BB2 Monthly Assessment: 2014

I started graduate school, majoring in choral conducting and taking on challenging coursework.
I performed in some barbershop quartet gig for Valentine’s Day and helped to bring joy to a few faces.
I started a blog for movie reviews, personal reflection, and whatever else I could think of as a writing catharsis.
I performed some of Handel’s Messiah twice for Lent services, both soloing and conducting.
I performed in far too many choral concerts to count.
I became the choral graduate assistant, as well as the director of the Men’s Chorus, where I learned at least three times as much as I taught.
I took part in the craziest, but most rewarding season of Stan Hywet, strengthening various skills, doing multiple jobs, having an impact on tons of people, and most importantly, making some wonderful new friends who give me life.
I stepped into the ELAB Coordinator role for YEPAW 2014, taking on a new level of organization, leadership, guidance, and servant-hood – great friendships were made here as well. Later, I became a YEPAW 365 Transformation Agent.
My youngest brother graduated from high school and started his collegiate journey.
I started becoming closer to the church I sing for, and began to accept them more as a church home/family – something which had been missing for some time.
I worked through an inconvenient injury which had long-lasting effects, right down to weeks of physical therapy, an MRI scan, and my own handicapped pass.
I returned to voice lessons and developed further as a soloist.
I composed arrangements of some of my favorite Christmas songs.
I was caught quoting a few ridiculous things that, for some reason, brought others joy.
I watched two pairs of friends get married this summer and begin a new journey together.
I developed my organizational & professional skills further with various organizations & jobs.
I helped with the organization of a major two-day High School Choir Festival for around 150 HS choir students from all over the state.
I put on a Christmas concert at Stan Hywet consisting of my own solos, choir, brass ensemble, along with a few of my own arrangements in the rep; so many people enjoyed it, and after the amount of time and planning put into it, I was exceptionally enamored with how well we were received.

So I did a lot of things in 2014, and stayed busy. Yes. You know what else I did?
I laughed.
I cackled.
I kept my family nearby.
I created.
I worked.
I watched a lot of SNL.
I dressed well whenever possible.
I loved as much as possible.
I kept my faith in Christ in me.
I laughed at the wrong moments.
I said dumb, awkward things.
I got worse at mornings.
I tried to do nice things for others when I could.
I got irritated sometimes.
I scrolled through Twitter to procrastinate.
I Googled cool gifs to put in my blog posts/movie reviews.
I made fun of my siblings as much as possible.
They made fun of me back.

But most importantly…
I lived.

As we approach 2015, don’t feel pressured to transform yourself into a better you arbitrarily; just seek improvement, and ride life’s changes with discernment. In other words: live.


Into the Woods: A Wish Come True

Into the Woods
is one of my favorite Sondheim musicals, and in my opinion, one of the best there is. Sondheim has a special knack for crafting brilliant messages for people, wrapped in complex but genius music. This show has been beloved by many for years, especially with the release of the Original Broadway Cast featuring Bernadette Peters. So of course, this 2014 adaptation for the big screen was met with much excitement, anticipation, and “will this work?”

I’m here to tell you: yes. Yes, it does!

If you don’t know the plot of Into the Woods already: it combines a few fairy tale characters together to learn a few lessons – mostly, be careful what you wish for, as there is always another side to it. An ugly Witch informs a Baker and his Wife that in order to reverse her curse upon his barren family tree, they must go to the woods to retrieve a few items in three days’ time. As they try to fulfill their wish, Cinderella wishes to go to the ball and learns that the prince is much more than she had bargained for. Red Riding Hood has a difficult time staying focused as she goes to Granny’s house and is deceived by a Wolf. Jack’s mother wishes for riches, which she gets tenfold when he stumbles upon a beanstalk that leads to a giant’s riches. All work to acquire their wishes…and learn just how careful you must be when going into the woods before and after you get them!


  1. MERYL STREEP OWNS THIS MOVIE. Seriously, from the moment she enters, her presence literally plunges into your soul. Her depiction of the Witch seems to be truly brilliant in every way possible. The Witch definitely appears as a haggard, wretched and evil person out to bend others to her will for selfish reasons. But at the heart of it all lies a genuine passion for her [stolen/adopted?] daughter, for whom she simply wants to be a good mother (even if she doesn’t completely know how at times). Streep demonstrates the perfect balance between sincerity and evoking fear, which transcends the Witch into something closer to a mortal – which, I feel, is how Sondheim intended her to appear. Many great have done great things with this character, and Streep certainly makes her mark here in her own way with her commitment and talent. The Witch is the anchor character that holds this musical together, and Meryl Streep is DEFINITELY the strongest part of this film.

