Off-Beat for Christmas

Are you surprised that my favorite Christmas movies aren’t everybody’s? No, I didn’t think so. Some of mine aren’t even ABOUT Christmas; they just have big chunks of Christmas in them.

Here are five shows I love especially hard at Christmas, with links to more information about them, in no particular order:

She Loves Me – a musical set in Hungary around Christmas time. Based on the play “The Little Shop Around the Corner” which was also the inspiration for “You’ve Got Mail”. The old “two people who hate each other in person are, unknown to them, beloved pen pals” schtick, but with enough other stuff going on to make it great. I particularly love the song in which a promiscuous woman rhapsodizes about a pick-up who read to her.

When Wolves Cry AKA The Christmas Tree – All his dying son wants for Christmas is a wolf. A real one. A live one. One of the creepiest scenes ever with the kid, and a great reverse-My-Friend-Flicka rescue. Tearjerker.

Donovan’s Reef – Starring John Wayne, Lee Marvin and Dorothy Lamour, made in 1963, this movie is so full of reactionary attitudes as to be nearly indecipherable to anybody but sociologists and old people with good memories. If you’re young, go watch it; it’ll be like doing dope. You’ll be all, “Wait … What?” It has Cesar Romero in it, who was the hottest man who ever walked the planet IMO. Except, of course, when he was Joker in the old Batman tv show. Here’s a link to a story only tangentially about Cesar Romero, but it’s so funny and has such a great picture of him at the top, I have to share it: The Cesar Romero Story. ANYWAY, Donovan’s Reef isn’t about Christmas, but it has the second-best Christmas pageant ever in it. The best, of course, is The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, which I would recommend here if it weren’t already so popular you already know all about it.

Smoke – One of my favorite movies. It’s about the weight of intangible things. It has action, but people are constantly telling each other stories, as we all do. Our stories about who we are or what happened when so-and-so did thus-and-such aren’t just about what happened, they’re about what it means. The best bit IMO is the last, which is based on Paul Auster’s short story “Auggie Wren’s Christmas Story”. It’s a story told, in one continuous head-shot, by the magnificent Harvey Keitel. Get the movie and watch the whole thing, including the song at the end, showing the story Keitel just told in silent visuals.

Early Edition Season 1 “Christmas” – Gary’s weasely friend Chuck is tossed in jail as a scofflaw, where a ratty-looking Santa who claims to be the real one talks him into a jailbreak. Meanwhile, Gary is trying to save the city from a bomber. The wonderful M. Emmet Walsh plays the raggedy-butt Santa.

Okay, kids, go and enjoy yourselves. MomGoth needs a martini.

Oh, lest you forget, I have an off-beat Christmas story in the anthology LET IT SNOW! SEASON’S READINGS FOR A SUPER-COOL YULE! It’ll be free 12/14 and 12/15. Meanwhile, it’s $4.99, with all profits going to Superstorm Sandy relief. If you already have it, please read it and review it on The reviews help!

A WRITING PROMPT FOR YOU: Come up with an off-beat Christmas story.




I was born in Louisville, Kentucky, but now live in the woods in southern Indiana. Though I only write fiction, I love to read non-fiction. The more I learn about this world, the more fantastic I see it is.

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