Let’s Take A Moment Day 270 & My Top 10 Favorite Christmas Movies

Hi everyone.  Hope you are all well and continue to stay that way during this global health crisis we are facing.  But in addition to protecting your physical wellness, what are you doing to stay mentally healthy today?

I know we are in a serious situation, but I need a break from the gloom, doom and bullying by way of hoarding. Music has always been my refuge and watching those beautiful Italians singing to each other from their balconies reaffirmed my belief that music is the answer. So until the old normal returns, I am going to share a song I listen to that helps me escape the current state of things, if only for a few minutes each day.  And if this helps anyone else, even better.

wonderfulpic.0

“It’s A Wonderful Life” movie still. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

With two weeks to go before Christmas, some of you may be tired of the formulaic but understandably watchable Hallmark movies. So before we get to today’s song, I am sharing my Top 10 Christmas film picks for anyone who might be looking for something different.

10. THREE DAYS (2001)

An angel (Tim Meadows, SNL’s “The Ladies Man”) gives a husband three days to convince his wife he loves her before she dies.

9. IF YOU BELIEVE (1999)

A bitter female Scrooge-like woman gets the chance to heal her inner child-who is an actual little kid following her everywhere that no one else can see, of course.

8. YOU’VE GOT MAIL (1998)

A Tom Hanks & Meg Ryan classic-and my favorite of their four collaborations-set in the greatest city in the world, NYC. With Jean Stapleton, Dabney Coleman, Dave Chappelle & Greg Kinnear in the cast as well, it is a fun watch.

7. WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING (1995)

Sandra Bullock became America’s sweetheart in this utterly charming film.

6. ELF (2003)

What is not to love about Will Ferrell as a 30 year old 6 foot tall elf? Ed Asner, Bob Newhart & James Caan help tell this thoroughly enchanting & adorable story.

Elf 1A

Buddy The Elf (Will Ferrell, L) & Santa (Ed Asner, R) in “Elf”. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

5. THE CHRISTMAS LIST (1997)

A 30-something woman (Mimi Rogers) makes a list for Santa and suddenly starts receiving everything she asked for. But not in the way she expected. Improbable, yes, but entertaining nonetheless. And completely enjoyable. Not very popular but not to be missed.

4. A CHRISTMAS STORY (1983)

I triple dog dare you not to adore this movie. What I love the most about it? How simple the celebration of the holiday actually is. No one is trying to do too much, the mom is not frantic to make everything Christmas card perfect and ends up giving her family a lovely, warm, comfortable & happy celebration. The house is not overwhelmed with decorations so the one big beautiful tree is the centerpiece to love, admire and inhale. Plus we see a bully finally get what he deserves. Delightful in every way.

3. IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE (1946)

The film equivalent of Nat King Cole’s “The Christmas Song”, it’s just not officially the holiday season without George Bailey’s self-sacrificing good guy persona. And as Monica told Phoebe in “Friends”, it has “wonderfulness baked right in”.

2. LOVE ACTUALLY (2003)

Before Liam Neeson declared himself & his skills a nightmare to the people who took his daughter, he was helping his stepson navigate his first crush. And Bill Nighy is his usual brilliant self. Plus it features two musical standouts: Today’s song by Otis Redding and Joni Mitchell’s 2000 version of “Both Sides Now”. And even though it does end with a group performance of “All I Want For Christmas Is You”, somehow it works.

1. SCROOGED (1988)

Oh, do I love, love, LOVE this movie. The classic Dickens story told with such colorful characters portrayed by Bill Murray, Alfre Woodard, David Johansen, musical street players like Miles Davis, Dave Sanborn & Paul Shaffer, a theme song featuring Al Green & Annie Lennox and the lovably quirky Carol Kane, who delivers the best line ever spoken by any “Ghost of Christmas Present”: “You know I like the rough stuff, don’t you?”

