Saturday, December 26, 2020

Post-Christmas Day Blues

It doesn't happen every year, but often I feel a bit blue the day after Christmas (Boxing Day in the UK and the Commonwealth). This is the case this year. This is not unusual for me, as I also experience the blues following such holidays as the 4th of July and Halloween. What sets my post-Christmas Day blues apart from the blues I experience after the 4th of July and Halloween, is that while I might at most be blue for one or two days following those holidays, the blues I experience after Christmas Day can vary in length. Sometimes I may only be blue on Boxing Day. Sometimes it might well extend past New Year's Day. Here I want to stress that I am not depressed. I don't lose interest in the activities I enjoy, and I can still feel pleasure from the things I enjoy. I simply feel a bit of melancholy. I also have to say that I know it is not due to Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), otherwise it would happen every single year. In fact, I don't experience SAD in winter. For me that is something I go through every summer.

Of course, I am not alone in experiencing post-Christmas Day blues. It appears to affect a large swathe of the population. As to the cause, a lot of articles on the internet seem to attribute it to Christmas not living up to individuals' expectations. Quite simply, the reality of Christmas did not live up to the individuals' expectations of what they thought Christmas should be. That having been said, I don't think this is true for many people and I know it certainly isn't for me. I usually have very good Christmases, filled with everything I love about the holiday. This year was certainly no different. If I am blue today, it is not because Christmas did not live up to my expectations.

I think in my case my post-Christmas Day blues stem more from two things. First is the fact that Christmas is my favourite holiday. It is literally the most wonderful time of the year for me. Second is the fact that the time during which the United States celebrates Christmas is at odds with Christmastide as observed by various Christian denominations (Catholicism, Anglicanism, Methodism, and others), the traditional 12 Days of Christmas. In the United States the Christmas shopping season, and hence the time when Christmas has been celebrated the past many years, lasts from Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving) to Christmas Day. In many, many ways, this is an awkward time to celebrate Christmas. Christmas in American popular culture is closely tied to winter. Images of Christmas evoke snow, icicles, snowmen, and so on. In contrast, on Black Friday it is still very much autumn. In most of the United States, snow is a very remote possibility in late November. In fact, it is very remote possibility in much of the United States even in December.  The Christmas shopping season actually ends at the time when the possibility of snow is at its greatest the entire season.

In contrast, Christmastide as observed by various Christian denominations runs from sunset on December 24 (Christmas Eve) to sunset on January 6. Quite simply, Christmastide is the traditional Twelve Days of Christmas from the song. For much of the United States, the traditional Twelve Days of Christmas fits the imagery of Christmas much better than the Christmas shopping season. The chances of snow increase dramatically the further one gets into winter. Here in mid-Missouri, I can recall a few actual white Christmases in my lifetime. I can recall many more white New Year's Days and even more snowy days in the first week of January.

Anyway, what all of this amounts to is that many in the United States are through celebrating Christmas not long after it actually begins to feel like the holiday to me. On Boxing Day many individuals and businesses will take down their decorations. Except for a few industries (such as the automobile industry), Christmas themed commercials disappear from television stations. Radio stations stop playing Christmas songs. It is true many will keep their Christmas decorations up until New Year's Day or even January 2. It is true the Hallmark Channel will continue to show Christmas movies until January 1 (of course, they started them before it was even Halloween *grumble*). Still, so many have ceased celebrating Christmas that it can't help but affect my mood. For many Christmas is over, so that while I recognize the traditional Christmastide, I can't help but feel blue.

Fortunately post-Christmas blues don't last long for me. Often I am over them by the day after Boxing Day. For those times when my post-Christmas blues do last longer, I do have ways of dealing with them. If the weather permits, I will go for walks, which usually lift my spirits. As is the custom in my family, I keep my Christmas decorations up, including the lights and tree, until New Year's Day or January 2. I will continue to listen to Christmas music and watch the occasional Christmas movie. Over the years I have learned that this tends to lift my spirits and help me make it into the New Year.