  2. The Cast – Great casting all around – there is honestly nothing but glowing things to say about everyone on screen! I loved the drama and trepidation in the Baker (James Corden), balanced by the care and reassurance from his Wife (Emily Blunt). It was fantastic to see Daniel Huttlestone as Jack here after his appearance in the 2012 Les Miserables film; he knocks it out of the park here, and gives it his all. Red Riding Hood (Lilla Crawford) is great, the Princes (Chris Pine, Billy Magnussen) are fantastic and just as hammy as they ought to be (there’s a few great shots during Agony)…what more could you want? This is a stellar ensemble, which helps to makes for a stellar movie. (In other news, Johnny Depp plays a great ‘wolf-as-the-granny-he-just-ate.’)

  3. Anna Kendrick – Hey, how cool was it to see Anna in something like this? I believe musicals is a part of her background before film fame, so this seemed right up her alley. She made a nice little fit as the Cinderella princess, confused by all of her own motives and the actions around her. Pitch Perfect was a good smash hit for her amongst meager millennials & teens, but I thought seeing her in a classic theater production was a fine fit for her as well. Four for you, Anna Kendrick – you go, Anna Kendrick! Anyway.

  4. Music – Obviously, it’s a musical, so having the singing and orchestrations performed exceedingly well is desired for a film adaptation. The good news here, is, this film does not disappoint – in fact, it is tremendous. The singing is all given great emphasis and gateways into appropriate character/story development. Of high importance, everyone in the orchestra deserves the highest of paychecks for doing Mr. Sondheim proud. Seriously.

  5. Visual/Settings – Man, these are good. The woods themselves (where much of the action occurs, as you would imagine) are gorgeous, yet look plenty intimidating as the film progresses. Jack’s giant beanstalk and other things of great importance such as the Witch’s makeup are given a great amount of attention to detail, which shows very well. It’s certainly an impressive looking film, and this goes a long way to create the right atmosphere the director was going for. Speaking of which…

  6. Tone of the Adaptation – This is a big one, as it is the guiding point of this entire project. Whereas the stage production of Into the Woods had plenty of room for some light-heartedness, funny quips and even fourth-wall breaking, the film adaptation takes itself much more seriously overall. There is a stronger emphasis on the drama of everything, from the intensity in the characters to the visual atmosphere created. There is no charm in the woods here – you can only find that from the characters themselves as they take this journey. While there are big changes such as losing the visible narrator, the role of the Mysterious Man is saved only for one perfect moment, and a few others, the source material and heart of the story is still very much in tact. So while it will feel more different than one familiar with the staged version expected it to be, you will still experience the ever-important themes and morals Sondheim delivered through strong characters and timeless music.


  1. Stiff at Times – I will say, there were times when a few individual lines felt a little stiff in terms of their delivery. This may be due to the heavy dramatic tone the movie wanted to take, which is fine, but a couple of Red Riding Hood’s and Cinderella’s lines just felt really straight forward and/or flat at times. The staged version, being a little looser, would have allowed them to be a little looser and not quite as overly serious, so perhaps this was something on the direction. It doesn’t take a lot away from the overall experience, but it does stick out.

  2. JDepp’s Wolf Costume: This is entirely subjective on my part…but I just thought it was, well, an interesting choice. He had paws and the tail…why not go full throttle wolf so he doesn’t look like the wrong kind of predator? I mean, he’s great in it…it just felt like they really wanted people to know “that’s Johnny Depp, there he is!” But this very well may be just me. His song, however, definitely gave me Sweeney Todd flashbacks, so…there’s that.

Into the Woods is definitely a movie you should see as soon as you are able to! It is easily one of the best films I’ve reviewed (and seen) this year. If you’re a big fan of the stage musical like me, maybe you’ll really love what they’ve done with it, and maybe not – but still check it out and give it a chance, because it was given the effort and good attention deserved to make it great. If you’re not familiar with the stage musical, still check this one out and enjoy it as a very impressive piece of artwork.

Let me know what you think!

BB2’s Top 15 SNL Fall 2014 Moments

This list includes sketches & a few Weekend Update segments that were, in my own opinion, 15 of the strongest highlights of the the first half SNL’s strong 40th season. I’m not going in any particular order this time around – after much toiling, here are 15 things that made me laugh, got me interested in the construction of the writing, or made me laugh really hard.

