The Specials Before Christmas

In addition to all these interviews and whatnot, I like to try to throw in a little casual commentary here and there.

On Friday, I hung out with Red Kryptonite and we watched some Rankin/Bass specials–specifically, Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town and Nestor the Long-Eared Christmas Donkey, which could only be withstood via the magic of Rifftrax. We also watched the holiday episode of Psych, a Gumby short from Mystery Science Theater 3000, and Cabin Boy, which I consider an under-appreciated cult classic.

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He’s Mr. Snow…

This is certainly an appropriate topic right now…there’s about seven inches of snow piled up outside my window.

I’ve already mentioned my love of Rankin-Bass Christmas specials. One of those specials is The Year Without a Santa Claus.

Oddly enough, I didn’t watch this special very often when I was growing up. My favorites were Rudolph and Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town. I would catch Year once in a while, along with another obscure favorite, The Life & Adventures of Santa Claus, which was based on a novel by Wizard of Oz author L. Frank Baum. (Sadly, this last has yet to be released on DVD.)

In my early years of college, while searching for holiday-themed websites (back when websites were still something of a novelty), I came across The Heat Miser’s Hot Spot. Since I preferred the Snow Miser to the Heat Miser, I was a bit indignant that Snowy had no website of his own, and took it upon myself to create one.

That was about seven years ago. That website is still up. It’s gone through various incarnations–it started on my old undergraduate website, had its own URL for a while, and now resides as a sub-site of this one–but I’ve never taken it down.

It was originally called The Snow Miser’s Big Chill, to contrast with the Heat Miser’s Hot Spot, until I finally read a plot summary of the movie The Big Chill and discovered that it was a euphemism for death. Thinking quickly, I came up with the far more clever title The Snow Miser’s Cooler.

Since I created the website, The Year Without a Santa Claus has become one of my holiday staples. It still rates behind Rudolph and Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town, mostly because I don’t find the story that compelling–the Misers are the best part. But that website has been a perennially popular holiday destination for thousands of people each year. I’ve yet to have any other part of my website be quite as popular as that one, which still looks like it was made in Notepad in 1999 (which it was, though I update it once a year or so).

In 2000, I held the second “Rumble in the Claymation Jungle.” The first was held by POFToo! creator Paul Levesque (which may or may not have been his real name…) and featured a battle between the Bumble and the Winter Warlock. Mine pitted–you guessed it–the Snow Miser vs. the Heat Miser. Ol’ Hothead won by 3, 193 to 190. In a fake CNN article I wrote about the event, this was probably my favorite paragraph:

In addition to the 383 votes cast for the Snow and Heat Misers, there were 5 votes claiming that neither Miser would win in a fight, 1 vote for their mother, Mother Nature, 1 vote for Jesus Christ, and a vote by ‘Aquaman’ for himself, who said, “As a…JLA member, I can tell you that my power to communicate with fishes would overpower these two.”

I’d like to do a third Rumble, but frankly, I’m not sure there are any badass characters left. Maybe I should think outside the box and do, say, the California Raisins (they had a Christmas special) vs. Jack Skellington?

To make this post more on-topic–as I mentioned before, The Year Without a Santa Claus was treated to an entire toy line by the now-defunct Palisades Toys a few years back. Later, NECA bought the molds, and you can now buy YWASC figures at pop culture shops like Newbury Comics and Time and Space Toys–including, of course, the Snow and Heat Miser. If you’re curious about the figures, you can read this review by Michael Crawford.