Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Lazy End of the Year

If you have stopped by the blog to look for brilliance today, I don't know what to tell you. I'm feeling tired and more than a little lazy. Now, the slightly sore throat and headache I have doesn't help. But I'm going to blame my malaise on the laziness that hits us all the last two weeks of December, because if I don't, I have no blog entry, and I've promised myself to put something up at least once a week.

Do you feel what I feel at the end of every year? There's so much to do in December, so much to cards, gifts, travel plans, visits with friends, and so on. And we all seem to look forward to the start of a new year, or at least we say we do. And yet, the last thing, the very last thing I want to do with my last two weeks of December is scurry around.

I want a lazy end of the year.

I wonder if it's that we tend to do too much all year round, especially at Christmas time. And I also wonder if we've lost the ability to rest. It's so rare to find someone who will say, "I didn't do a thing today. I just relaxed and sat with my thoughts and got refreshed through some quiet time." We don't rest enough. We fill our time instead with activities, activities, activities.

Now, it's not all bad to be busy. And of course, we have seasons when we have to be busy. But in the times where we can be free to rest, we often choose to be busy then, too, and we wear ourselves out.

So, while I feel I have no profound wisdom to offer right now, I am going to finish this blog entry with a simple bit of advice:  Don't be afraid of a lazy end to your year. 2011 is ready to start up any minute, and you can come up with your resolutions and start running around to them in a few days. Go ahead and relax and rest as you see 2010 on its gentle exit. You've earned it.

Copyright (c) 2010 by Michele Chiappetta. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Little-Known Quotes from Your Favorite Christmas Characters

We all know the official story of Rudolph, Santa, Hermie, and our other favorite holiday characters. But they have said plenty off camera too. And now, you can catch a glimpse into the workings of their minds. Merry Christmas! (Or as I like to call it, Merry Where's My Luggage? See earlier blog entry.)

"I don't care what anybody says. White Christmases stink!"
-Heat Miser

"Yeah, sure, like Christmas in Hawaii is 'normal.'"
-Snow Miser

"Bumble bumble bumble."
-The Abominable Snowman

"There's nothing better to celebrate Christmas than holiday lights!"

"Too many holiday sweets will rot your teet. Be sure to brush."

"Every year, the Great Christmas Tree rises from a tree farm to bring gifts to good children."

"Rocks for Halloween, coal for Christmas... If I'm going to get stones, then how about diamonds?"
-Charlie Brown

"I'm melting! I'm melting!"
-from Frosty's audition for The Wizard of Oz

"I'm melting! I'm melting!"
-from Witch's audition for Frosty the Snowman

"Yes, I did exclude Rudolph from the Reindeer Games. But I excluded Ben Affleck too, didn't I?"
-Coach of North Pole Reindeer Games

"Look, if all I did was hawk kids' toys, I'd be no better than Mayor McCheese."
-Mayor Burgermeister Meisterburger

"So. All you have is magic corn, and all it can do is make deer fly. No, no, I appreciate your help. Really."
-Jess and Kris Kringle talking with Winter Warlock

Copyright (c) 2010 by Michele Chiappetta. All rights reserved.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Christmas Gifts for Sci-Fi Fans

I know, I know. Buying Christmas gifts is hard enough for normal people. Far more complicated for those of who are not normal (i.e., sci-fi and fantasy fans). You're sighing as you read this because you're saying to yourself, "Why couldn't I buy you cheese and meat baskets like a normal person?"

Well, not to worry. There are plenty of Internet resources to help you buy your gifts. Here are just two:

E-How's how to choose Christmas gifts for a sci-fi fanatic. (Yes, someone put this on e-How).

A webpage of miscellaneous sci-fi trivia, clips, and products. I like the Darth Vader snowglobe, in which he's building a Death Star out of snow.

Hope that helps you show love to the geeks and nerds in your life. We appreciate your efforts!

Copyright (c) 2010 by Michele Chiappetta. All rights reserved.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

New Christmas (er...Holiday) Rules from the Thought Police

In light of new discoveries in health, science, and sociology, the following changes must be made immediately to the celebration of Christmas (er...the holidays) to save the planet from destruction. Please note the following rules and enact them immediately. Thank you.
                —The Thought Police

1. Due to the possibility that man has created global warming, Santa Claus is hereby prohibited from flying his man-made sleigh through the atmosphere, as its passage may disrupt the normal function of the ozone layer.

