Thursday, September 5, 2013

So I'm a Fangirl -- So What?

Les Miserables premiered on HBO last Saturday, and as I get virtually every premium channel thanks to my cable company screwing up my installation and my roommate complaining enough, I have watched it at least five times since then. I saw it in theaters, of course, but months after it came out, and I went before noon so I could get the matinee price at AMC. I cried, of course, but I cry at everything, so that's no big revelation. I enjoyed the cast's performance at the Oscars, and I listened to the soundtrack once or twice on Spotify. But I didn't buy it on DVD, nor do I own the soundtrack, and my sudden desire to completely devour this movie isn't necessarily because I'm a fan of the movie (though I do enjoy it) or musicals (though I am), but more so because all of a sudden I realized how awesome Aaron Tveit is. Which of course has led to repeated viewings of the movie (seriously, it'll come on one HBO and then the west coast version of that channel and I'll watch it again) and many listens of the soundtrack. Which led to tracking down the soundtracks to Next to Normal and Catch Me If You Can and watching multiple videos on YouTube of Aaron in Wicked and Hairspray and Rent. And his album comes out tomorrow. And I'll end up watching Graceland.

But I guess not everyone feels this way? I have friends who don't understand how I can read a book more than once, let alone 8000 times like Harry Potter. People question why I saw a movie multiple times in the theater, though granted I've done that for some questionable films. Even my family members roll their eyes when I start talking about things like how the Teen Wolf fandom exploded when Brittany Snow's birthday pictures got hacked and released without her permission.

I can tell that they think I'm weird, and they're wondering when I'm going to stop being a freak and start being normal.

This is what I do. Always. Whenever I "discover" something, whenever I become a fan of something, I can't just like it. I have to know everything about it. I know that casual fans exist -- people who can just watch a television show and don't become overly invested in the characters or the cast. I am not a casual fan. I never have been. And people may not understand why I get so into something, but I don't understand how you can NOT get into something.

If I'm a fan of an actor, odds are I've seen everything he or she has ever done, even the shitty movies. (Do you have any idea how many times I've seen Hall Pass simply for Tyler Hoechlin's 10+ minutes of screen time? Oh my god, have you SEEN Grizzly Rage?) I set up Google alerts so that any time they're mentioned anywhere I can find out about it. I know their birthday and their favorite color and if I find out they're going to be in NYC I try to figure out how I can "casually" bump into them even though to this date it has never worked.

I go through phases. I'll refer to a movie and go, "That was during my Josh Hartnett phase," which is why I saw The Faculty a ridiculous amount of times or actually got Pearl Harbor on DVD (even though I've yet to actually watch the DVD).

If I'm a fan of a television show, odds are I've seen every episode multiple times. I could probably quote entire seasons to you if given enough time. I own it on DVD and have it on my computer so that I can easily make graphics. I probably own a few t-shirts devoted to it, much like the Weeping Angels shirt I am currently sporting. I spend more time discussing the lives of the characters than I do people I actually know. I will get into passionate arguments as to why Merlin and Arthur were totally in love. I have written fanfiction and made shipper videos.

Thanks to the internet (particularly Livejournal and Tumblr), I know that I'm not alone. We're called fangirls, and people tend to look down on us and dismiss the entire group as hyperactive, overemotional teenagers, even though a lot of us are none of those things. Because there are some people who do creepy things, like actually stalk the actors instead of just joking about it, or Tweet them weird things, or hack their photo accounts and post their personal pictures without permission. They bully other fans for various reasons and they generally act like huge shits, and so "fangirl" has a negative connotation.

Being a fangirl (or fanboy) isn't a bad thing, but people act like it is. I don't get it. People who tell others "it's just a TV show" usually have something they're super into that they probably wouldn't appreciate other people dismissing. What's so wrong with liking things? So I like to talk about a relationship that probably won't happen between people who don't really exist instead of politics. It doesn't mean I don't know about politics. I just don't want to talk about it.

People tend to think that those of us who fangirl and devote our time and attention to fake relationships and fake people aren't intelligent. Anyone who thinks that hasn't been talking to the right people or read any decent meta. Or maybe they have spoken to these people, and written off their analyses as something that isn't important. And perhaps a treatise as to why it's obvious that Derek and Stiles interacted over Teen Wolf's four-month time jump isn't as important as, say, the current political situation in Syria. But I don't understand why people having interests, and wanting to discuss those interests with others who have the same interests, is such a bad thing. Who cares if it's a television show?

