b Papa Dog's Blog: Christmas in Saint Babs/Ho Ho Movies I Have Known

Papa Dog's Blog

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Saturday, December 25, 2004

Christmas in Saint Babs/Ho Ho Movies I Have Known

I could scarcely have imagined, growing up as I did in a place where some winters bring snow banks so high you can’t see the house across the street from your living room window*, that I would go out on the morning of my forty-first Christmas clad only in jeans and a t-shirt and walk the dog in a quiet empty park with nary a snowflake in sight. “It’s weird,” I said to Mama Dog the other night, “that you have inflatable snowmen here.” The man in the red fur-lined suit is enough of a stretch, but what relevance is a snowman supposed to have for winter in southern California? Conversely, in 1998 we went to Edmonton for Christmas. It was to be Mama Dog’s first encounter with actual winter, and we were both disappointed when it turned out to be a particularly mild Christmas. She didn’t get the full effect until the night we saw Life is Beautiful at the Princess Theatre. When we got out of the movie it was dark and the temperature had finally dropped to a seasonally appropriate level. We had to wait a little while for the car to come around, and by the time it did Mama Dog had received a large jolt of temperature perspective. “I thought,” she later said with great sincerity, “we were going to die.”

Today I walked from the bathroom out to the garage in my bathrobe and slippers. There you go.

As some of you know, my one Ho Ho tradition is to see a movie. It has to be one that’s opening on Christmas Day – there are always a few. I usually select the one that seems most epic. Past Ho Ho movies have been (reconstructing as best I can from memory, skipping the years where I forget or maybe didn’t go to a movie): The Godfather Part III (Berkeley, 1990), Malcolm X (Berkeley, 1992), Nell (Edmonton, 1994), Four Rooms (New Orleans, 1995), Michael and Ridicule (Berkeley, 1996), Jackie Brown (Berkeley, 1997), The Thin Red Line (San Francisco, 1998), The Talented Mr. Ripley (Santa Barbara, 1999), All the Pretty Horses (Santa Barbara, 2000), Ali (Santa Barbara, 2001), Catch Me If You Can (Santa Barbara, 2002), Cold Mountain (Santa Barbara, 2003). As you can see, the pickings are sometime more slim than I’d like. In 1996, for example, Michael was such an awful piece of crap that I had to go see a French movie that had been out for a month just to take the bad taste out of my mouth. In 1999, I really wanted to see Man on the Moon for Christmas, but they shifted the release date up by several days, making it ineligible, and we ended up seeing the first of what became an inexplicable two-year run of Matt Damon movies for Christmas. In 2002, I really wanted to see Gangs of New York, but again they moved the date up on me.

This year we finally got to see a Scorsese/DiCaprio collaboration for Ho Ho, The Aviator – kind of a cheat, since it opened last week in a few markets, including San Francisco, but it didn’t open wide until today. It meets all the Ho Ho movie criteria I’ve been gradually developing over the years – close to three-hour length, epic sweep, Oscar pandering, the works. Plus it turned out to be a damn sight better than Gangs of New York was, so there you go again.
* For those of you from warmer climes: this is neither an exaggeration nor something I just made up.


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