2. In response to a recent study showing that people who get less sleep look (and therefore possibly are) less healthful than those who get a full eight hours of rest, parents are hereby prohibited from staying up until two in the morning on Christmas Eve (as well as other holiday eves and birthdays) to wrap presents or assemble bicycles.

3. As rising diabetes rates are becoming a global concern, cookies are hereby prohibited from being left out for Santa's visit.

4. Due to PETA's recent protests, milk taken from cows, goats, or other animals is hereby prohibited from being left out for Santa's visit. (Note 1: FDA regulations requiring proper refrigeration of milk products also necessitate the prohibition of illegal use of milk for late-night chimney visitors. Note 2: Soy milk may be used as a substitute only if the soybeans are grown organically and harvested by a cooperative in recognition of green-earth policies and fair employment laws.)

5. In an effort to reduce bullying and prevent hate crimes, Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer will be escorted to and from Santa's sleigh by a protective detail, and a restraining order of 5,000 yards is hereby instituted between Rudolph and any reindeer who in the past prevented him from playing in the reindeer games.

6. In the spirit of holiday inclusiveness, the seasonal holidays will now officially include the celebration of Festivus, and Festivus poles may be erected anywhere that Festivus practitioners deem appropriate, whether the poles are attractive or not, as long as they do not create a road or health hazard.

7. In the spirit of respecting others' religious or non-religious beliefs, please refrain from using the following phrases: Merry Christmas, Happy Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanza, Merry Festivus, Pleasant Solstice, and It's the Season of Reason. The following phrases, however, are deemed acceptable for public use: Don't Park There, Snow Again?, Where's My Luggage?, and Glad I Have Today Off Because I Don't Feel Like Working.

8. In an effort to distribute wealth equally throughout the world, any gifts that you attempt to give will be forcibly removed from your home or car and sent immediately to orphans in India and Africa.

Thank you for your attention to these matters. We appreciate your cooperation. Have a happy celebration of Where's My Luggage?

Copyright (c) 2010 The Thought Police (aka Michele Chiappetta). All rights reserved.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Music Is a True Writer's Muse

Okay, here's the deal. Sometimes, music is just a nice background filler. Sometimes, it's a tool to change your mood. Sometimes it uplifts and inspires. Sometimes it helps you clean the house.

But sometimes, it makes me want to write. The best music is a writer's truest muse at times.

Music that is a muse for a writer makes you see things in your head. Makes you picture places, people, movement, mood, action. It sometimes creates a story that just begs to be fleshed out and told.

Case in point: "The Last Mile" by Tree Adams.

This is a guy I never heard of until today, though he's been around and working in Hollywood for a while. And recording. And doing all the stuff that artists do.

But man, oh, man. The music editor for the TV show "The Good Guys" used "The Last Mile" for a shootout scene in a recent episode. And I sat up and took notice. Why? I don't know if I can fully explain why. But the music, the lyrics, the mood of it all made the writer in me light up like a sky filled with lightning. Energy coming out of my fingers now, begging me to write.

I see that music telling a story in my head... I see the character, duster rising up in the wind as she stands atop a hill, looking down at her quickly impending future. Her friends moving in behind her, ready for the fight they are about to descend into. Their future isn't written yet, but danger is hanging just ahead of them, and they are about to willingly pass into it, full force, and face death with courage.

I know just what piece of writing that scene goes into. And I'm eager to get into that piece of writing like nobody's business. That's what music does for a writer sometimes. It whispers in your ear and gives you artistry. Just like a muse. For that, I'm grateful.

Check out Tree Adams, "The Last Mile," on iTunes. I recommend it.

Copyright (c) 2010 by Michele Chiappetta. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Raining on Holiday Parade in Tulsa

Okay, I know I promised you holiday humor again this week. And I will keep my promise if I can with a second post later this week. But right now I have to be serious for a minute.

What is up with the big to-do about calling a parade a holiday parade instead of a Christmas parade in Tulsa?

I'm a Christian. Okay. I get it. Sometimes it feels like we get rejected for being Christians. And sometimes Christians take a beating in the media and in people's opinions. At times, we do need to take a stand against disrespect toward our religious beliefs. If, for example, I have to submit to being scanned or patted down in the airport, while a Muslim woman in full garb can walk past because being scanned or patted down violates her religion, that's not fair to me, and I can protest. If I get criticized for taking a principled stand against abortion (I believe you don't have a right to choose who lives and who dies), then so be it. I'll take the heat. I am not opposed to taking a stand for my beliefs, and for being criticized by those who disagree with me.


