WBEZ | christmas http://www.wbez.org/tags/christmas Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Afternoon Shift: Live from Christkindlmarket and a Christmas sing-along http://www.wbez.org/programs/afternoon-shift/2013-12-20/afternoon-shift-live-christkindlmarket-and-christmas-sing-along <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/WBEZ Christmas.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Join the Afternoon Shift live from the Christkindlmarket in Daley Plaza. Eric Zorn and Neil Steinberg give their predictions for the new year. We look at Chicagoan&#39;s true pizza preference and we have a sing-along with several local performers.</p><div class="storify"><iframe allowtransparency="true" frameborder="no" height="750" src="//storify.com/WBEZ/afternoon-shift-live-from-christkindlmarket-and-a/embed" width="100%"></iframe><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/afternoon-shift-live-from-christkindlmarket-and-a.js"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/afternoon-shift-live-from-christkindlmarket-and-a" target="_blank">View the story "Afternoon Shift: Live from Christkindlmarket and a Christmas sing-along" on Storify</a>]</noscript></div></p> Fri, 20 Dec 2013 16:13:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/afternoon-shift/2013-12-20/afternoon-shift-live-christkindlmarket-and-christmas-sing-along 11 alternative Christmas movies to watch this year http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-12/11-alternative-christmas-movies-watch-year-109384 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img 20th="" alt="" century="" class="image-original_image" edward="" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Edward-Scissorhands-movie-still.jpg" style="height: 342px; width: 620px;" title="A still from &quot;Edward Scissorhands.&quot; (AP Photo/20th Century Fox)" /></div><p>Ah, Christmas movies. Everyone has a favorite, whether it be an old classic&mdash;the Rankin/Bass version of &quot;<a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8xqACmJvqaU" target="_blank">Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer</a>&quot;&nbsp;comes to mind&mdash;or a newer addition, like Jim Carrey&#39;s &quot;How the Grinch Stole Christmas&quot; or Will Ferrell&#39;s &quot;Elf.&quot;</p><p>I will admit that a few traditional Christmas films still hold my heart, particularly &quot;It&#39;s A Wonderful Life&quot; (because I love Jimmy Stewart) and &quot;A Muppet Chistmas Carol&quot; (because I love Michael Caine as Scrooge, plus muppets), but my tastes have changed considerably over the years.</p><p>Once I began to realize that schmaltz-fests like &quot;The Family Stone&quot; were unfulfilling, and garish clunkers like &quot;Jingle All the Way&quot; were actually&nbsp;<a href="http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/jingle-all-the-way-1996" target="_blank">materialism incarnate</a>, I made a conscious decision to venture outside the Hallmark Channel-approved box for my holiday viewing.&nbsp;</p><p>I started watching movies set at Christmastime, often with plots still somewhat impacted by or connected to seasonal tropes, but that also contained much weirder, darker, and more complex themes than the simpler stories I enjoyed as a child. (I blame you, film school.)</p><p>Then there are those beloved holiday staples that toe the line, but never quite cross it. For example, &quot;A Christmas Story&quot; has enough acerbic wit to balance out the nostalgia, but also plays to the masses for <a href="http://www.tbs.com/stories/story/0,,97568,00.html" target="_blank">24 hours on TBS</a>. National Lampoon&#39;s &quot;Christmas Vacation&quot; may veer hilariously towards the irreverent, but stops short of real oddball territory due to the near universal accessibility of writer John Hughes.</p><p>If you&#39;re looking for a new yuletide tradition that doesn&#39;t involve endless rounds of carol-singing, or if you&#39;ve simply had your fill of Bing Crosby and &quot;Frosty the Snowman,&quot; then I suggest treating yourself to a Christmas movie with a little more bite.&nbsp;</p><p>Here are my Top 11:</p><p><strong>11. &quot;Brazil&quot; (1985)</strong></p><p>Terry Gilliam&#39;s &quot;Brazil&quot; is one of the most bizarre movies I&#39;ve ever seen; and consequently, one of my all-time favorites. The warped Christmas setting, though completely random and unexplained, is a perfect match for the <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Wh2b1eZFUM" target="_blank">dystopian terror</a> of a society utterly devoid of holiday spirit. Plus, if you ever wanted to see Jonathon Pryce, Jim Broadbent, Peter Vaughn, Katherine Helmond, and Robert DeNiro in a film together&mdash;or rather, spiraling out of control in a wacky, retro-future Orwellian universe&mdash;herein lies your opportunity.