Saturday, December 15, 2018

Sleigh Bell Cinema | Home Alone (1990)

I'm joined by my son and frequent podcasting co-host David May (Dragonfly Ripple, Mystery Movie Night, Thundarr Road, 'Casting Off) to talk about the film that made a star of Macaulay Culkin and signaled the end of John Hughes' reign as the King of Teen. Is Home Alone just slapstick shenanigans or something more?

Friday, December 14, 2018

“I Was a Boy Here!” | Seymour Hicks (1935)

Henry Edwards' Scrooge skips this scene completely. There's not even a transition sequence. The Spirit addresses Scrooge in his room and then instantly they're in another. But it's not the school or even Fezziwig's warehouse. We won't have much to say about this version for another couple of years when we catch up to it again.

Dragonfly Ripple | Jessica Jones: Season 1

David and I talk about the dark and hard-to-watch first season of Jessica Jones.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

“I Was a Boy Here!” | Mark McDermott (1910)

In keeping with its limited budget and just general shortness (the whole film is less than 14 minutes long), Thomas Edison's Christmas Carol hits this scene quickly and all in Scrooge's room. The Spirit of Christmas (one ghost for all three time periods) simply calls up vignettes for Scrooge to look at.

The relevant one to this year's scene has Young Scrooge sitting dejectedly at a desk as a younger girl sneaks up behind him to cover his eyes. He stands up and turns around, excited to see her, then kisses her on the cheek. They pantomime her inviting him to leave the room with her and he's unbelieving at first. She convinces him though and they dance around together briefly before she playfully pushes him out of the room and follows him. I can only imagine how this would read to someone unfamiliar with the story. You really have to know what's going on ahead of time, because the film explains nothing.

Old Scrooge has mostly rejected the ghosts' help to this point. He's just wanted the whole thing to be over. But watching his younger self and (Dickens readers know) sister, he's affected. He puts his hands on his heart and then holds them out towards Fan as if he wants to embrace her. Not being able to, he balls his fists in frustration and pouts, going back to not looking at the ghost or engaging with it. The Spirit knows that it's on the right track though. It got through to Scrooge briefly, so it calls forth another scene...

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

“I Was a Boy Here!” | Jim Carrey (2009)

Robert Zemeckis plays a lot in this animated format, unbound by the limitations of filming live action. Sometimes that's to a fault, but his instincts are pretty good in this scene. The Ghost of Christmas Past never walks anywhere with Scrooge when he can fly the two of them there at a crazy and exciting speed. So we get a transition scene of them zooming out of Scrooge's bedroom and into the snowy countryside. They continue zooming through trees and over fields until they reach a small, country town with a church and a bridge and lots of cute houses. It's very picturesque.

Jim Carrey's Scrooge has already been deeply affected by the ghosts so far. He's frightened and humbled by them, willing to listen to what they have to say. He's visibly moved by the sight of his hometown, smiling and speaking breathlessly about it. The Spirit notices that Scrooge is trembling and thinks that it spots a tear, but Scrooge claims that it's "something in my eye." (I doubt very many adaptations will stick with the lame pimple explanation that Dickens had him use.)

I'm sure I've mentioned before that Carrey is a very good Scrooge. He's acting his heart out in the role and it's touching to see Scrooge so emotional about being home again. He's truly excited by the town and his schoolmates whom he sees riding out of it on horseback and in a wagon. He doesn't call them by name, but says that he knows "every one of them." Their wagon is plastered with a big Merry Christmas banner and though Scrooge doesn't call it out as a reason for joy, he's clearly not humbugging it either.

The Spirit zooms again with Scrooge, this time through the town and to a large, brick schoolhouse on the other side. Scrooge recognizes it with less excitement. His face grows sad and pained as he looks at it, and the Spirit puts those emotions into words, talking about the solitary child neglected by his friends.

They fly again, through the front door, up a grand staircase, and down a hall to Scrooge's classroom. The building doesn't look especially run down, but it is bare and lonely looking. Young Scrooge sits alone in the classroom, singing "O Come, All Ye Faithful" to himself in Latin. He's getting a good education clearly and he's not yet given up on the holiday. He's trying to make himself merry as much as possible, but his voice is sad. As the camera swings around to his face, he gives up the song partway through and frowns in misery. "Poor boy," says Old Scrooge. "Poor, poor boy." And I believe it. There's not even any consolation in fictitious friends, either. The movie skips that part, but I feel like its for a reason: taking away even that little bit of comfort from Young Scrooge.

The Spirit invites Scrooge to see another Christmas and the room darkens and decays around them. The Boy Scrooge fades away as a Young Man Scrooge fades in at the other end of the long room, walking the aisle despairingly as Dickens wrote. He's tearing pages and throwing them on the floor, but the movie doesn't reveal what that's about. They're loose pages, not a book, so maybe it's a letter? Or maybe it's just paper. Something for Scrooge to do instead of sit and feel horrible.

Fan interrupts his bad mood with all the excitement of a young girl. She's maybe nine or ten, much younger than him. Her dialogue is right from Dickens with no embellishment, so we learn that Scrooge's dad does bear some kind of grudge against Scrooge, but we get no details about why that might be.

Old Scrooge is heartbroken by the scene. Memories of his sister rush in and he clearly loves her as he talks about her large heart. He's thoughtful as the Spirit mentions Fred, but there's no time to dwell on Scrooge's nephew. The Spirit takes Scrooge's hand again and they zoom down the long room, through a large opening that was probably a blackboard a minute ago, and into London.

Mystery Movie Night | A Christmas Carol (1951), Lethal Weapon (1987), and Krampus (2015)

It's a special Christmas edition of Mystery Movie Night as Dave, David, Erik, Evan, and I celebrate with a trio of holiday flicks. It's ghosts, guns, and grandmas on this very merry episode.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

“I Was a Boy Here!” | Scrooge McDuck (1983)

Like The Stingiest Man in Town, Mickey's Christmas Carol also includes a flying scene, but Christmas Past bypasses the school and takes Scrooge's right to Fezziwig's.

The Spirit does get in a cute line though. When Scrooge expresses fear, Past says, "I thought you enjoyed looking down on the world."

Monday, December 10, 2018

“I Was a Boy Here!” | Walter Matthau (1978)

Rankin-Bass' The Stingiest Man in Town doesn't include this year's scene, but it does have a transition sequence where the Spirit flies Scrooge out of the window and over a surreal, unnerving cityscape. Scrooge says something about not knowing where they're going, but that it seems "strangely familiar" to him. Where they end up going is Fezziwig's warehouse though, so we'll catch up with them there next year.

