Well, the whole point of Elf was to take a big dorky human-elf (Will Ferrel) and put him into as normal a New York environment as possible. Deschanel and Love provided that, and more than compensated for a lackluster James Caan. With Deschanel as the weirded-out co-worker and Love as the high-energy boss, you get thrown right onto a department store retail team trying to keep up with all the insanity that comes during Christmas.
And since we’re already cramming two actors where there should only be one recognized, let me also acknowledge what a hilarious elf Bob Newhart made. And did anyone else notice a grown-up Peter Billingsley from A Christmas Story as one of the elves in the North Pole? Watch for him next time.
3. Chevy Chase in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, as Clark Griswold
This one’s kind of a no-brainer. Sort of obligatory, even. Chevy Chase was limited, even in his prime. I’m not sure he had anything to offer outside of Mr. Griswold and Fletch, but he sure was good at those two characters. Anyway, here’s to Clark Griswold: a dad who just wanted his family’s Christmas vacation to go perfectly. Clark held the torch as the idiot dad until Homer Simpson took that role in a, well, cartooney direction.
2. Patrick Stewart in A Christmas Carol, as Ebenizer Scrooge
I had to reserve room for at least one serious entry. Patrick Stewart’s A Christmas Carol is the best version for those who want to be placed right into Charles Dickens’ short story without actually reading the book. Stewart is always good, and delivers a passionate version of Ebenizer Scrooge. He makes Scrooge’s transformation feel real, to the point where you actually believe that a man that’s been this cranky for so long kind of doesn’t quite know how to be jolly. Good for viewing once a year.
1. Darren McGavin in A Christmas Story, as the Dad
Arguably the best Christmas movie of all, and having seen it recently again through the eyes of a father, I appreciate the performance of the late Darren McGavin. The Leg incident, haggling over the price of a ratty pine tree, the tire changing scene, the furnace, and the Bumpus hound dogs. Admiring the totality of McGavin’s scenes reminds me of an old Jerry Seinfeld bit about how men are superheroes in their own little world. McGavin takes occasional breaks from his superhero endeavors to do some fathering, and by the end of the movie IS the hero that makes his kid’s Christmas dream come true. I believe that I have literally watched this movie, at least in parts, every year since it came out in the early 80’s. I cannot envision a Christmas in my future where I won’t watch some of it.
Posted by dana at 11:02 AM
On Friday, the kids and I took the train downtown for a little family outing. We met Casey at his work, where a party and decor were fully in season. We let the kids run around:
We tossed around the Earth:Played with little dogs:
And went for an adventure outdoors:
We walked over to the new LA Live at the Nokia Plaza (right next door to Staples Center). It's a new downtown "hotspot" with restaurants, clubs, live music, bowling, and theaters. Since we were there at 5:15pm, not much was happening. But it looked cool:
and there was a small band, a la School of Rock, getting ready to perform. They were the cutest little kids!
Lucy ooohed and ahhhed and probably wanted to climb up on stage:
She got to ride on Dad's shoulder's instead:
Taking the train and hanging downtown makes me forget that we sorta live in the suburbs (if Pasadena can be called that).
We then took the train back home but stopped in Old Town for dinner and dessert. A place I've always seen and never tried:
The food was so-so. The tacos were the best part. And Owen got to roam free, playing with Christmas decor, so we were all happy:
After dinner, Squeeze and Scoop yogurt!Lucy ate 4 sample cups:
Owen went clubbin:
And we had a crazy ride home to Sierra Madre station.
Posted by dana at 5:10 PM
I've never had the perfect "go to" soup recipe....until this one. My friend Krista sent it to me and I think I'm in love. I've made it three times in the past month. And since there's bacon involved, my husband loves it too. The only fat in the soup is a couple Tbls of bacon grease; but no added cream or butter. So don't feel bad indulging in this bowl. Of course it's even yummier with homemade bread.
POTATO CORN SOUP
6 slices bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/3 cup flour (if soup is too runny when you're done, add more flour to a small amount of water and then add to the soup)
2 cans (14 oz each) reduced-sodium chicken broth
4 medium-sized Red potatoes (diced into small cubes)
1 package frozen corn kernels (sweet white corn is best)
1/2 tsp dried Thyme
1 cup milk
salt and ground pepper
In a large pot, cook bacon over medium-low, stirring occasionally, until crisp (8-10 min). Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. You will use the left-over grease for the soup. Since fat content varies with bacon brands, you'll only need appx 2 Tbl of the grease for the soup. Additional grease beyond that can be discarded.
Add flour to the bacon grease, stirring constantly for 30 seconds. Add broth and potato, bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer. Cook till potato is tender, stirring regularly (about 7-8 min; potatoes taste best when slightly al dente and will continue to cook as you add the remaining ingredients). Add corn, thyme, and milk. Bring to a boil and simmer for a few minutes, stirring regularly. Remove from heat. Season with salt and pepper. Serve topped with bacon.
Another busy (but yummy) week. With different Christmas get-togethers going on, I baked 15 dozen cookies, 2 dozen cupcakes, and made two trifles. And I have two more Cookie parties this coming week!
I sewed this little skirt for Ava. More info here.
I took pictures of these cute people:
Our wonderful friends Lyndsey and Brandon spread Christmas cheer our way on Saturday and watched the kids all night while we saw Australia. I really enjoyed it. Casey thought it was "good". It's very long (3 hours). But Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman work well together, there's drama, comedy, and action (something for everybody), it was cool to see Baz Luhrman do something a little different than Moulin Rouge and Romeo and Juliette, and bascially, all the shots are beautiful and amazing like this:
On Sunday we had a double birthday party for Owen and his sweet cousin Ava, who share the same birthday. Since Owen turned Uno, we went with the classic card game theme for the party. I made him this fun shirt and pants. More info here.
Camille decorated the table with colorful balloons, bright fabric and UNO cards:
For dessert, UNO cupcakes:
and a Wow Wow Wubbzy cake. Laura did a great job decorating and Ava loved it:
The kids were real funny with the presents and mostly enjoyed the bags and tissue paper that the gifts came in. And of course Lucy thought everything was for her. She's really going to enjoy Christmas this year.
Ava got a coloring book from Aunt Karen and the two girls sat on the table to try it out:We sang Happy Birthday to the two kiddos and gave Owen a whirl with a cupcake. He was NOT interested:
The whole group:The girls discovered Gram's Christmas village and had fun for a 1/2 hour. Thankfully nothing was broken:And of course we finished the night with a round of Speed Uno. Yes, Meredith has pink hair. And yes, Bryan and Dad are making the same face.Fun night and busy week! The Christmas fun has only just begun...
Posted by dana at 7:07 PM