Category: Things I Think

Eight Things I Think: Best Christmas Specials Edition

Does anyone remember the intro to the CBS holiday specials? Check it out here

I remember the sound of my heart beating faster as the rainbow colored word “Special” did a complete three-sixty. Watching this intro now three things immediately come to mind:

1. I was a child whenever I saw it.

2. It was probably around 8pm in the evening. Most definitely before 9 when all “good” children were in bed.

3. Most importantly something really, really cool was about to be on television.

Although it was used through out the year for holiday specials this little intro always reminds me of Christmas and the days I watched them growing up. And since it’s that magical time of year again all of these shows are back on for another generation (or three) to enjoy.

Which leads me to the subject of today’s blog.

Every year there seems to be new Christmas/Holiday specials on. ABC Family even devotes the entire month of December to “The 25 Days Of Christmas” where they showcase a plethora of new shows mixed in with familiar classics.

Sadly, none of the new stuff can compare to those timeless shows of the 60’s and 70’s.  It still amazes me that a cartoon or clay-mation show from forty years ago can tell a better story in 45 minutes then a state of the art, two-hour Hollywood made for TV feature.

One of the things I’ve always loved about these specials were the villains and how in the end they all were redeemed. Whether it was by finding out the true meaning of Christmas or if necessary, getting all of their teeth pulled.

Although I could probably give you at least a dozen I’ve narrowed the list down to eight and can now present to you my picks for The Best Christmas Specials of All Time.

You’ll notice that this list contains a lot of Rankin-Bass favorites and for good reason. These two gentlemen were masters at making specials that appealed to viewers of all ages. All of these shows were, and thanks to magic of cable continue to be, specials I enjoy watching every year.

Let’s see if you agree:

8. Mr Magoo’s A Christmas Carol (1962): What’s not to love about watching Charles Dickens’ classic tale told with the wacky blind guy in the title role? I’ll admit the songs were pretty crappy but the ghost of Christmas future literally scared the crap out of me.

7. Twas The Night Before Christmas (1974): A Rankin-Bass cartoon with great songs and a wonderful story. A disgruntled little mouse sends Santa a mean letter and then has to redeem himself by fixing a clock in the center square of town to atone for it.

6. Frosty The Snowman (1969): Ok, I’ll admit it. I cried my eyes out on more than one occasion when Frosty melted.  But let’s get this straight – I was a child…yeah, let’s go with that.

5. The Year Without a Santa Claus (1974): A Rankin-Bass feature where Santa decides to take a year off because no one appreciates him. It’s up to two misfit elves to go to Southtown and find people who have the Christmas spirit.

This show also featured the Miser Brothers. Nothing more needs to be said.

4. Santa Claus is Comin’ Town (1970): The true origin of Santa Claus. I was deathly afraid of the Winter Warlock. That is until he got his Choo-Choo Train and turned good. And what’s not to love about Topper the penguin and his cute little scarf?

 

3. How The Grinch Stole Christmas (1966): Another great story about redemption. I loved the Grinch’s dog Max. Most kids of my generation were familiar with the animation. It was done by Chuck Jones who was most popular for his work with Bugs Bunny and Tom and Jerry cartoons of the same era.

2.  A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965): Whether it’s the Charlie Brown tree, Lucy getting kissed by a “dog”, Snoopy winning the lights and display contest or the message Linus delivers…it’s all wonderful. But the thing I remember most about this show was the music. Vince Guaraldi’s jazz from that special is one of the most recognizable sounds of the season to this day.

1. Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer (1964): There is absolutely no arguing that this is the greatest Christmas special of all time. I own a copy of this DVD and STILL to this very day watch it when it’s on TV. This is THE special I remember most when seeing the CBS “Special Presentation” intro. The only show that has run consistently every year on that channel since 1964.

Rudolph tells the story of a misfit reindeer with a light-bulb nose who teams up with an elf who’d rather be a dentist. Along the way they encounter a bunch of misfit toys that children no longer care for. And ironically, Santa somehow seems to have forgotten about them too.

 

I loved the music and characters but, like all Rankin Bass specials do – I was petrified of the Bumble snow monster until the very end.

Finally, and although technically not “Christmas”, I need to give an honorable mention out to Rudolph’s Shiny New Year (1976). If for nothing else than the picture below.

As December begins and the hustle and bustle gets into full gear I hope you’ll take the time to watch some of these specials again and make more memories. Also, let me know what your Christmas Special list would look like.

Merry Christmas to all!

