Editor’s Note: This post originally appeared on Funkhouser last December. But because this is the →
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©December 22nd, 2014 @ 5:30pm
From the Archives: Nine Reasons Why National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation is the Best Christmas Movie Ever Made
By S.E. Shepherd on ©December 22nd, 2014 @ 5:05pm
Editor’s Note: This post originally appeared on Funkhouser last December. But because this is the week everyone spends watching their favorite holiday movies, it seemed like an appropriate time to re-post it. Enjoy!
In case you haven’t noticed, it’s December and just about everyone is in full-blown holiday mode. Since Thanksgiving, television networks have been trotting out their annual line-up of Christmas movies and specials, from classics like Rudolph and The Grinch and Christmas Story, to more recent creations, such as Sofia the First’s Holiday in Enchancia or whatever computer-generated abomination Disney has vomited onto the airwaves this year in their latest effort to sell poorly made toys to kids. With so many holiday-themed movies from which to choose, you might feel overwhelmed when it comes time to decide how to spend your precious viewing time.
Well I’m here to help, folks. And the solution to your problem is simple: The only movie you need to watch is National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. It’s the world-champ of Christmas movies, and it’s unlikely that any contender will emerge to challenge its title in our lifetimes. Here’s why.
1. The house-lighting scene.
There isn’t a man alive over the age of 25 who hasn’t imitated this scene at least once when plugging in the Christmas lights (or changing a light bulb or fixing a small appliance).
2. It was the last truly great movie Chevy Chase ever made.
Most of the internet generation knows Chase simply as the weird old guy on Community or the magical hot tub repairman from Hot Tub Time Machine. And that breaks my heart. In reality, Chase is, with the possible exception of Bill Murray, the greatest comedic actor of the last 40 years. And I don’t say that lightly. For my money, I’d put Chase’s five best movies – Vacation, Fletch, Caddyshack, The Three Amigos, and Christmas Vacation – up against any other comedic actor’s top five every day of the week. In his prime, Chase was the king, effortlessly portraying all the greatest comedic leading-man archetypes: the everyman with an edge, the silver-tongued ladies man, the put-upon father, and the fast-talking wiseass.
Sadly, Christmas Vacation represents the last time Chase was at the top of his game. The flick was released in 1989 on the heels of two sequels that weren’t as good as their predecessors (Fletch Lives and Caddyshack II), and it was all down hill from there. Like a great athlete whose body fails him, allowing the game he loves to pass him by, Chase lost a step comedically and was never able to fully recover. With the possible exception of the super-weird and widely panned Nothing But Trouble (which, in my opinion, isn’t as bad as its reputation might lead you to believe, and its faults certainly aren’t due to a lack of effort on Chase’s part) and Memoirs of an Invisible Man, Chase’s star never shone as brightly as it did in Christmas Vacation. That makes it worthy of the top ranking if for no other reason than it’s basically like watching Michael Jordan hit the game-winner over Byron Russell in the 1998 NBA Finals, right before he retired for the second time and then embarrassed himself by playing for the Washington Wizards.
3. Aunt Bethany’s rendition of that beloved Christmas classic, The Star Spangled Banner.
Actually, pretty much anything Aunt Bethany says is the greatest. My personal favorite is when, upon arriving at the Griswold home and seeing all the twinkling lights, she asks, “Is your house on fire, Clark?”
4. The best PG-13 freak-out scene in movie history.
Sure, the language is only slightly NSFW, but has anyone ever made phrases like snake-licking, dirt-eating, dog-kissing, stiff-legged, and spotty-lipped sound filthier than Chevy Chase?
5. Johnny Galecki as Rusty and Juliette Lewis as Audrey.
Of all the actors and actresses who have portrayed the Griswold children, Galecki and Lewis are the best all around combo in the series. Sure, Anthony Michael Hall was the OG Rusty and can’t be topped, and Vegas Vacation’s Marisol Nichols was easily the hottest Audrey of the bunch. But the Galecki-Lewis duo delivers an unbeatable one-two punch. Lewis’ Audrey perfectly captures that weird teenage dichotomy between being too cool for everything while still being secretly excited about the family rituals and traditions that come with the holidays. And Galecki’s Rusty is the perfect straight man to Chase’s Clark, a faithful son who is painfully aware that his father is a bumbling doofus, but who never lets that get in the way of his admiration for his pops.