So, here we go!

1. Puppet Class (Bill Hader, Killam, Strong, Moynihan)
Anthony Peter Coleman may be one of Bill Hader’s best characters ever to air (or one of the best characters, period). I hope he hosts again sometimes and gives us a third installment.

2. Back Home Ballers (Diaz, Zamata, McKinnon, Strong, Diaz, Jones, Bayer)

This one is a pretty good representation of how well done and fun the song sketches have been this fall. Anytime you get all the ladies of SNL together with some good material, you’ll never be disappointed. Finally: Bowls, bowls, all type of bowls…

3. Weekend Update: Cheer Up, Obama (Jost, Che, Thompson)

This was the first sign that the new Update team of Che & Jost could be pretty great together. Not sure if anyone still thinks about this segment, but I hope it cheered up our President.

4. Bad Boys (Pratt, Bennett, Mooney)

Everything about this is pure genius. I’d be okay with a Mooney/Bennett early 90s sitcom knock-off every week in 2015. A little kid peer-pressures Chris Pratt into stealing Beck Bennett’s ball with a gun so they can play in the house for 4 seconds…what’s not to like about this?

5. Match’d (Harrelson, Strong, Bennett, Mooney, Killam)
Great sketch writing example #1. I will laugh at this every time I see it. Also, everything about these executions are perfect. Cecily Strong is a perfect MTV voice/personality, and the reactions of each guy when Woody Harrelson’s host drops the bomb is solid.

6. Kid Mayor (Franco)
This is here because of how hard I laughed. I’m nearly ashamed of how much I laughed at this. Also, because its’ motives are just plain funny.

7. 39 Cents (Hader, Pharoah, Thompson, Zamata, Jones)

Great example of good sketch writing #2. (I believe Michael Che wrote this?) I should’ve scored it higher on my scorecard, but it makes such a good point…why 39 cents? Seriously? Anyway, this is a good ‘evergreen sketch’ in that it brings an original idea to the table and could be enjoyed later on as a classic.

8. Weekend Update: Leslie Jones (Jones, Jost)

Literally any time Leslie Jones is on Update is a true gift. I’m posting this one because Harriet Tubman. But seriously, she brings such life to the Update desk (and the show in general) and has been such a breath of fresh air in the world of comedy. It’s only a matter of time before she’s a big star. Finally, I’d watch a half-hour comedy show of Leslie flirting with Colin Jost.

9. Sump’n Claus (Thompson, Zamata, Strong, Moynihan, Freeman, Bayer, Mooney, Bennett, Bryant, Davidson, Pharoah)

I am STILL going around with this song in my head.

10. Grow-a-Guy (O’Brien, Franco, Bennett, Zamata, Bayer, Davidson)
Mike O’Brien is without a doubt the most interesting SNL writer right now. He has this unique gift for making a mini-story that combines genuine sincerity & meekness with comedy and “what in God’s name am I looking at???” This is a prime example, as well as Monster Pals Dragon Babies from last spring. Also, He and James Franco make a nice duo in these.

11. Wedding Objections (Freeman, Jones, Bennett, Bryant, Bayer, Thompson, Killam, Strong, McKinnon)
Another great piece of sketch writing that could have aired whenever. Everyone delivering their objections is great in this, immediately jumping to the absurdity of this couple being together (especially Vanessa Bayer). The sketch nearly jumps into 3rd gear when Kate McKinnon’s Evelyn stops by to SHUT IT DOWN.

12. Lincoln Ads (Carrey, Thompson)
Jim Carrey solves the question of “yeah, why did this need to happen?”

13. Church (Moynihan, Davidson, Pharaoh, McKinnon, Bryant, Mooney, Strong, Bennett, Killam, Jones)
All of this is true.

14. Weekend Update: Pete Davidson (Che, Davidson)

Pete Davidson has done a few ‘Resident Young Person’ appearances, and I believe his first one may have been the best so far. It didn’t even really matter what he was talking about – his charm and grin won over the crowd so quickly that everyone just wanted to see more of this guy. This could be why we started seeing him star shortly thereafter in a few pre-taped segments. But this has been some of his best stuff this fall.

