Holiday Movie Break: Fatman

It has come to my attention recently that many of the movies I take time to write about I hesitate to wholeheartedly recommend. Sometimes I see a new take on my favorite old stories and genres: westerns and martial arts; sci-fi and time travel; fantasy and fractured fairy tales. They may be thought-provoking, but somewhat strange; often they are objectionable in some way that makes me guard against a full endorsement.

Last fall I caught wind of an upcoming movie called Fatman, featuring Mel Gibson as a world-weary Santa with a price on his head. You may know that I am a big fan of the Man in Red in almost any interation, from the saintly Bishop of Myra to Father Christmas in Narnia to the Right Jolly Old Elf of my own childhood traditions. I imagined a foul-mouthed and violent “bad Santa” bent on revenge of some sort, and I was not a fan of the idea. The trailer suggested I wasn’t far from the truth:

But then somewhere along the way I read a review that suggested it might be a bit more than it appeared. I hemmed and hawed until almost Christmas, when my older kids suggested we watch it. So we did. After the initial viewing, I was concerned that I might actually like the movie. I spoke in hushed tones to the few others I knew who had seen it. Many of them kinda liked it too.

Still, I didn’t write about it. Give it a year, I thought, to see if the novelty wears off.

Well, it didn’t. So here goes.

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Embrace the Impossibility

When we first moved to Minnesota 17 years ago, I worked for a marketing agency in downtown Minneapolis. I was conspicuous as one of the only conservative folks on staff, and my honesty, joy and general lack of cynicism earned me the nickname “Farmboy” from at least one colleague. I was regarded as a good writer and editor, but so naive and old-fashioned as to be quaint.

At the time, our oldest son Brendan was in in early elementary school. Someone on the bus began to mock him for believing in Santa Claus, and Bren responded that if Santa didn’t visit their house, it was because they didn’t believe in him. When he told Jodi and me about it afterward, he ended the story with, “I’m glad you guys still believe in magic.”

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Greetings from the North Pole, Part XII

Blogger’s Note: For several years now, we have received a Christmas letter from an Elfin correspondent, Siberius Quill. This is the 2014 installment.

Christmas 2014
My dearest children!
“Another turn around the Sun; another Year begun and done—just like that!” as our Head Astronomer, Nebular Farseer, would say. Just last week, he and Pendulus “Tick” Chronin were debating, over cocoa and gingersnaps, whether the years merely seem shorter or actually are. Your human Stargazers actually claim the years are lengthening by a millisecond or two each century; Tick claims we’re losing time, but Nebbs is on the fence—and each year, when the Chief Timekeeper marks the Year’s End on the Great Chronometer, Nebbs blames Tick’s itchy trigger-finger for any loss.
Truth be told, it is conceivable that Tick’s finger is too fast. I’ve told you before that he is markedly slow for an Elf, save his eye and finger—and indeed, these traits runs in his family: his great-grandmother, Sedentary Chronin (née Scattershot), rarely left her little cottage, but was the Best Wingshot north of the Circle, and crack with a Rifle, too! Why, she was known to harvest wild Ptarmigans and snowshoe Hares out her bedroom window, then send Bob-Catchit, her half-Lynx housecat, to fetch them in for supper—truly!
So the Debate continues, year upon year, and Christmas Day has come again—a Much-Needed Feast, indeed, in this catty-whompus World! The Old Man has been jolly, as always, but has pressed us Elves most intensely this Winter—such a need there is for Peace and Goodwill as he has not seen in Many Centuries! Peace has been the particular prayer of our Good Pastor, Fr. Aloysius Lamplighter, too, this Advent, and may it resound the World ’Round. Amen!
I am, like your Dear Parents, so grateful these days for Miss Lily, who has kept your Family young and the Spirit of the Season bright in your Home. She is Spoilt, to be sure, but the Fault is no one’s—she can hardly spoil herself, and who can blame the Rest of you for falling prey to her Charms and dark eyes. Your Dad has suggested she might become a “Mary,” as she calls the good religious sisters of Your World. Whether ’tis true or not remains to be Seen, but Sr. Providence Goodpath, Director of Vocations of the Sisters of Perpetual Winter, has looked in on her and insists she will draw people to The Incarnation, regardless!
You elder four continue to persist in Goodness and grow in Virtue, year upon year; nevertheless we continue to look in on you. Master Brendan, I am struck by the Seriousness with which you are seeking your own Good Path and remind you to treat your Special Someone with the same or greater care than you show your Own Soul. Master Gabriel, I am impressed by your persistence in All you do and the Strength of your prayers, which echo both over the Earth and in Heaven, as well! For you, Miss Emma, there will always be room at the Inn, and welcome: your Music and your Baking warm the hearts around you, and your Beauty and Joy are infectious (in only the Best Way). Master Trevor, you are becoming a Fine Young Man with your own Callings and Interests. Strick Thumpertink, our Lead Percussionist, has heard you practicing—keep it up, and you’ll be welcome in our Drum Corps anytime!
Speaking of Time and the Flight of it, Marcus Milestone (Monitor’s son, who works Birthdays and other High-Sugar Special Occasions for the Watcher Corps) stopped by the Other Day to remind me on his Elder’s behalf that young Master Trevor has reached Double Digits this year—a Momentous Age, to be sure, and one I’m sure you’ll recall entails Special Responsibilities toward the Keeping of Christmas. Speak to your Father in a Quiet Moment, and he will, no doubt, explain. Marcus also noted Lily’s recent Birthday celebrations and was impressed by the Love shown by friends not her own. How kind they are to mark her Third Year in such a Splendid Fashion!
On that note: Bishop Nicholas trusts you will be Happy with your gifts this year, and gives his Blessing to you—which, from a Saint, is not Insignificant! A Very Happy Christmas to you all!
Yours Still and Always,


Siberius Quill

P.S. All of us here, but Dr. Vendy most of all, send our Condolences on the loss of your dear Schnauzer, Puck. He was the Very Definition of a Good Dog!

LIFT Links: The Pro-Santa, Eve-of-Christmas-Eve Edition

Blogger’s Note: I am a big fan of Santa Claus. You do not have to be…but if you’d like to be, and still hope to keep Christ as the focus of your Christmas season, here are some thoughts on how to do so. (Elf on the Shelf is not one of them, because I find him too tangible and a bit too creepy — but to each his or her own!)

Trevor visiting with St. Nicholas

Holiday Letter 2009

At long last, here is the Thorp family Christmas letter for 2009. In future years, we intend to publish it electronically first and foremost. We’ll still send a Christmas photo or postcard with you, to let you know when it’s up and ready. If you strongly prefer (or require) a paper copy, drop us a line or leave us a comment here. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, friends!