Saturday Morning Brain Drain [10/12/22]

Please share your December movie choices! Lethal Weapon, anyone?

What HammerZeitgeist Watched: It’s time for our now-annual tradition of HammerZeitgeist holiday movie reviews, with her most excellent review system.

Falling for Christmas: Reverse Cinderella meets The Simple Life. A vapid hotel heiress suffers from amnesia, is rescued and taken in by a generous but financially insecure B&B widower. She learns how to crack an egg, do laundry and make a bed. He learns how to love again.

  • What I expected from LiLo: a hot mess of accents spanning from Russia to Dubai, glossy eyes and zero warmth.
  • What LiLo delivered: a surprisingly normal somewhat funny holiday movie. No extravagant accent. She was present and engaged with the other actors. Dare I say even likeable?

Rating: three plaid sweaters out of five haute couture gowns.


The Noel Diary: That hot twin duder from This Is Us stars as a successful author whose estranged mother just passed. While cleaning out his mom’s hoarder home, a woman approaches him in search of her own mother who gave her up for adoption when she was born. Turns out her mother was his nanny and they road trip across Vermont with his very cute Australian Shepherd in search of his estranged father who might remember her mother. I enjoyed the shift in genre of this holiday movie. It was a romance movie dealing with more serious themes and characters than the typical fluffy Xmas romcom.

Rating: four will-they-won’t-they-kisses out of five.


Christmas With You: Starring a very haggard looking Freddie Prince Jr. I could not get over how he did the opposite of age like fine wine…soured into vinegar? That was probably what kept me glued to the screen and not the plot of a has-been popstar in need of an Xmas single to save her career. She meets the dad of one of her fans who happens to compose songs and they collaborate. The movie was too cheesy and boring for me. I was disappointed that the Xmas single they ended up with was not actually catchy. One cool thing is that Freddie finally got to embrace his Latino heritage. After all these years, it almost felt like a coming out movie.

Rating: one Xmas flop out of five weeks of “All I Want For Christmas Is You” played on loop.


 What I Read: Not all of these are recent reads, but if you are in that holiday mood, you could do worse?

The Christmas Pawdcast An Eternity Springs Holiday Novella by Emily March: snow stranded meet-cute,  bitter Christmas grouch, ugly rescue dog with puppies, cute child.

Duke in a Box Twelve Steamy Historical Holiday Novellas. For $4.99, not a bad deal, and includes recognizable authors such Grace Callaway, Erica Ridley, and Darcy Burke. You know the drill, Regency romance with dukes and holidays.

Witches of Christmas Grove (4 book series) by Deanna Chase, entitled A Witch for Mr. Holiday, A Witch for Mr. Christmas, A Witch for Mr. Winter, and A Witch for Mr. Mistletoe. Here is the burb from book one “When Rex Holiday walks into the charming town of Christmas Grove, all he plans to do is to spend the season helping out at his buddy’s Christmas tree farm. What he doesn’t expect is for an overzealous matchmaker to slip a love potion into his cider.

12 Dukes of Christmas (13 book series) by Erica Ridley. These are sweet, easy reads, and not as pablum-esque as many holiday cozy historical novels. “Enjoy a feel-good historical romance series of heartwarming Regency romps nestled in a picturesque snow-covered village. After all, nothing heats up a winter night quite like finding oneself in the arms of a duke!”

The Christmas Killer by Alex Pine, a British detective crime fiction series featuring DI James Walker, all the murder during the holidays – not a romance.

Wrapped up in Christmas, a Frost & Crowe Mystery, by Kristen Painter, part of the Nocturne Falls crossover books featuring the daughter of Jack Frost/niece of Santa Claus. Light mystery/romance.

A Warm Heart in Winter, a Caldwell Christmas (The Black Dagger Brotherhood World) by J.R. Ward, a one-off on the lead up to the mating ceremony of two of the brotherhood’s warriors. Vampires, etc.

What I Listened To: In keeping with the theme, Nat King Cole – Caroling, Caroling (Christmas Bells Are Ringing); Sufjan Stevens – O Come O Come Emmanuel; Mykola Leontovych – Carol of the Bells; and Boris Karloff – You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch.

Thank you for playing Brain Drain! How are you, darling DeadSplinterites? What’s new in your world, dearest ones?

About Elliecoo 514 Articles
Four dogs, one partner. The dogs win.


  1. What I watched:  Samaritan.  I was looking for something mindless yet entertaining and this basically fits the bill.  Silvester Stallone seems to be having something of a renaissance these days, but that doesn’t mean his work is any better.