I also think Christians have a way of wasting time on non-issues instead of focusing on the issues that are truly relevant. Case in point: This stupid holiday parade in Tulsa. We had to debate the name of the parade politically, in committee, wasting government time that really needs to be spent elsewhere (like on figuring out how to fix our bleeping streets here). Why? Because it used to be called a Christmas parade, and now it's called a holiday parade.

Some would say this isn't just semantics. I agree with you. Some would say it's sending a message. I agree. I think the message it is sending is this: Jesus loves all the children in Tulsa, whether they know Him or not.

Yup. That's what I think. Because I think, at the bottom of it all, parades at the holidays are for our children to have fun. For them to know we love them. For them to know that adults like to have fun too. And I don't have any problem letting all the Jewish, Muslim, atheist, and other non-Christian children in Tulsa come to a parade during December. Maybe you do. I don't know what to tell you if you do.

I can tell you this, though. By making a huge deal over the word Christmas (vs. the word holiday), Christians in Tulsa are sending the message that we don't love people who won't use the word Christmas. I'm sorry, but my Bible never says the word Christmas will save anybody. Not even the name Christ will save anybody. It's believing in Him that saves, according to the Bible. And I don't know how you can convince people He is worth believing in, if His representatives on this earth are constantly acting full of themselves, snotty, argumentative, and angry all the time.

If I were not a Christian right now, I can tell you that seeing a bunch of Christians argue over a stupid parade would not make me at all interested in becoming a Christian. I think this argument over the parade does nothing to show the love of Christ, but goes a long way to showing the banality of human beings. No one comes to God through human idiocy. I think all religions would agree with that.

How about we put Christ back in Christmas by truly loving those who don't believe the same way we do? And finding ways to show them, to prove to them, that we love them in a way humans ordinarily don't love? That will show Jesus to people far better than any parade labeled "Christmas."

Copyright (c) 2010 by Michele Chiappetta. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Everything You See in Entertainment Starts with Rudolph

It’s the holiday season…and Christmas shows are beginning to air. So are seasonal commercials, all of which seem to have the Dance of the Sugarplum Fairies playing in the background, as though there are no other winter songs to choose from. But that’s a subject for another blog. Let me get right to my point: I’ll bet you never realized how many movies and TV shows have their origins in a line of dialogue from Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

I know what you’re thinking. The Chipper Muse has been drinking! But no, no I haven’t. I’m serious. The idea dawned on me when the king of the Island of Misfit Toys says, “A toy is never truly happy until it is loved by a child.” Which, of course, is the inspiration for Toy Story. And anyone who has seen Elf knows that it was written and filmed with Rudolph in mind.

With my trusty notebook, I watched Rudolph this year, paying close attention to the dialogue that became the building blocks for well-known Hollywood productions. And just as you might suspect, I found quite a few of our favorite films and programs were inspired by the red-nosed reindeer. Let me show you. And let the holiday fun begin!

Line: “Who ever heard of a skinny Santa? Eat! Eat?”
Inspired: Fatso, a movie about a fat guy who can't stop eating

Line: “Suddenly it hit—the storm of storms!”
Inspired: The Perfect Storm and The Day After Tomorrow, both about killer storms

Line: “Someday I’d like to be a dentist.”
Inspired: Little Shop of Horrors and The Marathon Man, both with famous dental scenes

Line: “That sounded terrible! The tenor section was weak.”
Inspired: American Idol (and you think Simon is original)

Line: “I’ll never get off this island. Never.”
Inspired: Lost (self-explanatory)

Line: “That stupid elf song is driving me crazy!”
Inspired: Glee

Line: “My name’s Clarice. Hi.”
Inspired: The Silence of the Lambs

Line: “Like I said—the outside world is full of danger.”
Inspired: Witness (the grandfather was supposed to say this, but it got edited out)

Line: “All he thinks about are silver and gold.”
Inspired: Wall Street

Line: “The Bumble sinks.”
Inspired: Titanic (aka, the “bumble” to its bumbling shipbuilders)

Line: “Oink, oink, oink, oink.”
Inspired: Hot Fuzz and Police Academy

Line: “As good as everyone feels, this is no time to celebrate.”
Inspired: Die Hard (What do you think “yippee-ei-oh-kay-ay” means?)

I’ll be back next week with more Christmas humor. See you then!

Copyright (c) 2010 by Michele Chiappetta. All rights reserved.