15. High School Theater Show (Diaz, Bryant, Killam, Bennett, Mooney, McKinnon, Thompson, Bayer)
Truly one of the best pieces of sketch writing this fall – maybe the best. This sketch was also entirely dependent on timing with each line, movement of boxes, choreography, etc. and it hit everything dead on. It’s so great when a live sketch can be this succinct and funny and great to look at. Plus, everything is true about this. I’ve been Kenan Thompson/Vanessa Bayer in the audience looking at these. 100%.

Can’t wait to see more of what SNL40 brings!


5 Movies You Should Watch Every Christmas

Every year, there are certain movies that exemplify the tradition, entertainment, and heartwarming feelings around the most wonderful time of the year. We all have our favorites; here are mine!

  1. A Diva’s Christmas Carol

I honestly don’t know why more people talk about this movie! It’s hardly on as much as much as the others anymore; but anyway, this is one of the most creative and fun takes on the Dickens’ Christmas Carol story in American existence. Released over 10 years ago as a VH1 TV special (back when it was actually more about the music…), Vanessa Williams plays Ebony Scrooge, a pop diva who forces her band to cancel their Christmas plans to play in her big NYC Christmas show, because she’s all about using the holiday as a big cash-in. She’s stingy, sassy, and selfish to the core, until one of her old singing buddies (they had a Destiny’s Child thing back in the day) returns from the dead to show her the error of her ways. You know the story of course, but the things they do with it are actually pretty fun and interesting! And the writing in almost every line can be hilarious. I highly recommend you check this one out!

  1. Polar Express

This isn’t one of my personal favorites, but as a Christmas movie, it is rather charming & well done. A little boy is having his doubts about Santa Claus, and is picked up by a magical train ride en route to the North Pole to absolve this for many children. With Tom Hanks as the mysterious lead, an epic ride, and some great visuals, this is definitely a heartwarming Carol to enjoy with family. I do wonder, though, why this movie couldn’t have been more about the little girl instead. She’s far more interesting to watch than this clumsy kid…but whatever, we got a nice Josh Groban song out of this movie, so I’ll take it.

  1. The Santa Claus

I already wrote about this movie more recently, so you can check that one out for more of my thoughts about it. Really, all three are good, but this first one is the classic that started it all. My only complaint is that Bernard could’ve been consistently as cool in every movie as he is in the original, when he was more of Santa’s mysterious guide…as opposed to an overacting “match” for the Spencer Breslin elf. Anyway, this is a great movie, and Tim Allen is my favorite Santa.

  1. Home Alone

This is a classic movie that I think most people play in their Homs at least once a year. On the surface, it’s that really funny movie with the two idiots doing pratfalls & falling into trap after trap built by a crafty little McCulkin. The latter third is the most memorable, sure – but what makes this movie is really the heartwarming charm that the movie builds throughout the second third, as Kevin learns just how much he appreciates his family and starts to long for their return as the ultimate Christmas gift. In a world where those who have their families/friends at Christmas vs. those who may not, I think this is a great remind of why we should be grateful for those we have, even if they get on our nerves or forget to count us before the big plane trip. (Watch the first two movies…not the garbage that came afterwards.)

  1. A Muppet Christmas Carol

I don’t know a single soul who doesn’t love this movie. It’s the single, most charming version o the Christmas Carol that exists. People of all ages can watch it and enjoy it, especially having been created for families to watch together. It’s telling sticks mostly to the original jargon written by Dickens, while still speaking just enough Muppet for you to get plugged into it. You remember all of the songs, even that slow, sad one by Scrooge’s ex-girlfriend that made you cry. You can’t help but smile and be cheerful as Scrooge wakes up at the end and spreads Christmas joy around to everyone while singing Thankful Heart. Michael Cane is a fantastic Eboneezer Scrooge from start to finish, Gonzo and Rizzo keep things entertaining in the Dickens role, Kermit singing One More Sleep Til Christmas will always be one of my favorite things…everything about this movie is just tremendously wonderful. It’s one of the things you look can always forward to being a special part of your Christmas – it’s one of the best Muppet movies ever made, and it’s heart at the center perfectly captures this wonderful time of year.

Enjoy some great Christmas movies as you wrap the season up, but more importantly, enjoy some great Christmas joy and holiday spirit with your loved ones!