    What I listened to:  The eponymously titled album by Keb’ Mo’.  Released in 1994 and engineered by Joe McGrath, this is one of those albums that is so exquisitely recorded that it is one of my reference albums that I use when I’m listening to a new piece of gear and want to get a sense of how the gear performs.  Mo’s approach here is very much nouveau Robert Johnson, both in musical style and in his appearance (which modernizes considerably on his subsequent albums), but the sound itself is all his own.  He plays a combination of acoustic and electric guitar.  Some tracks are with a full band and some are just him.  All of them have an incredible dynamic and frequency range.  The sound itself is so clean you could eat off it.  Mo’ isn’t known as a flamethrowing guitar player, but that just allows the recordings to feel like they are a whole, cohesive unit, rather than just one musician being supported by others.

    Fun fact:  this is actually his second album.  His first album, Rainmaker, was released in 1980 under his real name of Kevin Moore.  I used to have a vinyl copy of it and it sounds like a Billy Ocean record.  His switch to the blues was a much better choice.


  2. I watched the Christmas and New Years installments of the Great British Baking Show, obviously filmed many months early.

    “Christmas” had the cast of some show I don’t know. Only one of them had any real clue, but as traditional, nobody was taking the judging too seriously.

    “New Years” had former contestants back. They were much more skilled but also pretty relaxed. The last challenge was the only stinker — it was a cookie construction, and you could tell the judges are sick of them. To make a structure stand up you basically have to make concrete-like cookies and frosting, and they never really look all that great.

    The technical challenges, though, were both good and involved real baking. One of the complaints about the latest regular season was how little baking there was — they had things like making tacos. But both of the holidays shows had technicals that were good regular bakes.

    • I too watched the New Year’s special. If you like the show you will like the special, although I  feel like there have been more impressive showstoppers. (Says the person who will always, IRL, get the comment “your flavors are great, but it looks a bit of a mess.”)

  3. …slightly echoing butcher on the sly stallone thing, I watched some of a thing called Tulsa King…seems to be a paramount show but when I saw it I think it was maybe via amazon prime as some sort of bolt-on…not entirely sure

    …but if you ever watched lillyhammer & wondered what it would be like if instead of witsec & a new ID the protagonist had served 25yrs & then been sent to oklahoma for a thank you for keeping his mouth shut…you might have come pretty close to dreaming this up?

    …it’s…not overly original but actually pretty good?

    …I laughed…out loud & everything…several times…& it may yet jump any number of sharks but it could also thread the needle & maybe make me miss justified a little less?

    …I also saw a pretty dreadful movie about serially-re-incarnated type “immortals” vying over the fate of existence the name of which I’m no longer certain I rightly recall…which is no great loss except that I might save others from wasting time with it?

    …it started fine enough but got progressively less fine until by the end there was a scenario in which a device capable of wiping out all life was on board a plane about to take off…the “good guys” had an injured colleague to save & some bits to blow up in a big house & that plane to catch…one of them is flying an attack chopper with missiles & a gatling gun…the other is on foot with a sword

    …guess who grabs a motorbike to go after the plane & who lands the helicopter to go & wire up a bunch of explosives & let the injured one blow themselves up along with the other stuff?

    …so…yeah…not good…maybe next time I’ll be smart & watch the RIPD sequel that doesn’t have jeff bridges but is apparently about the character he played…because I have excellent judgement in these matters?

      • …amos is still hands down the most endearing sociopath I think I’m familiar with in any kind of fiction…with the possible exception of some of the ship Minds in iain m. banks’culture novels…& I miss there being more of the expanse

        …the peripheral is pretty great, though…not entirely without a charming(ish) sort of sociopath or two, either…& though I may be a bit hazy in the recollection department the book differed from the show in a few ways…at least some of which might allow for a second season not necessarily being the last…so…fingers crossed?

        …I also learned there’s a sort of (or possibly specific) sequel called “Agency” that I’ve somehow failed to read…so…might have to find a copy of that…which would possibly make more sense after re-reading the first one…but…I can’t tell if that would be spoilers for a show I think I’d enjoy…or be like the expanse where the show was great but I got a little wistful about things that didn’t make the cut?

  4. Saw Netflix Crime Scenes called the Texas Killing Fields about the (at the time unsolved) murders of several young women.  Didn’t know the highway between Galveston and Houston can be one creepy as fuck area (at least the scenes I’ve seen.)

    Reminded me a little bit of the area around Camp Pendelton near San Diego.  That is one desolate stretch of highway. Nothing for like 20 miles except shrub, coyotes and UXB.

  5. ive been watching football….which puts boycotting the world cup on the big pile of failed december resolutions….right next to not spending $25 on a big block of aged british cheddar coz fuckit its christmas…..and delicious

    also…at the moment portugal is failing me by letting morroco be in the lead….which means riots later….course…if they do completely destroy them in the second half it probably also means riots later

    the morrocans are just pretty fucking rioty over here….which you know….is making them even more popular than they already were’nt

    • Aged British cheddar, mmmm.

