Saturday, December 22, 2012

This is the first Holiday Spectacular I have actually written in advance. First, a best of list. Then, the traditional best comment awards. I'll try and make it Christmassy. If not the text coloring will have to do.

Best Steve Martin movies

The Jerk

Best Frank Sinatra song

You make me feel brand new

Best all-time NBA forward

Larry Bird

Best Nero Wolfe novel

The Doorbell Rang

Best Dashiell Hammett novel

The Glass Key

Best film action hero

James Bond

Best James Bond film

From Russia with Love
Best James Bond books

Casino Royale, You Only Live Twice

Best James Bond film Chase Scene
For Your Eyes Only

Best James Bond villain

Odd Job
Best article of the year

Megan McCardle's There's little we can do to prevent another massacre.

Best Christmas Eve sexual position

No, I'm just kidding. Not going there.

Best  full length Christmasstory

A Christmas Carol, hands down.

Best short Christmas story

Gift of the Magi, O. Henry
Best ancient epic

The Iliad and The Odyssey. Then, The Nibelungenlied and then Gilgamesh.
Best Christmas songs

I have to spend a little time on this, because, you know, Christmas. 

All I want for Christmas is you-Mariah Carey. I'm also very fond of a lot of her Christmas stuff though her hip hop stuff does zero for me.  There is also a beautiful Christmas song of the same name recorded by Vince Vance & the Valiants too derived from a Bobby Vinton song from the 60s. Wikipedia says it is the number one Christmas song on country radio.

Let it Snow-Dean Martin version. Lots of others have tried including the original no. 1 hit by Vaughn Monroe, Sinatra almost a decade before Martin, Smokey Robinson, Doris Day, Andy Williams, Chicago, Carly Simon, Aaron Neville, Kylie Minogue, blah, blah, blah.

Baby, it's cold outside-I have always thought the version I loved best, like most everyone else,  was recorded by Bing Crosby and Doris Day, but it might actually be Johnny Mercer and Margaret Whiting (1949). Most websites still say it was Crosby and Day (not Wikipedia, though), but there are tantalizing clues - like why is there no date for a Crosby/Day recording? Anyway, listen to Mercer and Whiting.  That's the song, right? But, I'm still not sure as you can find the same youtube video under Bing and Doris's names. Neither video has any actual footage, just montages. Frank Loesser (Guys & Dolls) wrote the song to sing with his wife at Christmas parties and she was so possessive of it that she was angry when he sold it to MGM for the first film version sung by Ricardo Montalban and Esther Williams in Neptune's Daughter. The Zooey Deschanel/Leon Redbone version from the movie Elf is pretty good too. Probably my second favorite.

Joy to the World-the Whitney Houston version. If there was a better modern pop singer than Mariah it was Whitney. Her Joy to the World was more than just great as was her moving rendition of The Star Spangled Banner. Is it a true Christmas song? I'm counting it.

Best non-heavyweight boxer last half-century

Sugar Ray Leonard (particularly because he beat Duran, Benitez,  Hearns and Hagler and lost only once to Duran, though I thought he won).

Best Heavyweight boxer last half-century

I'm not even dignifying that with an answer.  You all know.

Best Professional Wrestler

Bruno Sammartino

Best Dunkin Donuts donut

Boston Creme

Best women's perfume


Best men's cologne

None. Men should not wear cologne.

Best 18th century president

George Washington

Best 19th century president

Lincoln, Monroe, Grant.  

Best 20th century president

I want to say TR, but the more I learn and break free of hero worship from my youth, he becomes more attractive as a character and less attractive as a policy maker.  Maybe Coolidge is a better choice, as he is much more interesting than is made out. Known as Silent Cal, he wrote a lot and also gave relatively long speeches for a president. It was at social occasions he could be quiet.

Best 21st century president

No contenders yet.

Best 16th century British writer (literature)

Best 17th century British writer (literature)

Best 18th century British writer (literature)

William Blake
Best 19th century British writer (literature)

Dickens, Wilde (I know, Irish, but at the time he was alive, that still meant British)
Best 20th century British writer (literature)

Best 21st century British writer (literature)

I really don't know. I don't read much fiction these days. I'd like to say George MacDonald Fraser and John LeCarré, but their best work was clearly in the 20th century. The answer is probably Hillary Mantel, but I have not gotten around to reading her yet. I tried once (Bear lent Wolf Hall to me) but just wasn't in the mood.
Best historical tyrant

Ghengis Khan
Best men's boots

Best NFL running back

Gale Sayers followed by Barry Sanders
Best candy

Candy Corn, Nestle's Crunch Bar

Best cheese

Best computer company

Best 16th century theologian
Jacob Acontius, Sébastian Castellion

Best 17th century theologian
Roger Williams

Best Eric Clapton song
Lay Down Sally

Best dwarf

Andvari, Dopey

Best Superhero (D.C.)

Best Superhero (Marvel)
Spider Man

Best Chinese Food
Won ton soup (by a margin too thin to measure by mortal men)

Best Italian Food

Best pizza topping
Buffalo chicken

Best Greek Food
Baklava (I hope that's Greek. I know they sell it at Turkish restaurants too.)