6. Ellen’s instinctive protection of the Griswold family jewels.
7. Clark’s open contempt for his neighbors.
The holidays are a time for spreading tidings of comfort and joy, but whom among us hasn’t used Christmas and all that comes with it – the decorating, the gift giving, the holiday parties – as a chance to throw some good, old-fashioned shade on an annoying neighbor or a frenemy? Clark Griswold knows what I’m talking about. He lives next door to a couple of judgmental yuppies (played by Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Nicholas Guest), and his barely hidden disdain for their overly sanitized, modern-decored existence is hilarious. Not only does he make their lives a living hell by blinding them with countless strands of Christmas lights and destroying their stereo system by sending frozen ice missiles through their windows, he goes so far as to don a Jason-esque hockey mask and thrust a running chainsaw in their general direction. If that isn’t what Christmas is all about, I don’t know what is.
8. Cousin Eddie.
Randy Quaid appeared as Cousin Eddie in every Vacation movie except European Vacation (he even starred in his own made for TV sequel to Christmas Vacation, 2003’s god-awful Christmas Vacation 2: Cousin Eddie’s Island Adventure). But Christmas Vacation finds Eddie at his loud-mouthed, snot-covered, RV-living best. His cream-colored sweater and black turtleneck Dickie look is so Cousin Eddie it hurts. And he delivers one of the best lines of the entire movie when he informs the yuppie neighbors that he’s standing outside in his mini-robe, emptying the chemical toilet from his RV into their sewage drain because, well, “Sh*tter was full!”
9. The True Meaning of Christmas.
Strip everything else away – Audrey’s brush with frostbite, the flirting with the lingerie saleswoman, the crass relatives, the disastrous holiday dinner, the melted cat, the exploding sewer gas, the kidnapping, the SWAT team raid – and what’s left is a movie that captures the Christmas spirit as well as any holiday-themed movie ever made. For all his faults, the Christmas Vacation version of Clark Griswold is a model father; his only motivation throughout the entire film is to surround himself with family and give everyone the best Christmas possible. As everything else crumbles around him, he realizes the true meaning of Christmas isn’t the “bonuses or gifts or turkeys or trees.” It’s family and spending time with the ones you love. There’s no way a stop-motion reindeer or a taller, skinnier, animated rip-off of Oscar the Grouch could ever deliver that sentiment better than Chevy Chase and his perfectly dimpled chin.
So, if you haven’t already, do yourself and your DVR a favor and delete your recordings of all those other Christmas specials. Make Christmas Vacation the defining movie of your holiday experience. Twenty-four straight hours of it on Christmas Eve isn’t enough. Buy a TV and a DVD player and set up a dedicated viewing station in your house, one that runs Christmas Vacation and nothing but Christmas Vacation 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, every year from Dec. 1 to Dec. 26. That’s a sure fire recipe for the hap-hap-happiest Christmas ever.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©December 22nd, 2014 @ 5:00pm
The team has the next few days off to spend with their families, and Calipari spent last night in the Bronx with his daughters watching his son, Brad play. In his latest Mailbag episode, Cal tells the BBN some of his family’s Christmas traditions, many of which sound very familiar, at least to me. His family always gets a real tree (because they are the best), hangs the same, personalized ornaments, and opens one gift on Christmas Eve, which is always chosen by Erin Calipari, because “she’s so bossy.” Watch it, Cal!
Hilariously, Cal can’t remember the word for tinsel when describing how they decorate the tree. “We also put the…you know, the icicles, you know, the ‘cicles, we all would…you know, you lay them over your tree, that was one of my mother’s things to do. But you can’t find them anymore, so we had to go out and buy them online.”
Get in the holiday spirit by watching Cal’s entire Mailbag over at CoachCal.com.
