Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Christmas Countdown: Film #1 - Holiday Inn (1942)

Bad weather and a day off work meant that we decided to kickstart our Christmas Film Advent Calendar a little earlier than planned (that and the sudden realisation that we actually had more films to watch than available days to watch them in!)

As planned, we started with Holiday Inn the earliest Christmas film in our collection (which dates as 1942). Traditionally I watch this one as part of my run up to Christmas films in November (along with Love Actually and The Holiday). It's a Christmas film but it's not just about Christmas, so you can justify getting it out a little bit early.
This year we picked up a copy of the two-disc DVD version of the film which includes a colour version as well. We watched the black and white version earlier in the month (to check that the discs were working properly, of course) so decided to go for it in colour this time around.

Normally I'm not a fan of colourised versions of films, then again, I do struggle with some black and white films as well (mainly with focusing on what's going on though I find them easier to watch now than I did when I was younger). The problem with colourised films is that they sometimes take on a cartoony quality, normally the clothes and backgrounds look okay but the people look too pink or peachy coloured to be normal.

So I was pleasantly surprised by this version. Having watched the black and white version so recently it was easy to see the differences between the two. Both Mr Click and I felt as though we were watching an entirely new film! The fact that everything was in colour meant that we were noticing things that in the black and white version would just fade into the background. And the colours seemed right as well, there were a couple of times that we mentioned that we had expected someone's outfit to be a different colour, but other than that it was all perfect.
Of course the main thing you have to love about this film are the songs. It was this film that later spawned <b>White Christmas</b> and I think that the first performance of the song White Christmas in this film is easily comparable to the final performance of the film of the same name. There's something magical about two people sitting around in their dressing gowns singing, rather than a big performance in front of a big Christmas tree.

The dance routines are interesting (especially for someone who took about two years of adult tap dancing lessons) but it's the singing I prefer. The songs have a way of getting into your head so you find yourself humming them days later. And while some TV showings cut the 'Abraham' song from showings, it's good to see it on the DVD version (so viewers can decide for themselves whether or not to watch it); it is a part of both our own and cinema's history.

Next up we're planning on watching It's a Wonderful Life. Which isn't one of my favourite Christmas films, but it's a classic and I do love the Muppet version.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

The Advent Calendar

This year we're having a slightly different Christmas Calendar compared to previous years, oh yes, we'll probably still splurge on a couple of Thornton's Advent Calendars when we next go near one (I like to have chocolate with my name on).

I've always liked the idea of getting a fabric or wooden advent calendar where you can put a different treat inside each pocket or drawer. It's something I'm going to do, maybe not this year, but maybe for next year, it'll make a good craft project I'm sure. This year we're going for something a little less traditional.

We've managed to collect a number of different Christmas (and Christmassy) films; a number which has recently grown to the grand total of 25! Enough to watch one for each day in the run up to Christmas (well, technically we'll have to watch two because we won't be watching any films on Christmas Day).

We had a bit of debate about how to go about watching them - some days we probably won't be able to watch any because of other commitments so we'll have to have catch up sessions. Considering the fact that we have six different variations of the Christmas Carol story, I didn't want to end up watching all six of them on one Saturday. But being incredibly obsessive and slightly anal I wanted to impose some sort of order to the watching of them.

Then I hit upon it: Chronologically. So I did a bit of investigating and I've sorted all twenty-five films into chronological order (with the help of good old

For those of you who are curious, these are the films we'll be watching*:
  1. Holiday Inn (1942)
  2. It's a Wonderful Life (1946)
  3. Miracle on 34th Street (1947)
  4. White Christmas (1954)
  5. Scrooge (1970)
  6. The Snowman (1982)
  7. A Christmas Carol (1984)
  8. Blackadder's Christmas Carol (1988)
  9. Father Christmas (1991)
  10. Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)
  11. Mr Bean's Christmas (1992)
  12. The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
  13. Miracle on 34th Street (1994)
  14. Flint Street Nativity (1999)
  15. The Grinch (2000)
  16. A Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie (2002)
  17. Elf (2003)
  18. Love Actually (2003)
  19. The Polar Express (2004)
  20. Hogfather (2006)
  21. The Holiday (2006)
  22. Four Christmases (2008)
  23. Nativity! (2009)
  24. A Christmas Carol (2009)
  25. Doctor Who: A Christmas Carol (2010)
*There has been a slight change to this list since I originally compiled it, we've actually added a few more films to the line up.

I realise now that we may have a bit of a Christmas Carol pile up during the second week of the month, and again at the very end, but I'm sure we'll muddle along somehow.

And I'm planning on posting a few words about each one as we go. Should be fun.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Sleep Tight Sherlock

A rather unflattering snap of our fatty rattie.
Our Sherlock rat passed away yesterday.

