On the occasion of remembering why tomorrow morning used to be the most magical day of the year.

wwf-figures5. WWF action figures. In 1984, about the time I began realizing I was different from other boys, I asked Santa to bring me these. I think I was hoping my dad and brother would be impressed by my sudden interest in something “macho.” Santa obliged, but I don’t think I ever really played with these.





boba-fett4. Boba Fett large action figure. Santa brought me this in 1979 – and I hated it. I had no idea who Boba Fett was; it would be another six months before the character made his debut in “The Empire Strikes Back.” (I guess I didn’t remember Boba from his cameo in the “Star Wars Holiday Special” in 1978.) Looking back, I realize how foolish I was to turn up my nose at one of the coolest action figures ever produced.








mash-military-base3. “M*A*S*H” toys. In ’82 or ’83, I received the entire line of “M*A*S*H” action figures, vehicles and playsets, including the military base. I had a lot of fun playing with this stuff, even though I didn’t become a “M*A*S*H” fan until my late teens. The real oddity here is why someone produced toys based on a very adult TV show.







six-million-dollar-man2. “Six Million Dollar Man” action figure. I owned several of these during the course of my childhood. According to one family photograph, I received at least one of them on Christmas Day.








star-wars-laser-pistol1. Star Wars laser pistol. This toy earns the top spot on this list because its presence in my life was so fleeting. I received it on Christmas morning in 1977 or 1978 and, soon thereafter, left it in the booth at the restaurant where my mom waited tables. (My memory tells me this happened later on Christmas Day, but what restaurant is open on Dec. 25?) Regardless, I never recovered this pistol after it left my hot little hands.



On the occasion of being sick of hearing this shit.

 5. “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer,” Elmo ’n’ Patsy. This was funny for, like, a minute. In 1983.

4. “Wonderful Christmastime,” Paul McCartney. Nothing says Christmas like the molestation of a synthesizer.

3. “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town,” The Jackson Five. Makes you wonder how Michael ever became a superstar.

2. “Santa Claus is Coming to Town,” Bruce Springsteen. This one makes my ears bleed eggnog.

1. “Santa Baby,” Madonna. Nothing, and I mean nothing, makes me run faster for the fast forward button.


frost-nixon1Overview: The story behind the story of British TV host David Frost’s post-Watergate interviews with Richard Nixon, three years after the disgraced president’s resignation.

What I liked: The lead actors are quite good: Michael Sheen captures Frost’s breezy style and Frank Langella infuses Nixon with humanity while wisely resisting the temptation to make him overly sympathetic. As Andrew noted, director Ron Howard gives “Frost/Nixon” a grainy look, making it look like something out of the era of bellbottoms and platform shoes.

What I didn’t: Having seen the play that inspired this film, I think “Frost/Nixon” works better on stage than on screen. This is essentially the story of two men talking to each other – a premise better suited to the intimate confines of a theater than the big screen. Interestingly, “Frost/Nixon” and the last film I reviewed, “Slumdog Millionaire,” deal with dramatic television confrontations. To his credit, “Slumdog” director Danny Boyle makes the showdown between the contestant and host on a a quiz show set a more riveting human drama than Frost’s interrogation of Nixon, when so much more was at stake. Also, as Elizabeth Drew noted in her recent HuffPo review, the historical accuracy of both “Frost/Nixon” the play and “Frost/Nixon” the film are questionable.

Final word: Not a bad movie, but I’m not sure this would make my list of Best Picture Oscar contenders.

My rating: Four out of five pairs of Italian loafers.


slumdog-millionaireOverview: A modern parable about the value of hope. “Slumdog Millionaire” tells the story of Jamal, a young man from the slums of Mumbai who tries to win back the girl he loved and lost by becoming a contestant on her favorite show, “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.” The multi-layered story traces Jamal and his older brother Salim from their days as hardscrabble orphans to their late teens, examining the different paths they choose along the way to adulthood.