</p><p><strong>10. &quot;Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy&quot; (2011)</strong></p><p>A Cold War<a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Aco15ScXCwA" target="_blank"> espionage thriller</a> starring Gary Oldman may not sound very Christmasy, but factor in a holiday office party as the scene that frames the movie&mdash;with gaudy &#39;70s suits, clouds of cigarette smoke, and a discordant sing-along to the Soviet Anthem, no less&mdash;and the idea of seasonal communion is turned wickedly on its head, like a wind-up doll gone deliriously mad. Meanwhile, in yet another sinister detail from director Tomas Alfredson (&quot;Let the Right One In&quot;), the singing is conducted by a eldritch-looking Santa Claus in a Lenin mask.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>9. &quot;Eyes Wide Shut&quot; (1999)</strong></p><p>In acclaimed director Stanley Kubrick&#39;s <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VXEziyz9duA" target="_blank">final film</a>, which premiered shortly after Kubrick&#39;s sudden death&nbsp;from a heart attack, then-married couple Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman play a charged game of art imitating life. Here is a husband and wife who attend holiday parties together, then seperate, and fleetingly experience sordid lives outside their own. But when their wildest dreams turn to nightmares, notice the perverted symbolism: a Christmas tree (or related seasonal bauble) appears in almost every scene.</p><p><strong>8. &quot;The Apartment&quot; (1960)</strong></p><p>Leave it to filmmaker Billy Wilder (&quot;Some Like It Hot,&quot; &quot;The Lost Weekend&quot;) to write and direct a movie that focuses on the very darkest chasms of the human heart come Christmastime. Jack Lemmon plays the antihero, C.C. &quot;Bud&quot; Baxter: a lonely insurance salesman who decides to drown his sorrows in booze on Christmas Eve. He meets a fellow lonely heart at his neighborhood bar, and then brings her up to his apartment for a little more forgetting. But in a startling twist, they find that Shirley MacLaine&#39;s character is already there, passed out on his bed from a drug overdose. This sequence of events is beyond unfortunate, but also painfully true to life: a mirror reflecting back on those of us who know all too well how <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CufD9Tu1uLE" target="_blank">soul-crushing</a> the holidays can be, and how forced that &quot;cheer&quot; can often feel.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>7. &quot;Gremlins&quot; (1984)</strong></p><p>If you haven&#39;t seen this cult classic about evil little monsters going beserk on Christmas, then I am slightly jealous of your good fortune. The very &#39;80s&nbsp;<a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zoK0BzYUTrU" target="_blank">black comedy horror film</a>, directed by Chris Columbus (&quot;Home Alone,&quot; &quot;Harry Potter&quot;) and produced by Steven Spielberg, centers on a teenage boy who gets a critter called a Mogwai for Christmas. His dad found the thing in Chinatown, of all places, and he must follow three rules to care for it properly: never expose it to bright light; never get it wet; and most importantly, never feed it after midnight. Of course, the boy does not follow these instructions, and his cuddly little pet, whom he calls Gizmo, eventually mulitiplies into a horde of scary reptilian gremlins that begin terrorizing his small town. Honestly, I always feared that my Furby would do the same thing.</p><p><strong>6. &quot;Batman Returns&quot; (1992)</strong></p><p>Tim Burton&#39;s first appearance on this list, with his second and last entry into the live-action &quot;Batman&quot; franchise of the &#39;90s, is also perhaps the <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Batman_Returns" target="_blank">most Christmasy superhero film</a> in recent memory. Corrupt businessman Max Schreck (Christopher Walken) is described as &quot;Gotham&#39;s own Santa Claus,&quot; Michelle Pfieffer&#39;s Catwoman kisses Michael Keaton&#39;s Batman under the mistletoe, and Danny DeVito&#39;s deranged Penguin wreaks havoc on a snow-covered Gotham City. Ironically, the movie also enjoyed a successful June release in theatres, giving it the highest opening weekend&nbsp;of any film up to that point.