By Matt Jones on ©December 22nd, 2014 @ 4:27pm
Have you wondered what Daniel Orton has been up to? Well if you guessed, “playing in China and getting involved in a brawl that ended up in the stands”, you would be correct. The fight in this video is odd and gets ugly…and it also includes quite the musical soundtrack to accompany it. Daniel is one of the great “what might have beens” in UK history and this melee probably won’t help him going forward.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©December 22nd, 2014 @ 4:00pm
FanCams are one of my favorite things ever, especially when done in a setting as big as the United Center. Coke Zero sponsored a FanCam at the UCLA game Saturday, so when the picture went online, I giddily settled in for an afternoon of screenshotting. In addition to COUNTLESS ugly UK sweaters (Tipsy Elves must be killing it…promo code “kentucky”!), there were some great faces out there in the crowd. Here are 21 of my favorite screencaps…
The saddest UCLA fan in the entire world. Or, at least I think she’s a UCLA fan, because her dad is wearing a generic BEACH Buccaneers t-shirt in UCLA colors:
There were plenty of UK celebrities in the house, including Mike Pratt and Tom Leach:
Someone who I think is Mitch Barnhart:
Joe and Jennifer Palumbo:
My favorite Cat of the 90’s, NAZR MOHAMMED!
And of course, World Wide Wes, who is probably reading KRS. More importantly, what is that man’s phone cord hooked into???
There were even some KSR celebrities in the house! Looking good, Kristen, Ally, and Nick.
As you can expect, lots of three goggles:
I enjoyed this triumphant fist:
And the simple #1s up:
Robic’s hair, always glorious:
Hey, cool guy:
A dirty hippie:
Four men having a good time:
The most intimidating thing about UNC this season:
An “8-clap” sign.
I googled “What is 8-clap,” and found this:
That is stupid.
The UCLA bear staring down a fan:
Finally, Greg Anthony chowing down on some popcorn:
After his missteps during the broadcast, that was probably the highlight of Anthony’s night.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©December 22nd, 2014 @ 3:30pm
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©December 22nd, 2014 @ 3:00pm
UK is the unanimous #1 in the AP poll for the third week in a row, and while they are also #1 in the USA Today/Coaches poll, two coaches still aren’t giving the Cats their first-place votes. Who are they? Let’s look at the list of voters and take our best guess once again…
Tommy Amaker, Harvard
Randy Bennett, Saint Mary’s
Jim Boeheim, Syracuse
Todd Bozeman, Morgan State
Glenn Braica, St. Francis Brooklyn
Rick Byrd, Belmont
Scott Cherry, High Point
Tim Cluess, Iona
Ed Conroy, Tulane
Keith Dambrot, Akron
Scott Drew, Baylor
Matt Driscoll, North Florida
Steve Fisher, San Diego State
Bruiser Flint, Drexel
Mark Fox, Georgia
John Gallagher, Hartford
Ray Harper, Western Kentucky
Dick Hunsaker, Utah Valley
George Ivory, Arkansas-Pine Bluff
Ben Jacobson, Northern Iowa
Rob Jeter, Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Danny Kaspar, Texas State
Mike McConathy, Northwestern State
Greg McDermott, Creighton
Matt Painter, Purdue
Dave Paulsen, Bucknell
Randy Rahe, Weber State
Joe Scott, Denver
Herb Sendek, Arizona State
Shaka Smart, Virginia Commonwealth
Bob Williams, UC-Santa Barbara
Mike Young, Wofford
I wonder if a win over Louisville will be enough to convince Amaker and Boehiem–I mean, whichever coaches are still voting for Duke and Arizona–that the Cats are the best team in the land.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©December 22nd, 2014 @ 2:15pm
Were you at the game Saturday? Find yourself in the CBS Sports Classic Coke Zero FanCam! Apparently there’s some contest that goes along with it, but I’ll let you figure that out for yourself.
Here’s the link: CBS Sports Classic Coke Zero FanCam
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to spend my day looking for three goggles, awkward faces, and people taking selfies.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©December 22nd, 2014 @ 1:30pm
When Mark Stoops hired Shannon Dawson, it showed that he’s sticking with the Air Raid system, a version of which Dawson and Dana Holgorsen ran at West Virginia; however, Mark Stoops said he wasn’t ready to define the new offense as “Air Raid” just yet. “I’m not ready to define it as Air Raid,” Stoops said in a press conference today. “Things evolve constantly.”
