My Take by Jim Carl - The Holiday Edition

2012’s All I Want for Christmas Wish List

Every woman in West Texas including my mother and Aunt Eva loses their mind during Christmas and Hanukkah. I don’t know if it’s a Catholic-Jewish-Mexican thing, a creepy genetic trait involving guilt and over-obsession that’s been passed down through generations, or if all Texan women have been recruited into some Better Homes and Gardens-type coven that only meets during the holidays but, growing up in our house as the yuletide approached, I knew the mood could turn tornado-ugly on a peso.  It was never about shopping or cooking.  It was always about the Christmas tree.  And yes, despite Jewish ancestry in my family, we always had a “Christmas Tree.”  It would be several years after I left before my Aunt Eva started lighting a menorah.

Anyways, in all those years I lived in Sweetwater, we never once owned a fake Christmas tree.  And because I was a child, and didn’t know any better, I was always the one tasked with crawling under the tree to water it. I was always the one suspected when a glass ornament was found broken on the floor. I was always the one blamed whenever the wrapping paper was discovered torn or a bow came unglued.  And it was always---always!---my chore to remove every strand of tinsel from the tree before we could drag its browning carcass to the dumpster.  It says something about my dislike for Christmas trees that I am now 44 years old and haven’t a clue as to what type of wood they’re made of.  Fir, pine, oak, mesquite or tumbleweed?  Sorry, that’s the limit of my knowledge regarding lumber.  If God intended me to be smarter about trees, I’d have been born in Oregon.  Or work at Crate & Barrel.  Or starred in Twin Peaks.

Not long ago, I was driving to Boone with some friends.  Somewhere between Winston-Salem and the mountains, my friend Sarah pointed through the car window toward several acres of woods on the nearby stretch of hill.  “Look at the Christmas trees,” she exclaimed.  “This is where they grow them.”

“For the entire United States?” I asked, not terribly impressed.  Sarah responded with a look usually reserved for the waitress at the Thai restaurant where she orders dinner every Thursday night, and who almost always gets her order wrong.  You’d think after all this time she’d know better.  Sarah believes you cannot break a dumbass. 

“Burn, baby, burn,” I thought, ignoring Sarah’s glare, and staring toward the woods.  Ever since moving away from West Texas in 1987, I have owned an artificial Christmas tree.  Instead of those awful glass balls, I decorate it with an awesome collection of Punisher action figures.  Rather than tinsel, I wrap the tree with a string of shiny garland.  The whole thing is about 2’ high and only takes about 30 minutes to set up or tear down.  It makes me happy.  As is my Christmas tradition, I set up the tree while watching a 70s disaster flick like The Towering Inferno, When Time Ran Out, or The Poseidon Adventure.  Nothing else properly gets me into the holiday spirit, I’m only saying. 

But know what would really, really make me happy this holiday?  If any one of my following wishes came true.  All of them are Entertainment Industry-related.  And thus, here’s my inaugural ‘All I Want For Christmas” Wish List:

1)    Vince Vaughn, Owen Wilson, Ben Stiller, Tina Fey, Shia LeBeouf, and Will Ferrell retire from the Movie Business.  Notice how nice I’m being about this.  Because it’s Christmas, I’m allowing them to live rather than suffer gruesome demises, and that’s really generous of me.  (If this were a Halloween Wish List, you just know I would go into Clive Barker-like details.)  Just never make another movie or TV show.  Ever.  No audio books, either.  Or voice-over work.  Or commercials.  Or print ads.  Or public appearances.  In fact, don’t endorse anything.  Just disappear.  (My best friend suggests including Ashton Kutcher to this list, so there you go.)

2)    Saturday Night Live gets cancelled.  Look, I was around in 1976 when this show first premiered.  I loved me some Gilda Radner, Jane Curtin, John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd and the rest of the Not-Yet-Ready-For-Primetime-Players.  But its 35 years later and those people are gone.  The new ones aren’t funny.  Let it go.

3)    John Carpenter makes one last, great horror movie.  It would be better if John got the old gang together including Jamie Lee Curtis and Adrienne Barbeau, cinematographer Dean Cundey and production designer Tommy Lee Wallace.  (Rest in peace, Debra Hill.)  If none of these names are familiar to you, then it must suck to be you.  1995’s In the Mouth of Madness was just okay.

4)    Quentin Tarantino and Tim Burton’s latest movies are such colossal flops they’re never allowed to make another one.  I’m only gonna say this once: I’m not a fan of these guys. Not even a tiny, teeny bit.  May every last print of Pulp Fiction and Edward Scissorhands spontaneously combust into flames in the studio vaults on Christmas morning. 

5)    Steven Spielberg makes Jaws 5.  Not a reboot, remake, or a re-imagining, but a legitimate sequel to the original franchise with the same characters and set on Amity Island.  Richard Dreyfuss and Lorraine Gary are still alive and could return as Matt Hooper and Ellen Brody.  Clint Eastwood could take over the duties for Roy Scheider.  And so the whole cast isn’t a sea of grey, hire Matthew Fox and Thomas Jane as the now-grown Brody boys.  And bring Bruce the Shark out of mothballs for another go at the beach.  No CGI sharks!     

6)     David Tennant and Russell T. Davies return to Doctor Who.  The last two seasons have been pretty bad.  Matt Smith tries hard, but the scripts by Stephen Moffat are doing him no favors.  I long for the days of Rose, Martha, and Donna.   Just give us what we want, BBC.

7)     The new Star Wars trilogy is better than the last one.  If I’m 90 years old and they’re still making the adventures of Luke Skywalker, Han Solo and Princess Leia and all their offspring, I’ll be happy, if only so I can keep bitching to the younger generation about how much better the original trilogy is by comparison.  I hope Disney starts using practical sets and special effects again, and quit with that horrendous CGI.  I’m proud of George for handing the reigns to someone else.  I mean, Bai Ling as a villainous bounty hunter in Attack of the Clones?  Really?  She was as believable a bounty hunter as Angela Lansbury would be to playing middle linebacker.

8)    Clint Eastwood makes one last Dirty Harry.  At Clint’s age, I have no idea what the plot could be, except that he’s called out of retirement for one last job.  And unless his sidekick is Tyne Daly, it better be a solo job. This could get tricky as we saw with Harrison Ford and that last Indiana Jones movie, but it could work.  Sylvester Stallone was perfectly acceptable in the last Rocky and Rambo movies.   Clint’s an icon.  He could pull it off.

9)    Stop remaking, rebooting and reimagining classic genre movies from the 70s and 80s.  Go cherry-pick the 90s. A lot of those genre films were awful and could probably do with another shot.  Does anyone even remember Dr. Giggles, The Lawnmower Man, Brainscan, or The Mangler?  The world does not need another remake of Carrie or The Evil Dead.   Just bus all the teenagers in America into sports stadiums, Battle Royale-style, and make them watch the originals.  The world will be a better place, I promise.              

10)     It is universally agreed that Retrofantasma and RetroClassics are the best genre film series ever produced.   Regarding this, I have no ego.  Feed me, Seymour.  It’s Christmas. 

What about you?  What would appear on your Hollywood Christmas Wish List this year?  Tell me about it.





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