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>5. &quot;Kiss Kiss Bang Bang&quot; (2005)</strong></p><p>In this underrated crime caper from writer/director Shane Black, a theatrical thief (Robert Downey Jr.) teams up with a gay detective (Val Kilmer) to solve a <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q-ekNtkhLjs" target="_blank">murder mystery</a> at Christmastime. Downey and Kilmer have surprisingly great comedic chemistry, likely aided by the kitsch romanticism of a snowless LA with plastic trees and Christmas lights. An actress also entagled in the crime (Michelle Monaghan) even shows up in a sexy Santa costume at one point.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>4. &quot;The Shop Around the Corner&quot; (1940)</strong></p><p>Two employees at a Budapest gift shop (Jimmy Stewart and Margaret Sullivan, respectively) can barely stand one another; and yet, unbeknownst to both of them, are falling in love through the post as each other&#39;s anonymous pen pal. But as fate would have it, Christmas is ultimately what brings these squabbling soulmates together. In the film&#39;s memorable final scene, Stewart puts a red carnation on his lapel&mdash;thus revealing his identity to Sullivan as her longtime mystery correspondent&mdash;and the two share a passionate embrace on Christmas Eve. Does this <a href="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0033045/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1" target="_blank">oft-repeated romantic comedy</a> scenario sound familiar? Watch &quot;You&#39;ve Got Mail&quot; (the 1998 Nora Ephron-directed remake starring Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks), relive the nostalgia of AOL dial-up, and feel old.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>3. &quot;Edward Scissorhands&quot; (1990)</strong></p><p>Magical is the first word that comes to mind when I think of &quot;Edward Scissorhands,&quot; which is exactly the spirit that director Tim Burton conjures up in every fairy-tale frame. Johnny Depp&#39;s impressive silent film actor performance is another revelation (how could one not fall in love with his sweet, gentle, sadly<a href="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0099487/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1" target="_blank"> scissor-handed hero</a>?) and the bizarro world that the rest of the characters inhabit looks positively ethereal once the snow starts to fall. In fact, Winona Ryder twirling like an angel admist snowflakes and ice sculptures is perhaps the purest embodiment of Christmas I have ever seen put to film: an exultation of whimsy, wonder, and most of all, hope.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>2. &quot;The Nightmare Before Christmas&quot; (1993)</strong></p><p>Yes, Christmas features prominently into the plot, but Tim Burton&#39;s story is just as much about Halloweenteen and its delightfully creepy inhabitants as it is about what Jack Skellington discovers in the land of elves and Santy Claus. Plus, the incredible <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M-LXKoNOMj0" target="_blank">stop motion animation</a> from director Henry Selick (&quot;James and the Giant Peach,&quot; &quot;Coraline&quot;) remains as mind-blowing today as it was when the film was first released.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>1. &quot;Die Hard&quot; (1988)</strong></p><p>I don&#39;t care what <a href="http://www.buzzfeed.com/katienotopoulos/here-is-an-opinion-that-is-not-as-clever-as-you-might-think" target="_blank">Buzzfeed</a> says; this movie is the epitome of yuletide joy. If you don&#39;t believe in miracles after watching Bruce Willis bungee jump through explosions on a fire hose, what hope is there for the world? Also, as a card-carrying member of the Alan Rickman fan club, I simply cannot fathom why audiences tout his role in &quot;Love Actually&quot; (quite possibly the most overrated holiday film of all time, in which he plays one of the most unlikeable characters) over his turn in this priceless gem. Old standbys like &quot;Miracle on 34th Street&quot; and &quot;Home Alone&quot; aside, &quot;Die Hard&quot; reigns as the ultimate Christmas movie.</p><p><strong>What are your favorite unconventional Christmas films?</strong></p><p><em>Leah Pickett writes about art and popular culture for WBEZ. Follow her on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/leahkpickett" target="_blank">@leahkpickett</a>.