So c’mon, what’d everybody get for Christmas? Anything good? Highlights here at my end include:
—A pair of binoculars from my darling Ashley, for watching deer and gazing at the Moon. They really are a nice set, by far the best I’ve ever owned, and they remind me of the big ol’ binocs that belonged to Pap, which I used to play with for hours, looking out windows at birds and squirrels in the back yard, or spying on Granny from the other side of the house as she made dinner in the kitchen. And I’m sure Ashley,
an inveterate snoop a girl gifted with a healthy and normal curiosity about the contents of strangers’ houses, will get some good use out of them herself.
—A DVD from Mom and Dad of highlights of past Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame concerts, including numbers by Billy Joel, John Lee Hooker, and Bruce Springsteen. Mom and Dad also got me a performance/documentary DVD on Johnny Cash, and the A Christmas Story version of Monopoly — a tiny pewter reproduction of the Old Man’s prized leg lamp is one of the game pieces.
—The DVD box set of Firefly, the short-lived Joss Whedon sci-fi/western, from Ashley’s sister, Greta. We watched the first episode (which was actually the last episode originally aired, I believe, which must have been a tad confusing for the six or seven people watching) and I wasn’t unduly impressed. Not bad, exactly, but nothing I felt compelled to keep watching for hours and hours on end. I hear good things about the next episode, though, and the show overall seems to have a decent reputation, so I’ll give the rest of it a watch.
—My favorite: Ashley’s gift of the Peter Cushing episodes of the BBC’s 1960s Sherlock Holmes series. Only five episodes are still known to exist, and they were released on DVD in North America for the first time just a few weeks ago, just in time for my very perceptive girl to snatch them up and place them under the tree. I’ve already watched all but one — “The Blue Carbuncle,” which I am saving for tomorrow. The others — a two-part “Hound of the Baskervilles,” “A Study in Scarlet,” “The Sign of Four,” and “The Boscombe Valley Mystery” — have all been terrific. They’re low-budget British TV, with all the interiors shot on video and all the exteriors shot on film, and the “Baskervilles” episode suffers from the inevitable comparison to the awesome Hammer film version from ten years or so before, but the sheer genius of Peter Cushing as Holmes (the best screen Holmes ever and you can all shove Basil Rathbone and Jeremy Brett up your asses) overwhelms the shortcomings of the production to make it all a worthy and memorable adaptation of the Arthur Conan Doyle originals. Nigel Stock’s Dr. Watson ain’t too shabby, neither.
—And what was easily the most heartfelt gift I received this year, $50 in a plain white envelope, from my brother. As Tim from The Office remarked about a similar gift, “The spirit of Christmas!”