Sunday, December 09, 2018

“I Was a Boy Here!” | Alastair Sim (1971)

Richard Williams' animated version does have a transition scene between Scrooge's bedroom and the countryside, but it's quick and super cool. The Spirit takes Scrooge's hand and leads him towards the camera, which lingers on Scrooge's face as the background strobes around him and we see city rushing by. There's no music or sound except for some bird wings just before the images settle on Scrooge in the country. It's surreal and jarring, but still suggestive that a flight has taken place.

This Scrooge has been relatively humble and compliant since partway through Marley's visit and that continues here. When the Spirit asks Scrooge what that is on his cheek, Scrooge wipes away a tear and says that it's nothing, but he doesn't expect the ghost to actually believe him.

As the ghost explains that they're witnessing unconscious shadows of the past, the scene becomes the schoolhouse. The children are already outside, dancing together in circles. There are both girls and boys, so maybe they aren't actually students. I don't know much about Victorian boarding schools, but I've never imagined them to be co-educational where gender is concerned.

The Spirit mentions the "solitary child neglected by his friends" and the scene shifts to inside the school where Scrooge sits reading alone in a room. We can't see the title of the book he's reading, but above his head dance images of a sultan on horseback, Robinson Crusoe's parrot, and soldiers of some kind. Scrooge wipes his eye again and declares his younger self to be a "poor boy," but we never get a reason for it. The Spirit takes Scrooge immediately from this scene to Fezziwig's warehouse.

There's no mention of Fan, much less Scrooge's father. Knowing that Fred is Scrooge's nephew, we know that Scrooge has to have at least one sibling, but they don't play a part in the story. All we know is that Scrooge was a lonely child for undefined reasons.

Saturday, December 08, 2018

“I Was a Boy Here!” | Teen Titans #13 (1968)

The Teen Titans version of A Christmas Carol isn't an adaptation, but just an adventure inspired by Dickens' story. The Titans have noticed similarities between Dickens' characters and the people involved with the Titans' current case, so they're using Christmas Carol tactics to try to redeem Ebenezer Scrounge.

Kid Flash poses as a makeshift Ghost of Christmas Past, but there's only one part of Scrounge's past that the speedster references and it doesn't have anything to do with Scrooge's boyhood or school life. Which is a long way of saying that the Titans version skips this year's scene.

Friday, December 07, 2018

“I Was a Boy Here!” | Graphic Classics, Volume 19: Christmas Classics (2010)

As I mentioned last year, Alex Burrows and Micah Farritor's version smash cuts from Scrooge taking the spirit's hand to their being outdoors in the country. This version is super abridged, so Scrooge has so far been fairly easy for the ghosts to convince. This scene continues that with Scrooge feeling exactly what Christmas Past wants him to. He's excited to see the village where he grew up and he's saddened by the sight of his boyhood self alone in the school. There's an especially nice panel where Scrooge is covering his mouth as if he's holding back sobs.

We see some boys leaving the school, but there's no talk of their "neglecting" Scrooge. Instead, the schoolmaster (or maybe its just a teacher) notices aloud to Scrooge that "you are the only one left again." Young Scrooge doesn't look particularly disturbed about it, though. He's reading at the time and appears fairly content. There's no mention of Scrooge's literary friends, but the book Scrooge is reading has a genie lamp on the cover in a nice homage to that part of Dickens' story.

The school isn't especially rundown. In fact, it's colored in warm browns and yellows so that it looks cozy and inviting. Scrooge's father is never mentioned, so there are no suggestions here about either his financial state or his relationship with Scrooge.

Fan is younger than Scrooge and appears to be about eight or so. All she says is that Scrooge is to come home and that they are to be together for the holiday. It's up to the reader to infer why Scrooge hasn't been able to go home before now, but I suppose it's fairly easy to make some guesses about his home life from that information.

Other than possibly that earlier panel when we first saw Young Scrooge, the schoolmaster doesn't appear in the story. Fan says that she's come to get Scrooge and right away they're in the carriage (really more of a flatbed wagon) with a driver. Scrooge is pointing towards something off panel, presumably home.

During these final panels, the Ghost mentions Fan's child, which puts a pensive look on Scrooge's face as he watches the wagon drive off across the snowy landscape.

Dragonfly Ripple | Ant-Man (2015)

David and I talk about our favorite parts of the superhero comedy and whether its villain is worthy of the rest of it. We also start ranking the MCU heroes in this episode and wonder why we haven't been doing that all along.

Thursday, December 06, 2018

“I Was a Boy Here!” | Campfire’s A Christmas Carol (2010)

Scott McCullar and Naresh Kumar's version is surprisingly faithful to Dickens for how abbreviated it is. They've only got two-and-a-half pages for this scene, but do a remarkably nice job with it. They of course follow Dickens in having no transition scene between Scrooge's room and the his childhood's countryside.

I've criticized Kumar's art in past scenes for being inconsistent about facial expressions and emotions, but Scrooge is persistently thoughtful and even kind in this scene. I speculated earlier that the ghosts in this story might be all in Scrooge's head; manifestations of his conscience trying to battle its way through layers of malevolence and possibly even sociopathy that Scrooge has been building for years. If that's the case, then retreating into his memories has a profound effect on him.

The version skips the visit by Scrooge's literary friends, which is for the best. This Scrooge is troubled enough. After showing us little, lonely Scrooge it immediately jumps forward in time to Fan's visit. She's younger than Scrooge, but looks like she could be in her mid-teens.

She mentions that their father is kinder than he used to be, but leaves out the part where she asked him if Scrooge could come home for Christmas. The result is that it seems like Dad has just been generally unpleasant rather than particularly spiteful towards Scrooge. If that's the case, then I understand why these memories could have a calming effect on the old man. He mentions his regret about the boy caroler from the night before and when he talks about Fred, he seems downright serene. For all the loneliness leading up to these memories, they're pleasant ones for Scrooge.

The scene closes with him and Fan in a carriage with a driver, but doesn't include anything about the schoolmaster. It also says nothing about how Fan died or whether that affected Scrooge's attitude toward Fred.

Weird Christmas | Victorian Christmas Ghost Stories

One of my favorite Tumblrs is Weird Christmas. It covers more holidays than just Christmas, but it gets especially busy this time of year documenting strange, vintage holiday cards, photos, ads, etc.

Proprietor Craig Kringle also has a podcast and for his episode about Victorian Christmas Ghost Stories he rang the Krampus bells to see who would be interested in helping read an actual Christmas ghost story. I volunteered and Craig kindly let me join in.

The story he picked is Algernon Blackwood’s “The Kit Bag.” It's a fun, creepy one and I got to read the ending. Craig also talks to Dr Tara Moore about the whole Victorian Christmas ghost story phenomenon, so it's just an all-around cool episode. Check it out.

