Tuesday, March 1, 2016

THE CARRY ON COCKTAIL KIT, a world of awesome review

So I tried the "Carry On Cocktail Kit". It's a novel little item and it was fun to play with. I took pictures! 

Here we go!

So there I was, just sitting on a plane from Dallas to Portland, watching LE SAMOURAI on my iPad. Is it okay to admit that I don't really like French New Wave cinema? I felt like it was a thing you were supposed to like when I was in film school in the late 1990s. A lot of people had the ALPHAVILLE poster on their walls and we talked about Godard a lot. I guess I get why people are enamored of it, but it never grabbed me. Sometimes it just downright baffles me. I have probably started BREATHLESS at least 20 times and I get desperately bored and annoyed between 45 and 60 minutes in. LE SAMOURAI was alright, though. I don't think I ever finished it, but it has some very cool cars.

I picked the Old Fashioned Cocktail Kit, because the other choices were the Gin and Tonic or the Moscow Mule, and they just came with syrups and miniature jiggers. Also, I'm not drinking a Moscow Mule out of a plastic cup. What am I, a Dirty Water Dog, like a street vendor would serve to a tourist?

The kit comes with a bunch of cute stuff that is mostly just cute. Instructions, tiny cloth baggies, miniature muddling spoon. It's CUTE.

The plane I was on only had Jack Daniel's. Not my first choice for an Old Fashioned. Not ANYONE'S first choice for an old fashioned. But we take what the Lord provides, right? And as a native son of the great state of Tennessee, I have no ill will towards the sour mash miracle of Lynchburg. However this was not bourbon, and would not be quite right. I did it anyway.

I knew going in what I was doing.

There's enough sugar and bitters for two drinks. Everything has an airplane printed on it. Cute, right? I'll tell you right out of the gate, make some room if you want to mix this bastard up on a plane. There's lots of gear involved, and the tray table is wee.

It was fine. I felt like alternately like a fancy gentleman and an enormous asshole mixing this thing. Muddling the sugar took some time, long enough to really reevaluate how I had gotten to this place in my life. I could have been reading a great piece of literature, or finishing the classic piece of cinema I promptly forgot about. I could have been drawing; by god I used to draw a lot. I filled up sketchbooks like crazy, and worked hard making comics and art that really got me through some rough patches. I made work I enjoyed, and felt good to create. Somewhere along the way I just lot the drive. Maybe it was having a kid? That's draining, and a good excuse, but the truth is I got lazy about generating art well before that. I guess it's the fear of failure? Not that it was ever about succeeding, or winning something, but at a certain point, maybe it's not worth burning calories on something that ultimately is just for your own brief amusement. Who knows.

Ultimately, I spent my time making two Old Fashioneds with airplane bottles of Jack Daniel's. One hour closer to the grave!

There it is. It's sitting on a tiny fabric napkin that has a tiny airplane printed on it. Just cute as hell. It is also on top of the laptop that is now sitting in my lap as I type upon it. A connection to the past! 

I just published another post about "flying in style" or some such bullshit. (read it here) It wasn't very good, but I could have added a bullet point such as "BRING YOUR OWN COCKTAIL KIT". 

I'm not going to do that, although this was a fun little project. Is it worth doing again? Hard to say. I will almost certainly reuse the tiny bitters bottle.

Portable bitters are awesome.
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Once upon a time, in the ongoing life mistake that is social media participation, I signed onto a prominent-but-awful website, and shared an article from a prominent-but-awful online magazine. The article was about not dressing like a garbage person when you travel by air. It seemed inarguable.

However, more than one person (but less than four) responded to the tune of "as long as airlines make the experience of flying terrible, I will dress down as much as I like". Fair enough, I guess, although it exposed a bit of binary thinking. After all, there's a million grades of formal and casual wear between a tuxedo, and footie pajamas with "JUICY" printed across the ass. (Full disclosure: I usually wear a comfortable sportscoat and a shirt with a collar. That's all it takes to not feel like a garbage person, I have found.)

But this is not about what people wear on planes. Not entirely. That was just the starting point that got my brain-gears turning.