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Five Things I Think: The Five Scariest Movies of All Time

I was making plans to see Paranomal Activity 3 this weekend and was heartened to see that it recieved a 77%  rating on RottenTomatoes.com (which qualifies it as “fresh”). I take the “fresh” ratings as a sign that I’ll most likely enjoy the movie and Rotten Tomatoes has never let me down. But then I noticed an article they had. It was for Rotten Tomatoes ranking of the 75 Scariest Horror movies of all time.  After checking out their list and seeing that King Kong was #1 I was not impressed. KING KONG?? Someone is trippin’ at Rotten Tomatoes.

For me, a scary movie is one that scares the crap out of you. One that makes you so scared you couldn’t bear to watch it again but can’t resist. So without further adieu, here you go. My choices for the Top 5 Scariest Movies of All Time.

5. Dracula (1931): It has got to be the original. No phony remakes will do. Since it’s release there hasn’t been a single vampire movie that’s come close to being as scary (and YES that IS a knock on the Twilight series).  Costing only $355,000 to make and at just slightly over an hour in length this eighty-year old film still scares the crap out of me.

 

 

 

 

4. The Exorcist (1973). The pea soup, head spinning around classic. This movie I could never bring myself up to watch. It was so scary that I could only watch it in parts and to this I think I’ve only ever seen it once from start to finish.

 

 

 

 

3. The Sixth Sense (1999) This movie would have placed much higher but the scare factor fell just a bit short. This was one of the best movies I’ve ever seen. It’s one of those ones that leads you down a path of thinking one way and then pulls the rug out from under you at the very end. So much so that at the end you’re torn between being scared and pissed off that you didn’t figure it out earlier. Brilliant!

 

 

 

 

2. A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984): It took quite a long time for me to work my way up to watching the very first Freddy movie but the whole idea that a monster would get you when you sleep was such a great plot. As usual though, Hollywood ruined it by making a half-dozen sequels. Oh and here’s an interesting fact: did you know that Nightmare on Elm Street was the first movie for a little known actor named Johnny Depp?  Now you do.

 

 

 

 

1. Halloween (1978): This one is FREAKING scary. I remember listening to that creepy intro music and the hairs on my arm would stand up and make me hide my eyes. Just the way that Michael Myers was “there” and then the next time you look he’s “gone” creeped me out.

I remember growing up and watching this movie with my best friend. He was my neighbor who lived down over the hill from me.  I asked him about it not too long ago and this is what  he had to say. Pretty much sums it all up:

 

 

 

I must’ve been like 13 and watched my first “scary movie” up at your place. Halloween …..Of course we didn’t watch it in the middle of the afternoon or anything….We didn’t get done watching that until about midnight…..I ran down that hill to my place in the pitch dark so fast….I think I would’ve beaten Usain Bolt down that hill that night….if I would’ve run into a tree, I would’ve killed myself. Got home, went to bed, laid there looking all over the room for about an hour….couldn’t calm myself down and ran to the bathroom for a puking session….then went to sleep. Ha! They just can’t make movies like that anymore.

When a movie can make you run like hell, keep you awake and make you puke…it’s mission accomplished as far as I’m concerned. And he’s right, they just don’t make movies like that anymore.

Five Things I Think: The 5 Worst Movies of All Time

I’m no film aficionado by any stretch of the imagination but I think I know a thing or two about bad movies when I see them (or make the attempt to see them). I’ve always been a huge action, adventure and horror/suspense junkie but over the years my will has been tested as I’ve seen some real doozies with things like pesky kids (Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom), horrendous acting (Friday the 13th Part what ever you want) and plot lines that would make your sick to your stomach (try watching the movie Alive – the only movie that made me nauseous and claustrophobic).

But I don’t base my opinion on character, the film score or even directing. Nope, for me only one of two criteria must be met in order for a film to be dubbed HORRIBLE:

One: If during the course of watching the movie I want to literally get up and leave.  Something not really smart considering you may have shelled out a bunch of money to see that you thought would be much better.

This actually happened to me on two occasions and on one of them I was successful in walking out. That was the wonderful film Hellraiser II. If you ever get a chance to see it, don’t. It sucks. But I still get a chuckle thinking about walking out of the 25th Street Theater yelling “THIS MOVIE BLOWS!”

The second movie I wasn’t so lucky at escaping from mainly because I was with a company of people. Hence, that particular movie has been dubbed my Worst Movie of All Time (as you’ll see).

The other criteria that indicates a bad film to me is if while watching the movie I fall asleep. I can probably name dozens of movies where this occurred but I’ve narrowed down my list to five to keep from dozing off again.

You may notice while reading this list that a lot of my stinkers ended in 2008. I take pride in knowing that my viewing habits seem to have gotten better.

