Monthly Archives: December 2012

Dearest Michael,

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, so I was thinking, who else deserves a letter this week than you, Michael Steven Bublé.

Your Christmas album has been on repeat for the last week as my family fills our home with Christmas cheer. We watch your Christmas special to enjoy great tunes and laugh. I also play your SNL Christmas duets sketch nonstop, because you are hysterical.

I never really expected how funny you’d be, but you make me fall over in hysterics, so thanks.

Your voice is an absolute pleasure to listen to. From your original hits to your covers of classics, your crooning makes me melt like Frosty the Snowman in the summertime.

You’re also an avid hockey fan, which is cool. (I can’t say I’m a hockey fan because I’ve only been interested in it for about a year thanks to my friend, but we should go see a game sometime.)

I’m hoping to see you in concert sometime, because from what I hear, you are absolutely phenomenal. That doesn’t leave me surprised in the slightest, because you’re the greatest. So there’s that.

Your wife probably already knows that she truly is one lucky gal.

I hope you have a fantastic Christmas. Thanks for the music, and I can’t wait for the next CD.

I just haven’t met you yet,

Anjelica Oswald



Olivia Young |

I feel bitter every time I glance at my Facebook newsfeed, clogged with photos of fellow bobcats admiring the blizzard that is affecting just about every place in Ohio except Athens. Maybe our time is coming. But really, it’s not.

It was another gray, rainy Christmas for Athens. To our surprise, it snowed just a few days before and left patches of white lingering on the ground for the big day. And then the rain ensued December 26, wiping the last of our white Christmas away.

Northeast Ohio: Snow Northwest Ohio: Snow Southwest Ohio: Snow Southeast Ohio: Rain

Northeast Ohio: Snow; Northwest Ohio: Snow; Southwest Ohio: Snow; Southeast Ohio: Rain

But if the snowflakes were to fall in Athens as they are throughout the rest of the state, we would be ill prepared — for two reasons: 1. It simply doesn’t snow in December, and 2. The city, for whatever reason, does not use salt to cure roads on the rare occasion that it does snow. I learned this while writing an article last year about businesses that depend on winter weather. Instead, Athens uses a saltwater anti-icing concoction that actually wreaks havoc on roads and the cars that drive on them.

Perhaps it’s the salt truck drivers who are wishing for rain instead of snow. Other city workers are wishing that somebody else would take down all the lights and wreaths they decorated Court Street with last month.

This year, in light of Ohio University’s quarter-to-semester switch and the company of students in December, the city outdid itself in trimming each tree and topping each light post with ribbons and wreaths, even broadcasting Christmas carols over the loud speakers. After 21 years of living in Athens, I am almost certain those speakers have never been used for anything other than tornado sirens. The lights were strung just a little heavier this year, and the horse-drawn sleigh rides ran just a little more frequently.

Rainy Court St

Some townies were so overwhelmed by the boost in holiday spirit that they threatened to move from Athens for good (no lie)! I’m not complaining, although I bet whoever has to take the decorations down is.

In addition to the upsurge in holiday spirit, there was also an increase in the popularity of Athens-related gifts this year: Athens Brick memorabilia, photos of the town from Lamborn’s Studio and ornaments with “Athens” painted on them from Mountain Laurel Gifts. Written on nearly every storefront window and sidewalk chalkboard were the same two words: “shop local.”

Christmas is a time when townies take the most pride in their turf. Thinking about my final winter break as a townie-slash-OU-student makes me a little nostalgic, but all the townie pride that comes with Christmas reminds me that I’ll always be an Athenian at heart.

By Meryl Gottlieb|| @buzzlightmeryl

courtesy Nickelodeontv - Rugrats (Channukah episode)










As a self-proclaimed television expert, I have come to the conclusion that holiday episodes of television shows are typically above average.

What is it about the man in the big red suit, the family reunions, and the presents that make the writing of the holiday episodes that much better, and not to mention funnier?

I think it is safe to say that every TV show has a Christmas and/or Hanukkah episode at least once throughout its run. And why shouldn’t they? Christmas/Hanukkah episodes can call for hilarious story lines that might not be able to be pulled off at another time. Only on the holidays, I say.

In honor of Hanukkah, I have chosen eight of my favorite holiday episodes for all to enjoy. Hope you all had a great Chrismukkah this year! (There’s The O.C. reference some of you may have wanted, but I don’t follow The O.C. so it’s not on the list. Sorry.)

