Horrors of Hallmark, part 5:
Yes, Virginia, there IS such a thing as Christmas in July.
This weekend, Hallmark rolled out their 2010 Keepsake Ornaments, with much fanfare. What it meant for me was an 8-1/2 hour shift because, as anticipated, the store was mobbed with people who don’t know any better than to spend $15 and up on corporate-branded plastic crap. It wasn’t the crap that got me so much, or even the people who don’t know better than to buy it; it was the 8-1/2 hour shift – not fun for old people, or even those who are no longer young such as yours truly. Fortunately I got off early enough in the day to come home, put my feet up on the couch, and watch them swell.
As for the crap, well, it is what it is. Just more stuff for people to spend money on, and as noted, most of it a merchandising tie-in to some other company’s trademarks. There are some that you’d expect: Rudolph, Polar Express, etc. But then there are the Disney ornaments, Barbie ornaments, Star Wars ornaments – you name it, and if Hallmark can turn a buck on it, they’ll make it into an ornament. But just to give you an idea as to the insanity of those who “collect” these things: our store did about $10,000 in business in these by the time I left yesterday. At an average of $15 a pop, that’s over 650 of them that went out the door in 10 hours, most of them reserved or pre-paid by people who had submitted “wish lists” weeks earlier. I won’t go so far as to say all collectors are insane but…I really can’t see the point in collecting plastic marketing tools that don’t DO anything other than hang on a tree.
All that having been said, there were some lighter moments to the day, beginning when someone broke one of the Star Trek ornaments and we brought it up to the front. Since it was a “magic” ornament that played music when you pressed the button, I spent the rest of the day pressing the button…over, and over, and over again. The ornament depicted the famous Star Trek “Kirk and Spock Fight” theme:
Which of course reminded me of this scene from The Cable Guy:
I and one of the other girls working kept doing the Jim Carrey sing-along with the tune. Horribly annoying, I’m sure, but then again, so is working an 8-1/2 hour shift waiting on people who don’t know better than to spend hundreds of dollars on corporate marketing crap.
The other thing that really got me was that I kept hearing this banjo music wafting up from the ornament display. Finally I asked someone, “WTF, did Hallmark make a Deliverance Keepsake Ornament? Why didn’t they do one with Ned Beatty squealing like a pig?” Turns out it was all much more upbeat than that; the banjo music went along with the “Jingle Jamboree” ornament, which you can hear here.
I really should lighten up on some of this stuff; I mean, even I’m tempted by the things that push my buttons. I’m a sucker for anything Suess – right now the calendar hanging on the wall behind my computer shows an illustration from If I Ran the Circus. I also have a weakness for anything related to Where the Wild Things Are, which made this ornament somewhat hard to resist:
But resist it I did, even though with my discount I could have picked it up for quite a bit less than the retail price people were paying for the much-less-cool ornaments that were flying off the shelves.
What would be the point, after all, in buying an ornament when you never bother putting up a tree?
I will say this for our little Christmas in July hoedown: at least they didn’t make us listen to Christmas music. THAT would have been a deal-breaker.
I have several friends whose opinions I respect who love the Twilight books and movies. Remembering that my pal Perry, a freak for scary movies, is a big “Twilight” fan, I sent a link to Lyta and her cuz’s assessment. Here’s his response . . . If only I had seaved Perry’s review of “Passion of the Christ” as a gorefest, so I could establish his bona fides as a horror enthusiast. / b
After reading Mr. Callahan’s review of the ‘Twilight’ phenomenon, I was astounded at his total missing of the point. Or maybe it’s I who missed the point. I’m open to that interpretation as well. You be the judge.
Before we begin, a confession: you might say I’m a romantic or Romantic, sort of an old-fashioned Hubert Humphrey ‘bleeding heart liberal’ as Richard Nixon might have phrased it, or Ronald Reagan maybe. I would like to respond to Mr. Callahan’s quickie review and also to the intro written by one of the 3 weird sisters. First, Mr. Callahan and then on to the Sister.
You know, it’s very easy to slam ‘Twilight’ — the bad reviews are a dime-a-dozen — and here’s why: It’s a ROMANCE for christsake, and worse, it’s a romance for YOUNG GIRLS. And what’s the history of the romance for young girls? Look at the shrieking Bobby Sox Brigades that followed Frankie (Sinatra) in the 40’s and ’50’s. His music was certainly to be dismissed and he has already been forgotten, barely a footnote in the history of Hoboken; check out the equally obnoxious legions of teeny boppers that ran after John, Paul, George and Ringo in the 1950’s and 1960’s. We all know those guys never created anything with real substance or lasting value. And let’s not leave out Chuck Berry or Elvis. They faded into oblivion; no one remembers them. So yes, Jody, Ms. Meyer’s work can also be dismissed, for like her comrades in that other genre, her writing will soon be forgotten, thankfully lost to history like that particle just beneath the surface of the water, you know, the one that pushes away the more you try to grab it. Insubstantial, inadequate, piddly.
