Thursday, January 6, 2011

Happy Three Kings Day...

Today, people all over the world celebrate the arrival of the three wise men at Bethlehem to worship baby Jesus. This is the last major event of the Christmas season. Unfortunately, not a lot of people in the U.S. outside of the Latin communities are very familiar with this celebration of the epiphany.

Three Kings Day, celebrates the Biblical story of the three kings, Gaspar, Melchior and Balthazar, who followed a star that led them to Bethlehem, where they brought baby Jesus gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. The journey is believed to have taken 12 days, beginning on Dec. 25 and ending with their arrival on Jan. 6.

On the eve of Three Kings Day, children leave a shoebox filled with grass, sometimes accompanied by a glass of water or freshly polished shoes, under their bed or by the door to help the three kings and their camels along on their journey.

When children wake up on the morning of Three Kings Day, the grass and water will have been replaced with candy and small gifts, believed to have been consumed by the three kings and their camels. Family and friends will then gather for a feast and to sing the rosary and songs.

Happy Three Kings Day!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Toys 'R Us Christmas clearance starts today...

Toys 'R Us yearly Christmas items blowout sale starts today. All Christmas themed items, from Candy to Figures and everything in between will be markdown to 75% off. This is the time when I always pick up more Peanuts and Rankin Bass Holiday figures and playsets without having to pay the ridiculously high prices. If you've been wanting to pick up some holiday items that were originally too expensive now's the perfect time. You can display them in only 11 months!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

God bless us everyone...

As Scrooge’s nephew, Fred, explains in A CHRISTMAS CAROL, nothing about Christmas can be separate from "the veneration due to its sacred name and origin." This is what gives meaning to Scrooge’s resolution at the end of the story: "I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year."

If there’s hope for mean old Scrooge, Dickens is saying, there must be hope for each of us. Or, as Tiny Tim would put it, "God bless us, every one!"

Merry Christmas to all! Thanks for visiting the Nostalgia Factory!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Remember the night: An overlooked Christmas Classic...

When we think of classic Christmas movies we tend to remember It's a Wonderful life, White Christmas, A Christmas Story, and the many film adaptations of A Christmas Carol. Those are all beautiful stories brought to the screen in timeless productions that we revisit year after year, but there are so many other lovely Christmas films out there that for one reason or another have been forgotten over the years. A film no one ever really talks about when reminiscing about their favorite Holiday movies is one that I believe should be re-examined and every one who hasn't seen it should really do themselves a favor and check it out this Christmas season. I'm talking about Preston Sturges' Remember the night.

The film is a prefect combination of genres, working both as a touching drama and a heartwarming romantic comedy. The film Features a clever screenplay by the great Preston Sturges, and stars Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray in their first film together.

The story revolves around an Assistant District Attorney (MacMurray) who falls in love with the shoplifter he is supposed to be prosecuting (Stanwyck). Feeling sorry that she will have to spend Christmas in jail awaiting trial, he bails her out and takes her to her childhood home in Indiana. After seeing how cold and unwelcoming Stanwyck's mother is, he takes her to his own mother's home, also in Indiana, where Stanwyck is bowled over by the love and affection she encounters. Hanging over both their heads is the realization that they still have to return to the city to resolve the trial. The film was originally released in early January, 1940 to positive reviews. The New York Times raved, "A memorable film, in title and in quality, blessed with an honest script, good direction and sound performances...a drama stated in the simplest human terms of comedy and sentiment, tenderness and generosity... warm, pleasant and unusually entertaining."

Stanwyck and MacMurray would team up on-screen three more times, for Double Indemnity (1944), The Moonlighter (1953) and There's Always Tomorrow (1956).

The performances by both lead actors are fantastic. By the end of the picture we have truly fallen in love with Stanwyck and want nothing more than for her to finally find happiness.
The ending is very unique for a film taking place during the holiday season. Its not a happy joyful celebration like the ending to It's a Wonderful life and A Christmas Carol. What it does offer audiences is a message of hope and a reminder that we can always change for the better.

I really love this film and I was really happy to discover it's been released on DVD as part of the TCM archives collection. If you haven't seen it tune in this Friday at midnight as it airs on TCM as part of their Christmas Classics line up. You'll be glad you did.

All new PEANUTS special coming to DVD...

After many years without any new Peanuts specials, Charlie Brown and the gang return in Happiness us a warm blanket -- a new direct to DVD animated film from Warner Premiere.
The DVD will be available next spring. For those keeping count this will be the 45th animated special based on the tales of the peanuts gang by Charles Schultz.
Here's the description for the special straight from Warner's press release:

"Linus is pushed to his limits when he learns grandma is coming to visit and plans on ridding him of his childish security blanket. As grandma's arrival looms closer the Peanuts gang tries to help Linus learn to cope without his fuzzy crutch. Lucy is particular eager to cure Linus' dependency using her own psychiatric techniques, and while Charlie Brown tries to help he just doesn't have the heart to see Linus suffer. All the while Snoopy is constantly agitating matters because he wants the blanket for himself. In the end, insightful Linus points out that everyone has their own type of "security blanket" and in life a little security is a valuable thing".