8. Spongebob Squarepants: “Christmas Who?”
How can you not love a story about discovering Christmas? Or an episode parodying one of the best Christmas stories ever: The Grinch? Sandy introduces Christmas to Spongebob, who in turns tells everyone in Bikini Bottom. When Santa doesn’t arrive to fulfill their wishes, Squidward uncharacteristically steps in and dresses up as Santa and brings Christmas to Bikini Bottom. And, of course, let’s not forget that insane live-action Santa shown in the last scene; I only pray Santa gets himself some medication for Christmas.

7. Seinfeld: “The Strike”
Now, I have never watched an episode of Seinfeld in my life, but I am a TV expert so I knew I had to include this episode; I mean it is the birth of Festivus. While I cannot stomach forgoing the commercial aspect of Christmas, “a Festivus for the rest of us” sounds awesome. If I can’t celebrate Christmas then I will celebrate Festivus. Putting up an aluminum pole and participating in the “Airing of Grievances” and “Feats of Strength” seem cool, but I can’t imagine them replacing my favorite Christmas traditions (that I don’t celebrate but admire). And yet, Festivus took the world by storm and remains a cult classic favorite. It’s a Festivus miracle!

6. 30 Rock: “Ludachristmas”
30 Rock has had a few hilarious Christmas episodes, but for me, nothing beats its first. Jack’s mother, Colleen, not only harasses Jack — probably the only person who can really do that — but also torments the Lemon family. Comedic gold ensues. Let’s not forget to mention how Kenneth is probably the only one who can turn a “true meaning of Christmas” storyline into something quite refreshing and, of course, hilarious.

5. Community: “Regional Holiday Music”
One of my favorite sitcoms making fun of another one of my favorite shows calls for a hilarious half hour of gleeful comedy. One by one, the study group falls victim to Mr. Rad’s persuasion to perform in the Christmas pageant and then Regionals and then hopefully be in glee club forever “because that’s who we are.” As a Glee fan, this episode is the perfect parody, depicting everything that is wrong with the show while highlighting what is so right about Community.

4. The Big Bang Theory: “Bath Item Gift Hypothesis”
To me, there is nothing better than The Big Bang Theory. Extraordinary smart, witty humor is all this girl wants for Christmas, and Sheldon Cooper knows how to deliver. When Penny gives Sheldon and Leonard gifts for Christmas, Sheldon is set on finding a present that would have equal value to whatever she gave him. However, when she gives him a napkin that Leonard Nimoy used, Sheldon is hilariously overjoyed and essentially gives her the entire Bath & Body Works store. But that is not enough, so he hugs her, which is a big deal if you know Sheldon. All I want for Christmas is a clone of Leonard Nimoy: Is that so much to ask?

3. Simpsons: “Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire”
The episode that started it all: How can it not be on this list? The Simpsons is the longest running series, and I think it is because they started out with a Christmas episode – genius! While some of the voices we’ve come to all know and love sound quite different, the comedy is fresh and biting as usual. The Simpsons don’t have any money for presents this year, so Homer takes a job as a shopping mall Santa, which of course fails. Then he optimistically bets at the dog track on Santa’s Little Helper, who loses, but ends up coming home with Bart and Homer to become a part of the beloved family. This honestly has to be one of the best pilot episodes I have ever seen. Jokes about Marge’s hair, the evil of Mr. Burns, Bart’s hijinks and Homer’s never-ending onslaught of issues are all there from the start; no wonder this show has been around for over 20 years.

2. Friends: “The One With the Holiday Armadillo”
Though it may seem hard to believe, Hanukkah isn’t always everyone’s favorite holiday in December, and Ross isn’t too happy about it. His son, Ben, only wants to see Santa and doesn’t care about Hanukkah, so Ross dons a costume to become the “Holiday Armadillo,” Santa’s half Jewish friend. Oh, the intonation! Friends holiday episodes are always spectacular, but I may just be biased towards this one because of the Hanukkah vs.Christmas atmosphere — a struggle I have been afflicted with my entire life.

1. Rugrats: “Chanukkah”
Need I say more? Growing up as a Jewish child, I remember being dismayed when I watched TV and only saw Christmas being represented; thus, having one of my favorite shows create this absolutely perfect Hanukkah-themed episode filled my heart with joy. What better a way to learn the story of Hanukkah than by having Grandma Minka read the story of the Maccabees – I mean Macca-babies? And I think it’s safe to say that Stu’s giant menorah is one of his greatest inventions. Beware the “Meanie of Hanukkah!”

Have a favorite holiday episode of your own? Let me know @buzzlightmeryl.

EMC_6799By Olivia Young |

When the students are away, the townies will play.