      So a shout-out to your postal system, my friend. I send holiday cards to my workmates. The one to the fellow in the Netherlands arrived equally as fast as those on the east coast USA, and before the ones to west coast USA and Alaska. The ones to Spain are starting week three on their sojourn across the water.

      • i shipped a model car to the states and it arrived in under a week…..the posties are throwing some serious manpower at the holiday season over here

        or you know…lacing their coffee with speed…

        whatever it is it works

  6. I watched Beast, possibly the worst movie of the year. I have second hand embarrassment for Idris Elba. The plot is about a father, his two daughters and a safari ranger who are trying to evade a man-eating lion in South Africa. The plot device is “make the worst decision possible in the moment at every moment”. Watching any person Livestream themselves while watching the movie is guaranteed to be more entertaining and less painful than watching the movie directly yourself. If you think Carl from The Walking Dead made your eye twitch, the kids in this movie will cause you to have a seizure. By the end of the movie, I was convinced that the director/writers were trolling the audience. My intelligence was not just insulted but abused. Turns out that I am not the only one that feels this way. I found solace in reading other people’s reviews on IMDB.

    Some examples and keep in mind the characters are aware that they are stranded, injured, and being stalked by a giant man-eating lion:

    – Idris goes out into the night with a walkie talkie to look for car keys while leaving his kids in the Jeep. The car keys are in the pocket of one of the poachers that the lion just slaughtered. 5min into his search, his kids fucking call him on the walkie talkie and the lion finds him!

    – The kids impatiently wait for Idris to return with car keys. He doesn’t answer the walkie talkie when they call. They decide to honk the bloody Jeep horn. The Jeep that they are hiding in has a broken window which the lion has already fit through before. Of course the lion comes back and injures the one sitting in that exposed seat!

    – They seek refuge in an abandoned school. Idris literally opens every fucking door while “securing” the premises, of which there are three, and leaves them open. Then he leaves his kids in search of a first aid kit. The lion walks right in an nearly kills them again!

    Ok. I gotta stop reminiscing. My right eye is twitching.

    • One of my irrational fears (and I have absolutely no idea where this came from) is going on safari in Africa and somehow finding myself left behind and on my own in the jungle/savannah whatever. This movie would completely freak me out. Since these safaris can easily cost $4,000 per night per person, I am unlikely to find myself in this situation, and will content myself with watching old Wild Kingdom episodes from the 1960s.

    • @HammerZeitgeist thank you for the holiday roundup!

      And I am 100% with you in derision for any show which uses  “The plot device is “make the worst decision possible in the moment at every moment”.” There are many such examples, eh?

      Finally, best wishes on baby, soon I hope!

    • Thanks for the holiday recs @HammerZeitgeist. I’m baking cookies today and may try to watch one of these this evening if I’m not sick of Christmas after all the baking.

      I also took @SplinterRip‘s suggestion and am watching The Peripheral and enjoying it very much, thanks.

      I’m still reading horror because I was waitlisted for most of the books I wanted in October and I’m getting them now. Most recently finished Grady Hendrix’s The Final Girl Support Group. This was a really fun book for fans of slasher flicks and I’m looking forward to the TV adaptation.

      I listened to the new Bruce Springsteen R & B homage LP Only the Strong Survive. I listened to the full thing twice because it’s gotten great reviews and I really wanted to like it. It’s not that it’s bad but more unnecessary. I get that he’s a fan and was influenced by these songs. Most of us of a certain age love them too.  It’s just so BRUCE if you know what I mean. My New Jersey nephews would disown me for saying this – in my opinion, he doesn’t have the chops to take on some of the greatest vocal stylists of a generation. But if you’re a Springsteen fan I suppose you’d like it.

      As a huge fan of The Temptations, this is the one I was most disappointed in.

      I Wish It Would Rain


      My favorite was the Ben E King/Aretha Franklin track

      Don’t Play That Song


      Now back to the kitchen!

        • My sugar cookie dough is chilling so I get a little break for lunch.

          You hit the proverbial nail on the head @Elliecoo. Any of these songs individually, played live for instance, might be fun. But all together is too much. He’s pretty faithful to the originals, it’s clearly a labor of love so I don’t want to trash him. And the band sounds pretty good. I respect the effort. But for me, it’s sort of meh.

