Dino Drac’s Daily Holiday Diary!

Monday, December 12th:

As most of you know, I make stuffed mushrooms for our family parties every Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve. I wanted to mix things up this month, so when the emails went around to figure out the menu, I impulsively announced that I’d be making fried rice.

…which is something I’ve cooked before, but only for myself, and the way I like it probably isn’t the best recipe for Christmas Eve. So I’m now reading a billion fried rice recipes, waiting to hit upon the perfect one.

I’m excited. Even terrible fried rice is awesome, so I’d have to work hard to mess this up. This also means I won’t have to locate a bushel of mushrooms two days before Christmas, which historically has been a giant nuisance. All in all, I’m happy with my fried rice pivot.

Are you in charge of any special dishes this year? Or are you doing the whole dinner yourself? Drop a comment about it. I like reading about strangers’ meals. It’s relaxing.

Sunday, December 11th:

I’m not sure exactly where it lands, but Goodfellas is 100% among my all-time favorite movies. Every once in a while, the film grabs me and I spend a period of time watching it constantly. (I must’ve seen it five times just in December, and we’re not even halfway through the month.)

Four observations about Goodfellas that are appropriate for a holiday diary:

1) There’s enough Christmas in Goodfellas for me to call it a Christmas movie. I mean, it isn’t one, but I’d still obnoxiously plead the case.

2) I’ve long loved The Ronettes’ version of Frosty the Snowman, and watching Goodfellas again reminded me that that’s where I picked it up in the first place. (Plays in the bar scene where De Niro is pissed about the coats and cars.)

3) I’d like to add Henry and Karen’s fake tree to the growing list of Movie Christmas Trees I Love. Pure white branches with purple ball ornaments and nothing else. Simple yet gaudy.

4) I think my favorite thing in all of Goodfellas is the sliding rock wall behind their Christmas tree, which, upon further reflection, looks pretty similar to fruitcake.

Saturday, December 10th:

Above is a compilation of old Christmas commercials I put together a few years ago. I’ve run it on Dino Drac After Dark before, but I don’t think it ever hit the main page. Let’s fix that.

It’s a good night for it, anyway. Thirty minutes of holiday-themed TV spots from the ‘80s and ‘90s, covering just about everything. Movies, toys, junk food, weird hotlines, TV specials — it’s all here!

All of the commercials were pulled from my own collection, and like my other comps, there’s a consistent aspect ratio and even audio level throughout. Which means that if you start dozing off midway through, you probably won’t be startled awake by a too-loud Pillsbury commercial. No promises, though.

Friday, December 9th:

I posted a short tribute to Grandma Arbuckle on social media, and in the process realized that she’s one of the most beloved cartoon characters in history. Seriously, every response was full of glowing praise for Grandma.

She’s arguably the best part of Garfield’s Thanksgiving and Christmas specials, but it’s the latter appearance that made her such an icon. More than just a “cool grandma” trope, she taught us about everything from grief to gravy. Everybody loves Grandma Arbuckle.

Grandma was voiced by Pat Carroll, who passed away back in July. Pat made it to 95 and was still working as late as 2014, so much like Grandma Arbuckle, age was just a number for her. (Fun fact: She also voiced Ursula from The Little Mermaid.)

This is the first holiday season since Pat’s death, so pay your respects by watching A Garfield Christmas. Still one of the best!

Thursday, December 8th:

Am I the only one who still enjoys the frenetic energy of shopping malls during the holiday season? Hell, am I the only one who still enjoys shopping malls at all?

I’ve always loved them during this time of year. The gaudy decorations, the Santa Clauses, the shoppers who walk with such determined purpose that you’d swear they were doing something way more important than buying scarves from Macy’s. I love all of it!

Wednesday, December 7th:

Remember that old commercial where the kids made Christmas tree garland out of Kix Cereal? Well, I’ve now spent decades wanting to do that.

I’ve created cereal garland before, but I always chose pieces that were red and green, which sounds appropriate until you see how muted they look against the tree. You really need a bright cereal like Kix to make it work. (After all, the whole idea is based on popcorn garland, and popcorn is snowy white.)

Plus, it’d be an excuse to buy a box of Kix, which I haven’t done since the late 1500s. A lot of people apparently hate Kix, but I’m not one of them. To me it’s like Trix, if Trix was just sugar-flavored and ditched the fruit.

I doubt I’ll make time for it this year, but yeah, Kix garland on a Christmas tree – I can dig it!