</em></p></p> Thu, 19 Dec 2013 09:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-12/11-alternative-christmas-movies-watch-year-109384 Not feeling Christmas Eve? How about a movie? http://www.wbez.org/blogs/alison-cuddy/2012-12/not-feeling-christmas-eve-how-about-movie-104554 <p><p style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;</p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/316897006_37b5d65e14_z.jpg" style="height: 465px; width: 620px;" title="Deck the halls at the Movies (flickr/emdot)" /></div><p>Christmas celebrations are already in full swing at homes in and around Chicago. But not everybody marks the holiday. If you&rsquo;re Jewish or Muslim or just prefer to skip it &ndash; there is another, time-honored way to enjoy the night before Christmas: head out to see a movie.</p><p>The two big, brand new releases are &quot;Les Misérables,&quot; the film version of Victor Hugo&#39;s epic historic novel (which has undergone epic adaptations, for film, television and most famously Broadway), and &quot;Django Unchained,&quot; the latest ultra-violence from Quentin Tarantino.</p><p>Christmas-time viewing is also a good opportunity to catch up any of the big films that might end up in the &quot;best picture&quot; category at the Academy Awards (<a href="http://www.awardscircuit.com/2012/09/18/academy-sets-dates-for-85th-oscars-nominations-to-be-announced-january-10th/">which will be announced January 10th</a>). &nbsp;</p><p>Adam Kempenaar co-hosts WBEZ&rsquo;s <a href="http://www.filmspotting.net/"><em>Filmspotting</em></a>. He called Stephen Spielberg&#39;s<em> &quot;</em>Lincoln<em>&quot; </em>&quot;essential viewing, especially for the performance of Daniel Day Lewis.&quot; But he also recommends &quot;Skyfall<em>.&quot; </em></p><p><em>&quot;</em>I&rsquo;m not a big Bond guy,&quot; Kempenaar said. &quot;But that was one of my favorite Bond films, well, frankly ever.&quot;<br /><br />Just don&rsquo;t expect to see Kempenaar in the seat next to you. When I asked if he ever goes to the movies at Christmas he laughed and exclaimed &quot;Never!&quot; For Kempnaar the Christmas holiday is &quot;not about watching movies, it&rsquo;s about finally taking a break.&quot;</p><p>Happy holidays to you, wherever you end up this year!<br /><br />&nbsp;</p></p> Mon, 24 Dec 2012 15:35:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/alison-cuddy/2012-12/not-feeling-christmas-eve-how-about-movie-104554 Dear Santa: Please help Chicago sports teams this Christmas http://www.wbez.org/blogs/cheryl-raye-stout/2012-12/dear-santa-please-help-chicago-sports-teams-christmas-104492 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/rsz_bears_-santa.jpg" style="width: 620px; height: 438px" title="Santa has a long list from the Bears this year.(AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)" /></div><p>Children are not the only ones hoping Santa Claus can bring them all the items on their wish-list. Sports teams have compiled a list that they hope the jolly old man may put under their Christmas tree. OK, maybe they don&#39;t have a list, but here is what I think they want &mdash; it&rsquo;s not sugar plums and candy canes.</p><p>The Bears, and specifically Head Coach Lovie Smith, have a long list of wishes. A playoff berth is top on the list in big bold letters. Smith&rsquo;s future here as the Bears head coach may be tied into a postseason appearance. Winning the last two games and loses by other teams may get them in the playoffs (lots of work for Santa). General Manager Phil Emery must have plenty of wishes, too. High on his list are numerous offensive linemen, a wide receiver and a sure-handed tight end. Basically he&#39;s dealing with the personal that former GM Jerry Angelo left for him.</p><p>It&#39;s not hard to figure out what the Cubs would love to get: wins &mdash;&nbsp;lots and lots of wins. It is probably on top of every Cubs fan&#39;s list, too. Team President Theo Epstein and General Manager Jed Hoyer have been filling out the roster with some free agents: Scott Baker, Scott Feldman and Japanese closer Kyuji Fujikawa. Face it: The Cubs are going to be a struggle this year maybe the next, so wins may be on the team&rsquo;s wish list for a few holiday seasons. Cubs owner Tom Ricketts may have something bigger on his mind: a plan for renovations for Wrigley Field. Is it time for Mayor Rahm Emmanuel to stop being a Grinch and start getting down to business at Clark and Addison?</p><p>On the South side, the White Sox wish is for fans over two million strong to move the turnstile this year. It would be nice since attendance has been on a decline for the past few years. Last season the Sox were in first place in the AL Central most of the year, but were one of the worst teams in baseball in fan attendance. With reduced ticket pricing and other fan-friendly deals ($10 parking on Sundays) maybe the numbers will improve; they also have to be competitive again on the field. Winning the American League Central would be a real present.