Music Monday: Handel’s Messiah, A Soulful Celebration

Hello all, and Merry Christmas!!! Welcome to this week’s #MusicMonday – another Christmas edition! One of my first segments here talked about my favorite musical creation in the entire universe: Handel’s Messiah. It captures all the greatness of faith, choral music, emotion, and so much more all in one deservedly celebrated oratorio. This work took a tremendous amount of genius on G.F. Handel’s part, and while I have been in love with the majesty of Messiah for years, there’s another great album based on this one that I wish more people were aware of. And I have a site…and I write about music sometimes…and it’s Christmas…so, why not?

Handel’s Messiah: A Soulful Celebration

2 centuries after the original Messiah composition, highly acclaimed late 20th-century music producer Quincy Jones decided to try an interesting spin on the Baroque classic. Jones brought in many gospel/R&B artists to bring a different take on Messiah, including Daryl Coley, Take 6, Stevie Wonder, Patti Austin, The Boys Choir of Harlem, the Clark Sisters, Commissioned, Al Jarreau, and so many others. Select choruses and arias are used, providing the source material but re-wrapped in various new genres and different musical twists. First, we get the overture, in which we are taken on a literal musical journey that visits the historical development of some styles of music (including African styles, jazz, gospel, R&B, hip-hop, etc). All of this occurs with Handel’s main overture theme still in tact, but in the absolute most interesting and musical way.

Listen to the beginning of the famous Every Valley Shall Be Exalted tenor aria. Great, right? Right. Now listen to what A Soulful Celebration does. Awesome, right?! I think I heard this as a kid before I heard the original aria (appropriate confusion and wonderment ensued). For unto us a child is born sticks with the same melodic material and format, but the choir has a celebratory field day with adding genres in the midst of this as well. Through this, the choir’s spirit elevates the music to an even higher level that quickly becomes infectious. And of course, that Hallelujah Chorus is a fantastic explosion of Handel’s original creation with some new creativity.

I could go on and on, but simply: what’s so great about this album is what it does with the course material. The musical structure is just so genius in how it makes every single solitary musical decision fit in with a different genre or sound that was a staple of its’ time period. Even further than this, each artist or group really owns the music and makes it their own. This is a true mark of solid musicianship.

Do yourself a favor and check out this album today!! In the meantime, feel free to tell me what your favorite movement is, your favorite Christmas song, compilation, or any of that! Let’s spread some great Christmas cheer with some great Christmas music.

Merry Christmas!!

Was Amy Adams’ Christmas SNL Naughty or Nice?


Every year, the Christmas episode of SNL has typically brought out big-name starring hosts, various cameos (including past cast members), and memorable sketches such as Jimmy Fallon having the entire cast dance and sing around the studio, the “Christmas Time is Here” song, the Rudolph/Poehler/Wiig “Santa is My Boyfriend” song, Adam Sandler’s Hannukah song, and so much more. (Lotta songs.) Last year, we got “Twin Bed” and even Fallon singing “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” with Cecily Strong. In other words: it’s always an event. Last night’s episode, however, did not quite play out like that. It was fine at best, but with very few moments that will stand out along with even recent Christmas episodes. The most memorable sketches were topical, and everything else didn’t seem to play out as grand as material from last week’s show. Amy Adams was also fine, albeit overshadowed at times. (She did sing a lot.)

On to a jingling (yet underwhelmed) scorecard…

COLD OPEN: DR. EVIL (Killam, Myers)
Welp, we definitely started the trail of cameos quickly – as well as addressed the Sony hack/North Korea situation! No one could have called it being done this way, but nice creative twist. It was just so great to see Mike Myers playing this character again, live, and with solid things to say (including acknowledgement of The Love Guru being bad). Best cold open of the season?
Blackometer: 8/10

AMY ADAMS MONOLOGUE (Adams, Wiig, Moynihan, Killam, Thompson, Zamata, McKinnon)
You know, it’s Christmas. If Kristen Wiig wants to do an SNL cameo on a night when everyone is going to show up anyway – as long as it’s fun/hilarious/not that upstaging, who cares? Well, that’s not what we got. I do like Kristen Wiig, but this became all about whatever she was doing. This was kind of fun, but I was really hoping Amy Adams could have had her own thing (as she was nearly very charming before Wiig entered).
Blackometer: 5/10

A great approach to overly-political correctness. This was fine until the little girl’s final line about the dog. That shot this sketch into a whole new level of *insert sustained jaw-dropping face here*
Blackometer: 7/10

TENDERFIELD CHRISTMAS (Adams, Killam, McKinnon, Mooney, Thompson)
Maybe if I had seen the video this thing was based on (apparently shown on the Today Show?), I would have a better time with it. Yes, I must be one of the only people who didn’t know about this…whoops. Anyway, as is, it was kind of interesting. Taran Killam plays a good eccentric dad…and it ends with Kenan yelling to shut it down. That’s all I got.
Blackometer: 6/10
Not online due to song issues.