For those of you who are also suffering post-Christmas blues, all I have to say is that you should hang in there. Continue to celebrate Christmas as long as you wish (the whole Christmastide if you wish). Eventually the New Year will come around. And Christmas will return next year.

Friday, December 25, 2020

Merry Christmas 2020

Today is Christmas and as is the tradition here at A Shroud of Thoughts I am posting vintage Christmas pinups. 2020 has been a rough year, so I hope these lovely ladies and one handsome gentleman cheer you up!
First up is director and actress Ida Lupino who has a gigantic wreath for her door!

Next is Julie Adams, who is reminding us how many days there are until Christmas! 
Next is Robert Mitchum, who is delivering presents!

Here is Vera-Ellen, who is trying to go down a chimney!

Diana Dors is busy placing her presents under the tree. 

Finally, it wouldn't be Christmas without Ann Miller!

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Fellow Bloggers' Favourite Holiday Movies

This year I thought I would do something a little different for Christmas Eve and ask some of my fellow bloggers about their favourite Christmas movies. I am sure you will find some old favourites and perhaps some movies that are new to you as well! And for those who are curious, my favourite Christmas movies are The Apartment (1960), It's a Wonderful Life (1946), Christmas in Connecticut (1944), Holiday Affair (1949), The Bishop's Wife (1947), and It Happened on Fifth Avenue (1946).

Dr. Annette Bochenek of Hometowns to Hollywood:

When the holidays come around, I love revisiting my favorite holiday films. For me, it’s simply part of the season to decorate my house, spend time with family and friends checking out some holiday lights, and enjoying these beloved holiday classics. While these films are certainly not new to me, they never fail to help me ring in the holiday season. Here’s a short listing of some of my favorites:

A Christmas Carol (1951):  I think that this is the first holiday classic I can recall enjoying as a child with my parents. We watched lots of holiday films but this was among the black-and-white features I would typically see around the holidays. I feel like I notice something different in this film every year as I’m another year older and hopefully wiser! Alastair Sim’s performance here is nothing short of brilliant, with him aptly navigating the miserly Scrooge character through his journey of greed, selfishness, fear, anger, sorrow, repentance, joy, and love. As a child, I definitely remember Scrooge and the Ghost of Christmas Future being quite frightening, be it this version or even the much lighter Disney rendition! Now, as an adult, I adore Dickens’s tale and commentary. Moreover, I find immense warmth in the Cratchit family’s scenes and especially delight in Scrooge’s rebirth as a loving, compassionate individual, eager to begin truly living again.

Holiday Inn (1942): This early Bring Crosby-Fred Astaire pairing never fails to leave a song in my heart. Packed with delightful songs by Irving Berlin, the film actually introduces “White Christmas,” as the plot progresses with an array of additional wonderful tunes. Because this film focuses upon an inn that is open on all public holidays, I think this film is easily enjoyed at any time of year. The song and dance numbers here are truly stellar. Additionally, this is one of those rare roles in which Astaire is actually not so nice to his co-star! While he sings and dances beautifully, it’s fun to see him at least slightly outside of the realm of his usual roles.

It Happened on Fifth Avenue (1947): This film is such an overlooked gem and I am so glad that it’s now publicly available for audiences to enjoy. While this film is Capra-esque in taking on social and political commentary of the day, it leans more towards comedy than it does drama. The story focuses on a homeless man who strategically moves into a 5th Avenue mansion each winter when its millionaire owner vacates for his summer estate. While the homeless man usually operates alone, one winter, he meets an array of individuals who are down on their luck and invites them to live with him for the winter. All goes according to plan until the millionaire’s actual daughter returns home to find strangers living there. Nonetheless, she remains incognito and even convinces her estranged parents to return to the mansion—also incognito. Chaos, comedy, romance, and drama ensue, in addition to some beautiful lines and scenes along the way.

