Holiday Flashback: Twas the Night Before Christmas

As much as I love Rankin/Bass holiday specials, I’m shocked that I completely forgot about their cartoon version of Twas the Night Before Christmas. This used to be one of my favorite Christmas specials when I was a little kid. I suspect it was the singing mice. Or Joel Grey. Either one always gets me. Thankfully, and who knows for how long, someone has posted this cartoon on YouTube. I can only describe my response upon discovering it as “great joy and gratitude.”

Merry Christmas Eve, denizens, if that’s your holiday swing. If not, I wish you the most wonderful Tuesday ever in the history of the universe.

//www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/bOUFMmprpLI

Flashback Friday: The Year Without a Santa Claus

It’s that time of year once more, denizens, in which I journey back to those nostalgic memories of Christmases past and bring a little holiday joy into the lair while doing so. For me, holiday television viewing is almost predominantly owned by Rankin/Bass Productions. I’ve referenced these purveyors of stop-motion and traditional animation before, but this time I’d like to reference one of their stop-motion cartoons that wasn’t quite as popular as their more famous fare, like Frosty and Rudolph: The Year Without a Santa Claus. Featuring Mickey Rooney as the voice of Santa and Shirley Booth as the voice of Mrs. Claus, this show didn’t air in regular rotation for very long in comparison with other Rankin/Bass offerings (I believe it stopped appearing on regular television in the early 80s, which means it was only out there for five or six years; ABC Family now plays it every year, which I guess is one tick in favor of cable television).

I actually don’t remember a whole lot from the show itself. My favorite parts, however, were the Miser Brothers: Heat and Snow. Together, they sing two parts of a song that I still love. It’s silly and bouncy and actually converted quite well to a cover by Big Bad Voodoo Daddy. Don’t believe me? First, here’s the original:

//www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/hGRkNaMFp6w

And here’s the cover:

//www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/sPJjBNa7WYY

See? Not bad. If you want “bad,” all you need do is listen to this cover, performed by Harvey Fierstein as Heat Miser and Michael McKean as Snow Miser for the 2006 live-action version of this special. Oh, denizens, I really, truly wish I was kidding on this one. I apologize now, but I’m going to have to post a link to this since I have mentioned it. It’s terrible. You have been warned:

//www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/IGhT_ylXN8s

Eek. And did they really try to sexy up this special with scantily clad girlie dancers? Seriously, who thought this would ever be a good idea? Tick another one off in the support of my disdain for remakes…

Oh, and by the way? Team Heat Miser, all the way.

Flashback Friday: Frosty the Snowman

You may have noticed a lot of love at the lair recently for Rankin/Bass. Well, kind of love. As much love as you can possibly find in something like my Donner Party movie poster. Then, of course, there was my recent door decoration post for a proposed new Rankin/Bass special, Walken in a Winter Wonderland.

It’s true, denizens, while I might have a strange way of showing it, I adore Rankin/Bass holiday specials. In fact, Christmas simply didn’t exist in my mind when I was little without four things: A Charlie Brown Christmas, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, and Frosty the Snowman. Two of those four were brought to my childhood by Rankin/Bass.

Frosty, unlike Rudolph, wasn’t a stop-motion animation. Instead, it’s a traditional animated cartoon. However, as was par for the course for a lot of Rankin/Bass specials, it did have a “very special” narrator. Rudolph had Burl Ives. Frosty had Jimmy Durante. I had actually forgotten this fact until tonight; it’s been years since I saw this cartoon. Too many years. Guess that’s why I just felt the need to order it on DVD, along with Rudolph and the Grinch. I need a little Christmas, denizens. And so do you. So enjoy Jimmy Durante and his animated nose, singing the eponymous song to Frosty the Snowman. Thumpety-thump-thump, thumpety-thump-thump, look at that Frosty go…

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kkoq_DKSdcs&w=640&h=480]

Walken In A Winter Wonderland

Not a lot of time for my typical prolixity, but I wanted to celebrate the auspicious occasion of yet another Über Geek Holiday Door.

You may recall that last year’s door was decidedly dorky (in a delicious way). This year’s theme was “Winter Wonderland.” The decree was issued not long before I was introduced to the wonderful meme “Walken in a Winter Wonderland,” one of the most wonderful memes I’ve seen in a very long time.

Obviously, I knew what I needed to do…

It’s not quite what I originally envisioned, but I not only ran out of time but also inspiration. I wanted to create a giant poster to advertise this as a new Rankin/Bass cartoon. That’s kind of what it is now…in a somewhat in-the-rough way.

I did, however, see fit to give myself my own award (since I failed to meet the deadline for door judging):

Here are better views of the primary characters. Jack Frost was going to be the focus of the cartoon (since he is the one with the fever, after all) so I made his the largest picture:

I think it’s funny how Christopher Walken as Hermey the Dentist Elf from Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer looks a little bit like Steve Buscemi:

And Christopher Walken as the Heat Miser from The Year Without Santa Claus looks kind of like U.S. Senator John Kerry:

Maybe that’s just my interpretation though.

Anyway, this is what’s going to be on my door for the rest of December. I hope someone out there enjoys it. Or at least gets it. And if you’d like to see some of the clips that inspired my Walken insanity, including his role as “The Continental,” one of my favorite of his SNL characters and the screen cap I used for Jack Frost’s face, here you go. Merry whatever, denizens.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i6tJ_ayFZto&w=640&h=480]