Tuesday, 12 December 2017

The Top 5 Things About Christmas: Part II

by Joe Brennan

1. Favourite Christmas Book: My favourite Christmas book is an unusual one. A festive sequel to Roddy Doyle's hit children’s book The Giggler Treatment: Rover Saves Christmas. Following the Mack family again in their hilariously witty now Christmas themed shenanigans, Roddy Doyle’s second children’s novel sees Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer fall sick on his one day of work and Rover the dog being the only one who can guide and pull Santy’s sleigh. I will admit it’s been a while since I’ve read it but I’d definitely recommend Rover Saves Christmas (and the entire trilogy) to anyone who enjoys an easy read or a laugh. Or if anyone is looking for presents to give their young family members, this book will likely go down a storm.

2. Favourite Christmas Film: My favourite Christmas film (and objectively the best...) is The Muppets Christmas Carol- recently celebrating its 25 year anniversary. Dedicated to Jim Henson (the genius behind the Muppet phenomenon) and Richard Hunt (the puppeteer behind Muppets like Scooter, Janice and Sweetums), this was the first Muppet outing since the loss of these two major players. And what an outstanding outing it was! This film took the classic Charles Dickens novel, added The Muppets, sprinkled on some Michael Caine and somehow managed make the best film adaptation of A Christmas Carol the world has ever seen while also the best Muppets film, and possibly the best Christmas film of all time. One would quite justifiably assume that a film starring a long nosed alien claiming to be Charles Dickens telling a story featuring a talking frog and an angry pig would shy away from the darker sides of the story. You would, however, be wrong. These characters were Jim Henson's Muppets and seeing Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy (Mr and Mrs Cratchit) trying to stay strong for their daughters after the death of Tiny Tim but Piggy breaking down is honestly gut-wrenchingly upsetting. This lack of fear when dealing with the serious themes is all the more important when the contrasting feel good scenes hit: I'm not sure there's a Christmas film out there with a more uplifting ending, if you still haven't watched this film, it's a must-see this Christmas season. If you have seen this film, watch it again!

3. Favourite Christmas Song: As for favourite Christmas song, I’m not entirely sure I can pick one. I can, however, present an entire album that I consider a Christmas essential: Barenaked for the Holidays. The seventh album by The Barenaked Ladies and their first themed one features new takes on classic songs and fantastic original songs based on Christmas, Hanukkah and New Years. With guest vocals from Michael BublĂ© and Sarah McLachan, the Canadian alt rock band present a selection of catchy, comedic and often beautifully sombre songs that all have the potential to be classics in their own right. Any fans of The Barenaked Ladies (or fans of music in general) should definitely give this a listen for a greatly improved Christmas.

4. Favourite Christmas Food: How could anyone talk about Christmas without mentioning the food? An extremely important part of my Christmas experience is the variety of sugar based ways I find to be unhealthy. Advent calendars, selection boxes, chocolate oranges...wait these are all chocolate. I guess chocolate is my favourite Christmas food, not because it’s inherently Christmassy but because the holiday period provides an excuse to eat my increasing body weight in chocolate.

5. Favourite/Least Favourite Christmas PresentPresents are a tricky one as I find it difficult to point out either a significantly outstanding present (other than my LEGO Hogwarts a few years back) and I’ve never had a single present I could call bad. I do, however, look forward more to the movies and TV shows of the holiday period and there are definitely a few I’ve been disappointed with and some that I’ve loved. The confusingly summery Disney film Moana came out last December and that film (paired with its soundtrack) definitely improved my Christmas. Two years ago, I was treated to an amazing experience of going to London’s Leicester Square Empire IMAX to see Star Wars Episode VII on the opening day (something I’ll try to somewhat replicate this Friday with The Last Jedi). The film itself was a Christmas miracle, finally a great Star Wars film to satisfy my nerdy needs! As far as disappointment goes, I can’t say I’ve been exposed to many Christmas disappointments except for The Doctor Who Christmas specials! The last three Christmas specials have been a tad underwhelming and seem to fail to live up to the hype and standards set by prior episodes. This year, however, could be different- following a very strong final series of Peter Capaldi’s 12th Doctor, this special sees him team up with The First Doctor to battle one last foe together. With the regeneration into Jodie Whittaker, the return of Bill and Clara and a rumoured appearance of fan-favourite villain Scongo, this year has the potential to be something truly special.

I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas!

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