Wednesday, December 05, 2018

“I Was a Boy Here!” | A Christmas Carol: The Graphic Novel (2008)

Sean Michael Wilson and Mike Collins' adaptation is super faithful to Dickens with only a few changes. Like in Dickens, the Spirit leads Scrooge directly from his room to the countryside and Scrooge reacts the way he does is Dickens: with joy and tears.

The tears fit with how this version has presented Scrooge so far. Marley made some headway on this Scrooge in a way that the Classics Illustrated and Marvel Marleys didn't, so Scrooge is in a receptive mood. It doesn't mention his being pleased with his schoolmates' wishes of Merry Christmas, but it does include the little market town and leaves room for Scrooge's schoolmates to have been genuine friends to him (though - also like Dickens - it doesn't explicitly say that they were).

The school isn't especially rundown and since this version doesn't say anything more about Scrooge's dad than Dickens does, we can't infer anything about the Scrooge Family's financial status. I like how Collins draws the furniture in the schoolroom with the long benches mentioned in Dickens as opposed to the individual desks in many adaptations. It's not something I'm keeping track of, but there's a nice big panel of the schoolroom in this version, so it stands out.

Scrooge's literary companions are mentioned just as Dickens did, but because Scrooge seems mentally sound in this version, there's no reason to be concerned about Ali Baba and Company's appearing to Scrooge one Christmas. If it was an hallucination, it was a passing one. And it's more likely that Scrooge is just describing a vivid fantasy he had one Christmas when he was especially lonely.

Fan is younger than Scrooge and seems to be about eight or nine, which fits how I read her in Dickens. Her speech is right out of Dickens, too, and - as I said above - reveals nothing extra about Scrooge's dad. His unkindness towards Scrooge is still a mystery in this version.

The graphic novel is so faithful that it even includes the schoolmaster and dedicates a panel to his goodbye scene with Scrooge and Fan. It doesn't call attention to the wine and cake, but does show the Scrooge siblings eating. Contrary to Dickens though, they're apparently enjoying the snack and Scrooge even gives the schoolmaster a little smile when it's time to say goodbye.

Appropriate to Fan's age, she's been brought to the school in a carriage with a driver, but it's an open carriage in this one where Dickens described his as having a top for Scrooge's trunk to be tied to. C'est la vie.

Sleigh Bell Cinema | Love Actually (2003)

I'm joined by the very funny Rob Graham to talk about the Ultimate Romantic Comedy. Love Actually can be a divisive movie, but Rob and I are united in our actual love of it.

Advent Calendar House | How the Grinch Stole Christmas

If you've listened to the first episode of Sleigh Bell Cinema, you know that the idea of doing a seasonal Christmas podcast was heavily influenced by my pal (and first SBC guest) Mike Westfall's Advent Calendar House. So it was a special treat when Mike invited me to join him and Michael DiGiovanni (The Atomic Geeks, Classic Film Jerks, Pop Culture Retrofit) in kicking off the new season of ACH. We talked in-depth about all three adaptations of How the Grinch Stole Christmas: the great one, the horrible one, and the... well, you'll have to listen to find out what we thought about the other one.

Tuesday, December 04, 2018

“I Was a Boy Here!” | Marvel Classic Comics #36 (1978)

Never a publisher to pass up a chance for exciting action, Marvel's adaptation has the Ghost of Christmas Past whisk Scrooge out the window for a super-powered flight over the city and into the countryside (with Scrooge showing entirely too much thigh for me in one panel, but maybe that's your thing).

My read on Marvel's Scrooge is that he's legitimately mentally ill, but that the ghosts are real and are trying to help him heal. His severe mood changes from his office reassert themselves in this scene so that he does experience the full joy of seeing his childhood companions again, but also the full despair (complete with visual sobbing) of re-experiencing his childhood loneliness. He's also hearing voices that aren't there. The Ghost's line about the "solitary child neglected by his friends" is given to a caption box, so no one is saying it aloud, but Scrooge responds anyway with, "Yes... I know," before breaking down into tears.

Scrooge is running the gamut of emotions in this scene and it appears to unhinge him even more. It adds a scary, but fascinating element to Scrooge's vision of the literary characters and his insistence (right out of Dickens) that "one Christmastime when I was left here all alone, Ali Baba did come -- just like that!" Is this the moment when Scrooge snapped?

Marvel takes out some of the lesser known literary friends from Dickens and replaces them with Aladdin and his genie (while explicitly showing that Scrooge is reading 1001 Arabian Nights). As the visions conclude, Scrooge explains that he had been "left all alone to manufacture his own Christmas joy." This isn't from Dickens, so I give it extra meaning in describing the mental state of Marvel's Scrooge. This is no random Christmas plucked from Scrooge's childhood. This is the one that broke him.

Something I like is that writer Doug Moench doesn't try to blame this on Scrooge's schoolmates. The description of them is right out of Dickens, which means that we can take the word "friends" seriously and understand their neglect of Scrooge to be without malice. We don't see any interaction between Scrooge and the other kids, so it's possible to read it either way, but I prefer the idea that Scrooge's profound loneliness is the product of thoughtlessness rather than deliberate ill-will. Not that this makes it any better. If anything, it's a challenge for us to always be on the lookout for people who feel excluded so that we can welcome and draw them in.

Marvel doesn't spell out the condition of the school, but does mention after the time jump that it's "a little darker and more dirty" than it was before, implying that the school's administrators aren't keeping it up very well. This could be another form of neglect as easily as it could be evidence that Scrooge comes from a poor family. It might not be that this is the best Scrooge's father can afford. Maybe it's all he cares to give the poor kid.

Fan does mention their father. Her dialogue is pretty faithful to Dickens, so she says that Father is kinder now and that he considers Scrooge old enough to leave the school. Like Dickens, she also implies that the trip home isn't permanent: "You're to be a man! But first, we'll be together all Christmas long and have the merriest time in all the world!" That's all we know. There's no suggestion about why Scrooge's dad has been unkind in the past.

Fan is younger than Scrooge, but not by much. Like the Classics Illustrated version, she looks to be in her early teens. Possibly a bit older. And unlike Dickens, she's driven the coach herself to the school. There's no postboy (or schoolmaster) in the scene. Scrooge just gets in the carriage with her and leaves.

There's also no mention of how Fan dies, just that she does. Which may be what Scrooge is thinking about when a final caption tells us, "Although they had just emerged from the school, Scrooge felt an uneasiness of the mind." That's a paraphrased line from Dickens where it refers to Scrooge's thoughts about Fred. In Dickens, Scrooge's memories of Fan is causing him to regret how he's treated her son. This is less clear in Marvel though, and "uneasiness of the mind" only further solidifies my reading of Scrooge as needing mental healing, having re-witnessed the events that disturbed him in the first place.

