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It's a fine line between living for the moment and being a sociopath.

Patricia B McConnell: For The Love Of A Dog.

Pema Chodron: The Places That Scare You

Daniel Wallace: Mr Sebastian & the Negro Magician

All paths lead to the same goal: to convey to others what we are. --Pablo Neruda

Thursday, December 15, 2005

An Animated Christmas: The Director's Cut

Over the weekend, I was buried under the anxiety of my Christmas card project. Two weeks to go, and not a single card had been made. Never mind the envelope addressing and gourmet stamp licking. So, I did what any project manager woefully behind schedule would do: I re-scoped the project.

If I could come up with a way of sending cards without sending cards, *that* would be a good solution. I was considering how much my cred would plummet if I sent out some naff Hallmark e-card. On the verge of concluding I should just get over it because no-one sends Christmas cards anymore, instead I decided to make an animated movie. Somehow, in whatever altered state was affecting me on Saturday, it seemed to me easier to make a movie than to cut and paste a couple hundred addresses into an e-card website. Yeah, I thought, it'll chafe less to do something I've never done before.

Just quickly jumping to the end of this story, I should mention that I did, in fact, end up sending a little animated movie as my Christmas card. Observing that it's a movie that required no skill whatsoever would be rude of you. The point is, I achieved a lofty and laudable goal: I got out of sending Christmas cards, and still sent Christmas cards. The finished little movie is here, and you don't have to poke around much to see just how brain-dead you could be and still reach the troughs of cinematic prowess I achieved.

That doesn't mean I didn't spend hours and hours on it. Labor? Oh, I laboured. But like all great auteurs, my masterpiece was cut to ribbons in the last moments before release by the faceless damn studio suits.

Which is one way of saying that I failed to notice the software I used had a limit of 18 lines of dialogue. When I say I failed to notice this, what I mean is that I had already enthusiastically poured myself into a 1,400 word script. It then became clear I would have to edit down to "hello", "goodbye" and a loud belch in between.

Now, however, basking in the glow of my movie's fantastically successful theatrical run on screens acros this great wide spam list of mine, I think the time has finally come for the original material -- the vessel of my true artistic intent -- to come to light. I think enough time has passed -- 6 days -- for the public to embrace the foundational work as the avant-garde genius it was.

So, without further pomposity, I give you the original manuscript of "A Spencer Christmas".

* * *

[Houston and Flame-Haired Angel appear in their living room, with a bright fire burning in the fireplace, and a beautifully decorated Christmas tree. Flame-Haired Angel wears a sexy, red Santa’s Helper outfit. Houston is, inexplicably, a snowman.]

Houston: Hey, Angel, could you give me a hand? I’m struggling a bit.

Flame-Haired Angel: Sure. What’s on your mind?

Houston: Well, remember those Eiffel Tower Christmas cards I made last year?

FHA: Uh… Remind me.

Houston: You know, I drew ornaments on the Eiffel Tower to make it look like a Christmas tree?

FHA: Oh, I loved those! Such a sophisticated Holiday pastiche of self-reference to our time in Paris!

Houston: Right. Plus the obvious sub-textual critique of the materialistic hagiography that is modern Christmas.

FHA: They also had a homey arts-and-crafts vibe that rendered your creative insecurity completely transparent.

Houston: Exactly. Tres arty. But I’m stuck on what to do this year as a follow up. I got nothin’.

FHA: Gosh, and it’s getting late. No ideas at all, my big Slush-Tush?

Houston: Bupkis. Nada. Niente. Rien. Zilch.

FHA: Ooh, you’re so multi-cultural! Even Yiddish to include our non-Gentile brethren in these seasonal holiday remembrances!

Houston: Shhhh! Bill O’Reilly might hear you. He’ll say I hate America.

FHA: Especially since you haven’t sent any Christmas cards, yet! What are you considering?

Houston: I thought maybe I’d blog a prose poem paean to altruism, but that seems a little…

FHA: Pretentious? Insipid? Naff and narcissistic?

Houston: Exactly. And -- just to equal your challenging alliterative panache -- a little louche, lame and lazy.

FHA: Why not just pick a really nice plastic object on Amazon and send everybody one?

Houston: Well, I’d like to say it’s because no gift is that universal but, really, I’m just too cheap.

FHA: How sexy! How about a romantic candle-lit bath, ya big Snow Pirate?

[FHA and Houston move to a sumptuously candle-lit bathroom, where a full tub awaits. Houston is still, rather inexplicably, a snowman, challenging the audience to imagine how a snowman will manage a hot bath.]

FHA: You’re still looking tense, my Frozen Lamb. Can I help with your Christmas card problem?

Houston: Well, you’re a creative goddess. Got any ideas I can skive off you and, you know, present as my own?

