Saturday, December 31, 2011

Urge for Going

There's this great old song by Joni Mitchell called "Urge for Going." The tune is slow, thoughtful, and melancholy -- like most of Mitchell's songs, which is probably why she appeals to melancholy types like me. She sings about her sorrow at the coming of winter and her longing for summer to return:

I awoke today and found the frost perched on the town;
It hovered in a frozen sky, and it gobbled summer down.
When the sun turns traitor cold and all the trees are shivering in a naked row,
I get the urge for going, but I never seem to go.
I get the urge for going when the meadow grass is turning brown,
and summer time is falling down and winter is closing in.

There was a time, perhaps, when I would have sincerely hummed the words of this lovely song as a dirge at the closing of summer and the coming of winter. Winter has never been my favorite season. It's dark, cold, and dreary. The earth is still and silent. In years past, it has always been that season to trudge through perseveringly, while eagerly awaiting the advent of spring with its gentle warmth and newness.

This year is different, though. I suspect it has something to do with an exceptionally trying summer of extreme heat (which means
very extreme heat in Oklahoma). I suspect is also has something to do with the fact that summer lasted this year until November. I also suspect it has something to do with the fact that this week the temperatures have reached heights that are typical for most places in May or June (today it's 74 degrees). I'm guessing, too, that living here for nearly six years has just taken a toll on this Pacific Northwesterner's heart. Whatever the reason, or reasons, I just feel the longing for winter this year in an especially deep way. I want to sing with Joni Mitchell, but I want to change the song to one of joy at the coming of cold. Maybe I would sing: I get the urge for staying when summer time is falling down and winter is closing in.

I've done my share of complaining about winter in the past, about gray clouds and rain, rain, rain that won't leave. And I still adore springtime -- oh how I love the fresh smell of earth and the hugging warmth of the sun after days of darkness. But I miss coolness. I miss gentle winds and gray days, days of fleece and gloves, of walking with my hands wrapped around a warm coffee cup. I miss the clean scent of fir trees in the cold, with moisture clinging to the air so thickly that you can almost taste it. I miss... being outside.

I miss the color green.

I'll ply the fire with kindling now, I'll pull the blankets up to my chin;
I'll lock the vagrant winter out, and I'll pull my wandering in.
I'd like to call back summer time and have her stay for just another month or so...

No, summer can postpone itself indefinitely. I want the cold, with the frost perched on the town like so many shimmering jewels, and with the naked trees standing like gray pillars of honor. Winter can come this year, and none too soon.

She can stay for awhile, too.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Fa ra ra ra ra, ra ra ra ra

So, how was the quiz? Not quite on par with Biochemical Engineering, to be sure, but it does for Christmas. I am writing this wondering if I actually had any "takers," but regardless, I decided to post the answers for you today as it is close enough to Christmas to be revelatory, but not so close to Christmas as to be entirely overlooked. (And just in case you're mildly curious, the title to this blog is a quirky rendition of the chorus to "Deck the Halls" as seen and heard in the final, hilarious, Chinese restaurant scene from A Christmas Story).

Just for the sake of summary, remember that there are twenty total quotes from ten separate films. Drum roll, please....

1. Christmas Vacation

2. A Charlie Brown Christmas

3. The Nightmare Before Christmas

4. It's a Wonderful Life

5. A Christmas Story

6. Miracle on 34th Street

7. It's a Wonderful Life

8. The Grinch Who Stole Christmas
(animated television version)

9. A Christmas Carol (television version starring George C. Scott)

10. A Charlie Brown Christmas

11. White Christmas

12. The Nightmare Before Christmas

13. A Christmas Story

14. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
(animated television version, starring Burl Ives as the narrating snowman and featuring the coolest character ever conceived for a made-for-TV special: Yukon Cornelius!)

15. White Christmas

16. A Charlie Brown Christmas

17. The Grinch Who Stole Christmas
(same as above)

18. A Christmas Story

19. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
(same as above)

20. Christmas Vacation

I'd be curious to hear how you did, but I don't have prizes for the top achievers. Also, I'm not assigning grades (much like Evergreen University in my home-state, but that's beside the point).

Merry Christmas, dear friends. May it be blessed.