Let’s get to the heart of this post. I present to you the FIVE most horrible movies of ALL TIME:

5. Wes Craven’s New Nightmare (1994): There was a time when I would see every single Nightmare on Elm Street as fast it came out. I’m still not sure why as they were all pretty terrible. I definitely reached my limit when this atrocious movie came out and I still to this day have absolutely no idea what it was about. And I don’t plan on watching it again any time soon to find out.

4. Jaws: The Revenge (1987): If it has anything to do with JAWS you know I’m there. This was the first movie I saw being a high school graduate. After that mistake they should have rescinded my diploma and made me repeat 12th grade. Who in their right mind would believe a shark would follow someone from the northeast to the Bahamas? Apparently the same people who’d construct the most fake looking shark ever caught on film and try to pass it off as real.

3. The Happening (2008). I wanted to like this movie. I mean, I REALLY wanted to like this movie. I loved the Sixth Sense and kept trying to give director M.Night Shyamalan a pass. But since the “I see dead people” movie he has continued to disappoint.  In fact several of his movies including Unbreakable, Signs and The Village could all be listed here. But I chose The Happening because it is quite possibly the worst acting I’ve ever seen in a movie.  I’m not kidding, it’s bad.

2. Twilight (2008). I will NEVER understand why women love these films so much. I forced myself to read the first book. I forced myself to watch the first film at home on DVD. I fell asleep 1/4 of the way through. Now you KNOW a movie is bad when going to bed at 8:30pm on the weekend sounds more appealing than watching a movie with awesome microwave popcorn.

Drum roll please?….. I now present to you the worst movie of ALL time…..

1. Speed 2: Cruise Control (1997). Without a doubt the most atrocious film ever made. I really enjoyed the original Speed and the whole notion of a bus blowing up if it goes under 55 mph. But Sandra Bullock on a boat? Eh, not so much.
It was a warm summer evening in 1997 when I saw it and I wanted to leave SO badly. I could not leave. I was with people and it would be embarrassing. I forced myself to stay. In retrospect, I probably would have been better off saying I had to go to the bathroom and hanging out next to the urinal all night. That’s how bad it was. I still lament losing every one of those 121 minutes of my life I’ll never get back. In fact, just me reminiscing about how horrible it is has cost me an additional ten more minutes of life. So I’m finished discussing it.

So there you have it. The five worst movies of all time as dubbed by me. I’m sure there are plenty of movies that meet this criteria for you as well.  So please feel free to add your own or challenge my list. I’m always interested in learning about movies I need to avoid.

Ten Things I Think – Best Cereals Ever Edition

Since my reunion with my home boys Frank, Count and Boo last Monday I’ve been doing some heavy thinking on what my next blog entry should be (in between enjoying hearty bowls of monster goodness of course). I didn’t have to think too long though. It was quite obvious that this blog post needed to be about the absolute BEST cereals ever-growing up.

You know, I feel bad for those people who never had the opportunity to indulge in sugar-coated mornings. The ones whose Moms brought home nothing but bland Cheerios, Cracklin Oat Bran and Puffed Rice. Puffed Rice?? For a kid?? Only people over the age of 70 eat Puffed Rice.

Some of my best memories from childhood include the days when my Mom and Grandmother came home from the local Food Lane. They’d walk in the door with 7 or 8 huge paper bags filled with groceries and I loved rummaging through each and every one of them. Throwing pickle jars and butter to the side to find the box of sweet goodness buried within. Having them yell at me when I attempted to open the box to obtain the prize inside without waiting until breakfast. Still not sure what that was all about.

In any event and without any further adieu, here are my top ten cereals of all time:

10.Trix. I felt bad for the silly rabbit who never got his Trix. In every commercial he always came so close to getting them. Remember when they held an election every so often to decide if the rabbit should get Trix? You’d cut out a Yes or No on the box and mail it in? I think it was rigged though. There’s no way everyone would deny the rabbit his Trix. That’s just Un-American to me.

 

 

9. Cocoa Puffs: I could somehow relate to Sonny, The Cuckoo Bird. That chocolaty goodness sure was hard to resist. I always thought this was a cereal that tried to compete with the big boys but always fell a little bit short. Don’t get me wrong though. I ate enough of this stuff to keep me on a sugar high for years.

 

 

8. Super Sugar Crisp. How it will ALWAYS be remembered by me. Yes, before Sugar Bear became “Super Bear” and Post changed the name from “Sugar” Crisp to “Golden” Crisp. I’d like to meet one of the Mothers who was comforted by the fact that even though they changed the name of the cereal and mascot every bowl still contained 18 grams of sugar.