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Review: The Internship

If you follow me at all on social media (and you should, I'm hilarious), you'll know that I have been ridiculously excited about the new Vince Vaughn/Owen Wilson collaboration, The Internship. The primary reason for my excitement is Dylan O'Brien (Stuart), because I am a huge Teen Wolf fan, and Dylan is going to have an amazing career. I have been anxiously awaiting the opening of this film, to be able to see Dylan on the big screen for the first time First Time.

Yesterday I managed to score tickets to an advance screening of the film in honor of New York City's Internet Week, something I hadn't even heard of until I showed up at the theater and people were wearing badges. Josh Brener (Lyle) introduce the movie, which was pretty damn cool, as Lyle ended up being one of my favorite characters. (He didn't stick around after, so I couldn't congratulate him on his performance. Bummer.)

I'm going to be honest, my expectations for this movie weren't that high. I was going to see it regardless, because of Dylan. I don't know why I wasn't expecting much, because I really liked Wedding Crashers, which is the last movie Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn did together. I was very pleasantly surprised, because it was much better than I thought it would be. You know how a lot of times, with comedies, they use the best jokes in the trailer, and then the rest of the movie is just kind of lame, because you already saw the best jokes in the trailer? This is not the case with The Internship. I actually think they used the dumbest jokes in the trailer. (For example, Lyle going for a fist bump and requesting the Vince and Owen "fist him".) There were a lot of smarter jokes, though -- internet and fandom and nerd jokes and references that, as a nerd, I really appreciated. (I think I was the only person in the audience who reacted to the Game of Thrones reference.)

There's even an entire scene focused on Quidditch. I don't think you understand how much I freaked out when I learned that they play Quidditch in the movie. My friends have a Quidditch team, I sometimes play pickup Quidditch with them, and when "regular" people find out they give me a look like I'm nuts. So I was eager to see it portrayed on the big screen. Also, Dylan O'Brien playing Quidditch is the sexiest fucking thing I have ever seen. Ever. I have some nitpicks about the actual play (no one had any set positions, and they didn't have enough for a full team) but overall they portrayed it fairly accurately. Also, IT'S QUIDDITCH. IN A BIG STUDIO MOVIE.

The supporting cast did an amazing job. They were appropriately multi-ethnic and just weird enough that you can see why they were the "leftovers" when the interns were asked to divide into groups. Lyle tries to be cool but falls drastically short. Homeschooled Yo-Yo (Tobit Raphael) has a tendency to pluck his eyebrows as punishment for failure. Neha (Tiya Sircar) is full of false bravado and a dirty imagination. Stuart puts on an "I'm too cool for everything" act and cloaks his insecurities in sarcasm. But Billy (Vaughn) and Nick (Wilson) inspire them to come together as a team to complete the required challenges that are part of the internship program.

Billy and Nick's main obstacle is overcoming the generational gap between them and their twenty-something teammates. That's the hook of the movie, after all -- two relics from a bygone era are forced to fight for jobs in a world that they know absolutely nothing about. They're allowed to enter the internship program because of their life and career experience, but once in they actually have to keep up. That's the real challenge they face. It's a great message, that you can teach old dogs new tricks.

However, it isn't enough that they have to deal with their own shortcomings, so the film gives you a physical antagonist in the form of Graham (Max Minghella), a stuck-up douche with little to no redeeming qualities, who makes it his mission to taunt and destroy Billy and Nick's rag-tag team despite the fact that none of them ever did anything to him. It's not just that he's out to win one of the coveted jobs (the winning team of interns are offered jobs at the end of the program), because he doesn't seem to give a crap about the other teams.

There is a love story, which thankfully takes a backseat. As I said, the film is about Billy and Nick and how they reintegrate themselves into a society and culture that makes no sense to them, so the relationship between Wilson and Rose Byrne (whose character's name I can't remember, and try finding a cohesive character list for this movie, yeesh) is secondary. There is a really great scene where they have their one and only date, which he got by convincing her that she could get a decade's worth of bad decisions over with in one night. She's upset when he's actually charming, because he's supposed to be a jerk -- so then he starts being a (very convincing) jerk to make up for it.

The Internship is a good movie. It's a feel-good movie that teaches people that hard work and dedication can pay off if you stick with it, but also plays up the importance of connecting with people and working as a team. It was really funny, more so than it may seem in the trailer (and I just rewatched the trailer and there are a lot of scenes in it that aren't in the film, like the ping-pong match and the Rubik's Cube competition, what's up with that?), and I think a lot of you are going to enjoy it. If you're a fan of Dylan O'Brien you're going to REALLY enjoy it, because he was fantastic.