Monday, December 12, 2011

'Tis the Season for a Holly Jolly Yuletide Movie Quiz

Most people who know me know that I love a good film. The people who know me really well know that I love to spontaneously quote a good film, which I do -- often.

Now to be frank, my favorite movies to quote are typically 'B' or 'C' quality, cult-favorite type movies such as So I Married an Axe Murderer or Airplane! And I typically decide to quote these films at the most obscure moments, belting out phrases like "I care for Apple Jacks a great deal" and "There's a sale at Penney's!" with such haphazard irregularity as to make my good-natured husband peer questioningly above the rim of his glasses at me with that what-on-earth-have-I-gotten-myself-into look on his benevolent face. (But he married me, so he's stuck with me).

All of that said, it does my heart good to quote a flick. And since it's Christmas time again, and since Christmas is never truly complete without sitting down for three or four great holiday movies, I decided that I'd treat my readers to a Yuletide Movie Quiz. I know, I know, you can barely contain your enthusiasm.

So... below I've listed twenty Christmas movie quotes from ten different holiday films. Some of the movies are funny; others, dramatic. Some are full-length feature films; others are made-for-TV specials. They represent a variety of decades. Chances are, however, that you have seen the majority of the ten films from which these quotes are derived, and if you haven't seen one or two, then you have probably at least heard of them. In other words, none of these films are obscure, so that should help you out.

I won't help you by telling you the names of the ten films I've quoted. You'll have to figure that out on your own (and try to overcome the temptation to use the internet). I will tell you this: The quotes are not evenly divided between the films. So there may be one quote from a particular film and four from another, for example. I will also tell you this: You can rule out most of the Christmas movies from the last decade or so, as it would likely take a legion of dashing reindeer to drag me into a theatre to see one. That means that Elf (which I've never seen but may find funny) is not one of the quoted films. It also means that Ernest Saves Christmas is not included, as viewing that movie is about as appealing to me as drinking a gallon of sour eggnog.

If you would like to grade yourself, I will post another blog nearer Christmas Day with the answers. Ready? Set? Quiz!

1. If that cat had nine lives, it sure used 'em all.

2. Please note the size and color of each item, and send as many as possible. If it seems too complicated, make it easy on yourself: just send money. How about tens and twenties?

3. Eureka! This year, Christmas will be OURS!

4. Every man on that transport died. Harry wasn't there to save them because you weren't there to save Harry.

5. The snap of a few sparks, a quick whiff of ozone, and the lamp blazed forth in unparalleled glory.

6. Susan, I speak French, but that doesn't make me Joan of Arc.

7. Teacher says, 'Every time a bell rings, an angel gets his wings.' (Theologically fallacious, but that's beside the point).

8. (Singing) The three words that best describe you are as follows, and I quote: Stink, stank, stunk.

9. May God forgive me for the time I've wasted.

10. Do innkeeper's wives have naturally curly hair?

11. Oh, Vermont should be beautiful this time of year, with all that snow.

12. (Singing) Kidnap the Sandy Claws, beat him with a stick; lock him up for ninety years, see what makes him tick.

13. What is the name of the Lone Ranger's nephew's horse?

14. We'll have to outwit the fiend with our superior intelligence!

15. Give me one reason, one good reason, why we should spend our last two hours in Florida looking at the sisters of Freckle-Face Haynes, the dog-faced boy.

16. I never thought it was such a bad little tree. It's not bad at all, really. Maybe it just needs a little love.

17. ... there's a light on this tree that won't light on one side. So I'm taking it home to my workshop, my dear. I'll fix it up there, then I'll bring it back here.

18. Fra-Gee-Lay... That must be Italian.

19. (Singing) Why am I such a misfit? I am not just a nitwit. You can't fire me, I quit. Seems I don't fit in.

20. We're kicking off our fun, old-fashioned family Christmas by heading out into the country in the old front-wheel drive sleigh to embrace the frosty majesty of the winter landscape and select that most important of Christmas symbols.

These may be quite easy to the Christmas Movie Connoisseur, but I'll take that chance. I hope you enjoyed it. And I hope it inspires you to catch a good Christmas movie or two in the next couple of weeks. Until the answers are posted... Merry Christmas!