I spent the first 34 years of my life absolutely hating air travel. I hated the smell of airports, dealing with security lines, and the endless waiting, I hated the act of lifting off the ground, ears popping, cramped quarters, luggage, and the claustrophobia of it all. I avoided flying whenever possible, taking trains or driving whenever possible. In one exceptional trip from NYC to Tennessee, I took a full ten days travelling, bumming rides with friends who happened to be going in the general direction of South, and crashing on couches while these rides connected. It was fun, but not the kind of thing you can get away with much past the age of 20.

For the past five years I have traveled by aeroplane with regularity and a frequency that could be described as "silly". A "silly" amount of time in airports, and in security lines, and sitting in a cramped plane on the tarmac, going nowhere. However, I no longer mind these things. I have found methods that make flying not only tolerable, but occasionally enjoyable. They are all probably obvious to the experienced traveler, but rolled together into one holistic system, these ideas might make something awful into something not-so-bad.


Pick an airline and join their Rewards/Frequent Flyer/Benefits program. It's free, it's easy, and every airline has one. Join them all, if you want. It doesn't hurt. Not only are you earning spendable miles whenever you fly, but if you are upset by poor service, or if something goes wrong, any Agent will happily give you miles to salve the wound. Also, employees of airlines are automatically more pleasant when they see you are in their loyalty program. I'm not sure if they are instructed to do so or it's just in their DNA, but it's the way things are.


It's like twenty bucks, and you're not dragging your shit around, driving yourself crazy, and in everyone's way. However, if you have enough miles, bag check is automatically free. Back to point #1. Some pieces of luggage are compact, and you can manage a carry-on and a small weekend bag and everything is easy. But sometimes you see these dinks that have a massive carry-on, stuffed so full that the zippers are about to pop. They have a massive piece of rolling luggage that barely squeezes down the aisle on the plane. A giant coat is thrown over one arm, and a shopping bag is hanging off another. That guy should just check some bags. It's worth fifty bucks to keep a plane full of people from hating you.


Why not? Booze is delicious. Unwind a little. You're about to get packed into a rocket filled with asshole people and shot across the sky.

I often go directly to a work situation once I get off a plane, so I tend to stick to coffee on morning flights. Man, it's a bummer.


People tell me this is a good idea when you travel. Getting a belly full of fresh veggies and roughage rather than junk. I've never tried it, because I am an overweight piece of shit with fatty liver and bad decisions, but it really does feel like sound advice.


If you travel more than ten times a year, the math works out. I'm not good at math, but I think you should trust me. The way I see it, you go to an airport, have a cup of coffee, maybe a quick bite. $10. You get on the plane, have a layover, grab a drink, have a quick meal, maybe grab another coffee. $20. Maybe there's another drink. Then you reverse the process on the way home. We're looking at $60 on that round trip, and that's a pretty low-end estimate if you really like coffee, water, booze, beers, and food. At ten trips annually, that's $600, and the Admiral's Club (or Sky Club or whatever) membership is around $400, usually with discounts for Rewards Members.

This means unlimited coffee and snacks. Booze. Beers. Food. It's quiet, and there's space to think and relax. Often there are showers. Cookies.

It's not only cost-effective, it's a good way to stay sane. Have you ever been in an airport and you see someone sleeping across several seats, and they don't have shoes on, and they are using a rolled-up parka as a pillow? Or a sorority girl in pajamas carrying a stuffed panda like a toddler? Or kids eating chicken nuggets and playing with noisy off-brand tablets while their parents stare into space and wish for sweat death? Fuck those people. They are avoidable for a one-time annual fee.


I don't sleep well on planes. Overnight flights never work out for me. Maybe you sleep on planes. In which case ignore this one.

Look, air travel sucks, but wearing sweatpants and dragging a giant suitcase around while eating garbage is not the answer. In general, you should dress like an adult human, hope for an upgrade, and wear sunglasses.

It's not complicated.