White Christmas (1954): While this film has some parallels to Holiday Inn, it is a visual delight on its own. A bit lighter on the plot, the musical numbers really shine in this film, as do the fine costumes worn by the stars. Once again packed with a Berlin score and taking place in an inn—actually the same set from Holiday Inn—we meet a different cast of characters who are putting on shows for a different purpose. Being a Berlin musical, the songs never fail to delight and are highly memorable, including the postcard-perfect scene featuring his Oscar-winning title number.

There are many more holiday films to enjoy. Whether new to you or a frequently-viewed favorite, they are well worth watching year after year.

KC of A Classic Movie Blog

Holiday Affair is my favorite holiday film because while it deals with loss and need, it does so gently and with a light touch. It’s Christmas spirit without the tear-jerking. I adore its sweet spirit. Also two great performances from Janet Leigh and Robert Mitchum.

 Dan of The Hitless Wonder Movie Blog:

I have to say my favorite Christmas movie is the 1951 British-made version of A Christmas Carol. Alastair Sim is a great Scrooge--he plays him not as a over-the-top ogre, but as a real flawed man. The entire production (filmed in shadowy black & white) has a dark, brooding, English Gothic tone to it, which perfectly matches the work and world of Charles Dickens. It's chilling and moving at the same time.

Paula of TCMParty and Paula's Cinema Club:

The Apartment — I'm not really sure how a film in which the main characters, particularly the men, do such questionable things makes you feel so good, but it does.<
Christmas in Connecticut — This film has become like a Christmas tree or lights, if you don't have them, it's not Christmas.

We're No Angels — It's just such a happy fantasy

It Happened on Fifth Avenue — If worrying about Mr. McKeever and his dog is crazy, I don't want to be sane.

Love Actually — Just let it wash over you. Half the fun is seeing now-famous actors in early roles.

Scrooged (1988) Probably my favorite version of A Christmas Carol.

Trading Places — Possibly even more relevant than when it came out as a social commentary and really hilarious.

Shop Around The Corner / In The Good Old Summertime — A good story is a good story.

Christmas Under Fire — So poignant.

The Man Who Came to Dinner — I don't know why I think it's so funny, Sheridan Whiteside is really a horrible person.

The Lemon Drop Kid (1951) —  It's sweet but Bob Hope keeps it a little edgy so it won't give you a cavity.

Gill of Realweegiemidget Reviews:

The Gift of Love (TV Movie, 1978). When it comes to my Christmas movie, I love nothing more than this TV movie with Marie Osmond and Timothy Bottoms. The plot is based on O' Henry's "Gift of the Magi". The film is a turn of the century soppy romance and tells of a rich girl Beth (Osmond) who falls for a poor guy, Rudi (Bottoms). Both are engaged to others, so she has to choose between love and money... but she's pretending to be poor. Of course,  true love wins the day, and events lead to a very happy Christmas Eve ending... and yes, Marie Osmond does sing, that is Ann Ramsey aka the Bad Guy from The Goonies and you will cry (probably).

Lê of Crítica Retrô: 

I love Christmas and, of course, Christmas movies. However, my favorite holiday film is an underrated one: The Lemon Drop Kid (1951). What makes this film stand out to me was the fact that it was one of the first movies I watched and live tweeted with the #TCMParty group. I remember it was right after Peter O’Toole and Joan Fontaine passed away, so the whole classic film community was mourning and we needed a distraction. Whenever I listen to the song "Silver Bells," featured in this movie, I think about our lovely film community.

Barry P. of Cinema Catharsis

Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale (2010) Director/co-writer Jalmari Helander’s unconventional Christmas-themed movie, set amidst a stark winter landscape, explores Santa’s more sinister origins. Unlike the jolly old elf popularized in modern stories, Rare Exports recalls the Finnish legend of Joulupukki, a malevolent beast that punishes naughty children for their misdeeds. While the plot concerns the mayhem that ensues after an ancient force is unleashed, at its heart, the story is about a relationship between a widower and his young son. With its balance of family drama, dark humor and creepy supernatural lore, it’s the perfect choice for those who prefer something a little left of center for their holiday viewing.