Monday, December 03, 2018

“I Was a Boy Here!” | Classics Illustrated #53 (1948)

Classics Illustrated is trying to be faithful to Dickens and has Scrooge and the Spirit walk through the wall of Scrooge's room to appear immediately in the countryside.

This version of Scrooge has been especially mean and businesslike, so it's surprising that he actually does cry in this scene. He doesn't enjoy the Merry Christmasing like in Dickens' version though and his tears are mostly in pity for himself as a child. He's feeling sorry for himself, in other words. Connected to the way Scrooge has behaved so far in this version, I read it as a selfish reaction. At least initially.

To Dickens' description of Scrooge's being "neglected" by his friends, Scrooge adds the word "shunned." That kind of treatment makes them more schoolmates than "friends," but children use the word "friends" to refer to schoolmates, even when they're not acting particularly friendly. I think that's how this Scrooge uses it. Or perhaps he's saying that he felt shunned. Either way, it's safe to say that none of these kids have reached out to him in any sympathy for his having to stay at school over Christmas. Earlier, when Scrooge sees the kids leaving school, he just says that he knows them; not that he has any real relationship with them. He seems to be excited, but that's probably just the thrill of being plopped into so vivid a recreation of his memories.

A note on how Classics Illustrated depicts the "shadows of things that have been": All the people in these scenes of the past are colorless, ghostly outlines. It's not my preferred way of imagining it, because it doesn't make as much sense that Scrooge would forget they're not real and try to interact with them. But it's a decent visual representation of what Dickens describes is going on.

There's not enough detail in Scrooge's school to see if it's run down or not. We go straight from the countryside to inside the schoolroom, so we never see the exterior. Some furniture inside has color to it, so I don't think that the building is supposed to have the same ghostly form as the people in it, but the lines representing the Spirit's brightness overpower the rest of the drawing, so we can just tell that it's a schoolroom, but not its exact condition.

All of Young Scrooge's literary companions show up - even Valentine and Orson - but there's no context for them. The Spirit just says, "Remember those characters?" and Scrooge says that he does and excitedly names them, but there's no solid suggestion that they're replacing real, human friends for Scrooge. You have to imply it.

Helping the implication is that Scrooge gets sad again after these visions. A caption explains that he's "seized with pity for his former self" and he's crying, "Poor boy! Poor, poor boy!" It sounds like Young Scrooge is the poor boy, but in the same word balloon he adds, "I wish, but it's too late now..."

The Spirit asks him what the matter is and he explains about wishing he could have tipped the boy singing the Christmas carol. Incidentally, Classics Illustrated left out that earlier encounter, but it's easy to imagine that it happened, and probably has many different times with different singers. It would be effective though to contrast the image of that lone caroler with the lonely Scrooge in his schoolroom. I don't remember any adaptations that do that, but it could be powerful.

Some adaptations changed the caroler to a group of carolers, some including women or girls, so the comparison wouldn't work with those. But that's possibly another reason why a lot of adaptations leave out this particular regret of Scrooge's.

At any rate, this moment is the first sign of real change in Classics Illustrated's Scrooge. It's the first time that Scrooge has thought about anyone but himself, so it's important. And the catalyst for it is all from within him. Bringing Scrooge back to the past hasn't reminded him of friends and a time when Christmas was still special to him. It's been nothing but a reminder of his own loneliness as a child. And somehow he's connected that with the kid outside his office. There's not an in-story explanation for it, so it has to be the result of the Spirit's touching Scrooge's heart earlier. That's not as cool as Scrooge's coming to it through more natural means, but this wicked, resentful Scrooge needs extra, supernatural help to get to where he needs to be.

When Fan shows up, she looks younger than Scrooge, but not exactly childlike. I'd put her in her early teens with Scrooge maybe a few years older. She says nothing about Scrooge's father, just that she's there to bring Scrooge home. Her joy at coming to get him implies that he's been on some kind of exile from home for a while, but there's no explanation of why Scrooge has been cast out (if that's even what happened). All we know is that he's been lonely at school, but now he's headed home.

Since Scrooge's father isn't part of the story, there's no need to wonder what happened to Scrooge's mother and no reason to connect that with what happened to Fan. The Spirt mentions that Fan died an adult and Scrooge concedes that she had one child, his nephew.

There's no mention of the schoolmaster either. They go straight from the schoolroom to a particular warehouse...

Sunday, December 02, 2018

“I Was a Boy Here!” | Dickens

Illustration by Harry Furniss.

As usual, as we look at Dickens' text, I'm going to copy the entire text of the section in bold italics and insert commentary. That'll help identify elements that we want to pay attention to in the adaptations.

As the words were spoken, they passed through the wall, and stood upon an open country road, with fields on either hand. The city had entirely vanished. Not a vestige of it was to be seen. The darkness and the mist had vanished with it, for is was a clear, cold, winter day, with snow upon the ground.

A lot of adaptations insert some kind of transition scene here. Scrooge and the Ghost flying over London and into the country, or something like that. I don't know why they do it, but I don't mind. It always reminds me of Peter Pan taking the Darling children over London and off to Never Never Land. Which isn't a bad thing to be reminded of.

"Good Heaven!" said Scrooge, clasping his hands together, as he looked about him. "I was bred in this place. I was a boy here!"

I never noticed this before, but the statement that Scrooge was "bred here," suggests that he was born in this area, too. I don't know why, but I always assumed that he went to school a long way off from home, but since his little sister comes to get him by herself, it makes sense that the family home isn't that far away. Which makes it even sadder and more of a statement that Scrooge doesn't go home for the holiday. But I'm getting ahead of the story...

The Spirit gazed upon him mildly. Its gentle touch, though it had been light and instantaneous, appeared still present to the old man's sense of feeling. He was conscious of a thousand odours floating in the air, each one connected with a thousand thoughts, and hopes, and joys, and cares long, long, forgotten!

"Your lip is trembling," said the Ghost. "And what is that upon your cheek?"

Scrooge muttered, with an unusual catching in his voice, that it was a pimple; and begged the Ghost to lead him where he would.

Scrooge is already affected. Marley wore him down to the point where he acknowledged that there may be some need for change, though Scrooge wasn't ready to commit to making those changes. Then the Spirit of Christmas Past placed its hand on Scrooge's heart and promised that Scrooge would "be upheld in more than" just not falling out of his window. There was something supernatural in that, but now we see that it's symbolic of something mundane, but no less magical. The touch of the past - that is, the powerful recollection of vivid memories - gets through Scrooge's defenses and immediately goes to work on him.