</p><p>It is not hard to figure out what the Bulls want to see under their Christmas tree: a full-strength and fully recovered Derrick Rose. That may be a tall order for Santa to handle. No one knows for sure when that will happen. So, maybe a trip to the All-Star game for Joakim Noah would be a nice gift. Fans can help Jolly St. Nick by stuffing the All-Star ballot box &mdash;&nbsp;put votes in for Luol Deng, too. Another wish would be acquiring another major star player to complement Rose&rsquo;s return. Now that&rsquo;s a big wish.</p><p>The Blackhawks and their fans have one wish: a season.</p><p>Santa&rsquo;s magic has to extend at least another week to make a special News Year&rsquo;s Day for the Northern Illinois Huskies. They want to upset the Florida State Seminoles in the Orange Bowl in Miami. On that same day, Northwestern University head coach Pat Fitzgerald would love to snap the Wildcats bowl losing streak at the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville Florida (NU is facing Mississippi State).</p><p>Keeping the win column filled with victories is the hope of the Illini basketball team; they got a nice present when they hired John Groce to coach the team.</p><p>DePaul, Loyola, Northwestern and UIC (men&rsquo;s and women&rsquo;s teams) are all hoping they get wins on the hard court floor to fill their stockings (and maybe some front-line recruits).</p><p>It would be great if Santa gave Northwestern&rsquo;s women&rsquo;s lacrosse team another NCAA Championship and let the Chicago Sky finally compete in the WNBA playoffs.</p><p>Of course, there will be coal put in at least a couple of stockings&hellip;the NHL&#39;s and Lance Armstrong&#39;s.</p><p>Whatever you celebrate, may I wish each and every one of you a Happy holiday season! Hope those going through tough times will find comfort and may your hopes and dreams come true. I still believe!</p><p><em>Follow Cheryl on Twitter <a href="http://&lt;https://twitter.com/Crayestout&gt;">@CRayeStout</a>&nbsp;and Facebook <a href="http://www.facebook.com/CherylAtTheGame">Cheryl Raye-Stout #AtTheGame</a>.&nbsp;</em></p></p> Fri, 21 Dec 2012 06:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/cheryl-raye-stout/2012-12/dear-santa-please-help-chicago-sports-teams-christmas-104492 The noble path: A Buddhist Christmas http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-12/noble-path-buddhist-christmas-104418 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/buddha%20flickr%20liang%20jin%20jian.jpg" style="height: 465px; width: 620px;" title="Buddhism can lead us to the true meaning of Christmas (Flickr/Liang Jin Jian)" /></div><p>Lately I&rsquo;ve been doing a little reading and research in Buddhist literature and philosophy. At the core of Buddhist thought is the achievement of personal wisdom and the practice of ethical conduct.</p><p>Buddhism argues that the world is imperfect, that life is full of suffering and that human nature is flawed. Nevertheless, our goal as rational and spiritual creatures is to accept the imperfections of reality, overcome our limitations and try to create a self that is free from the false illusions of success and the deadening effects of fear, frustration, disappointment and depression.</p><p>My reading of this venerable tradition is that life is a journey of suffering and self-improvement. We must find a middle way between self-indulgence (hedonism) and excessive self-mortification (asceticism) to achieve contentment. The goal laid out by Siddhartha Gautama (the Buddha) is the achievement of the &ldquo;Noble Eightfold Path.&rdquo;</p><p>1.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Right View</p><p>2.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Right Intention</p><p>3.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Right Speech</p><p>4.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Right Action</p><p>5.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Right Livelihood</p><p>6.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Right Effort</p><p>7.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Right Mindfulness</p><p>8.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Right Concentration</p><p>At its core the &ldquo;Eightfold Path&rdquo; is, in essence, a prescription for ethical conduct with others. In an imperfect world full of suffering and toil each of us must try to find a way to live with others. The &ldquo;Eightfold Path&rdquo; exhorts us to free ourselves of false illusions, to detach ourselves from false decisions, to overcome selfishness, to pursue charity and good will, to avoid cruelty and violence, and to develop a deep compassion for those we live with and love.