On a personal note, I may be in a commercial for the movie. You know how sometimes they have commercials where they show audience reactions? They interviewed us afterwards for one of those. I'm pretty excited about the prospect.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Review: Star Trek Into Darkness

If anyone ever tells you that spending too much time on Twitter is a bad thing, remember this: thanks to Twitter, I got to see Star Trek: Into Darkness ten days early. And it was GLORIOUS. I won tickets in a contest over Twitter and attended a private industry screening on Tuesday. I'm telling you this in hopes you'll forget my six-month absence from this blog. How did I do?

I will do my best to be spoiler-free in this review, but I don't know how well I'll stick to it, so this is your warning that there may be spoilers so you may want to proceed with caution.

Here's the thing: I love Star Trek. I do. And there are probably tons of little things about Into Darkness that I could rag on for this or that reason but the fact is that it was epic and awesome and even though I had to pee throughout virtually the entire movie, I didn't realize it. This movie made me forget that I had to pee. Glowing praise right there. It's about two hours and fifteen minutes, but it didn't feel like it at all.

I saw it in IMAX 3D. I am not a fan of 3D in general and ordinarily I would not choose to see it in that format, but this was a free screening so I wasn't going to complain. It is not necessary to see this movie in 3D. Other than a few sight gags at the beginning (I did actually flinch as an arrow fired at McCoy seemed to fly right at my face), the 3D didn't really add to the movie at all. If you want to see it in 3D, if you love 3D, then of course do what you want, but my recommendation is that if you don't really care, save your money and see the regular version. It's not going to be any less awesome.

This is the second Star Trek reboot movie, and as such, there were echoes of the original second Star Trek movie, Wrath of Khan. There's a scene in one of the trailers that sent people into fits because of the throwback -- if you've seen Wrath of Khan, you know which scene I'm talking about (there are hands involved). Yes, it's just as incredible as you hoped it would be, and yes, you should definitely bring tissues. There's also another, bigger one. I won't ruin it for those who don't know, but if you do know what I'm talking about, what I'm talking about. (Who you thought he was? He is.)

Some of you probably want to know about Benedict Cumberbatch. In a word: chilling. There's a scene near the end where he does this thing, and it seriously freaked me out. He's so cold and calculating when he speaks, and then he fights, and you need to get the hell away from him or die. Just ask the Klingons. (Yes, there are Klingons! Yes, Uhura speaks to them in Klingon, and she's not generally my cup of tea, but Zoe Saldana speaking in Klingon is sexy as hell.)

A lot of the focus in the movie is on the big three: Kirk, Spock, and that guy played by Benedict. They get much of the action, although the opening sequence throws in some McCoy -- and he and new crew member Carole Marcus get a scene that's pretty dramatic -- and Scotty gets some great lines (if you've seen the preview clip where he calls Kirk Captain Perfect Hair), as well as Uhura's awesome Klingon-speak.

There is plenty of action and drama and suspense and humor, and since it's a JJ Abrams movie there are lens flares for all. There will be laughs and tears and gasps galore. Is this movie going to win awards? Probably not, except maybe an MTV Movie Award. Is this movie going to entertain the crap out of you? Yes. Yes, it is. You should all be prepared to have your socks sufficiently rocked.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Review: Warm Bodies (5 Things You Can Expect)

Last night I attended a special advance preview screening of Warm Bodies, the movie (based on a book) that people are calling "Twilight with zombies" possibly because none of these people have seen or read either. The only similarity between Warm Bodies and Twilight is that the girl is 100% human and the guy is not.

This is your warning for possible spoilers. It's a book, and it's a book that's been out a while, but whatever, if you don't want to spoiled, you might not want to read this. I'm just saying.

Warm Bodies, based on the novel by Isaac Marion, takes place in post-apocalyptic America, where unknown circumstances have caused part of the population to turn into zombies. As is the case with most zombie lore, if you're bitten by a zombie, you turn into a zombie, but unlike most of the fare, these zombies apparently still retain a bit of their humanity, as evidenced by the main character (and narrator), R (Nicholas Hoult). His name is R because all that he remembers about his pre-zombie existence is that his name started with "r". He is able to think, and occasionally speak, but most of the other zombies that join him in his daily airport wanderings are not.

(It's important to note that there are two different kinds of zombies. There are the "corpses", like R, the ones who still look like people. And then there are the Bonies, who are corpses who have just given up and become these skeletal predators who eat anything with a heartbeat.)

