News of the Week: Christmas Thoughts, a New Grand Central Station, and Maybe This Is the Year You Make Yorkshire Pudding

In the news for the week ending December 23, 2022, are all the Christmas things, including the best food, the worst songs, the classic movies, the Hallmark Channel, and more.


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Random Notes

A special Christmas-themed collection of thoughts I jotted down this week …

I’ve found that for some reason chocolate tastes better when pressed into a festive Christmas shape.

Why are my vanilla candles so much stronger than the pine ones? The same brand. The pine ones are more subtle and smell more like burning wood or leaves (not the smell I want but not unpleasant at all) and I have to be right next to them. The vanilla ones make the entire apartment smell like I live inside a bakery, every room saturated with the scent.

I hate those car commercials where someone buys their spouse a new car for Christmas and puts a giant red bow on the top, but if someone bought me a new car and it didn’t have a bow I think I’d be disappointed.

When I was a kid my mom would let us kids open one small present on Christmas Eve. One year she saw my face drop when I opened up a pair of socks so she let me open up another one.

One year I opened my stocking on Christmas morning and it was filled with just bananas and oranges. My mother had realized late on Christmas Eve that she had forgotten to buy stuff for the stockings so she just filled them with whatever she had in the house.

I love looking at all of the impeccably decorated Christmas trees on TV sitcoms and dramas. It’s like the characters hired the decorating team from Macy’s to come to their home.

I haven’t decorated my home for Christmas in several years. Unless you count those boxes of Kleenex that have holiday designs?

There’s a New Grand Central Station?

Did you know that New York City’s Grand Central Station has been undergoing a 15-year, $11 billion renovation? Me either. It’s the largest expansion since 1910, and NBC’s Tom Costello takes us on a tour of the work that has been done.

Uploaded to YouTube by TODAY.

Pa-Rum — Pum-Pum-Pum

Christmas is supposed to be a time of love and hope and joy, but people find a little space in their heart for hate too. Specifically, hatred for certain Christmas songs.

A survey shows which holiday tunes people just can’t stand, and while many of them are predictable (“Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer,” “Little Drummer Boy,” and “Wonderful Christmastime”), I was surprised to see “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” on the list. Sigh. Don’t tell me people are basing their dislike of the song on that ridiculous controversy that comes back every December?

My least favorite Christmas songs? Bruce Springsteen’s version of “Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town,” anything by Alvin and the Chipmunks, that “Dominick the Donkey” song (I won’t link to it), and 99 percent of the songs written after 1970.

Christmas TV

TCM has a fantastic lineup of movies the next few days, including Christmas in Connecticut, It Happened on 5th Avenue, Remember the Night, The Bishop’s Wife, Holiday Affair, and The Apartment.

(All times are Eastern standard.) On Christmas Eve, TBS and TNT have their annual A Christmas Story marathon (for some reason it starts at 8 p.m. on TBS and 9 p.m. on TNT); Nickelodeon has a marathon of Friends Christmas episodes that goes from 10 p.m. all the way into Christmas Day; and E! has a marathon of It’s a Wonderful Life starting at 3 a.m.

If you’re more of a “watch the yule log” person, Great American Family will be showing it from 4 p.m. Christmas Eve through Christmas morning.

On Christmas Day, ABC has the Disney Parks Magical Christmas Day Parade at 10 a.m. (followed by four – four! – NBA games), and Buzzr will have their annual Betty White Christmas game show marathon from noon to 4. You get two showings of every single Christmas episode of Everybody Loves Raymond; it airs at 5 p.m. on TV Land and at 7 p.m. on IFC. And at 8 p.m. MeTV will have Holiday Greetings from the Ed Sullivan Show, with Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland, and The Beatles, among others.

And it goes without saying that both Hallmark Channel and Lifetime will have wall-to-wall Christmas rom-coms this weekend. Make sure you catch the one where the guy and the girl argue at first but eventually fall in love.

Quote of the Week

“It is sort of like the Marvel universe, but with more cookies.” —CBS’s Luke Burbank on Hallmark Christmas movies

RIP Franco Harris, Drew Griffin, Terrence O’Hara, Gabrielle Beaumont, Dino Danelli, Terry Hall, Rick Anderson, and Harry Yee

Franco Harris was an NFL legend known for the “Immaculate Reception,” an incredible catch and touchdown he made in the AFC playoff game against the Oakland Raiders, which took place 50 years ago today. He died Wednesday at the age of 72.

Drew Griffin was a longtime investigative reporter for CNN. He died Saturday at the age of 60.

Terrence O’Hara directed many episodes of NCIS as well as Smallville, CSI, JAG, Angel, Heroes, The X-Files, and Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, among others. He died earlier this month at the age of 76.

Gabrielle Beaumont was an acclaimed director too, directing such shows as M*A*S*H, Dynasty, The Waltons, Hill Street Blues, Remington Steele, and three Star Trek series. She died in October at the age of 80.

Dino Danelli was the drummer for The Rascals (originally The Young Rascals), known for such songs as “A Beautiful Morning,” “Groovin’,” and “Good Lovin’.” He died last week at the age of 78.

Terry Hall was vocalist for the ska group The Specials, known for such songs as “A Message to You Rudy,” and “Ghost Town.” He also co-wrote the Go-Go’s hit “Our Lips Are Sealed.” He died this week at the age of 63.