Now that almost the entire student population has withdrawn from Athens to join their families in Cincinnati, Pittsburgh or Cleveland for holiday festivities, we full-time Athenians finally get our town back for four whole weeks.

For us, the holiday starts as soon as everyone leaves. In the days following their retreat, shattered bottles and GoodFella’s scraps are cleaned from the sidewalks. The smell of Natty Light fades from the air. You can actually find a parking spot on Court Street, and as a treat, the city offers parking in the Uptown garage for free. These are the little things we hold out for during the fall.


You can finally get a haircut at an Uptown salon and get a table at Casa Nueva without a 30-minute wait. Most nights we can run down the middle of the road and never have to move for traffic.

IMG_2100When winter break comes, Athens transforms from a crazy college town to a cozy, kid-friendly place. The horses of Athens take a break from policing fests to wheel children around in a charming, holiday-inspired sleigh. Little ones file in and out of Santa’s Workshop on the corner of Court and Washington streets and stop to watch the carolers singing from the courthouse steps.

Of course, it’s been raining for almost a week straight — because if it were to snow in Athens during Christmastime, that would mean the apocalypse actually is coming just as the Mayans predicted. The last time Athenians woke up to snow on the ground the morning of Dec. 25 was in 2010, and that was a wimpy two inches. Before that, 1995: three inches. Southeast Ohio weather is nothing but a wet blanket for holiday fun.

But the townies don’t let a black cloud get them down. No, they take full advantage of the absence of students — especially at the Uptown bars. The usual Jackie O’s clientele of collegiate beer connoisseurs (or so they wish) is replaced by one of high-school teachers and area business owners relaxing with brews after work. Instead of hosting sorority and fraternity socials, The J Bar will host reunions for Athens natives who have returned from other university towns and are wondering whatever happened to The Junction that they remember. And the Smiling Skull Saloon is… well, OK, it’s pretty much the same.

When the students are away for the holidays, Athens folk tip their hats to each other because everyone knows everyone, if only for a few short weeks until the “kids” come back again.

Keep up with Olivia as she chronicles her last winter break as a townie.

By Will Ashton |

In a culture so fixated on the spirit of Christmas, it’s hard not to get wrapped up in the joy of the season.

Even as the weather gets colder, the roads gets icy and the stores go crazy with overly excessive Christmas items, it’s simply fun to get to enjoy this “magical” time of year.

What’s a better way to celebrate the Christmas spirit than getting around the fire and enjoying a couple Christmas movie classics? Well, besides opening presents and visiting relatives and whatnot.

What’s the cream of the crop of the yuletide season? Here’s a rundown of some of my favorite Christmas movies.

Note: As much as I love A Charlie Brown Christmas, Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman, and How the Grinch Stole Christmas, these are technically TV specials, and could only really qualify as short films at best. So let’s just consider them honorable mentions.

10. Die Hard: What kind of man would I be if I were to not include the presence of Die Hard on this seasonal list? While it may be easy to write off this film as simply just an action film of the ’80s, you would be forgetting that A) it’s one of THE action films of the ’80s and B) this film is all about the Christmas season. Behind all the profanity, explosions and gunplay, Die Hard is about the family and the spirit of being with the ones you love during the holiday season. All right, perhaps this is not the main message of the film. But it’s there, and the movie is still awesome. Plus, you can watch it just in time for the latest film in the series, A Good Day to Die Hard, comes out this February.

9. Bad Santa: Apparently, my list is not starting off so family-friendly, but no matter. In what is widely considered to be one of Billy Bob Thornton’s most iconic roles, the bad boy’s comedic talents are easily what make this film work so well to become something of a raunchy Christmas classic during the past decade. While definitely mean-spirited, Bad Santa also has a heart, as well as a ton of belly laughs. If you prefer your Christmas a little dirtier, look no further than Bad Santa.

8. Gremlins: While it does feature Phoebe Cates’ character telling perhaps one of the worst Christmas stories ever, the whole of Gremlins is too wonderfully gleeful and darkly playful that it oddly plays well next to its Christmas setting. Who doesn’t love little Gizmo? If you haven’t seen this classic, and you like your Christmas fun a little darker than most, then make sure you check it out.

7. The Muppet Christmas Carol: Who can capture the love and joy of the Christmas season as well as the Muppets? Starring the legendary Michael Caine as Scrooge, despite the countless renditions of this tale being told on the silver screen, this is the one that is the closest to my heart and the one that I find has the greatest re-watch capabilities. Now that the Muppets are back (thank you Jason Segal!), visit, or revisit, this holiday joy.