Best main character on Seinfeld

Best guest character on Seinfeld
Soup Nazi

Best poster of model/actress
Cheryl Tiegs (1978)

Best city for art
Firenze, Italy

Best work of art in Italy

David (Michaelangelo)

Best friend(s) on Friends

Best fad dance

Best minor churches in Britain
St. Martin in the Fields, The Temple Church

Best Church in Italy not in the Vatican
Il Duomo, Firenze

Best painting of Jesus dead
Andrea Mantegna's Dead Christ

Best painting of Living Jesus
El Greco's Christ driving the traders from the temple

Best scenes in The Hobbit (the book)
Gandalf outwitting the trolls, battle at Lake-town, negotiations with Thorin before the Battle of the Five Armies, Beorn's meeting the dwarves and Bilbo

Best current detective show on tv
The Mentalist. Outwardly, the hero has the yawn - typical almost superhuman detective skills shared by other tv characters like Columbo, Monk, Shawn Spencer (Psych)Castle, etc., but I enjoy his juvenile and sometimes cruel antics, but more so the ensemble cast and the Red John (Serial killer) story line.

Best fast food restaurant
McDonald's, hands down. I don't really care to hear other opinions on it either.

Best seemingly mixed up animal


Best condiment

Best traditional ice cream flavor


Best new fangled ice cream flavor

Cherry Garcia. Really this entry should have been in red.
Best Christmas novel

Obviously, A Christmas Carol, Dickens (so, it's a novella -- sue me).

Best Christmas short story

The Gift of the Magi, O. Henry

Best Holiday Spectacular admission

Until recently I thought O. Henry's name was spelled O'Henry.

Best Fantasy novel not by Tolkien
T. H. White's The Once and Future King

Best Arnold Schwarzenegger movies
True Lies, The Terminator, Predator

Best scene in the King James Bible
Ecclesiastes 3.1-11 ("To ever thing there is a season . . . .)

Best Seuss book
Horton Hatches the Egg

Best looking food

Red velvet cake, candied cherries and coffee beans, in that order.

So much for that. How easy it is to tell my obsessions from this post. Okay, time for the best comments of the year awards.

3. "I could go on for a long time about these tests because they fascinate me." Really How does it feel to  be a committee of ONE? I would say COULD and DID, my boy. Holy mother of pearl, I haven't read such lively paragraphs since my last Henry James novel. Hurricane Andrew didn't have enough wind to  blow life into this one. Last rites administered, let us move on. Next week will be better. I'm sure.

Bear from The Joy of Priming (6/25/2012)

2. Let's review:

    David on the economy: "The sky is falling, the sky is falling!!!!"
    David on the election: "I think Obama is going to win."
    You may skip the remaining 30,000 lines that are as boring as 'Being John Malkovich'and get  
    on with the rest of your lives. . . . .

Bear from Political update for September, 2012 (September 17, 2012)

1. A gazillion word post about how it all sucks, followed by wow, gosh, golly, what a   
    great debate I wasn't bored for a second. You waffle worse than Aunt Jemima and John Kerry.
    From Quickie Debate Summary (October 3, 2012)
I have noticed a disturbing recent pattern with his comments and issue a fair warning. Merely summarizing what I wrote in a sentence or so and then mocking it as being simplistic or obvious will not win next year even if they are funny. Move along, now.

Happy holidays. Merry Christmas. All that stuff.


  1. Sinatra: The Way You Look Tonight, Luck be a Lady runner up. You make me feel brand new???? You fairy!
    Bond book: On Her Majesty's Secret Service, hands down, number two is not even close. I agree with you on the Bond movies.
    Xmas song: Nat King Cole's version of Mel Torme's "The Christmas Song", again, number two isn't even close. And your MOST RIDICULOUS PICK: Clapton - Lay Down Sally???? Most Clapton fans won't even admit it is a Clapton song. What hogsnot, hogwash. It's a complete commercial "Mary" song. Oh wait, you're a Mary. That explains it. Try Crossroads, or Further on Down the Road, or the long version of Have you Ever Loved a Woman. But then, what would you know about real rock blues... Lay Down Sally, just the thought of it gives me the willies. What a weenie song.

  2. The Way You Look Tonight is actually my number two choice. There are many which would certainly be in the running. My Way, New York, New York, Witchcraft, etc. But, I like You Make Me Feel Brand New best, which, by the way, is featured in one of my favorite Christmas movies, Elf.

    I'm not a huge Clapton fan and prefer his pop hits to his R&B stuff. Lay Down Sally is a great piece. After that, I like Promises and After Midnight. I also like Layla, but not like some people.


Your comments are welcome.

About Me

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I started this blog in September, 2006. Mostly, it is where I can talk about things that interest me, which I otherwise don't get to do all that much, about some remarkable people who should not be forgotten, philosophy and theories (like Don Foster's on who wrote A Visit From St. Nicholas and my own on whether Santa is mostly derived from a Norse god) and analysis of issues that concern me. Often it is about books. I try to quote accurately and to say when I am paraphrasing (more and more). Sometimes I blow the first name of even very famous people, often entertainers. I'm much better at history, but once in a while I see I have written something I later learned was not true. Sometimes I fix them, sometimes not. My worst mistake was writing that Beethoven went blind, when he actually went deaf. Feel free to point out an error. I either leave in the mistake, or, if I clean it up, the comment pointing it out. From time to time I do clean up grammar in old posts as, over time I have become more conventional in my grammar, and I very often write these when I am falling asleep and just make dumb mistakes. It be nice to have an editor, but . . . .