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.