I for one can't wait to see this. The DVD will also come packed with some extra features including:

  • Deconstructing Schulz: From Comic Strip to Screenplay - How the Peanuts comic strip was made into a movie
  • Happiness Is...Finding the Right Voice - Meet the stellar voice cast
  • 24 Frames a Second: Drawing and Animating a Peanuts Movie
  • Deleted Scene featuring an introduction by Director Andy Beall
  • Monday, December 20, 2010

    TRON LEGACY: Quorra and Light Runner from Spin Master...

    Spin Master's impressive TRON LEGACY toy line continues to expand with a new assortment of characters and vehicles. This second wave includes the character of Quorra, a sort of daughter to Kevin Flynn inside the computer world.

    Quorra is surprisingly well played by Olivia Wilde -- an actress I'd never heard of before. The action figure is one fans have been hoping to get since the first wave was announced and she'd been left out. She's finally starting to show up on pegs at Target stores in the West Coast. I just picked one up and since I now have the driver to the Light Runner I went ahead and picked up that really cool wave 1 vehicle at Toys 'R Us, where it's on sale for $14.99 at 25% off.

    The Light Runner is a great vehicle. In the film it's the only land vehicle equipped to handle the dangerous terrains off the TRON CITY Grid. The Spin Master toy is made of really glossy and heavy die cast metal with some plastic pieces. The cockpit opens up to sit two figures.

    The entire top, front, and back of the vehicle light up. It looks beautiful once you put two figures inside and light them up along with the vehicle. The light runner also has two pop up blasters in the front of the vehicle. The front wheels have a very cool mechanism which allows them to rotate up in order to go over obstacles on the terrain sort of like it does in the film when Quorra drives it up some rocky mountain paths in order to make her way to Kevin Flynn's hidden safe house.

    I highly recommend this vehicle at the $14.99 sale price. The more of these TRON toys I pick up and the more time I spend playing around with them the more I like this line.

    As part of the new wave 2 assortment Spin Master will also be releasing a one man light jet which looks darn awesome. I'll post pics and a review as soon as I get my hands on it.

    Saturday, December 18, 2010

    TRON LEGACY at Disney's El Capitan Theater...

    TRON LEGACY rocks! The film is everything I hoped it wold be. Not only is it a fast paced, action packed adventure film which utilizes the latest in 3D technology to dazzle audiences but it's also a loyal and worthy successor to our beloved 80s cult classic. We get to revisit old friends and are treated to a story that not only entertains -- but just like the original, contemplates some very powerful and interesting ideas.

    I just got back from seeing it at Disney's landmark El Capitan theater in Hollywood and already I feel like seeing it again. The folks at Disney sure know hot to put on a show and they've really pulled out all the stops for TRON LEGACY.

    The theater lobby has a cool display of props from the film including Sam Flynn's lightcycle and the digitizer which scans users into the grid.

    Just before the movie starts, audiences are treated to an exhilarating laser light show featuring the music of Daft Punk and nearly 360 degrees of laser beams. At one point all of us in the audiences were surrounded by an overhead grid of laser, fog and light effects.

    The sound system at the El Capitan is one of the best of any theater in the United States. When you combine all the firepower that system packs with the throbbing sounds of Daft Punk's score to the film the combination is mind blowing.

    Even a gigantic identity disc the size of a wall appears on stage followed by another array of dazzling laser beams and lights.

    When the laser show came to an end every single person in the audience was totally psyched for the film, which delivered in every aspect.

    I can't express how much fun it is to see a film with all the showmanship that the El Capitan adds to the presentation. It's a true experience. Too bad other theaters around the country don't do anything close to this in order to turn the movie going experience into a major event for fans.

    After you exit the theater the El Capitan gift store is packed with overpriced TRON LEGACY items. The prices are ridiculous, specially when you take into account Toys R Us' current sale which has all the toy and collectibles produced by Spin Master at 25% off.

    Surprisingly people were actually buying up stuff at these overblown prices.

    The theater also hands out the pop corn in reusable TRON LEGACY buckets which are a cool collectible and you can use them to eat pop corn during your movie nights at home. A nice souvenir you get to take home. Although with the overblown prices the theater's concession stand charges you pretty much end up paying for the stupid bucket.

    If you haven't done so already head on out to your local theater and check out TRON LEGACY in glorious REAL-D 3D or IMAX 3D.


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