Tag Archives: Nightmare Before Christmas

I’m Living In My Own Private Tanelorn

As many people wiser than I am have noted, life is just high school with more money. Well, more respect as well, especially for unorthodox attitudes about social proprieties. Take my word for it: a 17-year-old attempting a few practical jokes during a major holiday usually gets slapped down, expelled, or even deported. Add 30 years to the date and give that kid access to better resources, and all anyone wants to do is tell family and friends “Can you believe what the old guy in Engineering did last night?” The spirit of Tezcatlipoca runs strong this time of the year, especially when among people with the same priorities.

A case in point: at my day job, my department has had a longrunning tradition concerning holiday presents. Namely, we’re serious about the present itself, because we all honestly respect each other and enjoy each others’ conversations. It’s just the presentation that makes everyone outside our circle worry for the future. Since 2007, our prerogative is to find an appropriate gift and then wrap it with the tackiest, most disturbing wrapping paper we can find. That definition of “most disturbing” gives me a lot more headway, as my co-workers have teenage daughters, and I’m constantly being told, over and over, abut the latest TV show or musical artist to capture their fancy. Most of the time, I shudder with them: the only thing worse than being a preteen in the days of Shaun Cassidy and Leif Garrett was hitting my teen years just in time for Phil Collins. With Christmas approaching, though, the gloves are off, and the local Target store keeps giving me rolls and rolls of brass knuckles.

As I’ve related before, everyone has to understand that it’s entirely possible to go overboard with a quick comment or action in the workplace. This is how I ended up with an FBI record for allegedly selling government secrets to the Daleks. This is why, when getting my boss a model of the Apollo 11 command module and Lunar Excursion Module, I practically oozed subtlety and restraint:

Disney Princesses

Not that I could say the same thing for my other co-worker. You see, his birthday is in December, so it just made sense that I focus on giving him a birthday present that he’d remember forever. Oh, he’ll remember it, the way he’ll remember the chipped teeth he got when his jaw hit the floor:

Justin Bieber

As I told him, “Just be glad Target was out of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic bows.” That probably would have left him catatonic with horror. It’s Christmas: there’s no reason to be mean.

It’s also time to keep up longrunning traditions. For years, I’ve kept a big candy box at my desk, with the contents being open season to everyone on my floor. With a new candy dispenser, it just needed a touch of festiveness to really make you feel like the season is here. Sing it with me: “It’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas…”

Mister Hanky

No sleep ’til Halloween

Just a tiny observation, based on a trip to the grocery store this morning. Back eighteen years ago, my friend Joey Shea kept calling and writing to tell me about a new movie coming out from Tim Burton that I simply had to see. I was still licking bus station toilets clean to get the taste of Batman out of my mouth (to this day, Batman, Girl, Interrupted, and Free Enterprise are my faithful reminders of why I’ll sooner put out lit cigarettes in my eyes than return to film criticism), but this being Joey, he’s rarely wrong when it comes to movies. Well, he hyped up Batman when we first met, but if you can’t forgive your friends, who can you forgive?

Naturally, the film in question was The Nightmare Before Christmas. It’s hard to believe today, but that film at the time made lots of heads go explodey, if only because the monsters were the nominal good guys. It definitely made Disney execs at the time go berserk, and the film was the redheaded stepchild of the Disney empire for years. (Even today, I don’t expect to see Sally included with the Disney Princesses, much to the regret of several nieces.)

At the time, I walked out of the theater with only one particular beef about the whole film. Namely, at the end of the film, when Santa fixes the damage caused by Jack Skellington’s addition of Halloween horror to Christmas, you see all of the children given Jack’s special toys welcoming the traditional Christmas replacements. I couldn’t believe that there wasn’t one kid, somewhere, screaming and howling at the top of her lungs as Santa tried to take back the one decent Christmas present she’d ever received. Over the years, as I shared this observation, friends and cohorts agreed, especially since most of us felt the same way. Those of a certain age may remember the parental scoffing and cries of outrage over Kenner putting out an Alien action figure during Christmas 1979, but kids LOVED that stuff. The parental cries over how children would be permanently damaged by playing with “inappropriate” toys were especially funny: we knew those kids, and they could already taste-test specific brands of paste.

One of my regular comments upon seeing the changes in the world since my youth is “I love living in the future.” One of the reasons I say this so often is seeing how readily we as a culture have gone back to the old days of mixing horror and joy in everyday life. For far too many of us, our role models for stable and loving marriages were Gomez and Morticia Addams. Nobody’s bothered by the Monster High toy line as an alternative to Barbie. With far too many friends, I could suggest an evening of watching Clive Barker’s Nightbreed and they’d sniff “I didn’t know you were into documentaries.” I LOVE it.

And what does all of this have to do with gardening? Well, I was one of those kids who would have been demanding that Jack Skellington be allowed to do another Christmas now and then. I’m a bit too old for toys, but plants are a good alternative. I’m thinking it may be time to get more people together who feel the same way, and plan a garden show the likes of which this planet has never seen.