As you stated, Jody, adults DO like the series and you eloquently dumped us all into one category: Stupid. Please let me tell you (without your articulate flair) exactly why we like it, or at least, why I like ‘Twilight’ and the books that followed. One word: STORYTELLING. Not just storytelling but storytelling perfectly paced with enough suspense to make you fumble to turn the page, to make you drop the book on the floor in haste to get on with the story and that one sure sign of a good book — you don’t want it to be over. (BTW, staring into the eyes of your lover and “mouth-breathing at each other” not only makes for great sexual tension, it also makes for great sex. Just thought I’d throw that in.)
Now, you seem to have a problem with the rules of vampirism. (Quick aside: vampires are not real. They don’t really exist so they don’t have any rules). Vampire lore can be traced back as far as ancient Persia and Babylonia. Over the centuries every culture has modified the vampire to suit its entertainment needs and even political ends. Of course it was Mr. Stoker who created the modern vampire myth borrowing from dozens of other myths and other cultures.
Each writer since Bram Stoker changed some element of the myth to make the telling more fun and to keep the reader on his or her toes, like: Michael Talbot’s ‘The Delicate Dependency’ and Rice’s ‘Vampire Chronicles’, both radically altered the myth as did Ray Garton’s ‘Live Girls’ and Sturgeon’s ‘Some Of Your Blood’. Even Stephen King took a very different approach in his novella ‘The Night Flyer’. Let’s not forget the truly strange look at vampire lore by Nancy A. Collins and Poppy Z. Brite. Jody, it’s OK to change the myth and create your own set of undead rules as long as you follow them. Your story has to be a closed system. (It’s interesting to note that in ‘Dracula’ the light of day did not destroy the vampire – that was a Hollywood thing created much later.)
I’m not sure why you brought up Edward’s “sparkle” when Meyer broke vampire tradition in numerous and egregious ways. In Meyer’s undead universe vampire blood is “venom” rather than the other-worldly ghosts of Anne Rice or the mysterious “virus” of ‘Dracula’. Meyer’s vampires can have sex; Rice’s gave that up when they turned. Meyer has created her own vampire world with a set of rules that she firmly adheres to. Everything fits; everything works. It’s a closed system. Meyer is a genius storyteller with an attention to detail that would make an OCD jealous.
Jody, I’m not even going to address your take on the dialogue as my 6-year-old grandchild is funnier and more mature. Sorry pal.
Two other points, however, are worth mentioning. Whoever wrote the intro seems to think that ‘Twilight’ isn’t scary and that Edward is a “good” vampire. Sister, did you read the book? If you did you’d know that Edward is indeed a killer, that is, before he joined Carlisle’s coven, Edward drank human blood and killed humans to get it. When Edward tells Bella that he’s a killer it isn’t just a plot device intended to move the love story along by highlighting their doomed relationship. He’s telling her the truth. In fact, of the Cullen clan, only Carlisle himself has never destroyed a human. Only Carlisle is not a killer — he didn’t even help dispatch James leaving that to Alice for revenge sake. The rest of Carlisle’s family are new to the “vegetarian” thing, Jasper being the newest and having the least control over his instincts.
Rather than injecting her own religious values into the character of Edward, Ms. Meyer is keeping true to the story when she makes Edward reluctant to have sex with Bella. Edward is a 100-year-old male who came of age before he was turned and so his values fit more into the 19th century than into liberal 21st century values. Besides, he was afraid that vampire sex might actually kill Bella.
As for ‘Twilight’ and the series not being scary — here we have decapitation, dismemberment, extreme violence, warring armies, bloodlust, torture and enough entrails to satisfy Hershel Gordon Lewis. What more do you want? One could argue that all this is only horror. Have you ever been confronted by a wolf in the wild? Ever jumped off a 1000-foot cliff or ridden a motorcycle at top speed? Ever offered to die in place of someone you loved?
If there’s a weakness in the Twilight saga it’s in the downplaying of Edward’s notion of the soul. I hope Ms. Meyer focuses on that as she continues the series.
I used to believe that ANY book that got kids to read was OK by me. At 60 years of age I now slightly revise that statement thus: ALMOST any book that gets kids to read is OK by me. And if the kids nowadays are reading Rowling and Meyer, then all I can say is THAT’S PRETTY DARN COOL — THE KIDS ARE ALRIGHT. — Perry Thompson