</p><p>It seems to me that the essence of Buddhist thought can be easily rolled into the ethos of this Christmas season. Both positions, by different means, are advancing the same issues and outcomes: an undistorted view of reality; personal serenity, right conduct and charity, peace on Earth; and, lest we forget, the true purpose of the season &mdash; &ldquo;goodwill to all.&rdquo;</p><p>&nbsp;<em>Al Gini is a Professor of Business Ethics and Chairman of the Management Department in the Quinlan School of Business at Loyola University Chicago.</em></p></p> Tue, 18 Dec 2012 10:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-12/noble-path-buddhist-christmas-104418 Tips for guaranteeing a perfect 'Scared of Santa' photo http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2012-12/tips-guaranteeing-perfect-scared-santa-photo-104443 <p><p><span id="internal-source-marker_0.5099058862703227">The best part of Christmas are those hilarious &ldquo;scared of Santa&rdquo; photos&nbsp;<a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/features/holidaily/sns-holiday-christmas-bad-santa,0,7208347.photogallery">posted on the&nbsp;</a></span><em><a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/features/holidaily/sns-holiday-christmas-bad-santa,0,7208347.photogallery">Chicago Tribune</a></em><a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/features/holidaily/sns-holiday-christmas-bad-santa,0,7208347.photogallery"><em>&rsquo;s</em> website</a>. Truth be told, it wouldn&rsquo;t feel like Christmas without a couple dozen photos of terrified children sobbing on strange men&rsquo;s laps. So avoid feeling like a failure this year and turning out a regular boring old photo of your sweet child smiling on a friendly fat guy&rsquo;s knee, here are some tips on how to elicit a surefire winner:</p><br /><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/4176024999_7f503c1ce2.jpg" style="float: left; height: 445px; width: 300px;" title="Ho ho ho? (Flickr/Stephen M. Scott)" /></div><ul><li dir="ltr">Try to find a hungover Santa if you can. His dour expression and the bags under his eyes will contribute to a hilarious image.<br />&nbsp;</li><li dir="ltr">Better yet: skinny Santa. What could be worse?<br />&nbsp;</li><li dir="ltr">Dress your child much too warmly for the occasion, and try to find a Santa in extremely high demand. That way, after the hours of waiting in line (don&rsquo;t forget to forget the snacks), your little one will be uncomfortable and miserable.<br />&nbsp;</li><li dir="ltr">Have the big &ldquo;stranger danger&rdquo; chat with your child on the way to meet Santa, but as you wait in line say, &ldquo;Well, Santa&nbsp;probably&nbsp;doesn&rsquo;t want to hurt you.&rdquo;&nbsp;<br />&nbsp;</li><li dir="ltr">Inform your child that Santa&rsquo;s beard is full of earwigs which will crawl into his or her ear and lay thousands of holiday eggs.&nbsp;<br />&nbsp;</li><li dir="ltr">Give your child a long script to recite to Santa and inform him that if he deviates from it, even by one word, Santa will kill your dog. Make sure you give him a lot to drink before you do this and go somewhere where there are no public restrooms in sight.&nbsp;<br />&nbsp;</li><li dir="ltr">Tell your child that you&rsquo;re sorry, but this year Santa has decided that every other child who comes to sit on his knee will be abducted on Christmas Eve and there&rsquo;s no way of knowing which is which.&nbsp;<br />&nbsp;</li><li dir="ltr">If all else fails, give your child a merry little pinch on the upper arm right before he or she goes up for the photo. Ho ho ho and a ha ha ha!</li></ul></p> Tue, 18 Dec 2012 10:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2012-12/tips-guaranteeing-perfect-scared-santa-photo-104443 Getting into the Christmas (consumer) spirit http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-12/getting-christmas-consumer-spirit-104301 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/rsz_17347282_4e518338dc_z.jpg" title="Black Friday Christmas shoppers at Macy's. (Flickr/ pnoeric)" /></p><p>At least since the time I was in college (which was right after Guttenberg came up with the idea of a printing press), economists have been using the Christmas gift-buying season an indices by which to measure the health of the national economy. Depending on whose statistics you want to accept, 40 to 60 percent of all consumer sales happen during the holiday