Tuesday, December 29, 2009

British Actor of the Month--Out With the Old Edition

As New Years rolls around and we get ready to say goodbye to the tenth Doctor, I'd like to salute him while we prepare ourselves for the new guy. So, without further ado, I present you with:

Ten Things to Love About David Tennant

1) First and foremost, Doctor Who. Unless you've been living under a large, blood-sucking rock* for the last four years, then you're probably aware that Tennant is the most recent incarnation of that beloved time-space traveller. Tennant has become the most well-loved Doctor since Tom Baker, and has even supplanted ol' Teeth 'n' Curls himself in many fans hearts. And with good reason. Tennant brings not only humor, style, and brainy specs to the role, he also gives his Doctor an emotional depth that has helped the show's renewed popularity. Oh, and did I mention that he's dead sexy in pinstripes?

2) On a related note, Tennant is an uber-nerd whose passion for Doctor Who extends far back into his childhood. Seriously. Tennant has said that as a kid he decided to become an actor so that he could be the Doctor one day. Fanboy much?

3) Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. The first glimpse that many of us in the States had of Tennant was as the red herring bad guy in the fourth Potter installment. And with that leather jacket and, um, "interesting" tongue thing, he made it a good month for Death Eater recruitment.

4) Blackpool. Tennant plays a singing detective in this BBC musical cop show. Unfortuneately this isn't widely available in the U.S., but from what I've heard, it sounds delicious.

5) But have no fear, Tennant still graces the American screens as the host of PBS's Masterpiece Contemporary. What could possibly go better with quality television drama?

6) Casanova. No, not that one. The BBC production written by--surprise, surprise--Russell T. Davies and shown on Masterpiece, albeit with a few moderations. Tennant put his own twist on the legendary lover by playing him as a bit of a scrapper with a cheeky sense of humor. And boy, was he ever hot doing it.

7) To feature Tennant or not to feature Tennant. Is that even a question given item 7? Tennant has done many productions with the Royal Shakespeare Company, but in the summer of 2008, he fulfilled the ambitions of many an actor and played the Dane. Keep an eye on your TV guides, PBS is going to air his performance in Hamlet on Great Performances in the New Year.

8) The Rule of Austen. Remember, way back in the first British Actor of the Month feature, that any man who dates a Jane Austen heroine (or her sister) is OK in my book. Tennant used to go out with Sophia Miles, who played Fanny Price's younger sister in Mansfield Park. (She is also awesome as Madame de Pompadour in the Doctor Who episode "The Girl in the Fireplace," where the couple met.)

9) He's Scottish. Need I say more?

10) He's also very funny. Seriously, go to YouTube, and check out the video clips of him on various U.K. comedy shows (and some shows that aren't comedy). Observe him and Catherine Tate in this clip from her Comic Relief (U.K.) special:

(For those reading via the Facebook thingy: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WxB1gB6K-2A)

Well, there you have it. And didn't even have to allude to him being nicknamed "Ten-Inch."

*Pretty funny, right, Old Skool fans?

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Break Out the Kleenex, This One's A Bit Sappy

Now, everyone has their favorite traditions for the Early Winter Holiday of their choice. Spinning the dreidle, opening presents, spending time with family, telling Dad to stop reciting all the dialogue to White Christmas, beating the other little old Italian ladies at Caputo's to the artichokes, and the screaming, oh, Lord, the screaming. But I thought it would be best to profile all those one-of-a-kind moments that, for better or worse, will only be repeated as memories shared around a holiday table, perhaps sparking new special moments. Although, really, in my family, an argument is more likely.

10. The Time I Met Santa. For Real.
Ok, well, it was really my grandma's boss who'd been playing the Jolly Old Elf at a party, and thought it would be fun to drop in--in costume--on Christmas Eve. I remember him asking me if there was anything else I wanted to add to my list before he started doing his rounds, and I said that, yes, actually, there was this doll I saw on TV.... Naturally, every adult in the room cringed, and the next morning, beside the empty plate of cookies, "Santa" left a note--in handwriting mysteriously similar to my dad's--saying that he was glad Toys 'R' Us was open late.

