Posts Tagged 'Christmas'

Deep Breath…

Sometimes you eat the bar and sometimes, well, he eats you.” – The Big Lebowski

The Coen Brothers know what’s up. I’ve been in a cranky mood today. It’s been a long week. I haven’t gotten much sleep. I’ve been an Amish Man over and over and while the reading time has been appreciated, the hours have been long. But I like being on set, so it’s not that. Christmas can be stressful. There’s a lot to do. Presents to buy. Cards to send. Parties and events and this and that, and oops, forgot that other thing.

I’m tired, is the thing. And when you’re tired, you can unknowingly regress to the state of a 9 year old. I’d planned to see a big budget action movie and munch popcorn and get taken away by blue people and their special effects. What happened instead was a hassle to get there and an extra 20 minutes parking and the movie being sold out. We should have planned better. So, we scrambled, were going to see it at a different theater, but after getting on the wrong freeway going the wrong way, I was just angry and pissed off, and anyway the other screening wasn’t going to be in IMAX, so why pay that much extra? I’ll skip the debacle of getting food that followed and just say if you want Thai food in L.A. on a Sunday, don’t call me or I may scream at you.

Now this isn’t in the Holiday spirit, is it? No, no, I know. Did I mention I’m tired? Also, I’ve had a headache for the last 5 hours, undoubtedly a physical reflection of my internal condition.

So what’s to be done? It’s Christmas, I can’t go around being a Scrooge for the next week. That does nobody any good. Well, I pray. And I complain at God for a while and then I complain in my journal for a while and then I complain in a blog for a while. But I apologize, too. And I take a deep breath. And I ask God for help, and I know that He will, and I breathe and try to remember that through my headache. And then I put on Sufjan Stevens’ Songs For Christmas, the 5 disc compilation that’s just great.

Here, have a little hope

I don’t tend to like Christmas music at all. But I really like this. It’s got some original songs and some really good versions of traditional songs. An appropriate one I just listened to again, “It’s Christmas! Let’s Be Glad,” which has some bits of wisdom in it:

Since it’s Christmas, let’s be glad/ Even if your life’s been bad/ There are presents to be had…La la la la la la ah / Since the year is almost out/ Lift your hands and give a shout / There’s a lot to shout about today

The set also includes Sufjan sharing some Christmas thoughts and then, out of nowhere, a little essay/song by one of my favorite writers, Rick Moody? Is this a Christmas miracle? And so I read it while I listen, in the middle of typing this, and I read it looking for something funny to quote from Mr. Moody and instead I end up in tears and feeling so much the relieved and the better and without headache, not just because he’s a great, fine writer, but because he describes my day today and week this week:

What is this thing about Christmas, the paradoxical tendency of Christmas, that the more heartbreaking it is the closer it seems to get to the point? Why is failure and awkwardness so human and so natural at Christmas? Why is it that really unacceptable gifts are somehow perfect, no matter how horrible or insulting or inexplicable? Why is it that having no gift to offer, just completely failing in the gift-giving department, admitting as much, seems closer to the No Room at the Inn concept, as described above? Why is it that anxiety and panic on Christmas seem more human than good-natured fun and loving Christmas? Why is it that Christmas seems like such an appropriate day to hyperventilate, to palpitate, to sweat profusely, to be certain that you are having a nervous breakdown? Why is it that desperation is closer to God?

And now, at least, I can breathe again, and continue on with the season, hopeful and… well, that’s enough isn’t it?


Los Angeles in December

It’s a good and bad time to be in Los Angeles in December. It’s good because I have no fewer than 10 movies to see between now and the end of the year and most of them are already playing here. I been able to see “Up in the Air” and “The Road”, even though they won’t get to most places for a few weeks. I got to see “Antichrist” and review it as it was finishing its run here and it won’t ever play in much of the rest of the country. The major downside is that movies are expensive out here. Gone are the days of $5 shows during the middle of the week at AMC. $9 is about as cheap as it gets. $18 or so if I’m seeing IMAX movies in 3D (For “Avatar, I may just be willing to pay that, too).

So here’s my list to see from now til year’s end:

An Education

The Last Station


The Princess and the Frog

The Lovely Bones




Sherlock Holmes

The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnasus

Crazy Horse

The White Ribbon

As well, there are loads of classic movies playing all over the place. Seeing “Lawrence of Arabia” on the big screen was a truly amazing experience. 2000 people watching one of the most gorgeously photographed movies of all time. The theater honored the intermission in the middle of the film. Even though the movie and its character keep us at arm’s length, I felt like I was seeing the movie for the first time. I know lots of people who would rather wait for movies on DVD, but even with as big a screen as that allows these days, there is no substitute for the big screen, for the atmosphere, for the communal, enriching experience of seeing something breathtaking with strangers who, for a few hours don’t seem like strangers anymore.

E-P-I-C ! ! !

There are shitty things about Los Angeles, too.

Most people who live here are like me, which means they aren’t from here, which means since it’s Christmas, they’re all leaving. This would be fine any other time. Driving, parking, and getting around will be a breeze. Yes, but all of my friends are going home for Christmas, so where am I trying to get in such a rush? I suppose I’ll be able to get all my Christmas shopping done easily. I still need to think of gifts for my sister and parents.

Literally, every one of my friends is leaving for Christmas. I’m not. As I’ve said, this will be my first Christmas away from home, though I’ll be with family. But that’s one day. For about two weeks, I’ll be left to my own devices. There won’t be much background work (if any) because all the shows are on break for Christmas and New Year’s. And so what oh what will I do with myself? I’ve got writing to do, sure. I’ll read. I’ll venture out to some movies by myself, and I plan to catch up on the rest of season 5 of “LOST.”

I should be used to the solitude, I should welcome it. In Kansas City, it was my norm. And in many ways, I am looking forward to it. As Woody Allen might say, I’ll be spending the holidays with someone I love.

The one other thing I might change is snow. For all its hassle and annoyance, I miss playing in the snow.

Christmas Music 2

Well! I have proven myself wrong! What wonders you can find if you just do a bit of searching. Today NPR informed me that Weezer has an EP, Christmas With Weezer (thanks iTunes, I’ll take that) and I never knew The Killers did a Christmas single each year (picked those up too). What with all these plus Aimee Mann, I’ve got more Christmas music than I know what to do with. 

Today, as is our way, my family will go skiing on fake snow, then head over to a family friend’s house for dinner and relaxing. The first year, I fell down nearly every time I tried to do a difficult course on the skis. Last year I fell only twice, and they were spectacularly bad spills – skis 20 feet away from me, poles God knows where, even my gloves fell off. This year, it is my Christmas wish that I not regress. As long as I fall 2 times or fewer I will be satisfied. 

Then, as is my own Christmas tradition, I’ll come home, put on a movie or a delightfully informative commentary (David Fincher films feature some of the most insightful discussions) and wrap presents. I employ quite a lot of Christmas bags and simple tissue paper arrangements. My present wrapping is infantile at best, and it does actually bother me that I am at the same skill level as most 6 year olds, but what’s to be done.

Here’s hoping your Christmas Eve and Day are wonderful and fun and lovely to behold. And seriously, check out the Weezer stuff. It’s good listening.

It Has Come to This

April 2019
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