Scrooged

Bill Murray (L) and Carol Kane (R) in “Scrooged”. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Honorable mention to “The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year” (2008). Henry (“The Fonz”) Winkler plays a retired NY cop who goes to Illinois to spend Christmas with his niece, her son & the kind helpful stranger he met on the plane. This was actually one of the first Hallmark Christmas movies before the concept was turned into an assembly line franchise. Maybe that accounts for the lack of sugary side effects in this thoroughly pleasant film.

And if you are vehemently opposed to Christmas movies but are still reading this post? Yes, Virginia, there is one for you, too: “Bad Santa” (2003). Billy Bob Thornton is the ultimate ne’er do well and best part of this film, but hearing Bernie Mac shout “Pull your damn pants up” to a kid wearing them close to knee cap level is everything.

Now back to the music.

Today’s song is my absolute favorite version of this Christmas staple. Bing Crosby’s may be the classic recording of this tune, but to hear Otis Redding sing anything will always be my first choice. His cover is chock full of heart, soul, blood, sweat & tears. It is an absolute must for any holiday playlist.

May your days be merry and bright
And may all your Christmases be white
“.

Otis

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Otis Redding: “White Christmas” (1967, written by Irving Berlin).

I do not own the rights to anything.  I am just sharing what I love and how I am coping with you.

Stay well.

Let’s Take A Moment Day 169

Hi everyone.  Hope you are all well and continue to stay that way during this global health crisis we are facing.  But in addition to protecting your physical wellness, what are you doing to stay mentally healthy today?

Bruce quote

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

I know we are in a serious situation, but I need a break from the gloom, doom and bullying by way of hoarding. Music has always been my refuge and watching those beautiful Italians singing to each other from their balconies reaffirmed my belief that music is the answer. So until the old normal returns, I am going to share a song I listen to that helps me escape the current state of things, if only for a few minutes each day.  And if this helps anyone else, even better.

I have loved “Saturday Night Live” since I was too young to see it.  But that did not stop me from doing so by secretly watching it in my room or on the weekends when I was out of the house babysitting.  By the fall of 1981, Lorne Michaels departed as producer and a whole new group of performers replaced the “Not Ready For Prime Time Players”.  The new producer, Dick Ebersol, attempted to reclaim some of the show’s old magic by hiring the first head writer for the show, Michael O’Donoghue.  His first tenure with the show was from 1975-1977 but his second one in 1981 was even shorter because of alleged problems with the cast due to his temper (by the mid 1980’s he re-established his writing talent as a co-writer of the screenplay for SNL alumni Bill Murray’s 1988 movie, “Scrooged”).

But while he was at SNL the second time O’Donoghue wrote today’s song.  It was performed by then cast member, Christine Ebersole, in a skit with her sitting in a bar.  No comedy, just her singing this incredible song with a piano accompaniment.  I remember watching that night, listening to her voice and being completely floored by her performance and the song itself.  She went on to do a lot of other things, including plays & guest TV appearances.  In 2005 I was lucky to see her on Broadway when she played M’Lynn in “Steel Magnolias”.  She was also in one of my favorite “Will & Grace” episodes from 2001 as a rival to Karen (season 3 episode 19).

Another woman heard this song and decided to record it.  Since that women is Dolly Parton (Truvy in the 1989 “Steel Magnolias” movie) you know her version is nothing short of fabulous.  It was a top ten hit for her in 1982 and features a wonderful sax arrangement.  I have struggled for months to pick just one of her incredible songs to share, and even though she did not write this one herself, I still think it is one of her best.  And SNL may have its ups and downs, but it is moments like the one created for today’s song that keeps me tuned in week after week because I know the magic of that show is just one surprising skit away.

And it’s gettin’ near to closing
And the seconds pass like years
Lots of friends to share the laughter
Not a one to share the tears“.

Christine Ebersole on SNL in 1981 and Dolly Parton as Truvy in “Steel Magnolias” from 1989.  (Images found online.  Original sources unknown.)

Dolly Parton:  “Single Women” (1982, written by Michael O’Donoghue).

I do not own the rights to anything.  I am just sharing what I love and how I am coping with you.

Stay well.