Weirdly, it reminds me of what JJ Abrams said about making The Force Awakens. How in order to move the Star Wars saga forward, he first had to move it backwards. What he didn't say explicitly, but what I believe he meant, was that to move past the bad will generated by the prequels, he had to take viewers back in time to what made them fall in love with the series to begin with. That's what the first Spirit is doing with Scrooge.

"You recollect the way?" inquired the Spirit.

"Remember it!" cried Scrooge with fervour -- "I could walk it blindfold."

"Strange to have forgotten it for so many years!" observed the Ghost. "Let us go on."

They walked along the road; Scrooge recognising every gate, and post, and tree; until a little market-town appeared in the distance, with its bridge, its church, and winding river. Some shaggy ponies now were seen trotting towards them with boys upon their backs, who called to other boys in country gigs and carts, driven by farmers. All these boys were in great spirits, and shouted to each other, until the broad fields were so full of merry music, that the crisp air laughed to hear it.

Most adaptations leave out the town and go straight to the school, which is understandable, but too bad. It's very picturesque.

"These are but shadows of the things that have been," said the Ghost. "They have no consciousness of us."

The jocund travellers came on; and as they came, Scrooge knew and named them every one. Why was he rejoiced beyond all bounds to see them! Why did his cold eye glisten, and his heart leap up as they went past! Why was he filled with gladness when he heard them give each other Merry Christmas, as they parted at cross-roads and bye ways, for their several homes! What was Merry Christmas to Scrooge? Out upon Merry Christmas! What good had it ever done to him?

Dickens is being cheeky. Scrooge hasn't always hated Christmas, even though - as we'll see - he had reason to. This is impossible to convey on film. We see Scrooge happy to see his childhood friends again, but without hearing his thoughts, we can't tell that he's digging hearing them wish each other Merry Christmas. The result is that it seems like Scrooge has always been grumpy about the holiday, which isn't the case. The Spirit is reminding him of that.

"The school is not quite deserted," said the Ghost. "A solitary child, neglected by his friends, is left there still."

Scrooge said he knew it. And he sobbed. 

I bet not many adaptations have Scrooge sobbing.

Pay attention to "neglected by his friends." A lot of adaptations make it seem like Scrooge had no friends, even though we see him greeting them on the road. (Incidentally, his naming them "every one" means that adaptations have to come up with names for him to say, even though Dickens doesn't. I'm always curious about where writers came up with those names. Are they real people the adapter knows? I haven't been curious enough to try to find out, though.)

The truth is that Scrooge did have friends, but that they've forgotten him in their excitement to go home. I don't read this as an intentional snubbing; it's just a childish self-centeredness that's so focused on their own joy that they don't think about how miserable their buddy Ebenezer must be back at school. I think I remember that at least one adaptation tries to keep this nuance, so we'll watch for it.

They left the high-road, by a well remembered lane, and soon approached a mansion of dull red brick, with a little weathercock-surmounted cupola, on the roof, and a bell hanging in it. It was a large house, but one of broken fortune; for the spacious offices were little used, their walls were damp and mossy, their windows broken, and their gates decayed. Fowls clucked and strutted in the stables; and the coach-houses and sheds were over-run with grass. Nor was it more retentive of its ancient state, within; for entering the dreary hall, and glancing through the open doors of many rooms, they found them poorly furnished, cold, and vast. There was an earthy savour in the air, a chilly bareness in the place, which associated itself somehow with too much getting up by candle-light, and not too much to eat.

Dickens makes a big deal out of how run down the school is. Apparently, it was inspired by his own boyhood school, as was David Copperfield's as described in that book. Even though the school is probably close to Scrooge's home, this may also say something about the kind of education that Scrooge's father can afford for the boy. We see in the rest of the story that Scrooge has to work hard to get out of poverty, so it makes sense that his father wasn't especially well off. At least one adaptation though talks about an inheritance that Scrooge was able to invest, so maybe I'm misreading this. Something else to pay attention to.

They went, the Ghost and Scrooge, across the hall, to a door at the back of the house. It opened before them, and disclosed a long, bare, melancholy room, made barer still by lines of plain deal forms and desks. At one of these a lonely boy was reading near a feeble fire; and Scrooge sat down upon a form, and wept to see his poor forgotten self as he had used to be.

"Deal forms" are basically school benches or pews.

Not a latent echo in the house, not a squeak and scuffle from the mice behind the panneling, not a drip from the half-thawed water-spout in the dull yard behind, not a sigh among the leafless boughs of one despondent poplar, not the idle swinging of an empty store-house door, no, not a clicking in the fire, but fell upon the heart of Scrooge with softening influence, and gave a freer passage to his tears.

The Spirit touched him on the arm, and pointed to his younger self, intent upon his reading. Suddenly a man, in foreign garments: wonderfully real and distinct to look at: stood outside the window, with an axe stuck in his belt, and leading an ass laden with wood by the bridle.

"Why, it's Ali Baba!" Scrooge exclaimed in ecstacy. "It's dear old honest Ali Baba! Yes, yes, I know! One Christmas time, when yonder solitary child was left here all alone, he did come, for the first time, just like that. Poor boy! And Valentine," said Scrooge, "and his wild brother, Orson; there they go! And what's his name, who put down in his drawers, asleep, at the Gate of Damascus; don't you see him! And the Sultan's Groom turned upside-down by the Genii; there he is upon his head! Serve him right. I'm glad of it. What business had he to be married to the Princess!"

Valentine and Orson need some explanation. They're from a fifteenth century French romance called The History of Two Valyannte Brethren, Valentyne and Orson. It's about twin sons who are born to a noble family, but separated as children. Orson is carried away by a bear and raised as a wild man, while Valentine becomes a chivalrous knight. It was translated into English in the sixteenth century and was included (abridged) in children's readers.

The guy from the Gate of Damascus and the Sultan's Groom are both characters from an Arabian Nights story called "Noureddin Ali of Cairo and his Son Bedreddin Hassan." In fact, "what's his name" is Bedreddin Hassan himself.

What's fascinating to me is the actual appearance of these characters "outside the window." And Scrooge's assertion that on one, particular Christmas, they "did come, for the first time, just like that." It sounds like the boy Scrooge had a visitation or at least an hallucinatory experience. But I think it's more likely that Dickens is just describing how real these characters felt to young Scrooge. That when Scrooge was abandoned by his flesh-and-blood friends, these literary friends stepped in to comfort him. It's a beautiful image and one that my own boyhood self would have been able to relate to, though the appearances would have been by Tarzan, Conan, Sherlock Holmes, and Robin Hood.