What I liked: The story’s improbability is its charm. The cast is solid, particularly the young actors who play Jamal and Salim as children. And as Andrew pointed out, director Danny Boyle cleverly uses something familiar – a game show – to frame the story and introduce the audience to the unfamiliar – India’s caste system.

What I didn’t: Not much. I found the game show host character’s pronunciation of the word “millionaire” (he says, “millon air”) a little annoying. Other than that, no complaints.

Final word: A must see, and worthy of the Oscar buzz it’s generating. Like other recent “little films that could” – think “Little Miss Sunshine” and “Juno” – “Slumdog” has a lot of heart, but without becoming overly sentimental.

My rating: Five out of five Amitabh Bachchan autographs.

On the occasion of physically appealing men always making good subject matter for these lists.

sr-sidarth25. S.R. Sidarth a.k.a. “Macaca.” This is kind of cheating. Sidarth was famous in 2006, when his camcorder helped end the career of Sen. George Allen of Virginia. Until then, Allen was a front-runner for this year’s Republican presidential nomination, so Sidarth kinda qualifies for this list. OK, that’s a stretch, I know. But look at this kid. He’s beautiful.




nick-jones14. Nick Jones. Again, a bit of a cheat. Jones caught the eye of many a gay man in 2005, when his grandfather was revealed to be Deep Throat, the most famous informant in journalism. But since Felt died last week, handsome young Nick sorta qualifies for this list.




muntadar-al-zaidi13. Muntadar al-Zaidi. This is the guy who threw his shoes at George W. Bush during the president’s visit to Iraq last week. Since then, he’s probably been beaten beyond recognition by the Iraqi authorities. What a shame. He has such a nice face.






mitch-reinholt22. Mitch Reinholt. The dreamboat who stole the show in this year’s sleeper documentary “American Teen.”









Palin Wasilla Heartthrob1. Levi Johnston. Bristol Palin’s babydaddy. Like most high school athletic stars, he’ll probably start losing his looks soon. Until then, let’s all enjoy the splendor of our dear, dim Levi.



On the occasion of feeling annoyed.

22. People who freeze when they reach the end of an escalator.

21. When a girl’s jeans are so low her panties are visible.

20. Squat women who squeeze in next to me when I’m seated on the Metro.

19. The neighbor who throws parties every Monday night.

18. The neighbor who always seems to be hammering something.

17. The upstairs neighbors who do “musical workouts.”

16. The downstairs neighbors who smoke on their balcony.

15. Smokers in general.

14. Smokers who toss their butts in the street.

13. Drivers from Maryland and Virginia who toss their cigarette butts in the District.

12. Virginia.

11. Virginians.

10. Babies.

9. Toddlers.

8. Elementary-age kids.

7. Teenagers.

6. College students.

5. Grad students.

4. Parents who allow their small children to do things they aren’t old enough to do, like opening a door or pushing an elevator button.

3. People who watch CBS’s Monday night sitcom lineup.

2. People who are younger and more successful than me.

1. Parties.

On the occasion of needing to finish this series.

10. Grandpa jailed for not watering grass. 9:22 a.m., Oct. 14.

9. Mom drives girl to park to fight another. 9:44 p.m., Oct. 17.

8. Teen emails porn to his entire school. 10:07 a.m., Oct. 3.

7. Giant condom found, small ones taken. 9:54 a.m., Oct. 2.

6. Racy robocalls sound like phone sex. 1:11 a.m., Oct. 30.

5. Pretty robot slaps men who get fresh. 9:06 p.m., Dec. 10.

4. Roads made safer with cheese. 8 a.m., Nov. 26.

3. Ding dong on high over carol lyrics. 9:09 a.m., Dec. 2.

2. ‘Joe’ not a plumber, not called Joe. 2:38 a.m., Oct. 17.

1. Obama elected 44th president. 7:57 a.m., Nov. 5.