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The Christmas Chronicles

The Christmas Chronicles

This year, Netflix produced “The Christmas Chronicles” and it’s the best holiday movie I’ve seen in a long time.

There are nights when I can’t sleep and Netflix is my drug of choice. So, on one of my sleepless nights, I scrolled through the Netflix offerings and found this Christmas movie starring Kurt Russell as Santa. And what an excellent Santa he is! Cool and macho and I love that coat!

I’ve watched the movie twice more with Rolf and we are both hoping we’ll be able to buy this one on Blu-Ray and put it in our Christmas Collection.

The basic premise is this: two siblings are left alone on Christmas Eve because their mother has to work in the Emergency Department at the hospital and their firefighter dad died last year. Teddy, a teenager, is unimpressed with having to babysit his younger sister Katie, but she concocts a plan to catch Santa on video and Teddy helps out.

The two kids end up in the back of Santa’s sleigh and cause Santa to have a near crash with a Boeing. Santa loses his hat, his bag of toys and his reindeer. The rest of the film deals with finding those items and saving Christmas.

There’s a car theft, a car chase, a reindeer chase, and Santa ends up in jail where he performs a blues “Santa Claus is Back in Town” with a cell-full of accompaniment. The police get the Christmas spirit and release Santa. Eventually, all is put to rights, the good guys triumph and the bad guys get coal. And the ending has a surprising and charming cameo that I know you’ll love.

I’ve read some of the serious critic reviews and many of them like to diss the movie. But on sites like the Internet Movie Database (imdb.com) the user reviews are mostly positive. When I looked this morning, the overall rating was for 7.3 out of 10.

For me, the movie was heartwarming and enjoyable, even without eggnog. Don’t pay a lot of attention to the naysayers. Watch “The Christmas Chronicles” yourself and make your own decision. Bah Humbug to the critics.

Have you seen “The Christmas Chronicles” yet? Do you like binge-watching Netflix movies? What’s your favourite Christmas movie?

Image from imdb.com

Leap Year

Leap YearAbout every four years, we have a Leap Year. Instead of the usual 365-day year, we get 366 days by adding an extra day to our shortest month.

The Gregorian Calendar needs Leap Years to round out the calculation for the time it takes the Earth to complete a revolution of the Sun.

It takes just a little bit longer than 365 days for a complete revolution.

In fact, it takes 365.242189 days – or 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes, and 45 seconds.

Without a Leap Year, that six hour addition would add up over time and throw everything off.

Three rules apply in order to have a Leap Year.

  • The year can be divided evenly by 4.
  • However, if it can be divided by 100, then it’s not a Leap Year,  unless . . .
  • It can also be divided evenly by 400.

So, 2000 was a Leap Year, but 1900 was not.

Leaplings are people born on Leap Day.

They still celebrate a yearly birthday on either February 28 or March 1. Their choice. They may run into issues for when they reach the Age of Majority depending on the country they live in. Some countries call the “official” day the 28th of February, others choose the 1st of March.

Leap YearOne of the most interesting traditions surrounding Leap Year comes from Ireland where legend tells us that St. Brigid and St. Patrick decided it would be okay for women to propose to men on Leap Day, rather than having to wait for the man to do the proposing.

This is the premise for one of my favourite movies, Leap Year, starring Amy Adams and Matthew Goode.

If you haven’t seen it, I hope you do.

And Happy Leap Day to you!

Movie poster from imdb.com
Calendar from bigstockphoto.com # 91053725

Christmas in Connecticut

Christmas in Connecticut

Rolf found this movie at the library. He’d heard it was coming out in the Blu Ray version so he wanted to see if it was worth adding to his Christmas collection.

The movie was made in 1945, a time of rotary phones and lots of smoking. Patients even smoked in the hospital, but only the men. Funny how those things stand out now. And I wonder, does everyone even know what a rotary phone is? But let me tell you about the premise.

Elizabeth Lane is a writer with a housekeeping column for a prestigious magazine. In her column, she not only writes about her excellent recipes but she also tells about her idyllic life on the farm in Connecticut with her husband and baby.

Of course, it’s all fiction. She is supporting herself with the lies she writes about. As any fiction writer does. And she is doing well, well enough to afford a mink coat.

This Cinderella has a fairy godfather in the person of Uncle Felix – a chef from Budapest who now runs Felix’s Restaurant in America. Elizabeth gets her recipes from him, and he is very protective of her. He is also full of witticisms like “Nobody needs a mink coat but a mink.” He may have been an early proponent of the anti-fur movement.

As long as the public goes on thinking the Connecticut farm myth is true, all is well.

The film starts off with the sinking of a ship in WWII, and two survivors in a lifeboat. One of them dreams of eating wonderful food in a five-star restaurant. Finally, they are rescued, and the hero, Jefferson Jones, is put on a soft diet since he’s been starving for eighteen days. His sailor friend suggests he woo a nurse to get more substantial food. He goes so far as to propose to the nurse, who is the cliché dumb blonde.