When it works it's awesome.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

ST. MARK'S IS DEAD and Life in the East Village

Last week, I finished a terrific book. It is a relatively new release, as of this writing, and looks like this:

I heartily recommend it. It's smart, crisply written, witty, and the author has a broad view of history that keeps things objective, and described with an admirably holistic perspective. For anyone not familiar with NYC, this book is an amazing but of microcosm history; the history of the City, the country, and modern culture in general, all represented by a street that has managed to rewrite itself every ten years or so. For anyone that is familiar with life in the East Village, it's a ripping good yarn, and revelatory in the way you always hope non-fiction will be. 

It opened up a lot of memories/wounds/emotions in my brain and I will talk about them now.

The overlap of my life and the life of New York's East Village is a wee Vesica Piscis of less less than a decade, with my time working on (and essentially consumed by) St. Mark's Place being only slightly slightly bigger. It takes up most of my early and mid-twenties, which is a tender time when you make a lot of stupid mistakes, sleep very little, and generally still have plenty of puberty fueling your brain. My first experiences with St Marks Place are tied to young love, which is always nice for warm nostalgia. My college girlfriend (a great person and still a good friend) lived over the Mojo Guitar Shop, and right across from Yaffa Cafe (both "PERMANENTLY CLOSED" to use the harsh parlance of Google). Our first date was a midnight showing of CITY OF LOST CHILDREN at the Anjelika, and I walked her home through the mid-nineties barrage of 3 am drug-dealers. It was creepy and unsafe and I had no idea it would soon be my happy home. Not only was I often in that apartment, I was also soon hired at a notorious retail establishment, a job which outlasted the romance by several years.

Drawings I did in 2009 remembering St Marks Place in 1999. 
The author of ST. MARKS IS DEAD apparently worked at the same store I did; I suspect we only missed each other by weeks, since we are evidently the same age. This was during college and a few years thereafter for me, and the shop in question was at the time a highly enviable spot for part-time work. It had a reputation for being a cool, if difficult place, with an infamous cast of attractive and tattooed/pierced/be-mohawked girls working the register. I worked the night shift, which meant dealing with St Marks weirdos until one in the morning, which is when the prime weirdos were just getting started. We would kick out junkies, roll our eyes at the gutter punks, get star-struck by the frequent famous rock star or indie film actor, and then roll out into the night to drink cheap beers with ill-advised cash advances on our paychecks. The entire east village was our stomping ground, when there was still grounds to stomp (almost every bar we frequented between 3rd Avenue and Avenue C are all gone).

I lived on Avenue B for several years, and saw a drastic change in just a few short years. From junkies on the stoop, needing to be bribed with bottles of Red Stripe before they let you enter, to a velvet rope and bouncer, guarding a tapas bar that had opened in the former home of SAVE THE ROBOTS. The bouncers gave us more grief than the junkies, and I knew it was probably time to migrate to Brooklyn like every single other human under 25 was doing at the time.

Like anyone else who ever visited the East Village will always say, it's a very different place now. Most of the bars we enjoyed are gone, or so drastically changed as to be unrecognizable. Sounds and Kim's are gone, and the hours I spent looking at those shelves and racks are a stupid memory. I don't have a lot of rose-tinted nostalgia in this life, but it was a genuinely great place to live, when I lived there, at the age I was living through. I have funny anecdotes and awesome memories enough to fill a couple of different lifetimes.