To hear Scrooge expending all the earnestness of his nature on such subjects, in a most extraordinary voice between laughing and crying; and to see his heightened and excited face; would have been a surprise to his business friends in the city, indeed.

Again, Old Scrooge is totally getting into this.

"There's the Parrot!" cried Scrooge. "Green body and yellow tail, with a thing like a lettuce growing out of the top of his head; there he is! Poor Robin Crusoe, he called him, when he came home again after sailing round the island. 'Poor Robin Crusoe, where have you been, Robin Crusoe?' The man thought he was dreaming, but he wasn't. It was the Parrot, you know. There goes Friday, running for his life to the little creek! Halloa! Hoop! Halloo!"

From Robinson Crusoe, of course.

Then, with a rapidity of transition very foreign to his usual character, he said, in pity for his former self, "Poor boy!" and cried again.

"I wish," Scrooge muttered, putting his hand in his pocket, and looking about him, after drying his eyes with his cuff: "but it's too late now."

"What is the matter?" asked the Spirit.

"Nothing," said Scrooge. "Nothing. There was a boy singing a Christmas Carol at my door last night. I should like to have given him something: that's all."

This is remarkable and not something that many adaptations use. Scrooge is already gaining empathy for people he's recently used poorly and he's regretful about how he's behaved. This won't be the last time that something like this happens, and adaptations are more likely to keep one of the later examples. Maybe they don't want Scrooge changing this early.

The Ghost smiled thoughtfully, and waved its hand: saying as it did so, "Let us see another Christmas!"

Scrooge's former self grew larger at the words, and the room became a little darker and more dirty. The pannels shrunk, the windows cracked; fragments of plaster fell out of the ceiling, and the naked laths were shown instead; but how all this was brought about, Scrooge knew no more than you do. He only knew that it was quite correct; that everything had happened so; that there he was alone again, when all the other boys had gone home for the jolly holidays.

He was not reading now, but walking up and down despairingly. Scrooge looked at the Ghost, and with a mournful shaking of his head, glanced anxiously towards the door. 

Dickens doesn't say why he's not reading. Maybe he's outgrown books as an escape? That's too bad, if true. He seems to be wallowing in his misery now.

It opened; and a little girl, much younger than the boy, came darting in, and putting her arms about his neck, and often kissing him, addressed him as her "Dear, dear brother."

Scrooge's sister isn't always younger than him in the adaptations. I want to try to figure out why some of them change that. I remember that some of them suggest that Scrooge's mother died giving birth to him, so Dad holds a grudge. Which would make it necessary for Fan to be older than Scrooge, unless they have different mothers. If the versions with older Fans are also the versions that mention how Scrooge's mom died, that makes sense. It'll be fun putting those pieces together and see if that's the case.

"I have come to bring you home, dear brother!" said the child, clapping her tiny hands, and bending down to laugh. "To bring you home, home, home!"

"Home, little Fan?" returned the boy.

She's apparently named after Dickens' older (and favorite) sister.

"Yes!" said the child, brimful of glee. "Home, for good and all. Home, for ever and ever. Father is so much kinder than he used to be, that home's like Heaven! He spoke so gently to me one dear night when I was going to bed, that I was not afraid to ask him once more if you might come home; and he said Yes, you should; and sent me in a coach to bring you. And you're to be a man!" said the child, opening her eyes, "and are never to come back here; but first, we're to be together all the Christmas long, and have the merriest time in the world."

Here's another point where adaptations differ. Some of them make it seem like Scrooge is finally going back to a now-loving home environment. At least one shows that that definitely is not the case. The way I read this, Scrooge's father thinks that Scrooge is done with school and ready to get a job. Whether Scrooge's schoolmaster would agree or not doesn't come up. It might just be that Scrooge's dad has run out of money.

But before Scrooge goes to work, he does get to come home and spend Christmas with Fanny, which is what she's focused on.

"You are quite a woman, little Fan!" exclaimed the boy.

She clapped her hands and laughed, and tried to touch his head; but being too little, laughed again, and stood on tiptoe to embrace him. Then she began to drag him, in her childish eagerness, towards the door; and he, nothing loth to go, accompanied her.

A terrible voice in the hall cried, "Bring down Master Scrooge's box, there!" and in the hall appeared the schoolmaster himself, who glared on Master Scrooge with a ferocious condescension, and threw him into a dreadful state of mind by shaking hands with him. He then conveyed him and his sister into the veriest old well of a shivering best-parlour that ever was seen, where the maps upon the wall, and the celestial and terrestrial globes in the windows, were waxy with cold. Here he produced a decanter of curiously light wine, and a block of curiously heavy cake, and administered installments of those dainties to the young people: at the same time, sending out a meagre servant to offer a glass of "something" to the postboy, who answered that he thanked the gentleman, but if it was the same tap as he had tasted before, he had rather not. Master Scrooge's trunk being by this time tied on to the top of the chaise, the children bade the schoolmaster good-bye right willingly; and getting into it, drove gaily down the garden-sweep: the quick wheels dashing the hoar-frost and snow from off the dark leaves of the evergreens like spray.

The command to bring down Scrooge's box makes it into one of the adaptations, but I don't think it's explicitly stated that it's the schoolmaster saying it. I can think of only one other adaptation that even mentions the schoolmaster, but that scene is quite different from the way Dickens wrote it.

I love the humor in the comments about the schoolmaster's wine and cake. This really is a miserable school.

For those who don't know, the "chaise" is a one-horse carriage and the "postboy" is its driver. The "garden-sweep" is the curve of the driveway as it winds through the grounds.

"Always a delicate creature, whom a breath might have withered," said the Ghost. "But she had a large heart!"

"So she had," cried Scrooge. "You're right. I'll not gainsay it, Spirit. God forbid!"

"She died a woman," said the Ghost, "and had, as I think, children."

"One child," Scrooge returned.

"True," said the Ghost. "Your nephew!"

Scrooge seemed uneasy in his mind; and answered briefly, "Yes."

Some adaptations reveal that Fan died giving birth to Fred. That's not mentioned in this scene by Dickens, but it could come up later. I'll be interested in finding out if that (and the hypocrisy of Scrooge's holding it against Fred when he knows how it feels himself) is a Dickens move or something that screenwriters came up with.