FHA: Not off hand, my Erotic Ice-Capade. You see, I’m not sending out any cards this year.

Houston: What are you doing instead?

FHA: Well, I considered writing a cheery holiday sentiment on my new resumé and sending that out.

Houston: What kind of message did you have in mind?

FHA: “Happy Holidays Especially If You’re Hiring”

Houston: Huh. How many did you send out?

FHA: Actually, I decided against it in the end. It just seemed a little too…

Houston: Mercenary and self-serving at a time when we’re supposed to be focused on others?

FHA: Yeah. So, instead, I’m just going to close my eyes on Christmas Eve, and sing a quiet song dedicated to my friends and family.

Houston: You mean, like, a cosmic vibration kind of thing?

FHA: Totally. I think everyone will subconsciously feel they’re sharing my holiday love bomb, you know?

Houston: Damn. You come up with the best stuff.

FHA: It just seemed a good way to send Christmas wishes to those I love, and the only way I could include the dead and the un-born.

Houston: Man! Even stem cells will feel the love! I wish I had your bang-on creative instincts.

FHA: Thanks. I feel lucky it comes so naturally. I just close my eyes and the good ideas flow.

Houston: So, what are you going to sing?

FHA: AC/DC’s “Back in Black”. But with, you know, a Christmassy feel.

Houston: Tribute to your Australian roots, too. Nice touch.

FHA: Speaking of which, I need to pack for the trip home. My plane’s tomorrow.

Houston: I’m gonna miss you somethin’ chronic, lover.

FHA: Your wanton, unbridled, public devotion is endearing, you Big Popsicle.

Houston: Hey, before you pack, can you help a bit more with my Christmas card dilemma?

FHA: I’d like to, but the triviality of your Hallmarkian struggle is filling me with ennui.

Houston: Well, any recommendations to at least get the creative juices flowing?

FHA: Try putting on some Kenny G. Or drip some Tabasco in your eyes. Both work a treat.

Houston: Uh, I might just help you pack, instead.

[Houston and FHA walking on a beach in Australia. Houston, persisting as a snowman in true Dada-esque fashion, looks uncomfortable in the heat.]

Houston: It’s so good to be close to you again, babe. And your family, of course. And my wine cellar.

FHA: You’re too sweet, Chill Chunks. Hey, how did your Christmas card conundrum come out?

Houston: Fantastic, actually. I had a breakthrough and decided to make a movie I could send to everyone by e-mail.

FHA: Wow! How groovy! How impressive! How renaissance!

Houston: Yeah. It’s an elegant cloak on a cheap stunt to make me look hip even as I approach 40.

FHA: And it cleanly dodges your obvious failure to get off your ass in time to send real cards?

Houston: Exactly. You think anyone will notice the ruse?

FHA: Unlikely. I mean, people still believe Saddam was somehow linked to Al Queda.

Houston: Fair point. The old fantasy of hot tyrant-on-terrorist action is just too good to let go of.

FHA: So, what’s the film like?

Houston: Kind of Truffaut meets Spielberg meets South Park, but with crushing Yuletide verisimilitude.

FHA: Wow! Sounds perfect, my little Arctic Auteur!

Houston: Not quite. I couldn’t figure out how to make the soundtrack loop “Sookie, Sookie”.

FHA: I can see how that would have spiked your hipness quotient with in-the-know groovers.

Houston: A veritable billboard of pointy retro bona fides.

FHA: Stop! You’re making me hot, you Salacious Snow-cone!

Houston: It’s not me, Angel. It’s 43 degrees out here.

FHA: Golly! That’s 109.4 Ferenheit!

Houston: *Now* who’s being multi-cultural? I love how sensitive you are to my brazen American-ness.

FHA: Wanna see brazen, Blizzard Boy? Take me somewhere private and I’ll let you peak under my fur trim!

Houston: Oh, Angel! There’s just one thing we need to do on the way…

[Houston and FHA appear in front of a set that looks eerily like a Perry Como Christmas Special. Snow falls gently outside the window, upstage left, and Houston is still, you know, a snowman.]

FHA: What was it we needed to do before getting slushy, you Frosty Flirt?

Houston: Just this: Happy Holidays, everyone!

FHA: Whether it’s Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Saturnalia, Solstice, or the feast of Isis…

Houston: …We hope your celebrations are full of love, family and friends.

FHA: And may your New Year be one of health and passionate living.


Comments on "An Animated Christmas: The Director's Cut"


Anonymous Cathy said ... (4:46 AM) : 

Hey RS, that was very entertaining. I see you still have your propensity for big words. How the hell are you? Long time no see.
Luv Cathy


Blogger Houston said ... (4:59 PM) : 

Which Cathy?


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