Here's a few of them.
  •  SEX AND THE CITY filmed an episode in the store, and Sarah Jessica Parker had her costume people take photos of me, to use as a model for dressing the "perfect nerd". She later tracked me down to apologize after it occurred to her that that was maybe not flattering. I almost told the entire tale here, but got distracted.
  • While closing the store one night, a co-worker (who has since become a terrific musician and visual artist, but still just a kid at the time) mentioned that he knew of a post-fashion show party in Chelsea. We all scrambled to dress in a variety of Star Trek uniforms on display, hopped in a cab, and tried to convince the person at the door of a fancy club on the west side that we were, in fact, on the list. It did not work and we were suddenly stranded in Star Trek uniforms and carrying extra bottles of beer. I don't remember how we got home.
  • One Christmas Eve, after getting holiday shit-blasted on whiskey, a few of us emerged from being the only people in a bar by Tompkins Square to see a few clean inches of snow had fallen. The entire area was ours to play in as snow drifted down through the street lights. No one got hurt, and that was a Christmas miracle 
  • One of the greatest shows I have ever seen was on St. Mark's Place. A BLACK SABBATH cover band, with a chubby, middle-aged lead singer that put on a star-spangled wizard's hat when they performed THE WIZARD. It was amazing. 
  • I think they opened after I moved away, but goddam if CRIF DOGS hasn't been a great event anytime I've been there.
  • My bride and I ended up on St. Mark's Place towards the end of our first date, eating Afghan food at Khyber Pass, while she told me about all the shows she saw at Coney Island High, which used to sit across the street. 
There's way too many more to type, and after typing those, I realize how much of the post-adolescent era is probably a you-had-to-be-there situation. 

At any rate, living in the East Village in the late 1990s was awesome, and ST MARK'S IS DEAD is also awesome.

Thursday, December 17, 2015


Because of my impeccable taste, for 353 days I watch only the most sophisticated and enriching of entertainments. But during the holiday season, I have made a tradition of finding the worst possible Christmas-centric TV movies (usually from the powerhouse film factory at the ABC FAMILY network), getting loaded on bourbon, and watching third-rate basic cable actors teach us all about the meaning of the holiday. These are the reviews of those movies.

Is that freedom rock? Well, turn it up!


When I do my nightly cruising through Netflix (like Al Pacino looking for a serial killer), I try to find a perfect combination of a few key elements, and I avoid a few red flags. A young, urban lady with a lot to prove is always a good start. Actors who previously had long runs on mediocre sitcoms is another good sign. Romance elements that involve magic, or trickery. On the flip side, I never ever watch anything with an orphaned child who has a "Christmas Wish". Nothing with Jesus stuff. And child actors, in general, are just not happening. Nothing ruins a movie faster than mediocre children, and to make it worse, you can't make fun of them later. They're just kids- they can't help being shitty.

I picked A COUNTRY CHRISTMAS because I am a Southern Person, and I thought it might involve porches and banjos and old dudes that wear overalls and don't say anything or ever have emotions. Sadly, this movie is set in New Mexico. It's set on a ranch, not a farm, and people wear cowboy hats as opposed to these:

This is not a "country christmas".

I was predisposed to hate this movie because it not only has two precocious kids as leads, it also is substituting some weird political "war on Santa" for the bullshit "war on Christmas" that 8% of the population pretend is a news story. This movie is set in a utopian future where some heroic politician passes a law where believing in, talking about, or otherwise mentioning Santa Claus is illegal. Said politician is played by KEVIN POLLAK, you guys. And his advisor is Illeana Douglas. For three minutes of this movie, actual actors show upo and light things up. The remiaing hour and fifty-seven minutes is two kids having the world's worst adventure. A lot of it revolves around a "viral video". Barf.

The plot involves a real Santa Claus, a sick mom, devious politicos, and a lot of adobe style homes. That's as much as I want to type about that.

Santa is cast against type here, and I'm all for it. He's played by the big doofus orderly from ER, and as opposed to being a spritely old fart, MIRACLE ON 34th STREET style, his Santa is played as a benevolent magic creature, like Tom Bombadil or Doctor Who. He's weirdly inhuman, but funny and super likable. I really enjoyed the direction he took it. He has an elf helper who is played by a little person, which always squicks me out. Little People don't look like magical beings, they look like functioning adults with a medical condition. I thought WILLOW taught everyone a lesson. That shows what I know.

Joey Lauren Adams is in this, playing a Mom, alongside an actor who looks like a roadie for FOGHAT. I am old enough to remember when Joey Lauren Adams was a Fox, although to be fair, she's still a total fox, just not in the way where doofuses in Los Angeles would cast her as a young single lady. She's moved onto "mom" territory now, I suppose. Let me reiterate; she's still a fox, though, and good grief, she's a perfectly great actress! Comedy or otherwise. This is a super-depressing "sick parent" turm, but she can be funny as hell. PARTY DOWN was a nice bit of JLA cameo appearancing. PARTY DOWN is probably a better way to spend time than A COUNTRY CHRISTMAS. I'm gonna go out on a limb with that one. 