9. The First Time I Got Freaked Out by the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come
I was about seven, and we were doing Christmas Eve at my great-aunt's. Because the conversation on that side of the family could be ever-so-scintillating (not), I was watching the George C. Scott version of A Christmas Carol in another room. When that final Ghost came on the screen accompanied by that weird, electronic music, my cousin Laura and I both screamed and jumped into her dad's lap. (Trust me, there was plenty of room for us both.) Even to this day, that part of the movie still scares me just a little bit.

8. The Cats Waste No Time Moving In
When I was six, my mom built me this huge wooden dollhouse. It was waiting for me under the tree on Christmas morning. However, by the time everyone got up on the 26th, the cats had knocked the widows out to give themselves easy access, thus beginning their takeover.

7. The Santa Files
It was third grade, and the debate over whether or not Santa was real was hot. I'd gone over to my friend Nicole's house so that our new American Girl dolls could play, and we started comparing notes. The evidence in St. Nick's favor didn't look to good, so we decided to confront our parents. So that evening I asked my mom, and got the truth. Did I cry? Get angry? No, I immediately went to the phone and called Nicole to report.

6. Yet Another Game We Don't Play Anymore
It's been a long-standing truth in my family that my father is unbeatable at Scrabble, and nearly unbeatable at Trivial Pursuit. (Only three people, myself included, have been able to do it.) So the after dinner games have, in recent years, tended more toward the likes of Monopoly or Uno. But one year, my aunt decided that we should try out Taboo. Dad and I teamed up and proceeded to wipe the floor with the rest of the family. Needless to say, we've since stuck to dominoes.

5. Kitty's First Christmas
My cat Fern died shortly after Thanksgiving, so we went to the shelter and brought Lucy home just a week or two before Christmas. The house was already decorated, and the first thing she did when we let her out of the carrier was run over to and start climbing the tree. And, for an encore, she "helped" unwrap the package that held my mom's new coat with a fur-lined hood.

4. RJ Says What, Well, No One Was Thinking
Christmas Eve, my cousin RJ's in first grade. It's just him, his mom, dad, sister, and me, and we're in the overflow overflow mass service in the school gym. Presents have yet to be opened, and he's acting up. So my aunt whispers to him, "If you don't settle down I'll call Santa on my portable phone (this was back in the 90s, before there was a clear distinction between portable and cellular) and tell him to take back your presents." Perhaps he didn't hear her properly over the din, or perhaps he was just being perverse (my money's on the latter), but anyway RJ proceeded to shout, so that all could hear, "Santa works off a Port-a-Potty? SANTA WORKS OFF A PORT-A-POTTY!!!!!"

3. Toboggan Championship
The house my grandparents owned up on Lake Wisconsin holds a lot of heart-warming memories, holiday and otherwise. The one that makes the list, however, is from the first Christmas after they bought it. There was this ridiculously steep hill in the backyard that dropped off sharply to the lake. My aunt and uncle had given them a toboggan that year, so one night, either Christmas Day or the day after, the two of them, my dad, step-mom, grandpa, and I decided to try it out. On most trips down the hill, we landed on the ice no further than the end of the pier. But on the last run, the sled soared through the air, eventually crashing us into the brambles that lined the tiny island in the middle of the bay.

2. Even on Christmas, Irony Can Bite You in the Ass
My aunt and uncle moved into their mini-mansion a few weeks before Christmas, and were using the holiday as an excuse to show it off. On Christmas Eve, my aunt went to preheat the several thousand dollar professional oven to cook the ham, when it exploded. Oh, the delicious irony. Of course, it would have been funnier if we hadn't had to wait forever for my grandmother to take it to her house to cook it. I think there was a new family record for amount of pepperoni consumed that year.

1. The Best Christmas Surprise Ever
One year, my dad, for various reasons--including a huge ice storm, said that he wasn't going to be able to come home for Christmas. That Christmas Eve, as we were all seated for dinner, a car pulled up in the driveway. My aunt opened the door, and in walked Dad, carrying a sack of presents he picked up for everyone at a truck stop somewhere in Kentucky. (They were gag gifts. He'd already mailed the real ones.) He was really missing the family, so that morning he decided--weather be damned--that he was going home anyway. It was probably the best present everyone got that year.

Wow! What a list! And there's so many flaming turkeys, trees, and neighbor's roofs that didn't make the cut. Whatever you celebrate, have a happy holiday season, and go out there and make some priceless memories.