Terence: I have to apologize if I somehow missed any of my fellow bloggers! Whether you are a blogger or not, be sure to let everyone know what your favourite Christmas movies are in the comments. And to all of you, Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

My Favourite Christmas TV Episodes

Christmas episodes have long been a tradition on American television, ever since the beginning of regular American network broadcasts in the mid-Forties. Christmas episodes of TV shows form the experience of many Americans during the holidays, so that most of us have our all time favourite Christmas episodes of shows. These are my five favourites. Since I can't decide which one I like best, they are in chronological order.

The Andy Griffith Show, "The Christmas Story," December 19 1960: The Andy Griffith Show only did one Christmas episode in its 8 seasons on the air, but it was one of the all-time greatest Christmas episodes of any show. In "The Christmas Story," Mayberry's department store owner Ben Weaver (Will Wright) insists that Sheriff Andy Taylor (Andy Griffith) arrest moonshiner Sam Muggins (Sam Edwards). Andy isn't particularly anxious to do so, as it would mean that Sam could not spend Christmas with his family. Andy comes up with a solution that will somewhat satisfy Ben Weaver, while at the same time insuring Sam gets to spend the holiday with his family.

What makes "The Christmas Story" so good is not simply that it evokes the Christmas spirit so well, but because it is funny and touching without being maudlin. It numbers among the best episodes of a show known for a number of truly great episodes.

The Dick Van Dyke Show, "The Alan Brady Show Presents," December 18 1963: In "The Alan Brady Show Presents," the staff of The Alan Brady Show find themselves stuck creating a Christmas episode of The Alan Brady Show when they would rather spend the holidays with their families. Things begin looking up when Rob Petrie (Dick Van Dyke) enlists the help of his family.

"The Alan Brady Show Presents" is an unusual episode of The Dick Van Dyke Show, or any other sitcom for that matter, because it plays less like an episode of The Dick Van Dyke Show than it does an episode of the fictional show-within-a-show, The Alan Brady Show. In other words, it resembles a Christmas variety show episode. Of course, with such extraordinary talents as Dick Van Dyke, Mary Tyler Moore, Morey Amsterdam, Rose Marie, and Carl Reiner, the results are actually better than the average Christmas variety special. Included are various skits, as well as a classic performance of "I'm a Fine Musician" by Dick Van Dyke, Mary Tyler Moore, Morey Amsterdam, and Rose Marie as toy soldiers. It is often counted among the greatest Christmas TV show episodes ever made.

The Mary Tyler Moore Show, "Christmas and the Hard-Luck Kid II," December 19 1970: Mary (Mary Tyler Moore), who loves Christmas so much she has decorated her entire desk at WJM, finds out that she must work on Christmas Day. When a co-worker asks if Mary could cover his shift for him on December 24 so he can spend it with his family, she winds up working on Christmas Eve as well. Fortunately, Mary''s Christmas does not prove as depressing as it initially seemed it would be.

"Christmas and the Hard-Luck Kid II" is often counted among the greatest Christmas episodes of all time, and with good reason. It is extremely funny, and touching without being mawkish. For those of you who are wondering about the title, it refers to the 1966 That Girl episode, "Christmas and the Hard-Luck Kid," also written by James L. Brooks.

ER, "Blizzard," December 8 1994: "Blizzard" is actually one of two Christmas episodes of ER in its first season, the second being "The Gift." That having been said, "Blizzard" is by far the superior of the two episodes. Not long before Christmas, a blizzard has hit Chicago. For that reason it is an unusually slow shift at County General, so that the ER staff finds other ways to fill their time. Dr. Mark Greene (Anthony Edwards) and Dr. Susan Lewis (Sherry Stringfield) prank medical student John Carter (Noah Wylie) by putting a cast on his leg. Nurse Wendy Goldman (Vanessa Marquez) is roller blading around the hospital. Several members of the staff play a game of wheelchair soccer. Unfortunately all of this changes when there is a 30 car pile up on the Kennedy Expressway. While this might not sound very Christmasy, the episode features Nat King Cole's classic rendition of "The Christmas Song" and ends with an impromptu Christmas party in the ER after their work is done.