His brother Mikey had a little stroke about a month ago and since then we've been half expecting to lose him at any time, but the little guy has just been getting stronger and stronger. Sherlock on the other hand has been starting to slow down and show his age. It's like he'd looked at Mikey and thought, 'oh right, I can do that too'.

He started showing signs of hind leg degeneration, but he was comfortable and happy. Then on Friday night he was breathing heavily and didn't want to wake up. We put him to bed not expecting him to be with us in the morning.

But he was. We washed and cuddled him and he just slipped away in the evening. Heart failure, we think.

Sherlock was always a big character. He used to sit on the sofa like a little person and was super clean; I loved the way he used to grab hold of his tail or foot and give it a good licking. He liked grooming us as well, chewing on my hair when it was wet or nibbling the rough bits round your nails.

He was a proper squishy rat, right from day one. He loved his cuddles and rubs, but he also liked to pancake out on any available surface. He was always desperate to be out of the cage and it got to the point that when you opened the cage door, he'd just climb out by himself and start toddling off to wherever he wanted to go.

I'm glad he went peacefully and he never needed a trip to the vet. He was a very happy rattie.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Book Review: The Case Notes of Sherlock Holmes

It's no coincidence that our two little ratbags are named Sherlock and Mycroft. Mr. Click has been a bit of a Sherlock Holmes fan since I met him, and since I met him he's picked up and read all of the original Sherlock Holmes books (as well pretty much every other book featuring the Consulting Detective that he's come across since then).
Of course, this means that, invariably, I end up reading them as well. As soon as he finishes with them, the are added to my To-Read pile so I can let him know what I think of them. The most recent of these was <i>The Case Notes of Sherlock Holmes</i> by Guy Adams and Lee Thompson, which I read on 19th of November.

Picture from Amazon because my camera has stopped working and is currently off to Canon for repair.
I actually picked it up in London when I was there and happened to go to Baker Street in an attempt to buy a pin badge for Mr. Click. I love books in this style where there's lots to look at and pull out. When I was younger I used to imagine that they were real and that I was investigating something important.
It had plenty of interesting pages to slip out of little pouches within the book; everything from a photograph of Irene Adler to letters and notes on the Hound of the Baskervilles case. It was really well done with different handwriting styles, types of paper and even some of the papers which were designed to be thinned so you could see where the ink had soaked through to the other side - little things like that make for nice touches.

It covered six of the original Sherlock Holmes stories, including one of my favourites: The Red-Headed League. One of the largest sections of the book was the one about The Hound of the Baskervilles, which I'll admit, wasn't one of my favourite bits, although there was plenty to pull out of the book there. One thing that would have improved it a little more would have been if it had touched on things that weren't included in the Arthur Conan Doyle originals - I realise that would have probably prompted complains from the purists, but I like the little sneaky behind-the-scenes glimpses and I think a book like this would be the ideal place for them.

All in all, it was a nice quick little read for me and I think it would be great for introducing younger readers to Sherlock Holmes; the six stories featured give a basic outline of the story with evidence from police documents and newspapers. It's only 63 pages long, but they're packed pages and some of the letters are a bit tricky to read because the handwriting styles are very old-fashioned (I did find myself skimming a couple of them because it was easier than trying to decipher every word).

I jotted down a couple of quotes from it, but they weren't really particularly note-worthy. My favourite was definitely the one from the newspaper article on the final page:
"Consulting detective, Sherlock Holmes is believed to have died last night, plunging into the waters of the Reichenbach Falls in Switzerland." [page 63]
Overall I give it 3.5 stars because it was a nice quick read, was fun and wasn't too heavy-going. It was a good book for a quiet Saturday, but it was mostly a novelty book and I wouldn't say it added anything to the original Conan Doyle stories.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Hello World!

Hello, I'm Click and this is my blog.
It's called Click's Clan because I'm planning on blogging about everyday family stuff. At the moment my clan mostly consists of these guys:

That's Sherlock on the left and Mikey on the right. Both are getting to be elderly old man rats now with touches of hindleg degeneration and general wobbliness, both they'll still do pretty much anything for a bowl of soggy cornflakes.

The other member of my clan is Mr. Click, otherwise known as my husband. He puts up with me and is able to read my mind - which is both very useful and kind of creepy at times.

Things you're likely to see here are random photos I've taken of things, this can include anything from whatever I've got on my feet that and interestingly shaped trees to some quite nice photos of the local wildlife (if I do say so myself).

There are also likely to be general musings on things I've said done and seen, places I've been, books I've read and films I've watched.

And if the clan grows... well I'll probably mention that here too.