One day while out hunting with his best friend, M (Rob Corddry), and others, they run into a group of humans from "behind the wall", who are on a supply run in the unguarded city. R has a moment with Julie (Teresa Palmer), our heroine, in that he is momentarily stunned at the sight of her, before he attacks and kills Perry (Dave Franco), Julie's boyfriend, and eats his brain -- and therefore his memories. Perry's memories seem to make him extra protective of Julie, and instead of killing her, he covers her with his blood, masking her scent from the others, and brings her back to the airport.

The rest of the movie revolves around Julie and R's burgeoning relationship and the change it's causing in R -- and eventually the others. But whereas R wants to keep Julie at the airport with him, she wants to return behind the wall to her father (John Malkovich), the leader of what is possibly the only human settlement left on the planet.

So here are 5 things that you can expect from Warm Bodies:

1. Zombie violence.

You think this is pretty self-explanatory, but as I was reading the warning on my ticket, I kept going, "Zombie violence? How is that different from regular violence?" Well, the difference is, they're zombies. So there's biting, and brain eating, and though none of it is too graphic, the very squeamish might want to look away during some scenes, especially when you learn about Bonies near the beginning and witness someone becoming one.

2. Humor.

It's narrated by a zombie, after all, who has a very realistic outlook on his current circumstances. The humor lies mostly in R's voiceovers, which make him sound like a completely normal person until you look at the screen and you realize he's, you know, eating someone's brain. One particular moment that really got the audience laughing was when he's trying to pass as human, and he tells himself to "say something human", and he says, "How are you?" and then goes, Nailed it.

Points must also go to Julie's best friend, Nora (Analeigh Tipton), who plays a small role in the beginning that gets larger at the end, because she's just awesome.

3. Romance.

It's billed as a "zombie romance", hence all the Twilight comparisons, because the main plot point is that R is slowly becoming more and more human through his interactions with Julie. It's got one of those "love conquers all" themes that some people might find ridiculous but in this sense kind of works, because R and his friends still look human, as opposed to the Bonies, who are beyond all help.

4. Kickass soundtrack.

R is a hoarder, and one of the things he collects is vintage vinyl records, because he's a purist and the sound quality is better, as he explains to Julie when she asks why doesn't just get an iPod. He sits on his abandoned plane full of random crap that he brings back after hunting trips and listens to his albums like the sad sack hipster zombie that he is.

5. Kickass characters.

And by "kickass", I mean they kick ass. Julie's affect on R starts spreading to the rest of the Corpses, and this causes a huge chain reaction that culminates in a gigantic battle at the end. R is a pretty awesome fighter, which apparently is par for the course when you become a zombie, but Julie is no slouch either. She shoots moving targets while on the run in a scene that made me excited just because she wasn't the typical damsel in distress. Every time R saves Julie from the zombies, it's because she's quite literally surrounded, but she's still attempting to fight them off with whatever she can find, like weed whackers.

I haven't read the book, so I can't make any comparisons (although I can tell from the Wikipedia summary of the book's plot that there are differences, so be aware of that), but I can tell you, as someone with no previous knowledge and as such no expectations, that this movie was funny and touching, and there were points in the movie where the audience actually cheered. I really enjoyed this movie, and will probably go again when it officially gets released in February.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Downton Abbey Goes Downtown


This photo of Downton Abbey cast members Rob James-Collier (Thomas), Hugh Bonneville (Lord Grantham), Sophie McShera (Daisy), Joanne Froggatt (Anna), and Brendan Coyle (Bates) was taken at the 59th St -- Columbus Circle subway station in good old New York City. AKA the subway station I use every day on my way to and from work, the subway station from which I am approximately 10 blocks away at this very moment.

The cast, along with Elizabeth McGovern (Lady Grantham) and Jim Carter (Mr. Carson), are in town to promote season 3 of the beloved ITV drama, which premieres on PBS January 6, 2013 (x). PBS is hosting a sneak preview, featuring a special panel and discussion, in preparation for the debut. The event is tomorrow, December 12, at 7:30pm, at a location I know not where (unfortunately), but fear not, fellow Anglophiles! It is also being livestreamed here at PBS's YouTube channel. (FYI: The livestream of the panel start at 8pm, following the sneak peek.)

The cast are also appearing on tomorrow's episode of The View (x).