So here's what we're looking for this year:

  • Any transition scene from Scrooge's room to the country?
  • How does Scrooge respond to these scenes? Is he as deeply affected by them as Dickens suggests? Does he cry? How does that relate to the way the adaptation has presented Scrooge so far?
  • Are any of Scrooge's friends sympathetic that he has to stay at school? Does Scrooge even appear to have any friends in the adaptation?
  • Is the school rundown? Does the adaptation imply anything about the wealth of Scrooge's father?
  • How does the adaptation handle Scrooge's literary companions, if at all?
  • Is Fan younger or older than Scrooge?
  • What does the adaptation suggest about Scrooge's father's change of heart? Has he actually warmed up to Scrooge? And does the adaptation suggest why Scrooge's dad has been unkind to the boy? Is it because Scrooge's mother died giving birth to him? If so, is there a connection between that and Fan's age (relative to Scrooge's) in the version?
  • Is the schoolmaster in the adaptation? If so, how is he handled differently from Dickens' version?
  • Is there a mention of how Fan died? If so, is this also a version that mentioned Scrooge's mother dying while giving birth to him?

Saturday, December 01, 2018

The Christmas Carol Project | “I Was a Boy Here!”

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year, which means that it's also time to get back to our annual look at everyone's favorite Christmas/ghost story, Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol. If you're new to this, the idea is to pay attention to the way Scrooge's story has been interpreted and adapted to other media over the years. I’ve broken the story into scenes (or sometimes parts of scenes) in order to look at their translation to 19 different films, TV shows, and comics.

Here's the list of adaptations in the order I'll take them:

• Classics Illustrated #53 (1948)
• Marvel Classics Comics #36 (Marvel; 1978)
• A Christmas Carol: The Graphic Novel (Classical Comics; 2008)
• A Christmas Carol (Campfire; 2010)
• "A Christmas Carol" in Graphic Classics, Vol. 19: Christmas Classics (Eureka; 2010)
• Teen Titans #13 (DC; 1968)
• A Christmas Carol cartoon (1971) starring Alastair Sim
• The Stingiest Man in Town (1978) starring Walter Matthau
• Mickey’s Christmas Carol (1983) starring Scrooge McDuck
• A Christmas Carol (2009) starring Jim Carrey
A Christmas Carol (1910) starring Marc McDermott
Scrooge (1935) starring Seymour Hicks
A Christmas Carol (1938) starring Reginald Owen
Scrooge (1951) starring Alastair Sim
"A Christmas Carol" episode of Shower of Stars (1954) starring Fredric March
Scrooge (1970) starring Albert Finney
A Christmas Carol (1984) starring George C. Scott
The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992) starring Michael Caine
A Christmas Carol (1999) starring Patrick Stewart

Annual Disclaimer: This obviously isn’t an exhaustive list. I started with my favorites, added some that people have recommended over the years, and then threw in some others that just caught my attention. We can talk about the ones I left out, but I will say that the reason Mr Magoo’s Christmas Carol isn’t here is because I hate it with a passion. It’s neither a good Christmas Carol nor a good Mister Magoo cartoon. There’s also no Scrooged or An American Christmas Carol or Ghosts of Girlfriends Past. When I first started this, I tried to stick to more or less faithful adaptations, but even though I've since added Teen Titans to the list, I'd rather that be a fun exception and not have to figure out where I'm going to draw the line.

This is going to take years. Every December we'll look at one scene, starting with Dickens' version, then exploring individual adaptations of that scene in the days leading up to Christmas. In this year's scene the Ghost of Christmas Past takes Scrooge to the first stop on their trip: Scrooge's boyhood school. It's an easy scene to drop for the shorter adaptations, but when it does show up, I always love the opening images of children playing in snowy countryside.

Sleigh Bell Cinema | White Christmas (1954)

I'm joined by my wife, Diane, to talk about a holiday tradition for our family, the Michael Curtiz classic starring Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney, and Vera-Ellen. We talk about our favorite characters, music, and dance numbers as well as a few things that don't quite work or hold up.

Friday, November 30, 2018

Hellbent for Letterbox | The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean (1972)

Pax and I talk about the unique Paul Newman western, written by John Milius and directed by John Huston. There's also lots of Pony Express and I talk about playing the first chapter of Red Dead Redemption 2.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Monday, November 26, 2018

Sleigh Bell Cinema | Bad Santa (2003)

Special guest Dan Taylor (Planetary Union Network, 2 MAN Podcast) makes Santa's censors work overtime to avoid the Explicit tag on this episode as we cover Terry Zwigoff's irreverent comedy about an ill-tempered safecracker who poses as a mall Santa to rob department stores. Starring Billy Bob Thornton, Tony Cox, Lauren Graham, Bernie Mac, and John Ritter.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Sleigh Bell CInema | Mixed Nuts (1994)

I'm joined by my friend (and Greystoked and Thundarr Road co-host) Noel Thingvall to talk about Nora Ephron's Christmas comedy starring Steve Martin, Madeline Kahn, Rita Wilson, Juliette Lewis, Liev Schreiber, Adam Sandler, and so many more people.

In the process of discussing the film, Noel and I also get into a general discussion of bedroom farces and screwball comedies, talking about what does and doesn't work for us in those genres. Screwball comedy is a shaky genre for me and Noel helps me figure out why that is. Podcasting can be therapeutic, ya'll.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Hellbent for Letterbox | Riders of the Whistling Skull (1937) / The Night Riders (1939)

Pax and I explore the Three Mesquiteers. We talk about the history of the long-running series, then take a look at Riders of the Whistling Skull, in which Robert Livingstone, Ray Corrigan, and Max Terhune help a woman find her missing father and some lost treasure. Then in The Night Riders, Livingstone is replaced by John Wayne who leads the trio as masked vigilantes fighting an evil land baron.

It's '30s Saturday matinee pulp, but is it any good? We find out.

Also: Lots of Pony Express and I talk briefly about Western comics Manifest Destiny and Perdy.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Dragonfly Ripple | Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)

David and I discuss the second Avengers movie and whether it lives up to the promise of the first one. We also talk about Brutasha, compare Quicksilvers, and decide how we'd like to see the X-Men introduced to the MCU.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Sleigh Bell Cinema | The Thin Man (1934)

I'm joined by Kay from the Hyperspace Theories podcast, FanGirlBlog, and Geek Fashion Galaxy to talk about one of our favorite movies. What makes Nick and Nora Charles so great? Is The Thin Man a good mystery? And how does it capture the Christmas experience in a way that many bona fide Christmas movies don't?

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Dragonfly Ripple | Daredevil: Season 1

David and Michael discuss the first season of Netflix's Daredevil and why it's so brutally violent.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Sleigh Bell Cinema | Gremlins (1984)

I talk with Jeeg from Nerd Lunch about Joe Dante's Christmas horror-comedy, Gremlins. How well does it walk the line between snickers and scares? And what are some other holiday horror movies we like?

