News of the Week: After Christmas, Last Christmas, and What to Do On New Year’s Eve

The last week of 2016 saw the unexpected deaths of Carrie Fisher and George Michael and the addition of 25 films to the National Film Registry, plus Bob Sassone muses on how quickly the holiday spirit seems to dissipate.


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That Christmas Feeling

I don’t know what it feels like at your home the days and nights after Christmas, but in mine it feels like it could be October 9 or January 16. Maybe it’s because I didn’t have a tree and only got four cards this year, or maybe it’s because it’s currently 56 degrees, but that Christmas feeling practically vanished on the morning of December 26. It’s been like that for a few years now. I’m going to eat some festive-looking cookies and listen to “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year” several times to force the holiday mood back into me.


Actually, a lot of people don’t like hearing Christmas songs after the big day is over. For them, the songs need to stop at 11:59 p.m. on Christmas night. I’ve never been that way, though. I don’t mind if the holiday tunes continue until the night of January 1. Though anything after that just seems odd and … sad? Though I would make the case that a lot of Christmas songs are actually just winter songs. You can listen to “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” in January and February, because it is (or should be). You can crank up “Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!” until winter’s over because you want to let it. You can even play “Sleigh Ride” because that’s not something you only do in December (in fact, weather-wise, you’re more likely to do it in January or February).

I wouldn’t go with “Jingle Bells,” though. While one could argue that’s more winter/sleigh ride–oriented and isn’t geared toward Christmas, just try to listen to it without thinking of Santa.

RIP Carrie Fisher, Debbie Reynolds, George Michael, Richard Adams, and George Irving

When we all heard that Carrie Fisher had suffered a heart attack on a plane headed to Los Angeles last week, we thought that she would be okay. But the actress passed away on Tuesday at the age of 60.

Fisher, of course, is famous for playing Princess Leia in the first three Star Wars films and last year’s The Force Awakens, and she’d already completed filming her parts for Star Wars VIII. But she was also in many other famous films, including When Harry Met Sally, Shampoo, Hannah and Her Sisters, and Come Back, Little Sheba. She also appeared in TV shows like 30 Rock, Frasier, Laverne & Shirley, Smallville, The Big Bang Theory, and Family Guy (she played Peter’s boss, Angela). She was also an acclaimed writer, penning such books as Postcards from the Edge, Wishful Drinking, and last month’s The Princess Diarist, which sold out on Amazon a few hours after her death was announced. She also worked as a script doctor on many films.

And if the death of Fisher wasn’t enough for her family to deal with, just one day later her mother, actress Debbie Reynolds, passed away after suffering a stroke. She was 84.

Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher (Shutterstock)
Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher (Shutterstock)

Reynolds’s career started in the late ’40s with bit parts, which led to her big role in the classic musical Singin’ in the Rain in 1952. She also appeared in The Affairs of Dobie Gillis, Susan Slept Here, Tammy and the Bachelor, The Tender Trap, and How the West Was Won, as well as dozens of other films.  On TV she starred in The Debbie Reynolds Show, Aloha, Paradise, The Love Boat, The Golden Girls, and Family Guy, and was nominated for an Emmy for playing Grace’s mom on Will & Grace, along with a ton of other credits over the past 60-plus years. She was nominated for a Best Actress Oscar for her role in The Unsinkable Molly Brown.

If I can inject a quick personal story: I met Reynolds in 1994 when she appeared in an episode of Wings where I appeared as an extra. I just met her for a quick moment (she was with her good friend Rip Taylor) when she talked to the extras that were gathered backstage. She gave a funny performance in that episode.

According to her son Todd, her last words before the stroke were “I miss her so much. I want to be with Carrie.”

I’ve heard “Last Christmas” a lot this month, and a friend commented that it’s odd that the singer of that song should die around the holidays. George Michaelpassed away Sunday at the age of 53.

Michael hit big fame as half of the duo Wham! (along with Andrew Ridgeley). Besides “Last Christmas,” their hits include “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go,” “Careless Whisper,” and “Everything She Wants.” When the band broke up in 1986, Michael went on to have solo hits like “Faith,” “Father Figure,” and “I Want Your Sex” (or “I Want Your Love,” depending on what radio station you were listening to at the time). He also teamed with Aretha Franklin for “I Knew You Were Waiting” and Elton John for “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me.”

Richard Adams was the author of the classic children’s book Watership Down, as well as the novels The Plague Dogs, The Girl in a Swing, and Shardik. He passed away Tuesday at the age of 96.

George S. Irving was a Tony-winning stage actor since the early ’40s, appearing in such productions as Oklahoma!, Call Me Mister, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Twos Company, Can-Can, Irma La Douce, and the revival of Pirates of Penzance. He was also seen in such TV shows as The Patty Duke Show, Naked City, All in the Family, Ryans Hope, and the cartoons Underdog and Go-Go Gophers.

You probably heard his voice on TV this Christmas season; he was the voice of Heat Miser in the animated classic The Year Without a Santa Claus. Irving died Monday at the age of 94.

The Musketeers of Pig Alley

Scene from The Musketeers of Pig Alley

The Library of Congress has announced that 25 films have been added to the National Film Registry, and many of them share a theme. The list includes The Breakfast Club, Rushmore, Blackboard Jungle, East of Eden, and The Decline of Western Civilization, all films that center around teens and their problems.