As I mentioned a few paragraphs back, Kevin Pollak is in this movie, playing a Christmas-ruining politician named "Schmucker". Is this okay? I mean, that's yiddish. He's clearly playing a malevolent Jew. He ruins Christmas in New Mexico and he looks like a cartoon drawing of an ashkenazi baby-boomer. It's creepy that he's so evidently the villain in this. It makes me feel weird and guilty.

At the 1 Hour 31 minute mark, Child Actress starts sobbing and says to perfectly-still-foxy Joey Lauren Adams, "No you can't have cancer! Please don't die!", and everyone, including Foghat Dad starts crying. Child Actress begs Santa to keep her Mom from dying, but his special powers are gone because a Jew Politican made people not believe in him. Then there is a public debate where the dirty Jew makes a little girl cry by bringing up Cancer Mom. That's as far as I got. Shit like this makes me not like America. Life is too fucked up as it is without adding this dark-ass misguided political nonsense to it. 

Tomorrow night, I'm back to sexy ingenues trying to decide between rich hunk or hunk-who-loves-Christmas. I am too fragile for anything else.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015


Because of my impeccable taste, for 353 days I watch only the most sophisticated and enriching of entertainments. But during the holiday season, I have made a tradition of finding the worst possible Christmas-centric TV movies (usually from the powerhouse film factory at the ABC FAMILY network), getting loaded on bourbon, and watching third-rate basic cable actors teach us all about the meaning of the holiday. These are the reviews of those movies.

merry christmas odo merry christmas keiko o'brien

This movie is super boring. I chalk that up to it being Canadian. Canada gets a lot of credit for KIDS IN THE HALL and SCTV, but those two shows are outliers, tight? To my mind, Canada still hasn't set the scales right for Anne Murray, DeGrassi Junior High, and movies like CHRISTMAS TOWN. Two classic shows is not enough.

Speaking of KIDS IN THE HALL, this movie stars Nicole de Boer in the role of the Fox. In this case, she's the workaholic brand of Fox, who doesn't have The Christmas Spirit. Will she find a hunk and have a good old fashioned non-threatening holiday adventure? You bet she will.

Nicole de Boer had a non-speaking and recurring role on KITH as the girlfriend of Bruce McCulloch's angsty teen character. She was great, and made memorable hay out of pouty glances.


She showed up again on DEEP SPACE NINE, playing Ezri Dax, a member of an alien race with a marginally interesting concept but a deadly dull execution. They had spots. 

DEEP SPACE NINE is a weird show. Many people love it so hard. I tried it again and again, and it was pretty thin soup, even after Avery Brooks shaved his head and grew a goatee. It's odd that it never blew up; the cast was perfectly good, and borderline great in many cases. The premise was terrific, and STAR TREK was a proven brand at that point. Was it the nonsense hokum alien religion business? Was it too heavy a focus on alien politics and bullshit of that nature? Did it totally lack any sense of bold adventure? The answer to all three is yes, of course, but we still tried to like it. We all did. 

De Boer showed up late in the series, replacing a character allegedly popular and well-loved, even though I can't remember her name, nor the actress who played her. (No, wait... Jadzia? I DID IT!) I recall her being dishwater, and all foxiness drowned out by the sexless wardrobe of the future and hair like a pentecostal teen bride. Did hardcore Trek people like this show? I feel like people say they do, although I can't put faces or names on such an opinion. I guess that was in the days before a billion genre shows on a billion options. There was basic cable and some garbage that had spaceships and we ate it all up. If we could all go back in time 15 years, would we say to our young person selves, "Dude! Just wait it out. You will be up all night for two years with a child who hates sleeping, and you can watch entire seasons of KOLCHAK THE NIGHT STALKER, at will, while your offspring sofly demands, half-awake, to watch DANIEL TIGER. There will be more nerd shit available to you than you will be able to process. Movies about robots or superheroes will come out that you not only don't see, you actively avoid them. Spend this time of youth doing more sex, and reading, and exercising BECAUSE YOU WILL GET FAT." 