6. A Christmas Story: Admittedly, this was not a film that I enjoyed from the get-go. The film’s rather mean-spirited style of comedy didn’t strike me as a child. Yet, now that I am grown up (sort of), I can look back at this classic and truly appreciate it for what it’s worth. The movie isn’t about Ralphie’s quest to get his “official Red Ryder, carbine action, two-hundred shot range model air rifle;” it’s about looking back on why Christmas is so special, despite all the hang-ups of family embarrassments and woes of the season. It captures that essence of childhood naiveté so well, yet it also eclipses the nostalgia of looking back at your childhood with love and shame.

5. Arthur Christmas: Easily the newest film on the list, this modern-day classic was criminally underseen last year. Now that it’s available on DVD and Blu-Ray, what better time to check out this great little Christmas movie than now? Oozing with wit and cheekiness, it’s actually able to bring back originality and legitimately funny humor to the Santa Claus story. Plus, it has tons of heart and passion for the season. If you haven’t seen — or heard — of this one yet, make sure you see it this year.

4. Miracle on 34th Street: Undoubtedly among the all-time classics of the Christmas movie season, this tale of a man claiming to be the real Santa Claus and the little girl who unquestionably believes him is remembered for good reason. Featuring an amazing, Oscar-winning performance by Edmund Gwenn as Kris Kringle, it’s simply a great film that continues to deserve its recognition and praise to this day.

3. Elf: Extremely likely to become a definitive Christmas classic for generations to follow, this delightfully original and heartfelt story of Buddy the Elf is a hilarious and charming hit. In what I consider to be one of his best characters to date, Will Ferrell plays an inspired, heart-on-his-sleeve portrayal of keeping the Christmas spirit alive and what it means to have a family during this time of the year.

2. The Nightmare Before Christmas: It could be debated that this is a Halloween movie more than a Christmas movie. I included it in my Halloween list as well. But no matter, because it’s such a great movie that it could be played either time of the year. Filled with hilarious dark humor, wonderful animation, a fantastic assortment of songs and a unique cast of characters, this Christmas/Halloween classic is great no matter what time of year.

1. It’s a Wonderful Life: I debated even including this on my list, since Christmas and It’s a Wonderful Life are pretty much synonyms for one another.  But at the end of the day, it’s the definitive Christmas classic for a reason. Exploring the life of George Bailey, it demonstrates the spirit of the season without the brass taxes. It does get a little thematic by the end, but ultimately the movie is able to portray the holiday season in all its simple and wondrous joys. Despite being an initial flop at the box office, it’s hard to turn on the TV during the holiday season and not catch at least a glimpse of this movie, and for good reason: It is THE Christmas movie, and may always be.

So sit back by the fire, grab your hot cocoa, and enjoy this assortment of winter classics.

By Kristin Salaky | | @Kmssongbird

Holiday shopping can be tricky at times, but if there is one place to purchase one of a kind gifts, that place is Athens. Whether shopping for a sports fan, a townie or your friendly neighborhood hipster, this guide has something for you.

mug-kitty-21. Passion Works coffee mugs: Who doesn’t love a nice mug of hot coffee, cocoa or tea on a cold winter day? These coffee mugs are printed with different designs created by artists at Passion Works, 20 E. State St. Each is different and helps support Passion Works, a studio whose production provides employment for disabled and non-disabled artists.

“We have been told these mugs are great to have on hand for a quick thank you or holiday gift,” the store’s website said.

OUtshirt2. School spirit gear: It’s hard to go wrong with Bobcat-spirited swag for family members. College Bookstore, 50 S. Court St., offers shirts, water bottles, key chains and notebooks all donning the Bobcat seal. You can even find specialized gear declaring the wearer a “Bobcat Mom,” “Dad” or “Grandparent.”

OUjewelry3. Athens Jewelry: For someone who wants a different way to keep Athens close to his or her heart even over break, there’s the Bobcat jewelry collection from Keith Chapman Jeweler, 8 S. Court St., including Bobcat heart pendants or “45701” bracelets from Cornwell Jewelers.

4. Gift cards:
There’s nothing better than going Uptown for a bite to eat and feeling like it’s paid for. Nothing beats a free meal, especially for college students, and Athens has several locally owned restaurants that offer traditional gift cards, including Bagel Street Deli, 27 S. Court St. There’s also a giftly, a digital gift card, to local spots like Fluff Bakery, 8 N. Court St., or Casa Nueva, 6 W. State St.

