I figured we’d take advantage of the current and upcoming holidays (just like retail stores) to do a couple of pieces that center around that particular theme. First thing . . .
Favorite Holiday Special?: Do you, good and gentle Newsarama readers, have a favorite holiday special? Personally, I sort of dig all the off-the-wall ones. Granted, I like Rudolph, but I have a soft spot in my cold heart for the cute but incredibly depressing “Nestor the Long-Eared Christmas Donkey” from 1977.
If you don’t know this particular Rankin-Bass special, I’ll cover it in brief (spoilers on): A baby donkey is born in Roman times with extremely long ears. He’s tormented by the other animals, his mother is separated from him by the Romans, he’s thrown out by his wicked owner, he’s stuck in a blizzard, his mother escapes and finds him, uses her body to cover him to keep him warm, and dies. That’s right; his mother freaking freezes to death like Leo in “Titanic” about ten minutes in. He’s then visited by an angel that tells him that he has a purpose in Bethlehem. The angel says, “Your ears can do wondrous things no other ears can do. The sounds they hear will guide you on a path that's straight and true, and you will save another, as your mother once saved you.” Nestor ends up being the donkey that Mary rides, and Nestor protects Mary and the unborn Jesus by wrapping his ears around them during a sandstorm. I am totally not kidding. Somehow, the ancestors of Nestor enter the employ of Santa Claus and work for him to this day helping out around the North Pole.
Why do I have a soft spot for it? Did you read that? Dude, that is one of the most f@#%ed up Christmas specials you could ever possibly imagine. What’s not to love? Disneyesque parental separation and death, improbable placement in historical events, eventual satisfaction in a life working for others . . . it’s like the stop-motion Forrest Gump. With a donkey.
On this same tip, I also like Jack Frost (much general weirdness to admire), perennial favorite The Year Without a Santa Claus (mainly due to the Mister brothers) and Rudolph’s Shiny New Year. RSNY is one of the most sensible sequels, and, much like “Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey”, goes far beyond the philosophical boundaries of its predecessor. Here, a well-adjusted Rudolph must rescue big-eared Baby New Year from giant buzzard Aeon lest time stand still. Rudolph gets to tell his story to the baby in a cute little sequence, and there are cavemen, knights, whales, and Benjamin Franklin. Needless to say, there are probably certain flammable herbal conditions that may positively impact your viewing experience.
How about you, readers? Got a favorite?
Favorite Comics or Genre-Related Gift?: I imagine that you all might have a variety of entrants on this particular list. I have to say that I’ve done pretty well in this regard in terms of past X-Mas presents. A couple that I recall readily . . .
Was there a more awesome Star Wars toy from the original line? It had everything. There was the elevator tower with the tractor beam controls at the top. There was the cannon that exploded. There was the extendable bridge, the swinging hook and the command center with a trap door. Where did the door go? To a foam-debris-and-monster-filled trash compactor! I wish I had a count of how hours I played with that thing when I was five. It was and is brilliant. Best part? I still have most of it, though a couple of support beams have gone missing over time. Shoddy Imperial construction.
Holidays were always the times that I got the playsets. You’d get figures or vehicles throughout the year, but late winter meant that your guys got a house. One of my favorite things ever was the Hall of Justice. I mean, I’d been watching Super Friends practically since birth; this was a toy whose time had come. Granted, it was that weird yellow. Nevertheless, its mix of chambers, elevators, jail cells, landing pad, and bright red computers was great. Two touches that I loved were the clocks for the times of all the DC cities (and Atlantis) and the clips where you could put the cards from the figures to show which JLAer was monitor duty. Today, it sits on top of one of my shelves in the basement, the Lex-Soar 7 parked menacingly on the landing pad.
I know someone’s probably going, “Hey, why don’t you give your kids that?” That’s because they’ve got . . .
The logical successor to the Hall of Justice and Connor’s “Santa gift” a while back, the Imaginext Batcave has impressive staying power in our house. Connor and Kyle frequently pile up a mix of Imaginext, Action League and Super-Hero Squad figures with the Batcave as the center and battle. At this point, we’ve pro-rated this thing down to one hundredth of a penny a day, it’s been played with so often. Earlier in the year, we got Kyle the Joker’s Funhouse as a companion piece, and they’ve been, in my estimation, even more in love with them.
What about you, readers? Favorite Comics or Genre-Related Gift? Let’s talk.Well? go! Share your faves!