At any rate, blondie decides it would be a good idea for Jeff to experience life in a real home, so that he will realize what a good thing a home is, and then he will marry her. So she writes to Mr. Yardley, the owner of Elizabeth’s magazine. The nurse had taken care of Mr. Yardley’s little granddaughter, nursing the child back to health after a bout of the measles.

Remember measles? And now we have the MMR vaccine.  I grew up without the vaccine and experienced measles in full force. But I digress.

The nurse asks Mr. Yardley to arrange for Jeff, the war hero, to spend Christmas at Elizabeth Lane’s farm.

Elizabeth’s editor Dudley is distressed. If the owner Yardley discovers she is a sham, not only will Elizabeth lose her job, but so will Dudley.

The gig is up. Elizabeth is at Uncle Felix’s restaurant, lamenting, “Where will I get a farm? I don’t even have a window box?”

Enter John Sloan, the architect, the man who owns the farm which provides the inspiration for the fictional Elizabeth, and the man who wants to marry her.

“You know you need someone to look after you,” he tells her. She always refuses since she does not love him. He says she will learn to love him, and since she will no longer have a job, now she can’t say her career is the reason. Out of excuses, she agrees to marry him.

Felix thinks this is a catastrophe.

Now Elizabeth must confess to Yardley that her column is fiction.

Yardley is overpowering and won’t let her get a word in. (Later, at the close of the story, she will make herself heard.)

For now, he tells her that her column is the only one he actually reads and that circulation will benefit if she entertains this American hero by inviting him to the perfect Christmas on the perfect farm. In fact, since Mr. Yardley’s daughter and granddaughter are busy elsewhere working for the war effort, he will attend himself. And the magazine will pay her a bonus.

For Elizabeth, the deciding factor is that her editor will not lose his job, and his children will be able to have presents this Christmas.

At the first turning point, thirty minutes into the film, Elizabeth has decided to get married and the Judge will perform the ceremony as soon as they arrive at the farm. Elizabeth has also convinced Sloan to continue the masquerade with Mr. Yardley and the sailor in order to save her editor’s job.

Now she has a farm and a “husband” and he, as a man with an eye for detail, has even provided the “baby”. His Irish housekeeper Nora watches the baby for a woman who works at the factory. (This is wartime and women worked at the factories.)

It’s apparent this will not be a match made in heaven. Sloan is more interested in his architectural design and loves to talk about it. At any time.

“When you’re kissing me don’t talk about plumbing,” Elizabeth tells him, hopefully. He asks what he should talk about. She suggests maybe he shouldn’t talk.

Felix accompanies Elizabeth to the farm. A bit of rivalry sets up in the kitchen. Nora the housekeeper is quite happy with her Irish Stew. Felix adds paprika. Now it is goulash.

Sloan is anxious to get the ceremony over with. Felix stalls, claiming they need music. And sure enough the sailor shows up two hours early.

The ceremony keeps getting interrupted as Elizabeth and Jeff get to know each other. He tells her she is “the swellest person I ever met”.  I love these out-of-date lines.

And of course, Jeff is our hero so he would never kiss a married woman.

The movie is full of clichés, but they seem to work in this 1945 setting. Perhaps this is where the clichés originally came from. Regardless, this is a movie of traditional Christmas charm right down to the horse drawn sleighs.

Felix is delightful. Elizabeth is a woman ahead of her time, although after finding true love, it seems she will quit her job. I will pretend that after the credits roll that does not happen and she still gets to write.

Have you watched this movie? What did you think? Have you ever had the measles?

Image from blu-ray package

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

In the time I went to school, I don’t remember ever having a teacher use this writing prompt. That may have been because I grew up in an agricultural community in Southwestern Ontario.

Corn tassel

Corn tassel

Summers meant hoeing beans, picking cucumbers, picking tomatoes and/or detasseling corn.

It was hard work and no one wanted to relive the experience in a school essay. When you lived on a farm, you worked on a farm.

Sometimes there were swimming lessons at the little pool in town, but I usually only got there for the July lessons. By August, there was too much work to do. As a result, I never moved pass Advanced Beginner. Although, I did have a pretty good dog paddle.

When I was twenty-four, I signed up for swimming lessons at the local YMCA and finally passed my Advanced Beginner and now I love to swim.

This summer, I was in the little town of Deep River, Ontario. One of my best summer vacation memories is jumping off the boat into the warm deep water of the Ottawa River on a hot sunny day.

Oiseau Rock

That’s me on the far right, swimming with Makita, Liz and Ryan in the Ottawa River by Oiseau Rock.

Other than my trip to Ontario, I didn’t do a lot of summer vacation stuff because I was focused on the WIP. The Working Title is HIGHBURY and it’s almost finished. Almost. I am smoothing out the last two scenes and tying up loose threads. Along the way with this book, I discovered it was actually the Second book of a series. Once I am completely finished with it, I will begin the First book of the series. Nothing like starting in the middle.

Guardians of the GalaxyI missed most of the summer movie fare, but I did see Guardians of the Galaxy. If you like the Marvel movies (The Avengers, Ironman) you will probably enjoy this one. I did. As usual, Stan Lee makes a cameo appearance. What a guy.