season (Thanksgiving to approximately January 15). In the last few years of course, Christmas sales volume has taken on an extra special significance. As the Recession drags on, businesses look more and more to the spike in sales usually associated with Christmas in order to perk up their overall sales numbers for the year. Consequently, more and more gimmicks have been created to draw people into the holiday shopping frenzy. The traditional &ldquo;Black Friday&rdquo; sales have now been expanded to &ldquo;Black Wednesday Pre-sales,&rdquo; and some chain stores and local stores have &ldquo;Black Thursday&rdquo; sales. (Question: Between three NFL football games and expanding shopping opportunities, will American families actually have time to eat?)</p><p>According to research generated by the National Retailers Foundation, the average holiday shopper will spend $749.51 on gifts, decorations, greeting cards, and various Christmas tsotchkes. The NRF is also forecasting that total holiday sales will increase 4.1 percent this year to $586.1 billion.</p><p>The commercialization of Christmas is now a foregone conclusion, and I don&rsquo;t think that there is any way to stop it or slow it down. In fact, it can be argued that for the health of the economy and stability of society and our way of life, we need to continuously strive to grow our Christmas consumer patterns. Having said all of this, I do think we all need to pause in our consumer pursuits, at least for a moment, and reflect on the larger significance of the season.</p><p>In the Christian tradition, of course, Christmas is one of the two most sacred days in the calendar, the other being Easter. At the secular level Christmas is now recognized as a cultural celebration of the winter solstice, the new year, and the &ldquo;rebirth of hope&rdquo; in the future. And yes, it&rsquo;s also about gifts and demonstrations of generosity. So buy mom, dad, the kids, your wife and friends a gift. But remember, the gifts we buy for them are only tokens of our esteem. Our true gift is that we love them and that we are thankful that they are a part of our lives.</p><p><em>Al Gini is a Professor of Business Ethics and Chairman of the Management Department in the Quinlan School of Business at Loyola University Chicago.</em></p></p> Thu, 13 Dec 2012 05:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-12/getting-christmas-consumer-spirit-104301 Chicagoans read Santa letters, help grant wishes http://www.wbez.org/news/chicagoans-read-santa-letters-help-grant-wishes-104309 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/magma666.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Hundreds of Chicagoans are getting in the holiday spirit by reading letters that local children send to Santa &mdash; then making their wishes come true.</p><p>The U.S. Post Office in Chicago has received more than 12,000 letters at its Operation Santa station and more arrive every day.</p><p>Officials are receiving packages for delivery to some of the letter writers, and are urging Chicagoans to visit the station this week if they want to participate.</p><p>The Operation Santa station is open until Dec. 22 at the Main Post Office downtown. Letters are available from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.</p><p>Operation Santa has been operating since 1912, when Postmaster General Frank Hitchcock allowed postal employees and citizens to respond to letters.</p></p> Tue, 11 Dec 2012 08:16:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/chicagoans-read-santa-letters-help-grant-wishes-104309 There should be only one 'Santa Baby' http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2012-12/there-should-be-only-one-santa-baby-104291 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Eartha Kitt Christmas.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><span id="internal-source-marker_0.037238676351806776">One of my favorite TV shows is </span><em>Community </em>and one of my favorite episodes of that show was last year&rsquo;s Christmas musical special, and one of my favorite songs from that particular episode was &ldquo;Teach Me How to Understand Christmas&rdquo;:</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="338" mozallowfullscreen="" scrolling="no" src="http://player.vimeo.com/video/45558604?badge=0" webkitallowfullscreen="" width="601"></iframe></p><p><span id="internal-source-marker_0.037238676351806776">Clearly the whole sexy dummy Christmas baby bit is a parody of the holiday standby &ldquo;Santa Baby,&rdquo; wherein the lady singing takes on a disturbing persona of a whorish infant who sexily begs for