Don’t put away that siren just yet. As Stoops said on the radio with Matt and Ryan last week, what he likes so much about Dawson’s offense is that it’s Air Raid with a little bit more balance with the running game. “It’s the same system. It’s very similar,” Stoops said of Dawson’s version, which ranks 9th in the country in passing. “Obviously, they throw the ball. …The bottom line is if you have to defend the run game, it’s going to open things up in the pass game. The more effective you are in the run game, the more effective you’ll be in the pass game.”
As we’ve heard Stoops say countless times, to win in the SEC, you have to have balance. “I believe to compete in this conference, you have to be physical. You have to have some balance,” Stoops said. “That’s what I love about Shannon and what he and Dana have done at West Virginia is they’ve really run the ball very well and have some physicality about them. But still throwing the heck out of the ball and still very creative with how they’re doing things.”
And while Holgorsen handled most of the playcalling at West Virginia, Stoops says he has complete faith in Dawson to call the shots on offense. “Shannon is a great offensive mind and a great coach,” Stoops said. “I have no worries about him putting it together and calling plays.”
How is the Dawson hire going over with recruits? “The recruits are very excited about it, because bottom line, it’s a fun offense to be a part of,” Stoops said.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©December 22nd, 2014 @ 12:51pm
Another week, another unanimous #1 ranking in the AP poll. Enjoy it in all its glory:
1. Kentucky (65)
11. Wichita State
12. Iowa State
16. Notre Dame
17. St. John’s
18. West Virginia
20. North Carolina
21. Ohio State
24. Colorado State
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©December 22nd, 2014 @ 12:29pm
A bit of unfortunate news from Mark Stoops: in addition to ankle surgery, Ryan Timmons also had shoulder surgery after the season, which Stoops anticipates will keep him out of spring practice.
“No, I don’t think he’ll be good to go for spring,” Stoops said. “Ryan was playing very banged up and I appreciate his effort. And we all know there are things he can do better and he will do better, but he really competed all year through some major injuries.”
That may explain the drops.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©December 22nd, 2014 @ 12:12pm
A jolly Mark Stoops met with the media this afternoon to recap the 2014 season and answer questions about his new offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson. After admitting it was “difficult” to watch the bowl season kick off after coming up short with five wins, Stoops said there are plenty of things to look forward to, including recruiting. “Recruiting is going exceptionally well once again,” Stoops said. “All signs are pointing toward a very good class.”
Hopefully one that will include Damien Harris, who will announce his decision on January 9th.
More coming as we go along…
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©December 22nd, 2014 @ 12:00pm
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©December 22nd, 2014 @ 11:15am
Everyone points to recruiting as the key to John Calipari’s success, and for the most part, they’re right, but ESPN’s John Gasaway has another theory this morning. Gasaway writes that the secret to Cal’s success has been assembling multiple rim protectors on one team, creating a wall around the basket:
Calipari has taken the role of “rim protector” and made it plural. Ordinarily, this role is supposed to be filled by one guy who’s susceptible to foul trouble and less than skilled offensively, but UK’s paying no price to speak of for having center-type players logging minutes at the 4 spot. These rim protectors don’t foul often, and they’re also excellent offensive rebounders. This season, the Wildcats have pulled down 46 percent of their missed shots.
The way college basketball is supposed to work, Willie Cauley-Stein, Karl-Anthony Towns, Dakari Johnson and Marcus Lee should be playing the 5 spot for four different teams. Instead, they’re playing alongside each other. Calipari has flouted convention and built a wall of size around the basket. That wall won’t always be the determining factor — Columbia and North Carolina actually shot somewhat normal percentages on their 2s in back-to-back games against Kentucky. But having multiple rim-protectors on the floor at the same time gives the Wildcats the potential to simply nullify any opponent’s aspirations to compete, let alone win. Just ask UCLA.
Calipari is famous for developing point guards, but after DeMarcus Cousins, Anthony Davis, Nerlens Noel, Willie Cauley-Stein, Dakari Johnson, Karl Towns, Marcus Lee, etc. etc. etc., his bigs may be his calling card so far at UK.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©December 22nd, 2014 @ 10:45am