Youth-person Alex would not listen to that advice. He would only want to know what DANIEL TIGER is and why he wasn't wearing a prophylactic device at a critical point in his future life. He will go ahead and buy a ticket someday to see a  FANTASTIC FOUR movie starring Dark Angel and The Commish. He will live his regrets no matter what advice he is given. Youth-person Alex was too starved for media that catered to his desires. This was an era where Spider man on film would only ever look like this:

It was a different time. 

We watched DEEP SPACE NINE. We knew who Ezri Dax was, and if our interests intersected with sketch comedy, we knew her face already. She was the surly girl who would break Bruce McCulloch's mullet-headed heart. She was a small part of a good world, and we gave her pass.

Then she was in CHRISTMAS TOWN and I didn't pay enough attention to write a real review. The End.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015


Because of my impeccable taste, for 353 days I watch only the most sophisticated and enriching of entertainments. But during the holiday season, I have made a tradition of finding the worst possible Christmas-centric TV movies (usually from the powerhouse film factory at the ABC FAMILY network), getting loaded on bourbon, and watching third-rate basic cable actors teach us all about the meaning of the holiday. These are the reviews of those movies.



Here's a true story; I liked this movie. Quite a bit. I may have been choking back a few tears while my bride shouted "Why are we watching this??!? This is terrible!!"

So I took an extra day to digest it. And I had a few glasses of Tennessee sour mash whiskey to process everything. It helped!

Let's review. These stupid movies have a formula, rarely tweaked.  A fox has to choose between two men, one is usually wealthy, one is a hunk. She is either a successful workaholic who learns to blow off steam, or a walking disaster who pulls her shit together. And somewhere in the middle the "christmas spirit" gets name-checked, like HASTUR when you're playing CALL OF CTHULU. It's a concept always hanging in the aether, waiting to fuck up your world.

The key to these terrible movies being tolerable is charisma. You have to like either the fox or the hunk. They have to be able to turn dumdum scripts into affable conversation. It's a specific skill that a certain type of actor has. They usually are stars of shows on TBS, or some other channel where likable people go to fade away in front of the elderly, or the basic.

This brings us to 12 DATES OF CHRISTMAS. It stars Amy Smart, who is a ferocious fox, and Mark-Paul Gosselaar, who has been hunking around TV for a lifetime. Both are charming, good-looking people, who can convincingly portray attractive singles who desperately want to get down on each other. Amy Smart, in particular, takes this stupid movie and just walks away with it and all like "suck it, network TV". She's great! What the hell? We are through the looking glass here, people. She is a Fox with an ex she can't get over, and a job she is too devoted to, and a hunk on the horizon she completely misses. It's straight-up bizness as usual at ABC Family. But goddamn if this fucker didn't win me over. 

Look, Amy Smart is hell of good at being a romantic lead. Mark-Paul Gosselaar is formerly Zach Morris. That show was awful, but is a dude was raised on a TV set, chances are he will learn how to behave in from of a camera and other actors. Although I suppose plenty of kid actors grow up to be terrible. That's a bummer, right? At some point, we, as a culture, have to reconcile how we put children through a ringer just so they can deliver a few yuks on a sitcom. My guess is that it's probably not worth it, but what do I know? Zack Morris spent his teen years getting handys from Tiffany-Amber Theissen (CONJECTURE ON MY PART) while I spent my adolescence watching SAVED BY THE BELL even though I hated it. (To be fair, I watched a lot of television. SAVED BY THE BELL was not required viewing, it was just one more thing that was being broadcast while the TV set was on, and I was planted in front of it. There's no way to account for the hours I spent watching shit of that nature. I watched too much TV. I have regrets on this subject.)