Other films on the list include Funny Girl, The Lion King, Lost Horizon, and two films I’ve never heard of: D.W. Griffith’s 1912 The Musketeers of Pig Alley (known as the first gangster film) and 1903’s The Life of an American Fireman, one of the earliest feature films.

Sorry, no Adam Sandler films are on the National Film Registry list, but maybe they just haven’t seen Grown Ups 2 yet.

This Week in History

Clara Barton Born (December 25, 1821)

The nurse and patent office clerk started the American Red Cross in 1881.

Norman Rockwells Discovery Cover Published (December 29, 1956)

Rockwell’s last Christmas cover for The Saturday Evening Post showed what happens when kids go snooping in their parents’ bedroom after Christmas.

“The Discovery” From December 29, 1956
“The Discovery”
From December 29, 1956


USS Monitor Sinks (December 30, 1862)

The remains of the steamship, which sank during a storm off Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, were found in 1973. Several parts of the ship are in the Mariners’ Museum and Park in Newport Beach, Virginia.

What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?

The world can be divided into two distinct groups: people who go out on New Year’s Eve and those who stay home. I’m in the latter group. Have been for years. I don’t want to deal with the craziness, the crowds, the forced fun, the cold temperatures. Also, I might miss the Three Stooges marathon.

What are you doing on New Year’s Eve? Going out or staying in to watch the Times Square ball drop on TV? Let us know below in the comments or on our Facebook page.

Resolutions and Recipes

Curry Deviled Eggs
Curry Deviled Eggs

A lot of people say they don’t make resolutions. I’m not sure I believe them. You may not sit down and think of making resolutions in a specific, planned way, but when one year is ending and a new one is beginning, it’s natural for us to think about what has happened in the past year and how we’re going to change/improve things in the coming year, career-wise, family-wise, health-wise. You’re actually making resolutions without even realizing that you’re making resolutions.

If you’re entertaining this New Year’s Eve, how about trying some party-themed recipes? To start things off with an appetizer, try these Bacon Cheese Puffs or these Curry Deviled Eggs. For the main course, you can make this Classic Pot Roast or Coffee-Cured Chicken. For dessert, there’s this Caramel Fondue or this Chocolate–Peanut Butter Cheesecake. And to toast at midnight, how about this Grand Champagne Cocktail?

Happy New Year! I’m making the same two resolutions I made last year. I won’t tell you what they are, but if I actually succeed, I’ll let you know.

Next Week’s Holidays and Events

New Years Day (January 1)

If you’re not skiing or traveling or sleeping really late because you had a hard night, maybe you can spend the day in front of the TV watching football, parades, the annual Twilight Zone marathon on Syfy, and at night catching the season premiere of Sherlock on PBS.

National Hobby Month (starts January 1)

It’s a good month to start a new hobby or get back to your old one. I used to collect TV Guide. Yes, I am Frank Costanza.

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  1. Part II. I was fortunate enough to have seen Debbie Reynolds ‘in concert’ back in 2009 at the El Portal Theater in North Hollywood. She was always a particular favorite of my Mom’s as well as mine.

    She was in fine form that evening as an all around entertainer, putting on one heck of a show with singing, dancing, and best of all wickedly funny (and occasionally dirty) jokes and anecdotes based on her own life. The lady knew how to turn lemons into lemonade like you wouldn’t believe.

    After the show in the autograph line, I told her what a fantastic, lovable entertainer she is, and above all a survivor. I had her autograph the 8 x 10 glossy to my mom, who was in a nice board and care home at the time due to her Parkinson’s disease. I told Debbie about it briefly, she put her hand on top of mine, and with a gentle squeeze said I can now tell my mom she’s gotten to meet me through her. She also wished my mom all the best and wished me the strength I’ll need in the coming days and years. I nodded, wished her all the best as well, thanked her, then left.

    It was a small theater, and made sure I was at the end of the line which wasn’t that long. My mom passed on December 20, 2013, and Debbie Reynolds on December 28, 2016. Last Friday’s ’20/20′ special hour on Debbie and Carrie was very special to me. I admire her son Todd Fisher very much. How he kept it together I’ll never know; he had to have still been in shock.

    He said she missed Carrie so much and wanted to take care of her. She was gone just a few hours later. He also said it was simultaneously the most terrible, wonderful and unbelievable thing that could have happened; beyond anything Hollywood could possibly have come up with. I don’t cry (or laugh) very easily, but hearing that was too much.

  2. Bob, I kind of like hearing Christmas and winter songs after the 25th myself; probably more of the winter ones since Christmas itself has passed, but not New Year’s which continues on Monday. I’m glad you got your Christmas cards on time.

    Speaking of New Year’s Eve, I went to a party between about 8:30-11:30. I’m kind of done with the whole ball-drop shtick in Times Square on the large screen TV with Ryan (barf) Seacrest.

    Actually I have a nice collection of beautiful TV Guide magazines from the 1970’s and ’80s which were predominantly artwork by the likes of Richard Amsel, Bob Peak and others. I bought them new at the time, at the grocery market checkout for between 15 and 75 cents—no address label of course.

    I’ve gotten some negative reactions to telling people about it—until they see some of the covers I can easily bring up on the iPhone. You’d be amazed at how quickly jaws drop and they suddenly want to buy them from me! I say things like let me think about it, maybe you can find it on e-bay most likely pretty expensive–with the address label, and I’m not selling it—but glad you love it so much, I do too, depending on the person.


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