Quondam Dreams

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

2005 Hollywood Christmas Parade Telecast "Highlights"

Some parades get better every year, and some parades are the Hollywood Christmas Parade. Every year, on the Sunday after Thanksgiving, thousands of people line the streets of Hollywood Boulevard to see the cheesy spectacle in person. Fools. The proper way to view the Hollywood Christmas Parade is from the comfort of your own couch, drink of your choice at the ready. KTLA's telecast just hasn't been the same since host Alex Trebek's annual freak-outs, but Lu Parker and Mark Steines at least seemed to realize what they were getting into when they agreed to host this year's broadcast.

If you missed it -- and though it was broadcast in many major markets, you probably did; count yourself lucky -- here are the highlights. And I do use that last word loosely.

Obligatory opening production number from locally-playing touring musical: "I've Got My Love To Keep Me Warm" from White Christmas. Lip-syncing ranges from barely passable to blatantly missing words. Choreography consists of much hopping, crossing, and concentric circles going in opposite directions. It's like Israeli dancing gone horribly wrong. In sweaters. With tap shoes.

Weather: Cold. Or, as those of you suckers who don't live here would call it, balmy.

Grand Marshal: Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. Your eyes do not deceive you: The parade's grand marshal was someone locals have actually heard of. And -- get this -- he actually seems happy to be there. Of course, he seemed genuinely happy to be everywhere throughout his campaign, even when he went to Encino. Those of you who don't live here may be thinking that he's another plastic politician, and maybe he is. But he's a lot more personable than any L.A. mayor since Tom Bradley, and he's a friend of my mom's, so deal with it. Smooches!

Other elected officials: A bunch of City Councilpeople. This being Eric Garcetti's district, and him being the president of the city council, he gets a car. Tom LaBonge is a car in front of a float featuring representatives of Los Angeles' sister cities. (Among them: Lusaka, Nagoya, Giza, Pusan, Vancouver, Bordeaux, Auckland... it's like an official roll call of second-fiddle cities. I feel kind of cheated.) The other elected participants are in a, uh, train-type thing later.

A selection of marching bands who thought they were going to a real parade: The Cathedral High School Pride of the Irish from Indianapolis, Indiana. Northwood High School from Napany, Indiana. Snider High School Panther Marching Band from Ft. Wayne, Indiana. Frank Scott Bunnell High School Marching Band from Stanford, Connecticut and their electric instruments. Findlay Trojan Marching Band from Findlay, Ohio (and their drum line, ranked 25th in the world - what the hell are they doing here?). The Siloam Springs High School band from Siloam Springs, Arkansas. The Desoto Central High School marching band from Southaven, Mississippi, who appropriately financed their trip with cow patty bingo. The Pasco/Hanford High Schools Marching Band from Pasco, Washington. ("They're wearing my favorite color, purple," Lu observes, then saves me some work by adding, "Not that anyone cares".)

Marching bands who keep showing up in case this turns into a real parade: The Riverside Community College Marching Tigers, because once you've been featured in American Pie: Band Camp, the Hollywood Christmas Parade is the next logical step. The Porterville (California) Tigers Marching Band and their placard-bearers' shoe pom-poms. Hollywood High School Sheiks Marching Band from three blocks away. The Franklin High School band from Franklin, Tennessee. I guess the local Franklin High School's band doesn't rate.

Marching bands who clearly aren't from around here: Tulare Joint Union High School Band and their Native American-costumed flag-twirlers. Toms River High School South Marching Indians of Tom River, New Jersey. The Greenwood High School Marching Woodmen from somewhere in Indiana.

Shut up: Every commercial break is preceded by a NORAD Santa-tracking schtick. Oh, Johnny Grant. No wonder this is the last parade you're putting together.

