07 12 / 2013
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul."
~ Invictus, by William Ernest Henley
The one and only Nelson Mandela claimed this meditation got him through the 27 years in prison. May this appropriate legacy and beautiful piece get you through whatever adversity you are facing. “I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul.”
07 12 / 2013
Evan takes issue with some absences on my Christmas movie list, so I figured I would give him a chance to make his case to you guys!
Camille and I have different favorite Christmas movies largely because we seem to disagree on what constitutes a Christmas movie. For her, “it takes place in December” is a necessary, but not sufficient condition for a movie to be a Christmas movie. I’m not saying all I need is for a Christmas tree to show up on screen, but if most of the movie happens around Christmas and somebody explicitly refers to that event in the movie, I pretty confident you’ve got yourself a holiday picture.
We love a lot of the same movies, but here’s my top 5 in no particular order that don’t qualify for her list.
5. Die Hard
Die Hard is a classic American tale of redemption, family, and standing up to terrorists, and it all happens at an office Christmas party. True, East German terrorists could have hijacked the building at any time of year, but the holiday season gives that extra sense of enduring family loyalty and unconditional love that compels John McClane and Carl Winslow the strength they need to win the day.
Camille thinks there shouldn’t be machine guns or explosions in Christmas movies, but what else is supposed to be said before “ho ho ho” besides “now I have a machine gun?” Plus with an appearance on both our lists, nothing says Yuletide villain like Alan Rickman.
(You’re cracked if you think Bruce Willis would put anyone in the holiday spirit, even with Alan Rickman’s magnificent voice to make up for it)
Part of the Christmas spirit is also learning to overcome your individual desires and serve others. Much like the season itself, the mogwai Gizmo shows up as a Christmas gift that no one completely understands. He’s delightful and adorable and you want to do everything you can for him, just don’t get him wet or feed him after midnight. But can our hero resist temptation? Can we survive the gremlins inside each of us?
As Mr. Wing says, “You do with Mogwai what your society has done with all of nature’s gifts! You do not understand. You are not ready… Perhaps someday you may be ready. Until then, Mogwai will be waiting.” If learning a moral lesson has to be part of a Christmas movie, I don’t see how Gremlins isn’t one of the best.
3. Doctor Who Christmas Episodes
No one does Christmas like the British, and each year the BBC gives us a new alien Advent adventure to enjoy. Usually they don’t have much to do with Christmas other than the props, so while Camille enjoys them, I don’t think she puts them in the same category. but when you can turn terrifying images like a spinning death tree or homicidal robot Santa band into enduring Christmas icons, you’re doing something right.
It may not be Christmas the way Bing Crosby celebrated it, but on every world, wherever people are, in the deepest part of the winter, at the exact mid-point, everybody stops and turns and hugs. As if to say, “Well done. Well done, everyone! We’re halfway out of the dark.” Back on Earth we call this Christmas. Or the Winter Solstice. On this world, the first settlers called it The Crystal Feast.
(I would have included Doctor Who pre-Stephen Moffat and Matt Smith, because nothing says “Merry Christmas” like David Tennant)
2. Trading Places
Trading Places probably fits my loosest definition of a Christmas movie in that Dan Aykroyd puts on a Santa suit and drinks out of a flask. The real Christmas heart of this movie is in the subversion of the commercialist, capitalist pigs that deliberately ruin everyone else’s lives for the sake of a bet. As time has passed since 1983, this film has only become more relevant. All of us from all walks of life must work together as a single community to try and make life better for all of us, especially at Christmas.
1. The Holiday
What is this doing here? Nobody could say the Holiday isn’t a holiday movie! It’s called the Holiday! Camille says this is an anytime movie, and a lovely one, because the holiday could really be any vacation the main characters take, and for a Christmas movie to be a Christmas movie, the fact that it’s Christmas has to play a critical role in the plot. Therefore this movie isn’t really different from Die Hard or Trading Places in that respect.
But it is Christmas. It doesn’t have to be Christmas, but it never had to be Christmas at all did it? And aren’t you glad there’s Christmas?