Monday, December 10, 2012

A Pressing Engagement: At New York Comic Con

Yes, New York Comic Con was almost two months ago. No, I do not have a good or even semi-decent excuse as to why it's taken me this long to write about it, unless being a lazy procrastinator counts.

This year I was able to register as press, which was excellent for a number of reasons, but primarily because members of the press get in free, and even though passes to NYCC are less than $100, I have been financially strapped since getting back from San Diego in July. Being press also means that you're able to interview the guests without seeming like a total creeper, although this isn't something that's just handed to you -- you actually have to work and get yourself on those lists. (Don't laugh, as someone who has never been press for anything, I didn't realize you had to do that yourself. After all, DC called me, I was kind of expecting that to be how things worked. Though to be honest, the only people I wanted to interview were the two people for whom I actually was able to get in the press room, Tyler Posey and Jeff Davis from Teen Wolf.)

Having gone to NYCC the previous two years as a regular ticket-holder -- not one of the fancy VIP passes that cost several hundred dollars and are well out of my price range, especially considering in 2010 and 2011 I was unemployed -- to be honest, being press wasn't all that different of an experience. Other than, you know, the getting in free and getting to interview Tyler Posey and Jeff Davis.

NYCC is primarily a fan-oriented convention, as I'm sure most conventions are. Press pass holders are not guaranteed anything except entry. We get a special entrance, which means I didn't have to wait in the massive line every morning (except I still did, because the Javits Center is under construction and there's not much room for queuing up outside). The convention center opened at 10am, so 10am is when I showed up, and more often than not, I was able to walk right in with minimal fuss. I did, however, on Saturday (by far the busiest day of the convention), have to listen to numerous exhibitors piss and moan about having to wait in line with the rest of us, continually going, "I'm an exhibitor, let me through!" only to hear the person they were trying to line jump in front of going, "I'm an exhibitor, too, douchebag, wait in line like everyone else." Ah, New York.

As being press does not guarantee anything, I too had to wait in line for entry into the panel rooms, getting there early if I wanted a good seat. For the 12:15 Teen Wolf panel on Saturday, I lined up as soon as I was able to get inside the Javits. And I still ended up in the fourth row. (But that's okay because 1) I still had a pretty decent, relatively unobstructed view of both the screen and the guests, and 2) I got to interview them later anyway.) I still count myself lucky I was able to get into Friday's Robot Chicken panel, an NYCC staple that is consistently extremely popular, even if the questions asked by fans are always exactly the same.

Those in the press don't even receive preferential seating. If I got to a panel room late -- as in the case of FOX's new show The Following, which is the show Kevin Bacon was promoting when I met him at SDCC -- I have to scramble for a seat wherever I can get it. Most of the regular ticket holders were pleased when I mentioned this, although I don't see the harm in saving at least one row of seats for members of the press. They don't have to be front row center, but somewhere close enough that you can see what's going on. Studios send their current and upcoming projects to conventions not only to interact with fans, but also to spread the word, and the easiest way to spread the word is through the press, and the easiest way the press can spread the word is to be able to get into the panel in the first place.

The only "press" thing I did at the convention was, as previously mentioned, interview Tyler Posey and Jeff Davis from Teen Wolf, which was by far one of the coolest things I have ever done. I contacted the MTV press people a couple of days before the convention and expressed interest in being included on the list into the press room, assuming that little old me with my Flip and myself would be seated at one of the round tables. Imagine my surprise when they instead stuck me on the press line! I got approximately three minutes with each, three minutes all to myself, three minutes that I had to fill up with questions when I had absolutely nothing prepared, assuming that I'd be at a round table and get maybe one question in. I think I did rather well, considering that it was my first time, although I felt like a gigantic idiot and fretted about the interviews the rest of the day, until I was able to post them. (My interview with Tyler was even turned into a .gifset on Tumblr. I feel like that's a sign of acceptance.) I have new respect for people who do this on a regular basis, although they're probably used to it in a way that I am not.

It is my wish that I will one day be able to do this on a regular basis and not be a total goober about it. Will I be able to attend as press next year? Here's hoping!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

The 10 Christmas Specials I Must Watch Every Year

Everyone (who celebrates Christmas) has their own traditions. One of mine is the required annual viewing of some key holiday movies and specials. I present to you, in no particular order, the 10 Christmas Specials I Must Watch Every Year.