 

 

7. Freakies. I honestly don’t remember too much of this cereal. It looks like it was only marketed for five years.  I have an old Polaroid picture of me around age 7 eating a bowl of it so I assume it must have been delish.  I didn’t eat crap back then.

 

 

6. Cap’n Crunch. I loved all the flavors of the Cap’n. I’m even an avid follower of him on Twitter (and he even follows ME). I used to love it when the Cap’n would have his treasure hunt games. You’d get a game piece in the box and have to call some phone number to get a clue. I still wonder if anyone ever won the bicycle they were giving away or if it was only a ploy to get you to eat more crunch. If it was the latter, it worked because I ate plenty.

 

5 Fruity Pebbles. If there was ever any cereal that I could eat a whole box of in one sitting it would be this. Much like a fine wine or good lager it goes down smooth and never seems to fill you up. I read an article somewhere that said since 1970 Fruity Pebbles is the most popular cereal purchased in America and I can see why. It’s addicting.

 

4. Quisp. I’d be surprised if many of you remember this one. This cereal is actually one of the earliest ones I remember having growing up. The little alien guy with the beanie. Quisp is rare to find these days but is still made. I think it’s actually just saucer-shaped Cap’n Crunch (it’s made by the same company). But the whole alien thing is what kept me coming back.

 

3.  Lucky Charms: There’s something about Lucky Charms that’s like crack to me. It’s got to be the marshmallows. I’ve been writing to General Mills for years asking them to make an “Oops! All Marshmallows” version of Lucky Charms. I think they’re ignoring me.

 

 

2  Frankenberry, Boo Berry, Fruit Brute: I had a hard time choosing between these three so I selected them all. If I was stuck on a deserted island and my number one choice was not available these would be what I’d choose for breakfast every morning. I mean, what’s not to love about having breakfast with a ghost, werewolf or frankenstein?

 

And finally……

1. Count Chocula: An absolute no brainer if you’ve been following my blog, Facebook or Twitter feeds. Who else would love a cereal so much as to read it bedtime stories, take on motorcycle rides or have it’s picture taken with the guys who wrote Sister Christian? That’s how much I love this stuff. Count used to be available year round, even when Frankenberry and Boo Berry went by the way side. Sadly, it only appears now at Halloween time but I plan on stocking up.

 

Your turn: Let me know some of your favorites. How does it compare to this list?

Five Things I Think – Why I Love Being A Man Edition

Hurricane Irene  is approaching and will bring torrential rain and wind and generally wreak havoc on my weekend off. Just curious, but why does it seem that these huge storms are always named after women (ex. Katrina, Gloria, Diane, Irene)?

As this feminine force of nature makes a washout of the next few days it made me think about the many reasons why I love being a man. So here you go:

Top Five Reasons Why I Love Being A Man

5. No waiting for public restrooms. Ever have to use the facilities at a busy bar or sporting event? When my bladder is full and I make my way to the restroom it kind of reminds me of the Disney Fast Past Line in the Magic Kingdom.

I see huge lines of women waiting with legs crossed while I am able to just mosey right on in.

Sorry ladies….

4. Love of Professional Sports – Even if you go to a party and meet a bunch of guys you’ve never met before, you always have something to talk about. Sports is the universal language of man. Oh I’m sure there are plenty of female sports fans there who can talk a good game too. But I’m also willing to bet they became fans by growing up in a household of men.

3. Less Time To Make Myself Presentable. This one is a no-brainer. Tell me I have to be shaved, showered and ready to go in thirty minutes and I’ll make it with ten minutes to spare. Tell that to a woman and she wouldn’t even be towel dried when the timer went off.

2. The Three Stooges. Trying to explain my love for these guys to a woman is pointless. I’ll be laughing my head off and she’ll look at me with a huge scowl on her face. I guess it takes the XY chromosome to be able to really appreciate their slapstick. Although it simply MUST be the classic line-up of Moe, Larry & Curly. No exceptions. Those other guys just weren’t as funny.

I suppose it’s kind of same reason you have to be female to understand the beauty of those awful Twilight books and movies.

And the Number One thing I most enjoy about being a man?

1. No Monthly Visits From Unwelcome “Friends”.  I think most women know what I’m talking about here. And for those men who are still single it’s best to avoid women if at all possible during the visit.

While we men can procreate at will and not think twice about it a woman’s body is synchronized with some kind a monthly cycle. Something they must attend to or, eh, well, the results will be less then flattering let’s put it that way.

So there you have it. The five things I do enjoy most about being a man. As for you ladies who may be disgruntled about this blog please don’t hate. I’ll still be here the next time you have a tight jar or bottle you need opened.

Oooh, now that makes six things. 😉