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Tuesday 25th December 2012

Christmas at the in-laws. I doubted they would be providing me with as much comedy material as the Herring clan would have done. And I was right. Apparently I missed my dad dropping two bottles of champagne (in two separate incidents - to drop one would be seen as unfortunate...) and my 24 year old nephew playing his new Harry Potter Spellbook video game with the glee of a six year old (putting him way above the average mental age of a typical Somerset man of his age). I missed them all, of course.
No such ripe comedy pickings here, but we got some good late night stories about the colourful past of one of the family members, which I'd love to tell you about, but I like having unbroken legs.
We've gone a bit Muppet Christmas Carol crazy this year. My wife bought me the DVD and we watched that last Friday. She then downloaded the CD of the songs from the film and has been playing that on a fairly continuous loop and today she persuaded her family to put on the video of the film. The Muppet Christmas Carol is very good, but this might be a little bit of overload.
The video wasn't playing properly with black lines all across the screen and everyone was going to give up on it, but some 30 year old half-forgotten knowledge at the back of my mind made me take out the tape and tighten up the spools with my finger and then it worked OK. It was still fairly shocking picture quality, but that is how video was. You youngsters have no idea of the Hell we had to endure.
Interestingly the video has a scene that is not in the DVD version of Belle singing to Scrooge as she chucks him. That's odd isn't it, for a retrospective cut to be made to an old film? Usually DVDs have extra bits, not stuff taken out. It's a pretty dull scene, but quite important for showing Scrooge's heartbreak. Anyone know why it's been expunged?
Michael Caine is fucking amazing in this film, mainly because he acts the whole thing as if his co-stars are humans, rather than puppets. He doesn't do it all with a little glint in his eye or a cheeky wink, he plays Scrooge straight. Even when Bunsen and Beaker come in to ask for a charity donation and Beaker is doing nothing but looking startled and making sounds and wearing an hilarious top hat, Michael Caine remains steadfastedly straight. It's one of the best things I've ever seen and bears repeated viewings. But that's a good tip for anyone who is going to be acting alongside the Muppets (so probably only Ricky Gervais if he happens to be googling himself - as if he does anything else with his time), don't play for laughs. Let them get the laughs. Caine throws himself into everything, even singing and dancing, neither of which he can do. This is his greatest role and if the Oscars meant anything he'd have won a statue for this part. I am not even joking. He is awesome.
Happy Christmas. God bless us every one!

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