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Tag Archives: Trivia

Home Alone – Where Are They Now?

On November 16, 1990 a new Christmas movie, which would go on to spawn four sequels, was released to massive success. Written by John Hughes and directed by Chris Columbus, Home Alone told the story of young Kevin McCallister who had to defend his home from blundering thieves after a family feud left him home alone at Christmas.

Kevin McCallister hat - Home Alone
Kevin McCallister grocery shopping in his reindeer hat

After 25 years, Home Alone is still considered one of the best Christmas movies of all time. But what are the stars of Home Alone up to now?

Macaulay Culkin was a very successful child actor with many notable movie credits including the role of Kevin McCallister in Home Alone and Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, Uncle Buck and My Girl until he retired from acting at age 14. In 2014 he founded The Pizza Underground, a New York-based band who re-work Velvet Underground songs into odes about pizza. The Pizza Underground toured North America that year, with two stops in Toronto at NXNE and Atomic Lollipop at the Ontario Science Centre.

Kevin Mcallister Home Alone with cheese pizza

Catherine O’Hara, who played Culkin’s mother in the Home Alone franchise, is currently starring in CBC’s hit show Schitt’s Creek. O’Hara also voiced Sally in The Nightmare Before Christmas, solidifying her spot in the Christmas Movie Hall of Fame, you know, in addition to Canada’s Walk of Fame.

The late, great John Candy had a small but crucial part in Home Alone as Gus Polinski, the Polka King of the Midwest, who gives Catherine O’Hara’s character a ride home. John Candy’s legacy lives on in our hearts and on our screens, but also in the newly opened John Candy Box Theatre at the Second City Training Centre in Toronto.

The Wet Bandits - Home Alone
The Wet Bandits (Daniel Stern and Joe Pesci)

The Wet Bandits, played by Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern, were a not-so-dynamic duo who were outsmarted and overwhelmed by Kevin McCallister in Home Alone and Home Alone 2: Lost in New York. Joe Pesci has not been acting in recent years – when you take a paint can to the face you deserve a break! – but he recently voiced Mosquito in the animated feature Savva, Heart of the Warrior. Daniel Stern, who played Marv, has had numerous roles on television in recent years, and in 2012 played The Old Man in A Christmas Story 2, which was filmed in Vancouver.

Thankfully, we can relive the hilarity of Home Alone on Netflix, Shomi, or the original VHS that’s still kicking around!

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Festivus

If you find tinsel distracting, or if you are looking for a holiday that is a little . . . out there, Festivus might just be for you!

Festivus was created by Dan O’Keefe, a writer on the 90s sitcom Seinfeld, based on an actual holiday tradition celebrated by his family. Festivus – the holiday for the rest of us – was brought to life by the cantankerous character Frank Costanza in the Seinfeld holiday episode The Strike, which first aired December 18, 1997.

Many Christmases ago, I went to buy a doll for my son. I reached for the last one they had, but so did another man. As I rained blows upon him, I realized there had to be another way. – Frank Costanza 

Festivus travel mug
Frank Costanza-approved ceramic travel mug

For the Festivus newcomers out there, here are the basic practices:

Festivus begins by displaying an aluminum pole, “very high strength-to-weight ratio,” says Frank. As this is a non-religious and non-commercial holiday alternative the Festivus Pole need not be adorned with decoration.

Festivus Pole
Frank Costanza and his Festivus Pole

Your family and friends should then sit down for Festivus dinner, a meal featuring non-holiday comfort food. The moment dinner is served, the “Airing of Grievances” should begin. This is your opportunity to admit your rage, disappointment and frustration with your kin with no repercussions.

Airing of Grievances
Frank starts the Airing of Grievances ceremony

Immediately following dinner, the head of the family chooses one participant on which to test his or her strength. Festivus is not considered over until the head of the family has been pinned to the ground. The selected participant is allowed to decline the attempt to pin the head of the family – but only if they have something better to do instead . . . like visit RetroFestive.ca for Festivus finds!

Kramer declares a Festivus Miracle

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10 Doctor Who Christmas Connections

We meet a lot of fans at Retro Festive, pop-culture devotees and Christmas nuts. None are as fanatical as the fans of legendary BBC TV show, Doctor Who! For all you scifi fans, we would like to share some of our favourite Doctor Who Christmas connections. And check out the great Canadian connections too!