Rick Anderson was the co-founder and bassist for The Tubes, known for such songs as “She’s a Beauty,” “White Punks on Dope,” and “Talk to Ya Later.” He died last week at the age of 75.

Harry Yee invented the famous Blue Hawaii drink. He died earlier this month at the age of 104.

This Week in History

It’s a Wonderful Life Premieres (December 20, 1946)

The now-classic film premiered at the Globe Theater in New York (it opened nationally on January 7, 1947). It got mixed reviews. Time called it one of the best pictures of the year, but Bosley Crowther of The New York Times thought it was too sentimental.

Uploaded to YouTube by Rotten Tomatoes Classic Trailers

Vincent van Gogh Cuts Off His Ear (December 23, 1888)

There have been many theories about how it happened, but it is generally accepted that van Gogh was ill and had hallucinations that made him act irrationally (or maybe he was listening to Alvin and the Chipmunks).

This Week in Saturday Evening Post History: Plymouth cars (December 20, 1947)

I like how subtle this ad is. If it didn’t say PLYMOUTH at the bottom you wouldn’t even know what it’s an ad for. You might even think it’s just a picture celebrating the joy of the holidays and what this woman is making her family for Christmas dinner.

Christmas Recipes

Christmas is a daunting holiday, food-wise, and I can never decide which recipes to link to here. But I guess you can’t go wrong with the classics.

You can start with the Easiest Eggnog and appetizers like Stuffed Celery, a Pigs in a Blanket Wreath, and Deviled Eggs. For the main course and sides we have the Perfect Roast Turkey, Curtis Stone’s Prime Rib, Ultra-Creamy Mashed Potatoes, and Campbell’s Green Bean Casserole. And for dessert there’s Libby’s Famous Pumpkin Pie, Hot Chocolate Cookies, and Peppermint Bark.

You can also attempt to dive into this Yorkshire Pudding recipe (it’s not really pudding!). Just don’t dive into them the way this guy plans to do the next couple of days.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Next Week’s Holidays and Events

Boxing Day (December 26)

It started as a British holiday to give gifts to the poor but is now known as a shopping holiday.

Cheez-It Bowl (December 29)

There are a ton of Bowl games happening this month and next (here’s the full schedule), but I wanted to mention it because … it’s the Cheez-It Bowl! Oklahoma takes on Florida State, and it sounds delicious.

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  1. I clicked on your column from several years ago regarding ‘Baby, Its Cold Outside’ and still agree with Sharon’s comments. And now Bob Jr. saying wonderful things about Eartha Kitt. I’m sure he did and does love her as Catwoman on that very wild 60’s series in addition to her singing. She was very disruptive of a ladies luncheon at the White House in her stance against the Vietnam War. It was neither the time or the place for such unlady like behavior on a topic like that. Especially in front of Lady Bird!

  2. First of all, how are you doing with the waaay below zero ultra freezing cold? I’ve been watching it all week on Nightly News and World News Tonight in horror. We had a 6.4 earthquake in N. Ca. 6 days ago which was very violent and destructive. The Northridge quake in ’94 was 6.7 (many suspect higher) and a real killer. Always a looming threat. The nationwide cold is a terrifying prospect as we’ve only just officially entered winter.

    I like the scent of the vanilla candles also, and the potpourri; otherwise no decorating. I also hate those long time running surprise Christmas present auto ads, like a $60k+ SUV is on the level of a $60 gift. Most of these people are up to their eyeballs in debt with everything, and are leasing them. They don’t “own” much of anything!

    Thanks for the link to your Dec. 7, 2018 ‘News’ column. A week that will live in infamy in the chastisement department. Ouch, even now on ‘Baby, It’s Cold Outside’! ‘Santa Baby’ is a great song, but ONLY the original 1953 version by Catwoman herself, the one-and-only fantastic Eartha Kitt!! It was HER version of the song that was/is so incredible. The remakes aren’t good of course, some worse than others. I don’t like the the ghettoized versions of any classic Christmas songs I hear in the stores.

    The Grand Central Station report was pretty interesting. I had no idea, and apparently a lot of people back East didn’t either. I always feel badly for Vincent Van Gogh. There just wasn’t the kind of help he needed back then that hopefully would have prevented this result of hallucinations and kept them under control.

    LOVE this Plymouth ad! The artwork is gorgeous. Not sure who painted it, but think it might have been Stevan Dohanos. The ad was ahead of its time in really not making the car the focal point, though it IS in the center, but seems more like it could easily be an ad for the particular brand of turkey Mom’s lovingly tending to here, so it’s perfect for their arriving family.

    That’s the ‘product’ being interacted with here. The car just kind of blends in. It’s only the subtle ad copy at the bottom that points it out as a auto ad. Nowadays some ads are so subtle you can often have no idea what the product even is, what it’s for, what the point even is. Your observations were spot on.

  3. I’m stunned that Santa Baby is the least favorite Christmas song. Maybe it’s the Madonna version which people under 60 know. That one I’ve never heard. Judging by the description, I can understand why people hate it without forcing myself to listen to it.

    But the song itself has a fine melody with no weak spots; the bridge complements the chorus perfectly. It would have been perfect for Peggy Lee, and if she had recorded it, I’m confident it wouldn’t have had the cutesy arrangement of the Eartha Kitt version. I think it’s that arrangement that gets on people’s nerves.


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