CHRISTMAS SERIAL (Strong, Adams, Mooney, Thompson, McKinnon, Pharaoh, Bryant)
I mean, I don’t listen to Serial, but everyone who does says it was dead on. It wasn’t funny for someone who isn’t familiar w/the show; but despite me not laughing, it looked really good and will probably be the internet’s favorite thing today, so…yeah. I will say, it looked like much of this week’s work went into making this sketch great.
Blackometer: 7.5/10

GIRLFRIENDS TALK SHOW (Strong, Bryant, Adams, One Direction)
I’ve never been a gigantic fan of these in the past, and as it turns out, Amy Adams didn’t matter in the sketch – it was all about One Direction showing up. They’re always fine and game for anything when they show up for SNL, but this time it was more to ogle over them being there more than them really having anything to say. Aidy Bryant’s “I’m blasting” line was the best part. (Why would there be a dance for middle school cheerleaders called ‘body pump’???)
Blackometer: 3/10

OFFICE CHRISTMAS PARTY (Pharaoh, Davidson, McKinnon, Moynihan, Killam, Jones, Thompson, Bennett, Mooney, Bryant, Adams)
What was this? Was it a sketch? When Pharaoh and Davidson came out, it looked like it was going to be really cool, and it ended with what looked like a shrooms trip in the office. (I wish it could’ve been a sketch about Aidy Bryant attacking that Christmas tree.)
Blackometer: 4/10

WEEKEND UPDATE (Jost, Che, Moynihan, Thompson, Wiig, Armisen)
Post Cold-Open, this was the best part of the night. Jost and Che were great! Che’s rant to Kim Jong-Un was just brilliant, and proof of why he’s great at what he does. Also, I want a poster of “Now That’s What Jost Calls Music!” And these Cosby jokes…man, the deliveries are good, but the moans that follow…we as a country may just never be ready for them. Anyway: having Bobby Moynihan’s Kim Jong-Un be ripped via forth wall was pretty cool too, but I do wish Colin’s “no man, it’s a bad idea” lines wouldn’t have been played so scripted. But whatever, then Che gave us a new character with his Neighbor Willie (Kenan Thompson) who is obviously homeless but just so gosh darn positive, how can you not smile while listening to him talk? (That tie, though.) Finally, the never-that-prepared Garth and Kat returned to give us some Hannukah song improv. I just enjoy the heck out of seeing Fred Armisen improvise nearly anything, to be honest.
Blackometer: 8.5/10

A VERY CUBAN CHRISTMAS (Killam, Strong, Moynihan, Mooney, Adams, Davidson, McKinnon, Thompson, Armisen, Bennett, Pharaoh)
I’m gonna forget about this one as soon as I’m done writing about it.
Blackometer: 4.5/10

SINGING SISTERS (Mooney, Moynihan, Killam, McKinnon, Adams, Strong)
How weird this was. It was a little similar to last week’s red boots sketch – not quite as memorable in my opinion, but compared to other sketches on tonight, it was definitely one of the most interesting. Also, Moynihan and Mooney are great together once again.
Blackometer: 7/10

I was kind of hoping this would be a recurring sketch! “Cats don’t have to know our business” and the cat puns were so much fun. Although, what was great about the first time we saw this with Charlize Theron last May was the subtlety in her character flirting with Kate McKinnon…this time it’s already just there in the setup. (But whatever, I still enjoy a good pun. More of those.)
Blackometer: 7.5/10

Best Sketch of the Night: Weekend Update
Worst Sketch of the Night: Girlfriends Talk Show
Joke of the Night: “Look…Kimberly.” (and everything after that) – Che
Observations: This felt like a fine, but average episode of SNL where there’s one or two topical things done to get the internet to like it, and then here’s some sketches that should be funny. But as an SNL Christmas show, it wasn’t quite up to par with the material that has made these episodes such an event in the past. Now of course, they can’t all be golden nuggets of Christmas brilliance. But compared to how solid and great the rest of the season has been, it was a little lowkey disappointing that this only had a few memorably great ideas. Update & Dr. Evil were definitely the best parts, with a couple decent sketches (Singing Sisters, Asian American Doll) right behind – but the Serial parody + One Direction are what’s going to get all the attention.