“A Giftly for Fluff Bakery is like a Fluff Bakery gift card or a Fluff Bakery gift certificate, but better,” the bakery’s website reads. “With a Giftly, there’s no new card or piece of paper to carry around because the Giftly is linked to an existing credit card.”

abfoamblock5. Foam Bricks: While it may be a tradition for students to try to claim an Athens’ brick as their own, Lamborn’s Studio, 19 W. State St., has foam bricks that have the look and texture of an Athens brick found on Court Street, but weighs almost nothing.

“Almost everyone in the area has an Athens Block experience to share, and they share this experience with great enthusiasm,” said James Francis Robinson, an employee at the studio. “The bricks recognize and celebrate the historical and cultural connection a simple brick has made with the Athens community over time.”

sauces6. Sauces, dressings and spreads: The holidays may be filled with the same traditional fare, but a gift from one of Athens local eateries can bring a twist into a family gathering. Fans can purchase sauce from Kiser’s Barbeque, 1002 E. State St., or bruschetta topping or salad dressing from Vino de Milo to bring new spices into their family’s dishes.

7. Shirts from home: Many students may have already returned home from campus, but it is still possible to have Athens gifts delivered to anywhere in the country., a product of SchoolKids Costume Shop, 12 S. Court St., is an online store that offers many gifts found at the shop, including graphic T-shirts and novelty items.

“You can always find something for you,” said Jan Wernet, an employee at the shop. “I like to think of us as a place that people can go and find that one thing that they’ve been looking for and can’t find anywhere else.”

daverave8. Dave Rave T-shirts: These neon threads make the perfect gift for your pal who simply can’t miss a night out on Court Street, or out at any club. The bright colors are sure to catch eyes on the dance floor. Give the gift of everyone’s favorite DJ duo, Dave Rave, and give the gift of a quintessential part of Athens and Ohio University. Snag one Uptown at SchoolKids Costume Shop, 12 S. Court St.

So there you have it: A guide to bringing a bit of Athens to those you love. Happy gifting!

DSC_4848By Emily Bamforth | | @EmilyMBamforth

Nothing quite says Christmas like repetitive music leaking fuzzily out of speakers as you’re walking around Macy’s. Waking up the day after returning from Thanksgiving break to your roommates blasting “Frosty the Snowman” in celebration of putting up the $3 plastic mini-tree they bought at Re-Use is probably one of the worst parts of semesters (OK, there were many worse parts to starting semesters, but that was pretty bad).

GrinchNeedless to say, my poor Grinch ears have been assaulted with the sounds of Christmas for weeks, nay, years, and it’s something that is simply unavoidable. The same songs will always be playing over the radio, at gatherings and in the mall, and for some reason, it doesn’t really seem to bother anybody even though these songs carry their way through based on cheer and bell sounds alone.

So here, for you, I’ve compiled a list of a few examples of the worst offenders on the Christmas playlist:

This version of “Santa Baby:” Michael Buble is a god, and normally I would say nothing bad about him, but this song is why sometimes people should just not attempt a Christmas album. It’s not so much Buble’s voice, because if I ignore the words I can pretend he is simply crooning about something else. But this song was not written for a man or anybody who doesn’t have a voice that sounds like Jessica Rabbit’s.

“The Twelve Days of Christmas:” This is pretty much the least appealing song I have ever heard. It repeats every element of the song, and by the end if somebody says partridge in a pear tree one more time, I will shoot said partridge. Awful.

“Baby, It’s Cold Outside:” If you listen to this song once through, it sounds like an endearing cat-and-mouse game. However, if you pay attention to lines like “what’s in this drink” it sounds a lot more like something that OUPD needs to investigate. Once you figure that out, it’s something you can’t un-think.

“Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer:” Why do people like this song? Along with the annoying melody that will get stuck in your head, this song is simply morbid. Proving belief in Santa through him doing a drive-by with his sleigh? I don’t think that promotes good cheer does it? The only upside to this song is that it produced this meme:

“I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas:” Not one person I have met has ever been able to sing this in a way that’s appealing, and that includes the original singer. The song is screechy and on the whole not at all nice to listen to. Also, there’s nothing funny or adorable about using the wrong plural of hippopotamus. I will be teaching my child that.

Perhaps if Christmas were typically filled with Grumpy Cat memes instead of awful Christmas music, I would enjoy it more. But for now, I guess I’ll have to just walk around the mall with noise-canceling headphones. Fa la la la la, la la la la.

Keep up with Emily as she does her best to explain just why she’s a real-life, not-quite-so-evil Grinch.