"Blizzard" is a remarkable episode and also a historic one for ER. It is the second episode in which the staff of County General must deal with the extremes of Chicago weather (the first being "Chicago Heat"). More importantly, it is the first of many episodes in which the staff must deal with mass casualties. Since then mass casualty events have become a bit of a cliché on medical dramas. What makes "Blizzard" superior to other "mass casualty" episodes is how well the episode flows. It changes tone several times, from the humour and Christmas spirit early in the episode to the drama and tension of dealing with a mass casualty event to the Christmas spirit at the end of the episode.

The X-Files, "How the Ghosts Stole Christmas," December 13 1998: The X-Files did multiple Christmas episodes, but "How the Ghosts Stole Christmas" is by far the best. In "How the Ghosts Stole Christmas," Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) summons Scully (Gillian Anderson) to a house haunted by a pair of lovers who committed suicide during the Christmas of 1917.  Scully is not at all happy about cancelling her Christmas plans, but goes along with Mulder nonetheless. This being The X-Files, the house is indeed haunted by the dead lovers, whose plans for Mulder and Scully aren't at all benign.

What makes "How the Ghosts Stole Christmas" so great is that it is a perfect blend of humour, horror, and Christmas spirit. Making the episode even better than it might have otherwise been is the fact that the dead lovers are played by two of the all-time greats, Ed Asner and Lily Tomlin. It is not only the best Christmas episode of The X-Files, but one of the best Christmas episodes of a show ever.

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

The 50th Anniversary of Rankin/Bass's Santa Claus is Comin' to Town

Fred Astaire voiced S.D. Kluger
The television special Santa Claus is Comin' to Town, produced by Rankin/Bass, first aired on December 14 1970 on ABC. This year then marks its 50th anniversary. It would be the third TV special to be created by Rankin/Bass using their stop motion animation technique called "Animagic," following Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and The Little Drummer Boy. It was their fifth Christmas special over all, following Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, The Cricket on the Hearth, The Little Drummer Boy, and Frosty the Snowman. It has aired annually ever since its debut, although not always on one of the broadcast networks.

In 1964 Rankin/Bass had success with the now classic special Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. They would follow that success in 1968 with The Little Drummer Boy and in 1969 with Frosty the Snowman. One thing each special had in common is that they were based on popular Christmas songs. "Santa Claus is Comin' to Town" was written by J. Fred Coots and Haven Gillespie and was first recorded in 1934 by Harry Reiser and his band. That same year it was sung on Eddie Cantor's show, turning the song into a hit. Over the years it would be covered by many different artists, including Bing Crosby and the Andrew Sisters and Gene Autry. 

That having been said, "Santa Claus is Comin' to Town" did present one difficulty for Rakin/Bass. While the songs "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer," "The Little Drummer Boy," and "Frosty the Snowman" each had their own storylines, "Santa Claus is Comin' to Town" did not. The song simply advises children to "be good for goodness' sake" and relates such activities Santa was already well known for, such as making his list. As a result Romeo Muller, who had already written several of Rankin/Bass's specials (including Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Frosty the Snowman), then had to create a whole new storyline from scratch. The end result was an origin story for Santa Claus, explaining various aspects of the Santa Claus mythos.

Romeo Muller was not the only Rankin/Bass veteran who worked on Santa Claus is Comin' to Town. Except for "Santa Claus is Comin' to Town," the songs were written by co-producer Jules Bass and Maury Laws. They had previously written songs for the Rankin/Bass specials Cricket on the Hearth and The Little Drummer Boy. The character design was created by Paul Coker, a regular contributor to Mad magazine. He had done uncredited character design work for the Rankin/Bass feature film The Wacky World of Mother Goose. The first Rankin/Bass special for which he was character designer was Frosty the Snowman. Santa Claus is Comin' to Town would be the first Rankin/Bass special using Animagic on which Paul Coker worked.