Next time: Kevin Hart in 2015! Merry Christmas!

Martin Freeman: 6.98
Bill Hader
: 6.91
James Franco: 6.81
Woody Harrelson: 6.80
Jim Carrey
: 6.80
Cameron Diaz: 6.78
Sarah Silverman: 6.78
Chris Pratt: 6.54
Amy Adams: 6.18
Chris Rock: 5.75

Why Tim Allen is Actually the Best Santa Clause

Santa Clause
Tim Allen starred in the hit movie, The Santa Clause, 20 years ago. Since then, it’s become one of the most important things in his acting career (as far as 90s kids are concerned, next to Home Improvement.) Two sequels spawned from this, giving America not one, but two Disney sequels that weren’t cheap, effortless ‘because why not.’

However, there’s something special about these movies. right at the center of them: it gave us what many of us know Santa to be today, through Tim Allen’s interpretation. Those who have grown up with these movies have known Santa to be many things, and I believe that this rendition of Santa in particular may be the best one for you to introduce your children to. Why? Well, here’s a list!

1. Human Aspect: When we meet Scott Calvin in the first movie, he is a workaholic who spends his free time arguing with his ex-wife over their son, Charlie. He’s pretty rude, sarcastic, and thinks he’s always right. Great choice for a Santa, right? Well, this is kind of the point. The transformation he experiences later shows that he has to learn to love through his encounters during the movie. Even during the rest of the movie and the sequels, he can still be his goofy, fun self with the kids and aloof but mannerly with the adults, all while being whatever people need him to be as Santa (or Scott…or a dad.) These things make him more relatable than any other Santa we know – because he wasn’t just sprung-from-the-ground perfect, tender, loving and caring with the heart of gold and all the answers. Sometimes he doesn’t know! 

2. Process vs. Product: So many Christmas/Santa specials for kids just give you the figures we know and they’re either already perfect (Frosty, Elmo, Jack Frost), or they have some journey to go on (Rudolph, an Elf, Justin Bieber). With Santa, it’s usually the former – he’s the hero at the end, which is why we celebrate him and his charity. However, Scott Calvin’s story is just that – a story. It’s dedicated to showing that this job isn’t as easy as it sounds, it’s not just for everybody, and it can transform you into a person who cares for something better than himself. Now there were many routes to do that (I can personally think of a ton related to the Reason for the Season) but as a movie, we have to watch him get there. I think the main idea behind this is that, we as a people can transform into more caring, giving entity if we only so chose. Can we become Santa? I don’t think that’s the takeaway. But we can take a good, cold look at where our heart lies on these matters – look at what Scott did for his new wife during the second movie! From Ms. Angry Paws to Mrs. Claus! (Anyway.)

Santa Clause 2
3. He Can Have Sequels That Don’t Suck. This is actually a pretty big deal. It’s debatable whether you think watching Charlie as a teenager is as interesting as watching Charlie as a child, and if the Scott go through It’s A Wonderful Life it considered fresh material. However, they kept the original actor in each movie, he never looks like he doesn’t want to be there, there’s always something new for him to do, and the sequels never seems like they’re desperately trying to bring the 1994 movie’s magic back. Scott Calvin’s Santa, more importantly, can now be enjoyed by different generations. Speaking of which…

4. For the Whole Family: 10-year-old Tommy can enjoy Scott Calvin’s Santa just like Grandma can. 13-year-old rebellious LaMarcus just might be able to find something in watching Santa deal with his teenage son Charlie in the first sequel, after realizing he may have neglected Charlie a bit. Your 42-year-old Principal Daquanetta Jones (sorry) can learn to love and empathize again from watching Santa get to know and comfort the future Mrs. Claus and give her the love she’s been missing.

5. Neil’s Sweaters – wouldn’t be Christmas without them!

This is truly a Christmas film series that I hope never stays out of the limelight as a family Christmas movie classic (in the sense that, “Oh it’s Christmas, I get to watch this again!”). I also hope that more and more of today’s kids see it as a glimmering hope of what Santa really represents – a person, just like them, capable of becoming kind and loving towards others. If they can embrace this at a young age in today’s world (as well as how to get good grades and get potty-trained and avoid passive-aggressive subtweeting), then I think we can have hope for the future of our world.

Merry Christmas!