12 DATES OF CHRISTMAS has problems. This is not actually a "good" movie, I guess. It's a rip-off of GROUNDHOG'S DAY, No doubt about it. And there's no clear arc for the characters, particularly the Fox. She starts to relive the same day over and over again, and immediately starts fixing the world, in pieces and small doses. Her learning curve makes no sense at all. There's too many threads in the plot, and even though the Fox wraps them all up in pretty clever ways, it takes a long time to get there. My wife was bored as the dickens you guys. She was not entertained.

I liked it. I liked it without shame. It has problems! I admit this. The pacing was bonkers and you never quite get what is motivating the Fox. But I'll be damned if it didn't get to me! She learns to love and respect her step-mom, she bonds with random elderly people, she plays matchmaker for a couple of attractive supporting actors, and she falls for Zack Morris. Oh, yeah, she also finds a way for an orphaned teen to keep a puppy. I dare you cynical fucks to get a little drunk, watch this movie, and not get a little weepy. 

It's not a bad way to spend 86 minutes. I am as surprised as anyone. Leave me alone.

Sunday, December 13, 2015


Because of my impeccable taste, for 353 days I watch only the most sophisticated and enriching of entertainments. But during the holiday season, I have made a tradition of finding the worst possible Christmas-centric TV movies (usually from the powerhouse film factory at the ABC FAMILY network), getting loaded on bourbon, and watching third-rate basic cable actors teach us all about the meaning of the holiday. These are the reviews of those movies.


holy shit holy shit holy shit

Holy shit.

Holy shit.

Holy shit.

I have found the gold standard. The high water mark. The Holy Grail. I don't want to oversell it, but this is the greatest Christmas movie ever made. I don'r even know where to start. This movie not only made me love horrible ABC Family productions, it made me love Christmas. It's as good as Tiny Tim not dying.

So. Let's start with the known formula. Horrible Christmas movies always have a Fox. This we have established. There is a foxy single lady who either can't find a guy, has a rich guy that's a dud, or has nobody and falls for a rich guy. There's not much in the middle. Rich guys and everyone else. That's the formula, and the Fox is usually an interior designer, or works in theater, or has some charming service industry job like Baker or Chef. In CHRISTMAS BOUNTY, the Fox is a Bounty Hunter. She comes from a family of bounty hunters. It's so fucking great I can't even stand it.

The Fox in question is named "Tory", which is short for (and I shit you not) TORNADO. She's a mixed martial artist and a small arms weapons expert. There's a lot of nonsense about how she left her life in Trenton to move to Manhattan, but that's just an excuse for an amazing subplot. Don't dwell on it. 

Tory is engaged to a rich guy from Manhattan who has no idea about her past and her crazy family of gun-toting, motorcycle-riding, bounty hunter bad-asses. Rich Guy is played by the dude who was Stan Halen (the world's most perfect frat guy) on that episode of WORKAHOLICS where they think they join a fraternity. He's amazing. AGAIN. 

The Fox has an ex who still works with her family as a bounty hunter, and he's played by a wrestler of note. Wrestling is stupid and it's a thing of stupid people, so I have no idea who this guy is, but he's perfectly great in this dumb movie as a beefcake that is still in love with the fox. AND WHO COULD BLAME HIM. This may be the best Fox of all Christmas movie foxes, and that includes Melissa Joan Hart you guys. Tori dresses in disguise as a standard "Jersey girl" type for much of this movie, and much like Olivia Newton John in the last five minutes of GREASE, it's hard to argue with.

This thing has gunfights. Stake-outs. A bad guy who eats spaghetti and lobster while he waits for a shoot-out. The fox's mom has enormous breasts and this is a plot point and also a character trait. Her dad refuses to wear sleeves. There is enough discussion about Jersey versus Manhattan that I started to believe this movie was actually about class politics and regional socio-cultural divides. Then, as soon as I started thinking that, there would be hand-to-hand combat between a Fox in tight clothes, and what I assume is another professional wrestler of note. I wanted to cry, I was so happy. 

This movie is great. I am at a loss for words, to be honest. It's my new favorite Christmas movie and I don't want to type anymore because I want everyone to experience it fresh. NO SPOILERS you assholes.