Christmas Stories: Gentle Giant’s 2009 Yak Face Christmas Bust

For a few brief years, I was on Gentle Giant’s holiday bust gift list. These very limited statues go out to some folks in the collectible community and are also sold to members of their collectors club. Last year, I took pics of the 2008 piece, which was an awesome Commander Cody wearing a scarf and holding a light-up snowman. While that piece was limited to 1500 pieces, last year’s Saelt-Marae (better known as Yak Face) bust only had 200 made (I’ve got #173). Yak Face here seems like your basic bust t first, but it comes with magnetic antlers and a candy cane to go in place of his regular cane to liven up the festivities. It’s a really fun piece with a furry beard which kind of creeped the missus out, but I can’t get enough of. To get an idea what the regular bust looks like, check this link. I think I got Yakky late in the season last year so this is the first time he’s made his way into our Christmas decorations. I think he fits right in!

Christmas Stories: 2010 Geeky Ornaments

This is a bit late, but I actually forgot I snapped this pic while at a Hallmark a few weeks back. Anyway, people really seemed to dig last year’s ornament post, so here’s some of the geekier ornaments I saw. Across the top you’ve got the edge of a Tron Legacy light cycle, Iron Man, King Kong on top of the Empire State Building, an Office Dwight bobblehead and the blue chick from Avatar (you can also see the bottom of a Rosie ornament from The Jetsons). On the bottom you can see the side of a Snowspeeder, Luke Skywalker and Captain Kirk facing off (I love how they were posed) and the Enterprise. There were a lot more, but I didn’t snap pics of everything. Hopefully, there’s something in here worthy of your Christmas tree!

Christmas Stories: Target’s Electronic Santa Commercial

I’ve seen this Christmas Target commercial a bunch of times today and kind of love it. From the Electronic Santa to the kids dressed like gold-plated versions of Run DMC, it’s full of fun stuff. Oh, I dig the nutcrackers too, especially the one with the eye patch.

Apparently it’s part of a whole Holiday album that Target is offering for free download here. There’s 14 tracks total including “Electronic Santa” by Blazer Force along with tracks by Guster and Blackalicious. I haven’t heard of many of the other bands, but I’m always down for some new Christmas music to add to our Christmas-centric iPod (it’s the missus’ older one and it’s even green!). I’m downloading now and will report back after I give it a few listens.

Christmas Stories: Aftermath

I hope everyone had a good Christmas Eve and Christmas. I didn’t have the foresight or the energy to schedule a post for Christmas day and hope everyone had better things to do than check out my blog (though now there’s no excuse). I wanted to share some pictures of our trip into NYC for Christmas Eve with you guys. We–that would be the missus, her parents, my parents and myself–got up bright and early and headed down on the Connecticut/New York train into Grand Central. After a much-needed bathroom break we headed over to 30 Rock and went ice skating, which is something my mom wanted to do last year, but the line was way too long. We actually only waited in line about 20 minutes after the rink actually opened. The room where you rent the skates is way WAY too small and should probably have two doors for in and out, but the skating itself was a lot of fun. It’s been a while since I’ve been skating, but I felt pretty sure on my feet, even though they hurt like crazy thanks to the weird skates. Anyway, here’s some pictures of that big statue and the big tree from the ice I took with my phone.

From there we headed over to St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Saks and then got some lunch at a place called La Bonne Soupe. I took another pic of St. Patrick because it’s just an impressive-looking place. Lunch was pretty great, La Bonne Soupe is, as I’m sure you’ve deduced, is a French place. I had a mushroom and barley soup that was fantastic. The meals also came with soup, bread and I got a Spaten, so I was happy all around. After lunch we swung by a friend’s workplace and got a nice little tour. Thanks again for that! From there we walked straight down Broadway about 20 blocks south. We passed through Times Square and even the Charmin Bathroom, though we didn’t stop in cause we didn’t need to use it, though the line didn’t look too long from outside. We then made our way down to Madison Square Garden where we saw the Cirque du Soleil show Wintuk, which was pretty weird (more on that in an upcoming post).

After the show, I walked them to Grand Central the way I used to walk to work when I was working in the city. I can’t walk down 6th without the lyrics to “This Used To Be Our Playground” on a loop in my head, but it was nice. Then we walked by Bryant Park and I was shocked to see all kinds of temporary shops, an ice skating rink where I used to eat and a bar and restaurant. It was nuts. Then we came home and that was that.I don’t know if you can see it in this picture, but one of the temporary shops had these sculptures made out of metal parts. They had a c-3PO, R2-D2 and Yoda that looked awesome. Maybe I’ll get those for Christmas next year.