Amusement park contingent: Disneyland takes up what seems to be a block, what with their costumed characters and marching band. Six Flags has sent a cheesy little float with costumed characters and a model of their upcoming big-deal flying coaster. Universal Studios unleashes a half-block long bunch of comic book characters on four-wheelers; vamping impersonators; and cartoon characters. I'm not sure who wins, but I'm pretty sure that Six Flags loses.

Strange combinations: Kevin Eubanks from The Tonight Show and Kim E. Whitley from Beauty Parlor. The kid from Lost, the girl from Bernie Mac, and the girl from One on One. Eartha Kitt and Patrick Warburton, promoting their voice work on the direct-to-video Krunk's New Grooves. (I know: If they're there to promote the same product, then it's not such an odd pairing. To which I say: Eartha Kitt and Patrick Warburton.) Tony Orlando, Dawn and an actress from Half and Half. Eva La Rue (CSI: Miami and All My Children, though they don't mention the latter) and Benito Martinez (The Shield And on the Toys for Tots float: Emily Harper and Dylan Fergusen of Passions; local weather guy Fritz Coleman, who's actually kind of amusing; and some people from Hot 92 Jams.

Hey, I recognize him... sort of: Ernie Hudson. Christopher McDonald. Jon Schneider. Eric Per Sullivan on the LA County Fair float, which looks like it was designed by an eighth grader because it was designed by an eighth-grader. Antonio Sabato Jr. and Leslie-Anne Down, both currently of The Bold and the Beautiful. Leslie-Anne introduces some kid whose dad is in Iraq and leads a strangely exuberant cheer for the soldiers. She seems rather toasty, and I don't mean the kind of toasty that comes from wearing that jacket.

Possibly too famous to be here: Debra Jo Rupp and Kurtwood Smith of That '70s Show either resigned to going with the flow, or drunk. Kathy Griffin, with her husband (insert your own snark here), a t-shirt which proclaims that AIDS is everyone's problem, and not a little caffeine in her system. Judging from the crowd response, Tyler Hilton.

And of course: David Hasselhoff.

Person I'm glad I didn't have to deal with in the morning: The Young And The Restless' Eric Braeden. The announcers announced him, and he started talking just as Dayna Devin's mic went live. And why focus on a semi-reclusive Emmy-winning star of screens small and big when you can focus on an entertainment reporter and her infant daughter named Emmy?

Deja vu: The Way to Happiness Foundation sends the same float it's sent for every year in recent memory, a white monstrosity which celebrates the booklet written by humanitarian L. Ron Hubbard. No, really, that's what the approved copy said. This year's pretty young rider is the very blonde Jennifer Aspen, who is apparently on Rodney. Once a sound guy fixes her microphone, she cheerfully and quickly chirps about how she uses the Way to Happiness values every day -- every day! -- and in this era of declining morals, this is a simple guide for all religions and cultures. I'm sure that the resemblance to Village of the Damned went unnoticed by the float sponsors.

This year's de rigeur equestrian unit breed: The Andalusian.

Tie-in gone wrong: Buzz Aldrin on Sony Pictures' Zathura float. No time to talk about the movie when the guy on the float has walked on the moon, has four stars on the Walk of Fame, and has a new children's book coming out. "What a smart man," sighs one of the announcers. Somewhere, a Sony marketing lackey is crying.

Telecast defining moment: Audio: Lil' Romeo complains that it's cold. Video: the Falun Dafa waist drummers, fan dancers, and giant lotus circlers. Caption: Sparks Spirit somethingorother.

Santa's new sleigh: Does not spout bubbles. And that, my friends, is the greatest disappointment of all.

Friday, November 11, 2005


I am sitting in a Starbucks near the place I'm currently working, sampling their new, available-for-a-limited-time "Grandma's Turkey Sandwich".

Which begs the question: Whose grandma? My grandma never would have put this much salt in the stuffing -- by which I mean, she never would have put any salt in the stuffing. Or made stuffing from scratch, for that matter.

And don't even get me started on "Grandma's Cookies".