Arguably, Santa Claus is Comin' to Town featured the best known cast in a Rankin/Bass special up to that time. Fred Astaire voiced S.D. "Special Delivery" Kluger, a postman who narrates the special. Mickey Rooney voiced Kris Kringle/Santa Claus. Keenan Wynn voiced the Winter Warlock. Well known voice artist Paul Free voiced the Burgomeister, as well as several other voices.  Fred Astaire would reprise his role as S.D. Kluger in the 1977 special The Easter Bunny is Comin' to Town. Mickey Rooney would reprise his role as Santa Claus in A Year Without a Santa Claus, Rudolph and the Frosty's Christmas in July, and A Miser Brothers' Christmas.

Santa Claus is Comin' to Town would see some success when it premiered in 1970. When it aired in 1971, Santa Claus is Comin' to Town came in fifth in the ratings for the week of November 28 to December 4. While Santa Claus is Comin' to Town did well in the ratings for many years, in the end it would not see the lasting success that either Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Frosty the Snowman have seen. It aired on ABC until 1981 and with 1982 it entered syndication where it remained for many years. In 1995 it returned to network television for one year when it aired on the now defunct UPN. Beginning in 1997 it began airing on the Family Channel. It would air on the various permutations of that channel (Fox Family, ABC Family, and Freeform) until 2016.. Since then AMC has aired it every year. Santa Claus is Comin' to Town would eventually return to network television. It returned to ABC in 2005 and has aired there ever since.

Over the years Santa Claus is Comin' to Town has been edited for broadcast. As the Seventies progressed this was largely because of the increase in commercial time throughout the decade. That having been said, in later broadcasts it would be edited for content as well. With lyrics like "If you sit on my lap today/A kiss a toy is the price you'll pay," the song "Be Prepared to Pay"might have seemed innocent in 1970, but in following decades it could be considered downright creepy. As a result, it has been cut in later broadcasts. The song "My World is Beginning to Day" has also been cut, although it is not entirely clear why. It could be because the song is accompanied by some rather odd visuals, which have been described as "psychedelic." Freeform would also cut various sequences that the channel thought might be traumatizing to younger viewers.

While Santa Claus is Comin' to Town did not initially prove to be as popular as Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman, or even The Little Drummer Boy, since its debut it has come to be regarded as a classic.  It is safe to say it will continue to air on various television venues for years.

Monday, December 21, 2020

The 52nd Birthday of Vanessa Marquez

"'I have come to believe that the highest compliment is not remembering someone; it is missing them." Vincent Price

My dearest Vanessa Marquez was born on December 21 1968 in Los Angeles County, so that today would have been her 52nd birthday.Vanessa loved her birthday and was particularly proud of being a "solstice baby." She was also happy that her birthday fell so close to Christmas, which was quite possibly her favourite holiday. For those of you who are wondering, unlike some people whose birthdays fall close to Christmas, Vanessa did receive presents for both her birthday and Christmas. Regardless, today is difficult for me, but at the same time it is a happy occasion. It is difficult because I am unable to wish Vanessa a happy birthday as I always did and spend part of the day with her. It is happy because it is the anniversary of the birth of my dearest friend, an actress I admire, and a woman I adore.

Even now it seems incredible to me that Vanessa and I were so close. After all, she was a talented, famous, and beautiful actress known for the movie Stand and Deliver (1988) and the TV show ER. What is more, Vanessa's background was somewhat different from my own. Vanessa's maternal grandfather was born in the Mexican state of Sinaloa. Her maternal grandmother was born in Hermosillo, Sonora. The couple married in Nogales, Sonora and later moved to Nogales, Arizona, which is where Vanessa's mother was born. Vanessa was very proud of her Mexican heritage and referred to herself as "Mexican American." She didn't use the term "Chicana" of herself, although she had no objections to the term.