1. A Muppet Family Christmas


If you were a child in the 80s, you might remember this NBC special that was made of awesome, which featured Fozzie bringing the cast of The Muppet Show to visit his mom for the holidays, not realizing that she has rented her house to Fraggle Rock's Doc and Sprocket so she can go to California. Later on, the gang from Sesame Street comes a-wassailing, even though Fozzie's mom's house in the country is probably not within walking distance of Manhattan. The 7-minute carol medley at the end of the show is superb. If you were a 5-year-old in the 80s, like I was when this aired in 1987, this is the most fantastic hour of television in the history of time. 

And speaking of the Muppets...

2. A Muppet Christmas Carol


The Muppets come together to tell Charles Dickens' classic A Christmas Carol, with the Great Gonzo as Dickens and Rizzo as someone just there for the (sometimes fake) food. Before Michael Caine was Alfred, he was Ebenezer Scrooge, haunted by Marley and Marley (aka Statler and Waldorf) and harassing poor Kermit Bob Cratchit. At least three of the songs in this musical are on my Christmas playlist, with "One More Sleep 'Til Christmas" endlessly repeating on Christmas Eve. I saw this bad boy in theaters.

And while we're still talking about Muppets...

3. Christmas Eve on Sesame Street


Even though Oscar hates Christmas (he's got a song about it and everything!) the entire Sesame Street gang comes together to look for Big Bird when he attempts to uncover the mystery of how big fat Santa fits into all those skinny chimneys, especially in chimney-less Manhattan. Bert and Ernie's side-plot, with each of them trading their most treasured possessions in order to get the other a Christmas present begs the question how can they afford that super nice apartment if they can't even afford a soap dish and a cigar box? But my all-time favorite storyline is poor, addicted Cookie Monster trying to write a letter to Santa and being overcome by hunger pains before he can finish.

4. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer


Even though virtually everyone in this show is a huge jerk, and I never quite figured out what the big fricking deal about Rudolph's nose was, I will always have a soft spot for this 1964 claymation classic -- mostly because Billie Mae Richards, the voice of Rudolph, was also the voice for Tenderheart the Care Bear. I also really identified with the misfit toys and may or may not have spent a significant portion of my childhood waiting for King Moonracer to show up on my doorstep. And for the record, I would absolutely love a spotted elephant.

5. The Care Bears Nutcracker Suite


I've always been a little Care Bear-obsessed. One of my many Christmas decorations is a Care Bear Christmas Train. I get one car every year and currently have seven. Anyway, even though most of my favorites aren't even in this special, I will never not be ecstatic that a Care Bear Christmas special even exists, let alone one that contains the supreme awesomeness that is the Nutcracker Suite.

6. A Charlie Brown Christmas


Um, is there someone who doesn't watch this holiday staple every year? Seriously.

7. Dr. Seuss's How the Grinch Stole Christmas


Likewise, is there anyone who doesn't watch the Grinch steal Christmas from those noisy Whos down in Whoville every year? And I mean the 1965 cartoon version, not the Jim Carrey fright-fest that literally gave me nightmares about green people wearing lederhosen breaking into my house.

8. A Garfield Christmas


Who doesn't want a gift that keeps on giving? My sisters and I watch this every year (although now that our parents no longer have a functioning VCR I don't know how we'll manage). I always tear up when Grandma tells Garfield about how Christmas Eve is the night she misses her late husband the most, a sentiment that has gotten even more poignant since my own grandfather, whose birthday was December 23, passed away seven years ago.

9. Will Vinton's Claymation Christmas Celebration


I don't know how many people remember this 1987 TV special featuring the California Raisins and the coolest camels that ever existed, but this is a holiday tradition in my house. With dinosaur hosts that could definitely have used the internet to prove to everyone that the correct lyrics are, in fact, wassailing before the elves showed up, this claymation special features six (seven if you count "Here We Come A-Wassailing", and I suppose if you count "We Wish You a Merry Christmas", eight) spectacularly animated famous Christmas songs. My personal favorite has always been the coolest camels in existence busting out in "We Three Kings", but the "Joy to the World" segment is staggering when you realize that's clay.

10. Mickey's Christmas Carol


Yes, yes, it's another version of Dickens' classic, this time with Scrooge McDuck (apt) and Mickey Mouse as the beleaguered Bob Cratchit. This 1983 special doesn't just have the title story, though. It also features shorts such as Donald in the gift-wrapping department, Chip and Dale in the playground of Mickey's Christmas tree, and Goofy teaching everyone how to ski -- a favorite in my family, because my dad yells like Goofy. A lot. 

So there you have it, my top 10 Christmas specials.

Merry Christmas, if you celebrate it. Happy Holidays, if you don't.