expensive toys. For a nice example of how weird this is see Madonna&rsquo;s version of the song, mostly because the concept of Madonna being cute or asking for something (instead of demanding it) or even condescending to celebrate something so pedestrian and suburban as Christmas is completely alien:</span></p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="338" scrolling="no" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/5ycWObpi73Y?rel=0" width="601"></iframe></p><p><span id="internal-source-marker_0.037238676351806776">What&rsquo;s worth noting, however, is that the original recording of the song isn&rsquo;t nearly as disconcerting. Sure, it still focuses on materialism and an imbalance of gender, but that&rsquo;s really not as much at play when Eartha Kitt purrs the song:</span></p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="338" scrolling="no" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/DeNhjPaP53I?rel=0" width="601"></iframe></p><p><span id="internal-source-marker_0.037238676351806776">Notice how there is a complete absence of babyishness in her voice? Instead, we hear an actual woman singing, and the &ldquo;Santa&rdquo; in question sounds a lot like an actual man she knows and has a relationship with instead of some indistinct daddy figure. The singer in the original &ldquo;Santa Baby&rdquo; sounds like she can probably take care of herself and doesn&rsquo;t really need Santa cutie to get her all those things she asks for (even though she&rsquo;d really like them).</span><br /><br />It&rsquo;s just a novelty Christmas song, obviously, and not that deep, but it&rsquo;s worth noting that &ldquo;Santa Baby&rdquo; is one of very few Christmas hits written by a woman (Joan Javits), so it&#39;s interesting how the song, depending on the singer, can either be tongue-in-cheek or needy and vaguely depressing. &ldquo;Teach Me How to Understand Christmas&rdquo; is only a few hops away from the sophisticated Kitt song, which is disturbing, so basically what I&rsquo;m saying is, please, ladies, stop covering &ldquo;Santa Baby,&rdquo; and while we&rsquo;re at it, let&rsquo;s just eliminate all the non-Kitt versions of the song, so there&#39;s only the one. And really, that&#39;s not a lot.</p></p> Mon, 10 Dec 2012 09:13:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2012-12/there-should-be-only-one-santa-baby-104291 Chicago artists help deck the halls at the White House http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/chicago-artists-help-deck-halls-white-house-104127 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/whitehouseart.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Chicago artist and designer David Lee Csicsko is known for the whimsical mosaic characters greeting riders at the Belmont &quot;L&quot; station.</p><p>For the White House this year, he designed stained-glass medallions that look like wreaths for the East Corridor and 10-foot-tall white wooden trees for the East Garden.</p><p>A stained-glass rose he designed hangs in the window of the State Dining Room. While decorating the room, staff members took down a famous painting to avoid scratching it.</p><p>&ldquo;So all of the sudden I looked over at the back of the Lincoln portrait, and this rose I had designed was shining brightly on the back of the Lincoln portrait,&quot; Csicsko said. &quot;It was just this incredible connection to artistry and history. It was very, very special.&rdquo;</p><p>Csicsko got the chance to tell First Lady Michelle Obama about all of his designs at the farewell reception.</p><p>&ldquo;One of my friends shouted out that we were from Chicago and I had done the windows,&quot; chuckled Csicsko. &quot;She said she was very excited to show the President and her daughters all of the work on the house.&quot;</p><p>Paper artist Jami Darwin Chiang said seeing her work go from her studio in Chicago to the White House was an amazing experience. Chiang and other artists helped decorate the famed Blue Room Christmas tree with their designs. &nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;You meet so many people that are from all different parts of the country that literally join forces to transform the White House in five days,&rdquo; Chiang said.</p><p>Cscisko said seeing everyday people working together in rooms where heads of state normally convene was an enlightening experience.</p><p>&ldquo;It just really felt like this was the people&rsquo;s house,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Thu, 29 Nov 2012 16:13:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/chicago-artists-help-deck-halls-white-house-104127