We had one BBQ in the backyard this summer with a few friends sitting around the fire. I will make sure to have at least one more BBQ in the warm days of Indian Summer.

And I only went hiking once, to Johnston Canyon, so I must make time to do at least Larch Valley this fall.

2014-09-02-yoga-FreeDigitalPhotosdotnetThis summer, I signed up for an eleven-week session of drop-in Yoga. The Summer Sizzler. Turns out I love Yoga and I managed to get to 28 classes. I’ll go back to swimming at the Y this fall, but I want to do more Yoga.

Did you swim in any rivers, lakes or oceans this summer? Did you see any blockbuster summer movies? Did you take up any new sports or activities? How did you spend your Summer Vacation?

beach chairs from Bigstockphoto.com #5904213
corn tassel from Wikipedia
Guardians of the Galaxy movie poster from Internet Movie Database imdb.com
yoga from FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Morning Glory, romantic comedy

Morning Glory, romantic comedy

Becky Fuller (Rachel McAdams) has landed her dream job producing a TV morning show in New York City.

She is hired by Jerry Barnes, played by Jeff Goldblum, who I loved in Independence Day.

He expects the Daybreak ratings to further plummet and sees Becky only as a last ditch effort before the show is replaced by syndicated programming, thus ending Becky’s dream job and the jobs of all the cast.

The first thing Becky does is fire the egocentric co-anchor. She replaces him with Harrison Ford’s Mike Pomeroy who is a veteran news journalist.

He’s available because of a special contract loophole and he does not want this job. Especially not with his co-anchor Colleen Peck (Diane Keaton). Feeling the job is beneath him, he sets out to sabotage Becky’s efforts to raise the show’s ratings.

Along with other eccentric (if not stereotypical) cast members of the Daybreak morning show, there’s a romantic subplot for Becky with another network producer.

This is light fare. Not the kind of stuff to make you think and perfect for those days when you need a lift and a belief that all is well with the world. Like on those days when you get a rejection.

As DVDs go, this one is short. Only 107 minutes. Settle in for a break from reality, pour yourself a cup of tea or a glass of wine, and enjoy.

Movie poster from www.imdb.com

How do you organize your DVDs?

How do you organize your DVDs?

If I was in charge of our library of DVDs, I would organize alphabetically. But I’m not in charge. My husband is, and he’s come up with 11 categories.

Action Adventure
Christmas
Comedy
Drama
Fantasy
Foreign
Music
Mystery Thriller
Romance
Sports
Western
 
Within those 11 categories, he alphabetizes. The problem is, many titles overlap categories. Not only that, some categories are not represented.
 
What about the times you want to watch old movies?
The 1938 Robin Hood is filed under Action Adventure.
Casablanca and The African Queen are under Drama.
 
What about comic book movies?
Iron man is under Action Adventure and The X-men is under Fantasy. I wonder where he’ll put Spiderman when we get it?
 
Fantasy contains
I Robot, Lost in Space, Matrix, Men in Black.
But NOT Independence Day, Jurassic Park or Terminator. Apparently those movies are not fantasy. I have to search for them in Action Adventure.
 
Christmas seems straightforward, right?
A Christmas Carol, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, Miracle on 34th Street.
 
But guess where he’s put Die Hard and Love Actually? Yes, in Christmas.
One of my favourite movies is Love Actually, defined on the Internet Movie Database as “comedy, drama, romance” and he’s filed it in Christmas. No wonder I couldn’t find it.
 
The Sports Section
has Hoosiers, Rocky and Shaolin Soccer. Fair enough.
It’s also got Bend It Like Beckham (comedy, drama, and, to me, romance) and Blue Crush (sports, but also drama & romance.)
 
And what about The Replacements? That’s in comedy. But the IMDB also calls it sports, and, for me, it’s also romance.
 
Westerns
are pretty much Westerns, though they could pass for Drama.
3:10 to Yuma, Cowboys, Fistful of Dollars, The Searchers.
 
Music
has The Blues Brothers, Hair and The Lion King. But that’s also where you find Patrick Swayze’s Dirty Dancing (drama, romance), and, get this, that’s where he put Mamma Mia! (comedy, musical, romance). I love that romance.
 
Romance
This is My Section and this is where you find Enchanted, Ever After and Sleepless in Seattle, as well as many others. But some of my favourite romances are hiding in other sections.
 
Knight & Day, Mr. & Mrs. Smith, and Sahara are all filed under Action Adventure. Those three movies also pass as comedy.
 
Titanic is in Drama. Speed is in Action Adventure.
 
And my favourite comedy of all time? Where did he put Stranger Than Fiction?
 
In Drama. IMDB calls that one comedy, drama, fantasy. I call it Comedy with a Capital C and, hey, it’s even got Romance, but then, being a romance writer, I could probably find Romance in a lot of things.
 
At least he hasn’t broken out DVDs from Blu-Rays. They are happily all mixed together.
 
And, unlike John Cusack’s character in High Fidelity, he hasn’t organized them autobiographically, by date of acquisition.
 
How do you organize your movies? Can you find what you’re looking for? What do you think of straight up alphabetization?
 
photo from istockphoto.com #0000147951