Be sure to also check out the Gremlins episodes of the Cult Film Club and I Read Movies podcasts, which we mention in the show.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Dragonfly Ripple | Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

David and I discuss Marvel's exploration of the space opera genre, the characters that inhabit it, and how it connects to the rest of the Cinematic Universe.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Thundarr Road | Valley of the Man-Apes

Heading south along the California coast, Thundarr and Friends reach the San Fernando Valley and Hollywood where they encounter talking apes who are gathering pieces of a secret (but familiar-looking) weapon to use in their war against a beleaguered city of little people. Noel, David, and I discuss the homage-heavy episode and whether it lives up to our hopes for it.

Friday, November 09, 2018

Gimme That Star Trek | Trek's Goofiest Episodes

It's been a while since I've gotten to talk about Star Trek on a podcast (RIP, Starmageddon), but Siskoid kindly invited me to his show to celebrate the sillier side of Trek. When I initially thought up the topic, I was thinking just about the original series (and we do spend most of our time there), but Siskoid wisely expanded the conversation to include the later shows, specifically asking if camp is something that should be part of every Star Trek iteration.

Wednesday, November 07, 2018

Sleigh Bell Cinema | It's a Wonderful Life (1946)

I'm joined by Carlin Trammel (Nerd Lunch, Dragonfly Ripple) to talk about Frank Capra's classic Christmas movie starring Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed.

After discussing what makes a Christmas movie (and why this film is one), we take a close look at George Bailey, his friends, his family, and his wonderful life.

Monday, November 05, 2018

Introducing Sleigh Bell Cinema

UPDATE: The show was still under review with iTunes when this post went live, but it's now been approved and is available for your subscribing pleasure.

Now that Halloween is done, we've got another holiday to cover. If you've been hanging out with me here for a while, you know that Christmas is a big deal to me and hopefully you're looking forward to this year's installment of the Christmas Carol Project. But before we get to that, we have some Christmas movies to talk about.

I've started a new podcast called Sleigh Bell Cinema. It's going to be a seasonal podcast covering a wide variety of Christmas movies. In the first episode, I'm joined by Mike Westfall, whose TV-focused Advent Calendar House podcast is a direct inspiration for Sleigh Bell Cinema. And of course, we have to start with an adaptation of A Christmas Carol.

After a quick conversation about the Muppets' relationship with Christmas in general, we talk about one of our favorite Christmas Carol adaptations, The Muppet Christmas Carol. What makes it a good adaptation? How does it rank with other Muppet films? Did it get the casting right? Is there anything that it doesn't do so well? I hope you'll tune in for more fun than falling down a chimney and landing on a flaming hot goose.

Friday, November 02, 2018

Mystery Movie Night | Beetlejuice (1988), The Crow (1994), and Hellboy II: The Golden Army (2008)

It's appropriate that our 31st episode released on the 31st and to celebrate Halloween, we invited special guest Siskoid (Siskoid's Blog of Geekery, The Fire and Water Podcast Network) to help us talk about a trio of spooky movies by auteur directors with passion for art direction. But that isn't the connection.

00:05:08 - Review of Beetlejuice

00:22:43 - Review of The Crow

00:45:24 - Review of Hellboy II: The Golden Army

01:11:01 - Guessing the Connection

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Fourth Chair Army Invasion | Mike Drop

Happy Halloween, everyone!

Yesterday was the fifth Tuesday of the month, which means it's time for another exciting episode of the Nerd Lunch Fourth Chair Army Invasion. This one is an all-Mike episode when Michael DiGiovanni, Mike Downs, Mike Westfall, and I discuss our favorite pop culture Mikes, then drop said characters onto a Battle-Royale-style island to fight to the death. Who is the ultimate Mike? Only one way to find out!

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Mystery Movie Night | The Candidate (1972), Die Hard 2 (1990), and Burn After Reading (2008)

Special guest Carlin Trammel (Nerd LunchDragonfly Ripple) joins Evan, Dave, David, and I in pondering the point of politics, planes, and plastic surgery.

00:02:40 - Review of The Candidate

00:21:44 - Review of Die Hard 2

00:35:40 - Review of Burn After Reading

00:55:53 - Guessing the Connection

Monday, October 22, 2018

Dragonfly Ripple | Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)

David and I hash out why this is one of David's least favorite Marvel movies, but one of my favorites. There's some Agents of Shield discussion along the way, but mostly it's all spies and lies and the mortality of Nick Fury.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Nerd Lunch | Movie Monsters Sweet 16

Because I love Halloween and horror, one of my favorite episodes of Nerd Lunch every year is their annual Halloween Special with recurring guest Jay Ryan (The Sexy Armpit, The Purple Stuff Podcast). So it was super fun to get to be on that episode this year with Jay and of course hosts Pax and Jeeg.

For this episode, we each brought lists of our favorite movie monsters, put them all into a Sweet Sixteen bracket, and then voted (with absent Nerd Lunch host CT breaking ties via text) to see who the ultimate movie monster is. It was a lot of fun and there are some fantastic matchups in there, so celebrate the season and see if you agree with our choices.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Dragonfly Ripple | Thor: The Dark World (2013)

David and I discuss the evolution of Loki's character arc, the Thor/Jane 'ship, and whether Malekith is a good villain. And of course, lots of connections to the other Marvel movies.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Hellbent for Letterbox Episode 50 | Young Guns (1988) and Young Guns II (1990)

To celebrate the 50th episode of Hellbent for Letterbox, Pax and I set aside the Pony Express and Whatchoo Been Westernin' to focus exclusively on the two Young Guns movies starring Emilio Estevez, Kiefer Sutherland, Lou Diamond Phillips, and a couple of posses' worth of other '80s Brat Packers.

We're both crazy about Young Guns, but have different opinions on the sequel. It's a great discussion, so make yourself comfortable and settle in for this double-size celebration.

Tuesday, October 02, 2018

Countdown to Halloween

I had planned to do a Countdown to Halloween series again this year, but looming deadlines (both writing and podcasting) are going to make that impossible. At least on this particular site.

If you want more Halloween goodness than you can handle though, follow my Tumblr, because it is a non-stop spook party over there.

Monday, October 01, 2018

Dragonfly Ripple | Iron Man 3 (2013)

David and I tackle the final Iron Man solo film and talk about how its darker subject matter affects our enjoyment.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Dragonfly Ripple | The Avengers (2012)

David and I discuss the unlikely miracle that is Joss Whedon's The Avengers as well as its effect on the Marvel movies (and TV shows) that followed it.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Hellbent for Letterbox | The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976)

Pax and I talk about Pax's second-favorite Western of all time; a movie that I'd never seen before. But there's also time for quick reviews of 1953's The Lawless Breed and Daniel A Edwards' book, Billy the Kid: An Autobiography.


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