  1. Time-travelling Doctor Who was co-created in 1963 by Canadian film and television producer Sydney Newman (who, incidentally, also created The Avengers TV show). When the Doctor Who series re-launched in 2005, in co-production with the CBC, they also began a tradition of producing yearly Christmas Specials.
  1. The Christmas Invasion” was the first full episode with David Tennant starring as the Tenth Doctor. This episode, featuring Santa Robots and Killer Christmas Trees, was also the first Doctor Who episode produced specifically for Christmas.
  1. The Runaway Bride” was the first appearance of Catherine Tate as the season four companion Donna Noble and the Santa Robots come back!
Doctor Who Christmas TARDIS Globe
A charming Doctor Who Christmas snow globe featuring the legendary TARDIS.
  1. Voyage of the Damned“, the third Christmas special since the show’s revival, starred Kylie Minogue as a waitress named Astrid who must help The Doctor avoid a spaceship collision with the Titanic during a Christmas party.
  1. The End of Time Part 1” the last episode with David Tennant, who made his first visit to Canada last September, originally aired on December 25, 2009 and takes place on Christmas eve.

 

Dalek Doctor Who Christmas
A Snowman Dalek made by a Doctor Who fan
  1. A Christmas Carol”, the 2010 Doctor Who Christmas special, was the first Doctor Who episode to premiere on the same day in both the United Kingdom and the United States; December 25, 2010.
  1. The very first Doctor Who Christmas special aired on Christmas Day in 1965. At the end of the episode The Doctor now-famously breaks the fourth wall by saying: “… a happy Christmas to all of you at home.”
The Eleventh Doctor (Matt Smith)
“Father Christmas, Santa Claus. Or, as I’ve always known him, Jeff.” – The Eleventh Doctor (Matt Smith)

 

  1. The 2012 Christmas special “The Snowmen” features a vicious army of snowmen, made of telepathic snow, commanded by the Great Intelligence to take over the world.

9. “The Time of the Doctor” was the 800th episode of Doctor Who, and the final regular appearance of the Eleventh Doctor, played by Matt Smith. In the episode, The Doctor and his companion Clara visit a town called Christmas.

10.  As is the tradition to bring in a big guest star, British actor Nick Frost, “Shaun of the Dead” (we have zombies in Canada too) is set to guest star in the 2014 Doctor Who Christmas Special. He has said “I’m such a fan of the show. Every day on set I’ve had to silence my internal fan-boy squeals!”

Whovians can hop into their TARDIS and shop in person at Retro Festive in the Oakville Warehouse Store and the Toronto Christmas Market, or anytime at www.retrofestive.ca/doctor-who!

P.S. It has nothing to do with Christmas but the Doctor Who Information Network holds a monthly Doctor Who meet-up in downtown Toronto, in addition to their Doctor Who blog.

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Leg Lamp Trivia: 7 Things You Don’t Know

1. The leg lamp did not exist before the movie’s author (and narrator) Jean Shepherd  dreamt it up for his short story My Old Man and the Lascivious Special Award That Heralded the Birth of Pop Art (First published in 1966).

Jean Shepherd, Leg Lamp inventor.
Jean Shepherd invented the leg lamp and narrates A Christmas Story. (He has a cameo in the movie, too!)

2. The author imagined a soda pop company had unwittingly given birth to the “pop art” movement. He came up with the idea of a leg-shaped lamp after seeing a Nehi Cola ad featuring a woman’s stocking-clad leg.

Soda Pop Art
What if “pop art” was invented by a soda pop company? Would it be soda pop art?

3. The leg lamp has Canadian roots! The original was fabricated by Toronto prop-master Henry Piersig and rigged by special effects guru Martin Malivoire.

Peter Mansbridge is a leg man!
Revered Canadian broadcaster Peter Mansbridge is a leg man! (Click to watch CBC story)

4. Several versions of the leg lamp were made for use on-set.  Despite what has been reported elsewhere, at least one did survive the shoot and sat for years in the window of Martin Malivoire’s special effects shop in Toronto. It became dirty and dusty over the years, so he disposed of the forlorn lamp in the early 1990s, just a few years before A Christmas Story leg lamps became “a thing.”

Break a leg lamp!

5. Memorabilia company NECA was the first to license and mass produce A Christmas Story leg lamps as a novelty, starting in 2003. They were inspired by reports from around the country of people making their own leg lamp to display at Christmas time. Now leg lamps come in all shapes and sizes, including this nifty leg lamp light string!

Lots of Leg Lamps
Leg Lamps come in all shapes and sizes.

6. According to A Christmas Story Treasury, the leg lamp in the movie was created by casting  a mould of an actual woman’s leg. “The studio sent over a chubby model,” said effects wiz Martin Malivoire, who helped fabricate the lamp for the movie.

A Christmas Story Treasury
Great book about A Christmas Story

7. Although Jean Shepherd came up with the idea of the leg lamp itself, production designer Reuben Freed created its look. He based the lampshade on the “classic bell shape” of a lamp in his mother’s living room window.

Dying to put a leg lamp in your front window? RetroFestive.ca has lots of leg lamp options, from tall to tiny!

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