It's time for some real talk about the holidays. I have observed that the Christmas season has a mood-amplifying effect similar to that of a cocktail: if things are going well, the festive atmosphere can make you feel even more jolly; if you're already feeling low, the sound of "Jingle Bells" can be enough to make you want to knock over every Christmas tree in sight. This is a highly stressful time of year, with extra work, extra bills and extra pressure to be feeling that holiday cheer, whether you like it or not. I'm definitely feeling the stress this year and if you, too, are about to fly into a Christmas rage, try watching "It's a Wonderful Life" and remember it will be the New Year before you know it. But until then, pour yourself a glass of eggnog and resist the urge to throw a candy cane at the nearest potential victim.
WHAT REALLY GRINDS MY GEARS
What's going to happen on the next episode of your favorite show? Who knows? It won't be on again until the end of January. Yes, networks, winter is the perfect time to take a hiatus from new programming! What we really need at the onset of a seemingly-never-ending icy abyss is re-runs and boredom and ISOLATION and bitter, BITTER cold.
DRINK OF THE WEEK
A simple holiday drink, courtesy of Chef Emeril "Bam!" Legasse: the "Poinsettia." Mix 1/4 cup champagne, 1/4 cup vodka, 1/2 cup cranberry juice and crushed ice, and voila! I sampled this over the weekend at a celebratory "Elf" party (during which the movie "Elf" was viewed and Christmas cookies were consumed). I do suggest some extra champagne if you like fizz (and classiness).
While the drink was enjoyable, my only complaint is that the "Poinsettia" wasn't quite Christmasy enough. This led me to ponder, what really makes a drink Christmasy? Cinnamon? Warmth? Imbibing whilst wearing a Santa hat or perhaps, depending on your mood, a sexy Santa-esque nightie? Unfortunately, many holiday drinks require a laundry list of ingredients, many of which are hard to come by; several hours or days of preparation, a degree from culinary school, and a partridge in a pear tree. I'm still searching for that perfect holiday drink that is both easy, delicious and festive - if you have any suggestions, send them my way.
The fourth season of "Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew" just began last Wednesday, Dec. 1, which I neglected to mention because A) I sort of forgot about it, and B) when they announced the cast awhile ago, "big names" like Lauren Conrad's dirtbag ex-boyfriend Jason Wahler and the less-famous and more-bloated London brother didn't exactly have me running to enthusiastically mark it on my calendar. They are using the term "celebrity" shockingly loosely this season, even for VH1. While doing some procrastinating, I stumbled upon the last half hour of the first episode and we need to talk about this. Are they seriously trying to tell me that, as Robert Palmer claimed in his 1980s hit with that killer mannequin makeup in the music video, one can be legitimately "addicted to love?" That is Dr. Drew's extra-professional, super-legit diagnosis of Tiger Woods' mistress Rachel Uchitel, who (amusingly) won't comment on her affair - you know, her claim to fame and the only reason why she considered "celebrity" enough to be on the show in the first place. Even Uchitel expresses some concern, asking Dr. Drew if the other patients will find her "addiction" bogus and he reassures her that they will be totally understanding. It is truly too ridiculous for words. "Celebrity Rehab" is on VH1 Wednesdays at 10 p.m.
It's that time of year: Barbara Walters specials! It kicks off on ABC tonight at 9 p.m. with "Oprah, the Next Chapter," followed by Barbara's annual "10 Most Fascinating People" at 10.
Tuesday, Dec. 14, is basically the best day ever on Turner Classic Movies. Two reasons: Liz Taylor, deranged and swathed in furs, and LIZA!
On of my personal favorite Elizabeth Taylor movies, "Butterfield 8" (1960), will be on at 5:15 p.m. Liz plays a crazed call girl who takes her relationship with a married client too far. She is said to have hated this film but I honestly can't understand why.
I fell in love with Liza Minnelli when she played the vertigo-afflicted "Lucille II" on "Arrested Development." Finally I've been watching the programming schedule for months "Cabaret," the film that truly solidified her stardom, will be on at 9 p.m. Dec 14. It's a whole evening of Liza on Tuesday. We'll spend an hour with her during "Private Screenings: Liza Minnelli" at 8 p.m. and, after "Cabaret," there will be two more of her movies, "A Matter of Time"(1976) at 11:15 p.m. and "Stepping Out" (1991) at 1 a.m. If you, too, love Liza, you won't want to miss this.
On Saturday at 8 p.m., "Frosty the Snowman" will be on CBS and "It's a Wonderful Life" on NBC; "Frosty Returns is on at 8:30 p.m. on CBS; and "White Christmas" will be on AMC at 10:45 p.m. Say what you will about Mariah Carey but she sure sings the heck out of a Christmas song. Her Christmas special, "Mariah Carey: Merry Christmas to You," will be on ABC at 9 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 13. Lastly, the low-rent cousin of "A Charlie Brown Christmas," "I Want a Dog for Christmas, Charlie Brown," will be on ABC at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 14.
MOVIE REVIEW: "Love and Other Drugs"
While pushing pills at a doctor's office, a pharmaceutical rep (Jake Gyllenhaal) meets an attractive patient (Anne Hathaway) and gets swept up into a whirlwind romance. "Love and Other Drugs" is light on the love and heavy on the drugs it drifts so far into the pharmaceutical company subplot that you almost begin to forget about the romance, and don't really miss it. It's actually quite fascinating how the pharmaceutical giants court doctors with candy and flowers in an effort to get them to write scripts for the drugs they're selling. The "love" between the two main characters, however, is about as compelling as an hour-long wait in a physician's office.
Is it even possible to create a romantic comedy that doesn't follow the same tired old format? Must at least one party play the quirky and "complicated" counterpart to the strait-laced opposite who spends the whole movie chasing after them while they clearly cannot handle intimacy or commitment until some ridiculous grand gesture immediately and magically rids them of all of their problems?
Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway are fine actors but even they, and all the pharmaceuticals in the world, couldn't make this movie a winner. Does it have its moments? Sure. But is it mostly forgettable? Let's just say we won't be talking about it a year from now.
NCCS is having a ham, sausage and shrimp party on Saturday at 6:30 p.m., held at the American Legion Post 62 on Central Avenue in Dunkirk, with free refreshments, a Chinese auction, theme baskets, and live music by Trio if you stick around after the party.
Santa Night Fever Disco Gala - Jingle Ball will be held Wednesday, Dec. 15, at the Jamestown Savings Bank Ice Arena, with doors opening at 6:45 p.m. It's billed as "Jamestown's Sparkling New Holiday Tradition," with fireworks, music and festive fun. For complete details, visit www.jamestownarena.com.
April Diodato is the OBSERVER Lifestyles editor. Drop her a line at email@example.com.