Christmas itself was great and much more relaxing. The presents flowed like wine and everyone got some pretty great stuff. I scored a bunch of geeky stuff I’m sure I’ll be posting about more specifically and also a mandolin, trumpet and drum machine. I don’t know how to play any of those things, but expect some rad music to be posted at some point. Breakfast and dinner were fantastic and then we played a few rounds of Apples To Apples which was a lot of fun. So, I was pretty exhausted after the last two days, but I think a good time was had by all. Hopefully it was the same for you!

Christmas Stories: Christmas In New York

As I mentioned in my long-winded post about the Charmin bathrooms in NYC, I’ve gone down into New York City around the holidays almost every year since I moved out here in 2005. Seeing as how I am actually down in the city right now (internet magic!) with both sets of folks and the missus, I figured I’d post some pics from a couple different trips down there. First up we’ve got some pics from 2005 when Em and I checked out some store windows and store fronts, saw the big tree and even swung by St. Patrick’s Cathedral. The second group (starting with Grand Central), is from last Christmas Eve when both sets of parents went into the city with us. In this batch you’ll see some images of Grand Central Station, Serendipity, Dylan’s Candy Bar, Radio City Music Hall, the big tree, some stores and the Empire State Building lit up in green and red. Pretty great stuff if I do say so myself.

Christmas Stories: “The Christmas Shoes” Wants To Make You Cry

Up until today I was blissfully unaware of a song called “The Christmas Shoes.” While getting some groceries and running some last minute Christmas-related errands the missus and I put Christmas music on, as per usual and this song was all over the place. It’s a super depressing song by a group called NewSong and it’s about a kid who wants to buy a pair of shoes for his dying mother so she’ll look good for Jesus (you know, when she dies). According to the Wikipedia page the song actually started as a story passed around the internet. NewSong turned the tale into a song. Donna VanLiere turned the song and story into a book of the same name and then CBS turned it into a TV movie starring Rob Lowe. Crazy right? I in no way endorse listening to this incredibly sad song, but if you’re feeling steely, give it a whirl.

Christmas Stories: Elf (2003)

Em took yesterday and today off so we could get ready for Christmas. I really hadn’t realized that Christmas was only a week away. Luckily, we’re pretty well set up. All our presents are coming in from Amazon, most of the decorations are up and we’ve got our tree. We just need to wrap presents, decorate the tree and make the food for when the parents come. While putting lights on the tree today, we turned on Elf, which is one of my two favorite Christmas movies from the last 10 years (the other is Love Actually).

I first saw Elf in college and it really helped me get in the holiday spirit thanks to Will Ferrell’s infectious naivete and joy with all things Christmas. Plus, as I mentioned earlier, it’s got Zooey Deschanel singing my favorite Christmas song of all time “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” so that helped. Christmas time during college was always a bit weird for me, you’re trying to get in the spirit and have a good time with holiday parties and what not, but then you’ve got all these exams looming over you and travel plans back home. One of my favorite parties every year was the post-exam Christmas party. Everyone, even the most intense students, seemed to just cut loose and have a good time at that one.

So, I was really glad when I saw Elf and it got me in the spirit. The story follows Ferrell, as Buddy the elf, but he’s not really an elf. He was an orphan who, as a baby, crawled into Santa’s sack and stowed away to the North Pole. Now, he’s 30 and discovers that he’s not actually an elf and wants to meet his dad James Caan (his mom passed away). So, Buddy heads to New York City and finds his dad married (to Mary Steenburgen) with a kid. Ed Asner plays Santa and Bob Newhart plays Buddy’s adoptive dad Papa Elf. Buddy explores NYC, meets his jerk dad who thinks he’s crazy and becomes part of dad’s family. He also falls for Zooey and they start dating. It’s all very festive and sweet. I know a lot of people are probably sick of Ferrell’s man-child routine (Step Brothers, Old School, Talladega Nights, Semi-Pro, pretty much everything he’s done, really), but it really serves this movie because he’s not playing it with any meanness or irony (like there is in Fred Claus). Buddy really is one of the happiest, nicest people you’ll ever see on screen.

I give a lot of the credit for this goodness to director Jon Favreau. The first 10-20 minutes takes places in the North Pole. There’s just such a great, fantastical consistency to the place. It feels classic and up-to-date at the same time. The difference in size between Buddy and the elves is really well done and outside, you’re treated to several claymation-like characters. Even the snowflakes look big and cut-out and fun. It’s little touches like that that really impressed me about Elf and gave me a lot of hope back when Favreau was announced as the Iron Man director and everyone was freaking out. I actually like this movie so much that it’s not filed away with all the other Christmas DVDs, it’s in the binder with the rest of my pre-moving collection (which quickly filled up once I started working 15 minutes away from a Best Buy). So there you have it, my thoughts on one of my favorite Christmas movies.