  7. I watched The Proposal, a 2009 rom-com that is now playing pretty much non-stop on AMC right now. From iMDB: A pushy boss [Sandra Bullock] forces her young assistant [Ryan Reynolds] to marry her in order to keep her visa status in the U.S. and avoid deportation to Canada. That’s the set-up. As part of the charade, and 95% of the movie, they go stay with Ryan Reynolds’s parents, Mary Steenburgen and Craig T. Nelson, and live-in Grandma, the incomparable Betty White. Needless to say I loved it. The only thing that prevented this from occurring over Christmas is that the fam live in Sitka, Alaska, so it would have been pitch black the whole time, so they set it in summer, so it was daylight the whole time.

    I also tried to watch something I had never seen before but have been hearing about for many years: Superbad. I don’t know why I didn’t like it. I have the comedic sensibility of a teenager. I loved Undercover Brother; I’ve seen that a dozen times. Same with the Austin Powers movies. After about 15 minutes I gave up and contemplated watching Hangover again, a less juvenile Superbad, but I just went to bed instead. But not before noticing that early on they’re in Home Ec and much to my delight they make a chocolate Charlotte Russe! I don’t know why and it’s never named, they don’t get any mileage out of it.

  8. I watched a pair of movies, Collinsville and Collinsville 2 last night, both available on YouTube.  Both are fun if you like campy cheap horror movies, though the second one is more comedy.  But what made it extra fun is Collinsville is the town I more or less grew up in, and I recognized where almost every scene was filmed.

    • I bet that was extra fun! Back when dinosaurs roamed the earth, Witness was filmed in my county/town, and watching for place recognition was a ton of fun.

  9. Tonight I will be watching this future Xmas classic?

    Listening to some ska Christmas tunes…

    and soon I will be reading beer menus in Seattle with an old friend as I start my bachelor weekend.

  10. I’ve been watching Cooking in France: La Pitchoune on HBOMAX. It’s these 2 couples who bought Julia Child’s house in Provence and run weekly cooking schools out of it. The food. The farmers markets. THE FUCKING CHEESE.

    Anyways, it’s zero stress to watch. It’s not a competition. Tense moments are like oh wow the sink is old and not working right.

    Also watched Unveiled on HBOMAX, about a Mexico-based Christian cult that has the usual abuse issues and had some women press charges for things that happened in California. Spoiler alert – if they were white women, things would have ended up differently for them in the legal system.

  11. Also I don’t tend to watch the made for TV Christmas movies, but wow if you watch any HGTV they are heavily cross-promoting the hell out of them because a bunch seem to have appearances from their home demo show hosts. But when they show the promo image at the end of the commercials, it looks like a set up for the worst threesomes or foursomes ever. Like oh hey here’s this couple trying to save the family house and lurking back there is a HGTV host!

      • Let me check to see if I’ve met my annual deductible first with my insurance.

        If I’m intentionally getting alcohol poisoning in less than 2 hours, I want that to be as cheap as possible when I go to the emergency room.

  12. Die Hard? Someone pointed out that if you watch Die Hard in reverse that it is a nice film about a bunch of terrorists, the Cops and John McClane helping to make the Nakasone Xmas Party the best ever.

  13. Read – the Lockwood & Co. series by Jonathan Stroud. Very, very good books. The world he created is fascinating and, while it’s clearly aimed at middle grade/YA level, it’s not dumbed down at all. There’s just no swearing or sexy stuff, which is kind of a refreshing change, imo. If you like creepiness and ghost stories, (or you need a Christmas gift for someone who does!) check these out. There’s only 5 books, and they go fast. Also, the 3rd one was SO creepy, I didn’t want to turn out the light when I finished it!

    Other than those 5, I’ve read a set of Regency romances by Lynn Kerstan – Celia’s Grand Passion, Lucy in Disguise, and Marry in Haste.  All are very nice, sweet, relatively clean romance novels, but they’re kind of bland.

    Last, but not least, Dark Earth by Rebecca Stott. I really liked this one… very well researched and a writing style like a storyteller around the bonfire. Set in post-Roman Britain, with just a touch of fantasy.

    The Black Moth by Georgette Heyer, narrated by Gabrielle de Cuir on audio. One of my favourites, and, I believe, her first published novel.

    Listened to Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor, narrated by Yetide Badaki. I’m not sure what I expected from this one, but I got more than I thought I would! I have the next one on hold.

    Also listened to To Be Taught, If Fortunate by Becky Chambers, narrated by Brittany Pressley. A lot of people don’t seem to like this one, partly because of the narrator, but I love it. I’ve listened to this one several times, now. The narrator has a very straightforward, almost flat affect, that I feel compliments the author’s straightforward writing.

      • Yetide Badaki is Nigerian-born, herself, so her reading has the rhythm and the accent that the characters in the story have. In my opinion, it definitely adds to the story because I’m not sure that if I was reading it I would be pronouncing certain words correctly.

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