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8 Reasons to Love National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation

Kara's awesome post on A Charlie Brown Christmas inspired me to write about my favorite Christmas movies. We've already watched National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation three times this year, and we'll probably watch it again during at least one of our family Christmases. I love it so much I made Christmas cards based on some of my favorite quotes. Well, I want to share the love with you guys. Here are a few things you probably never knew about Clark and the Griswold family.

1. The Capra family must have Christmas in their genes - the assistant director of Christmas Vacation, Frank Capra III, is the grandson of the legendary Frank Capra, who directed It's a Wonderful Life. The part where Clark "fixes" the newel post by sawing it off with a chainsaw is an homage to his grandfather's movie "“ the newel post at the Bailey's house was also loose. Also, Russ is watching It's a Wonderful Life on TV when his grandparents arrive.

2. In the scene where Clark has his total breakdown after receiving his "Christmas bonus" "“ membership in a jelly of the month club "“ he rattles off a jawbreaking, tongue-twister of an insult about his boss. The crew had placed cue cards all over the set behind the camera so Chevy Chase could read the whole insult without stopping. In its entirety, the quote is:

"Hey. If any of you are looking for any last-minute gift ideas for me, I have one. I'd like Frank Shirley, my boss, right here tonight. I want him brought from his happy holiday slumber over there on Melody Lane with all the other rich people and I want him brought right here, with a big ribbon on his head, and I want to look him straight in the eye and I want to tell him what a cheap, lying, no-good, rotten, four-flushing, low-life, snake-licking, dirt-eating, inbred, overstuffed, ignorant, blood-sucking, dog-kissing, brainless, d**kless, hopeless, heartless, fat-ass, bug-eyed, stiff-legged, spotty-lipped, worm-headed sack of monkey s**t he is. Hallelujah. Holy s**t. Where's the Tylenol?"

eddie.jpg3. You gotta love/hate cousin Eddie. He's just so deliciously white trash. Eddie's "dress clothes" "“ a white sweater with a black dickey, with the dickey very obviously showing through the sweater "“ was Randy Quaid's wife's idea. A genius detail. Cousin Eddie went on to star in his own made-for-TV Christmas Vacation - Cousin Eddie's Island Adventure. Haven't seen it; heard it was awful. I have to admit, the beauty of Cousin Eddie is that you get him in little doses. A whole Cousin Eddie movie would be a bit much, I think.

4. I can always relate to the scene where the two grandpas are asleep in the armchairs while the Christmas parade is on T.V. in the background. This always happens at our Thanksgivings and Christmases "“ grandpas, dads, uncles. What makes the scene even funnier is that the actors who played the grandpas were really both asleep.

bethany.jpg5. Aunt Bethany ("Is your house on fire, Clark?") is played by Mae Questel, the voice of Betty Boop and Olive Oyl. Christmas Vacation was her last movie.

6. Being from the Midwest, Friends and I always laugh when we see the Griswolds driving to get their Christmas tree at the beginning of the movie. Check out the large mountains in the scenery. I don't know about you guys, but I've never seen mountains like that in these parts. Turns out this part of the film was shot in Breckenridge, Colorado, which makes much more sense. The house scenes were shot on set in California. This is evident during outdoor scenes "“ you never see any of the cast's breath when they are standing around waiting for Clark to show them the lights on the house. There are also a few shots where you see non-evergreen trees with full leaves and no snow on them.

christmasvacation2.jpg

7. Pretty much the whole movie is quotable, but among the ones that get used regularly around our house are:

"Don't throw me down, Clark." - Aunt Bethany
"I don't KNOW, Margo." - Todd the yuppie next-door neighbor
"SQUIRREL!!!" - Clark Sr.
"Lot of sap in here. Looks great"¦ little full. Lotta sap." "“ Clark
"They want you to say grace. THE BLESSING." - Uncle Lewis (complete with finger gesturing, of course).

8. The kids in Christmas Vacation (Juliette Lewis and Johnny Galecki) are the third set of kids. The first Audrey and Rusty were Dana Barron and Anthony Michael Hall in Vacation, the second are Dana Hill and Jason Lively. When Vegas Vacation was released n 1997, the kids were played by Marisol Nichols and Ethan Embry.

Do you love Christmas Vacation or hate it? What's your favorite part?

[Image credit: Bubba.org]

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History
The Secret World War II History Hidden in London's Fences

In South London, the remains of the UK’s World War II history are visible in an unlikely place—one that you might pass by regularly and never take a second look at. In a significant number of housing estates, the fences around the perimeter are actually upcycled medical stretchers from the war, as the design podcast 99% Invisible reports.

During the Blitz of 1940 and 1941, the UK’s Air Raid Precautions department worked to protect civilians from the bombings. The organization built 60,000 steel stretchers to carry injured people during attacks. The metal structures were designed to be easy to disinfect in case of a gas attack, but that design ended up making them perfect for reuse after the war.

Many London housing developments at the time had to remove their fences so that the metal could be used in the war effort, and once the war was over, they were looking to replace them. The London County Council came up with a solution that would benefit everyone: They repurposed the excess stretchers that the city no longer needed into residential railings.

You can tell a stretcher railing from a regular fence because of the curves in the poles at the top and bottom of the fence. They’re hand-holds, designed to make it easier to carry it.

Unfortunately, decades of being exposed to the elements have left some of these historic artifacts in poor shape, and some housing estates have removed them due to high levels of degradation. The Stretcher Railing Society is currently working to preserve these heritage pieces of London infrastructure.

As of right now, though, there are plenty of stretchers you can still find on the streets. If you're in the London area, this handy Google map shows where you can find the historic fencing.

[h/t 99% Invisible]

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holidays
Custom-Design the Ugly Christmas Sweater of Your Dreams (or Nightmares)
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For those of you aspiring to be the worst dressed person at your family's holiday dinner, UglyChristmasSweater.com sells—you guessed it—ugly Christmas sweaters to seasonal revelers possessing a sense of irony. But the Michigan-based online retailer has elevated kitsch to new heights by offering a create-your-own-sweater tool on its website.

Simply visit the site's homepage, and click on the Sweater Customizer link. There, you'll be provided with a basic sweater template, which you can decorate with festive snowflakes, reindeer, and other designs in five different colors. If you're feeling really creative, you can even upload photos, logos, hand-drawn pictures, and/or text. After you approve and purchase a mock-up of the final design, you can purchase the final result (prices start at under $70). But you'd better act quickly: due to high demand, orders will take about two weeks plus shipping time to arrive.

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