The family would later move to California, which is where Vanessa Marquez was born. She grew up in Montebello, California. One thing common to both Vanessa's background and my own is that we were both of an artistic bent from an early age. Vanessa often said that she wanted to be an actress as soon as she emerged from the womb. She certainly wanted to be an actress after first seeing The Wizard of Oz (1939) when she was three or four. Her mother told me how, when Vanessa was eight years old, she marched into their living room and said, "I am going to be a movie star, just like Judy Garland!"

Vanessa certainly was determined to be an actress. When she was a tween she wanted to take tap dancing lessons. When her mother told her that they couldn't afford them, Vanessa simply took to baking. Every Saturday and Sunday her mother would drive her to the local supermarket where she would sell her cookies and cakes. Vanessa then paid for her lessons herself. In school she took every single performing arts class, even though she was generally overlooked when it came to school plays. She was still in high school when she won the role of Ana Delgado in Stand and Deliver. Vanessa graduated from Schurr High School in Montebello, and attended Los Angeles City College.

Of course, while our backgrounds were different, Vanessa and I had a lot in common beyond the fact that she was an actress and I am a writer. We were both fans of classic television and shared many favourite shows in common: Batman, The Monkees, Space 1999, Star Trek, The Twilight Zone, and so on. We even loved many of the same recent shows: Downton Abbey, Mad Men, and The X-Files. We were both huge fans of classic films and were two of the original members of TCMParty, the group of Turner Classic Movie fans who live tweet movies on the channel using that hashtag. Like many Gen Xers, The Wizard of Oz was among the first classic films we ever saw, and we both loved the movie as well as its star Judy Garland. We were also both huge Star Wars fans. In fact, I don't think I ever knew a Star Wars fan as big as Vanessa was. She had an extensive collection of Star Wars merchandise. If I ever had a rival, it would had to have been R2-D2.

Even when it came to politics Vanessa and I were largely in agreement. She worked with the United Farm Workers and knew both Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta. Vanessa did some publicity for the UFW and even took part in a December 7 1989 rally and march protesting the exposure of farmers to pesticides used on grapes. She also worked with Amnesty International. Vanessa was one of the famous Latinas who appeared in the award winning 1994 Latina Vote public service announcement, directed by Julie Carmen, encouraging Latinas to vote. Vanessa was very passionate about her views, and they emerged from the fact that she genuinely cared about people.

Indeed, while many know Vanessa was a beautiful and talented actress, they might not know just how wonderful she really was. Vanessa Marquez was the kindest, gentlest, most warm-hearted person I knew. She was very loyal to her friends and would help them when she could. When Jaime Escalante, the mathematics teacher upon whom the movie Stand and Deliver was based, developed cancer, Vanessa was relentless in raising money for his medical treatment. When Turner Classic Movies aired Stand and Deliver on September 30 this year, even I was impressed when, during the TCMParty for the movie on Twitter, an extremely large number of people told how Vanessa had touched their lives and how much they appreciated her. Vanessa's warm-heartedness extended to animals as well. She volunteered for a time at a local animal shelter in Los Angeles County.

More than the fact that she was intelligent and talented, more than the fact that we had so much in common, it was because Vanessa was so warm and kind that I loved her so much. She had more of an impact on my life than anyone else. I was closer to her than anyone I have ever known, even my best friend Brian and my siblings. I am in love with Vanessa and I have no doubt that she knew that, even though we never were actually boyfriend and girlfriend. It should be little wonder that I am still grieving her and that I miss her so much. I have no doubt that I will miss her until the day that I die.  Vanessa Marquez was a wonderful woman, and the most remarkable person I have ever known. While I might be a bit sad today, the anniversary of her birth is still reason to celebrate.

Sunday, December 20, 2020

"Jingle Bell Rock" by Bobby Helms

Those of you who know me, as well as regular readers of this blog, might realize that tomorrow is a very important day for me. They might also realize that I have a blog post planned for it. For that reason I thought tonight I would simply leave you with a seasonal song. Here then is "Jingle Bell Rock" by Bobby Helms